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THE VOTER    

March 2016

 

In This Issue
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LWV Events
Mon, Mar 21
Hot Topics Program:
Re-Envision Alachua
Millhopper Library 
7 p.m.

Tue, Mar 22
Education Committee Meeting
Home Schooling
Speaker; Katy Byars
Santa Fe College Downtown 
12 Noon

Mon, Apr 4  
Oak Hammock Unit Meeting
Human Trafficking
Marie Samec
Oak Room
  7 p.m. 

Wed, Apr 6
Natural Resources Team Meeting
Speaker Bob Palmer, Chair Florida Springs Council
Room DA-129
 Santa Fe College Downtown
   5:30 p.m.

Thu, Apr 21
Citizenship Ceremony
Federal Building
   11 a.m.

Wed, Apr 27
  Village LWV Unit 
Silenced Springs - Past, Present and Future
Speaker: Dr. Robert Knight
Village Tower Club Ballroom
10 a.m. 
No March Meeting

Save The Date
Thu, May 12
LWVAC Annual Meeting
5:30 p.m.

2015-2016
Leadership Team
LWVAC

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 and Roster Manager:

Oak Hammock Unit:
 
The Village Unit:
 
Update contact information or obtain a current membership directory:   
Quick Links
Our local League website

Florida League website
http://thefloridavoter.org/

LWV US website
LWV Education Blog
http://lwveducation.com/
President's Message
There's a buzz in Gainesville Sue Legg

Everywhere you look there is a new multi-story building going up. People are lining up to speak at commission meetings. The streets are crowded. Coalitions are forming. Gainesville is a 'happening' place. There is a sense of possibility but also a concern about probabilities.

Unfettered growth means sprawl and transportation issues. It can also shift focus to short term profit making opportunities. These can create long term problems, not only with our natural resources but our life styles. Blocking growth, however, means stagnation. The problems we already have with inequality, deteriorating neighborhoods, and under-funded schools worsen.

Change generates uncertainty and ignites people's passions. Yet, there is alignment emerging among the interests of the university, the business community and K12 schools. It could lead to a consensus about which directions are more beneficial to the entire community. These three groups are major players, but they do not represent us all. We, the public, need to participate in this collaboration to ensure that change makes people's lives better, not just different. It sounds like time for the League way of problem solving: study, reach consensus, advocate!
 
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
 http://www.gainesville.com/article/20160127/OPINION03/160129725?p=all&tc=pgall
For more information contact Harvey Goldstein at hgoldstein7@earthlink.net
Education Team Report  
By Jean Robinson  
The Education Team met on February 23rd at the SFC downtown campus. Karen McCann, president of the Alachua County Education Association, was our presenter. She discussed the recent School Climate Survey results. The results indicate poor teacher morale this school year. 84% of teachers say their workload has increased this year. Only 15% said they worked less than 5 hours per week outside of school hours; 10% said they worked over 20 hours outside of school hours. 85% of the teachers felt that they did not have enough time to teach mastery of the (learning) standards. Comparing the stress level with previous years, 82% said there was more stress. There was considerable discussion as to the causes of the low morale among teachers.

The next Education Team meeting will be on Tuesday, March 22nd at noon at the Santa Fe College downtown campus. We will have Katy Byars from the Home School Help Desk to inform us about homeschooling.
 
 
Natural Resources Report

By Julia Reiskind 
At our March meeting we saw the movie, The Last Call of the Oasis, a sobering description of diminishing water supplies worldwide. The movie also described the increasing industrial and agricultural pollution and the deleterious effects on human and animal populations, and plant viability, featuring in particular the work of Erin Brockovich. The committee recommends all watch it; unfortunately it is no longer free on Youtube, but for a small fee it can be downloaded. The March 21st Hot Topics will feature Commissioner Robert Hutchinson and his alternative plan for Plum Creek's, now Weyerhauser, Envision Alachua Sector Plan. There will be a brief description of the plan followed by an extensive Q and A session (go to http://tinyurl.com/hbcujza for the plan description and to https://www.facebook.com/TacachaleTown/ for more detailed information). The April meeting of the committee will feature Bob Palmer, who chairs the legislative committee of the Florida Springs Council (title TBA).  The meeting will be held Wednesday, April 6 at 5:30 in DA-129 (old railroad station building), downtown Santa Fe College.
 
On the "bright" side, the state Legislature approved the addition to the August 30th ballot on a constitutional amendment to exempt taxes on renewable energy infrastructure for commercial and residential properties; this awaits Governor Scott's signature. Additionally, fracking legislation died in committee, so at least there is a year's reprieve on that issue. Senate and House bills related to expanding activities in state parks appear to be given "low priority" (week 8 LWVFL report), thus gaining little traction. It also seems that increased budgeting for the Florida Forever program was not approved. A weak water policy bill designed to protect Florida springs and improve water quality statewide was approved.
 
There is no new news related to the state League's solar co-op initiative. However, there are several posts on the state League's Natural Resource Committee page related to solar co-ops around the US, including one in Orlando-Winter Park, known as the Central Florida Solar Advocates. This will likely serve as a model for the state League's initiative.  
New Member Welcome and Orientation 
By Kathy Kidder
Are you a new member who would like to know more about the League mission, procedures, and activities? A not-so-new member wondering how to get more involved? Or someone who missed orientation when you joined? You are invited to a welcome event on Sunday, April 10, 4:00-6:00 PM. Join us to socialize over refreshments and learn about LWV. Please contact Membership Chair Kathy Kidder for location and to let her know you will attend.
kkidderfl@cox.net

 Social & Criminal Justice Committee Second Community Conversation
By Bennett Brummer  
The framework for our ongoing local
criminal just i ce ef forts was set forth in the February Voter and in an article signed b y Presiden t Sue Legg and published in the Gainesville Sun on Sunday Febr uary 7, 2016.

LWVAC has concluded that the School to Prison Pipeline/System of Care (SOC) model is a great initiative and point of departure.  We are trying to determine whether and how LWVAC can be productive focusing on extending or improving the SOC model.  On March 10, American Bar Association President Paulette Brown spoke at the Graham Center about the school to prison pipeline.  On March 17, SOC administrator Veita Jackson Carter spoke to LWVAC at the Millhopper Library (see below). We will now move from seeking broad community input to asking LWVAC members with a particular interest to learn from agency representatives how the LWVAC might be most helpful given our limited resources.  Working toward this goal, our next Community Conversation will be held at the Office of State Attorney Bill Cervone, 120 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601, on Wednesday, April 26, 2016 at 6pm.  Space is limited.  Please let me know if you would like to attend at bennettb53@gmail.com.   
 
Also, the board has approved LWVAC participation in the Right to Counsel National Campaign sponsored by American University and the Department of Justice.  For more information, please see www.rtcnationalcampaign.org.  
The Village Unit Activities
By Rosalie Bandyopadhyay  
On Wednesday, April 27 at 10:00 a.m., The League of Women - Village Unit will host a talk, Silenced Springs - Past, Present and Future, by Dr. Robert Knight at the Tower Club Ballroom at the Village Retirement Community, 8000 NW 27th Blvd.
 
Dr. Knight is an environmental scientist with more than 38 years of professional experience in Florida. He is the founder and director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, a nonprofit program dedicated to supporting science and education necessary for the restoration and wise management of Florida's artesian springs. Dr. Knight is actively working on springs restoration efforts with the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection and the relevant water management districts and is active with springs advocacy groups that help to educate local government officials about groundwater supply and springs protection.
 
All League members are welcome to join the members of the Village Unit and other Village residents for the presentation. For those members who are not Village residents, please reserve your space for entry to the Village by emailing your name to rosaliemb@hotmail.com or call 317-1936 by Tuesday April 26.
Membership Matters
LWVF Double Your Membership Campaign
By Kathy Kidder
The state league is encouraging us to participate in a campaign to double LWV membership statewide during March and April. State president Pam Goodman says,
 
We haven't asked people enough. When they know what we do,      they join. Tell your friends, "We need you to join the league now, membership matters."

Membership increases our voice, and more members expand our ability to do advocacy and education that is especially needed in an election year.
 
All it takes is for each of our members to invite a friend to join. Information is on our website or, If you would like membership brochures, contact Kathy Kidder. kkidderfl@cox.net  
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
New Dues Treasurer & Roster Manager
By Jerry Kidder
Carole Fernandez will take on the combined duties of dues treasurer and roster manager as of April 1st. We thank Barbara Scott for faithfully sending out dues notices each month, collecting the mail weekly (and sometimes more often), depositing checks and notifying the treasurer of deposits, sending follow-up notices when needed, recording renewals and changes in contact information, and keeping track of numerous other membership details. Jerry Kidder served as her backup and support with the electronic aspects of the database. When LWVUS asked for someone to be named as the local contact for the new national database last year, he acquired the title of database manager. Their team worked well for the past five years. Carole is ready to serve our League with the merged functions. We welcome her to the leadership team!
 
  Students To Successful Citizens
By Jean Robinson 
On Thursday, March 17th the Education Team held a forum on the Alachua County System of Care Program. The administrator of the program, Veita Jackson-Carter explained the goals, process and accountability of the program. The System of Care builds on the School Board of Alachua County's history of collaboration to develop interventions for vulnerable youth and provide alternatives to juvenile court referrals. Every day children and their families navigate various organizational systems, which may include school systems, healthcare systems, legal systems, and law enforcement systems. Therefore, collaboration among these systems is critical to positive outcomes for children. 
 
There are forty-five community partners to the System of Care. Once a student has been identified as a possible candidate for the program, the school then obtains consent from the parent and completes the referral. The parent must be an active participant in the process and in the services offered. The System of Care consists of public and private agencies working together to provide services to help families with complex needs stay connected as a family and to help the child stay in the community. This process is driven by the family and their support team, and helps ensure that services result in positive outcomes for all. Services include individual, family and group therapy; tutoring; mentoring; restorative practices; basic needs; parenting classes; transportation; job readiness; and childcare. This program is about empowering children and their families to learn how to utilize natural and formal supports and community resources successfully. Since this program is so new, accountability is not a complete process as yet. Plans are to track absences, grades, and successful completion rates. The League of Women Voters can contribute to the System of Care by helping them secure more funding to increase the program. We must let our legislators, county commissioners, city commissioners, and other influential persons know about this program and how it can improve our community.  
FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE  SUMMIT  
By Jean Robinson    
On February 16th, Sue Legg, Jean Robinson, Katy Bu r n ett and the League's college interns traveled to Tallahassee for this year's Legislative Summit. After registering, we were given the    latest on the League's legislative issues. Our lobbyist, Debbie  Harrison Rumberger, was very informative and even show ed us how to  track bills via the internet. At the banquet  that night, we had an enlightening presentation by Jim Stevenson on Florida State Parks. The next morning we started early with presentations from the Secretaries of State and Agriculture and legislators. There were many accolades for the League and the work we did on redistricting. How this will affect our state was a topic of discussion for many of our presenters. Later in the morning, we attended the press conference on the steps of the capitol. Sen. Bill Nelson also praised us for our work. Pamela Goodman spoke about the education lawsuit and why we are participating in it. We want Florida schools to provide a quality education for all. After the inspiration of the press conference, we visited our legislators. We talked with Rep. Keith Perry and with the aides for Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Clovis Watson. That evening we celebrated our redistricting victory with legislator friends at a gala held at the Historic State Capitol Senate Chambers.  
 Interns Report of Legislative Summit   
By Samantha Lowe
The League conference was an extremely informative and eye opening experience.  I now have a greater understanding of the legislative process and the work that encompasses the lobbying process. Personally, the greatest
aspect of the conference was time in which specific senators and representatives came and talked with the League. I was able to get a better grasp of who some of Florida's representatives are and the types of things that they stand for. Overall, it was both an interesting and eye opening experience and I am exceedingly pleased to say that I have walked away from the summit with a vast array of knowledge of not only the types of things that the League does, but also how effective they have been in promoting for or against certain issues that are deeply rooted within the local communities of the State of Florida. I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the summit, especially as an intern, and I believe the experience is one that will prove to be extremely useful in both my education and future endeavors down the line. 

By Sara Shayanian
 
My experience with the League in Tallahassee was incredibly eye-opening. I was so fortunate to be able to see our state capitol for the first time with such an incredible group of women (and men!) who are well-respected and honored among state officials. I not only was able to meet many incredible legislators, senators, etc., but I was able to learn from League members about issues that concern our state today, including charter schools, fracking, and more. I am so grateful for this experience and hope I will be able to attend for years to come!
 
By Cody Patton  
As a young member of the League of Women Voters, this was my second trip as intern. This internship trip to Tallahassee is the one thing I look forward to every year since it gives me the opportunity to hone my lobbying skills, meet important people, see all of my friends from the year before, and make new ones! This time, I was able to meet the Secretary of State, Ken Detzner, and Senator Clemens (my favorite Senator)! The first day of the summit, we arrived in Tallahassee around mid-day and helped get everyone registered for the Summit and attended a lobbying workshop in Tallahassee's Town Hall. The second day of the summit, I went to many meetings with my fellow Interns and had the opportunity to speak with our elected officials about our concerns with pieces of legislation as well as hear many important people speak to the League in the Cabinet Meeting room. The final night was the Gala and as always it was the most fun and rewarding! Good food, wine, and an opportunity to socialize one last time before we had to bid one another farewell. Yet again, this was the most rewarding and educational experience for me and I am proud to be a member of the League of Women Voters and their intern!    
The VOTER is the official newsletter of The League of Women Voters of Alachua County/Gainesville