Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Florida State Legislature Special Session

The Florida State Legislature has convened a special session which begins November 16, 2010 at 3:00P.M. There are a number potential veto overrides and some other items of concern for the Legislature to discuss. If you have questions about the special session and the items up for consideration, visit the Florida House of Representative's myfloridahouse website for more information.

During the session, legislators will discuss potential veto overrides on the following issues:

- HB 545 - Residential Property Sales

- HB 981- Agriculture

- HB 1516 State-Owned Lands

- HB 1565 - Rulemaking

- HB 5603 - Department of Financial Services

- Health Care Appropriation: Shands

- HB 569 – Landfill

- H8 1385 - Petroleum Site Clean Up

- S8 1842 - Transportation Projects

- H8 5611 - Review of Department of Management Services Under the Florida Government

Accountability Act

In addition, they will discuss “potential solutions to other items of concern” on the following topics:

- Septic Tank Evaluation Program

- HVAC and Solar Rebates


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Imagine Miami Conference a Success

We at HSC would like to thank everyone who came out this past Friday to the Imagine Miami Voter Education and Issues Forum. A special thanks to keynote speakers: Karen Aronowitz, President of United Teachers of Dade, Jeanne Baker, former President of Florida ACLU, Terry Coble, President of League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County, and Karen Woodall, Executive Director of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy. These speakers led a riveting and informative discussion on the November 2 ballot initiatives. We would also like to thank our sponsors, The Children's Trust and Florida ACLU, for their support and dedication to ensuring all attendees were able to deepen their understanding of ballot initiatives and network with other change-makers in the community.

LaRhonda Odom Policy Coordinator at HSC

Terry Coble President, League of Women Voters

Guest Speakers: Karen Aronowitz, Karen Woodall, Jeanne Baker, Terry Coble

Terry Coble President, League of Women Voters

Karen Aronowitz President, United Teachers of Dade

Thursday, October 21, 2010

2010 Independent Sector Annual Conference

Leaders from across the nonprofit community came together this week for the 2010 Independent Sector Annual Conference. This year’s dynamic program examined how people from organizations of all sizes and missions can collaborate to fulfill the conference theme, “Forging a Stronger Future Together.” With over 900 non-profit leaders in attendance, the conference offered special programs to to help attendees advance their work to cater to their specific audiences:

Public Policy Action Institute -- Nonprofit leaders, communications specialists, and policy advocates develop strategies for making the nonprofit and philanthropic community stronger advocates with public officials.

CEO Track -- Chief executives of IS members share in-depth, peer-to-peer exchanges on issues relevant to running an organization.

NGen: Moving Leaders from Next to Now -- Targeted workshops and networking opportunities for emerging nonprofit leaders.

Daniella Levine pictured below at the 2010 Independent Sector Annual Conference

Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Voting for Youtopia 2010 is now open through October 31st!

Voting for Youtopia 2010 is now open through October 31st!

With over 150 world-changing ideas, we need YOUR help for HSC- Catalyst Miami to be chosen as one of 20 finalists.

Please vote by clicking the link below and giving your 3 votes to Catalyst Miami:

Catalyst Miami--Be the Change

After voting, make sure to share that idea with others on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

Once voting is complete, the Free Range Youtopia team will announce the Top 20 finalists on November 1st and begin reviewing each of their world-changing ideas. Announcements of the non-profit and socially responsible business grant winners will be made by the new year.

Now get out there and VOTE for the next world-changing idea!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Imagine Miami Smooth Criminal Gerrymander Video

Do you know what's on the ballot?

Join us on October 22 for the Imagine Miami Voter Education and Issues Forum

Watch the video below on Amendments 5 & 6.

Do you know what's on the ballot? Get the information and tools you need to make good choices on Election Day and educate friends and neighbors. Learn how candidates stand on access to health care, education and economic opportunity. Learn what is at stake with the constitutional amendments. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with other change-makers in the community while learning everything they need to know before voting. Imagine Miami is the "civic network" of the Human Services Coalition. It connects people who care about South Florida and are doing something to make it a better place. We hope to see you there and please forward to your contacts.

Accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made available upon request. Please contact Monica at monicas@hscdade.org before the event to submit a request.

RSVP by October 20, 2010
Phone: 305-576-5001 ext 13
Email: monicas@hscdade.org

Free parking for all attendees

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Imagine Miami Voter Education and Issues Forum

Come join us on Friday, October 22, 2010 for the Imagine Miami Voter Education and Issues Forum.

Accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made available upon request. Please contact Monica at monicas@hscdade.org at least 10 days before the event to submit a request.

Free parking available in garage

Monday, October 4, 2010

Demand Fairness for Florida's Unemployed!

Sign on to the letter and tell Governor Crist to provide much needed relief to Florida's most vulnerable citizens.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Imagine Miami - SAVE THE DATE

Florida: Choosing the Future

The Florida Humanities Council, The Fred Friendly Organization, and the Askew Institute, have created the program, "Florida: Choosing the Future," which will begin airing this week on Florida public television stations. This provocative panel discussion grapples with tough issues such as: government policy, business development, education, and citizen involvement, that must be decided now if Florida is to thrive in the 21st century. Panelists include former Governor Bob Graham and several leaders from the fields of business, education, journalism and government.

This program will appear this week on the following PBS channels and at the following times:

WJCT airing on their digital channel (7.4) on 9/24/10 at 7pm and on their
primary channel (7.1) on 10/5 at 11pm

WSRE 9/23/10 8pm Central

WUFT 9/23/10 9pm & 9/26/2010 at 4:30pm

WMFE 9/23/10 9pm

WGCU 10/7/10 10pm

WLRN 9/27/10 10pm

WPBT 9/26/10 6pm

WEDU 9/23/10 9pm & 9/26/2010 at 7pm & 9/28/10 at 1pm

WUSF 10/12/10 at 12 p.m.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Cut To One Is A Cut To All

Letter of support for a budget that protects the health and safety of our community
The Miami Herald, Opinion
Saturday, 09.11.10

As the Mayor and Board of County Commissioners prepare for public budget hearings, which begin September 13th , it appears that the community is left with the short end of the shrinking stick comprised of our public services.

While some Commissioners can be praised for fighting for public structures by supporting sustainable revenue practices, the Commission has been too quick in years past to balance the budget on the backs those least able to afford it: low income communities, front line workers, the disabled and the indigent.

If cuts are to be made, they should be made from the top first, not from the bottom. The Mayor’s proposed budget asks of us what cannot be asked. We cannot ask that we take domestic violence services, shelters, food banks and countless other services away from members of our community who depend on them. We cannot ask that a frontline worker in sectors like transit struggling to support her family or a nurse whose work affects so many lives risk losing their jobs.

The cuts that the Commissioners are considering actually add cost: The proposed budget notes that by cutting County programs and services we can reasonably expect “higher crime rates, higher jail populations, and all the costs that accompany those ills.” In fact, if we cut the infrastructure for services now, we will have to invest more in the future to build them back.

As members of a broad network of community organizations, labor organizations, civic leaders and residents, we stand in opposition to county budget cuts that threaten over 1,200 jobs and 25% of funding for social services provided by community-based organizations—on top of the 30% cut made in last year’s budget.

We recognize that an injury to one is an injury to all. Our members’ lives cut across multiple budget line items. Cutting jobs while also cutting food banks affects seniors as well as children. We know from our members and supporters that we have cut past the meat and now we are cutting bone.

Though we represent distinct organizations, we declare mutual support. We stand united for solutions. Progressive measures can be taken to prevent cuts that threaten the health and safety of our community. On September 23, we ask that the County Commission and the Mayor adopt the rollback millage rate—which avoids tax increases that target communities that have seen the largest drops in property values. We also know that this alone is not enough, and we ask the county commission put pressure on Congress to pass the Local Jobs for America Act (HR 4812, S.3500) supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities. This would provide federal funds to economically stressed counties to save and create local jobs and to restore community based programs.

Like our lives that cut across multiple budget items, these two steps must be taken together. They will not only prevent the worst of the cuts, but will help us build a just, sustainable alternative through investment in our communities.

County Commission and Mayor, if you cut one of us you cut all of us.

Signatories as of Friday September 10th:
Catherine Penrod, ED, Switchboard of Miami;
Andy Madtes, President, South Florida AFL-CIO;
Helene J. Good, ED, CCDH, Inc. (formerly the Community Committee for Developmental Handicaps);
Martha Baker, R.N.; President SEIU Local 1991;
Antonio Eiroa, President, AFSCME Local 1542;
Kit Rafferty, South Florida Jobs with Justice;
Daniella Levine, CEO, Human Services Coalition;
Bejamin J. Burton, ED, Miami Coalition For the Homeless, Inc. ;
South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice;
Susan Rubio Rivera, ED, M.U.J.E.R.;
Talib Nashid, President TWU Local 291;
Debra Knox, ED, Hearing and Speech Center
Vivienne Dixon-Shim, President, AFSCME Local 1363;
Greg Blackman, President, Government Supervisors Association of Florida/ OPEIU, Local 100;
Gihan Perrera, ED, Miami Workers Center;
Marie Mobley, President AFSCME Local 322;
Cornell Crews, Program Manager, Partners For Self Employment;
Jerry Santeiro, Guardianship Program;
Michelle Johnson, Concerned African Women;
And the Penny Wise Campaign to Protect our Community from the Budget Cuts.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Searching for Civic Leadership in Miami: the history of the Civic Life Academy

Part 3 of our series detailing the history of HSC's different program areas spotlights the Civic Life Academy and its multiple civic training curricula.

Friday, July 30, 2010

90 years later, women vote more than men

The first year that I am able to vote also happens to be the 90th anniversary of my right to vote. That's right, woman's suffrage turns the big 9-0 this August. There will be a Women's Equality Day celebration on Miami Beach August 26, with a march down Lincoln Road and a reception in the Lincoln Plaza from 6-8 pm (both events are free and open to the public). Another great way to celebrate this monumental occasion is, of course, to vote.

As it turns out, a higher percentage of women vote than men, according to the Census Bureau's 2008 report. Not to diminish what a triumph that is for women, but...that's not saying much. Overall, 63.6% of registered voters reported voting in 2008.

Early voting in Florida will take place August 9-22, and the official election day is the 24th. Check out the sample ballot and familiarize yourself with the candidates before showing up to the polls (please). You can also vote from the comfort of your home if you choose to use an absentee ballot.

I know it's difficult to get people to participate in local elections, particularly in primaries, but we're lucky (I guess) to have one of the more interesting Senate races here in Florida. Also on the ballot will be a few commissioners, school board members and state legislators who will be making important decisions about (cue buzzwords): taxes, health care, education, growth management, etc. Some of these little-known candidates will have a big impact on Miami-Dade County and Florida. I for one am very excited to wear that "I voted today" sticker.

Florida needs a health care reform implementation committee

Florida CHAIN has composed a letter to the Governor and the state legislature requesting that Florida establish an Affordable Care Act Implementation Committee in order to make full use of federal funding and ensure that new regulations are implemented in a coordinated manner. If your organization is interested in signing this letter, email Lisa Grossman by August 3 with the full name and location of your organization, your name and your title.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Restorative justice training gives voice to kids

Power U wants school discipline to be less arbitrary and more proactive. Judging by the comments made in a restorative justice workshop Power U led at HSC the other day, a lot of kids and teens agree that "zero tolerance" policies in schools are creating hostile learning environments.

Sitting in a circle, the youth shared stories about unfair punishments they had witnessed and kids missing school or important tests while suspended. Meanwhile, the underlying problems are frequently not addressed by counseling and intervention.

Workshops like this one, which give voice to the people directly affected by the issue at hand, are the first step to transforming our education system. Hopefully we will continue partnering with Power U in the future.

Read more about Power U's "Keeping Youth in School" initiative.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jazz show benefits Pediatric Mobile Clinic

This Friday, June 30, Rana Prieta Latin Jazz Project will debut at Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., from 9-11 pm. Ten dollar donations will benefit the University of Miami Pediatric Mobile Clinic--whose Medical Director, A.J. Khaw, is a member of Rana Prieta.

The jazz quartet rocked HSC's open house in March and we are excited to see them promoting other great community organizations.

Pathway to Prosperity

To commemorate the 15th anniversary of HSC, we have been working on a series of videos about the history of the organization. This video, the second in the series, focuses on the Prosperity Campaign, which has helped thousands of people become more financially literate and self-sufficient.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Earlier today, the Board of County Commissioners met to vote on the property tax rate ceiling for the 2010-2011 county budget. When the commissioners vote in September to determine what the actual rate will be, the rate they just voted on cannot be exceeded. With the exception of three members, the Board voted to support the rollback rate. Though we won’t know the actual rate until September, this is one of three critical steps that will ensure that we prevent the worst of the cuts.

It is due to the efforts of several organizations and numerous concerned residents of Miami-Dade County that we were able to secure this vote. The rollback rate will earn the county the same amount of property tax revenue as last year, thus avoiding even greater budget cuts. While we would have liked to have the flexibility of the maximum rate, this is a huge victory for the Penny Wise Campaign given the recent developments and setbacks encountered.

It is important that we acknowledge that we have only won a battle –the outcome of the war remains to be seen. We will still be facing a deficit of around $60 million- a huge improvement over the $400 million loss without rollback. But because the cost of services increases each year, cuts will still happen. On the chopping block now are over 900 jobs and a 25% reduction in funding to social services agencies (on top of the 30% cut last year!).

We have until September to collect as many signatures as possible and let the Board of County Commissioners and the mayor know that social services and county jobs are not expendable parts of the county budget. Please help us by signing the petition and forwarding it to all of your friends- we’ll be collecting them until the next vote in September. We also need you to keep calling commissioners, keep coming to our actions and keep attending our meetings. If you’d like to become further involved, please contact the phone number or e-mail address listed below. We will need a tremendous amount of support if we are to protect social services and county jobs in Miami-Dade. As residents, we all deserve to live in a healthy and safe community and we cannot allow ourselves to be penny wise and pound foolish!

There will be several opportunities in July, August and September to engage in this process and add your voice to this important deliberation.

Here are key dates to keep in mind:

August 24: Property tax TRIM (truth in millage) notices will be sent out to homeowners to inform them of the property tax rate ceiling set on July 20 (a.k.a. the rollback rate).

Sept. 13: First budget public hearing, at which any member of the community may address the Commission regarding the tax rate, funding priorities and other budget issues.

Sept. 23: Final budget public hearing. The final tax rate and budget are approved at this meeting.

Oct. 1: New fiscal year begins.

For the full text of the Mayor Carlos Alvarez's Proposed Budget Message, visit www.miamidade.gov/budget/

Contact Information: Jacob Coker-Dukowitz, Coordinator, Penny Wise Campaign, 305.576.5001 x25 or Pennywise.campaign@gmail.com

Friday, July 16, 2010

Voters: empower yourselves with knowledge!

If you are planning on voting in local and state elections (and you should be!), be on the lookout for candidates forums, which are as ubiquitous as humidity this summer. Here are a few that are coming up:

Florida Senate District 36, Representative District 117
The Urban Environment League and Tropical Audubon Society are hosting a candidates forum for State Senate District 36 and State Representative District 117.

When: July 29, 7 - 9 pm

Where: South Miami City Hall, 6130 Sunset Dr.

Senate District 36, Representative District 107
The Urban Environment League and Miami Neighborhoods United are hosting a candidates forum for State Senate District 36 and State Representative District 107.

When: August 3, 7 - 9 pm

Where: Simpson Park, 55 SW 17 Rd.

School Board, District 2
The Urban League “Posse” will host a community forum at which the candidates for the Miami-School Board, District 2 will have the opportunity to make their case to the parents, students, and voters who will be directly affected by the policies of the next Board member.
When: August 5, 6:30-8:30 pm
Where: Freedom Hall, 8400 NW 25 Ave.

For more information about the forum, email Hassan Shabazz or call 302-696-4450.

Behavioral Health issues
The South Florida Behavioral Health Network will bring together several candidates for State Representative and State Senate to address substance abuse & mental health treatment, prevention & recovery issues.
When: August 5, 5:30 pm

Where: Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School, 4949 NE 2 Ave.

To RSVP, contact Stephen Zuckerman by July 30.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Getting back to our roots

This summer, HSC will turn 15. We're going through some changes, as adolescents do, and we wanted to take a look back at where we came from. What was going on in Miami and the nation in 1995? What was HSC's role in these events? Find out in the first in a series of videos about our history.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Miami Dade Budget Cuts

After reading Matthew Haggman’s article in the Miami Herald, I am appalled that with all of Miami-Dade County’s cuts to jobs, spending and services over the past year, employees and officials still receive excessive benefits. I understand that the benefits subsidize their salaries but the amount that some receive is outrageous.

For example, County Manager George Burgess receives a $101,787 benefit package which in my opinion is not really necessary when his salary is $326,340. The median income in Miami-Dade is $43,921; it is hard to justify a $428,127 salary package. Court Manager George Burgess makes more than 7 times the median income of Miami which is declining due to job loss.

I’m not trying to pick fun at George Burgess but at what point is it enough? We have to keep our officials accountable and sometimes that means sacrificing a brand spanking new luxury sedan for a more economical option.

Car allowances have been a debate issue for so long and it still has yet to be resolved. In the state of our economy, we need our commissioners, mayor and other Miami-Dade county officials to step up to plate and lead by example. If the budget is so bad that people’s jobs will no longer receive funding, how can Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez expect tax payer’s dollars to go towards a brand new 2010 BMW 550i Gran Turismo sedan when our city is cutting teachers? Get a Chrysler, Ford or GM and help stimulate our national economy for a portion of the cost.

It’s time to lead by example and prove that the public’s best interest is at heart. Currently, public sentiment towards our government is low and to regain public trust our leaders have to make sacrifices just as other sectors. According to the Miami Herald article, Mayor Alavarez expressed, “erasing the perk for all county leaders is a legitimate question at a time of economic austerity, but he's not ready to make the leap unless others do too.” A mayor is like a president, a leader chosen by his constituents. Imagine if President Obama said that. It’s like a campaign based on, “Yes, people are struggling but I won’t create change” Who would support that? We need a leader who will take the initiative in making decisions and not make excuses for indecision; by not acting a decision is made. Stand by decisions and deal with the repercussions.

These budget cuts will have grave repercussions on the lives of the people that use services that are funded by the county budget. Now more than ever is the time for our government officials to rise up and start to deal with these budget cuts. For it’s the actions that are taken right now that will have an effect on our future. We all, not only the government, need to take the necessary actions to stop or at least lower the impact of cuts to the budget. It’s the kids, teacher, survivors of violence and anyone who utilizes social services whether through government or organization that will be impacted. I’ve taken it upon myself to do something that could benefit my community. I signed the Penny Wise Campaign in order to show county leader that there are constituents like myself that cuts to the budget show not impact the social services that save people’s live.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Speech and Debate

Last Friday, Human Services Coalition hosted its annual fundraiser at the Gable Stage Theater at the Biltmore in Miami. The event honored Linda Carmona-Sanchez, the executive director of A+ Early Learning Center, and Miguel Milanes. The featured show, Speech and Debate, drew applause from everyone in attendance and the auction beforehand proved to be a crowd-pleaser. After the event, HSC hosted a reception at the Biltmore Lounge, which contributed to the night’s proceeds. Below are images taken at the reception. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Penny For Your (Vocal) Thoughts

Last Tuesday, advocates for the Penny Wise Campaign rocked out during our press conference and subsequent special delivery of the gigantic Penny & Petition Duo to Mayor Alvarez's office--only the first of many Penny Wise actions to come. Jessica wrote about this team effort a few blog entries below, and now you can see it for yourself. It attests to the power of collective action to respond to this budget crisis; it announces the entry of our voices--"They say cut back, we say fight back!"--into the equation. Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen, and let's keep it up!

Spreading the Wisdom

Star HSC interns Luke Soto and Daniel Rebello were invited to talk about the Penny Wise Campaign on the airwaves. Their interview will feature on the show "Life Changers" on Tuesday, June 22 and Friday, July 9 at 5:30pm on station 1080 AM. Or you can always check it out here!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Goodbye, Farewell, to You, My Friend

On this partly cloudy Friday, the Penny Wise Intern Organizers, Human Services Coalition and the City of Miami bid farewell to our most valuable player—Lucas Soto (Penny Wise Campaign, Faith-Based Organization Petition Outreach Coordinator). After four incredibly fruitful weeks, Luke is leaving to study abroad in Spain, an experience that will surely pale in comparison to his time at Human Services Coalition. Luke has been the most dedicated contributor to the Penny Wise Campaign, compiling contact lists, e-mailing and calling organizations, recording radio interviews and dabbling in video-editing. His passion and determination have been an inspiration for all of us, motivating us to truly impact our community and protect social services and jobs from county budget cuts.

Yesterday, Luke, along with another intern Daniel Rebello, recorded an interview for the 1080 AM radio show Life Changers. The interview will air on June 22, 2010 at 5:30 PM. The purpose of the interview was to spread the word about the campaign and direct people to the online petition. Please support Luke, Penny Wise and HSC by tuning into the interview and signing thepetition. Let us make sure his efforts were not in vain.

Click below to watch Luke’s farewell video message—it’ll give you a taste of the crazy character we’ve come to appreciate!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Interview with Trudy Krasovic of SwitchBoard of Miami

In a recent conference call, I spoke with Trudy Krasovic of SwitchBoard of Miami about the potential budget cuts to social services and jobs and how they would affect her organization. Switchboard of Miami provides a confidential crisis hotline for people who find themselves in desperate situations. This organization receives approximately 180,000 calls per year. She commented that “If we lose funding, it would mean that we cannot hire as many counselors as we need…It’s very hard to find volunteers.” This would result in increased wait time for people who, for the most part, don’t have seconds to spare. Unfortunately, Switchboard of Miami serves as the only link that many of these people have to the outside world. Drastic cuts to social services would adversely affect not only numerous organizations receiving county funding, but also the hundreds of thousands of people that rely on these services to survive. Please support social services, such as SwitchBoard of Miami, and jobs by signing the Penny Wise Campaign PETITION!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Penny Wise Campaign Press Conference 6/15

Today, the Penny Wise Campaign held its first press conference at the Government Center in Downtown Miami. In attendance were representatives from various organizations, including: Human Services Coalition, MUJER, Curley’s House, Switchboard of Miami, Research Institute for Social and Economic Policy and Jewish Community Relations Council. WSVN-7 Fox and Telemundo 51 documented the event and filmed interviews. Numerous community members listened as representatives discussed how their organizations would be affected by massive budget cuts to social services and jobs. The Penny Wise Campaign brought along a 5-foot-tall penny and an enormous petition and delivered these items to Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s office after the press conference. Throughout the event, Penny Wise Intern Organizers gathered signature from community members, all of whom voiced enthusiasm about the campaign.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Social Works according to Shannon Jackson

Listening to the opening remarks at the Performance Studies International conference in Toronto, I'm inspired by scholar Shannon Jackson's observations that radical artists who oppose the state often find themselves in the awkward position of sharing the neoconservative (aka Tea Party) position that government should be "hands off." But how, she asks, do we reconcile the impulse to say "hands off" when what we are calling for (especially for Jackson, as a professor at UC-Berkeley during massive state budget cuts), when what we really want is a government that's hand on? Her answer is something she calls "infrastructural avowal."

What does that mean? That rather than blindly celebrating independence and pretending that the ideal citizen is autonomous -- with no need for welfare or state-funded education or health care -- we recognize that all of us need each other. And the government is uniquely suited for helping us care for each other. Maybe the image we're all looking for is not "hands off" or "hands on," but hands together.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Penny Wise Campaign Training Session Recap

Last Thursday, HSC hosted training sessions downtown and in South Dade to educate community members about the looming budget cuts and provide them with public speaking techniques to be able to discuss the objectives of the Penny Wise Campaign. The Penny Wise Campaign is an initiative that represents many organizations and numerous individuals who stand to be adversely affected by funding cuts. The loss of county funding would mean drastically reduced resources at a time when the need for these community services and jobs is at an all time high. One of the principal goals is to gather 10,000 signatures and present them to undecided District Commissioners in the hopes of convincing them to vote for a minimal property tax increase that will offset the budget cuts to social services and jobs. I, along with several organization representatives, attended the South Dade meeting. Those organizations that were represented included: MUJER, We Care, enFamilia, We Count and the Hearing & Speech Center of Florida. The executive directors of all of these organizations proposed ideas for spreading the word about the Penny Wise Campaign. They suggested creating color-coded t-shirts to represent each district at upcoming events, as well as creating video testimonials from people that currently receive social services. All of the 16 people in attendance voiced interest in participating in the campaign and making a strong impact on South Dade, principally districts 8 and 9. They planned to meet again in the near future to delegate specific tasks.

Overall, the meeting was a good indication that there are many organizations and individuals interested in protecting social services and jobs.

HSC has formed a team of interns and staff that is in charge of coordinating the petition outreach effort. It is the goal of the Penny Wise Campaign to gather 10,000 signatures from districts 4, 5, 6, 9, 11 and 13 in the next 5 weeks. These districts are of particular importance because their commissioners are undecided on the matter. Please sign the petition and forward it to as many friends and contacts as possible so that we can effect change in Miami-Dade County!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Penny Wise Training Session TONIGHT

This evening, from 6 to 8 pm, the Human Services Coalition will host training sessions at 1900 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 200, and at the South Dade Regional Library. The sessions will discuss the Penny Wise Campaign, which was formed to convince constituents of the need to prevent Miami-Dade Commissioners and the Mayor from cutting $400 million from social services and other important county jobs. The premise behind the campaign is that an increase of approximately $100 in property taxes would allow the county to avoid cutting important social services. Without these services, numerous community members would find themselves without the means to survive and prosper. The session will train community residents on public speaking techniques that can be used to garner support for the campaign. We hope to gather 50,000 signatures for our petition in favor of a property tax increase, which would amount to a few pennies per month and would serve to protect social services and county jobs. The signatures will be presented to district commissioners once they have been gathered. This will hopefully serve to convince commissioners that they need to vote yes on a property tax increase.

Summer in Miami: shows, summits and freebies

Amnesty International presents: Taxi to the Dark Side

Amnesty is screening the film Taxi to the Dark Side, which won the 2007 Academy Award for a documentary feature. The film portrays the murder of an Afghan taxi driver who was beaten to death by American soldiers while being detained at the Bagram Air base. A discussion about the documentary will follow.

Where: Freedom Tower--600 Biscayne Blvd, Miami
When: June 4, 5 pm

Public Allies Showcase in the Garden

As a Public Ally myself I have to offer a shameless, completely biased plug for this event. Here's what you need to know:

1. There will be food, drinks and live entertainment. A few of my fellow Allies are performing (spoiler: there will be break-dancing), along with a few Allies-allies (friends).
2. It only costs $15 to spend the evening at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Even if you aren't interested in partying down with the Allies (we're fun!), having a chance to relax in a beautiful garden has to be worth $15.
3. Public Allies rocks. As Allies, we spend 10 months working for community organizations, creating our own service projects and attending leadership trainings. This is rewarding for the participants, but also for the community. Your donations at this event will support PA-Miami.

You can buy tickets online or at the door.

Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden--10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables
When: June 10, 6 pm

Speech and Debate

I think we could all use a laugh these days, and HSC can use your support. Proceeds from this showing of the comedy Speech and Debate will support HSC's programs. There will be a cocktail reception following the show and HSC will honor some of our dear community partners, Linda Carmona-Sanchez and Miguel Milanes.

Where: GableStage--1200 Anastasion Ave., Coral Gables
When: June 18, 7:30 pm

The Greater Everglades Food Summit

"A conference to envision a local food system that is vibrant, healthy, just, sustainable and resilient! This summit will include a who's-who of local food professionals and enthusiasts from South Florida, providing and unprecedented networking and partnership-building opportunity...." Learn more and register.

Where: Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus--300 NE 2 Ave, Miami, room 3201

When: July 12, 8 am - 6:30 pm; July 13, 8 am - 1:30 pm

Free Sundays at Fairchild

Fairchild is offering free admission on Sundays in August. You had me at "free." These kinds of opportunities are what make living in Miami so wonderful. Fresh air, beautiful plants, no cost: yes, please.

Where: Fairchild, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables
When: 9:30 am - 4:30 pm, Sundays in August

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Healthcare "rap-up"

The Human Services Coalition recently decided to organize a retrospective of health care reform before moving forward to the implementation of the new law. To help them carry out their goal, they have enlisted the unrivaled talent of health care hip hop sensation Sick Rick. The result: pure genius. Enjoy.
-Caitlin & Cal

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Casa Bella bowling party

A Casa Bella Transitional Housing will host a bowling party June 5 from 1 -4 pm at AMF Pembroke Pines Lanes, 1940 North University Drive, Pembroke Pines, 33024. Proceeds from this event will benefit A Casa Bella, which provides homes for women and children with nowhere else to go. I was at A Casa Bella's Mother's Day event earlier this month and was moved by the stories of women who find themselves homeless after a divorce or financial upheaval. They produced a great video about these heroines (watch the trailer) that illustrates the need for housing assistance in our community. (I was also happy to see HSC friends Martena Johnson and Amina Rodriguez honored for their dedication to parenting.) Tickets to the bowling party are $15.00. RSVP's requested.Martena Johnson with her daughter at the A Casa Bella Mother's Day event May 1. Martena is a Parent Leadership Training Institute grad and an A Casa Bella honoree.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Legislative wrap-up subject of next Downtown Bay Forum

Downtown Bay Forum

The Florida House and Senate recently adjourned a legislative session that seriously mobilized educators and has health care and women's rights advocates frantically calling for vetoes from Gov. Charlie Crist. The Downtown Bay Forum's next luncheon (May 26 at the Marriott on Bayshore Dr., 11:30 a.m.) will focus on the 2010 legislative session. HSC's own Jacob Coker-Dukowitz will be one of the speakers reporting on state-wide policy developments. Other speakers include United Teachers of Dade Pres. Karen Aronowitz and M-DCPS School Board Member Ana Rivas Logan. Education promises to be a major component of the discussion, as SB 6's passage and subsequent veto by Crist was one of the most talked-about issues of the session.

Jake will probably reflect on HSC's trip to Tallahassee last month, during which advocates from Miami-Dade lobbied for tax reform and improvements to Florida KidCare, among other things.

For more info on DBF and registration for this event, call Annette Eisenberg-- (305) 757-3633.

Lessons from the session

At a Planned Parenthood press conference this morning, Sen. Dan Gelber and other state legislators spoke out against HB 1143, which passed on the last day of session. The bill requires women to receive an ultrasound before having an abortion and places restrictions on health care benefits at businesses that receive tax credits. Planned Parenthood decried not only the content of this legislation, but the manner in which it was passed. Rep. Richard Steinberg argued that future sessions will be even more contentious and polarized as moderates leave the House and Senate and are replaced by either extreme right-wing or extreme left-wing legislators.

Some of the legislative aides in the room had advice for advocates hoping to have their voices heard. They told the group, don't worry if you can't meet with the legislator himself; their aides are often the best "vehicle" for carrying your message. Also, sending letters and e-mails and making phone calls truly makes a difference. The inundation of communication in response to SB 6 was one of the driving factors behind Crist's decision to veto the bill.

For more of the scoop on the Florida legislature, attend the Downtown Bay Forum May 26.