Making Democracy Work

VOTER-May-2011

May Program Meeting

Taxes - The Price of a Civilized Society
Tuesday, May 17, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Oakland City Hall, John Hege Hearing Room
(inside and to the left of the 14th Street entrance)
One Frank Ogawa Plaza

Henry E. Brady
Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley
will discuss the role of taxes in society

As budget battles rage in Washington, Sacramento, and Oakland, discussions are being renewed about what kind of society we are and want to be, and what the elements are of a civilized society in the twenty-first century. New attention is being paid to the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes inscribed over the entrance to the Internal Revenue Service building: "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society."

Henry E. Brady, Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, will discuss the role of taxes in society. Dean Brady is an award-winning author and a leading scholar of public opinion, political movements, and public policy. He has also worked for the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C.

Light refreshments will be served.
All are welcome; bring a friend.

2011 Annual Dinner and Meeting

Wednesday, June 1, 5:45 PM
Richard C. Trudeau Training Center
11500 Skyline Blvd. (between Joaquin Miller and Redwood Roads)
$15 Dinner, meeting and program
$5 Coffee, meeting and program

Reservations are required
RSVP by Friday, May 27, 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

Join other League Members for dinner, adopt next year's program and budget, and elect 2011-2012 Officers and Board of Directors. Then participate in a stimulating program:
The California Budget Challenge
For more information about the California Budget Challenge, see below.
For more information about the business meeting click here

The California Budget Challenge

A Presentation and Interactive Discussion
Wednesday, June 1, 2011 * 5:45 - 8:45 PM
Richard D. Trudeau Training Center
11500 Skyline Boulevard
(Between Joaquin Miller and Redwood Roads)

Take the California Budget Challenge! Our featured speaker will be Sarah Henry, Program Officer with Next 10. She will lead us in an interactive simulation known as the California Budget Challenge that provides information and choices to help us decide how we would balance the state budget.

The California Budget Challenge is 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.

Next 10 is an independent nonpartisan organization that encourages Californians to think about the next ten years and beyond. Next 10 develops tools to help residents become more educated and engaged about the critical issues facing California and one of those tools is the California Budget Challenge. Join your fellow League members and interested guests for this informative simulation following dinner and the business portion of our Annual Meeting.

CO-PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

By Katherine Gavzy

It is good to be reminded that the range of League influence and work is wider than Oakland. We are, of course, proud that LWVO is one of the largest and most active Leagues in California, and I look forward to presenting our "Three Brags" at the State Convention in May: the remarkable Oakland Easy Voter Guide, our ten influential Mayoral Candidate Forums, and the sold-out success of the 2010 All-City Luncheon. Still, there is so much happening beyond Oakland that all Leaguers can learn about and get involved with.

Alameda County will be redistricting the supervisorial lines this spring, holding public hearings on the process in May and June. We will announce the dates and venues to our members as they become known. We heartily encourage you to attend these hearings; a strong League presence should help ensure an open, fair, and representative process.

The Bay Area League is deeply committed to regional management of our natural resources. The Bay region itself is a leader in regional and collaborative programs for land use, transportation, air quality management. Look for the article in this VOTER on the "Plan Bay Area." If you are concerned about the environment and believe, with the League, that regional solutions are the best answer, then I encourage you to read the LWV Bay Area's award-winning newsletter, the Bay Area Monitor: http://www.bayareamonitor.org/.

Statewide, the Citizens Redistricting Commission has begun its work. See the announcement in this VOTER. LWVC reminds us that the decisions about where the lines are drawn will affect our communities profoundly in the next 10 years. We want the eyes and ears of Leaguers to "shine a light" on the redistricting process. Come to the public hearing at Oakland City Hall on May 21, 2 to 5 PM, and wear your League button. The League, along with Common Cause and others, made this happen by working for passage of the ballot proposition. Now is the time to make sure that it works.

New Member Open House

Are You a New League Member
(or feel like you are)?

Please Come to an Open House

Learn More about the Oakland League and Meet Other Members

Wednesday, May 18 - 7 pm - 9 pm

At the Home of Louise Rothman-Riemer
5560 Harbord Dr. (just north of Moraga Ave.)

RSVP: 384-7640 or 547-1267

Citizens Redistricting Commission

The schedule of public hearings for the Citizens Redistricting Commission has been released. Meetings in the Bay Area include:

Saturday, May 21, 2:00 to 5:00 pm - Oakland; City Council Chambers, City Hall.

Tuesday, May 24, location and time to be determined
- a hearing for organized groups to present proposed maps.

For details and to confirm the place and time for each meeting, look at the commission's website: http://www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov/

How Can You Get Involved?

▪ Attend a public hearing and talk about your community, or submit a letter to the commission online at http://www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov/

▪ Visit one of six regional redistricting assistance centers to learn how to describe and draw maps of your communities and how to speak to the commission.

▪ Find a wealth of information at the Statewide Database, the redistricting database for the state of
California http://swdb.berkeley.edu/index.html

▪ Connect with the League of Women Voters of California for information and help in finding resources http://www.cavotes.org/issues/redistricting-implementation

▪ Follow the work of the commission live or by delayed broadcast at http://www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov/

Action Committee News

Plan Bay Area

An integrated land use and transportation plan for the whole Bay Area is being produced with four agencies "collaborating at an unprecedented level." These agencies--Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)--are working with their "equal partners" in the nine counties and 101 cities and towns in the region.

This is an opportunity for every local League to get involved, help educate the public, and monitor the planning process. Workshops in each county will take place in April and May. The Alameda County workshop will be Thursday, May 19, 2011, 5:30- 8:30 p.m., David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley. Space at these workshops is limited. For more information or to register early go to http://www.onebayarea.org/plan_bay_area/

National LWV Action

Current Legislation

The national LWV has joined with many other organizations throughout the country to send letters to Congress, the President and the Vice President during the recent and continuing budget battles. As an example, here is their letter about policy riders

"The undersigned organizations, on behalf of our millions of members and supporters, write today to express our strong opposition to inclusion of any policy riders in legislation that will fund government operations for Fiscal Year 2011.

There have not been any hearings related to these extraordinarily far-reaching proposals. This back-door means of legislating does not allow for adequate debate about the merits of such sweeping policy changes, which deserve full deliberation by both chambers in the course of the normal legislative process.

The House of Representatives' Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1), which was voted on in February included vast cuts and erected obstructions to critical public health, worker safety, consumer, civil rights, and environmental programs. We urge you to adopt a strict policy of rejecting all such provisions in subsequent 2011 spending bills, rather than negotiating one harmful rider against another.

We also have deep concerns about the level of the funding cuts, which we view as irresponsible and harmful. However, these damaging policy riders have no place in this budget legislation."

Richard Winnie

Richard Winnie Believed in Mentors

Richard Winnie, Alameda County Counsel, has died. He was among the first male members of the League of Women Voters of Oakland when he joined in 1982. Richard Winnie believed in mentors and mentoring, and that role was reflected in his work with the League. The first study he chaired for the League was Affordable Housing 1991 - the committee toured Oakland and learned more than the eye could see - housing that worked and was affordable and attractive. The LWVO took a position as a result of the year long study that was very progressive in the early 1990s.

At an LWVO annual meeting the next year, Richard Winnie suggested doing a study about the Oakland waterfront - and the response was - what waterfront? A committee was formed in 1992 with Richard serving as Chair and the work began. The title of the published work was "The Waterfront - It touches the World. How does it touch Oakland?" The League study received the Clearwater Award (given to volunteer projects) from the International Waterfront Center, based in Washington DC in 1994. We now look back on this study (it can be found at http://www.waterfrontaction.org ) and realize that it was the responsible for initiating the Estuary Policy Plan - a two year project with city and Port working together with 30 community members to refine our edge. Richard taught us well. An outgrowth of the waterfront work was the formation of Waterfront Action, a non-profit group of which Richard served as president of the Board.

More recently, when the Oakland and Piedmont Leagues hosted a delegation from the Republic of Kalmykia in 2009, Richard played a key role in helping design a program for them. In addition, he hosted the group at his office for a full morning of orientation to US government and the economy. At the end of the visit, the delegates all agreed that the meeting with him was invaluable. Richard continued to stay in touch with them after their return home, offering ideas and advice for their work.

Richard believed in the League of Women Voters. He demonstrated that belief by giving his time and knowledge to the leaguers who had the opportunity to work with him on projects. He will be sorely missed by all of us.

-- Sandy Threlfall and Helen Hutchison

Muriel Nelson

Those of us who knew, loved and worked with community activist Muriel Nelson send our warm sympathy to her family and friends. Shortly after joining LWVO in 1972-73, Muriel became Dues Secretary and soon Secretary of the Board. Before long she was chairing the Observer Corps, was 1st Vice President, and in the 1980's chaired the Committee on Responsive Government. Always even-tempered and extremely supportive of LWVO projects, Muriel cared deeply about justice and world peace. She started many of us in making pieces for the Peace Ribbon which eventually was so enormous it was displayed in circles around the Pentagon, across the Potomac and around the US Capitol on a sunny day in Washington D.C. (For more information on the Peace Ribbon, call member Barbara Ruffner at 845-1617). In more recent years Muriel was a chief organizer of LWVO's Great Decisions discussion group. She died in March at age 94, and we will miss her.

--Mary Strauss

Federal Health Care Reform: What Does It Mean?

Everyone is unhappy about health care, particularly health care costs, but not everyone realizes that a national health care reform bill is law, or what is in it. Research shows that many Americans don't even know that a reform bill has passed. Start by informing yourself about what is--and is not--in the bill, and then make it a point to talk to your friends and neighbors.

Some of what is included in the landmark Affordable Care Act:
a guarantee that insurance companies can no longer discriminate based on pre-existing conditions
an end to lifetime caps
a requirement that insurance companies can no longer can drop people when they get sick.

In addition, the bill:
gives tax credits to small businesses for providing coverage for employees
requires insurers to cover preventive care at no cost.

There is misinformation being circulated about the bill's effects on Medicare. Don't let the naysayers scare seniors!

Medicare is actually being improved and strengthened.
The Affordable Care Act attacks waste and fraud.
The bill adds benefits for those on Medicare:
        helps seniors stay in their homes
        bans discrimination based on pre-existing conditions
        provides preventive care with no co-pays.

Yes, there are taxes--but only for those with incomes over $200,000-$250,000. These taxes will provide for the largest investment in the health care workforce ever made. There is a huge need for primary health care providers, and the Affordable Care Act will help fill the gap by investing in education and training, and providing incentives for these desperately needed caregivers.

Finally, for those who advocate repealing the act: this is an even more costly choice than enacting it! Repealing the act would cost an estimated $455 billion.

What about California?

California is on the forefront of federal health care reform. This fall, the governor signed two bills creating the California Health Benefit Exchange. There are a number of challenges on the road to an operational exchange by 2014; the League will be active both in advocacy and community education. If you are interested in working on this issue, contact Helen Hutchison, hhutchison@lwvc.org.

Sign up for action alerts on the LWVC Web site. Go to http://www.lwvc.org and click on "Sign up for E-News" at the upper left. On the sign-up page, choose "Action Alerts."

Do you want to know more? Here are sites where you can find good information:
http://www.healthcare.gov/law/introduction/index.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/healthcare-overview

http://www.chcf.org/health-policy-office

Advertise in the VOTER

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! (paper edition)
For details, contact Sandy Venning, VOTER editor, at voter@lwvoakland.org

SHARE THIS WITH A FRIEND. INVITE THEM 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

Membership News

Welcome New Members
Jill Broadhurst
Michelle DeRobertis

Welcome Back
Patricia Arabia
Sara Jewell

Changes to the Roster
Arlene Daniels (changed address)
Polly Amrein (changed address)
Mary Jane Dean (changed address)
Harry Woolpert (new email address)

Details are in the paper VOTER.

We are saddened to report the deaths of several longtime League members: Marie Credit, Mildred Marcus, Muriel Nelson and Richard Winnie. Our sympathies go to their family and friends.

Call to 2011 Annual Meeting

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011, 5:45 PM

Dinner/Annual Meeting/Program

All LWVO Members are called to attend the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Membership of the League of Women Voters of Oakland

Read the 'Call' here

To save paper, please print and bring bring this "Call" with you to the Annual Meeting

Proposed Budget for 2011-2012

Click to read the proposed budget for 2011-2012

To save paper, please print and bring bring this "Budget" with you to the Annual Meeting