Making Democracy Work

Observer Corps

LWV Oakland - Why Observe?

The first reason for observing public meetings is to watch their general operations. What issues are being discussed and how is the meeting being conducted? Does the agency comply with the open meeting laws?

The second reason for observing public meetings is to watch for issues on which the League should be taking action - speaking out. If an item that is being discussed is related to one of LWVO's positions then include that in your report. We'll look into it and see whether it's something that the League should be speaking out on.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, observing makes a statement that the community is watching the process of government. The League observer is the representative of the public at these meetings.

What to do when you observe:
Go to the meeting, wearing your League of Women Voters button. Get a copy of the agenda (if possible, check whether it is available in advance online) and any other reports that are available. You don't have to read them all! You may not speak for the League at the meeting. Outside of the meeting you can ask questions of staff and officials.

If you can't be at the meeting in person, then watch it online. While the officials may not see you, you can still monitor the meeting.

As the meeting progresses, fill out the "LWVO Observer Report". Submit your report to the LWVO.

Resources for observers:
Observing Your Government in Action: Protecting Your Right to Know, League of Women Voters, 2007, pub #2080, also available on the website for download: http://www.lwv.org

League positions:

  • LWVUS National positions
  • LWV California State positions
  • LWV Bay Area Regional positions
  • LWV Oakland Local positions
  • People:

    Observer Coordinators - Gen Katz and Trisha Gorman, observers@lwvoakland.org
    Action Chair - Helen Hutchinson, action@lwvoakland.org
    President - Louise Rothman-Riemer, president@lwvoakland.org

    WHAT AGENCIES TO OBSERVE?
    CITY OF OAKLAND
              Oakland City Council
              Oakland School Board
    Oakland City Council Committees:
              Rules Committee
              Public Works
              Finance and Management
              Community & Economic Development
              Life Enrichment
              Public Safety
    Oakland City Boards, Committees and Commissions:
              Planning Commission
              Port Commission Board
              Budget Advisory Commission
              Children's Fund Planning and Oversight
              Citizen's Police Review Board
              Housing, Residential Rent and Relocation Board
              Oakland Housing Authority
              Measure Y Oversight Committee
              Public Ethics Commissions
    These are just a few of the boards, committees and commissions - if you are interested in something else, we can find it for you.

    REGIONAL AGENCIES
    Observers for these agencies report to LWV Bay Area rather than to LWV Oakland. If you go to at least one meeting a month and report to LWV Bay Area, LWV Oakland will be paid $25 for each month that you observe. Contact the LWV Bay Area office for more information about which agencies need observers at the current time, (510) 839-1608 or editor@bayareamonitor.org.

    AC Transit

    Bay Area Air Quality Management District

    East Bay Municipal Utility District

    Metropolitan Transportation Commission