- State Legislative Wrap-Up - New Laws Restrict Voter Access, Right to Protest
- Lawsuits Filed Opposing New Voting Rules
- We Want You on Our Team
- Phone Banks Emphasize Vote By Mail
- Civic Class Reaches Out To Hispanic Voters
- Manatee Dems Embrace Social Media
- Virtual Forum Meets its Goals
- Club & Caucus Corner - Lakewood Ranch Democratic Club
- View from the Chair - Calling All Volunteers!
By Nancy Hughes - Not all of the radical, right-wing bills introduced in this year’s session of the state legislature passed into law. Those that did however, are laden with restrictions on citizens' rights. Among bills that died before reaching the governor’s desk were restrictions on womens' access to reproductive health care, hampering the work of unions and increased difficulties to enact Constitutional amendments.
“The GOP leadership seemed more interested in making a name for themselves this year than doing the hard work of legislating,” said Tracy Pratt, Manatee County Democratic party chair. “We look to our elected officials to focus on issues that improve the lives of all Floridians, rather than wasting time on bills designed to score political points.” An example of scoring points is SB90, a law that will make it more difficult to vote by mail. The bill is opposed by a number of non-partisan groups, including the Florida Supervisors of Elections, most of whom are Republicans. SB90 restricts the use of drop boxes, limits pick-up or delivery of mail-in ballots by a third party and adds rules on requesting a VBM ballot. Senator Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) slipped an amendment into an unrelated transportation bill three days before the end of session. Boyd's amendment, an assault on local home rule, overturns Key West citizens who voted overwhelmingly to limit cruise ships docking at their city. Republicans rammed through a last-minute ban on transgender athletes competing in sports by attaching an amendment to a charter schools bill that was designed to create more ways for charters to operate. The Piney Point environmental disaster received bipartisan attention when Rep. Will Robinson (R-Bradenton) introduced HB4057 to appropriate $6 million to clean up the site. By the end of the session, that allocation had been increased to $100 million. The Republican-led legislature also passed:
Interested in following state and local issues? Bring your talents to the Manatee Democrats Local/State Legislative Issues Committee. Contact John Brackett, firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Wil Clapper - A few minutes after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB90, which limits and restricts an array of voting practices, lawsuits began flying.
A group of non-partisan voting and civil rights groups filed a lawsuit in federal court in Tallahassee to block the law. The suit, brought forward by The League of Women Voters of Florida, Black Voters Matter Fund, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans along with interested individuals, argues that the election law makes voting more difficult for many Floridians, and in some instances impairs voters’ rights.
That suit was quickly followed by the NAACP Legal and Defense Fund filing a lawsuit for the Florida NAACP, Disability Rights Florida and Common Cause. The groups filing the suits contend that the law harshly impacts the elderly, voters with disabilities, students and non-white communities.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, directed her department's legal team to file an amicus brief in the League of Women Voters lawsuit. Fried is the only statewide elected Democrat, and is expected to challenge DeSantis in 2022.
By Barbara Hyde - Are you angered by the national trend toward voter suppression laws? How about our Republican-led government in Tallahassee making laws to thwart peaceful protests? Or the leader of our county commissioners jumping the line for a COVID vaccine?
We live in troubled times where people are asking, “What can I do?” One way to make a difference is to step up, support Democrats, and elect them to office.
Check out the Manatee County Democrats’ site, manateecountydemocrats.com/take-action. The site is regularly updated with initiatives to help volunteers work with Democratic candidates and make voters aware of what Democratic candidates advocate.
If you have not volunteered in the past and wish to become involved, fill out the online volunteer form you will find at the Take Action page. Include your interests and areas of expertise. You’ll be welcomed by the committees and teams where your skills will help the most.
The Manatee Dems recently upgraded management systems and expanded technical teams. If technology is your thing, you can help Dems, from home, with your expertise. Manatee County’s neighborhoods are the party’s strength. Enthusiastic volunteers are needed to staff phone banks and conduct canvassing campaigns.
A new initiative is the New Volunteer Welcome Team to ensure people get the most from their volunteer experience. The Manatee Dems can use all types of skills and expertise.
If you’re ready to volunteer and lend your time and expertise to a Democratic caucus or club, visit https://manateecountydemocrats.com/take-action. For more information, Contact Bev Pannee, email@example.com.
By Barbara Hyde - In 2020, Democratic voters cast more absentee ballots than Republicans. In response, the Republican-dominated Florida legislature pushed through a law that makes it more difficult for citizens to vote.
Legislation now requires citizens to complete Vote by Mail renewals every election instead of every two election cycles. Experience shows that voters who receive a VBM ballot are much more likely to actually vote.
To counter the Republican voter suppression agenda, the Manatee Dems are poised to set up neighborhood phone banks to inform citizens about the changed voting rules. Phone bank volunteers will make calls from their homes with full instructions and support. If you wish to become a VBM phone bank volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Use “VBM phone bank” in the subject line and include your name, address, phone, and if you know it, your precinct.
By B. E. Melendez - After the last election many people asked Graciela Greenberg, “How on earth could so many Hispanics vote Republican?”
As chair of the Manatee County Democratic Party’s Hispanic Caucus, Greenberg wants to change future election outcomes and help Spanish-speaking communities learn about politics in the U.S. She developed “Civics 101,” a course on the responsibilities of citizenship that she trusts will help Hispanic residents discover why Democratic candidates are the better choice.
“The class is to help Hispanic voters understand the value we can and do bring to society and how we need to be invested in politics,” Greenberg said. “That means knowing how government works, getting registered to vote and voting. We have a civic duty to a country that gives us so much.”
Each class will be, “Short and sweet,” she said. “We focus on how the government is structured and how it works locally and in Washington, D.C.” Greenberg was born in Argentina and has lived in the U.S. for 55 years. She taught at the high school and college levels until her retirement in 2008.
Civics 101 classes are non-partisan and open to everyone. “As we explain what the two parties stand for, I’m certain we can demonstrate what our community wants is what Democrats stand for,” she said. “And they’ll choose us.”
Greenberg knows the Hispanic community. “We are probably the most diverse groups of people you can imagine,” she said. “In this country, Hispanics are not a homogenous group. Some come to the U.S. for economic reasons, greater opportunity. Some are escaping violence and oppression.”
Greenberg pointed out that Republicans often label Democratic ideas as socialism. “The Democratic Party is far from socialism,” she said. “But you can scare a lot of people using that word. The answer to reaching Hispanic voters begins with knowledge and information about our democracy.” That is why she developed the Civics 101 course under the auspices of the Hispanic Caucus. The caucus is offering the program to faith-based and fraternal organizations throughout the region.
For more information on the Hispanic caucus, visit https://manateecountydemocrats.com/clubs-%26-caucuses.
Check out the Hispanic Caucus Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HispanicDemocratsOfManatee/.
By Chrissy Fairey - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms are the fastest, most efficient way to communicate with our Democratic and non-affiliated neighbors.
The Manatee County Democrats Communications Team is focused on creating social media platforms for the Party that are engaging and informative. Our posts shed light on the missteps of Republicans, while highlighting the efforts of Democratic leaders.
It is imperative that the Manatee Dems grow social media outreach before the 2022 elections. Voters in Manatee County are encouraged to like the Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and seek us on Twitter. Once you are connected, engage with our posts, stories, and tweets. The Manatee County Democrats use these social media platforms to spread truth, equality, and ethics to a broader audience. Join us and support our social media efforts.
By Wil Clapper - The Manatee County Democrats’ annual exposition, 2022 & You Virtual Forum, proved that a major event could be staged virtually and still accomplish its goals.
The event in March focused on activities and efforts by the local Democratic organization and offered opportunities for county residents to work with the party.
Manatee County Democratic Chair, Tracy Pratt, kicked off the meeting with a review of the party’s accomplishments in 2020, plans for the remainder of this year and a look ahead to the next election in 2022. Videos of her remarks are available at the Manatee County Democrats’ website, https://manateecountydemocrats.com/2022-and-you.
Because of COVID 19 restrictions on large, indoor gatherings, Manatee Dems enlisted PKA Solves to build and operate an online, digital meeting hall. PKA’s Rebecca Tasetano led more than 100 attendees through the virtual conference center to 34 tables staffed by representatives of committees, clubs and caucuses under the Manatee County Democratic umbrella.
“Many of the attendees were new faces who are interested in joining our effort to elect Democrats to office,” said Robin Sathan, lead organizer of 2022 & You. “They brought their volunteer spirit, expertise and new ideas.”
Volunteer opportunities and ways to donate to the Manatee County Dems were popular features of the virtual forum. Attendees signed up to work with the various clubs and caucuses and more than a thousand dollars was raised. A sign-up button for volunteers remains on the website https://manateecountydemocrats.com/take-action.
An event of this magnitude relies on the support and expertise of an entire team of organizers. Robin Sathan mentioned some of the more prominent volunteers who helped make the forum a reality. The Forum planning team included Robin Sathan, Beverly Pannee, John Brackett, Dan Coppinger, Tracy Pratt, Lisa and Rob Usher, Susie Copeland, Randi Sathan and Barb Stubbers.
According to Robin Sathan, the forum accomplished its goals. “We were able to re-energize our current volunteers, attract new volunteers and accept donations.”
The forum attracted community leaders including Manatee County Commissioner Reggie Bellamy, Bradenton City Council Member Pamela Coachman, City of Palmetto Commissioner Sheldon Jones, and Manatee County Democrats State Committeeman and Manatee County School Board member Rev. James Golden.
Looking ahead, the organizing group is busy making plans for next year’s event. “Hopefully, we’ll be meeting in-person or having a hybrid event, with even more exciting opportunities to highlight during the mid-term election year,” said Robin Sathan.
Focus & Activities: A friendly, warm and welcoming group with active participation and conversation encouraged on Zoom and in person (when possible again). Year-round meetings feature engaging speakers on timely topics. See http://www.lwrdems.com/
Occasionally, a meeting centers on a “round-robin” political discussion within the membership.
We hope as a club to increase the Democratic registration in the county beyond the current 83,000+ registered voters, and get people more involved with the Democratic Executive Committee of Manatee County.
Leadership: Lucy Lapides, president, email@example.com, 941-704-5971 (She is a late riser, so call her in the afternoon.)
Current Membership: Formed in 2008. Contact list of more than 1300 people.
Meetings: Most months on the second Tuesday, year-round, 7:00 p.m. via Zoom. To register, contact Lucy Lapides: firstname.lastname@example.org, 941-704-5971
There are many Democratic clubs and caucuses in Manatee County. Which ones might be a good fit to match your interests and talents? Here is a full list.
By Tracy Pratt, MCD Chair - If you want to make a difference and bring about change in our local government, this is the perfect time to become engaged with the Manatee County Democrats. It is our city, county and state governments that implement policies that impact our lives each and every day. We have watched and been horrified with policies, inaction and laws from the White House and Congress the last four years, but were powerless to bring about change.
The Piney Point crisis is a frightening example of an irresponsible local decision made decades ago. Individuals in local government who originally granted access to phosphorus mining near crucial waterways fifty years ago left a huge mess for our generation. Now we are faced with clean-up decisions that will impact water resources for future generations.
Seeking to provide guidance to our County Commissioners, the Manatee County Democratic Environmental Caucus provided a position paper to the commissioners that was written and reviewed by environmental scientists.
I had the honor of presenting it to the commissioners and encouraged them to adopt environmentally sensible policies going forward. However, looking at the current board of commissioners, I do not have confidence in their ability to handle the Piney Point crisis. After all, these commissioners are embroiled in a variety of scandals from pay-to-play vaccine schemes to Sunshine Law violations.
I believe elections have consequences and the tragedy of Piney Point is an example of Manatee County citizens negatively impacted long-term by the bad decisions of incompetent elected leaders.
Today, the Manatee County Democratic Party is working to engage voters in the local issues that impact them most. While we still have an eye on the big elections on the horizon (we’re watching you Gov. DeSantis and Sen. Rubio!) we know that education is empowering. Engaged voters have the power to have their voices heard and their votes counted in the selection of officials and policies that impact their neighborhoods.
Now is the time to prepare for the election cycle in 2022 and beyond. The politicians currently in power in our State House, our county commission, our city are building teams of volunteers and amassing contributions to prepare for the upcoming battle.
You can help the Manatee County Democratic Party work toward sensible local policies by volunteering your expertise and talents. Sign up to be a volunteer at https://manateecountydemocrats.com/take-action.
Have news, articles, ideas or photography? Please send us your name, email and message. We rely on dedicated Manatee County Democratic volunteers to maintain a successful newsletter. Your comments and ideas are appreciated!