CFO Jeff Atwater Highlights January Meeting
Refocusing South Florida 912 to action!
The first meeting of South Florida 912 gently turned our focus from national politics to civic participation.
Dennis Lipp kicked off the meeting – with David DiCreczenso leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer. Shannon talked about changes to South Florida 912’s format, gearing ourselves more for action than monthly meetings – such as co-sponsoring events and local action, and having quarterly meetings. She also described a membership plan which will roll out shortly. All will be described on the website and in emails in the next few weeks.
MJ Dunstan described what it was like handing out toys to children and Shannon also recounted a different encounter with a family. Shannon said the next similar event will be Balloons and Smiles around Valentine’s Day (see last year’s event) and that along with volunteers to hand out the balloons, she’ll also need help with getting 50 balloons to the hospital.
Dennis described opportunities for the group to participate locally; to become known in the community for doing. Examples are adopt-a-road or participating in a Habitat for Humanity weekend. Many in the audience raised their hands when Dennis asked for potential volunteers for Habitat – so we’ll post more info on the website as plans firm up. No special skills are required – all are welcome.
Dennis then introduced our keynote – Florida CFO Jeff Atwater. Many 912ers have known Jeff for quite a while as he represented us in the Florida Senate, made policy as Senate President, and hit the ground running on Rick Scott’s dynamic cabinet.
He started his remarks by outlining his responsibilities as CFO and how Florida is unique in the varied tasks that fall in his court. In an overview of the “state of the state”, he pointed out some significant bright points – for example the reduction of the budget to its current $70B or so (which should be flat next year), and that spending is and will continue to grow at a slower rate than revenue. Florida’s size – 19M people make us 4th in the nation, soon to overtake New York as #3, if measured as soverign nation would rate in the top 20 worldwide for its $750B GDP. Good stewardship grants us an AAA bond rating – one of only 12 states in the country, and better than the federal government.
The audience was primed for the extensive Q&A session, and Jeff delved into economic development, the Scripps record, the cost to the state of extended unemployment insurance in the ‘fiscal cliff’ deal, implications of Obamacare and extensions to Medicare, one-stop-shopping for permitting as an attraction to incoming businesses, the process for deciding rate increases at FPL and Citizens, and several other areas.
He was complimentary to the 912, and encouraged our community involvement activities like hospital visits and Habitat projects, and the amount of focus we put on holding elected officials accountable (like the county commission for their budget). Always approachable and a skilled explainer of complex subjects, Jeff’s visit with us was a great way to start the year.
Other news: John Brooks talked about a letter to the editor he got published ( See Moral Decline the Key Issue in the list of letters); Anita Carbone spoke about the new coalition of county grass-roots groups – Alliance for Ethical Leadership – focused on action. Karen Hoffman, leader of DC Works for Us also spoke about January’s Florida Summit (of grassroots activists) in Orlando January 25-27. Madi Page mentioned that she now works for the Weekender – which can post upcoming meetings as well as politically incorrect letters and encouraged us to write. We also ended with 50:50 – with the winner donating the winnings back to the group.
Thanks to Mickey Polulack for the use of his sound equipment.
All in all – a great start to the New Year! Thanks to all who came.
Some pictures from the event: