Making Democracy Work

VOTER February 2013

BAY AREA LEAGUE DAY

WATER: CALIFORNIA'S GOLD 2013

Saturday, February 2,
9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

First Unitarian Church of Oakland
685 14th Street at Castro, Oakland, CA 94612
Join us to learn about the importance of water in California.
Experts will inform us about Background, Governance, and Conveyance
Cost in advance: $30 ($15 without lunch); at the door $35 ($20 without lunch).
To register, please send a check payable to `LWVBA', along with your name and any guest names, to:
LWVBA
1611 Telegraph Avenue, Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94612.
Registration is also available online via PayPal at http://www.lwvbayarea.org.
For more details, please call (510) 839-1608 or email editor@lwvbayareamoniter.org
http://lwvbayarea.org/calendar.html

Initiative and Referendum Consensus Meeting

Saturday, February 23, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m
Dimond Library, 3565 Fruitvale Avenue ( a block east of Macarthur Blvd)

After much study, it is time for our League to make decisions about the reforms we'd like to see in the California Initiative and Referendum Process.
Join other League members as we discuss the consensus questions that will guide the state League in taking action on this topic. For more detailed information about the questions, see the consensus questions here or in the yellow insert in your paper VOTER. For more information about the meeting, see the next section.

Initiative and Referendum Process Consensus Meeting

Do you have ideas about how we can change the California initiative system to make it better? Maybe you simply feel that it could be better, but are not sure about what to do. Or perhaps you simply want to know more about how it works now, or want to make sure that the League position represents your point of view.

At the consensus meeting for the update study of the initiative and referendum process in California, we promise a stimulating and lively discussion! The meeting will be held in Oakland on Saturday, February 23, from 10 am to 3 pm, at the Dimond Library. Readily accessible to public transportation, Dimond Library is a block east of the intersection of Fruitvale and MacArthur, on the route of many AC Transit buses. Because the lunch break is short, we recommend that you bring a bag lunch, but it is also near a variety of restaurants where you can find a good lunch.

We're doing two meetings in one day; if you can't make it to both, come for just the morning or afternoon. We're sharing these meetings with the Berkeley/Albany/Emeryville League. If you can't make it to our meeting, there are similar meetings scheduled in Berkeley at the LWVBAE office, 2530 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. (near University Avenue). The first half of the meeting is on Monday, February 25, 1-3 p.m.; the second is Wednesday, February 27th, 1-3 p.m.

Background material for the study is available on the LWVC website, lwvc.org:. Click on "Initiative and Referendum Study" to see the study guide and consensus questions. The consensus questions are also available here.

Here are introductions to consensus meeting topics.

President's Message

By Katherine Gavzy
Here is one New Year's resolution that I hope you will all share with me: we want 2013 to be the year when the League finally enters fully into the world of contemporary technology and communications, including the mysteries (at least to me!) of social media. In the January VOTER our webmistress Bev Solo told you about our session with local Wikipedia citizen-editors, learning how to use that amazing program to enhance and improve online articles about democracy, women's voting rights, and the League itself. You will receive email newsblasts about future similar sessions and I really urge you to try it out: no prior experience required. We met a young woman "hacker" who organizes regular "wiki" gatherings at the main branch of the library to research and record Oakland history; she is eager for our members to join in, particularly long time Leaguers with memories of events where LWVO was actively involved (like our groundbreaking Waterfront study). More news from us about that project coming up. Since inviting Code for America founder Jen Pahlka to be our annual Luncheon speaker, we have been meeting volunteer "Coders" everywhere, including the Public Ethics Commission where they talked about putting technology to work to improve city government transparency and public access to records: a totally "League-like" goal. To quote our LWVC president Jenny Waggoner, "these are exactly the young, passionate, tech-savvy members who dedicate significant time to community service and whom your Leagues say they want to recruit." It is an exciting prospect, but we are still struggling with the best way to reach out to this world. What we need is someone (or better yet several people) within LWVO to champion this idea, working with our Membership and our Communications committees to make it real. If you have any interest, or if you know some people in the technology community who would like to learn more from the League about civic engagement, please contact the League office: 834-7640 / info@lwvoakland.org. We would love to hear from you about your ideas.

Our Guidance to LWVUS

In January, the national League asked local Leagues to send them recommendations for issues on which LWVUS should focus their legislative advocacy. In response, a committee of the LWVO Board submitted issues that relate to positions under the Voting Rights and the Election Process categories. They are in order of priority:
1. Disclosure and regulation of campaign finance contributions
2. Combating voter suppression
3. Improving voting methods across the country: adequate staffing of polling places, adequate time made available for voting, efficient and auditable systems

California LWV Convention

Here's a great way to learn more about the state League, have a voice in its decisions, meet new people from across the state, and have a lot of fun.
The California League of Women Voters will hold its biennial convention this year at the Hayes Mansion in San Jose May 17-19. Details of the convention will soon be available on the Web. To learn more, go to http://lwvc.wordpress.com/.
LWVO is entitled to send 8 voting delegates, and other members are welcome to attend. The League has limited funds available to help pay for convention fees. If you are interested in attending, contact Katherine Gavzy at kathgav@comcast.net

PROGRAM PLANNING:

Charting our Course for the 2013/14 League Year

On January 19th a group of LWVO members met for our annual review of League positions and issues for education and advocacy. We call this Program Planning, a frankly boring-sounding name which doesn't really give a good picture of how important and interesting this activity is. If you were not able to participate this year, I hope you will plan to do so next year. The League sets its voter education and action agendas through the program planning process. We review our existing positions, i.e. statements of policy that result from the study process, to make sure that they can be used as the basis for advocacy work: lobbying on pending legislation, and speaking out or writing about issues. If local Oakland League positions need updating or expansion so we can respond to action needs we expect to arise, we make that recommendation to our members at the Annual Meeting in June after discussing and reaching consensus on them at Program Planning.
In odd numbered years (like 2013) we also review the State League positions and send our recommendations to LWVC to be debated and voted on by local Leagues from all around California at the biennial State convention. In even years we do the same for National League positions that will be debated and voted on at the biennial LWVUS convention. We also identify the issues that we want to focus time and energy on. This year our group arrived at recommendations over several hours of lively discussion, ranging from health care reform to public safety in Oakland to immigrant rights and more. Our goal is to keep the League relevant and effective. Look for upcoming articles in the VOTER with more details, and come to Annual Meeting on June 5th where our members will have the final say.

LWVC Advocates for Disclosure

Shortly before Election Day last November, an out-of-state nonprofit organization made an $11 million contri-bution to a California ballot measure committee that clearly violated California law. This sparked an outcry throughout the state. Californians are demanding that our campaign contribution disclosure laws be tightened up. The League of Women Voters is a leader in this effort and has begun working with our good government partners and the legislature to pass measures that will do just this.
This is a complicated issue, with many different aspects to be addressed. One size--or one bill--will not fit all. The League is sponsoring several bills and will be supporting others that, taken together, will improve the situation. We are focusing on a `package' which address three broad areas:
 Election filings and disclosure
-- Make it easy for campaigns to make their reports--with online filing and schedules more like federal reporting schedules
-- Make it easy, clear, and quick for Californians to see who is contributing where
 Ending the "dark money" loophole
-- Prevent the use of nonprofits and Super PACs to hide the real sources of campaign funds
 Enforcement
-- Strictly enforce all the campaign regulations
-- Ensure that penalties are sufficiently painful to make compliance more likely
Whether it be candidates filing reports of contributions, ballot measure campaigns filing reports of contributions, or paid political ads and slate mailers revealing who paid for them, we are supporting changes that will make "following the money" and identifying who's behind the advertisements much more transparent for voters. In addition, we will work for stiffer enforcement and stronger penalties so that violators will not just cynically chalk up the fines as the cost of doing business.
Sign up for Action Alerts from LWVC and stay aware of what LWVC is doing and how you can help at ca.lwv.org/user/register.

National Women's Political Caucus

Dinner Meeting Series

Monday, February 4, 6-7:30pm
Buttercup Grill
229 Broadway at 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Aimee Allison
International Women's Issues

Co-sponsored by
Alameda County Commission on the Status of Women
Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club
American Association of University Women
Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers
Black Women Organized for Political Action
Emerge California
Leagues of Women Voters of Oakland and Berkeley/Albany/Emeryville
Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club

Our speaker, Aimee Allison, is a women's rights activist who is committed to raising local awareness of important international women's issues and connecting local groups with NGOs and the UN to address critical women's problems. Aimee will describe the work of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and tell us about its upcoming annual meeting in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and develop policies. This year the Commission's focus will be on violence against women, including international best practices to address human trafficking; San Francisco's unique approach in dealing with domestic violence; and promotion of women's leadership in the private sector using international standards.
For more information contact Program Co-Chairs Ellen Augustine 510-428-1832, ellenaugustine@earthlink.net; and Miriam Rokeach 510-658-3805, mirIamrokeach@gmail.com.

November's Army Base Program

Viewable on a Computer near You

LWVO tries to have videos made of our public meet-ings that are then made available on YouTube. Our forums in Hearing Room One of City Hall are usually recorded by KTOP and shown on KTOP cable channel 10. Forums in other venues are taped by volunteer Holly Eggleston. Last fall the videos were uploaded to YouTube by Miranda Perry and were also available on our web site, http://www.lwvoakland.org.

The Oakland Army Base program meeting in November was taped pro bono by a non-member professional named Frances Oman of Visionary Video Promotion. It is still available on our web site . The letter excerpted here explains her motivation for volunteering.
Enjoy the show, and many thanks to Frances!

Hi all,
Well, this turned out to be a major project due to having to juggle the two cameras and only one sound source ... It is 1 hour 20 minutes and has all the bells and whistles ... and editing in from the two separate cameras so we really get all the questioners. Two days of editing! I hope you can get a wide audience to view it online so that the full story is told.
It was an inspiring example of democracy at work the way it is meant to be, whether for this issue or for election procedures. High Five to the work you are all doing. I began my social/political activism at my mother's knees going door to door registering voters in the 50s.She was a member of LWV as soon as it be-gan. I was pleased to be of service to your work!
Yours in partnership for a world that works for every-one.
Frances

Thank You to our End-of-Year "Non-Event" Donors

 
Carole Agnello
Polly Amrein
Louise Anderson
Ellen Ansel
Sue Bachman
Judi and Peter Bank
Dottie Barnett
Nancy Blackman
Caroline Booth
Meg and Larry Bowerman
Kathleen Cha
Megan and John Chenowith
Ana Chretien
Seena Clark
Kathy Collop
Fran Costa
Jean Cunningham
Mary Jane Dean
Karen Engel
Lorraine Force
Phyllis Gaines
Trisha Gorman
Abel Guillen
Ruth Hafter
Gretchen Hayes
Terry Kulka
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Judith Mann
Meredith Marschak
Gerry and Judy Merrill
Donna and Ian Mitroff
Jean Moorhead
Bruce Nye
Christine Pagano
Elaine Pector
Dorothy Rice
Paul Robbins
Bette Roberts-Collins
   in honor of Arthur Collins
Bea Rudney
Barbara Ruffner
Nancy Sampson
Myrna Schnur
Bev Solo
Mary Strauss
John and Ellie Sutter
Miriam Steinbock
Elizabeth Summers
Jacqueline Tabor
Mary Ann Thompson
Sandra Threlfall
Carol Van Steenberg
Ruth Vaughn
Susan Veit
Rae Victor
Shirley Warwick
Gertrude Young

More Contributions in Support of LWVO's Voter Service

The League is grateful to have received more contri-butions in support of our work educating citizens prior to the fall election. New contributions have come from:
The Allstadt-Hardin Foundation
Stephen Bomse
Craig Garman of the Rockridge Community Planning Council
The George Zaine Trust

Thank you for your support!

And Thanks to...

The many contributions we received at the end of the year were in large part the result of the solicitation letters sent out by a small group of volunteers. LWVO appreciates the help of Nancy Blackman, Bonnie Hamlin, Bea Rudney, and Iris Winogrond in sending out these letters

The League On-Line

If you misplace your VOTER or if you have a ques-tion about the Oakland League or contacts in city government, check out the resources on our web site www.lwvoakland.org. Ably run by Bev Solo, the web site is an excellent resource, containing late-breaking information about League activities and on-line copies of past and current issues of the VOTER. Besides the information on the main page of the web site, there is a hidden trove of information.
Members Only Information

Are you curious about what was on the LWVO Board agenda last month? Wondering where we keep our extra LWV buttons? Need to find out what is covered in the League's non partisan policy or advocacy guidelines or the bylaws? You can find everything online at the Members Only section of the lwvoakland.org website. No password required.
Log in to http://www.lwvoakland.org
Add to the line above to make it
http://www.lwvoakland.org/members_only.html
There you are!

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."

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Membership

Welcome to a New Member
Esther Zabin

A Loss to the League Family:
LWVO member Sandy Eakins, mother of League member Becky Austin, died January 2, 2013. Sandy had recently moved to Oakland from Palo Alto where she had been a long-time member of the League of Women Voters of South San Mateo County, a city Councilwoman for 5 years including a term as Mayor, and had served on the Planning Commission. In recent years she had been part of the Smart Voter Steering Committee. Our thoughts are with Becky and her brothers and their children at this sad time.

Making Democracy Work Awards

Each year at the annual luncheon, the League recog-nizes winners of our Making Democracy Work awards, selected from individuals and groups who have been nominated by people across Oakland. This year letters were sent to non League members who attended last year's luncheon asking them to make nominations. The result was a banner year for nomina-tions, with 22 being received from a variety of sources both within and outside of the League.
With so many excellent candidates, the League is especially proud of its winners for this year. Two individuals and two groups were chosen.
Individual Awards:
 Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont, Executive Director of Oakland Rising
 Naomi Schiff, preservation and city planning advocate
Organization Awards:
 West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project
 San Pablo Avenue/Golden Gate neighborhood community groups

The awards will be presented at the All-City Lunch-eon on May 1.

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