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Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change


October 19, 2018
In This Issue:
COMING EVENTS

Calendar


October 23, 6-9 p.m., Candidate Forum for Town Council, Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium.
October 25, 12-2 p.m., Brown Bag Discussion on the 2018 Ballot Questions, Woodbury Room, Jones Library . October 30, at 6:30 p.m., Amherst Media  presents its Jean Haggerty Award to LWV Amherst. 246 College St. LWV Amherst members and friends welcome.
November 1, starting at 6:45 p.m., Forum on Affordable Housing cosponsored with Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust. Crocker Farm School Auditorium .
November 5, 3-5 p.m. , Steering Committee Meeting, 496 Montague Rd. All members welcome but if you plan to attend, please contact host.
November 6, starting at 7:30, Live Election Night Coverage on Amherst Media. Pre-results show hosted by LWV Amherst member Stan Rosenberg.
November 12, 6 p.m., Deadline for submissions for November e-bulletin.
November 13, 7:30 p.m., Webinar on Ballot Question Study. Click here to register. See article below.
November 14, 3:00 p.m., W ebinar on Ballot Question Study. Click here to register. See article below.
November 19, 3 p.m., Book Discussion of The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens at Applewood.
To subscribe to the e-bulletin, visit lwvamherst.org, click on the blue tab "Sign up for Email Updates" and fill out the brief form found there.
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.



A Message from the LWVA Steering Committee

A Personal League Reminiscence  

     I joined the League a few years ago thinking it would be a good, easy volunteer activity.  I would never not vote and thought I was  knowledgeable about town activities.  But I knew nothing about the League and its goals.  As time went on I gradually  became more involved and then took on more responsibility, not just because I have a hard time saying, "No," but because I began to discover how important the League and its activities are to the community.  It has been a continuous learning curve but a most rewarding experience.   
 
   However nothing has gotten me more involved, taught me more about the town and state government, connected me to wonderful colleagues, and given me more satisfaction than the past few months working on  primary and November 6 elections.  Working with the League organizing all the council/candidates forums, educating voters about issues, gathering signatures to put Single Payer on the ballot.  What an effort from all involved.  Talk about team work!
 
   We will all breathe a sigh of relief on November 7 knowing  we worked hard  to provide Amherst  candidates and voters with opportunities to make informed decisions.
 
     But then we move on to other interesting and important priorities for the League and the community such as affordable housing and the ballot questions process as well as co-sponsoring events with other local organizations.  (see accompanying articles.)  We will also consider ways to diversify our membership and to have more parties.
 
     Come join us...to have fun, to make change, to learn, to find new friends, to discover your own talents.
 
--Trish Farrington, Steering Committee Chair for October 
 
COMING EVENTS: ELECTION-RELATED

Candidates Forum, Tuesday, October 23, 6-9 p.m., ARMS Auditorium

Reminder: The forum for candidates for Town Council will be October 23 at the Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium, from 6-9 p.m. The format of the forum is somewhat different from the usual Amherst League-run forum. In case you would like to have some idea of what to expect, here are some selections from the letter sent by the organizer, Kathy Campbell, to the candidates.

Y ou may, for example, not want or need to come at 6 and stay until 9 p.m. The planned schedule: 6 to 7:15 for Districts 1, 2, 3 (12 candidates, 75 minutes)
7:20 to 8:01 for At Large candidates (6 candidates, 39 minutes) 
8:08 to 9:00 for Districts 4, 5 (8 candidates, 52 minutes)
 
As you can see, seven minutes are allowed for one group of candidates and the voters of their districts to leave, and the next groups to settle in. So PLEASE leave--and enter-- as quickly, as you can. Naturally, voters of Districts 1, 2, and 3 may want to stay to hear from the at-large candidates, and voters of Districts 4 & 5 may well want to come for the at-large candidates before their District candidates speak.

All candidates will be asked the same three questions; each will have 90 seconds to respond to each question. The candidates will get advance notice of the questions (by October 20). Hopefully, this will both help them make efficient use of their very limited time and plan for alternative responses or emphasis in case they are one of the last to speak to a given question.  We will direct questions to District groups of four together, but rotate which District goes first and which candidate goes first within a District.There is, unfortunately, not enough time to have questions from the audience.
The questions chosen, however, reflect the interests voters expressed in the August events for candidates. Each candidate will have time for one 45-second wrap-up statement; there is no time 
for introductory statements. 

 The lobby of the auditorium will have several tables for candidates' materials and candidates may choose to be available to voters when they are not on stage. Also:  links to the candidates' web sites and video clips are now on the League web site here. The Election Guide will be available as a PDF soon; it will be linked at the main election information page, which is here.


One of the posters created at 1-2-3 Girls Lead!
The Amherst League regrets that there cannot be more time for the candidates to speak, and for the audiences to ask questions. The number of candidates; the need to provide opportunities for voters to meet and hear from candidates before the preliminary election as well as the general election; and the need to provide opportunities for at least some of the candidates for state office have unfortunately sapped LWV Amherst's energies in the last months. One of the pluses of the format of October 23 is that Amherst Media will be taping the whole evening; voters for District candidates will have the opportunity to see and hear their candidates at Amherst Media. Though not watchable live, all three forums will be taped for rebroadcast on Ch. 17 and on demand viewing the next day.

--Derived from Kathy Campbell

Mark your calendars for a Brown Bag Discussion of the Amherst Ballot Questions

The meeting will be on Thursday, October 25, 12-1:30 in the Woodbury Room of the Jones Library.
The State League's positions on the State questions (1-3) will be presented, together with summaries of the arguments pro and con, and the rationales of LWVMA for its choices. The State's views on the local non-binding ballots will also be described. General discussion guided by the group's choices of issues needing discussion will follow. Resources for further information will be available.

For those who may not be familiar with the non-binding ballot questions added locally: Amherst ballots' questions 4 and 5 follow. Question 4 is on the ballots of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Hampshire as well as on 1st Franklin, 5th Hampden, and 2nd Berkshire.

From 1-2-3 Girls Lead!
QUESTION 4 THIS QUESTION IS NOT BINDING Shall the state representative from this District be instructed to vote for legislation to create a single-payer system of universal health care that would provide all Massachusetts residents with comprehensive health care coverage including the freedom to choose doctors and other health care professionals, facilities, and services, and that would eliminate the role of insurance companies in health care by creating a publicly administered insurance trust fund?

QUESTION 5 THIS QUESTION IS NOT BINDING Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to introduce and vote in favor of legislation adopting a system for all state and local primaries and elections in which voters rank candidates in order of preference?

Questions 4 and 5 are in line with stated positions of LWVMA, the State League.  See the article directly below for LWV Amherst's support for Single Payer.

Which questions would you like to hear and speak to? Come and voice your thoughts!

Single Payer System of Health Care is on the November Ballot!!

     Members of the League's Health Care Committee, chaired by Barbara Pearson, worked hard to make this happen.  With colleagues from a partner group, Western Mass Medicare 4 All, they fanned out throughout our 3rd Hampshire district, clipboards in hand, collecting signatures wherever people gather: Farmers' Market, Daffodil Run, Taste of Amherst, Town Fair.  200 signatures were needed to get the question on the ballot, but the volunteers collected over 400 just to make sure enough of them were legit.   These forms were turned in to the Town Clerk who certified that enough of them were registered voters (all but 10 were!)  Then the forms were taken to the Secretary of State's office in Springfield to get the final okay that the question would be on our ballot.  The next step has been continuing to hang out at events explaining how the Single Payer system can work at the single state level, encouraging people to vote for it, and registering new voters. 

From 1-2-3 Girls Lead!
     Although Massachusetts has among the highest percentage of insured residents, health care costs in our state are also among the highest in the country.  They strain town, state, employer and household budgets, draining money away from other critical needs.  A recent study by friend of the League UMass Prof. Gerald Friedman shows that Single Payer would not only achieve universal coverage in our state, but also significantly reduce spending--by vastly simplifying administration, negotiating prices, and putting people before the bottom line.
 
     Now...our legislators need to hear from all of us here and in the 19 other towns in Western Mass who have Single Payer on their ballots.  Although nonbinding, our state reps need to know how important this issue is for so many of us.  And our representatives, who are already in favor, need our votes to bolster their arguments to push this legislation through.

--Barbara Pearson and Trish Farrington
Everything you need to know about the upcoming elections
. ..is at our web site. Follow the blue link at the top of the home page or go directly to the main page on the elections here.
 
There you will find a sneak preview of our Town Council election guide (print publication date is November 2); a page of convenient links to the web sites of the candidates along with their video clips at Amherst Media; links to state League information for candidates and ballot issues on the general election ballot; all the early voting dates and locations around town; and much more, including:
  • a sample ballot;
  • information (including maps) of district, precinct, and polling places
  • dates, times and places for early and absentee voting
  • the State League of Women Voters' on-line Voter's Guide for federal, state, and regional candidates
  • the Amherst League's Voters Guide to Town Council Election
  • candidates' web sites and video statements
  • the voter information sites of the Amherst Town Clerk and the Secretary of State
--Kathy Campbell

From 1-2-3 Girls Lead!
LWVA Presents LIVE ELECTION NIGHT COVERAGE!  

Election night results for Town Council seats will be reported live by Amherst Media on local cable Channel 17.  Starting at 7:30 PM, Stan Rosenberg, League member, will be hosting a pre-results show.  Those elected to At Large and District Council seats will be invited to come into the studio for live interviews, once the results are known.
 
OTHER COMING EVENTS   

Amherst Media Recognizes Amherst League's Service with Jean Haggerty Award

"Created in honor of our beloved Amherst Media producer and board member, Jean Haggerty, the Award recognizes individuals and organizations that believe in and demonstrate the importance of community engagement to obtain social change. We feel that the League's recognition for almost 80 years of service in Amherst is long past due and that your committed members have demonstrated like no other organization dedication to the betterment of the community through education, and greater civic engagement for all members of society." -So wrote Demetria Shabazz, President of the Board of Directors of Amherst Media.

The Amherst League of Women Voters is deeply honored to receive the Jean Haggerty Award for Community Service from Amherst Media. According to Board President Shabazz, "The League of Women Voters is the ninth recipient of the Jean Haggerty Award and joins previous honorees like the Rotary Club of Amherst, Isaac Ben Ezra, Student News, Cynthia Brubaker, Ed Severance, Judy Brooks, Jerry Gates, and Ellen Story."

League spokesperson Adrienne Terrizzi will accept this award for the League. We hope that some of you, both members and friends, will be able to attend the brief presentation on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. at Amherst Media, 246 College Street.
The Future of Affordable Housing in Amherst Forum on November 1

The Amherst League of Women Voters will co-sponsor a forum on affordable housing with the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust (AMAHT) on November 1, starting at 6:45 p.m., in the Crocker Farm School auditorium. A brief review of the ongoing activities of the Trust will be followed by a panel on policy changes that could support affordable housing development in Amherst. In particular, one of the panelists, AMAHT consultant Rita Farrell, will discuss how other MA communities develop affordable housing.

The rest of the program will be devoted to the development of the East Street School site for affordable housing. Representatives of Kuhn-Riddle architects will present some conceptual alternatives, and then the audience will break into small groups to discuss such questions as retaining the old school building (where six units could be developed), numbers, sizes and affordability of apartments, and design guidelines that should be incorporated into an RFP.

Each small group will have a facilitator and a recorder, and the League has committed to providing the recorders. Please contact Kathy Campbell or Rebecca Fricke if you are willing to help.

--Kathy Campbell


Study on Ballot Question Process Begins Soon!

Should there be a period during which the legislature is not allowed to change a citizen-initiated law passed or repealed by ballot question?  Should signature-collectors be trained? Would the process be improved if spending on campaigns were capped? Those are among the questions LWVMA's study is probing, in order to seek the consensus of the membership.

Massachusetts is one of 26 states to have citizen-originated ballot questions (technically called Statute law initiatives). Most states that have initiatives and/or referenda are west of the Mississippi; in New England, only Maine and Massachusetts have the initiative process. Between 1919 (after the process was approved) and 2016 there have been 103 citizen-initiated measures on the Massachusetts ballot on a variety of issues.

After the November 5 meeting of the Steering Committee, a study committee will be formed and the study begun. Join it, and experience the LWV's process of studying an issue and arriving at consensus as well as learn about the ballot question process itself.

Questions? Consult the informative LWVMA site here. Webinars explaining the process of the study itself will be held on Nov 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov 14 at 3:00 p.m. Click here to register for the Nov 13 webinar, and here to register for the Nov 14 webinar.

To express your interest in joining the group, contact Susan Millinger.

Questions about the Amherst League?

Contact the spokesperson of the Steering Committee for 2018-2019, Adrienne Terrizzi, here or through the LWV Amherst website at info@lwvamherst.org.

PAST ACHIEVEMENTS

 

1-2-3 Girls LEAD!

 

On October 4th, the League of Women Voters of Amherst sponsored a girls' leadership program called 1-2-3 Girls LEAD!  ARHS teachers nominated over 100 girls who had different backgrounds and interests, but who are not known leaders in the school.  23 girls attended. LWVA members Cynthia Brubaker and Rebecca Fricke designed the fast paced program to include activities and facilitated discussions aimed to help the young women gain confidence, learn skills and practice techniques which are important for effective leadership.

The group spent a considerable amount of time identifying an impressive list of the issues the girls care about and qualities of a good leader.  Mindy Domb, the 3rd Hampshire Representative elect, attended a morning session; according to the reviews, Mindy's session was a favorite part of the day. Mindy encouraged the group to stay in touch with her about the issues they care about. In the afternoon Anastasia Ordonez led a session on effective communication. Ordonez's session culminated in a poster making activity and the LWVA will use the girls' Get Out the Vote posters to advertise the up-coming election on November 6th.  

LWVA facilitators Cynthia Brubaker and Rebecca Fricke are grateful to the young women for taking a day away from their tough schedules, ARHS for allowing the day to be considered an excused absence, to the LWVA's newest member Elena for taking a day off of work to be with us, and to Ms. Haygood and Ms. Balzano for spending the day keeping us all in line.

--Cynthia Brubaker and Rebecca Fricke, Workshop Coordinators

--Special thanks to the poster-makers for the posters used to illustrate many of the pieces in this e-bulletin
Opening Meeting: Program on Ranked Choice Voting

There was a good turnout for Opening Meeting at the renovated Amherst Woman's Club on September 27th. Ranked Choice Voting is clearly of interest to members and their friends, some of whom became members that evening.  Speaker Linda Castronovo of Voter Choice MA gave a clear and informative presentation. After the cookie-tasting and the presentation came the vote.

The initial vote calculation
A close-up view before a curious group assembled around the table.












The five different kinds of cookies we were using to see how ranked choice works were all delicious. Trish Farrington's Chocolate Meringues were the clear favorite, and ultimately number one, but did not have the 50% plus one required to win outright.

If we had been looking, say for the three best liked cookies out of a field of twelve, the vote counting would have been more complicated, but the basic process would be the same.
 
LWV Amherst is considering having a Brown Bag lunch meeting in the spring to see how ranked choice voting would workin an election of multiple members of town council. Let us know if you would like a BB on the topic.  
 
LWVMA News   

Items from the October League Leader Update

" LWVMA Hosts Webinar on Barriers to Voting Oct. 29

Want to to better understand the barriers to voting here in Massachusetts?  Eager to learn how to get out the vote?  Join LWVMA for " Voting in the Midterms:  Impediments and Policies that Get Voters to the Polls," a webinar with Professor Erin O'Brien, University of Massachusetts Boston, Monday, October 29, 5:30-6:30.  Register to participate in the webinar here."

Help to Protect the Vote on Election Day

You can "volunteer to work as an observer on Election Day Nov. 6 at polls that have a history of voting irregularities. The League is once again joining the election protection effort sponsored by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. Live trainings, as well as digital on-demand trainings, will be provided in late October so volunteers are well-equipped to spot common voting problems. Volunteers work in pairs or small groups to monitor polling locations throughout Massachusetts."   
 
To volunteer, fill out this form. For more information, contact  Meryl Kessler, LWVMA executive director.  
  
LWVUS News  
 
LWVUS Emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

LWVMA has informed us that  the third in LWVUS's series of webinars on diversity, equity and inclusion is scheduled for October 30, 2-3:30 p.m.
 
 According to LWVMA, "the series will cover putting DEI principles into action to increase the League's social impact work in communities across the nation. During this webinar, you will learn about State and Local Leagues' activities that are expanding their reach into more diverse communities. Speakers will discuss the ways individual leaders are overcoming discomfort with communicating across dimensions of difference." Register here.  
 
  LWVUS and the Kavanaugh nomination 
 
You might be interested in reading the joint statement which LWV President Chris Carson and CEO Virginia Kase issued after the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice.  You may know that CEO Kase participated in the civil disobedience to protest Judge Kavanaugh and was arrested at the Capitol. Here's the press release about her arrest.     
 

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