VOTER Header

October 2009 - Volume 35, Issue 1  

Month at a Glance
10/5 - Board Meeting
9:30 - 11:30 AM
Fifth Third Bank Bldg
Third Floor Board Room 
 
 12:30 - 2 PM
Collier Athletic Club
 
10/28 - Board Training
9 AM - 3:30 PM 
Community Foundation
 
7 - 8:30 PM
Naples Hilton 
 
 10 AM
First Watch Lowdermilk
 
11/2 - Board Meeting
9:30 - 11:30 AM 
 Fifth Third Bank Bldg
 
 2 - 3:30 PM
Pat and John Snyder's
 
Members and guests are welcome at all meetings
In This Issue
General Meeting 10/12
Evening Meeting 10/29
President's Message
Education Committee
Government Committee
Justice Committee
Social Policy Committee
Voter Service Committee
Action Alerts
Membership
Healthy Teens Coaltion
Facebook Update
It Takes a Village ... Won't You Help?
News from the National League
News from the Florida League
2009 - 2010 General Meeting Schedule
About Us
TopGeneral Meeting - October 12 
Update on the Collier County Schools
Sheilah Crowley
 
Dennis Thompson croppedSuperintendant of the Collier County Schools Dr. Dennis L. Thompson will tell us the current status of our schools. Please join us as we learn about the education of our most valuable resource, our children, and the most important investment we make with our tax dollars, our schools.  You will become informed and be able to make a difference in our community with this vital information.
 
Business meeting at 12:30 PM; program at 1 PM at the
COLLIER ATHLETIC CLUB
710 Goodlette Rd N
Naples, FL
(239) 263-2566
Get Directions
 
OPTIONAL lunch at 11:30 AM - Club's main dining room
($20 members; $25 nonmembers)

RSVP for lunch by 5 PM Thursday, 10/8 to Hospitality@lwvcolliercounty.org or 263-4656; cancel by 10/8 to avoid charge.
Evening_MeetingEvening Meeting - October 29
Going Green in Collier County:
An Update
Susan Calkins 
 
Solar Panels
Actions designed to curb our carbon emissions and protect our natural resources, often known as "green" or "sustainable" initiatives, are expanding within both the public and private sectors as people become increasingly aware of the dangers of inaction.
 
 "Going Green in Collier County: An Update" is a follow-up to last season's popular LWV program which examined our local government's energy-saving initiatives. This program will focus on ways the non-governmental sector is "going green." 
 
How green is our local tourism industry? Clark Hill, member of the Tourist Development Council and manager of the Naples Hilton, will discuss the "green lodging" certification process as he reflects on this question. 
 
What about other green building projects? Past Chair of the Board of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nicholas G. Penniman IV will discuss the renovation of the 21-acre campus of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. As the first non-municipal project in Florida to pursue registration as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) prototype campus, it will serve as a model for sustainable design and be an educational tool in the green building movement.
 
Additionally, we will hear about the work of the Florida Green Building Coalition, a statewide organization that promotes sustainable building practices and has developed Green Certification Programs for homes, high-rise residential projects, and public and commercial buildings. 
 
This program is free of charge and open to the public.  Join us for a stimulating "green" evening!   
 
When:  Thursday, October 29, 7 - 8:30 PM
Where: Naples Hilton  
President's Message
Sandy Parker
 
Sandy Parker
Welcome to the Collier League's 35th season! 
 
Are you ready?  There's a lot going on in government that needs our informed and active participation.  Over the summer, League members wrote a letter to the editor in support of health care reform and began planning our candidate forums for the 2010 elections.  We advocated for more civics education in an article for Bella Magazine.  We wrote a guest commentary for the Naples Daily News in support of redistricting reform, and continued to collect signatures and raise funds for that effort. 
 
Our calendar is already filling up, beginning with Board Meetings on the first Monday and General Meetings on the second Monday of each month.  Our General Meeting on October 12 will feature Collier Schools Superintendent Dennis Thompson.  Personally, I hope for an update on the school's controversial sex education policy, an explanation of the decision not to let students hear the President's education speech, and an overview of the Superintendent's goals for the year.  We are hosting an evening program on October 29 titled "Going Green in Collier County: An Update." We're holding a Board training session on October 28; interested members are welcome.  Let me know if you'd like to attend.  Most committees will resume their meetings next month. 
 
Over the summer, we launched a new feature on our website: a VOTER archive with issues dating back to the 1970s.  Visit the Publications Tab at www.lwvcolliercounty.org for a walk down memory lane. 
 
The League of Women Voters is the organization where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement.  Welcome back!
 
Sincerely,
Sandy's signature

 
 
 
Education Committee
Sheilah Crowley, Committee Co-Chair
 
It's Your School
I am pleased to join Marilyn Bogen as Co-Chair of the Education Committee.  Like Marilyn, I believe that community members must be involved and engaged in the public schools - whether they have children in them or not - if we are to ensure that today's students receive the education they need to be good citizens in the future
 
The League of Women Voters of Florida's policy positions on education give League members plenty of opportunity for involvement in the  issues our schools are facing today.  These policy positions are:
  • Support a free public school system for Florida with high standards for student achievement and with equality of educational opportunity for all, that is financed adequately by the state through an equitable funding formula.
  • Support education governance policies that increase professionalism and remove politics from the selection and election processes at both state and district levels and allow for more local control at the individual school site, with improved student performance as the highest priority.
  • Support high standards for teacher certification and compensation; increased professionalism for teachers and administrators.
  • Support expanded public school parental choice under controlled conditions determined by each school district.
I'd like to thank Ann Campbell, Rose DiBiasi, Joyce Fletcher, Norine Hemping, Anne Lewallen, Jennifer Marquis, Diana O'Donnell, Sandy Parker and Estelle Rauch for attending the first meeting of the Education Committee last April, when our speaker was School Board member Julie Sprague.  We hope they, and many more League members, will join Marilyn and me when we resume Education Committee meetings. Look for details in the next VOTER.
 
Until then, we are indeed fortunate to have Dr. Thompson speak at the first General Meeting of our League year on October 12. He will give us the current status of our schools so that we may determine the course we plan to take as a Committee during the coming League year. Please plan to attend and participate in the dialogue with our Collier County Superintendent by asking questions that are of interest to you and to our membership.
 
GovernmentGovernment Committee
Lydia Galton, Committee Co-Chair

Lydia GaltonFair Districting Update - Sandy Parker's splendid guest commentary and Kathleen Slebodnik and Joyce Fletcher's advocacy efforts in the community were joined by a Naples Daily News editorial endorsing our position on redistricting: "This is not a Republican or Democratic issue, says the coalition seeking statewide votes next year on Florida and federal legislative redistricting, adding: 'These gerrymandered districts make no sense.'"

AARP, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and others must have Southwest Florida in mind, as some of the east-west and north-south districts include as many as five counties.

The organizations are working with the Fair Districts Florida organization for a nonpartisan, equitable and open redistricting process."

Kathleen and Joyce collected numerous signatures on petitions both at the library and through addressing a number of civic groups. They did a great job. The remaining challenge is to raise sufficient funds to get the over one million petitions certified (at 10 cents each) for this measure to be on the ballot in 2010. If you would like to contribute, go to http://www.fairdistrictsflorida.org.

Priorities for 2009-10 - At the request of LWVFL we petitioned you for your thoughts on League Priorities.  This is what you decided:
  • Government in Florida - 37
  • Education in Florida - 33
  • Justice in Florida - 16
  • Social Policy in Florida - 23
  • Sustainability - 15
  • Natural Resources in Florida - 20
As soon as LWFL releases its statewide tallies, we will let you know the results.  It is interesting to note that LWVFL's priorities for 2008-09 were: Government, Education, and Social Policy.

November Program - The upcoming November program will be held around the time that you are receiving your tax bill, so you should have great interest in YOUR TAX BILL, THE BUDGET AND THE SERVICES YOU EXPECT.  Write down your questions and prepare to ask them of Commissioner Donna Fiala, County Manager Jim Mudd, Property Appraiser Abe Skinner and a member of the powerful Productivity Committee.  Mark your calendar for November 9.
 
JusticeJustice Committee
Bernice Schmelz, Committee Chair
 
B. SchmelzJustice Committee Meetings -
The Justice Committee generally holds its regular meetings at 9:30 AM on the third Monday of the month in the Community Room of the North Collier Government Services Center on Orange Blossom, from November through April.  The January meeting will be on Tuesday, January 19, when the committee will visit the PACE Center for Girls in Immokalee.  All are welcome to these meetings, and anyone interested in being added to the committee mailing list should contact the chair at berniceas@embarqmail.com. 
 
Updates - The following briefs continue the update of justice program areas begun in the Summer VOTER.  We applaud the continued progress being made on behalf of the youth of our community.
 
Youth Prevention Programs
At the recent Collier County Juvenile Justice Council meeting, Commander Beth Jones advised that, in spite of fiscal challenges, Sheriff Rambosk is maintaining his commitment to all of the youth programs currently provided by the Collier County Sheriff's Office.
 
PACE Center for Girls - Collier at Immokalee
Enrollment is now 60 girls, and they have room for more according to Vacharee Howard, Executive Director. The Florida Department of Education (DOE) recently awarded the Collier PACE Center an "exemplary" performance rating in 12 of 13 indicators for the Center's high overall quality assurance score.  The School District of Collier County, which provides local supervision of the Center's education program, also received a superior rating.
 
School Accountability Boards - Collier
Lesley Medley, Collier Coordinator, reports that the program will continue at Immokalee Middle School and Barron Collier, Golden Gate, Immokalee and Naples High Schools.  The program involved 46 cases and 121 students in the 2008-09 school year and had a 96% success rate. 
 
Drug Free Collier
The new president is Chief Scott Salley, Collier County Sheriff's Office, and the vice president is Marla Ramsey, Public Services Administrator for Collier County.  There is also a new and active teen group with the slogan p2y4 (positive peers 4 youth).

Back to top ...
SocPolSocial Policy Committee
Ann Campbell, Committee Chair
 
Ann Campbell 2009Some of us, including your Committee Chair, are away from Collier County so our first meeting of the season will be on Wednesday, November 11.  I'm still working on an interesting subject for our get-together and I will have the time, place and topic for you in the next VOTER.
 
We were so pleased to learn that Lighthouse of Collier, the young organization whose mission is to assist the blind, vision-impaired and their caregivers in our community by promoting programs and services that foster independence and enhance their quality of life, was given a location at Bayfront Place in which to set up their offices temporarily.  Committee members will recall that we met Lighthouse member and driving force Sandra Martin and her canine assistant Anna last year at a breakfast meeting, and we have supported the group in their outreach efforts in addition to facilitating the ability of the vision-impaired to use the voting equipment at the polls. (See Chris Straton's article under Voter Service.)  Lighthouse of Collier's "Eye for Art," a show and fundraiser by local artists, is scheduled for Thursday, November 12, from 6 to 10 PM at the Lighthouse offices, 457 Bayfront Place (239-265-5355 for info).  Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from sales are being donated to the Lighthouse by the artists. I'm looking forward to it and will be helping out as a volunteer.   
 
Speaking of programs and services that foster independence and enhance the quality of life for the blind and vision impaired, clients of the wonderful Mail-A-Book Program at the Collier County Public Library are suffering due to budget constraints in our persistently poor economy. The library distributes large print books, books-on-tape, and DVDs to home-bound individuals (over 600 of them) through the mails. The program is still in operation but at a much-reduced service level.  Let's hope that a solution can be found soon. 
 
Voter_ServiceVoter Service Committee
Chris Straton, Committee Chair
 
Chris Straton 05_09
What can we do?  Four little words that made a huge difference in the lives of the visually-impaired community in Collier County. 
 
Join me on this magical journey that began with our League and ended with the visually impaired having the same privacy and dignity that we enjoy when we vote.
 
At one of our Social Policy Committee breakfast meetings under Ann Campbell's leadership we were introduced to Sandy Martin and her dog Anna.  Sandy is blind and she came to tell us all about Lighthouse in Collier County.  There used to be services available for the visually impaired and they were attempting to get something reinstated in Collier County.  Sandy was charming and we asked how we could help.  During the course of discussion we discovered that Sandy was unaware of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant voting machine available at every precinct to help the visually impaired vote.  We made arrangements to get a machine to their Visual/Hearing Impaired event last spring, one thing led to another, and they are now in the business of training the visually impaired on the machine

Voter Services Report - The Naples City Council election season will be upon us soon and we need to be ready for our Candidate Forum on January 12, 2010.  The League of Women Voters of Collier County is the only organization that has been granted the opportunity to use the City of Naples facilities to broadcast our candidate forum. 

League members are encouraged to meet on Friday, October 30, at First Watch across from Lowdermilk Park at 10 AM to discuss issues anticipated in the upcoming City election.  Join your fellow League members as we get up to speed on the issues that have arisen over the summer, discuss pending issues and strategize on how to make this the best election season. 

If you cannot attend but want to work on this important project, contact Chris Straton at 207-7333 or ChrisStraton@yahoo.com.
 
Action Alert Update
Sandy Parker, Acting Action Chair
 
Action AlertRedistricting reform - Action Alert 8/14/09 - Members were asked to contribute on 9/9/09 ("Fair Districts Day") to help raise the 10 cents per petition processing fee for the more than one million petitions needed to get redistricting reform on the ballot. 
 
According to Ellen Freiden of FairDistrictsFlorida:

"On 9/9/09, Floridians from all over the state - 802 of them - overwhelmingly answered the call to donate for fair districts and raised $61,850.11! This definitely was the largest online fundraiser in Florida history - and you made it happen! Beyond the newspaper endorsements and the 1.4 million signatures collected, this outpouring of support truly represents the enormous grassroots support FairDistrictsFlorida.org has enjoyed so far. The determination of our co-hosts and donors to raise the money to turn in those petitions was tremendous, and we couldn't have done it without you!

"The hard work didn't end on 9/10/09, though - there's still a lot left to be done! Don't forget to visit FairDistrictsFlorida.org to sign the petitions, learn how to volunteer and donate for the long road ahead."
 
Stay tuned for future Action Alerts, and please take action when requested.  Remember: democracy is not a spectator sport!

Back to top ...

MembershipMembership
Anne Lewallen and Pat Snyder, Committee Co-Chairs
 
Welcome New MembersThis month we welcome Rhona Levin and Bethann Kassman  to our League.  Contact information for all members can be found on the Access Membership Roster page of our website.  Your username is your email address; your password is your zip code.

Orientation and Tea - On November 3 at 2 PM, we would like to welcome new members of the League to an orientation and tea at Pat and John Snyder's home in Island Walk.  This will be an opportunity for new members and members who have not attended an orientation to hear more about the League and  its work from committee chairs and members. You'll be receiving calls from us to personally invite you but, in the meantime, please mark your calendars and plan to attend. 
 
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 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.
 
Men can join tooIf 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.
 
HealthyTeensCollier County Healthy Teens Coalition
Jen Marquis, LWVCC Coalition Representative
 
Jen Marquis
At the July 30 School Board meeting, School Board members Richard Calabrese, Kathy Curatolo and Julie Sprague voted to revise the sex education policy "for clarification," though no specific wording was discussed in depth.  
 
A big thanks to all League members who attended School Board meetings this summer, providing vital  support of this issue.  At a special workshop on Tuesday, September 29, the School Board will  "wordsmith" the revised policy.

The revised sex education policy will be on the agenda for the School Board's regular monthly meetings on October 15 and November 19.  Those meetings will run from 3 PM until about 8 PM, at 5775 Osceola Trail, Naples.

We strongly urge your attendance at these meetings.  We are at a crossroads right now, and will not have another opportunity to influence the future of sex education in our schools any time soon.  Although the Board members who voted to clarify the policy are solid in their position in favor of comprehensive sex education, we desperately need as many people to attend these meetings as possible to give them our support.

Finally, the Coalition leaders are looking for people willing to testify at any or all of these three meetings.  If you have a particularly important perspective - whether as a teacher, grandparent, parent, student, doctor, nurse, social worker, or therapist - we need you to standup and speak about the importance of comprehensive sex ed.  If you are willing, please let me know ASAP.  This is true even if you've already testified! 
FacebookLWVCC Facebook Update 
Deana Bess, Facebook Administrator
 
Deana BessOur LWVCC Facebook Page  is now home to 96 Fans and counting! Since we converted our Facebook group to a page, we have enjoyed more interaction and sharing of ideas. If you have not already, stay informed, share your thoughts, and become a fan by clicking here.  

Visit our Elected Officials on Facebook! So many of our elected officials are using Facebook to keep us informed, interact, and engage us in activities. Facebook provides more direct access for people like us to get our message heard.

Here are just a few of the Facebook links we found for Collier County's elected representatives (please feel free to share more if you have them):
There are so many issues that are important to us; you can use Facebook to communicate your ideas. Go ahead and send our representatives a message about what is important to you!

Facebook for Candiates: The 2010 election cycle is coming up fast. Get to know the candidates using Facebook! Click here for the list of statewide candidates or click here for county candidates. Then type a candidate's name in the Facebook search engine to find their group or page! Join the Facebook group or become a fan, then write your thoughts on their walls.  You can even become a fan at the Collier County Facebook page and stay up-to-date about public meetings and events.
 
Feel free to e-mail me at deanabess@comcast.net if you have any questions, ideas, or concerns about Facebook.
 
It Takes a Village ... Won't You Help? 
Sandy Parker
 
Volunteer opportunitiesIt takes a village to raise a child, and it takes many volunteers - not just a board - to run a League. 

Thanks to Liese Barnes, our new Calendar Manager, and Judith Gartner, our new VOTER Copy Editor, who responded to my recent email asking for help.  They will be starting their new jobs this month.

But we didn't get any offers to help in the other areas, and more needs are becoming apparent every day.    Here are some areas where we could really use your help ... and in doing so, you'll making a difference in our League. 
 
Publicity Leader - You will write and distribute news releases to publicize our monthly (October - April) General Meeting programs, Candidate Forums, and other League events as needed.  You might also develop a publicity plan to get the League's message out in more creative ways!  No experience necessary, just great writing, grammar, punctuation and spelling skills, and access to Microsoft Word. 
 
Program Designer - You will prepare the programs to be handed out at monthly General and Evening meetings.  We have a template in Microsoft Publisher; you will revise it each month for the current program title, speaker bios, etc., and once approved, you'll have copies made for the meetings. You must have Microsoft Publisher on your computer and know how to use it (or be willing to learn - it's easy!).  If you have Word, Excel or Outlook, you may have Publisher and not know it!  We'll help you find out.

Website Manager - You will be our liaison with Exploritech, the outside firm that updates our website.  We will let you know what changes have to be made.  You will compile them into a Word document that clearly and concisely outlines the changes, send them, usually once a month, to Exploritech, and then verify that the changes are accurately made.  All you need is Microsoft Word and high-speed internet access. 

VOTER Publisher - You will prepare our monthly (October - May) newsletter, the VOTER, by compiling articles submitted by the board and committee chairs.  Our Copy Editor will do the editing; your job will be primarily compilation, design and distribution.  We use Constant Contact to prepare the VOTER online (which doesn't require any special software; just high-speed internet access); other Leagues use Microsoft Publisher or Word, if that's easier for you.  No experience necessary; we will train you! 
 
Archivist - You will help us migrate our paper files to our website.  As a first step, you will look through our paper files and make a list of what we have, then help us decide what should be digitized. 

Please consider volunteering a few hours of your time each month to help us offer the great programming and advocacy that defines us.  Contact me at 513-1595 or lwvcc@lwvcolliercounty.org to volunteer or for more information.
 
News from the National League
Ann Campbell
 
LWV logoLast month the National League:
  • Wrote to the U.S. Senate stating that the League believes the approach outlined in the health care bill passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will provide access and coverage for most Americans who are presently without coverage, while working to contain health care costs.
  • Reiterated a call for a public option in the September 17 letter to the Senate, having previously announced support of the House Bill, HR 3200.
  • Reported on actions taken to refute the "lies and distortions" circulated by the League of American Voters, a name that is deceptively similar to our own, and other groups who are actually targeting LWVUS in their efforts to mislead and sow fear in order to stop much-needed health care reform.
  • Congratulated the LWV of Indiana for their successful court action that convinced the Indiana Court of Appeals to overturn the state's voter ID law.
  • Reported on a partnership between LWVUS and the Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) that has helped give voice to tens of thousands of military and overseas voters all over the world. Minnesota's collaboration with OVF led to a 282 percent increase in the number of returned ballots from overseas and military voters. 

For more information, visit www.lwv.org.

News from the Florida League 
Chris Straton, LWVCC director and LWVF 2nd vice president 
LWVFLA logoThe LWVF Board met in Orlando on September 12.  Here is a report on that meeting:

Director Ruth Schechter (Space Coast League) announced that state membership is now over 3000!  Ruth reminded us that it takes a current member to ask a friend to join for our ranks to grow.

Speaking of growing, Executive Director Peg McGarity has developed a new Starting Up Manual for our state.  
 
Director Kit Pepper (Orange County) distributed copies of the new Florida Voter, which you should have received.  Every state legislator also received a copy. 

A new program designed to facilitate communications between the state board and the local league leadership is underway.
 
The Board is looking forward to a newly revised and energized Legislative Seminar, which will begin on Monday, March 22, and conclude on Wednesday, March 24.  Special events planned include a reception at the top of the Capitol, proclamation from the governor, and celebration of LWVUS's 90th and LWVF's 60th anniversaries. 

Heather Walker has been asked to continue as our lobbyist and will focus her efforts on Florida Government as the number one legislative priority.  Included in this effort is redistricting, tax reform and voting rights.
 
Ever mindful of costs, the Legislative Seminar has been moved to a less expensive hotel, Board meetings are being held in members' homes with members providing lodging for Board members, and a centrally-located college is being looked at as the site of the May Council meeting.
 
For more information, visit www.lwvfla.org.   
2009 - 2010 General Meeting Schedule
Save the dates!
 
November 9, 2009
Your Tax Bill, the County Budget and the Services You Expect

December 14, 2009
Holiday Pary
 
January 11, 2010
Hot Topic in Social Policy
 
February 8, 2010
Update on the State of Florida's Everglades Land Purchase

March 8, 2010
Hot Topic in the Local Justice System
 
April 12, 2010
On the Road to Citizenship: A Look Inside, with Casey Wolff, Immigration Attorney

Back to top ... 
About Us
 
The League of Women Voters of Collier County, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation 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.  
 
###