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Archive for the ‘public policy’ Category

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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International student from Mali

Sane Haidara, an international student from Mali, was one of the panelists at the forum World Peace: Let It Begin With Me, sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions on Thursday.

In a world filled with war and violence, St. Petersburg College student Sane Haidara believes peace can only be achieved through education.

Sane, 23, an international student from Timbuktu, Mali, came to SPC in December 2012 to get a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Administration. He wants to take what he learns to help implement change in his homeland.

“With education, I can help people by working with different organizations and officials on making things better,” said Sane, who wants to serve as a human rights activist and help educate his fellow Malians about their rights. He hopes to one day work with the United Nations to help make a difference.

He said that ignorance of laws and human rights is one of the biggest issues Malians face.

“Even though we have democracy in Mali, people still don’t know what democracy really means,” he said. “My goal upon completing my education is to go back to Timbuktu and help improve educational opportunities and human rights—especially women’s rights—health, sanitation and malnutrition.”

In spring 2013, he began prerequisite courses at the Clearwater Campus. While he finds the classes exciting, they also are challenging. In Mali, education is very different; math is not required for all majors and students often are taught strictly to memorize rather than develop critical thinking skills.

In Timbuktu, poor families often do not send their children to school. Girls in particular are largely uneducated. His father graduated from middle school and completed a two-year training school to become a teacher. His mother was illiterate.

Despite the community sentiment, his father believed education was paramount and sent all of his seven children to school, including his daughters.

“He tried to speak up in the community, saying that everybody should send their girls to school,” Sane said. “Others responded that he was a poor man and asked why he would send all his children to school when they could work in the field and help earn money.

“My father said that he has lived in the darkness because he did not have much education. He was determined for his children to not know that darkness,” Sane said. This ideology is a driving force behind his desire to learn.

At age 9, he began delivering bread to the U.S. military before school to earn some money to help support his family and pay school supplies. After school, he often would help Mali tourists around the city because his home was located between two hotels.

“I would help the tourists around the city so I could practice more of my languages,” said Sane, whose native language is Songhai but also fluently speaks Tamasheq, Bambara, English and French, as well as limited Italian and German.

Helping the tourists also had another unexpected outcome. During their visit to Timbuktu, he met tourists Tony and Patti Leisner from Tarpon Springs. They corresponded with him throughout the years, sending him books and encouraging his education.

After high school, he studied literature for two years at the University of Bamako before putting his linguistic skills to use as an interpreter for the U.S. military.

“I realized this is a good way to start a business because there are not a lot of interpreter businesses in Mali,” said Sane. A few months later, he ended up with contracts with the U.S. and Canadian governments to provide interpreters for trainings.

While he was living and working in Bamako in early 2012, Islamic extremists and insurgents invaded northern Mali. They imposed their version of Sharia Law by first burning churches and attacking Christians and tourists. Women no longer were allowed to speak to men and were forced to wear burkas to cover their bodies.

“The people who resisted, who were activists and marched to protest it, got publicly beaten,” Sane said. “Some got their hands chopped off; some got stoned to death.”

He worried about the safety of his family and neighbors in Timbuktu, particularly due to his business affiliation with western military forces. He decided the only way to ensure their safety was to help facilitate their escape to Bamako, where they stayed for nine months before returning to Timbuktu.

When the U.S. forces began suspending aid in Mali, he lost his business contract and was uncertain what to do. That’s when the Leisners helped him to get a U.S. student visa so he could study Public Policy and Administration at St. Petersburg College. They invited him to stay at their Tarpon Springs home until he could get situated.

Now at SPC, Sane is using every available opportunity to learn and work toward his goal of future activism. He is gaining leadership experience as vice president of the International Club, a member of the Clearwater Campus Student Government Association and is part of the Model United Nations team.

He often thinks about when he said goodbye to his family and friends in Timbuktu before coming to the U.S. The people there said their hope was in him, that they know he will come back to help them.

With every class he takes, Sane is determined to not let them down.

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City council

The St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus hosted the Seminole City Council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the new Public Policy classroom. The event was part of a celebration of City Government Week and included interaction between students and the elected officials.

Two students addressed the council during the meeting. Mayor Leslie Waters, Vice Mayor Thomas Barnhorn, Council Member John Counts, Council Member Jim Quinn, Council Member Bob Matthews, Council Member Patricia Plantamura, Council Member Chris Burke, City Clerk Rose Benoit and City Manager Frank Edmunds praised the college’s efforts, and have been gracious in their support, direction and friendship.

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Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist served as the keynote speaker at the SPC’s Public Policy Leadership Series at the Seminole Campus Conference Center on Tuesday, March 19.

Over 100 people attended the event. Most were Public Policy and Administration baccalaureate students interested in what Crist had to say about effective and efficient policy and leadership.

Crist spoke candidly about his more than 15 years as an elected official. He also talked about the value of family in providing a sound foundation for life’s many challenges, stressed the devotion required of a public servant and the need to follow basic core principles of honesty, transparency and approachability.

Following Crist’s presentation, students asked a variety of questions about issues relating to policy development and implementation.

At one point, Crist was asked whether he planned to run for governor in the state’s next election. He responded, saying that he is considering that opportunity.

After the meeting, Crist met with students, faculty and guests until the last one in line had the chance to speak with him.

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Gov. Bob Graham delivers the keynote address for the inaugural Village Square event Tuesday night. Check out our Facebook gallery of the event.

Gov. Bob Graham helped kick off the Village Square at St. Petersburg College Tuesday night in a keynote address to almost 200 people in the Seminole Campus Conference Center. The inaugural local event was hosted by the college’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions. See our Facebook gallery of the event.

The non-partisan Village Square was co-founded by SPC President Bill Law in Tallahassee as a public educational forum dedicated to maintaining factual accuracy in civic and political debate by fostering civil dialog on divisive issues. This is the second chapter to be formed.

Graham, who served two terms as governor and three terms in the United States Senate, is regarded as one of Florida’s and the nation’s senior statesmen, respected on both sides of the political aisle for his collaborative leadership style and for his 38-year career of public service.

He founded the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida, which helps train the next generation of public leaders by grounding students with a hands-on education in the American political system through internships, seminars, lectures and detailed case studies of public policy issues.

“The challenges for the Village Square and other entities is the state of citizenship,” said Graham, who is spearheading an effort to revive civics instruction in public education. “Citizenship is the only anecdote we have to a dysfunctional democracy.”

As a high school student in Miami in the early 50s, Graham said he took three full years of required civics classes. He said of his 11 grandchildren, only one of them has had more than one semester of civics, as is currently required.

The consequences of this sharp decline is a lack of citizenship, lack of tolerance and lack of a spirit of compromise.” Graham said. “Citizenship is not just a matter of voting, but all those things you do in your community, like getting involved.”

According to a recent civic health index, Florida ranks 46th in the nation in citizenship indicators.

“We’ve got a sick patient and I believe institutions like St. Petersburg College have the potential to be the cauldron for renewed citizenship. State colleges represent a bright star in restoring civic health.”

Public Policy and Administration student Jane Cerulli, one of about 40 students who attended courtesy of the Seminole Student Government Association and the institute, was impressed with the caliber of those in attedance – including local politicians, leaders and educators.

“It’s a great honor to be affiliated with the people in this room,” said Cerulli.

In answering Cerulli’s question about which organizations to get involved in, Graham said she’s already made the first step by enrolling at St. Petersburg College and getting an education.

“This one is very important. From there, find a subject you really care about and get deeply involved in an organization working on that issue,” Graham said. “That will demonstrate your seriousness, passion and commitment and help prepare you for later positions.”

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Benjamin Barber

Benjamin Barber

We are all citizens of the world. What does that mean in terms of good citizenship? Are there obligations to our fellow global citizens – ethical behaviors that determine our citizen-worthiness on Planet Earth?

Those issues will be explored in depth by Dr. Benjamin R. Barber, internationally acclaimed scholar, political theorist and lecturer, at the second Ethics Speaker Series event at St. Petersburg College’s Seminole Campus on Feb. 29. The forum, entitled “The Ethics of Global Citizenship: Does It Affect You?”, is jointly sponsored by the SPC’s Applied Ethics Institute, College of Policy and Legal Studies, and Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions, in partnership with the Tampa Bay Times and WUSF Public Media. It is free to SPC students and the general public.

Dr. Barber is the ideal authority to address the issues of global citizenship. He is founder and president of CivWorld, a global interdependence initiative based in New York at Dēmos, a policy, research and advocacy center dedicated to generating new ideas and catalyzing social change to help everyone achieve the American dream. At CivWorld, Dr. Barber oversees projects aimed at raising awareness of the interdependence of global society and fostering transnational and interdependent solutions to global challenges.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he joined a group of intellectuals, political leaders and artists from a dozen nations who wrote a “Declaration of Interdependence” and founded Interdependence Day, observed each year on September 12 to seek alternatives to terrorism. The Declaration opens by stating, “We, the people of the world. . . do pledge ourselves citizens of one CivWorld, civic, civil and civilized,” . . . we recognize our responsibilities to the common goods and liberties of humankind as a whole.”

In addition to his international work, Dr. Barber is a professor of Political Science Emeritus at Rutgers University and former Kekst Professor of Civil Society at the University of Maryland. He is a frequent commentator in the news media, is the author of 17 books, and has written for several TV series, including the 10-part PBS/BBC series “The Struggle for Democracy.”

The Feb. 29th forum is from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Digitorium at the SPC Seminole Campus, 9200 113th Street N. Advance registration is encouraged to ensure adequate seating. Please register online if you are interested in attending.

For more information, call 727-394-6942.

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Along with food, water and shelter, energy is among the most essential elements of human life in the modern world. It lights and heats homes, powers transportation, and is essential to commerce. Yet in the post-recession, post-tsunami world of 2012, energy faces a very uncertain future.

A distinguished group of experts will explore that future in a series of free public forums at St. Petersburg College. The first forum in the series, focusing on the future of nuclear energy, will be held from 6-8 p.m. Jan. 11 in the Digitorium of the SPC Seminole Campus, 9200 113th Street North. Titled Our Energy Future: Are Nukes Still Viable, and Do Lawmakers Get It on Energy?, the forum is presented by SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions and co-sponsored by the St. Petersburg Times and WUSF Public Media.

Is there a future for nuclear energy? Nukes have been the focus of heated debate over safety, cost, waste and siting concerns since their inception. That debate got much hotter after the March tsunami in Japan caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Plant. Since then, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and Italy have announced plans to phase out nuclear plants.

Not in Florida. The state’s two largest utilities are seeking permits to add nuclear capacity even as the debate rages over cost and need factors and the perennial concern for safety and waste. Consumer advocates take issue with a state law that allows utilities to charge customers in advance for plants that are years down the road. They also question the need for new plants with per capita energy use declining and argue there are less expensive and less risky ways to meet energy demand. The industry defends its safety record, efficiency factor, and non-polluting benefits.

Debating these and other issues at the forum will be:

  • Ellen Vancko, Nuclear Energy and Climate Change Project Manager, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • J. R. Kelly, Office of Public Counsel, State of Florida
  • Jerry Paul, nuclear engineer and former member of the Florida Legislature, U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee
  • Ivan Penn, Staff Writer for the St. Petersburg Times, who has written extensively about nuclear energy issues facing Tampa Bay.

In March, the second forum in the series, will focus on renewable energy and conservation efforts. The third, in April, will assess energy policy from the 2012 session of the Florida Legislature.

The program is free, but advance registration is requested. To register, please visit the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions website. For more information: 727-394-6942.

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