Making Democracy Work


Hitching a Ride on AC Transit: Where's this Bus Headed?

Joel Young, Director-at-Large for AC Transit, will talk about the state of AC Transit and what the future holds for both AC Transit and Bay Area transportation in general.

AC Transit is the largest bus-only transit provider in California, carrying an average of over 200,000 riders a day. Its goal is to serve the greatest number of passengers at a reasonable cost and fare. But with the budget problems facing our state and our local communities, transportation funds are hard to come by, and with the exception of fares, any significant increase to AC Transit's operating revenues requires a vote of the public.

Join other League members and interested members of the public to hear Director Joel Young discuss Bay Area transportation issues, including how AC Transit plans to meet its long-standing commitment to preserving and improving the quality and quantity of transit service for East Bay riders. There will be time for questions following Mr. Young's presentation.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 6:00 to 7:30 PM
Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 3
One Frank Ogawa Plaza
(to the left inside the 14th Street entrance to City Hall)

Light refreshments will be served.

BART: Exit at the 12th Street/City Center Station
Parking: Street parking (metered until 6 PM); also at the Clay Street Garage at 1414 Clay Street

   Spread the word: Invite your friends, neighbors, colleagues to join you!   


By Katherine Gavzy

By the time you receive this VOTER, it will be several weeks since the shootings in Tucson and the country will have "moved on," as we usually do after events like this, back to shopping and business as usual. I hope that we will have learned at least something this time, and that the League's continuing call for more civility in political discourse will be heard at last. What remains most with me is the story of Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old girl who was killed. Christina had just been elected to her school's student council and, according to news reports, was becoming interested in democracy and politics.

It seems we will always have crazy people carrying guns (leaving the enormous topic of gun control aside for another time), but I fervently hope we will also continue to have young people like Christina. That won't happen by itself. We, in League especially, should keep in mind that the development of informed, participating citizens starts young and needs to be continually nourished. Those of us who have been with LWVO for many years are excited about a recent increase in younger people joining us and becoming active. At the annual program planning and policy review meeting January 15th, described here in this issue of the VOTER, a lively mix of experienced members and new members, older folks and recent college graduates brought new and different points of view to the discussion of League priorities for the coming year. We want to keep building on this. Think about offering gift student memberships in LWVO to members of your family or friends. Contact Board member Louise Rothman-Riemer, our Community Outreach Chair, if you would like to help build a program of civic instruction and mock elections in Oakland high schools. Bring a young person to the upcoming LWVO events, such as our February 22nd Program on AC Transit and Bay Area transportation, or the public education forums we will be offering in the spring. The more we reach out to youth, the more we can hope to keep our own membership strong and growing, and make League a natural home for future Christina Greens.

National Women's Political Caucus Dinner Meeting

National Women's Political Caucus Dinner Meeting
Monday February 7, 6-7:30 pm

Buttercup Grill
229 Broadway at 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607

Health Care--Where Are We Now and What's Ahead?
Presenter: Ellen R. Schaffer, Co-Director, EQUAL Health Network

Co-sponsored by LWVO and several other organizations

Come for an update on what's happening with health care in California and the nation, how the recent federal legislation is rolling out, and what the possibilities still are for getting Single Payer coverage.

Please plan to arrive by 6 pm so you can order your dinner before the program begins.

For more information, call Program Co-Chair Ellen Augustine, 510-428-1832,; or Co-Chair Miriam Rokeach, 510-658-3805,

Annual All City Luncheon

    Save the Date:
Annual All City Luncheon
April 27th, 11:30-1:30
Scott's Pavilion in Jack London Square

Featured Speaker
Martin Reynolds
Editor, Oakland Tribune

   Presentation of Making Democracy Work Awards    

2011 Program Planning Meeting

The Oakland League held its 2011 annual Program Planning/Position Review meeting on Saturday, January 15, 2011, at Swan's Co-Housing Common Room, 930 Clay Street in Oakland. Over coffee and a delicious assortment of fruit and pastries, about 30 Oakland League members (including two new members who joined at the meeting!) got together to discuss League policy positions and priorities at the state, regional, and local levels.

To summarize briefly, after lively discussion the members present voted to:

▪ update the existing State League positions on Redistricting and/or Elections Systems to allow the League to address calls for proportional representation

▪ update the existing State League position on the Initiative and Referendum Process to allow the League to advocate for changes in the way those processes work in California

▪ propose a new study on the decriminalization and regulation of marijuana, as that topic is likely to reappear on California ballots in coming elections

The top three choices for areas that the members would like the State League to focus education and advocacy work on for 2011-2013 are:

▪ state and local finances/budgeting

▪ campaign finance reform, including transparency

▪ the role of redevelopment agencies and enterprise zones

The members also voted to revise the position held by the Leagues of Women Voters of Alameda County on Children's Mental Health Services to recommend ongoing oversight and periodic review of contracts with private providers.

The members present also voted to recommend that the Oakland League retain all of its existing positions, with some minor revisions, and recommended the following areas of emphasis for local education and advocacy work in 2011/2012:

▪ expanding the reach and impact of the LWVO, including efforts to expand the Observer Corp and actively supporting the Public Ethics Commission

▪ encouraging transparency and dissemination to the public of data relating to city functions and activities

▪ educating members and the public about city finance and budgeting issues

▪ educating members and the public about economic development and job growth

▪ advocating for campaign finance reform

The members also voiced support for recognition of 2011 as the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in California.

The recommendations made by the members at the January 15 meeting will be presented to the board of directors for the Oakland League and, if approved, local positions and issues for emphasis will then be presented in more detail to the general membership for member approval at the annual meeting to be held in late May or early June this year.

You can find more information about the existing policies of the national, state, regional, and local Leagues by visiting their respective websites; the LWV Positions page on this website has links to all other levels of League.

Hot Topics - Transportation Issues

Conversation about transportation issues

a follow-up to the AC Transit program

A speaker from AC Transit will have given us a lot to think about on February 22.
Now you can participate in a conversation about transit issues in Oakland and the Bay Area. Bring your questions, concerns, and ideas for improvement.

Monday, February 28
6:30--8:00 p.m.
Redwood Heights Community Center
3883 Aliso Avenue
(Off Redwood Road just below Highway 13)

All are welcome; bring a friend!

Behind the Scenes at LWVO

This is the first of an intermittent series of articles about how the League of Women Voters of Oakland gets things done with an all-volunteer workforce. Every e-mail alert, registration drive, Web page, opinion piece, newsletter, forum, Easy Voter Guide, and event is the result of the efforts of people working behind the scenes to make them happen. There's no glory in it, just the satisfaction of knowing you're contributing to an informed electorate and thereby making democracy work.

Nancy Auker: Mistress of Mailings and More

Ten times a year approximately 350 copies of The Oakland Voter are delivered from the printer, West Coast Arts, to the doorstep of LWVO member Nancy Auker. She knows when to expect them and plans her schedule for her volunteer task: to seal and label each copy and take them to the post office for a bulk mailing. Nancy has been doing this for about 8 years, and she is an expert. She says it's no big deal, but it is a big deal to have a reliable person do this repetitive task, and deal with the mysteries of the postal bureaucracy and its changing regulations.

This isn't Nancy's only contribution to LWVO. She helps with preparing rosters and other publications for mailing too. She used to be in charge of getting out all the invitations to the All-City Luncheon, but the task got big enough that it is now done at an allday mailing party where everybody can chip in. (You'll hear more about that opportunity next month.) She also participates as a timer at candidate forums and helps take care of several registration boxes for LWVO.

LWVO isn't the only organization that benefits from Nancy's organizational skills, enthusiasm and energy. She volunteers with the Sierra Club and the Oakland Museum of California's white elephant sale, is a story teller at five elementary schools, and tutors two students from West Oakland. Whew!

National Women's Political Caucus

Dinner Meeting Series
Monday, March 7, 2011, 6 - 7:30 PM
Buttercup Grill

229 Broadway at 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607

The State of Choice
Presenter: Katherine Kneer, President, Planned Parenthood of CA
Co-sponsored by
Alameda County Commission on the Status of Women
Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club
American Association of University Women
Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers
Black Women Organized for Political Action
California Democratic Party Women's Caucus
League of Women Voters of Oakland
Emerge California

Between initiatives and state and federal legislation, a woman's right to choose is being chipped away. Just what exactly is legal, and where? Are abortions and family planning services currently covered under insurance policies, and what is their status in the new Obama health care roll-out? What are the implications of the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives? Come hear savvy and articulate veteran Katherine Kneer bring us up to date on these topics.

Katherine Kneer has served for 17 years as President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, the public policy office of the nine independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates in California. Under Kathy's leadership PPAC worked to establish Family PACT, the nation's largest universal family planning program for low income men, women, and teens. During her tenure, California adopted constitutional protections for reproductive privacy, enacted the Contraceptive Equity Act, expanded access to emergency contraception, and required sex education in schools to be comprehensive and medically accurate. Kathy also served as Campaign chair for the Campaign for Teen Safety, which successfully defeated three parental notification initiatives, Propositions 73, 85 and 4.

Please plan to arrive by 6 pm so you can order your dinner before the program begins.

For more information, call Program Co-Chair Ellen Augustine, 510-428-1832, ellenaugustine@; or Co-Chair Miriam Rokeach, 510-658-3805,


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."

The 'Join Us' form is here!    You can join online here

Welcome New Members

Sara Barz
Kathleen Hirooka
Christopher Kidd
Daniel Swafford

Corrected New Address:
Suzanne Loosen

Corrected Spelling of a January New Member:
Manja Argue

Corrected City in a January New Member's Address:
Wise Allen

Full information is in the paper VOTER

Support the League

We rely on dues and donations to support our programs.

You may donate with a check
or donate online