League of Women Voters of NYS


January 2017

From the State President
For almost two days of intense small group discussions, scribbling on big sheets of paper, sending friendly spies to get info from other small groups, voting some big ideas up or down, laughing, swapping League stories, and eating wonderful food, a group of 30 League leaders from all parts of the US met last week at the Rockefeller Bros. Fund's Pocantico Center in Tarrytown, NY. 
Our mission was to create a blueprint for Impact, Engagement and Sustainability for the League's second century and we felt pretty "pumped" about having done so much in so short a time. We were building on work that was done by others since last June's Convention, and we'll continue to stay in touch and share new ideas as they come. 
I want to tell you so much more but due process requires that this be shared in an orderly way. So I can just say to watch for more. We did all agree that we could share right now the three broad goals:  
1) lessen the administrative burden on Leagues (I hear you cheering)
2) enhance engagement by offering and embracing multiple paths to affiliation with the  League, i.e., make it easier to join, easier to get active  (do I hear more cheering?)
3) strengthen our overall structure by re-imagining our financial structure (well, of course)
You know that the devil's in the details - mostly the How's - and those are to come.
But, as we glanced now and then at our phones and groaned, "Oh no!" about the latest news from D.C., we were all feeling so strongly that the League is needed now more than ever. We're being told so by the new people coming to us to say, "I've never been political before. How do I get involved?" They trust our information and they trust us. And we need to be our best selves both to meet their needs and to maximize this opportunity to grow.
I'm grateful to Laura Ladd Bierman and Jane Park for being there with me from LWVNYS and to all the other lively leaders. And being at the Rockefeller estate and actually staying in a room in Kykuit, JDR's former home, was such a treat. (Laura's even had a balcony). Among so many things, I will always remember the glittering view across the Hudson at night from the Pocantico Hills and the perfect warm-from-the-oven scones at breakfast.  We sing praises to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for their very generous hospitality and to LWVUS for organizing it all. We feel sure it will all pay off. "Stay tuned."

Dare Thompson, President
League of Women Voters of NYS
 darethompson@gmail.comTel: 518-465-4162
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS
Lobby Day 2017
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100th Anniversary Dates
November 6, 2017                 100 th Anniversary of Woman Suffrage in New York State
November 19, 2019               100th Anniversary of the League of Women Voters of New York State
February 14, 2020                 100th Anniversary of National League of Women Voters
August 26, 2020                   100th Anniversary of the official certification of the ratification of the 19th
                                                  amendment by the US Secretary of State

A packet of resources for local Leagues to organize programs and events on women's suffrage history has been mailed to every local League - and a new page has been created on the state website with links to all the info, as well as a calendar to see what events are scheduled, and a blog on significant events and locations in women's history in NYS. Check out at all the resources at  http://www.lwvny.org/programs-studies/womens-suffrage/index.html. You might find a book or movie that you'd like to read or watch together with some League friends!

Women's March in DC and Across NYS
On Saturday January 21 st   the League participated in the Women's March on Washington. Leagues from all over the country made their way to DC to show their concern for the current state of affairs in Washington.  Our local Leagues participated in sister marches all over the state. They marched in   NYC, Albany, Glens Falls, Seneca Falls, Sag Harbor, Hudson, Ithaca, Utica, Rochester, and Syracuse. Some members even made the long journey to our Nation's Capital. Many members have shared their personal experiences with us; all were very moved by the passion and energy of the marchers. They marched alongside their daughters and in some cases their granddaughters! Some members were disheartened to see the issues they had fought for over three decades ago brought back to the surface. Others were proud to see so many women and men engaged in such an important movement. We are thankful for everyone who chose to participate in the march and we hope that we can keep this momentum going as we move forward in 2017!

Donna Seymour of the LWV of St. Lawrence MAL Unit, created a document summarizing the successes of the different marches around NYS. See her document here


Sally Robinson, VP for Advocacy, robintwins@gmail.com
The state League is already hard at work in the Capitol, meeting with legislators, presenting testimony and submitting memoranda. You can visit the state website every day to see what new action has been taken. Also, watch for weekly updates on Capitol Beat, a blog written by Barbara Bartoletti, LWVNYS Legislative Director, and Jennifer Wilson, LWVNYS Director of Policy and Program, during the legislative session. The blog link is on the state website and here: http://www.lwvny-capitolbeat.blogspot.com
New Legislative Procedures Position
The state board approved a new updated Legislative Procedures position at its January meeting which posted on the state website here.  Many thanks to update committee chair, Suzanne Stassevitch of the New York City League and committee members Lorrie Smith (Rensselaer) and Judy Weinstein (Rochester), and to all the local leagues who participated in the update.  Our new position should be a great help for lobbying this session and in the future.  Local leagues felt legislators should have longer terms but were concerned that legislators be held to a higher ethical standard than has been demonstrated recently. And, the state board may now consider supporting limits on the outside income of legislators.

New Advocacy Google Groups!!
The NYS League has set up two Advocacy based Google Groups. Members of the groups can share their ideas, articles, statewide bills of interest, and whatever else they feel is appropriate. We will also be arranging monthly conference calls as an opportunity to share ideas and for members to hear what we are doing at the state level. The most exciting part of these groups is it will be an excellent opportunity for the League to use its membership to lobby on pertinent legislation. We will send out action alerts on specific bills in real time so that those interested in calling their legislators can do so exactly when the time is right.
We have already formed 2 groups - the first is a General Advocacy Group that will be headed by Jennifer Wilson, LWVNYS Director of Program and Policy, and Barbara Bartoletti, LWVNYS Legislative Director.  We will use this group to keep you all up to date on the general happenings at the Capitol. The second group will be focused on Education issues. This group will be headed by our Education Finance Specialist, Marian Bott. If you are interested in either of these groups please email Jennifer@lwvny.org. She will add you to whichever group you would like to join - feel free to sign up for both!   
Gladys Gifford, Transportation Specialist, schuford@earthlink.net
The NYS Legislature has its opening session on January 4, 2017, and there are transportation issues to address this year.
First, a review of 2016:
The bad news: two bills we were following failed in the 2016 session.  The O'Mara/Brindisi bill (S5794/A8202) was vetoed by Gov. Cuomo.   Apparently he did not see the need to set up an interagency committee on rural public transportation and expects to deal with the issue during budget deliberations.  The Rozic/Lanza bill (S07608/A09872) died in committee.  This bill would require the NYSDOT Commissioner to develop a five-year capital plan subject to public review.  One can only hope that it will be revived for the 2017 session.
There is good news. A bill to remove the mortgage recording tax from IDAs tax exemption packages (S07442/A09490) was signed into law by Gov. Cuomo on September 30th.  This is good news for transit authorities across the state, so that this small revenue stream is protected.  Transit authorities receive 0.25% of mortgage recording tax revenues generated in their local areas.  
Going forward, there is momentum to do planning for a new Amtrak station in Buffalo, motivated by the decrepit condition of the downtown station.  Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Brian Higgins are champions for this effort, so federal dollars will flow.
Meanwhile, the Tappan Zee project moves along and decisions are bring made concerning the I-81interstate that crosses Syracuse.  Our local leagues- please let us know how to be involved!
Save the date: Transit Awareness Day in Albany on January 31, 2017, organized by New York Public Transit Association.  I am planning to attend, and will carry the transportation concerns of the LWVNYS with me.  The day includes a briefing, legislative appointments, and a rally at the Legislative Office Building.  Please contact me if you have any specific items for me to bring to the meeting and to our legislators at that time.  
57th Biennial State Convention - June 9-11
The 57th State League Convention is scheduled for June 10-11, 2017, at the Holiday Inn Express in Liverpool, NY (just off the Thruway near Syracuse). We will be sending out the registration kits in February. 
Field Trip!
To celebrate women achieving the right to vote in 1917 in NYS, the state League is organizing a field trip from Liverpool to Seneca Falls on Friday, June 9 (day before Convention actually begins). This is will a separate charge and everyone is welcome (not just convention attendees); tours of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton home, Women's Hall of Fame and the Women's Rights National History Park (and Wesleyan Chapel), as well as dinner and a speaker at an historic restaurant in Seneca Falls, will be included. You will need to be in Liverpool by noon on Friday to join this trip. Watch for more information in the registration kit.

Workshops will be organized for Friday evening, June 9, and Saturday morning, June 10. Please email the state office (Katrina@lwvny.org) with specific topics you would like us to offer as a workshop during Convention. Local Leagues and members can also offer caucuses or info sessions to share their own concerns or successes and times will be available for these also.

Mark your calendar to join us NOW!
Kate Jankowski, Director of Communications & Development, Kate@lwvny.org
Thank you to our many donors and supporters for their generous yearend contributions. Over 17% of our donors increased the amount of their yearend donation - that is especially good news because of all the new activities that are being planned in the office to educate the public on the issues. During the yearend match Challenge alone, we inspired 27 new donors to support our efforts. We couldn't do all that we do without your continued support, so thank you very much!
LWVUS Action
The national League has been incredibly busy recently issuing statements on voter fraud claims, the Keystone and Dakota pipeline issues and the immigration ban. Follow their statements on their (and our) Facebook page or their website at www.lwv.org.
The LWV of NYC is hosting a meeting entitled, 
JUSTICE DENIED: Putting An End To Wrongful Convictions. 
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is welcoming Jane Pucher, Esq., staff attorney for the Innocence Project, and Jabbar Collins, exonerated victim of a wrongful conviction. The Innocence Project is committed to protecting the innocent, helping exonerate people who are wrongfully convicted and assisting them rebuild their lives. They are also organizing a number of Open Houses at the office to introduce potential members to the League and its activities.
At their meeting in December, the LWV of Buffalo/Niagara recognized the volunteer work by League members and a few other volunteers with a wine toast. No one came close to guessing the number (95) of members who have donated time to League efforts in 2016. People give their time and talents to the League in three ways: Voter Service (82), Advocacy (40) and League Administration (37). Some folks contributed in all three ways during the year.
In celebration of Black History Month, the LWV of Rochester, asked Rev. Marvin  McMickle, president and professor at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and several of the Rochester Sisters of Saint Joseph, who saved U.S. Representative John Lewis's life on the Edmund Pettus Bridge back on Bloody Sunday in 1965, to speak on "History as An Argument for Voting."
LWV of Huntington knows who can better reach out to our youth, than our youth. They were thrilled to cosponsor a debate with Next Generation Politics. The topics were popular vote vs electoral college and capitalism vs social democracy. Over 20 students participated. Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci and Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern were judges who chose the best debater on each side. This is the first of many programs they will cosponsor with Next Generation Politics, a remarkable nonpartisan youth organization. 
Changing NYS Voting Laws is the topic for discussion at the meeting of LWV of Mid-Hudson Region. LWVNYS Election Specialist, Aimee Allaud, will talk about the ways the League can advocate to make New York State voting laws less restrictive.
The Leagues of the Capitol Region (Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Saratoga), with the NYS Archives Partnership Trust Foundation, has organized a presentation of  Petticoats of Steel at the NYS Museum on March 2 nd . All are invited to attend.  Celebrate the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote in New York State with this powerful production. Experience the battles for women's suffrage told in the voices of the brave warriors who fought them. Petticoats of Steel uses primary sources to tell the true stories of the women of New York State - Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton - and the roles they played in gaining voting rights for all women of the United States of America. Another presentation is also scheduled in Plattsburgh, thanks to the LWV of the North Country, on March 1st.
Dr. Boerner, Chief Diversity Officer for the State University of New York At Fredonia, will speak on Understanding the Transgender Community for a meeting of LWV of Chautauqua County.
On November 17, 2016, 37 candidates became new United States citizens at OCC. They came from 23 different countries, all with a story to tell on why they chose to become US citizens. The LWV of Syracuse was there to welcome the new citizens, provide information on voting, and help them register to vote.
At its January meeting, LWV of Schenectady discussed the state League's position and program planning, but also talked about recommendations for improving the Schenectady Civilian Police Review Board.
Members of the Scarsdale Village Board of Trustees, the Village Manager and Treasurer will attend the LWV of Scarsdale's information session to answer questions from League members and the public concerning the proposed village budget. The League also released a statement on the proposed budget for Westchester County which is available here (http://www.lwvw.org).
LWV of Nassau County announced that Alec Fischthal, one of the students chosen for Students Inside Albany, took second place  in the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament, missing first place by one dollar!
Several wonderful League members of the LWV of the Hamptons have already volunteered to serve on our planning committee. They include Judi Roth, Martha Potter, Ann Sandford, Cathy Peacock, Barbara McClancy and Susan Wilson. Ideas that we are considering could include: inviting a speaker for our May Annual Meeting; marching in Southampton's July 4 Parade with our own float; and in August, possibly working with other community organizations to re-create the big East Hampton Suffrage Rally that took place in August 1913. Already scheduled by the East Hampton Library's Tom Twomey Lecture Series is an October 19, 2017 talk by Antonia Petrash and Arlene Hinkemeyer, hosted by Judith Hope and titled  "Long Island, Women's Suffrage and One Hundred Years of the Vote in New York State." Working with  the Southampton Historical Society and the Rogers Memorial Library, they are co-sponsoring a  bookclub/reading on women's suffrage through a grant offered by Humanities New York.
LWV of Broome-Tioga Co-President Gay Canough originally submitted "The antidote to your political angst" as a post on her Facebook page responding to the complaining she was seeing on-line. With Gay's permission, sharing with you.
"The antidote to your political angst"
OK, my friends, stop crying and start taking action. The USA, for all its faults, is still one of the few countries where there are official and well-laid out ways to make your voice heard. One of those is to VOTE, which I under-stand only about half the voters actually did this past No-vember. Well, that is sad. But there is another thing on this list: Communicate with your representatives. That goes for all levels from the village to the federal government, from the Town board of trustees to the President of the United States. Communicate. I think we all know we are supposed to do that, but few people do. What this has resulted in is that the biggest money has the biggest voice. The Congress has big money interests on their doorstep daily. But it does not have to be that way. The "grassroots" can win. A perfect example of that is the ban on fracking in NY. More recently, the Dakota pipeline is at least on hold due to grassroots efforts. Furthermore, most politicians really want to do the right thing and they want to serve the interests of their constituents. And they love to hear what their "regular folks" constituents want and need. So, this year, I will be engaging with local organizations to help people get started. There will be workshops, scripts, template letters and so on.
To kick that off, here is the League of Women Voters list of your local and state and federal reps (http://www.lwvbroometioga.org/TRY.html ). This is the 2016 list and there will be a few changes in 2017. (Note: on the state League website is a link to find your local elected officials anywhere in the state)
Here are some tips to get started. 1) Do it today. 2) Pick out one issue you care about and/or which affects you. 3) Send your Representative (Rep) a paper letter (which is more likely to be read than an email). a. Keep letter length to one page b. Be polite c. Check your spelling and grammar d. Sign your name 4) Calling is even better than writing, but it would not hurt to do both. 5) Visiting your Rep in person is even better. They all have local offices.

League of Women Voters of New York State
62 Grand Street, Albany, NY 12207
Tel: 518-465-4162;  FAX: 518-465-0812
Website: www.lwvny.org
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS