Archive for the ‘Strategic Policy Institute’ Category

Congressman David Jolly (FL-13) launched the 2016 New Ideas Conference with a reminder of what the event is – and isn’t – about.

“This is to give voice to the community, and this is a forum to talk policy, not politics,” said Jolly as he spoke words that resonated the ideas of free speech.


The April 8 forum – now in its second year – featured local leaders and the community talking about critical issues. Jolly served as the event’s moderator.

Last year New Ideas jumped into discussions about budget, transportation, energy and education. This year featured three panels – Veterans’ Welfare, Government Reform and Emerging Threats of Terrorism.

Read tweets from and about the forum.

Veterans’ Welfare

“Our nations heroes deserve the very best we have to offer,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) during the discussion about veterans. “Too often the VA has fallen short.”

The Veterans’ Welfare panel brought with it highly emotional responses. Johnny Jones, a retired Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician who lost both of his legs in 2010 after he was deployed to Afghanistan, touched the audience with his inspiring words. He told the crowd that losing his best friend, another U.S. Marine, to suicide forced him to think about what causes someone to go that far. He spoke passionately about the misuse of medication to those with PTSD. His non-profit organization, the Boot Campaign, works to raise awareness for Veterans’ issues. It also provides assistance to military families.

“All Americans want this to change,” said Blaze Radio Network anchor Doc Thompson. “We have the right ideas, but it is not getting done.”

Government Reform

Continuing with the idea of not getting things done, the Government Reform panel talks addressed issues with government gridlock and corruption.

“Congress has gotten so dysfunctional that good candidates don’t want to do it anymore,” said Editor of Editorials for the Tampa Bay Times Tim Nickens. “They can never get anything done, and the problem is not the middle. It is the extremes on either side.”

The discussion addressed district gerrymandering, Congressional term limits, the use of filibustering and budget concerns. The workings of primary elections also came up.

“A lot of people feel disenfranchised due to closed primaries,” said former Congressman Jim Davis. “Open primaries give more control and more choice. Neither side will like it, but we need to do it.”

Emerging Threats of Terrorism

Discussion of the threat of cyberterrorism entered the picture last. The panel featured Katherine Bauer, senior fellow at the Washington Institute; Congresswoman Gwen Graham (FL-2) and Chief Operating Officer for the Florida Center for Cybersecurity Sri Sridharan.

“Our military is protecting and defending us. We are working hard every day providing security here in the U.S,” said Graham.

Attendees were looking for answers on conflicts involving Syria, ISIS and Iran. Intellectual property, proper “cyber hygiene” and blocking ISIS online were also discussed.

“Syria, it is a humanitarian crisis,” said Graham. “You can’t make sense of whose fighting who for what reason.”

People from around Pinellas County joined students and faculty within the crowd at the SPC Seminole Campus Digitorium.

“I really enjoyed the Veterans panel,” said SPC Biology student Torin Clark. “It was awesome to hear that they were truly trying to figure out ways to help veterans.”

Clark also got a lot out of the Government Reform panel talks. Not someone who has kept up-to-date with politics, he said he learned a lot from the panel.

Local business owner Bruce Elliot said “This event is awesome, but once it is over, we have to think, ‘Well, what’s next?’”

At the end of each panel, people were told how they could get in touch with the panelists as well as others who can push for change. Many in the audience left with new answers and new questions.

Missed the forum? See video from the event online.

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St. Petersburg College’s Institute of Strategic Policies hosts the New Ideas Conference – a forum to talk policy, not politics, on April 8 at the SPC Seminole Campus.


Congressman David Jolly will moderate the 2016 New Ideas Conference

“Bringing local leaders and the community together to talk about critical issues in a substantive way is what the conference is all about,” said Congressman David Jolly (FL-13), who will serve as the event’s moderator.

The conference features panelists discussing issues covering Emerging Threats of Terrorism, Veterans’ Welfare and Government Reform. Faces such as Tim Nickens, editor of editorials for the Tampa Bay Times, Medal of Honor Recipient Gary Litrell, and Sri Sridharan, chief operating officer of the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at University of South Florida, will be present.

“I think each of these issues are pressing and urgent conversations we need to be having,” said Jolly. “Consider the recent events in Brussels or the issues with Veteran health care. Government reform is very real. Passing budgets is very real.”

Jolly will be moderating the event – ensuring all sides have a chance to speak and keeping the discussion “calm and consistent.”

“This conference isn’t about me. It’s about the panel discussing and engaging with the community,” he said.


2015 New Ideas Conference panelists

Many people attended last year’s conference. They shared their questions and ideas, and panelists provided succinct and fact-filled answers.

“I implore students to participate and ask questions,” said Jolly.

Students may feel cut off from politics or overwhelmed by information spread via the Internet. The conference offers an alternative to hear from local, state and national leaders, according to organizers.

“Come prepared, know the topics and be ready for an opportunity to have your questions answered,” Jolly said.

Melinda Woods is a former business owner and a current senior in SPC’s Public Policy and Administration program. “We are inundated all day about politics, and being bipartisan is important. Let’s not talk politics.”

Woods cherishes her time at SPC. Her experiences with the various conferences she’s attended have been one of opportunity and enlightenment, she said.

“I’ve been to many conferences,” she said. “This one has good timing, the right people are going to be present and it’s a civic opportunity to become engaged in your local government.”

Woods is looking for New Ideas panelists to address some of her concerns involving terrorism and the welfare of Veterans. Involved in an initiative to increase biker friendliness within Pinellas County, she also is looking forward to the budget side of government reform talks.

“Each person who attends has an opportunity to be invested and have their opinions heard,” said Woods. “It is a place where people can be comfortable and new ideas can evolve.”

Join us at the New Ideas Conference April 8 and follow updates on Twitter at #SPCNewIdeas. Or watch a live stream of the event.

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What is it like to experience Alzheimer’s – a disease that affects more than 5 million Americans? Those attending the Second Annual Caregivers’ Conference at St. Petersburg College on April 1 will go inside the dementia experience in a session called “Entering Their World,” led by dementia patient advocate Peggy Macaluso, from both a professional and personal point of view.

The conference, with the theme “Getting Real About Reality,” will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 1, in the Conference Center of SPC’s Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N. The event, which includes a buffet lunch, is free, but advance registration is required. To register, email maria@mariacares.com, or call 727-393-7711.

11796362_1625827754368928_5545028781355990792_nThe conference is co-sponsored by the Florida Caregivers Network and the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College.

The “virtual” Alzheimer’s experience is just one of more than a half-dozen sessions on the agenda that will offer helpful advice and the latest information on dementia research to family caregivers, volunteers working with older adults, and professionals in aging and related services.

isps-bannerKeynote speaker will be the Hon. David Jolly, 13th District Congressman from St. Petersburg. Other speakers and panelists will include:

  • Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who will discuss his department’s Project Lifesaver, an electronic tracking device for dementia patients
  • Linda Burhans, author and nationally recognized expert on caregiver advocacy
  • Karen Truman, founder and president of Dementia Caregiver Resources Inc., cited by Assisted Living Today as one of the nation’s top memory care experts
  • Sunit Srivastava, managing member of the Legacy Health Medical Group, which specializes in the care of residents in nursing homes, and assisted and independent living facilities
  • Helen King, deputy director of the Pinellas-Pasco Area Agency on Aging

During breaks, conference attendees will be able to browse the booths of more than a dozen vendors offering products and services to assist caregivers. Door prizes, including a free beach resort weekend, will be awarded throughout the conference.

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Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, will join Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor on a panel exploring issues of concern to veterans at the second annual New Ideas Conference with Honorary Host Congressman David Jolly on April 8 at St. Petersburg College (SPC).

Joining the congressmen on the panel – entitled “Veterans’ Welfare: Why Can’t We get It Right? – will be Ret. U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Johnny Joey Jones, Chief Operating Officer of the national nonprofit organization Boot Campaign, and Ret. U.S. Army Command Sgt. Major Gary Littrell, Medal of Honor recipient.

The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, April 8, at SPC’s Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N, in the Digitorium, Room UP 160. The conference is presented by SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions (ISPS), and sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, Bright House Networks, Jabil, and Alakai Defense Systems. The event is open to the public and admission is free, but seating is limited. Registration is required at: http://solutions.spcollege.edu.

“This is a great opportunity for our community to come together with national, state and local leaders to discuss, in a non-political and non-partisan forum, some of the most pressing issues facing our country today,” said Congressman Jolly (FL-13). “It’s this type of open dialogue and consensus building that can lead to real solutions.”

Rep. Miller, who represents the First Congressional District in Florida’s Panhandle, and Rep. Bilirakis, who represents District 12 and serves as vice chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, are among a dozen national, state and local leaders who will discuss and offer innovative solutions to some of the most pressing policy issues facing the United States and Pinellas County. In addition to Veterans’ Affairs, the event will include panel discussions on the topics of Government Reform and Emerging Threats of Terrorism.

“We are honored to work with Congressman Jolly to address challenging problems in this non-partisan, non-rancorous format,” said David Klement, Executive Director of The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College. “Seeking solutions through consensus-building is at the heart of our democratic system – and the goal of all of our civic-engagement efforts at SPC.”

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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.


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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