Making Democracy Work

VOTER-April-2011

All-City Luncheon

The League of Women Voters of Oakland Invites You to Attend Our
20th Annual
All-City Luncheon
Wednesday, April 27
11:30 Registration and No-host Bar 12:00-1:30 Luncheon and Program

Featured Speaker

Martin Reynolds

Editor, Oakland Tribune
Oakland: Is the Image Our Reality?
Media's Role in Influencing Perception


Making Democracy Work Awards:
Bay Area Business Roundtable
Oakland Bloggers: Zennie Abraham, Aimee Allison, Jonathan Bair,
Debbie Richman, Rebecca Saltzman, and Echa Schneider

The Pavilion at Scott's Seafood Restaurant

2 Broadway, Jack London Square, Oakland

$60 LWVO members     $75 Non-members
Consider Inviting a Friend to Join You


Send reservation requests by April 21 to League of Women Voters of Oakland
1305 Franklin Street, Suite 311 Oakland 94612-3222
Print a reservation form and/or pay online

CO-PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

By Katherine Gavzy

Our 20th annual All-City Luncheon is coming in just a few weeks, and the excitement is building. I am especially enthusiastic this year because the luncheon really lives up to its reputation as the event that brings the city's business, government, non-profit and media communities together to celebrate Oakland. With all its challenges and frustrations, Oakland's strength is the diversity and vitality of its communities and neighborhoods. LWVO is fortunate to be recognized and well respected in these different communities; this is one city where our voice is heard.

City government will be present: Mayor Jean Quan, a longtime LWVO member, will open with words of welcome. Media will be highlighted: our speaker is Martin Reynolds, editor of the Oakland Tribune who moderated last fall's extremely successful mayoral candidate forum co-produced by LWVO with the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Bay Area Business Roundtable (BABRT). His talk will focus on the media's responsibility in presenting an honest and well-rounded image of Oakland to the public. LWVO will present two Making Democracy Work (MDW) Awards. Representatives of the &quote;new&quote; media - six of Oakland's remarkable political bloggers - will jointly receive an MDW Award for keeping public dialogue open and stimulating. An award will also be given to the BABRT, an organization of small-to-medium business owners dedicated to working for change in the area of social justice and economic responsibility. LWVO looks forward to future collaborations with the BABRT, and we agree with them that a healthy community needs a healthy economy. Finally, the strength and commitment of Oakland's non-profit organizations contribute enormously to the life of the city. They have always been represented among the luncheon supporters; look for their names on the invitation, on the program and on their tables.

Please mark your calendars for Wednesday April 27th. Come to the lunch-eon and bring a friend. If you can, share in the success of the luncheon by helping out with a small job on the day of the event. It's easy and fun - look for the notice in this VOTER recruiting volunteers.

Oakland Lobbyist Registration Legislation

Oakland's Lobbyist Registration Act requires individuals who attempt to influence City legislation on behalf of a business or organization to register as lobbyists and report quarterly on their activities. The reports are available on the City's website and from the City Clerk. The goal is to allow citizens to know who is attempting to influence their government.

Discussions about reforming the ordinance began in 2009 in response to complaints about individuals lobbying without registering. The individuals argued that the language in the existing law about who is a lobbyist was unclear, and they did not believe they qualified as lobbyists. The Public Ethics Commission agreed the language was confusing and began discussing how to make the ordinance more clear. The Commission settled on a proposal that would require paid employees of a business or organization who attempt to influence legislation on two or more subjects in a six month period to register as lobbyists. The Council's Rules Committee considered this proposal in March. An alternate definition was proposed that would limit the definition of lobbyist to employees who spend a third of their working time attempting to influence legislation. After listening to public testimony, the Committee continued the item for further discussion.

The League believes that the public's right to know who is attempting to influence their government is essential to a well functioning democracy. Defining who is and who is not a lobbyist is a difficult task - too broad a definition can create a barrier to participation in government, while too narrow a threshold reduces transparency. The League sent a letter to the City Council proposing a compromise that would require paid employees to register as lobbyists if they spent 10 or more hours in one month attempting to influence legislation.

Rules Committee will discuss the issue again on April 7, 2011. The meeting begins at 10:45 AM in Oakland City Council Chambers at Oakland City Hall (1 Frank Ogawa Plaza). The League's letter to the Council can be viewed on our website

--Echa Schneider

Thanks to Mailing Party Participants

It was an all-day event and a very productive one. Throughout the day on March 16, starting before 10 in the morning, approximately 30 women spent time at the mailing party, stuffing envelopes and sticking on labels, chatting and having fun. At the end of the day--close to six o'clock--3,500 invitations were sorted and ready to be carried to the post office. The mailing effort was organized and overseen by Judi Bank, with Sandy Threlfall helping to keep volunteers happy and busy. Bonnie Hamlin provided the labels and organizational assistance. Volunteers were recruited by Bea Rudney, and goodies to sustain us were brought by Kathy Collop.

We apologize that one of the pages for volunteer sign-in went missing; here is a partial list of participants: Louise Anderson, Judi Bank, Kathy Collop, Katherine Gavzy, Mary Gormly, Ruth Hafter, Annmarie Hallin, Bonnie Hamlin, Gretchen Hayes, Helen Hutchison, Rachel Kahn-hut, Tinka Larsen, Miriam Laska, Joyce Roy, Bea Rudney, Yolanda Schonbrun, Keiko Shimada, Mary Edna Stevens, Sandy Threlfall, Sandy Venning, Mary Weinstein.

Thank you, one and all!

News from the Action Committee

Records Management Progresses in Oakland

Oakland's Records Management Program, under the supervision of Deirdre Scott in the City Clerk's Office, has begun the convoluted journey that will lead eventually to City Council and codification in Oakland Municipal City Code. Deirdre meets with every department and agency, identifies records, their content, their mandated life, and figures out how best to archive and index them for retrieval. The July 2010 City-wide Records Management Program Development resolution stated that in 6 months (Jan 2011) the proposed program should go to Rules Committee to receive comment and discuss changes. That time line has passed. Deirdre estimates it will now be April before Rules will take up the proposed program. After Rules finishes, the resolution goes to Public Ethics for a public hearing. Two months after that, Rules again must hold a hearing. City Council is the final stop.

There has never been a city-wide policy in Oakland. There have been at least four records managers, with none able to survive the political and personnel wars. When identifying elements for the program, Deirdre began to see that many city employees never realized it was important to keep certain records because no one ever explained it to them.

The League will be keeping an eye on the process. We must demand a program that fulfills the good government positions of our League. It will be of prime importance to continue to make sure that bureaucratic resistance does not water down or provide loopholes. We must watch that the records manager is not left without public support.

--Barbara Newcombe

Transportation Discussion

At the February Hot Topics meeting, League members joined with community members and representatives of Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and TransForm in a lively discussion of transportation in Oakland and the Bay Area. Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (http://www.wobo.org) is a volunteer organization dedicated to improving neighborhood livability, vitality, and sustainability by making Oakland a better place to walk and bike. TransForm (http://www.transformca.org) works to create world-class public transportation and walkable communities in the Bay Area and beyond.

Topics discussed included the AC Transit Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plans, and the car-free challenge that TransForm runs each year. We hope that the League will join with other groups in promoting this program. It's a weeklong event at the beginning of June where a community of people from around California set and reach a personal low car mileage goal.

--Helen Hutchison

Kudos from Mills College

The website of the Masters in Public Policy Program at Mills College features the League of Women Voters of California and local Leagues on its Spotlight on Public Policy page. Here is an excerpt:

In California, the year 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote. Founded in the wake of the suffragists' movement, The League of Women Voters of California conducts voter service and citizen education activities at the state level and through numerous local chapters, including here in Oakland. Nationally, LWV is perhaps the most widely respected nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting informed participation in the democratic process.

See http://www.mills.edu/academics/graduate/ppol/policy_resources.php

Hot Topics:

Note New Location

Redevelopment:
How Does It Work? Should It Be Changed?

The Governor has proposed abolishing Redevelopment Agencies. Our discussion will begin with a brief presentation on how redevelopment agencies work in California and arguments for and against the Governor's proposal. Our information will come from a 16-page report from the Legislative Analyst, issued on February 9, 2011. You can find it here:

Monday, April 25th
6:30--8:00 p.m.
TransForm Conference Room
436 14th Street, Suite 600
(Near 12th Street BART Station)

All are welcome; bring a friend!

Award-Winning Oakland Bloggers and their Blogs

LWVO Making Democracy Work Awards will be presented at the April 27th All-City Luncheon. This year the award for an organization will go to the Bay Area Business Round Table, which represents small and medium sized businesses. The individual award will be given to six individual bloggers who have provided new insights into our city and its issues. Here's who they are and how to find their blogs (on-line columns).

Aimee Allison, Publisher, Oakland Seen
http://www.oaklandseen.com/
Oakland Seen does a great job showcasing positive stories about Oakland that often go untold, as well as publishing blogs written by elected and appointed officials about things they're working on.

Debbie Richman, Blogger, Today in Montclair
http://montclairoak.com/
(Debbie founded and ran Today in Montclair, but has moved away and no longer runs the site.) Today in Montclair is noteworthy for its in depth focus on all aspects of one particular neighborhood, from politics, to shopping, to recreation, to demographic information. When Debbie was running the site, she posted new blogs almost daily. She often conducted polls of readers to find out where Montclair residents stood on controversial issues.

Echa Schneider (blogs as "V Smoothe") Blogger,
A Better Oakland
http://www.abetteroakland.com/
The site is noteworthy for the depth of research and analysis that goes into each post, as well as the links to primary sources. Echa videotaped many debates during the elections and put the videos online so people who couldn't attend in person could see them. She did the same with the Council election debates in 2008.

Jonathan Bair (blogs as "dto510") Blogger,
The DTO and Future Oakland
http://futureoaklandblog.com/
http://thedto.com/
On Future Oakland Jonathan posts thoughtful, in-depth analysis of current issues facing the City, and does a wonderful job of placing immediate debates in a broader context. On The DTO he posts about great things happening downtown. It is great marketing for the City and has contributed a great deal to enhancing Oakland's reputation as an up-and-coming and desirable entertainment destination.

Rebecca Saltzman (blogs as "Becks")
Blogger, Living in the O
http://oaklandliving.wordpress.com/ Rebecca has been instrumental in taking the energy of the Oakland blogging and blog reading community and channeling it beyond just online. She has organized several events for bloggers and blog readers to meet one another, and has used her online platform to organize citizens to advocate to the City Council and Planning Commission on a number of important issues. Recently, she used her blog to raise $1300 of community donations to fund an appeal of a Planning Commission decision.

Zennie Abraham, Blogger, Oakland Focus
http://oaklandfocus.blogspot.com/
Zennie deserves special recognition for the in-depth video interviews he conducts with elected officials and candidates. H interviewed every Mayoral candidate more than once, and the videos he posted were about half an hour long. It's rare for voters to have a chance to see politicians speak beyond sound bites.

Your National League in Action:

League Urges House to Oppose Legislation to Strip EPA Authority

The House of Representatives is expected to consider legislation that would permanently block the EPA from regulating harmful carbon pollution. The League sent a letter to the entire House of Representatives and joined with coalition partners in a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Waxman urging them to oppose this legislation. The League's volunteer Lobby Corps is visiting select members of the House of Representatives also urging opposition.

Take action now to tell your Representative to protect your air: send an email to Congresswoman Barbara Lee by using the Web form at her website.

Your State League at Work:

Redistricting Update
Redistricting in California remains a League priority as the redistricting process unfolds. Census data will be released very soon. The Citizens Redistricting Commission has been hiring staff and soon will be contracting with technical line-drawing experts and attorneys versed in the Voting Rights Act. They are planning to hold hearings around the state where Californians will describe the communities they believe should be kept intact as district lines are drawn. You can follow the progress of the commission's work and learn more about public input for the redistricting process at CAvotes.org.

League observers have been watching and reporting on the meetings of the Citizens Redistricting Commission in Sacramento and Claremont. You can follow the work of the commission and read the League observers' reports on CAvotes.org.

Want to be part of the redistricting process? Free training is available through the LWVC training webinar, April 5 at 7:00 p.m. Sign up to be a League observer by contacting redistricting@lwvc.org.

Volunteer Opportunities

Observer for the Rules Committee
The LWVO Observer Corps is currently seeking an Observer to attend meetings of the City Council's Rules Committee. Rules Committee is one of the most important committees in the City. This committee sets the agendas for all the other committee and council meetings. When an issue is coming up for discussion, Rules Committee is the first place the public is notified about it. It is important for the League to have a presence here so that we can know in advance about items we may want to act on.

As an Observer you will attend meetings wearing an LWV pin to identify yourself and then report back to the League about what happens at the meetings by filling out a brief form. Observers do not speak or act on issues discussed at meetings; they just gather information to help the League keep abreast of city issues. Your mere presence as an Observer also helps create more transparent government by reminding government officials that someone is watching them.

Rules Committee meets every Thursday morning at 10:45 AM in City Council Chambers at Oakland City Hall (1 Frank Ogawa Plaza). If you are able to serve as our Observer for Rules Committee, or want to learn about other opportunities for Observers, please contact Echa Schneider at echaschneider@gmail.com or 510 847-6129

Help on the Day of the Luncheon

Be part of the excitement of the All-City Luncheon. Volunteer to help out at this annual event, our only major fund-raiser. The luncheon is scheduled from 11:30 to 1:30 on Wednesday, April 27, but the committee can use some extra heads and hands for set up, greeting and registration, and clean-up when it's over.

If you have questions or can help out before, during, or immediately after the luncheon, please call Bea Rudney at 531-8287, or email rudney@sbcglobal.net. Thank you!

Membership News

Welcome New Members
Mary V. King
Mary MacDonald
Davis Riemer

Changes to the Roster
Roberta Davis