FALL GUIDE 2008 - CIVICS 


You should vote; it's kind of ; important. But that's not the point to be made here. Rather, voting on Nov. 4 is the least you can do in these pivotal times. (The registration deadline is Oct. 6, so if you're unsure of your voting status call your local supervisor of elections office; if you're an ex-felon wondering if your voting rights have been restored, call the local offices of ACORN at 407-423-9832 and they'll help you find out.) In fact, ACORN has announced one of the largest voter-registration drives in history. Since this election will come down to turnout, registration could be a kingmaker. MoveOn.org is also pushing to register 500,000 young (read: Obama) voters, and they'll even give you a T-shirt if you donate $12 or more (www.moveon.org).

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But your local races have more of an immediate impact on your life than the national ones. Some highlights from this cycle:

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  • There's going to be a new sheriff in town to replace Kevin Beary, who has ruled since 1992. Thankfully, two qualified candidates – Jerry Demings and John Tegg – are vying for the job.
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  • U.S. Rep. Ric Keller is running again, and he needs to be swatted like a fly in your hair. There's a guy named Alan Grayson who can do the job.
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  • Speaking of being swatted, U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, the Jack Abramoff–linked conservative hardliner, needs to go. Thanks to Suzanne Kosmas, we have a chance to get rid of him.
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But do more than vote. Volunteer. Give up your Saturday morning to go knock on doors for one of these important campaigns, or join a voter registration drive. Give money, if you have money to give. Know your stuff: It's the only way to see through the political mailings and television commercials. These times demand that all of us give our pound of flesh in hopes of a better country and community.

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Consider this: At the first Congress in 1789 in New York City, neither the House nor the U.S. Senate had enough members present to reach a quorum for two full months into their first session (which meant that George Washington's election couldn't be ratified). Why? Because some members were traversing hundreds of miles on foot and horseback, leaving their businesses and livelihoods for a meager per diem wage. That's sacrifice.

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Need more encouragement? The Bush administration has shredded the Constitution, started two wars and finished neither, sat on its hands as a hurricane wiped out an American city, ignored global warming while allowing oil companies to write energy law, overseen a ballooning U.S. debt and deficit, outed a CIA agent for political purposes, fired U.S. attorneys for political purposes, abandoned habeas corpus, installed doctrinaire right-wingers on the Supreme Court and generally ran an administration so corrupt and pathetic it makes President Nixon look like a paragon of virtue.

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You should be angry.

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Do something about it.

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Jeffrey C. Billman

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Sept. 5-Nov. 7

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Coffee Talk Here's your chance to give city officials a piece of your mind over coffee. 8:30 am-9:30 am Friday. Winter Park Country Club, 761 Old New England Ave., Winter Park; free; (407) 599-3428.

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Sept. 26-Dec. 26

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Orange County Young Democrats Speakeasy Enjoy drinks and the company of progressives and representatives from local and national campaigns. 5:30 pm-8 pm Friday. The Beacon, 100 S. Eola Drive; free; (407) 760-7061.

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Sept. 28

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Obamawareness Festival Learn about Barack Obama and his platform, register to vote and enjoy live music. Proceeds go to the Brevard for Obama group. Noon-9 pm Sunday. Cocoa Beach Pavillion, Tom Warriner Blvd., Cocoa Beach; $5; (321) 536-1428.

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Oct. 1

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Ethics Board Speaker Series Orange County League of Women Voters President Dierdre McNab. 7 pm Wednesday. Winter Park City Hall, 401 S. Park Ave., Winter Park; free; (407) 599-3236.

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Green Business Learn how to make environmentally friendly changes to your small business. 7:30 am-10 am Wednesday. Disney Entrepreneur Center, 315 E. Robinson St., Suite 100; free; (407) 420-4850.

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Oct. 4

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2008 Walk for Farm Animals Raise funds for and awareness of Farm Sanctuary's rescue and advocacy efforts. For more details, visit www.walkforfarmanimals.org. 11 am Saturday. Ethos Vegan Kitchen, 1235 N. Orange Ave.; $15-$20; (407) 228-3899.

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Oct. 9

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Sign of the Times Bring your own signs, bumper stickers, T-shirts and buttons to voice your opinion about politics. And drink good beer. 5 pm Thursday. Little Fish Huge Pond, 309 E. First St., Sanford; free; (407) 321-2264.

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Oct. 11

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The Basics for Effective Neighborhood Organizations Forum discussing ways to create community security and programs. 9 am-noon Saturday. Orange County Regional History Center, Heritage Square; free; (407) 836-8500.

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Oct. 14

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National Crime Stop Program An informative and entertaining presentation on how to avoid becoming a victim. 10 am Tuesday. University Club, 841 N. Park Ave., Winter Park; free; (904) 685-2201.

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Oct. 18

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Adopt-a-Tree Giveaway Orange County residents get two free trees. 8 am-noon Saturday. Tibet-Butler Preserve, 8777 State Road 535; free; (407) 254-9200.

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Oct. 19

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Campus and Community Sustainability Conference A focus on building stronger, more sustainable foundations in our institutions and personal lives, organized by the Council for Sustainable Florida. 7 am-4 pm Sunday. University of Central Florida, Student Union, 4000 Central Florida Blvd.; $59-$189; (407) 823-2000.

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Oct. 20

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State of Downtown Mayor Buddy Dyer and guest panelists discuss "Downtown Orlando: The Engine for Prosperity." 11:15 am-1 pm Monday. The Ballroom at Church Street, 225 S. Garland Ave.; $50-$65; (407) 228-3891.

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Oct. 30

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2008 Akerman Senterfitt Regional Hobnob "Politics in the Park" Congressman John Mica will headline and be honored for his efforts on commuter rail in Central Florida. 4:30 pm Thursday. SeaWorld, 7007 Sea World Drive; $75; (407) 835-2448.

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Nov. 13

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The Road to the White House 2008: Epilogue and Prospects for the New Administration Stephen Wayne, Georgetown University professor, adds to his book, The Road to the White House. 2:30 pm Thursday. University of Central Florida, Student Union, 4000 Central Florida Blvd.; free; (407) 823-2000.

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Nov. 15

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Going Green Fair The Sierra Club of Central Florida and the Central Florida Library Cooperative present this festival of eco-friendly products and services, as well as an exhibit by area children. 10 am-4:30 pm Saturday. Winter Park Public Library, 460 E. New England Ave., Winter Park; free; (407) 623-3300.

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FALL GUIDE 2008 - Table of contents

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