Making Democracy Work


Annual Program Planning/Policy Review Meeting

Saturday, January 21 from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Swan's Market Co-Housing Common Room
930 Clay Street in Oakland

Beat those post-holiday blahs by getting together with your fellow LWVO members to discuss the League's positions and objectives! Feel free to bring along someone new to the League; this meeting will serve as a great introduction to who we are and what we do.

The annual program planning meeting is our opportunity to discuss the League's current policy positions and issues of particular interest to our members, and to decide on which issues we would like to take action. This year we will be reviewing the positions of the National League, the Bay Area League, and the Oakland League. We'll suggest new ideas for study or emphasis and recommend priorities for action. Our recommendations will be presented to the general membership of the Oakland League at the Annual Meeting in June.

Discussions are always fun and lively. Make your voice heard in this essential grassroots process and have an impact on the League's advocacy work in the coming year.

Refreshments: We'll have coffee, tea, bagels, and pastries available. Feel free to come as early as 9:00 AM if you want to help set up or get an early start on breakfast. The meeting will start promptly at 9:30

Transportation: In addition to street parking, there is a parking lot at 8th and Washington that charges only $2 or $3 (as of last year). The meeting is also within walking distance of the 12th Street BART station. Call Katherine Oberle (510-843-0548) or Louise Rothman-Riemer (510- 596-2580) for more information or for directions.

President's Message

By Katherine Gavzy

So here we are, coming out of an eventful (perhaps "turbulent" would be more accurate) year and facing a new year that may be even more so. In addition to the major developments in the larger world around us, such as the spread of popular protests in the Arab countries and the European economic crisis, our own little world of Oakland and the League has been far from boring, with demonstrations and tents at City Hall. "May you live in interesting times," says an old Chinese curse.

Here are some glimpses of the interesting times that we are looking forward to in 2012. As you surely have heard by now, there is an initiative campaign to recall the mayor of Oakland. The League, together with the Bay Area News Group and Laney Tower (media arm of Laney College), is working on a voter education forum in late January or early February to help clear up the general confusion and misinformation around this highly emotional issue and to fulfill our mission of building informed and involved citizens. Details are still being finalized, but we expect to have a panel of political science academics, journalists, and legal experts, moderated by Martin Reynolds, former editor of the Oakland Tribune. We will call for LWVO volunteers to be question sorters and timers. Our candidate forum rules for ensuring an impartial and informative event will be applied. Look for forthcoming announcements on the LWVO website ( and in email blast messages.

Looking ahead further down the road, 2012 will be a presidential election year. Community college and high school youth are more likely to consider registering to vote, but the tricky part is reaching out to them in the schools and getting their attention. The League is working on a plan to recruit voter registration teams of college students and, with the support of the Oakland school district, take those teams to senior year assemblies in the high schools. Read more about this exciting new project in forthcoming issues of your VOTER.

Our LWVO calendar starts off with a bang in January. Members who want to have their say on the League's national, Bay Area and local Oakland policies and positions should come to the annual Program Planning meeting Saturday January 21st. Learn more about the National League study on privatization of government services at the Hot Topics discussion on January 23rd. Remember that we inform ourselves so that we can take responsible and effective action. We urge all members to participate in ongoing advocacy work in support of the DISCLOSE Act (see listing for the January 7th kick-off meeting) and to circulate and sign petitions to end the death penalty in California. Interesting times can be disturbing or even a little scary, but they are above all an opportunity to make change.

California DISCLOSE Act Kick-off Event

LWV California is joining a number of groups, spearheaded by the California Clean Money Campaign, in endorsing Assembly Bill 1148, the California DISCLOSE Act. It is part of a major effort to rally public opinion for its passage. LWVO has signed on as a co-sponsor of a campaign kick-off event.

January 7th, 10 AM to 12 noon
Hearing Room 1 of Oakland City Hall

Please come lend your support.

"DISCLOSE" stands for "Democracy Is Strengthened By Casting Light On Spending in Elections." AB 1148 is a two-year bill that will come up for its first hearing next year. It is based on the federal DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175) that passed the House of Representatives in 2010 and will include other reforms specific to California. As an amendment to the Political Reform Act of 1974, AB 1148 can be put into effect either by a 2/3 vote of the legislature or by a majority vote placing a measure on the ballot for the voters to decide. AB 1148 would apply to all ads for or against ballot measures or candidates that are paid for by independent expenditures. It will require clear and prominent identification of actual funders, not just the "generic" committee names. When top funders of political TV and radio advertising are forced to appear in the ads and say that they "helped pay for this message and approve it," voters will immediately know which special interests are behind multi-million dollar ad campaigns. Then they can decide for themselves whether they trust the source. It will also impose new disclosure requirements for election mailers.

LWVO Holiday Party

A large cross-section of LWVO members and friends enjoyed an evening of holiday cheer at the home of Louise Rothman Riemer and Davis Riemer on December 16. We were so busy chatting and noshing we forgot to take photos. A smattering of local politicians, including Mayor Jean Quan and City Attorney Barbara Parker, were there, as were several new members and many seasoned members. We enjoyed great food and drinks and good conversation. Thanks to Louise and Davis, our excellent hosts.

LWVO Board Highlights

At its November meeting the LWVO Board discussed whether or not to be a co-sponsor of a nonpartisan forum about the effort to recall Oakland's mayor. Some board members feared that cosponsoring the forum would be construed as the League taking sides; others felt that the public deserved to have an opportunity to learn the facts about the process before they were asked to sign a petition or vote. After much debate the board voted to become a co-sponsor. The forum, initiated by Martin Reynolds of the Oakland Tribune (who hosted a candidates forum in the mayoral election last year), will be held in January or February. LWVO will send an email blast when the date and details have been finalized.


Housing and the Bay Area's Future

Saturday, February 4, 9 am to 2 pm
First Unitarian Church of Oakland
685 14th Street at Clay
Oakland, CA 94612

DAVID ROSEN, a leading expert in the field of affordable housing, finance, policy, land use, lending and investment, and strategic planning will be the keynote speaker.

Three panels will look at the problems facing housing today including
▪ implementation of SB 375
▪ sources and uses of public money
▪ difficulties of community support

In addition there will be panels of experts on
▪ meeting regional housing needs in light of the sustainable communities' strategy
▪ difficulties of financing affordable housing
▪ how to serve the hardest to house

There will be time for questions from the audience during each panel.

Cost: In advance: $30 ($15 without lunch); at the door $35 ($20 without lunch).

To register please write a check payable to "LWVBA" and mail, including your name and any guest names, to LWVBA, 1611 Telegraph Avenue, Suite 300, Oakland, CA

Registration is also available online through January 27 via PayPal at

Hiram Johnson and Woman's Suffrage Vote 1911

On January 8 at 2 p.m., at the Berkeley History Center, 1931 Center St. Berkeley, John Calderwood will speak on "Election of California Governor Hiram Johnson and the Woman Suffrage Vote in 1911." The campaign for votes for women helped fuel the progressive revolution that brought about and resulted from the election of reformer Governor Hiram Johnson. Attendees may then tour the "Berkeley Women Vote: Celebrating California Suffrage 1911-2011" exhibit at the Center. Speaker and exhibit are free, open to the public, and wheel-chair accessible. Info:

Belated Thanks

LWVO thanks these Oakland businesses for donating food and beverages for our Education Study Forums in September, October, and November, 2011:

▪ Peet's Coffee and Tea at 1111 Broadway
▪ Safeways at the following locations: 3550 Fruitvale Avenue, 6310 College Avenue, 3747 Grand Avenue, 4100 Redwood Road, and 2096 Mountain Boulevard
▪ Starbucks Coffee at 420 West Grand Avenue, 4098 Piedmont Avenue, and 801 Broadway

LWVO Members, please patronize our donors, and be sure to thank them personally. And special thanks to LWVO member Jane Klein who charmed these merchants into making their donations.

Privatization of Public Services

Come to a HOT TOPICS discussion

The League of Women Voters has undertaken a national study of the issues surrounding the privatization of public services. As LWVO begins to play its part, join us to learn how those issues are being defined and to share your own insights and experiences.

Monday, January 23
6:00 - 7:30 p.m. (note new time)
TransForm Conference Room
436 14th Street, Suite 600
(corner of 14th and Broadway, near 12th Street/City Center BART station)

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.

December Hot Topics Report

On December 5 the League's Hot Topics discussion focused on transit-oriented development. Meeting in the conference room of TransForm, "an advocacy nonprofit that works to create world-class public transportation and walkable communities," we were fortunate to have the expertise of Joel Ramos, a community planner with TransForm who was our resource person.

As we introduced ourselves, almost every participant explained why she or he was interested in transit-oriented development. Everyone there participated in the conversation. This is the goal of Hot Topics.

Joel Ramos explained that it is members of the community whose discussions determine to what extent a transit-oriented development plan is adopted.

The Bay Area is in the midst of Plan Bay Area, a process designed to plan future housing, jobs, and transportation in the region. A round of public workshops will be held in January; the Alameda County workshop will be on Wednesday, January 11, 6 p.m., City of Dublin Civic Center, 100 Civic Plaza, Dublin. With a number of League members interested in transit-oriented development, maybe there will be good League representation at this workshop.

         --Marion Taylor

End the Death Penalty in California

Support the SAFE Act Initiative

The LWVC supports the SAFE California Act, an initiative in circulation to collect the necessary signatures to qualify for the ballot. LWVO Board members and others are helping with signature-gathering. Please look for these petitions at League and other events throughout the months of January and February. The campaign hopes to complete gathering the required number of signatures by the end of February.

The League supports abolition of the death penalty and therefore supports this initiative. The initiative would stop executions and replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, including the conversion of existing death sentences to that alternative. Learn more on the campaign Web site:

Oakland LWV Joins the City of Oakland in Opposing the Citizens United Decision

At the December 20 2011 City Council meeting, the City Attorney's office presented a recommendation that the Oakland City Council adopt a resolution (1) declaring the City of Oakland's opposition to the United States Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which rolled back restrictions on corporate spending in the electoral process by ruling that corporate campaign spending is constitutionally protected speech, and (2) supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. The City Counsel approved the resolution unanimously.

LWVO made the following statement in support of the City's opposition to the Citizens United decision:


The League of Women Voters of Oakland supports a resolution to declare the City of Oakland's opposition to the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which stated that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. This decision treats corporate speech the same as that of human beings. It encourages unlimited spending on political campaigns by special interests.

In a brief to the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case, the League of Women Voters of the United States and the Constitutional Accountability Center submitted this joint statement about corporations and personhood:

While our Constitution reflects an increasingly expansive view of individual participation in the political process, it does not reflect a similar solicitude for corporate participation. To the contrary, our constitutional history reflects a growing concern over the influence of corporations, and the distinction between the legal protections afforded to living persons and corporations has been part of our constitutional law from the Founding. Corporations are never specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and from the earliest days, this Court has held that the government need not treat corporations the same way it treats individual citizens.

The League of Women Voters of Oakland supports an energetic legislative strategy to fight the corrosive impact of the Citizens United decision on our democracy. Congress must act now to get big money out of politics. One option is a constitutional amendment, and we are proud to see our City Council speak out and take a role in this movement. At the same time, we recognize that amending the U.S. Constitution is a long and difficult process. There are steps we can take now in California to mitigate the damage done by the Citizens United decision.

The passage of AB 1148, the California DISCLOSE Act, which is currently pending in the State legislature, would significantly strengthen our state's campaign finance disclosure laws. The DISCLOSE Act requires the largest funders of a political ad to be clearly and unambiguously identified on the ad itself, so voters know who is actually paying for the ad. We ask that the Council also consider action to support AB1148.


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
Aeesha Clottey
Tricia Gorman

Changes to the Roster
New Address:
Carol and Mark Norberg
New Email Address:
Denise Fleig

Have You Renewed Your Membership for 2011-2012?

Check the date on the mailing label of your VOTER. If the date is lower than 8/31/2011, we do not have a record that you have renewed, and your membership has expired.

We don't want to lose you; mail the form on this page with your check to the League office or call the office to have the renewal form and Interest Survey sent to you. Or use the Join Us function on the Web site:

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