League of Women Voters News - MARCH 15, 2019

Our Annual Meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 17, 2019  at the Atlantis Country Club. The business meeting will start at 9:00 A.M . The agenda will include:

  • Committee reports
  • Adoption of our proposed budget
  • State of the League
  • Nominating Committee report
  • Officer elections
  • Board of Directors election
  • Recommendations to the board
  • Education fund report (activity, proposed budget, etc.)

The is no charge for members to attend the Annual Meeting. The business meeting is followed by a Hot Topic luncheon at 11:30 a.m. The guest speaker is Peter Cruise , director of the new Ethics Academy at FAU. Be sure to make your luncheon reservation by clicking the button. 
For a complete listing of events,
click the button below to go to our Calendar!
Register for events at LWVPBC.org or by contacting Estelle Friedman at efriedman@bellsouth.net or (561) 968-4123.
You can view streamed events on LWVPBC Facebook Live.
By Pam Maldonado

Robin Sambur is the Voter Services Committee’s representative on the Voter Rights Restoration Coalition, chaired by Nancy Cohen & Linda Geller-Schwartz .  Working with an outstanding group of Leaguers and dedicated civil servants from The Re-Entry Center, we took part in an event targeting “returning citizens” at the Riviera Beach Marina Village.  Several County agencies were present, including the DMV mobile driver’s license unit and the County Clerk’s office, who brought laptops and accessed felons’ records. The clerks helped confirm completion of sentence terms.

Unfortunately, of the approximately 75 people who came to register, only 12 were able to register.  The situation concerning box #2--where everyone must affirm they are not a convicted felon, or if they are, their rights have been restored—is not yet well defined.  By providing false information, the registrant is committing a 3 rd degree felony carrying possible jail time and a fine. We should be aware, though, that Palm Beach County State Attorney, Dave Aronberg has publicly stated, "The Florida legislature should not thwart the will of the voters by attempting to block or limit the plain language of Amendment 4. My office will not prosecute individuals who, under Amendment 4, believe in good faith that their voting rights have been restored and register to vote.”.

Clearly, we were overly optimistic about registering thousands of returning citizens. It will be much more difficult to determine whether sentences are completed. It is expected that the courts will be required to rule on what sentence completion and terms of sentence mean. Meanwhile, we are reaching out to community organizations with whom to partner when the terms become better defined.  We hope that the Riviera Beach event will be the model for many more in the future.  It was a pleasure working with Director Orie Bullard and his staff.

Teamwork--that’s what we’re all about!  When a $3,000 grant opportunity to register voters at naturalization ceremonies came up with a very tight window for submission, Joyce Sullivan , Rebecca Cohen and Pam Maldonado developed a very strong bid that resulted in a quick thumbs-up from LWVUS.  That is how we’re supposed to work!

To date, we have never participated in naturalization ceremonies, but after discussing our plans with the Deputy Supervisor of Elections, we got the OK to get involved.  We plan to use the money to put together packets of information for new citizens, including the Legislative Directory, Citizenship Question Mini Crossword #1 booklets, and more. We have found that while new citizens are anxious to vote, they are afraid to go to the polls and be embarrassed because they don’t know what to do.  They fear making fools of themselves. 

We will be working closely with Civics Education to register the new citizens and provide them the information they need to vote with confidence.    Rebecca Cohen has agree to head the sub-committee.

Debra Chandler, LWVPBC Vice President
Public Defender, Carey Haughwout
Cool Topic Successful

Carey Haughwout , our Public Defender and LWVPBC member, spoke movingly about the desperate need for criminal justice reform. She began with a moving story about “Alfred”  (“His name was changed to protect the not-so-innocent”).  Alfred, an African-American, black male from Belle Glade began his life of crime because he had no opportunity for employment or education.  He sold drugs in order to survive and provide for his son. The spiral continued downward and he is now in prison.  His son is fourteen. Alfred is not alone.  Unless we address sentencing disparity, socioeconomic issues, employment, and the growing criminal justice complex, we are doomed to continue spending millions on the incarceration of our citizens instead of education, healthcare, and the environment. Twenty five percent of minority children under the age of fourteen have at least one parent who is in or was in prison. Carey spoke sincerely and with passion. 

Debra Chandler , in her introduction, touted Carey as a true public servant.  Having known Carey for more than thirty years, she described the accolades and awards our Public Defender has received, as well as the incredible work she has done.
Some of the members attending the Cool Topics Event.
Proposed Bylaw Amendments Passed!

Prior to Carey speaking, members voted to adopt the proposed bylaw changes.  The President will now be required to sign checks greater than $1,000, appointed Board members will now serve two-year terms, dues will be due on the first of the month you joined (current members will renew in October), proxies will be permitted at the Annual Meeting, and electronic voting will be allowed once the board of directors sets a procedure.  The amended Bylaws can be seen on the League website at  LWVPBC.org.
Florida Legislative Session Starts:
Will we see Election Reform?
There were lots of problems with the 2018 election—
long, complicated, poorly understood ballots.
Vote-by-Mail questions about ‘cures’ and counting
recounts and differing counts.

Will we see election reforms advance in the Florida Legislature?
Amendment 4 was passed by 64.5% of Florida voters:
Are citizens enfranchised by passage of Amendment 4 registering to vote?

Can you help us reach out to Returning Citizens?
Let’s come up with reasons to register and  vote.
Come to the Voting Rights Coalition meeting Thursday April 4, 2pm, at Compass, 201 North Dixie Highway, Lake Worth 
What's the Affordable Housing Issue Group
Been Doing Lately?
By Sammy Alzofon

We've been focused on statewide and local lobbying for full Sadowski housing trust funding since last year, and  now move our attention to Tallahassee in advance of the March 5 legislative session. There is a lot of excitement statewide as both the Senate and Governor DeSantis are budgeting for full funding. The Sadowski Coalition has posted a number of editorials from newspapers around the state: https://www.sadowskicoalition.org/news

Quick Facts: Florida still has an affordable housing crisis  says the  2019 Home Matters , just out:
 • 921,928 very low-income Florida households—which include hardworking families, seniors, and people with disabilities—pay more than 50% of their income for housing.
 • Florida has the third highest homeless population of any state in the nation, with 32,190 people living in homeless shelters and on the streets. This includes 2,817 veterans and 9,422 people in families with at least one child.
 • Low-wage jobs are prevalent in Florida’s economy. In many occupations, workers do not earn enough to rent a modest apartment or buy their first home.

The League is going to Tallahassee!

On April 9 and 10, 2019 , LWV delegations from all the local leagues in Florida will be at the State House in Tallahassee.
We will be making appointments for you to meet with the Palm Beach County senators and representatives and state officials. 

We encourage you to apply to be part of our Palm Bach County delegation. To be eligible, you:1) need to attend the PBC training session on legislative procedures 2) need to have attended an PBC Advocacy Training workshop 3) need to be presently involved in at least one Issue Committee and fully understand the subjects in that committee. 4) can represent LWVPBC only during your visits to elected or government officials.

To contain costs, we encourage sharing of rooms and carpooling.We will provide each accepted delegate a stipend of $500. This stipend is to assist in covering room, meals, and registration. We suggest that delegate passengers pay the driver. We are limited to 15 delegates.

Sorry, but we cannot cover costs for non-delegates or guests. 

If you are interested in being part of the delegation, please email Karen Wilkerson at  karenwilkerson4498@comcast.net  by March 22, 2019..
Linda Geller-Schwarts introducing
our guest speaker.
Damien Filer, Communications Director, Progress Florida Education Institute
Damien Filer, Informative Speaker in February
By Marsha Vinson

Damien Filer , the Communications Director for Progress Florida Education Institute, was the speaker at the February 20, 2019 Hot Topic luncheon. Linda Geller-Schwartz , PBC LWV Co-Chair, Voting Rights Coalition, introduced Mr. Filer, a well-known advocate for progressive policy solutions, government accountability, and access to justice. He is an award-winning strategist currently spearheading the Florida Access to Justice Project and leads the Florida Why Courts Matter coalition.  
He illustrated the impact of the courts in healthcare, election laws, reproductive rights, and the 2020 census. All are areas of interest to the League. He described the public's relationship with the judiciary and courts. Judicial candidates, methods of judicial selection, court vacancies, and qualifications were all discussed. He stated that the goal should be to restore constitutional norms through the appointment of fair-minded constitutionalists.  Mr. Filer outlined ways Leaguers can be engaged, by submitting Letters to the Editor, writing op-eds, educating the public and lobbying elected officials.  He urged the audience to vote and to maintain a positive attitude.

LWVPBC President, Karen Wilkerson , made a number of announcements:
  • Fifty one new and prospective members attended the February, 2019 "New Member Orientation".  
  • Our chapter is growing and is one of the largest in the country.
  • Florida Atlantic University has invited LWVPBC to participate at Constitution Day on September 15, 2019
  • We are publishing both print and online editions of the Directory of Elected Officials, which is available on our website and throughout the county.  
  • We received a $2000 grant from LWV National
  • League members are circulating BAWN and Medicaid expansion petitions.  
  • A large turnout is expected for the March 20, 2019 Hot Topics event featuring Terryl Lawrence, speaking on Josephine Baker: Advocate, Singer, Dancer. 
Welcome to these  New League Members           
March 2019

Gabriella Adelusi , West Palm Beach; Leontyne Brown , West Palm Beach;
Sandra Caruso , Palm Beach Gardens; Kelly Diehr , Boca Raton; Patricia Doman (SBA), West Palm Beach; Mattie Fore (SBA), Lake Worth, Elaine & Russ Gordon , Boynton Beach; Stefanie Grzandziel , Boca Raton; Elisa Lamar , Boynton Beach; Ancy Louis , Boynton Beach; Myra Lowell , Boca Raton; Serena Lurie , Delray Beach; Susan Lyster,  Jupiter; Phyllis Malmuth , Highland Beach; Lucy Montague-Bernstein , Jupiter; Pamela Higer Polani , Delray Beach; Valentina Penuela-Gonzalez , Wellington; Valerie Pergolizzi, West Palm Beach; Teresa Romano (SBA), Delray Beach; Nancy and William Schneider , Jupiter; Lori Weintraub , Boynton Beach; Joan F. Stern , Delray Beach; Donna Straat , Delray Beach.

(SBA stands for Susan B. Anthony level membership)
Contact information on these members can be found in the Member Directory at lwvpbc.org.

Next Orientation for New Members and Others interested in League
will be Saturday, May 4, from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
RSVP:  dkostrub@aol.com/561-852-0496

Are you looking for ways to help the League? There is a need for help in the following areas:

Proofreaders ; The News is looking for proofreaders to preview issues twice per month. It requires careful reading and editing for grammar and punctuation. For information, contact Debra Chandler at dachandler55@gmail.com.

Videogoraphers ; We need people skilled in audio/visual to assist LiveStreaming League events. If you are interested, contact Ken Horkavy at kenhorkavy@gmail.com .

If Issue Groups or Standing Committees have needs in specific areas, please contact Debra Chandler at dachandler55@gmail.com to arrange a "Help Wanted" notice.
Debra Chandler, Managing Editor
Ken Horkavy, IT
Cecily Feldman, MaryJane Range, Harry Rosenfeld, Faith Schulman, Emily Rosen, Marsha Vinson
Making Democracy Work! The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan, political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
Contact Your League:  info@lwvpbc.org | www.lwvpbc.org