Making Democracy Work

Focus newsletter for October 2018

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

President's Column

Diana BodtkerDiana Bodtker

As I write this, our nation has just heard testimony from two people concerning an alleged sexual assault said to have happened more than thirty years ago. What is unique about this situation is it may well determine a position for life on the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh, the nominee, swears the incident described by Dr. Ford did not happen. Both of these people are competent individuals who have achieved much in their lives.

As I watched, I saw two victims because their lives will never be the same regardless of the Senate vote. It is not just their individual lives that are changed forever but also those of their families. The Kavanaughs have had to explain to their young daughters what the accusations against their father are. The Ford family has had to move twice because of death threats since her name became known to the press. This not a court of law where some one is found guilty under the law or one is exonerated by the courts. The cloud of question will always hang over them both. We'll see if an FBI investigation makes things clearer. But what is happening is brutal.

On another note, the Voter Service Committee has been very busy the last couple of weeks interviewing candidates for state and county positions and explaining the five ballot measures that we will be voting on in November. LWVMPC volunteers have teamed up with CCTV and other civic organizations to give the voters an opportunity to better know the candidates and gain some insight into their plans if elected. The ballot measures can be confusing and the consequences if they become law need to be carefully considered.

As we say to our audiences: "Make democracy work and be a voter!"

Nonpartisan Election Information

IN-PERSON EVENTS:

Wed., Oct. 3, 6 + 8 p.m.--Meet and Greet Oregon Senate Candidates, Anderson Room, Salem Library, Cosponsored by League of Women Voters (LWV) and Salem City Club.

Wed., Oct. 17, 6:30 - 8 p.m.--Ballot Measures Explained--A public meeting to explain the ballot measures at Salem Library in the Anderson Room.  Cosponsored by AAUW and LWV.

VIDEO EVENTS:

Ballot Measures Explained--The October 17 public meeting will be recorded and shown on CCTV Channel 21, LWVOR Vote Oregon (http://lwvor.org/home/voteoregon/), VOTE411.org and on YouTube. The YouTube address will be emailed to LWV members after October 17.

Candidates for the Oregon Legislature and Marion County Commission were interviewed by LWV members for CCTV's Your Vote Counts! The interviews will be shown on CCTV Channel 21, LWVOR Vote Oregon (http://lwvor.org/home/voteoregon/), VOTE411.org and on YouTube. The CCTV schedule and YouTube address will be emailed to LWV members when available and will also be listed on the CCTV website: http://schedule.cctvsalem.org/CablecastPublicSite/?channel=1.

 
PRINTED MATERIALS:

LWVOR's Voters' Guides will be available at public libraries by October 8.

LWVOR's Online Voters' Guide will soon be available at vote411.org or LWVOR Vote Oregon (http://lwvor.org/home/voteoregon/).

Why look at LWV Voters' Guides? In our Voters' Guides we analyze state ballot measures and pose targeted questions to state candidates. Compared to the state Voters' Pamphlets, our League Voters' Guides have been described as insightful candidate job interviews, while the state Voters' Pamphlets are more like job applications, including purchased endorsements. 

Click on vote411.org and enter your home address to find information about the candidates and measures that will be on your ballot. LWVOR Vote Oregon covers state candidates and ballot measures. Both include video interviews with candidates.

Oregon Voter--Read your copy of the state League's Oregon Voter emailed to members on September 13. It has a lot of useful information about LWVOR's election activities, the state ballot measures and other issues of interest to League members.

Legislative Process Day

Save the date: Friday, November 16, 10 - 2 Legislative Process Day Oregon State Library across Capitol St. from the Capitol

Legislative Process Day gives us a preview of likely legislation in 2019--in health care, education, gun safety, energy and jobs--and an opportunity to learn techniques for effective grassroots action.
Speakers will include Rep. Andrea Salinas on health care and Sen. Kathleen Taylor. Sen. Jackie Winters turned down the request to speak, so the LWV committee is looking for a Republican to speak.
Dale Penn, a lobbyist, and our LWVOR Action Team members will also speak.
Cost: $30, which includes breakfast pastries, coffee and lunch.
Sign up today at http://lwvor.org.

Fall Brunch Highlights

Sally Hollemon

Almost thirty members and guests attended the Fall Membership Brunch at Roth's in West Salem. Following the meal and visiting, President Diana Bodtker welcomed members, new members, and guests, then introduced the speakers.

Allan DannenAllan Dannen, Assistant Engineer in the City of Salem Public Works Department, (pictured at left) is the project manager for the new Salem Police building. He said that after 45 years the Salem Police Department had outgrown the current station, which had necessitated locating some of its functions to distant sites, which is inefficient. So in May 2017 voters approved a bond measure to build a new police headquarters. The site chosen is between Commercial and Liberty at Division Street NE.

The building will be 104,000 square feet on three levels plus a parking facility. The first floor is where the public will interact with police. Specifically, it will include a welcoming entrance space with an obvious front door and a meeting room for 200-300 people, which will be used for police trainings as well as for public meetings.

The second floor will be for patrol and lockers. The adjacent secure parking facility will have entrances to the second floor for easy access for patrol police. The third floor will be for administration and detectives.

The former automobile dealership building has been removed from the site, and an archeological team has been excavating with the assistance of retired archeologists and archeology students. Over the years the area has been used for a variety of uses, but artifacts are all mixed up with the fill. The archeologists are trying to get to lower layers hoping to find information on the Native Americans who used to live here.

Mr. Dannen said that the current booming economy has brought both advantages and challenges. Interest rates for debt are low, and Urban Renewal kicked in some money. However, labor is more scarce and building materials more expensive. Contractors can be choosey, so he has worked to make the project attractive in order to obtain competitive bids.

The new police headquarters will be an LEED Silver building. LED lighting and efficient heating and cooling are planned as well as solar panels on the parking structure. Technology will be an important part of the building. The Evidence Room will have moveable shelving for flexibility.

Construction should start in October or November, and the building should open in September 2020. Information about the project and a webcam aimed at the project site that can be seen at https://www.cityofsalem.net/Pages/salem-police-station.aspx.

Peter FernandezPeter Fernandez, Director of Public Works for the City of Salem, (pictured at left) said his department is the City's largest department. It includes, water, sewer, stormwater, transportation except buses, parks, and any capitol projects (engineering). The Public Works Department has an emergency line at 503-588-6333 with a dispatcher available 24 hours every day for calls about problems with city infrastructure. He joked that the night dispatcher welcomes calls.

Mr. Fernandez said that Salem's water is safe to drink and the department knows how to handle toxins now and is also improving communication with the public.

The warming climate increases algae, which, when it dies can develop toxins. This process will increase nationwide.

Salem owns water rights that predate statehood, water rights that are almost three times as much water as Salem and the cities that buy water from Salem currently use. The City bought the Geren Island water treatment plant and dam in the mid 1930s. However, the U.S. Corps of Engineers owns Detroit Reservoir and the two dams there, and the U.S. Forest Service owns the watershed (the surrounding forest).

The Geren Island plant has small ponds with 36 inches of sand in them. Microorganisms in the pond scum eat the biologics in the water before the water seeps through the sand. These slow sand filters are an effective and economical way to treat drinking water, since we have a relatively clean source.

This summer the algae blooms discovered in Detroit Lake developed cyanotoxins as they died. Salem has been testing for cyanotoxins for several years, but until this year the toxins hadn't gotten to Geren Island. The FDA and the Oregon Health Authority didn't have advice on what to do or for what level of toxin would be a health problem. So the Water Department had to research solutions used elsewhere.

Testing for the toxins required purchase of an ELIZA machine that can test many samples. The samples have to be frozen and thawed three times before being put into the ELIZA machine, so the City bought a special freezer that allows fast freezing to a very low temperature, then quick thawing. Test results take only a few hours instead of the days that sending samples to an outside lab took.

This summer's solution was powdered activated charcoal filters installed before the slow-sand ponds to remove the toxins. Removing the charcoal so it won't clog the sand was a problem, so, if needed, this process is expected to be used for only the next couple of years. Ozone is an easier way to kill toxins, and Mr. Fernandez said he has been researching this option and will soon recommend buying that equipment, which would take two to three years to install. A bond issue will not be needed because the rates charged for water-sewer-stormwater are increased about 3% each year to cover maintenance.

Mr. Fernandez talked about the proposal to drain Detroit Reservoir to install a water-mixing column to aid fish. He said Senator Kurt Schrader is working to get a bill through Congress to get the Corps of Engineers to pay for supplementary sources of water during the time that reservoir water would be unavailable. In addition, the Corps is working on a way to keep the flow sufficient for the city on a survival level--no lawn watering or car washing. Fortunately, Americans as a whole are consuming less water due to low-water-use appliances and plumbing, so survival water levels are doable.

Salem Peace Lecture on "Journalism vs. Fake News"

About the speaker: Norman Solomon is an American journalist, media critic, antiwar activist, and former U.S. congressional candidate. Solomon is a longtime associate of the media watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). In 1997 he founded the Institute for Public Accuracy, which works to provide alternative sources for journalists, and serves as its executive director. Solomon's weekly column, "Media Beat", was in national syndication from 1992 to 2009.

Peacemaker of the Year Award: Each year a local peacemaker is honored at the Salem Peace Lecture. This year the award will go to the group Salem for Refugees, which provides services and support to refugees who have settled in the Salem area.

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.