Chris Straton, President - LWVCC
At last it has arrived. The 2008 Presidential Election Year! This may be the longest Presidential Campaign in the modern world. Already people are become tired of the campaigning, debates and pundits. If you are a Florida voter registered as a member of a political party, be sure to vote in your party's Presidential Preference Primary on January 29, 2008.
But, we have so much more than the Presidential campaign to focus upon. This is the year when Naples and Marco Island elect new council members in January. We have three County Commissioners, two School Board members, every Constitutional Officers, every State Representative, a State Senator, and a Congressman up for election. The Primary, where many races have been traditionally decided, has been moved to August. We have announced candidates already for Sheriff, State Senator, Congress, County Commission and the official filing date is months away. There is no better time to be a League member. Now is the time to focus on the issues and not get caught up in partisan politics. The League can provide an important voice of reason, amidst all the histrionics of party politics. This is also a wonderful opportunity to encourage your friends to join the League.
Let's work for better voter turnout in 2008.
|Partisan? No. Political? You Bet!
|Dianne Wheatley-Giliotti, President - LWV of Florida
The Florida VOTER, Winter 2007
As the Presidential election season intensifies and the 2008 Florida election cycle approaches, this is the time when League members need to be most careful to guard the non-partisan policy of the League. Our non-partisan policy protects the good name of the League of Women Voters. The League as an organization does not support or oppose any political party, candidate for elective office, or any group that supports candidates. This applies whether a candidate is running under a party designation or in a non-partisan election.
But, you may be thinking, we are a political organization. Yes, we encourage members to be involved, as individuals, in advocacy and in campaigns, and to run for office. And, we are proud that many do (excluding board members, of course). We support issues that we have studied and upon which we have reached consensus. But the League does not endorse candidates, even when candidates support issues that we support.
As League members, we understand the role of partisan politics in our country, state, and community. As League members, we also recognize that to ensure that the League's voice is heard above the noise of partisan politics, we must protect our well-earned non-partisan reputation. Our non-partisan policy is what sets us apart from other political organizations. All local Leagues have adopted non-partisan policies. Some are more restrictive than others as to the electioneering of board members. If you are politically active during this election season, please take a moment to think about how your participation may be perceived. Please think about the extent to which the public identifies a board or off-board member's activities with those of your League; please, think about the visibility associated with a specific political activity (ranging from participation in partisan social affairs to signing petitions for candidates or making campaign contributions or serving as a campaign manager).
All League members are responsible for maintaining the credibility and longevity of the League as a non-partisan organization. We speak with one voice as an organization when our Presidents speak out on our positions. At the League's founding in Chicago in 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt said: "In the League of Women Voters, we have an anomaly: we are going to be a semi-political body. We want political things; we want legislation; we are going to educate for citizenship. In that body we have got to be non-partisan and all-partisan." Let's work together to uphold this political differentiator. _____________________________________________________________________
|Property Tax Reform - The League Opposes the Property Tax Referendum And Urges you to Vote NO!
Chris Straton, President - LWVCC
On the January 29, 2008, ballot you will be asked to vote on a constitutional amendment on property taxes. It is estimated that the average savings to a Collier County taxpayer is only $140. According to the Legislature's own calculations, passage of this constitutional amendment will result in revenue losses of $12.4 billion in the next five years. These losses are in addition to the already mandated revenue cap passed by the Legislature during its earlier session.
We oppose this constitutional amendment and ask you to vote NO for the following reasons:
(1) worsens Florida's current infrastructure deficit and the decline in the level of state services and in our quality of life;
(2) takes away from local governments an important funding source;
(3) does not allow the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission to complete its re-examination of the appropriateness of the tax structure of the state;
(4) adds limitations and exemptions regarding revenue sources in the Florida Constitution;
(5) extends and increases homestead tax limitations without regard to the ability of homeowners to pay;
(6) extends the inequity created through Save Our Homes by allowing homeowners to transfer its benefits.
For more information, see pages 6 - 10 of the LWVF President's Mailing by clicking here, email President@lwvcolliercounty.org or call 263-4656.
Teacher Contract Impasse Causes only Cancellation of KYCG Program in 29 Years; Teen Citizenship Program to Take Year Off
Ann Campbell, KYCG Committee Member
Regretfully, The Know Your County Government (KYCG) Teen Citizenship Program is going to have to take a hiatus in 2008 due to an impasse in teachers' contract negotiations. This unique program would have been in its twenty-ninth year.
A partnership of the League of Women Voters of Collier County, Collier County Extension/4-H Youth Development and Collier County Public Schools Social Studies Departments, KYCG teaches high school students the purpose and function of county government, how it operates, and what career opportunities it offers. Students from private as well as public schools are invited to apply through their social studies teachers; thirty-five students are accepted each year. The students meet with the constitutional officers and other county leaders and take field trips to departments such as the County Landfill, County Museum, and County Courts. The culminating activity each year has always been a student luncheon with the Commissioners and County Manager. This important civics experience has helped to prepare hundreds of Collier County students to be shareholders in their government.
During this hiatus, the KYCG planning committee will take the opportunity to review and fine tune the program in preparation for next year.
|Government Committee Update
Sandy Parker, Committee Chair
Leaders and Lunch - Come hear County Manager Jim Mudd on Thursday, January 17 from 10:30 - 11:30 am at the Collier Athletic Club. Learn what the Collier County manager's job entails, the issues he and his staff deal with and the way it impacts how we are governed. Then stay for lunch (members $20; nonmembers $25) after the meeting. Please reserve by Tuesday, January 15 with Arlene Shapiro, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 513-1269.
Action Alert Update - In early December, the National League of Women Voters asked members to call or write their U.S. Senators and urge them to vote to repeal the Protect America Act and to limit the ability of government agencies to obtain information about American citizens without the appropriate judicial constraints. On December 17, facing stiff opposition, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid abruptly postponed consideration of the matter until January. To sign up for Action Alerts, email Government@lwvcolliercounty.org.
Board of County Commissioners Observer Team Report -
What actually does a BCC Observer Team member do? How hard can it possibly be to OBSERVE?? And why is it a worthwhile activity
?? I joined the BCC Observer Team this year for two (what I felt were good) reasons:
(1) I wanted to be "in the know" about the goings on within Collier County and felt a good way to get there was to sit in on the Collier County Commissioners' Board Meetings, and
(2) after many years in Corporate life, with it's both formal (and informal!) debating, I now really enjoy watching others during any kind of 'debate,' seeing the parties involved absorbing hours and hours of differing sides to an argument, weighing all sides to the argument and coming up with actions that are most fair and equitable - doesn't happen too often and so, when it does, I find it exciting!
Well, my first County Commission meeting this past week wasn't disappointing! I attended the morning session and had the opportunity to see our County Commissioners and process in action. All of the Commissioners were present. While I was there, they heard about six different petitions, some complex, some they found inappropriate for county action and others extraordinarily difficult to resolve. If you think that the County Commissioners' jobs are 'cushy' ones, I urge you to sign up and join the League's BCC Observer Team. I promise you will change your opinion and be pleasantly surprised!
- Susan Bookbinder, Observer
From the Back Row: The BCC Observer Team lesson in lexicon - Do you speak county? Acronyms proliferate in many technical professions. County government has some commonly used shorthand expressions which can mystify even the most experienced government watcher.
For example: what is a CRAB?
2.sea creature which makes a great appetizer
3.official governing body of the Community Redevelopment Agency (the Board)
Yes, the answer is #3. The CRA Board members are also the County Commissioners. Commissioner Donna Fiala is the chair of this Board which meets regularly during the normal County Commission Board meetings. The agenda header will include this acronym when this Board has business to act on. Want to know more? Please join the others currently observing the County Commission Board meetings.
- Trudy Rech, BCC Observer Team Leader
School Board Observer Team Report - At 2 pm on Thursday, Dec. 13, Sandy Parker, Rose DiBiasi and I attended our first board of education meeting at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Administration Building. All of the board members were present, as well as the board's attorney, Superintendent Thompson and other of the system's upper administrators. The board began by discussing proposals for the redrawing of district lines in order to accommodate the opening of three new elementary schools - still referred to as "elementary schools K, G and J". In other business, they voted to name the new technical school in Immokalee the "Immokalee Technical Center." Finally, Superintendent Thompson summarized the difficult economic conditions facing us. At around 4:30 the board opened the floor to public comments in order to accommodate the audience (largely teachers, students) who had come to speak on either the teacher contract or a plan to drop the block schedule at the high schools. We had to leave around this time for the League's Holiday Party, and so missed the real drama which followed. In any case, our first experience was both enlightening and stimulating.
- 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 email@example.com or 455-1119. For the School Board team, contact Gail DiMaggio at firstname.lastname@example.org or 774-6132.
|Justice Committee Update
Bernice Schmelz - Committee Chair
January Meeting - 9:30 am, Monday, January 14, 2008, North Collier Government Center Community Room, 2335 Orange Blossom Drive - Kerri Hixon, Chairman of the Collier County Coalition Against Human Trafficking (CCCAHT), will be providing training on the legal aspects of human trafficking, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protections Act of 2000 (TVPA), and the prosecution of human trafficking cases, including the difficulties both with the victims and with the laws as far as obtaining convictions in these cases. The CCCAHT has been in operation since December 2004. It is a volunteer organization comprised of community service providers, law enforcement officers and private citizens who volunteer their services and time to educate the community and to provide services to victims. According to Hixson, "the stance of the CCAHT is to be proactive in its assistance to local victim service providers and law enforcement in the fight against all human trafficking in Collier County and throughout Southwest Florida." We invite everyone to join us for this committee update on the fight against human trafficking in our area. To insure adequate materials, please RSVP to Bernice Schmelz by January 10 at Justice@lwvcolliercounty.org.
February Meeting - Monday, February 11, 2008, Juvenile Diversion Programs in Collier County. Mara Marzano, State Attorney's Office, and Carol Fritsch, Coordinator of Teen and Juvenile Drug courts, will be our speakers. Location to be announced.
Rights Restoration - Although initial steps have been taken by the governor and cabinet to streamline the clemency process for ex-offenders, there is a lot to be done to "provide a reasonable and efficient process for accomplishing the restoration of civil rights," according to Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sanchez. To that end, People for the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) have established websites and toll-free hotlines in a nonpartisan effort to help offenders find out if their rights have been restored and provide information and assistance in registering to vote. For assistance, ex-offenders can call the FRRC at 1-877-826-8682 (1-877-U-COUNTY-2) or PFAWF at 1-877-607-3786 (1-877-60 RESTORE) or contact them at www.RestoreMyVote.com.
|Natural Resource Committee
Bonnie Michaels, Committee Co-Chair
Support Pepper Farm - Conservation Collier Lands Acquisition Advisory Committee will be requesting the County Commissioners to permanently preserve approximately 2,500 acres of imperiled species habitat and aquifer recharge area in Collier County! Pepper Ranch offers:
ˇ A once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a property containing significant contiguous acreage and a diverse array of habitat, including Lake Trafford frontage.
ˇ Permanent public protection of the Cocohatchee Slough headwaters and environmental lands adjacent Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) preservation lands.
ˇ Public access and unique outstanding recreational opportunities to Collier County citizens
(to potentially include horseback riding, camping, and other wilderness adventures).
Coming: Natural Resources Survey and Follow-up Event - Do you have opinions on how the current commissioners vote on the environment? If so, join the planning committee to help prepare a survey to determine how members of the community feel about the current commissioners' priorities regarding the environment. A special event will follow sometime in April with speakers and a report on the survey results.
Rural Lands Review - Are you concerned about the rural lands development? Did you know that Collier Enterprises is planning a 2,500 acre town near Big Cypress? If these issues are important to you, join me on January 22 and learn what is going on with the 15 member advisory board as they review and evaluate the report.
Conserve Water! - We are now in Phase III of water restrictions. Still, many individuals don't know about the drought. Do your part to educate your friends and community about how to conserve. Encourage new plantings that are native. More water is wasted in landscape than many other ways.
It's a new year and time to get involved! Contact Bonnie Michaels email@example.com, 596-9135.
|Social Policy Committee
Ann Campbell - Committee Chair
The January 9 meeting of the Social Policy Committee will focus on two programs, Healthy Start, and The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The League's position on Early Intervention for Children at Risk (LWVUS, 1994) supports our advocacy for both programs. We have invited the local coordinators of WIC (Renee Williams) and Healthy Start (Pat Gulley) to join us so we can learn about the programs, which operate out of the Collier County Health Department. Funding for the programs is frequently touch and go, and we hear that WIC funding is in danger of shrinking as the battle between Congress and the President over domestic appropriations bills goes forward. The agriculture appropriations bill includes funding for the WIC program, which provides healthy foods and related nutrition services to low-income pregnant women and children. If the estimated 500,000 individuals (26,600 in Florida) are cut from the program it will be even more difficult for low-income families to feed themselves, at a time when food prices are rising and unemployment has started to climb.
We will have our meeting on Wednesday, January 9, at 8:00 am, at Crissy's Wildside Café. Cost for the breakfast is $12.00. Please contact Ann Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 263-1755 to reserve a place. All members are invited and guests are welcome.
Anne Lewallen, Committee Chair
If you haven't already done so, please renew your membership now! All members should have received their renewal letter in November. Renewals were due by December 31. You can also access our renewal application online.
This month, we welcome:
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 - New to League or know someone that would be a great League member? Join us on January 16, 2008 at 10 a.m. for coffee at the home of President Chris Straton at 4260 Montalvo Court, Naples. Learn more about our League and the opportunities to get involved. Committee chairs will be available to answer questions. Call Anne Lewallen at 435-1845 to make a reservation. Additional coffees are planned for February 5 at 2 pm, March 13 at 10 am and April 3 at 2 pm.
A special "thank you" to Eileen Ertag for hosting the League's Holiday Party last month at the Promenade!
|Tax Tip: Your 2007-2008 League Dues
Marjorie Joder, Treasurer
Twenty five percent of the dues you are paying for this new year is for membership in the League of Women Voters of Collier County Education Fund (a 501(c)3 organization). If you itemize deductions, you can list 25% of your dues under Charitable Contributions. That is $16.25 for single members and $24.38 for family memberships. To save us the expense of individual letters to each member, please save this page of the VOTER and your cancelled check for your records if you plan to itemize deductions.
There will be two separate opportunities for you to participate in the national League Immigration Consensus. The first will be on Monday, January 14, 2008, from 1-3 pm at the North Collier Government Center at 2335 Orange Blossom Drive, just west of the Headquarters Library. The second opportunity will be on Monday, January 21, 2008, from 10 am to noon at the Collier Athletic Club prior to our General meeting. Choose which date best fits your schedule.
Prior to the meeting, please review the consensus questions which follow and the background material in the February, June and October issues of the National Voter - click here - as well as other background material available here. You must attend a consensus meeting to participate in this study.
If you have any questions, please contact Stu Warshauer at 591-4250.
Question 1: Federal immigration laws should take into consideration criteria such as the following (not listed in any particular order or hierarchy): (rate each one High Priority, Lower Priority, Disagree, or No Consensus)
a. Ethnic and Cultural Diversity
b. Economic, Business and Service Employment Needs
c. Environmental Impact/Sustainability
d. Family Reunification of Authorized Immigrants and Citizens with Spouses and Minor Children
e. History of Criminal Activity
f. Humanitarian Crises/ Political Persecution in Home Countries
g. Immigrant Characteristics (health and age)
h. Rights of All Workers to Safe Working Conditions and Livable Wage
i. Rights of Families to Remain Together
j. Rights of all Individuals in U.S. to Fair Treatment Under the Law (Fair Hearing, Right to Counsel, Right of Appeal, and Humane Treatment)
k. Education and Training
List the top 3 criteria.
Question 2: Unauthorized immigrants currently in the U.S. should be treated as follows: (rate each one High Priority, Lower Priority, Disagree, or No Consensus)
a. Deport Unauthorized Immigrants
b. Some Deported/Some Allowed To Earn Legal Adjustment of Status Based on Length of Residence in U.S.
c. Some Deported/Some Allowed to Earn Legal Adjustment of Status Based on Needs of US Employers
d. All Allowed to Earn Legal Adjustment of Status by Doing Things Such as Paying Taxes, Learning English, Studying Civics, Etc.
e. If Deported, Assess Fines Before Possible Re-Entry
f. Assess Fines Before Allowed To Earn Legal Adjustment Of Status
Question 3: Federal immigration law should provide an efficient, expeditious system (with minimal or no backlogs) for legal entry into the U.S. for immigrants who are: (rate each one High Priority, Lower Priority, Disagree, or No Consensus)
a. Immediate Family Members Joining Family Member Already Admitted for Legal Permanent Residence in the U.S
b. Entering the U.S. to Meet Labor Needs
c. Entering the U.S. as Students
d. Entering the U.S. because of Persecution in Home Country
Question 4a: In order to deal more effectively with unauthorized immigrants, Federal immigration law should include:
Social Security Card or Other National Identification Card with Secure Identifiers for All Persons Residing in the U.S.
High Priority Lower Priority Disagree No Consensus
Question 4b: Federal immigration law dealing with unauthorized immigrants should be enforced by including: (rate each one High Priority, Lower Priority, Disagree, or No Consensus)
i. Physical Barriers (such as Fences) and Surveillance at Borders
ii. Increased Personnel at Land, Air, and Sea Entry Points
iii. More Effective Tracking of Persons with Non-Immigrant Visas Until They Leave the Country
iv. Verification Documents, such as Green Cards and Work Permits with Secure Identifiers.
v. Improved Technology to Facilitate Employer Verification of Employee Visa Status
vi. Improved Technology for Sharing Information Among Federal Agencies
vii. A Program to Allow Immigrant Workers to Go in and Out of the U.S. to Meet Seasonal and Sporadic Labor Needs
viii. Significant Fines Proportionate to Revenue for Employers Who Fail to Take Adequate Steps to Verify Work Authorization of Employees
Question 5: Federal immigration law should address and balance the long-term federal financial benefit from immigrants with the financial costs borne by states and local governments with large immigrant populations.
Consensus No Consensus
Question 6: Federal immigration law should be coordinated with U.S. foreign policy to pro-actively help improve economies, education and job opportunities, and living conditions of nations with large emigrating populations.
Consensus No Consensus