Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

May 12, 2018
In This Issue:

June 18, 3 p.m. , Book Discussion of Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout, at the Jones Library. 
June 28-June 30,  LWV National Convention, Chicago.  
June 28, 7 p.m., Session Chair Orientation, Fort River Elementary School Gym.  
June 29, 10 a.m., Session Chair Orientation, Fort River Elementary School Gym. 
June 30-July 15, Book Collection at Fort River Elementary School.  See below for more information.  
July 16, 3 p.m., Book Discussion of Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, at the Jones Library.  
July 27-29 and August 3-4. Book Sale at Fort River Elementary School Gym.
Aug 20, 10-11:30 a.m., Steering Committee Meeting, Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, 322 Russell St. All Members Welcome.
Aug 21, 7 p.m., District Meetings with District Candidates for Town Council, in various meeting rooms: see below.
Aug. 29, 7 p.m., Forum for At-Large Candidates for Town Council, Town Room of Town Hall.
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Note: a print bulletin will no longer be published. If you have friends who would prefer a paper copy of the e-bulletin, please contact a member of the Steering Committee.
LWVA News: Coming Events 

BOOK SALE NEWS: Book Donation Starts June 30; Session Chairs Needed

Get your books ready for donation and deliver them to the Ft. River Elementary School gym from June 30-July 15!  Please remember we would like books that are in good condition...not musty, torn, marked on, or underlined. No VHS tapes, please, but DVDs and vinyl records are fine. And please do not donate partial sets of reference books. If you have textbooks in very good condition and if they are current (not older than 5 years) those are OK too.

NEEDED: Session Chairs and book sorters and pricers
for June 30- July 26
Session Chairs are in charge of volunteers during their shifts. Please attend an Orientation Sessions for Session Chairs on either Thursday, June 28 at 7 p.m. or Friday, June 29 at 10 a.m.. (Apologies for the incorrect date in recent email with SignUp genius link). Both sessions are at Fort River Elementary School gym. Sign-up genius is live now: click here to sign up for shifts.

Sorters and pricers:
You do not need to sign up. Come when you can and as often as you can; stay as long as you can. Hours will be: Mondays through Fridays from 9 to 2, from Monday July 2 to Thursday July 26. Sorting and pricing is fun, and you get first dibs on great books!

Election Year Events: Planning for the Primary
Save dates on your calendar for events to enable Amherst residents to meet district and at-large candidates for the new town council before the primary election on September 4.

Meetings for the five districts will be held Tuesday, August 21,
starting at 7 p.m., in or near the districts.
District 1: TBA
District 2: Bangs Pole Room, lower level
District 3: Bangs Large Meeting Room, 1st Floor
District 4: Jones Library, Woodbury Room
District 5: Munson Memorial Library.
The district meetings will be modeled on "speed-dating" events. In an informal format, candidates will circulate among small groups of voters, answering the questions of individuals in each group.

For the at-large candidates there will be a more traditional forum on Wednesday, August 29,
7 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall. If the number of candidates requires, there will be two forums, one after the other.

More information will be available later. Discussion is under way about what if any opportunities we should provide for voters to hear the candidates for State Representative and Senator.
NEEDED: League members to serve as time-keepers and to keep the flow of the meeting in the district meetings. Assistance will also be needed at the forum(s.) Interested?

LWVUS Convention June 28-30 in Chicago

Rebecca Fricke, Elizabeth Davis, and Barbara Pearson will be attending the LWV National Convention in Chicago, June 28-30. Convention's business includes discussion of the Transformation Roadmap, which would bring some significant changes to LWV. You might want to read the executive summary  if not the   full report.    
LWVMA has some concerns about the Roadmap, which were expressed in a letter sent to us in late May.  Although the Roadmap has a welcome emphasis on increasing diversity among League members, several other elements are more problematic.
Two of us, Adrienne Terrizzi and Susan Millinger, attended the Field Service meeting in Western Massachusetts, where we participated in a discussion of the Roadmap. As a result of the discussion, the meeting sent the following statement to LW0VMA, to be included in the response LWVMA is sending to National. (LWV Amherst's Steering Committee approved the statement.)
"The Western Region of the LWVMA wishes to express serious concern with the proposed roadmap.  Specifically:
1) We are opposed to the top-down format, where program priorities and financing are set by LWVUS.  The grass-roots nature of the LWV distinguishes it from other organizations with a similar purpose.  We feel that a grass-roots approach is stronger because members are more invested in action.
2) We believe advocacy is important.  Both longtime and newest members joined because they wished to study issues. This is particularly true for local and state issues, where we can more directly act by, for example, contacting legislators or writing to the papers.
3) We would like the LWVUS to promote networking, sharing activities of state and local leagues as potential ideas for others. This type of communication aggregates effective practices among the grass-roots local Leagues.
4) We think the national League could be more effective in making an impact.

Signed: LWV-Amherst, LWV-Central Berkshire (New Unit), LWV-Franklin County (New Unit), LWV-Northampton Area (including Springfield Unit), LWV-Williamstown"
We look forward to hearing and reading about the experiences of our delegates to Convention.

New Shared Leadership for Amherst LWV

Shared leadership is not uncommon among Massachusetts local leagues; Amherst is about to experience it. What will be shared are the duties of the president, which have become, especially because of our level of activities, more burdensome than ever.
Some presidential duties, like setting the agenda and chairing the monthly meeting, will rotate among the members of what we have decided to call a Steering Committee (replacing the Board.) Others have become the portfolios of individual members.
Adrienne Terrizzi is now the spokesperson (names for new portfolios are still in flux) for the League in contacts with local government and the local media. In addition, she will lead the general meetings (Opening and Annual, February birthday lunch, Program Planning, and the Legislative Reception.) Susan Millinger is the contact person for state and national Leagues and will co-ordinate co-sponsorships of programs: both of these roles are closely related to her work as e-bulletin editor.
The portfolios of other members of the Steering Committee, most of whom were Board members in 2017-18, are largely unchanged. Janice Ratner continues as Treasurer, Deanna Pearlstein is in charge of Meeting Organization and Trish Farrington covers Public Relations/Publicity. Nancy DiMattio, however, is taking on the voter registration duties of Voter Service, while Kathy Campbell (not a member of the Steering Committee) has volunteered to chair a committee responsible for election-related events, and to publish the publications related to local government. Elizabeth Davis is continuing as an at-large member, able to met changing needs. Elizabeth serves as a Legislative Envoy. She will also be actively involved in an InterLeague workgroup on the health of the Connecticut River Watershed currently under development. (More about these two aspects of League work in a future issue of the e-bulletin.)
Two more portfolios are held by members new to official League leadership. Phyllis Lehrer takes on the responsibilities of Membership Development, and Joyce Hines will be the Recorder. (Given the nature of her duties, Joyce will not be asked to take a month as meeting chair.)
Questions? Come to the next meeting, August 2, 10 a.m., at Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, 322 Russell St., Hadley (across from Whole Foods) or ask a member of the Steering Committee (see your membership list for contact information.)

LWVA News: Recent Accomplishments

                   Annual Meeting, May 31.

Annual Meeting began in an unusual and interesting way. Sitting in small groups, the members introduced themselves by name and by adding a piece of information that others wouldn't know about them.  The usual business occupied the formal meeting, as the minutes will reveal. It did suspend the bylaws for another period of time, while we continue to work out the best way to restructure the Amherst League.

Departing officers were thanked for their service. We wished that Jackie Wolf had been able to be present, so that we could thank her in person for all her years of diligent service in many different capacities, most recently in her leadership of the health care group.   After the meeting, members of the board and a few others went to the Lord Jeffrey for a small celebration for Rebecca Fricke, who has led us so ably since January 2017, and before that, from June 2011 to December 2012. Rebecca, Cynthia Brubaker, and Sudha Setty, all leaving the Board, have been exceptional officers.
President and Recorder

Thanking Rebecca at the Lord Jeff

Report on Candidate Forum on Energy and Climate Change

The Amherst LWVA cosponsored, with Climate Action Now, a Candidate Forum on Climate Change and Energy on May 20. The three candidates seeking to represent the Third Hampshire, Mindy Domb, Solomon Goldstein-Rose, and Eric Nakajima, answered questions covering a broad and wide-ranging set of energy-related issues.

 These included currently pending carbon pricing and energy bills; how best to increase energy efficiency initiatives; increasing the security and reliability of the electric grid; the need to increase the Massachusetts renewable energy mandates; prohibiting new fossil-fuel power plants and pipelines and increasing environmental protections from those now existing.

Other questions asked about whether the state should develop a widespread electric-vehicle charging infrastructure; the critical need to repair existing gas pipeline leaks while protecting customers from rate increases to pay for those repairs; increasing and expanding support for sustainable agriculture; and investing in more energy-efficient public transportation.

All three candidates expressed opposition to new nuclear power plants, gas-pipeline expansions and offshore drilling for fossil fuels. On the positive side, all candidates were in favor of increased solar and offshore wind investments for renewable energy. On the whole, the candidates disagreed very little.

The League provided one of the three panelists asking the questions (Dick Kofler of the Energy Study Group); the moderator was Suzanne Patnaude, a LWVA member from Greenfield. The forum was well-attended, as the picture below indicates. For those who missed the forum and would like to watch it online,   click here.

Talk on the Status of the Connecticut River Watershed

The Amherst League sponsored a talk, "The Successes and Challenges facing the Connecticut River Watershed" on May 22. Andy Fisk, the executive director of the Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC), formerly known as the Connecticut River Watershed Council, gave an excellent presentation, informative and interesting. Andy asked us to bring the resources of the League to the aid of the River.  Given that our program booklet contains (page 14) the Connecticut River Basin Inter-League Program, his request was enthusiastically received. At the recent Field Service Meeting, we found interest in an inter-League working group to support the CRC and help meet the challenges facing the River. Expect to learn more about our plans in the future. If you would be interested in joining the effort, contact Elizabeth Davis.


How to Run for the New Town Council

"To gain a place on the ballot, a candidate for District Councilor must obtain the signatures of 25 voters all of which shall be from the district in which the nomination is sought and a candidate for Councilor-at-Large must obtain the signatures of 50 voters."
Nomination papers are now available in the Town Clerk's office: they are due back there on June 29. 
Click here for a  fuller description of the process and the schedule.   
 Help for Schools: Support S2525  
S2525, An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century, which would reform the Foundation Budget formula used to allocate state aid to school districts, has passed the Senate and is now in the House Rules Committee. The twenty-five-year-old formula has not kept up with rising fixed costs like health care and special education, and underestimated the cost of teaching English-language learners and students living in poverty. This reform would be a great help to rural schools. 
To show your support, contact the Chair of the House Rules Committee, Rep. William C. Galvin, at 617-722-2692; 24 Beacon St., Room 166, Boston, MA 02133. Here is Galvin's email address, but a phone call is said to be more influential than an email, and a letter has still more impact. Contact your State Representative, also, urging his or her support for this bill


The Ballot Question Process: LWVMA Study 2018-2019
Massachusetts is one of 26 states that have citizen-initiated state ballot questions; one of two in New England. This fall and early winter we will be studying the issue, which LWVMA has not previously studied.  
LWV Amherst will be forming a study committee later this summer or early fall. Its members will become familiar with the materials LWVMA will provide, and will coordinate the consensus meetings (to be held  between December 1 and February 15.) Among the questions to be studied is one which will permit study of the influence of money from outside the state on the process.
If you think you might be interested in studying the ballot process, please let one of the members of the Steering Committee know. Click here for further information at
LWVMA's New Online Voter Guide

MOVE 2018 (Massachusetts Voter Engagement) is a new online Voter Guide for the 2018 Primary and State elections, replacing VOTE411. BallotReady will allow voters to access personalized ballot information for candidates on the ballot, from US Senator to such county positions as District Attorney, --just by entering the voter's street address. This is expected to make life easier for the voters LWVAmherst registers. Not only can voters find helpful information; they can also use the function "Make a Plan to Vote" which will show them where and when to vote, as well as emailing or texting calendar reminders to show up and vote. It is easy to share on social media, also.

The Voters Guide is expected to be available in July. As well as the Guide, LWVMA will be developing promotional materials LWV Amherst can use. More information will be available soon.
For information on elections and candidates, the MA Secretary of the Commonwealth's website is always useful. Click here for it.
Status of Bills Supported by LWVMA 
The mid-June 2018 Mass. League Action Newsletter contains  a list of actions taken on LWVMA bills since May. This newsletter was sent to your mailbox, but if you missed that, and want to see it, click here. The Mid-June issue is at the top of the Mass League Action Newsletter list

LWVUS News  

LWV 53rd National Convention

Want to learn more about Convention? Consult the Daily Schedule. 
Other interesting links to convention materials can be found here.
Here's a link to LWVUS's blog, which may carry interesting pieces on Convention while it is in session.


From the LWVUS Newsroom:

LWVUS President Chris Carson commented that in the case of Husted v. A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Supreme Court ruled against Ohio voters by upholding the state's purging practice for those voters who did not vote in a single election

"The Supreme Court got this one wrong. The right to vote is not 'use it or lose it'," said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States. "The public trust in the fairness of our elections is badly shaken. This decision will fuel the fire of voter suppressors across the country who want to make sure their chosen candidates win reelection-no matter what the voters say."

Read the press release here.

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