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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
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.
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:// participate.lwv.org, or http://www.lwv.org/get-involved, and signing up for Action Alerts. LWVUS is activating our powerful League grass roots network; be a part of this struggle now.
If you have not yet received your roster, please contact the League office at 834-7640, or email@example.com.
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.
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!
Presenter: Nancy Friedman
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.
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!
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 www.un.org/womenwatch
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."
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!
Thank you for your support!