Some of the the Project STARS-N-STRIPES Community Problem Solving team members from Palm Bay elementary. Left to right, Alexis Williams, Morgan Synder, Emily Ogborn, Abby Perez ,and Alexis Breisch were among the students reading speeches. The All American Flag Act Bill, sponsored by Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, began with students at Eau Gallie high school. Elementary kids are now also involved to bring attention to buying U.S. flags made in America.
(Florida Today) Written by Mackenzie Ryan and Dave Berman
They wrote speeches and drafted a resolution.
After school this week, Palm Bay Elementary students on the Community Problem Solving Team showed their support for proposed legislation that would require American flags flown at most government facilities be made in America.
"As you ride in the car or school bus, have you ever noticed how many places fly the American flag?" asks fifth-grader Alexis Breisch in her speech. "Would it surprise you to know that many places are flying flags that are not even made in the USA?"
The extracurricular group organized the event at Barnes & Noble in Melbourne to support the All-American Flag Act, a bill sponsored by Florida Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne.
The proposed legislation was spun out of a class project at Eau Gallie High, which caught the attention of the younger Palm Bay students. Students were already working to raise awareness about proper flag etiquette and wanted to help out, says Palm Bayteacher Barbi Miller.
As fifth-grader Abby Perez puts it: "How exciting would that be, to have your class project turned into a bill?"
The idea originated in teacher Matt Susin's classroom. He's been volunteering with high school students on the campaign, and is coordinating a lobbying trip to the capital during spring break.
There's been a few bumps in the road, but the House bill passed its first committee this week. It was amended to take the criminal penalty out of the proposal.
"You would think it has 100 percent smooth sailing support," Workman said. "But it is a mandate. ... And some people just hate putting mandates on local government."
He continued, saying: "I'm one of them, I don't like (mandates) either. But to me, it's a non-fiscal issue. U.S.-made flags are not more expensive than Chinese-made flags."
A group backing a half-cent sales tax for Brevard Public Schools threw its first fundraiser on Friday, and is gaining steam in recruiting local volunteers to help.
Earlier this week, about 100 people attended a volunteer meeting about the group, said Adrian Laffitte, chair of the Brevard-Save Our Students.
B-SOS is focusing its efforts, at least for the moment, on raising money, including planning a golf-a-thon in May.
That's on the advice of local politicians who have successfully run for office; the group met individually with Sheriff Wayne Ivey, former Sheriff Jack Parker and former school board member Janice Kershaw, Laffitte said.
"All three of them said the No. 1 thing is to raise money," he said. "You may have the best message in the world, but if you don't have the money to go send it out, your message is not going to go anywhere."
The 14 announced candidates for two Brevard County Commission seats have raised more than $297,000 for their campaigns so far. But, for some of the candidates, it's mostly their own money.
Examples from among the top money-raisers so far:
• Republican District 4 candidate Curtis Smith has raised the most so far, $44,969. Of that, $38,500 is his own money.
• Republican District 2 candidate Jim Barfield has raised $37,250, including $25,000 of his own money.
• Republican District 2 candidate Ron Taylor has raised $34,650, including $31,500 of his own money.
• Republican District 4 candidate Lisa McDermott has raised $34,194, including $23,638 of her own money.
• District 2 candidate Jack Smink, running with no party affiliation, has raised $33,920, including $27,170 of his own money.
Unlike some of the other candidates, McDermott, owner of Northstar Ice Cream Depot in West Melbourne, has added money to her campaign in more than 100 usually small increments - sometimes less than $10 - when she needs the money for the campaign.
"As I run out of lumber" for campaign signs, McDermott said, "I loan myself the money, and I buy the lumber, rather than do it all in one big chunk. I think it's a lot easier to loan it as you need it."
Others, like Smith, put money into their campaigns in large increments.
Smith, the retired owner of a Maaco Auto Painting and Collision Repair franchise in West Melbourne, said he had not been involved in politics before, and was depending on members of the Brevard County Citizens Coalition for advice on campaign finances.
The coalition is a group of local residents whose goal is to act as a watchdog over Brevard County government and state government issues that affect Brevard. In recent years, they have been most aligned with the views of District 3 County Commissioner Trudie Infantini.
Businesses or individuals are limited by law to donating $1,000 to a Brevard County Commission candidate's election campaign. But the candidates themselves do not have a limit for funding their own campaigns.
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