Tuesday, November 08, 2005

My Last Steering Committee Meeting

Last night was my final Steering Committee Meeting with the Committee for Fair Elections. I didn't really want to go, seeing as I'm moving to Japan in 10 days (gulp), but Shirin made me go so that I could update the blog and collect any incoming petitions.

She totally tricked me. She only made me come so that they could give me a cake and wish me well. Thanks, Everybody. It was a great six months.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

One year ago today....

If the election were held today instead of one year ago John F. Kerry would have trounced George W. Bush. What a difference a year makes. If only....

Sunday, October 30, 2005

16 Days Left

I'm leaving for Japan on November 18. My last day at LCV is going to be November 15. It looks like my involvement with Florida politics is coming to an end.

I promise I'll come back in 2008 to help get Hilary elected to the White House.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

LTE by Deb Callahan


Re: Bush defends gulf drilling compromise, Oct. 7.

I'm truly sorry that Gov. Jeb Bush, who recently said, "I don't know who the League of Conservation Voters are," has missed the great work that we have been doing for the past 35 years on behalf of candidates all over America - candidates who consistently support our environment. In Florida, we have 16,000 supporters and an Orlando office with a full-time staff working every day to inform the public about environmental issues and the voting records of their elected officials.

While we understand 2004 was a busy year for the governor, allow me to give a glimpse of what the league was able to accomplish in the Sunshine State:

284,383 doors knocked on.

110,459 contacts made.

Bolstered by a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign the last two weeks of the campaign, the largest single state ad buy in the history of the environmental movement, 800 league volunteers knocked on 83,000 doors the final weekend of the campaign. Who noticed?

". . . the League of Conservation Voters . . . launched . . . a $3-million TV ad buy in Florida, attacking oil drilling off the state's coast." - Wall Street Journal, Oct. 21, 2004.

"But the Democrats are bolstered by tens of thousands of paid staffers and volunteers working with a coalition of organizations formed to unseat (President) Bush . . . The League of Conservation Voters is one of the better known." - Orlando Sentinel, Oct. 25, 2004.

We're truly sorry that Gov. Bush did not have the opportunity to observe our work on behalf of pro-environment candidates.

-- Deb Callahan, president, League of Conservation Voters, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Press Release: October 6, 2005


Gov. Bush Joins Rep. Katherine Harris On Florida Varsity Flip-Flop Team

The Flip-Flops On Offshore Oil Drilling Keep Coming

WASHINGTON - The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) today announced that Gov. Jeb Bush has joined Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) on the Florida Varsity Flip-Flop Team with his sudden reversal on coastal drilling. Now a supporter of drilling rigs off Florida beaches, Gov. Bush had in the past said "there will be no drilling in the Lease Sale 181 Area off the coast of Florida under my watch." ("Gov. Bush reverses stance, now supports oil drilling rigs in eastern Gulf of Mexico," Orlando Sentinel, 10/5/05).

With a possible vote in the House on new energy legislation in the coming weeks, LCV also calls on Rep. Harris to clarify her own inconsistent position on drilling for oil off the Sunshine State coast.

This past April, Rep. Harris voted for an energy bill that could have paved the way for drilling off Florida's coast by weakening an important safeguard against new drilling projects, the Coastal Zone Management Act. Then, in a political makeover after deciding to seek higher office, she introduced a largely symbolic bill to ban drilling off Florida's coasts and voted against the final energy bill.

Most recently Rep. Harris contradicted herself when her spokesperson said that "the congresswoman's position is firm [against drilling]." In the next paragraph of the same news story, Rep. Harris left open the door to allowing oil drilling just over 100 miles from Florida's coastlines, when she said she was "willing to listen" to arguments by drilling proponents ("Florida could bow to drilling," Orlando Sentinel, 9/19/05).

"With yesterday's comments, Gov. Bush joins Rep. Katherine Harris on the Florida varsity flip-flop team," said LCV Florida Campaign Manager Shirin Bidel-Niyat. "As the debate about a new energy bill moves forward in Congress in the coming weeks, the question for Rep. Harris is: will you side with Florida families who want to protect the state's coasts or with the oil industry and Gov. Bush who would rather erect drilling rigs?"

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Veg Fest

LCV had a very successful day at Veg Fest 2005. The event looked like it might be a washout when it started pouring at 11 AM. Lucky for us, the rain only lasted about 20 minutes.

The tent kept us mostly dry, but my beautiful LCV display got ruined. It was too windy to stand it on the table, so I had hung it from the tent. The rain and wind split it into three pieces.

Like I said, the rain eventually stopped and we started drawing people into our tent in no time. As is usual when LCV has a table, our tent wasn't big enough to fit all of the people trying to get in. We couldn't hand out the sign up sheets fast enough.

We also had several people sign redistricting petitions. It was great. I would pass out a clipboard to three or four people at once and then they would all sign as I told them about the petition.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Orlando Solar Tour

We couldn't have picked a better day to hold the first Orlando Solar Tour. Could the sky be any bluer?

We held the event at Albert Park in the College Park neighborhood of Orlando. We expected about 30 solar enthusiants to show up all day. We were pleasantly surprised to have over 150 people attend!

The event was hosted by the Central Florida Renewable Energy Society. The League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and All Solar co-sponsored the event. Sierra and LCV discussed issues relating to alternative energy and the environment while All Solar had several solar panels on display.

Here are just a few shots from throughout the day:

Solar Energy
Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can we get electricity from the sun?
A: When certain semiconducting materials, such as certain kinds of silicon, are exposed to sunlight they release small amounts of electricity. This process is known as the photoelectric effect. The photoelectric effect refers to the emission, or ejection, of electrons from the surface of a metal in response to light. It is the basic physical process in which a solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) cell converts sunlight to electricity.

Q: What are the components of a photovoltaic (PV) system?
A: A PV system is made up of different components. These include PV modules (groups of PV cells), which are commonly called PV panels; an inverter to change direct current (DC) into alternating currect (AC) for a utility-grid-connected system; batteries and charge regulator or controller for a stand-alone system; wiring; and mounting hardware or a framework.

Q: How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last?
A: A PV system that is designed, installed, and maintained well will operate for more than 20 years. The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can last more than 30 years. The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it installed and maintained properly.

Q: What is the difference between PV and other solar energy technologies?
A: There are four main types of solar energy technologies:

  1. Photovoltaic (PV) Systems, which convert sunlight directly to electricity by means of PV cells made of semiconductor materials.
  2. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Systems, which concentrate the sun's energy using reflective devices such as troughs or mirror panels to produce heat that is then used to generate electricity.
  3. Solar Thermal Water Heating Systems, which contain a solar collector that faces the sun and either heats water directly or heats a "working fluid" that, in turn, is used to heat water.
  4. Transpired Solar Collectors, or "solar walls," which use solar energy to preheat ventilation air for a building.

For more visit the Department of Energy website at www.energy.gov

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Found some pictures from last summer

Evan was on Red Team during the summer.

Click here to see some of his pictures.

LTE by Campaign Coordinator in Central Florida Future



Article published on September 12, 2005

Building more refineries not the answer to gas shortages

I can not believe that some people are trying to use the disruption of the oil industry in the Gulf region as a reason to build more oil refineries and to drill off the coast of Florida.

This will only increase our dependence on non-renewable, polluting energy sources. That is how we got into this mess in the first place.

I know that nobody likes paying $3 for a gallon of gas, but it is folly to assume that increasing our dependence on fossil fuels will solve our energy problems. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity.

We need to focus on conservation to get us through this crisis in the short run and on renewable, non-polluting alternative energy sources to solve our energy needs in the long run.

- Angelo Villagomez

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Steering Committee Meeting

Members of the Central Florida Committee for Fair Elections Steering Committee discuss our strategy for collecting petitions in the month of October.

Monday, September 26, 2005

LTE by Campaign Coordinator in Florida Today


Article published September 22, 2005

Only Nelson got it right on mercury rule

We applaud Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Melbourne, for voting last week to protect the health of women and children from toxic mercury pollution.

By rejecting the Bush administration's harmful mercury pollution rule, he put the health of 35 million Americans, including more than 3 million children who live near mercury-emitting power plants, ahead of corporate polluters.

Unfortunately, Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Orlando, sided with utility industry special interests and voted for the administration's mercury plan.

Floridians and all Americans deserve strong clean air standards for dangerous mercury pollution.

We commend Nelson for standing up for his constituents.

Angelo Villagomez
Florida League of
Conservation Voters

Winter Park

LCV in the News


Article published September 25, 2005

Homeowners step into spotlight to extol virtues of sunlight
A tour of 3 homes and a school on Saturday
joins a nationwide drive to spread the word.

Peggy Musial Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted September 25, 2005

Looks can be deceiving, as New York transplant Andrew Brown discovered when buying his first home last September.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.

He loved the architectural design and open floor plan. The 1,922-square-foot, two-story home was bigger than nearby properties, but it didn't stick out as being unusual.

Digging deeper, he discovered this property was the "Orlando House," built in 2002 by the city as a demonstration home to meet strict energy-efficiency standards and green-building guidelines. Another plus, he thought.

He bought the house mostly because of the downtown location and aesthetics. Yet, a year later, the benefits of choosing this particular home keep adding up.

"Living in this home, I'm absolutely aware of what I'm doing," he says, and not just because he's paying the electric bills -- which average what he paid for an 800-square-foot apartment.

"I really try to conserve water, recycle what I can -- for everybody's sake. This is a home for Florida's future."

On Saturday, he's opening his doors to spread the word about energy conservation and eco-minded living as Orlando for the first time partners with communities in more than 40 states for the 10th annual National Solar Tour. Across the nation, communities, schools and residents are staging events simultaneously to bring home the idea that solar energy is a viable, nonpolluting and cost-saving alternative to fossil fuels.

The Solar Tour Orlando venue, presented by the Central Florida Renewable Energy Society, begins at 9 a.m. at Albert Park on Edgewater Drive in College Park, followed by a self-paced driving tour to three local solar-savvy homes and to Edgewater High School, which uses solar electric panels.

At the fair, visitors can learn about the science and politics of solar technology in general. More specifically, visitors can walk away from the tour knowing the difference and benefits of solar electric power -- or photovoltaics -- and solar thermal power, which is used to heat water, says event organizer Craig Williams. The potential to generate solar power in Florida is tremendous, he says.

"What better way to promote living in the Sunshine State?" Williams asks.

Raising public awareness -- about solar energy, political advocacy and alternative energy sources -- is what the fair and tour are all about, says Williams.

"Sunshine is Florida's most abundant natural resource. It's there for all of us."

Presenters from the energy society will talk about solar electric rooftop systems. Visitors also will learn how to take advantage of the new federal 30 percent solar tax credit of up to $2,000 for using solar thermal and solar electric systems, Williams says.

David Bessette of Allsolar Service Co. Inc. in Orlando will have a miniature solar hot water system and solar electric system on display to show the components and demonstrate how these systems connect to a home. Consultants also will talk about how a solar hot water system can save upwards of 25 percent on each electric bill and pay for itself in less than five years.

Members of the Central Florida Sierra Club will be on hand to emphasize the importance of renewable energy for the environment, the economy and national security.

Also, energy advocates from the League of Conservation Voters will talk about public policy.

"With the right kind of public policy for rebates and incentives, this [solar] technology has been proven to thrive in other states, and it most certainly should be a major part of any energy plan for Florida," Williams says.

Then, at 10 a.m. the road tour begins.

Setting an example

If the sun's out, tour-goers can watch electric meters spin backward at two of the downtown residences -- an energy-efficiency option that puts money back in the homeowner's pockets. Excess solar-generated electricity collected from these systems flows into the Orlando Utility Commission's grid, adding to the utility's reserve.

One homeowner on the tour, Dr. Robert Stonerock, built his Lancaster Park home in 1996 using two solar thermal systems to heat water and one solar photovoltaic system to run ceiling fans and lights on one side of the house.

In 2001, he installed a second solar electric system, taking advantage of the Florida Solar Energy Center Rebate program, which connected this system to the OUC grid and nets him a $50 credit each month on his electric bill.

Stonerock expects people will ask him if the $60,000 solar system is worth the investment. Absolutely, he'll say. He uses 25 percent less grid electricity with solar equipment, he says, although the reason he chose solar power isn't based entirely on economics. In fact, he says, the economic return for using solar electricity today isn't competitive with using fossil fuels, although it is getting better.

Solar hot water savings, on the other hand, are competitive in today's market, he says.

"I could have bought a Lexus for enjoyment, but instead I bought a solar system because it's the right thing to do. I wanted to set an example for others," he says.

Another benefit presented itself during last year's barrage of three hurricanes: Stonerock was able to run most appliances in his home and take hot showers while his neighbors waited out the power outages.

At Brown's home, Joe Sandley, project manager for the Orlando House, will explain how the home was designed to meet strict energy-saving standards, including sustainability, energy efficiency, use of recycled materials, affordability and environmental friendliness.

Brown's home is equipped with a solar water-heating unit. Visitors also can glimpse other energy-efficient aspects of the home, such as the metal roof, termite-resistant bamboo flooring and the Energy Star appliances and windows.

The home, which was constructed on an infill site, also was intentionally built to show that traditional design and environmentally-minded construction materials can blend seamlessly in a residential neighborhood. The home received Energy Star and Florida Green Building Coalition certifications as well as the Gold Ring Rating set by OUC for energy efficiency.

The downtown road tour should take from two to three hours, Williams estimates, depending on how long visitors stay at each home.

Carpooling, which just about goes without saying, is encouraged.

Copyright 2005, Orlando Sentinel Get home delivery - up to 50% off

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

LTE by Campaign Coordinator in Miami Herald


Article published September 21, 2005

Mercury Pollution

We applaud Sen. Bill Nelson for voting this week to protect the health of women and children across the country from toxic-mercury pollution. By rejecting the Bush administration's harmful mercury-pollution rule, he put the health of 35 million people, including more than 3 million children who live near a mercury-emitting power plant, ahead of corporate polluters. Mercury can cause brain damage and pose health risks to pregnant women and children. Additionally, fish and other wildlife in the Everglades are contaminated every year.

Unfortunately, Sen. Mel Martínez sided with utility-industry special interests and voted for the administration's mercury plan, which would allow more toxic pollution to be emitted into the air and, eventually, bodies of water for years to come.

Florida campaign coordinator
League of Conservation Voters
Winter Park

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Found this on FieldWorks Online:

League of Conservation Voters

FieldWorks developed the League of Conservation Voters first-ever national grassroots program-the Environmental Victory Project. From September of 2003, FieldWorks guided LCV through every step of the process of setting up a large field operation in Wisconsin, Oregon, Florida, and New Mexico, that mobilized over 5000 volunteers, knocked on 1.2 million doors, and spoke directly with half a million voters at their homes in the summer and fall of 2004 as part of the America Votes coalition. LCV's was widely regarded as one of the most productive and effective field operations on the 527 side in 2004. It was so successful and impressive, in fact, that the WI staff was tapped by ACT and America Votes to run the statewide Election Day volunteer operation.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

LTE by LCV Campaign Manager in Sarasota Herald Tribune


Article published September 6, 2005

Harris reverses on drilling issue

Re: "Nelson, Harris all over issue of drilling," Aug. 29:

Although Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Longboat Key) says she has "consistently opposed drilling off our shores," a close examination of her voting record in the U.S. House of Representatives shows some clear inconsistencies with respect to this critical issue for Florida.

Both in June 2003 and April 2004, Rep. Harris voted for an energy bill that could have paved the way for drilling off Florida's coast by weakening an important safeguard against new drilling projects, the Coastal Zone Management Act. In the early 1990s, then-Gov. Lawton Chiles invoked the management act twice to stop drilling projects, including one less than 15 miles off the coast of Pensacola, arguing that "the potential environmental and economic hazards of a spill outweighed the benefits."

Only after going through her recent Senate campaign makeover has Rep. Harris changed her tune, first introducing a largely symbolic bill to ban drilling off Florida's coasts and then voting against the final energy bill. Rep. Harris' blatant flip-flop on this issue raises serious questions about her commitment to protecting Florida's beaches and coastal communities from the potentially devastating impact of an oil spill. Does Rep. Harris side with Florida families or with the oil and gas industry?

Shirin Bidel-Niyat
Florida campaign manager
League of Conservation Voters

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Grassroots Lobbyist Training

We had a packed house for our first training of the fall!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Chicken

He is still here. He stills loves the USA. He still loves Jesus. He still loves Peace.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

LTE by LCV Volunteer in Miami Herald


Article published August 14, 2005

Oil-drilling vote

U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris claimed that she will never waver when it comes to protecting Florida's coastline from offshore oil drilling. Yet, in April she voted for an energy bill that would have paved the way for drilling off Florida's coast by weakening the safeguards against new drilling projects.

Later, she voted against the final energy bill, which included an inventory of offshore oil and gas along our nation's coastlines. This stinks of a political makeover for her Senate campaign.
I don't trust Harris to protect our coastlines. Will she side with Floridians or with oil and gas companies?


Thursday, August 04, 2005

I'm famous!

This picture is on the E-fest website. If you look very closely, you can see my distinctively large head. I am on the right wide of the picture, talking to a girl in a pink skirt.

Kind of scary, huh? Makes you wonder where else your image might be published...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

LTE by LCV Volunteer in Sarasota Herald Tribune


Article published July 17, 2005

Harris' vote protects polluters

Rep. Katherine Harris has voted again to bail out the makers of the gasoline additive, MTBE. This dangerous chemical has contaminated drinking water in her district, and recently the Environmental Protection Agency declared MTBE a likely human carcinogen.

The energy bill in the House protects the makers and refiners of MTBE from any product liability, which means affected communities and taxpayers will have to pick up the bill for billions of dollars in cleanup expenses.

Katherine Harris, who has received campaign contributions from MTBE interests -- including Tom DeLay's PAC and oil and gas companies -- that support the MTBE liability waiver, has failed to shield the taxpayers and public health from ground-water pollution.

Norma Dayton

Sunday, July 10, 2005

What is a 501(c)(3)?

Nonprofit, tax-exempt groups organized under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code that can engage in varying amounts of political activity, depending on the type of group. 501(c)(3) groups operate for religious, charitable, scientific or educational purposes.These groups are not supposed to engage in any political activities, though some voter registration activies are permitted.


What is a 501(c)(4)?

Nonprofit, tax-exempt groups organized under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code that can engage in varying amounts of political activity, depending on the type of group. 501(c)(4) groups are commonly called “social welfare” organizations that may engage in political activities, as long as these activities do not become their primary purpose.


What is a PAC?

Political Action Committee (PAC) – A political committee that raises and spends limited "hard" money contributions for the express purpose of electing or defeating candidates. Organizations that raise soft money for issue advocacy may also set up a PAC. Most PACs represent business, such as the Microsoft PAC; labor, such as the Teamsters PAC; or ideological interests, such as the EMILY’s List PAC or the National Rifle Association PAC. An organization’s PAC will collect money from the group’s employees or members and make contributions in the name of the PAC to candidates and political parties. Individuals contributing to a PAC may also contribute directly to candidates and political parties, even those also supported by the PAC. A PAC can give $5,000 to a candidate per election (primary, general or special) and up to $15,000 annually to a national political party. PACs may receive up to $5,000 each from individuals, other PACs and party committees per year. A PAC must register with the Federal Election Commission within 10 days of its formation, providing the name and address of the PAC, its treasurer and any affiliated organizations.


What is a 527?

A tax-exempt group organized under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code to raise money for political activities including voter mobilization efforts, issue advocacy and the like. If the 527 group is a political party or political action committee (PAC) that engages in activities that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a federal candidate, then it must file regular disclosure reports with the Federal Election Commission. Otherwise, it must file either with the government of the state in which it is located or the Internal Revenue Service. Many 527s run by special interest groups raise unlimited “soft money,” which they use for voter mobilization and certain types of issue advocacy but not for efforts that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a federal candidate.


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Bill Nelson and some fat guy from LCV

I met Senator Bill Nelson on Thursday. If you didn't know, he is the Senior Senator from the state of Florida and has an excellent environment record. Go Nelson!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Every picture is up

This blog is an internet scrapbook of my involvement in John Kerry's run at the presidency.

It all started in the first week of March 2004. I heard that Kerry was going to be in Orlando, so I found out where, got my name on the guest list, and showed up to hear him speak.

The number of people at this townhall meeting style rally was unbelievable. There must have been over 2000 people standing in line. I was one of the lucky few that got into the rally.

I saw Kerry about a week later in Ybor.

I went to a Bush Rally towards the end of March. I had intended to raise a ruckus inside the rally, but the 20 people that I had recruited all bailed on me at the last minute.

Then I got involved with LCV.

The rest is history.

Look at that line!

John Kerry in Orlando

Secret Service guys

Look...drilling was an still an issue over a year ago

I'm John Kerry and I approved this ad

Bill Nelson and Jim Davis at a Kerry Rally? They must be up for election in a year or something...

I shook Kerry's hand (for the first time of three times) at the rally in Ybor

Cheering herds of cattle

I got this close to the Dark Lord

April Fool's Day

On April 1, Eco-Rollins celebrated Fossil Fools Day. It was a showcase of how the US can use alternative types of energy and transportation.

It was also National I'm Embarrassed by my President Day. We handed out brown armbands to any one that was sick and tired of all the bullshit coming out of the White House.

It was a great day.

I've been hooked on direct action ever since.

The Angry Sicilian (although I think he might be smiling)

God Bless America

We're embarrased by our president

This student taped an LCV flyer to his bag

Educating people about Mercury

Buy a car with better milage...it's patriotic

We handed out info on Mercury

Hybrid Car (with Kerry sign in back window)

Alternate transportation?

Embarrased by our President!

Kerry talks

Kerry gets asked a question

Bob Graham again

Bob Graham talks

Bob Graham signed an autograph

Allan Oliver sat in the front row with Kendrick Meek, Jim Davis, Bill Nelson, and Bob Graham.

I met Bob Graham

On Earth Day, Eco-Rollins had the Rollins student body sign a petition asking the incoming president to be a good steward of the Rollins College Environment