Making Democracy Work

VOTER April 2013

Annual All-City Luncheon

The League of Women Voters of Oakland Invites You to Attend Our

22nd Annual All-City Luncheon

Wednesday, May 1
11:30 Registration and No-host Bar    12:00-1:30 Luncheon and Program

Speaker: Jennifer Pahlka,

Founder of Code for America

"Of the People, By the People, For the 21st Century"

Making Democracy Work Awards
Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont, Executive Director, Oakland Rising
Naomi Schiff, Coalition of Advocates for Lake Merritt & Oakland Heritage Alliance
San Pablo Avenue/Golden Gate Neighborhood Associations
West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project


The Pavilion at Scott's Seafood Restaurant

2 Broadway, Jack London Square, Oakland
$60 LWVO Members $80 Non-members
Send reservation requests before April 25 to League of Women Voters of Oakland. You can also make reservations online at; or call the LWVO office at 510-834-7640

Consider Inviting a Friend to Join You

You can buy tickets online

President's Message

By Katherine Gavzy

These lovely spring days bring hope, optimism, and also hard work: last year's bulbs are spreading through the garden, the buds on the fig tree are plump and healthy, and the weeds need pulling. Your League looks ahead to the next few months in Oakland with that same sense of excitement and determination. For one thing, the composition of the City Council has changed, and as we have been meeting with council members to share concerns and priorities we are encouraged to hear from them the recognition that they have the opportunity to do the city's business in a more civil, effective, open and transparent way. The hard work will be to put together a realistic city budget that meets the people's needs, including of course public safety, and to do it with public input and public understanding. Public education about the budget process is the kind of thing the League does well. We would like to organize a series of budget forums in the city council districts, to help Oaklanders understand the hard choices. Council members support this idea, but it cannot happen without the involvement of League volunteers. If you are concerned about your city's future and want to help, please contact Action Chair Mary Bergan (

Hope, optimism and excitement are building around the LWVO All-City Luncheon, which will happen on May 1st in the bright and cheerful Scotts Seafood Pavilion at Jack London Square. It is shaping up to be one of our best luncheons ever: new (and more generous!) sponsors; a great speaker, Jennifer Pahlka of Code for America, on a timely topic - "Of the People, By the People, For the 21st Century," and four fabulous Making Democracy Work awardees. Buy your ticket by responding to the invitation you receive in the mail, or on the LWVO website. Bring your friends and neighbors to join with elected officials, business and nonprofit leaders, and engaged citizens in celebrating Oakland and the work of the League.

Hot Topics: Technology Comes to Oakland

As more technology companies move to Oakland, and as more companies build products designed to improve public processes, what will the impact be on our city?
What would we like to see?
Join the discussion!
Monday, April 22, 6-7:30 p.m.
California Federation of Teachers office, 1330 Broadway, Suite 1601
Downtown Oakland

The League of Women Voters of Oakland sponsors monthly HOT TOPICS roundtable discussions to inform members and the public and to seek ways we can come together to address important issues facing our community.

Fight for the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA):

"It's Now Up to Us to See That It Gets Done"

By: Elisabeth MacNamara, President LWVUS

EDITORIAL NOTE: This blog post was originally published on the Huffington Post.

Commonly known as the "Motor Voter Act," the NVRA streamlined voter registration, making it easier for citizens to register to vote, and protecting against state restrictions on voter registration for federal elections. If the Supreme Court rules against the NVRA next week, states would be free to pass laws that could restrict voter registration activities and thereby prevent eligible citizens from registering to vote.

Protecting Our Right to Vote
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act (NVRA) of 1965, an essential part of American democracy. It ensures that every American citizen, regardless of race, has an equal right to vote. If the Justices overturn the Voting Rights Act, it would be the single biggest setback for voting rights in history.

Learn what national LWV is doing to protect voters' rights, and how to add your voice, by visiting http://, or, and signing up for Action Alerts. LWVUS is activating our powerful League grass roots network; be a part of this struggle now.

2013 Rosters Are Here!

By now you should have received your bright red roster for 2013. Please add the membership changes that are listed on page 7 of thepaper copy of this VOTER.

If you have not yet received your roster, please contact the League office at 834-7640, or


What are they? Why should we care?
How can we reduce our health risks?

Tracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH, Guest Speaker

Presented jointly by LWV Piedmont & Piedmont Connect

Wednesday April 24, 7- 8:30 p.m.
Beach School Auditorium, 100 Lake Ave, Piedmont

Many of the products we use on a daily basis expose us to chemicals and metals that have the potential to harm our health. From the personal care products in our bathroom, to the couch in our living room, to the plastics in our kitchen + many of these products can contain ingredients such as lead, flame retardants and plasticizers that may increase risk of harm to our families.

What are the most effective approaches to prevention? How does public policy impact environmental expo-sures? Dr. Woodruff is a national expert on how exposure to environmental chemicals affects early development. She is Director of the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment.

California League Prepares to Launch a New Approach to Online Voter Information

Big changes are coming soon to the Internet near you! Building on last fall's successful test of Smart Voter's new "Next Generation" web technology, the state League is poised to launch a brand new way of engaging and informing California voters online later this year. Detailed plans are currently being finalized and are expected to be announced at the state League Convention in San Jose on May 16-19.

The new approach is expected to incorporate the most current techniques from both online journalism and interactive web technology to create a completely new experience for the 24 million Californians who will be eligible to vote in 2014. Regular updates and news stories based on some of the best coverage and analysis of election-related subjects in the Golden State will be featured at the redesigned Smart VoterŪ website, along with the award-winning personal ballot lookup that California voters have used for more than fifteen years. Visitors will be able to enjoy a robust range of streaming videos, audio clips, interactive graphics and carefully-selected stories about upcoming election issues and contests, ballot measures and changes to the voting process.

Importantly, the new Smart VoterŪ will allow the League at all levels to partner more extensively with other leading civic groups and news media outlets around the state, and to provide information tools and content that can be easily shared on the websites, mobile apps and social media of those organiza-tions to greatly expand our impact. The Next Generation design will make all of this valuable information just as easy to explore on the touch screens of smartphones and tablet computers as the biggest flat panel monitor. The leadership of Smart VoterŪ hopes to ensure that local Leagues throughout California will have the tools to be a vital source for voters well into the 21st century.

You Can Help
A campaign to raise additional money to complete this important transition to the League's future in online voter information is currently underway. Right now, thanks to a $25,000 challenge offered by a group of long-time Smart VoterŪ supporters, every new or increased donation to Smart Voter for the Next Generation project by June 30, 2013 will be matched until the challenge goal is met. Checks should be sent to LWVC Education Fund, 1107 9th Street, Suite 300, Sacramento CA 95814-3608, with a notation that you wish to designate your gift to Smart Voter. We appreciate your support!

The Health Care Movie: The Canadian System VS the U.S.

National Women's Political Caucus
Dinner Meeting Series
Monday, April 1, 6-7:30pm

Buttercup Grill
229 Broadway at 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607

Presenter: Nancy Friedman

This documentary describes how the health care systems in Canada and the United States evolved to be so different, when at one point they were essentially the same. Most people are not aware of the intensity of the political struggle that led to the universal medical care system in Canada--at one point the doctors went on strike for 24 days! Nor are they aware of the public relations campaigns, still active today, that have been prevalent in the United States since the early 1900's to dissuade the public from supporting national health care.

Even with full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, many millions will still not have coverage. And there are only minor restrictions on soaring premium costs.

Produced by Canadian/American couple Laurie Simons and Terry Sterrenberg, The Healthcare Movie reveals the personal and emotional impact on Canadians who now have access to universal health care because of the heroism of people who took a stand nearly 50 years ago. It also reveals the continuing struggle in the United States between the fear of government intervention and the right to quality health care for all people.

After the movie, Nancy Friedman, MFT, an articulate and tireless advocate for universal health care since 1993, will answer questions about actions building for a Medicare-for-All type system in California and across the country.

The movie is 65 minutes long, and will start promptly at 6:10 pm.
Co-sponsored by several other organizations, including the League of Women Voters of Oakland
Please plan to arrive by 6pm so you can order your dinner before the program begins.
For more information contact Program Co-Chair Ellen Augustine 510-428-1832,; or Co-Chair Miriam Rokeach 510-658-3805,

A Vigorous Volunteer-- Bea Rudney

Bea Rudney is one of those invaluable "behind the scenes" members who support the League by taking on volunteer tasks without which our League would grind to a halt. She joined the League in 1991 after her friend Leah Hirsch invited her to a meeting. Mary Strauss was president and the League was just beginning an intensive two year study of the health care system. Bea, who had a long career as a nurse at Kaiser, was drawn right in. At the end of the two years, the consensus from Leagues around the country was support of a single payer system. Bill Clinton was elected President shortly after their study was completed and tried mightily to institute major health care reforms. He didn't succeed, but the fight for reform continues (See article above.)

Bea has served on many committees. She comments that the League was very welcoming. That's no doubt because she herself is such a warm, positive person.

After retiring, Bea continued to be engaged in many activities, including counseling with the Cancer Society and ushering for Berkeley Rep and Cal Shakes. She retains her vigor by swimming, doing aerobics, and taking frequent walks in Redwood Park. She and her husband, Stan, have lived in the same house in Montclair for 60 years and raised three children there. Her family recently returned home to help her celebrate her 90th birthday.

Happy Birthday, Bea!

March 2013 Program - Muslim Women in America

Taking a look beyond the usual issues of local, state, and national politics, the LWVO program in March featured a conversation about and among American Muslim Women.

Syeda Reshma Inamdar, a member of the board of LWVCA, talked abut the positive values in Muslim culture. She said that there is an emphasis on shura-- consensus--in making decisions in Muslim communities. She pointed out that Muslims believe it is import to engage and be part of society, and to take care of the downtrodden.

Aisha Wahab, a member of the Alameda County Human Relations Commission and the Health Commission, acknowledged that the Muslim religion is generally considered bad in the United States because of the Twin Towers disaster and other threats of terrorism. However, the fear is overbroad. She was born in the United States to parents from Afganistan, and feels she has few ties to Afghan culture or religion. She says she had to ask her parents, "What's a burka?" She feels that it is important to promote dialogue and she commends the League of Women Voters because it takes the initiative to talk to and to understand all sides. As Americans, she says, we are for freedom of religion. Now, Afghans are fighting for their freedom, as Americans have done.

The third speaker, Samina Sundas, the founder and Executive Director of American Muslim Voice, spoke even more forcefully about the need to notice similarities among people rather than focus on differences. "We all smile in the same language," she said. She was saddened by surveys that show that many Americans do not want Muslims for neighbors and want Muslims in the United Stats to carry special ID cards. To change these attitudes, the goal of American Muslim Voice is to educate people to move from fear to friendship.

* *  *   *   *   *   *

The program also included a first hand report from a meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women by Kathleen Cha, who served as an NGO delegate at their meetings held last month. Kathleen reported that there were over 300 sessions offered on many topics, but that much of the talk was about violence against women, especially domestic violence, which many felt was a worldwide pandemic. There are many causes for this pandemic, but Kathleen specifically mentioned wars and the effects of transnational conglomerates as being particularly harmful. To learn more about the UN studies, go to

LWV California Defends CEQA

LWV California strongly believes in citizen involvement in the political process. The California Environmental Quality Act-- CEQA--ensures the public can weigh in on major land use decisions. Current efforts to change CEQA would undermine citizen participation. We have joined CEQA Works, a coalition committed to educating California's residents and legislators about the benefits CEQA has brought to the state since it was enacted by Governor Ronald Reagan 43 years ago. For more information go to

LWVC Convention 2013

This year's convention will be held in San Jose. Friday May 17--Sunday May
19. To learn more about the speakers, workshops and other events, go to . If you are interested in attending, contact Katherine Gavzy to see if there is still space for voting delegates.(partially subsidized). If not, you may register as a non-voting delegate.

Invite a Friend to Join!

Membership in the League of Women Voters of Oakland is a bargain and a statement. A bargain because you will have access to valuable information and insights via the VOTER newsletters and LWV Web sites, through membership not only in LWVO but also in LWV Bay Area, LWV California and LWVUS, and via a variety of events and dialogues with key leaders throughout the year.

Your statement as a League member will be that you are committed to providing non-biased, well-researched information to voters, and that the issues your League follows are those that affect every area in Oakland: schools, public safety, local government, parks, our economy, and more.

Join the League, one of the nation's most trusted, nonpartisan grassroots organizations where "hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement."

Join here.


Welcome, New Member
Shinal Lakshman
Recently Renewed Members
Rebecca and Janet Cohn
Rebecca Saltzman
Change to the Roster
New Address and Phone Helen Koci
A Loss in the League Family
It has just come to our attention that 50-year member Penny Ora Anderson died in 2011. We extend belated condolences to her family and friends.

LWVO Board Highlights

The Action committee has almost completed its inter-views with individual City Council members. Mary Bergan reported that campaign finance reports are now required to be submitted electronically, which should make them easier to track and to read. Adequate public records management continues to be a problem, however. LWVO voted to support a proposal by Make Oakland Better Now to create a ballot measure to amend the city charter to require a Rainy Day Fund.

The Nominating Committee has completed their search for new members of the Board for 2013-15. They will be voted on at the Annual meeting June 5.

The Communications Committee is expanding the avenues for LWVO to reach the public, primarily through online vehicles like neighborhood list serves.

The Program committee is working on plans for the June 5 Annual Meeting. Location and speaker are not yet determined, but several good ideas were discussed. In addition to a good dinner in good company and an interesting speaker, the evening will include a vote for new members of the Board and approval of next year's budget. Details will be in the May VOTER; meanwhile, save the date!

Support the League

We rely on dues and donations to support our programs.

Print out a Contribution Form or donate online.

Thank you for your support!