Day: Third Saturday of every month**
9:30am Coffee Social
10:00-11:30am General Meeting
Garber Buick GMC Dealership
5255 US Highway 1
Fort Pierce, FL 34982
Please park on the right side of the lot in the far back. Members will be available to direct you.
**Changes in April, November and December due to holidays
All Democrats and progressives are invited to our meetings.
Come and enjoy the company of like-minded women (men also welcome) of all ages and learn about issues important to our community, our state, and our country.
Please note that only members will be able to vote on club business.
January 2020 Meeting
December 2019 Holiday Gathering
Date: December 7, 2019
Carrabba's Italian Restaurant
1900 SW Fountainview Blvd
St. Lucie West
Join us for our annual holiday event, as we celebrate another year of accomplishment and moving our country forward together!
Please bring an unwrapped gift for children with the St. Lucie County Guardian Ad Litem program.
**Please note this will be replacing our general meeting on the third Saturday of this month. No meeting at Garber Buick GMC on 12/21.
October 2019 Meeting
Date: October 19, 2019
Mary Jo Tierney
Fort Pierce-based businesswoman and former reporter at the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post, spoke to DWCSLC members Oct. 19, 2019 on how citizens under siege from misinformation and fake news can fight it.
“I was waiting to the last minute to prepare for this talk because the news has been breaking so fast. And this week did not disappoint: Syria, Ukraine, impeachment witnesses, Pelosi vs. Trump, Mulvaney, Trump resort in Doral – we had it all,” she said. “The news about the meme video of Trump killing members of the media and his political opponents says it all when it comes to his relationship with the press.” Particularly concerning was that among the media logos bashed was TPM (Talking Points Memo https://talkingpointsmemo.com/), an online publication based in New York with an office in Washington, D.C., and for whom her daughter works.
Mary Jo lamented the demise of numerous news bureaus run by newspapers that existed into the 1980s when Florida’s East Coast was saturated with coverage both locally and in Tallahassee. The Miami Herald even had its own bureaus in Washington, D.C. and the Caribbean. Ownership consolidation has had a big impact. Locally, for example, the News Tribune, Vero Beach Press Journal and the Stuart News had separate owners and well-staffed newsrooms, until the late 1980s when Scripps Corporation bought them. Gannett followed later with the purchase of the Treasure Coast newspapers. The area also had its own television station, WTVX, a CBS affiliate based in Fort Pierce. A native of Fort Pierce, she worked at the Palm Beach Post’s bureau there. With wide coverage from multiple newspapers, the press uncovered corruption in the state attorney’s office, as well as misdeeds at Indian River Community College and the bribing of a Fort Pierce attorney in a state Supreme Court case.
“And I don’t think it is going to get much better.” Gatehouse Media, which publishes several Florida newspapers, is expected to take over Gannet Newspapers as well as the Palm Beach Post in January. “Unless the business side can consistently make a profit, there is no predicting the future.”
As newspapers struggle to compete with the internet, social media, online publications, websites and cable news, significant shrinking of circulation and advertising revenue have occurred. With a population of 600,000 Treasure Coast residents, daily circulation for the Tribune, News Journal and Stuart News combined is a mere 57,000; unique online daily visitors number 21,000. To stay competitive, businesses must devote more of their advertising dollars to have a prominent online presence, leaving little for newspaper and TV ads.
However, she is pleased to see the national media – such as The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal – thriving during the Trump administration, doing a thorough job investigating Trump and his cronies. “Trump’s hatred of the press has reached a whole new level. The scariest part is how many voters are buying into it. Their views are being reinforced by Fox News, alt-right websites and Facebook posts that continue to spread debunked conspiracies and Trump’s lies.”
His rallies also continue to berate the press, with reporters being placed in a cage-like pen. Besides the tirades, rally goers walk by calling them scumbags, liars and worse. Reporters are just trying to do their job, being fair and truthful and getting the full story. Covering Trump’s constant pivoting from one crisis to another is exhausting.
Concern remains for local and state coverage; without these watchdogs, corruption could become rampant and important policies could be adversely affected. “I know this may sound grim, but I am somewhat optimistic that the local press will bounce back – maybe in a different form – but news organizations will figure out a way to provide local coverage, whether it be through the consolidations, subsidies from nonprofits and corporate sponsors, or through cheaper technology to get the news to its readers,” she said. “After watching the news this week, I am once again hopeful that, with a strong press and a more enlightened electorate, Trump will no be in the oval office for a second term.”
In a lively discussion following Mary Jo’s presentation, a variety of points were made:
· It’s frustrating that reporters don’t pursue follow-up questions in interviews. It may reflect reporters’ exhaustion or fear that challenging responses could deny them future access.
· At what point does it become counterproductive to shine the spotlight on Trump? Mary Jo agreed, saying that the media were culpable, e.g., for excessive campaign coverage of Trump during the campaign.
· Do the media overestimate the intelligence/knowledge of the population? We need to get rid of the “fifty-cent words.”
· The influence of social media is bad. There has to be a crackdown, such as when the FEC used have a fair and balanced coverage doctrine.
· People need to subscribe to support publications and weigh things for themselves.
· Kudos to investigative journalists!
· A Tim Snyder opinion piece in the New York Times addressed How Hitler Pioneered “Fake News” as a propogandist who perfected his performance in beer halls. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/16/opinion/hitler-speech-1919.html
· The media have changed so much, schools should consider offering a half-credit course on the media and why fake news is destructive.
· Because there are not enough reporters, local media present a “one-party state” making it hard for Democrats to be heard. Reporters also need to develop a “fire in the belly” about covering both sides objectively.
· The perception that the press is liberal is not true, but seems so when Trump’s failings are correctly pointed out.
· Fox News is the leader of “fake news,” part of the reason Trump is so successful.
· The current state of journalism is “like being on a death watch” for reporters. Democrats need to be more involved and get out the vote. (There are three kinds of people: those who watch things happen; those who make things happen; and those who don’t know what’s happening.)
· Florida has become a 1% state, i.e., the margin for determining elections. We have to get out the vote to counter Russian interference, especially in close margin elections.
September 2019 Meeting
Date: September 21, 2019
Executive Director of Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF)
Vice Chairman of the Treasure Coast Citizens Climate Lobby
Doug Coward: With a keenly intense interest in opening up solar in Florida, the former St. Lucie County commissioner had the “audacious” idea to start the first local government “green bank, which became the Solar Energy Loan Fund (SELF). SELF’s main mission is to get low-cost capital to use on renewable energy. SELF offers unsecured personal loans to homeowners based on the applicants’ disposable income, not the credit score. The average loan is $9,000 with clientele consisting of 50% seniors, 40% women and 20% veterans. The cost of solar energy has dropped 90% since SELF started in 2011, saving homeowners $110,000 over the life of the product, and is, therefore, not a sacrifice.
Although solar panels/renewable energy are at the top of his list, they often end up third or fourth after 1) energy savings (insulation, sealing leaks) 2) energy efficiency and 3) a solar water heater.
“Climate resilience” is also part of the program; e.g., it’s not just about AC, it includes a safe roof (wind hazard mitigation) and other improvements that reduce operating costs such as energy and insurance premiums. A new market just opened in addressing water/septic tank hazards.
Jerry Buechler: An ardent supporter of using renewable energy, Jerry has solar panels on his roof, an electric car and lawn mowers, has sufficient attic insulation, solar screens, tankless water heater (heats on demand), and solar-powered AC for zero kilowatt usage. He encourages people to take advantage of programs such as those offered by SELF and a 26% federal tax credit, and consider joining the Treasure Coast Solar Co-op, which will save consumers 20% on the cost of individual installation. Disputing the myth that solar is too expensive, he notes that an average investment in solar panels of $13,000 will pay for itself in six or seven years, but the panels are warranted for 30 years. It also increases property values for resale, but not for taxes. He noted there is now a move to panel with microinverters, which convert sun energy from DC to AC power, that allows use of solar power during general power outages. Although people may have been waiting for prices to fall, he noted that dramatic price drops have tapered off. Rather than weakening a roof, the panels actually are protective. In addition, he said, some people believe their Home Owners Association prohibits the installation of solar panels; however, regulations state it cannot be prohibited.
August 2019 Meeting
Date: August 17, 2019
Assistant Chief Probation Officer
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Circuit 19
In her role with the DJJ, she chairs the Village Coalition of Youth Activities (VCOYA), a collaborative effort within the community teaching life skills, respect for self and others. When young people get into trouble, they can go to residential treatment to get the correct help for low and high
Although much has changed, she sees voter apathy – people don’t vote, don’t research candidates, don’t attend committee meetings. She believes that positive participation in the community and understanding the political system “is vital to help youth.”
During a question and answer period, Dorothy discussed the VCOYA: It is a think tank that pools resources of organizations and businesses in the community. The VCOYA operates 24 hours a day; however, there are not enough funds “to do everything you want to do.” Work is being done to create a 501(c)3 to enable them to get funding. “We want to take kids into the world to learn” and support a program that keeps kids out of crime. VCOYA currently offers after-school programs and mentoring, and some places provide tutoring. One member noted that members might be able to assist with the VCOYA reading program as the DWC has worked with the Save the Sons clothing drives and Back to School Bash.
July 2019 Meeting
Date: June 15, 2019
Port St. Lucie-based recruiter for the Guardian ad Litem Program, a statewide organization (founded in 1988) which represents abused, abandoned and neglected children in Florida’s dependency courts.
Nicole spoke about how the Program changes the lives of children in the foster care system on the Treasure Coast. The goal is to reunite children with their families, or get them adopted. The program has an 80-85% success rate for return or adoption. Currently, 365 volunteers and 30 staff work with the 950 children in the system. Volunteers receive two days of training – talking to children, how to bond, court observation for testifying on behalf of the kids. The GAL volunteers visit their charges at least every 30 days – either announced or unannounced – and advocate to a judge five times a year. There are also programs for kids after they turn 18, such as extended foster care and an independent living program that provides tuition and a stipend.
President and CEO of the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce. Terissa serves as the official spokesperson for the Chamber in conjunction with the Chairman of the Board. In addition, she volunteers on various boards and committees throughout St. Lucie County to further the mission of the Chamber of Commerce.
Terissa explained that St. Lucie County has only one Chamber of Commerce, creating power in being united since the 90s. The Chamber is a 501(c)3 business organization supported by dues-paying members and does not receive any government funding. The Chamber’s projects include the Young Floridians with a full scholarship to community college plus $1,000. There is also an adult leadership program, a one-year educational effort that includes tours of area businesses (e.g., Tropicana) and the county jail. The Economic Development Council, a spinoff of the Chamber, which now gets public funding, serves as a business advocate.
We also heard from Rebecca Booth with Keep PSL Beautiful on collecting caps for the Buddy Bench project. Plastic caps and lids that cannot be recycled normally are melted and formed into Buddy Benches for schools, a place where children who are bullied or feeling down can sit to meet new friends or get help. Keep PSL Beautiful will also be experimenting with recycling plastic wrap and if that goes well, foam container recycling.
The club will be collecting these materials at our monthly meetings.
June 2019 Meeting
Date: June 15, 2019
President, League of Women Voters SLC
Topic: Encouraging an informed, active participation in government here and around the nation.
Andi provided an overview of the nonpartisan LWV, a political action group which got its start in 1920 following on the work of the Suffragettes. The group does not support or endorse any candidate. However, the League does support positions based on research. While often considered a progressive organization (ala the Suffragettes), they work to attain and maintain a position “in the middle” of the political spectrum. She cited an example of local efforts, such as working to get Amendment 4 (regarding re-registering convicted felons to vote) on the ballot. Currently, they are focusing on issues including the census, gun safety, education, voter education, the environment, healthcare – particularly for women – and the expansion of Medicaid. The League is addressing voting irregularities and election security as well.
Ellyn (Mel) Bromberg MCPH Bio
Indian River Lagoon Council Management Board
Topic: Florida’s “Hot” Water Issues: Micro to Macro
Mel’s comprehensive presentation addressed harmful algal bloom (HAB’s), Lake Okeechobee discharges, the Indian River Lagoon Council – CCMP and citizen engagement, U.S. Clean Water Act rollback (U.S. waters), and global climate change/water quality and quantity within Florida. She cited efforts through technology and water conservation groups to combat the damage and dangers of blue-green algae, red tide, bio-solids, nitrogen and phosphorous pollution with concern over increasing intensity and duration of these conditions and events. The Indian River Lagoon Council is working on restoration projects to help the lagoon get and stay healthy with its “One Voice. One Community. One Lagoon.” campaign addressing 32 vital signs.
Regarding climate change, she noted, “It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not,” it’s happening here. We are suffering from extensive flooding and drought (“water whiplash”); Florida is shifting to a subtropical climate; it may benefit the state to increase its desalinization capacity. “Science illiteracy costs money,” she said. Noting that water issues are local, she urged speaking to everyone from the “city council on up,” including the Regional Planning Commission in Stuart, which handles development.
May 2019 Meeting
Date: May 18, 2019
Join us for a Members-Only, working meeting.
We will be looking at what we've achieved so far, and discussing what we are planning for the rest of the year.
This is a great opportunity to hear from and speak with your committee chairs, officers and fellow club members.
Bring all your knowledge, experience and ideas! Your contributions are critical to our mission!
**New Members and those interested in joining welcome.
April 2019 Meeting
Date: April 13, 2019
**Please note this month's meeting is off schedule, on the 2nd Saturday!
Join us for a timely meeting focusing on building awareness of sexual violence and human trafficking in our community.
Guest Speaker: Mindi Fetterman, Founder of The Inner Truth Project
As you know, seating is limited so please bring a folding chair if possible.
March 2019 Meeting
Date: March 16, 2019
We are very excited to be able to host Carey Haughwout this Saturday.
She is a Public Defender in Palm Beach County and President of the Florida Association of Public Defenders.
Our community has been disproportionately impacted by the drug epidemics and mass incarcerations over the last two decades.
As we move forward with our engagement in the community in Rights Restoration, this discussion gives us a broader understanding of the issues.....JOIN US!!!!!
As you know, sometimes there is standing room only, so please bring a folding chair if you have one.
February 2019 Meeting
Date: February 16, 2019
Join us for a panel discussion on the School Support and Teacher Pay Voter Referendum!
Kathryn Hensley, SLC School Board
Wayne Gent, Superintendent SLC Public Schools
Voters in April will be asked to raise property taxes to helps the school district improve teacher pay, school security, student mental-health programs and school educational programs.
This referendum will be held entirely as vote-by-mail so be on the look-out for your ballot in April!
TC PALM Article