Making Democracy Work

Focus newsletter for September 2019

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

Christy Perry, Superintendent of S-K Schools, to Speak

Superintendent Christy Perry will speak on K - 12 Education in the Salem-Keizer Schools. She brings to her discussion a wide-range of experience in K-12 education that includes being an elementary school principal, a director of human resources and a decade leading the second largest school district in Oregon. 

Her talk will be the first in a series of programs sponsored by the League on education that will consider the impact of homelessness on education, recent education legislation, and the future of education in Oregon.

The public is invited to attend the Fall Brunch to hear Superintendent Perry speak and to learn about the League of Women Voters. The cost is $16. Checks should be payable to LWVMPC and mailed to Treasurer Elsa Struble at 210 18th St. NE, Salem, OR 97301.

EDUCATION is Topic of the Year in the League

The Leadership Team worked collaboratively during the summer to plan this year's programs, all of which will be on an aspect of education.

Sept. 21--Christie Perry, Superintendent of Salem-Keizer Schools, on "K-12 Education in the Salem-Keizer Schools"

Oct. 16--Impacts of homelessness

Nov. 20--Education Funding passed by the 2019 Leg.

Feb. 19--Effects of homelessness on brain development and mental health

March 19--Harvard Case Study Program: A technique to teach history and democracy

April 15--Education and the future

Speakers and details of the scope of each topic will appear in the Focus each month.

Public Forum on Campaign Finance Reform on September 17

Rep. Dan RayfieldRepresentative Dan Rayfield and a panel of policy experts and campaign finance reform legislative leaders will present a forum on Campaign Finance Reform on Tuesday, September 17, from 7 - 8:30 p.m., at the Oregon Capitol in Room 350, 900 Court St. NE.

Dan Rayfield is currently serving in the Oregon House of Representatives, representing House District 16, comprising Corvallis and Philomath, an office he has held since 2014. Rep. Rayfield and the other panelists are on a statewide tour (eight cities will be visited) to present a history of Oregon campaign finance reform, describe the 2019 Legislature's accomplishments, and spur a community discussion about the future of campaign finance reform.

Marion and Polk County League of Women Voters and the Salem Branch of AAUW are cosponsors of this informational event. Campaign Finance Reform has been a priority for the League as well as AAUW members. Kappy Eaton, who served many decades advocating for both organizations, made heroic efforts in Oregon's Legislature to achieve Campaign Finance Reform

The VOTE411 Process

Janet AdkinsJanet Adkins

The League's Vote411 Online Voters Guide has been a "one-stop shop" for local, state and national voter information since 2006. By simply entering an address, a voter can get "personalized" ballot information for their upcoming elections. The system includes candidates, measures, and election related events as well as responses to questions posed by the League. The user of VOTE411 can also get voter registration information and (for states that have polling place elections) a polling place locator.

VOTE411 is very cool and handy. But all this candidate and measure information doesn't get into the system by magic. It is a labor-intensive process on the part of League staff and volunteers. In Oregon, the effort has been coordinated by Rogue Valley member Mary Sinclair and state office staff member Amanda Crittenden. They not only organized the volunteers, they entered into the database all the statewide candidates and the candidates for those counties not covered by a local League volunteer.

As a first-time VOTE411 local volunteer this year, I thought the May 21st special district election would be a breeze because in May of odd-numbered years there are no races for city or county offices. Boy was I mistaken! Sure, I knew there would be school board races + but I did not stop to think that we have 11 school districts in Marion County and this year that meant 48 candidates, plus the 14 candidates running in Polk County's four school districts. And that's just for starters. Now think Fire, Water, Recreation, Library, Cemetery, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts with elected boards.

"You mean we do them all?" I asked. "Oh yes," said Mary. Yikes! We had 123 total candidates in Marion and 43 in Polk County

The volunteers began obtaining the candidate information from their County Clerks' offices right after the filing deadline, March 21. Some counties put that information on their websites within a few days so we can get started. We only enter candidate names, phone numbers, and email addresses, but some counties don't have the data in a form that we can just "cut and paste" into our format, so we have to re-key the names and numbers into the League's customized Excel spreadsheet.

Now that my eyes are uncrossed and I've regained the feeling in my right (mouse operating) hand, I think I am ready for the next election! A lot of work by a lot of people results in a very worthwhile and easy-to-use application and furthers the League's goal of an informed electorate.

No Transit District Election this year:

You may have noticed that there were no Salem-Keizer Transit District candidates on your May ballot this year. The 2018 Legislature passed a bill (SB 1536) that makes our Cherriots governing body a Governor-appointed Board instead of an elected one. This is consistent with Tri-Met in Portland and Lane Transit in Eugene whose boards have been appointed by the Governor since those districts were formed. The same piece of 2018 legislation repealed a specific provision for Salem-Keizer that required a local vote for any local payroll tax. (We don't currently have a transit payroll tax here.) This change, which allows a tax to be implemented or raised by the Board, will not take effect until 2026.

Climate Chaos

Highlights of speech by Dominick DellaSalaDominick DellaSala

Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala is President and Chief Scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland and was President of the Society for Conservation Biology, North America Section, from 2008-2014. He is the author of over 200 technical papers on forest and fire ecology, conservation biology, endangered species management, and landscape ecology. He was the keynote speaker at the LWVOR Convention in May 2019. The following notes are by Sally Hollemon.

Dr. DellaSala began his talk by saying that he no longer refers to "climate change" He calls it "climate chaos" to show how serious the issue is. The climate is changing at an unprecedented rate and scale. He showed a photo of a banner that hangs over a main street in Grants Pass: "It's the Climate." Dr. DellaSala dubbed in a banner underneath that asked: "What are you going to do about it?"

A recent UN report stated in 2018 that the world has a dozen years left before civilization itself may be on the brink of collapse. Evidence of the environmental damage that has already occurred: There has been an unprecedented increase in CO2 in the environment. Half of the world's forests are gone along with their ability to absorb carbon. 1000 species may be extinct due to human activity.

Thinning forests is ineffective during extreme events of heat and drying. Taking out the big trees to pay for thinning of small trees is the opposite of what should happen since the big trees are more fire-resistant. Further, less than one percent of thinned forest is hit by fire; dry vegetation and winds that carry burning vegetation spread fire. Therefore, homes built in forest areas should be "hardened" by being built of fire-resistant materials, removing vegetation near structures, and planting fire-resistant landscaping.

We need a strong Clean Energy Jobs Bill. [Note: That bill was before the Oregon Legislature at the time he spoke. The measure failed to get a vote.] We should protect our wild lands and protect the big trees.

Furthermore, the environmental and various justice movements should work together to enact laws to protect the earth from further environmental damage because the carbon already in the atmosphere will stay there for a long time and continue to affect the climate.

Dr. DellaSala urged voters to ask candidates running for office in 2020 the following questions:

Do you believe in climate change?
What is your vision for a safe climate?
How would you achieve that vision if elected?

Oregon Votes by Mail

A video on the history of Oregon's Vote-by-Mail system produced by CCTV and including LWV Voter Service cochair Kathleen West as a panel member can be viewed at https://youtu.be/C4YFMJn2MNs.

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.

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.