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THE VOTER    

December 2015

 

In This Issue
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LWV Events

Tue,  Dec 15
Hot Topic: Changes in Juvenile Justice Strategy and Tactics
 Judge Robert Roundtree, Jr
Millhopper Library
7 p.m.

Thu, Dec 17
Citizenship Ceremony
Federal Building
   11 a.m.

Wed, Jan 6
Oak Hammock Unit Meeting
Speaker: John Power, Alachua County Tax Collector
Multipurpose Room
1:30 p.m.
email 

Thu, Jan 7
Money and Politics Consensus Meeting
CIED Bldg.
Imagination Room
530 West University Ave.  

Santa Fe College
Downtown
6-7:30 p.m.

Mon, Jan 11
LWVAC  Board Meeting
CIED Bldg.
 530 W. University Ave.
 6:00 p.m. 

Tue, Jan 12
Natural Resources Committee Meeting
Discussion Leader,
Whitey Markle, Sierra Club
Foundation Room Downtown Library
5:30-7 p.m.

Wed, Jan 13
Criminal Justice Forum
UF Pugh Hall-Ocora
6 p.m. 

Tue, Jan 19
Village Unit Meeting
Details TBA

Tue, Jan 26

Education Committee Meeting
Santa Fe College Downtown 
12 Noon


Community 
 Events of Interest
Fri, Jan 15
  Course on Judicial System
Oak Room at Oak Hammock
2015-2016
Leadership Team
LWVAC/G

Pres:   Sue Legg  

VP:  Janet Allen    

Secretary: Lorene Junkin  

Treasurer:  Karen Seabury

 

Elected Directors:     

Arlene Brummer  

Diane Dimperio

                      

Voter Service:   

Gail Sasnett-Stauffer  

 

Communication/VOTER:  Colleen Porter  

 

Dues Treasurer:
Barbara Scott

 

Oak Hammock Unit:

June Girard 

 

The Village Unit:

Colby Lowe

 

Update contact information or obtain a current membership directory:   

Jerry Kidder 

Quick Links
Our local League website

Florida League website
http://thefloridavoter.org/

LWV US website
LWV Education Blog
http://lwveducation.com/
HOT TOPIC: Changes in Juvenile Justice Strategy and Tactics  
On Tuesday, December 15 at 7 p.m, at the Millhopper Library, Judge Robert Roundtree, Jr, the Chief Judge of the 8th Judicial Circuit and Alachua County's Juvenile Delinquency Judge will discuss changes in juvenile justice strategy and tactics, including separating knuckleheads from serious offenders and issuing civil citations instead of arrests.

Click here for a reminder that you can print or share with friends.
Money and Politics Consensus  
By Donna Waller
Please kick off 2016 by participating in the consensus meeting on the issue of Money and Politics. It will be held on Thursday, January 7 at 6:00 p.m. at the CIED building of Santa Fe College's Downtown Center on West University Avenue.  

I n June 2014, the LWVUS convention adopted a program to review and update the LWV positions on campaign finance reform in light of changes in the rules and protections against political corruption in the 40 years since the League adopted those positions. The Money and Politics Review Committee has published an excellent guide to this issue and the consensus process itself, and the questions we will be asked to address are published on this site as well.

Basically, we will be asked to do three things. The first is to examine the purposes and goals of campaign finance reform and to determine what activities constitute political corruption. The second is to examine in what areas campaign spending should or should not be limited, with particular emphasis on spending to influence mass media. The last task will be to reach consensus on what methods of campaign finance reform the League should support and how those methods should be administered and enforced. You can find the guide at   http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/study-guide-money-politics-consensus

Please think about the questions and come prepared. This is a critical issue for the elections process. Please contact me by email:donna.t.waller@gmail.com or phone 352-371-0221 if you plan to join us in case we need a bigger venue. Please come even if you do not get around to contacting me. This is how national LWV policy is made.  

What Is a Consensus?   
Contribution by  Kathy Kidder
As noted above, in a few weeks, League members will have the chance to participate in a consensus meeting. Because they don't happen frequently, perhaps some background will help explain why your input is needed.
 
According to the LWV-US:
"It is easier to say what consensus is not, than what it is. Consensus is not a vote; rather, consensus is mutual agreement of League members arrived at through discussion. During discussion, everyone has an opportunity to express their viewpoints, and the issue is examined from all sides. Consensus questions, created by the study committee and approved by the Board, provide structure for the meeting. Members discuss the pros and cons until it becomes apparent that consensus has or has not been reached on each question. A committee will analyze the consensus responses, look for areas of member understanding and agreement and, using this information, will create a position statement."

Background materials: After the scope was adopted by the LWVUS Board, committee members researched and wrote about various issues included in the scope, compiled a list of resources, consolidated information, developed a glossary and a list of acronyms, and proposed the consensus questions. That is the link provided in the article above. While everyone is welcome at the meeting, you might get the most out of the experience if you have a chance to look through the materials beforehand.

Positions: When a consensus is found, the LWVUS Board reviews the process and ratifies it. The Board selects the exact wording that best expresses the League's point of view on the issue, and this becomes the basis for League actions. These statements of consensus are called positions.

The purpose of this discussion is to promote better understanding of the diverse impacts of Alachua County's criminal justice system through an open dialogue among community groups.  Better awareness can reduce the unintended consequences of interactions between people and the legal system. We will begin the conversation with a forum that will be followed by round table discussions. The panel discussion will be on Wed., Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. in the Pugh Hall Ocora. The event is free and open to the public.

Forum panelists will include: 
Eighth Circuit Public Defender: Stacy Scott, 
Gainesville Police Chief: Tony Jones
Board of Directors of Peace4Gainesville, COO, Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Inc.: Steve Pittman

Moderator will be Bennett Brummer, former Miami-Dade Public Defender, and Chair, LWVAC Social/Criminal Justice Committee.  

The panel will address the inevitable tensions between what the legal system is and could be in any community.  Topics include:
        - the school-to-prison pipeline,
        - impact of citation vs. arrest,
        - bail and pretrial release, 
        - juvenile sentencing,

        - incarceration for petty offenses,

        - sealing records,

        - and "reentry" challenges for released convicts (including             collateral consequences of conviction and restoration of             rights).
 
A Q&A will follow the presentations.

Community Conversations to be held about a week later.  
Come Lobby With the League!
Mark your calendar for the LWVF Legislative Summit on  February 16-18 in Tallahassee.
 
The LWVF's annual Legislative Summit brings members from across the state to Tallahassee to meet with and advocate before state legislators. This two-day conference takes place during the Legislative Session and includes an orientation program, seminars on League positions, face-to-face meetings with legislators, a tour of the Capitol, and other engaging and informative activities.
 
Check out the program at http://tinyurl.com/p7utysd         
 
Our local League offers some travel support, paying the registration fee, sharing rides.  So contact Sue Legg <pondstw3@gmail.com>if you can join us in Tallahassee.
Natural Resources Report
By Julia Reiskind and Jennifer Springfield
The Natural Resources Committee met November 19th to discuss the proposed Floridians for Solar Choice (FSC) amendment to the state constitution to be placed on the November 2016 ballot. Lynne Holt, Policy Analyst for the Public Utility Research Center at UF, in a paper published earlier this year in The Electricity Journal (click here for pdf)  discussed potential unintended consequences of the passage of this initiative and its inclusion into the state constitution. She focused primarily on 1) an uneven rate structure between those contracting for solar through a third party provider versus those continuing to obtain their power through the public utility companies, whose fixed utility charges are based on a per-kWh rate, and 2) matters of customer protection against fraudulent contracts. 

Regarding the rate equity issue the FSC answers that in states that have adopted the model proposed by the amendment there is no difference in rates between solar users and non-users. This is largely because the numbers contracting and the energy generated are small. Furthermore, the state Public Service Commission will insure that imposed charges by the utility companies will be similar between those who purchase energy from a solar company and those who generate their own through solar. With regard to the second concern, there are applicable laws and state agencies with jurisdiction to handle customer protection matters, i.e., issues related to service standards, etc.

The FSC initiative grew out of frustration with the continuing resistance of the Legislature to change the current law, which allows only the public utility companies to sell retail electricity. Florida is one of only four states with such a restriction. If the Legislature would be willing to redefine "public utility" to allow third parties, such as solar power companies, to supply electricity, then the impetus to add an amendment to the state constitution would not exist. But as we know in Florida this is how "legislation" is done.

After discussion, the vote of the committee to support the FL-LWV position, i.e., to support the proposed amendment, was tied, and thus no recommendation was made to the local League. However, individual League members can actively get signatures for the petition. The committee did vote to educate League members on the pros and cons of the FSC, should it get on the ballot. Not mentioned above is the Consumers for Smart Solar ballot initiative proposed by the utility companies, as a counter to the FSC. To date that ballot language has yet to be approved by the Florida Supreme Court, but should it make it to the ballot, it will be included in the Committee's pros and cons.

The next meeting of the Natural Resources Committee will be January 12th 5:30 to 7:00 pm in the Foundation Room of the downtown library. Whitey Markle of the local Sierra Club will lead a discussion, "Water Works", an initiative of area counties on the environmental impacts of the increasing withdrawal of water from the Floridan Aquifer. 
The Village Unit Meeting
The next meeting of The Village Unit is scheduled for Tuesday, January 19.  They will be holding a Voter Registration Drive and Update Your Voter Information at the Village.  Details will be announced.  Contact: Janet Jamieson.
Community Event: Course on Judicial System
League members Karen Miller and June Girard are facilitating a course on the Judicial System through the Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR) at Oak Hammock beginning in January. Classes are held on Fridays at 1:30 pm in the Oak Room at Oak Hammock. There are ILR membership and course fees, see
Contact Sara Lynn McCrea for more information:  352-548-1009 or  smccrea@oakhammock.org
Landmark Supreme Court Decision on Redistricting 
In a 5-2 decision on December 2, the Supreme Court validated the Congressional redistricting map drawn by challengers - including the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause of Florida - and approved by Leon District Court Judge Terry Lewis after state lawmakers failed in August to agree on a map.

"There are actions that become milestones in the history of a state and the Florida Supreme Court ruling today is one of those decisions that future generations will study and quote," said League of Women Voters of Florida President Pamela Goodman after the court's landmark decision, which sided with voters' rights advocates.

"It took five years for the the wishes of 3.1 million Florida voters, who in 2010 approved the Fair Districts Amendment, to be fully recognized," Goodman said. "The Legislature was unable to redraw new maps, but the Supreme Court by its actions has ensured that the election process can move forward."

Districts significantly altered by the ruling include District 5, held by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville. Her district, often used as an example of gerrymandering, currently snakes down from Jacksonville to Orlando. It will now run in an east-west configuration. District 10, held by U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Orlando, will no longer include parts of Lake County and will be kept wholly within western Orange County.


Here in Alachua County, former LWVAC President Crystal Goodison played a key role. For the Fair Districts initiative in 2009-2010, she coordinated campaign activities for the Alachua County LWV, which included local petition gathering to get Amendments 5 & 6 on the ballot and later organizing a speakers' bureau to garner local voter support for passage of the amendments.

Goodison said, "During this time, when many decisions being made in Tallahassee are inane and increasingly out of touch with citizens, this Fair Districts victory, won over many years and many battles, affirms our tireless work, renews our spirits, and empowers us to keep fighting for good government."

Voices around the state seem to agree: 
"The Fair Districts Amendments were probably the most significant "good government" initiative since the advent of the state's famous Sunshine Law, passed during the "Golden Age" of Florida politics ..."
     -- Florida Politics Blog
 
"The Florida Supreme Court's action is the start we need toward ending the politics that tear us apart . . . "
     -- The Sun Sentinel
 
"Floridians have waited a long time - much too long - to see their will to reform the redistricting process fulfilled. ... The impact from this week's high court ruling on congressional districts ... would be felt throughout the state."
     -- The Orlando Sentinel
 
"The Florida Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling that will alter the state's political landscape and dealt a huge legal victory to the plaintiffs that sued to overturn the state's congressional maps."
     -- Politico
Leaguers Recognized for Community Contributions
By Kathy Kidder
LWVAC members Lizzie Jenkins and June Littler were among three recipients honored with the 2015
Lizzie Jenkins
Rosa Parks Quiet Courage Awards last month. The awards recognize community members who exhibit qualities of Rosa Parks in their commitment to civil rights and social justice.
 
Both honorees have long histories of activism. Lizzie was a student when she participated in a lunch counter sit-in in St. Augustine, and she worked for years to research and preserve the story of Rosewood, a Levy County town destroyed by racial hatred. 

June Littler
June was arrested in the first civil rights demonstration in this area and continues to work for equality.
 
Also in November Carole and Bill Zegel received the Rotary Club's 2015 E.T. and Vam York "Service Above Self" Award, honoring individuals who have rendered dedicated and unselfish service to enhance the quality of life of adults and youth. The Zegels are longtime supporters of the PACE Center for Girls, an intervention and prevention program to keep at-risk teens out of the justice system. Carole also co-founded the Guardian ad Litem program.

ACLWV Holiday Social on December 6
Excellent food and good company made the party.
Great conversations with interesting people.

 
 
Thanks to Julia and Jon Reiskind for hosting our gathering.  
GatorBarbers provided musical entertainment.
The VOTER is the official newsletter of The League of Women Voters of Alachua County/Gainesville