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THE VOTER    

May 2016

 

In This Issue
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LWV Events 
Sun, May 22
Voter Services Meeting
Millhopper Library
1:30-2:45 p.m.

Tue, May 24 
Education Team Meeting
Santa Fe College
Downtown
Noon

Wed, Jun 1
Natural Resources Team Meeting
"Up and Down the Floridan Aquifer"
Speaker: Jim Gross 
Room DA-129
 Santa Fe College Downtown
   5:30 p.m. 


Save The Date
Thu- Sun, Jun  16-19
LWVUS National Convention
Washington D.C.

Sun, Jul 31
LWVAC Candidate Forum
 Downtown Library Meeting Room A
1:00-4:30 p.m.  
 
Thu, Sep 22 
LWVAC Fall Luncheon
Gainesville Golf & Country Club

GET UP-TO-DATE CALENDAR information:
www.lwv-alachua.org

Community  Events 
 of Interest
Thu,  Jun 30
Grace Marketplace
Luncheon
Ironwood
Noon

Sat, Aug 27
Friends of Susan B. Anthony Luncheon
Best Western
 NW 39th Ave

 
2016-2017
Leadership Team
LWVAC
Pres: Sue Legg
VP: Janet Allen    
Secretary:Arlene Brummer 
Treasurer:  Karen Seabury
 
Elected Directors:
Diane Dimperio
Barbara Glass
Gail Sasnett-Stauffer
Wes Wheeler   

Oak Hammock Unit:
 
The Village Unit:
Colby Lowe

Advocacy: Katy Burnett

Citizenship Ceremonies: Mary White

Communications:  Barbara Glass

Dues Treasurer & Roster Manager: Carole Fernandez

Education: Jean Robinson

Events: Billie Staff

Health Care: Diane Dimperio

Hot Topics: Mitzi Austin & Harvey Goldstein

Internships: Katy Burnett

Membership: Kathy Kidder & Mary Monahan

Natural Resources: Julia ReisKind

Social & Criminal Justice: Bennett Brummer

Speakers Bureau: Donna Waller

Unit Coordinator:  Rosalie Bandyopadhyay

Voter Service:   
Gail Sasnett-Stauffer  
 
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
This was a year to build our program and our Sue Legg
communication activities. We did both. Just look at what WE accomplished:
  • Sponsored or cosponsored five forums. 
  • Held five Hot Topics.
  • Two Community Conversations.
  • Speakers Bureau made 10 presentations.
  • Voter Services group held two Voter Registration drives.  
  • We co-sponsored a Legislative Update with SFC.  
  • LWV scribes wrote ten articles for the Gainesville Sun, 
  • Donna Waller held a consensus meeting on the Money and Politics study.  
  • Education blog has nearly 50,000 hits this past year.
And, the League is growing!  
  • We now have two League units operating, one at Oak Hammock and another at The Village: Thank you to Rosalie Bandyopadhyay for coordinating with these units.  
  • We have over 280 members.
  • Our intern program has five student members from the University of Florida and Santa Fe College. 
  • Improving the dissemination of information has been a priority this year.  The Communications Team launched a marvelous new LWVAC website Click HERE.  A special thank you to Shelby Taylor and Crystal Goodison.

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Voter Services: 2016 Elections - Preparing for the Storm 
By Rosalie Bandyopadhyay  
Election Season is here!  And the League is getting ready!  Starting with our July Candidate Forum and straight through to the November 8 Election Day, the members of the League of Women Voters will be working to fulfill our primary missions: to ensure that every citizen has the right to vote and ensuring an informed electorate.

Please join the Voter Service Team on Sunday May 22 from 1:30 - 2:45 at the Millhopper Branch Library as we organize for our programs: 
* Candidate Forums,
* Registration Drives,
* Distribution of State Voter
* Speakers Bureau 
* Flyer CLICK HERE
 
Please contact Rosalie Bandyopadhyay at 317-1936 or Rosalie@hotmail.com if you can come and join the team.  All members welcome and needed - new and long time Leaguers.
 
Legislative Wrap-up
By Donna Waller
On April 2 0th, our chapter co-sponsored a legislative wrap-up with the Santa Fe College Office of Civic Engagement, the Democracy Commitment and Student Government. Representatives Clovis Watson (D), and Keith Perry (R) were in attendance. Senator Rob Bradley, whose district has been redrawn in compliance with the Fair Districts Amendment, did not attend. 

At the beginning, each representative gave his overview of the session.  Representative Perry, who favors limited government activity, expressed a far more positive impression of the session, which they agreed was notable for what was not done, than did Representative Watson. There was an early emphasis on collegiality, as the two representatives have worked together on several criminal justice issues.  Both favor restoration of rights when convicted felons have served their sentences and expressed a desire to continue working on that in the 2017 session.

After discussing their collaborative accomplishments, they discussed some policy issues that were important to the League and Santa Fe. On a range of issues from guns on campus to charter schools, the two representatives took opposite positions, with Representative Watson generally in support of the League's positions and Representative Perry generally opposed.

At the end of the session, the two Representatives were asked what their biggest disappointment of the session had been.

Representative Perry had sponsored a bill to mandate music education in Florida's elementary schools.  He believes that this enhances a wide variety of other kinds of learning and expressed disappointment that he was not able to enact the legislation this year. However, he is optimistic for the future.

Representative Watson expressed his extreme disappointment that the legislature did not move on Medicaid expansion and indicated that he will try to push for it in the 2017 session.

The event was well attended,the questions were thoughtful ones, and the responses illuminating.  Santa Fe provided pizza.  It was a very successful collaboration between SFC and the League, and we hope to repeat it next year.
 
Summary of April Hot Topic:
Pro and Con of Moving City Elections
By Barbara Glass
On Monday April 18th, Mr. Thomas Hawkins, former city commissioner, and Mr. Joe Little, Law Professor, presented pro and con positions for moving the City Elections from annual to biennial events. 
 
Mr. Hawkins presented background data that detailed his position supporting a biennial election process.  His goals in changing to biennial process are 1) increased voter turnout and 2) decreased costs to city.  Historical voter turnout averages 15% in a non-presidential election. By comparison, the 2008 presidential election turnout reached 42%. The cost to the city for these annual elections is $229,713.
 
Mr. Hawkins discussed an evaluation of 'Best Practices' citing the Alachua County School Board Elections and the City of Tallahassee. These choices were based on similarities to Gainesville.  His bottom-line takeaway: both the AC School Board and City of Tallahassee increased voter turnout almost five fold, with an average cost/election of $45,000. 
 
Mr. Little's primary concern against moving to biennial elections was that the importance of local issues facing city voters would be  
lost under the volume of federal and state candidates and issues. Additionally, while he questioned the election costs presented by Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Little did not have data to support  that position.  
 
Summary: Natural Resources Committee
By Julia Reiskind 
There is news on several fronts regarding the move toward solar as an alternative renewable energy source.  The state League is nearing its goal to raise funds for a Director of the League's Solar Co-op program (FL SUN). The Director will aid local Leagues to convene groups interested in forming a solar co-op, will provide information about solar and will help find an installer with competitive prices. The state League is hoping to be able to help local Leagues defray some of the costs of convening meetings. The Request for Proposal has been sent out.  The NR committee will complete its proposal and submit to LWVAC Board  for approval. In a conference call on the co-op program, there was discussion of the PACE (Property Assessment Clean Energy) program, designed to make solar affordable; both Alachua County and Gainesville are already participants in this program. We learned late last week that the LWVF Board has approved the solar co-op initiative.
 
Also discussed during the call were the two solar related amendments:  one on the August ballot and the other November.  Amendment 4 in August provides tax-exempt status for solar for commercial properties; Amendment 1 in November is the Consumer for Smart Solar amendment which basically codifies the monopoly status of the utility companies.  The state Board voted to approve Amendment 4, but to oppose Amendment 1.
 
Watch for the June League SUN article on the proposed amendments.   The Committee is looking to invite Mary Diboye of the Central Florida Solar Advocates to speak at either a League Forum or a Hot Topics talk.  Mary has started two solar co-ops in Orange County and has helped the state League initiate its program. Watch for details in coming VOTER and in the Calendar on our website: CLICK HERE.
 
In other committee business, several committee members attended Bob Knight's talk at the LWV The Village Unit.  It was excellent! For more information CLICK HERE to visit F lorida Springs Institute.   His Springs Academy Tuesday's program looks great, although two sessions have already taken place.  Bob has written a book, Silenced Springs: Moving from Tragedy to Hope , which is now available and definite must read.
 
The next Natural Resources meeting is June 1st.  Jim Gross, formerly of the St. Johns Water Management District and presently Executive Director of Florida Defenders of the Environment, will speak.  The title is "Up and Down the Floridan Aquifer". The meeting is at 5:30 in Room DA-129, in the main building (old railroad building), downtown Santa Fe College. 
 
 
 Summary: Social & Criminal Justice Committee April 26th Community Conversation
By Bennett Brummer  
On April 26th, the LWVAC held its second Social & Criminal Justice Community Conversation with good, diverse attendance.  As intended, there was meaningful and respectful dialog about sensitive and controversial issues related to the School to Prison Pipeline (STPP).  
 
Sue Legg opened the meeting and described relevant League values and processes. The LWVAC's goal for the meeting was to see if there is any constructive role for the League with regard to the STPP. The meeting focus was to identify common priorities and approaches. The LWVAC and Committee appreciate State Attorney Bill Cervone for hosting this event.
 
As chair of the LWVAC Social & Criminal Justice Committee, I facilitated the discussion. The intent is to focus on practical approaches to local issues and determine what the League can do about them. The plan is not to replicate efforts. The League's focus on STPP is broad, and includes schools, police, courts, corrections, jobs, housing and reentry for former prisoners.  The League's choice of issues will depend in part on who will be willing to work on them.   
 
In addition to League members, there were representatives from the following agencies: Gainesville Police Department, Alachua Sheriff's Office, Meridian Behavioral, NAMI, State Attorney's Office, Public Defender's Office, Alachua Schools (including the System of Care), 4A's, Three Rivers Legal Services, Southern Legal Counsel, Department of Court Services, several people from UF including a lawyer, a psychologist, and an education professor; and the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce.  Other agencies expressed continuing interest but were unable to attend. 
 
At the conclusion of the Community Conversation, a number of attendees agreed to work with the Social & Criminal Justice Committee to follow up on ideas that came from the Unintended Consequences Forum and the two Community Conversations. Sue did a great job recruiting new members.  Several people joined the League at the meeting and expressed an interest in working on this committee. The committee will review the issues to determine how we can prepare over the summer to take concrete action in the fall.  If you would like to participate in this work, please contact me at 
bennettb53@gmail.com.   
 
The Village LWVAC Unit  
By Rosalie Bandyopadhyay  
The League of Women Voters Unit at the Village capped its inaugural year in April with a presentation by Dr. Robert Knight. Dr. Knight spoke to approximately 70 Village residents on the topic "Silenced Springs - Past Present and Future." A lively question and answer segment followed the presentation. The Leadership Team is planning more Voter Service work and continued education on League issues later this summer and autumn. All League members are welcome at Village Unit Programs.

Alachua County LWV:  2016 Annual Meeting and Awards

By Sue Legg, Karen Seabury, Barbara Glass
Following socializing and a lovely dinner, President Sue Legg presided over the annual meeting.  A little business - past budget/new budget, membership, election of officers, new board member introductions - then on to this year's awards. 
 
Olive Christiansen Award for Outstanding  League Member
Colleen Porter
Colleen has been our Communications Director and has brought us into the electronic age-the VOTER, Facebook, the email blasts, and the website, both old and new.  Colleen's knowledge and experience (and her continual willingness to share them with us), has improved the League's ability to serve the community. 
 
The Mary Reynolds Fisher Award for Businesses Helpful to the League:  The Kosman Family Foundation. 
Diane Kosman Rothseider accepted on behalf of her fam ily's foundation.   We are grateful to be among the local causes championed by the Kosman family.  Their generosity year after year and their belief in the work of the League has allowed us to expand our operations and to reach further into the community. 
 
Outstanding Elected Official:   Randy Wells
Randy spearheaded the establishment of the Grace Marketplace in Gainesville.  In honoring Randy, the League recognizes not only his persistence and his ultimate successes, but also the way he demonstrates to us all that great things can be accomplished with quiet and non-confrontational  leadership. 
 
Outstanding Citizen:  Jon Mills
We have all followed and applauded Jon's work on causes that are important to the League-Constitutional Revision, Amendments I and IX, and Redistricting.  We commend Jon for his continuing commitment to equality and justice. 
 
 

Pillar of the League:  Jerry Kidder
Jerry has served on the Board, as Treasurer, as Roster Manager, as  Chair of the Natural Resources Team, and as a member of several State committees. In every area in which Jerry has worked he has asked "How can I make this
better?" -- and he has done it.  Jerry took charge of and modernized our financial and membership systems.
 
Outstanding Community Service:  Shirley Bloodworth
Shirley is a tireless advocate of the senior citizen and for the right of free speech.  Shirley has been a community force in advocating for the Community Center for Older Adults, Living Wills, End of Life Counseling, and the Free Speech Movement, the Institute for Learning in Retirement and senior transportation.
 
Certificates of Appreciation:  Recognized for their exceptional work this year are:

Barbara Scott:  Barbara has just stepped down as Dues Treasurer, one of many positions-including President-that she's held with the League.  Special kudos to her for surviving the recent conversion of the national League database.

Oak Hammock LWVAC Unit:  We'd like to thank the members of our Oak Hammock unit for their compelling programming - open to all League members. 

  

The Village LWVAC Unit:  Working with Rosalie Bandyopadhyay and the Oak Hammock team, The Village unit was successfully launched this year.  They have an active membership and have expanded the reach of the League's education program.    

 

Scribes of the League:  Thanks to our Scribes-the people who, with Sue Legg, wrote the League's articles for the Gainesville Sun:  Diane Dimperio, Donna Waller, Jerry Kidder, Catherine Emihovich, Janet Allen, Bennett Brummer, Katy Burnett, and June Girard. 


Interested in meeting handouts: click on these:  2015-16 State of the League, 2016-17 Local Progams, 2016-17 Budget, and Board Roster
 
Summary LWVF Council, Orlando 4/29-30
By Carole Fernandez and Karen Seabury
The League of Women Voters of Florida held its 2016 Council of Leaders in Orlando April 29 - May 1. The LWVF is the third largest state League in the nation and pushing to overtake Texas for second largest. The LWVAC is the third largest local league in the State.
 
Eight LWVAC members attended the Council. The atmosphere was energized by the League's impressive accomplishments in a wide array of state efforts. Most particularly, the League celebrated the success of the redistricting litigation, just in time for the 2016 elections! CLICK HERE for list of accomplishments.
 
Meetings and workshops provided an array of suggestions for improving leadership skills, effectively engaging members in matters of interest to them, closing the gap in Florida's health care coverage, and more effectively communicating orally and in writing, particularly in the digital age.
 
One workshop focused on preparing for the 2016 elections.BeReadyToVote and  Vote411 are gearing up to provide the information and guidance that League members and voters will need during the upcoming election season.
 
LWVAC President Sue Legg led the meeting on education that focused particularly on education funding in Florida. Finally, there was a special presentation on moving solar energy forward with the Solar Co-op, which has been approved by the LWVF Board.
 
The Council captured the spirit of the League by giving members from across the state the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas. 
As LWVF President Pam Goodman observed, the League's accomplishments have "started with just ONE idea...ONE PERSON, who turned to the person sitting next to them and said, 'Hey, what do you think about.......?"

 

In Case You Missed It....
Our *New* Website is UP!!    lwv-alachua.org/.  Make friends with it. The calendar will be updated weekly - providing long-term views for the next busy months!

NEW DIRECTORY
By Kathy Kidder
If you were not at the annual meeting, our biennial directory will be coming to you by mail.  Many thanks to Gordon and Patti Moon Tapper for again preparing the publication.  It contains interesting LWVAC historical data and is a handy reference.  However, member data changes frequently.  If you need an updated list for a project or mailing, please request one from Roster Manager, Carole Fernandez.

Sue Legg's latest Sun column:   Lawsuit shows weaknesses of educational system
 IN MEMORIAM: Wanda G. Boyce  
By Kathy Kidder  
Wanda G. Boyce died on April 25. She will be remembered for her active contributions to various community organizations, including LWVAC, until she and her husband left Gainesville after 42 years to be with family in California. One of her services to our League was representing us at citizenship ceremonies for 35 years! She was recognized as a Pillar of the League in 2003.

The VOTER is the official newsletter of The League of Women Voters of Alachua County/Gainesville