One of the best things about getting together with other League members is the chance to exchange ideas and get to know people with similar interests. Sixty-members, representing 20 of the state's 29 Leagues, attended the Council of Leaders:Planning the NEXT Ninety! meeting held Friday and Saturday in Winter Park.
The event was packed with opportunities to gather information and socialize. Thanks to LWVOC secretary Nancy Rudner Lugo members could take a sunset boat tour of the chain of lakes or kayak on the Little Wekiva River. Local TV personality Mary Hammill spent 90 minutes Saturday demonstrating how to handle TV interviews and get the League's message across to the media.
State president Deirdre Macnab said the vision for the year was to win passage of Amendments 5 and 6 (Fair Districts), increase and diversify membership, build strong Leagues across the state and launch organizations in at least half of the counties.
"The challenges are big but our organization can make a big difference," Deirdre reminded the delegates.
Delegates voted to approve a $2 increase in the PMP. Retiring executive director Peg McGarity received a standing ovation. Top membership awards went to Sanibel, Miami/Dade and Alachua/Gainesville.
Lobbyist Ben Wilcox reported on the 2010 legislative session. He praised Gov. Charlie Crist because "he was able to stop a lot of bad things" from happening and expressed concern about the new budget, which Wilcox said was "not a good budget for the people of Florida." Wilcox said he was still hoping that Crist will veto a last minute amendment to Health Bill 1143 requiring women to have an ultra sound before they could undergo an abortion.
"The League plays a vital role in the legislative process - and actually it was a pretty good year," Wilcox said."It is depressing that the measure of success is what we kill rather than what we get approved ... There are powerful forces out there willing to pay anything to get what they want. But League members trump campaign donations."
Deirdre gave Leagues one minute to report on what they considered their greatest achievement during the year. Our president Charley Williams reported on the success of the League's partnership with WFTV-Channel 9 on Central Florida Spotlight. Other presidents talked about the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to attract and keep members. Some Leagues said they had switched some meeting times to make it easier for younger, working members to attend.
Members also turned in ideas for slogans and jingles to promote Fair Districts. Witty and on target, they will be forwarded to the Fair Districts campaign organizers. Remember 5 and 6 are the ones to pick. Vote NO on 7.