Making Democracy Work


Annual Meeting

Wednesday, June 2 ● 5:45 - 8:30 PM
Richard C. Trudeau Training Center
11500 Skyline Boulevard

(Between Joaquin Miller and Redwood Roads)

The Speaker will be Peter Schrag, Author and Journalist

His topic will be Initiatives and Other California Political Addictions

A lifelong journalist and the author of several books, Peter Schrag has been writing about California politics for many years. Mr. Schrag served as editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee for 19 years and also wrote a weekly column for the Bee from 1996 until 2009. He now writes a weekly piece for the blog California Progress Report. Mr. Schrag will talk about the history and effects of the California initiative process, the role of money in California politics, and other issues facing the state today.

Mr. Schrag's 1998 book, Paradise Lost: California's Experience, America's Future, was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book. Among his other recent books are Final Test: The Battle for Adequacy in America's Schools, published in 2003, and California: America's High-Stakes Experiment, published in 2006. His latest book, Not Fit for our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America, will be available in May 2010.

Click here to read The Official Call to Annual Meeting.


By Katherine Gavzy
It has been a busy and productive year for LWVO, and here we are getting ready for Annual Meeting again this coming June 2. Seems like "only yesterday" we were at last year's meeting, hearing about the growing realization of deep-seated problems with the State's governance, and growing calls for a new Constitutional Convention to solve them. Our speaker last year was Zabrae Valentine of California Forward, an organization that continues to work actively for governmental reform. It does seem that the move to put a Constitutional Convention measure on the ballot is going slowly these days. Meanwhile voters will have an opportunity to implement real change, albeit on a limited and pilot basis, by voting for Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act, on the June ballot. Please be sure to read the article in this month's VOTER about Proposition 15 and heed our State League's call to action. Since this is a measure to replace private interest money with public campaign financing, the campaign for Prop 15 itself is not abundantly funded and relies heavily on volunteer grassroots efforts. To learn more, come to LWVO's Hot Topics meeting on May 3, check the website, and then do everything you can to help. Tell your family, friends and neighbors that a vote for Proposition 15 in June is a vote for fair and clean government.

Our speaker at this year's Annual Meeting will also talk about the state of government and politics in California. Peter Schrag will draw on his many years of experience writing for the Sacramento Bee and The Nation. We look forward not only to an interesting talk, but also to our usual lively Q and A period: there's nothing like an audience of League members to keep a speaker on his toes! Annual Meeting, in addition to voting on Program, Budget, and new Directors for the Board, is a chance for all of us to re-affirm and renew our commitment to League membership. That means renewing your membership: renewal forms will be available for everyone at the meeting. LWVO like most local Leagues is working hard to keep our membership numbers up. Fortunately, we continue to attract new members, but when existing members fail to renew we fall behind. So please bring your checkbook. If you renew at the Meeting you save us the time and postage of mailing out reminders, and you may win a meal at the new Lake Chalet Restaurant or other exciting prizes in the raffle drawing.

Election Day: Tuesday June 8

Vote With The League

SUPPORT Proposition 15: California Fair Elections Act
Huge amounts of money are raised in California politics giving special interests unfair influence and access and shutting out the rest of us. Proposition 15 takes an important step toward getting politicians out of the fundraising game. It is a pilot project to make voluntary public financing available to Secretary of State candidates in 2014 and 2018. Only candidates showing broad support and agreeing to strict reporting and spending limits would receive funding. Violators would face fines, possible jail time, and prohibitions from running for office in the future. The pilot program would be funded primarily by fees on lobbyists, lobbying firms and lobbyist employers, with no taxpayer dollars going to candidates. Proposition 15 will allow elected officials to start focusing on the public's interest instead of returning political favors to their campaign donors.

The League is co-chair of the campaign to pass Proposition
15. This is a grassroots campaign, relying on volunteer labor and word of mouth publicity. League members are encouraged to help with the campaign, and especially to let their friends and family know how important it is to vote Yes on 15 on June 8. To find out more about the measure and campaign, including opportunities for speaker training, and other volunteer opportunities go to

OPPOSE Proposition 16: Imposes New Two-Thirds Voter Approval Requirement for Local Public Electricity Providers
Proposition 16 would amend the state Constitution to require a city or special district that provides electricity to obtain the approval of two-thirds of the voters before expanding its service territory or providing new service to its customers if public funds are involved. Two-thirds approval by the voters would also be required for a local government to buy power at wholesale prices to sell to residents through a Community Choice Aggregation program. The LWVC opposes this supermajority vote requirement that would allow a minority to prevent decisions on electric supply favored by a majority of the people to be served. PG&E, the largest for-profit utility in the state, is the sole sponsor of Prop 16 and would benefit from this measure's stifling of competition. The impact would be fewer choices and thus higher rates for consumers, and fewer opportunities for local agencies to offer renewable green power.

The LWVC signed the rebuttal to the argument in favor of this measure. To find out more about the measure and the campaign against Prop 16 go to

No Recommendation on the other measures on this ballot

Proposition 13: Limits on Property Tax Assessment. Seismic Retrofitting of Existing Buildings
The League generally supports regular, frequent reappraisals for property tax purposes, and this measure excludes certain construction from reappraisal. However, considering the public safety benefit of encouraging seismic retrofits, we remain neutral on this proposal.

Proposition 14: Top-Two Candidate Open Primary

Proposition 17: Auto Insurance Pricing

Hot Topics

Monday, May 3 - 6:30-8 pm
Taking a Stand on June Ballot Measures.

The five state propositions on the June 8 ballot cover some complex and controversial issues. We will review the background and details of the proposals with Marion Taylor, who is editing the "Pros and Cons" online publication for the League. Then we'll talk about the League's stands on the measures with Helen Hutchison, who is leading the League's advocacy campaign as Government Director on the LWV California Board.

Redwood Heights Community Center
3883 Aliso Avenue

(off Redwood Road just below Highway 13)

November Ballot Measures

The LWVC is beginning to take positions on ballot measures for the November 2010 election. When LWVC has taken a position on a measure, local Leagues may take action on that measure, including circulating petitions and letters to the editor.

Opposition to Lowenstein Initiative: The LWVC opposes the "Lowenstein initiative", currently in circulation for signatures for the November 2010 ballot. The initiative would essentially undo Proposition 11 by eliminating the Citizens Redistricting Commission and giving authority to draw state Assembly, Senate, and State Board of Equalization districts back to the state legislature.

Legislative Term Limits Reform Act of 2010: The LWVC supports this initiative, currently in circulation for the November 2010 ballot. This initiative would limit an individual to a total of 12 years in the legislature + in the Senate, the Assembly, or both, in any combination of terms. While the League position does not support term limits, this measure makes changes to the current term limits that makes steps in the right direction + toward relaxing term limits and mitigating some of their deleterious effects.

Measures to change 2/3 vote requirement: The LWVC will not take a position on the Lakoff "California Democracy Act" initiative, or any of the other measures to change the 2/3 vote requirement at this time because there are a number of measures on similar topics that must be evaluated and considered together.

AB 32 suspension: The LWVC strongly supported the enactment of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. At its March meeting, the board decided that the LWVC will join with the Green California coalition to oppose the initiative effort to suspend the implementation of AB 32 until the state unemployment rate is 5.5 percent or lower for four consecutive calendar quarters. We believe, along with the LWV of the United States, that global climate change is a real and critical issue facing our planet and needs to be seriously addressed. The group, Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, is organizing opposition to the initiatives to suspend AB 32.


WEDNESDAY, June 2, 2010 5:45 PM

Dinner/Meeting followed by:

Initiatives and Other California Political Addictions
Peter Schrag, retired editorial writer for The Sacramento Bee and The Nation

Richard C. Trudeau Training Center
(the former East Bay Regional Park District Headquarters)
11500 Skyline Blvd., between Joaquin Miller and Redwood Roads

$ 15 - Dinner, meeting and program
$ 5 - Coffee, meeting and program
Guests Welcome

All LWVO Members are called to attend the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Membership of the League of Women Voters of Oakland

At the Annual Meeting, the members shall:

  • Adopt the 2010-2011 Local Program
  • Adopt the 2010-2011 LWVO Budget
  • Elect 2010-2011 Officers and Board of Directors

RSVP by Friday, May 28, by mailing your check to the League office, 1305 Franklin Street, Suite 311, Oakland CA 94612, or by calling the office at (510) 834-7640

To save paper, please bring the 4-page "Call" included in your paper copy of this VOTER with you to the meeting.


June 2, 2010
Richard C. Trudeau Training Center
11500 Skyline Boulevard. Oakland, CA 94619

5:45 pm       Registration
6:00 pm       Dinner served
6:30 pm       Call to Order
                  Introduction of new members
                  Review of Annual Meeting process
                  Appointment of committee to review 2010 Annual Meeting Minutes
                  Appointment of Timekeeper and Parliamentarian
                  Adoption of the Order of Business and the Rules of the Meeting
6:40 pm       Credentials Report
6:42 pm       Approval of 2009 Annual Meeting Minutes
6:45 pm       Presentation and discussion of proposed 2010-2011 Budget
6:50 pm       Presentation and discussion of proposed 2010-2011 Program
6:55 pm       Adoption of Program, adoption of Budget
7:00 pm       Membership Committee presentation
7:05 pm       Honoring 50 Year Members
7:10 pm       Introduction of current Board of Directors
7:15 pm       Report of the Nominating Committee
                  Additional Nominations from the Floor
                  Election of Officers, Directors, and Nominating Committee
                  Introduction of New Board (continuing and newly elected)
7:20 pm       Remarks from the President
7:30 pm       Business meeting adjourned
7:30 pm       Initiatives and Other California Political Addictions - Peter Schrag, Author and Journalist
9:00 pm       Adjourn

1. QUORUM The meeting shall not begin until a quorum is present. Ten percent of the membership shall constitute a quorum.
2. ELIGIBILITY Every LWVO member who was current in his or her dues as of June 1, 2010 shall be entitled to vote. Absentee and proxy voting are not permitted.
3. WRITTEN MOTIONS Main motions and substantive amendments shall be given to the secretary in writing, with the name of the maker of the motion included.
4. DEBATE TIME There shall be two minutes per member for debate. No one may speak for a second time on a given item until others wishing to speak have had their turns. Each speaker shall address all remarks to the Chair and shall limit such remarks to the item being considered.
a. Each recommended program item shall be moved and seconded, but there will be no vote on any item until all items (recommended and non-recommended) have been discussed. A majority vote is needed to adopt a recommended item.
b. Any non-recommended program item may be moved for consideration by a majority vote of members present and voting. A three-fifths vote in favor is needed to adopt a non-recommended item.
c. The vote will be taken on recommended items (with possible amendments) in the order moved, followed by the vote on non-recommended items. Amendments may be deletions from, but not additions to, program positions.
6. NOMINATIONS Additional nominations for Officers, Directors, and the Nominating Committee may be made from the floor, provided that the consent of the nominee shall have been secured in advance.

Proposed LWVO LOCAL PROGRAM 2010-11

Following is a short version of the Local Program. The full text of the positions is available on the League website, To receive a printed copy of the full positions, call the League office at 510 834-7640.

I. Issues for emphasis 2010-11:
· Functioning of Oakland city government, including the functioning of boards and commissions
· Voter education, with special emphasis on Ranked Choice Voting and reform of city government
· Expand the reach of the LWVO
Secondary issues for emphasis: economic development and education of voters about how to reach city officials to voice concerns and recommend action.
The Board recommends adoption of the issues of emphasis for 2010-11.

II. Re-adopt existing positions, with one change - replace the term "city manager" wherever it appears in the text of a position, with "city administrator":
EDUCATION - OAKLAND (1971, 1980)

The Board recommends retaining the current position on Education in Oakland.
INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING (Now called Ranked Choice Voting) - OAKLAND (2003)
The Board recommends retaining the current position on Instant Runoff Voting in Oakland.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT - OAKLAND (1970, 1993, 2001)
The Board recommends retaining the current position on Local Government in Oakland.
The Board recommends retaining the current position on Housing in Oakland.
The Board recommends retaining the current position on the Waterfront in Oakland.


The Board recommends retaining the current position on Children's Mental Health Services in Alameda County.
The Board recommends retaining the current position on Juvenile Justice in Alameda County.
The Board recommends retaining the current position on the Alameda County Board of Education and Alameda County Office of Education.


REPORT OF THE NOMINATING COMMITTEE - February 2010. The Nominating Committee is pleased to nominate the following people to serve as officers and directors of the League of Women Voters of Oakland in the coming two years. All have agreed to serve. Additional nominations will be welcomed from the floor on the evening of the Annual Meeting provided that the consent of such nominees has been obtained.

Directors, two year term:
Leslie Anderson-Olrich, Membership
Annmarie Hallin, Secretary
Nikki Harris, Voter Service - Chair
Katherine Oberle, Program
Bev Solo, Web Input
Kathleen Cha, Voter Service - Easy Voter Guide writer
Debbie Mills ,Treasurer
Louise Rothman-Reimer, Community Outreach
Echa Schneider, Web Appearance
Yolanda Schonbrun, At Large

Continuing Elected Members of the Board (term expires 2011):
Katherine Gavzy and Suzanne Loosen, Co-Presidents
Judi Bank, Voter Service: Easy Voter Guide Distribution Mary Bergan, Public Relations/Communications
Judy Merrill, Voter Service--Speakers' Bureau
Sandy Venning, VOTER editor
Mary Weinstein, Voter Service--Candidate Forums
Megan Chenowith, At-Large; approved by the Board to fill midterm vacancy left by Libby Schaaf

Members of the 2011 Nominating Committee:
Meg Bowerman, Chair
Louise Anderson
Terry Kulka
(plus two Board members to be selected by the 2010-2011 Board)

Report submitted by the 2010 Nominating Committee:
Iris Winogrond, Chair
Meg Bowerman
Bonnie Hamlin
Judy Merrill
Katherine Oberle

June Election Forums For Local Candidates

Candidate Forums
Oakland City Hall
Hearing Room #1
Thursday, May 6 · 6 - 8:15 PM

Candidates attending will be running for Alameda County Supervisor District 3; Alameda County Board of Education, Trustee Area 1; Alameda County Superintendent of Schools; and Alameda County District Attorney.

We are looking for moderators, time keepers, question sorters, and general helpers for these forums. New and experienced members are welcome to participate. This is your chance to see the candidates up close and become the most knowledgeable person on your block. If you are interested in helping at the forums, please call Mary Weinstein at 238-9240 or email

Candidate forums or debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Oakland are held to provide a forum for thoughtful discussion of important public policy issues. The League also seeks to stimulate voter interest and participation in the electoral process with these events. Please come to the forum and hear what the candidates have to say.

PEC Opposes Changes to Oakland Campaign Reform Act

Oakland's League was strongly represented at the April Public Ethics Commission meeting. Attention was directed at amendments to Oakland's Campaign Reform Act (OCRA). The original proposal was to take money from the limited campaign finance fund and give it to a group who would then educate the public about Ranked Choice Voting. The PEC voted not to recommend. A new proposal was introduced for a second time on April 4 by Councilman Ignacio De la Fuente. This time around the proposal was to increase both individual contribution limits and broad-based political committees by about 40%. The rationale given by City Attorney Russo was that with only one election period instead of two, each candidate should be able to collect and spend twice as much.

There were five speakers at the April PEC meeting. Three of those speaking against the proposal were from the League: one read a formal letter from LWVO and two spoke as private citizens. The decision taken by the Commission was the same as in March - not to recommend. Their reasons were that there was little evidence that candidates had need of a second round of fund raising since the primary usually decided an election. The overwhelming argument against is that changing the rules in the midst of an election cycle is disruptive and unfair to some candidates. A further point made more than once was that OCRA was enacted to cut down the need for fund raising and reduce the power of political organizations. The current amendments obviously turned that goal on its head.

Ballot Choices for Nonpartisan Voters

In the June 8 election each party will be deciding which candidates for partisan state and federal offices to send on to the general election in the fall. That means voters registered with a political party will receive a June ballot with only their party's candidates for partisan offices. Each party gets to choose whether or not to allow independent "decline-to-state" voters participate in their primary. For this June's election, the two major parties are allowing independent voters to help select their nominees.

Nonpartisan voters will receive a nonpartisan ballot that lists candidates for nonpartisan offices and ballot measures, unless they request either a Democratic or Republican ballot. A nonpartisan voter who receives a nonpartisan vote-by-mail ballot but wants to vote in one of the party primaries must send in the back cover of their Sample Ballot indicating which political party ballot they wish to receive. They can also contact the Registrar of Voters: 267.8683 to request a Democratic or Republican ballot.

Legislative Interview with Sandré Swanson

Representatives from the Alameda, Oakland (2) and Piedmont Leagues met with Sandré Swanson on Friday, April 2, 2010. He was kind enough to see us for an hour.

Budget Priorities
Assembly Member Swanson feels that the Budget should reflect our highest priority and his highest priority is education. He emphasized the need to increase revenues in order to increase funding for schools at all levels. As a member of the Budget Committee he will attempt to get the issue of increased revenues on their agenda for consideration. He extends his support for education to rehabilitation in the prison system. Studies in other states show that rehabilitation reduces recidivism which reduces prison system expenditures thus releasing revenues for use in other areas such as K-12 and post-secondary education.

Budget Process
Assemblymember Swanson favors having a simple majority for passage of budget and tax issues. He is in favor of modifying the law to allow the legislature to add items of a budget/tax nature to the ballot with simple majority rather than 2/3 majority. He would create new revenues through the broadening of taxable items (state taxes on merchandise sold on the internet and a tax on services). Malls and businesses should be taxed differently from residences when sold. He asserts that there is no "fat" to cut. If you cut staff too far, you lose revenue i.e., hold up permits and collections, etc.

Constitutional Reform
Assemblymember Swanson does not favor a convention as a solution; too broad and too many issues will become entangled. There are three issues which need to be changed to relieve the current structural problem: ▪ budget and tax issues should be passed with a simple majority (50% + 1)
▪ change the term limits; time and structure (12 years in Assembly and/or Senate)
▪ approval for local taxes should be 50% + 1 or 55%
He believes that currently the politicized nature of the present term limits creates a short-sighted situation and that we need an initiative to restructure the terms without it applying to those currently in office.

Other Major Issues and Priorities
Prison reform is an opportunity to save revenues for other uses. Without rehabilitation, there is a 70% recidivism rate which is really wasted money. Additionally, in California, all persons released are paroled requiring a probation officer to monitor them. The system is broken and flooded. Alternatively, providing rehabilitation (education, job training, addressing drug and mental health issues, etc.) and a network of services on release would be less costly over the long term.

He supports
▪ Home ownership efforts such as tax credits
▪ Adopting a budget on time to avoid higher interest costs on bonds, freeing money for more construction projects and more employment
▪ Retaining the senior safety net
▪ Education, senior care and youth services
▪ The new approach to health care and aligning CA practices with the new federal law
▪ Laws to eliminate human trafficking which rescue and rehabilitate the victims while treating the perpetrator as a profiteer allowing the confiscation of assets
▪ Deconstruction of prisons

Additional Comments And Observations
When asked what he enjoyed most about his service, Assemblymember Swanson replied "Solving constituent issues".

Membership Update

Welcome New Member
Elizabeth Hansell

Changes in the Roster
Kay Cuclis
Harold Lawrence

Details are in the paper VOTER

We are sorry to report the death in early March of member Alistair Sharmin. Family and friends have our sincere condolences.

Up-To-Date Online Information on State Propositions

Check out the new LWVCEF Web site for information on state propositions. You will find new online Pros & Cons, along with supplemental information on the propositions. League researchers will be providing updates to the online information as new developments come to light before the election in June. This website has been created for this election, but will continue afterwards to showcase the materials that the LWV Education Fund produces for various governmental issues.

Delegates Sought for LWV Bay Area Convention

Delegates from the 20 Leagues in the 9 counties surrounding the Bay will adopt regional positions and priorities for 2010-2012, elect officers, hear reports from local Leagues and hear a speaker from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. This fast paced convention will be on Saturday, May 29 from 10:15 am to 12:30 pm at the Castro Valley Public Library ((only 25 minutes from Oakland). The cost is $10 and includes continental breakfast. The Oakland League is entitled to six delegates. If you want to attend please contact Nikki Harris at or 704-8286 to make a reservation and join a carpool.

Advertise to Us

Want to reach a group of intelligent, concerned, active citizens with a message about your business?

You can do it by advertising in the LWVO VOTER!
For details, contact Bruce Jacobs, VOTER Editor at voter@lwvoakland