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AUGUST 2010

Are You Interested in a League Project You Can Do From Home?

By Kay Perry

An observer corps can enhance League response to important issues.

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Leagues throughout the country have a long history of monitoring the activities of public bodies. It is generally done by League members wearing prominent League buttons sitting in on every meeting of a particular board or commission. They do not participate in the meeting, but are simply there to observe.

The activity accomplishes several valuable goals. The League can react more quickly to positive or negative developments. Observers can recognize patterns within a body or across several bodies that may require further investigation or advocacy. The very presence of LWV members can promote an awareness on the part of public officials that may lead to more thoughtful deliberations and more concern for the impact of decisions on constituents.

Despite fairly recent attempts, the LWVKA has not been able to organize and sustain an observer corps. Now we are launching a new effort – one that takes advantage of modern technology. We will be monitoring public bodies by reading the agenda and minutes as posted on the bodies’ websites. (In some cases, monitors may wish to observe televised meetings as well.) Obviously, we won’t gain the benefit of League members’ presence at the meeting. But we will be able to accomplish the other goals.

There are 35 governing bodies in Kalamazoo County: the county itself, four cities, five villages, 10 school boards (we are including Mattawan), and 15 townships. Our plan is to pair an experienced League member with a newer member to monitor each governing board.

If this opportunity interests you, please contact Kay Perry at 269-383-0028 or kayperry@aol.com.

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LWVUS Convention Report

By Kay Perry

Leaguers accomplished a lot at National Convention.

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In June, LWVKA members Connie Ferguson and Kay Perry represented the local League at the National Convention in Atlanta. Sue Nelmes was also there as a delegate, using credentials from the Berrien/Cass League. Jessica Reiser attended as LWVMI President. Typical of all such conventions, it was busy with a great deal being accomplished. The following is a recap.

Delegates approved several bylaw changes, the most significant of which will change the LWVUS budget from annual to biennial and will permit biennial councils to be conducted electronically.

League members approved the following studies:

  • The role of the federal government in education.
  • Privatization: the policy agenda to transfer government functions, services and assets to the private sector. NOTE: Since funds for this study were not reflected in the budget, delegates passed the hat (or in this case the bags), and raised $3,400 to support the study. Individuals interested in supporting this study can send contributions to the LWVUS Education Fund with a notation that it is for the Privatization Study.
  • Motions to conduct two other studies (a cabinet level Department of Peace and regulation of financial institutions) were defeated.

Delegates adopted several program changes, including the following:

  • By concurrence, amended and updated the Arms Control position. Among the changes is the recognition of potential role of non-state actors and the environmental impact of the residual effects of all weapons of mass destruction as well as conventional weapons.
  • By concurrence with LWVMD and LWVME, adopted the Marriage Equality positions: “The League of Women Voters of the United States supports equal rights for all under state and federal law. LWVUS supports legislation to equalize the legal rights, obligations, and benefits available to same gender couples with those available to heterosexual couples. LWVUS supports legislation to permit same-gender couples to marry under civil law. The League believes that the civil status of marriage is already clearly distinguished from the religious institution of marriage and that religious rights will be preserved.”
  • By concurrence, adopted the following addition to the LWVUS position on selection of the president, “We support the use of the National Popular Vote Compact as one acceptable way to achieve the goal of the direct popular vote for election of the president until the abolition of the Electoral College is accomplished.” NOTE: In an earlier study, League members were unable to reach consensus on this issue. Responses to that study suggested that the lack of consensus was a result of members not being given the choice of viewing NPV as an interim measure until abolition of the Electoral College could be achieved.

Delegates also approved a number of resolutions, including the following:

  • Support for lifting of travel restrictions for Americans going to Cuba.
  • Support and lobbying for safe mining and drilling.
  • Support for changes to limit the Senate’s use of the filibuster. (Proposed by Kay Perry)
  • Addition of the principle of TRANSPARENCY to the League’s other requirements of sound voting systems. That list now includes Security; Accuracy; Recountability; Accessibility; and Transparency.
  • Support for legislation that would create an improved Medicare for all (as a means of achieving single-payer health care).
  • An Emergency Resolution on Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.

Delegates approved a PMP rate of $29.70 for FY2010-2011. That is 10¢ more than was recommended by the Board, and is intended to help finance the Privatization Study that was not included in the FY2010-2011 budget.

Delegates approved a PMP rate of $30.00 for FY2011-2012. A motion to increase the rate to $30.30 was defeated.

Delegates also approved the recommended budget and elected the recommended slate of officers and board members. The Board will be led by President Elisabeth MacNamara of Georgia and will include Pat Donath of Michigan.

More details can be found at the LWVUS website www.lwv.org.

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Celebrating Our Past - From the Kalamazoo Gazette, July 22, 1920 & July 28, 1920

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July 22, 1920:

The League of Women Voters
OBJECT: To increase the effectiveness of women’s voters in furnishing good government.
POLICY: Strictly non-partisan.

Question: What is the League of Women Voters?

Answer: The League of Women Voters is the outgrowth of the old Kalamazoo County Equal Suffrage association and was organized soon after Michigan women were granted the full franchise in November, 1918.

It is in no sense a new party as its membership is made up of members of all political parties. It is a league of enfranchised women to help women to become effective in all parties.
As noted above, its policy is non-partisan as an organization, booking no candidate for office. It does not, however, limit the activities of individual members.

All women interested in good government are eligible to membership in the league and are cordially invited to attend the meetings, which will be held at frequent intervals. Notices of these meetings will be in the papers of the county.
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The Gazette has given the league space for this department, in which it is hoped to make clear many things regarding the functions of government for the benefit of the new voters, both men and women.

July 28, 1920:

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS HOLD MEETING

The regular meeting of the Kalamazoo County League of Women Voters was held in Vicksburg at the Ladies library building, Tuesday afternoon, July 27. It was largely attended by women of the county who remained for a pot luck supper at the close. After the routine business, the afternoon was given over to discussing plans for interesting all women of the county in the education and organization programs.

The women are deeply in earnest in preparing themselves for the intelligent use of the ballot. It augers well for the success of the organization that nearly a hundred women should meet for the thoughtful discussion of political matters.

Resolutions of appreciation were passed thanking the Gazette for its co-operation in giving space to the League of Women Voters for the dissemination of information regarding government. The next meeting of the league will be held in Kalamazoo in the upper room of the Y. W. C. A. Tuesday, August 3, at 2:30 p.m. Every woman is urged to attend.

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State Government is Worth Our Investment

By Kay Perry

Take action to increase state
revenues.

By now, all LWVKA members should have received a packet of materials to assist them in advocating for increased state revenues (taxes), rather than more cuts to essential state services. We do hope you will take the time to send those postcards to your state senator and state representative.

We have extra sets of those materials. Obviously, it is not essential that campaign participants be League members. If you know of other individuals who would be willing to participate (club members, church members, neighbors, friends, relatives, fellow volunteers, etc.) please contact Kay Perry (269-383-0028 or kayperry@aol.com). She will see that you get as many extra packets as you need.