A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change
December | 2021
Message from the Steering Committee
A Message From This Month's Chair,
Deanna Pearlstein
This is a short note to wish all of you a Happy Holiday Season. We hope you are able to join with your family and friends in your celebrations this year.  As I think about the League, I’m thankful to be a small part of such a great group of people who are working very hard on the League’s behalf. Steering Committee (SC) members have been working on Climate Action in regard to solar panels and our forested lands. The Racial Justice Committee is committed to increasing diversity in town. The Zero Waste Committee is researching curb-side pick-up and how that may happen. The League liaison for CT River issues has brought to the SC concerns about the hazard that the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage facility poses for the fish in the Connecticut River and the lack of public oversight for the relicensing of the dams along that river. Let us not forget Voter Service and all of their hard work recently on our town elections. 
In the New Year we are making plans for Brown Bag meetings on Health Care and Racial Justice. The Birthday Luncheon is also being planned. Our Annual Program Planning meeting will be held in January. Please see details in this e-Bulletin for dates and times for these events. All meetings are being held via Zoom.  

Best wishes for a very Happy New Year. 

~ Deanna Pearlstein, Convener
Action Items
Act on the VOTES Act

If you have not done so, please call or email your Representative and ask for support for same-day voter registration as part of the House version of the VOTES Act. The VOTES Act passed the Senate and, now numbered S.2554, is in the House Ways & Means Committee. That committee will draft its version of the bill, and we want it to include same-day voter registration. The House has blocked same-day registration in the past. Make sure your Representative knows same-day voter registration is important to you. We hope this bill comes to the House floor early in the new year. 
Program Planning for 2022–24     
SAVE THE DATE: January 20, 7 p.m.

Do you have ideas about topics or projects you’d like to see the Amherst League undertake? Bring them to the Program Planning meeting on Thursday, January 20 at 7 p.m. 

We currently have more or less active committees on HealthCare, Racial Justice, Sustainability and Climate Action. Several people work on Affordable Housing, but it could become more active. What focus would you like to see us develop? 

All are welcome to attend our Program Planning meeting via zoom on Thursday, January 20 at 7 p.m. The link for the meeting will be available on our website, lwvamherst.org

In addition to Local Program, this year we will be asked to respond to LWVUS’ proposed Program for 2022-2024. Local Leagues provide input on the proposed programs of LWVMA and LWVUS in alternate years.

Expect the Amherst Health Care Committee to propose that we join other Leagues in asking LWVUS to adopt a clear stance in support of Health Care for All. It may also be time to insist that LWVUS pay more attention to the Climate Emergency. LWVUS’s proposed program again focuses on the Campaign for Making Democracy Work. At the 2020 Convention, the assembled delegates also approved a continued focus on Climate Change, the Equal Rights Amendment, Health Care, Gun Safety, and Immigration.  

If you’d like to take an advance look at National’s proposal, or to learn more about Program Planning, you can find the information here: 
Bring your suggestions to the meeting on January 20th, open to all members. The moderator of the meeting will be Susan Millinger, LWV Amherst’s Liaison to State and National Leagues. You can contact her at  smillinger@lwvma.org

Don’t be surprised to be asked to complete a short survey at the end of LWV Amherst virtual events, starting in January 2022. The survey will ask two or three questions evaluating the event. The questions come from LWVMA, which is asking every local League to collect data for events, activities, and projects which are intended to involve members of the public as well as LWV Amherst members. We ask you please to take the minute or two to fill out survey.

The evaluation questions are the part of data collection which will be most visible. Other information, like the size of the audience of an event, the number of voters registered, the circulation of a newspaper in which a letter to the editor is printed, or the partners with whom LWV Amherst is working on an activity will be collected by the organizers.

The data collection process that the local Leagues of Massachusetts are being asked to do is relatively simple; its form is user-friendly. It was designed to be that way by a committee with members from a number of Leagues, including Amherst’s Marla Jamate.

Why the new emphasis on data collection? Here’s the explanation given on lwvma.org: 
“With 47 local Leagues in Massachusetts, our collective impact to empower voters and make real change in our communities is enormous – wouldn’t it be terrific if we could actually count, measure and evaluate this collective impact? Collecting this kind of data on all of our activities is well worth the effort as it will enable us to measure our impact and allow us to highlight the many activities and programs we offer throughout the state. Numbers matter. This kind of data collection, measurement and evaluation will also help us to bring in new members and leaders, do more effective fundraising and ultimately sustain the League throughout Massachusetts.” More info at this link.

It seems as though I’ve often heard the lament that “The League isn’t appreciated here in town.” Data collection is intended to answer that lament. When we can say: “our candidates’ night was attended by x number of people” or “our letter to the editor appeared in a paper with x number of readers,” we hope to be able to more effectively demonstrate our impact.

Those who have attended the last several National Conventions and who fill out National’s semi-annual surveys can attest that LWVUS began this emphasis on data collection.

~Susan Millinger
February 12, 12:30

LWVA was founded in 1939. We've held a lunch every year on the Saturday closest to February 14 to celebrate the Amherst’s league anniversary.

We used to have lunch in person with a speaker, but of course last February, we went to Zoom. U.S. Rep. James McGovern spoke to us via Zoom from Cape Cod about the January 6 debacle, in which he had a major role. 

This year, we will again be bringing our "luncheon" to Zoom. On February 12 at 12:30 p.m., Professor Carrie Baker from Smith College will speak to us on her area of expertise: reproductive rights. She teaches courses on gender, law and public policy; feminist social movements; reproductive justice; and feminist public writing. You can read more about her and read some of her prescient work here.

Zoom details will be forthcoming, but please save the date!
News from our Committees
The LWV Amherst  Racial Justice Committee (RJC) and the LWVA Health Care Committee invite you to a joint "Brown Bag"— a dialogue on the relevance of health care reform to Racial Justice (and vice versa). 

     Title: (How) Single Payer Health Care Combats Racial Disparities
 DateJan 11, 2022 
    Time: 7-8:30 pm on Zoom (Zoom details coming soon)

To pique your curiosity and/or stimulate questions, check out reports from the RJTF website 

For more information on Health Care Reform: https://lwvhealthcarereform.org

To share your questions or concerns beforehand, please
contact Andrea Battle of the RJC or Barbara Pearson, HCC.
The Connecticut River Conservancy’s annual Source to Sea Clean Up in September this year hauled away 43.3 tons of trash. All of this trash was removed from the Connecticut River, its tributaries and adjacent lands. Doing this work were 1,394 volunteers, including 113 groups. 

The work occurred over 129.8 miles of the Connecticut River watershed. Here are the amazing totals: 213 tires; 6,032 plastic bottles, 4,743 aluminum cans, 3,011 glass bottles, 1,501 nips; 1,018 pieces of styrofoam including pieces of docks; 20 appliances including a mini fridge and 169 electronics; 196 automotive equipment, including an old farm trailer; 534 pieces of clothing and 328 pieces of footwear; 343 items of construction material plus 31 paint cans; 1,835 pieces of scrap metal including BBQ grills; 9 mattresses; 412 toys & balloons. 
The rivers say thank you; the fish are leaping with joy!

~ Elizabeth Davis 
Last call to renew membership!
The deadline is Dec. 31

Dues are $60, sustaining; $35 regular; $20 additional household; $12.50 low income and students 50+ year members are free.

Send checks to LWVA, Box 2372, Amherst, MA 01004
I will be happy to meet anyone at an ATM machine and accept cash.

Thanks to those continuing to make democracy work.
Congratulations to Carlie and Gary Tartakov for receiving the Jean Haggerty Award for Community Service presented by Amherst Media. The couple have been active and involved in many causes important to the community. 

Phyllis Lehrer
Massachusetts Legislation Update
The legislature began holiday recess on November 17, although hearings on bills may continue; formal session resumes January 5, 2022. Bills may pass during informal sessions during the recess if they have unanimous support. All bills (over 6,000 bills have been filed) must receive a hearing. 

As of December 1, over 70% of the League’s 163 bills have had a hearing with the League legislative specialists providing testimony. Bills that have not been voted out of committee favorably or given an extension by February 2, with a few exceptions, will no longer be active, so the next step in League advocacy will be to ask the committee chairs to favorably report our bills out of committee. This will begin in earnest in January and we will be enlisting members’ help to move our bills forward. 
LWVMA Legislative Envoy Program...Become a Citizen Lobbyist

This three-year-old LWVMA program is “revving up” again with a new coordinator, Mary Cummings of the Arlington League. Volunteer envoys provide a direct link between the state League’s Legislative Action Committee and local Leagues, so that local Leagues can help influence the legislators who represent them.

See Program description here. Please notify your League’s leadership that you are volunteering to represent your League and contact Envoy Coordinator Mary Cummings at mcummings@lwvma.org to join the program. We are seeking at least one Envoy from each League.
Interesting and Informative Reading:
CCBY NC ND. Skidåkning. - Nordic Museum Foundation, Sweden - CC BY-NC-ND. https://www.europeana.eu/en/item/91625/nomu_photo_NMA0049612

This monthly message is for anyone interested in the League, not just members. If you know someone who might be interested, forward this message and invite them to subscribe themselves, using the link below.
The Editor of the LWVAmherst e-Bulletin, Jessica Ryan can be contacted here. The Associate Editors are Trish Farrington and Susan Millinger; Assistant Editors are Janice Ratner, Phyllis Lehrer, and Kay Fite who checks the links. Contributors to this month's e-Bulletin include LWVA members , Elizabeth Davis, Phyllis Lehrer, Susan Millinger, and Deanna Pearlstein. Material on LWVMA and LWVUS comes from the website lwvma.org and the newsletter League Update, respectively, selected by Susan Millinger.