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Immigration: It’s Not Going Away

Immigration Reform is the next issue that Village Square will take up. The date is Sept. 19, from 6-8:15 p.m. at the Conference Center of the Seminole campus. When we identified this as a priority for Village Square earlier in the summer, we were concerned that events might overtake us that Congress might have had the debate, taken a vote, and disposed of this controversy for the foreseeable future. That looked more likely when the Senate passed the comprehensive immigration reform bill on June 27 by a 68-32 vote.

Not likely. The House appears to be in no hurry to take up the Senate bill. On July 10 House Republicans overwhelmingly decided not to consider the 844-page bill. So we arent worried about this issue becoming somewhat moot by early Fall. Indeed, with the House leadership apparently dug in against the bipartisan Senate measure, immigration is likely to be with us as a heated debate for a long time.

House opposition appears to be related to mistrust of the White House. The Obama administration cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws as part of a single, massive bill like the one passed by the Senate, the New York Times reported, quoting a statement issued after the meeting. (http://nyti.ms/14O14Jo) House leaders prefer to deal with immigration by a piecemeal process, considering several individual bills rather than the comprehensive package approved by the Senate. Among the first concerns of House members is border security and enforcement, followed by full compliance with the E-Verify system of electronic verification by employers of workers legal status. A path to citizenship for the 11 million-plus undocumented workers now in the U.S. would be far down the GOP list of immigration priorities.

Their position was announced on the same day that former President George W. Bush, a Republican, spoke publicly in favor of immigration reform. Saying The laws governing the immigration system arent working; the system is broken, President Bush expressed hope for a positive resolution to the debate, and urged that during the debate, we keep a benevolent spirit in mind, and we understand the contributions immigrants make to our country. (http://nyti.ms/12sRD2l)

Watch this space for more details on our September forum, coming soon.

David Klement, Executive Director

Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions

St. Petersburg College



Afraid of Losing It? Join Village Square!

If anyone needed further evidence that they should be part of Village Square, here is scientific proof: It can help stave off dementia.

Thats the conclusion of a study by a researcher with the Rush University Alzheimers Disease Center in Chicago. In following 1,600 older adults since 1997, researcher Robert Wilson and his team found that those who were most active in late life showed a 32 percent slower rate of decline than those who maintained an average level of mental activity. More tellingly, the least-active had a 48 percent faster fall into dementia.

The data he collected demonstrate that staying intellectually stimulated can help slow memory loss and lessen the onset of dementia. That is the reverse of the common theory that it is encroaching disease that causes cognitive inactivity. This adds to a growing body of research that concludes that keeping the brain busy with reading, writing and learning new things is the best way to stay mentally sharp into the 80s and beyond.

So, what does this have to do with Village Square at SPC? Well, Village Square is all about intellectual stimulation. The programs help attendees learn new things. They encourage participants to think and to engage in discussion about topical issues. That may lead to further reading and research to dig deeper into the topic being discussed. Ergo: Adios, dementia demons.

How to join Village Square? Its simple: Go to spcollege.edu/solutions, and click the Village Square tab.

By David Klement, Executive Director

Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions

St. Petersburg College



Tallahassee Democrat: Village Square nonprofit expands to St. Pete

From today’s Tallahassee Democrat:

After six years in operation, The Village Square — a Tallahassee-based nonprofit that pushes for community engagement — is expanding Tuesday with the help of former Gov. Bob Graham.

The plan, which has developed over the past year, will make the St. Petersburg College in Pinellas County the location for the first offshoot of The Village Square. The organization draws from community members and aims to open dialogue about local, state and national matters that affect communities.

Liz Joyner, executive director of The Village Square Tallahassee, said she is excited about seeing the original idea expand to another city and practice the ability to talk about national issues.

“It’s really about neighbors connecting with neighbors, regardless of their ideology,” Joyner said. She added the local town hall meeting is what built America and that is what The Village Square aims to continue.

Bryan Desloge, The Village Square co-chair and Leon County Commisioner, said the organization is “trying to create a venue and a way for people to solve community issues without all the rancor and visceral debate and the spiteful back fighting you see in politics today. It doesn’t mean it’s not full contact, it doesn’t mean you don’t have spirited debates, it just means you talk about the facts.”

David Klement, executive director of the Institute of Strategic Policy Solutions at SPC, said the movement in St. Pete was initiated by himself and St. Petersburg College President Bill Law. Law was a co-founder of the Tallahassee Chapter of the Village Square and the former president of Tallahassee Community College.

Klement attended events in Tallahassee in 2009 and 2010 and said that he wanted to bring that kind of public discussion to his region.

“I would hope that we could emulate the Tallahassee chapter,” said Klement. “We’re learning from them, and we’ll learn hopefully from their mistakes and can get up to their speed quickly.”

Graham is expected to speak about renewing interest in civic duty in education. He was the choice as the keynote speaker because he “is respected across the state, on both sides of the aisle. He was never into the bipartisanship that exists now in many areas,” Klement said.

Sen. Dennis L. Jones (R-Seminole), who oversees the Economic Development and Innovative Projects at SPC, said the goal of the forum is to bring public, not political, issues to the forefront of discussion.

Topics that the group will discuss include a seminar in September on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 on what Americans have learned since the event, said both Jones and Klement.



Welcome St. Petersburg Village Square

We are delighted to welcome a new Village Square location… The Village Square: St. Petersburg. Our new location is under the leadership of The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College. We are particularly looking forward to meeting with Janet Long, Senator Dennis Jones and David Klement.



Best blog comment policy ever…

This by way of Poynter (and Florence):

The Big Picture, a finance blog, offers these guidelines for user comments: “Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.”