Are you ready for a new Voter Registration campaign? I hope you are! LWV of the Space Coast will soon begin preparing for the launch of a campaign designed to encourage all voters to get a Vote by Mail (VBM) ballot. The mandate for VBM comes directly from the State League. The State is asking Local Leagues to suspend in-person voter registration events as well as public meetings and forums for the foreseeable future until it is safe to resume normal social activities. In addition, we are now being urged to mount a strong local Vote by Mail campaign. The background behind this initiative is that since we currently don’t know how the next primary and general elections will be conducted, and whether it will even be safe to vote in person due to COVID-19, we need to make sure that all voters have the opportunity to vote. If every voter has a vote by mail ballot in hand, they will be able to vote, in August and November, no matter the circumstances. Our task, as League members, will be to promote the VBM option and educate the community.
We have also been asked to explore virtual alternatives for holding public meetings and candidate forums. All this is incredibly challenging, but we are already adapting. Over the past month, many of us have become very familiar with using the Zoom platform and we have held several successful virtual meetings with good results. Zoom isn’t as good as an in-person meeting, but much better than a conference call. One advantage is that nobody has to drive to the meeting which has the added benefit of helping the environment.
While you are waiting to find out how our Vote by Mail Campaign unfolds there are plenty of League activities you might want to explore such as a LWVFL Friday Lunch and Learn webinar (every Friday at 1:00 pm) or a LWVFL Action Team meeting, to find out what is going on at state level. All these meetings are listed on the LWV of the Space Coast website calendar.
During May, I am anticipating that LWVSC will resume most regular activities such as committee meetings and will also explore the possibility of having a Meet and Greet or a General Membership meeting online. Please keep checking the website for updates, stay well, and I will look forward to meeting you on Zoom in the very near future.
Congratulations to Donna Morris, LWV of the Space Coast’s (LWVSC) volunteer of the month.
Over the last year, Donna has been a leading force in getting the League to sponsor voter registration initiatives throughout Brevard County. She is constantly looking for innovative ways to reach all sections of the community and there are very few places that she will not go in the quest to register new voters. Donna comes to LWVSC with a wealth of experience acquired through working on candidate and voter registration campaigns. In February, she presented our first Voter Registration Training event and recently took on the responsibility of serving as Co-chair of the Voter Services Committee. If you work with Donna, you will be impressed by her passion and knowledge of all things to do with voter registration; we are looking forward to her guidance as we prepare for our new Vote by Mail campaign.
LWVSC Board of Directors for 2020-2021
The LWVSC Board has Officers, Elected Directors and Appointed Directors as provided for in our bylaws.
There are five Officers, six Elected Directors and up to seven Appointed Directors. Officers and Elected Directors serve for 2 years but can be re-elected. Appointed Directors serve for one year but can be re-appointed many times. Serving you this year are:
- President - Jo Shim
- 1st Vice President - Rob Grisar
- 2nd Vice President - position is open. If you are interested in knowing more about 2nd Vice President's duties, please contact a board member.
- Secretary - Diane Conaway
- Treasurer - Brigitte Sinton
Elected Directors are: Diane Callier, Kathy Ebersberger, Brooke Goldfarb, Maureen Rupe, Krista Soboh, and Lucia Watson.
Diane, Callier, Kathy Ebersberger and Maureen Rupe were elected in April. Their bios and pictures are found below.
Appointed Directors are : Fran Baer, Audrey Grayson, Terry LaPlante, Susan Little, and Barbara Williams.
Bios of 3 newly Elected Directors
Diane was born and raised in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1977 with a B.S. in Environmental Sciences. Diane worked for the Environmental Protection Agency for over twenty years in their Region 7 Office.
In February 2001 Diane moved to Cape Canaveral to take a job at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as their Environmental Branch Chief responsible for regulatory compliance, recycling, energy conservation, cleanup of historical contamination, and natural resources. Her career was briefly interrupted by a bout with breast cancer and chemotherapy but she has now been cancer free for 18 years. Diane ended her career at KSC as the Chief of the Medical and Environmental Management Division in 2011 when she retired.
Since retirement she and her husband, Rob Grisar, the first vice-president of the LWVSC, have enjoyed traveling the U.S. and Europe. They live in Cape Canaveral with their two cats.
Diane's specific interests since joining the LWVSC include supporting voter registration and voter forums, and local government and the observer corps, believing that informed and active voters are critical to the survival and success of our government and society.
Kathy Ebersberger is a Melbourne resident. She graduated from Earlham College in Indiana with a degree in political science. After working as a computer programmer, Kathy graduated with honor from the University of Maryland School of Law. She practiced law in Maryland and was an Assistant Attorney General in the Maryland Attorney General's Office. She subsequently obtained an L.L.M. degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and worked as an editor for a legal research database company.
Kathy has concentrated on researching the history of women's suffrage in Brevard County since she retired and is looking forward to becoming more involved with the League of Women Voters of the Spacecoast.
Space Coast Women League of Voters: Board of Directors (2000 – 2014); Chair, Natural Resources Committee (2000 – 2014); Natural Resource Consultant (2014 – 2020).
Maureen Rupe was originally from England, married her husband Bob at MacDill AFB, reassigned to Vandenberg AFB, California, and then assigned to Brevard in 1986. She lives in Port St. John and her interests are Environmental Protection and Politics:
Brevard County Charter Review Commission: (1997 – 1998 /2003 – 2004 / 2014 - 2015); Year-long Reviews of the Brevard County Charter for New Proposals or Changes to the County’s Current Charter.
Marine Resource Council Board of Directors: (2000 – Present).
Sierra Club, Turtle Coast Chapter: Executive Board of Directors (2007 - 2020).
Parrish Medical Center: Board of Directors (2000 – Present).
Brevard County 2001 & 2011 Redistricting Committee: Review every 10 years defining Brevard County District Borders.
Port St. John Homeowner's Association: President (May 1995 - April 1997), (May 1999 – April 2000); Vice President (July 1998 – April 1999); Board Member (1989 – 2000). Worked 20 Years to get Brevard County Government to Initiate a Health Study on the Combined Pollution from Port St. John Power Plants; 2005: Preliminary Study Report showed Potential Health Effects of Residents 2006: County Commission Voted to Commit funds for Expanded Study; April 2008: FPL announced it would be replacing the FPL plant with a new low emission plant starting in 2012.
Cape Canaveral Energy Center, Community Advisory Panel (CAP): (2008 - 2012). Invited by Florida Power & Light to be a member of the committee to oversee Cape Canaveral Plant deactivation and new construction activities.
Education & Natural Resources Reports
by Fran Baer, Hilah Mercer & Terry Mott
“How many years is a U.S. Senator’s term of office?” That is one of the clues on the Mini Crossword Puzzle Book which the League will distribute to interested parties. The two series are based on the Constitution and the U.S. Citizenship Exam, which a record number of 756,800 people passed in 2018. If you answered “six”, you also pass!
“So,” you ask, “What does that have to do with the Education Committee of the League of Women Voters of the Space Coast?”
Well, we think a lot. Last month we reported to you the extent to which the School District is equitably meeting the opportunities for all students, especially during these challenging times. This month we will focus on another of our Programs of Work, “Promote civics and citizen education for all K-12 students in Brevard Public Schools.” One caveat must be added in today’s pandemic environment; civics is not only for our students. We are all called upon to practice the sound principles of understanding and caring for and about the citizens of our community and world.
Let’s talk about the students. This year, Erika Maier, the Gifted Student Program Teacher at Surfside Elementary, had an idea for a Youth Environmental Leadership Summit. Maier invited the League, along with several other non partisan organizations, to participate in the half-day Summit by conducting round- robin station activities designed to help her students connect with their community and the environment. Naturally, the League’s exhibit centered on its mission of informed voters. While the 48 students, ranging in ages 8 to 12 years, were too young to register, their enthusiasm proved they were not too young to ask questions and offer comments when we introduced them to the process of how a bill becomes a law. In Maier’s own words, “I am so grateful to the League of Women Voters for helping to organize and lead this unique opportunity for tomorrow’s leaders. My students learned so much and talked about the Summit for days.”
We asked and received from Representative Thad Altman’s office copies of “Life As A Lawmaker,” a fun, activity book published by the Florida House of Representatives. Each child received a copy. From every indication, through feedback from parent chaperones, teachers and students, the event was a success and already requests are being made to replicate the Summit at other schools. Maier wrote, “This event opened the eyes of the children and parents to all the resources our community has to offer. I hope we can do this every year and include even more students and community partners.”
Much of the idea for the League’s participation came about from Leaguer Terry Mott’s attendance at a conference in December 2019, sponsored by the Florida Civic Advance Network, a Florida State University entity promoting statewide collaboration to inspire civic engagement. Mott was especially interested in one of the three focus areas of the Conference: Intergenerational Civic Engagement. With approximately 60 member organizations, the FCA awards activities that align with their mission which includes, “Building public awareness and support for advancing civic practices that strengthen communities.”
Due to the success of the activity we conducted at the Youth Environmental Leadership Summit, we plan to submit the program to the FCA for consideration to determine if it could be promoted to and replicated by other organizations to help enhance civic engagement within and across generations throughout Florida.
During these challenging times we hear repeatedly how even as we practice social distancing, we are all in this together. Civic mindedness, knowledge and engagement, can get us through this pandemic and sustain us in the times ahead.
“What is one right of a citizen as stated in the First Amendment?” That is another of the clues in the Crossword Puzzle Book. Answer: expression! We hope we have given you some food for thought and invite you to express your opinions and comments. Our next Education Committee meeting is May 20, 2020. It will more than likely be on Zoom! We would love you to join us.
Watch What You Flush
by Maureen Rupe
I read a April 4th Commentary in the Orlando Sentinel by David Whitley titled “To help win the coronavirus war, think before you flush,” that was close to home with all the shortages of toilet paper. The Commentary is a discussion with Mike Hudkins, Orange County Water Reclamation Division Manager, or better known as the Sewer System Manager. He believes the shortage is strictly from people hoarding, The trouble is, with people hoarding, there was a lot of people without toilet paper which leads to the main problem.
The article stated “They’ve been using substitutes like napkins, Kleenex, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, sanitary products, or whatever. But when it comes to wiping, toilet paper is not just the gold standard. It’s the only standard. Other products may claim to be 'flushable', but only toilet paper is designed to decompose in sewer systems.” If these substitutes get stuck in your pipes or septic tanks, it’s your problem which can be costly. If it goes into the sewage system it can make even bigger problems. All these substitutes being used are not able to decompose mixed with grease, hair, dental floss, and other gunk we flush and form what sewer engineers call “rags.” If they get big enough to block the system, it can cause “sanitary sewer overflows.” That’s when it comes out of our manholes or back up our pump stations, which no one likes the smell, or to see the mess it can make. This toilet paper shortage has raised the threat of huge blobs of this mixture or also known as fatbergs. The article said “The largest ever was 40-ton monster discovered under the streets of South London in 2017". According to the Thames Water website, “It was cleared following a heroic effort by our engineers, who even pulled out some of the monster blockage with their hands.”
There are pre-filters that hopefully get the fatbergs out of the system, but somtimes it messes up the works. Mike Hudkins asks if we use any of these substitutes to please think before we flush or better yet, dispose them in the trash so they don’t clog up your system or their system. It’s best that all these substitutes go to the landfill the normal way in a garbage truck, not in the sewer system.
LWV of the Space Coast Development News
Thank you to everyone who gave an additional donation with their membership renewal or made a donation during the last financial year. Your donations are used to continue the work of LWV of the Space Coast and are always appreciated. Currently we are still seeking donations to help us continue with our mission of encouraging informed voting and active participation in government.
Here are some of the things that we can do with additional funding:
- Promote the new Vote by Mail Campaign
- Print informational brochures and postcards
- Fund Youth Voter Registration events
- Provide scholarships for League members to attend conferences
- Fund fees for tabling events
- Provide mini grants
- Fund educational events on recycling, sustainability and civic engagement
Donating is easy – just press the donation button on the LWV of the Space Coast website home page – Thank you
We welcome new members.
Some of the Committees are having Zoom meetings.
Check our calendar.
The International Relations topic for May is The Red Sea Region. Margee Smith will lead the discussion.
If you have not been part of our International Relations group but are interested in joining a Zoom meeting on this topic, please contact Joyce Calese and your e-mail will be added to the invitation to join the meeting. Joyce's e-mail address is email@example.com
Date and time for May meeting will be announced soon.
The Social Justice Committee will have a zoom meeting on Monday, May 18th at 6:00 p.m.
The Education Committee will have a zoom meeting on Wednesday, May 20th at 10:00 a.m.
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
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