Making Democracy Work

May 2012 VOTER


WEDNESDAY, June 13th, 2012, 5:45 PM
Lake Merritt Hotel

1800 Madison Street between 17th and 19th Streets
Parking available on the street and City lots nearby

Dinner/Meeting followed by:
Natasha Minsker, American Civil Liberties Union

$15 - Dinner, meeting and program
There will be a no-host bar
Guests Welcome
All LWVO Members are called to attend the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Membership of the League of Women Voters of Oakland

Click here to see the 'Call to annual meeting'
Save paper by printing it and bringing it with you to the meeting.

RSVP by Friday, June 8th, 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

President's Message

By Katherine Gavzy
The League wears two hats. This is what we traditionally say when presenting the ballot measure pros and cons to the public, or when we try to explain to non-members who we are and what we do. Explaining this concept, and why it is critical to the mission and credibility of the League, was a challenge when several of us met with young Egyptian media and political leaders in March (see the story in this VOTER on that fascinating meeting). It also helps occasionally to remind our own members of the two distinct and equally important aspects of the League's work: education and advocacy. We will be very busy in May and June (when are we not?) on both fronts.

Education: Judy Merrill and her Voter Service committee are already organizing candidate forums for several local primaries on June 5th, including the contest to replace termed-out Assembly member Sandre Swanson, the County Board of Supervisor's seat currently held by Nate Miley, one judgeship, and an all-party primary for Barbara Lee's House seat. Remember, this year the only strictly political party defined contests are for the President and party committees; all others are open to everyone. Explaining this so that voters understand it will be one of our big jobs. Helping out at candidate forums is always interesting and informative, and a good way for newcomers to dip their toes into the water of League involvement. If you are interested please call the LWVO Office (510 834-7640) and leave your name and contact information.

Advocacy: State League has published our positions on the June State ballot measures and is in the midst of developing positions on the many measures expected on the November 2012 ballot. See Helen Hutchison's Vote with the League story, and check our website as we move through the spring and summer. The League was active in gathering signatures for the SAFE California ballot measure to end the death penalty, and I am excited that the local leader of this effort, Natasha Minsker of ACLU, will be our speaker at Annual Meeting on June 13th.

Speaking of Annual Meeting, please plan to come (and bring a friend). Lots of changes: we will be in a new and more accessible venue, the Lake Merritt Hotel in downtown Oakland on the shores of the Lake; there will be a no-host bar and choice of hot entrees instead of the usual cold salad buffet. Our returning delegates will tell you about the debates and resolutions at the June 11th National League convention in Washington D.C., and there will be announcements of new and exciting activities planned for the coming year

Call to the Biennial LWV Bay Area Convention

Saturday, May 5, 10 am to 12 noon
Lafayette Public Library
3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette

Speaker: Will Travis
former BCDC director,
currently Senior Policy Advisor to BCDC Joint Policy Committee

Status of Regional Planning in the Bay Area

Take this opportunity to learn about regional planning as it affects the whole Bay Area, a region represented by 20 different LWV groups. Although part of the meeting will be devoted to voting by delegates chosen from each League on by-laws, budget, and programs, all League members are invited to attend.

Oakland LWV is entitled to five delegates in addition to the president. If you are interested in being a delegate, please contact Katherine Gavzy at or 841-8166.

Whether or not you are selected as a delegate, you are welcome to attend this meeting. Learn more about regional issues and meet members of neighboring Leagues.

LWVO Board Highlights

At its April meeting, the LWVO Board focused attention on activities associated with the 2012 primary and general elections. Although LWVO will not produce an Easy Voter Guide for the primary in June, we will produce one for the November election. We're seeking funding to cover the cost of printing this valuable voter resource; suggestions are welcome.

The Voter Service Committee is working to set up a meeting at which voters can hear from the candidates vying for the House seat now held by Barbara Lee in June as well as candidates to become a Superior Court Judge. There will be more informational meetings in the community for the November elections.

Meanwhile, LWVO is currently working in partnership with other local groups to register young people who are newly eligible to vote.
The Board was pleased to hear that the proposal in City Council to rename the Oakland Sunshine Ordinance after Sanjiv Handa was defeated. The League had spoken out against the proposed change.

LWVO Meets with Young Egyptian Leaders

In March three of us from LWVO met for several hours with four rising stars in political and social media in Egypt: representatives from the media office of the April 6 Movement, the Revolution Youth Coalition, Qabila Media Production, and Al Jazeera TV. The visit was arranged by the Institute for International Education as part of the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program. Last year this same group asked us to meet with visiting African journalists and political figures; we are flattered that they call on LWVO whenever they have an interesting group touring the Bay Area.

It was thrilling to be in the same room with these articulate and passionate members of the Arab Spring generation. They asked us how the League uses social media to get out our message; we had to admit that we are still struggling to learn how to do this effectively. They wanted to know if women had progressed into positions of political influence here; we were proud to tell them that in Oakland, in addition to our mayor, six out of eight councilmembers are women, the City Administrator, the City Attorney, the City Auditor and now the fire chief, are all women. The visitors, all men, seemed to have a clear understanding that their country cannot progress into a vibrant successful democracy unless everyone, including women, participates in the political process. We look forward to our next opportunity to share League experience and ideas with foreign leaders.

Privatization Study

The LWV Oakland meeting March 24 on the LWVUS study on privatization generated a wonderful discussion on the role of government, what services needed to remain completely in the public sector, and what should be considered before privatizing public services. Members from some of Oakland's neighboring Leagues enhanced the conversation.

Special thanks to our wonderful discussion leader, Mony Flores Bauer, for helping to ensure that the discussion was both deep enough to be meaningful, and covered all the topics in the time given.

The Oakland League's consensus report doesn't have any real surprises:

▪ We reported that we really didn't know whether there is too much, too little, or the right amount of privatization, and agreed that core government services should remain in the public sector, though we weren't completely clear on what "core government services" are.

▪ We agreed that a wide variety of criteria should be considered when privatizing, and when regulating privatized services.

The consensus report from LWV Oakland will be combined with those from local Leagues across the country to develop a position from which all Leagues can act. You can see our consensus report. If you'd like to know more about the study or the discussion at the LWVO meeting, contact Helen Hutchison,

Make a Difference

From California LWV

The LWVC Nominating Committee (NC) is looking for PROVEN leaders for the LWVC Board of Directors slate. Do You know a League member who is Passionate about League, has Respect for the League mission, is Observant of League traditions, has a Vision for League's future, is Experienced in League procedures and has Notable achievements?

If so, nominate her/him to the LWVC Board of Directors!

Fill out a nomination form at: or contact LWVC NC Chair Trudy Jarratt at for information.


Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 5:45 PM
Lake Merritt Hotel
1800 Madison Street, between 17th and 19th Streets

All LWVO Members are called to attend the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Membership of the League of Women Voters of Oakland

Click here to see the Call to Annual Meeting

To save paper, please print the "Call" and bring it with you with you to the Annual Meeting. It includes the agenda and items requiring a vote of the membership.

Vote in the Election on June 5th

The June election includes several different types of political issues. The primary races for the presidency of the United States will be run as they always have been, with top vote getters in each of the parties winning delegates to their respective national party conventions held during the summer. Members of the party county central committees will also be chosen by voters from each party.

In addition, there will be primary elections for the Senate seat currently held by Dianne Feinstein (who faces 23 other candidates), Congressional District 13 (in which incumbent Barbara Lee will face two competitors) and State Assembly District 18 (which will have four competitors vying to replace Sandre Swanson who has been termed out). As described in the last VOTER, the election procedure for congressional and state offices is different this year. With the new Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, candidates for congressional and state offices from all parties run against one another and the top two vote-getters for each office will move on to the general election ballot in November regardless of their party. For more details see last month's VOTER or go to the Secretary of State's website:.

The June election also includes two local offices: Board of Supervisors District 4 (incumbent Nate Miley and one competitor), and Superior Court Judge, Office #20 (three candidates). Neither of these will require a runoff in November unless no candidate receives more that 50% of the vote.

Two state propositions will be on the ballot, as will some local ones.

LWV Oakland and other local Leagues are in the process of planning candidate forums before the June election, but dates are not yet firm as the VOTER goes to press. Check our website for late-breaking news:.

Vote with the League

Yes on Prop 28: The League of Women Voters of California supports Proposition 28, which will modify California's term limits law. Legislators are currently limited to three terms in the Assembly and two terms in the state Senate. Prop 28 will reduce this fourteen-year limit to twelve years. Legislators will be allowed to serve the whole twelve years in either house of the legislature or serve a combination of terms in the two houses. Prop 28 will not benefit any current or former legislator. This simple measure is a step in the right direction that will improve accountability. Legislators will no longer be constantly looking for the next office to run for; they will have time to develop expertise and get things done.

Neutral on Prop 29: Proposition 29 establishes an increased tax on cigarettes, with the money collected from this tax earmarked to fund research on cancer and other tobacco-related diseases. The League does not generally support earmarks but is neutral on this measure because of the health benefits that would come from reduced smoking and the increased funding for medical research.

Defending the Right to Vote

Your State League in Action:

Californians Sentenced under Realignment Have the Right to Vote, Argue Civil Rights Advocates
Lawsuit asks the Court of Appeal to clarify the voting rights of more than 85,000 Californians in time to allow them to register before Oct. 22 deadline

San Francisco - Three organizations concerned with voting rights have filed a lawsuit in the First District Court of Appeal today to clarify that people who have been sentenced for low-level, non-violent offenses under the state's historic reform of criminal justice known as Realignment are entitled to vote in the 2012 elections and beyond.

Petitioners in the case are All of Us or None, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and the League of Women Voters of California, three organizations committed to voting rights and reintegration of people with convictions, as well as a woman confined in San Francisco jail for a narcotics conviction who wishes to vote. Secretary of State Debra Bowen and San Francisco Director of Elections John Arntz are named as respondents.

At the center of the lawsuit is a 2006 ruling (League of Women Voters vs. McPherson) in which the same court clarified that people who are confined in county jail as a condition of felony probation are entitled to vote under California law. Individuals sentenced to county jail under Realignment are not "in state prison" or "on parole" as required byMcPherson. The organizations that brought McPherson have returned to the Court of Appeal to protect the voting rights of people living in their communities, in county jails or under probation-like supervision, following Realignment.

In December, Secretary Bowen issued a memorandum (#11134) to all county clerks and registrars stating that none of the individuals sentenced under Realignment are eligible to vote. But according to the McPherson ruling, the California Constitution deprives individuals of the right to vote on the basis of criminal convictions only if they are "imprisoned in state prison" or "on parole as a result of the conviction of a felony."

Press release from LWVC

Many Hands Made Light Work

You've heard the old adage, but it's really true.

On Wednesday, March 21, 24 League members and one soon-to-be member gathered in the Common Room at Swan's Co-Housing and prepared about 2200 invitations to LWVO's May 2, 2012 All-City Luncheon.

Never have we finished the job so quickly; Judi and I loaded them into her car at around 5:15 PM, she delivered them to the post office that evening, and the next day, Thursday, several of us received our invitations and the RSVPs began to flow!!!!

Thanks to Carole Agnello, Polly Amrein, Judi Bank, Helen Bersie, Meg Bowerman, Sandra Coleman, Mary Gormly, Annmarie Hallin, Helen Hutchison Karen Ivy, Gen Katz, Sari Kulberg, Miriam Laska, Judy Merrill, Bea Rudney, Keiko Shimada, Bev Solo, Mary Strauss, Mary Anne Thompson, Sandy Threlfall and friend, Susan Veit, Allene Warren, and Gail Weininger. We couldn't have done it without you!

Please excuse me if you were an additional volunteer who was there on the 21st. We tried to check everyone off as they arrived; hope we didn't miss anyone.

Special thanks to Bea Rudney for the many phone calls she made to recruit this great team of volunteers.

Bonnie Hamlin, Luncheon Co-Chair


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

Anna Gallo
Gwynne LaRussa
Richelle Lieberman
Emily Wilson

Welcome Back

Marilyn Handis

Changes to the Roster

Jonathan Bair--new address
Phyllis Bishop--new address
Alice Cary--new apt. number
Wilfred Ward--new apt. number

For more details, see the paper VOTER.

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