POLICIES AND POSITIONS
Prepared 9/93, Revised 3/95, 8/95, 5/97, 11/98, 3/03, 4/05, 4/07, 4/08, 4/12
BACKGROUND AND POSITION STATEMENTS
- BROWARD COUNTY GOVERNMENT
- ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES (FORMERLY NATURAL RESOURCES)
- COUNTY-WIDE LIBRARY SYSTEM
- CHILDREN’S ISSUES
- HUMAN ISSUES
- HANDGUN MANAGEMENT
- LWVF – OUR FLORIDA GOVERNMENT, 6th ed, 2008
- LWVF – STUDY AND ACTION 2011-2013
- LWVUS – IMPACT ON ISSUES 2010-2012
POLICIES AND POSITIONS
The League of Women Voters of Broward County shall not support or oppose any political party or candidate. The League discourages all members from making partisan comments at League meetings about elected officials, political party activities, or candidates which would tend to inhibit discussion by people with opposing views or political persuasions. The League endorses open and free discussion of political events which allows all points of view to be voiced. It is the responsibility of each member to guard the League’s reputation for nonpartisanship. Members in leadership roles at units and other League public meetings have the responsibility to ensure the nonpartisanship of the meeting and its environment. Questions of a political nature such as those concerning petitions, and distribution of pamphlets must be brought to the attention of the President.
ALL LEAGUE MEMBERS are encouraged to seek an active role in all aspects of the political process. Members are encouraged to run for political office, but may not campaign at League meetings. They may, however, identify themselves as candidates.
VOTING BOARD MEMBERS must resign in writing before declaring an intention to be a candidate for public office. Board members who become politically active should do so as individuals and never as League members. The political activities of a spouse, or relative, of a Board member are considered separate and distinct from the activities of the Board member. Voting Board members shall not sponsor or host coffees, meetings or fundraisers for incumbents, or candidates. As citizens seeking information, all Board members may attend coffees or political meetings in order to hear the positions of candidates.
THE PRESIDENT AND VOTERS SERVICE CHAIR shall refrain from any partisan political activities
Note: Official League position statements are issued only by the President or designee. Action on issues should be done as an individual, not as a League member. Adopted 2004
The League of Women Voters believes in representative government and in the individual liberties established in the Constitution of the United States.
The League of Women Voters believes that democratic government depends upon the informed and active participation of its citizens and requires that governmental bodies protect the citizen’s right to know by giving adequate notice of proposed actions, holding open meetings and making public records accessible.
The League of Women Voters believes that every citizen should be
protected in the right to vote; that every person should have access to free public education that provides equal opportunity for all, and that no person or group should suffer legal, economic or administrative discrimination.
The League of Women Voters believes that efficient and economical government requires competent personnel, the clear assignment of responsibility, adequate financing and coordination among the different agencies and levels of government.
The League of Women Voters believes that responsible government should be responsive to the will of the people; that government should maintain an equitable and flexible system of taxation, promote the conservation and development of natural resources in the public interest, share in the solution of economic and social problems that affect the general welfare, promote a sound economy and adopt domestic policies that facilitate the solution of international problems.
The League of Women Voters believes that cooperation with other nations is essential in the search for solutions to world problems, and that the development of international organization and international law is imperative in the promotion of world peace.
LWVBC’S STUDY AND ACTION ISSUES – 2012
BROWARD COUNTY GOVERNMENT:
* Support of the Broward County Charter.
* Support of Charter changes to provide for an elected county executive, appointed county administrator, single-member districts and an increase in the number of commission seats based on future needs.
* Support of acquisition, development, and management of park lands, greenways and open spaces.
* Support of criteria for any commercialization in public parks.
* Monitor and support the conservation of Water and Water Resource Areas, including the Everglades Restoration.
COUNTY-WIDE LIBRARY SYSTEM:
* Support of the county-wide system.
* Support of an independent taxing district in Broward County to fund children’s services pursuant to FL statutes 125.901 and monitor the Children’s Services Council.
* Advocate and support effective and efficient services for Broward County children.
* Monitor the implementation and functioning of the privatization of the foster care system.
* Support for concurrency.
* Support for accountability for capital expenditures.
* Support for local solutions which involve the school’s entire community.
* Support for public/private partnerships.
* Support equal opportunity and all equal rights for women.
Local Program for the LWV of Broward County is chosen each year by League members at the Annual Meeting in April. Program topics are suggested by members, submitted to all members 30 days before the Annual Meeting, discussed and then adopted. With all League program, a thorough study is made BEFORE consensus is taken, a position developed, and action taken. Current local League Program, with background and actual position statements, where appropriate, is included. Please see LWVUS – Impact on Issues 2010-2012 and LWVF – Study and Action 2011-2013 for further information on National and State League Programs.
BACKGROUND AND POSITION STATEMENTS
BROWARD COUNTY GOVERNMENT
Support of County Charter
The League began its study of Broward County Government in the mid-1960s. In September 1974, we developed criteria for county government, evaluated the Charter and voted to support it. That consensus included support for a strong, appointed administrator who would implement and execute policies of the Commission; support of modern fiscal and personnel management; support of charter review every five years by an impartial representative group with proposed changes subject to referendum; support of recall, referendum and initiative; support for limiting county commissioners’ tenure to two consecutive terms; and support for increasing the size of the commission to seven or nine members.
While not all of the League’s positions were included in the proposed Charter, enough were to allow League support. We actively lobbied and worked for successful passage by the voters in 1975.
Support of Charter Changes
In 1983, LWVBC began a review of the structure of Broward County Government and the existing charter. The committee met frequently to study and survey over 50 other counties of similar size in the nation, to interview officials, and to discuss pros and cons of the various possible forms of government. Consensus was reached in November 1984 on the following package:
* Creation of a county-wide elected executive/mayor for Broward County. (Executive would not serve on the commission.)
* Retention of a professional administrator to be appointed by the executive.
* A change to single-member commission districts. Members would be elected by only the voters in his/her district. (Note: In 1981, LWVF adopted a position supporting single-member districts for the Florida Legislature.)
* Increase in the size of the commission.
Reasons: Rapid growth, a diverse population, and economic interests make the traditional commission/administrator structure less capable of dealing with complex issues in a timely manner.
1. One person — the executive — accountable and responsive to all the voters is needed; one person to speak officially for the county, separating legislative and administrative functions, providing strong political leadership, building consensus for short and long term planning.
2. A professional administrator answerable only to the executive is needed to handle the day-to-day operation and management of county departments.
3. Single member districts provide better representation of under-represented political and ethnic minorities, provide a balance to county-wide elected executive, and are often mandated by courts whenever countywide election of commissioners is challenged.
4. The county is too large for only seven commissioners. [now nine]
Attempts were made to increase public awareness and understanding of the issues. In 1987, the Charter Review Commission was appointed by the Broward County Commission and League lobbied hard to have the above package incorporated in the Review Commission report. League efforts failed by one vote. The next Charter Review Commission was appointed in June of 1994. It, too, failed to allow single member districts with an elected executive on the ballot, in spite of strong League lobbying. The 1999 Florida Legislature, on the urging of the Broward Delegation, placed a charter amendment on the March 2000 ballot to form single member districts with an elected mayor, retaining an appointed county administrator. The Broward Commission also placed an amendment on the ballot creating nine single-member districts. Only the Commission amendment passed, effective with the November 2000 election.
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES (FORMERLY NATURAL RESOURCES)
Support of Acquisition, Development and Management of Park Lands, Greenways and Open Spaces
The study of Parks and Recreation with particular reference to acquisition and maintenance of more land for this purpose was begun in January 1970. The need for preservation of green space as county development increased was a major factor in the Broward League study. In January 1971, League members voted for “support of acquisition and development of land for parks and recreation”. The words “greenways and open spaces” were added at the 2000 annual meeting.
Support of Criteria for any Commercialization In Public Parks
In the 1980′s, for-profit corporations began proposing large, commercial projects to be constructed on public park lands. The study on privatization of public parks was begun in 1988 with consensus completed in December 1989.
Privatization is the concept of a governmental agency using a private contractor to perform traditional services, possibly at a cost savings to the public, or to provide a service that would not otherwise be available. It is a public/private partnership that is used in many areas of the country. The study was not concerned with services such as cleaning or food services, but with commercialization such as Ski-Rixen at Quiet Waters Park and Butterfly World at Tradewinds Park. Additional money would be made available to the Park System from fees paid by the for-profit enterprise; projects would be available to parks that Parks and Recreation Division could not afford to initiate; projects might provide unique, unusual interest centers, bringing more people to the parks and broadening park use; more tourists might be attracted and there would be more publicity for the parks.
However, protection of park resources might become less important; company policy would dictate management of the enterprise and fees might be lower than needed to compensate for loss of park land. Cost of doing business is less inside a public park thus infringing on similar businesses outside the park; there might be destruction of wildlife habitats, loss of wildlife and open green space.
After reviewing the pros and cons, the LWVBC reached the following position listing criteria for any commercialization:
Private, for-profit businesses should, at times, be allowed in public parks. The Broward County Division of Parks and Recreation should develop written, specific criteria to accept or reject proposals for further consideration.
The League of Women Voters of Broward County will consider the following in evaluating the suitability of a commercial enterprise in a public park:
A. The type of park in which the business is being proposed, i.e. active park, passive park, environmentally sensitive park, etc.
B. The type of land that would be used within the park under consideration, i.e. environmentally sensitive, disturbed; unique habitat, wildlife habitat, etc.
C. Could the proposed business be successfully operated outside of the park?
D. Would this project be compatible with current facilities and use within the park?
E. The environmental impact on the park and the surroundings, i.e. noise level created by the business, effect on wildlife and plant life, impact on groundwater and air quality, impact on neighborhood traffic,
lights, litter, etc.
F. The amount of land area proposed for the project including its support facilities in relation to the size of the park.
G. Opinions of nearby residents.
H. Cultural, recreational and educational advantages to the County.
I. Broad public use — is it affordable and available for all economic classes?
J. Intention of the donors of the land, if applicable.
K. Does the project preclude use by the public for part of the year?
L. Will the developers pay their fair share of development costs within the negotiations, i.e. roads, lights, sewers, water, surface drainage, etc.
M. Negotiations between the proposed business and Broward County should be conducted in the “Sunshine” with adequate notice to the public and opportunity to observe all aspects of the negotiation process.
N. The proposed project should have been researched and recommended by the Parks Division staff before acceptance by the County Commission.
Monitor and support the Conservation of Water and Water Resource Areas, including the Everglades Restoration
Adopted at the Annual Meeting in April 1991, this study was begun because of the severe pure water problems in South Florida. The study, specific to our locality, followed the already existent LWVUS positions. There was also a concurrent LWVF study of “Fresh water resources in Florida and public policies that relate to their conservation and availability for environmental, urban, mining and public supply, agricultural and industrial needs.” Those studies resulted in specific policies for regulating water usage, wetland protection and mitigation. Please see the LWVF – Study and Action 2011-2013.
COUNTY-WIDE LIBRARY SYSTEM
In 1971, a study and evaluation of the library structure and services available to the residents of Broward County was begun. Go-see trips to local libraries, as well as to the Tampa/Hillsborough county-wide library system topped the study.
According to the American Library Association, city libraries in Broward County were well below standards. Broward County had one of the poorest systems along the Florida east coast. In December 1971, League members determined by consensus that service was not adequate and that formation of a county-wide system was essential.
The position approved by the Board stated: “The League of Women Voters of Broward County supports the establishment of a county-wide Library System.” The Broward County Library Lobby was formed in February 1972.
Due to strong League lobbying efforts, the County Commission voted to approve the establishment of a county-wide system and the first Director was appointed in early 1974 with a $1.5 million budget. In 1978, a bond issue was proposed to county voters, part of which would fund the county-wide Library system and other needed community services. League studied the bond issue, agreed to support it and worked toward its passage.
Also, in April 1974, the Broward League had unanimous consensus to support full funding of public libraries in the Florida Legislative session. Finally in May 1983, through the efforts of the Broward League, the State League adopted the position: “Support of full funding of eligible public library systems as provided in Section 257.17 Florida Statutes.” Leagues have continued to lobby the Legislature to increase state aid to libraries and, by continuing this item on LWVBC’s program we maintain our commitment to our county-wide library system.
The study of children’s issues in Broward County has been in place since the formation of LWVBC in 1953. Currently, the Broward County Children’s Services Board, initially called the Juvenile Welfare Board, acts in an advisory capacity to the County Commission in the area of identifying needs and recommending County funding of services for children.
In 1986, the Florida Legislature enacted Florida Statute Section 125.901 which authorizes each county to create a Children’s Services Council and an independent special taxing district to provide funding for children’s services. LWVF supports this concept and allows each county league to determine if a special taxing district is appropriate for that county and to then work for the referendum to create the district.
The membership of the Children’s Services Council, mandated by statute, consists of the Superintendent of Schools, a local school board member selected by the board, the HRS district administrator or designee, a member of the County Commission, the judge assigned to Juvenile Cases, and 5 members appointed by the Governor to serve for 4 year terms.
The consensus that a special taxing district is appropriate for Broward County was approved in the fall of 1993, after a two-year study of the Children’s Services Board revealed a system of inadequacies in the delivery of services to children and their families. The League, along with a coalition of other organization, worked for many years to build support for this special taxing district. The County Commission placed the issue on the September 2000 ballot and the voters approved the special taxing district for Broward County. Following the required action by the Florida Legislature, the Children’s Services Council was appointed; taxes are now being collected and distributed. The Children’s Services Board, discussed above, continues to operate and receives funding directly from the county budget.
At the April 1995 Annual Meeting the following position statement was added: Advocate and support effective and efficient services for Broward County children. This focused the many LWVF and LWVUS Social Policy Positions on action in Broward County. Broward County has a high infant mortality rate, with the rate in the minority community almost three times that in the white community. Many years of prenatal education and other efforts have not eliminated the disparity between black and white infant deaths. In 1996 the LWVBC Children’s Issues Committee spearheaded a campaign with other community organizations and citizens to create a Pediatric Pathology Program in Broward County that would document the specific causes of infant deaths in order to establish a basis for future interventions, and that would then establish an information registry to include factors that are likely contributors to the racial disparity in birth outcomes in black babies. The program would be free to all residents of Broward County. After seven years of concentrated advocacy, a Pediatric Pathology Program was approved by the County Commission on Feb 4, 2003. Autopsies are conducted at Broward General through the Chris Evert Children’s Hospital. Babies are referred from all birthing hospitals in the county. The program is thought to be the first of its kind in the nation. The LWVBC supports efforts to decrease infant mortality and to eliminate disparity in infant deaths between black and white babies.
The following was added at the April 2005 Annual Meeting: Monitor the implementation and functioning of the privatization of the foster care system. In May 2000, The Governor signed the Legislative Bill authorizing the removal of foster care services from the responsibilities of the Department of Children and Families and privatizing those services. Privatization statewide is moving slowly, with Broward one of the first counties to have a program in place. LWVF and LWVUS Social Policy positions on foster care will be used to follow the progress and effectiveness of the new program.
(Note: LWVBC is a member of the Children’s Consortium, a coalition of organizations involved in children’s issues.)
A study of methods to control the impact of growth in Broward County Schools was adopted at the 1993 Annual Meeting because of the tremendous problems in the Broward school system caused by the addition of about 10,000 new students each year. After the study, consensus was taken and the final position adopted at the Annual Meeting in 1994. The full position statement follows. (Note: All school systems in Florida are county-wide.)
The League of Women Voters of Broward County continues to support a strong Growth Management Act, and believes that concurrent requirements for schools are consistent with this position. The League feels that real estate developers, working with the County Commission, local municipalities and the School Board of Broward County, must assume a fiscal contribution in housing school children attracted by development. Government entities charged with the health, safety and welfare of students should continue as the final authority in all student housing decisions.
The LWVBC acknowledges the need to provide significant additional housing for students entering the school district. Through building, remodeling, upgrading schools, temporary units, public space and an emphasis on efficient and excellent use of space through the participation of the entire community, the League believes the challenge of the growth crisis can be met.
The League supports accountability for capital expenditures through increased openness end vigilance to public disclosure by the School Board of Broward County. The League believes that public awareness is best achieved through the use of traditional funding methods, and therefore supports those methods to raise money for capital construction which are highly visible, and allow for public input through process.
The LWVBC supports general obligation b a onds as proper instrument for funding capital needs of the School Board of Broward County. Sales taxes, seen as regressive, are less favored. Impact Fees are a reasonable means of raising capital. Transaction taxes on resale of real estate are also a viable source of capital, although commercial contributions should be carefully assessed to reflect the contribution of business to growth, and the fiscal health of the community. Increasing the ability of the school board to raise millage can be considered as a tool, but should be pursued in a manner that increases public awareness.
The LWVBC believes good program solutions can be achieved for individual schools with complete integration of the community into the planning process, access to information for decision-makers and the full support of the resources of the School Board of Broward County.
Possible solutions meeting these criteria can include year-round education, flexible scheduling, and alternative programs. Double sessions is regarded as a poor solution which must be implemented with care and attention to contemporary situations, and only as a temporary alternative to provision of adequate facilities for the traditional school day.
Alternative programs within the district which have demonstrated educational benefit and which do not appropriate money from capital funds should be exploited for any growth resolving benefits received from their implementation. Dual Use of public and private buildings is perceived as a good solution which can increase community partnerships, resources to the School District and enhance the vitality of communities.
In supporting Dual Use, and alternative programs of local benefit, the LWVBC favors the concept of waivers from the State Department of Education School Building Code for Broward County in the effort to provide excellent educational housing for the students of the district. The League believes the School Board of Broward County and State Department of Education can cooperate to assure safety in these creative solutions to the growth crisis in Broward County.
The study of global population stabilization and sustainability of resources was formalized at the Annual Meeting in April 1995. The Women’s Issues committee had been meeting for many years studying various women’s issues. This action was to recognize this commitment. In 1997, it was changed to read “global, national and state population stabilization.” In 1998, the title of the study was changed from Women’s Issues to Human Issues. At the April 2008 Annual Meeting this line was deleted. The committee had studied a variety of issues but no consensus was conducted or reached specifically under this study. Consensus on many of the issues raised was reached in other parts of State and National Program.
The phrase “Support equal opportunity and all equal rights for women” was added at the April 2005 Annual Meeting to strengthen our unwavering support for equal rights at all levels of government.
HANDGUN MANAGEMENT (Added for historical interest)
Begun as a study in Broward County in 1982, consensus was reached in January 1984 for, “Support of regulations concerning the purchase, ownership and use of handguns that balanced as nearly as possible individual constitutional rights with the general interest and welfare of the community.”
In 1984, a resolution was passed by Broward County voters (which League supported) to allow the County Commission to establish a maximum ten-day waiting period for the purchase of handguns. In 1988, Broward County approached other leagues in Florida to concur with our position. Concurrence was reached at the 1989 LWVF Convention.
In 1990, the League lobbied actively to secure passage of the Florida Constitutional Amendment to require a three- day waiting period for handgun purchase. It was overwhelmingly approved. During the 1991 legislative session, enabling legislation was passed and became law in October 1991, over-riding Broward County ordinances. In 1990, the LWVUS at National Convention voted to concur with the Illinois League position (which was very similar to LWVF position):
Position in brief: Protect the health and safety of citizens through limiting the accessibility and regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons. (See LWVUS – Impact on Issues 2010-2012 for more information.)