Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 8, 2011: Bringing In Some Good Government

By Sylvia Gurinsky

There isn't a lot of confidence by many Floridians that the next two months - the session of the Florida Legislature - will bring much in good government, either from Rick Scott or lawmakers.

So more of the responsibility for promoting good government will rest on Florida residents.

Yesterday's edition of "Topical Currents," the fine interview show hosted on Miami's WLRN-FM radio station by Joseph Cooper, featured two of the best when it comes to good government: Bob Graham and Katy Sorenson.

Both have been building centers to train and encourage not just elected officials but constituents about being involved in the civic process.

The Bob Graham Center For Public Service at the University of Florida was created in part to improve the civic climate in the state, which is abysmal. Miami ranks the lowest among major cities across the United States in terms of civic participation.

The center's efforts are beginning to pay off. Starting with the 2012-13 school year, middle school students will be required to take a civics course and pass a civics test. Students in other grades will also receive various levels of civics education.

The Graham Center is giving the general public a chance to participate in the process, too. Think you can come up with a better budget than Scott and the Legislature? (You probably can, too.) You'll get your chance at the center's website, http://www.bobgrahamcenter.ufl.edu/home

Sorenson, who represented Miami-Dade County's District 8 from 1994 through last fall, is beginning the Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami. The initiative, whose official kickoff will be March 21, is to work with local elected officials and candidates on the mechanics of government, including understanding complex legislation, and on numerous issues relating to city, county, school and other local government bodies.

Here's a press release that previews the Good Government Initiative in detail:


During the WLRN interview, Graham mentioned the need for more firsthand engagement by citizens with the government.

These next two months will provide the opportunity. Here's the website for the Florida Legislature:


And the governor's office:


These are the places to follow their actions - and communicate your concerns.

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