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Brandon 912 group welcomes South County members

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RIVERVIEW- Guyann Bracken-Fay has traveled to every one of America’s 50 states and many countries of the world.

She didn’t know it while traveling, but understanding the difference between the needs of people in states that make their living with soybeans and corn and those in states where industrial factories and big businesses are king became important to her as she took on her latest role in life.

She and other South County residents are teaching the principles they say made America great. As a local organizer for the National 912 Coalition she has helped with rallies and events, including decorating a large float for the Fourth of July parade held annually in Brandon.

But 912’s main interest is in teaching citizens about American government’s true role.

Along with five other directors, Guyann teaches citizens about the three main documents that the U.S.government was founded upon: The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the United States.

One of those directors, Mike Smith of FishHawk Ranch in Riverview, now retired from special operations in the U.S. military and with a master’s degree in science from the Florida Institute of Technology, is studying the documents using a Webster’s 1828 dictionary.

“It’s important to know what our founding fathers meant when they used certain words in these important documents,” Mike said in a telephone interview last week. “How can we hold our elected officials to something if we aren’t absolutely certain what the intent and meaning of these words originally were?”

Both Mike and Guyann say that the end of the (last) Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama administration was what rallied them to action.

Bailouts; government control; out-of-control spending; and especially taking the rights of the people as though they worked for the government, instead of the government working for them, challenged them to take active roles.

“What has been happening started a long time ago,” Guyann began. “The Constitution has been chipped away, a little piece at a time. Like a cancer spreading, little pieces and bits are being taken away.”

The country was founded by entrepreneurs who used their ingenuity to build families, businesses and farms, Guyann said. “Property rights are important. The right of ownership is important,” she said.

She herself grew up as the youngest child of four in a family in Indiana where her parents owned a general store that sold dry goods and gas and her dad also worked as postmaster.

She studied computer programming and electrical engineering and then worked in industrial sales of parts that kept factories running. It was through that job that she met her husband Patrick in Michigan in 1992.

Since moving to South County she has become a nonpartisan political fireball, rallying people to attend meetings and learn about elected officials, and especially to learn how to become candidates themselves.

“We have to win our country back at the voting booth,” she said in an interview in Riverview last week. “We have to put principals before party and make our officials live up to their oath. Everything seems to have become a power grab since FDR started taking our Constitutional rights away.”

She didn’t realize at first that she would become a political organizer of any kind. She was simply attending the Tampa 912 group meetings. But then she saw a need to begin a chapter in Brandon, so Feb. 26, she founded one which now encompasses all of South County. This group meets on Mondays in Riverview at the Barn Theater on Bloomingdale Avenue at 7 p.m., with between 20 and 50 in regular attendance. The local 912 group also holds a study group based on DVDs made by the National Center for Constitutional Studies on Thursday nights.

The Thursday night group rotates meeting places so newcomers are encouraged to either show up on a Monday first, or check out upcoming events on the group’s Web site, given at the end of this story.

Besides much studying and discussion, they’ve made a float for the Brandon July Fourth parade that was decked out as the USS Constitution; met with Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, at a Jobs Summit in St.Petersburg; and marched on Washington united with other Constitutionally-based groups.

All volunteers, the local group is run by six directors, Guyann and Patrick, Mike, Scott Cutler, Steve Chambers and John Costigliola.

“Our aim is to help restore, not transform, our country to what our founding fathers meant for it to be, and to do that, we must understand the exact meaning and context of the wording in our founding documents,” Mike said.

The group hopes to attract many more members and help some of them train to become candidates for office before the next election.

To find out more about them, visit the Web site, http://www.brandon912.org or simply show up on a Monday night at 7 p.m. at The Barn Theater at Winthrop, 11349 Bloomingdale Ave., Riverview.

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