OK, I figured out the workaround for now.
Change code as I did above to force date() to only use time and not date and time, IN ADDITION I had to change the server side validation for the time to check for properly encoded MYSQL style times. It was looking for a 5:00 PM style instead of what MySQL wants and as I was formatting 17:00:00
Working for now, but there's some work for you guys here. :)