Making Democracy Work


Fall Kick-Off Meeting

Do you know where you stand on each of the propositions that will be on the ballot this November?
Do you know how the new ranked-choice voting system will work in Oakland?
To learn more, join us at our October Program Meeting:

Preview of the November 2010 Ballot Measures

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 6:00 to 8:00
Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 3
One Frank Ogawa Plaza
(inside the 14th Street entrance to City Hall)

There are nine state propositions on the ballot for November 2, dealing with issues as varied as suspending air pollution control laws (Prop. 23) and requiring a simple majority vote for the state budget (Prop. 25) to legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana (Prop. 19). There are also six local measures on the Oakland ballot, and, for the first time, Oakland will use Ranked-Choice Voting to elect the Mayor, City Council members, City Attorney, City Auditor, and School Board representatives from Districts 2, 4, and 6.

Come hear Dave Macdonald, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, give a short presentation on Ranked-Choice Voting, followed by a neutral review of the Pros and Cons of the many ballot measures we will be voting on in November. The Pros and Cons will be presented by representatives of the League of Women Voters. This will be a very informative and informal meeting with time afterward for Q&A. Light Refreshments will be served

BART: Exit at the 12th Street/City Center Station
Parking: Street parking (metered until 6 PM); also the Clay Street Garage at 1414 Clay Street

The Public Is Invited; Tell your Friends and Neighbors

Letter from the Co-Presidents--Hang on to your Hats!

By Katherine Gavzy and Suzanne Loosen

It is the season when summer winds down and good Leaguers get ready for the fall election. With contentious candidate races and controversial ballot measures at state and local levels, as well as Oakland's first experience with Ranked-Choice Voting, we will be busy! As always, the community is look-ing to League to be the honest broker of election information and broad citizen participation.

We need you--our grassroots membership--to participate in Voter Service! This exciting election season is the perfect time to hone your skills and get involved in ―one-shot‖ jobs. As you will read in the VOTER, we are co-sponsoring nonpartisan candidate forums, presenting nonbiased and informative pros and cons on the ballot issues, and partnering in voter registration drives. Personally, we have for years enjoyed presenting ballot measure pros and cons through our Speakers Bureau. The audiences are so appreciative, and by educating yourself while educating others, you cast a more informed vote.

With so many League activities in Oakland, we may overlook our respected and vibrant national organization. A highlight of Katherine's summer was attending the LWVUS convention in Atlanta with LWVO members Ann Killebrew and Kathleen Cha. It was exhilarating to be in a room with 700 involved, informed, strong-minded, and vocal men and women. After impassioned debate, delegates approved two studies: on the role of the Federal government in public education and on privatization of government functions. Opportunities to participate will be featured in future issues of the VOTER.

Check the LWVUS Web site, select Council and Convention, for more on national advocacy positions adopted this year . While you are there, we highly recommend viewing the "Former LWVUS Presidents' Panel"; for a glimpse into League legacy. These women are smart, funny, and totally inspiring. We'll need plenty of inspiration as we hold onto our hats for the November 2 election!


If you have ever thought about volunteering for Voter Service activities, now is your chance! We anticipate sponsoring or co-sponsoring up to eight Candidate Forums and providing speakers at more than 50 Pros and Cons presentations. Read on for your opportunities to serve:

Speakers Bureau
The Speakers Bureau needs YOUR help to reach as many people as possible with our neutral Pros and Cons presentations on state and local ballot measures. Training is offered and you will be paired with an experienced speaker until you feel comfortable on your own. Audiences are welcoming and most appreciative, and our former speak-ers have enjoyed the experience. Please contact Judy Merrill at or at 510-654-9600 for further information or to volunteer.

Easy Voter Guide Distribution
If you've ever been involved with this process, you know how fun it is. First a group meets for a couple of hours to organize the 1000s of state and local Easy Voter Guides (in up to 5 languages!) into separate bags for delivery to their final destinations, then another group disperses with the bags to all corners of the city. All this in just one day! If you would like to participate in this ―party‖ near the end of September please contact Judi Bank at or 510-531-5449.

Candidate Forums
As mentioned above, we anticipate a proliferation of Forums this election season and will need lots of seasoned and new helpers to make everything run smoothly. We always need timekeepers, question sorters, and general helpers. The Forums are mostly in September, although there is at least one in late October, and take place in the evening. Some are at City Hall, others at venues around the city. It is quite interesting to experience the candidates ―live‖ and well worth your time. Please contact Mary Weinstein at or 510- 238-9240 to find out the specific dates for volunteering.

Voter Registration
Allene Warren spearheads ―Midnight Madness‖ at Rockridge Center. The community has come to depend on us for the night before the end of registration each election. You can contact her at or 510-562-3945.

Voter Registration Affidavits Box Watchers
Did you know that LWVO makes some money every year by ―adopting‖ registration boxes in various places around the city? All that's needed is your commitment to make monthly site visits to replenish the forms, then report back to Peter Bank, who keeps track for us. If you could make a stop once a month at a site or two, please get in touch with Peter at or 510-531-5449.

Oakland Smart Voter Coordinator Needed

Are you familiar with the LWV California Education Fund's voter information Web site?

Would you like to help make the pages for Alameda County on Smart Voter accurate and informative?

Are you comfortable (and maybe even proficient) using your computer to send and receive email and to access the Web?

LWV Oakland needs a volunteer coordinator to contact candidates and invite them to participate in Smart Voter, follow up with them, monitor the site daily, create links to other sources of information about the upcoming election, and work with Voter Service volunteers to promote the use of Smart Voter. Training and support will be provided!

If this sounds like something you'd like to do, please contact Bonnie Hamlin at

Candidate Forums in September

LWVO will co-sponsor two candidate forums in September in large venues. We welcome participation by the public.

City Council Seat for District 4
Thursday, September 16, 7-9 pm at Fruitvale Presbyterian Church, 2735 MacArthur Boulevard.
There are many candidates running for the seat being vacated by Jean Quan.
Co-sponsored by LWVO, Dimond Improvement Association, Laurel Village Association, MacArthur Metro, Melrose High Hopes NCPC, Montclair Safety Improvement Council and the Redwood Heights Neighborhood Association.

Mayoral Candidates Forum
Thursday, September 23, 7:00-8:30 pm, at Kaiser Center Auditorium, at 300 Lakeside Drive. (This is the office tower, not Kaiser Auditorium.)

Co-sponsored by LWVO, Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Bay Area Business Round Table.

There are many more events!    Go to the Calendar to view them!

Recap of LWVO 2009-2010 Annual Meeting

The League of Women Voters of Oakland held its 2010 Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 2, 2010, at the Richard C. Trudeau Training Center on Skyline Boulevard in Oakland. With more than 70 RSVPs received, we had a lively group of members and guests on hand for the evening. After dinner we got down to business, which included discussion and adoption of the budget and program matters to emphasize for the new 2010-2011 year, as well as election of the new officers and directors. We also introduced the new members that were present and honored several women who have been members of the League for 50+ years!

After remarks from the LWVO co-presidents Katherine Gavzy and Suzanne Loosen, the business portion of the meeting was adjourned and we got to hear from our featured speaker, well-known author and journalist Peter Schrag. As the editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee for 19 years and the author of the recently published and very timely book, Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America, Mr. Schrag was well-suited to talk about the political problems we currently face in California. He spoke about the initiative process in this state and the political landscape leading up to the November elections, including the amount of money now being spent by various candidates and supporters and opposers of various ballot measures, as well as the influence that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case may have on the money flowing into future elections. Mr. Schrag also spent a good deal of time answering questions from the audience. It was a fun and informative meeting

Local Ballot Measures

There are six local measures on the November ballot: one for Alameda County, one for the Oakland schools, and four for the City of Oakland.

Alameda County, like seven other counties in the Bay Area, is asking for a $10 addition to the vehicle license fee. This money would be used for local transportation projects:
- 60% on maintaining city and county roads
- 25% on congestion relief, such as express buses, transit passes, and park-and-ride lots
- 10% on technology improvement, including traffic signal connections and commuter information systems
- 5% on crosswalk, sidewalk, lighting, and improvements for bicycle and pedestrian traffic

This money would be dedicated to Alameda County, and could not be taken by the state.

The Oakland Unified School District is asking for an additional $195 parcel tax.
- 80% would go to OUSD teacher and staff salaries
- 15% would go to charter schools teacher and staff salaries
- 5% would be spent on professional development for the first four years of employment, for both OUSD and charter school employees
The parcel tax would last for 10 years, and has a low-income exemption.

The City of Oakland has four revenue measures on the ballot:
- an increase to the current marijuana business tax
- a telephone line fee
- an amendment to Measure Y
- a parcel tax for crime prevention

Currently, medical marijuana dispensaries in Oakland pay a 1.8% business tax. The ballot measure proposes an increase to 5% for this tax. If Proposition 19 passes on the statewide ballot, other marijuana sales in Oak-land would be taxed at 10%.

The telephone line fee proposal would add $1.99 per month for each single phone line, and $13 per month for each business trunk line. The amount would be billed for every phone line that has a billing address in Oakland. The fee would collect approximately $5-8 million per year for the city's general fund.

In 2004, Oakland voters approved Measure Y, a parcel tax to pay for more police officers, crime reduction programs, and fire safety. One requirement of Measure Y was that the city must first fund 739 police officers before the Measure Y money can be spent. The proposal on the November ballot would remove this requirement for three years, and allow the city to collect and spend the Measure Y money with no minimum number of police officers funded from the general fund.

The fourth city measure on the ballot is a four year parcel tax for crime prevention. It proposes a $360 per year parcel tax on residential property, to be spent on crime prevention programs in the city. As part of the deal to put this measure on the ballot, Oakland police officers would begin to con-tribute to their pension, and raise their retirement age from the cur-rent 50 years to 55 years. At its summer retreat the LWV Oakland board considered each of the local ballot measures, including analyses and recommendations from the Action Committee based on existing League positions. The board voted to adopt a "support" position for each of the Oakland ballot measures as well as the Oak-land Unified School District measure.

Note: it is up to the Alameda County Council to adopt a position for the county measure. It has not yet done so.

LWVO Easy Voter Guide Needs Your Support

LWVO has been proud to be one of the few local Leagues in the country that produces its own Easy Voter Guide (EVG) for local issues and candidates. We publish it in three languages. We provide the same valuable, high-quality, and accessible non-partisan information on candidates and ballot measures as the LWVC Easy Voter Guide, but cover Oakland candidates and measures. Oakland voters have no similar source to help them make informed decisions. Demand from the community is strong.

This is one of our most costly activities because we have to pay for professional translators and printing. This year we are facing a "double whammy": previous sources of grant funding have dried up due to the economy, and the Oakland EVG will be at least twice as large as usual because there are so many candidates and measures. The Board believes strongly that we should continue providing this valuable service to our community, and that we should continue to provide information on all candidates for all offices. We are asking our members to help. If you were thinking about sending in a contribution later this year, no matter how small, please don't wait.

A few facts: We distribute a total of about 30,000 Oakland EVGs in English, Spanish and Chinese. We also make the local EVG available on the LWVO and websites. The Oakland EVG is the only complete source of impartial, non-partisan election information about the local races and ballot measures in Oakland. It is written to be accessible to new and busy voters.

Our goal for the November 2010 election is to further target and strengthen the distribution of the Oakland Easy Voter Guide in under-represented or low voter-turnout areas. The Oakland EVG is one of our Voter Service activities, along with candidate forums, ballot pros and cons presentations, and voter registration. Read more about Voter Service volunteer opportunities elsewhere in this VOTER, but each of us can help make the Oakland Easy Voter Guide a reality again this year by contributing whatever we can.

We are always grateful that we can depend on our members for sup-port. This fall your support will allow us to continue doing what League does best: providing Oakland voters with unbiased, useful, and accessible information on the local elections. Thank you!

Please mail your check now to:
LWV Oakland
1305 Franklin Street, Suite 311
Oakland CA 94612-3222

Indicate "For EVG" on the memo section of the check or in a cover note. Because this is a voter education project, your contribution can be tax-deductible if you make the check out to "LWVO Education Fund".

Hearty Thanks to Luncheon Underwriters

LWVO's Annual All-City Luncheon on April 28, 2010, was one of the most successful in the many years we've been holding them: provocative speakers, an overflow crowd of attendees, and a bumper crop of generous underwriters who sponsored full tables of 10 people or half tables of five.

The following Patrons sponsored full tables:
AC Transit
Bank of Alameda
The Clorox Company
Donahue Gallagher Woods LLP
Earl and Bonnie Hamlin
East Bay Municipal Utility District
East Bay Regional Park District
Horizon Beverage Co.
Kaiser Permanente
Port of Oakland
Summit Bank

These Donors sponsored half tables:
ABC Security Services, Inc.
Alta Alliance Bank
Clear Channel Outdoor Inc.
Emerge California
Great Oakland Public Schools
Hamilton, Cohn, Thatcher & Associates
Law Offices of Wilson & Casey
Matson Navigation Company
Partners for Community Access
Safeway, Inc.
St. Paul's Towers
United Administrators of Oakland Schools Vice Mayor Jean Quan and Councilmembers Re-becca Kaplan and Pat Kernighan

Thank you! We couldn't have done it without you!

Resignation from the Board

Leslie Anderson-Olrich has regretfully resigned from the Board for health reasons. We wish Leslie and her family well and hope we can welcome her back when things improve.

League Positions on State Ballot Propositions

The California League of Women Voters (LWVC) has recommendations on six of the nine measures on the statewide ballot in November.

The LWVC Supports:
Proposition 24 Tax Fairness Act
Proposition 25 Simple Majority Vote for Budget

Proposition 20 Redistricting of Congressional Districts
Proposition 23 Suspends Clean Energy and Air PollutionStandards
Proposition 26 "Polluter Protection"

Strongly Opposes:
Proposition 27 Eliminate State Commission on Redistricting

Is Neutral on Propositions 21 and 22, and has No Position on Proposition 19.

For details about the positions, refer to the LWVC Web site:. Download The League Recommends Flyer, and make copies for your friends and neighbors.

Tune in for more information in next month's VOTER. Also plan to come to a discussion of the League's positions at Hot Topics on September 27th.

New E-Mail Look for LWVO

Notices of events and calls to action that our mem-bers receive from the League have a new look as we transition to using the Vertical Response system for electronic member communications.

If the League has your email address you have probably already been asked to opt in to the new system. We promise to maintain our policy of keeping you informed on substantive matters and guiding you to more information should you desire it. Those of you who have not done so are urged to send your an e-mail address to

Membership Update

Welcome New Members
We are happy to report that several new members have joined LWVO since late May. We welcome you all, and will acknowledge you individually in our next issue.

Changes in the Roster
New email for Robert Raburn: (see paper

Hot Topics

Monday, September 27, 6-8 pm

What and Why:
The League Takes a Stand on the November Ballot Measures

Redwood Heights Community Center
3883 Aliso Avenue (off Redwood Road just below Highway 13)

The public is welcome; invite your friends

For More Information, call 834-7640

Ranked-Choice Voting--Outreach & Education

In November 2010 the City of Oakland will implement Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV). The City is working with the County to conduct a voter education campaign to familiarize voters with RCV. In addition to the City/County voter education campaign, the City set aside $100,000 to fund community non-profit organizations for face-to-face out-reach in targeted communities. This outreach will ensure that historically disenfranchised and under-represented populations will be informed of the changes, understand how the new process will work, and have confidence that their vote will be counted.

Interested organizations were asked to submit proposals that included a work plan detailing outreach strategy, staffing needs, overall budget and performance benchmarks. A panel composed of Margaretta Lin, Deputy City Administrator; Claudia Burgos, District 5 Policy Analyst; Ada Chan, At-Large Policy Analyst; Judy Cox, representative from the RCV campaign; and Allene Warren, rep-resenting the LWVO, was asked to evaluate the proposals based on relevant experience, qualifications, organization, approach, and other factors.

The organizations selected and amounts granted were:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Center $14,700
Causa Justa: Just Cause (with Oakland Rising) $54,660
Family Bridges $17,600
East Bay Spanish Speaking Citizens Foundation $11,800

The respective groups will be given RCV training by the Registrar of Voters and provided materials to keep the education message consistent. After the election the individual organizations will be audited to determine the effectiveness of their programs