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   League of Women 
 Voters of Berrien 
 & Cass Counties
December, 2017
President's Message


M arilyn
     "Partisan gerrymandering has become a tool for powerful interests to distort the democratic process."  That is the first argument in a brief filed  in the U.S.Supreme Court about three months ago on behalf of Senators John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse--one a Republican and one a Democrat--in Gill v. Whitford.
     In Gill, Wisconsin asked the Supreme Court to overturn a decision of a U. S. District Court in Wisconsin holding that Wisconsin's redistricting scheme  violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution because it intentionally favored one political party over another. 
      The importance of redistricting is attested by the number of current and former lawmakers submitting "amicus" (friend of the court) briefs in the case, urging that the decision of the District Court be affirmed.  In addition to the brief filed on behalf of Senators McCain and Whitehouse, one was filed on behalf of 39 current and bipartisan former members of Congress, and another for current and former members of the House of Representatives--18 of them Republicans and 18 Democrats. 
     The League of Women Voters submitted an amicus brief, too, pointing out that it has worked for more than 50 years to reform the redistricting process to increase participation in elections and protect voting rights.  You can access the more than 50 briefs on both sides at https://www.brennancenter.org/legal-work/whitford-v-gill .  
The Supreme Court likely will issue its Gill v. Whitford opinion in the next few months.  The timing is important.  We are facing a new census in 2020.  After that, states will redraw their congressional districts, based on the census results.  In doing so, they will be subject to any limits or conditions the Supreme Court will impose in its decision in Gill v. Whitford .  Clearly, therefore, the decision will be of great importance.  A plethora of consequences will flow from it--most directly, for at least a decade; practically, for much longer.
      For now, at least, we can celebrate the fact that people of vast political experience but identified with different political parties have been able to come together on an issue of great importance to our democracy.  The briefs on behalf of elected officials--Republican and Democrat, past and present--may or may not persuade the Supreme Court.  But they are important nonetheless.  Here is why: they show that despite the political polarization that surrounds us, there still are fundamental principles that can bring us together for the good of "the republic for which we stand."
If they can stick their necks out, we can, too.  And we should.  We can and must do whatever we can to see to it that those who are entitled to vote are able to; that all of us have the information we need to make informed decisions; and that our votes count.
That is the heart of our mission.  
Deck the Halls!
     Come and join us for an evening of food, drink and holiday merriment at the LWVBCC Annual Holiday Party on Friday, the 8th of December. 
      The party begins at 6:00 pm and ends at 9:00 pm at the Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4340 Lincoln, St. Joseph.    Please bring your favorite dish--appetizer, salad, main dish or dessert--BYOB.         
     Volunteers to set up or decorate the church are always welcome. Need a ride?    Call Judy Scully 773-677-2528.   
     Don't miss the LWVBCC Holiday Party--fun, friendship and holiday cheer are guaranteed!
Dues Reminder
     This close to the end of the year, mail really piles up.  If you haven't renewed your LWVBCC membership yet, it may well be because the letter reminding you it's time to do so is lost in the shuffle.  
     Please take a minute to take a look.  You can pay dues either by mailing a check ($60 per individual or $85 per household) to LWVBCC at P. O. Box 1032, Niles, MI 49120, or via PayPal through our website: lwvbcc.org.
With all the political turmoil around us, the work of LWVBCC is of special importance.  So is your support of that work. 
    Thanks once again!
Public Education Committee
     In order to include more members into the work of the League, committees have  been formed according to interests indicated on our recent survey of members. The  committee on Public Education met for the first time on November 14th.   The purpose was to brain storm ideas for the committee to pursue.  Many excellent ideas  emerged from a lively discussion.
     One of the ideas was how to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of women's right to vote--possibly through a writing contest on the subject.  We also spoke about the impact on society of women being able to vote. 
     We agreed that voting is crucial to our democracy and that accordingly, we should work to get more voters and address reasons they might not vote. One idea was to possibly visit schools and other venues to familiarize people with voting
machines and ballots. We concurred that it is time to do more for public education, and voting is the key.
     The committee plans to meet again January 24th at noon at Lake Street Eats in downtown Bridgman.  All are welcome to attend and contribute.  
                      --Linda Cheek and Jane Raymond, Coordinators
Book Group
     The next meeting of the LWVBCC book group will be on Monday, January 15, at the home of Annette Van Dusen in New Buffalo. 
     The book for discussion,  Dreamland  by Sam Quinones, is a close study of opiate abuse, drug cartels, and the devastating  consequences to families and the nation.  
     All are welcome.  If you plan to attend, please call Annette at 269-469-0806.
Energy & the Environment
     We all seem to know polar bears are in danger of starvation and possible extinction due to vast areas of their habitat literally melting away.
     But I was unaware, until reading an article in the New York Times dated Sunday, November 26, that glaciers in Peru are melting at an alarming rate. 
I had seen one of these glaciers from quite a distance while in Peru last spring.  Although our tour guide stated that the glacier was less than half the size it had been when she first started conducting tours, the impact of that statement did not overly concern me.  Now it does!
     From far north to far south--and even here in southwest Michigan, where we are having an unseasonably warm November--climate change is impacting lives everywhere.  
                                                                                 -- Chris Zilke
LWV Lake Michigan Region
     The Annual Meeting of the League of Women Voters Lake Michigan Region was held in Green Bay, Wisconsin early in November.  It shed light on important environ-mental issues including algae blooms in Lake Erie and Green Bay, pesticides, animal manures, septic system failures and agriculture practices that are allowing chemicals to leach into gullies, streams, and other waterways leading into our Great Lakes.
     Some of the meeting sessions were quite technical, but all presentations led to the fact that our lakes have been invaded for many years by all of the above, plus a plethora of invasive species.  Many solutions continue to be sought and progress is being made, but the polluting trends must be drastically reduced.
     What each of us can do is send comments regarding  Line 5 , the tar-sands carrying pipes under the Straits of Mackinac, via cleanwater@oilandwaterdon'tmix.org .  Please do so today. 
"This Changes Everything"

     Our documentary event, This Changes Everything, was held at the Vickers Theatre on November 14.  
     It was well attended and appreciated by the many who expressed their concerns about the environment both before the showing and in the brief discussion following.
     The League is grateful for the generosity of Judy Scully and Bill Lindbom in making this venue available to us on a nearly yearly basis, for being on hand to be sure all goes smoothly (lights, camera, action!), and for always being calm, cool and collected as we somewhat frantically get refreshments set up and welcome those attending.
     Thank you so much, Judy and Bill. 
"Area woman gives history of female suffrage movement"

Here is an excerpted report on LWVBCC President Marilyn Klawiter's recent talk at the Dowagiac Rotary Club written by Dowagiac Daily News reporter Ted Yoakum.  You can read the full article by clicking on this link: Suffrage story

DOWAGIAC - While the 19th Amendment may have been ratified less than a century ago, women's fight for the right to vote began shortly after the ink dried on the U.S. Constitution.
     From the Seneca Falls Convention for women's rights of 1848, to Sojourner Truth's famed "Ain't I a Woman?" speech delivered in 1851, the road to universal suffrage in the United States was long, with pitfalls aplenty.
     Marilyn Klawiter, president of the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass County, stopped by Thursday's meeting of the Dowagiac Rotary Club to highlight the history of women and voting in America. Klawiter was invited to speak by Rotarian Barbara Groner, who asked her to come after reading the league's October newsletter, which gave a brief history of the road to the 19th Amendment, which will turn 100 years old in 2020.
Committee Coordinators
Energy and the Environment : Chris Zilke
Health and Social Services: Dorothy Parker & Judy Scully
Public Education: Linda Cheek & Jane Raymond
Voter Services : Mike McCaffrey & John Ripley
Budget and Finance: Mike McCaffrey, John Ripley, Chris Zilke
Membership: Marilyn Klawiter & Mike McCaffrey
Nominating: Karen Ristau
Special Events: Donna Dutton & Chris Zilke

Non-Partisan Policy
The League as an organization does not support or oppose any political party, candidate for elected office, or any group that supports candidates. As individuals, though, but not as representatives of the League, members are encouraged to participate in political activity and to run for office.  Our non-partisan policy does require two Board members--the President and the Voter Service Chair--to totally abstain from partisan political activity.  

LWVBCC: Contact Us

P.O. Box 1032
Niles, MI 49120

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Friday, December 8
LWVBCC Holiday Party
6-9:00 p.m.+
BUUF, St. Joe (see story at left)
Tuesday, Jan. 9
League Board Meeting
1:00 p.m. 
Board Room
Niles District Library
620 E. Main St., Niles
Monday, Jan. 15
Lea gue Book Group
10:00 a.m.
Meet at Annette Van Dusen's home. Call to let her know you are attending: 269-469-0806 by Saturday Jan. 13.
Tuesday, Jan. 24
Public Education Cmte. Mtg.
Lake Street Eats Restaurant
4228 Lake St., 

Board of Directors
Marilyn Klawiter, President
Dorothy Parker, Vice President
Karen Ristau,  Secretary
John Ripley, Treasurer
Linda Cheek
Donna Dutton
Michael McCaffrey
Jane Raymond
Judy Scully
Christiana Zilke

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The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

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