Local Advocacy

Local Advocacy


WE SUPPORT
League of Women Voters of Denton
Summary of Program

The League of Women Voters, a non partisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation in government and influences policy through education and advocacy. The local support positions are the basis for local action by the League of Women Voters.

Whatever the issue, the League of Women Voters believes that government policy, programs, and performance must meet these criteria:

  • Well-defined channels for citizen participation and review
  • Coordination among agencies and levels of government
  • Adequate financing
  • Effective enforcement
  • Competent personnel with clear responsibilities


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LWV-Denton Local Program 2016 – 2017

HOMELESSNESS IN DENTON COUNTY

COMMUNICATION BETWEEN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ITS CONSTITUENTS

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE CITY OF DENTON

MUNICIPAL SERVICES

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

SOCIAL POLICY/HUMAN RESOURCES

ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE

LAND USE

CITY CHARTER

DENTON INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT

(as adopted at Annual Meeting, May 21, 2016; Homelessness position adopted May 20, 2017)

The local program includes issues for study and consensus, plus issues for support and action. The local support positions are the basis for local action by the League of Women Voters of Denton (Texas). Members vote to retain or drop support positions at each Annual Meeting. For each item, “study” indicates the League will analyze the issue and come to a consensus in the future; “support” indicates the LWV-Denton has already studied and reached consensus and outlines the position supported.


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HOMELESSNESS IN DENTON COUNTY: Supports:

  • The provision of affordable, permanent housing as one of the solutions to the growing problem of homelessness and housing insecurity.
  • Strategic efforts to increase a diverse stock of housing that is affordable and accessible.
  • Zoning that allows for the development of housing solutions that meet the needs of the community.
  • Efforts to eliminate barriers to housing.
  • The provision of Housing First:
    • Housing First is an approach to quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers to entry, such as sobriety, treatment or service participation requirements. Supportive services are offered to maximize housing stability and prevent returns to homelessness as opposed to addressing predetermined treatment goals prior to permanent housing entry.
  • The provision of wraparound services to promote stability of people experiencing homelessness including but not limited to: educational and vocational training, child care, medical, dental, mental and behavioral health care services, and transportation.
  • A coordinated, aligned effort by private and public entities to increase and efficiently use funding to prevent duplication of efforts.
  • The continued focus on data and coordinated data collection to determine the needs of people experiencing homelessness and to ensure adequate funding.
  • Regional solutions and seek collaboration, funding and housing from all jurisdictions including Denton County.

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COMMUNICATION BETWEEN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ITS CONSTITUENTS

Part A: Denton City Council

Focus: To identify the mechanisms by which members of the Denton City Council communicate with their constituents and examine methods for facilitating such communication.

Scope: Develop a questionnaire that the League would use in interviews with City Council members. The objective would be to examine how Council members gather information on an issue and how much their decisions are influenced by constituent input.

  • Analyze responses and detrmine where communication needs improvement.
  • Consider ways to improve communication where needed.
  • Present recommendations to City Council.

Explanation: We are unaware of how Denton City Council members communicate with their constituents. If the League can identify any impediments to communication we may be able to suggest methods for improvement.

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE CITY OF DENTON: Support of:

Business and industry provide job opportunities, consumer goods, and services for the residents of the community, and, by reason of their contributions through real and personal property taxes, they reduce the tax burden on individual property owners. The League of Women Voters of Denton, therefore, supports economic development in general, which is defined as “activities that attract new business, assist expanding enterprises, and create new job opportunities,” and supports the expenditure of tax dollars on economic development activities as a proper function of government for the City of Denton.

In particular, we support:

    1. Marketing and promotional activities, such as collaborative efforts with the Chamber of Commerce and the local universities and college; administrative services; technical support; and specific promotional efforts such as the Vision Project and the Main Street Project.
    2. Development and maintenance of a city owned infrastructure suitable for the effective conduct of business, such as good city streets, and adequate water supply, plentiful energy sources, water/sewer/electric lines, police and fire protection, and drainage.
    3. A balanced program of municipal services provided by city government that make Denton a community with an attractive quality of life, plus indirect support for services provided by other community entities. These include public safety, cultural and recreational opportunities, public schools, libraries, airports and public transportation, public health and health care, beautification, available housing, and environmental concerns.

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MUNICIPAL SERVICES: Support of:

Denton municipal government should provide for the health and welfare of its residents through a broad array of services. These services should include, but not be limited to, police and fire protection; power, water and sewer services; streets and drainage; solid waste management; libraries; parks and recreational programs; and animal control. Funding for these essential services should be through taxes and usage charges and limited use of tax incentives which are already in place for business and industry, such as tax abatements, enterprise zones, Freeport exemptions, and the sales tax designated to reduce property taxes.

(Modification approved by the Board of Directors following the study of Funding of the Denton Public Libraries):

    1. Services of the Denton Public Libraries (DPL) should be available to all who wish to use them on site, access them electronically, or check out materials, subject only to the number and kinds of materials that can be checked out of the library at any one time.Adequate funding for the DPL should be provided by governmental bodies representing the library patrons who utilize these services, i.e., the City of Denton and the Denton County Commissioners Court. Funds from these resources are preferable to levying fees on individual families who wish to check out library materials. The amount that each governmental entity provides should be negotiated by the city and the county based on the number of library patrons from each entity’s jurisdiction.
      Eligibility for funding should not be tied to imposing filters on library computers. Software filters that prevent full access to the Internet are censorship and unacceptable according to the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights,” which has been adopted by the DPL and its Board of Trustees.
    2. For direct services that are desirable but not essential, and that directly benefit a recipient, it is appropriate to charge fees to co-fund the municipal programs. In establishing fees and taxes for such services, ability to pay should be the major criterion.
    3. Denton municipal government should provide funding for certain social programs within the city budget. Examples of such programs are recreational programs for children and seniors; low cost after school day care; community food programs; health related programs; and transportation for individuals with special needs. When municipal government charges fees to co fund services, the government should subsidize certain kinds of services for low income residents. Examples include recreational services, senior citizen services, social services, and health services.Municipal government in Denton should subsidize public transportation.

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PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Support of:

    1. City, county, and regional government participation in the planning and management of transport networks, with emphasis on public transportation for Denton.
    2. Public transportation for the elderly and handicapped, to be financed by a combination of sources including user donations, charitable donations, and government funds.

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SOCIAL POLICY/HUMAN RESOURCES: Support of:

    1. A child welfare unit and the appointment of an advisory board for the unit.
    2. The development of a professionally drawn master plan for community services.
    3. Denton County Health Department
      1. Equitable and adequate funding for the Denton County Health Department, including exploration of external sources of funding;
      2. A Health Department Advisory Board that
        1. would solicit information (e.g., such as requesting a needs assessment on community health in Denton County), make recommendations on services and evaluate the effectiveness and comprehensiveness of such services;
        2. would reflect the diversity of the county, including among its membership health care professionals, consumers of its services, representatives reflecting the ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic makeup of the county.
      3. The promotion by the Denton County Health Department of the services available to the community (through such means as health fairs, brochures, poster, newspaper or television publicity).
    4. A mental health program that meets the needs of all residents of Denton County through:
      1. professionally trained and properly utilized personnel
      2. adequate funding
      3. adequate facilities and services; all meeting at least minimum standards.
    5. Health Care for the Medically Indigent: Support of:
      1. The provision of health care services, including emergency care, prenatal/delivery/postnatal care, public health care, family planning care, preventive care, and illness care to the men, women and children of Denton who cannot afford the full cost of care and whose health insurance is inadequate or non-existent.
      2. The costs of providing such care should be shared by the taxpayers at all levels, and charitable donations should be sought. Only if necessary should no indigent patients pay more, or stockholders of for profit hospitals earn less, in order to cover costs of care for the medically indigent. Those receiving services should pay, according to their ability, a portion of the costs.
      3. The care being provided where it can be done most effectively and efficiently, including any of the following: non profit hospital, county health department, non profit private health care agency, for profit private health care agency, physician’s office, health maintenance organization (HMO).
      4. Help for the medically indigent in obtaining health care services should be provided by an effective, well publicized referral service, which works in cooperation with all agencies and institutions in the community which come in contact with people needing care.
    6. Reducing Domestic ViolenceThe League of Women Voters of Denton supports adequately funded programs in Denton to reduce the incidence of domestic violence and to alleviate its effects.

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ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE: Support of:

    1. A juvenile probation officer for Denton County.
    2. The court system in Denton County:
      1. more immediate court appointment of lawyers for indigent prisoners.
      2. speedy consultation of the court appointed lawyer with the client.
    3. The following measures that would contribute to a more effective correctional system in Denton County:
      1. adherence to the legal standards for county jails as set forth in Taylor vs. Sterrett and the Texas Jail Commission.
      2. increased emphasis on rehabilitation.
      3. use of alternatives to incarceration wherever possible, such as personal bond, personal recognizance, pretrial release, pretrial intervention, pretrial diversion, work release, drug and alcoholic centers, and mental health centers.
      4. completely separate facilities for women inmates of the county jail.
      5. employment of adequate female staff to care for women inmates of the county jail on a 24 hour basis.
      6. adequate funding of probation and parole departments.
      7. more adequate juvenile detention facilities with juvenile offenders separated from adult offenders.
      8. continued funding for successful local programs for juvenile offenders.
      9. adequate salaries and fringe benefits for probation office employees.

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LAND USE:

    1. City, county, and regional government participation in regulating the planning and management of:
        1. parks and open spaces, using a community-supported long-range comprehensive plan, encompassing Denton and the Extra Territorial Jurisdiction, which identifies potential open space and establishes a variety of methods for its conservation and preservation. Open Space is commonly defined as undeveloped land with one or more of these attributes:
          1. Ecological value: unique ecosystems (such as Cross-Timbers), wildlife habitat, native plant communities, water retention and recharge, water quality, trees which abate the effects of an urban heat island or buffer sound;
          2. Aesthetic value: scenic or a relatively natural landscape;
          3. Educational value: potential outdoor classroom, nature center, or research site;
          4. Historic value: characteristic of an important time or place in the community’s history;
          5. Recreational value: potential trails, aquatic activities, wildlife observation or parks.

      We encourage the City to use any and all of the wide variety of methods available to implement the plan in a timely fashion, including zoning and conservation subdivisions; purchase of property, conservation easements and development rights using tax revenues, bonds and grants; helping property owners implement deed restrictions and private donations of land; agreements for rights-of-way; tax abatements for conservation; other instruments that facilitate preservation of open space.

      1. water resources
      2. drainage
      3. flood control
      4. industrial and power plant sites, solid and liquid waste disposal sites
      5. mineral extraction
      6. agricultural and forest lands, and unique historical, geological or ecological sites.
    2. Requirement of environmental impact statements for all public projects, housing and industrial development.
    3. Parks and recreation programs, facilities and expansion plans.

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CITY CHARTER: Support of the council manager form of government and periodic review of the city charter.

A council member may serve a maximum of three consecutive two-year terms in a single position. A council member who has served the maximum of three consecutive two-year terms may then serve a maximum of three consecutive two-year terms in another position. The mayor shall be elected for two-year terms and shall not be eligible for election to more than three consecutive two-year terms. Prior service as a council member shall not count toward the term limits of the mayor. Denton should retain two-year terms, single-member districts and at-large positions (February 9, 2009).

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DENTON INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: Support of:

    1. Equal access to quality education for all students in the Denton Independent School District (DISD) and continued study of the Denton Independent School District.
    2. Measures to promote:
      1. an educational program which attempts to develop each student’s capabilities to the fullest extent.
      2. increased use of para professional clerical, and volunteer personnel as a means of improving counseling and health services and for follow up on truancy and absenteeism.
      3. continuing efforts to:
        1. maintain full racial integration of staff and of students in all aspects of the school program.
        2. Attract and hold good teachers and provide them with salaries commensurate with professional standing and high quality working conditions.
        3. Strengthen instruction in basic skills.
        4. Improve library service.
        5. Provide instruction for students whose first language is not English.
        6. Reduce inequities in supplies and equipment in elementary schools.
        7. Construct new buildings to meet an expanding school population and replace antiquated facilities.
        8. Provide more esthetic school premises.
      4. further efforts to improve communication between school and community and stimulate community interest and response.
      5. one fair, clear, definitive statement on discipline, to be communicated to administrators, teachers, parents, and students; such policy to be consistently applied in all schools and by all teachers.
    3. The development by the DISD of specific policies and programs designed to encourage prevention of pregnancy among students, and to encourage students who are already pregnant, fathers-to- be or teen parents to remain in school until graduation.Among the measures the League supports that would contribute to these goals are:
      1. comprehensive human sexuality education program including information on decision making and communication skills, reproductive anatomy and physiology, abstinence and contraception, and risks of teen pregnancy;
      2. peer counselor programs and student discussion group sessions on sexuality issues;
      3. low cost childcare services sponsored by DISD, ideally located on site;
      4. a teen student health directory provided to students each year offering referral to community agencies and services;
      5. direct liaison between DISD and community agencies and experts who can deliver specialized information services at the school during non-class hours.
      6. The League supports an increase in school taxes if it becomes necessary to reach these goals.
    4. The League supports a tax increase to maintain the present program if state support is insufficient.
    5. The League opposes the voucher system approach, as well as choice options that do not promote racial integration and/or equal access to quality education.
    6. The League supports universal preschool for 4 year olds within the Denton Independent School District (DISD).
      1. Universal means free and accessible for all 4-year olds.
      2. DISD should provide preschool facilities which include:
        1. several comprehensive early childhood education centers, and
        2. several classrooms or wings at various elementary campuses.
      3. DISD should provide transportation within the limits furnished for all other DISD students.
    7. The League of Women Voters of Denton supports the adoption of policies by the Board of Education of the Denton Independent School District (DISD) for fundraising and marketing. The League supports activities that promote the mission of the DISD; however, sacrificing control of curriculum, providing specific training for outside entities to the exclusion of others, and using students to raise funds should be avoided or at least minimized.

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Environmental Links

Environmental News Network

League of Conservation Voters

Cross Timbers Sierra Club

Sierra Club National

University of North Texas Institute of Applied Sciences

University of North Texas Center for Environmental Philosophy

Lake Ray Roberts Green Belt

Texas Living Waters Project

Texas Parks and Wildlife

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Texas Railroad Commission

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The League of Women Voters of Denton does not endorse the contents of any websites to which it links.