Pages tagged "News"
Daniella Levine, the Catalyst
By Kyle Swenson Thursday, Nov 28 2013
Daniella Levine has a joke for you. It's a zinger, but it also nicely packages the philosophy that powers her life's work.
"How many social workers does it take to change a light bulb?"
Since throwing open the doors to Catalyst Miami (then known as the Human Services Coalition) in 1996, Levine has tried to kindle that will to change.
Today, the 30-employee nonprofit offers a smorgasbord of services in areas such as financial assistance — from how-tos on taxes and home ownership to health care. It's a one-stop shop for people looking to pull up to the middle class, or just hang in there.
But what separates Catalyst's founder, president, and CEO's effort from other members of the "helping professions" is that she aims to get her clients to a point where they don't need her anymore. Levine doesn't tiptoe around the sad truth of charitable impulses: Too often, an uncharitable power dynamic exists between the helper and the helped.
"People in the helping professions often are themselves disempowered," Levine says matter-of-factly.
"Very often, their self worth is based on their ability to take charge of someone else's life and make that person dependent."
According to her, the key is to remind her clients about their own self-sufficiency.
Part of Levine's effectiveness as a community organizer is anchored in her past. Born in New York City, she comes from a family that always stressed giving back and working for a more just society. "I was blessed with a happy home life. I never suffered for anything. My family believed in me. So that makes you more confident about being able to make a difference."
Levine received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Yale and a law degree and graduate degree in social work from Columbia. Before starting Catalyst, she was in the trenches with local aid organizations such as Legal Services of Greater Miami and the Department of Children and Families. But only by striking out on her own was she able to throw everything into the blender — her background, her degrees, and her mantra of self-empowerment.
"Catalyst is an emanation of my soul," she says. "And I believe in pulling people in the right direction instead of pushing them."
Ten States Have Banned Cities And Counties From Passing Paid Sick Days
By Bryce Covert on November 6, 2013
Ten states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin — have passed preemption laws that ban all cities and counties from enacting paid sick days bills, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute.
As can be seen from the chart, momentum has picked up recently, with seven of those laws passed this year alone. They have also been introduced in at least 14 state legislatures, and Pennsylvania is currently considering one that was introduced in October.
Big business has been helping to fuel this tide of legislation. As the report notes, “In each of the ten states, the bills’ sponsors included members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). And in each case, the bills were adopted following vigorous advocacy by corporate lobbies such as the Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, and Restaurant Association.”
Yet even though these business opponents claim that paid sick days would create unbearable costs, the evidence from those places that do have paid sick leave shows that they can be beneficial. Business growth and job growth have been strong under Seattle’s law. Job growth has also been strong in San Francisco and its law enjoys strong business support. The policies in Washington, DC and Connecticut have come at little cost for businesses. In fact, expanding DC’s current law would net employers $2 million in savings even with potential costs factored in. On the other hand, the average employer loses $225 per worker each year thanks to lost productivity when they get sick and can’t take paid leave.
And as the momentum grows for preemption bills, so too does the push for paid sick days. Six cities and Connecticut have them on the books, and fights are underway in Newark, NJ; Tacoma, WA; Massachusetts; New Jersey; and Vermont.
Miami Herald Story On City’s Worsening Coastal Flooding Never Mentions Global Warming Or Sea Level Rise
It seems nobody talks about climate change, but everybody wants to do something about it. Consider this head-in-the-wet-sand piece from the Miami Herald, “Rain or no rain, beachfront streets flood due to ‘spring tide’.”
You probably think it would be impossible for an entire news article on worsening street flooding in Miami to omit any mention whatsoever of global warming or even sea level rise. Think again.
“It gets super flooded from the tide every couple of months,” said [Moses] Schwartz who lived on the island for more than 20 years before moving to the Brickell area on the mainland. “It’s getting worse and worse as the years go by.”
Hmm. Why is it getting worse? The Miami Herald offers no explanation. This is all it has to say about the cause of the flooding:
The current levels of high tide are caused by an astronomical event known as “spring tide,” according to Chuck Caracozza, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service.
See, nothing to worry about. It’s just high tides. Except the article runs with this quote from Schwartz:
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Miami Beach in 10 to 20 years,” he said.
Why? Why? Why? Why will it be interesting to see? Why does he think it’s going to get worse? Why did the reporter include that quote? No explanation is given.
Indeed, while the article fails to mention climate change or sea level rise, it does quote one “Nanette Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the city,” explaining that Miami is studying how to deal with this apparently inexplicable plague of street flooding.
Rodriguez said the city is thinking of short-term fixes to deal with the issue.
“We’re looking at improving our sea walls and raising some of them,” she said.
In search of a long-term solution, a delegation recently returned from the Netherlands, Rodriguez said, and the city will determine which of that country’s strategies to hold back high tides can be used here.
“Some of their ideas we can do, others we can’t as we are in different geographic areas,” Rodriguez said.
That last quote from Rodriguez is quite the euphemism given the reality of the region’s topology and geology. As the must-read June Rolling Stone piece, “Goodbye, Miami,” explains:
Even worse, South Florida sits above a vast and porous limestone plateau. “Imagine Swiss cheese, and you’ll have a pretty good idea what the rock under southern Florida looks like,” says Glenn Landers, a senior engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This means water moves around easily – it seeps into yards at high tide, bubbles up on golf courses, flows through underground caverns, corrodes building foundations from below. “Conventional sea walls and barriers are not effective here,” says Robert Daoust, an ecologist at ARCADIS, a Dutch firm that specializes in engineering solutions to rising seas.
But, undaunted, Rodriguez and the Miami Herald end with this reassuring line:
Rodriguez said the tide should be back to normal by early next week.
For a dose of reality, let’s end instead with the Rolling Stone piece:
But the unavoidable truth is that sea levels are rising and Miami is on its way to becoming an American Atlantis. It may be another century before the city is completely underwater (though some more-pessimistic scientists predict it could be much sooner), but life in the vibrant metropolis of 5.5 million people will begin to dissolve much quicker, most likely within a few decades. The rising waters will destroy Miami slowly, by seeping into wiring, roads, building foundations and drinking-water supplies – and quickly, by increasing the destructive power of hurricanes. “Miami, as we know it today, is doomed,” says Harold Wanless, the chairman of the department of geological sciences at the University of Miami. “It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”
… “If you live in South Florida and you’re not building a boat, you’re not facing reality.”
Government shutdown hinders Florida recovery
BY: DANIELLA LEVINE
Millions of us remain worse off today than we were in 2008, the first year of the recession. Last month the Census Bureau released new data that confirms what too many Florida residents already know from hard personal experience: • In 2012, more than 20.1 percent of Floridians lived in poverty (under $23,492 for a family of four) compared with just 13.2 percent in 2008.
• The poor are getting poorer and the middle class is disappearing. Many more Florida residents are making less than $35,000 annually, and many fewer are making $75,000 or more. Florida already had higher income inequality than most states.
• More than 3.8 million Floridians were uninsured in 2012.
What’s going on is hardly a mystery — there simply are not enough jobs. The national unemployment rate, 5.8 percent in 2008, today is 7.3 percent nationally and 7 percent in Florida. The underemployment rate in Florida, which also counts those who can’t get as many work hours as they want, or have given up looking for jobs altogether, is 15 percent.
Florida’s people are experiencing real hardship. Nearly one in four Florida households receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly food stamps), more than double the share of Floridians in 2008.
Despite this, people still struggle to put food on the table. A Gallup poll shows that between 2008 and 2012 nearly 29 percent of Florida families with children faced food hardship — fourth worst in the nation. More than a million Floridians pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing, putting them at risk of homelessness.
Simple policy choices can protect people from the worst consequences of poverty and create future prosperity. The new Census data reveals that millions of people were kept out of poverty by SNAP benefits, unemployment insurance, and tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Food stamps protect young children from hospitalization, anemia, and problems with cognitive, social and behavioral development. Young children from families that receive the EITC do better in school and earn more as adults.
Unfortunately, Congress is jeopardizing the already slow recovery. Domestic appropriations from education to infrastructure have been cut by 15.7 percent since 2010. Now a small fraction of one party is pushing us towards economic crisis. Government shutdown and possible default pose unprecedented threats.
In Florida, cuts are already harming our most vulnerable. This year, Florida’s Head Start programs will serve 1,205 fewer children; seniors who need Meals on Wheels are put on waiting lists. Cutting these programs costs us more in the long run. Children who benefit from high quality preschool like Head Start are more successful in school and have better employment and earnings as adults. Meals on Wheels helps seniors stay at home rather than move to far more expensive nursing homes.
Florida is also ground zero in the fight over affordable healthcare. One in five Floridians has no insurance, among the worst records in the nation. Yet Florida has not enacted its own health exchange, refuses to expand Medicaid even though the cost would be borne by the federal government for years, and won’t allow navigators (who help people choose the best insurance for them) at state offices. Florida’s policies combined with battles in Congress are harming our future.
We know what it takes to rebuild the economy and help families: provide unemployment benefits for those who can’t find jobs, maintain nutrition assistance to help people make ends meet, and invest in education from the earliest years to college so workers are trained to meet the needs of a 21st century economy.
We also know how to afford these essential investments: make sure everyone, including the wealthy and big corporations, pays their fair share. Instead, a small group in Congress hopes to force another round of shortsighted cuts to programs like Head Start and Meals on Wheels, slash SNAP benefits, and eliminate the Affordable Care Act.
Nearly four years after the recession officially ended, millions of Americans are worse off than before; wealth is more concentrated at the top; the middle class is declining. We need to change that course. We at Catalyst will continue to monitor and advocate. To get to common ground we need to go to higher ground: a community that takes care of the vulnerable and gives people a hand up in times of need. Our Congress needs to lead, not defeat the public desire to keep our democracy strong and preserve shared prosperity.
Daniella Levine is the founder, President and CEO of Catalyst Miami, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing prosperity and reducing poverty in Miami-Dade.
Editor’s Note: This column has been updated with accurate information about the number of uninsured in Florida.
Health insurance marketplace key to reform opens Tuesday
BY DANIEL CHANG [email protected]
The (Affordable Care Act's) online exchanges — also known as marketplaces — are the centerpiece of healthcare reform, and they will give consumers unprecedented power to examine an extensive menu of health plans and to compare prices and benefits side by side.
For Florida, where an estimated 3.8 million people live without health insurance, the exchanges could make an especially big impact. The state ranks near the top of the nation in terms of plan choices, with an average of 102 health plans to choose from on the state’s federally run exchange.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/30/3661825/health-insurance-marketplace-key.html#storylink=cpy
Nonprofits Coordinating for Obamacare
By: John Dorschner
With less than two weeks to go before the exchanges open, Miami-Dade's nonprofit entities are talking about working together to get word out about Obamacare and the opportunities for the uninsured to obtain coverage.
"I'm feeling encouraged," Daniella Levine, head of the action group Catalyst Miami. Last month, Levine had complained "we are all up in arms" because South Florida had lost out on a major federal funding effort to pay for navigators, persons trained to help the uninsured get coverage under measures that take effect Jan. 1.
Levine said a key development was a coordination meeting Thursday in a Florida Blue conference room. The meeting was convened by the Health Council of South Florida, bringing together groups willing to work on the project.
"All the groups in town were talking about what they are going to do," Levine said. "Most are doing it without getting paid -- a volunteer mobilization effort."
That meeting occurred after Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, visited Miami and trumpeted how much the federal government is doing here to raise awareness in Miami-Dade, which has more than 700,000 uninsured according to the latest estimates.
Sebelius brought along Karen Egozi, president of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, which has received a $637,000 federal grant to train navigators statewide. She told reporters that 50 of the navigators are slated to work in Miami-Dade.
Levine said the volunteer effort wouldn't be as good as having more paid navigators, but some will become certified application counselors, meaning they can help people sign up through the exchange process.
Federally funded health clinics, universities and others are training staff to inform people about the opportunities of getting health insurance through the exchanges, where people cannot be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions.
Santiago Leon, a Miami health insurance broker and board member of the activist group Florida CHAIN, agreed with Levine that the county's efforts are at last stepping up. "Between Enroll America, the safety-net providers, the libraries, the schools, and whatever resources we get from the official navigators, I think we will be fine. It would be way better if we had Medicaid expansion because, as it is, people could be turned down for being too poor (!) and then tell their friends not to waste their time."
Insurers say the exchanges will work if both healthy and unhealthy persons sign up. Some critics are skeptical that the healthy -- particularly the young -- will sign up, meaning the insurers will be stuck with a pool of expensive patients.
HIALEAH A KEY
One key test will be in Hialeah, where the majority of adults 18-64 do not have coverage. Most residents work for small companies that don't offer coverage, and most don't seek policies on the individual market. Daniel Shoer Roth, former El Nuevo columnist, once wrote that many in Hialeah believe they don't need health insurance because if they get sick, "Voy a Jackson."
Miami's one bidder for navigator funds, the Health Council of South Florida, didn't get a contract. Last month, the group's chief executive, Marisel Losa, said she had "no clue" why the bid was rejected when the Center for American Progress had ranked Miami-Dade as No. 1 nationwide as the community that can benefit the most from the Affordable Care act.
Asked in an email last week whether she felt better after the Sebelius visit, Losa didn't respond.
For persons willing to volunteer to help in the enrollment process, Catalyst Miami is sponsoring a training session on Oct. 4 at Temple Israel. Levine said about 70 have signed up for the training so far. Register at http://bit.ly/18dGId7. For more details go to catalystmiami.org.
More Poverty After Three Years of Recovery Than During the Great Recession
Check our CHN poverty data page as we keep adding more analyses and state tables
Catalyst's Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator: Here to Assist You on October 1st
Mark your calendars: 10/01/13, and get ready for better access and service when dealing with your health insurance needs.
Become a CHAIN Advocate by registering here, and keep up with the latest Health Insurance Marketplace facts and updates.
Restoring Service, The Mission Continues
A Transit Station In The Design District? The Pop-Up Purple Line Miami Makes It So
By: Arielle Castillo
If you're friends with any civic-minded folks on Facebook -- or people who just like to get around without a car -- you've probably come across this lovely little meme this week. We've known for quite a while that Miami public transit is lacking. But this handy web graphic, by Leah Weston via her Twitter account, @LeahSwanky, sure throws it into stark relief, doesn't it?
One of the main problems, say organizers of this weekend's pop-up "transit station" the Purple Line, is a lack of engagement. For Miami transit to improve, we basically need people to care, the project's organizer, Marta Viciedo, told WLRN's Arianna Prothero.
Wisely, Viciedo and her cohorts have wrapped up a transit awareness effort into something Miami residents can easily recognize: a party. The Purple Line itself is taking over the underpass at NE 2nd Ave. and NE 36th St., and turning it into a weekend-long shebang.
The idea is to get people moving through the city's urban core, and to celebrate organizations that promote alternative transit options -- car2go, the pro-bike Emerge Miami -- alongside music, art, and culture. Imagine, asks Viciedo, if there really was a train station at that bustling crossroads of Miami's various creative neighborhoods.
"It's a demonstration project," she told Prothero. "[Imagine] what the convenience of getting off of a train right there and walking right over to Midtown or the Design District would be like."
The temporary "station" will span some 20,000 feet, and besides business tabling, you can count on food trucks, flash mobs, and performances by the Front Yard Theater Collective. Then, within all that, local marketing groups the Black Key Group and Mixed Media Collective present an event-within-an-event, taking over a shipping container dubbed "the Den" for the weekend.
Today, Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 the Den presents a pop-up art gallery and record shop proffering works by top street artists and merchandise from favorite local bands. It all caps off with an outdoor show by local favorites Afrobeta on Saturday night.
Admission to all of these events -- and the dream of a better-connected Miami -- is free.
Purple Line Miami, noon to 10 p.m. Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. at 3650 NE 2nd Ave., Miami. Admission is free for all ages. For a full list of participating community organizations visit purplelinemiami.com
The Den at Purple Line is open 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, March 8 and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 9. Afrobeta performs Saturday at 7 p.m.