Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

May 24, 2019
In This Issue:
May 30 6:30-8:30, Annual Meeting,Woodbury Room, Jones Library. Social time, 6:30-7 ; meeting starts promptly at 7.
June 7, 6 p.m ., Deadline for  submissions forJune ebulletin.
June 7-8, LWVMA State Convention, Westford, MA.
June 10, 1-3 p.m., Steering Committee Meeting, 61 Pondview. All members are welcome, but please contact the chair to let her know you plan to attend.
June 14, 4-8 p.m., Personal Change through Climate Change , (film, lecture, and panel discussion), Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium. See below for more information. Co-sponsored by LWVA.
June 17, 3 p.m., Book Discussion of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson, Applewood.
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. Members should have received by U.S.Mail the proposed budget. and nomination committee report; they should have received their Annual Meeting Packet in a special e-Bulletin. If you haven't received either or both, please contact the editor. Members wishing a paper packet should 
contact Phyllis Lehrer, Membership Chair. 
Climate Change Event: Personal Change through Climate Change 
Friday, June 14, Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium

The Amherst League of Women Voters is cosponsoring an event intended to build on the public hunger for opportunities to talk openly about climate change which was showcased by the packed Town Meeting recently held by Congressman McGovern and Senator Ed Markey in Northampton. This event is designed to promote such talk and to offer resources to anyone who wants to take their first or hundredth step toward addressing climate change.  
Rep. McGovern 
The event, held from 4-8 p.m. at the Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium, begins (at 4) with a documentary film, Unfractured, featuring Sandra Steingraber, New York biologist and ecologist, currently a distinguished scholar in residence at Ithaca College (click here for her impressive bio.)  
After a break, the event continues at 6 with an address by Dr Ray Bradley,
Ray Bradley  
climatologist and University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is also research director of the Climate System Research Center. Dr. Bradley will discuss the good news and the bad news about global warming. 
Jane Winn  
The lecture will be followed by at 7 p.m. by a panel discussion with panelists Congressman James McGovern, Dr. Bradley, and Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) executive director Jane Winn. Panel moderator and host for the evening's event will be LWV Amherst's Kathy Campbell.
This event has been organized by one concerned individual, Kay Jones, who began addressing the causes of climate change after she was arrested at Seabrook Nuclear Plant in the 1970's and realized she needed to do more than just say 'NO.' Jones was inspired to organize this event by the story of shy Sandra Steingraber's transformation into a formidable environmental activist, by the climate research of Ray Bradley, and by Congressman Jim McGovern's immediate and strong support for the Green New Deal.  According to Kay Jones, The assistance and technical skill of Rosemary Wessel and members of the League of Women Voters of Northampton and Amherst have been invaluable. This event is evidence of what a dedicated individual can do.
Pollinator Network report

The first meeting of the Western Mass Pollinator Network of Amherst took place on May 17th at the Bangs Center in Amherst, MA.  Nancy DiMattio attended as a representative of the Steering Committee of the Amherst LWV.

John Root led the group with a presentation followed by a robust discussion.  While the turnout was small, the enthusiasm and determination of those who attended was strong.  Attendees expressed deep concern about the decline in pollinator habitat and the widespread use of bee-killing toxic herbicides and pesticides on public and private lands.

The group came up with many good ideas and action steps including:
 - requesting that the Town of Amherst Town Council approve a non-binding resolution endorsing the protection of pollinators and enhancement of pollinator habitat
 - establishing an implementation plan that will creat a Pollinator Highway in Amherst
 - tabling at the Amherst Farmer's Market in order to raise awareness of the seriousness of this issue and gain support for a town wide implementation plan
 - developing "Pollinator Highway" signs in yards or Town areas where the residents/employees have developed a pollinator garden/area
 - presenting to such groups as Climate Action Now and Amherst Garden Club
 - engaging students to work on the implementation plan once established.

The date of the next meeting has yet to be set but will likely take place by mid-summer. 
LWVA's Byline with Stan Rosenberg
Byline is a collaboration between Amherst Media and our League. Former State Senate President Rosenberg plays a critical role in hosting this informative weekly program. Byline's focus since its first broadcast in January has been on the transitions, processes and regulations that are shaping our new municipal governmental under the 13 Town Councilors, the Town Manager and the many new committees.

Featured in the coming weeks will be the Governance, Organization and Legislation Committee with Mandi Jo Hanneke, Chair and Council Vice President;
Hanneke with Byline host Rosenberg

Rep. Mindy Domb in her second appearance with Stan, sharing her first 120 days and first experiences with the State budget process;

Domb with host on Byline.

  and an interview with the Bylaws Review Committee headed by Attorney Bob Ritchie and his co-chair, District 2 Town Councilor Pat DeAngelis.

DeAngelis & Ritchie with host Rosenberg

Previous broadcasts can be seen online on Amherst Media and on Youtube 
Report of Town Council Meeting of April 22 
 League Observer: Barbara Pearson 
  Board Members: All present but Steinberg

For the Observer's detailed account of this meeting, see the website. Some highlights:
Action items included:
-Use of public ways Crocker Farm third-graders and teachers ask for use of the public way to put mini-library, book boxes at 3 bus stops near their school for their "Read
Around Town:" civic project (so the students and other townspeople could read while riding) .  Vote was unanimous (10-0)]
-Council deferred discussion of appointment process for community members of
finance committee members to 5/6 meeting.   
Committee Reports
Bylaw Review, Council Goals, Finance Committee, Governance-Organization, and
Legislation, Rules of Procedure ad hoc, and Audit committee reports were
either "in progress" or accepted with little discussion.  The new
Community Resources Committee was omitted on the agenda but they reported
that Schreiber is chair and Pam Vice Chair, and that the committee was
meeting the same week to consider the CPA recommendations in light of the
Master Plan (and to begin revisiting the Master Plan and zoning).

The report of the Outreach, Communications, and Appointments committee was
met with pushback by several Council members (Dumont, Schoen, Pam esp), who
felt the process had not been voted on and yet was already being used.  The
committee is trying to balance privacy concerns for applicants with need for
transparency.  Committee has decided (internally) not to share the
applications of the whole pool, just those they recommend.    Griesemer
suggested that there will be further discussion at a future meeting.   
Town Council Comments
Some dissatisfaction that most subcommittee meetings have been during the
day, which limits pool of possible participants and attendees.  Will revisit.
CRC will meet occasionally as "Committee of the whole" so that non-member
Councilors can have more significant input. 
Reports of Finance Committee Meetings
 The League Observer at each meeting was Janice Ratner
Meeting of May 7, 2019
Board members present: Steinberg, Griesemer, Bahl-Milne, Schoen. Absent: Pam.  
The Finance Committee is reviewing the FY2020 Budget, section by section,
hearing from departments and asking questions before making recommendations
to the entire Council.
The Police Chief and two captains spoke about the Police Facility, the Police
department, Communications, and Animal Welfare.  There are 49 officers in the
Police Department.  Currently, there are 4 vacancies.  Ninety percent of the
budget is in personnel.  Issues discussed included marijuana, especially
about how impairment can be recognized, and the homeless population.
The Veteran Services department and budget were discussed by the director.
He explained how the district composed of 11 cities and towns functioned with
regard to assisting veterans and their families.
The Fire Chief and two assistant fire chiefs spoke about the fire and
emergency services that they provide.  They explained the three types of
forces in the department - the regular force, a student force and a call
force.  They no longer have a contract with Hadley which reduces some of the
pressure on the department.
The Leisure Services and Supplemental Education (LSSE) Department Director
and Operations Manager spoke about the department and said that the budget
has been reduced 5% through a reorganization which also makes it more
efficient.  There is $170,000 available for scholarships to be used for LSSE
programs.  They also spoke about the Pools and the Cherry Hill Golf Course.

Public comment: No public present, just another Councilor and the League 
Finance Committee Meeting of May 9, 2019
Board Members Present: All (Steinberg, Schoen, Pam, Griesemer, Bahl-Milne)
The Finance Committee is continuing its review of the FY20 budget sections.
The School Superintendent and Finance Director presented information about
the Elementary School budget.  This budget is $23,838,854, an increase of
$596,489 or 2.6%, compared to FY19.  Most adjustments are driven by
enrollment changes, not financial issues. The largest percent of the budget
is for regular education, with special education the next highest. Health
insurance for current and retired employees make up 18% of the budget. This
is in addition to pensions. Changes have been made to the health insurance
plans to better control costs. Charter tuition reimbursement from the state
continues to be a problem.  Sharing a procurement officer and changing the
food service to in-house have also helped control costs. Guidelines and
timelines for future budgets should be established.
The Library Director presented information about the Jones Library FY20
budget.  This budget is $2,655,699, a slight decrease from FY19.  The
municipal share is $2,043,302, a 2.5% increase from last year.  This accounts
for 75% of the Jones budget.  The Jones is a combined public, private entity.
   It uses interest from its endowment, fund raising, and other sources to
support its budget.  The Trustees voted to use a 4.6% draw from the endowment
for FY20 but would like to keep the draw rate at 4%. Two positions remain
unfilled.  The Friends of the Jones and Jones, Inc have merged their
Resident appointments to the Finance Committee were discussed briefly.  The
Councilors would like to have these appointments made by July 1, 2019.

Public comment: None.  Only a Library Trustee and the League Observer were
present in addition to staff and Finance Committee members
Finance Committee Meeting of May 14, 2019
Board members present:  All
Several sections of the FY20 Budget were presented and discussed including General Government (Council, Town Manager, Finance Department, Information Technology, Town Clerk's Office, Facilities), Planning, Conservation, and Inspections. The Town Clerk's office has an increased workload due to its responsibilities for Council work, e.g. taking minutes at meetings. They will be involved with the Federal census next year in addition to overseeing two elections and instituting Ranked Choice Voting. Licensing has been moved to the Inspections Department.
Finance Committee Meeting of May 16, 2019
Board Members Present: All
The Superintendent of Public Works presented the Department of Public
Works and Enterprise Fund proposed FY20 budgets.  The Public Works budget is
a level services budget with increases due to personnel costs.  He spoke
about the various permits under which this department works.  These include
water management, water conservation, waste water discharge, and storm water.
   Maintenance of facilities is a concern as is finding and keeping employees.
Road work projects include those on East Pleasant Street and West Bay Road.
Snow and ice and cemeteries sections were discussed. The Water and Sewer
Funds both have 10 cent per 100 cu ft rate increases in their budgets.  These
funds are in good condition.  The Solid Waste Fund continues to be a
challenge.  The Transportation Fund has a $53,000 surplus.  Tickets are down.
   The April Nelson-Nygard report provided information about costs of building
a parking facility.  It would cost $40,000/space to build and $275/month in
revenue to pay for that cost.  Current revenue/space would not cover this
Public comment: None
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.
Some items from LWVMA's May League Leader Update

Lobby Days at the State House
June 3, Gun Legislation Lobby Day for LWVMA and its partners in the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. Meet at 9 a.m., at the Great Hall. Look for Exec Director Michelle Kweder near the Great Hall Entrance. Register here.

June 5, Lobby for Election Day Registration. Meet at 10 a.m. in Rm 428 for presentation about the bills and some how-to-lobby tips, then visit your own Rep and Senator.
 Planning for the 2020 Census
 LWVMA is encouraging local Leagues to join their local Complete Count Committee. For contact info for the Amherst and Pioneer Valley Committees, click here.  
To read one of the LWVMA Newsletters, click here
In case you didn't read all of  President Chris Carson's recent letter, here's the request at the end:

We are asked to contact our Representative, asking him to cosponsor and support H.R. 1923. the Women's History and Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Quarter Dollar Coin Program Act.

This is a bipartisan measure to honor women in every state by proposing a series of quarters, beginning in 2021, that would feature a 19th Amendment icon on one side, while on the other a noteworthy woman, no longer living,would be highlighted. Each state and U.S. territory would select one of its outstanding women to be honored.

The legislation is sponsored by Reps Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16). It parallels the popular State Quarters Program and the current National Parks Quarters Program.
E-bulletin Staff and Contributors
The Editor of the LWVAmherst e-bulletin, Susan Millinger, can be contacted here. The Associate Editor is Trish Farrington; Janice Ratner proofreads the issues; Kay Fite checks the links. Contributors to the May 2019 e-bulletin include LWVA members Nancy DiMattio and Adrienne Terrizzi, as well as Observer Corps reporters Barbara Pearson and Janice Ratner. With thanks to Kay Jones, the organizer of "Personal Change through Climate Change" for information on the event.
This monthly message is for anyone interested in the League, not just members. If you know someone who might be interested, forward this message and invite them to subscribe themselves, using the link below.