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   League of Women 
  Voters of Berrien 
   & Cass Counties
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"The Voter"
June, 2019

Deadline for Annual Dinner Reservations
via PayPal Extended to June 2
    If you have not yet made your reservation for the June 12 Annual Dinner Meeting (6:00 p.m. at Tabor Hill), you still, until the end of the day June 2, can do so via  PayPal  ($30 per person).
    Then, please send an email to marilyn.klawiter@gmail.com with the name of each person attending and his/her choice of entrĂ©e: raspberry chicken or cedar-wrapped salmon or orecchiette pasta (vegetarian).
    Judy  Karandjeff, outgoing President of LWV Michigan, will join us for the evening. We hope you will, too-for good folks, good food, good laughs (and a short business meeting).

We Know Because We Tried It:
Civil Discourse Works

     More than 60 people attended the May 15 public forum on civil discourse cosponsored by LWVBCC, the OutCenter of Southwest Michigan, and the Rebecca Dewey Three Oaks Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Civil Discourse Forum was attended by more than 60 citizens and attracted radio, TV, and newspaper coverage.

    The first part of the forum featured Aaron Miller, Michigan House Representative from District 59; Dennis Smith, Miller's opponent in the 2018 election; Dave Pagel, who formerly represented District 78; and Joey Andrews, who ran unsuccessfully last year in District 79. The panelists modeled civil discourse as they spoke about its impact on their work, changes they have seen over the years, and ideas on what they have found to work best. 
     Then, panelists and audience together, seated at round-tables in "pods" of 6 or so each, had animated discussions of the same subjects. The evening concluded with one individual from each pod reporting on that pod's discussion and ideas. Those ideas have been preserved to serve as starting points in future efforts toward civil discourse.
     At the conclusion of the evening, people in attendance were asked to provide contact information if they are interested in future programs like this one. Several signed up. Thus it is hoped that this was just the first of many discussions of this very important subject. The democratic process thrives when people can talk about issues with respect for other perspectives and thoughtfulness in listening to and learning from others.

Decision in Gerrymandering Case 
Put on Hold
     On April 25, the U.S. District Court in Southeast Michigan issued its opinion in LWV Michigan et al. v Benson, finding that the legislative maps for certain Michigan House and Senate districts are the product of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering and ordering that the maps be redrawn before the 2020 election.
      Certain intervening parties promptly filed motions with the U.S. Supreme Court May 10 requesting that implementation of that order be stayed (i.e. put on hold) pending the Supreme Court's decisions in two other gerrymandering cases that have been argued and already are awaiting decision. On May 24, the Supreme Court granted the motion to stay implementation of the order in the Michigan case.
      The League and others concerned about the impact of gerrymandering eagerly anticipate that decision, which is expected before the end of the month. Matters of great importance to the effective functioning of democratic processes hang in the balance.

State Convention Highlights

     The 2019 Convention of the League of Women Voters of Michigan was held May 17-19 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Livonia.  We were pleased to represent LWVBCC for the three days of the event and participated in all of the general plenary sessions as well as the workshops and networking opportunities.
Keynote speaker Elaine Weiss, author of "The Women's Room," brought with her many historic photos of Michigan suffrage events.

     Working alongside Leagues all the way from the western U. P. to Leelanau and to Detroit, we found a common interest in many of our concerns for Michigan as well as the entire U.S. For LWVBCC, we presented the results of our studies on migrant workers/transportation as well as recycling and plastic contamination.  The assembled group favored proceeding with an expanded study of the League's position related to our Michigan Legislature and its activity during so-called "Lame Duck" periods.  Our studies on recycling and migrants will be revisited and re-presented in the future.
The ERA - Then & Now
     Attendees were given a timeline from the initial introduction of the ERA amendment to its current status. "In 1923, Alice Paul, a suffragist, introduced the Equal Rights Amendment into Congress and every succeeding session for the next 49 years."
     The Republican Party endorsed ERA before the Democrats but dropped their endorsement in 1980. The Democrats endorsed the amendment in 1940 while many liberals and Democrats opposed the amendment, including Eleanor Roosevelt.
     The ERA was approved by the House in 1971 and the Senate in 1972 with a seven-year time limit for states to approve. Michigan and 21 other states approved the amendment. The time limit has been extended a few times. Thirty-five states ratified the amendment by 1982 - three short of the required 38.
     A proposal to remove the time limit was made in 2012, and on April 30, 2019, the House Judiciary Committee removed the deadline. Nevada and Illinois became the 36th and 37th states to ratify ERA. The next step is to call your Senators and Lindsey Graham (202-225-5635) to call for an immediate hearing to remove the deadline. 

Water Quality and Local Advocacy
     The four presenters were Hon. Holly Bird - water protection, a native American cultural tradition; Suzanne Dixon - PFAS contamination in water; Charlotte Jameson - Lead contamination in water; and Tricia Denton - Groundwater contamination.       
     PowerPoint slides listing links to the League's policy positions and environmental resources were passed out to attendees while presenters expanded on the information. Two of the main points from this session: Every river in southern Michigan has tested positive for Human ecoli, and when you ruin one vein of water, the rest are affected.
     Closing thought from this session: "We do not inherit our water from our ancestors. We borrow our water from our children and grandchildren." - Wendell Berry, essayist, poet, farmer, environmentalist.                -- Carla & John Ripley

Celebrating the 19th Amendment:
"Conversations with a Suffragist"
The historic 19th Amendment to the US Constitution gave women the right to vote.  However, historians note that voting remained inaccessible for women of color for several decades following the passage of the 19th amendment.
     Join us September 18 or 19 as Megan Burnett, author, assistant professor of theatre and director of Bellarmine's Theatre Program, Louisville Kentucky, brings to life Mattie Griffith Browne, a 19th century abolitionist and suffragist whose name history has forgotten
     Griffith Browne combined her passion to stop slavery with her belief in the rights of women to vote in the U.S..  She became an officer of the American Equal Rights Association and the Women's Loyal National League, which was led by Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucy Stone.    
     Join us for Megan Burnett's  one-woman-live performance of  "Conversations With A Suffragist" on Wednesday, September 18, 3:00 p.m., at the Vickers Theatre and Thursday September 19, 7:30 p.m., at the Box Factory for the Arts. Tickets for the performances will go on sale on at our annual meeting on June 12.                       --  Judy Scully

Changes in Voting Procedures 
Being Implemented

      Sweeping changes approved by Michigan voters in November last year call for major revamping of voting procedures in our state.  That process is underway in the office of Michigan's Secretary of State.  
     Here are some of those changes:
  • Automatic voter registration at Secretary of State's office unless citizen declines;
  • Right to register any time with proof of residency;
  • Absentee ballot available to everyone, without reason required;
  • Straight-ticket voting allowed; and
  • Audits of election results to assure accuracy and integrity.
For an overview of the updates, click here.  The process is ongoing.

LWVBCC Book Group Meeting
     The next gathering of the LWVBCC book group will be at 10:00 a.m. Monday, August 12 at the home of Emelie Shroder.  This will be a planning session-with focus on selecting books for the coming months.
      Please put the date on your calendar now and then, by at least Thursday August 8, either text (773-612-7411) or email Emilie (emelieshroder@comcast.net) to let her know you plan to attend. 

Environmental News
     Peter Annin, author of The Great Lakes Water Wars, recently spoke in South Haven updating the audience on events and challenges relating to the Great Lakes since his book was first published way back in 2006. An updated version was published late last year.
     Among other responsibilities, Annin is managing director of the University of Notre Dame's Environmental Change Initiative.
     Annin discussed events going back further than the Chicago River diversion in 1900 and forward to current requests for new diversions from Waukesha, WI, and Foxcon, a Taiwanese multinational electronics manufacturing company.
     I recommend you Google "Foxconn's Wisconsin Plant" and learn about the shenanigans involved in granting water withdrawal rights...currently being contested.
     This is an important book, a critically important situation, and really a "must-read."
     If you have a chance, be sure to follow Juliana v. United States scheduled to be heard in the 9th District Court in Portland, Oregon, on June 4.
     The League of Women Voters US and LWV Lake Michigan Region are following/learning about/taking action on all Great Lakes water issues and environmental issues generally.
                                                                   -- Chris Zilke
Non-Partisan Policy
The League as an organization does not support or oppose any political party, candidate for elected office, or any group that supports candidates. As individuals, though, but not as representatives of the League, members are encouraged to participate in political activity and to run for office.  Our non-partisan policy does require two Board members--the President and the Voter Service Chair--to totally abstain from partisan political activity.  

LWVBCC: Contact Us

P.O. Box 1032
Niles, MI 49120

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June 12
 6:00 p.m.
LWVBCC Annual Meeting 
and Dinner
Tabor Hill Winery

August 12
 10:00 a.m.
book group
Emelie Shroder's home

September 18
3:00 p.m.
live performance
"Conversations with a Suffragist"
Vickers Theater

September 19
7:30 p.m.
live performance
"Conversations with a Suffragist"
Box Factory for the Arts

October 25
LWVLMR Lake Michigan Region
Annual Meeting
Lakeside Inn

Board of Directors
Marilyn Klawiter, President
Karen Ristau,  Secretary
John Ripley, Treasurer &
        Communications Coordinator
Linda Cheek
Kathleen Fleming
Michael McCaffrey
Jane Raymond
Anita Rutlin
Judy Scully
Christiana Zilke

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The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

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