Making Democracy Work

VOTER-June_2011

Annual Meeting and Dinner

Wednesday, June 1, 5:45--8:45 pm

Richard C. Trudeau Training Center
11500 Skyline Blvd. (between Joaquin Miller and Redwood Roads)

Dine with fellow League members, hear a brief wrap-up of the year's accomplishments, adopt next year's program and budget, and elect 2011-2012 Officers and Board of Directors, then enjoy a stimulating program:

The California Budget Challenge

A Presentation and Interactive Discussion

Our featured speaker will be F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that educates, engages and empowers Californians to improve the state's future. He will lead us in an interactive simulation known as the California Budget Challenge, a nonpartisan simulation of tough choices that state lawmakers are currently facing in trying to balance the state's $90 billion General Fund budget. With the interactive simulation we will get to decide how much we would spend on various programs and where the money should come from.

Reservations are required
RSVP by Friday, May 27th, by mailing your check to the League office, 1305 Franklin St., Suite 311, Oakland CA 94612, or by calling the office at (510) 834-7640

$15 Dinner, meeting and program
$5 Coffee, meeting and program

Please bring the Call to 2011 Annual Meeting enclosed in last month's Voter, if you can.

Co-President's Message

By Katherine Gavzy

Still glowing from the success of our All-City Luncheon (sold out, again!), seven LWVO delegates attended the State League Convention in May. The convention is a great opportunity to learn from other Leagues, to get guidance from statewide leaders, and, frankly, to show off a little. Our LWVO delegates made new friends and came back bubbling with new ideas and energy. The Voter Service chair responsible for all of Humboldt County told us about driving 100 miles to a candidate forum. Members of small Leagues in the Central Valley (fewer than 100 members) managed to hold education forums and pros and cons presentations for hundreds of people. Meanwhile, a group of League presidents was so impressed by our LWVO Member Handbook, which I proudly showed off, that they made me promise to send them an electronic file so they could adapt it for their own Leagues. Oakland received an award from the State Board for our website, a tribute to our Webmaster Bev Solo's skill, knowledge and hard work.

The Convention voted on the 2011-13 State League program:
▪ Continued support and monitoring of redistricting implementation
▪ An update study of the Initiative and Referendum process, which was last
looked at in 1999 and is seen by many to need major reform
▪ Education and advocacy on state and local finances, concentrating especially on voter education around the state budget
▪ Community education on the Initiative and Referendum process to accompany the update study

Delegates also voted to amend two existing positions to make them more robust and relevant. The Juvenile Justice position now opposes trying youths as adults, and the Election Systems position now specifically supports Ranked Choice Voting for all single seat offices (such as City Council) where it previously only named "executive offices." LWVO members will be invited to get involved with all these efforts as California faces some of the biggest challenges in its history, both political and economic, and citizens look to the League to help them meet these challenges by doing what we do best: making democracy work.

Action Committee News

Redistricting
Oakland Statement to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, May 2011.

The League of Women Voters of Oakland has observed and participated in the political process in Oakland for 87 years. As members of the League of Women Voters of California, we have been concerned about the redistricting process for many years.

The Oakland League recommends that the entire city of Oakland be contained in each of the districts the Commission will create. This is currently the case for State Senate District 9 and Congressional District 9 as well as Board of Equalization District 1. But three Assembly districts include Oakland, even though the city's population of 390,724 is well below the Commission's target population of 465,674. Taken together, Oakland and Alameda total a population of 466,133, just 459 over the target.

While we would like the city to remain whole in all districts, we recognize that the Commission has several criteria on which to base its decisions and that those criteria may result in Oakland's being split into more than one Assembly district. We ask that if you draw lines in and through Oakland, you look at boundaries as defined by neighborhood organizations rather than at the current city council and school board district boundaries. Those lines were drawn to suit the political preferences of incumbent officeholders who neither listened to the public nor respected neighborhood boundaries.

Ranked Choice Voting
FairVote, a national organization working for election reform celebrated Champions of Democracy 2011 on May 20 at Nile Hall in Oakland's Preservation Park. LWV Oakland was honored along with the other people and organizations who brought about ranked choice voting in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro in November 2010.

LWV Oakland supports ranked choice voting based on our local position. The state position on Election Systems supported ranked choice voting for executive positions only. On May 15 delegates to the state League convention expanded the position to support ranked choice voting for all single-seat offices.

Regional Government
For over fifty years Leagues in the Bay Area have worked to promote regional planning and regional solutions to problems. Now California's work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is leading our Association of Bay Area Govern ments (ABAG) and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to work together to plan future housing and transportation jointly. Meetings are being held in each county to start involving the public in the process. At the California State League convention in Ventura we learned that their equivalent of ABAG and MTC had just merged: "The Ventura County Transportation Commission and Ventura Council of Governments have agreed to merge, forming a single integrated agency to oversee transportation, housing and land-use issues." Maybe someday this will happen in the Bay Area!
--Marion Taylor

Forum on Education

On April 28 several LWVO Education Committee members attended the Oakland Tribune's Education Forum at the new public library on 81st Avenue. The forum, moderated by Tribune staff members, was very informative and well organized. There were four panels, each speaking on different topics including: Charter Schools, Higher Education, Philanthropic/Private Sector's Role in Funding Education, and a discussion on effective practices in other communities, such as the Harlem Children's Zone in New York.

Charter School panel members agreed that there were "good" as well as "bad" charter schools and that there were very "effective" teachers as well as very "ineffective" teachers. However, no types of metrics other than student test data were mentioned as an indicator of teacher quality, even though it has been well established that such data alone should not be the sole basis for evaluation. In addition, according to the Tribune "...one of the initial intents of the charter school movement was to be able to share their successes with their public school counterparts in the district," but when the moderator asked them to share supportive evidence of their best practices, none of the panelists could provide a direct response.

The forum also included a question-and-answer session between audience members and panelists. One question an audience member asked was in regard to the issue of why charter school students return to Oakland Unified School District public schools around the spring semester. This question was left unanswered.

Oakland Tribune staff members mentioned the need to have a second forum in the near future so that school teachers and students who are not available during school hours could participate. A time and date has yet to be scheduled.

---Yolanda Schonbrun

All-City Luncheon

On April 27 a sell-out crowd attended LWVO's 20th annual All-City Luncheon at Scott's Pavilion in Jack London Square. As our major fund-raiser of the year, the event was a great success, and as an opportunity for many segments of the Oakland community to mingle, it was inspiring and fun.

Program

Speaking about Oakland's image in the media and its reality to residents, Martin Reynolds, Editor of the Oakland Tribune, spoke about the factors considered when deciding what to print. He generously provided time for and thoughtful answers to audience questions.

Making Democracy Work Awards

A Making Democracy Work award was presented to the Bay Area Business Roundtable by Helen Hutchison for their work as a coordinating force for small businesses, with recognition for the work they do to keep alive the sense of community commitment and responsibility that we all share through programs like the Public Service Leadership Boot Camp, training leaders for the future.

Libby Schaaf presented the other Making Democracy Work award to six individuals who have created on-line blogs about our city, expanding our knowledge and enlarging the public discourse. (For details about the individual bloggers and their blogs, see the April Voter at lwvoakland.org.)

Supporters

The League is grateful to the organizations and individuals who supported us by buying tables as Patrons or Donors. Your support provids funds that will be used in our continuing efforts to make democracy work.

Patrons
Allstadt/Hardin Foundation
Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc.
The Clorox Company
Earl and Bonnie Hamlin
East Bay Regional Park District
Kaiser Permanente
Port of Oakland
Ronile Lahti + Piedmont Avenue Neighborhood
Rotary Club of Oakland
Terry Kulka, Coldwell Banker Residential Sales
William and Lillian Schneider

Donors
ABC Security Services, Inc.
AC Transit
Bay Area News Group + The Oakland Tribune
City Councilmembers Jane Brunner, Margaret Fujioka (Piedmont), Rebecca Kaplan, Pat Kernighan, and Libby Schaaf
East Bay Municipal Utility District
Emerge California
Law Offices of Joanne Casey
Madison Park Financial Corporation
Matson Navigation Company
Oakland Housing Authority
Safeway, Inc.
Saint Paul's Towers
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit

Volunteers
Truly, it takes a lot of people to put on a luncheon! The hard-working Development Committee included Sandy Threlfall and Sandy Venning, co-chairs, Judi Bank, Megan Chenoweth, Kathy Collop, Lorraine Force, Katherine Gavzy, Bonnie Hamlin, Terri Kulka, and Debbie Mills. Many other members of the League volunteered both before and on the day of the event. Helping to both set up beforehand, greet and register guests, and step up to whatever was needed were the following non-committee members: Blair Miller, Echa Schneider, Louise Rothman- Reimer, Gretchen Hayes, Annmarie Hallin, Bea Rudney, Mary Anne Thompson, Michael Hunt, Mary Stevens, Mary Strauss, Louise Anderson, Helen Bersie, Iris Winogrond, and Suzanne Loosen. Apologies to any volunteers who were not mentioned here.

Thanks to you all!

Special thanks to Lee Aurich for taking and sharing photographs of the event.

West Coast Arts

Among LWVO's valued partners are Ellison and Nancy Dunlap of West Coast Arts, which does most of our printing, including the Voter and our invitations to League events. We very much appreciate their donating the printing of the program for the All-City Luncheon.

West Coast Arts is a family business, started 40 years ago. Nancy and Ellison volunteered to print the roster for their church, which they continue to do to this day. They bought a little tabletop press for their home in Alameda and got their first customers. As their business grew they opened a print shop on Franklin Street in downtown Oakland, but decided they'd rather work from home so that they could be there for their two small children. Their sons are now adults with their own interests, but they have both been part of the family business.

The family moved to a larger home in Crocker Highlands and continue to run their printing business--with increasingly sophisticated presses--from the lower level of their home. In 1990 they started a portrait photography business there as well. Going to their home-based business is fun, because you can see or hear some of the family interests: their younger son collects and restores old cars, and the older one is the founder of a bagpipe band in which his mother plays the snare drum.

Nancy says they have never advertised and have relied on word-of-mouth to grow their business. The quality of their work, their flexibility, and their kindness make it easy to see how they have been able to do so successfully.

2011 California LWV Convention

Brief comments from the convention from various LWVO participants

So Much To Do
The Convention was absorbing, exciting, tiring, challenging (when do you use a red card?) and I was really pleased I was able to go as a delegate. As Membership Chair for our League I think I really "got it" as far as what I need to do....Besides learning more about my own "job" for the League, I met some terrific people from around the State. Now where do I find the time for water issues, criminal justice, health care, Smart Voter, etc.?
--Louise Rothman-Riemer

Different Perspectives
We shared our table at plenary sessions with the delegates from Butte County (Chico). Their perspective, from a mostly rural area (with a major state college) was an interesting contrast to my own views. Two of the Butte delegates, and two of us from Oakland attended the Water Caucus. At this caucus we were asked to put a pin on the map of California showing our location and then to share "Myths" from our region....The fragmentation of the control of shared resources leads to many problems and perceptions: "The Evil North" is only 10 miles north of wherever you are and "The Evil South" is 10 miles south.
--Joey Hansell

Reaching Out
I attended the Voter Service Workshops. The main way to reach out to new groups and "unlikely voters" is to meet them on their own ground through partnerships and the new (to me) social media....Although health care legislation was not adopted as a priority by the state League, I hope local groups will fill the gap between present public understanding and what is in the Affordable Health Care legislation. Correct the misinformation that is out there and work for and follow legislation to enact Universal Health Care/Medicare for All in California. (The term "Single Payer" seems to scare some people.) There is current legislation working its way through the Legislature.
--Judi Bank

Become Involved
The convention passed several new items under "program" + the advocacy and citizen education (education that isn't directly related to an election). We will be doing an update study of our Initiative and Referendum Process position. The study will include a citizen education component. In addition, the convention agreed to continue the current focus on redistricting until the process is completely wrapped up, and do advocacy and education on the state budget and taxes. If you are interested in participating in any of these projects, contact Helen Hutchison at helen@helenhutch.com.
--Helen Hutchison

Challenging Times
At my first state convention, I could see that the League of Women Voters faces challenging trade-offs. The League is very likely the most respected organization in the country when it comes to improving our democracy, and yet League members (like most people) often have more knowledge and hope for change regarding specific issues such as health care, criminal justice, and education than they have regarding systems of governance and elections. Further, members like to base the League's respected endorsements on full studies rather than relying on studies done in other places or relying on concurrence with basic principles. That's understandable, and yet because so much time and money is required, not one new full study is planned for the next two-year cycle. In these times when so many are dissatisfied if not alarmed at the direction of our government, how do we advance our democracy so that we can make better decisions for the future?
--Laura Wells

Legislative Interview with Barbara Lee, our Representative in Congress

On April 21, members from the Alameda, Berkeley/ Albany/Emeryville, and Oakland Leagues met with Representative Barbara Lee in her Oakland office for a LWVUS Congressional Interview.

On the question about Transparency, Representative Lee said that she had voted for the Disclosure Act. She felt that campaign finance disclosure laws should be strengthened and that she supports public financing of elections.

On a question about the Affordable Care Act, Representative Lee said that the Affordable Care Act needs strengthening and there needs to be cost control. Single Payer or the Public Option should have been part of the Act. She was distressed to find, buried in the compromise, that the creation and funding of the Office of Minority Disparities wording was changed from "must" to "may."

When asked about her priorities for the 112th Congress, Representative Lee said she was very concerned about the war being waged on women. Women's health care and reproductive rights have been targeted, including the elimination of abortion rights for women living in Washington, DC (who have no vote in congress), that have been bargained away. She is working to get back the rights that have been lost!

Another priority is to end the war in Afghanistan by defunding it and bringing our troops home. She is also working to take back the Authorization to go into Afghanistan.

A third priority is to declare an "Emergency" to continue funding unemployment payments for the people who have been unemployed for 99 weeks so the expenditure does not have to be balanced with cuts.

She is supporting the International AIDS Conference in 2012. One of the planning meetings will be held in Oakland. We sincerely thank Representative Lee for giving us this time with her.
-- Judi Bank

Membership

Welcome New Members
Miranda Beasley
Hannah Greene
Corey Hill
Jennifer Janichek
Charlene Smith
Katherine (Annie) Wenzel
Renais Winter

Welcome Back Returning Members
Annalee Allen
Vanessa Bergmark
Ken Berrick

Changes to the Roster
Arlene Daniels
(Note: The phone number for Arlene in the pink roster is no longer valid.)
Ted Hullar
Suzanne Loosen
Fumi Sugihara

Details of additions and changes to membership are in the paper copy of the VOTER.

Invite a Friend 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."

Click here to see and print our form