Making Democracy Work

Focus newsletter for Summer 2017

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 & Friends,

Salem Strategic Plan--I hope this newsletter reaches you in time for you to attend the second City of Salem's Strategic Plan open house on June 1 at 6:00 p.m. at Broadway Commons. Salem 350.org members will be there to encourage the city to adopt a Climate Action Plan. Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, Beaverton and Ashland all have such plans. It is important that the LWV of Marion & Polk Counties be there to support a Salem Climate Action Plan which should be not only what the city government can do to contribute to climate change solutions, but also what community members can do. If you cannot make it, perhaps, at a minimum, you can go online and sign the 350 Salem OR petition at: https://350salemor.org/.

Solid Waste--I'm also hopeful that some of our members can attend the upcoming Metro Council's Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee (SWAAC) meetings. On June 14 SWAAC will discuss the Health Impact Assessment (HIA), part of which includes shipping around 20% of the Portland Metro area's garbage to the Covanta waste-to-energy incinerator in Marion County. The HIA "evaluates various indicators relating to air quality, soil and water quality, social and economic factors and other environmental conditions," wrote Ken Ray, Senior Public Affairs Coordinator for Metro in a letter to Margaret Noel, Chair of Civic Education for the League of Women Voters of Portland. The June 14 meeting will be at 10 a.m. at the Metro Council Chambers, 600 NE Grand Avenue in Portland. On July 25 Metro Council will have a work session on the SWAAC findings to decide whether additional research is needed. The July 25th 2 p.m. meeting is also open to the public. The HIA will be available to the public before these meetings.

Our partners in the coalition related to the Covanta incinerator are writing letters to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to encourage them to do studies of moss for toxins such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead. We are waiting to see if LWVOR will also write.

LWVMPC Members--This year two of our longtime members died, Dorothy Eberhardt and Nina Cleveland. Sandra Gangle, former president and co-author of our Transit Study, is moving to Camas, Washington. As a going-away gift to us, she is presenting a June 7th Unit meeting on labor law and her career as a labor arbitrator. This should be an interesting presentation and an opportunity to say good-bye to Sandra. Marian Churchill will be our host at the pleasant venue of Capitol Manor. Thank you, Marian, for hosting League events there.

Documentary Film on Big Pharma--We hope you will save some time and energy for the June 7th documentary film at 6:30 p.m. at Louck's Auditorium on Big Pharma: Market Failure with a discussion afterward by the director Richard Masters.

I've excerpted parts of the LWVUS policy position on Health Care adopted in 1993 to justify the LWV of Marion & Polk Counties co-sponsorship of this program. Our position was adopted in a time when pharmaceutical companies did have some push-back on their pricing, marketing and lobbying practices, but nothing like the current times when a medication can increase in price by 400% overnight. The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that a basic level of quality health care at an affordable cost should be available to all U.S. residents. Other U.S. health care policy goals should include the equitable distribution of services, efficient and economical delivery of care, advancement of medical research and technology, and a reasonable total national expenditure level for health care....The League supports increased taxes to finance a basic level of health care for all U.S. residents, provided health care reforms contain effective cost control strategies....The League believes that efficient and economical delivery of care can be enhanced by such cost control methods as: the establishment of maximum levels of public reimbursement to providers,...The League believes that the ability of a patient to pay for services should not be a consideration in the allocation of health care resources.
We are co-sponsoring the June 7th documentary film with seven other organizations.

Interest Groups--The Book Club continues to meet during the summer, and Great Decisions is on hiatus until fall. The Civil Discourse, Homelessness and Housing, and Solid Waste/Covanta Interest Groups can get started as soon as chairpersons are ready. [See Opportunities on Page 5.]

Hot Topics--Wasn't that Hot Topics documentary Locked in a Box something? I was shocked at the conditions under which the immigrant detainees were held, some for many years with no visitors, no hot meals, no exercise or outdoor time, no programming; some were crammed into cells with no beds, just sleeping on the floor. This treatment seems completely unacceptable in this country. We need to be writing our Senators and Representatives in Congress.

League Events--Thank you to those of you who attended Program Planning and the Annual Meeting to guide our program. Our Board Retreat is coming up on June 16 during which we board members will review our roles, brainstorm ideas for welcoming all our new members and getting them involved in whatever ways they wish, and set up our program calendar for the 2017-18 year.

Annual Meeting--Thank you to all the members who helped make Annual Meeting a success: Kathleen West for the arrangements at the Flight Deck restaurant; Deanie Anderson for the proposed program presentation; Elsa Struble for the treasurer's report; Roz Shirack for presenting the proposed budget; Peter Anderson for technology assistance all year; Sally Hollemon for taking photos and notes for the Focus; Susan Forkner for greeting, receiving payments, being parliamentarian, and reviewing the minutes with Sharon Johnson; Norman Turrill for speaking about modernizing the League; and Alice Phalan for presenting the Nominating Committee report and the Founder's Award.

Thank You--Thank you for giving me the Founder's Award. I was surprised, as I thought we had decided to wait another year to give the award. I have learned so much over my 35 years in the League and received so much more than I have given. Thank you all.

Unit: My Zig-Zag Route to Becoming a Labor Arbitrator

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 protects the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. Most labor contracts include a grievance procedure that allows an individual employee, or the union or management, to allege that the contract has been violated. If the dispute cannot be resolved through negotiation, the parties may obtain an expeditious hearing by a neutral arbitrator, who decides the dispute and grants an appropriate remedy.

Arbitrator Gangle will discuss her work and answer questions about labor arbitration and arbitrators themselves, including the following:

  • What characteristics make an arbitrator acceptable to labor and management advocates?
  • What career path led her to achieve acceptability as a judge throughout the Pacific Northwest?
  • What ethical rules apply to labor arbitrators?
  • How is an arbitration hearing similar to and/or different from a court trial

Community Events:

National Wear Orange Day

Wear Orange Day is National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 2. In Salem it will be observed on Saturday, June 3, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Salem Carousel in Riverfront Park. The event will honor those whose lives have been altered or taken through gun violence. The observance is sponsored by MOMs groups from Salem and Corvallis.

  Big Pharma: Market Failure

The documentary film Big Pharma: Market Failure takes an in-depth look at the U.S. pharmaceutical industry and how it is hurting businesses, damaging our economy as well as negatively impacting the nation's health. The film will be shown on Wednesday, June 7, 6: 30 - 8:30 p.m., in Salem Library's Loucks Auditorium, 585 Liberty St. SE. Admission is free. LWVMPC is a cosponsor of the event.

Following the showing, Richard Master, CEO of MCS Industries and producer of the film, will discuss the film with elected officials, health professionals and local health care advocates with time for audience participation. Reservations are not required, but to ensure a seat: Click this link to reserve seats to the Big Pharma screening.

Opportunities!

Deanie Anderson, Program

You may have missed the Annual Meeting but you haven't missed the chance to participate in some of our wonderful Program elements. The good news is that each of these already has support materials and support people, so choose the topic that interests you.  
1.     Interest Group--Homeless Conditions: Before we decide to update or add to our position on Housing, we need to examine what housing exists now, how job conditions for disabled and other people affects it, and the needs of youth. The Board suggested an interest group for 2017 to do some preliminary investigation and then propose a study or other action at our 2018 Program Planning meeting. Two people already signed up!  
2.     Interest Group--Solid Waste/Covanta Contract: In 2008-9 we updated our position after a study on Waste to Energy processing in Marion County. Conditions regarding the increased waste being shipped in and the renewal conditions in the contract as well as health implications have brought the need to look again at this issue.  Very local and very timely! An active collaborative team (Physicians for Social Responsibility, 350.org, and LWVMPC) is already working, but more League presence and eyes are needed to address our position and appropriate action.  Please participate.  
3.     Interest Group--Civil Discourse/Civics: This has been a topic of interest for our League for several years--maybe always! At the LWVOR Convention in June delegates voted to concur with the consensus statement of the San Louis Obispo LWV and make this area a priority. Materials are available, including the enclosed flyer on Civil Discourse. Now we need you!

4.     Unit--Hard Rock Mining Study/consensus: An LWVOR study team is finishing its 2-year study of this topic, which includes implications of pollution and use of natural resources. Materials are being prepared by the state LWV study committee, and a local team is needed to review the materials to prepare to lead discussion at a fall 2017 Unit meeting.  The work is done, so the fun part of presenting is waiting for you!  
5.     Citizen Education--Collaboration with AAUW: We need several members willing to assist with planning for a women's theme public forum for fall 2017 or spring 2018. Trafficking has been suggested as a possible topic; what other topics would you suggest? For the past three years we have enjoyed the shared experience with AAUW of presenting to the public important topics around women's issues. Let's keep it up!

6.    Voter Service--Outreach Invitations: Help develop an invitation to community groups to offer our voter education services for their use.

To volunteer for one of these projects, contact Deanie Anderson or put your name on a sign-up sheet at the June 7th Unit meeting at Capital Manor.

Annual Meeting Highlights

Sally Hollemon

Annual Meeting was held on May 15 at the Flight Deck restaurant at Salem Airport. Nineteen members came for lunch, and three more members arrived during the meeting. Cindy Burgess presided.

Program

Deanie Anderson presented a PowerPoint that began "Who are we and what can we do?" and answered with: "LWV is a grassroots nonpartisan political organization that envisions informed citizens participating in a fully accessible, responsive, and transparent government to achieve the common good." Deanie urged that all League members be able to recite that sentence when asked the the League does.

She said that Program is broader than just studies. It includes ● Any activity or event that educates members or the community ● Any element that may bring in new members and stimulate leadership

So Hot Topics, Interest Groups, and Citizen Education activities are all part of Program.

LWVUS: Deanie said that the national LWV is urging us to continue Making Democracy Work™ by emphasizing ● Natural Resources--Climate Change ● Representative Government ● Social Policy ● Governmental Campaign Finance Reform

LWVOR: The Hard Rock Mining Study report will be mailed to members in early fall for Unit meetings to discuss consensus questions in order to arrive at a statewide position on the topic.

LWVMPC: Our program was adopted with a change to Advocacy from should to could:

● Retain all current LWVMPC positions

● Update Special Needs Housing

Recommend that Housing for Homeless People and the Jobs for People with Disabilities be addressed in 2017 through an Interest Group as an information-gathering process in order to bring the topic to January 2018 Program Planning with a proposal.

● Hot Topics:

◦ Third bridge in Salem--land-use issues

◦ Covanta--The Covanta solid waste burner contract is up for renewal. The proposed contract includes accepting more medical wastes from other states.

● Advocacy--LWVMPC positions on which we could advocate are: 

◦ Racism
◦ Civil Behavior [A flyer from LWV accompanies this Focus.]
◦ School hours
◦ Public transit (More buses are needed; Uber does not substitute for buses.)

● LWVMPC needs an Action Committee. We also need an Action Chair. Volunteers?

We should try to anticipate issues for action so that our advocacy is timely. We should continue and extend our collaboration with other organizations.

● Vocabulary in Position Statements: Update terminology as we use our position statements.

Budget: The Budget was adopted as printed in the Annual Meeting Workbook.

Election of Officers: The following were elected for 2017-2018:

Officers

President--Cindy Burgess

V.P. / Program Co-chair--Deanie Anderson

Program Co-chair--Kathleen West

Treasurer / Member Statistics--Elsa Struble

Secretary--Jean Sherbeck

Barbara Sellers-Young--Publicity/Outreach

Directors

Action--A volunteer is needed. (The nominee withdrew before Annual Meeting.)

Past President / Membership--Diana Bodtker

Publicity / Outreach--Barbara Sellers-Young

Voter Service--Vacant; not an election year

Nominating Committee 2018

Chair--A volunteer is needed.

Member--A volunteer is needed.

Founders' Award: Alice Phalan, Nominating Committee Chair, presented the Founders' Award to Cindy Burgess. As the silver platter was still at the engraver's, Alice handed Cindy the platter's stand.

Direction (Suggestions) to the Board:

Among the suggestions were two imaginative ones. If either of the following catches your fancy, please let Cindy Burgess know of your interest. ● Clean up a stretch of roadside; get a sign posted to say the cleanup is by the League of Women Voters. ● Sponsor a student art exhibit on the topic of civility; arrange with Salem Library to put the art there.

LWVOR President Speaks at Annual Meeting

Norman Turrill, president of the League of Women Voters of Oregon, began by speaking about LWVOR's advocacy at the Oregon Legislature during the current session.

Oregon Legislative Session 2017--Citizens can look up and follow bills on OLIS (Oregon Legislative Information System) and can watch hearings as they are occurring or later. The weekly LWVOR Legislative Report emailed to each member with email has information about the bills the LWVOR Action Committee is following.

Revenue is the big issue at the legislature since adequate funding of state services has been postponed for so long.

Norman has specialized in following:

● Campaign finance, including independent expenditures (also called dark money); two bills may move.

● He serves on a state Redistricting Task Force that is working on proposing a constitutional amendment to require an independent commission to do redistricting.

● National Popular Vote: Senator Courtney has been blocking this (probably because he thinks amending the U.S. Constitution is the proper way to change how the President is elected), but he has said he may stop blocking it.

● Allowing 16-year-olds to preregister to vote when they get their first driver's license would ensure they are registered to vote when they turn 18.

Norman said that LWVOR's finances are good as a result of consolidation as a 501(c)(3) organization, so LWVOR will fund local League Voter Service projects, such as printed Voters' Guides.

He added that the League has recently gotten many new members. Get them involved!

Modernizing the League--In January Norman participated in a national LWV task force that came up with the following goals for modernizing the League. Norman commented on the goals:

Policy over paperwork--People usually join the League to work on advocacy or voter service. We must avoid having new members take on organizational work and, when possible, have staff do those tasks that volunteers don't enjoy.

Simplify local League organization; break some rules--We must free ourselves from old ways and find a new model. "State Units" are intended to allow members to concentrate on the fun stuff.

New membership model: Join LWV now.--We have been expanding our definition of who can be members, but a member must still pay dues in order to vote. Is a donor a member? Are people asking to receive our emails considered as members? What about a person who clicks on our website? To be the most effective organization, we should capture everyone who shows even the slightest interest.

New financial model--Leagues often compete for donors and grants. Using modern communications we should use a cooperative model, such as sharing moneys across the organization. LWVOR will fundraise with local Leagues and make our publications available free to local Leagues.

Strengthen League infrastructure--The LWVUS computer system doesn't do everything it should beyond tracking membership. The state LWV could take on some of the local Leagues' administrative issues.

An amplification of Norman's remarks about those goals will be in the LWVOR Voter, which will be sent to all League members in early June.

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.