Message from Rev. Richard ‘Bud’ Murphy, UUJF President

Just Saying March 2022

 
 

Frederick Douglass is quoted as having said, "The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."As we stumble forward through current events, some suggest it is inappropriate to share historical experiences that might cause others to have unpleasant emotions, yet it is in feeling that we are moved to act.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is a Black, queer, scientist, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of New Hampshire and author of The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, & Dreams Deferred. She describes the work of scientists. “What we do in science is exist at the boundary of what humanity understands about the universe, and you try and push that boundary forward. And that means living in the place where things are not known, and that means being confused and asking a lot of questions. Science is really a practice of question asking.” In her book Ms. Prescod-Weinstein shares insights from science and her personal experience of oppression and the pain of exclusion and assault-a life of science informed by experience.

Ron Melvin in A Personal Trail of Tears, a Toastmaster Presentation, talks about the pain of his personal experience as a Black man. “If you woke up tomorrow as an African American male, would you be accepted by your friends and family? Would you be filled with anger, hatred, frustration, stress, and starving for respect and understanding?” 

Richard Huseman, PhD., consults with organizations and he coaches that reciprocity is a key quality of successful work relationships. Relationships can be oppressive if they lack reciprocity, an equitable exchange of value. 

Larry Fink, BlackRock’s Chief Executive, the world’s biggest money manager and flagship of capitalism, defends what he describes as “stakeholder capitalism”. “Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not woke,…It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper. This is the power of capitalism.”

Like an expedition into unknown territory, our “Democratic Experiment” cannot succeed without relationships that honor an equitable reciprocity, its success also depends on science/scouts that move out to the edge and bring back information free of distortions, deletions, and generalizations.  

Be aware of what you feel! Experience the impulse to act. Ground your actions in reality. Strive for reciprocity. Our collective choices create our future.  

 

Legislative Update

As the 2022 Florida Legislative Session draws to a close in two weeks, it will, no doubt, be hailed as a resounding success for Governor DeSantis and his Republican majority in both chambers.  Sweeping legislation to outlaw abortion after 15 weeks, limiting discussion in schools and the workplace of issues of importance to the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color, and preemption of matters of local control and autonomy to the state have all passed their committee stops and are headed for passage on their respective chamber floors. Other bills headed for passage will further restrain assimilation of immigrants, curtail Net Metering support for rooftop solar installations, and encumber the process for mail in ballots and voter validation even though the 2020 election uncovered no instances of voter fraud.

Strong opposition to these bills by Florida UUs and members of sympathetic partner organizations was evidenced by the number of responses to Action Alerts and forwarding to others not on the subscriber list who subsequently joined after responding to their legislators.

Redistricting

The Florida House and the Florida House have each agreed to congressional redistricting maps.  They will meet to submit one map to the Governor.

Some issues remain concerning the map proposed by the House Congressional Redistricting Committee:

  • Critics contend the proposed map would not fully reflect the growth of Hispanic and Black populations in Central Florida and South Florida.
  • Congressional District 5 would cease to be a minority-access district that stretches across a swath of North Florida.
  • The House proposal could increase the Republican seats by two to 18. The state’s overall number of districts is increasing from 27 to 28 this year because of population growth over the past decade. The Senate’s proposal, which was approved last month, could lead to 17 Republican seats.
  • The House would merge most of the two districts, potentially reducing Democrat seats in the Orlando area from three to two, while the Senate would keep most of the existing lines in place. Both chambers appear to craft the new 28th district in the Polk County area, which has long elected Republicans.
  • The Senate considered District 10 as a Black-performing district. The House doesn’t consider it a Black-performing district because of what it views as a population that has remained “stagnant.”

A longer article can be read at the Orlando Weekly titled “Legislature, Gov. DeSantis split three ways over Florida redistricting maps” by Jim Turner, NSF

Here is the HB 7503 Congressional Redistricting map approved by the Florida House and placed on the House Calendar for a vote. The Senate, House and DeSantis’ versions must all be reconciled before the end of the 2022 session on March 11.

Other than scheduling meetings with legislators virtually or in person, your phone calls and emails are the next most effective way of letting legislators know where their constituents stand. Continue to share these Alerts with others in your congregation and progressive organizations who share our vision for justice, compassion and equity.

As always, your comments, suggestions and questions are welcome.

 

News and Events from Congregations and UUJF

 
 

Solar Under Attack in Florida Legislature

 

Mary Dipboye, co-founder of Solar United Neighbors of Florida and co-chair of the Florida League of women Voters Clean Energy Committee and member of First Unitarian Church of Orlando, reached out to me as a board member of UU Justice Florida and asked if UUJF could speak out against the HB 741: Net Metering bill at a committee meeting. Emails flowed. A statement was written and agreed upon  by the UU Justice Board over a two-day period while we looked for a person to deliver the statement. Noticing that Ed Oaksford was part of the email discussion, I wrote and then called him and he readily agreed.

Already we have an empowering story. Ed did speak for UU Justice Florida to the House committee in opposition to the legislation. The bill unfortunately passed (modified by amendments), but we spoke up and perhaps insured that the amendments will continue intact or be improved.

Our comments were simple. Ed Oaksford of Tallahassee spoke for UU Justice Florida:

My name is Ed Oaksford and I reside here in Tallahassee.  I speak on behalf of UU Justice Florida, a recognized State Action Network that empowers citizens throughout the State of Florida on issues of public concern.

Florida is facing important decisions to address its energy challenges. Few states are so fortunate as Florida to have such a wealth of solar potential. Therefore, here in Florida we need to be encouraging homeowners to install solar, not deter them.  

The Florida legislature and state government is obligated to making Florida more resilient. Homeowner solar is one vital aspect of homegrown energy resilience.

Guided by our Unitarian Universalist principles and an analysis of the current energy situation in Florida, Unitarian Universalist Justice Florida urges a NO vote on HB 741 – Net Metering.

After the testimony I received the following from Mary Dipboye, who had started the discussion:

I think it is very important that faith voices be in the
room on this topic, in this case the Committee room of the Florida House.
So often UUs are in the room but are representing other organizations.
We're hearing that the ultimate fate of the bill is not yet known.
And that the push back is producing some "enthusiasm fatigue".
Our job is to keep up the pressure.
 
I thank Mary for her push and her nudge.  I am on the UU Justice Florida board because I want the Unitarian Universalist voice, a voice of faith, to speak out in the public arena as a positive voice, a voice that works to bring the beloved community closer—even if it is only a millimeter closer.  I thank Ed for testifying. I thank the Board for voting twice as language was finalized.
Submitted by Martha Harnit, UUJF Secretary
 

Editor’s Note: Ed Oaksford (UU Church of Tallahassee) spoke in opposition to HB 741 at the February 21 meeting of the House State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee. You can view his testimony at minute 50 of the Committee video.

HB 741 is on the House Special Order Calendar for a vote as soon as March 1 and companion bill SB 1024 is on the agenda of the Senate Rules Committee also scheduled for March 1. If passed in committee it must then go to the Senate Floor for a final vote. Any differences between the two bills must be resolved between the two chambers before the session ends on March 11.

 
 
 
 
 
UUJF Funding Announcement
Congregational Member Funding Opportunity

 

UU Justice Florida (UUJF) is offering a funding opportunity to kick start, energize or supplement your Unitarian Universalist inspired outreach work.

What we are offering

UUJF is offering grants of up to $1,000.00 to aid a UU group’s work that supports UU Justice Florida’s major goal of promoting justice, equity, and compassion in public policy in Florida. UUJF’s core issues are Democracy in Action, Environmental Justice, Public Health and Safety, Immigration Reform, LGBTQ+ and Gender Justice.

Request an application here.

Applicants need to complete the Google Application form to receive funding for your UU group’s work and submit it to UUJF for review and acceptance.  Once your request is approved by the UUJF Board, you, your minister or/and Board president will be sent the approved application and they will be asked to acknowledge your grant and plans. Please remember, your project’s purpose(s) must align with UU Justice Florida’s goals and core issues as described above. 

Your responsibilities

You will be responsible for saving receipts of expenditures and writing a simple narrative report regarding the results of your project within 6 months of grant acceptance. If the project continues past six months, a preliminary report and receipts collected to that point needs to be submitted, with a final report and receipts by the end of 12 months.

More detailed information will accompany the application.

 

Opportunities for Congregations

Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) Action in West Palm Beach

On April 2, 2022 Wendy’s boycott is marching in Palm Beach

 
 

From the CIW website:

Get ready, Fair Food Nation!  Major Wendy’s Boycott mobilization will bring the fight for farmworkers’ fundamental human rights to Palm Beach, hometown of Wendy’s Board Chair Nelson Peltz and the company’s largest shareholder Trian Partners.

Rev. Tony Fisher, minister of the UU Congregation of Greater Naples, member of the CIW/AFF Faith Working Group, invites Unitarian Universalists and friends to show up with CIW on April 2, 2022.

Rev. Fisher reports that Mary Katherine Morn, president and CEO of the UU Service Committee, is likely to be marching in person.

For march details, contact Rev. Fisher at minister@uunaples.org

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Please submit news and upcoming events in your congregation for the April newsletter to info@uujusticefl.org in time for publication March 25.

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Unitarian Universalist Justice Florida
P.O. Box 1310 | Orange Park, Florida 32067
  info@uujusticefl.org

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