Chris Straton, President - LWVCC
Welcome back. I hope that your summer was wonderful and that you are excited about the upcoming season with the League of Women Voters of Collier County.
I discovered this summer the depth of my patriotism, my feminism and my pride in the League of Women Voters. We spent the summer in the Washington, D.C. area and, as a result had truly unique opportunities.
Let me assure you that no American can walk through the White House, visit the gallery of the House of Representatives while in session, see the original Declaration of Independence, draft of the Bill of Rights and the copy of Dr. Martin Luther King's speech that he read on the Washington Mall without feeling waves of patriotism. There is also an incredible feeling that permeates the body where I felt that I was actually witnessing all these important events in the life of our great country.
I hadn't heard of Alice Paul until I saw the movie Iron Jawed Angels but when I discovered that the house that she lived in was in D.C., I couldn't wait to check it out. The Sewall-Belmont House is the Headquarters of the National Women's Party and home of Alice Paul who was jailed for her suffrage efforts outside the White House. To see some of the signs carried by these brave women as they fought for the rights that we enjoy today, renewed my commitment to ensure that the rights secured in the 1960's and 70's would not be lost. Interestingly the leadership of the National Women's Party disagreed about the direction of the women's movement and the League of Women Voters was founded.
My pride in the League of Women Voters came from attendance at the national convention, seeing the League's name in the New York Times for our efforts to protect the rights of all, receiving positive recognition from the Naples Daily News for our website which included a plethora of information on the candidates in the August primary, and receiving recognition from the State League for our newsletter and website. Additionally, based upon our tradition of quality non-partisan debates, the Naples City Council granted the League the exclusive ability to use Council Chambers for televised candidate forums.
I hope that you will join me this year as we continue to be the place for hands-on protection of our democracy. You can begin by renewing your membership! For a renewal form, click here. (To log in, your username is your email address, your password is your zip code.)
|Political But Non-Partisan
Mary G. Wilson, LWV President
As we move into the general election phase of this campaign, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind members of a few important points to keep in mind this election year. The League of Women Voters' most valuable asset, in addition to our volunteers, is its name and therefore, we must take great care in maintaining our reputation and strict nonpartisanship.
As we all work to enhance our visibility and strengthen relationships with the media around the voter services Leagues provide to our communities, I want to remind Leagues that questions from all media and journalists seeking comments and reactions from the League of Women Voters organization about candidates for President and Vice President of the United States should only be answered by the LWVUS. Unfortunately, we have seen well-intentioned comments result in members being misquoted or misinterpreted and therefore potentially putting the League's valued nonpartisanship reputation in danger. All such media and press inquiries should be directed to the LWVUS.
League of Women Voters and AFL-CIO Announce Intention to Continue Voter Registration Drives after Court Ruling
Miami, FL, August 21, 2008 - Following a federal court's recent ruling that narrowed Florida's voter registration law, the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Florida AFL-CIO, and voting rights advocates announced today their intention to continue voter registration drives though the 2008 election. The groups said the ruling reduces the possibility that the law would expose voter registration groups and their volunteers to debilitating fines in the course of voter registration drives.
"We believe that Judge Altonaga's decision in LWVF v. Browning has narrowed the voter registration law enough to allow plaintiffs to continue voter registration drives without fear of being subject to excessive fines. Assuming the Secretary of State follows the judge's decision, we are optimistic that it will resolve the most serious problems with the law," stated Wendy Weiser, Director of Voting Rights and Elections at the Brennan Center for Justice and one of the attorneys in the case.
The League of Women Voters of Florida and the Florida AFL-CIO sued to enjoin enforcement of the law in April because its strict deadlines and fines created a serious chilling effect and threatened to dampen turnout in November. Plaintiffs were also concerned that the law would disproportionately burden African-American and Hispanic voter applicants and applicants from Spanish-speaking households - who are twice as likely to register to vote through voter registration drives as white applicants or applicants from English-speaking households.
Concerned that the law made voter registration too risky, the League of Women Voters of Florida placed a moratorium on all voter registration efforts, to begin as soon as the law became enforceable. The Florida AFL-CIO similarly announced its intention to cease its voter registration drives, as did other civic groups.
While the judge in LWVF v. Browning formally denied plaintiffs' request for an injunction to stop the law, she did so based on an interpretation of the law that imposes tighter limits on the amount that organizations and individuals involved in voter registration activities could be fined. Read more ...
|Voter Service Committee
Chris Straton - Committee Chair
We will hold Candidate Forums on Wednesday, October 22 and Friday, October 24, in the Board of County Commission chambers. If you can't be there in person, they will be broadcast live on Comcast Channel 11 or available at www.CollierGov.net.
October 22, 2008
6-7 PM School Board Candidates District 4
7-8 PM Florida Constitutional Amendments
October 24, 2008
6-7 PM Collier County Commissioner District 5
7-8 PM State Representative District 101
Volunteers are needed to draft questions and work during the events. Please call Chris Straton at 597-8849 to help.
|Government Committee Update
Lydia Galton, Committee Chair
The Government Committee will study in depth the workings of the many advisory committees to the Board of County Commissioners
(BCC) during the 2008-2009 season.
To this end we have invited the chairmen of the most powerful committees: Planning Commission, Productivity Committee and the Development Services Advisory Board, to attend our November General Meeting. We will ascertain how they function and how their suggestions to the Board are utilized.
Members of the Government Committee will attend actual meetings of these committees and will continue to monitor BCC and School Board meetings.
The Government Committee will meet monthly beginning in November on the second Thursday of the month at 10AM at Lydia Galton's home. Anyone interested in participating should contact her at 262-3137.
|Justice Committee Update
Bernice Schmelz - Committee Chair
There have been a number of personnel changes since spring that affect juvenile justice locally and statewide. The Justice Committee looks forward to meeting and working with these leaders and programs throughout the year and introducing them to the support that the League might provide.
Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) - Frank Peterman, Jr. is the new secretary.
Public Defender for Southwest Florida (Judicial Circuit 20) - Kathy Smith won the Republican primary in August and will face a write-in candidate on November 4.
Collier County Sheriff - Kevin Rambosk won the open primary in August. He will replace Sheriff Don Hunter (who chose not to run) on January 1, 2009.
- County Court Judge Christine Greider ran unopposed for a Circuit 20 judgeship created by the January 2009 retirement of Judge Monaco who has been serving as a juvenile judge. Judge Greider's specific assignment within the Circuit is pending. Circuit Judge Hugh Hayes also ran unopposed. In addition, County Court Judge Ramiro Maņalich has been appointed to serve on the bench for the 20th Judicial Circuit effective September 1, 2008; he is currently covering a Lee/Charlotte County Circuit Court Docket.
PACE (Practical Academic Cultural Education) Center for Girls in Immokalee - Vacharee Howard is the new director of PACE. She has more than 10 years of experience as a social worker and was the executive director of Substance Abuse Directors Association of Alaska. Immokalee PACE is funded from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Collier County Public Schools, local foundations and private donations.
Collier County Juvenile Justice Council (CCJJC) - Effective after the annual meeting on October 23, the new officers of the CCJJC will be: Chair - Mara Marzano, Assistant State Attorney, 20th Judicial Circuit, Supervising Attorney, Juvenile Prosecution Division; Vice Chair - Judge Lauren Brodie, Circuit 20 juvenile judge and chair of the Substance Abuse Coalition of Collier County; Secretary - Officer Jennifer Lofy, Marco Island Police Department. A primary focus of the Council is to increase juvenile shelter beds for at-risk youth ages 10-17 through the creation of a regional shelter in the circuit.
Substance Abuse Coalition of Collier County (DRUG FREE COLLIER) - Dr. Maria Delgado is the Executive Director of DRUG FREE COLLIER. Operation Medicine Cabinet will continue with collections scheduled on November 15 and March 14.
Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) Advisory Committee - Beth Jones, Commander of the Youth and Delinquency Services Division of the Collier County Sheriff's Office, is the new chair.
November 10 - Christine Holmes, Director of the Collier County Juvenile Assessment Center, will speak on the accomplishments, priority goals and needs of the JAC.
December 8 - Sgt. Tom Wedlock, Collier County Sheriff's Office, will update the group on the first year of operation of Collier's Truancy Court.
Unless advised otherwise, meetings are on the second Monday of the month at 9:30 am in the community room of the North Collier Government Center at 2335 Orange Blossom Drive (just west of the Collier County Library).
Back to top ...
|Natural Resource Committee Update
Bonnie Michaels, Committee Chair
Welcome Back! As a new season starts, it's time to roll up our sleeves and dig into strategies for solving upcoming natural resource issues. Join us on November 5, from 3:00 PM to 5 PM at the Naples regional library (downtown Naples) for our inaugural meeting. It will be a time to meet and greet and get caught up on current and future issues.
Our focus this year is to work toward responsible government for a sustainable environment. For more information, contact Bonnie Michaels, email@example.com, (239) 596-9135, cell (847) 308-0919.
Back to top ...
|Social Policy Committee Update
Ann Campbell - Committee Chair
Before our summer hiatus, the Social Policy Committee visited the Senior Friendship Center in downtown Naples where we had a tour of the facility and a meeting with Betty Gamel, ARNP, Director of the Center. Founded 30 years ago, the Center started in Sarasota as a site for social activities for seniors and later received a limited license from the State to offer medical, dental, nursing and social services to people with low income. Now there are Centers in Sarasota, Venice, Northport, and Naples.
The Naples Center, called the "Center For Healthy Aging" offers "basic medical care and community engagement services" to people aged 50+ and on limited incomes. Services provided include: primary care, internal medicine, dermatology, non surgical gynecology, non surgical orthopedics, ophthalmology, rheumatology, health screening, medication assistance, education programs, support groups and dental care.
The Naples Center has an operating budget of $500k. Income is from Medicare, patient fees (sliding scale), grants, donations, a golf tournament and other fundraising campaign activities.
Except for the director, all services are provided by retired volunteer physicians, dentists, nurses and other supportive staff. The volunteers carry no malpractice insurance; rather, they are covered under Chapter 110, Sovereign Immunity, under Public Health in the State of Florida.
Last year the Center had 3000 patient visits for 500 medical patients and 500 dental patients. Betty Gamel says that some doctors who went into Concierge Practice referred patients to the Center. Volunteer professionals have their credentials reviewed by Ms. Gamel. Physician applicants are interviewed by the Medical Executive Committee.
The committee enjoyed the tour of the Center, which is across 7th Ave. South from Naples City Hall. Betty tells us that there is talk of relocating to East Naples in order to have a larger facility and because the majority of their patients are from East Naples. Transportation is an ongoing problem.
(In the course of our tour, we heard about a project called, "Brain Fitness Program", a computer based activity designed to help individuals to "enhance their cognitive function, think faster, focus better and remember more". Clients are invited to use the computers at the Center or anyone can purchase the software through the Center. My interest was piqued so I am doing the 40 hour program now. I will let you know what the results are at a later date.)
|Collier County Non-Discrimination Coalition
Rose DiBiasi, LWVCC Representative
|The Collier County League of Women Voters along with 32 local organizations have joined together to form the Collier County Non-Discrimination Coalition. The Coalition works to promote the passage and implementation of a human rights ordinance that will ensure that everyone who lives, works or visits in Collier County has equal access to employment, housing, public accommodations and education. The ordinance will provide for investigation enforcement and community education relating to its provisions.
Presently the CCNDC is engaged in the verification and documentation of the need for the ordinance. A phoneline has been established where a trained volunteer returns calls in English, Spanish, or Creole. The volunteer cannot provide legal assistance but a resource list is available to the caller upon request.
If you are aware of individuals who have experienced discrimination, please have them call 239-436-7999. For more information visit www.colliercoalition.org.
Anne Lewallen, Committee Chair
|The Hospitality Commitee would like to welcome all members to the first LWVCC meeting of the season at the Collier Athletic Club on October 20th. This year, I'll be asking five members at each luncheon to sit at different tables with new and prospective members and to introduce them to as many members as possible.
We're looking forward to a banner year and hope you'll all join us for information, activism, fellowship and fun.
This month, we welcome the following new members to our League:
We now have 157 members
in our League. Contact information for 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
, or direct them to the "Join Us" page on our website, where they can print a membership application.
- A printer-friendly copy of our Membership Roster is no more than a few clicks away on our website at www.lwvcolliercounty.org
. Simply log on at the For Members
page, and click on "Access the LWVCC Membership Roster."
Make Sure Your Contact Information is Up to Date
- You can update your contact information on the For Members
page or by calling 263-4656 and providing your new information on the answering machine. If your email address has changed in the past year, please ensure that the League has your correct address by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
or calling 263-4656.
|LWVF Positions on Proposed Amendments to the Florida Constitution|
|AMENDMENT #1: RELATING TO PROPERTY RIGHTS/INELIGIBLE ALIENS|
This amendment is proposed by the legislature. It would remove a provision in the Florida Constitution that allows laws prohibiting "aliens ineligible for citizenship" from owning, inheriting, disposing of and possessing real property.
The League of Women Voters of Florida supports this amendment. Florida and New Mexico are the only two states that still maintain these racially biased provisions in their constitutions. Both have amendments on the November ballot to remove these provisions.
AMENDMENT #2: FLORIDA MARRIAGE PROTECTION AMENDMENT
This amendment makes invalid any legal union that is treated as equivalent to marriage other than heterosexual marriage.
The League of Women Voters of Florida opposes this amendment. The LWVF board took a position in opposition to this amendment at its March 2008 meeting. The League believes that no person or group should suffer legal, economic or administrative discrimination and that there should be secure equal rights and equal opportunity for all.
AMENDMENT #3: CHANGES AND IMPROVEMENTS AFFECTING THE ASSESSED VALUE OF RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY
This amendment would allow the state legislature to grant an exemption to residential real property taxes in the amount of the cost of increasing the property's wind resistance and of installing renewable energy devices.
The League of Women Voters of Florida supports this amendment. The League supports action by appropriate levels of government to encourage the use of renewable resources and energy conservation through financial incentives.
AMENDMENT #4: PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION OF PERPETUALLY PRESERVED LAND: CLASSIFICATION AND ASSESSMENT OF LAND USED FOR CONSERVATION
This amendment would require the state legislature to exempt real property dedicated in perpetuity for conservation purposes from ad valorem taxation, and would require such property to be assessed on the basis of its "character and use" instead of its "highest and best use."
The League of Women Voters of Florida opposes this amendment. The League supports management of land as a finite resource and land-use planning that reflects conservation and wise management of resources. This amendment does not link land-use planning to conservation and would further limit the ability of local governments to obtain revenue from real estate (their primary source of revenue).
AMENDMENT #6: ASSESSMENT OF WORKING WATERFRONT PROPERTY BASED UPON CURRENT USE
Amendment 6 is known as the "Working Waterfronts" amendment. It would require that real property tax assessments of certain waterfront properties be based on current use rather than "highest and best use."
The League of Women Voters of Florida supports this amendment. The League believes that government should promote the conservation and development of natural resources in the public interest. This amendment promotes the continued public access to Florida waterfronts, and helps to stem the loss of waterfront-dependent businesses and jobs.
AMENDMENT #8: LOCAL OPTION COMMUNITY COLLEGE FUNDING
Amendment 8 would authorize counties with community colleges to levy a local option sales tax to supplement the college's funding if authorized by county voters.
The League of Women Voters has not taken a position on this amendment.
|LWV National Convention Highlights
Nancy Ryan, LWVF 2nd Vice President
The LWVUS 2008 convention has convened and adjourned in June, in Portland, Oregon. Twenty Florida delegates attended. The highlight of the convention for the Florida delegation was receiving two of the eight awards given out by the leadership: one went to the State League, in the Reform category, for the continuing litigation against Florida's Secretary of State regarding third-party voter registration. The second award went to the Orange County League in the Voter Education category, for its "Stay Home and Be Counted!" initiative in which it partnered with an Orlando television station, resulting in a 300% increase in absentee balloting.
The LWVUS before convention announced a new proposed rule for conducting the convention; it would have required any floor resolutions introduced by the membership to be reviewed by a LWVUS panel ahead of time. The proposed rule was denounced from the floor in no uncertain terms and was defeated. The consensus of commenting delegates was that the rule (Convention Rule 10.1) was essentially undemocratic in that it would operate to filter excessively the substance of proposed resolutions.
There were no nominations from the floor for LWVUS national officer and director positions, and accordingly the slate proposed by the LWVUS Board was approved. That slate includes LWVF's immediate past president Dianne Wheatley-Giliotti as a director, and LWV-Palm Beach's president Pamela Goodman as a member of the National Nominating Committee.
One of the LWVUS principles was amended at the convention. The change reflects the League's belief that the powers of the U.S. government should be exercised within the framework of balance between all three branches of government.
A proposed study of the National Popular Vote, as an alternative to the Electoral College, was approved. Another proposed study, of climate change, was also approved.
An unsuccessful movement to amend the LWVUS program was spearheaded by the Oregon and Virginia Leagues; it would have amended the current position on redistricting to add specifics to the kind of redistricting efforts the State and Local Leagues can support in their home states. The current LWVUS position on redistricting dates to 1966 and is very general. The movement toward more specificity was opposed by the California delegation, which was supporting a detailed redistricting-related constitutional amendment which will appear on that state's ballots in the fall of 2008. The sense of the comments opposing the proposed program change was that the states must be free to redistrict in whatever lawful manner is dictated by local political realities.
An unsuccessful resolution would have required the LWVUS to support paper ballots and random audits, and to establish an internal listserve for election-related discussion. The amendment was rejected after discussion suggested that the amendment dealt with more than one subject and that the amendment should be reintroduced at a later convention as three separate program amendments, or possibly as directions to the Board.
Another unsuccessful resolution would have required the national Board to set program priorities for each biennium at the convention; it was rejected after arguments that the national Board needs to be flexible in the face of changing events.
Resolutions that would have created a national task force for nuclear arms control, and would have required the LWVUS to support a plan for a national Department of Peace, also failed.
Five bylaw changes were made. They will allow for electronic interim Board meetings; allow for MAL units to be represented at Convention; allow the national Board as well as state and local Leagues to introduce resolutions at Convention; reduce the size of the nominating committee; and make more consistent the time limits for the call to Council.
Speakers at Convention included two former Oregon Governors, Barbara Roberts and John Kitzhaber; the former spoke on women's history in American politics and the latter on health care reform. The dinner speaker was a former Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, Rebecca Love Kourlis, who spoke on civil litigation reform. Heather Kaplan, Oxfam America representative, V. (Ram) Ramanathan, of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC-San Deigo, and Daniel Kammen, of UC-Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy served on The State of Climate Change Panel discussion during the Monday Plenary Session.
The 2008 - 2009 LWVUS Budget was adopted as submitted and the National PMP was adopted at 2008/2009 - $28.00 and 2009/2010 at $29.20.