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THE VOTER    

February 2016

 

In This Issue
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LWV Events
Tue, Feb 16
Village LWV Unit
General Meeting  
Speaker: Donna Waller on Money and Politics
Community Room
2:00 p.m.

Thu, Feb 18
Citizenship Ceremony
Federal Building
   11 a.m.

Tue, Feb 23

Education Committee Meeting
Santa Fe College Downtown 
12 Noon
 
Wed, Mar 2
Natural Resources Team Meeting
Meeting Room B  Downtown Library
5:30 p.m.
 
Village LWV Unit 
No March Meeting
Sign up for Transportation 
to the polls
Village Bus available 
March 7, 9 and 15.

Mon, Mar 14
LWVAC  Board Meeting
CIED Bldg.
 530 W. University Ave.
 6:00 p.m.

Mon, Mar 14
Oak Hammock Unit Meeting
Representative Keith Perry 
Oak Room
7 p.m.  
 
Thu, Mar 17    
Education Forum
Systems of Care
Millhopper Library
6:30 p.m. 

Thu, Mar 17
LWVAC Interns
Post-Session Wrap-UP
New Deal Cafe
6:30 p.m.

Mon, Mar 21
Hot Topics Program:
Re-Envision Alachua
Millhopper Library 
7 p.m.

Save The Date
Thu, May 12
LWVAC Annual Meeting
More Info to Follow


Community 
 Events of Interest
Thu, Mar 10
School to Prison Pipeline
Bob Graham Center for Public Service
University of Florida

Tue, Mar 15
Presidential Primary & City of Gainesville Election Day

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/
School to Prison Pipeline - 
System of Care
By Jean Robinson
The Alachua County School Board has a new initiative - A System of Care - designed to provide services to children in need in hopes of slowing the school to prison pipeline. 
 
Members interested in education issues and/or juvenile justice are invited to come to this presentation by Veita Jackson-Carter, initiative administrator, on Thursday, March 17 at 6:30 p.m.at Millhopper Library.   
Hot Topic: Re-Envision Alachua: Alternative Ideas for East 
Alachua County   

A Hot Topic program on Re-Envisioning Alachua  will be held on Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at the Millhopper Branch Library.  County Commissioner Robert "Hutch" Hutchinson will speak about the process that is involved in the approval, and his suggestion to involve Tacachale that was laid out in a Gainesville Sun article last month http://www.gainesville.com/article/20160127/OPINION03/160129725?p=all&tc=pgall
For more information contact Harvey Goldstein at hgoldstein7@earthlink.net
Natural Resources Report

By Julia Reiskind 
The committee met February 3rd to discuss narrowing the focus of the study of local water issues. In addition the state initiative to promote solar co-ops was described.
 
We do not yet have a speaker for our March 2nd meeting, but are working on it. Bob Palmer, who chairs the legislative committee of the Florida Springs Council, will speak at our April meeting about the failed amendments to the state water bill and how to possibly work toward a remedy.  Note that the March meeting will be held in Meeting Room B of the downtown Library at 5:30 p.m.. 
 
The committee will host a Hot Topics on March 21st in the Millhopper Library. Commissioner Robert Hutchinson will describe his alternative plan for the Plum Creek timberlands.
 
The information below is from a phone conversation with Deirdre Macnab, the state Natural Resources Committee Chair, plus participation in a conference call in late January and relates to the LWVFL solar co-op initiative.

The state League would enter into a partnership or joint venture with a Community Power Network (CPN) organization (the one selected is in DC and is a 501 (c)(3)).  This partnership would work to seek funding for a Florida-based Director, whose duties would be to help specific members (or member) of local Leagues to convene groups interested in forming a solar co-op (groups could be geographical, church, a civic organization, etc.) and to provide information about solar. The Director would also work with the newly formed co-ops and, with the aid of the partner CPN, would put together a RFP (request for proposal) to find an installer and craft an acceptable contract.

The state League would provide some funding to the local League for convening groups and providing information. The mantra is "one roof top at time".  This is part of a 3-prong initiative of the state Natural Resources Committee: the 3 prongs are: 1) work with the Legislature to promote solar legislatively; 2) work with consumers: the solar co-op program; and 3) work with local governments to encourage residences to install solar by providing incentives, i.e., net metering. 

The purpose of a co-op is to reduce the individual cost of a solar system by bulk purchasing of the component parts.  In other words the pay back time, the time when the decreased utility costs equals the initial outlay for the system, is reduced.  There is an additional initiative, which is to help lower income residents reduce their utility costs by introducing the various ways to make their homes more energy efficient.
 
LWVFL has yet to approve this initiative, but will act on it soon. Deirdre Macnab feels that it will be approved.
  
Nominations Are Open
The Nominating Committee is at work, developing a slate of officers for 2016-18. Members will elect a secretary, treasurer, three Board members, and three members of the Nominating Committee at the annual meeting in May. Please let us know if you are interested in one of these offices or would like to nominate someone. Contact Chair Kathy Kidder, kkidderfl@cox.net
The Village Unit Activities
 
By Rosalie Bandyopadhyay   
In January, the LWV Unit at the Village held its first and very successful Voter Registration Drive. LWV members at the Village have been certified by the League to register voters and update their information. Twenty-seven new registrations were processed and twenty additional individuals helped with checking their status, change of address, signatures etc.
 
Some roadblocks to ease of access to registration and voting were noted and resolutions are being sought. These include signature difficulties due to hand tremors, lack of a Florida state issued picture ID, and errors occurring when individuals fill out their mail-in ballots. Janet Jamieson, Village Voter Service Chair, is arranging for possible rides to obtain Florida state picture IDs. Contact her for further help.
 
The Committee has arranged transportation on the Village Bus to the early voting site at the Millhopper Library. The bus will transport residents on Monday March 7, 10 a.m. - 12.pm. and again on Wednesday March 9, 10 a.m. to 12 .pm.. The Village bus will also be transporting residents on Primary Election Day itself to the local precinct on March 15. Watch for sign-up sheets at the Tower Club and Lake House.
 
The LWV Unit at the Village will have their February General Meeting on Tuesday, February 16 at 2:00 p.m.. The Speaker will be Donna Waller from the League on the topic of "Politics and Money". Following the talk, Village Unit Voter Service members will be available to help residents with updates only to their voter registration. Books will have closed for new registrations until after the March Presidential Primary.
 
The Village Voter Service Committee and Leadership Group have done an outstanding job of helping their fellow residents be ready for voting this year. They plan to continue these opportunities all the way to Election Day in November!
Education Team Report  
By Jean Robinson  
Education Team Leader
The Education Team met on January 26th at the SFC downtown campus. New member Tom Logan reported on the Children's Service Council that Alachua County is trying to establish. There is an informal group that is coordinating this effort. The Children's Service Council would be a coordinating agency and would offer funds for groups to provide services. This could include a broad range of services. A special interest of this group is to open a childcare program at SWAG. This may be accomplished through a joint effort of the University of Florida and Alachua County. For more information on children's service council go to flchildrenscouncil.org.
 
The Education Team will present a program for League members on a new initiative of the Alachua County School Board, System of Care on Thursday, March 17th at 6:30 p.m.at the Millhopper Library (see details above).  
 
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, February 23rd at noon at the Santa Fe College downtown campus.
 LWVAC Interns Report
By Katy Burnett
We are very excited to welcome five interns 2014 interns
 this semester - Rachel,  Sara, Sam, Cody, and Carol. Even though Legislative session started early this year and we had to catch them up quickly, they have all gained a strong knowledge of the political climate already and are ready to travel with the League to Tallahassee next week. We have covered the legislative process, the bills on the League's agenda for this session, and all the major players calling the shots this year.

Cody and Carol got involved with the League last year when they signed up with the State League to go to Tallahassee and both were eager to join us again this year. Cody recently started at the University of Florida and Carol is currently the Senate President at Santa Fe. Both Rachel and Sara are freshmen at the University of Florida and are very excited to get involved and we are planning on keeping them around for a few years. Sam is a junior and is interested in going to law school.
   
After our Tallahassee trip, the students will attend the Future of Florida Summit at the Bob Graham Center, attend League events in March around local politics, attend April's board meeting for a full report, and finally will help plan the yearly Legislative Wrap-Up. If you see them, please make sure you introduce yourself and welcome this great group.
   
We will be doing an informal post-session wrap-up on March 17, 2016, at 6:30 at New Deal Cafe and other League members are welcome to attend. Students will give a report on the bills they followed and we will discuss everything they learned about our Florida Legislature.   
Wide Ranging Topics in Mayoral Debate 
By Sue Legg
Behind the scenes, the mayoral candidate forum organizing committee worked hard to develop a fair and informative format. The candidates were Ed Braddy, Lauren Poe, and David Shepherd. Opening and closing remarks and responses were timed. The order of answers was rotated alphabetically among the three candidates. Candidates were allotted 30 seconds to respond to direct challenges from one another. The system worked even though in one instance, this point-counter point approach had to be limited to two remarks each for the sake of time.

Questions submitted by the public were reviewed by the committee and consolidated into nine topics. Nathan Crabbe, editor of the Gainesville Sun and Marie Edinger, news anchor at WUFT-TV posed the questions. Gail Sasnett-Stauffer and Mary White from the League of Women Voters were timers. Other co-sponsors included the Bob Graham Center and the Graham Center Student Fellows.

The questions were:  
  • Explain what wage you support for city employees and what other ideas do you have to reduce the gap between rich and poor residents in Gainesville.
  • Is Gainesville going to become an unaffordable place to live, like South Florida, after its growth explosion? How are you going to protect Gainesville's natural beauty?
  • Should the bigger priority be to keep (GRU utility) rates as low as possible or to encourage the use of renewable energy. How would you achieve your goal?
  • What should be a bigger priority for the city: making automotive transportation convenient and accessible or encouraging the use of alternative means of transportation?
  • How important is personal integrity and personal character to being an elected official? How would you describe your own experience in city government in terms of personal integrity and character?
  • Should the city implement a blanket ban on people under 21 from being in bars past a certain time or take other steps to curb underage drinking?
  • What's your biggest goal in terms of homelessness, and how would you make Grace Marketplace and Dignity Village most effective?
  • How would you ensure Gainesville is a place where our college graduates want to stay as well as a place where entrepreneurs and others want to move?
  • What is the greatest contribution you've made to Gainesville?
In any format, there are trade offs. There is the possibility that one candidate may be repeatedly singled out by another who then is able to respond to challenges and gain additional air time. This of course, becomes a fairness concern. Yet, the ability to respond to direct challenges is also a fairness issue. Judge the forum for yourself. You can view it via YouTube:


Social and Criminal Justice Committee Generates Community Interest

By Bennett Brummer 
Chair, LWVAC Social & Criminal Justice Committee 
Following the
" Unintended Consequences: Impacts of the Criminal Justice System " forum, LWVAC held our first Community Conversation on January 23, 2016.   We are encouraged by the broad community interest expressed.   A number of impressive, local efforts are underway. These include the Gainesville Police Department ' s efforts to improve officer accountability and its Disproportionate Minority Contact program, the Alachua County Public Schools System of Care (SOC), Peace4Gainesville, and River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding.
 
On Sunday February 7, 2016, the Gainesville Sun published our article resulting from these efforts. The article is available at the this link.  
 
Some major issues that our community thinks should be   addressed include:      
the school-to-prison pipeline, the SOC, access to mental health and substance abuse services outside of the criminal justice system, housing and homelessness, and human trafficking;
 
fair and impartial policing; police-community relations (including community policing, police-citizen dialogues and police athletic leagues); the use of civil citations, rather than arrests; and officer recruitment and training;
 
incarceration for petty offenses, reliance on money bail for indigents and pretrial detention, plea bargaining, and funding for indigent legal representation; and  
 
counterproductive, harsh sentencing and reentry challenges for released convicts - including release from prison without adequate support (including training and housing); sealing records; the collateral consequences of conviction and restoration of rights.
 
These discussions have had immediate educational value for LWVAC and our community. We are now deciding what our next steps should be (if any) to improve the impact of the local criminal justice system. Options include focusing on community education and how to promote coordination among the criminal justice, school, and social services stakeholders. One possible approach might be to develop small ad hoc groups that have expertise or interest in addressing particular issues. If you would like to work on any of the particular issues (above-mentioned or related), please let me know
at bennettb53@gmail.com.
 
 
Following the League ' s Education Team forum on the SOC, we plan to follow up with another criminal justice community conversation. Stay tuned!
The VOTER is the official newsletter of The League of Women Voters of Alachua County/Gainesville