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Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

December 21, 2018
In This Issue:

CALENDAR

December 28, 8 p.m. , Premier of Byline with Stan Rosenberg, Channel 17. Rebroadcast, 6 p.m., December 31.
January 7, 1-3 p.m., Steering Committee Meeting at 61 Pondview Dr. Members are encouraged to attend, but please let the host know you plan to come.
January 12, 10 a.m.-noon, LWVMA Regional Field Service Meeting for Western MA, Place TBD. (Snow date, Jan 19.)
January 13, time TBD, Franklin County LWV's Consensus Meeting, 170 Main St, Greenfield. All League members are welcome to attend and participate.
January 17, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., LWVMA Sexual Health Lobby Day, Great Hall, State House.
January 21, 2:30 p.m. Book Discussion of Rachel Kaddish's The Weight of Ink, at Applewood.
January 24, 2-4 p.m. LWVA Consensus Meeting on Ballot Question Process Study, Craft Room, Applewood. (Snow date, Jan 29, same time and place.)
January 26, 10 a.m.-noon, LWVA Consensus Meeting on Ballot Question Process Study, Woodbury Room, Jones Library. (Snow date, Feb 2, same time, place TBD.)
February 2, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Northampton and Springfield LWV's Consensus Meeting, Florence Civic Center. All League members welcome to attend and participate.
February 6, 4 p.m. LWVMA webinar: Recent reports on Climate Change with Prof. Michael Oppenheimer, participant in UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Registration link in January e-bulletin or check LWVMA.org.
February 9, LWV Amherst's annual Birthday Lunch, Ginger Garden Restaurant: Save the Date!
June 7-8, LWVMA State Convention, Westford Regency Inn, right off 495 in Westford. Save the Date!

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

As membership director, I have been reflecting on what members can do.  
Here are some thoughts: 
Vote 
March - there is one in January 
Sign petitions 
Contact legislators  
Attend informational meetings 
Participate in consensus units - see calendar  
Observe a board and share the issues 
Write letters to the editor 
Attend League birthday lunch, anniversary event, and the holiday party 
Help with the book sale 
Host a meeting 
Give a ride to a member  
Join a board - the first woman on the Board of Selectmen was a League member  
Run for office 
Talk and share facts 
Listen 
Donate 
The League is flexible: you can do one or all of the above. We try to accommodate individual needs. 
Best wishes, 
Phyllis Lehrer, December Chair
   


COMING EVENTS

 

Premiering December 28th: Byline with Stan Rosenberg

 

LWV of Amherst, Amherst Media and former MA State Senate President Stan Rosenberg team up for Byline with Stan Rosenberg, an issue oriented, topical government news program.

Byline will tackle town, regional and state news topics as Rosenberg interviews players in local and state government affairs. Episodes will premiere on Friday, December 28th, 8 p.m. on local access cable Channel 17 and also be available on Amherst Media's website and the Youtube page. They will also be rebroadcast every Monday at 6 p.m. prior to the start of live coverage of Town Council meetings.  

Schedule of Upcoming Guests

Town Council President Lynn Griesemer: Friday, December 28 at 8:00 pm; repeats on Monday, December 31 at 6:00 PM

District 1 Councilor Cathy Schoen: Friday, January 4 at 8:00 PM; repeats on Monday, January 7 at 6:00 PM

Check amherstmedia.org for scheduling of all other At-Large and District Town Counselors for the specific dates of their Friday and Monday night appearances.

Next in Importance to the Vote:
Citizen-initiated Ballot Questions?  

Citizen-initiated ballot questions are democracy in operation. Do you find our state's ballot question process confusing? Do our state's procedures work as well as they could (and should) to enable us to express our political will? In 2019, it will be a century since the citizen-initiated ballot question entered Massachusetts's constitution. Now, for the first time, the Massachusetts League is studying whether we should start to work for improvements in this procedure.
 
Save the dates for the Amherst consensus meetings: Thursday, January 24, 2-4 p.m. and Saturday, January 26, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. (Snow dates the next week on the same days and times.) Because of the number of questions (15) and the unfamiliarity of the issues to some of us, Amherst will divide up the questions. If time permits, each meeting will deal with all 15 questions, but each meeting will focus on particular questions to ensure that they are covered in sufficient depth.  

The Thursday meeting will focus on ways the questions could be presented to be more easily and fully understood (questions 1-5) and on the requirements (or lack thereof) for signatures (6-8) and, if possible, also signature-gathering (questions 9-10). The Saturday meeting will focus on the role of the legislature (11 & 12) and campaign financing of ballot questions (13 &14), as well as any questions not covered on Thursday. Both meetings will discuss the general question (15): should we continue to have citizen-initiated ballot questions.

If you wish to weigh in on all fifteen questions and can't attend both meetings, consider attending the Consensus meeting of a neighboring League. Members of the LWV can attend and participate in any League's consensus meeting.  Franklin County is having its meeting on Sunday, January 13, at 170 Main St., Greenfield, time TBD (this will be posted in subsequent Amherst e-bulletins); Northampton and Springfield will be meeting Saturday, February 2 from 10 am to 2 p.m. in the Florence Civic Center.

Researched and written by LWVMA's Ballot Question Process Study Committee, the Study Report (with the background) and the Study Guide (with the questions) are available here. 
 

The Amherst League and Town Government

   
The Inauguration

The new Town Council is Sworn in.
 of Amherst's New T own Co uncil


                                               



 
Nancy Eddy, LWVA president 65-67; former Select Board member, serves as MC


Matthew Charity, LWVA member, chair of Amherst's Human Rights Commission, gives the keynote address


                    
 

 

LWV Amherst's New Observer Corps 

 
     The new Council has been inaugurated, the Town Hall room renovated, the first meetings held, schedules and agendas decided.  Now the League steps in to resume our Observer Corps.
 
What is the Observer Corps?
      A tradition of many years where a League member attends each meeting to watch, listen, take notes, and just be a presence.  Thus the Council knows they are being held responsible for what transpires at the meetings. 
Why? 
     The Council, as well as other boards (library, zoning, planning. library. etc.) is responsible for making decisions that will impact every aspect of town life.  Although the Council will find ways to communicate with citizens, the League will be informed in an immediate and transparent way.
Who?  
     In late November there was an Observer Corps organizational meeting chaired by Phyllis Lehrer who along with Mira Menon had been observers for 20 years.    There was a lot of interest in reviving this responsibility of the League  and it was decided that members who  wanted to be part of the Corps get in touch with Phyllis (phyllehrer@gmail.com) to sign up and get a recording template.  
How?
     Observers will attend the Council meeting (one observer per meeting), wear a League button, remain silent, take notes, and send the notes to Susan Millinger who will include them in the e bulletin.
Where and When?
     The Council meetings are conducted at the Town Room of the Town Hall every other Monday from 7:00 to 10:00. 
 
Doesn't it sound interesting to be in on the beginnings of our new government, to help others be informed in our usual nonpartisan way, to eventually send observers to other town boards?  Think about getting involved.

-Trish Farrington, Associate Editor

Amherst LWV's Observer Corps Notes
 
At the meeting of December 3rd, the first meeting, all members were present: AtLarge, Alisa Brewer, Mandi Jo Hanneke, Andy Steinberg; District 1, Cathy Shoen, Sarah Swartz, D2, Lynn Griesemer, Pat de Angelis; D3, Dorothy Pam, George Ryan; D4, Evan Ross, Stephen Schreiber; D5, Shalini Bahl-Milne, Darcy DuMont.
 
Officers were chosen and sworn in. As The Hampshire Gazette has reported, Lynn Griesemer was unanimously chosen President; Sarah Swartz and Mandi Jo Hanneke were nominated for Vice-President. After a vote tied at least 4 times, Griesemer was persuaded to cast a vote (rather than abstain) to break the tie. She chose Hanneke. Town Clerk Nartowicz was appointed and sworn in as Clerk of the Council.
 
The Bylaws committee gave a fairly lengthy summary of Rules of Procedures they were proposing to be adopted. Council appointed a subcommittee to review the whole document and report back to the committee. (Hanneke, Schoen, and Dumont to work with the committee members appointed by the Select Board).  
 
The 4-Towns (Regional School Committee) Finance Meeting was scheduled for Saturday, December 8th. Andy Steinberg was authorized to speak for the Council, if necessary.   
 
********************************************* 
 
The meeting on December 10th was attended by all 13 Council Members, the Town Manager and the Town Clerk. Council continued to focus on procedural business, such as preparing for appointments to its standing committees and approving charges such as those to the Board of License Commissioners, the Bylaw Review Committee, and the Ranked Choice Voting Commission. The meeting schedule for 2019 was also adopted.  
 
********************************************** 
 
League Observers were Barbara Pearson (Dec 3) and Barbara Ford (Dec 10).  
 
Note that the meetings are streamed by Amherst Media. The videos can be accessed here  

The Town Clerk ( also Clerk of the Council)'s minutes are or will be available here.
LWVA Attends Town Clerk's Post-Election Stakeholders' Round-table December 7, 2018

In the first of several planned meetings to review 2018 voter and election activities and issues, Town Clerk Margaret Nartowicz met with Town groups and organizations as well as representative student clubs and organizations from the University of MA. Discussion included several ways to improve University-wide communication as well as untapped opportunities to increase town and campus voter outreach, education and turnout.
 
Those present expressed a need to establish a consistent message among the various voter participation groups and programs. Potential solutions emerged from the meeting, including establishing partnerships among those who engage in voter information and education, and seek to increase voter participation (all activities central to the League's mission.) A consensus was reached that the diverse groups needed to work together to create a coalition.
 
A February meeting is scheduled and will include Hampshire and Amherst College and additional stakeholders. Adrienne Terrizzi attended the December meeting on behalf of the Steering Committee.
 

 LWV AMHERST EVENTS  
   
 
Pictures from the Holiday Party, December 5, 2018    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


     


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.


NEWS FROM THE COMMITTEES

 
Voter Registration Report to the Steering Committee

The Voter Registration (VR) Committee was busy this fall educating voters and potential voters about voter registration, absentee ballots in MA and other states, and the ballot questions.

At the VR Committee meeting on 9/13, Alice Swift provided a training on VR in MA. We also discussed upcoming events and activities. A traveling suitcase filled with VR materials began its travels that day and was kept busy through the end of the VR period in MA.

Voter Registration Information Sessions provided by the LWVA in August/September/October includes the following:

- Head Start Parent Open Houses (5)
- Gun Rights Rally in Springfield on 8/26/18
- Jones Library National Voter Registration Day
- Amherst College Student Registration Event
- Amherst Farmers Market on the Common (4)
- The Arbors of Amherst
- Town of Amherst Regional Public Schools First Day Event
- Town of Amherst Block Party
- Hampshire College Voter Registration Cafeteria Event
- Amherst Regional High School Senior Home Room VR Sign Up
- Brookfield Farm Candidates Forum with VR materials
- All Candidates' Forums and Events - VR materials made available

It is difficult to estimate the number of actual new voters registered. The best estimate is 40 possible new voter registrations.  Most people were already registered. However, there was much discussion with the public looking for information about where to vote, how to access an absentee ballot, the VR deadline in MA, etc. The visibility and access to information that the LWVA provided was important on many levels.

There are many LWVA women who made this significant undertaking possible. I am very grateful to each and every one of them for the role they played in VR events especially in light of the intensity of this particular voting year.
 
-Respectfully submitted by Nancy DiMattio

The Connecticut River Inter-league Committee  
Photo courtesy of the Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC)


Legislation affecting the Connecticut River engaged four Leaguers in a recent meeting with Andrea Donlon, River Steward with the Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC.) Susan Millinger and Elizabeth Davis from the Amherst League and two members of the newly formed Franklin County League met at the Greenfield office of the CRC.

An Act promoting awareness of sewage pollution in public waters (S2617) addresses issues raised by Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) systems. CSO systems are designed to collect rainwater runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater in the same pipe. The problem is that raw sewage is still being dumped into our rivers on a regular basis, during every rain storm for CSO communities like Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke. At the present time there is no required public notification when these overflow events occur. This bill would require such public notification. It would require these CSO districts to establish a plan for metering or monitoring and submit it to the Massachusetts Department of Environment Protection.

An Act relative to drought management (H2115/S425) addresses problems raised most recently in 2016 where there was a patchwork of outdoor lawn watering restrictions throughout the state. Water restrictions affected by the drought extend beyond municipal boundaries; when water is scarce, lawn watering restrictions should be based on the drought region, not on the permit type as is the present situation. This bill will establish uniform nonessential outdoor watering restrictions by drought region for all water users - registered, permitted, and private wells. This will not affect agricultural water use or other business "essential uses."

These pieces of CRC priority legislation have been submitted to the state League's environmental steering committee for it to determine official LWVMA support.

-Elizabeth Davis   (If you would like to participate in this effort, please contact Elizabeth Davis at elizabethd@whidbey.com)

Local Action for Social Justice Comm: What it is and how it began

In the early winter of 2016-2017, members of the LWVA Board were talking about feeling depressed about the state of the country, and wanting to take individual action in response. Four people at that meeting decided to meet together to organize programs to offer members opportunities to work for what we called "social justice" on the local level. Thus the Local Action for Social Justice (LASJ) was formed.

There were so many problems needing to be addressed that the organizers knew it was beyond the reach (and purpose) of the local League to seek to address them all. Moreover, many excellent organizations were already seeking to meet these problems. We thought we should inform members about existing organizations they as individuals might want to work with.

You may have attended some of these programs, which included both speakers and follow-up actions. For example: there have been  programs on Food Security and Women's Health at the Survival Center; Laurie Millman head of the Center for New Americans, spoke at Opening Meeting 2017; Sudha Setty gave talks on National Security and Presidential Power. Affordable Housing, Racism, and Climate Change are continuing focuses this year.

The Committee welcomes new members; if you are interested, join us at a meeting (see the e-bulletin calendar for dates.) The next meeting will be immediately after the January 26 Consensus Meeting. The committee's opening meeting focused on topics of affordable housing and a response to the National's (and State's) call for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, but specific plans wait for the approval of the Steering Committee.

 
LWVMA News   
 
 
State League Legislative Envoys

What, you may ask, is a legislative envoy? With this new program (it began early this year) for the state League of Women Voters, legislative envoys are to be liaisons between the local Leagues and their legislators for the purpose of furthering state League's legislative goals. On November 3 Debra Ross and Elizabeth Davis, representing the Amherst League, attended a meeting at the Jones Library of the legislative envoys in western Massachusetts. Eight Leaguers met with Colleen Kirby, state League legislative specialist, to discuss this program and be brought up to date on what is going on with the state legislature. and its timeline for the coming year.

Helping the envoys in their work are video conferences every few weeks during legislative sessions, League specialist webinars, monthly Action Newsletter, weekly information sent via email and dropbox during session regarding League legislative priorities. When state League adopts its priorities for next year, envoys should contact their state legislators to provide them with a copy of our priorities, and learn our legislators' views on these issues. Envoys can then provide League members information on these issues and our legislators' views.
 
-Elizabeth Davis
 
If you have questions about this program, email Elizabeth at elizabethd@whidbey.com or Debra Ross at doc.debraross@gmail.com
  
LWVMA To Host Webinar with Climate Science Authority
 
Prof Michael Oppenheimer, a long-time participant in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and internationally-recognized authority on climate science, will brief League members on the recent UN and U.S. government reports on climate change in an LWVMA webinar on Wednesday, Feb 6 at 4 p.m. 

Oppenheimer is professor of geoscience and international affairs at Princeton University and director of the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School.

Information on registration for the webinar will be included in the January e-bulletin. You might also check the LWVMA website.
   
- from the December 2018 League Leader Update

Sexual Health Lobby Day, Thursday, January 17
 
This Lobby Day is a biennial day of grassroots advocacy of state policies that protect and expand access to sexual and reproductive health care. Among the issues are the Healthy Youth Act to provide an accurate and comprehensive sex education curriculum for public schools; a comprehensive bill to expand access to safe, legal abortion; funding measures for family planning, teen pregnancy prevention, and HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C prevention.
 
Thursday, January 17, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Great Hall of the State House. Co-sponsored with Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts. For more information, look in the January Mass League Action Newsletter, which will be available here.  
 
-from the December 2018 League Leader Update 
 
 
The 100 Reasons Campaign has a video on Youtube of Massachusetts members telling why they joined the League. Take a look!
 
 
LWVUS News  
 
 
Read LWVUS's statement urging the Trump Administration to acknowledge the impact of climate change here.  
Congressional Bill HR1, "the first comprehensive package of democracy reforms scheduled for 2019" includes reforms central to LWV's mission.

LWVUS's blog has a helpful introduction to its main components. Read it here.


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