Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

February 18, 2019
In This Issue:

  February 25, noon, Program Planning, Bangs 101.
February 26, 7 p.m., LWVMA Webinar on Ranked Choice Voting in MA .
February 27, noon-1:30, Brown Bag Lunch with Peter Demling on regionalizing the Amherst and Pelham elementary schools, Bangs 101.
March 4, 1-3 p.m., Steering Committee, 81 Stagecoach Road. Members wishing to attend please RSVP Nancy DiMattio 256-0809.
March 18, 3 p.m., Book Discussion of Jon Meacham's The Soul of America, Applewood.
March 21,  4:00- 6:00 p.m, Amherst LWV 80th Anniversary Open House, Amherst Woman's Club .
April 6-7,   LWV Regional Leadership Conference on "Advancing Civility in a Diverse New England" ,Wells, ME
June 7-8, LWVMA State Convention, Westford, MA.
July 1-August 5, LWVA Annual Book Sale preparation and sale

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Calling All Members:  Program Planning on February 25
Join us for this important meeting on state and local program planning, Monday, February 25th, 12:00 PM, Bangs Center, Room 101.   
What is state program planning? Local leagues have an opportunity every two years, before the biennial State Convention, to have input into the State League's Action Priorities and Areas to Study, together called "program". This year, the LWVMA Board suggests focusing on legislation and actions in the areas of improving elections, improving voters and civic education, government for the common good, climate change and the environment, and equality and justice. Local leagues can suggest others as well. The State Board is not recommending any new areas to study, review or update during this biennium. 
Adoption of the LWVMA Program for 2019-2020 will take place at Convention, June 7-8. More information can be found in the State Program Planning Guide, particularly the details within the broad action priority areas (see page 3.)
We will also discuss issues that our Amherst League may want to prioritize or study at this meeting.  Study areas can come from a variety of sources, e.g., interests of individual members, community issues, or updates of previous studies. If the issue is already covered by a current position, we can also consider prioritizing action in that area.

BBLBrown Bag Lunch

The League is sponsoring a discussion and question/answer talk with Peter Demling of the Regional School District Planning Board. This organization is exploring regionalization of the Amherst and Pelham elementary schools. Yes, there is already a regional district for grades 7-12. So, what makes this new idea important? How can it happen? What are the benefits to both towns? What options are being studied? Come find out on Wednesday, February 27, at the Bangs Center, Room 101, from 12:00-1:30.

OH80LWVA 80th Anniversary Celebration

The Amherst League will be celebrating its 80th Anniversary on March 21, 2019 with an Open House at the Amherst Woman's Club from 4-6 pm. There will be refreshments and a short program. Invitations will be sent out in early March to League members and friends of the League. Mark your calendars for this special event!

BookBook Sale

It is that time of year again! No, we don't mean putting on our gloves, boots, scarves and hats or shoveling snow. It is when we begin to gear up for out giant book sale in the summer. We have a wonderful venue at Fort River Elementary School gym with lots of easy parking. We just need lots of books and volunteers to help us get it all set up and get the books sold.
We will begin collecting books this summer at the gym on Monday, July 1. The Book Sale for the public will be on July 26,27, 28 and Aug 2 and 3.
Please join our Book Sale Committee by contacting Kathy Campbell or Cynthia Brubaker  and start collecting the books you want to contribute!

LWVA's Consensus Meetings on the State Ballot Question Study
Our League was one of approximately 35 chapters participating in the State LWV Ballot Question Study.   Twenty Amherst members attended the February 24 and 26 consensus meetings. A report with our comments, questions and findings has been sent to the State League. Following submissions from all participating local Leagues, the State Board will determine whether the current ballot question process could be improved, recommend steps to enact any changes, and develop a policy position for future advocacy. We will receive their report prior to the June 7-8 Convention.  
Ft. River School Building Committee Chair Jonathan Salvon and Vice Chair Maria Kopicki
Ft. River School Building Committee Chair Jonathan Salvon and Vice Chair Maria Kopicki

Have you watched yet? 

LWVA's weekly news and public service program, Byline with Stan Rosenberg, premiered in January with interviews with our new Amherst Town Councilors.  A recent issues segment was a two-part feature on the schools: the proposed new elementary school building and the costs and design options for a new or renovated Fort River School.  Tune in on local access cable Channel 17 Fridays at 8 PM and Mondays at 6 PM.  Prior episodes of Byline can be found at Amherst Media.  Contact  Adrienne Terrizzi with your suggestions for future content and issue areas you'd want us to cover.


Rep. Mindy Domb The League of Women Voters of Amherst celebrated the national organization's 99th birthday with a luncheon on Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Ginger Garden Restaurant. The luncheon was attended by 60 people, and State Rep. Mindy Domb, D-Amherst, was the keynote speaker.

Domb, who represents the third Hampshire district, updated LWVA members on several pending items of state legislation, including the "Diaper Bill." This bill would create a state fund to help provide diapers to low-income families at sites across the state. Domb, the former executive director of the Amherst Survival Center, has also co-sponsored legislation to amend the state Constitution's language on swearing-in of elected officials. The state Constitution now requires any official who is not taking a standard oath to be sworn in by a Quaker. Currently, only a Quaker is allowed not to take the standard swearing in oath.

Domb is advocating in support of gender neutrality and other issues. A link to bills she has co-sponsored can be found at her legislative web site page.

The League of Women Voters was founded on Feb. 14, 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt during the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and was that movement's direct successor organization. The 1920 convention was held six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote after a 72-year struggle, was ratified.

The LWVA will celebrate the Amherst League's 80th anniversary with an event next month on March 21st.


Observer Corps Report:   Town Council Meeting, Town Room of Town Hall, January 28, 2019, 6:30  All Members were present.
Observer: Barbara Pearson

This 5.5-hour meeting began with a presentation by School Committee Chair Ordonnez and Superintendent Morris, updating the Council on the school's Fund our Future Resolution and  presenting a preliminary framework for designing a new elementary school. A two-hour discussion of the composition of and charge to the Energy and Climate Action Committee followed.

After a 20-minute executive session for a closed door discussion of a pending real property issue, the meeting continued  until after midnight with other business, including approving a Black History Month resolution and committee appointments.

Shortly after midnight, the only remaining member of the public (the observer left during the executive session) noted that anyone who had attended the school presentation hoping to make a statement would have had to wait 4 hours to do so.

Find the complete report 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.


Affordable Housing in Amherst

The Amherst area is, like most of the country, affected by the high cost of housing. There are people working to make more affordable housing available, and they need public support.

First up is a proposal to put affordable housing at the site of the East Street School in Amherst. This project has been in the works for years. The Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust has prepared a Request for Proposals (RFP) in order to select a developer to move forward with this project. The RFP is ready for review and approval by the Town Council. We need to encourage the Council to put this on their (very full!) agenda soon so it can move forward. This project was approved, in concept, by Town Meeting, and was endorsed by the candidates for the Town Council during the elections.

Please contact your Council members to urge them to support putting this on their agenda soon, and then voting to support the RFP so the project can move forward.

Some background information: While the details of what eventually actually gets built will depend on what the selected developer discovers is possible, the list of unit sizes in the RFP includes
  • Mix of bedroom sizes from 1 - 3 bedrooms
  • Minimum of 15 affordable units
  • Minimum of 10% of the affordable units must be 3 bedrooms
  • Minimum of 50% of affordable units must be 2 or more bedrooms
Another proposal that will need our support soon is the Valley Community Development Corporation's plan for apartments, most of which will be studio-sized SRO (single room occupancy) units for the lowest-income people, on land on Northampton Road, near the Amherst College playing fields. This project will need funds from the CPA (Community Preservation Act) and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).


NELDC"Advancing Civility in a Diverse New England" will be the theme of the League's thirteenth annual New England Regional Leadership Development Conference, scheduled for April 6-7 at the York County Community College in Wells, ME. Find the agenda, registration information and other details at the Conference web page.  
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:
February 26. 7:00 pm, Ranked Choice Voting
At least one Ranked Choice Voting bill will be filed with this legislative session,. Curious about RCV? Adam Friedman, executive director of Voter Choice Massachusetts, will explain how RCV works and discuss the legislation to bring RCV to our state, then answer questions. 
LWVMA's  Advocacy and Legislative agenda for 2019-2010 can be found here. 

Two interesting recent LWVUS Newsroom Press Releases:

On January 25, the League of Women Voters of Michigan and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson today filed a motion for approval of a consent decree which would settle the League's gerrymandering case by requiring the redrawing of 11 state house districts under federal court supervision ahead of 2020 elections.

On February 5, the League of Women Voters of Texas joined a lawsuit against the Texas Secretary of State's office after false claims of widespread voter fraud were reported last month, saying "Once the claims have been made publicly, the damage is done."

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