Statement by West Pinellas NOW's Toni Van Pelt 10.04.2016 Social Security Works for Florida’s Women. Millions of seniors are facing a retirement income crisis–and it’s often women that are hit the hardest. The Strengthening Social Security Act of 2016 would offer a desperately-needed expansion of benefits to those most in need. Although women have made great strides since moving into the workforce, there has been a persistent gap in the earnings of women and men. Hardest hit may be Native American, Hispanic and Black women, who on average earn .54 for every dollar white men earn. Women are especially vulnerable to financial insecurity during their retirement years. After a lifetime spent working for lower wages than men, often in jobs without pensions or retirement savings accounts, many rely on Social Security for support. For nearly thirty percent of female beneficiaries over the age of 65, social security is virtually their only source of income. In 2012, Social Security benefits represented 90 percent or more of the incomes of nearly 3 in 10 or 30% of women aged 65 and older. In addition to their lower wages, women are often the primary caregivers in American households—about 60 percent of caregivers are women. Caregiving can adversely effect women’s lifetime earnings—approximately 6 in 10 caregivers report at least one change in their employment situation, such as reduced hours or taking a leave of absence due to caregiving. Social Security’s progressive benefits are vital to women who provide unpaid care. Many women are only able to work part time or at low paying jobs that allow them to balance their care-taking responsibilities - spousal benefits can allow them to receive a higher monthly benefit in retirement than they otherwise would have. The Social Security Expansion Act  would expand the resources available to these individuals. Increasing monthly insurance benefits for widows and widowers, and adjusting the means for calculating seniors’ cost-of-living requirements, will have a measurable impact on women’s lives. As Senator Sanders stated, “Social Security is the most successful government program in our nation's history. Through good times and bad, Social Security has paid out every benefit owed to every eligible American, “The most effective way to strengthen Social Security for the future is to eliminate the cap on the payroll tax on all income above $250,000 so millionaires and billionaires pay the same share as everyone else.” NOW thanks Senator Sanders for championing this critical issue, and calls on Senator Rubio to sign the pledge to co-sponsor and to do all in his power to ensure the swift passage of this bill. We remind him Social Security Works for Florida’s Women. President Institute for Science and Human Values and Candidate for President of the National Organization for Women 2017.
       The Veteran Feminists of America (VFA) is celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Modern Feminist Movement in Orlando, Florida on October 28 – 29, 2011. The event is being hosted by Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida (near Orlando and many of its attractions). At this celebration, VFA will be awarding prominent feminist leaders such as Terry O’Neill, NOW president; Dr. Rita Bornstein, president emerita of Rollins College; Sherill Redmon, director of Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College; Barbara Love, editor of “Feminists Who Changed America”; Eleanor Pam, the recipient of the 2011 Kate Millett Award; and our very own ISHV leader Toni Van Pelt. All of these awards are being presented by Gloria Steinem, a pioneer of the feminist movement and co-founder of Ms. Magazine. The VFA Awards Dinner is being held on October 29, 2011 from 5:30 -7:30 PM at the Rollins College Campus at the Maclean Gymnasium. Tickets are selling out fast but are still available for $120 per person which includes reserved seats for a Guerilla Girls performance at 8 PM.
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Activists want Bill Nelson to delay confirmation hearing on AG nominee Jeff Sessions
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         Senator Artiles must resign or be removed from office. He does not recognize his privilege and his misuse of that privilege. His 'apology' was clearly a political calculation. His racist, misogynistic, drunken tirade taints the entire Florida Senate if they do not take action. "The defense of first amendment free speech is specious and repellent. His use of hate speech is harmful to our culture. When children and adults see and hear people in authority using bullying language and posture it gives them permission to act out in the same awful way. It is simply unacceptable in a civilized society that values each of us equally. He must go." declares Toni Van Pelt, president of the Institute for Science snd Human Values. Senator Artiles has besmirched the position he holds and has brought shame to the Florida Senate and Governor Rick Scott if they do not remove him from office immediately. April 21, 2017 Contact : Toni Van Pelt All Feminists United NOW for Women’s Lives 727 278-8446
Of the many Cabinet choices made by President-elect Donald Trump, some of the strongest opposition centers around the nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Wednesday morning in Tampa, a group of activists spoke with officials in Sen. Bill Nelson‘s district office, calling on him at the very least to call for a delay a vote on Sessions’ confirmation, scheduled for January 10. Outside, a couple of dozen more concerned citizens held signs and spoke to reporters about their opposition to the Alabama Republican. “We think that over the course of his career, Sen. Sessions used the power of the courts to discriminate against civil rights leaders, allegedly using racially charged language to disparage minorities, expressed support for the KKK and then tried to dismiss it as a joke,” said Toni Van Pelt, the president of the Pinellas County-based Institute for Science and Human Values. “He celebrated the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, opposed same-sex marriage, denied the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade, voted against greater access for health care for veterans, blocked the paycheck fairness act, and voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act,” Van Pelt added “He should not be the Attorney General of the United States.” Other groups represented at the rally included the Tampa Bay Coalition of Reason, the Clearwater Unitarian Universalist Church, AAUW, Suncoast Humanist Society, Atheists of Florida and Center for Inquiry-Tampa Bay, and numerous Bay area chapters of the National Organization for Women. The reason for the call to delay next Tuesday’s confirmation hearing is that the groups allege that Sessions has failed to provide media interviews, speeches, op-eds and more from his time as U.S. attorney in Alabama, the state’s attorney general and his first term as senator, from 1997 through 2002. As reported by CNN, the progressive groups contend that Sessions listed just 20 media interviews, 16 speeches outside the Senate, two op-eds, an academic article and a training manual, as well as just 11 clips of interviews with print publications — including none before 2003. Sandra Weeks, with the West Pinellas County chapter of NOW, rapped Sessions for failing to disclose his long history with Breitbart News, the conservative website that was formerly run by Steve Bannon, now serving as chief White House strategist in the incoming Trump administration. Weeks cited the fact that Bannon once called Sessions “one of the intellectual, moral leaders of this populist, nationalist movement in this country,” which was just reported Tuesday by the Huffington Post. A spokesman for Senator Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, told  on Sunday that Sessions has been forthcoming with information on his questionnaire. “The notion that Sen. Sessions — somebody who committee members have known and served beside for 20 years — hasn’t made a good-faith effort to supply the committee with responsive material is preposterous,” said a spokeswoman for Grassley. “It’s been clear from the day Senator Sessions’ nomination was announced that the left-wing advocacy groups aren’t interested in a fair process and just want a fight. We trust the minority committee members will have the courage to give Senator Sessions the fair and respectful process he deserves.” Nadine Smith, the head of Equality Florida, met with staffers in Senator Nelson’s office. She calls the Florida Senator “an absolute statesman,” but said that “these are the times that call for people with some fight in the belly.” “We can’t start normalizing this sexist bigotry, this racism, and this is the place where you draw the line, and you fight back and you hope the senator will hear that message and understand that there’s an awful lot of us who have his back if he’s willing to fight as hard he’s needed to,” Smith said. Nelson is up for re-election in 2018. When asked if she’ll continue to support him if he were to vote to confirm Sessions later this month, Smith replied: “I think that anyone who normalizes this administration’s horrific cabinet selections (and) does not demand a level of vetting, will lose the confidence of voters in Florida.” Last November, just 10 days after Trump was elected, FloridaPolitics asked Nelson his thoughts on the nomination of Sessions to be AG. “I will certainly reserve judgment if he is the nominee until we go through the hearings and it comes to the full Senate for a vote,” Nelson said at a news conference at his downtown Tampa district office. “I can tell you that Jeff Sessions and I have worked on a number of pieces of legislation together in a bipartisan way and I’ve always had a very good working relationship with him.” Last year, Nelson and Sessions worked on a bill that would reduce the number of H-1B visas from 85,000 to 70,000 a year. The filing of that bill came following reports Disney and other companies are using the visas to cut costs at the expense of American workers. On Tuesday, more than 1,200 faculty members from law schools around the nation wrote to Grassley and Judiciary ranking member Diane Feinstein, calling on them to  reject the Sessions nomination. A poll released by the liberalCenter for American Progress on Wednesday showed that by a 61 percent to 25 percent margin, voters in the battleground states (like Florida) want Senate Democrats to be an independent check and balance on Donald Trump, even if this means opposing Trump’s policies on many occasions. Fifty-six percent of these voters want Senate Democrats to try to block Trump’s plans on many occasions. Across all 14 states in the survey, 59 percent of voters want their Democratic senator to be an independent check and balance on Donald Trump, compared with just 28 percent who want their senator to mainly support Donald Trump’s policies. “Senator Nelson always appreciates hearing from his constituents and will certainly take their views into consideration if Sen. Sessions’ nomination comes before the full Senate for a vote,” said Nelson spokesman Ryan Brown. MITCH PERRY JANUARY 4, 2017, 2:30 PM