New Report Identifies Gaps in the American Electorate

As the 2015-2016 election cycle gets underway, nonprofit voting rights group Project Vote has released a major new report that presents a comprehensive picture of disparities in the changing American electorate.

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In Representational Bias in the 2012 Electorate, Project Vote’s Senior Policy Analyst, Dr. Vanessa Perez, analyzes registration and voting rates for every presidential election in the 21st century. The report examines participation for different demographic groups—according to race and ethnicity, age, gender, income, education, and other factors—to determine the ways in which the American electorate is becoming more or less representative of the citizen population.

“America is built on the ideal of a representative democracy, so it is vital that we understand the ways in which we are still short of achieving that goal,” says Michael Slater, executive director of Project Vote. “Our democracy is weakened when some groups speak louder than their size warrants.”

Representational Bias in the 2012 Electorate provides comparative registration and voting data for the presidential elections of 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012, in order to trace how the composition of the electorate has changed in the 21st century, and where there is still work to be done to achieve demographic parity.

Some key findings of the report include:

  • Following surges in participation in 2008, Black Americans voted in 2012 at higher rates than White Americans for the first time in modern history. Voting patterns for Whites and Blacks in 2012 were relatively proportionate to their numbers in the general population.
  • However, America’s growing population of Latino citizens remains underrepresented at the polls: Latinos made up nearly 11 percent of the adult citizen population in 2012, but only 8.4 percent of the electorate.
  • Young citizens also continue to be severely underrepresented in the electorate: Americans under 30 made up 21 percent of the adult citizen population in 2012, but only 15.5 percent of the voting population.
  • While turnout for young voters was low in 2012, young Black voters broke this pattern, voting at much higher rates than young voters from all other ethnic groups.
  • Continuing historic patterns, the 2012 electorate skewed much wealthier than the general population. Less than half of adult citizens making under $25,000 a year voted in 2012, compared to 73.6 percent of those earning over $100,000 dollars.
  • Gender and marital status are positively associated with higher registration and turnout figures. Women are typically more likely to participate in elections than men, and being married increases the likelihood that an individual will register and vote.

The report shows that, if disparities in participation had been eliminated in 2012, tens of millions more Americans would have voted:

  • If non-White Americans had participated at the same rates as White Americans, 5 million more votes would have been cast in 2012.
  • If people under 30 had participated at the same rate as those over 30, 9.7 million more votes would have been cast.
  • If people making less that $25,000 a year had participated at the same rate as those making $100,000 or more, 11.5 million additional votes would have been cast.
  • If people with a high-school education or less had turned out at the same rate as those who had attended college, 19.1 million more votes would have been cast.
  • If persons with disabilities had turned out at the same rate as people with no reported disabilities, 1.5 million more votes would have been cast.

Looking ahead to 2016, it is clear that there is still enormous work to be done to ensure that the voice of the electorate successfully reflects the needs and interests of all Americans.

“To accomplish a truly representative democracy,” Dr. Perez writes in Representational Bias, “it is crucial to advance policies that facilitate registration and voting for all Americans, particularly for groups that are historically underrepresented in the American electorate. Such efforts must include improved enforcement of federal voting rights laws (particularly the NVRA); adoption of policies that are shown to increase registration and voting (such as online registration, early voting, and same-day registration); and laws that facilitate, instead of hinder, the important efforts of community-based voter registration drives. Doing so will greatly improve the health of American democracy.”

The full Representational Bias in the 2012 Electorate report is available at http://bit.ly/repbias2012. A summary of key findings, and individual tables and charts from the report, are also available to download separately.

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Rubio Named Chairman Of The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Western Hemisphere Subcommittee

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U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was officially named today as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues. He will also be a member of the Subcommittee on East Asia, The Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy; the Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism; and the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy.

Rubio also announced the first hearing to be held in the Western Hemisphere subcommittee will be next Tuesday, February 3 at 10:00 a.m. EST. It will examine President Obama’s changes to Cuba policy, and its implications for human rights in the island.

In assuming this chairmanship, Rubio issued the following statement:

“Being from Florida, I’ve seen how events in the Western Hemisphere not only impact our state but our entire nation. For too long, Congress and the Administration have failed to prioritize our relations in this hemisphere. This lack of attention has kept us from seizing the opportunities of a rising middle class, emboldened tyrants and non-state actors to erode democratic values, allowed global competitors to deepen their influence in the continent, and diminished our ability to respond to the proliferation of transnational organized crime and the violence and instability associated with it.

“As chairman of the subcommittee, I will promote bold measures that improve U.S. economic and security interests by addressing the region’s growing calls for transparent institutions, access to quality education, private sector competitiveness, and respect for political and economic freedom for all.

“I look forward to advocating for closer ties with Canada, Mexico, and other regional partners such as Colombia as well as greater energy cooperation and trade. The subcommittee will be a platform for bringing light and solutions to rising problems in the hemisphere, such as growing inhospitality for individual freedoms, deteriorating security environments, lagging competitiveness, ineffective regional organizations, the need for political stability and economic prosperity in Haiti, and the promotion and support of democracy in places where individual freedoms are all but a dream, such as Cuba and Venezuela.

“I hope to also continue my work on the U.S. government’s efforts to promote democracy and advance human rights around the world, to support the fair and equitable treatment of women around the globe, and increase religious freedom. This is another set of issues that has far too often been neglected by this administration. I plan to continue to be a voice for the oppressed, whether they be in our own hemisphere or on the other side of the globe. I look forward to working to ensure that U.S. programs aimed at advancing these freedoms are effective and achieving results that are consistent with our values as a nation.

“I also intend to remain active on the East Asia and Pacific subcommittee by supporting our strong alliances in Asia and working to address the challenges confronting that vitally important region which will play a significant role in shaping the 21st century. It’s clear that American leadership has achieved a great deal in this region in recent decades, and now it’s important that we take none of our gains for granted and continue working with our allies to advance our security, economic and human rights agenda.”

How to decode HOA Financial Statements : A Primer

If you live in an HOA, you have undoubtedly had the opportunity to review the financial statements of the association. Like many legal documents, they contain a bit more mumbo jumbo than they probably should, and you can end up reviewing it and having absolutely no clue what you’re looking at.

Sometimes, one accountants idea of how to organize the statement is different than another. The same thing can be said for property managers, who each have their own interpretation of how the law states they should be written and organized.

That brings us to this week’s HOA question.

Q: Dear Mr. Sinclair,
 
Our HOA has a new management co and they’ve made some changes to the financial statements.  I would appreciate it if you could tell me if these changes are acceptable to GAAP and why the changes would have been made.
 
1.  Our former accountant showed the following accounts in the Equity section of the balance sheet: 
Operating Equity
Due to/from Reserves (plus figure) – cancelled out by Due to/from Reserves (minus figure)
Retained Earnings
Current Yr Net Income/(Loss)
 
2.  The new accountant shows the following accounts in the Equity section: 
Operating Owners Equity
Current Yr Surplus/(Deficit)-Operating
Reserve Owners Equity
Current Yr Surplus/(Deficit)-Reserve
 
Due from Operating to Reserve is shown in the Asset section and Due to Reserve from Operating is shown in the Liability section
 
Any information you can give me would be helpful in understanding why these changes were made and what, if any, impact they make on the financial picture of our HOA.
 
Thank you,
 
Mary, Board member
Glendale, AZ

A: Please advise Mary that her new accountant is following GAAP.

Fund accounting is the appropriate GAAP for non-profit community associations. The most typical funds in community associations all called the operating fund and replacement fund. The Replacement Fund is synonymous with reserves. We normally only see this terminology in an audit report because GAAP requires us to call reserves the Replacement Fund. 
Cash accounts for operating and reserve activity are maintained separately by fund. When the operating account pays for an expense that was supposed to come from reserves, there is a due to/from account setup in each fund to record the applicable receivable and payable. The Due From Operating is a receivable and the Due To Reserves is a payable. The accounting is similar when the reserve accounts have been overfunded and owe the operating fund. These accounts are not considered equity ever. 
Equity is comprised of capital accounts (i.e.capital contributions) or net earnings/deficit accounts (i.e. prior year surplus, operating fund balance, current year income/deficit, reserve accounts). The current year activity in both the operating and replacement funds are recorded in the income statement and flow to the equity section of the balance sheet when the accounting period is closed.
Thanks for this opportunity.
Pam

Pam Rembaum, CPA

Controller, Jupiter Office
Campbell Property Management
I would like to thank Mrs. Rembaum for taking the time to share her expertise with you, the readers. Be sure to subscribe to this column, and stay abreast of issues involving you, the homeowners of Palm Beach County, and join in on the discussion on twitter. If you’ve had any issues with your HOA that you’d like me to try and delve into, and possibly write about later, please let me know. While you’re at it, please read my articles about local getaways,motorsports, elections, and restaurants.

Rubio Commemorates 70th Anniversary Of Liberation Of Auschwitz

Israel Air Force planes fly over Auschwitz, pledging to be "a shield to the Jewish people"

Israel Air Force planes fly over Auschwitz, pledging to be “a shield to the Jewish people”

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz:

“Today marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the concentration camp where more than one million Jews and other victims were systematically murdered throughout World War II. For those who survived, this day in 1945 was the beginning of a long journey of grief, heartache and recovery. For the 1.1 million who died in Auschwitz and the millions more murdered in similar concentration camps, we honor their memory today and pledge to never forget.

“The Holocaust will always stand as a haunting reminder of the reality of evil, the dangers of totalitarian power, and the price the world pays when good nations turn a blind eye to oppression. But it also serves as an emblem of extraordinary resilience and courage; a marker of the power of faith and love in surmounting even the worst horrors imaginable.

“Today we are reminded that, while the Holocaust is over and no equal horror has occurred since, evil still abides. We see it in the chants of ‘death to Israel’ and the rise of anti-Semitism, in the oppression and imprisonment of Christians throughout the world, in the indefinite detainment of unknown numbers of innocents in North Korea’s modern day Gulag, in the ongoing suffering of the Syrian people, and in the everyday systematic violation of basic human rights in Cuba, China, Venezuela, Iran and other oppressive nations.

“America learned in the decades since the Holocaust that we cannot eradicate mankind’s capacity for cruelty, but we can stand firmly in its way when it advances in the world. We have the power to prevent a horror of the magnitude and scope of the Holocaust from ever happening again, but to do so, we cannot avert our eyes from evil.

“When the dignity of a people is violated, America must stand on the side of the oppressed. When a region is rocked by terror, America must snuff out evil with justice. When human rights are spat upon by dictators, America must face down tyrants with strength. Our country cannot face evil alone. Other nations must do their part. But no nation can lead this effort if not America.

“Seventy years ago today, the machinery of death was finally halted at Auschwitz, and the remaining survivors freed. Throughout that fateful year, allied forces systematically shut down death camps across Europe. As word spread of the horrors inflicted in those camps, the good people of the world swore to never forget. In marking this solemn day, we stand with the nation of Israel and Holocaust survivors around the world, including the many living in Florida today, and we recommit ourselves to the task of never forgetting.”

Kaye Bender Rembaum to host free Town Hall Meeting on February 11

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Leading Florida community association law Firm Kaye Bender Rembaum has announced it will be hosting a free town hall meeting on Wednesday, February 11 at 9:30 a.m. at South County Civic Center in Delray Beach as part of its seventh annual town hall meeting series. Kaye Bender Rembaum attorneys will discuss industry hot topics, including the 2014 legislative changes, assistance animal issues and more, as well as answer community association-related questions from board members, residents and property managers of condominium, homeowner and cooperative associations.

“For the past six years, we have hosted these town hall meetings throughout Broward, Miami Dade and Palm Beach counties in an effort to help answer questions from local community association leaders in an informal setting. They need this pertinent information to effectively and efficiently run their communities,” said Robert L. Kaye, Esq., Managing Firm Member of Kaye Bender Rembaum.

South County Community Center is located at 16700 Jog Road in Delray Beach. Interested attendees should RSVP and send questions or topics for discussion to KBRLegalSeminar@piersongrant.com or call 954-776-1999, ext. 236.

Kaye Bender Rembaum is a full-service commercial law firm concentrating on the representation of more than 800 community associations throughout Florida. With offices in Broward and Palm Beach counties, the Firm is ranked ninth in South Florida and 62nd in the South among “Top 300 Small Businesses” by Business Leader magazine, and was awarded the 2014 Readers’ Choice Award for Legal Services by the Florida Community Association Journal. For more information, visit www.KBRLegal.com or call 954-928-0680.

Ahead Of U.S.-Cuba Talks, Rubio Urges Administration To Condition Normalization

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 As a high-level U.S. delegation travels to Cuba to begin talks to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today called on Secretary of State John Kerry to not normalize relations with Cuba without progress being made on key issues.

In a letter to Secretary Kerry, Rubio highlighted three areas of concern: human rights conditions, the repatriation of known terrorists and fugitives in Cuba, and outstanding American property claims against the Cuban government. Rubio stated his intention to look for tangible progress in these areas as he considers any administration requests to implement the President’s new policy toward Cuba.

“Since President Obama’s December 17th announcement of changes to the U.S.’s policy toward Cuba, there has not been any improvement in human rights conditions on the island. Although there was a nominal release of 53 political prisoners, serious questions still remain about the conditions of their release,” Rubio wrote. “Additionally, over one hundred political activists who were separate from the list of 53 have already been targeted and arrested since President Obama’s December 17th announcement.”

“A second issue I urge you to make central to the normalization talks is the repatriation of known terrorists and other fugitives from U.S. justice. As you are surely aware, the FBI believes there are more than 70 fugitives from justice being provided safe-harbor by Cuba’s regime,” Rubio added. “The victims of these violent individuals, who are being openly harbored by Cuba’s dictatorship, deserve justice prior to the full normalization of relations, let alone before any consideration of removing Cuba from the State Department’s state-sponsors of terrorism list.”

“There are thousands of verified American claimants who have been waiting for decades to be compensated for the Castro regime’s illegal expropriation of their property and assets. There are also billions of dollars in outstanding judgments from U.S. federal courts against the Cuban government for acts of terrorism,” Rubio wrote. “It has long been the intent of U.S. law that these issues must be resolved prior to normalization of relations.”

A PDF of the letter is available here. The full text of the letter is below:

January 20, 2015

The Honorable John Kerry

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

As you prepare to send a high-level delegation to Cuba this week to discuss normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, there are several issues I urge you to make central to this process. As you know, I remain skeptical of the President’s decision to reward a despotic totalitarian regime that has made no promises of political reform with the status of diplomatic recognition by the United States.  That said, in the past, administrations of both political parties have conditioned normalization of relations with countries of concern on specific progress made by the country in question in resolving longstanding bilateral issues as well as their own political reforms.

To this end, just as this administration and Congress have done with Burma, I urge you to make political reforms and progress on human rights central to your discussions.

Since President Obama’s December 17th announcement of changes to the U.S.’s policy toward Cuba, there has not been any improvement in human rights conditions on the island.  Although there was a nominal release of 53 political prisoners, serious questions still remain about the conditions of their release. Numerous released prisoners have reported that they were told to halt their political activities, while others had already completed their unjust sentences when they were released.  At least five have been reportedly re-arrested since their release and some have been released but with charges still pending.

Additionally, over one hundred political activists who were separate from the list of 53 have already been targeted and arrested since President Obama’s December 17th announcement. Many have also had their passports confiscated, so these activists cannot travel outside of Cuba and tell the truth about government repression.  Normalizing relations with the Castro regime without verified improvements in the situation faced by the Cuban people would not be consistent with our values as a nation.

A second issue I urge you to make central to the normalization talks is the repatriation of known terrorists and other fugitives from U.S. justice.  As you are surely aware, the FBI believes there are more than 70 fugitives from justice being provided safe-harbor by Cuba’s regime.  These include Joanne Chesimard, a cop-killer on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Terrorists list, and Frank Terpil, a renegade CIA agent who became an assassin-for-hire and arms smuggler for Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The victims of these violent individuals, who are being openly harbored by Cuba’s dictatorship, deserve justice prior to the full normalization of relations, let alone before any consideration of removing Cuba from the State Department’s state-sponsors of terrorism list.  As the President of the Fraternal Order of Police recently wrote to President Obama, “The blood of American law enforcement officers doing their job on American soil is too high a price to pay for closer ties with the Cuban regime.”

Finally, there are billions of dollars of outstanding American property claims against the Cuban government.  In the past, as in the case of Libya, the United States has not normalized relations with countries subject to outstanding American claims until they have been resolved or a process for their resolution has been established.  There are thousands of verified American claimants who have been waiting for decades to be compensated for the Castro regime’s illegal expropriation of their property and assets. There are also billions of dollars in outstanding judgments from U.S. federal courts against the Cuban government for acts of terrorism. It has long been the intent of U.S. law that these issues must be resolved prior to normalization of relations.

I want to see a free and democratic Cuba in the near future, but that will be impossible if the United States continues to ignore these fundamental issues in your discussions with the Cuban regime. I intend to look for tangible signs of progress in these three areas as I consider any administration requests to implement the President’s new Cuba policy.

Respectfully,

Marco Rubio

Concord Coalition Announces Launch of ‘First Budget’ Campaign

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The Concord Coalition is pleased to announce a new initiative called “First Budget” that will build grassroots efforts in Iowa and New Hampshire to encourage the 2016 presidential candidates to address the growing federal debt and alarming budget projections.

For this project we are partnering with the Campaign to Fix the Debt, an organization with a shared history of pushing for fiscal responsibility.

Our supporters — volunteers, business leaders, students and others — will deliver to the candidates an emphatic message: The first budget that the next president submits to Congress must chart a more sustainable course that strengthens the nation, encourages growth and protects coming generations from excessive government debt.

First Budget’s efforts in Iowa and New Hampshire will be led by Sara Imhof, Concord’s education and grassroots advocacy director, and Chase Hagaman, Concords New England regional director, respectively.

“A sustainable budget is not just an economic imperative; it is a matter of generational responsibility,” says Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “The next opportunity for major legislation to put the debt on a more sustainable path will likely come with the first budget of the next president. It is therefore critical for the 2016 presidential candidates to present a vision for the nation’s future that is not dependent on mounting debt. We will work across party lines with concerned voters in Iowa and New Hampshire to look out for the best interests of future generations by demanding responsible budget proposals from the candidates.”

For more information go to firstbudget.org.