LeRoy Collins Institute: The Double Whammy Facing Florida’s Counties

This month LeRoy Collins Institute released their report The Double Whammy Facing Florida’s Counties outlining what the one-two punch of economic trends and state mandates is doing to Florida’s counties. That includes public safety spending dropping precipitously. Be sure to download a copy from the LeRoy Collins Institute website HERE.

This just in from the “ewww” desk

Another chapter in the continuing pitifully juvenile civil dialogue, this one from right here in Florida no less.

First there was this statement by Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz referring to her semi-neighbor Representative Allen West on the house floor:

President Obama has vowed to veto this bill which ends the Medicare guarantee. Incredulously the gentleman from Florida who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from South Florida. Read all »

Florence Snyder: Happy Father’s Day to all the honorary recipients of the Joseph Snyder Professorship in Generosity

This is my sixth Father’s Day without my father. I can’t say that I miss the heart-to-heart talks because we didn’t have very many.  Like most men of what Tom Brokaw christened “the greatest generation,” Daddy wasn’t an emo guy.

When I was away at school, my mother and grandmother and even my big brother would send me cards and letters filled with neighborhood gossip and newspaper clippings and “I can’t wait ‘til you’re home’
Daddy did not write letters. Instead, he’d cook up excuses for unannounced visits and it annoyed me no end to be “checked up on.” Read all »

Welcome St. Petersburg Village Square

We are delighted to welcome a new Village Square location… The Village Square: St. Petersburg. Our new location is under the leadership of The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College. We are particularly looking forward to meeting with Janet Long, Senator Dennis Jones and David Klement.

Best blog comment policy ever…

This by way of Poynter (and Florence):

The Big Picture, a finance blog, offers these guidelines for user comments: “Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.”

On Pro Publica

Think Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman on the big screen as Woodward and Bernstein of Watergate fame. Think My Lai massacre, Love Canal.

Think Ford Pinto.

If you haven’t given investigative journalism a whole lot of thought lately, you might want to start. Because in the past it’s been an integral part of America’s civic life, it’s natural to assume its out there alive and well like some kind of invisible democratic force field, but the reality is that along with the rest of journalism, everything about investigative journalism has changed virtually overnight. Turns out it’s going to need a new business model. Read all »

Ron Sachs Communications: The Rules of Civil Political Disagreement

Kudos to Michelle Ubben of Ron Sachs Communications this morning for demonstrating leadership in proposing specific (and smart) rules we should follow in our civic conversation:

In a recent Facebook exchange, the Collins Center’s Tony Carvajal and I were bemoaning the lack of civility in modern political discourse. I suggested that what’s needed now is a Hoyle’s for Civility that outlines what’s fair and what scores below the belt.

I invite everyone who is tired of the current climate of rhetorical distortion and hate politics to weigh in and suggest what the Rules of Civil Political Disagreement should be. Here are a few thoughts to get us started (read them – and please take a moment to add your thinking HERE).

Imagine if Michelle’s “Hoyle’s for Civility” became the civic gold standard… we might just solve a problem or two.

FloridaThinks: A little too much free speech?

Apparently the Florida House passed a bill this session as a response to a consent decree the ACLU got Santa Rosa County school system to sign prohibiting prayer and religious activities by students and staff at school events. FloridaThinks has a fascinating story today on the potential unintended consequences of the bill:

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Association in Washington, D.C., says the legislation may unshackle student newspapers from the usual oversight of school administrators, effectively putting Florida among seven states – none in the Southeast – that have passed laws endorsing free expression for students. Student papers running frank discussions of sex on campus, drug-use, and other provocative topics usually face few restrictions in the states that have approved such laws, LoMonte says.

Read the whole article HERE.

FloridaThinks.com: Bob Graham and Chris Hand

“The issue, I think, is not big government, small government, or government is our friend, government is our enemy. It’s the much more difficult task of figuring out how in a complex society the role of government can best serve the interests of people. It’s not so much a matter of quantity as it is of quality.” –Florida Senator Bob Graham in today’s FloridaThinks, Read the interview HERE.

Florida Governor Reubin Askew: Wisdom of an elder statesman

Just stumbled upon this old interview by former Florida Governor Reubin Askew in a Florida Trend interview:

I believe partisanship is very important to the process. The very fact that you have separation of powers encourages conflict. That’s what it’s intended to do. When you hear that the House and Senate are bickering again, remember it’s the system that encourages them to bicker. You may not like some of that. But if everyone gets along sweet and roses, you wonder how much is going on behind closed doors…

On the question of ethics, I look at life as a continuum on which one side is dark and the other side is light. What happens to a lot of good people is that they get marginalized. They will rationalize that one decision in the very lightest gray. The next time it’s a little darker. Then the next time it’s imperceptible. Then one day they wind up in the dark, and they don’t know how they got there.

Florida Trend: Civility in Public Life

Florida Trend Publisher Andy Corty writes about “the hug” with President Obama that has symbolized the nosedive Governor Crist has taken in the polls:

Think back to late January. President Barack Obama was scheduled to appear in Tampa to announce federal funding for a high-speed rail line connecting Tampa and Orlando and eventually Miami. That was the real news, but the question getting wide publicity was this: Would Gov. Charlie Crist greet the president as he did in Fort Myers last February or would he avoid Obama as he did last October in Jacksonville?

Partisan politics unfortunately played a major role in these decisions. After the “man hug” of February ’09, Crist was pummeled from the right wing of the Republican Party for consorting with the Democratic president. The pressure grew so intense that Crist, running for the U.S. Senate, pointedly stayed away in October, saying he wasn’t even aware the president was traveling to Florida.

Such a political game runs counter to the Crist I know. He is a man who is uncommonly polite. He has friends of many stripes. He has always accepted criticism without knocking the critic. And he has typically governed toward the center. While we may personally differ on some significant policy issues, I’ve never felt anything other than warm collegiality from him. Perhaps I’m a starry-eyed political neophyte, but there’s something really “American” about fair-minded discourse between people who don’t see eye-to-eye on policy topics.

By chance I was at the Governor’s Mansion for a reception the night before Obama was to appear in Tampa, so I asked Crist about his intentions. “Of course I’m going to be with the president,” Crist replied. “It’s about jobs for Floridians. With unemployment over 11% here, there’s nothing more important than jobs.”

That was the right decision, and I applaud the governor for greeting Obama. But I wish he had also said that as governor — and as the official representative of 18 million Floridians — he would always greet the president of the United States when he visited the great state of Florida. It’s a question of civility.

My Purple Post: Civility Takes a Road Trip

florida cartoon state(Visit our neighbors over at Purple State of Mind to read this post and pull up a chair and visit while you’re at it.)

It’s a lonely, lonely cross I’ve borne. Advocating for political civility is a sort of Siberian No Man’s Land: It’s quiet here, you never quite know when you’ll get the next meal and if you need surgery you’ll probably have to do it yourself.

Well, not. any. more. Last week I spent a glorious 3 days in a veritable city-wide street festival of civility.

Graciously invited to Venice (Florida, not Italy, although perhaps we should hold our reunion there) to a Because It Matters training session, I joined other trainees for all civility, all the time.

Because what matters, you ask?

Silly you.

Here, for your reading pleasure, are 25 previously little known facts about civility (although now that they’ve made the Purple blog will be common knowledge):

1. There is such a thing as a civility expert, called…uh….Civility Experts. And goodness knows we need them to fan out into a civility fleet, no less powerful than our Navy. And in case you’re suspicious that this might be a plot hatched by the (Republican/Democratic, circle one) side of the political aisle, Civility Experts is actually the brainchild of Canadian Lew Bayer who finally decided she’d had enough. So in America’s vast partisan divide, she’s Switzerland. Or – uh – Canada?

2. There will be an International Civility Conference in 2011. You’ll know where to find me.

3. There is actually a website You’re So Rude.com. I’m thinking of sending a few folks the link. Do you think that would be rude?

4. Civility is really only civil if everyone gets the same respect from you every time. That’s everyone, regardless of how much you disagree with them, you listening 99% of the Senate and House?

5. There is an actual website Rude Busters.com. I might send another whole group of people this link.

6. University of Virginia students, under the tutelage of a renowned expert on George Washington and the one and only Miss Manners are rewriting George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation for this century.

7. Technology has created daunting problems in our effort to be civil to each other. The constant electronic connection may make us wired to the internet, but it distracts us from being “wired” to each other.

8. Attending workshops about not allowing technology to make us interpersonally rude nearly made my head explode because I couldn’t check my email.

9. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about asking ourselves three questions before passing something on: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it worthy?

10. Maybe more people should read the Wall Street Journal.

11. Maybe the Wall Street Journal editorial page writers should read the Wall Street Journal. (And to be fair, everyone who writes in every other paper on – well – the planet.)

12. There is something called social intelligence and it’s a really important thing for people to have in a civilized society. We have less and less of it.

13. There is something called social capital and it is a really important thing for communities to have because it is what makes us a civilized society.

14. There is such a thing as “hurry sickness” that causes headaches and insomnia.

15. I have to hurry up and make my deadline to get this blog post up and I have a headache because I didn’t sleep last night.

16. There’s a great exercise for children (or adults who act like children) on thinking before you speak (or write a post on a website, are you listening, people): Give everyone a tube of toothpaste and race with each other to squeeze all the toothpaste out. Declare a winner! Then give everyone a knife and have them race to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Point made.

17. I think as a society we may be squeezing all the toothpaste out of the tube.

18. Our civility trainer knew someone (who called her “little lady”) who plucked a hair from his head and used it to floss his teeth in front of her.

19. Ewww.

20. At a buffet, you’re supposed to serve yourself one course at a time.

21. At the buffet at the conference, I forgot to serve myself one course at a time.

22. Asian women cover their mouths when they smile because they consider their gums unattractive.

23. The key to stopping bullying is activating bystanders.

24. I think it’s officially time now to activate a whole country full of bystanders.

25. Civility and diversity training is a growth industry. Go figure.

–Liz Joyner is the Executive Director of The Village Square, a nonprofit devoted to improving the civility and factual accuracy of the political dialogue. Liz now has really gray hair, but really good manners.

Village Square recommends conservatives criticize policy, not presidential hug

Referring to Marco Rubio’s primary challenge of Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the criticism of Crist from the right:

‘What has gone wrong in this country when even if you’re a Republican or a member of the party that’s not in the White House that all of a sudden you have leprosy because you’ve hugged the President of the United States. He’s the President of the entire country… It’s absurd and I keep thinking that people who are just right of center and just left of center have to be thinking “What’s wrong with the country…” ‘ –Michelle Bernard, Independent Womens’ Forum on Hardball