League of Women Voters of Manatee County
Committees are made up of LWV members who study issues, make recommendations to the board and engage in public education efforts. All phone numbers are for area code 941. For more contact information, click on “Officers” tab. Additional committees may be formed by volunteers interested in a community issue.
The Education Committee conducts educational programs and studies issues related to the quality and accessibility of education in Manatee County. The League of Women Voters takes a strong interest in education at all levels, since it is the backbone of personal and national advancement and creates an informed electorate. Our recent issue focus is the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), an important community resource, which provides services to students, their parents, the economy, and community at large. At meetings held this past fall the Board of Trustees of SCF voted a number of actions detrimental to the college, the most serious being to end continuing contracts for its faculty. This change would make SCF the only state college not offering this minimal job security to faculty who have served for a number of years and have proven their worth. The trustees also voted to move forward a proposal to require applicants for faculty positions to “bid” their salaries. According to the August meeting minutes, this would be, ”incorporating the principle behind bidding out a job.”
The Trustees gave no reason or need for these changes, which were strongly opposed by the faculty, former trustees and presidents of the college, and the public at large. The quality of any college rests strongly upon the quality of its faculty. Hiring low-bid applicants and doing away with continuing contracts will certainly not enhance the quality of the applicant pool, nor SCF itself. We encourage citizens to contact the trustees at email@example.com. Ask them to retain the current contract system that has given SCF its fine reputation as a high quality college for students and our community.
Part of our education efforts is our public information programs. We held a great series of Hot Topic programs this past year, delving into many major issues, with good turnouts and excellent speakers who provided information and promoted understanding. Our programs in 2015 included talks on Police and Minority Relations; Expanding Health Care in Florida; Campaign Finance Reform; Schools, Standards and Learning; Helping the Homeless, and Restoring the Right to Vote. Always dealing with current issues, our spring 2016 lineup includes Guns in Our Society, Helping Children at Risk, and Refugees in Society.
Photo: Speakers at the program on Restoring the Right to Vote for Former Felons, Michael Barfield of the ACLU and Public Defender Larry Eger. One attendee remarked on our Facebook Page: “Just got home from the lecture, with question and answers, it was very enlightening to say the least, who would have ever have guessed that you could lose your voting rights for molesting a crab trap? Thank you to the league for having speakers who educate us on subjects that concern us all, wish there were more.”
Many thanks to all who help stock our luncheon buffet table. We are also indebted to the Bradenton Woman’s’ Club, for the use of their fine hall, and METV for taping our programs and broadcasting them on their station and YouTube link: www.metvweb.com.
LWV Manatee is continuing the League’s involvement with the Manatee County 2015 Community Health Assessment (CHA) coordinated by Luz Corcuera of the Manatee County Health Department. At the December 3, 2015 meeting the committee explained the strategic plan to reduce the rate of substance use, child and adult obesity, infant mortality, teen pregnancy, and instances of violence in Manatee County.
The strategic plan focuses on education, access to services, increase workplace wellness programs, access to healthy foods, physical activity, prenatal health care and to encourage access to a high school education. The report was issued on Dec. 30, and should be available soon on the Health Dept website. One goal in 2016 is to develop a marketing plan that will increase awareness of the issues that impact our community. The LWVM will remain an active participant in this project.
LWVM was also represented at the November 10 We Care Manatee Breakfast and November 20 Empty Bowls to support the Food Bank of Manatee County.
Our League was one of the many community groups that took part in the Remote Area Medical event, November 21-22 --a free clinic for uninsured, low-income patients, on the buildings and grounds of Manatee Technical College. During our fall Hot Topics we gave out flyers about this major event to encourage participation. The event was a stunning success.
Over 1,500 people were given needed treatments during the free clinic, including health screenings, dental and eye exams, glasses and procedures. These were previously out of reach of people who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, but can’t afford to pay for the services. Hundreds of health care professionals as well as other dedicated volunteers donated their time and skills. Our members helped out with packing lunch bags, to keep patients and volunteers fed during the day.
According to LWVM board member Lorraine Berry, “We started on the dot at 9 am, forming an assembly line of about 20 people. We finished about 11:40 am, having packed 3,000 lunches. The man who started the RAM effort dropped by mid-morning to thank us and to encourage us to keep volunteering—they will be back!”
Committee Chair--Marjorie Martini
MEMBERSHIP AND FUNDRAISING
Seen as a key community organization, we ask all of our members to recruit at least one more member for our League. We also encourage our members to become active, engaging in committee work of interest. It’s a great way to learn, meet interesting people and improve public participation in government. All members are encouraged to attend our board meetings.
Fundraising: Since most of our dues income is paid out to help support state and national LWV, we supplement it with LWV grants when those opportunities arise. This year we will receive a grant from LWVUS for our young voters registration project. We will also recruit sponsors for our upcoming voters guides for Election 2016. Thanks to members who are renewing at the Cornerstone Level. Your help was essential for keeping us in the black!
The more members we have, the more we can accomplish. Join today! Membership form.
NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE
At its Annual Convention last May, the Florida League of Women Voters voted unanimously to support the Solar Choice Amendment, to be on the ballot in 2016 if enough petitions are gathered and if it passes muster with the Florida Supreme Court. The ballot proposal – designed to expand solar choice by removing barriers that limit solar ownership – continues to gain wide support with more than 40 different organizations including those of the business community, conservative groups, faith communities, clean energy and environmental, all coming together in this multi-partisan, pro-consumer coalition.
The Solar Choice amendment will allow investors to install solar electric panels on commercial and residential rooftops, and to sell the electricity to the tenants or nearby landowners. Currently, Florida is one of only four states that prohibit the sale of electricity by anyone other than an established utility. Floridians for Solar Choice was formed to gather the hundreds of thousands of signatures needed to place this initiative on the 2016 ballot and give voters the opportunity to decide whether businesses and property owners can have the freedom to generate solar energy and sell it directly to others.
So what can you do? Begin downloading petitions now: www.flsolarchoice.org. You can do your part — large or small! If you have any questions, please contact LWVF Solar Initiative Director Alvin Peters (firstname.lastname@example.org).
OUTREACH AND SPEAKER’S BUREAU
Like us on Facebook! This past fall we launched our league into social media with Facebook full of news, photos, info and commentaries. Many thanks to members Ashley Brown and Amanda Horne for getting it up and running. Check it out at LWV Manatee Facebook.
Committee: Ashley Brown, Amanda Horne
The Speaker’s Bureau is currently available to community groups that would like speakers on a variety of topics. Speakers with powerpoint programs are currently available for the following topics:
· Why Florida Needs to Expand Health Care: With over $50 billion dollars in federal aid at stake, and care access for one million Floridians, why the Florida Legislature should approve the expansion. We’ll discuss a “Florida solution” for this issue.
· The League of Women Voters: “Making democracy work”: what we stand for, what we do, and how we do it.
· Young Voters--Why they need to Register and Vote. Why your vote matters.
· Restoring Felon Rights to Vote: Should one conviction mean that someone can no longer vote, even after they have completed their sentence? All about the petition drive for a Florida Constitutional Amendment to address that injustice.
Call 729-9248 to book a presentation.
One Stop Center tour a real experience
In keeping with the holiday spirit, on December 9 our group of 15 members visited the Bill Galvano One Stop Center, a key facility for services to the homeless, located at 701 17th Ave. W. We brought items they could use for their services, as well as presents for homeless children. We were greeted by Adell Erozer, director of Turning Points, which operates the One Stop Center. She explained all help available there. Due to the size of our turnout, they divided us into two groups, with a guide for each. The first stop was with the intake department, that evaluates the needs and aid available for each client.
One Stop provides a large range of services for the homeless. In one room they can use computers to find jobs or get aid. If needed, the center will accept mail for a client, so that they have a usable address. For meals, they supply breakfast; lunch is supplied by Our Daily Bread in their cafeteria, and they coordinate housing needs with the Salvation Army, which also provides dinner. One Stop also provides the homeless with showers and laundry facilities.
The homeless can get medical and dental care, thanks to volunteer professionals. The center also has a hair salon, to help the homeless look their best for job interviews. One Stop also coordinates with other groups and agencies to maximize services. In the building next door, Goodwill volunteers sort donated items, especially clothing and shoes. It was a very enlightening tour. It made us realize how much this facility and their dedicated volunteers do. We encourage our members to help them, whether by donating money, items they can use, or your volunteer time.
Given our strong commitment to voter education and participation, our League will be very active this election season to do everything we could to help educate voters and encourage a high turnout. Our goals is to have every voter, no matter what their political views, go to the polls knowing what they need to know to vote with confidence in their selections.
Voter Registration: We will be registering voters at schools, fairs, libraries and many other locations to enlist more citizens in the democratic process. We also have a powerpoint program on why it was important to vote.
Candidate Forums: We team up with the Bradenton Herald and METV in a series of timed debates for candidates for national, state, county and city elections. We also conduct debates in partnership with other groups such as the AMI Sun and Islander newspapers, covering the contests in our beach cities.
Voter Guides: Our most important product is our Voter Guides, which present nonpartisan information on candidates and ballot initiatives. Last election we distributed 6,000 state LWV general election guides (which contain the state candidates and constitutional amendments), and 8,000 (4,000 each) for the local primary and general elections, to public libraries, civic and community centers. These have been invaluable to the voters in making their decisions. We thank the Bradenton Herald, M&M Printing and Bealls for their support of our printed local guides.
Amendment Talks: There were just three state constitutional amendments on the ballot last election, but they were controversial and confusing. We cleared the air by holding two Hot Topics, featuring pro and con speakers, and several talks at community organizations to explain what these amendments say and what they would change. We will do the same for the coming election.
Voter Information Center: To reach even more voters with our election information, we assemble all the nonpartisan information in one place—on our website. We include links to our guides, as well as links to METV and other nonpartisan sites with information on candidates and issues—a one-stop shopping center for voting information. It has proved to be a big hit with the users and certainly extended our informational reach. Our website stats showed 12,325 visits in October, and 11,806 in November 2015.
In the blizzard of political ads during election 2014, we stood out as the main source of nonpartisan, unbiased information that the voters rely upon. Here’s one phone comment we received the summed it up well: ”Thank you for helping me. I don’t know what I would have done without your information.”
Committee Chair: Rosalie Shaffer, 729-9248
Volunteer for a Committee!
All of our committees need members. We want to do more, and we need you!
League of Women Voters of Manatee County
P.O. Box 545
Bradenton, FL 34206-0545
Last updated: Jan. 19, 2016