A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change
January | 2021
Message from the Steering Committee
A Message From This Month's Chair,
Elayne Berger
As we make our way through this first month of another challenging year, I wanted to provide a brief summary of our current thoughts on a Book Sale in the summer of 2021.

The rest of the Steering Committee joins me in having hope that we may continue what has been an annual fund-raising and community event for our local League. I have begun the first steps in making this possible, which means contacting the facilities supervisor for our schools with the intention of reserving the Ft. River Elementary gym. I am still awaiting confirmation. 

Beyond this initial step, we all must wait to see the progress that our community and the nation may make towards feeling our safety is insured when we go to public places. By April, I plan to meet with those who wish to volunteer their help with the logistics of the sale. This is just a few weeks later than is normally chosen as an initial meeting date. Once we know that the sale can occur, we will announce this in the bulletin.
In the meantime, I send positive thoughts to my fellow League members that we all stay healthy and may meet in the gym to have another outstanding book sale in July!

—Elayne Berger
National's Statement on Horrific Events of
January 6th
The League of Women Voters of the United States has issued the following statement in response to the violent demonstrations at the U.S. Capitol yesterday:

"This is a dark day in the history of the United States of America. Today’s activity on Capitol Hill should have been a procedural exercise to finalize the 2020 election. Instead, our nation's Capitol was attacked by domestic terrorists seeking to invalidate the will of the people.  

“The actions by these terrorists have no impact on the results of the election. This violent mob was encouraged by an outgoing president who lost re-election in a free and fair election.  

“Donald Trump has emboldened and empowered violent agitators, perpetuated dangerous conspiracy theories, and dishonored the office of the President. Furthermore, the members of Congress who continuously lie to the American people about the proven legitimacy of this election are also responsible for today’s horrific events. There is blood on their hands.  

“The League of Women Voters of the United States calls on President Donald Trump to concede the election immediately. We call on all members of Congress to respect the certification process, condemn the actions of these terrorists, and support a peaceful inauguration on January 20th.” 

See the statement on the LWVUS website here
Jan 21, 2021Thursday, 7p.m. Eastern 
LWVUS January 2021 DEI Webinar:  Join us for a discussion on how to navigate through our DEI work with a nonpartisan lens.  How do our nonpartisan and DEI policies intersect?  Then follow up with the webinar on Jan. 26th about remaining nonpartisan.  Register here. 

Jan 26, 2021Tuesday, 11a.m. Eastern 
LWVUS January Community Call:  Remaining Non-Partisan.  Join us to discuss how to remain nonpartisan in hyper-partisan times and how to overcome these challenges by supporting one another.  Register here. 

—submitted by Susan Millinger from LWVUS and League Leaders
Annual "Luncheon" with Congressman Jim McGovern

February 13th at 1p.m., Congressman Jim McGovern will be our guest speaker at our annual luncheon. While Covid-19 prevents us from fulfilling the “luncheon” part of our annual event, we are very excited that the congressman is able to join us— particularly extraordinary given the democratic crises centered in D.C. and the Congressman's role as chair of the very important House Rules Committee.

Details for the member's annual luncheon with instructions on how to join, will be forthcoming. A wonderful incentive to being a member! Please make sure your membership is up to date so that you do not miss this event.

Kathy Campbell has graciously agreed to take on the back-end Zoom duties and we would like to thank our paragon of persistence, Adrienne Terrizzi, for all of her work in securing our esteemed guest's participation.

—Jessica Ryan
Calls to Action


Attend the Amherst League’s Program Planning Meeting January 28 at 1 p.m.

Program Planning is here again, this year for State, for the 2021-2023 biennium, as well as local program. For LWVMA, “Program” refers to the state governmental issues which will be the main focus of LWVMA advocacy and action in 2021-2023.

As usual, members will be asked whether we approve of the Action Priorities, or want to suggest changes. In addition, this year we are given about 30 specific goals for the priorities and are asked to choose our top ten goals. (The top ten can include our own League’s goals added to whichever of the proposed goals we think important.) The Goals are quite diverse, including encouraging the continued education of local League members on fundamental aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion; advocating for same-day voter registration; advocating for single-payer healthcare; promoting alternatives to incarceration; and several goals focused on pandemic recovery.

Recently, all members received an email containing a list of the action priorities and goals, so we could be thinking ahead of our meeting about what goals we want to urge LWVMA to adopt.  (The Program for 2021-2023 will be adopted at Convention, June 25-26 this year.)

Program Planning is open to all members. The Steering Committee hopes a number of you will decide to attend, with ideas for local as well as state program. If you’d like to join this virtual meeting, please contact Susan Millinger before Thursday, January 28 to be sent the link.

—Susan Millinger

With the sunsetting of the Centennial Commemoration Committee, the Steering Committee is looking for members to create an Events Subcommittee. All committees will coordinate with the Events Subcommittee to bring programming and events to our members and the public.

We must remain a visible and relevant force in our community. Help us to to bring timely, exciting, educational, interesting, and important events to the fore. Please step up to work with your fellow members.
Standing committees should select a liaison for the Events Subcommittee.

Interested members can contact the editor, Jessica Ryan to be put in contact with other interested members.

The legislative session ended on Jan. 5, 2021. Take time to thank your legislators for their service these past two years. The new two-year session started Jan. 6. 
Contact Your Legislature
News from our Committees
Happy New Year from the Racial Justice Task Force! 

Our Task Force continues to share our report: “Indicators of Racial Equity and Justice for Amherst.” We are also planning a virtual event in early March to help educate our league members and the public about racial justice efforts happening in Amherst.


I would like to offer the latest catalog from the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership. The school was founded by Andrea Ayvazian, a longtime activist in the Pioneer Valley, in 2016. Because of Covid, the 50+ free classes are now all on Zoom. The offerings are extremely exciting, the trainers are top-notch thinkers and their offerings range from topics of race, religion, the arts, and other aspects of social justice work. Please see their full catalog at www.truthschool.org

Also, the Reparations for Amherst Committee is initiating two book groups that may be of interest to League members. Please see their announcement:

Reparations For Amherst (R4A) www.reparationsforamherstma.com is sponsoring TWO book groups for Amherst residents who identify as white to read the book, Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out  

Purpose: To co-create a space for white people to dig deeper into racism, white supremacy, and how we have internalized both. This increases our capacity to do the on-going work that lies before us in our multiracial communities. The book offers a guide for the inner work white people can do.

Details: Two hours a week for eight weeks with weekly readings + assignments. Participants are asked to make a sustained commitment to the process; group size = 12 (including the facilitator). To sign up or if you have questions, contact one of the facilitators. RSVP by Friday, January 15

Group 1: Wednesdays beginning January 20; 6:30-8:30pm Facilitated by Phyllis Labanowski of Pine St. (North Amherst). Phyllis has been facilitating conversations on race, class, and internalized white supremacy for decades through public schools (including Amherst), the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership, and The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls. Email Phyllis here.

Group 2: Thursdays beginning January 21; 10:30am-12:30pm Facilitated by Angel Russek of Summer St. (North Amherst). Angel has been a nurse practitioner and faculty of Human Ecology and Environmental Studies. She has been facilitating groups and organizations looking at race and social justice issues for decades. Email Angel here.

Cost: Participants will be asked to make a contribution to a fund being created by Reparations for Amherst, to directly benefit members of the Black community in Amherst.

—Respectfully Submitted by Marcie Sclove
Springfield/Palmer Biomass Plant Remains a Great Concern

The Palmer/Springfield biomass plant remains a big concern for the Sustainability and Climate Action Committee (SACAC). (The Amherst League’s position on biomass dates from 2011.) We are hoping that the Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy, S 2995 will be signed by the Governor, because, among other excellent components, it would, we believe, create a five-year moratorium on woody biomass plants. LWVMA urged Governor Baker to sign the new Climate Bill: see details here.  Gov. Baker has until the 13th to decide whether to sign the Climate Bill, so at the time this was written, the outcome was unknown.

DOER is still trying to have the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (RPS) change to redefine biomass as a “non-carbon-emitting” power source—so that plants like the Palmer/Springfield plant would be eligible for subsidies which would make them more profitable. 


SACAC is sending a statement to Amherst’s Energy and Climate Action Committee urging it to pass a resolution protesting the use of state subsidies for energy generation from woody biomass.

Environmental justice is at issue here: the pollution from the Palmer/Springfield plant would affect the whole Valley, but its impact on multiracial Springfield, the “asthma capital’ of the U.S., would be particularly heavy.

Register for Jan. 19 LWVUS Program on Renewable Energy

The League of Women Voters U.S. Climate Team’s Renewable Energy Group invites you to attend a presentation Jan. 19 at 12 noon by Dr. Martin Keller, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and president of the Alliance for Sustainable Energy. Dr. Keller will speak on the state of renewable energy research and capacity in the United States, followed by a Q&A session.

Visit the LWVUS Climate Team website to learn more about the League of Women Voters’ national effort on climate.

 —Susan Millinger

34.9 TONS OF IT! Connecticut River Conservancy brought together 1,093 adults and 270 youth for its annual Source to Sea Cleanup in September. Included in that total were: 10,754 beverage containers; 946 tires; 86 pieces of furniture including 1 chair, 25 tents, 50 tarps; 217 automotive items including 4 jeep seats, 1 car seat, 2 car axels, and old farm machinery; 98 electronic items and appliances including a microwave oven and an IBM computer; 8,000 pounds of scrap metal and 8 shopping carts; 13 mattresses; 332 pharmaceuticals and personal care items; 108 pieces of plastic foam dock float parts, 33 cubic feet of plastic foam articles; 181 items of construction waste; 103 toy items including 6 bicycles and one doll house. The river is much happier having regurgitated all that waste!

The total tonnage for 2020 was about half of what was removed in 2019 (66.9 tons) with almost three times as many volunteers (3600). The reasons for this large difference in the two years may be due in part to these facts: Covid-19 and social distancing restrictions on people’s activities; this 24th annual cleanup took place throughout the month of September rather than on a single weekend. We would also like to think that perhaps all these years of removing trash have resulted in less and less trash that needs to be removed. Source to Sea volunteers cleaned up 262.75 miles of the 410 mile long river and its tributaries. League members Susan Millinger and Elizabeth Davis participated, picking up trash in the Fort River watershed area.

—submitted by Elizabeth Davis
Now that the centennial year is complete, the Centennial Commemoration Committee will be sunsetting. We'd like to take the opportunity to thank all of you who came out to our events and help mark the momentous occasion of 100 years of League of Women Voter's accomplishments and history. We've come a long way, baby! Here's to another 100 years of good work—onward and upward!

—on behalf of all members of the CCC, Jessica Ryan
The LWVA Budget Committee will be starting work on the League’s 2021-2022 budget soon. According to the Bylaws, an annual budget is prepared by this committee and is then submitted to the Board for approval before going to Annual Meeting for a vote by membership. If you would like to participate in preparing the budget, please contact Janice Ratner, treasurer and ex-officio member of the Budget Committee.

—Janice Ratner
Last call

The deadline to renew membership in the Amherst League of Women Voters is January 20th. Programs are being planned for the spring and discussions have begun on dealing with the fall election when every seat will be available.

We hope you will be able to join us for these activities. Call Phyllis Lehrer at 253-5179 or email here to renew today!

—Phyllis Lehrer
Still Available for Viewing
If you couldn’t get to LWVMA’s 100th birthday celebration, Cheers to 100 Years!, you can still see the entertaining preliminary slide show, a 100 year overview of MA League history. Click below.
To see the Formidable Women honored by different MA Leagues, including our own Lucy Benson click here. If you registered for LWVMA’s 100th Virtual Birthday Celebration, but were unable to join us on December 13th (technical difficulties? too busy that day?), you can view the recording on our unpublished YouTube channel. Please email Brynne Gorman to obtain the viewing link and password.

We’ve had several inquiries about efforts to revise the legislature’s rules to improve transparency. The legislature will adopt its rules for the 2021-22 session as it begins its work in January. LWVMA is working with legislators on rules change proposals in a way that also permits us to support our legislative agenda for the new session. We are working in parallel with other good government groups, but not in combination with them. Watch for possible action alerts on this issue as the process unfolds.

We’ve particularly been asked if we are working with Act on Mass and if local Leagues can work with them. We are not working with Act on Mass in order to maintain our non-partisan position. Their pledge includes endorsements by both legislators and candidates for office. Our Leagues run many candidate forums for state legislature, and we issue the nonpartisan Vote411 voters’ guide. To do that, we have to be seen as absolutely impartial. If we were to support such an issue pledge, it would be logical to infer that we also support candidates and legislators who agree to the pledge and oppose those who do not. Other groups such as Progressive Massachusetts and, obviously, Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts, endorse candidates, so we are not working directly with them.
It is fine for League members to participate in Act on Mass and other organizations as individuals, but not as League representatives.
President Donald Trump

WASHINGTON – Thursday night, the League of Women Voters board of directors met and voted unanimously to call for the immediate removal of Donald J. Trump from the office of the President of the United States of America via any legal means, including and in order of preference: impeachment with disqualification, the invocation of the 25th amendment, or resignation. Today, the League of Women Voters board of directors issued the following statement: 

“Donald Trump must be immediately removed as President of the United States of America and banned from running for federal office ever again. 

"The sitting president was the instigator of Wednesday’s domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol that left five Americans dead and many more injured. He commanded an army of insurrectionists to forcefully overturn our free and fair elections in an effort to maintain power. These are the actions of a tyrannical despot, and they are in direct opposition to American democracy. President Trump continues to present a clear threat to national security as well as the safety and security of the American public.

“For violating his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, Donald Trump must immediately resign or be removed from office by any measure possible in accordance with the law. Removing President Trump from the office of the president and swearing in Vice President Mike Pence to fulfill the duration of this presidential term will ensure our Constitution is maintained and upheld. 

“The League of Women Voters calls on both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to immediately impeach President Trump with disqualification and remove him from office. Should Congress fail to impeach him, we call on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Trump from office immediately.”
LWVUS has a summary of its accomplishments in 2020: click link to read summary on the blog.
Now Available    
The updated version of Impact on Issues, which contains the positions of LWVUS, positions which govern all Leagues, is now available. Impact on Issues is updated every two years following the League’s biennial convention, where delegates vote on policy changes and additions. Amazon, Kindle, and print versions will be available soon! 

January 2021 Webinar on Intersection of DEI and Nonpartisan Policies 
with dialogue on being nonpartisan in hyper-partisan times
Join LWVUS on January 21, at 7pm ET, for a webinar on how our nonpartisan and DEI policies intersect and how to navigate through DEI work with a nonpartisan lens. Registration information for this and all 2021 webinars is available on the League Management Site. Following this important DEI training, LWVUS will host a community dialogue about how to remain non-partisan in hyper-partisan times.
Set Your League’s DEI New Year’s Resolution 

Leagues can enhance their DEI work by making a regular practice of participating in learning and discussion opportunities together. One suggestion for this is to complete the DEI modules together as a League or select a series of past webinar recordings to view and discuss.  


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 the January 2021 e-bulletin include LWVA members Elayne Berger, Elizabeth Davis, Phyllis Lehrer, Susan Millinger, Janice Ratner, Jessica Ryan, and Marci Sclove. Material on LWVMA and LWVUS comes from the website lwvma.org and the newsletter League Update, respectively, selected by Susan Millinger.