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Archive for the ‘Strategic Policy Institute’ Category

turbovoteJust in time for the Nov. 4 midterm election, St. Petersburg College has been mentioned in the National Journal for its efforts to engage students in the voting process. The article talks about how colleges and universities are using technology to promote voter engagement among college-age students and help get them to the polls.

As part of its effort to increase student voter engagement, SPC partnered with TurboVote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, to adopt an innovative “one-stop-shop” voter engagement platform. TurboVote’s Election Day memos include ballot previews with links to candidates’ websites to help voters make informed, educated decisions at the polls.

“The purpose is to make it as painless as possible for students to register to vote,” David Klement, executive director of the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at SPC, was quoted as saying in the article. “Knowing how many young people are tech-savvy and do everything on their cell phones or computers, it’s an electronic platform.”

In TurboVote’s blog update on Oct. 6, St. Petersburg College was ranked in the Top 20 with 425 student registrations out of more than 200 TurboVote colleges and universities in the U.S.

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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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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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The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions will host a forum entitled “Our Families’ Four Generations: Ready or Not, Here We Are!” from 7 to 9 p.m., Tuesday, June 17, 2014, at the SPC Seminole Campus Digitorium. The forum is jointly hosted by the 4Generations Institute of Tallahassee and the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at SPC. The Tampa Bay Times is Presenting Sponsor.

4 Gen Flyer Graphic LgThe public is invited and advance registration is required at http://solutions.spcollege.edu.

Advances in medicine, workplace safety, risk management and healthy nutrition practices in the last 50 years have vastly increased life expectancy in the United States. As a result, Americans are experiencing an unprecedented demographic shift: four full generations in relatively good health living side by side.

Florida is a model of the demographic reality the nation will face in 40 years. There are currently 3.3 million Floridians, age 65-plus, living in the Sunshine State – 18 percent of the population. More than 500,000 of them are over 85. Pinellas County’s age demographics are even more tilted toward an older population: 21.5 percent of its population are 65 or older, and 4 percent are 85-plus.

How our four generations – children, parents, grandparents and super-elders – can live in harmony and mutual support is the subject of this community conversation.

A panel of experts representing programs serving each stage of life will explore how, by creative action and effective advocacy, the four generations can leverage the assets of each age group for the betterment of all.

“The needs for health care, education, family services, employment, public safety and environmental protection are best addressed through the lens of our four major age groups,” said Jack Levine, founder of 4Generations Institute. “How we address the needs of the four generations is among the most critical economic and public policy challenges for the next decade.”

The Community Conversation, moderated by Levine, will include six Pinellas County leaders whose organizations serve one or more of the four life stages:

  • Dr. Marcie Biddleman, Executive Director, Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County
  • Eileen Boyle, Executive Director, Allegany Franciscan Ministries
  • Hon. Rene Flowers, Member of the Pinellas County School Board
  • Judge Raymond Gross of the Sixth Judicial Circuit Family Court
  • Jeff Johnson, Director, AARP of Florida
  • Shannon Reid, Vice President of Education and Practice Management, Raymond James Financial

The 4Generations Institute is a non-profit organization based in Tallahassee that promotes community volunteerism for the mutual benefit of the four generations: children/youth, parents, grandparents and elders. Its goal is to identify model intergenerational programs and projects, to expand the impact of quality mentoring and volunteer initiatives and to cultivate an environment to nurture communications across the generations.

The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College is a resource for academic enrichment, a non-partisan venue for civil, objective debate of topical public issues, a center to promote better government and a resource for sustainable economic development. Its mission is to support a broad array of research, training, educational and policy analysis and support activities at the local, state, regional and national levels.

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Dennis JonesA new tradition was established at St. Petersburg College in February with the inaugural Distinguished Public Service Award Dinner. The Feb. 21 event, staged by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at the Seminole Campus, honored former SPC vice president Dennis L. Jones for his 32 years of public service as a state senator, state representative, civic leader and doctor of chiropractic medicine in St. Petersburg.

Nearly 200 people, including 18 current or former public officials and a large number of SPC administrators and staff, filled the Conference Center at Seminole to honor the work of Sen. Jones and to recognize exemplary public service in general. As Dean Susan Demers of SPC’s College of Policy, Ethics and Legal Studies put it in her role as master of ceremonies, the ancient Greeks considered public service to be the highest calling of mankind, and Sen. Jones epitomized that quality in his career and life.

SPC President Bill Law opened the program by recognizing Sen. Jones for his role in funding and creating the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions, which serves as a conduit for civic engagement and academic enrichment within SPC and the community, and also represents all 28 members of the Florida College System in the public policy arena.

In summing up Sen. Jones’ career, speakers focused on the important legislation that he had a major role in passing as well as on his skill at building consensus by working across party lines. A humorous note was provided in a video message by former House Speaker Fred Lippman, who served with Sen. Jones in the Florida House for 20 years. Dr. Lippman, now chancellor at Nova Southeastern University, said that the two of them were responsible for passage of more legislation in that period than any other legislators.

Seminole Provost Jim Olliver enumerated highlights of those legislative successes: mandatory child safety seats and driver/passenger seat belts, organ donor designation on driver licenses, Bright Futures Scholarships, “Rails to Trails” using old railroad corridors, Seminole Indian casino tax compact, state poison control registry and judicial reforms to aid small business. Among major projects affecting SPC, Dr. Olliver credited Sen. Jones for helping to secure funding for the Health Education campus, the Seminole Library and the Bay Pines STEM learning center.

Dr. James Winterstein, President Emeritus of National University of Health Sciences, spoke of Sen. Jones’ role in establishing the University Partnership Center, which includes NUHS’ doctor of chiropractic medicine program. And Kim Black, President of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, offered detailed evidence of his commitment to public education.

Perhaps the most significant legislation credited to Sen. Jones is the Florida Beach and Shore Preservation Act, which created a continuing fund to finance repair of Florida beaches after storm-caused erosion. As Dr. Olliver noted, “Pinellas County especially, but every county in Florida that depends on sandy beaches to nurture its tourism industry, is indebted to him for ensuring that there will be continuing funding to keep those beaches healthy.”

To memorialize that accomplishment, the Institute arranged for a section of public beach in Treasure Island to be planted with sea oats after a June renourishment project is completed. The sea oats plants, which also served as table centerpieces and stage decor, were donated by a sponsor of the dinner, Green Seasons Nursery of Parrish. Students from the SPC chapter of the International City Managers Association have volunteered to help with the planting. Other sponsors were the Tampa Bay Times and National University Health Sciences.

Dr. Law concluded the program by unveiling the Distinguished Public Service Plaque, with Sen. Jones’ name as its first entry. It will be hung in the Conference Center foyer.

The Institute initiated the Distinguished Public Service Award to honor exemplars of the true meaning and purpose of public service — individuals who recognize that public service is a special calling and enter into it for the moral and humanitarian benefits derived from serving their country, state and community. The criteria for nomination are:

  • A distinguished career of public service in elective or appointive office — local, state or national OR a distinguished career serving the public interest in the private sector, either in the nominee’s profession or in a volunteer capacity.
  • An unblemished record of integrity and selflessness in public service.
  • A demonstrated spirit of bipartisanship in seeking solutions to public policy challenges
  • Overall, a career that best exemplifies public service and dedicated effort in keeping with the greatness of the United States of America.

With Dennis L. Jones as the first recipient, the bar is set high for future nominees. Hopefully, his example will inspire younger public servants to strive for his high standards.

For more photos from the event, please visit the Institute’s Facebook page.

Watch the event on the college’s YouTube channel.

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CB at Seminole

Clyde Butcher spoke to a full house at the Seminole Campus on Jan. 29.

By David Klement

Executive Director
Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions

Clyde Butcher is an original — a genuine Florida character who defies alligators and mosquitoes in the muck of swamps to capture his priceless images of pristine nature and who minces no words in telling anyone who listens how poorly the state has managed its natural resources.

Clyde shared some of those images — and insights about how he shoots and processes them — along with choice words about the pollution of the Everglades, the state’s natural springs and its rivers, in two presentations sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College on Jan. 29. The eccentric photographic artist, in full Florida cracker regalia of flowered shirt, straw hat, baggy pants, croc shoes and chest-length white beard, commanded the room as he highlighted his life and his art in separate presentations to a student forum in the afternoon and a Village Square dinner program in the evening.

Butcher, often referred to as “the Ansel Adams of Florida,” is a gentle giant of a man who morphs into a mystic when you get him talking about the connection between the human spirit and nature. In his Village Square talk, he spoke of a communication bond between trees and plants and a chemical reaction in humans when exposed to a forest — a positive reaction.

He speaks of wilderness as being “a sacred necessity,” and recounts how, after the tragic death of his son at the hands of a drunk driver in 1986, he went into the deep woods of the Big Cypress National Preserve where “the mysterious spiritual experience of being close to nature helped to restore my soul.”

There is similar tone of mysticism when he speaks about his art. “I make pictures large enough so that you can see them,” he says in reference to his large-scale — as big as 4-by-5-feet– black-and-white photos of nature. “You have to scan, and the mind puts together what you see. I want you to see the sky, and veins in the leaves.”

The unique perspective of his pictures, along with the scale, “make people feel like they want to walk into them. I want people to be drawn in and feel their way through the environment.”

Yet in his public talks he is plain-spoken, talking nonchalantly about wading in chest-high waters teeming with gators and water moccasins to set up his tripod for the perfect shot, and in giving a humorous account of helping President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter briefly elude the Secret Service on one of his frequent “swamp walks.”

DK and ClydeAnd he is blunt when talking about the greatest threat to the Everglades: “In plain English, its s—,” he says, using the four-letter word for human waste. The incursion of development to the very edge of the Glades — in some cases beyond the edge — and destructive forms of agriculture such as sugar cane fields to the immediate north have done immense damage to the quality and quantity of the watery expanse named the “River of Grass” by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in her landmark book about the Everglades.

Clyde bemoans that careless regard for pristine wilderness as he disdains the politicians who pay lip service to environmental protection even as they strip funding from restoration programs.

But he worries more about an even greater threat to the Everglades: sea level rise brought about by climate change. By 2025, the Glades will be under water, he told me after the evening lecture. Extraordinary tides are already inundating parts of the preserve, and they will only get worse in the next few years.

The only solace to be found in that gloomy prediction is his promise to continue photographing those doomed patches of Eden even into his eighth decade. At least we will have his pictures to remind us of what once was. And those lucky enough to have attended his lectures will have the memories of having rubbed elbows with a living legend.


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