Making Democracy Work

VOTER March 2013

The Status of Women in the Muslim World: a Personal View

March Program
American Muslim Women and the Challenges of Living in a Democratic Society
Followed by a first hand report on the latest session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

Wednesday, March 13, 6-7:30 pm
Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Hearing Room 2

Featured Speakers:

Syeda Reshma Inamdar, a board member of the LWVC and active with several other civic and governmental organizations, will share her experience as an American Muslim woman in a democratic society.

Samina Sundas: the founder and the Executive Director of American Muslim Voice. She is engaged in the interfaith/inter-community dialog. Her focus is in fostering friendships among all Americans by bridging the cultural and religious gap and to walk on the path Dr. Martin Luther King has paved for all of us.

Aisha Wahab, Alameda County Human Relations Commission and the Health Commission.

Kathleen Cha, a member of the LWVO, is participating as a NGO delegate at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

League Continues Its Focus on Voting Rights

All levels of the League of Women Voters are focusing attention on protecting voters' rights. LWVO is concerned about institutional obstructions to voting rights, and has recommended that the national League confront these challenges. The California League is also determined to protect voters' rights. The following slightly edited statement from Elizabeth McNamara, President of the national League, speaks to the issue.

"The fight to keep our elections free, fair and accessible for all eligible voters goes on. Already, in the states, legislation to require proof of citizenship and voter photo ID as well as to repeal same-day registration is being considered. Later this month, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, a case in which we filed an amicus brief. The hope we held out for bold presidential action was all but dashed when President Obama's State of the Union Address reaffirmed his belief that voting is our most fundamental right and then announced the creation of a commission headed by lawyers famed for representing politicians, not the people.

"But the League is standing strong. We are finishing the fight in courts in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas. We are standing up for the Voting Rights Act, quite literally, on the steps of the Supreme Court as oral argu-ments are heard. We are working in state houses to oppose restrictive voting legislation and we are speaking out nationwide for real reform of our voting process by calling for repair of our antiquated registration proc-ess, expansion of early voting and more equitable distribution of polling place resources.

"Protecting the vote was our mission when the League was founded 93 years ago and has remained at the core of our mission ever since. That emblem of our equality gives us the power to demand elections that work for every citizen and we are using that power well."

President's Message

By Katherine Gavzy

Like many of you, when engaging with our brave new world of social media I sometimes feel like Lady Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess on Down-ton Abbey, in her reaction to post-World War I society: a combination of fas-cination, mild distrust, bafflement, anxiety, and finally reluctant acceptance. It is clear and imperative: the League must learn how to reach out to new people and communities, for members and for partners in action, or we will become relics like Lady Violet.

With that idea in mind, two articles in this VOTER are especially relevant. The launching of our new Communications Committee (see page 4) is an ex-citing step forward. The support of all our members will help it to succeed: Chair Leslie Smith ( wants to hear from you if you have contacts with your neighborhood list serve or with any of the many online news media and blogs springing up all over Oakland.. Look for (and open) regular news bulletins in your inbox from LWV OAKLAND. And please visit our Facebook page (, to add your comments and share our stories. We have even opened our very own Twitter account and welcome ideas for how best to use it. The informal roundtable discussion format of our monthly Hot Topics gatherings is another good way to reach out. The program on Urban Farming and Community Gardens in Oakland (see page 6) filled the room with enthusiastic people, many of whom had never come to a League event before. Upcoming Hot Topics include: March 26th, the Army Base project and its impact on the Bay Trail, which should appeal to those concerned with development and environmental is-sues; April 22nd, technology and democracy in Oakland, which we hope will bring in folks from the city's vibrant "hacker" community.

Like the Dowager Countess, we do not hesitate to speak our mind. Action Committee continues to make LWVO's voice heard in city government, sup-porting open government and effective public access. Follow our Action ini-tiatives on the LWVO website and Facebook page.

On the Waterfront: Gateway Park and the Bay Trail

Hot Topics

Will we see the Bay Trail completed along the Oakland waterfront? Will the park be the gateway Oakland deserves?

Join the discussion led by Sandy Threlfall
Tuesday, March 26, 6-7:30 p.m.
California Federation of Teachers office, 1330 Broadway, Suite 1601
Downtown Oakland

Michele diFrancia from HNTB, an architectural firm, is a consultant working with the multiple public agencies on Gateway Park. Here's the list:
The Gateway Park Working Group, a consortium of nine agencies working together to bring about this new world-class park, consists of representatives from the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), Caltrans, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), California Transportation Commission (CTC), East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), City of Oakland, Port of Oakland, East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and Association of Bay Area Governments' (ABAG's) Bay Trail Project.

Also invited is Leslie Pritchett, the Executive Director of FOG (Friends of Gateway Park). Friends of The Gateway (FOG) is an expanding community of artists and innovators who champion the creation of a unique public space at the foot of the new Bay Bridge. Using the arts as the organizing principle, we envision a space that integrates engineering, infrastructure, landscape, economic and community development, creating a vibrant regional asset and international destination.

Bill Threlfall, administrator for the Measure DD Coalition, will talk about the Bay Trail, it's growth, thanks to DD, and it's barriers.

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.

Meet a New Member

Aeeshah Clottey joined LWVO in 2012. She learned about the League through her active participation in the community in West Oakland. She knew and appreciated the work of the League to encourage citizen participation in the democratic process.

With her husband, Kokomon Clottey, Aeeshah founded Attitudinal Healing Connection, Inc., a nonprofit whose mission is "to eliminate violence by offering creative and educational programs that transform the human spirit and build peaceful loving communities for all humanity." AHC uses transformational tools such as racial healing circles, mindful drumming, art, and education. Her office is alive with children's paintings on every wall.

AHC is a founder of ArtEsteem, an art and literacy program that helps build knowledge and emotional, social, academic and intellectual skills. A wide variety of classes is offered at and after school. Aeeshah believes in full service community schools that provide for all the needs of children and their families, not just academic skills.

One of ACH's projects is the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project, which creates murals in public spaces in West Oakland to beautify and uplift the West Oaklandarea. It also organizes large Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations on the Martin Luther King holiday. This year several hundred participants filled McClymonds High School auditorium for the event.

Working with the community has also meant being involved in political issues. She joined the League because we supported ranked choice voting, and because of our efforts to register voters. She would like the League to be more diverse. She says that AHC is deeply rooted on the community and she feels LWVO should also be rooted in the whole Oakland community. She encourages our efforts in that direction.

New Communications Outreach

The League of Women Voters of Oakland is initiating a new effort to expand communications and outreach to our membership, potential new members, friends, and the public at large. A central feature of this new initia-tive will be a twice monthly electronic newsletter from the President to communicate current issues the League of Women Voters of Oakland is working on and upcoming events. The plan is for a very user friendly, LWVO branded, relevant communication vehicle to improve member engagement, increase our relevancy to new members, and expand our public presence and image. To help us in this effort, we are asking you to please in-form Leslie Smith ( if 1) you are willing to post items to your neighborhood list serve/blog or 2) you have contacts with any media that could help us place our items in their publications.

Current membership of the Communications Committee includes Leslie Smith, Chair, Katherine Gavzy, Bev Solo (Web Master), Sandy Venning (VOTER Editor), Rosalee Schubert, Kathleen Cha, and Shinal Lakshman (Social Media and Media Outreach Intern) with Miranda Perry acting in an advisory capacity and Kathleen Russell assisting in media placement of events calendars. We are actively recruiting members who have ex-perience in marketing and communications. The Committee does not meet regularly in-person, but does sig-nificant communication via email.

The Communications Committee will evaluate all LWVO outreach activities to determine their effectiveness. We look forward to hearing from you.

LWVO's New Social Media and Media Outreach Intern

Meet Shinal Lakshman

The Board of LWVO has long felt that we need to learn more about how to use social media effectively. Many of us are ignorant about and vaguely fearful of Facebook, Twitter and all the other new methods of communi-cation so commonly used in the 21st century. Enter Shinal Lakshman, a recent graduate of Holy Names Uni-versity with an interest in marketing and communications. Shinal has volunteered to be an intern with the League to help us learn about new media and how to use it to expand our outreach to members and beyond. We are delighted to have her.

After growing up in Fiji, Shinal came to the United States at the age of 16 and became a senior in high school. At Holy Names she majored in Business Management and International Business; she picked up her media skills from her studies and, even more, from friends. She was a Resident Assistant at Holy Names and was involved in Event Planning as part of her responsibilities. She learned about the League while in college.

Shinal hopes to benefit from the internship by increasing her understanding of the practical problems non-profits face and by gaining hands on experience. She admires the League and is inter-ested in public policy. After a year or so of exploration she expects she will go to grad school. She hopes that her experience with the League will help her hone her vision of what she wants to do with her life, and will perhaps provide some contacts that will help her on her way.

What Obamacare Means for Women

National Women's Political Caucus
Dinner Meeting Series

Monday, March 4, 6-7:30pm
Buttercup Grill
229 Broadway at 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607

Ellen R. Shaffer, Co-Director, EQUAL Health Network

Co-sponsored by several other organizations, including the League of Women Voters of Oakland

Ellen R. Shaffer is Co-Director of the EQUAL Health Network, a project of the Center for Policy Analysis, which cam-paigns for Equitable, Quality, Universal, Affordable health care. The EQUAL Health Network provides both popular and technical analysis of health reform proposals, a listserve for progressive news and debate, and a speakers' bureau. Dr. Shaffer was the senior health policy advisor to U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone from 1992 to 1995. She has since consulted widely on national and state health reform proposals, on women's health and single payer policies including with the Obama campaign, and with U.S. Representatives Dennis Kucinich and Barbara Lee. Dr. Shaffer is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and a regular guest host on KPFA's Livingroom with Kris Welch. She earned a Ph.D. from the School of Hygiene and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and a Masters in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley.

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,

Lend a Hand

League volunteers make it possible for us to host 300+ people at our Annual All-City Luncheon in the Pavilion at Scott's, Jack London Square.

Help prepare the mailing of our invitations on Wednesday, March 20. Spend an hour or two (or more!) chatting with other League members as we place invitations, response cards and return envelopes in outer envelopes which then get labeled. We gather from 10 AM to 6 PM in the Common Room at Swan's Co-Housing, 930 Clay Street.

On the day of the Luncheon, Wednesday May 1, volunteers
 place flowers and League handouts on the tables
 direct guests to the registration tables, rest rooms, parking validation machines
 staff the registration tables
 help Luncheon guests find their tables
Lend a hand to help make the luncheon go smoothly. Call or email Kathy Collop if you'd like to volunteer (510) 339-2796,

Mark Your Calendars!

The Annual All-City Luncheon will be held at the Pavilion at Scott's in Jack London Square on Wednesday, May 1. Plan now to come, mingle with League friends and meet others who take an active interest in the city. Applaud our Making Democracy Work award winners and hear Jenn Pahlka, founder and Executive Director of Code for America, speak on "Of the People, By the People, For the 21st Century."

Your invitation should arrive late in March, but put it on your calendar now.

Urban Farming and Community Gardens

January's Hot Topic meeting about urban farming and community gardens in Oakland was a great success. It was well attended by spirited, diverse, and energetic participants. For a full description of the conversation, written by journalist/member Trisha Gorman, please go to the LWVO web site: Meanwhile, here are some photos of the event and a letter to Katherine Gavzy from one of the presenters.

Hello Katherine,
Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this week's discussion about Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens. It was a wonderful cross-section of people representing the types of support and community involvement that's needed to further the movement of food justice, community building, and resilience in the city of Oakland. At VGF we believe that knowing how to grow your food is a survival skill and growing your food at and near your home should be a right supported by the city of Oakland.

I hope the LWV members received enough information (in our short time) to trigger support, more questions, ideas and actions about how we can best serve our communities about this topic. I believe LWV would be a wonderful educational catalyst to spreading the word to the city residents to let them know what's happening in their communities and how to get involved in the food justice movement.

Let me know how we may assist in the future. And, thanks again!


Wishing you the Best!
Victory V Lee, Founder/President - Victory Garden Foundation

LWVO Board Highlights

Each meeting of the Board of LWVO covers a lot of territory. The plans, accomplishments, and issues of all the committees are reviewed and discussed, and votes are taken on proposed actions.

Among the actions the Board has recently approved are for the Action Committee to meet with all the city council members to request that the level of discourse at meetings be more civil. We also approved sending a letter to the City Administrator in support of the Public Ethics Commission, asking that the PEC be given staff so that it can do its work.

As reported in February's VOTER, the Board sent recommendations to LWVUS on priorities for legislative advocacy. We are happy to report that those recommendations are reflected in LWVUS priorities for 2013.
(See story above)

The Board meets on the second Monday of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 in a conference room at St. Paul's Towers. If you are curious about the issues we discuss and the decisions we make, attend a meeting. All members are welcome. A preliminary agenda is sent to Board members a few days before the meeting; contact any Board member for details.

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.


Please Welcome These New Members
Rebecca Atkinson
Louise Carslake
Paul Cobb
Joan Dark
Alison Finlay
Kathryn Moir
Laura Schlichtmann
Jessica Stewart
Jafar Zaidi

A Loss in the LWVO Family
Rosemary Springer died February 1, 2013. Rosemary joined through LWVUS in 2008. Though not an active member, she was a loyal supporter of the League. We extend our sympathy to her family and friends.

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!