Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

April 22, 2019
In This Issue:
April 23. 4-5 p.m., "Driving Down Emissions: Massachusetts and the Regional Transportation and Climate Initiative" LWVMA webinar . See below for registration.
April 25, 2-3 p.m., LWVUS webinar, " Cap and Trade is Alive and Well: Carbon Markets Around the World ." See LWVUS NEWS below for info and to register.
April 27, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Local Environmental Action Conference co-sponsored by LWVMA, 486 Chandler St. Worcester (at Worcester State U.) For info and to register, click here.
May 6 , 1:30-3:30 p.m., Steering Committee Meeting , Applewood, 1 Spencer Drive,  Check at the desk for directions. All interested members are welcome to attend.
May 20, 3 p.m., Book Discussion of Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, Applewood.
May 30 6:30-8:30, Annual Meeting,Woodbury Room, Jones Library. Social time, 6:30-7 ; meeting starts promptly at 7.
June 7-8, LWVMA State Convention, Westford, MA. See below for information.
July 1-August 5, LWVA Book Sale preparation and sale, Fort River School. Collection July 1-13 at the school.

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ANNUAL MEETING: Thursday, May 30th, Woodbury Room, Jones Library. 6:30-7:00 p.m., meet and greet friends and enjoy light refreshments. 
7:00-8:30 p.m., Annual Business Meeting. Watch for your Annual Meeting Packet in next month's special e-Bulletin. If you don't receive it by May 15, please request another from the editor. Members wishing a paper packet should 
contact Phyllis Lehrer, Membership Chair. 

In Memoriam
The Steering Committee is sorry to announce the recent deaths of  long-time Amherst League members Dorothy Hertzfeld, Sally Lawall, and Sandra Mullin. We send our most sincere sympathy to their families and friends. We are grateful for their many contributions to the League and to their community.
Spring Cleaning
     Yes, it's that time of the year.  Whether it's shelves inside or garden outside, it's an opportunity to clean out and organize.  
     Not too soon either for the League to begin its preparation for the annual Book Sale which will be held the weekends of July 26-28 and August 2-3.
     With thousands of used books, this sale, one of the largest and oldest in New England, serves as the major fund raiser for the League and helps finance voter service programs and publications.
     As you do your spring cleaning think about bringing your  book donations to Fort River School gym, South East St. anytime between July 1 and 13.
     So...gather books from your shelves, from the ones your kids have outgrown, from the boxes you've been saving all year, from the mysteries you've already solved, from the cookbooks you've tested, from the neighbors who moved away and left you their treasures, from recent reads under your bedside table, from your spring cleaning efforts.  Then get ready for more entertainment to come.

--Trish Farrington, Associate Editor


East St School.
Amherst Affordable Housing Coalition Update   
(Reminder: LWVAmherst is a member of the Coalition; affordable housing is currently a major concern of the League's Local Action for Social Justice Committee. Contact its chair if you would like to help.) 
Great news! There are two projects in the planning stages:
Valley Community Development Corporation's proposed project on Rt 9 for 28 units
East Street School for between 15 and 36 units

At the Amherst Town Council Meeting of April 1, Town Council gave its support for the East Street School affordable housing project, taking the last step needed to enable the Town Manager to issue a Request for Proposals for the project. The November bulletin contained a report on the forum which presented the plans for the East Street School site (and see a fuller discussion on the League's website), so this month will focus on Valley Community Development Corporation (Valley)'s project.

One of the primary strategies identified to address homelessness in Amherst is the creation of subsidized, small studio apartments with supportive services for low income single adults. There are currently no units of this type in Town. A Forum in October 2017, focused on educating the community about this type of supportive housing. In September 2017, the Town awarded a CDBG planning grant to Valley to locate a site for, and facilitate development of, a supportive housing studio apartment building of between 16-40 units.

After looking at more than 2 dozen sites, Valley identified an appropriate site in a great location: a central, walkable location, on a bus line, in a mixed-use area. The plan is to renovate the existing vacant single-family house on the site plus construct an addition to accommodate 28 small studio units plus common areas and a provider office.

Tenants would be a mix of homeless individuals, clients of the Department of Mental Health, and people at 50% and 80% of the AMI (=Area Median Income). Tenants would have available on-going resident service coordination coupled with community-based services. The property will not house undergraduate, full-time students.

--Rebecca Fricke

LWVA's Byline with Stan Rosenberg
Council Pres Griesemer.
'Byline' is a weekly public affairs program airing on Ch. 17 every Friday at 8 PM and Mondays at 6 PM on Ch. 17 and is co-sponsored by the Amherst League of Women Voters and Amherst Media. Tune in weekly for new programs where we focus on the updates of our new town government in its inaugural year and the important work taking place on the Town Council Standing and Subcommittees.
Coming up: Stan's guests this month include Peter Demling, Chair of the Amherst-Pelham District Strategic Planning Board and Emily Marriott, Vice Chair, discussing possible regionalization of their K-6th grades; Town Council President Lynn Griesemer, in her third appearance, focusing on the legislative transitions taking place; At-Large Town Councilor and Finance and Joint Capital Planning Committee Chair Andy Steinberg on the developing town budget and Mandi Jo Hanneke, Town Council Vice Chair and At-Large Town Council member update on the Governance, Organization and Leadership committee work.

Amherst-Pelham District regionalization discussion
If you've missed any of the past 17 episodes, these can be seen as videos here and on Youtube.  

Future Issues you'd like addressed? Contact amterrizzi here.


Amherst Voter Participation Stakeholders' Roundtable
Since its inception by Amherst Town Clerk Margaret Nartowicz after the November elections, LWVA members have been  attending the Clerk's Roundtable to get ideas and to see what the League may be able to contribute. Marcie Sclove attended the Roundtable on March 28th.

Town Clerk Nartowicz and her assistant, Athena O'Keeffe, convened the meeting to explore ways to improve voter participation of students, primarily UMass students. The goals are to get more students registered, update registered voters who have moved, and then educate the students about the upcoming elections and get them to the polls. At this meeting were members of UMass Democrats and UMass Republicans and MASSPIRG. Also attending was Sarah Barr, who has organized similar efforts at Amherst College.
Parts of the discussion included: early voting polls on Campus, using voting software such as Turbo Vote to communicate with students, other ways to reach students via social media, having all student clubs participate in a campus wide registration campaign, and ways to encourage students to both vote early and/or get to the polling place on Election Day.
We are exploring ways in which the League can be helpful in these efforts. 

--Marcie Sclove


  Town Council Meeting, March 18, 2019. All members but E. Ross were present. The meeting ran from 6:30 to 10:45 p.m., including an hour of public comment.
Observer: Barbara Pearson

Presentation by Hornik of Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust on East
Street School project  Current ask is to instruct the Town Manager to transfer the East Street School building to AMAHT as surplus property to start the process of
development.  MJ Hanneke moved that the matter be referred to the Finance Committee to make a cost comparison between using the building for Affordable Housing and other potential development (which is not on the table).  Vote was 11-1 against (only Hanneke in favor).  But President Griesmer recommended that Finance Committee try to provide a rough estimate of what the size of this initial investment in the Aff. Housing project would be, for the record. It will not delay the vote.  Town staff is also asked to clarify the surplus property procedures and bring to the Council.

Town Manager reported they are carefully watching the Hampshire issue (and its effect on the town, especially security and bonds at this point). 

Citation in Celebration of 80th Year of Amherst League of Women Voters adopted unanimously (Janice Ratner presenting at hour 3:00 minutes to 3:02).

Public comment was mainly on the School Committee issue. Most underlining urgency
of need to replace unhealthy buildings not conducive to teaching.
Also on Affordable Housing:  Elisa Campbell of LWV reminded councilors of their
support for issue in campaigning.

 Either Phyllis Lehrer or the editor edits the reports for the ebulletin, focusing on items of special interest to the LWVA. Find the complete reports as well as reports from earlier meetings at the LWVA web site.  These reports also include links to the agendas, meeting packets, Amherst Media recordings and (after approval) official minutes of each meeting.  Agendas and meeting packets are posted in advance on the Council web page.


Local 100th Anniversary Committee Forms: Still more to celebrate!

The Amherst LWV enjoyed its 80th anniversary this year, but we're not through celebrating.  2020 will mark the centennial of the League of Women Voters. The League was founded in Feb 1920 to educate and empower women for voting, in anticipation of the hoped-for ratification of the 19th amendment, which would occur in August 1920. Thus 2020 marks the centennial of both the LWV and women's suffrage. We have a lot to celebrate!

A 100th anniversary committee is forming to learn from the past and prepare for our future.  We'll need Historians, Celebrators, Disseminators, and Networkers (especially to get some synergy from parallel celebrations around the Valley, the Commonwealth, and the nation). Watch this space for further developments.  Please contact Barbara Pearson , Kathy Vorwerk  or Nancy DiMattio with your ideas and suggestions.  Let us know which one (or ones) of the subcommittees you can volunteer for.

--Barbara Pearson

 LWVMA Support of Legislation Affecting the Connecticut River

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts supports several pieces of legislation that will benefit the Connecticut River and its environs. The first bill creates a statewide sewage discharge notification system and promotes awareness of sewage pollution in public waters (H751/S490). The second promotes water conservation during droughts by maintaining adequate water supplies through more effective drought management (H762/S535). The third bill establishes a "water-banking" fee on large scale water users, a measure that will provide for a sustainable water resources funds (H1761). The Connecticut River Conservancy supports these three bills.

Click here and scroll down the list to Water Resources for the bills that are being followed by the state League's specialists. For more information on these bills, click on the bill numbers. For the first one concerning statewide sewage discharge notification system, clicking on "testimony" will give you League's actual testimony given at the committee hearing.

With this information our Legislative Envoys will be better informed both to let our state legislators know that the League supports these bills and urge their support, and to let our own members have this information so they too can contact their legislators.
--Elizabeth Davis, Legislative Envoy and Chair of InterLeague Connecticut River Committee 

  LWVMA's NEW Executive Director Visits Western MA

All the Leagues in Western Massachusetts sent members of their leadership teams to meet the new Executive Director, Michelle Kweder, when she visited our part of the state recently. On April 14th, three members of Amherst's Steering Committee, Elizabeth Davis, Phyllis Lehrer and Susan Millinger joined the gathering at Bread Euphoria in Williamsburg.

We were thrilled that Michelle was making the effort to travel the state and ask us what our concerns are, and how the State can help us. Many of the western Leagues are much smaller than Amherst is, and several are much younger. Some have the more traditional organizational structure;  others have a shared leadership: Northampton, in particular, has had shared leadership for a number of years. Nevertheless, there were common laments. Perhaps most notable broadly shared concerns are the difficulty of getting members involved in leadership roles and the  challenges of the commitments of LWVMA as well as LWVUS to "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion."

Michelle Kweder joined LWVMA this past March. Her background encompasses a wide variety of non-profit, public sector, academic and political experiences. Although she comes with no prior experience of the LWV, Michelle appreciates and is attracted to the League's non-partisan work to encourage the active and informed participation of citizens in their government through education and advocacy.

Michelle holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in Women's Studies from Hamilton College, an MBA from Simmons College, and a Ph.D. in Business Administration, Organizations and Social Change from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.  For the past 11 years Michelle has had her own consulting practice focused on comprehensive resource development services; partnerships and strategic alliances; board development; succession planning; strategic planning; and facilitation and training. Clients include numerous non-profit organizations in the Greater Boston area. (This biographical information comes from the March League Leader Update. Read the whole piece here.)

Given her experiences and the values she shares with the League, it is easy to see why the Board chose her as ED. We found her an excellent listener, open and supportive, and we look forward to her leadership.

LWVMA "Climate Change Challenge" Student Video Contest   
For the past few years, LWVMA has sponsored a student video contest designed to foster civic awareness among young people and provide them with an opportunity to share their opinions on matters of public importance. This year, new LWVA member Laura Rojo MacLeod was among the judges for this event.

The 2019 topic, "Climate Change Challenge" expresses LWVMA's belief in the need for environmental civics education to raise an active 'green' generation now and for the future.

The program received 94 30 minute-long videos, created by over 250 students from towns and cities across the state, from western Massachusetts to Martha's Vineyard. The winners are: 1st Place: "The Urban Shade Tree: Nature's Air Conditioner" by Madeleine Lombard, Four Rivers Charter Public School; 2nd Place: "Rising Sea Levels" by Sophia Orlando, Rockport High School; and 3rd Place: "How Composting Helps the Environment" by Jessica Elmhurst, Walpole High School. (Winners get cash prizes, are invited to an award ceremony at the State House, and have their videos publicized by LWVMA.)

To watch all the videos submitted, click here.

Laura Rojo MacLeod  commented that "It was a very inspiring experience to serve as a judge in this activity." LWVAmherst would like to see Amherst Regional High School students participating in the event in the future. If you are --or know-- an art or social studies teacher at ARHS, please take note.

--Laura Rojo MacLeod


New Webinar on Transportation and Climate Change: Tuesday, April 23, 4-5 p.m., sponsored by the LWVMA Environmental Action and Advocacy Committee. In New England, transportation comprises the largest source of fossil fuel emissions, at 39%. What can we do? Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director for regional and state initiatives,  Acadia Center, and State Rep Lori Enrlich will present an overview of the Transportation and Climate Initiative and MA legislative efforts to ensure sustainable and equitable solutions. Register here. 
Couldn't watch one of those webinars live? Find them all at the LWVMA's webinar page. You can also sign up for upcoming webinars there, including:
Convention 2019: "100 Years: Looking Back, Moving Forward" at the Westford Regency Inn from 11:30 Friday June 7 to Saturday June 8 at 3. (Easy for westerners to get to: the Inn is at the Westford exit on 495, maybe five miles from the entrance to 495 from Rte 2.) You can register for only part of the Convention--even for one event-- if you can't attend it all. There's a special room rate but you must call 978-692-8200 by May 8 and ask for the LWVMA Convention rate to get it.  
The speaker featured at the Friday lunch is the LWVUS CEO Virginia Kase; at the F riday evening banquet environmentalist Bill McKibbin will speak; Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham will be the featured speaker at the Saturday lunch. Higginbotham is the Victor S. Thomas Professor o f History and of African and African American Studies and the chair of the Department of History at Harvard University.  

To see the schedule, and to register, click here.
LWVMA's  Advocacy and Legislative agenda for 2019-2020 can be found here. 

LWVUS Price on Carbon task force is sponsoring a webinar:
"Cap and Trade is Alive and Well: Carbon Markets Around the World," Thursday April 25, 2-3 p.m. Eastern time, Register here.

Did you happen to read LWVUS President Chris Carson's recent letter to us, urging us to respond to the Mueller Report's info on foreign influence on the 2016 election by asking our Senators to demand a hearing on the For the People Act? (The act provides, among other things, for transparency in political ads and funding for cybersecurity,) If you'd like to take another look, here's the link to the press release.

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