VOTER Header

March 2009 - Volume 34, Issue 6
In This Issue
March 16 Lively League - National Popular Vote Compact
President's Message
It's Cool to Carpool
Let the Water Flow
Education Committee
Government Committee
Justice Committee
Social Policy Committee
News from National
Membership
Save the Date: April 20, 2009
About Us
Print & Go Link
 
Too busy to read this now?  Click here for a printable copy of this newsletter.
 
March at a Glance
Click on item for details.   Members and guests are welcome at all meetings. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

General_MtgGeneral Meeting - March 16
Civics Education: What It Is and What It Should Be
 
Amazing but true!  Many Americans cannot pass a basic civics literacy test on their country's history and institutions.  But why?
 
Collier County School District Social Studies Coordinator Jack Bovee will bring us up to date on the Collier County schools' social studies curriculum and proposed Florida House Bill 13 which would mandate additional social studies in Florida schools.  For more information, see Education Committee report, below.
 
This program will be given twice; come to the one most convenient for you:  1PM at the Collier Athletic Club, and 7PM at the Club at Olde Cypress.
 
OPTIONAL lunch at 11:30AM - Club's main dining room
($20 members; $25 nonmembers)
Business meeting at 12:30PM
 
CivicsProgram at 1PM
COLLIER ATHLETIC CLUB
710 Goodlette Rd N
Naples, FL  34102
(239) 263-2566
Get directions


OR
 
Program at 7PM
THE CLUB AT OLDE CYPRESS - CLUBHOUSE
7165 Treeline Drive
Naples, FL  34119
(239) 596-4797
Get directions

RSVP for lunch by 5PM Thursday, 3/12 to Hospitality@lwvcolliercounty.org or (239) 263-4656.
 

NPVLively League - March 16
National Popular Vote Compact Consensus Meeting
 
NPVIf you think the person with the most votes should be elected president, then you need to attend our consensus meeting where we will decide whether we support a new idea to award electoral votes to whoever receives the most votes at the NATIONAL level.
 
For background material, papers in support of and in opposition to the NPV compact, and the consensus questions we will be voting on, click here
 
The meeting will be at 10AM on Monday, March 16, at the Collier Athletic Club.
 
President's Message
Chris Straton, President - LWVCC
 
C StratonThe work of the League is even more important during these days of economic crisis.  Tallahassee continues to look at ways to reduce expenditures for Medicaid and education-two of the largest items in the budget.  However, the League and others are asking our elected officials to look at the revenue side of the budget equation - especially at those pesky sales tax exemptions that serve no public purpose.
 
Remember last year when Floridians were asked to pass Amendment 1 so that property taxes would drop like a rock and the real estate market would be jump-started?  Those same folks are suggesting more cuts in property taxes, which affect our local government's tax base. 
 
The next regular session of the Florida legislature begins on March 3, 2009.  Everything that we think is important is in jeopardy: dollars for social programs, dollars for juvenile justice, dollars for education, dollars for the Everglades, and dollars for elections.  In addition, legislators are proposing the end of public financing for candidates, which will make it even more difficult for incumbents to be challenged.  Regardless of your interests, this is one of the most important years to follow the Legislative Session.  Join "Lunch and the Capitol Report" to stay current and get motivated to take action.  See Lydia Galton's Government Committee Update for more information
 
Is this fair?Another critical activity for every League member is the Fair Districts Constitutional Amendment.  Almost 700,000 petitions in support of each of two amendments must be signed and verified by February 1, 2010, if this important issue is to be on the November 2010 ballot.  This is our only opportunity to stop the gerrymandering of our legislative and congressional districts.  It is time for the voters to pick their elected officials rather than the elected officials picking their voters.  Go to www.FairDistrictsFlorida.org for more information and printable copies of the petitions for your signature.
 
Sincerely,
 
Chris
 
Back to top ...
 
It's Cool to Carpool to League Meetings
 
carpoolCarpooling makes sense!  It saves gas, reduces toxic emissions, and offers a great way to get to know fellow League members who live near you.  Are you willing to drive?  Are you willing to be a passenger?  Are you willing to coordinate the program?  We've sorted our membership roster by zipcode and can easily match you with someone near by.  Contact Sandy Parker at 513-1595 or sparker101@gmail.com - it's an easy way to make a difference!!
 
 
Let the Water Flow
Kathleen Slebodnik, LWVF Liaison to the Everglades Coaltion
 
K. Slebodnik"LET THE WATER FLOW' was the theme of the 24th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference held January 8 - 11, 2009 at the Downtown Miami Hilton.  I attended as the LWVF Liaison to EVCO. 
 
The mood was upbeat because of Governor Charlie Christ's offer to purchase approximately 180,000 acres of land below Lake Okeechobee from U.S. Sugar Corporation for restoration of the Everglades. The greatest fear of the coalition had been that this land would be sold off for residential development and restoration would become a dream never realized.
 
Converting this agricultural land from sugar and citrus production to flow way provides the following benefits:
ˇ   Water levels in Lake O can be better managed.
ˇ   Water coming into the southern Everglades can be treated.
ˇ   The right amount of water can be moved south to Biscayne Bay.
ˇ   Restoration of estuaries in the southern Everglades is possible.
 
In September, 2008, the South Florida Water Management District Board (SFWMD)
voted 5 to 4 to accept the land purchase.  This deal would include the physical assets of the corporation, such as the sugar refining plant and orange juice manufacturing facility.  The cost of this acquisition is $1.34 billion at present and the purchase is to be financed through the sale of bonds.
 
Obviously the agreement was not unanimous and at this point there are more opponents than supporters, including residents living south of Lake O whose livelihoods depend on the sugar company.  Many details need to be worked out and it will take several years to do this.  On the other hand, environmentalists who have worked on this project for 24 years and who never thought they would ever see a flow of water from the Kissimmee River, through Lake O, down to Florida Bay are overjoyed.

For more information, visit www.evergladescoalition.org
 
 
EducationEducation Committee Update
Marilyn Bogen, Committee Chair
 
M. BogenCIVICS EDUCATION is the subject of our March 16 General Meeting and evening program. 
 
The League of Women Voters 2007 - 2009 Education in Florida Issue for Action is to PROMOTE CIVICS EDUCATION IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS.  League advocacy for the inclusion of civics education in Florida's curriculum derives from the League of Women Voters' Principles: "democratic government depends upon the informed and active participation of its citizens," inasmuch as voting is a learned behavior.  During the 2006 legislative session, the League and Common Cause successfully inserted a requirement for a semester of civics education into the middle school curriculum.  Efforts to mandate student performance standards in civics education failed in the 2007 legislative session.
 
For the third straight year, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) has found that a large number of Americans cannot pass a basic 33-question civics literacy test on their country's history and institutions.  ISI is calling on everyone involved in education to re-evaluate curricula and standards of accountability and to emphasize to students the fundamentals about our country.  I wonder how many of us could score 100% on that test?
 
MEET NEWLY-ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER JULIE SPRAGUE on Monday, March 30.  Julie will answer our questions regarding the School District's funding woes and how she will work to improve communication between the board and the community.  This is your opportunity to get to know our new School Board member and to ask questions you may have.  The meeting will be held in the North Collier Government Center on Orange Blossom Rd and will begin at 9:30AM.  Julie gave this presentation to the Chamber of Commerce and I found it very interesting.
 
Back to top ...
 
GovernmentGovernment Committee Update
Lydia Galton, Committee Chair
 
L GaltonThe Government Committee will resume Lunch and the Capitol Report every Saturday in March at Lydia Galton's, 442 Rosemeade Lane (Wyndemere).  (March 28 meeting will be at Sandy Parker's in Olde Cypress.) Please bring a brown-bag lunch.   Non-Government Committee members are most welcome.

Capitol Report began publishing on February 13 and is available at http://www.lwvfla.org.  You should read and study the Report so that the discussion can be informed and lively.

LEAGUE PRIORITY ISSUES - The LWVF has set three 2009 Legislative priorities:  Government, Education in Florida and Social Policy in Florida.  Under Government there are priority subcategories as follows: Finance and Taxation, Redistricting, and Citizen Initiatives including the Statutory Initiative and Election Law.  Under Education in Florida the priorities are: Funding, Accountability and Civics Education. Social Policy has as its priority subcategory: Health Care. 

A joint resolution, SJR202, has been filed by Senator Justice, which would address many of the League's concerns pertaining to redistricting.  The bill proposes amendments to the constitution pertaining to redistricting and reapportionment.  The bill would create an independent commission to set up redistricting plans.  By having an independent commission draw the lines for districts will ideally alleviate concerns of gerrymandering and other political influences affecting redistricting.  
  
Recently, the Florida Supreme Court approved the proposed amendment language providing standards for the drawing of state and congressional districts as satisfying the "one issue" requirement.  The League is assisting with efforts to collect signatures to get these provisions on the ballot in 2010.   You can help - go to www.fairdistrictsflorida.org for more information.

 
JusticeJustice Committee Update
Bernice Schmelz, Committee Chair
 
B. Schmelz"School Accountability Boards and Restorative Justice:  Building Community Through Youth Engagement and Empowerment" will be the topic of the March 10 Justice Committee meeting.   "Prevention and early intervention services to at-risk youth" is part of the mission of Collier's School Accountability Boards (SAB) according to Lesley Medley, SAB Coordinator.  Ms. Medley will be telling us more about the work and accomplishments of the School Accountability Board, which started as a pilot in Immokalee in 2004.

The SAB was developed by Dr. Sandra Pavelka at FGCU and is modeled after Neighborhood Accountability Boards using restorative principles where the victim and the community are integral parts of developing an individualized comprehensive case plan that addresses the risk factors and needs of the youth and tries to keep them in school and out of the juvenile justice system. Students at the participating schools are trained to serve on the SAB, and the board also has the support of the SAB coordinator, a faculty facilitator and a Youth Relations Deputy.

We invite you to join the Justice Committee on Tuesday, March 10 from 9:30-11:30 AM in the Community Room at the North Collier Government Center, 2335 Orange Blossom Drive to learn about this innovative prevention program.  Please RSVP your attendance to berniceas@embarqmail.com by March 5 to assure adequate materials are provided.  All League members and their guests are welcome to attend.

Future Meetings: Monday, April 13, Jackie Stephens, Director and CEO, Children's Advocacy Center, presentation and tour of the Center.
 
 
SocPolSocial Policy Committee Update
Ann Campbell, Committee Chair
 
A. Campbell.The Wednesday, March 11 meeting of the Social Policy Committee will take place at the Neighborhood Health Clinic in lieu of our usual breakfast gathering at the Wildside Café. We will meet at the Clinic, located at 120 Goodlette Road in Naples, at 8:00 AM, have a tour and a talk, and leave at 9:15 AM. Committee members and guests are advised to have breakfast beforehand or arrange to meet afterwards since we will not be served at the Clinic. All LWVCC members are invited to attend and guests are always welcome. Please contact Ann Campbell at 263-1755 or acamp1082@aol.com by Tuesday, March 10 if you plan to join us at the Clinic.

Looking back to our February Meeting:  Aside from the sunny weather and the beautiful beaches, are senior citizens lucky to live in Collier County? While we have no ice, hail, slush, sleet, cold winds, high heating bills, and depressingly dark winter months, we also have no Senior Center (the only county in Florida), no 2-1-1 Information and Referral System (it stops at the Lee County line), a lack of affordable housing, and limited access to transportation. Jane Billings reported to our committee in February about the Leadership Council on Aging, formed by the Women's Initiative of the Community Foundation of Collier County. The Council, comprised of all senior service providers in the community, is committed to: have one voice to advocate to all levels of the community; provide a central resource and referral site; conduct a community-wide assessment of the needs of seniors; assess human capital as well as other resources.

Some of the findings reported by Jane: one-half of female households living below the poverty level ($12,000/yr) are senior women; senior women have the lowest median income at $23k  -- that is 37% below senior men; 74% of senior households in Collier County have no income other than Social Security.  Seniors who live on an income of $23,000 per year are considered to be above the poverty line but have about $170.00 left monthly after fixed expenses.  Since 2000 there has been an estimated 20% increase in Elder Abuse which includes financial abuse.  Only one in five cases are thought to be reported.

The Women's Initiative is to be commended for their diligence in bringing these issues to light. The League of Women Voters of Collier County will join the Leadership Council on Aging in advocating measures such as the 2-1-1 Information and Referral System, a Senior Center, better access to transportation and other services, to improve the lot of our "Hidden" community members.
 
 
News from National
 
LWV logoDue to financial constraints, the LWVUS has decided to suspend publication of the National Voter (paper and digital) until finances improve.
 
The LWVUS Board announces Global Climate Change and Health Care to be the top legislative priorities for the upcoming year. 
 
For details, click here to read the February 5, 2009, Leaders Update at www.lwv.org
 
 
Membership Update
 
Men can join tooMake Sure Your Contact Information is Up to Date - You can update your contact information on the For Members page of our website or by calling 263-4656 and providing your new information on the answering machine.  If you have moved or your email address has changed in the past year, please ensure that the League has your correct information by emailing lwvcc@lwvcolliercounty.org or calling 263-4656.
 
If you know someone who may be interested in joining our League, please contact lewallennaples@comcast.net, or direct them to the Join Us page on our website, where they can print a membership application. Dues are $65.00 for an individual member and $97.50 for a family membership.
 
Save the Date - April 20, 2009
 
calendarLWVCC Annual Meeting, Collier Athletic Club
 
General Meeting and Evening Program - Delinquency Prevention in Collier County.  Overview of Sheriff's Office youth programs, followed by how the Collier County Schools work to reduce truancy and how community collaboration has enabled Truancy Court to positively affect school attendance.   
 
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 Program, Diversity Policy, Nonpartisan Policy, By-Laws, Minutes and more.  
 
###