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 speaker. 
Also on the agenda is our own Lita Epstein who chairs the CDD Board. She will
have fresh news about the pending lawsuit with Taylor Morrison regarding the
over payment our club fees. She will also bring us up to date on the planned road-
work on Cyprus Parkway and Marigold Avenue. You will want to hear what she
has to say! 
Our April meeting will be held via Zoom. The link is listed below.

SDC Member & CDD Chair

Join Our Zoom Meeting on Wed., April 14 at 7:00 PM
Click on the link below:
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.  

The New Normal
With the election of Joe Biden and the rapid roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, we
breathed a sigh of relief and welcomed the possibility of a return to normalcy.  
Unfortunately, as we’ve recently seen “the new normal” has hit some roadblocks, 
most notably increasing Republican voter suppression efforts in many states, and
escalating gun violence marked by the senseless loss of innocent lives. Both these
topics have a long and contentious history in the United States, with common sense
reforms facing unflinching opposition from the far right. With so much to discuss, I’ll
focus the remainder of this article on voting rights. 
Following the 2020 election, Trump’s big lie and failed attempts to overturn his loss,
many Republican controlled state legislatures have taken false claims of election
fraud as a cue to double down on voter suppression. A Washington Post article
published on March 11 noted that at least 250 new laws have been proposed in 43
states to limit mail, early in-person, and Election Day voting 
(How GOP-backed voting measures could create hurdles for tens of millions of voters).

New voting laws recently passed in Georgia have garnered the most attention.
Georgia’s Republican state legislature and Governor have made it harder to cast
absentee ballots, harder to cast ballots through drop boxes, and made it illegal to
bring food or water to voters waiting in line to vote – lines that will now be even
longer as a result of the GOP’s new election laws.

Perhaps most concerning, Georgia’s state legislature has given itself new powers
over local election boards, raising the prospect of nightmare scenarios in which
legislators simply reject results they disapprove of. What Trump attempted unsuc-
cessfully, to persuade state election officials to overrule his losses in the 2020
election, is now a distinct possibility in future elections, subject to the partisan
Georgia state legislature 
(With Georgia imposing radical voting restrictions, what happens now?).

Florida Republicans, not wanting to be left out of voter suppression efforts, have
proposed Florida Senate Bill 90, in Rules Committee at the time of this article. SB90
would limit vote-by-mail applications to one cycle, invalidating current mail ballot
requests ahead of the 2022 elections. Florida law currently allows mail ballot
requests to be effective for two general election cycles. Additionally, the bill pro-
poses to ban the use of drop boxes for return of mail
ballots completely.

With voter’s rights under attack, it is crucial to establish a reasonable baseline to
preserve voting rights in ALL states. H.R.1(For the People Act of 2021) seeks
to do that and more.

Here’s what H.R. 1, the House-passed voting rights bill, would do:
Establish a set of national voter registration and mail-in voting standards.
•    consistent practices and time frames
Requirement that Presidential candidates disclose their tax returns.
•    dishonest tax evaders like Trump need not apply!
Require non-partisan redistricting commissions.
•    attempt to eliminate gerrymandering
Changes in campaign finance law.
•    more public disclosure
New ethics rules for public servants.
•    imagine that!

H.R.1 passed in the US House and was received in the US Senate on March 11.
Can it pass in the Senate with Republican opposition and the filibuster intact?
Our democracy may very well depend on it.
Brian Fillette, President, Solivita Democratic Club
Your SDC Board at Work
Your Solivita Democratic Club is a vital part of our neighboring communities.
Thanks to our generous members, we have made a number of contributions to food
banks and other charities.
SDC Treasurer Rochelle Quinn presented representatives of St. Ann’s Food Pantry
with a $250 donation in March.
Join us on Zoom for our next SDC membership meeting.
Viewed best from your computer, but available on tablets and smart phones. Be sure
to buy a raffle ticket at our table at the Farmers’ Market.
We will give away some more neat prizes on Wed., April 14th!
“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men!  Only the Shadow knows.”

As children, we used to rush to the front door before school when we heard
those special knocks.  
It was my father coming home from his night shift, still dressed in his blues. With one
arm he hugged us and with the other arm he always had a box of donuts – which did not
take long for us to eat before we went off to school.

I learned a lot about policing from my father. One of his great assets was common
sense and respect for people. As a young lad I sometimes walked with him on his
beat and |watched how he handled the street people, especially knowing some of
their names. As a teenager, I often sat in the police station lobby waiting to drive him
home (since I had the family car) and listened to his responses to the questions of
the public, especially in the reporting of accidents. The best part of being a police-
man’s son was riding up and down the Charles River in the police boat. Prevention,
rather than confrontation, was his
style and he would so often remind us that there were “two or three sides to every

Over the years, policing has become a double-edged sword, with public opinions
ranging from “defund the police” to “fascists” to “thank God we have them.”  Sadly,
too many people react to news in generalizations of “black” and “white” without ever
understanding all the reasons and emotions that color the positive or negative
behavior or jumping to conclusions without knowing all the facts. An “us vs. them”
position leaves no room for negotiation, especially since both sides need the support
of the other if a safe environment is the desired goal. Professional police take time
to gather all the facts.

Most men and women choose the field of policing with idealistic and/or realistic
Once on the streets and in the cruisers, young graduates of the academies quickly
learn that dealing with the public is not always easy and can be quite dangerous at
times.  What may sound like a “slam dunk” call may end up with loss of life.  For
some the souring may come quickly or slowly for some members of the force while
others carry on with dedication and a sense of fulfillment.  Basically, police have a
ringside seat to “the good, the bad and the ugly” side of the public, as the old
movie title says it best.

Certain issues triggering peaceful protests, such as choke holding, excessive
force, racial profiling, giving speeding tickets to raise tax dollars, are quite
legitimate. On the optimistic side, sunshine laws and investigative reporting have
helped reduce those unacceptable and illegal actions that were too often sanctioned
or overlooked by police leadership and political leaders – in the same manner that
other major institutions, such as government, business, the military, churches and
scouting, did.  When the spotlight is on any one of us, we generally tend to behave

Lest all seems doom and gloom, I watch the cruisers riding up and down Pleasant
Hill Road every day, answering emergency calls and helping people involved in
automobile accidents. While I am quite aware that some police can be imprudent
and nasty at times, I still want their help and assistance if I have an accident or am
in serious harm.  I would rather live with the police of our country, whatever their
flaws, than with those in the totalitarian countries scattered across the world.

Watching some of the old movies on TCM and comparing them to the the reruns
of Law and Order, I am quite aware of how times have effected policing in general –
the old order has definitely upgraded.  But many of those changes have come from
the sweat and human persistence of lots of people over the decades, including the
ACLU, the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, the Stone Wall uprising of 1969,
Black Lives Matter, Supreme Court decisions (i.e., search and seizure and right to
an attorney) and technology (DNA, cell phones and the internet).  

What is certain is that both the police and the public need to communicate with
one another for the best interests of both sides.  As my father said, “there are two
or three sides to every story.
December 14, 2012
Adam Lanza murders his mother, then murders 20 babies (6 & 7 year-olds) and

6 school staff in Newtown, Connecticut.
Feb 15, 2018 — 17 killed in mass shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former  student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in …
On and on.

Having lost a child to an illness that modern medicine could not prevent, I was
finally furious  enough to be willing to take action.  I could not get out of my head
that these children and staff did not have to die and died only because guns were
so readily available.       

Every year approximately 40,000 Americans die as a result of gun violence, 
suicide, and improperly stored guns that children  access.  More than 14,000 were
gun homicides caused primarily by urban violence.  I could not understand why
this Country allowed this to happen.   

Dorothy Schwartz and I posted an invitation on Nextdoor, to a meeting
addressing gun violence in schools and communities. Thirty-five Solivitans heard
our call and came to our first meeting. “Seniors Citizens Against Assault Weapons
Violence,”  was our chosen name,  but approval of Club status was refused by 
Administration stating that the “Legal Department” would not approve a club with
that name.  We dummied down and became “Seniors for Safe Schools and
Communities,” which can mean anything imaginable, but we needed to get
approval for formal Club status in order to use the facilities. We continue
to have issues with Administration pertaining to our submissions for Reflections —
whenever we mention violence, suicide, gun statistics, our articles get edited and
even removed.  

We also immediately met opposition from some gun owners and two weeks
after we formed, another group, “Defense of the Second Amendment,” formed
to push back against our mission. They have written untruthful things about us,
accuse us of being “gun grabbers” and financed by Brady (we are not). They
have frightened gun owners by telling them that we are against their rights to
protect themselves.  We are against gun violence, not against the Second
Amendment, but it suits their false narrative to say otherwise.

We now have almost 200 supporters and informative e-mails are sent out
regularly.  Meetings are currently held monthly on Zoom.  A major goal is the
education of the public,including Solivita residents. To that end, we have offered
programs about gun safety, protecting ourselves in the event of a shooting,
differing attitudes towards guns, and legislation and legislators who share our
mission of common sense gun reform. We have communicated with Legislators,
lobbied in Tallahassee with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, organized a
bus with 57 Solivitans to join March for our Lives Rally in Orlando, and worked
with the Democratic Club to promote  political candidates who support
our mission.

Common sense gun laws we have advocated for include:   
    Universal background checks for gun purchases
    Red Flag Laws – removal of firearms from potentially dangerous and/or suicidal people
    Assault Weapons and Bump stock (convert semi-automatic guns to automatic)
    Safe Storage Laws – to prevent access by children and unauthorized people

We would like to invite you to join us in our mission of advocating for safe
schools and communities.  We meet the 2nd Tuesday of each month from
4-5:30 currently via Zoom.

If you would like to be included on our e-mail list, to receive our information,
including the Zoom code, please contact one of us.  You can also check out our
page on Nextdoor where we are listed as Seniors for Safe Schools and

Shelli Greenfield, President —
Dorothy Schwartz, Vice President —
Here’s What’s Going On in Florida Politics…
Flanked by Republican leadership, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that would
shield businesses and health care providers from COVID-19 lawsuits The
legislation was one of the Governor’s and lawmakers’ biggest priorities for the 2
021 Legislative Session. Sponsored by Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St.
Petersburg, the bills would protect any business or health care provider that
makes a “good-faith effort” to comply with government health guidelines.
Moreover, a plaintiff would need to prove with “clear and convincing evidence”
that a defendant acted with “gross negligence” when filing a COVID-19-related

No papers. Gov. DeSantis said he will take executive action this week to block
businesses from implementing “vaccine passports” in Florida.

Tax cut. Republicans unveiled a plan to slash the commercial rents tax and
use online sales tax collections to offset the revenue loss.

Welcome home. Legislation (HB 1473) to prioritize finding permanent homes
for Florida’s foster children is nearly through the committee process after
clearing its penultimate House panel.

Small-dollar donors. The House advanced a bill (HB 699) that would limit
contributions to political committees backing proposed constitutional
amendments during the signature-gathering process.

Extra C-note. The Senate Committee on Commerce and Tourism OK’d a bill
(SB 1906) that would bump Florida’s maximum unemployment benefit to
$375 a week.

Gut punch. Health care advocates described proposed funding cuts in the
health care budget as a “gut punch” to struggling hospitals and health
care providers.

Ain’t no sunshine. A bill (HB 997) that would create a 21-day public records
exemption on the personal information of college and university president
applicants is on its way to the House floor.

Raising the bar. A resolution (HJR 61) seeking to raise the threshold for
constitutional amendments to pass from 60% to two-thirds cleared House
Public Integrity and Elections Committee with a largely party-line vote.

Adios CRC? The House Judiciary Committee voted 16-4 in favor of a resolution
(HJR 1179) that would put an amendment banning the Constitutional Revision
Commission on the 2022 ballot. 
Best Regards, see you via Zoom on April 14th! 
Brian Fillette, President, Solivita Democratic Club 
Ellis Moose, VP, Beacon Editor

395 Village Drive
Suite C
Poinciana FL 34759

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