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VOTER Header
February 2008 - Volume 33, Issue 5
In This Issue
February General Meeting
President's Message
Stop Unfair Redistricting
Government Committee Update
Justice Committee Update
Natural Resources Committee Update
Social Policy Committee Update
Voter Service Committee Update
Membership Update
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Save the Dates

See our Events Calendar
for details
 

February 2008

 

4 - Board Meeting, 9AM

North Collier Government Center

 

5 - New and Prospective Members Coffee, 2PM
Private Home in N Naples
 

5 - Government Committee Leaders & Lunch, 10:30AM

Collier Athletic Club

 

11 - Justice Committee, 9:30AM

North Collier Government Center
 
13 - Social Policy Committee, 8AM

Crissy's Wildside Cafe

 

18 - General Meeting

Lunch 11:30AM
Business Meeting 12:30PM

Program 1PM

Collier Athletic Club

 
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General Meeting - February 18
The Challenges and Potential Solutions for Healthcare in Collier County
 

The direction that healthcare will take in the near future is dependent on our political leaders, business leaders, and health care providers themselves.  The electorate's understanding of the issues is crucial to help them make the best possible decision in the November elections.

 

The League has invited those deeply involved in healthcare in Collier County to express their assessment of local issues and possible solution.  The speakers, who will take questions after the formal presentations have been made, will be:

  • Dr. Michael Caputo, MD, President of Collier County Medical Society who has been asked to speak about the impact of insurance companies on individual practitioners.
  • John Scott Mueller from the Naples Children and Education Foundation will discus what that organization's research has revealed about healthcare for the underprivileged and at-risk children of Collier County.
  • Michael Ellis, Vice President of Collier Health Services will address the impact of the lack of insurance on uninsured individuals themselves and the entire healthcare system.
  • Dr. Allen Weiss, President and CEO of NCH Healthcare System, will address the impact of the care of uninsured patients on the finances and care level in Collier County hospitals.

Following the prepared remarks, we will have 20 minutes of question period.

 

Please bring a friend to the meeting.

 
NEW TIME!!

Lunch at 11:30AM in the Club's main dining room

($20 members; $25 nonmembers)

Business Meeting at 12:30PM sharp

Program at 1PM

 
COLLIER ATHLETIC CLUB
710 Goodlette Rd N
Naples, FL 34102
(239) 263-2566
Get directions
 
RSVP for lunch by 5pm Thursday, 2/14 to Hospitality@lwvcolliercounty.org
or 263-4656
Quick Links
President's Message
Chris Straton, President - LWVCC
 Chris Straton - President 

This is a political year and our upcoming monthly programs are geared to politics.  Two of the major national campaign issues have been healthcare and immigration.  As the rhetoric continues at the national level, what is the situation in Collier County?  Experts in the area of healthcare in Collier County will be giving a report to the community at our February 18 General Meeting.  In March, our focus will be on immigration and immigrants in Collier County and our panel will touch upon all aspects of immigration.  For April, we have planned an old-fashioned meet and greet of all the announced local candidates.  Since many of these races will be decided in the August primary when many residents will be gone, we thought it would be beneficial for the public to have a chance to meet the candidates.  We will still host candidate forums in time for the August primary and November general election.

 

valentine's chocolatesBut back to this month.  Valentine's Day is February 14.  I love League.  You love League.  On Valentine's Day we tell others that we love them by giving them a gift.  We need you to let us know how much you really love League.  We need your gift of dollars.  Our budget was based upon previous years' contributions and as of now, we are woefully short, especially for our operating expenses.  Our Board members continue to supplement our budget with in-kind contributions but we need real dollars to pay our rent, our telephone, our insurance, and our commitments to Florida League and National League.  Please consider making a Valentine's Day gift to our General Fund.  Tell us that you love us.  Mail your check payable to League of Women Voters of Collier County to P.O. Box 9883, Naples, FL  34101.

 

Tolling I-75: Update - At our January 21 General Meeting, we had the opportunity to hear from the proponents and opponents of tolling lanes 5 and 6 of I-75 to pay for lanes 7 to 10.   At the conclusion of the meeting, we asked whether the audience thought that Collier County should spend over $600,000 to continue the study of tolling.  The audience overwhelming said no.  The audience was also asked to participate in a straw poll on whether I-75 should be tolled.  The results of that straw poll were 3 in favor and 11 against.

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Stop Unfair Redistricting
Sandy Parker, Government Committee Chair

FairDistrictsFlorida logoPerhaps you know of the League's participation in an effort to change the way Florida's voting districts are drawn and do away with the gerrymandered districts we have today.  Perhaps you signed petitions in 2006 to place an initiative on the ballot to do just that.  Unfortunately, that effort failed.

 
Now we have another opportunity to try to make this happen.  It's well past time to put an end to the legislature's practice of drawing bizarrely shaped, self serving legislative and Congressional districts that break up communities and ignore city and county boundaries. It's well past time to stop Florida's legislators from manipulating the district lines to virtually guarantee their own re-election and to discourage competition.
 
The League of Women Voters, in partnership with Common Cause and others, is hoping to place two new and entirely different fairness amendments on the ballot in 2010. These new amendments would place standards in the constitution that would prohibit the legislature from drawing districts to favor incumbents or political parties.  But we need your help once again.  Please click here to download and sign the new petitions today. (Note: there are two different petitions; please print and sign both!)  Then follow the instructions at the bottom of the petitions to return the signed forms.

Now is the time to stop unfair redistricting, create a fair elections system in Florida and put the power back in the hands of the people. To learn more about this new effort, please visit www.fairdistrictsflorida.org/.

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Government Committee Update
Sandy Parker, Committee Chair

Sandy Parker Leaders and Lunch - Declining enrollment, budget cuts, teacher contract negotiations...our school system is much in the news these days.  Come hear Superintendent Dennis Thompson talk about his role with the school board and his administration's plans to deal with the pressing issues facing Collier County's Public School system.  There will be ample time for Q&A.  Tuesday, February 5 from 10:30 - 11:30AM at the Collier Athletic Club.  Then stay for lunch (members $20; nonmembers $25) after the meeting.  Please reserve by Friday, February 1, with Arlene Shapiro, at arleneshap@gmail.com or by calling 513-1269.

 
2008 Legislative Seminar - The League of Women Voters of Florida's  2008 Legislative Seminar will be held from Sunday, March 16, to Tuesday, March 18, in Tallahassee. It's a terrific exposure to state government in action, an opportunity to lobby elected officials on League priorities, and a great way to get to know fellow League members from around the state.  All League members are welcome!  As in prior years, we will carpool to Tallahassee. Partial reimbursement of registration fees by LWVCC is available. Hotel rooms sell out so you should make your reservation soon.  If you would like to attend or for more information, contact Sandy Parker at 513-1595 or sparker101@gmail.com as soon as possible.
 
Collier County Govt Center SignBoard of County Commissioners Observer Team Report -  As a first time observer, I found out how important it is to be aware of what is happening.  I attended the morning portion of the January 22 Board of County Commissioners meeting.  The first time-certain item heard was an update on water restrictions and how they will be implemented, along with violations. Even though all was reported in the media for public consumption, the Commission was given a thorough update.  The second time-certain item heard was on zoning rules and violations.  This could be an ongoing story if not just in Olde Cypress but also in other developments.  The question that still has to be decided is which authority rules, PUD or land and zoning departments. The instance brought up was an individual case in which undue influence could have occurred with parties on either side of the issue.
- Barbara Karp, Observer
 

From the Back Row: The BCC Observer Team lesson in lexiconDo you speak county?  In keeping with Barbara's observations, here are five key acronyms central to zoning and land use:

  • LDC = Land Development Code.  Collier County's LDC is reviewed and amended within state guidelines via cycles.  An entire book could be written on this subject and probably has, but check out this website if you are curious.
  • PUD = Planned Unit Development. Most new growth is contained in this type of development. The limitations and conditions are shaped by not only the developer(s) and private land use attorneys but by local ordinances and state statute or other applicable laws and local officials.
  • SDP = Site Development Plan. In-depth details of the proposed new development site or revisions to existing development are required for approval. 
  • DCA = Department of Community Affairs.  This is the State of Florida's land planning agency responsible for guiding Florida's growth.  Its mission is to oversee and direct changes in county LDCs and large developments with significant impact on the region.  These developments are called DRIs (see next acronym).  DCA is also responsible for Florida's building codes and standards. Please visit this website for more about DCA's mission and the scope of influence on local governments.
  • DRI = Development of Regional Impact.  Local examples include Big Cypress Stewardship District and Ave Maria.  
- Trudy Rech, BCC Observer Team Leader
 

BlackboardSchool Board Observer Team Report  Superintendent Thompson and his staff presented an overview of the difficult financial situation facing Collier County schools in the next year at the January 15 School Board meeting.  Because of falling enrollment, tax revenue, and other issues, they are projecting an eight to twenty million dollar shortfall in the coming fiscal year.  The administration is recommending a number of strategies for dealing with the situation.  Wherever possible, they are transferring expenses from the general budget to the capital budget or to Title funds under "No Child Left Behind" or to grant funding.   At the same time, a Consolidated Academic plan completed by a large committee of administrative and teaching staff, has focused on the reading, math and English language learners as priority goals.  In order to provide increased instruction in these areas, some of the aide and teacher positions previously assigned to exceptional students have been reassigned or eliminated.  This proposal was the most controversial of those discussed. 

- Gail DiMaggio, School Board Observer Team Leader

 

New members to the BCC and School Board Observer teams are welcome.  For the BCC team, contact Trudy Rech at trudyrech@comcast.net or 455-1119.  For the School Board team, contact Gail DiMaggio at gaildimaggio@aol.com or 774-6132.

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Justice Committee Update
Bernice Schmelz - Committee Chair

Bernice Schmelz

In a recent speech in Naples, Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Secretary Walter McNeil indicated that the DJJ would be looking at school-related entries into the juvenile justice system. 
 

The Executive Summary of the "Delinquency in Florida's Schools Report (2005-06)" released in September (available at  www.djj.state.fl.us) reveals the following:

  • "School-Related referrals decreased by 9% between FY 2004-05 and FY 2005-06."
  • "17% of all referrals received by the Department during FY 2005-06 were school related."
  • "'Disorderly Conduct' and 'Misdemeanor Assault and Battery' accounted for 40% of all school-related delinquency referrals."
  • "Drug and weapon offenses accounted for 24% of all school-related referrals."
  • "64% of school-related referrals were for misdemeanor offenses."

The League of Women Voters supports a juvenile justice system that encourages prevention and diversion programs with the hope that they will reduce the number of juveniles who are arrested or re-arrested.  Many times the "school-related" incident will be the juvenile's first contact with the juvenile justice system, and diversion programs can help turn a youngster around.

 

On February 11, Mara Marzano, Supervisor of County and Juvenile Courts for the State Attorney's Office in Collier, and Carol Fritsch, Coordinator of Collier's Teen Court and Juvenile Drug Court, will be making a presentation to the Justice Committee on the juvenile diversion programs available in Collier.  They will be talking about how juveniles are placed in diversion programs, how each program works, and how successful the programs are in preventing future delinquency.  Also, we'll be hearing about needs for additional programs and volunteers.

 

To learn more, join the Justice Committee at 9:30AM on Monday, February 11 at the North Collier Government Center's Community Room, 2335 Orange Blossom Drive. All are welcome, whether or not you are a member of the committee.  Please RSVP to Justice@lwvcolliercounty.org by February 6 to insure adequate materials are available.

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Natural Resource Committee
Bonnie Michaels, Committee Co-Chair

Bonnie Michaels - Nat. Res.

Update on Natural Resources Survey and Follow-up Event - The Natural Resources Survey will be on our website SOON.  Please fill it out and have your friends and members of the community participate as well. We need to know your opinion about the current state of the environment.  In April, we will offer an event titled Report on Collier County Natural Resources.  The program will include a report on the survey, on how the current commissioners have voted on the environment, and issues coming up in the future. 

 

Water Issues: Fertilizer Ordinance - Did you know that the Naples City Council is determining a fertilizer ordinance?  A workshop on January 21 included information on improving it.  Here is a summary of 6 of the 15 recommended effective elements that should be adopted, according to Jennifer Hecker of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

  • Applicably should be for all persons-homeowners as well as professional and industry
  • A 25' buffer zone
  • A blackout period from June to September
  • Maximum phosphorus limit - 2%
  • Slow release of nitrogen content - 50%
  • Educational program

It's time to get involved! Contact Bonnie Michaels mwfam@aol.com, 596-9135.

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Social Policy Committee
Ann Campbell - Committee Chair

Ann Campbell - Social Policy

Having had three meetings related to the health and welfare of children in our community this season, the Social Policy Committee is scheduled to look at the needs of the mentally ill at its Wednesday, February 13 meeting at 8AM at Crissy's Wildside Café. Our speaker is David Schimmel, CEO of the David Lawrence Center (DLC), a not-for-profit, community mental health and substance abuse treatment center. DLC provides a broad range of services to the community so we asked Mr. Schimmel to focus his remarks on a particular program.

 

We would like to know about DLC's approach to helping clients transition to an optimal level of independence including training in basic living skills, managing their meds, and finding and keeping employment.  We hope to discuss the Clubhouse model of psychiatric rehabilitation as well.  Our committee member, Judith Gartner, is an officer in the Clubhouse organization, which has units throughout the United States and elsewhere in Florida.  Plans are underway to establish a Clubhouse in Lee County.

 

Please contact Ann Campbell at acamp1082@aol.com or 263-1755  by Monday, February 11, to reserve a place. The cost for a generous breakfast is $12.00 including tax and tip. All members are invited and guests are always welcome.

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Voter Service Committee
Chris Straton - Committee Chair
Chris Straton - President

Starting in mid-December and continuing through mid-January, the League has been very active getting the word out to churches, civic groups, and business groups about the January 29, 2008, election.  Our focus was 1) making sure that people are registered, 2) explaining the various voting procedures, and 3) discussing the pros and cons of the property tax referendum.  We invited people to participate in a straw poll on the property tax referendum and found that over 75% of those who attended forums at the public libraries said that they would vote no. 

 

Our next task is to update our Voter's Guide to reflect the results of the District 101 special election and the Everglades, Naples and Marco Island City elections.  We will provide updated copies at our General Meetings and on our website. 

 

We have initiated discussions with the Hispanic and Haitian community about ways to get out the vote.  The Greater Naples Branch of AAUW is partnering with us to develop programs to increase voter turnout for the upcoming August 2008 primary and November 2008 general election.  And we have plans to work with the Collier County Bar Association to provide the voters with information on judicial candidates.

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Membership Update
Anne Lewallen, Committee Chair
Men Can Join, Too

This month, we welcome:

 
Welcome New Members
 
-  Liese Barnes
-  Kathryn Beeken
-  Brandy Callahan
-  Ellen Hamilton
-  Norine Hemping
-  Shari Monetta
 

Contact information for all members can be found in the "For Members" section of our website.

 
If you know someone who may be interested in joining our League, please contact me at
Membership@lwvcolliercounty.org, or direct them to the "Join Us" page on our website, where they can print a membership application.
 

New & Prospective New Member Coffee - Please join us at President Chris Straton's home for tea on Feb. 5th at 2PM.  These lively, informal get togethers are great for learning about all facets of League activity and getting to know other members.  Just let me know either by e-mail or phone 435-1845 if you can join us and bring a friend.  Additional coffees are planned for March 13 at 10AM and April 3 at 2PM.

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About Us
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.  Our goal is to empower citizens to shape better communities worldwide.
 
Visit our website at www.lwvcolliercounty.org for our current list of officers, directors, and off-board members , our 2007-2008 Program, Diversity Policy, Nonpartisan Policy, By-Laws and more.
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