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Archive for the ‘Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions’ Category

The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College will host a forum featuring local candidates seeking public office and information about key issues that will be on the Nov. 4 ballot. The free event is open to the public and will be held:

5:30-9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 2
Digitorium UP 160
Seminole Campus
9200 113th Street N
Seminole, FL 33772

The debates are presented in an effort to dispel voter apathy and to honor the importance of an informed electorate. Facing off will be candidates for Pinellas County Commission from Districts 2 and 4, and candidates for the eight most highly contested seats in the state legislature. Also up for debate will be three proposed amendments to the State Constitution.

Admission is free but advance registration is requested.

A distinguished panel of experts will question the candidates and provide background on the issues. They are:

  • Frank Alcock, associate professor of political science, New College of Florida, Sarasota
  • Adam Smith, political editor, Tampa Bay Times
  • Roy Slater, social science professor, St. Petersburg College
  • Noah Pransky, investigative reporter, WTSP 10 News, St. Petersburg
  • Moderator: Joni James, deputy editor of editorials, Tampa Bay Times

The debates will be split into three one-hour sessions, with the first two combining state legislative races whose district borders are relatively contiguous, for the convenience of voters interested in their home district candidates. A brief discussion of the three constitutional amendments will precede the candidate debates. The schedule is:

  • 5:30-6 p.m. – Constitutional Amendments 1 2, and 3
  • 6-7 p.m. – House Districts 65, 66 and 67
  • 7-8 p.m. – Senate District 22, House Districts 68 and 69
  • 8-9 p.m. – County Commission Districts 2 and 4

The event is co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times.

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The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College will present the final forum in a three-part series on Pinellas County’s transit sales tax referendum, this time in the North County area. The forum, titled “Dealing with Gridlock: Is there a Light Rail in Pinellas County’s Future,” will be held:

6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30
SPC Clearwater Campus ES 104
2465 Drew St.

As have the two previous programs on this issue, held at SPC’s Midtown Center and Seminole Campus, this forum will examine the pros and cons of a referendum on the November ballot that would raise the sales tax rate by one cent per dollar of spending, from 7 to 8 cents, to finance improvements to the Pinellas County public transportation system.

The transit tax proposal, if approved by more than 50 percent of voters, would affect every Pinellas County taxpayer whenever they purchase goods subject to the sales tax. It has become one of the most hotly debated local issues of the 2014 election season, perhaps second only to a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The forum will open with pro-con presentations on the proposal by advocates for and against passage. Speaking for the amendment will be Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala. Speaking against will be Barbara Haselden, campaign manager and spokesperson for No Tax for Tracks, a citizens group which opposes the proposal.

The final portion of the program will be devoted to answering questions from the audience. Moderating the debate will Dr. Nicholas Manias, Professor of Applied Ethics at SPC.

The proposed tax increase would authorize a one-cent sales tax increase for 30 years, which would raise a projected $130 million per year. The tax hike would be partially offset by eliminating the current .75-mill property tax for transit that brings in $32 million. For that revenue stream, PSTA promises a 65 percent increase in bus service, a Bus Rapid Transit line, that is, dedicated bus lanes, on major corridors; and, eventually, a 24-mile light rail line that would roughly follow the I-275 corridor north to the Gateway area, then head west along Ulmerton/Roosevelt Road/East and West Bay Blvd. to downtown Clearwater.

Advance registration is requested.

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With the primaries over, candidates are gearing up for the fall election season. This means that, until Nov. 4, voters can expect to experience a barrage of negative political advertising almost everywhere they turn.

Do these attack ads work? Is negative campaigning an effective political strategy? A distinguished panel headed by renowned University of South Florida political analyst Dr. Susan MacManus will address these and related questions at an upcoming dinner forum.

Political Campaign Ads: Why Did You Approve This Message?
Tuesday, Sept. 16
6 to 8:15 p.m.
Conference Center, SPC’s Seminole Campus
9200 113th Street N, Seminole

The event is sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College as part of the Institute’s Village Square Series. Media co-sponsors are the Tampa Bay Times and WEDU. Advance registration is required.

Negative advertising, once employed only rarely by campaigns desperate to gain traction, has become standard practice in today’s political arena. It is in part fueled by recent court rulings that permit Political Action Committees to collect and spend virtually unlimited amounts of money to inform voters about election issues.

What are the effects of these mud-slinging campaigns on the American political system? Do they actually move people to vote a certain way or discourage people from voting at all, as a silent protest of the negativity? Dr. MacManus, a nationally recognized political analyst, will be joined by two Pinellas County political consultants to provide insights from personal experience and answer questions from the audience. The program also will feature a reel of classic commercials from presidential campaigns going back to television’s early days in 1952.

The other panel members are:

  • Jack Hebert, founder and president, the Mallard Group, a Clearwater political consulting and direct mail firm
  • Gregory Wilson, president and creative officer, Parsons Wilson, a St. Petersburg political consulting firm
  • Al Ruechel, senior anchor of Bay News 9, who will serve as moderator

Negative political advertising is not new. It existed in the early days of America’s founding, when political parties emerged from the Revolution against Britain and vied for power. The second and third presidents of the new nation, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, were the targets of vicious cartoons and illustrations. But in the Electronic Age of the 21st Century it has taken on new forms with new power to reach wider audiences, and it has a virtually unlimited reservoir of special-interest money to finance its dissemination.

The forum will provide insights on this political strategy and offer audience members a chance to weigh in with their views via the Institute’s instant-polling technology.

Admission to the dinner and program is:
$25 for Village Square members and educators
$30 for guests
$20 for students.

Advance registration is required at solutions.spcollege.edu.

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Two student civic engagement projects are rolling out this fall as the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College puts strategies of the Florida College System’s Civics Literacy Initiative into action.

The Florida College System Civic Literacy Initiative launched as a workshop hosted by the Institute in October 2013. The initiative aims to make civic engagement a part of the college experience of every student in the FCS system.

The first project is TurboVote, an electronic platform that assists students in registering to vote by becoming part of their fall college registration process. The second, called The Great Debate, is a revival of inter-campus debate competition from past years to recruit students for the first round of debates in mid-October.

TurboVote

SPC announced in June that it was joining the TurboVote partnership, along with the rest of the colleges in the Florida College System. TurboVote is a non-partisan electronic system that makes it easy for students to register to vote for the first time.

Following up on the June announcement, Joseph Smiley, Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences, recently appointed two SPC faculty members as implementers of the TurboVote project:

  • Tara Newsome, Associate Professor, Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Earl Fratus, Instructor, Social Sciences

The two are working to integrate TurboVote into SPC’s registration and orientation process. They also are working with the Student Life and Leadership Coordinators around the college to provide TurboVote voter registration tables at fall Welcome Back events on all campuses.

Smiley said an announcement will be added to the ANGEL home page, in the Public Announcement section. Arrangements also are being made for a link in the new learning platform, Desire2Learn.

Thanks to a 50 percent discount offered to the FCS by TurboVote, the Institute was able to fund the upfront costs for all member colleges of the system to ensure maximum participation. To date, only two of the 28 colleges have not joined.

Since launching its college partnerships program at Harvard University and Miami Dade College in January 2012, TurboVote’s partnerships program has grown to include more than 125 institutions nationwide, including 35 participating institutions in Florida.

The Great Debate

The second project, The Great Debate, is a competitive academic event that invites students to engage in debate of topical issues outside the classroom.

ISPS sees it as an ideal vehicle to advance one of the goals of the Civics Literacy Initiative. Six campuses have committed to the competition:

  • Seminole
  • Clearwater
  • St. Petersburg/Gibbs
  • Tarpon Springs
  • Downtown/Midtown
  • Health Education Center

Students who volunteer for the competition are randomly paired to debate the pro or con viewpoint of an assigned issue. The best debater from each campus will advance to the finals and compete for cash prizes. Implementers on each campus will recruit instructors to make the debate competition a component of their classes, especially in Speech, Communications, Ethics and Social Sciences.

Preliminary competition will be held during between-class lunch breaks the week of Oct. 13-17. Finals will be held Nov. 13 in the Digitorium at the Seminole Campus.

The Great Debate fulfills three of the SPC’s strategic priorities by promoting critical thinking, effective communication, independent research and teamwork while also encouraging civic engagement:

  • Student Success Initiative
  • Out-of-Class Learning and
  • The College Experience Initiative

The 2014 election year is an ideal time to re-launch this initiative. There is no shortage of controversial issues to debate, some of which will be on the November ballot and some that are in play on the national stage. This project will broaden public understanding of those issues.

“This is just the kind of project we envisioned to fulfill goals of the Civics Literacy Initiative,” said Jim Olliver, Provost, Seminole Campus. “It combines in- and out-of-class experiences that get students involved in studying issues important to their community and state while expanding their academic knowledge and career-building skills. It’s a win-win-win for them, for SPC, and for civics engagement.”

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The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College will host a judicial candidates forum for those vying for seats on the Sixth Judicial Circuit bench. The forum will be from 6 to 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 6, in the Ethics and Social Science Building on the Clearwater Campus of SPC, 2465 Drew Street, Clearwater. Advance registration is requested at the institute’s website.

Judicial Forum WEB flyer SMEleven candidates are seeking one of five open contested seats on the Sixth Judicial Circuit bench, which serves Pinellas and Pasco counties. One is incumbent Judge Bruce Boyer. Fourteen other of the circuit’s incumbent judges whose terms expire this year are unopposed and thus automatically re-elected.

Circuit judges serve six-year terms and have no limit on how many terms they may serve. To qualify, candidates must be a member of the Florida Bar and have lived in the state for at least five years.

Judicial races may seem obscure to voters since they are, by law,  non-partisan to prevent politics from tainting the impartiality of the courts. Therefore, candidates bear no party labels and are limited by the Judicial Canon in what they may say in their campaigns. They are forbidden to make predictions or promises about issues that could arise once they are on the bench.

Three local experts with extensive knowledge of the court system will question the candidates, within the limitations cited above. They are:

  • The Hon. Irene Sullivan, retired Circuit Court judge and adjunct professor of juvenile law at Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport
  • Curtis Krueger, courts reporter for the Tampa Bay Times
  • Dr. Susan Demers, Dean of the College of Policy, Ethics and Legal Studies at SPC

The forum will be split into two parts: Groups 1 and 2 comprised of five candidates will be questioned from 6 to 7:10 p.m., and Groups 16, 21 and 35 comprised of six candidates from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m.

The public is encouraged to attend to learn more about the background and qualifications of those seeking to sit on the bench. The forum is being co-sponsored by Tampa Bay Times and the Clearwater Bar Association.

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Volunteer-seaoatsJoin community members and St. Petersburg College students as they plant sea oats to honor Sen. Dennis L. Jones at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, June 28, at Gulf Front Park, 10400 Gulf Blvd. in Treasure Island.

Jones was the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Public Service Award last year from the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College. The institute, the City of Treasure Island and the Treasure Island Beach Stewardship Committee are sponsoring the event.

The effort commemorates Jones’ 32 years of public service and his efforts to preserve the shorelines of Pinellas County and Florida. Jones earned the nickname “Sandman” for his work on the Florida Beach and Shore Preservation Act, which was consequently named for him.

In 1998, Jones helped create a fund for beach restoration and maintenance that receives about $20 million a year from state taxes. To date, this fund has contributed $541.6 million to beach restoration projects in cost-sharing efforts with local governments on local and federally authorized projects, resulting in the restoration of more than 226.7 miles, or nearly 57%, of the state’s critically eroded beaches.

To volunteer, register today.

Follow the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions on Twitter at #polisol.

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Join community members and St. Petersburg College students as they plant sea oats to honor Sen. Dennis L. Jones at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, June 28, at Gulf Front Park, 10400 Gulf Blvd. in Treasure Island.

Jones was the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Public Service Award last year from the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College. The institute, the City of Treasure Island and the Treasure Island Beach Stewardship Committee are sponsoring the event.

The effort commemorates Jones’ 32 years of public service and his efforts to preserve the shorelines of Pinellas County and Florida. Jones earned the nickname “Sandman” for his work on the Florida Beach and Shore Preservation Act, which was consequently named for him.

In 1998, Jones helped create a fund for beach restoration and maintenance that receives about $20 million a year from state taxes. To date, this fund has contributed $541.6 million to beach restoration projects in cost-sharing efforts with local governments on local and federally authorized projects, resulting in the restoration of more than 226.7 miles, or nearly 57%, of the state’s critically eroded beaches.

To volunteer, register today.

Follow the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions on Twitter at #polisol.

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