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January 2016


In This Issue
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LWV Events
Tue, Jan 19
Village Unit Meeting
Details TBA

Tue, Jan 26

Education Committee Meeting
Early Childhood Education
Santa Fe College Downtown 
12 Noon
Wed, Feb 3
Natural Resources Team Meeting
Rm. DA 129
Santa Fe College Downtown

Mon, Feb 8
LWVAC  Board Meeting
CIED Bldg.
 530 W. University Ave.
 6:00 p.m.

Wed, Feb 10
Mayoral Candidate Forum
Martin Levin Advocacy Center
 University of Florida Levin College of Law

Thu, Feb 11
Oak Hammock Unit Meeting
Candidate Forum For City Election
Oak Room
7 p.m. 

Tue, Feb 16
LWV Unit at the Village
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.

 Events of Interest
Fri, Jan 15- Feb 19
  Course on Judicial System
Oak Room at Oak Hammock
registration required
1:30 p.m.

Wed, Jan 20
Welcoming Diversity
Thomas Center
6 p.m

Tue, Jan 26
U.S. Interests Section in Cuba
John Caulfield
Bob Graham Center
PUGH Hall Ocora
University of Florida
6 p.m.

Tue, Feb 2
Health Care Reform and Obama Administration
Bob Graham Center
PUGH Hall Ocora
University of Florida
6 p.m.

Mon, Feb 8
Florida Free Speech Forum
Topic: The Battle of Church and State
Leadership Team

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

LWV US website
LWV Education Blog
President's Message  
Sue Legg
It's a NEW YEAR!  Will it be a better year? The Florida Supreme Court ruling in favor of the League's redistricting lawsuit bodes well for the future. The Florida legislature is in session.  I compared the League's priorities to the Governor's budget.  The total proposed state budget is $92,100,000 lower than the 2015 budget.  It also promises over one billion in tax cuts that go primarily to manufacturing, retail, and commercial leases. Click here.

In a nutshell, the Governor traded increases for education for decreases in health care and natural resources.  Unfortunately, most of the proposed education increases would be funded by local property taxes, not state revenue. 
Some bills have surfaced that we need to track.  The Florida League lobbyist, Debbie Rumsfelder, has provided a list
  • Voting Law and Rights:  The League is tracking the implementation of the redistricting laws and felon restoration rights.
  • Education:  Funding would grow by a total of about $430 million, but about half of the increase comes from local property taxes.  What will happen to class size funding, charter school management, or local school district control?
  • Social and Criminal Justice:  The judicial and criminal justice systems have projected increases.  Will anything happen to curb mismanagement in prisons?  How will concealed carry weapons bills fare?
  • Health Care and Natural Resources:  Cuts in these areas nearly offset the increases in education. How will oil, gas, and water regulation change?  Will hospitals serving low income families have to close?  What happens to children excluded from the Children's Medical Services program?
There is skepticism about the proposed budget.  There may be room to maneuver.  Let's go to work. Join us at the League's Legislative Summit on February 16-17.  Register here now.  Organize a car pool.  
In League, 
Sue Legg
Mayoral Candidate Forum  
By Gail Sasnett
A Mayoral Candidate Forum will be held Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Martin Levin Advocacy Center at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. The public can submit questions to ask the candidates by email at gainesvillevoice@gmail.com or tweet it with the hashtag #GNVoice.  The forum will be broadcast live, streamed live, and recorded for replay. Parking is available around the law school; the Advocacy Center is on the west side of the complex.

This effort is a partnership between the Gainesville Sun, WUFT, the League of Women Voters of Alachua County, UF's Bob Graham Center for Public Service and the Graham Center Student Fellows.
Here is a list the upcoming community forums
Natural Resources Report
By Julia Reiskind  
Whitey Markel of the Suwanee-St. John's Sierra Club presented a PowerPoint, "Water Works - Stand Up and Act Now". The information was gathered by a team from Citrus, Marion and Levy counties, known as the Tri-County Working Group. A 2010 analysis estimated that per capita residential water use is 85 gallons per day for the three-county area, and this does not include agricultural, industrial, etc., uses. Water for recreation is particularly important in these counties for job creation (1400) and tourism revenue ($311,000,000). The numbers statewide are, of course, much greater; tourism is the state's number one income source and much of it depends on clean water. For this reason proposed developments should be eco-sensitive. Development that is not eco-sensitive is destructive to the natural hydrological cycle through over pumping, storm water runoff, pollution, destruction of natural filtration, saltwater intrusion just to mention a few issues. All outstanding Florida waterways are impaired, largely due to a stringy blue-green alga ( Lyngbya). In addition Florida taxpayers should be aware that for each dollar a developer spends, the cost per taxpayer ranges from $1.39 to $2.45, i.e., development does not pay for itself. The water bill that is presently before the FL Legislature and was passed by the Senate today (January 13th) is inadequate to address the above concerns, and we are urged to contact our Representatives to propose amendments to the companion House Bill (7005). Go to http://www.1000friendsofflorida.org/2016-water-policy-legislation/ or http://www.tbtpics.tampabay.com/news/perspective/water-bills-ready-for-quick-vote-but-environmental-groups-want-to-slow-it/2260466 for information.

The solar choice amendment to the state constitution did not collect enough approved petitions to make it to the ballot. However the petitions are good for two years, so the push is now for 2018. The public utility sponsored amendment also did not get enough approved petitions. At this time, the ballot language for this initiative has yet to be approved by the Florida Supreme Court. It was reported at our meeting that there are a couple of legislative initiatives to include solar as part of the utility mix, but at this point the committee is unsure exactly what they are.

In other committee business future study areas were discussed. These included water, Amendment 1 and transportation. We decided to focus on water issues. One committee member will bring us information on city (Gainesville) and county alternatives to ground water pumping.

The next meeting will be Wednesday, February 3 at 5:30 p.m. in room DA-129 downtown Santa Fe College, Blount Center, 401 NW 6th Street.
Education Team Meeting  
At its November meeting the Education Team heard a presentation by Everett Caudle about the Alachua County School system and had an interesting discussion of new and innovative programs in Alachua County schools.

After a holiday break, we will meet again on Tuesday, January 26 at noon to hear from member Tom Logan on the early childhood proposal presented to the Alachua County Commission on January 5th.  We will meet in the conference room at the Santa Fe College Downtown campus on NW 6th Street. 
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.

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.
By Bennett Brummer
On January 13, the LWVAC and the Bob Graham Center sponsored a  forum, "Unintended Consequences:  Impacts of the Criminal Justice System."  The panelists were Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones, Eighth Circuit Public Defender (and LWVAC member) Stacy Scott, and Steve Pittman, who serves on the board of directors of Peace4Gainesville, and as COO, Meridian Behavioralnull
Healthcare.  The moderator was Bennett Brummer,
former Miami-Dade Public Defender, and Chair, LWVAC Social & Criminal Justice Committee.  
The audience of more than 100 people reflected a wide range of community groups and interests.  The panel and audience members had a lively discussion about some of the inevitable tensions and dramatic, unintended consequences of the criminal justice system in Alachua County.  
Although the Gainesville Police Department and others have had some success in addressing the disproportionate presence of people of color in the criminal justice system, more needs to be done.  Despite reduced state funding, Alachua County is fortunate to have good resources, good momentum, and a great opportunity for continued improvement.  
The public health model: prevention of problems, and prompt, effective treatment when prevention fails would suggest that we support children and their families so that we can minimize dragging people into the criminal justice system.  One great benefit would be to reduce the financial and social expense of incarceration.  The discussion focused on the need for continuing efforts to improve the following:
- the school-to-prison pipeline, the System of Care, access to mental health   and substance abuse services outside of the criminal justice system;
- fair and impartial policing, police-community relations; the use of civil citations, rather than arrests; and officer training;
- incarceration for petty offenses, reliance on money bail for indigents and pretrial detention, plea bargaining, and funding for indigent legal representation;
- juvenile sentencing, judicial review of decisions to charge juveniles in adult court; and
- counterproductive, harsh sentencing, and "reentry" challenges for released convicts - including release from prison without adequate support, sealing records, the collateral consequences of conviction, and restoration of rights.   
The forum will provide the basis for LWVAC study and possible action.  To follow up on issues raised at the forum, the League will sponsor Community Conversations on January 21, 2016 from 6-7:30 pm at the Santa Fe College CIED, 530 W. University Avenue. 

Also see
Gainesville Sun article  
Welcoming Diversity   
Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 6 pm -"Welcoming Diversity, A Community Action Forum against Islamophobia and Intolerance" - Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice, UF Center for Islamic Studies, and Welcoming Gainesville will sponsor an interfaith response to the Syrian refugee crisis at the Thomas Center. More info on Facebook, RSVP Links
Health Care Reform & Obama Administration     
In recent years, bitter partisan disputes have
erupted o ver health care reform. On Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. in the Pugh Hall Ocora, Jonathan Oberlander, professor of Health Policy & Management at the University of North Carolina-Ch apel Hill, will explore ongoing political fights over and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, health care cost control and Medicare reform.

The event is free and open to the public and will be streamed live on the Bob Graham Center website. For more information, visit bobgrahamcenter.ufl.edu

U.S Interests Section in Cuba  
As the former senior U.S diplomat in
Peru, Venezuela, and most recently
as  th
e Chief of U.S Interests Section
in Cuba, John Caulfield has
witnessed the cultural, religious and economic revival of Cuba.

On Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Pugh Hall Ocora, Caulfield will examine U.S/Cuban relations, providing essential background to the normalization policy announcement, progress since the announcement, and challenges that lie ahead. Caulfield will also touch on Cuba's potential in agriculture and tourism, its flourishing art scene and how Americans are supporting the religious rebirth of Cuba.

This event is sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies, Oak Hammock, The University of Florida International Center and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service. The event is free and open to the public and will be streamed live on the Bob Graham Center website. For more information, visit bobgrahamcenter.ufl.edu

Money and Politics Consensus  
By Donna Waller  
On Thursday, January 7, 2016 from 6:00 ­ 8:30 P.M. twenty one members of the Alachua LWV chapter attended a consensus meeting on Money and Politics at the CIED Center, Blount Center, Santa Fe College. Karen Seabury acted as scribe and did an excellent job. I chaired the meeting. I was asked to do that because I am a political scientist who knows a bit about the history of campaign finance reform. I had never actually attended a consensus meeting. Kathy Kidder did a lot to help me understand the process and move it along. It was a wonderful experience, and I urge members to participate the next time one is called. It is an exercise in grassroots democracy. It reminded me that democracy is often time consuming and messy. Some might say inefficient. You must love it for its own sake, and it was heartening to me to see and hear an intelligent and committed group of people take the time to think clearly about and discuss a topic of national importance. Kudos to all the participants, including two of this year's interns Cody Patton and Jonathan Hale. Thank you all for your thoughtful input. Attached you will find our responses to questions generated by a year long study by the national LWV on campaign finance reform. These will be submitted to the national LWV Committee. If you are interested, please access the League study.

Hot Topics Program on Juvenile Justice
On Tuesday, December 15, we heard from Judge Robert E. Roundtree, Jr. who is the Chief Judge of the 8th Judicial Circuit of Florida.
He discussed the many innovative approaches that are being used to avoid institutionalizing young offenders, working with schools and mental health professionals to minimize the "school to prison pipeline."  These involve issuing civil citations rather than an arrest.

Teen Court provides classes and requires restitution, such as writing a letter of apology.  Project Payback requires community service and provides restitution to victims.  New strategies also allow probation officers to have more discretion over technical violations, such as curfew violations. 

Judge Roundtree noted that many of the young people who appear before him, do not have stable homes and lack a good male role model, important since children learn by watching. 

He hoped that in the future, laws will allow detention hearing by video since it is a burden for parents from outlying counties to take time off work and find transport to the hearing.  
The VOTER is the official newsletter of The League of Women Voters of Alachua County/Gainesville