Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

June 19, 2020
In This Issue:
STEERING COMMITTEE
Elayne Berger, Book Sale Chair
Cynthia Brubaker, Recorder
Trish Farrington, Publicity
Bonnie Isman, Voter Service
Marla Jamate, At-Large
Ann Kieser, At-Large
Phyllis Lehrer, Membership
Deanna Pearlstein, Event  Organization
Janice Ratner, Treasurer
Joan Rabin, At-Large
Jessica Ryan, E-bulletin Editor
Adrienne Terrizzi, Spokesperson

E-bulletin Editor, Jessica Ryan
CALENDAR

June 19, Amherst Town Celebration of Juneteenth.  Click here for the Schedule of virtual events.  
June 23, 6.p.m., Safety Can't Wait: Safe Communities Act Town Hall on Zoom. See LWVMA News for info. Register here. 
June 25, 12 noon, Signing Day Commemorative Walk from Kendrick Park to the Common; speaker on the Voting Rights Bill on the Common at 1 p.m. See Coming Events below for more information. 
June 25-27, 2020, LWV 54th National Convention on Zoom. All members are welcome to attend caucuses, but must register. For more information, see LWVUS NEWS below.
July 8, 10 a.m., Centennial Commemoration Committee planning meeting. All welcome. Contact Susan Millinger for Zoom link.  
August 3, 1-3 p.m., Steering Committee Meeting. All members are welcome.  Contact Kathy Campbell for the link.
August 18, 19th Amendment enacted when Tennessee legislature approves it. Commemorative events being planned: Save the Date!
   
To subscribe to the e-bulletin, visit lwvamherst.org and click on the blue tab "Sign up for Email Updates".
Don't forget to visit the Amherst League of Women Voters Facebook page and "like" us. Marla Jamate, our Facebook editor, does a great job and deserves a wider LWVA audience.

Our website is LWVAmherst.org

LOOKING FOR people willing to take pictures occasionally at a LWVA event. Contact the editor.
 
A MESSAGE from the STEERING COMMITTEE:
 
 
Dear members,

Thank you all so much for all your thoughtful suggestions for using our funds to help so many groups and activities. It was a wide-ranging list from food to prison legal services, climate action to the BID foundation. The Steering Committee in its meeting on June 8th agreed to form a committee of two members of the SC and 1 from membership to review all these ideas and make recommendations.
 
Another direction the the board was to form a LASJ/Racial Justice Committee; its organizational meeting occurred on June 18. See the article under Committees. We also sent a letter to the papers on Black Lives Matter, which appeared in the Daily Hampshire Gazette as a Letter to the Editor on June 12th.
 
We do listen to what you suggest and follow up.

Keep up the good work. And keep sending ideas. 
We really appreciate the help.

Thanks again. 
Phyllis Lehrer,
On behalf of the Steering Committee
 
IN MEMORIAM  
 
The Steering Committee regrets to report the recent death of Amherst League member Rachel Mustin. We send our most sincere sympathy to her family and friends. We are grateful for her many contributions to the League and to the community.
COMING EVENTS

RACIAL JUSTICE DEVELOPMENTS
 
JUNE 19TH IS JUNETEENTH, marking th e day when the federal orders ending slavery in the United States were read in Texas. Information about the virtual celebrations of the Town of Amherst can be found on the Town website here. Starting at 4 p.m. on Friday the 19th the celebration can be watched on Amherst Media on channel 12; the link is at the Town's website.  
 
The Amherst League's letter to the editor calling for racial justice, written by LWVA's spokesperson, was published in the Amherst Bulletin on June 12th. It can be found here. In case you can't find it, here is the text: 
 
"The Amherst League of Women Voters joined in the nationwide protests on May 31 in solidarity with our black communities against the violence and deeply imbedded systemic and institutional racism.
 
Mourning George Floyd's death among the countless others, we are united with the NAACP, Black Lives Matter and all civil rights groups in demanding transparency into the investigation and justice for all our neighbors.
 
Most importantly, all the young people who marched in protest must turn out to vote in the fall elections. The next opportunity for critical change is at the ballot box."
 
Adrienne Terrizzi
Amherst    
 
LWVMA's Statement against racism can be found here
that of LWVUS can be found  here. 
 
The Amherst League is currently in the process of forming a committee or task force on Racial Justice, which had its first meeting on June 18th. More information about the group's statement of purpose and goals will be in the next issue of the ebulletin.  
 
A Celebration

     Thursday, June 25, is the anniversary of Massachusetts ratifying women's right to vote!!!  
In commemoration, the Amherst League of Women Voters is sponsoring a walk,  
at noon on this day,  
from Kendrick Park to Amherst Town Hall
Anyone is welcome to join.   
It will be fun to dress as a suffragist
Wear white, a sash, straw hat, whatever suits, and definitely a mask.
     It's a walk, not a parade.   
A time of sunshine and good spirits...and social distancing.
      Hope to see you there.
 
 

Gloves and boots not needed! 
 CALLS TO ACTION :  
WHAT WE CAN DO NOW FROM OUR HOMES

SENATE PASSES BILL TO PROTECT PANDEMIC-ERA VOTING  
 
The bills which Voter Service has been urging you to contact your legislators about have passed in both House and Senate. Next step: reconciliation in a Joint Committee. 

Here's LWVMA's statement:
"LWVMA and our partners in the Election Modernization Coalition applaud the Massachusetts Senate for unanimously passing S.2755, a bill which makes necessary changes to protect our Sept. 1 primary election and Nov. 3 general election, including sending every voter an application for a ballot to be returned by mail.  We urge the legislature to quickly reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill and get a final version to Governor Baker for his signature."

--Bonnie Isman, Voter Service Chair
RACIAL JUSTICE LEGISLATION IN GENERAL COURT
from a recent message from LWVMA
 
"The LWVMA commits to racial justice in the Commonwealth by supporting concepts presented in the following racial justice bills. We will update you on legislation being filed by Speaker DeLeo and Governor Baker in the coming days, which will likely include some of the provisions in these measures. In the interim, ask your legislators to support the aims of these four bills. Find your legislators' email addresses here .
 
HD.5128/ SD.2968, An Act Relative to Saving Black Lives and Transforming Public Safety, Rep. Liz Miranda and Sen. Cynthia Creem:
  • Bans chokeholds, no knock warrants, tear gas, and hiring abusive officers.
  • Requires the Attorney General to create a uniform protocol for all law enforcement to report and investigate the use of physical force that results in emergency medical care, hospitalization, or death
  • Creates a "duty to intervene" when an officer witnesses abuse and lack of intervention
 
H.1440, An Act establishing a special commission on structural racism, Rep. Russell Holmes:

Create a commission to identify, analyze, and propose solutions to eradicate systemic racism within all aspects of the criminal justice system in Massachusetts.
 
H.2146, Resolve providing for a "Special Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training" to study and make recommendations concerning the implementation of a Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) system, Rep. Russell Holmes and Rep. David Vieira:

Establish a commission to implement a statewide system to certify local police officers and enable de-certification for misconduct and abuse.
 
H.2292, An Act to reform civil service exams, Rep. Russell Holmes:
  • Examines testing, qualification and hiring processes for state and local police officers, and ensures implementation of community policing, procedural justice, and cultural inclusivity.
  • Creates statewide Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity.
Please see the Ten-Point Plan to Address Police Violence and Advance Racial Justice issued by the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus June 2 in response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.


LWVA TASK FORCE TO 'GET OUT THE 2020 CENSUS'   
STILL NEEDS HELP 

More volunteers are needed and welcome! What does it take? Two hours of your time, a phone, and a computer on a Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Wednesday or Thursday, 5:00-7:00 p.m., or Saturdays, 1:00-3:00 p.m.. The 2 hour sessions include a 20-30 minute training, and provide a script to follow. How can you help? Register here !

--Adrienne Terrizzi
 
RECENT EVENTS

ANNUAL MEETING

June 2, 2020 brought our first Annual Meeting on Zoom, which was excellently led by Adrienne Terrizzi and as ably run by the digital skills of our webmaster, Kathy Campbell. Thirty-five members attended the Meeting.

As preparation for Annual Meeting, Kathy had provided two caucuses in which interested members could ask questions and make comments about the proposed budget and the proposed changes to the bylaws. The caucuses were found useful. Kathy also provided a Zoom practice session for those unfamiliar with it.

The members approved both the changes in the bylaws and the budget. They also accepted the slate of officers prepared by the Nominations Committee, to which was added by nomination from the floor Jessica Ryan as the new electronic bulletin editor.

To the eight continuing members of the Steering Committee (a number of whom were reelected to another 1-year term) were added Ryan, Joan Rabin (at-large), Marla Jamate (also at-large) and Cynthia Brubaker (recorder). Leaving are Nancy diMattio (recorder) and Susan Millinger (editor.)

Terrizzi urged members to send Directions to the Steering Committee to her by June 8th, so the Steering Committee could respond to them at the meeting that day.

LWVMA COUNCIL MEETING, Saturday, June 13 
 
Thirty-five of fifty-eight local Leagues were represented at Council by 102 League members; Amherst, which because of its size can send as many as eight delegates, was represented by four or more members. There are clear advantages of having to meet virtually, at least for Leagues from the western part of the State.
 
A brief business meeting began with new CEO Pattye Comfort expressing her pride in LWVMA's accomplishments this past year, and especially its strong statement on systematic racism. The treasurer informed the meeting that financially LWVMA is in good shape, though the inability to have the planned fund-raising event (a brunch) did lead to a deficit for the year. Two people from western Massachusetts were elected as Directors: Marie Gautier of Franklin County and Susan Millinger of Amherst. Jean Cherdack of Franklin County continues on the Nominating Committee.
 
The speaker, Ricardo Ramirez from the Voting Rights and Election Center of the Brennan Center for Justice, was a very able last-minute substitute needed because of a medical emergency. Ramirez gave a very informative presentation: an Elections Overview: Voting under Pandemic Conditions. His talk will be available on lwvma.org.
   
 
NEWS FROM THE COMMITTEES
Maud Wood Park
 
Centennial Commemoration Committee
 
 
 
The Committee, which is assisting in the planning for the Signing Day walk and speech, encourages all interested people to join this event. If you worry about social distancing in the walk up Pleasant  St. from Kendrick Park, then join us on the Common by 1 p.m., where it will be easy to stand with as much social distancing as makes you comfortable.   
 
The Committee is starting to plan for a Commemoration of August 18th, the day when the Tennessee Legislature's approval made the 19th Amendment law. Join us at the meeting of July 8th is you have ideas to propose. Contact Susan Millinger for the link.  

Health Care Update:
 
"America's Choices in the Health Care Debate"

The LWVA Health Care Committee works to win high-quality, cost-effective health care for all--through state, regional and national proposals.  Given the gravity of the COVID19 pandemic, it is now a public health imperative to find a health policy that will work; and given the stress of the lockdown on our economy, it is also a business imperative to turn health care from being part of the problem to being an important part of the solution.
 
To address the urgency of Healthcare Reform, the LWV 2020 Convention Caucus on Health Care will present two speakers.  Ciara Zachary, PhD. of the UNC School of Public Health will focus on the effects of policy on health outcomes, especially for vulnerable populations; Henry Abrons, a retired physician, member of LWV of Berkeley (CA) and on the Advisory Board of Physicians for a National Health Program will present current legislative options consistent with LWVUS position.  The caucus is sponsored by 15 local and state Leagues, including LWV-Amherst and LWV-MA!
 
This year, caucuses are open to all League members and the general public. No convention registration is required, but you must register for individual caucuses. 
Click here for a link to the zoom registration to this Health Care caucus.
For more information, contact Barbara Pearson, Caucus chair
 
 --Barbara Pearson. 
LWVMA NEWS
 
Virtual Town Hall on The Safe Communities Act June 23
 

Letter from Jen Muroff, LWVMA Legislative Specialist, Immigration
 
"We have been advocating relentlessly for the Safe Communities Act for three years. We believe everyone should feel safe seeking help when they need it, without fear that if 
they're undocumented, a call to the police or a visit to the ER could lead to ICE detention and deportation. The COVID-19 crisis has shown how deadly this can be; how many immigrants have suffered alone or even died because of this overwhelming fear of the authorities.  
 
Will you join us on Tuesday, June 23rd at 6 PM for a Virtual Town Hall to share our stories and make an urgent call to action - to our legislators to pass the Safe Communities Act, and to our fellow Mass. residents to join us in this fight, to add your voice in saying, justice and dignity for immigrants can't wait.  Register here  
 
Speakers will include our three legislative sponsors, Sen. Jamie EldridgeRep. Ruth Balser and Rep. Liz MirandaDamaris Velásquez, of Agencia ALPHA; Gladys Vega, of Chelsea Collaborative; Rev. Joanna Perez, of Harvest Ministries of New England; Rev. Dieufort Fleurissaint, of Haitian Americans United; among others. 
 
FYI, we will have live interpretation to Spanish (and other languages upon request)."  

Should Sixteen-Year Olds Have the Vote?

You  can view the winning videos of the Teen Voting Rights Challenge here. More on the contest in the next issue from Amherst member Laura MacLeod, who again served as a judge.

LWVUS NEWS
LWV's National Convention 2020 on Zoom:
 Caucuses are open to all
 
If you are interested in attending one or more of the caucuses/information sessions at Convention you are welcome to do so.  However, you must register for the caucuses you wish to attend. The list of caucuses is here  
 
Caucuses of special local interest:  
 
Climate Emergency: Time for All Hands on Deck (5-6 p.m. EDT on Wed, June 24) is co-sponsored by LWVMA. If you're interested, you can register for it here.

LWVA's Barbara Pearson, Chair of LWVA'sHealth Care Committee, is one of the leaders of America's Choice in the Health Care Debate: Defining the Priorities, Understanding the Costs and What We Can Do, on Wed, June 24, 6-9 p.m. Find it at the end of the list of caucuses.

ANNUAL REPORTS
AFFORDABLE HOUSING  COALITION 

The League supported two projects to add affordable housing in Amherst.
-East Street School:  This project to build between 15 and 36 rental units for low-income individuals and families at the site of the old East Street School has received approval and was put out for proposals to do the work. Unfortunately, no company wants to bid until the town does further research on the amount of hazardous materials in the existing building (mostly asbestos) and how much of the land is actually buildable (wetlands issues). Those issues have not been resolved yet.

-132 Northampton Road:  The League supported this project to build studio apartments in several forums. In June of 2013 we supported funding for the project from the Community Preservation Act. The text of the letter in support can be found in the complete version of this report at www.lwvamherst.org

The League of Women Voters has a long history of supporting policies and legislation that provide provisions for low-and-moderate income housing and a suitable living environment affordable for all. LWV of Amherst has carefully followed the development of this particular proposal. After several years of public meetings and forums, and an intense search for a suitable mixed-use location, we believe that the Valley Community Development Corporation's project to create 28 studio-size units with related services, to provide stability of place to our lowest income individuals, the working poor, as a positive direction for local housing needs heretofore unavailable in Amherst.
The CPA voted in favor of the project. The Planning Board voted to recommend it, and the Town Council subsequently supported the project as well.

Valley Community Development continued to work on details of the proposal, making some modifications in response to neighbors' concerns.

On March 30, 2020, the state issued an approval for the project to proceed. The next step is a hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals. That hearing is likely to be at the end of June or early in July, and it will be held over Zoom because of the Covid-19 virus.

Housing Forum
On November 4, 2019 the League co-sponsored a Housing Forum held at the Unitarian Church. There was a presentation about local efforts; then our state representative (Mindy Domb) and senator (Jo Comerford) spoke about proposed legislation and other state efforts. The participants then broke out into groups on various topics, including homelessness, Town housing policy, working on legislative action, and improving access to affordable rentals in Amherst.

--Elisa Campbell, LWVA liaison to the Coalition
BYLAWS REVIEW COMMITTEE

Following several years without nominations for the offices of President and Vice President, the May 30, 2019 Annual meeting moved to suspend Bylaw Articles IV: Officers and V: Board of Directors, and to return to this year's Annual Meeting with recommendations. 
 
A 5 member committee began work in October focusing on Articles IV and V to bring those in line with the current governance, a Board of Directors to share leadership of the organization as a Steering Committee, while retaining the Offices of President and Vice President as an option should we have nominations for those positions in future years. These articles also included a provision for holding online meetings, the core functions of the Board are enumerated, and a companion document entitled 'Responsibilities of the LWVA Board and Off-Board Coordinators' was developed to share with the Nominating Committee and League purposes. 
 
All 12 articles were subsequently reviewed to determine conformity with national bylaws; deadlines and timelines were modified in several, and all were reviewed for language, clarity, readability and consistency across articles. A former LWVA President served as reader prior to the approval of the Steering Committee.
 
Our League Bylaws, adopted in 1945 have undergone 25 amendments in 72 years with our 2020 changes, approved at this year's virtual June 2, 2020 Annual Meeting.
 
--Adrienne Terrizzi
 
BYLINE WITH STAN ROSENBERG
In January of 2019, as Amherst's new Charter got underway, LWVA began a weekly series with Amherst Media, our cable access television station with Stan Rosenberg, the former President of the Massachusetts State Senate to serve as host. Under development since the November Election Night Coverage and the outcome changing Amherst's 249 year old Town Meeting/Selectboard/Town Manager form of government, the League signed on to co-produce the series.
 
Conceived as a year-long program to chronicle the town's transitional year, we intended to inform, educate and update the community about who was in our new government, the critical issues the council and town were discussing, the evolving structures and new council committees and how they were organizing, as well as the issues that were both driving and developing the changes. 
 
Programming, scheduled by the League Producer covered 53 one half-hour programs from January 2019 to January 2020 as Rosenberg deftly interviewed, informed and educated guests and viewers alike. 
In January 2020 under a new arrangement, Adrienne Terrizzi continued to serve on behalf of the League as consultant for program topics, issues and guests. The final taping shortly after the pandemic shutdown was on March 20 with Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek discussing Amherst's response to COVID-19.  All studio programs ceased at that point, including Byline. Much like all else, the pandemic and its aftermath leaves in question how we will move forward.
Town Manager Paul Bockelman, a frequent program guest, stated that when municipalities contact him about changing forms of government, he recommends viewing 'Byline with Stan Rosenberg.'  
 
All past programs are available at amherstmedia.org and on their Youtube Channel.
 
-- Adrienne Terrizzi

CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION COMMITTEE 

The Committee was created to organize events celebrating two different but related events, the founding of the League of Women Voters on February 14, 1920, and the passage on August 26, 1920, of the 19th Amendment enabling women to vote. Committee members are Bonnie Isman, Barbara Pearson, Jessica Ryan (secretary), Ruth Smith, Adrienne Terrizzi, Kathy Vorkwerk, and Susan Millinger (convener of the Committee; liaison to the Steering Committee.)  The Committee met three times between September and January, organizing a half dozen events to occur between October and April, and discussing other events for the summer and fall. The cancellation of public events resulting from the spread of the COVID-19 virus called a halt to the planned events in mid- March.

Events scheduled:

  • October 27, 2019: Conversation about LWVA from the 1950s-1980s.  More than 20 members from those years joined in the conversation at Applewood. A good time was had by all. A partial narrative of that conversation will be available on our website, lwvamherst.org.
  • January: The Committee meeting on January 15 made plans for participation in the Fourth Annual Women's March on January 18th, aiding and supporting those League members (including Committee member Barbara Pearson) who were marching in suffragist attire and carrying a League banner. Several other members of the committee as well as other members of the Amherst League also participated in the March.
  • February 14: The date of founding of the League. A proclamation commemorating the Centennials of the League and Women's Suffrage was read in Town Council on February 10. 
  • February 15: The traditional February Birthday Lunch on February 15, 2020 celebrated the 100th birthday of LWV with an excellent talk by State Senator (and League member) Jo Comerford (Feb 15, 2020). The speaker was chosen and invited by the Committee.
  • March 14th: Planned co-sponsorship with the Jones Library of a screening at the Jones of Standing on My Sisters' Shoulders, a documentary about the events of the 1960s which finally brought the vote to black women in reality. The film and the discussion which was to follow it, to be led by Tracy Parker, Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies at U. Mass Amherst had to be cancelled.
  • April 5th: Scheduled talk by Barbara Berenson, author of the fascinating and very readable Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement: Revolutionary Reformers.  This event also had to be cancelled; the hope is that it can be rescheduled for the fall, perhaps as a Zoom webinar if not a live presentation.
  • Substitute events, held April-June: The State League scheduled a spring series of three webinars to compensate for all the cancellations the local Leagues experienced. Amherst members were informed of these events in the e-bulletins.  Two of these webinars are still available to be viewed at lwvma.org.: The discussion of her book, The Untold Story of Women of Color in the League of Women Voters by Dr Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, 15th President of LWVUS and Barbara F. Berenson's talk "After Suffrage: The Campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment, 1920-2020."
Plans for summer

The Committee hoped to co-sponsor several summer events planned by the Amherst Historical Society. However, under the current circumstances, the Amherst Historical Society recently decided to delay the library suffrage exhibit and program to be funded by the ACC grant until 2021.  

The Committee discussed a summer march, either celebrating June 25, on which Massachusetts ratified the 19th, or August 26th, Women's Equality Day, on which the 19th Amendment became law.
Note that at its June meeting, the Steering Committee decided to honor June 25 by organizing a noon walk from Kendrick Park to the Common in suffragist-type garb (masked, and at six-foot distance.) 
The Steering Committee also instructed the Centennial Commemoration Committee to meet and decide what if any commemorative events could be made available safely, whether online or outdoors.

--Susan Millinger
Diana Stein and Barbara Pearson at Winter Market, Feb. 2020
HEALTH CARE COMMITTEE 

The Health Care Committee (HCC) has been stable in its membership this year, but had a minor re-organization.  We started out (through February) in a continuing affiliation with the Amherst Area Hub of Western Mass Medicare for All. Then WMM4A announced that they were re-thinking the strategy of local hubs by geography and are opting for hubs by constituency (working through such venues as faith-based organizations, (medical) provider groups, universities). At that point, the LWVA HCC regrouped and committed to continuing with our local activities to promote health care reform in Amherst, specifically for "Single Payer/ Improved Medicare for All" on behalf of the League. We collaborate with WMM4A (and Masscare) when  appropriate.  

The  website  https://www.wmmedicareforall.org/   and  Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/WMM4A/  of WMM4A continue to be good resources for us, and an  LWV-US Toolkit  is also becoming available ;  direct link:    https://my.lwv.org/arizona/healthcare

The committee received support from the LWVA steering committee, in addition to an annual line-item in the budget, in co-sponsorship of the Health Care caucus at the National Convention, co-sponsoring the Pioneer Valley Women's March (where we tabled for both Health Care and Voter Registration), and endorsing the WMM4A "wake-up call" letter to Gov. Baker.

Members: Barbara Pearson, chair; Alice Swift, Diana Stein, Joan Rabin, Rosemary Kofler, Ann Kieser, Leslie Nyman, Anita Page, Colleen Duroshea (MAL), (Trish Farrington, taking a break), and Jackie Wolf (honorary). 

Two of our members Alice Swift and Diana Stein are on the board of Masscare, and Barbara Pearson is an active volunteer with the national LWV Health Care Reform network, HCR4US (steering committee) and a national state-based Single Payer organization, One Payer States. 

Activities
Canvassing:  Farmer's Markets, approx. once a month until sequester

Public programs, By-Line ACTV, Amherst Club, Senior Center  (2)   https://amherstmedia.org/content/s2e9-byline-stan-rosenberg-medicare-all

Self-education, participate in educational programs of the LWVUS Health Care Reform Network (BP member of steering committee and chair of Convention Caucus subcommittee), contributed as major content provider for the Toolkit linked to LWV-org,; attend portions of LWV New England States Leadership Development Conference; participate in activities of  Masscare.org

Town Council Resolution (in process), worked with WMM4A and most of the Town Councilors.  Calculated more than 10% savings to the town if current state bills are enacted. Stalled in Nov.; beginning new strategy for FY2021.

Allying group with other (non-partisan) civic initiatives: Racial Justice rally, 9/21/19; Activist Fair of Pioneer Valley Women's March, M4A Caucus in state Legislature (L. Sabadosa, 1st Hamp especially).

Letter to the editor, published in Gazette April 20, 2020 (Pearson); noted on PNHP website. 

--Barbara Pearson
MEMBERSHIP

The Amherst League has 187 members in 159 households and 21 life members. This year members received a League history in honor of the 80th anniversary and a program booklet.
Members received cards appropriate to member's needs.

--Phyllis Lehrer
TASK FORCE TO 'GET OUT THE 2020 CENSUS COUNT' 

The concept of the Task Force began with the organization of the Town's Complete Count Committee in October 2019.  We have been working and partnering our efforts with the Jones Library, the Senior Center, Rep. Mindy Domb, LWVMA, MA Counts/Voter Table and MA Immigration and Advocacy Coalition to ensure that Amherst, as the 9th hardest to count community in the state, receives its fair share of federal funding, fair share of Congressional seats, and accurate information for fair state and local redistricting.

Highlights of the year:
  • A public announcement of the League's kick-off of our 'Get out the 2020 Census Count' at a February 14 Town Council Meeting, including a Proclamation citing the League's 100 years of service, action and advocacy
  • The distribution of almost 1000 of our 'Basic Facts' and 'Why it Matters' census information cards in English, Spanish and Chinese to residents and businesses at a downtown canvassing event and 13 tabling sessions at the Senior Center and Jones Library prior to the pandemic shutdown
  • A Letter to the Editor, March 6, 2020
  • Monthly updates in the EBulletin, information on our website and frequent posting on our FaceBook page
  • Joining the MA Counts/Voter Table and MA Immigration & Advocacy Coalition phone calls to hard to count communities in March; to date, over 90,000 plus calls to undercounted communities, including Amherst
  • Outreach to several community organizations and neighborhood districts seeking involvement with the ongoing Amherst/MA phone banking effort
  • Amherst PGO newsletter editors sent out our information to the school staff, parents, guardian families as reminders to fill out the census
We are currently in discussion with the Complete Count Committee regarding additional opportunities ahead to increase awareness and increase responses. June 15, 2020 Census data indicate the need: Amherst response rates are at 62%, the lowest of all surrounding communities, state totals at 63.4%, and national response is at 61.4%.  
While many are focused on the pandemic, its disruptions and months-ahead consequences, the good news is that the U.S. Census timelines and reporting dates regarding apportionment and redistricting have been extended. The Task Force looks forward to continuing our work toward a complete and accurate count in 2020.     
 
--Adrienne Terrizzi
VOTER SERVICE

The League conducts outreach for voter registration and seeks to inform potential voters on how to register to vote, how to obtain absentee ballots in Massachusetts and in other states, and about Amherst's new Council form of government.  Voter information and registration assistance were provided at a climate change conference in June 2019, at the Town of Amherst Block Party in September, at the October Candidates Forum, and by reaching out to students with home room signups at the Amherst Regional High School in February. The Amherst Survival Center distributed postcards from the League on how to register online.  All in person assistance was suspended in March 2020, following the shutdown of public events to control the spread of COVID 19.  Since then, we have been tracking many changes to election procedures that have been proposed to make voting easier and safer this fall, and through articles in LWVA e-bulletins, encouraging LWVA members to contact their legislators to support these bills.

Other activities:  LWVA co-sponsored a training program on ranked choice voting in September, and co-sponsored 'How to talk so your Legislators will listen', a talk by Nancy Brumback of LWVMA at Jones Library, October 19.

Oct. 28 we held a Candidates Forum for 17 candidates for local office. Many thanks to the League members who helped with the program, to Becky Shannon from the Northampton League as our moderator, the Amherst Senior Center for their hospitality, and the technical experts of Amherst Media for recording and airing this important community forum!  

Voter Service also published an Election Guide in the Nov. 1 Daily Hampshire Gazette listing positions of the candidates in the fall 2019 election.  The only contested race was for School Committee. All other candidates for Library Trustee, Housing Authority and Oliver Smith Will Elector ran unopposed.  A League information table was set up at Jones Library so that voters could examine sample ballots and candidate information. On November 5, Voter Service provided Precinct Runners to report voting tallies for election night coverage on Amherst Media.

--Bonnie Isman

E-bulletin Staff and Contributors in June 
The June e-bulletin was created by a panel of Editors: the summer editor, Jerry Brubaker; the new editor whose term starts in September, Jessica Ryan; and the former editor, Susan Millinger. Contact Jerry here.  The Associate Editor is Trish Farrington; Janice Ratner and Phyllis Lehrer proofread the issue; Kay Fite checks the links. Contributors to the June 2020 e-bulletin include LWVA members Elisa Campbell,  Bonnie Isman, Phyllis Lehrer, Barbara Pearson, and Adrienne Terrizzi. This issue contains the Annual Reports of Committees, whose authors are identified at the end of each report. Material on LWVMA comes from either the League Leader Update or Mass League Voter or from letters from LWVMA.

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