Making Democracy Work

Focus newsletter for March 2018

Focus is the monthly newsletter of the League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties.

President's Column

Cindy Burgess Cindy Burgess

Greetings members and friends,

I think Deanie had a good idea for last month's Program Planning meetings. Having two smaller groups meet around a table at different locations and different times of the day provided choice for our members and allowed for more participation by all present. Although there were some of the tried and true suggestions we often hear, there were some exciting new ideas as well. The board discussed the results of Program Planning meetings at the board meeting and will continue to explore how our League can be structured and programs carried forward. We will present plans for your vote at our annual meeting in May, so plan to attend.

It was gratifying to have a full room at the Hot Topics meeting at which T. J. Putnam of Interfaith Hospitality Network, now known as Family Promise, spoke. Seventy-three families are on their waiting list. I wonder how many are waiting for all the various programs in the Marion & Polk area? Are some on more than one waiting list? These and more questions regarding funding streams require further inquiry, and the Homeless Interest Group is looking into this as much as is possible. You are welcome to come and help, if you too are curious. Remember to thank Jean Sherbeck and Deanie Anderson for providing this meeting for you.

We had a stimulating discussion about Russian Foreign Policy at Great Decisions. It was an eye-opener about why they do what they do.

My inbox and Facebook page are both bombarded daily with so much opportunity for action. It gets a bit overwhelming doesn't it? Another school shooting seems to really be dominating. The students rising up in protest instill a sense of pride in the young people and hope for the future.

LWVOR Council is coming up May 4 to 6 in Gold Beach at the Curry County Events Center. There is a dine-around on Friday evening, and Council ends around noon on Sunday. Hotels are the Gold Beach Inn and Ireland's Rustic Lodges. LWVMPC can partially pay for League members who would like to attend. We can have two delegates, but others may attend as observers. Council is held biennially; it alternates with the state Convention. This year's Council theme is "Watershed Moments." Council is in an enticing location and should be an enlightening event.

Legislative Short Session: I was busy dealing with my husband's recent surgery so I was disappointed to not attend the LWVOR Day at the Legislature this year. I know some of our members attended.

Chris Vogel of the LWVOR Action Committee covering Education Policy and Revenue and Tax Reform will speak to us about this year's legislative short session at our Unit meeting on Wednesday, March 14, from 10:30 - 12:30 in the Plaza Room of the Salem Main Library. I hope you can come to hear about some of the advocacy Chris and other League members are doing at the legislature on our behalf.

What Happened in the 2018 Legislature?

Chris Vogel (pictured at right) will highlight some of the bills the League's Action Chris Vogel, Sally Hollemon, and Jean Sherbeck interviewed Rep. Paul Evans.Committee followed during the short 2018 Legislative Session. Chris is an LWVMPC member, LWV of Oregon board member, and Education Policy Coordinator for the LWVOR Action Committee,

Chris joined the League in Washington and was active at the state level for a few years. By the time she and her family moved to Salem several years ago and her children had all graduated from high school, Chris again joined the League. With a primary interest in children's issues, she joined the LWVOR Action Committee and follows legislation on education and other issues relating to children. You can read her weekly update in the Legislative Report emailed to LWV members.

Hot Topics: Homeless Families & Youth

Jon ReevesJon Reeves (pictured at left), the Executive Director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency (MWVCAA), will speak at our Hot Topics meeting on Wednesday, March 22, in their main administrative office.  MWVCAA is the regional agency that administers funds from the Oregon Housing and Community Agency.  At our meeting we will learn about the funds they disburse to assist homeless families or those about to become homeless as well as programs for youth. The big push now is to find housing for the chronically homeless. Mr. Reeves' main focus will be on the services for families and youth, but we hope he will also talk about funding.


Cindy Burgess, President

Oregon House Bill 4145, the so-called "Boyfriend Loophole" bill, was introduced before the latest school shooting and makes it unlawful for a person to knowingly possess a firearm or ammunition if there is a court order restraining the person from stalking, intimidating, molesting or menacing a family or household member of the victim of the offense or a parent or guardian of the victim. The restraining order must include a finding that the person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of the family or household member of the victim of the offense or parent or guardian of the victim of the offense. A person convicted of a qualifying misdemeanor--if the person was at the time of the offense, a family or household member of the victim or the parent or guardian of the victim of the offense or if the person has been convicted of stalking under ORS 163.732--shall also not possess a firearm or ammunition. The person prohibited from possessing a firearm and ammunition must have been cohabiting with the victim or involved in a sexually intimate relationship. A household member presumably includes the original victim of domestic violence. So this seems to require former cohabitation or a sexually intimate relationship. Could there still exist a loophole? More research may be needed. The bill also requires that data on stalking convictions be entered into law enforcement databases. Anyway, the passage of HB 4145 has been hailed as a step forward in preventing gun violence. LWVOR delivered testimony on HB 4145, and I wrote as a private citizen to my senator.

Senate Bill 1507 and HB 4001: I also e-mailed my state senator and representative about SB 1507 Climate Policy Legislation and HB 4001 Clean Energy Jobs in response to an LWVOR Action Alert. There was a Clean Energy Jobs Lobby Day on February 12. SB 1507 had a public hearing and work sessions and received a "do pass" recommendation, but it was referred to Rules Committee and Ways and Means Committee, and no further meetings are scheduled. HB 4001 had work sessions and hearings, but no further meetings are currently scheduled. The thought is that legislators want to wait until the 2019 regular legislative session. This is unfortunate, as Climate Change legislation is long overdue.

SB 1541, a compromise fee bill to implement the Cleaner Air Oregon program, was amended and moved to Ways and Means.  If enacted, the measure will begin to fund the Dept. of Environmental Quality and gather data. It creates a pilot program for the Portland area, is on par with over 30 other states, and portions of the program sunset in 10 years, allowing the state to reconsider the cancer-risk numbers. (LWVOR Legislative Report, 2/20/2018)

SB 1528: You may have been receiving robocalls asking you to contact your state representative to oppose SB 1528 because it may harm small businesses. In truth, the bill has minimal impact on each business and a $250 million impact on Oregon revenue. The measure would disconnect Oregon from the pass-through business deduction included in the new federal tax legislation because Oregon previously reduced the tax rate on these businesses. I hope you responded to the LWVOR Action Alert issued February 27 as the House may vote on SB 1528 B on March 2.

National Popular Vote: LWVOR has also sent an Action Alert to call or e-mail your state senator as soon as possible to urge support the National Popular Vote bill that has already passed the Oregon House four times. The LWVUS has long had a position opposing the Electoral College. Details are in the February 19 LWVOR Action Alert.

Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week--held the week of James Madison's birthday, which is on March Sunshine16--is a nationwide effort to open up dialogue on the importance of transparency in government and freedom of information. James Madison, the fourth President of the United States (1809-17), was instrumental in drafting the U.S. Constitution and author of the Bill of Rights.

Journalists, civic groups, libraries, schools and others interested in the public's right to know have banded together to promote this nonpartisan effort to emphasize the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy.  More information is at

During Sunshine Week, the League of Women Voters encourages citizens to play an active role in promoting open government at all levels.

Civil Discourse: Letting Go of Winning

Marge Easley, LWVOR Civil Discourse portfolio

Marge EasleyHow can we do a better job of fostering civil discourse in today's polarized world? It may seem like an impossible task when bombarded by examples of angry rhetoric from both sides. Our first reaction is to defend our own positions by insisting that "our side" is right, and the "other side" is wrong. Yet it's important to remember that the art of true civil discourse starts with listening and letting go of the idea of winning and losing.

Here are some excellent words of advice from a Common Dreams article (March 6, 2016) by Zoe Weil, entitled "Civil Discourse Leads to Positive Change: Insults Do Not."

Ironically, it is when we are not competing to be "right" that we are most likely to have our perspectives adopted by others. Civil discourse isn't just a better path for living and working together peacefully; it is a better path strategically if we want our ideas to be thoughtfully considered and potentially embraced by others.
If you're really angry and desperately want positive change, then civil discourse is your best path forward. Venting your anger publicly isn't only counterproductive, it's also selfish. It doesn't serve your greater goal; it only serves your most frustrated self. And given all the terrible, destructive, dangerous things that are happening in our society and the world, we need to harness the energy of our rage for positive purposes and meaningful change.
Civil discourse is a practice. It requires deep commitment (and deep breaths). But it works better than anything else to create the foundation for collaboration toward positive change-making that meets the needs of all stakeholders.

A Recycling Reminder

From Alan Pennington, Marion County Waste Reduction Coordinator: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle In mixed-recycling roll carts:
● Only clean and empty rigid bottles and jugs are allowed
● Only tin and aluminum cans
● No shredded paper or plastic bags

Wonder Why Plastics are not being Recycled?

Excerpts from New York Times, January 11, 2018

Plastics pile up as China refuses to take the West's recycling

A mountain of trashAs you probably know, China announced last year that it no longer wanted to be the world's garbage dump and banned imports of 24 kinds of solid waste, including unsorted paper and the low-grade polyethylene terephthalate used in plastic bottles.  Contamination can no longer be more than 0.5 percent on some of the materials that haven't been banned so far.  It's a global problem.

  Steve Frank, of Pioneer Recycling in Oregon, owns two plants that collect and sort 220,000 tons of recyclable materials each year. A majority of it was until recently exported to China.  "My inventory is out of control," he said.

  The United States has exported more than 13.2 million tons of scrap paper and 1.42 million tons of scrap plastics annually to China, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has reported. That is the sixth-largest American export to China.

  In an article published in the New York Times on January 11, 2018, Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association in Britain, said:  "We've got to start producing less and we've got to produce better-quality recyclable goods."  Too often, he said, manufacturers produce environmentally harmful products and then "pass the buck" to retailers, who in turn pass it to local councils to pick up the tab to sort out the waste for recycling.  

  "What's happened," Mr. Ellin continues, "is that the final link in the supply chain has turned around and said: `No, we're not going to take this poor-quality stuff anymore. Keep it for yourself.'"

  What to do?  In a prepared speech Britain's prime minister, Theresa May, urged supermarkets to introduce plastic-free aisles where all the food is loose.  The European Union plans to propose a tax on plastic bags and packaging.  Emmanuel Katrakis, the secretary general of the European Recycling Industries' Confederation in Brussels, said that Europe has focused too much on collecting plastic waste and shipping it out, and not enough on encouraging manufacturers to use it in new products.

Like LWVMPC on Facebook!

Barbara Sellers-Young, Publicity Chair

Thanks to Kathleen Mason we were able to get our Facebook page up.

See LWVMPC page

If you click on "like" it, you'll receive notices from Facebook that will keep you updated on League events and related activities.

League Lingo

Program -- It all starts with the several steps of Program:
  • Program Planning + members submit ideas of governmental issues that different levels of League (national, state or local) should consider for study.
  • Program Adoption - Selected governmental issues are chosen by the membership at local, state and national levels for study and member agreement in the upcoming year/biennium at Conventions or Annual Meetings. Those governmental issues that League members choose for concerted study usually lead to a new position and potential action/advocacy. 
  • Programs - Forums or other meetings with speakers or discussion or other activities which may be based on League Positions or on issues the League members want to learn about.

Position -- statement of policy

To most in the public policy world, "taking a position" on something means that the organization or person actively supports or opposes a particular piece of legislation.  

To the League, a Position is the statement of governmental policy based on member research, study and agreement. A Position is approved by the appropriate board (national, state or local) once study and member agreement is complete. Positions that have been approved are written up in Impact on Issues (national), Issues for Action (state) and on our local League website <> under Position Statements. Synopses of national, state and local Positions are in our LWVMPC membership directory.

League Positions do not support or oppose any particular piece of legislation. They are statements of general principles against which specific legislation or ballot measure can be measured to determine whether or not the League can support or oppose it.

Action -- Positions form the basis for League Action/Advocacy 

The boards of the respective Leagues use the previously approved Position statements to determine support or opposition to a specific piece of legislation or to influence governmental decisions by supporting policies, budgets, comprehensive plans and initiatives or referenda. League leaders may also use public forums or other means to develop public support for League goals.

Who can speak for the League?

The president at each level of the League is the official spokesperson, although she/he can authorize others to speak for the League.  

League members are encouraged to contact their legislators and speak for themselves; applicable personal experience is especially valuable in showing legislators how proposed legislation would affect people's lives.

LWV Mission Statement Explained

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The League carries out its mission in two ways:

1) Education of voters with unbiased, factual information on issues and candidates appearing on a ballot, so citizens can cast an informed vote; and

2) Advocacy for public policy issues only after members have studied each issue and reached a consensus position.

The League never supports or opposes any political candidate or political party, and any use of the League of Women Voters name in campaign advertising or literature has not been authorized by the League.