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THE VOTER    

October 2015

 

In This Issue
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LWV Events
Tue, Oct 20
Village LWVAC Unit Organizational meeting
Tower Learning Center
4 p.m.

Tue, Oct 20
Natural Resources Meeting
806 B NW 16th Ave.
5:30 p.m.

Thu, Oct 22

Citizenship Ceremony
Federal Building
   11 a.m.

Tue, Oct 27
Education Committee Meeting
Santa Fe College Downtown
12 Noon

Tue, Oct 27

Oak Hammock  LWV Unit Meeting
Oak Hammock Oak Room
7 p.m.

Sun, Nov 1
New Member Welcome
Kidder's home
4 p.m.

Mon, Nov 2
Hot Topics: 
Future of GRU
Northwest Grille
6 p.m.

 Thu, Nov 12
Constitution Revision Presentation with Mary Adkins
Oak Hammock Oak Room
7 p.m.

Thu, Nov 19
Citizenship Ceremony
Federal Building
   11 a.m.

Community Events of Interest 

Wed, Oct 21

Exposing Local Sex Trafficking Symposium
Santa Fe College Auditorium E
7:00-8:30 p.m.

Thu, Oct 22
UN Day
Gainesville Women's Club
9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Thu, Nov 5
Children's Movement of Florida
Regional Meeting
SF CIED, 530 W.
 University Ave.
12:30 p.m.
2015-2016
Leadership Team
LWVAC/G

Pres:   Sue Legg  

VP:  Janet Allen    

Secretary: Lorene Junkin  

Treasurer:  Karen Seabury

 

Elected Directors:     

Jim Galloway  

Arlene Brummer  

                      

Voter Service:   

Gail Sasnett-Stauffer  

 

Communication/VOTER:  Colleen Porter  

 

Dues Treasurer:
Barbara Scott

 

Oak Hammock Unit:

June Girard 

 

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 Topics: Future of GRU
An upcoming Hot Topics presentation about the future of Gainesville Regional Utilities will be at the Northwest Grille on Monday, Nov 2.
Ed Bielarski, general manager of GRU, will be the speaker and will take questions.  Please get there at 5:30 p.m. to order; the program starts between 6 and 6:30.   Please RSVP to mcaustin@att.net or 352-475-2439. We need a count for the restaurant by Friday, Oct 30.
New Member Welcome & Orientation 
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 at the home of Membership Chair Kathy Kidder on Sunday, November 1, from 4 to 6 p.m. Join us to socialize over refreshments and learn about LWV. Please contact Kathy for directions and to let her know you will attend.

kkidderfl@cox.net         352-378-0562
Natural Resources Report
By Julia Reiskind and Jennifer Springfield
The Natural Resources Committee met on Sept. 22 and will be meeting again on Tuesday, October 20 at 5:30 p.m.  It was decided at the last meeting that the primary focus for the year would be climate change and under that umbrella, study areas would be alternative energy and water supply and quality.  Various committee members volunteered to gather information pertaining to these issues.
 
Two amendments to the state constitution regarding solar energy have been proposed.  One is the Floridians for Solar Choice (FSC), which has been endorsed by the Florida LWV; this amendment gives Floridians the right to produce and sell a "small" amount of solar energy. The other amendment, Consumers for Smart Solar (CSS), is proposed by a coalition of public utilities and opposes the FSC amendment. The CSS amendment, while allowing consumers to generate their own electricity via solar, continues governmental regulation to, ostensibly, protect consumer rights and public health, safety and welfare.  
 
If you are confused about this, we are too. Supporters of the FSC amendment feel that the CSS proposed amendment is designed to confuse the electorate and perhaps to negatively impact the effort to obtain signatures on its petition.  These proposed amendments have prompted discussion about the appropriateness for inclusion in the state constitution.  The committee believes that this should be resolved prior to the local League actively supporting the proposed FSC amendment.  Expert opinions are presently being sought.
 
Related to this topic, a field trip to a local solar farm may be arranged sometime soon for interested members.
 
The local Sierra Club is studying water use policies, particularly as they apply to our local water management districts and the Central Florida Water Use Initiative.  The Committee is waiting to hear the results of this study.  One of our members, who is also a former St. Johns River Water Management District employee, has shared a memo he recently wrote while working there which raises pertinent questions related to water supply in the event of shortages due to increased sea level rise.  There is a clear sense that many current decisions made by water management districts have become political and are not based on the best available scientific or technical information.
 
Reports on all of the above will be given at the October 20 Natural Resources Committee meeting  We will also hear from Dorothy Smiljanich, a member of the Protect Paynes Prairie group, concerning the proposed commercialization of the state parks being proposed by the Scott administration.   
 New LWVAC Unit at The Village
A unit of the LWVAC is being organized at The Village retirement community in northwest Gainesville. An organizational meeting is being held on Tuesday, October 20 or contact Jean Martin for more information.  
Speakers Bureau   
The Speakers Bureau has speakers on a wide range of topics available to g microphone roups and classes. If you are a member of an organization which has regular speakers, please remind it  about us. We have speakers on various educational and environmental issues, health care expansion, redistricting and election law, and the League itself. Please have your organization
contact Donna Waller (phone: 352-3710-221, 

A reminder to League members...the state League asks us to keep records of speaking engagements. If you have spoken about these issues to a group or class in 2015, please let me know, so I can give you credit. Last, but certainly not least, if you are interested in speaking about the League or its positions, please contact Donna. We will have many requests in 2016.
acorn
Oak Hammock Meetings 
Alachua County League members who want to attend the Oct. 27 meeting of the Oak Hammock LWVAC Unit must first contact the following e-mail address and give their names so we can notify the security gate and be cleared to enter. The e-mail address is theleague@info.us  

Upcoming In November:  
Professor Mary Adkins, will discuss the Florida Constitutional Revision on T hursday, November 12 at 7  p.m. in the Oak Room.
Education Team Meeting 
The September Education Team meeting was an informative and lively presentation by Ed Stefansen, principal of Alachua eSchool, a locally based online education system.  He explained how eSchool works and how it has grown in just a few short years.  There are almost 2,000 Alachua County students enrolled as full or part-time students in Alachua eSchool.  We also learned how the eSchool is connected to other counties and Florida Virtual School.  It was such an interesting presentation that we did not have time for other business.  Our meeting this month will feature Kathy Black, Director of Alachua County Schools Student Support Services.  She will update us on MacKay Scholarships.  We will meet on Oct. 27th at noon at the Santa Fe College Downtown Center.  All LWV members are welcome to attend.  
Reducing Mail-in Ballot Rejections
By Jerry Kidder 
Several members met with Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter to discuss how we might work on reducing the rejection rate of mail-in ballots. For example, in the 2014 general election 236 (1.2%) of the 19,056 ballots mailed in were rejected. The reasons were:
  • arrived at Elections office after polls closed on election day
  • no signature on envelope
  • signature did not match that on file
We will be exploring ways of decreasing these errors on the part of voters. Voting by mail is convenient and energy efficient. It is gaining in popularity, and we want to improve the already high (98.8% in 2014) acceptance rate.
 Constitution Revision Commission
By Donna Waller
On October 8, our chapter cosponsored a remarkable event, a panel discussion entitled " The Florida Constitution at 50 years: Looking Ahead to the 2017-2018 Revision Commission "


It was divided into two parts. The first was historical and discussed the activities of the 1977-8 and 1997-8 commission, many of whose members were in attendance, as well as serving on the panels. The second panel discussed the issues confronting the 2017-18 commission. Among the panelists were two former governors and two former legislative leaders. The discussion was illuminating, and the League of Women Voters should focus attention on the formation and activities of this body, to which a former commissioner, Robert Borchin, attributed  " awesome power. "
 
The Constitutional Revision Commission meets every 20 years to suggest amendments to the Florida Constitution. Each commission sets its own operating rules and governs its own procedures. For example, in the 1977-8 commission a majority was required for an amendment to be drafted, while in the 1997-8 commission, 60% was required. The commission decides the level of public input it wishes. All the members are chosen by governmental officials. The Attorney General is a mandatory member. The governor chooses fifteen members, while the Senate President and Speaker of the House each appoint nine. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court gets three appointments.
 
The Commission may draft any amendments on any topic. That ' s where the power comes in. After they finish their work, the people must vote to ratify these amendments or not. League Speakers will have to explain them to the voters. The League should be paying attention to this process from the minute it starts. Read up on the Constitutional Revision Commission, its history and activities. It is unique to Florida.
By Colleen Porter
At our fall luncheon on September 24, we were delighted to hear from Pam Goodman, newly elected president of state League.
 
She mentioned her professional career as President/CEO of Limited Express as simply, "I sold t-shirts for a living." 
 
She congratulated our local League on being the third largest in the state, and noted that her home league, Palm Beach, is second-largest in the state, while our last state president was from Orange County which is largest, so maybe she was looking for a possible state president?
 
Goodman planned to talk mostly about advocacy and mostly about redistricting, in which the League has played a prominent role.  She  said that in Tallahassee and around the state, some folks are astonished to see the League of Women Voters playing such a strong and impactful role in advocacy. To them, the League has the image of little old ladies registering voters in front of Publix.   So they are surprised to see us involved in so many issues.  "What do you mean speaking out on campus carry?  Suing the legislature?  Amendment One?"
 
But she reminded us that the League was built on the suffragette movement, and has been involved with advocacy since the beginning.  Back then, women were chaining ourselves to the fence outside of the White House and going to prison.  And to those women, as to us today, "Failure was never an option."
 
Success doesn't happen overnight.  Susan B Anthony didn't live to see ratification of the 19th amendment; only five states had ratified at the time of her death.   Today in Florida one of our battles is redistricting.  The previous maps were among the most gerrymandered in the country, and it has been a grassroots effort to demand fair districts in our state.   
 
She reminded us of the high cost of getting a constitutional amendment: legal fees to craft acceptable language, the cost of getting petitions signed and 10 cents a name to verify each name signed.  And in the case of fair districts:  litigation to make the legislators follow what is in the constitution.
 
She thanked all of us for the grassroots effort that was culminating in a series of victories for the league.  She said that without everyone pitching in, it couldn't have happened, "If you hadn't started with that one petition, one speech, talking to one neighbor."
 
The League started fighting as soon as the Fair Districts amendment passed. A highlight was the strong Supreme Court decision in July.
 
She quoted Margaret Thatcher:  "If you set out to be liked, you'll only compromise every single one of your ideals and never accomplish anything."  

Goodman observed, "We're not liked.  We're respected."

She mentioned that the League was in court even as she was speaking to us.  There has been a lot of media coverage about recent redistricting decisions including
The Florida League of Women Voters released a statement on October 14 detailing the constant revisions to the school accountability system from 2011-2015.  Over and over, the legislature and the Department of Education have tried and failed to get it right.  It is more than a problem with a test.  School grades, teacher evaluations, scoring of exams, and student passing rates all are constantly changed.  Click here to read the full release.
IN MEMORIAM

 Marjorie Alexander
 
Member Marjorie Alexander died on October 9. Marjorie was Voter Service Chair during the years which included the major election season of 2011-2012. In addition to organizing candidate forums, she is remembered in LWVAC for storing some 40,000 Special Edition Voter tabloids in her garage and overseeing their distribution throughout Alachua County and beyond. Despite her struggles with cancer over the past two years, last spring she served on the Awards committee preparing for the Annual Meeting. We will miss her generous service and her unfailingly positive demeanor.

Full obituary at
http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/gainesville/obituary.aspx?n=marjorie-jenkins-alexander&pid=176119046&fhid=4014  

Liselotte Hof

 
Member Liselotte Hof died on September 22. An eminent chemist, she was active after retirement at the Micanopy Historical Society Museum and the Harn Museum of Art.

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