Making Democracy Work

VOTER-March-2011

Economics of the Budget Crisis - What Are The Options?

Martha Olney, Adjunct Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley, will discuss California's budget situation and options for dealing with the crisis in the context of the current economic climate.

Professor Olney has been an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley since 2002 and has been an organizer and host of the Economic History Lunches for graduate students and faculty since 1996. Prior to joining Berkeley, she was a visiting associate professor of economics at Stanford University in 2001 and at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the recipient of several teaching awards, including UC Berkeley's Distinguished Teaching Award and the Jonathan Hughes Prize for Excellence in Teaching Economic History.

Join other League members and interested members of the public for this informative discussion about the budget issues currently facing our state.

Wednesday, March 23, 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!

CO-PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

By Katherine Gavzy

A budget is a moral document, says Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourner magazine. At all levels of government--federal, state and local--we are in a major budget crisis. Funds are no longer available for programs that many of us consider vital to the well-being of our society. What are we, as citizens and voters, and as League members, going to do about it? First we need to understand the budget process itself, and to understand the simple fact that you can't get something for nothing. That sounds obvious, but in fact it is a concept the majority of voters often seem unable to grasp.

Recently I attended a program hosted by Assembly member Nancy Skinner and presented by a group called Next 10. We in the audience were asked to try to balance the State budget and eliminate the deficit. We voted on whether to maintain, grow, or cut a variety of expenditures, and to choose from various methods of raising revenue. What happened was that we were not willing to cut spending on education or fire-fighting, or to eliminate safety net programs like home care for the disabled, but we would only accept revenue-raising measures that affected the other guy, such as higher income tax rates on the very wealthy. We came nowhere near to balancing the budget. You can try this yourself by taking the California Budget Challenge on the Next 10 website (http://www.next10.org). Find out how difficult it is to support a budget that reflects your values and your vision of a good society.

You will be hearing a lot more from the League about this over the next few months. In the spring Governor Brown's budget proposals will be on the ballot. The debate over what to keep and what to cut and how to pay for it should be wide-spread and intense. The City of Oakland is struggling with its own deficit and may have to go back to the voters to approve another parcel tax.

We in LWVO will do our best to help Oakland voters understand the issues and make reasoned decisions. Your participation in Voter Education and Voter Service work will be valuable, and you will improve your own knowledge and understanding. Bring a friend or neighbor to upcoming LWVO programs, such as our March 23rd program with U.C. Berkeley economist Martha Olney and Hot Topics discussions. The more we learn the better we can act effectively for a sensible, realistic and yes, a moral budget.

Reminder: National Women's Political Caucus Dinner Meeting

Monday, March 7, 6-7:30 pm
Buttercup Grill
229 Broadway at 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607
The State of Choice
Presenter: Katherine Kneer, President of Planned Parenthood of California
Co-sponsored by LWVO and several other organizations

A woman's right to choose is being chipped away. What is the status of family planning services 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.

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@earthlink.net; or Co-Chair Miriam Rokeach, 510-658-3805, miriamrokeach@gmail.com

Annual All-City Luncheon

It's coming, it's coming...

April 27th, 11:30-1:30
Scott's Pavilion in Jack London Square
--------
Featured Speaker
Martin Reynolds
Editor, Oakland Tribune
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Presentation of
Making Democracy Work Awards
Bay Area Business Round Table
and
Oakland Bloggers: Zennie Abraham, Aimee Allison, Jonathan Bair, Debbie Richman, Rebecca Saltzman, and Echa Schneider

Print a reservation form and/or pay here

Mailing Party

Come One, Come All

This year volunteers will send out over 3,000 invitations to LWVO members and the larger community to purchase tickets to the All-City Luncheon. Will you be one of those volunteers? It's flexible, it's easy, and it's fun. On Wednesday, March 16th, from 10 a.m. until it's done, we will assemble and stuff envelopes, enjoy refreshments and each other's company. Come for an hour or come for the day. Bring a friend if you like. All are welcome! It's sort of like a quilting bee--friendly conversation and productive work.

The Mailing Party will be held in the Common Room at Swans Market Co-Housing, 930 Clay Street. For directions and entry instructions, please contact Bea Rudney at 531-8287, or rudney@sbcglobal.net or you can contact the League office at 834-7640 or info@lwvoakland.org.

Volunteer on the day of the luncheon too. Members are needed to staff registration tables, set out signage, decorate the luncheon tables, greet guests, etc. Fun to do, and you will be part of the excitement of the luncheon and its success.

If you'd like to volunteer, please contact Bea Rudney or the LWVO office. Mention if you have a specific interest; tasks will be assigned shortly before the event.

News from the Action Committee

Oak to Ninth Project
At its January 20, 2011 meeting, the Bay Conservation and Development (BCDC) Commission approved the permit application for the Oak to Ninth Project (now called "Brooklyn Basin Project"). The approval was subject to revised special conditions, some of which provided for an accelerated implementation of both an interim and permanent Bay Trail. A number of individuals, organizations, and agencies, including Oakland League of Women Voters, San Francisco Bay Trail, Oakland Heritage Alliance, East Bay Bicycle Coalition and Waterfront Action, provided input to the Commission, urging the earliest feasible implementation of the Trail. These efforts appear to have had some effect as reflected in Commissioner remarks and direction to staff in the matter.

The revised special conditions also require that the existing train trestle at the Ninth Avenue Terminal be retained for public access purposes.

LWVUS Legislative Priorities for 2011
The LWV United States Board adopted the following Legislative Priorities for 2011: Clean Air Defense; Health Care Defense; Money in Elections (campaign finance reform); and Voter Registration and Election Administration.

The Legislative Watch List is: CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women); Climate Change; Ethics; Immigration; and Safe Drilling and Mining.

The Board discussed many issues and the responses from members suggesting Legislative Priorities. The decisions were made based on what issues are likely to come before the 112th Congress, the opportunities to make an impact, pro-gram decisions made at the 2010 Convention, member interest, and resources available to man-age these priorities effectively. The Board reviews these priorities throughout the year, making changes if warranted.

League of Women Voters of California Praises Honest Approach to Budget Woes
The League of Women Voters of California applauds the balanced approach taken in the Governor's proposed budget. Recent years have shown that California's dire fiscal situation can't be adequately addressed without looking at both the revenue and the expenditure sides of the balance sheet. As the legislature responds and proposals are refined, we encourage everyone involved to approach these difficult discussions thoughtfully and with an open mind. The proposed cuts are beyond painful+they are excruciating. While we know that expenditures need to be examined, the League is concerned that these cuts will further deteriorate essential safety-net programs as well as other programs throughout the budget.

It's about time that we have a budget that works towards long-term solutions, rather than relying on one-time fixes and accounting gimmicks, said Janis R. Hirohama, LWVC President. This budget faces up to the reality of California's structural deficit. California taxpayers want to be dealt with honestly and forthrightly. The proposed extension of the current taxes is appropriate. It's impossible to deal with this size of a deficit without increased revenue. California voters have indicated they want services; voters should have a clear choice and a better opportunity to see what the consequences of not passing these taxes will be. We hope that the legislature agrees that the voters should have a chance for an up or down vote on this proposal.

The governor's budget includes major restructuring of some government programs to shift responsibility and control for many locally delivered services to local government. We will be closely following the discussion on realignment. One question that needs to be considered is how much money now provided by the state or passed through from the federal government will follow the responsibility. Local governments differ in their ability or willingness to approve local taxes for services, which could mean distinct and perhaps inequitable differences in how well local funding would match local needs in the long run. There will be difficult debates to come over the governor's proposals, but at least we are finally facing up to hard reality, said Hirohama. The picture painted by the governor's budget isn't pretty, but it is an honest one.

What you can do: If you want to stay up to date on the budget, including League action, join the LWVC Budget Reform listserv by emailing to lwvc-budget-reform-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. The group talks about how we can be active as League members, both locally and statewide. And watch for upcoming LWVO events and activities around the State and Local budget.

Hot Topics: State Budget - Location has Changed

What is the current status of the California budget? Will there be a June election? If so, what measures will be on the ballot? What questions and ideas came from the March 23 program with Martha Olney? Let's talk and find out what we know and what we want to know about the state budget.

Monday, March 28
6:30--8:00 p.m.
TransForm Conference Room
436 14th Street, Suite 600
(BART 12th Street Station)
This is the same building as Rite-Aid at 14th and Broadway
Sign in with Mr. Gloria in the lobby and take the elevator to the 6th floor

All are welcome; bring a friend!

Behind the Scenes at LWVO

This is part 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.

Bea Rudney: Recruiter of Volunteers
With a background in nursing, Bea Rudney was happy to answer the call from the League of Women Voters in the early 1990s for volunteers to work on a national study about health care. The study that resulted made a strong case for a single payer plan. Fast forward 20 years and the merit of a national single payer plan is still being debated, but one definite result of Bea's involvement in the study was that she was hooked on the League of Women Voters. Ever since that introduction to the League, Bea has been an enthusiastic volunteer. She explains that League members are smart and interesting and fun to work with.

This year, as she has in years past, Bea will be recruiting volunteers for the March 16 all day mailing party for the invitations to the All-City Luncheon. She'll also help round up people to help on the day of the luncheon, both with setting up and registration. Her contribution may not be as glamorous as inter-viewing politicos or producing policy statements, but it's vital to the LWVO being able to carry on its work.

Bea also volunteers with CBET (Community-based English Tutoring), a California Department of Education program, helping non-English-speaking parents of school children learn English. She also acts as a volunteer usher at CalShakes and Berkeley Rep. When not busy with volunteer projects, Bea enjoys aerobics classes at the Oakland Senior Center and spends time with her family--she and her husband have been married for 63 years and have three sons, eight grandchildren, and two great grandchildren (and counting).

LWV California Convention

The California League holds its convention in odd-numbered years. This year the convention is in Ventura May 13-15. All California leagues will send delegates to the convention. In addition, League members who are not delegates are welcome to attend.

Speakers and workshops cover a variety of topics, both about how to strengthen local Leagues and about public policy issues. Among the speakers will be LWVUS President Elisabeth MacNamara.

For full details about the content and schedule of the event, and to get registration information, go to the League of Women Voters of California Convention blog at http://lwvc.wordpress.com.

Volunteer Opportunities

LWVO committees are looking for members who would enjoy these assignments:

Greet members and visitors at LWVO meetings. Provide information about LWVO and encourage non-members to join. Contact Membership Committee chair Louise Rothman-Riemer.

Become an observer at City of Oakland committee and commission meetings. Attend committee meetings to make the LWVO presence known, then report back on what you see. Contact Echa Schneider.

Updated Who Represents Oakland

Inserted in this copy of your VOTER you'll find the most recent version of the League's Who Represents Oakland.

The information found in the printed version is also available on LWVO's Web site http://www.lwvoakland.org.

If you would like additional copies of the printed document, let us know and a volunteer in the office will be glad to mail them to you. They're a handy reference for neighborhood and home-owner associations. Call 834-7490.

Membership

Welcome New Members
Jonathan Bair
Molleen Dupree Dominguez
Richard Fuentes
Dan Schulman
Sean Sullivan
Elsa Ortiz
Roster Corrections
Corrected email address:
Dawna Williams

Martha Killebrew
We are sorry to report the death on February 18 of long time member Martha Killebrew, mother of member Ann Killebrew.

Martha, a retired CPA and Red Cross manager, was a strong supporter not only of the League, but also the United Nations Association, World Citizens, World Federalists, and the International Institute.

LWVO extends sympathy to Ann and other members of Martha's family.

Orchids to LWVO

The following clip appeared in the Macarthur Metro in December.

"Onions and Orchids" is on hiatus as we wait for someone to step forward to edit that column. If we were running O&O this month, we'd give orchids to Oakland League of Women Voters' Mary Bergan and Mary Weinstein for all their work, especially in helping to produce the D4 forum at Fruitvale Presbyterian Church. These women and the LWVO were everywhere in election season, getting the word out, emceeing forums, and producing educational election materials.