April, 2009 – On Civic Duty & Writing Letters that Make a Difference


AW Stories of the Month

On Civic Duty & Writing Letters that Make a Difference Having Your Voice Heard

by Lydia Patterson


Dear Fellow Residents:

I appreciate the opportunity to share with you an interest that I have had over half of my 72 years on this earth. As an individual, who shares with you a residence in our country and in our Florida local and state communities, I am encouraging you to participate in all levels of government by writing / faxing / emailing government officials. There are many reasons that some of us cannot serve in government positions, but we must let the people, who are in charge of working for the common good of all us, know our opinions on their job performance.


Lydia Patterson speaks at Commissioner Jess Santamaria’s Monthly Forum, held the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7pm in the Original Wellington Mall.


Some of us write letters to our local and county-wide newspapers. It is also important to give your opinions to government department heads, mayors, county commissioners, state and federal legislators, the governor and the President. It doesn’t matter whether you type, write or the type of paper you use . . . the idea is to express your opinion. If you are comfortable using the Internet, all key government officials have an email address.

I am currently working on a letter to the Palm Beach County Commissioners to encourage them to continue their support and implementation of Karen Bock’s (Clerk and Comptroller) recommendation that reforms are made in the selection of bond underwriters and allowing Ms. Bock’s organization to act as an going auditor of the final process that is put in place. Attached is a sample of a letter I wrote to the Supervisor of Elections, during the presidential campaign. This example may be longer than you would use, but I have a little more time.


Sources To Contact Government Officials:
– AT&T Yellow Pages;
Government Pages Section (blue pages); Board of County Commissioners;
Local Government Officials; County and State and Federal Government Officials.


You can telephone the above mentioned offices to request the names of the officials that manage the policies that concern you or I have found it also effective to contact the top officials.


If you want to go straight to the top (the White House), here’s the website: www.whitehouse.gov


I am a retired manager and human resource professional, currently member of the Palms West Chamber of Commerce, the Gulfstream Goodwill board, and member of Executive Women of the Palm Beaches and a passionate letter writer. My political affiliation? Independent.


Exhibit A: Sample Letter of Concern Regarding Early Voting

October 8, 2008


FAX: 561-656-6287
TO: Supervisor of Elections:
Attention: Charmaine Kelley, Chief Administrator
Bob Weisman, PBC Administrator


FROM: Lydia R. Patterson


I, among others, read the PB Post article today, concerning the long lines for early voting. Many of us are discussing whether to wait for election day.

The comments in the article expressed a fear, that many had with waiting until the 4th, and the challenges that may question their registration; also how much time would be available to clarify any questions, in order to allow their vote to count.


There needs to be some reassurance, that every effort will be made to count each vote; and also early voting can be an advantage, if questions do arise. It would also help, if some information is distributed through the print, radio and TV media, that states the time period allowed to resolve any questions. Information given earlier, said that a state law gives voters only two days after election day to answer any unresolved questions – very restrictive for the voter.


Because of Florida’s history– charges that the legislature and the Governor instituted actions to suppress voter turnout and the rejection of some votes– there is a deep fear of the entire process. The more information that you can share with the public, and quickly, will assure voters that the process works for all participants.

Many of us have been very impressed with the professional support that Mr. Weisman and his PBC Administrator staff have given to the Elections Supervisors Office. Thank you for the hard work and continued dedication of the Elections Office staff during this time in our history.


Exhibit B: Excerpts from Letters I Have Written
Proposed PBCC, Wellington Campus (letter to Wellington Council & Town Crier)


“Too often, many do not give sufficient recognition and corresponding action to a proven fact, that education is a major ‘jobs and quality of life’ issue, even more so, in this 21st Century global economy. Our Wellington community already plays a vital business / leadership role in the western communities. Why not include in our mission, a focus on growing and enhancing our role, by adding a PBCC campus? . . .


As we have seen with past and present local and national economic experiences, nothing is more stable, and garners a higher return on investment than education.”

Privatizing Toll Roads (letters to Senator Aronberg, Senate leaders, Governor Crist)

“…I am sending the enclosed Fortune magazine article to assist in your examination of this issue in depth, before decisions are made…The Enron, derivatives, subprime mortgages and the old savings & loan disasters, should be a reminder, that Wall Street’s quick money schemes always leave the middle and lower economic groups ‘holding the bag’ – higher living expenses, inappropriate use of reserve funds, and ultimately higher fees and taxes…The discussion on debt financing is an excellent example of the slippery slope…We , the citizens, are trusting you to fulfill your fiduciary responsibility to protect our future…”


House Bill 273 (March 2008) – Funding for Prevention and Rehabilitation (Criminal Justice) Letters to Florida Speaker of House & Senate, Gov. Crist, key legislators and senators) “I am sending this urgent appeal for you not to leave no stone unturned to enact ‘smart balanced policies to put Florida on the right tract of providing meaningful funding for prevention and rehabilitation’ . . . Anti– struggling children / family policies like the proposed budget cuts, will seriously jeopardize achieving much-needed education goals and depreciate our investments in new industries and accompanying quality job opportunities… Many poor kids live in war type zones of poverty and crime, and thus, require the level of attention and funding for winning a war . . .”


Municipal Bond Underwriting – Letter to PB County Commissioners / Jeff Koons, Chairperson

“Please make sure, that when you make policies relating to the selection Bond Underwriters, that ‘the best practices’ philosophy is applied to protect the public interests. We encourage you to work with all appropriate government agencies and others to create a process that will minimize any influence of self interest. We in the western communities are proud , that Commissioner Santamaria has been up front about protecting the public’s interest, during his tenure in office.”

Editor’s Note: Lydia Patterson first shared these thoughts at a Public Forum, held by PBC Commissioner Jess Santamaria in the Original Wellington Mall on March 18, 2009. These public forums are generally held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7pm in the center area of the Mall.


About Lydia Patterson. Making a difference is my avocation. Letter writing to government officials and business leaders is one of the ways that I fulfill my passion. Making my voice heard, by expressing my opinion to leaders, who make policies that impact the quality of life of many people, can make a difference. Before retiring, for over thirty years, I was a human resource officer/manager in government, private industry and a nonprofit organization. Also, I was engaged in a volunteer effort with high school and social services dropout prevention programs, helping to make a difference with children, who needed encouragement to aspire to a higher level of academic achievement. Returning to Florida, my birthplace, with my husband, Berman, we moved to Wellington in 1991. I can be reached at: PLyross@aol.com.