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.
The Education Committee studies issues related to the quality and accessibility of education in Manatee County at all levels. This year we participated in the Manatee County School District Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee. That committee’s primary activity was the creation and distribution of a survey to involve the citizens in determining what are the most important school goals and programs, conducting five public meetings to get additional comments. The survey was very successful, garnering 943 responses that will be useful to the district when preparing its budget and strategic plan.
Chair: Marlene Focht
We held a great schedule of programs this year, delving into many major issues, with good turnouts and excellent speakers who provided information and promoted understanding. Our programs included talks on the Sex Trafficking; the Future of Newspapers in the Digital Age; Immigration Reform; Voting Rights. This fall we will cover the proposed Florida Constitutional Amendments and delve into the issue of Climate Change. Many thanks to all who help stock our luncheon buffet table, especially hospitality coordinator Cindy Nelson and Lois McKee, who bring the lunchware and entrée. We are also indebted to our collaborators, Bradenton Womans’ Club, for the use of their facility, and METV for taping our programs and broadcasting them on their station and YouTube link: www.metvweb.com.
Photo: Manatee County Sheriff Office detective Theron Robinson speaks at the Hot Topic on Sex Trafficking held January 13.
Continuing our education efforts, committee member Kathleen Dodge and myself provided seven presentations on the Affordable Care Act between January 18 and March 20, in Bradenton, Sarasota, Venice, Clearwater, and Palmer Ranch. The talks stopped after the end of Open Enrollment on March 30.
In our community collaboration efforts, committee members attended meetings of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Health Committee, Manatee HealthCare Alliance and public meetings arranged by the Board of Commissioners of Manatee County to discuss health care issues and options. I will attend the Manatee Chamber of Commerce 2-day Retreat in early October. Health Care is one of the items on the retreat program.
We also sent our recommendations to the County Commission regarding indigent care. Those recommendations included: advocating to the state to accept the Medicaid expansion; collaborating with the hospitals to establish walk-in clinics; and supporting coordinated health care across providers in the interest of better-informed, cost-effective care.
--Suzanne Dickie, Chair
MEMBERSHIP AND FUNDRAISING
We engaged in a number of outreach activities and tabling events this past year, to help make citizens aware of our work and to attract new members. Seen as a key community organization, our membership grew, reaching 75 by fall 2014. This spring the state League has asked all of its members to help grow our leagues statewide, with the goal of doubling our membership. The more members we have, the more we can do. 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 grants when those opportunities arise. This year we received a grant from LWVUS for our young voters registration project. We also received helpful grants from the Bradenton Herald to fund our Voters Guides. Special thanks to members who renewed this year at the Cornerstone Level: Ashley Brown, Kathleen Dodge, Elaine & Steve Graham, Marie Hausman, Hannah Honeyman, Amanda Horne, Judith Kesler, Rosalie & Gary Shaffer, and Jo Williams. 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
There were two major areas of activity for natural resources this year. The first was the campaign to get the Florida Water and Land Legacy amendment onto the 2014 ballot. The Florida League supports this amendment to the Florida Constitution, which would set aside a portion of state document stamp revenue for the purchase of conservation land and the restoration of ecosystems that have been damaged by human activities. Committee member Jo Williams headed up the effort for our League, spending many hours attending events to get signatures on the petitions needed to get the measure onto the ballot. Our Florida LWVs and many other grassroots organizations helped to make this effort a success, and voters will get to decide this issue in November.
Our other major issue was the proposal to create exemptions to our county’s growth rules to allow the Long Bar Pointe project to cause environmental impacts to Sarasota Bay, a state and nationally protected estuary. The text changes would have also allowed other developers to have the same exemptions. We collaborated in what became a major grass roots effort to oppose these changes. We joined with 1,000 other citizens at the public hearing last summer, most of whom voiced their objections. The county denied the text changes, and approved the map changes only after the marina was removed. The developer has recently filed a legal challenge.
Cruise with us! This fall we will hold our very first nature excursion—a narrated nature and history cruise on the Manatee River and surrounding bay. Saturday, December 13, from 10 am to 12 noon, leaving from Regatta Pointe Marina in Palmetto. $25 adults; $12.50 children. For more information and to make a reservation, call 729-9248.
Committee: Paula Roberts; Rosalie Shaffer, Jo Williams
OUTREACH AND SPEAKER’S BUREAU
The Speaker’s Bureau was formed last year and 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:
· The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010: what it says and how it changes health care.
· County Charter Government: what it is, what it changes, and how it could be adopted in Manatee County.
· Florida Water & Land Amendment: how it will help preserve, protect and restore Florida’s natural resources.
· The League of Women Voters: “Making democracy work”: what we stand for, what we do, and how we do it.
· Voting Rights and Voter Turnout: Why your vote counts.
· The Florida Constitutional Amendments on the 2014 Ballot: What do they mean, and what will they do?
Contact: Sue Dickie for the ACA, 782-4530; and Rosalie Shaffer for all others: 729-9248.
In January the LWVUS announced a grant incentive for local leagues to do voter registration of young voters, and encourage them to vote. We were awarded a grant, and hit the ground running. Since 18 yr olds would be graduating, national asked us to do these drives during February and March. We drew up a plan to visit nine high schools and colleges during those months, registering 18 yr olds and pre-registering 16 and 17 yr olds.
We knew from past experience that just setting up a table in a school cafeteria was not going to be very effective, so we asked the schools to allow us some time in the classrooms so that we could present a brief slide talk about registering and the importance of voting. We visited multiple classes in some of the schools. Manatee School for the Arts arranged for us to have a student assembly, and we were able to reach several hundred students at one time. Staff and Supervisor Mike Bennett of the Manatee Supervisor of Elections office joined with us at MSA, making it an even more informative event.
The results were outstanding—457 registrations. We also handed out many applications to students who preferred to fill them out at home and mail them in themselves. Schools we visited included: Bayshore High, Braden River High, Lakewood Ranch High, Manatee High, Manatee School for the Arts, Palmetto High, Southeastern High, and State College of Florida: one at the college fair and a series of classroom visits at SCF Collegiate School for high school students. The highest number of registrations gathered at one site was Manatee High, with 143. The teachers at all the schools were very cooperative and helpful, with many saying they want us to come back again.
We will continue our voter registration efforts this fall, with sign up sessions at three county libraries.
Young Voter Registration Team: Elaine Graham, Nancy Horne, Barbara Jakusovszky, Kay Levy, Charlotte Scarborough and Rosalie Shaffer.
Another accomplishment for the voters this year was our collaboration with NAACP to work with Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett to restore one of the polling places that were slated for closure in a minority community.
Photo: Students at Lakewood Ranch High sign up to become new voters.
Election Time! Given our strong commitment to nonpartisan voter education and participation, our League will work hard to educate voters and to encourage a high turnout.
Candidate Forums: We team up with the Bradenton Herald, METV and TV9 in a series of timed debates for candidates for US, state, county and city elections. We also participate in debates conducted in collaboration with other community organizations.
Voter Guides: We distribute to the public, libraries and community centers both our own local and also the state LWV guides (which contain amendment explanations), to the primary and general elections. These have been invaluable to the voters in making their decisions. We thank the Bradenton Herald for its support for our local guides.
Amendment Talks: We receive many calls from voters about the ballot amendments. To help the public, we not only hold informative Hot Topics on these, and distribute information in our guides, but also give talks to community organization groups, reaching hundreds of voters, to explain the complex amendments they would be voting on.
Voter Information Center: To reach even more voters with our information during an election season, we assemble all the nonpartisan information in one place—on our website. We include links to our guides, as well as links to METV, other nonpartisan sites with information on candidates and issues—a one-stop shopping center for information.
Our volunteers have done an amazing job, and there is no greater reward than the gratitude we have seen and heard from citizens. Here’s what one said by email: ”Thank all of you for helping me be an informed voter. Your help has been immeasurable in making my voting choices.”
Photo: candidates in the primary election for Manatee County Commission Districts 2 and 4 debate issues at the LWV/Manatee Fish and Wildlife Association forum July 30.
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Committees that need Chairs or members:
All of the Committees listed above 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: August 29, 2014