June 12, 2013 Community Conversation: Can We Conquer Congestion? Mobility for the 21st Century

For more information check out our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/thegoodgovernmentinitiative

April 17, 2013 Community Conversation: Guns, Politics and Public Health









An excerpt from the Watchdog Report:

“At The Good Government Initiative luncheon hosted by former Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson Wednesday. A broad panel of people discussed the highly charged topic that is receiving wide national interest, (with polls showing some 90 percent of Americans wanting expanded background checks); especially after the recent Sandy Hook school shootings. The panel included Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Steven Leifman, Special Advisor on Criminal Justice &  Mental Health for the Supreme Court of Florida; Francisco Alvarado, Reporter, Miami New Times; Jorge Corbato, Rifle Manufacturer; Lisa Peters, NRA member; Judy Schaechter, M.D. Pediatrician and Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; as they discussed the politics of gun regulation and its effect on public health and the event was moderated by Katy Sorenson, President and CEO of the Good Government Initiative.

However, while gun control and background check proponents around the nation see the issue in a very black and white way and they believe high capacity magazine clips should be banned as well as assault weapons like the AR-15 and AK-47. In fact, these types of assault weapons are a small percentage used in the killings of the 30,000 Americans, representing around “10 percent” of the deaths each year and handguns are the more prevalent murder weapon. And there are more “deaths from blunt trauma than all assault rifles,” “Where hammers and baseball bats” were used to kill someone in the nation, said Corbato. ”

For more information visit www.watchdogreport.net/


March 22, 2013 Thinking About Running? Workshop

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February 26, 2013 Community Conversation — Obamacare: What’s Next?

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The panel: Betsy Marville, R.N.; Brian Keeley, President and CEO, Baptist Hospital; Penny Shaffer, Market President at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Corporate Headquarters; Carlos Migoya, President and CEO Jackson Health System; and Senator René García.

The Good Government Initiative convened its first Community Conversation for 2013 at the Florida Blue offices on February 26, 2013. A group of experts and more than 75 interested citizens, decision-makers, and health industry professionals gathered to discuss progress in implementing the country’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and to explore implications for our community. Panelists provided insights about the opportunities and the tough decisions they face in preparing for the changes to come– changes needed to advance and improve public health and changes needed to enhance efficiencies in the system.

The panelists tied incoming rules and regulations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Miami-Dade County’s overall socio-economic resiliency. They agreed that the law’s increased focus on achieving healthy outcomes is a good thing because healthy families are important indicators of success in schools and in business. What’s challenging for the healthcare leaders is that no one knows for sure how the rules will impact key figures- including numbers of patients and precisely how much the new care will cost. These numbers are needed for making important decisions. Since Jackson Memorial and Baptist Health Systems are among the state’s largest health care providers and the county’s employers, their leaders recognize the multi-dimensional impacts of the rules. Many of the impacts stem from Medicaid coverage expansions. That’s why the current conversation about health care reform implementation is centered around insurance reform.

But speakers also highlighted new questions that the rules raise about how to bolster the healthcare infrastructure with additional general physicians and nurses- both of which are needed to make a shift towards a less costly and more preventive care system. And as Senator Garcia observed, “Our system is so fragmented. Doctors are playing defensive medicine, which adds to the cost of Medicaid”. The opportunity to address these challenges exists because the Act incentivizes collaboration and partnerships among entities in order to achieve the goals of the law.

In addition to entities represented in this Community Conversation, the county’s health infrastructure includes significant efforts in research, policy, service, and practice.  Decisions that lead to greater numbers of healthier families in our community are an important ingredient in preparing it for a successful future.

November 28, 2012 Community Conversation — How can the Community really support the Military?

The Beacon Council, in partnership with the Good Government Initiative at The University of Miami, hosted an Access series breakfast and panel discussion on community partnering with the military on Nov. 28. Good Government Initiative President & CEO Katy Sorenson, a former Miami-Dade County Commissioner, served as moderator. The panel included: Judith Hicks Stiehm, Professor of Political Science at Florida International University, where she served as Provost and Academic Vice President for four years; Mignon Moore, Garrison Manager for the United States Southern Command; and Frank R. Nero, President & CEO of The Beacon Council. Stiehm’s specialties include political theory, social change, the status of women, and civil-military relations. Moore is responsible for providing valued services, programs, and quality of life for service members. About 70 people attended the discussion.


OCTOBER 9, 2012 Community Conversation — Is Miami the Next Atlantis?

On October 9th 2012, the Good Government Initiative held a Community Conversation at the University of Miami’s Bank United Center in the Hurricane 100 room. The conversation topic was, “Is Miami the Next Atlantis: A Conversation on Sea Level Rise” which drew a large and concerned crowd. The conversation was co-sponsored by the University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement and by Harvey Ruvin, the Miami-Dade County Clerk of the Courts who delivered an entertaining environmental rap music video.

Dr. Hal Wanless, the chair of the University of Miami’s College of Arts & Sciences department of geological sciences, gave a detailed lecture about sea level rise with factual evidence and a slide show from his trip to Greenland. Dr. Wanless was followed by Caroline Lewis, the executive director of the CLEO institute, who gave a candid lecture on what we can do and how we should react, including the idea of starting an “eco-friendly clothing line.” Rick Saltrick, the city of Miami Beach’s City Manager, discussed the sea level rise and the comprehensive storm water master plan (SWMP). Susy Torriente, the city of Fort Lauderdale’s assistant City Manager, wrapped up the conversation by discussing how strategic management practices and sustainability are being implemented into city operations.

All in all the conversation shed light on the concerning topic and hopefully will call the community to action.

JUNE 26, 2012 Community Conversation — Marlins Ball Park a Home Run?

On June 26, 2012, the Good Government Initiative held its quarterly Community Conversation at Marlins Park Stadium in Little Havana. More than 100 supporters of the Good Government Initiative attended the luncheon generously sponsored by Marlins President and CEO David Samson inside the stadium’s spectacular Diamond Club.

Founder and President of the Good Government Initiative Katy Sorenson interviewed Samson and they opened it up to the audience for discussion.  Among the topics were ticket prices, the surrounding neighborhood, public financing, and the future of the stadium. Mr. Samson also recognized the importance and need of the Good Government Initiative.   When Sorenson said to Samson that he was a “good sport” to hold the luncheon in spite of her votes on the stadium as a County Commissioner, Samson said:  “It is not because I am a good sport to do this, I am not a good sport. I wanted to participate in this because what we need is more people in government who are smart, who are devoted, and who are understand what their role is. It’s not always a popularity contest.”

They may not agree on public financing of sports facilities, but Samson and Sorenson agree on good government.


JUNE 27, 2012 The Good Government Initiative Celebrated Its Second Year of Cultivating Leaders of Excellence Program

The Initiative welcomed its class and their guests with an opening dinner at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in the City of Miami. Founder and President Katy Sorenson and guests enjoyed cocktails at Edouard Duval-Carrie’s studio and dined in the Little Haiti Cultural Center gallery with Vice Provost and professor of history Dr. Robin Bachin of the University of Miami and federal judge and former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Rosemary Barkett as the keynote speaker.

Judge Barkett talked passionately about her life as an immigrant and her path to public service. She emphasized the critical importance of the judiciary as part of our democratic system. “Too many people don’t understand that we don’t have direct democracy….without judiciary, minority rights would never be protected,” Barkett said.

This year’s GGI class includes elected officials from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, and members from a range of levels of government, including municipal, School Board and State.

In addressing the new class, Sorenson said, “I congratulate all of you for investing your precious time in expanding your knowledge and understanding of good government. Not only will you benefit, but your colleagues, constituents and the community will benefit as well.”

To see more pictures of these events, please visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thegoodgovernmentinitiative

June 9, 2011 Opening Dinner — The Inaugural Class of the Good Government Initiative

June 8, 2011 Community Conversation: Does Money in Politics Corrupt Absolutely?

The Good Government Initiative held its second Community Conversations on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 with the generous sponsorship of Northern Trust Bank in downtown Miami. The program was entitled “Does Money in Politics Corrupt Absolutely?” The panel, moderated by Kendall Coffey of Coffey Burlington, was made up of Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, Miguel De Grandy, of Miguel De Grandy, P.A., Fred Grimm, of The Miami Herald, and Gihan Perera, of the Miami Workers Center and Florida New Majority.

The panel discussed campaign issues, the interaction between contributions and influence, and the roles of the media and citizens in monitoring elected officials and insisting on good government. All of the panelists agreed that there is a pervasive cynicism of the electorate.

De Grandy argued that the influence of money is exacerbated when more citizens do not participate in the electoral process. “If you have an election where fewer than 20 percent of people registered turn out, then money becomes more important,” he said. He went on to explain that money is not the only factor in corruption, however. “There are a lot of people who can be bought for some amount of money. But, there are some people who can’t be bought for any amount of money. It’s not an issue of money; it’s an issue of personal integrity.”
Commissioner Jacobs asserted that it is important for candidates to set an ethical tone early in their careers. “An important element is the way you conduct yourself in running for office.”

March 3, 2011 Community Conversation: Civility in Government — Can It Happen in South Florida?

Can there be civility in politics? That was the question considered by Ambassador Sue Cobb, Senator Rene Garcia, former Senator Dan Gelber, and Pauline Winick of The Protocol Centre in the first of a series of Community Conversations organized by the Good Government Initiative. The panel was moderated by Katy Sorenson, president and CEO of the initiative on March 2 at the Biltmore.

The discussion, to a sold-out crowd at the Biltmore, focused on a wide range of issues regarding how politicians do and don’t get along, how technology is changing communication, and how political discourse has both progressed and regressed in our era. On the positive side, we no longer have duels.

Audience members questioned the panelists on their own experiences and on how politicians decide when and how to challenge their colleagues.