As the beginning of June approaches, I feel as if I am beginning to see the end of the
COVID-19 tunnel. Not that I am planning on relaxing my social distancing efforts, but I am seeing the way forward to the “new normal” that we will all have to adopt for the foreseeable future. For LWV of the Space Coast (LWVSC) events and meetings the “new normal” means that we will have to be creative with using the Zoom platform. We have already made the switch to Zoom for board and committee meetings and hopefully, by the time you read this article, we will have held our first Virtual Meet and Greet. Seeing the end of the tunnel also means we are beginning to reassemble our LWVSC programs as we plan for virtual Hot Topics, a virtual Town Hall and even a virtual Garage Sale. Stay tuned and check the website for details of all these events!
I also have some good news to announce as LWVSC applied for and was awarded a small Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) grant. At the beginning of the year I made a commitment that in 2020 LWVSC would focus on voter registration, honoring our volunteers and DEI. The first two I feel we have started and now this grant award provides an opportunity to move forward on DEI. In April 2019 LWVSC adopted a DEI policy that states:
There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, race, native or indigenous origin, age generation, sexual orientation, culture, religion, belief system, marital status, parental status, socioeconomic status, language, accent, ability status, mental health, educational level or background, geography, nationality, work style, work experience, job role function, thinking style, personality type, physical appearance, political perspective or affiliation and/or any other characteristic that can be identified as recognizing or illustrating diversity.
In the months to come, I anticipate we will have the opportunity to focus on the impact of this policy as individuals and as how it impacts LWVSC as an organization. Our first major DEI event will be a workshop and I am hoping to have more details available by next month. Meanwhile, I would also like to recommend participating in the LWVUS’s monthly DEI webinars and pursuing your own personal reading around the topic. Working on DEI is not something that can be completed in a year, it’s something that we have to continue working on every day. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”
Stay well, stay strong and take care!
Contemplation from Rob Grisar, 1st Vice President
How Do You Hold A Forum In A Pandemic?
During the last election cycle the LWVSC conducted a series of candidate forums. We advertised and arranged and put out tables of stuff, we wore buttons and chatted up people in lobbies, planted signs to attract anyone who was a bit lost along the way.
Candidates showed up, with or without their aides depending on their level of self-importance. We dealt with campaign sign-wavers and political t-shirt wearers. We had folks who were angry because the other side had been told no shirts and some people wore them anyway. At one forum some of our more rigid members forced people to go out and reverse their shirts before they were allowed back inside. We had folks who cheered and folks who groaned as the candidates tried to get in their talking points regardless of what the question being asked might have been. We had candidates who ignored the timers signs and others who clamped their mouths shut almost in mid word when the stop sign came up.
This year, to avoid some of the issues we encountered last time, we started designing signs to try to convince attendees to be more civil. We devised game plans for running a forum from concept to putting the chairs and tables away. We met with each other and we met with Florida Today and Eastern Florida State College representatives to bat about schedules and possibilities and decide which races were forum worthy and which were not. By the beginning of March, I believe we all thought we had this pretty well in hand.
Well, I guess we were a bit off on that estimation. Welcome to conducting candidate forums in the new abnormal. I recall my last face to face meeting was on March 13th. After that, social distance became the key to all things.
How do you hold a candidate forum when no one can come, including the candidates? So, we have gone on League webinars to try to pick up tips from other local chapters, batted things back and forth in emails and phone calls and, yes, did the Zoom thing.
Let me just say here that before all this I rarely used the word zoom at all. To me that seemed to be a word that showed up in a cartoon when the Roadrunner hurtled down the highway with Wylie Coyote in hot pursuit. But now multiple times a day that word is popping out of me. I’ve listened to people advise on what to wear, how to sit, what to surround yourself with, and on and on so one doesn’t appear like a bit player in an episode of “The Walking Dead.“ Like so many of you, I have discovered the mute button and, more importantly, the stop video button.
And so, yes, this year’s forums are going to probably be mostly Zoomed [you can make a verb out of Zoom in the same way that we collectively decided that Xerox was not just a company name] or carried via some other similar online meeting system. We have been batting about the methodology for accomplishing this while Zooming each other and firing a few dozen emails back and forth.
Hopefully, when the time finally arrives, we will have mastered the technology and will be prepared to bring you an electronic version of candidate forums. Maybe they will go off well. I certainly do hope so. But I am also kind of hoping that in the middle of a really serious back and forth with a candidate on some deeply important issue, a child runs screaming through the room or a kitty hops up on the candidate’s computer.
And when a candidate decides to ignore the timer, we can do what many of us have wanted to do to politicians---just hit the mute button. The new abnormal does have its brighter side.
| Congratulations to Lucia Watson, LWV of the Space Coast’s (LWVSC) volunteer of the month. If you want to know who’s behind sending out and editing the LWVSC monthly newsletter then you need to meet Lucia. A resident of Satellite Beach, Lucia enjoys daily walks with her husband and frequently makes her condo available for LWVSC Board and committee meetings. Lucia took over responsibility for the newsletter (then called the Voter) very soon after she joined the League over 13 years ago. She also serves on the LWVSC Board and is an active member of the Education and International Relations committees. Always cheerful and smiling, Lucia studies languages and has traveled extensively in the US and abroad. |
Medicaid Matters by Kathy Ebersberger
The Social Justice Committee has been supporting a coalition called Medicaid Matters that is campaigning to expand the Florida Medicaid program. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Florida Policy Institute reported that 2.7 million Floridians were uninsured and that Florida ranked 49th in avoidable hospitalizations for adults age 18-64, 47th in access and affordability, and 44th in receipt of prevention and treatment services for its citizens.
The massive unemployment that has resulted from the Covid-19 crisis has made Medicaid expansion even more important as more people are losing their employer-provided medical insurance and others can no longer afford to pay the premiums for their medical coverage.
Florida has draconian income limits for Medicaid eligibility. A family of 3 with an income over about $8,000 cannot qualify. While there is help for the elderly and disabled persons, there is NO help for other adults with no dependent children. Individuals earning over 138 percent of the federal poverty level, however, are eligible for a federal tax credit to help with their medical insurance premiums.
Before the pandemic, nearly 400,000 Floridians fell within the coverage gap, which meant they earned too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to obtain the federal tax credit for their medical insurance premiums. These individuals in the coverage gap received no help at all for their healthcare costs.
If Florida availed itself of the Medicaid expansion provisions set forth in federal law, the federal government would cover 90 percent of the cost of the expansion. Such an expansion would allow Florida to cover all individuals earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level in the Florida Medicaid program. Before the pandemic experts calculated that an additional 846,000 Floridians could be covered by Medicaid.
Clearly the costs associated with such an expansion are not prohibitive as the State would have to contribute only 10 percent of the expansion costs. Further, the State would be able to stop providing some services now covered by other items in the State budget because they would fall under Medicaid. Experts have projected that Medicaid expansion would result in net savings to the State of Florida of $198.9 million to $385 million over a five-year period.
Port Authority and School Board Join Forces for Kids
by Fran Baer & Rob Grisar
Everyone likes to hear good news and that is what League of Women Voters of the Space Coast First Vice President, Rob Grisar, shared with the Education Committee at our recent Zoom meeting. Rob has been monitoring the Port Commission meetings and learned about a Resolution adopted by the Port Authority to support the Brevard Public Schools Department of Adult and Community Education Career and Technical Education Center, located on Clearlake Rd. in Cocoa, in their efforts to receive Florida Job Growth Grant Funding. The Canaveral Port Authority further commends the pre-apprenticeship, manufacturing and logistics focus of the program and invites all port partners and tenants to utilize this source of skilled labor. So done, ordered, and adopted on May 20, 2020.
In addition to this Resolution, the Port Commissioners also reapproved the Junior Ambassador Program which accepts Senior High School Students, with Teacher and Administrator recommendations, who are interested in learning and shadowing job opportunities at the Port. Students must apply for the 2020-21 School Year, the date to be determined.
This welcome news mirrors one of the League’s Education Programs of Work: #9, Research and monitor the career and technical pathways available to students attending Brevard Public Schools. For that reason, the Education Committee invited Jeff Arnott, Director of Adult Education for Brevard Schools, to our December, 2018 meeting to educate us on the program under his supervision at Clearlake.
A year later, in December, 2019, we invited Robyn Hattaway, then Port Commission Vice Chair, to discuss the newly formed Junior Ambassador Program, its mission, results and future plans.
Both meetings and speakers’ presentations were reported in this column at the time.
The League can feel proud to have featured both of these programs that benefit our students and their work force opportunities. The League also commends the Port Commissioners and the School Board for partnering in these student centered programs.
Save Our Indian River Lagoon Program Progress
by Maureen Rupe
The Indian River Lagoon Coalition, with support from other environmental groups brought forward the facts on what was killing the Lagoon, and how we could pay for the recovery with a self-imposed tax. The County Commission was persuaded to put the referendum on the ballot in 2016 where It passed in every precinct in Brevard. We as taxpayers now have a responsibility to know how the county is handling our money. We have a Citizen’s Oversight Committee (COC) that is composed of Citizens, League of Cities and Environmental professors from colleges like FIT. The COC is responsible to study the projects and allotted funds for justification and what will give the most benefit. They are doing a good job, but I think as residents and tax payers, we should all be interested in what is being spent, what has been completed, and what is to be completed over the next 10 years.
• Breeze Swept Septic to Sewer Monitoring
• Florida Tech Mulch Prioritization
• UCF Oyster & Shoreline Outfall Prioritization
• Applied Ecology Stormwater Outfall Prioritization
• Applied Ecology Septic Modeling and Analysis
• Tetra Tech Save Our IRL Plan Annual Updates
Projects Under Construction (funded)
• Cocoa Beach Water Reclaimed Water Facility Upgrade
• Palm Bay North Area Water Treatment Facility Upgrade
• Melbourne Hoag Septic to Sewer
• Melbourne Pennwood Septic to Sewer
• Melbourne Riverside Drive Septic to Sewer
• MIRA (Cone Rd) Septic to Sewer Phase II
• Sylvan Estates Septic to Sewer
• Satellite beach Sewer Lateral Pilot
• Septic Upgrades
• Melbourne Cliff Creek Baffle Box
• Basin 51 Johns Road Pond Biosorption Activated Media (BAM)
• Basin 100 Burkholm Road BAM
• Basin 115 Carter Road BAM
• Basin 141 Irwin Ave woodchip bioreactor
• Basin 193 Wiley Road BAM
• Basin 832 Broadway Pond BAM
• Basin 1298 Bioreactor
• Basin 1304 Bioreactor
• Basin 2134 Fleming Grant BAM
• Cocoa Beach Phase Iib Muck Dredging
Grand Canal Muck Dredging
• Coconut Point Oysters
Sustainability - New Committee
Lessons Learned from COVID-19 May Help Inspire Transformational Change
by Terry Mott
It’s impactful to be reminded how fleeting life can be. Just a few short months ago, many were complaining how divided we were as a nation. And today--due to COVID-19--the prevailing sentiment is: We’re all in this together~and together we’ll get through it.
But will this sentiment last? Or--like so many other times--will it gradually fade away as we emerge from the current crisis, albeit one touted as the worst in our history.
As Leaguers, we hope this spirit of togetherness will ignite a permanent transformational change in who we are as a people not only to help us face this and any future crises but also because Making Democracy Work--our core mission--requires people to be civically engaged within their respective communities.
And to help foster civic engagement, the LWVSC has recently created a Sustainability Committee. Our mission will be to educate our members and Brevard residents regarding this concept, which is the heart of an international movement and now a field of study in over 100 colleges and universities.
So what is Sustainability? While its roots can be found in the early ‘70’s, today the most often quoted definition is “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.)
Further noted by the United Nations Development Programme: “The concept of sustainable development is based on three main elements: uniform economic growth, protection and preservation of the environment, and respect and improvement of social and human rights. Such an approach to development is called the integral or holistic approach.” (text enhanced).
According to the United Nations Development Programme, in 2015 the United Nations Member states adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. See the full list of SDGs at the link listed below.
In the simplest terms, sustainability is about working together to ensure quality of life for those living today and that we preserve that same quality of life for our children and grandchildren.
To further that concept, our new Sustainability Committee will embrace the principles of this field of study; conduct a Sustainability Book Club; brainstorm the impacts of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals within our own communities; create sustainability action plans to resolve problems we identify; and share our findings with government, academia, and other nonprofit entities who are seeking answers to the same challenges.
Our Committee Motto: Give us one hour per week of your time and together we’ll change the world. And while our goal is simply to improve the quality of life for those living in our little corner of the world, we’re also reminded of the words of the renowned American cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
For further information, please contact Co-Chairs Susan Little at firstname.lastname@example.org or Terry Mott at email@example.com.
United Nations Development Programme Sustainable Development Goals
News for June and Upcoming Events
- We welcome new member, Blair Higgins.
- We thank all the members who have renewed their memberships. You may have forgotten to do this but we welcome all renewals in June.
- We are looking for members who are involved in social media. If you are interested in helping League, please contact Marcia Booth, Jo Shim or Lucia Watson.
- We send condolences to the family of Pat Manning. Pat had been a member of LWVSC since 2007.
We are Zooming in June
We are not able to meet in person but Zoom is a wonderful platform to stay connected during Covid 19.
The following League events are planned for June. We hope that you will join us.
- Board Meeting- Tuesday, June 2nd at 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- Website Training - Wednesday, June 10th at 5:00 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Social Justice Committee Meeting - Monday, June 15th at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Education Committee Meeting - Wednesday, June 17th at 10:00 a.m.
- Voter Services Committee Meeting - Wednesday, June 17th at 4 p.m to 5:30 p.m.
- International Relations - Tuesday, June 23rd at 1 p.m. Sybil Shepard will lead the discussion, "Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking".
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