Making Democracy Work

Focus newsletter for May 2017

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

President's Column

Cindy Burgess Cindy Burgess

This may be my last Focus article for this year, but never fear, our Annual Meeting on May 15 is not the end of League activity.  

Advocacy--League will continue to advocate locally and at the state and national levels. The Oregon Legislature may not be sine die until sometime in July.  Congress comes and goes throughout the year.  State and national agencies are always active, as are county and city governments.  During this summer, we may have some advocacy about the proposed expansion of the Covanta waste incinerator. 

Program--Hot Topics continues on May 17 with a video called Locked in a Box on refugee detention centers; it promises to be educational.  In June one of our former League presidents, Sandra Gangle, will educate us on the history of the labor movement and her arbitration practice as her final good-bye gift to us before moving to Washington State.  

Voter Education--The past two years we had as one of our goals to "address relevancy and timeliness of programs" and to focus on voter education.  Voter education is what we do, right?  This year, we didn't have to go in search of timely and relevant issues.  The November election brought them to us--labor, immigration, climate change, and women's issues.  What are women's issues?  Everything.  But, check out the chapter on Women's Issues on Page 167 of LWVOR's Issues for Action (available online at http://lwvor.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Issues-for-Action-November-2016-for-WEB-TOC.pdf and in book form at the LWVOR office).

A fabulous year--Marion & Polk LWV had a fabulous year.  Through the dynamic action of Deanie Anderson, Voter Education just never stopped.  From Meet & Greets to Candidate Forums to Voter Registration and Ballot Measure Presentations, the League did our part to educate voters and make voting accessible.  These Voter Education events also helped us meet our goal of having more joint partnerships with other groups.  We worked with CCTV, Capitol Manor, Salem-Keizer Transit District, and NAACP.

Deanie also organized programs in cooperation with AAUW on "women's issues." The Count Her In forum in the fall was based upon the Women's Foundation of Oregon report on the status of women and girls in Oregon. The movie in the spring, She's Beautiful When She's Angry, was a history of the women's movement from 1966 - 1971.  Besides meeting one of our goals of having more joint partnerships with other groups, the October forum event and our Membership Brunch in September helped us "increase visibility and outreach to members and the community" because we attended the Statesman Journal's Court Street Dairy Lunch and were included on the newspaper's Holding Court page to publicize the events. 

We are angry at the rapid retrogression of the gains of women to be free of sexual harassment and attacks, lower pay, less say, inequities in work and at home, inadequate childcare, and carelessness toward our children's future planet, so some of us attended the Women's March in January.  Kathleen West and I did more outreach to the community by connecting with one of the Huddles which grew out of the Women's March.  We told them about LWV.  They consulted us for ideas of actions to take.  They provide a Facebook page where we can post coming events, if relevant.

Hot Topics were also part of Deanie's large and ever changing "to do" list.  The events were all timely and relevant as well.  With the spotlight on gun violence, racism, refugees and other immigrants, the EPA, and the growing plutocracy, we had (or will have) Hot Topics on gun safety by Ceasefire Oregon, refugee detention centers, Marion County solid waste management, and labor history.  In addition to Hot Topics, we co-sponsored Salem Speaks Up! and had the opportunity to attend a training on How to Be An Ally to People of Color.

We had some input about civics learning at the Social Studies Teacher's Conference sponsored by the Oregon Department of Education.  I testified for LWV at one of the Oregon Legislature's Town Hall Meetings on the budget. I've done a little monitoring of the talk and proposals regarding homelessness. Marion & Polk LWV, in solidarity with PCUN and Causa made a statement at a Salem City Council meeting on the Inclusive City Resolution. I look forward to discussion at Annual Meeting of a possible interest group to gather information about housing for homeless people.

We wrote a letter to Portland area Metro Council about their Health Impact Assessment and their plan to send 20% of their solid waste to Marion County to the Covanta waste-to-energy incinerator. These timely and relevant actions helped increase visibility and outreach to the community.  

All our efforts help to Make Democracy Work for All (a national LWV emphasis) along with Climate Change. Climate Change was adopted as part of the LWVUS program this year due, in part, to LWVOR lobbying, so it is a big issue for LWVOR as well.  Our fall Membership Brunch, arranged by Kathleen West, began our year of Making Democracy Work for All with Marge Easely speaking on voter disenfranchisement and the Citizens' Initiative Review process for reviewing ballot measures.  Then the events just kept on rolling with the LWVOR Election Methods and Postsecondary Education studies and consensus plus the several Hot Topics mentioned above.

Many thanks--I thank Deanie Anderson and Chris Vogel for their leadership at our Unit meetings on the two state League studies. Special thanks to Deanie for arranging Voter Service and Program events this year. Thanks to Kathleen West for hosting our Holiday Party in December and a get-together for new members in March as well as helping with arrangements for Program Planning in January and Annual Meeting in May.

Thank you to Roz Shirack for leading the Book Discussion Group, to Sally Hollemon for leading the Great Decisions Group, and to Anita Owen for leading the Civics Learning Group.

A big thank you to Elsa Struble for keeping us from spending all our money at once and for doing the complicated work of beginning our change to tax-exempt status and keeping our membership roster up to date.  Elsa is also a person I can rely on to give me good and encouraging advice, along with Diana Bodtker, Past President. 

Robin LaMonte and Chris Vogel can be counted on to weigh in with wisdom gained from their years in state government and lobbying.

Also, thank you to Roz Shirack for serving with Elsa and me on the budget committee and to Alice Phalan and Jean Sherbeck for serving on the Nominating Committee and to Jean for coming on board as Secretary. 

And last, a big thank you to Sally Hollemon who is faithful to edit and publish the Focus so beautifully, send out a myriad of email alerts to you all, and update the webpage.  She and Kathleen Mason got together to set up PayPal so people can pay dues, payments for special events and make donations online.  Thank you, Kathleen, for bringing us into the 21st century!

LWVOR Convention Delegates: Our LWMPC delegates are Cindy Burgess, Deanie Anderson, Peter Anderson and Jean Massie; alternate is Diana Bodtker (Chair of the LWVOR Nominating Committee). Observers are Kathleen Clark and Susan Forkner.

Come to Annual Meeting--I hope to see you all at our Annual Meeting on May 15 when we will adopt our program and budget for next year and elect our new board. Annual Meeting is also a social time, so make your reservation by May 5 and come!

ANNUAL MEETING 2017

Monday, May 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

at the Flight Deck restaurant at Salem Airport

NOTE: If we have more attendees than the room holds, we'll move to the Airport Terminal Bldg. If that happens, we'll let you know before May 15.

This is an all-member event. We have scheduled it during lunchtime with the hope that our employed members can take a long lunch hour to attend.

Lunch menu: Alfredo Pasta with Chicken separate Green Salad with Ranch & Balsamic Vinaigrette Garlic bread sticks Coffee, Iced Tea & Water Cookies

Lunch = $17.75 (includes gratuity)

If you want only Coffee & cookie (no lunch) = $3.00 (includes gratuity), you can pay at the door.

Make your reservation by Friday, May 5 at <http://www.lwvnet.org/lwv/easyweb/edit.cgi/annualmeeting.html>

Member Survey January 2017 Summary

Deanie Anderson

Thirty of our members completed a survey on the values they feel in belonging to the League of Women Voters.

A: What do I value in LWV?

The opportunity to learn, be an informed responsible citizen, friendship, credibility for studying issues, online and media candidate interviews, opportunity to do research, fact-based reasons on topics, legislative reports, thoughtful approach, use of consensus, range of issues addressed, focus on improvement of life, advocacy opportunity

B: What value / uniqueness does LWV provide for our community?

Civics and leadership education, candidate forums (nonpartisan), observer corps ability, long time history, provide information to policy makers, ballot measure information, model of nonpartisan and consensus, can provide a nonthreatening place for discussion, excellent presentations

C: What value / uniqueness SHOULD LWV provide for the community?

Nonpartisan approach, civil discourse, more watchful eyes to keep good government, increased engagement with more diverse populations, be more ahead of the topic/issue in our local community, citizen and voter responsibilities, be more visible with information, more leadership opportunities

D: What role do I have in ensuring those values?

Help with forums, do legislative interviews, be thoughtful, attend local and public League meetings, encourage voting, educate people as to the role of LWV, support organization financially, help as I can

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.