Making Democracy Work

VOTER September 2011

Fall Kick-Off Program

National Consensus Study on Education

Saturday, September 10, 10 a. m. to 12 noon
Oakland Main Public Library, Bradley Walters Community Room, 125 - 14th Street
(between Madison and Oak Streets)
"The Role of the Federal Government in Public Education"
Speaker: Delaine Eastin,
former California Superintendent of Public Instruction

Come to this meeting and the two following in October and November to make your voice heard in this national LWV study. Learn more here and here."

Celebrate the Centennial of Women's Suffrage in California

Join the Suffrage Parade of 2011

Date: Sunday, October 2nd
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Place: Lakeside Park Band Stand (off Bellevue Avenue, between Children's Fairyland and the Lake Merritt Shore)

Join the reenactment of the first suffrage parade in California! Period dress encouraged but not necessary. The parade will be led by the Montclair Women's Jazz Quartet and will be escorted by Girl Scouts of America. All are welcome!

A bit of history in the VOTER.

The Suffrage Parade website.

President's Message

By Katherine Gavzy

Judging from the newspaper ad inserts, it's back to school time again. Notebook filler paper, backpacks, and cute little pencil cases remind us how important the education of our children is to the life of all communities. So do the dire warnings of cuts to education budgets, and the intense debate over testing, standards, and fairness. The "League-like" response is not to sit and fret, but to turn to our method of "study--consensus-action."

A national League committee spent nearly a year on an impartial, in-depth review and analysis of the appropriate role for the federal government in public education. Our own hard-working LWVO Education Committee, along with counterparts in local Leagues across the country, then studied and analyzed the materials from LWVUS.

Now they are presenting this information to you, our members, together with questions for discussion and group decision. The results of the decisions, known as "consensus" in League lingo, will be communicated back to the national League from local Leagues all around the country. LWVUS will use the consensus to write a position statement that will be used as a basis for advocacy. National League will be able to support or oppose legislation, lobby elected officials, and influence public opinion, knowing that we have studied the issue thoroughly and that they speak for the grass roots membership. This process of study-consensus-action is at the heart of how we do business as a League. Here's your chance to take part in a national consensus: come to the September 10th kick-off meeting and the follow-up meetings - see details in this VOTER.

Looking a little further ahead in the fall: on October 2 we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote in California with a parade and all the attendant hoopla. Come join the parade, a reminder of our history, of how far we have come in just 100 years, and a chance to have some fun - see the story in this VOTER.

Call for Volunteers


Do you want to learn more about your local government? Consider becoming an LWV Observer!

As an Observer, you will attend meetings of City Council Committees or City Boards and Commissions, wearing an LWV pin to identify yourself, and then report back to the League about what happens at the meetings by filling out a brief form. Observers do not speak or act on issues discussed at meetings, but rather, gather information to help the League keep abreast of city issues. Your mere presence as an Observer also helps create more transparent government by reminding government officials that someone is watching. Observer reports are a critical tool for helping the League's Action Committee decide where and when our efforts are needed.

If you are interested in becoming a League Observer, or want to learn about the Observer Corps, please contact Echa Schneider at or 510 847-6129.

Pro and Con Speakers

The Oakland City Council voted to hold an election this fall with three propositions: a parcel tax, whether the City Attorney remains elected or is appointed, and the deadline for fully funding police and fire pensions. Voter Service will once again be sending speakers into the community to help explain the background of each proposition; we'll also be introducing voters to the changes in the state's spring election (redistricting, open primary). If you are interested in joining the Pros and Cons Speakers' team, we'd love to hear from you! Our training will be in late September and the talks will be during October. Please call Judy Merrill, 654-9600 or email her at voterservice@lwvoakland.og to express your interest. Paid

Voter Service at Work

LWVO was honored to be asked by Westlake Christian Terrace to oversee their election for Resident Council Officers and Board of Directors. Their ballot committee did a tremendous job encouraging the many new Korean and Chinese citizens to vote for the first time in their lives; the names on the ballot were in all three languages. Judy Merrill stayed in touch ahead of time and was present on election day, then was joined by Allene Warren to count the votes, which included many absentee ballots. Our presence was immensely appreciated and the two most active residents in the process now plan to join the League! To top it off, LWVO earned $100 for helping.

New LWVO Board Member

The LWVO Board for 2011-2012 includes just one new member, Carole Agnello. Carole was a League member in the 90's, gave up her membership when she moved away for work, then rejoined after she returned to Oakland. She has most recently been a member since 2008.

Carole worked for Oakland Parks and Recreation as a program planner and administrator for many years, then joined U.C. Extension, through which she became a trainer and consultant with the U.S. Army, developing services for children at bases in Germany and around this country.

Perhaps because of this background, Carole is particularly interested in the League's new and active Education Committee, and as an "at-large" member of the Board of Directors she will have the opportunity to contribute to a variety of LWVO projects.

LWVO Board 2011-12

*Katherine Gavzy, President
Annmarie Hallin, Secretary
Deborah Mills, Treasurer
Carole Agnello, At-Large
Judi Bank, Voter Guides Distribution
*Mary Bergan, Action Chair
Kathleen Cha, Oakland Easy Voter Guide
*Suzanne Loosen, Leadership Development
*Judy Merrill, Vice President and Voter Service Chair
*Katherine Oberle, Vice President and Program Chair
Louise Rothman-Riemer, Membership Chair
Echa Schneider, Observers, Publicity Co-Chair
Bev Solo, Webmaster
Sandy Venning, VOTER Editor

  • Executive Committee member

National League of Women Voters Study

The Federal Role in Public Education

The national League has a longstanding position that the federal government shares with other levels of government the responsibility to provide equality of opportunity for education for all persons in the United States. However, recent laws and initiatives that give the federal government a larger role in early childhood and K-12 education led many local Leagues to conclude that was is time for a League study to develop a position that would allow the League to speak out and act on these issues. After approval by the LWVUS Program Planning Committee and the LWVUS Board, this education study was adopted at the 2010 Convention.

The scope of the study adopted by LWVUS is two-fold--common core standards, and equity and funding. The national study committee has developed background papers and study questions to guide a process leading to consensus and a position.

A study is a League-wide activity. In order to involve as many members as possible, local Leagues are called on to establish their own study committees for education and discussion, solicit broad participation by both LWV members and the public, and arrive at their own consensus to be forwarded to the national committee. The LWVO Education Committee has been working on this study for several months, and is organizing three public forums to address the relevant issues. All LWVO members are urged to become involved in this effort. The first public forum will be our kick-off program on September 10. See the details.

If you would like more information on the LWVUS study on the role of the federal government in education, check out the LWVUS website:.

Save the Dates
Saturday, September 10--Forum 1: Study Introduction with speaker Delaine Eastin
Saturday, October 1--Forum 2: Common Core Standards and Assessments
Saturday, November 5--Forum 3: Equity and Funding for Public Education; including funding for Disadvantaged Children and Early Childhood Education

All Education Study Forums will be held 10 am-noon at the Oakland Main Public Library Auditorium, 125 - 14th Street (between Madison and Oak Streets). Consensus on the LWVUS Study questions related to the topics will be taken at each meeting with a review of all questions on November 5.

Here are five articles you can read as background.

Here is the Leaders' Guide for the Education Study Consensus.

Education Project on State and Local Finance

From the California League
State and Local Finance Community Education Project:
You Can Get Involved

The LWVC group that attended the LWVUS Council in June prepared a working plan outline for a Community Education Project on State and Local Finance. We also applied, in May 2011, to The San Francisco Foundation for a grant to help fund the project. We are waiting to hear back from the Foundation. We need members who are interested in researching, writing, and editing community education materials. The timeline for the project is July 2011 to June 2012.

We are working in partnership with other organizations, such as the Greenlining Institute, to achieve our goals to provide easier to access and digest community education materials on this crucial topic. These materials could range from a pared down "Easy Voter Guide" level to a much more in depth analysis and could include "house party" packets with power points, handouts, videos etc. These materials would be distributed through a wide variety of channels including local League activities such as community forums, placement in public libraries, and announcements on social networking sites. The essential purpose of this project, and the resulting materials, is to answer the following:

▪ How we got here: budget history and how the economy affects the state budget
▪ Where the money comes from and where it goes: state, regional, and local governments
▪ Initiative process: why it's important when talking about state budget
▪ Current California budget reality: why is it so bad?
▪ Taxes: California's current system and who pays for what
▪ Who pays for California's education system?

We also will take a critical look at redevelopment financing and tax increment financing. Finally, we plan to compare how California is doing in these areas in relation to the other states.

If you would like to participate in this project or have questions or comments, please email Helen Hutchison (

California Women's Suffrage Centennial Parade

The History
In August of 1908 the California Republican Convention was held at Ebell Hall in Oakland. Over 300 women suffragists marched from the Oakland Hotel to Ebell Hall to advocate for a plank endorsing women's suffrage. The chair of the Convention moved for a vote of thanks, and the suffragists seated in the gallery shouted "We don't want your thanks, give us the ballot!"

They were not successful, but it was the FIRST suffrage parade ever held in California. This parade of over 300 women re-energized the suffrage movement which led to the successful passage of the suffrage referendum in 1911, after the defeat of suffrage in 1896.

On the October 10, 1911 ballot included a suffrage referendum from the legislature and at least eight other items. In the Bay Area only Berkeley voted in favor of suffrage. It was soundly defeated in San Francisco and Oakland, the two big cities in Bay Area Counties.

By the time all the votes were counted the women won the vote, but the regions that put them in the winners' column were the farm counties. In San Francisco and Los Angeles the newspapers carried headlines announcing the defeat of suffrage again - a repeat of the 1896 referendum. Remarkably, a single vote in each precinct, just over 3,000, turned the tide for suffrage and by the end of the day, October 11, the tallies were final and suffrage won.

The Centennial Event
This is an opportunity for Oakland to shine with pride by reenacting California's first suffrage parade. A number of organizations in Oakland are coming together for the Suffrage Parade on Sunday, October 2, including LWV, American Association of University Women (AAUW), Oakland Heritage Alliance, Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), ACLU, Girl Scouts of America, and more.

Note on Suffrage Colors: Purple symbolizes Courage and Justice, White is for Purity of Purpose, and Yellow is for Hope, which comes from the suffrage campaign in Kansas--the Sunflower State!

LWVO 2010-11 Annual Meeting

We held our Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 1, at the Richard C. Trudeau Training Center on Skyline Boulevard in Oakland again this year. The Center has proved to be a popular location for our annual meetings due to its location, ample parking, and large meeting room. This year more than 60 local League members and guests were on hand for the evening. We started with dinner and then discussed and adopted the budget for the coming 2011-2012 year, voted on program issues to emphasize in the new year, and elected the new officers and directors.

The LWVO issues for emphasis for 2011-2012 are:
▪ Expand the reach and impact of the LWVO, including efforts to expand the Observer Corp and provide active support for the Public Ethics Commission.
▪ Encourage increased transparency in city government, with special emphasis on the harnessing of new technologies to make government information more accessible to the public, such as the provision of unfiltered data about city finances and operations in machine readable format.
▪ Educate members and the public about city finance and budgeting issues.
▪ Educate members and the public about economic development, job growth, and enterprise districts.
▪ Advocate for campaign finance reform. You will be hearing more about all of these, and opportunities to get involved with those that interest you most, during the coming year.

After remarks from LWVO President Katherine Gavzy, the business portion of the meeting was adjourned and we were treated to an informative and engaging presentation by the founder of Next 10, Noel Perry. Next10 is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that encourages Californians to think about the next ten years and beyond.

One of the tools developed by Next 10 is the interactive simulation known as the California Budget Challenge. The simulation contains information about various California revenue sources and spending programs, and allows participants to vote on the choices they would make to balance the state's $90 billion General Fund budget. Using this hands-on simulation we were able to balance the state budget in just under an hour! True, we were not constrained by many of the issues faced by our legislature, particularly the need for a two-thirds vote to raise revenue, but it was instructive and enlightening just the same.

If you are interested in taking the California Budget Challenge on your own, you can find it on the Next 10 website:.

Bay Area League to Host Forum on Senior Mobility

Is the Bay Area prepared for a "silver tsunami"?
As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, the region is seeing a dramatic increase in its elder population. This shift demands additional planning for the specific needs of people 65 years or older-- especially with respect to transportation, given that driving may not be an option for many in this demographic.

To address this pressing challenge the LWV of the Bay Area Education Fund and the LWV of Berkeley- Albany-Emeryville will host a senior mobility forum featuring many speakers with expertise on transportation and aging.

When: Wednesday, September 21, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Where: Berkeley Public Library at 2090 Kittredge Street (off Shattuck Avenue)

This event is free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible. For more information, call (510) 839-1608.


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

Beatrice Abrams
Maureen Bowman
Nyeisha Dewitt
Georgia D.L. Frazier
Gretchen and Leonard Nielson
Joseph Sklar

Changes to the Roster

New email for Bruce Jacobs
New address for John and Megan Chenowet:

Congratulations to New 50-Year Members

At the Annual Meeting in June the following women were honored for their membership in LWVO for 50 years.

June Brumer
Denise Fleig
Lorna Jones
Mary Strauss
Fumi Sugihara


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