Making Democracy Work

VOTER April 2012

21st Annual All-City Luncheon

The League of Women Voters of Oakland Invites You to Attend Our
21st Annual All-City Luncheon
Wednesday, May 2

11:30 Registration and No-host Bar     12:00-1:30 Luncheon and Program

Alex Briscoe, Director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency
**The Affordable Health Care Act: Innovation and Equity in Alameda County**

Making Democracy Work Awards
Street Level Health Project
John Sutter, Vice President of the Board of Directors of East Bay Regional Park District

The Pavilion at Scott's Seafood Restaurant
2 Broadway, Jack London Square, Oakland
$60 LWVO Members $80 Non-members

**Consider Inviting a Friend to Join You**

Send reservation requests before April 25 to League of Women Voters of Oakland. You can also make reservations online at Or call the LWVO office at 510-834-7640

President's Message

By Katherine Gavzy
It's springtime in Oakland, the daffodils are in bloom, and excitement is building for our 21st annual All-City Luncheon. Hard to believe we have been doing this for twenty-one years! This event is usually referred to simply as "The Luncheon," by our dedicated and hardworking LWVO volunteers (sometimes with an exhausted sigh). But I prefer the full official name, because it carries so much meaning. "Twenty-first annual" speaks of history, tradition, continuity. The luncheon has changed over the years, for example moving from a hotel ballroom to the waterfront pavilion of Scotts Seafood at Jack London Square, but it has always been both our major fundraiser and a statement of the place the League holds in the life of the city. "All-City" reminds us that the luncheon unites people from Oakland's many diverse communities: small local businesses and headquartered corporations, non-profit agencies, neighborhood groups, labor groups, groups representing our many different ethnic populations, political leaders (and aspiring political leaders). I would like to think that in that bright and cheerful and typically Oakland spot on the waterfront, we all come together despite our many differences and arguments, to celebrate our city and the work of the League in and for our city. By the time you receive this VOTER, you may have already bought your ticket to the luncheon. It is not too late to bring a friend - a great way to share the celebration and garner new members. Just check the website ( to make sure there is still space available.

Meanwhile, the League continues its work of educating ourselves and voters. Our Hot Topics meeting on Monday April 23rd will present the ballot measures for the June election, as well as an early look at the November ballot (which promises to be humongous). State League is examining the many propositions expected to qualify for the ballot, and by April 23rd we will begin to learn of expected advocacy positions. It is good to remember that we advocate as well as educate: the speaker at our June 13th Annual Meeting will be from ACLU, a leader with LWVC in the campaign against the death penalty in California.

Call to the Biennial LWV Bay Area Convention

Saturday, May 5, 10 am to 12 noon
Lafayette Public Library
3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette

Speaker: Will Travis
former BCDC director, currently Senior Policy Adviser to BCDC Joint Policy Committee

Status of Regional Planning in the Bay Area

Take this opportunity to learn about regional planning as it affects the whole Bay Area, a region represented by 20 different LWV groups. Although part of the meeting will be devoted to voting by delegates chosen from each League on by-laws, budget, and programs, all League members are invited to attend.

Oakland LWV is entitled to five delegates in addition to the president. If you are interested in being a delegate, please contact Katherine Gavzy at or 841-8166.

Whether or not you are selected as a delegate, you are welcome to attend this meeting. Learn more about regional issues and meet members of neighboring Leagues.

Lend a Hand at the Luncheon

League volunteers make it possible for us to host 300+ people at our Annual All-City Luncheon in the Pavilion at Scott's at Jack London Square. We need you to make the luncheon a success. These are short, well-defined tasks, an easy way to get to know other League members, and make a real contribution.

We still are looking for some helpful hands and warm greeters on Wednesday, May 2-- the day of the Luncheon.

Volunteer to
▪ place flowers and League handouts on the tables
▪ direct guests to the registration tables, rest rooms, parking validation machines
▪ staff the registration tables
▪ help guests find their tables

Lend a hand to help make the luncheon go smoothly. Contact Bea Rudney if you'd like to volunteer: (510) 531-8287 or

League in Action Across the Country

BIG win for Wisconsin Voters!
On March 12th, a Dane County Circuit Court Judge found the Wisconsin voter ID law unconstitutional. The case, brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, is a big win for all Wisconsin voters. "Voting is not like cashing a check or getting on an airplane. Those activities are not protected by the constitution. Voting is one way in which all citizens are equal, and that is worth fighting for," said Melanie Ramey, state League president.

Top Two Primary System

There are actually two primary elections taking place on June 5, 2012:
a) the Presidential Primary, which is a partisan party nomination process used to select candidates for President and county central committees and
b) the statewide Top Two Primary elections for congressional and state elective offices.
The Presidential Primary produces "party-nominated candidates" for president who then appear on the November General Election ballot by party. This is the type of primary that California voters are used to. The Top Two primary system, however, produces two "voter-nominated candidates" who have received the two highest vote counts and who then advance to the November General Election. Even if one of the candidates receives more than 50 percent of the votes, there is still a "runoff" between the top two vote getters. With the Top Two Primary system, all candidates running for an office are listed on one ballot, regardless of their party preference. All voters may vote for any candidate in the list.

Here are some of the special features of balloting in the Top Two system that voters need to understand:
▪ The Top Two system was placed on the June 2010 ballot by the legislature as a result of state budget negotiations and was passed by the voters.
▪ Voters will not see a "straight party ticket" on the ballot, but rather a list of names for the different contests with each candidate's party preference indicated. The candidate's party preference or no preference on the ballot must be consistent with the candidate's voter registration card
▪ It is possible for two voter-nominated candidates with the same party affiliation to appear on the November ballot.
▪ Political parties may endorse candidates in the Top Two primary. Sample ballots must include a section listing these party endorsements.
▪ Although votes may be cast for write-in candidates in the Top Two primary election, no write-in votes are allowed in the November general election for the Top Two contests.

As of this writing, there are court challenges to the Top Two Primary system currently pending, based on the ban on write-in votes in the General Election for Top Two offices and on constitutional issues of third party access to the ballot and voters' right of choice.

For frequently asked questions about the primary elections in California, you can go to this link on the Secretary of State's website, (

Oakland Unified School District New Strategic Plan

Two meetings in February spotlighted Oakland Unified School District's current 5-year plan to build "Full-Service Community Schools and Thriving Students." The outlook for closing achievement gaps and raising graduation rates in Oakland seems promising!

The panel for the February 21st meeting included School Board President Jodie London, Principal Charles Wilson, African American Male Achievement (AAMA) task force director Christopher Chatmon, and Oakland Tribune education journalist and blogger Katie Murphy. Each speaker presented his/her part in implementing and meeting challenges of the new strategic plan.

Jodie London reviewed the graphic model and the timeline for the 5 years of the plan. OUSD has completed 2 years of intensive research and planning involving 17 task forces with focuses including development of high quality instruction, high quality school leadership, AAMA programs, equitable budgeting, and community partnerships. The district is now well into 1 of 5 plan implementation years. Already schools offer new services to families and more individualized instruction to students. Scores on CA student achievement tests are rising.

Charles Wilson described the grade level professional learning communities that have shepherded progress at Korematsu Discovery Academy, (KDA) an elementary school in deep East Oakland. These teacher groups meet more than weekly to help each other target and individualize instruction and constantly tweak research-driven practices in their classrooms.

Mr. Wilson shared amazing results: KDA was under No Child Left Behind Program Improvement (PI) status as late as 2011. But after shedding the PI status KDA went on to record the greatest jump in state test scores of any elementary school in OUSD last year. KDA was nominated as a CA Blue Ribbon School in 2011, and was named Alameda County English Learner School of the Year.

Chris Chatmon spoke of initiatives to increase the engagement and achievement of Oakland's African American Males (and females, too): "Read to Lead" trains AAM adult volunteers to read in classrooms across the district. The Manhood Development program is a period within the school day for AAM to learn community involvement skills and plan and prepare for college.

"Building Bridges" partners with public TV's Story Bridge program whereby AAM students produce videos of interviews with black community leaders. AAM achievements are celebrated at all grade levels with Honor Roll Assemblies, award presentations, and posters.

According to Mr. Chatmon, "We start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers."

Finally, journalist Katie Murphy urged LWVO members to stay tuned to the playing out of the "Community Schools + Thriving Students" strategy; to shoulder our community support role as Oakland stakeholders; and to volunteer for OUSD student benefit at every opportunity.

The Hot Topics meeting on February 27 followed up the Education Panel presentation. Mary Bergan led an informal action-oriented discussion focusing on the need to continue educating the broader community regarding OUSD's strategic plan and the challenges facing Oakland's public schools. It was suggested that future meetings with OUSD board members and staff at local Neighborhood Organizations be organized.

Hot Topics - Measures on the June Ballot

Come to a HOT TOPICS discussion
Monday, April 23
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
TransForm Conference Room
436 14th Street, Suite 600

What's on the ballot in June? Where does the League stand on the issues?
Come to Hot Topics on April 23 to learn about and discuss the issues. Helen Hutchinson will lead the discussion.

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.

For more information, go to the League website:

Local Redistricting

On Saturday morning, April 28th, LWVO will meet with other community organizations to discuss City Council and Board of Education redistricting. Topics will include how we can make sure it will be done transparently and with public input. The meeting will be held at Dimond Library, 3565 Fruitvale Avenue (one block east of MacArthur) Please check our website ( for the time.

Member Profile:

Yolanda Schonbrun and the Education Committee
Yolanda Schonbrun became acquainted with the Oakland League in 2009, the year she retired from teaching in the Oakland Unified School District. In the fall of that year she attended a meeting sponsored by the League about education in Oakland that so interested her that she decided to become a member. She has actively contributed her time, skills and energy to our League ever since.

Yolanda quickly became active with the Membership Committee, which she says taught her a lot about outreach and recruiting, then joined the Action Committee, where she learned about the many issues LWVO takes on, and how we approach them within the guidelines of the League. She got further inspiration and understanding from attending the LWV State convention last spring.

Yolanda's main interest is education, not just because she was a teacher for many years but because she is concerned about the future of her grandchildren. After she met Iris Winogrond, who shared her interests, the two decided to reactivate the Education Committee, which had been dormant for some time. As a result of the work of the resuscitated committee, LWVO has had a number of excellent programs. In the fall of 2011 the committee organized three meetings as part of the LWV National Consensus Study on Education that were widely attended. Changing their focus to local issues, in February of this year the committee organized both a program and a Hot Topics discussion of Oakland Unified School District's Strategic Plan. See here for a report.

Already the Education Committee is making plans for future projects. Yolanda hopes the committee will be able to take forums about OUSD's Strategic Plan to Neighborhood Associations throughout the city. Besides knowledgeable speakers from the League, she hopes to include a City Council member and a School Board member on the panels.

In addition to her interests and efforts within the League, Yolanda spends a lot of time with her extended family (including four grandchildren), most of whom live in Napa. She also enjoys gardening and traveling with her husband. She has just started teaching herself Italian for a trip this summer.

The Education Committee would not be so productive without the efforts of all its members. Along with Yolanda, current members are Iris Winogrond, Jane Klein, Mary Bergan, and Carole Agnello. If you are interested in joining this productive group, contact Yolanda at 316-5052 or

LWVO Annual Meeting

Save the Date

Make a note that the LWVO annual meeting is scheduled for June 13. This year it will be at a new, convenient location at the Terrace Room of the Lake Merritt Hotel. Our speaker will be Natasha Minsker of the ACLU, speaking on the campaign (supported by the League of Women Voters) to end the death penalty in California. We will also have a business meeting and elect several new members of the board. More details will be in the next VOTER.

Grant Writer Needed

Have you had experience preparing grant proposals? Know someone who has who might be willing to volunteer with the League to do this?

We plan to produce thousands of copies of our popular Oakland Easy Voter Guide for the November 2012 election that will include races for Oakland City Attorney, City Council, and School Board.

We want to secure a grant to help us fund translation of the Guide into Spanish and Chinese and to pay for layout and printing of the document.

Please contact Bonnie Hamlin, Development Committee Co-Chair: (510) 658-6212;

Share This With a Friend - Invite Them to Join Us!

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.


Welcome New Members
Bernard Ashcraft
Carolyn Devol
Kathleen Price
Gloria Taylor

Board Notes

At its meeting on March 12 the LWVO Board of Directors discussed a number of possible actions. In response to a proposal by some members of the City Council to rename the Oakland Sunshine Ordinance after Sanjiv Handa, the Board voted to speak against it. Although we admire Sanjiv's efforts for open government, we feel that changing the name of the Oakland Sunshine Ordinance is inappropriate. To see the text of the letter the LWVO sent to City Council, go to and click on Action/Advocacy. At this time we do not know the outcome of the final vote.

The Board also discussed a request from the Action Committee to support Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). After some discussion the Board chose not to make a statement of support. Many members felt they were insufficiently informed about the project, and some expressed concern about some of its aspects.

The Board was pleased to hear that the Nominating Committee has found candidates for all the positions on the Board to be voted on at the Annual Meeting.

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