Monday, March 21, 2011

Antidote to Gerrymandering

New software is enlarging citizen involvement in redistricting, according to an article in today's USA Today:

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Political science professor Chad Murphy often sees senior Mike Kappert wandering around the University of Mary Washington campus with his laptop open and a map of Virginia state Senate districts up in his Web browser.

Kappert, working around the clock to meet a tight deadline, is using new software to draw an updated Senate district map — one he hopes will win his team a $2,000 top prize in a statewide competition when the winning maps are announced Tuesday. More important, he hopes the Virginia Legislature will consider his map as it adjusts political boundaries to the 2010 Census.

Across the USA, college students, citizen activists and political junkies are using similar software to break a mapmaking monopoly held for decades by state lawmakers.

"The technology has evolved so much that it's become almost entirely democratized," says Bob Holsworth, chairman of Virginia's bipartisan redistricting commission. "This will be a fact of political life from now on."

One of the new programs is described on Public Mapping Project from George Mason University.

See also:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Florida reference for nuclear emergency preparedness

Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program

Florida is home to five commercial nuclear reactors located at three sites. Two additional reactors are located in Alabama near the State line.

  • Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant (NW of CR)
  • St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant (SE of FT. Pierce)
  • Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant ( S of Miami)
  • Farley Nuclear Power Plant (SE of Dothan, Alabama)

Plant Status Report - current operational status of commercial nuclear power plants.

Daily Events Report - current events reported to the NRC Operations Center by NRC licensees .

The Division of Emergency Management, has the overall responsibility for coordination of the response to a nuclear power plant emergency by federal, state and local agencies. The Division also has the overall authority and responsibility for updating and coordinating the plans with other response organizations.

Much more here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Barbara Ford-Coates' Presentation

Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates's presentation on taxation and government history is one of the most popular and frequently requested. Here's her bio, and her presentation can be downloaded here.

Sarasota Clerk of the Court in Image and Text

Karen E. Rushing wears several hats, as members of the Civics 101 come to learn.

Here is her Annual Report as Sarasota County's Clerk of the Court. Here's a link to an attractive online presentation of the report.

The Clerk's Web site is here.

An update from Alicia Accardi of the Clerk's Office:
"Since it’s Sunshine Week: Here is a link to the Clerks in the Sunshine section of our website.

Here is a link to the Performance Measures area, which lists fiscal management reports, timeliness reporting, out Annual Report and the Balanced Scorecard that we use to keep on task throughout the year."

The History of the Courthouse - (click to enlarge):

(Images and report courtesy of the Clerk of the Court).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Celery Fields set to open next month

From Community Connections, Sarasota County's Newsletter:

Why are there no trees on the new hill in the Celery Fields?

CeleryFieldsHillThe new hill in the Celery Fields regional stormwater facility, east of Interstate 75, was built from excavating stormwater retention ponds. The "recycled" soil was transported across Palmer Boulevard and used to create the large hill. Some trees will be planted on the top soon. However, the construction contract warranty calls for no holes to be dug in the hillsides for one year because it could lead to erosion.

Residents will be able to soon enjoy the new 12-foot-wide paths for running or walking up and down the hill -- and the separate trails for bicycles -- as soon as the facility is open to the public. The ribbon cutting is planned for April 19 at 5:30 p.m., with a family fun walk and 5K run following the ceremony.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Welcome Class of Spring 2011

The class of Fall 2010 (if I may presume to speak for them here) welcomes the class of Spring 2011 to Sarasota Civics 101. Through the grapevine, we hear there's been a modification to the course syllabus - instead of a tour of the County's Health Dept. (which is closed at night), the class will hear a lecture about the escalating use and abuse of Oxycodone - a topic highly relevant to Florida just now.

Here's hoping your voyage will be as memorable as ours was.