Making Democracy Work

Focus newsletter for April 2018

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

President's Column

Cindy Burgess Cindy Burgess

Thank you to Chris Vogel for speaking with us at our March Unit Meeting. She informed us of the LWVOR's action efforts during the just completed legislative session and what will likely come up in the next session.

Thanks to Deanie Anderson for organizing that unit meeting as well as our voter-registration booth at Salem's March for Our Lives. We are so proud of the students who are speaking out, and one of their slogans was REV--Register, Educate and Vote. Sound familiar? Our League was present to register voters and inform marchers about the League's position on Gun Safety.   

The LWVUS sent a letter to the U.S. Senate outlining the policies needed to curb gun violence. The League believes it is time for Congress to adopt legislation that will close the gun-show loophole, increase penalties for straw purchases of guns, ban assault weapons, place limits on high capacity ammunition magazine size, and fund research and reporting on gun violence in America.  The LWVUS  Lobby Corps will be visiting Senate offices regarding this important issue.

Sunshine Week was in March. The idea is to shine a light on some part of government. Thank you to Jean Sherbeck for organizing a meeting at the Mid-Valley Community Action Agency. The presentation was jam-packed with enlightening news of the agency's programs, including Head Start, HOME Youth and Resources, Arches and the 100-day challenge to find shelter for 150 homeless or at risk youth. A coalition of helping organizations and agencies found shelter for almost 90 youth.

Members of our Homeless and Housing Interest Group members have interviewed leaders of several organizations that serve homeless youth and families. Please come on April 11 to listen to their reports and discuss solutions.

Hot Topics: Homeless Families and Youth

Wednesday, April 11, 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.

West Salem Library meeting room

Bring your lunch if you wish.

Members of the Homeless Families and Youth Interest Group will share results of their interviews with organizations that provide emergency, transitional, and permanent housing for families and youth in Marion and Polk Counties.   We will also discuss the latest statistics for homeless families and youth in our area, some plans for future expansion, and some barriers to providing more facilities.

Voter Service for Election Year 2018

Members interested in helping with election activities this year--help with voter registration, deliver LWV Voters' Guides, candidate forums, CCTV candidate forums, or ballot-measure explanations--are invited to come on Tue., April 24, 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., to the home of Kathleen West. Please contact Kathleen to say you are coming and/or are interested in helping.

Public Forum: Let's hear about the school bond measure!

Presenters will explain the proposed Salem-Keizer Schools bond measure and answer questions about it at an LWV-sponsored public forum on Thur., April 26, 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. in Salem Library's Anderson Room B. Please spread the word to help voters become informed.

THINK BEFORE YOU INK

READ the initiative petition and then consider the following before signing it:
Is it TOO COMPLEX? - Some decisions may be simple yes or no votes. Other decisions will affect many areas of government. Make sure you understand the implications and consequences if this petition becomes law.
Is it CLEAR? Some proposals aren't well-written. They may have conflicts requiring court interpretations or resolutions.
If the initiative is a constitutional measure, does it BELONG in the Constitution? Is it a fundamental law that should be protected? Changes or mistakes would require another (costly) election to amend the Oregon Constitution.
Is it an "unfunded mandate?" Would the Legislature need to pull funds from other essential programs? Initiatives should generally not earmark, restrict, or obligate specific General Fund revenue percentages.
Before you sign, ask to see ID. Paid gatherers must carry photo ID issued by the Secretary of State. If they don't have the required ID, you can reasonably wonder why. Numerous instances of fraud could have been avoided by insisting on seeing ID.

Advocacy

Cindy Burgess, President

There is still time to send comments to the national Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the Clean Power Plan roll-back of much needed requirements to limit greenhouse gas emissions. To read background information and talking points prior to sending your comments to the EPA, go to the LWVUS  website. 

We need to continue to encourage the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Health Department to do health assessments of the effects of pollutants in our air, water and food, especially in Marion County now that more plastic will be incinerated due to the changes in recycling rules.

The LWVUS submitted comments to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights as part of its ongoing assessment of federal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The LWVUS wrote the reasons the VRA is still needed today.  It also discussed efforts in states across the country to disenfranchise voters, including efforts to implement voter photo ID requirements, roll back early voting hours and eliminate pro-voter reforms like pre-registration and same-day registration.

The League will be watching as the Supreme Court decides two gerrymandering cases this year.  One case involves Republicans in Wisconsin and the other involves Democrats in Maryland.

Another issue is the federal government's plan to add a question to the next census regarding immigration status. This can threaten voter eligibility, equality of the distribution of government funds and services, and a process vital to our democracy.  [For more on this issue, see below.]

The LWVOR has received reports that petitioners for IP 22, "Stop Oregon Sanctuaries," have distorted the issue when asking for voter's signatures. Please advise your friends and communities to "Decline to Sign" if they don't understand or DON'T SUPPORT any petition, or if a petitioner cannot present a full copy of its text. Also give them our "Think Before You Ink" PDF or printed brochure in English and Spanish. Call Deanie for copies of these brochures or pick some up at the LWVOR office. [The wording without the pretty graphics is above.]

LWVOR opposed most of the Secretary of States' proposed rules allowing ballot measure petitions to be circulated without a ballot title. The issue was then settled by the Oregon Legislature. 

The League of Women Voters' goal is to make democracy work for everyone and we can play a role in voter education and good government. Thank you for your support of the League of Women Voters in all our efforts.

If you know people who have moved, tell them to change their address online at oregonvotes.gov.

Community Event: April 6 City Club on S-K School Bond Measure

Salem City Club will hold an election forum about Salem-Keizer School District's proposed $619.7 million bond measure No. 24-429 at City Club's Friday, April 6, lunch meeting at Willamette Heritage Center. There will be three speakers:
Michael Wolfe, Chief Operations Officer of the school district
Lisa Harnisch and Mark Shipman, the co-Chairs of the Citizens Facilities Task Force, which studied the district's facilities needs in 2016-17 and recommended priorities to the School Board.

Reservations are due by noon on Wednesday, April 4. Register online at https://salemcityclub.com/event-2645408/Registration or call 503-370-2808.

Community Event: March for Science on April 14 at the Capitol

Science continues to face threats at all levels of government, so you are urged to join the march to let our elected and appointed officials know that we support equitable, evidence-based policies that serve all communities. The march will be Sat., April 14, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Oregon Capitol, 900 Court St., NE.

Community Event: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

The Salem Moms Demand Action group will meet on Tuesday, April 17, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. If you would like to attend, sign up at https://west-moms.ngpvanhost.com/ngpvanforms/7153. (The location is not publicized.) A public safety program called SMART is aimed at reducing the number of suicides and unintentional shootings that occur when children get hold of unsecured guns. Attendees will learn about gun violence prevention and work with Moms Demand Action in Salem.

More on Recycling Changes

Deanie Anderson

It's a reset, a time to work on getting it right AND it's time to stop producing so much one-time, disposable stuff that leaves us―the consumers and ratepayers and municipalities―with the task of managing waste materials when we are literally left "holding the bag."

Answers to some questions:

● Can you still recycle shredded paper? Yes, Garten Services will take it.

● Can you still recycle metals other than cans? Yes, just not in a mixed roll cart. Take it to a transfer station or try the Habitat ReStore, your local auto shop, ask your hauler. Marion County's website at mcrecycleguide.net allows you to enter the item you want to recycle and get suggestions as to where to take it.

● Can you recycle plastic tubs and jars?  If they are NOT a jug or bottle, then NO!

If you want to know more, you may want to see the Salem Progressive Film Plastic China on Tuesday, April 17, 7 p.m., at Salem's Historic Grand Theatre, 191 High St. NE, in downtown Salem. The documentary will be followed by guest speakers:

Alan Pennington, Waste Reduction Coordinator, Marion County Environmental Services
Celeste Meiffren-Swango, State Director of Environment Oregon

LWV Artist's Exhibit at Salem Library

Sandra Gangle reports that she will have an art exhibit of her Oregon scenery paintings at the Salem Public Library from April 3 to 26.  It will be on the wall on the main floor that lead to the downstairs staircase and the rest rooms  (an odd location, but so what!). 

Sandra said: I hope my League friends will stop by and enjoy my paintings (which include the Oregon Capitol and Deepwood House).

Legislative Joint Committee on Student Success Tour

The Oregon Legislature's Joint Committee on Student Success will travel around our state to explore the best practices employed in Oregon's most successful schools and address the gaps that are limiting student success in other schools.

The closest hearing for Marion and Polk Counties will be held on May 24, 7 p.m., in the Woodburn High School Auditorium, 1785 N Front St., Woodburn.

The LWVOR Action Committee encourages you to attend a meeting near you and to give Education Chair Chris Vogel your feedback and input via email at chrisvogelvolunteerlwvor@gmail.com. If you choose to testify, please speak as an individual parent, teacher, businesswoman, taxpayer, etc., but not on behalf of LWV

U.S. Census 2020--Question about citizenship

From LWVUS website 

"Make no mistake: this decision isn't about improving demographic data on citizenship. It's designed to frighten immigrants--citizens and noncitizens alike--so they won't participate in the Census. It's a blatant political maneuver meant to disenfranchise these groups and deny them equal representation. So Secretary Ross' claim that this question helps enforce the Voting Rights Act is preposterous. Indeed, including this question on the Census undermines the rights of eligible voters and threatens a process vital to our democracy.

"For more than 200 years, the Census has collected information about the geographic distribution of our population so we can provide representation and invest in our communities equitably. A fair and accurate Census is essential to the way the federal government allocates resources for infrastructure, education, and transportation. Census data is critical when determining resources for fire, water and trash collection. Without a complete count of our nation's people, businesses will not have the tools to make sound investment decisions that keep our communities thriving.

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 <http://LWVmarionpolk.org> 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.