Blog Entries: 1 to 10 of 20
Solar Coops: Are They Worth a Look?
The state League has been collaborating with FL-SUN for awhile to establish local residential solar coops, and I took advantage of a breakout session at State Convention to learn more. Besides allowing coop members to save up to 20% on the installation of solar on their homes, plus the advantages to shift our dependence on non-renewable energy sources, there is also the gain of some monetary benefit to our State League through coops. Please ask me more.
I understand that most areas where coops have been launched say it took work, but the coalition with groups like Sierra Club, Climate Lobby, the Tea Party, and many others, developed new partners for future worthy efforts. We were given lots of tips on first steps, how to launch with a great press conference, and how to counter some nay sayers. The yellow T shirts much in evidence at convention had variations of a giant sun with "Let the Sun Pay Your Bills." I was delighted to learn that interest crosses party lines, and once a group can locate 30 or more interested potential joiners, then FL SUN will help each household determine how much solar is appropriate for each house, and what kind of roof and space each has, then help would-be coop members form a leadership group to choose our own group installer from lists FL-SUN can provide. who will provide individual quotes before anybody commits. If I have conflated some of the steps, what impressed me is how much decision making is left to the locals, with FL SUN and the League only helping steer us to reliable installers, and giving us tools to do our own evaluations. Prices differ depending on roof type (tile, asphalt, or metal), and age. It is advised to have sufficient roof life left before installing panels. Some families want to offset only half their power bills, but others may want to go whole hog. I look forward to learning more. It was explained to me that although we helped launch 6 new coops just last month, we are "small potatoes" to FPL and other power providers. A whole chapter of Bob Graham's book is devoted to the Georgia woman who successfuly championed individual solar in her state. We would not be inventing the wheel, just harnessing the sun to save some money.
Past President's State Convention Views
Our view of the Atlantic outside our window was tempting, but League leaders kept us far to busy to enjoy the outdoors. Three plenary sessions crammed elections, adoption of action issues, statewide consideration of open primary study, and all the highlights in Julie S's summary from July 13. We had sent in photos of our chapter events, but it was up to new president Julie McGillivray to tell our League sisters how we have been doing. Since it has been four years since I attended convention, I forgot the two minute "ask" during chapter roll call, but Julie did just fine. All these speaking opportunities are designed to train each of us up as future leaders. One chapter had prepared a mini video about who are the voters (of today and tomorrow). I hope we can obtain a copy to post on our website. It was terrific. Next time, we will put our media specialist to work to outdo that chapter.
Personally, I was disappointed that some members who did not favor open primaries tried to silence our consensus voting. But several members stood up and figuratively raised the flag of "we are for everyone's right to vote, we are not here to protect any political party." That rallying cry shifted the mood, and we were able to defend the consensus votes on most items. It was a good review of parliamentary procedure.
The local circuit judge who sat in until he was needed to swear in our new officers commented Saturday evening that he wished he had a video of our voting sessions, as he wanted to teach folks in Tallahassee how to govern. Former Governor and 3-term U.S. Senator was our keynote speaker the last evening. He was gracious and funny. Afterward, he and wife Adele, accompanied by "wingman" co-author Chris Hand, stayed until the last of us had a chance to buy his book, get an autograph, and pose for pictures. His theme: returning the teaching of civics to our public schools. The lack of same is Gov. Graham's reason for our current predicament. As Gov. Graham is approaching 81 years of age and still going strong at his think tank in Gainesville, while not spending time with 11 grandchildren and plotting for his daughter Gwen's campaign for Florida governor hext year, he gave me new energy for the fights ahead.
Florida LWV Convention 2017 Report
League Members Gather to Shape the Future
Nearly 200 League members gathered in Fort Lauderdale Beach on Friday and Saturday at their State Convention to make decisions that will help direct and shape the League of Women Voters of Florida for the next two years. Charlotte County LWV board members Jean Finks and Julie McGillivray represented our chapter at the event.
But the overriding headline was the League's explosive 65% membership growth this past year. LWVF is now the second largest state league in the country. Orange County with more than 750 members is now the second largest local league in the country, followed by third place Palm Beach and St. Petersburg fourth. A number of Leagues throughout the State have doubled their membership.
"This is a year of which we can all be proud," said LWVF President Pamela Goodman. "Our non-partisan, multi-position stand is drawing new members daily. But it is not just a question of numbers, it is the energy, knowledge, and determination of our members that makes Florida an example to Leagues throughout the nation. Our historical process is one of credibility and integrity. In the end, we make things happen."
The Open Primary Study, which achieved consensus earlier this year by its membership, was added to the League's statewide positions. The aim of the study, which was headed by Orange County's Michele Levy, and took two years to complete, was to examine ways to increase voter participation in primary elections. It recommended "statewide use of an Open Primary election system that would allow for the broadest possible voter participation, including No Party and Minor Party affiliate voters."
Vikram Amar, dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, who spoke on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, said that slavery was the biggest single driver behind the Electoral College. Dr. Amar said that today the Electoral College benefits from just a handful of states. "It is a good moment in U.S. history to change the Electoral College rules," he said. "...we need a standard, national ballot."
Additionally, The League formally began their work as a coalition partner in the campaign to get the citizen initiative regarding Restoration of Former Felons Rights on the 2018 ballot and discussed their role in the Constitution Revision Commission process.
There were workshops, caucuses and meetings, as well as time to make friends, influence people and hear words of wisdom from the League's National President Chris Carson, Rick Christie, editorial page editor Palm Beach Post, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fl., and Chris Hand, the senator's co-author of "America The Owner's Manual."
Officers and Board Directors were also elected. Goodman, from Palm Beach County League, was re-elected as President for an additional 2 year term. The remaining Board elected are:
1st Vice President: Patti Brigham,
2nd Vice President: Cecile Scoon,
Secretary: Pat Drago,
Treasurer: Theresa Francis-Thomas
Board Members: Shawn Bartelt, Anna Eskamani, Lisa Hall, Julie Kessel, and Michele Levy.
Nominating Committee: LaVonne Grayson, Mary Gutierrez, and Maggie Fernandez
Special Session Over: A Wrap Up
Excerpted from WGCU's report on the final results of the 2017 Special Session of the Legislature:
The final day of the legislature’s brief special session played out the way many regular sessions do: last minute amendments, bills bouncing from chamber to chamber and sweeping deals secured at the eleventh hour. But once the votes were cast, the state’s Republican leaders put their bickering aside and met in the rotunda to congratulate one another.
“As you know,” Governor Rick Scott explained, “I called a special session because I believed that we should have more money for K-12 education, we should make sure we can market our state well, and we can make sure we continue to grow jobs.”
And lawmakers were willing to oblige. Visit Florida’s funding will jump from $25 to $76 million. Lawmakers approved an $85 million fund for infrastructure and job training. Per pupil spending will climb by $100. And in a bargain struck Friday, he even got money for the Herbert Hoover dike.
But to make it out of Tallahassee lawmakers had to notch wins of their own. On Thursday evening Senate President Joe Negron was livid over the governor and the House preparing to pay for the education increase with Senate projects vetoed from the budget.
But to make it out of Tallahassee lawmakers had to notch wins of their own. On Thursday evening Senate President Joe Negron was livid over the governor and the House preparing to pay for the education increase with Senate projects vetoed from the budget. Many of the vetoes Negron was worried about had to do with higher education, and Friday, he got a $60 million olive branch—covering nearly 20 projects at state colleges and universities.
Special Session Coming- Speak Out Now!
Below is an urgent message from Florida League of Women Voters President Pam Goodman. Act now to urge our Representatives to include funds for conservation!
3 out of 4 of YOU Voted for THIS:
In 2014, 75% of voters approved the Florida Water and Land Legacy Act to "Fund the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands."
YOU voted for our Legislature to preserve and protect Florida's natural resources. Florida Forever received zero funds in 2017 and 5% of historical funding in 2015 and 2016. Ask your legislators to fund Florida Forever with the vetoed monies in the special session June 7 - 9.
We ask that you call, email, and write your Florida senators and representatives asking them to properly fund protection of Florida's natural resources.
Follow the links provided for your Florida representative and senator contact information. Please act today!
President, LWV of Florida
Legislative Session Final Report
The 2017 Legislative Session is officially done, and the budget has gone to the Governor's desk. There are drastic changes to public education and reductions in spending per student.
Governor Rick Scott is bound to make a decision on the budget within the next few days. The League has called for the veto of this year's budget. In a letter to the Governor, League of Women Voters Florida President Pamela Goodman urged him to veto because of the reduced funding per student in our public schools, the zeroing out of the Florida Forever Fund that 75% of voters approved in 2014, and thelack of transparency in the process that enabled several last-minute bills and amendments without proper vetting.
The Governor has given a few indicators that he's looking to veto. Read more about his potential veto from the Miami Herald.
The bills highlighted within each priority are the ones that were seen most often throughout the session. For the complete list of what passed or failed from the bills we tracked, visit here. For an overview of the complete session, read more here from The Tampa Bay Times.
You can read the full LWV report by our legislative advocate Kelly Quintero by following the link below:
topics where we could use volunteers
We are a small chapter. Not all of us can attend meetings or go to marches. Even if you are at home more often than not, but you have a phone or computer, you could become more informed and help us out. How?
Let us match your special interest topics with those the League is already involved in, and make sure you get the latest word from Tallahassee or the committee chairs throughout the state.
What happens now?
Our state League sends out email blasts to the president (now Julie McGillivray, but Jean Finks till Tuesday's election). These are frequently containing information on a topic, or notice of a committee group phone call. The calls have typically been either at 5 pm or 6 pm, on a regular basis that one could plan for. To participate takes time, but is toll free. You can hit star 6 to mute, and munch away or wet your whistle while you listen in.
The topics range from gun safety, to voter services, to juvenile justice, to education, to election law, or to membership (growth). or,when the Legislature was in session, what is the latest from our League lobbyist. Does any of these topics resonate for you? If so, let us know, as in the past, when Jean could not find someone to cover the calls, and Jean could not listen in, our chapter simply ignored these important alerts.
Having listened to a lot of these calls, I can tell you that not all are efficiently managed for our busy schedules. Dinner hour is sacred at many households. But maybe you march to a different drummer, and that would be the highlight of your day. If so, SPEAK UP.
There is work to do, but first we have to know what is going on. So many other chapters have already invented the wheel on a topic, and we can learn from them in these phone meetings.We don't want our new president to burn out trying to be everything to every member. Help share the incoming info.
And of course, when you get a MEMBER's email asking you for action, do what you can. Call your representative, or write that letter, if you can. The League is democracy in action.
Voter Fraud Commission Appointed
In case you might have missed the following two recent news items:
USA Today reported on May 2, 2017 the following news item in its state by state review:
Newton, North Carolina: A state prosecutor won’t bring vote fraud charges against a woman who voted in her deceased mother’s name, the Charlotte Observer reports. Officials say the woman’s 89-year old mother was a strong Donald Trump supporter who made a power of attorney for her to vote that way before dying in October.
On May 11, 2017, the Washington Examiner reported the following (edited version):
President Donald Trump appointed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to a new commission that will investigate voter fraud and other election issues, according to White House officials. Vice President Mike Pence will serve as chairman, and Mr. Kobach will co-chair the new Commission on Election Integrity.
The 12-member bipartisan commission will review claims of improper registrations and voting, fraudulent registrations and voter suppression, White House officials told McClatchy. Members will provide the president with a report in 2018 and may issue recommendations to the states.
Jim Crow Exhibit at Blanchard Nears End
As the mentor in one of my new favorite book series (Maisie Dobbs, by Jacquelyn Winspear) writes: There is no such thing as coincidence.
So while I receive requests to help with STEM scholarship funds for all women students, and I hear the female program director of the Cassini space craft about to crash into Saturn in mid-August, I am also reading "Hidden Figures," Margot Lee Shetterly's book abou the untold story of the black women mathematicians who helped win the space race. And Ms. Shetterly's book rams home one of the factors that embarrassed those at least at the federal level to think about integration, despite attempts in southern states (like Virginia) to resist as long as possible, the strictures of the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown vs. Bd. of Education. Sputnik, that first Russian orbiting satellite, burst the bubble of American primacy in pioneering. "Hidden Figures" presents the experience of "Jim Crow" on the human "computers". A disease some called "Mississippiitis" included segregation, violence, and oppression, and the disparity in treatment of US citizens who happened to be black did not go unnoticed in the overseas press. It was downright embarassing. "Who can say that it was not the institution of the Jim Crow School that has deprived this nation of the black scientist who might have solved the technological kinks delaying our satellite launching?" wrote the editor of the Cleveland Call and Post.
And we all have only a few more weeks to experience the Jim Crow Exhibit at Blanchard House Museum in Punta Gorda. Their annual featured exhibit closes on May 20, celebrated in Florida as our Emancipation Day, when the Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation was first read in our state. Don't miss the exhibit, or the book or movie of Hidden Figures.
There is No Planet B
Our Englewood marcher Rosemary Litsky has once again sent us some powerful pictures from the March 22, 2017 Sarasota march for science. Among the signs was one carried by a young woman on her parent's shoulder that read "I am small but I am persistent" and this one: