Author Archives: Solivita Democrat

SDC May Beacon Newsletter

We have some much to tell you this month…better get started!
Don’t forget to thank all those moms in your life.

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Our meeting will be held In Person and thru Zoom.
The link is listed below.
Featuring:
ALLEN ELLISON
AND
ASIAN/PACIFIC AMERICANS
HERITAGE MONTH 
(See below)
Come to the Starlite Ballroom
Or Join Our Zoom Meeting:
Time: Wed., May 12 at 7:00 PM

Click on the link below:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81885665595?pwd=YzRwOXZCYlFuRFlFL2RqQUl1NWFUZz09
Meeting ID: 818 8566 5595
Passcode: 662050
Dial in only: 646 558 8656
Please login prior to start time. We will begin login at 6:45 pm.  
Early login gives you time to resolve problems that may arise while connecting. It also enables us to admit you before the meeting begins. You will be on standby until admitted to meeting.

BLACK LIVES MATTER
After watching with anticipation and anxiety, the verdict being read at the conclusion of the trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, after re-experiencing the horrific 9 minute and 29 second video of cruel and emotionless indifference for the life of another human being, a Black man, I was overwhelmed with emotion – first relief then joy.
 
I watched the celebrations that immediately followed, where sentiments of justice and accountability were often expressed. Yet it wasn’t long before the inevitable uncertainties and questions were asked… is this an inflection point or an anomaly in the long history of systemic racism in America? Only time will tell. 

Many of us in Solivita are active on NextDoor, and I was pleased to see the Blog from NextDoor administration “Standing in solidarity with Black neighbors” posted during the trial. This Blog post made clear NextDoor’s intention to align community guidelines and policies with their company values and support for the Black Lives Matter movement; and went further to state that All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter content will be explicitly prohibited when used to undermine racial equality or the Black Lives Matter movement. 

NextDoor also has an anti-racism hub, which I’ve found to contain helpful content such as:
What is unconscious bias? Office of Diversity & Outreach, University of California, S.F. CA
How Racial Bias Works and How to Disrupt it TED Talk by Jennifer L. Ebherhardt
White Privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack by Peggy McIntosh 

To drive lasting change for racial justice and equity, we must continue to Stand in Solidarity. Make your voices heard with elected officials, whether Democrat or Republican, that all forms of discrimination and inequality are not acceptable. 

And as Darnella Frazier, the brave young woman who was just 17 when she recorded George Floyd’s murder on video, reminded us with her courageous actions… if you see something, be a witness, and say something!

Hope to see you in the Ballroom on May 12th! Sincerely, 
Brian Fillette, President, Solivita Democratic Club
president@solivitademocrats.org
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HOSTING RUSSIANS
By JOE TOBIN, SDC Member
 
For twenty years I worked in Boston and often walked to the city’s waterfront for lunchbreak. On one walk some part of my brain signaled me to stop and pay attention. Quickly turning my head, I noticed the empty storefront I often passed now had Russian artifacts in its front window and a dangling chained sign inscribed “The Russian-American Center.” The office building itself was aptly named “Russia Wharf” — the site where early American ships trading between Boston and St. Petersburg loaded or unloaded cargo. Curious, I walked in, browsed around and chatted with the founder, Peggy Coleman, before I left. 

During my years working in Boston, I frequented the Center as my “Boston home.” Peggy started the Center in 1991, at a time when the newly formed Russian government was on a learning curve in governing. It was also helpful to Russia that the two presidents, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, had a good working relationship. During Clinton’s administration, the State Department sponsored a well-developed program that flew Russians to American cities, including Boston, to participate in specialized workshops that could be helpful in sectors of a changing Russian society. 

One morning Peggy phoned me to ask if I knew anybody who would host a Russian for a month for this government program. Being newly divorced and liking the challenge, I agreed. When I found out his placement was to be across the street from my office building at the transportation control center of the Metropolitan Boston Transportation Agency’s (MBTA), it made my hosting all the easier and I had full responsibility for him — unlike the guests that would follow him. On his arrival I met Michael at Logan Airport and the adventure began. We hit it off right away. 

Michael was a wonderful and easy guest. Two bonds drew us quickly together — trains and automobiles. Since his father was an English professor, communicating was easy. On one weekend trip we visited an antique automobile and old gun museum on Cape Cod, staying until closing time. His mentoring at the MBTA went extraordinary well (It also helped that the top MBTA executive in charge of his placement knew my uncle quite well during his pre-planning session). Traveling home on the train, Michael would tell me his day’s activities. On his departure at the airport, I watched his small commuter plane taxi on the runway and wonder how it would take off with all the luggage he packed. Others would follow. 

Each new guest still rode the train to Boston with me and then went to a downtown hotel to start the weekday with their fellow Russians who were flown to Boston from various parts of Russia. These groups were supervised by a private organization contracted by USAID. All my guests liked the workshops, especially when they visited some of the Boston-area businesses, sightseeing historic sites and a clambake on a Boston-area beach. Good food was an integral part of the program. 

On weekends, the guests were flexible. One of my guests wanted to attend an evangelical church. My dog-sitting neighbors volunteered to host him for a morning and took him to their church. Rather eerily, It just so happened that on that Sunday, an evangelical minister from Russia was preaching that day – and my neighbors, all musicians, had him for breakfast as well. My guest was thrilled at the attention he received. I also learned there were three Chinese restaurants in his northern city of Murmansk. 

My friends also asked me what was the top Boston attraction the Russians wanted to see. The answer. “Where is Filene’s Basement”? For those who do not know, it was a downtown Boston department store with three basement stores, markdowns aplenty and clothing galore. And those Russians rummaged through the clothing bens and bought just like all Bostonians did at the store. 

The program came and ended so quickly — like so many good things do. The Center is now winding down its operations. The USAID program plans are filed away in some storage facility. The whereabouts of most participants unknown. On the positive side, it will be a welcome change when Presidents Biden and Putin meet this summer and can agree to lower the temperature in the room, eliminate the “cat-and-mouse games, and promote realistic diplomatic, trade and military relations, as Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin achieved in the 90s. The dialogue be will tough going, but …. hope springs eternal!!!Read More

RECOMMENDED READING.

YOU DON’T BELONG HERE: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War.
By Elizabeth Becker.
The biographies center around female correspondents during the Vietnam War, their trials by fire since women were never allowed in military conflict and their unique reporting of aspects of the war. I learned a lot. As an alternative, you can watch the interview with the author on C-Span’s “QandA” internet site. The book but is worth reading for both men and women.

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month 
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is to celebrate and pay tribute to the contributions generations of Asian/Pacific Americans have made to American history, society and culture. Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month originated in 1978 when Congress passed it. This law directed the President to issue a proclamation designating the week beginning on May 4, 1979 as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. President George H.W. Bush later issued Presidential Proclamation 6130 on May 7, 1990 designating May 1990 as the first Asian American Heritage Month. 
May is also…
•   Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks on the project were Chinese immigrants.
•   Older Americans Month, established in 1963 to honor the legacies and contributions of older Americans and to support them as they enter their next stage of life.
•   Jewish American Heritage Month, which recognizes the diverse contributions of the Jewish people to American culture.
•   Mental Health Awareness Month, which aims to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses and reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses.
•   May 9 in Mothers’ Day
•   May 31 is Memorial Day
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Florida lawmakers took up a wide range of issues during the 60-day Session.
The 2021 Legislative Session ended April 30 with a traditional hanky-dropping ceremony in the fourth-floor rotunda of the Florida Capitol. 

Lawmakers took up a wide range of issues along with passing a budget for the fiscal year that will start July 1, 2021.
Here are 10 big issues from the session: 

BUDGET: Buoyed by billions of dollars in federal stimulus money and rebounding state tax revenues, lawmakers passed a record $101.5 billion budget for the upcoming year. The budget includes such things as bonuses for first responders, providing services to more people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and addressing effects of rising sea levels. Also, lawmakers scrapped proposed cuts in Medicaid funding for hospitals and nursing homes. 

COVID-19: Lawmakers passed a measure aimed at shielding businesses and health-care providers from lawsuits related to people getting sick or dying from COVID-19. Also, they approved making permanent a ban on COVID-19 vaccine “passports.” Gov. Ron DeSantis in early April issued an executive order to prohibit businesses from requiring people to show they had been vaccinated to gain entry — the issue that has become known as COVID-19 passports. 

EDUCATION: As part of a more than two-decade effort by Republicans to expand school choice, lawmakers passed an overhaul of school-voucher programs. In part, the plan would increase an income threshold so that a family of four making nearly $100,000 a year could qualify for vouchers. In higher education, the Senate considered controversial changes in the Bright Futures scholarship program before largely backing away amid an outcry from students and other opponents. 

ELECTIONS: Despite fierce opposition from Democrats, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a wide-ranging elections bill that includes placing new restrictions on voting by mail. Supporters said the bill, which addresses issues such as the use of drop boxes for mail-in ballots, is needed to ensure election security and integrity. But Democrats contended that it is designed to place barriers to voting and likened it to measures aimed at Black voters in the Jim Crow era. 

INSURANCE: After years of debating the issue, lawmakers approved ending Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system. Under the bill, motorists would no longer be required to carry personal-injury protection, or PIP, coverage. They would have to carry bodily-injury coverage. Also, lawmakers approved changes in the property-insurance system, including allowing larger annual rate increases for customers of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. 

PROTESTS: DeSantis quickly signed a controversial law-and-order measure that was sparked by nationwide protests last year after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The law creates a new crime of “mob intimidation,” enhances riot-related penalties and makes it harder for local officials to reduce spending on law enforcement. But opponents said the measure is rooted in racism and would give police too much leeway to arrest peaceful protesters. 

SOCIAL MEDIA: After former President Donald Trump was blocked from Twitter and Facebook early this year, Republican lawmakers passed a plan to crack down on social-media companies. The plan, a priority of DeSantis, includes barring social-media companies from removing political candidates from the companies’ platforms and threatens hefty fines. Critics questioned the bill’s constitutionality and described it as a “big government” move. 

TAXES: In a major win for business groups, lawmakers passed a plan that will require out-of-state online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases made by Floridians. The roughly $1 billion a year generated by the change will be used to replenish a depleted unemployment trust fund. Later, it will be used to offset a cut in a commercial rent tax. Florida businesses have long argued online retailers enjoyed an advantage because they didn’t collect sales taxes. 

TOLL ROADS: Two years after then-Senate President Bill Galvano pushed through a law to build and expand toll roads, lawmakers largely scrapped the plan during this year’s session. That included nixing the idea of building a toll road from Collier County to Polk County. Lawmakers, however, decided to move forward with projects such as extending Florida’s Turnpike west from Wildwood to connect with the Suncoast Parkway. 

TRANSGENDER ATHLETES: After the issue appeared dead in the Senate, lawmakers in the final days of the session passed a bill that would ban transgender female athletes from competing on high-school girls’ and college women’s sports teams. While bill supporters said transgender female athletes could have a physical advantage, opponents said the bill targets youths already at risk for suicide, ostracism and bullying.

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Journalist Christiane Amanpour will join United Facts of America
Christiane Amanpour is one of the most lauded voices in media across the world, and I’m so excited that she’s agreed to join our first-ever virtual fact-checking festival, United Facts of America. Christiane is CNN’s chief international anchor of the network’s award-winning, flagship global affairs program “Amanpour,” which also airs on PBS.

Neil Brown, president of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, will talk live with Christiane about her storied career, the problems of eroding trust in journalism, and, of course, the importance of facts.
United Facts of America is a four-day, virtual festival May 10-13 that will focus on facts and truth. As a registered guest, you’ll have the chance to hear from Christiane, Dr. Anthony Fauci, CNN’s Brian Stelter, Dr. Daniel B. Fagbuyi, The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson, NBC News’ Brandy Zadrozny, author Steven Hassan, Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner.

And you’ll get to meet some of my favorite fact-checkers from PolitiFact, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and FactCheck.org.

We’re so excited to welcome Christiane that we decided to make it easier for loyal PolitiFact readers like you to attend. You can use the promo code “FACTS2021” for $15 off the ticket as a way to celebrate our newly announced guest! (Be sure to click on the blue “Enter Promo Code” link when you go to select your ticket.) We attached a draft version of the schedule below, but don’t worry, we’re recording sessions in case you can’t attend each one live.

GET TICKETS
Thank you so much for your support of facts and independent fact-checking.We can’t wait to see you on May 10!
Truly,
Angie Drobnic Holan, Editor-In-Chief, PolitiFact
Each day of the festival features more than two hours of lively, thoughtful conversations about facts. Days are broken down by theme: democracy, COVID-19, technology and culture. More speakers will be added as they are confirmed.

Monday, May 10: Facts and Democracy — 3-6:30 p.m Eastern time
Wednesday, May 12: Big Tech, Big Questions — 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Eastern time
Thursday, May 13: Speaking the Truth — 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Eastern time

PS: This virtual festival is for everyone interested in fact-based expression, civic engagement and the role of facts in a free society. We’re still adding to the schedule, but see all of our confirmed speakers and sessions here. 

That’s it for this month. Thanks for your support!, 
Brian Fillette
President
Solivita Democratic Club
President@SolivitaDemocrats.org

Ellis Moose, III
VP/Beacon Editor
Beacon@SolivitaDemocrats.org

See our April Meeting Presentation (with links)

Click here for a PDF of our April Meeting Presentation with interactive links to more information.

News from Rep. Darren Soto

Click here to download a PDF of Rep. Darren Soto’s March 2021 Newsletter.

SDC April Beacon Newsletter

April 1, 2021 Have you ever wanted to be Rachel Madow? Or Don Lemon? Or even Oprah? Well, your Solivita Dem Club is providing you with that opportunity on Wednesday, April 14 when Democratic star Rep. Val Demings will be our “live and in person” guest … Continue reading

More Galleries |

See our March Meeting Presentation

Click here for a PDF of our March Meeting Presentation with interactive links to more information.

SDC March Beacon Newsletter

See our March Meeting Presentation

Click here for a PDF of our March Meeting Presentation with interactive links to more information.

Welcoming Spring! … and thinking about Climate Change

Welcome Spring, COVID-19 vaccinations, and the prospects of a return to normalcy! Remember to Spring Forward on Sunday, March 14!

Climate change and Energy management came to the forefront as we witnessed the effects of short-term thinking and ineffective planning in Texas.

‘Climate change is real’: Biden administration says Texas power crisis shows U.S. unprepared for extreme weather

Billionaire philanthropist and climate change activist Bill Gates has said “If humanity can successfully mitigate climate change, it’ll be the most amazing thing mankind has ever done.”

Bill Gates: This is what you — yes, you — can do to help prevent a climate change disaster

The science and economics are difficult enough and the politics make it even harder. Just as with COVID-19, Donald Trump and Republican leaders have denied science and failed to step up in the face of the climate crisis.

6 Ways Trump’s Denial of Science Has Delayed the Response to COVID-19 (and Climate Change)

Thankfully, President Biden has made addressing climate change one of his administration’s immediate priorities along with COVID-19, Racial Equality, Health Care, Immigration, the Economy, and Restoring America’s Global Standing.

The Biden-Harris Administration Immediate Priorities

FACT SHEET: President Biden Takes Executive Actions to Tackle the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, Create Jobs, and Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government

President Biden has set a goal of making the U.S. carbon neutral by 2050, which will require steeper emissions cuts than the U.S. has ever achieved. To reach it, coal power would have to wane into a footnote, replaced by renewables like solar and wind.

How Fast Will Biden Need to Move on Climate? Really, Really Fast

What can you do to help with climate change?

  1. Vote.

Sure, eating less meat or driving a hybrid will reduce your carbon footprint. But as an individual, the single biggest impact you can make is by voting in officials at all levels of government who take climate change seriously and offer science-based solutions.

  • Bug those you voted for to take action.

Still have an appetite for politics left after you made it out to the polls on election day? Then get busy bugging elected officials to take climate change seriously.

  • Vote with your dollars, too. 

Take the climate into consideration when making purchasing decisions. Let companies know that there is real demand for responsible products, and that consumers are willing to pay a bit of a premium for them.

The 3 Biggest Things Individuals Can Do to Fight Climate Change, According to Bill Gates

Brian Fillette
President, Solivita Democratic Club
president@solivitademocrats.org

Visit our website https://solivitademocrats.org/

Florida Republicans push limits on vote by mail

By Mary Ellen Klas, Tampa Bay Times

Proposed new law, SB 90 limits vote-by-mail applications to one election cycle and requires everyone who signed up for mail ballots in 2020 to reapply to get them in 2022.

Sen. Randolph Bracy, an Orlando Democrat, asked Baxley what evidence he had for a need for reform. When Baxley didn’t provide any, Bracy suggested the “elephant in the room” appeared to be that Republicans wanted to make the change to diminish Democratic participation.

‘Looks partisan’

“I hate to go here, but it looks partisan,” Bracy said, adding that as the state enters into an election cycle with another governor’s race, after the previous one was decided by 34,000 votes, the goal appears to be to suppress Democratic votes.

“I don’t get why now, when it’s been working,’’ Bracy said. “I mean it looks like there’s an effort to try to get a strategic advantage — knowing that Democrats overwhelmingly vote by mail, the motivation of the measure is partisan.”

Read the complete story here:
https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2021/02/17/florida-republicans-push-limits-on-vote-by-mail/

Taylor Morrison gears up for Solivita Grand development with over 6,000 homes

By LAURA KINSLER

GROWTHSPOTTER |

JAN 20, 2021 AT 4:15 PM

Taylor Morrison is revising the master plan for the proposed 2,717-acre Solivita Grand Planned Development just west of the Poinciana Parkway toll road. (CBRE)

After laying dormant since it was approved 15 years ago, one of the last major components of the Poinciana Planned Development is moving closer to construction.

Taylor Morrison Homes is seeking to amend the PD master plan for Solivita Grand, the mixed-use community that stretches across 2,717 acres from Cypress Parkway north along the Poinciana Parkway.

The previous plan, originally approved in 2006, split the project down the middle into a two villages. Taylor Morrison will unite the project into a single master-planned community with entitlements for 4,448 single family homes (including townhomes) and 1,653 multifamily units, for a total of 6,101 dwelling units. It represents a decrease of 2,150 dwelling units from the vested rights of the Poinciana PD.

Taylor Morrison’s revised master plan for Solivta Grand entitles the property for 4,448 single family homes (yellow) and designates specific areas for multifamily development, schools, and commercial areas.

The revised PD also entitles the property for 210,000 square feet of commercial uses — a reduction of 812,751 square feet of the vested rights.

Officials with Taylor Morrison met Wednesday with Osceola County’s Development Review Committee, which approved the application to move forward to the county’s Planning Commission. The Arizona-based homebuilder engaged planning firm VHB and Waldrop Engineering.

It follows a similar request in Polk County earlier this month for a comprehensive plan amendment to change the future land use and zoning on 91 acres of Solivita Grand directly north of the Solivita retirement community in Polk. Taylor Morrison plans to build 632 townhomes and a gas station with convenience store there on what becomes Pod A.

The Osceola PD divides the community into four pods, B-E, with a 4-lane divided spine road running parallel to the Poinciana Parkway between Cypress Parkway and Marigold Avenue. Pod B starts at the county line and comprises 796 acres, including an east-west connection at Koa Street, where a community park and the bulk of the neighborhood commercial (185,000 square feet) would be built.

Pod B would be approved for two multifamily communities along the spine road totaling 669 units, a K-8 school and 1,357 single family homes. The submitted plans indicate that most of the single family homes would be in gated communities.

Taylor Morrison, through a spokeswoman, declined to speak with GrowthSpotter about the project. The builder noted in some documents that portions of Solivita Grand would be age-restricted, continuing the development pattern of Solivita, which is in its final development phase.

Taylor Morrison planning over 800 townhomes in Solivita and St. Cloud

JAN 14, 2021 AT 5:03 PM

Pod C is the largest section, covering 1,134 acres. It would be entitled for 470 apartment units and 2,039 single family homes and townhomes. Pod D is the only section of Solivita Grand east of the Poinciana Parkway. It comprises 133 acres and would be approved for 514 apartments, 246 single family homes or townhomes and 25,000 square feet of neighborhood commercial.

The northernmost Pod E, which covers 654 acres, is separated from the rest of the community by wetlands. It be approved for 806 single family homes and connected to the rest of the development by a local road.

Solivita Grand is one of several projects Taylor Morrison absorbed when it acquired AV Homes in 2018. A year later, the homebuilder listed the former AV Homes properties in Poinciana and Kissimmee for sale. At the time, Orlando Division President Brian Brunhofer told GrowthSpotter the company wasn’t looking to divest of the entire portfolio.

“We are not divesting our remaining positions in Solivita, or the various other active communities we have in the Poinciana area, but rather running a parallel track to develop and build both of these parcels should we not find buyers we feel are an appropriate fit for these sites,” he said.

The major PD amendment makes a number of technical changes to the development plan, such as reducing the minimum lot size for single family homes to 40 feet and increasing the permitted height for apartment buildings from three to four stories. It also doubles the side-yard and front-yard setbacks to 10 feet and 20 feet, respectively, and reduces minimum rear yard setback to 10 feet.

The text of the amendment states that Taylor Morrison will develop the project over multiple phases and subphases utilizing the county’s subdivision process, in compliance with the standards in the land development code. It is anticipated that the developer will sell various phases of the property to third party builders during the life of the project.

Taylor Morrison is also prepping for construction later this year for Phase 3 of Stepping Stone, one of the former AV Homes assets in the at Solivita Marketplace PD in Poinciana, after selling out of Phase 2 in 2020. The approved plans call for 252 lots, with 90 lots in Phase 3A.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @byLauraKinsler. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.