Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

November 20, 2019
In This Issue:
Elayne Berger, At-Large
Nancy Dimattio, Recorder
Trish Farrington, Publicity
Bonnie Isman, Voter Service
Ann Kieser, At-Large
Phyllis Lehrer, Membership
Susan Millinger, E-bulletin
Deanna Pearlstein, Event Organization
Janice Ratner, Treasurer
Adrienne Terrizzi, Spokesperson

Dec. 2, 10 a.m., Hearing on the Safe Communities Act H3573/S1401, Garner Auditorium, State House.  
Dec. 2, 1:00-3 p.m., Steering Committee Meeting at 81 Stagecoach Road. All members are welcome, but please let the chair know you plan to attend.
Dec. 8, 3:00-5:00 p.m., Annual Holiday Party, 197 Pondview Drive. ALL WELCOME.  
Feb. 15, 2020, Birthday Party for LWVUS: 100 Years old on February 14! This year's speaker is our State Senator, Jo Comerford. Save the date!   
June 25-28, 2020, LWV 54th National Convention, Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill & Liaison, Washington D.C. 
Note: the LWVA Book Group does not meet in

To subscribe to the e-bulletin, visit 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 web page is currently under reconstruction by our technologically-savvy and overworked webmaster, Kathy Campbell. Be patient, please!

LOOKING FOR people willing to take pictures occasionally at a LWVA event. Contact the editor.

STEERING COMMITTEE:A message from this month's chair, Deanna Pearlstein
As I was reminiscing about the League before our Round Robin discussion at Applewood not long ago, I realized my perspective of the League is a little different. I loved hearing all about the meetings, actions, studies and involvement in the town our members pursued in the past. I joined the League in the early 1980's after Janice Ratner invited me to an Opening Meeting. Eva Cashdan was President when she asked if I would be in charge of Meeting Organization. Doris Holden had held the position for a long time. She was very organized and presented me with a picnic basket filled with extension cords, large cream pitchers, a door stopper, and some small LWV signs, etc. I was terrified. After all, Doris and her partner Florence Bert were pros at this.
In those days Legislative parties were held at Seymour and Harriett Shapiro's on Lincoln Avenue. We'd socialize in the kitchen and then meet in the living room to hear Stan, Ellen, John Olver, and others speak. Lois Dethier always made this incredible salmon mousse which everyone loved. For several years Mary and Ed Sunderland hosted the Holiday Parties at their home, also on Lincoln Avenue. They had to get special permission from the Police Department so we could park along the street. They had a beautiful home. They would push the dining room table back so we had more room. They lined the food table with poinsettias. I remember Ed would go get wine from his own collection to offer anyone who would enjoy some. Even board meetings could be very special. Once, Diana Romer held a luncheon at her home. She served an amazing Panzanella. The recipe came from her family's vineyard in California. I think we enjoyed some of the wine from there, also. Lucy Benson once entertained the board with a catered dinner. It was very special. There may have been a speaker, but I remember it being catered in a beautiful home. See it pays to be on the board or SC today.
Later, Carol Rothery held the Legislative Receptions at her home. She loved to entertain and had a large living room. She taught me the art of table toppers - one cloth over another. She also held new member meetings at her home as did Cynthia Brubaker and Kathy Vorwerk. Cynthia even dressed as Elizabeth Cady Stanton for one of those meetings at Barbara Ford's home. Our birthday celebrations began later. Eva Cashdan thought of this wonderful tradition. At first, they were held at Hickory Ridge Golf Club for many years. The buffet luncheon was delicious and the views of the snow out the large windows were lovely.
The largest party I remember was our 75th Birthday celebration held in 2014. It was a catered luncheon at the Top of the Campus at UMass. There was a large cake, flowers for each table, and of course our famous League History Boards. Cynthia and Kathy were co-Presidents then. A group of past presidents shared their memories. We also helped celebrate the town's 250th birthday, once again with a HUGE cake from Atkins with the town logo. This and our 80th Birthday celebration last year, were both held at the Amherst Woman's Club. I've come to know your special recipes and styles. So many of you have so graciously opened your homes to us over the years for many parties and events. I know we are all thankful for these memories and friendships. I look forward to seeing you at Phyllis Lehrer's home for our next Holiday Party on December 8 from 3:00 -5:00.

Happy Thanksgiving! Deanna Pearlstein

The Amherst Town Council recently unanimously decided to accept the climate action goals unanimously recommended by the Energy and Climate Action Committee, which are as follows:
· 50% reduction in Town-wide greenhouse gas emissions below FY2016 levels by 2030, with an interim goal to meet 25% reductions by 2025.
· Be carbon neutral no later than 2050.
· Be prepared to achieve carbon neutrality as early as 2030 by planning and advocating for state and federal action and taking advantage of technological advances.

This decision accords with the Climate Emergency Resolution unanimously passed at the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) 2019 Convention by the delegates of Massachusetts local Leagues, which concludes by calling on the LWVMA Board and local Leagues "to advocate for declarations of 'Climate Emergency' and urgent relevant action by state and local governments."

Don't Forget that
Dues are Due by December 2!! 
Please return your check with the membership form.
Questions? Contact the Membership Chair 


  Meet with old friends and make new ones.  
Nibble --or gorge-- on lots of good food. 
Drop in at 197 Pondview Drive
between 3 and 5 p.m.  
on Sunday, December 8th.

  LWVA Task Force on the Complete Census Count in Amherst

The Census is Coming! Everyone in town needs to be counted: young, old, citizens, non-citizens, legal immigrants, undocumented immigrants. All responses are confidential, and despite the threats of 'revealing' undocumented illegals, the Supreme Court ruled against the question of 'status.'  
Why is a complete count in our best interests? State funding, congressional district allotments and more depend upon an accurate representation of every resident in our town.
You can help the Complete Census Count effort!
Your LWVA is organizing a Task Force and joining with the LWVMA and Complete Count Census Committees to create awareness in our town and to play a key role in informing residents of the importance of and their participation in the 2020 Census.  
LWVA is joining in the local and statewide effort to make sure everyone is counted. With Amherst as the 9th hardest community in the State in which to count the population-- due to our large student population and other hard-to-count residents-- we'll be combining our voter registration and outreach efforts beginning in January 2020.   
For LWVUS's census action toolkit, click here. #countmein 
Click here to join the effort! 
Pocket Constitutions
  Pocket Constitutions in both English and Spanish 
versions have been purchased for distribution at our LWVA events and programs. A number of them have been given to the Jones Library for distribution. It is good to report that they are being snatched up; LWVA will be needing to buy more soon.


Many thanks to all the League volunteers who made it possible to hear from the candidates at October's Candidates Forum in the Bangs Center and in the Election Guide printed in the Amherst Bulletin. On Election Day, we had a great team of poll runners covering all the precincts and reporting election results to our LWVA volunteers at Amherst Media -- getting the word out about the winning candidates for School Committee. 
Our next actions will be reissuing the directory of Amherst's elected officials "They Represent You" in a new format, voter registration at Amherst Regional High School, and supporting the Town's Complete Count Census Committee. What makes Amherst the 9th hardest community to count in Massachusetts? Why does Amherst lose $2,372 in federal and state funding for every person who isn't counted?  You can learn the answers by visiting  Get Counted | Amherst, MA - Official Website  If you would like to get involved, please email Bonnie Isman or call 413-256-1021.

Be informed. Vote informed. 
Bonnie Isman, Voter Service Chair
'Byline with Stan Rosenberg'

Our League's weekly issue-oriented local government public affairs program, 'Byline' airs every Friday night at 8 PM and repeats on Monday at 6 PM on local Ch. 17.

If you've missed our most recent broadcasts. our year-long series with
host Stan Rosenberg continues to follow the transitions of our new
town government under the Amherst Home Rule Charter, our elected
councilors, new Council Committees and the major issues facing
the Town.

Pictured below left, Stephanie Ciccarello, Amherst Sustainability Coordinator; below right, Ranked Choice Voting Committee Chair Tanya Liese and Vice Chair Jesse Crafts-Finch

Right: Mary Beth Ogulewicz, newly appointed
Senior Services Director, with host Stan

These programs and all others
that your League has produced as
a community public service
since January 6
are available on demand
and also on YouTube.

Recent Events: On Legislation and Legislators
How to Talk So Your Legislators Will Listen
     Do you get emails from a variety of sources asking you to get in touch with your legislators? I do, and I think, "What is the best way to communicate?"  "What should I say?" "What's the best timing?" "What good will it do?"

     Thanks to the presentation by Nancy Brumback, chair of the League Legislative Action Committee, the audience of community and league members, including me, learned the answers to these questions.   This October 19th presentation was sponsored by the Jones Library and our League.

     The best way to communicate with legislators is, in order of effectiveness, a visit to them in Boston or to their local offices.  If that isn't feasible then email them or lastly, phone them.  You need to give your name, the bill number, what action you want them to take, and reasons for your views.  Sharing a personal experience will reinforce your ideas.   Be brief, polite, and send a thank you.  If a bill is coming up soon make a one-minute lobbying phone call.  Identify yourself, give your address, and say why you are calling.

     Every year more than 6,000 bills come before the legislature so our representatives need to know what we want them to do.   We must educate them by asking for a specific action.  I often think, "Why bother?  I know they already agree with me."  But it is important for them to hear our opinions, to know there are others who support them, and to be able to say to their colleagues, "I heard from 100 of my constituents and they think..."

     As Nancy emphasized, "The only way our reps will know is if you tell them!"  To me that is the most compelling reason for communication.
Nancy gave us useful links and information:

Massachusetts Legislature website:

To find how to contact your legislator:
     *click on legislator name: Gives name, room number, email address, phone number, and if you click on them, description of district, committees they are on, bills they are sponsoring and cosponsoring, biography

For Information on bills:
Click Bills & Laws tab and type in number or key words.  Information available on bills, sponsor, text, committee assignment, history of actions on bill, co-sponsor.
Comerford explains climate bills
A very popular item.
Climate Conversation: Legislators Advocate for Climate Bills
 at the Regional Climate Conversation in Northampton, organized and hosted by the Northampton area LWV.
Info on the bills discussed in a later issue. 
Dowling explaining land use and solar issues 
Moderator Polan of Northampton, Sen Comerford, Rep Sabadosa, scientist Dowling.

Rep. Domb describes Community Choice Aggregation 3,0

Amherst contingent with legislators.

Election Events
Candidates Forum, October 28

          After the flurry of last year's Town Council elections this year's presentation for the November 5 election seemed like a breeze.  The town council members were elected for three years, most people have figured out their new districts vs precincts, and only the school committee had contested positions.  However, the League, whose mission is to educate voters for every situation, followed through by orchestrating a well organized Candidates Forum and publishing a comprehensive  Election Guide.

     The Forum held on Monday, October 28, at the large room of the Bangs Center included all those who were running for office--opposed or not--and all were invited to give a brief introduction and make a statement.  These included the Amherst Housing Authority and the Oliver Smith Will Elector.  Library Trustees were asked the question, "What do you consider the most important features of the renovation expansion of the Jones Library?"  The only contested race was for the School Committee and those nominees were asked, " In your opinion what would be the advantages of building one large school for 650 children or two smaller schools in their present site?"
     The evening's well attended forum ran very smoothly, from the room setup, to placing the name placards in front of each candidate as they changed groups, to the experienced timers who kept it all flowing.  Of course, we League members have the know-how to manage this kind of event, and the committee, headed by Bonnie Isman, thought of everything.  Of course, we did have great support.  Rebecca Shannon from the Northampton League was an excellent moderator.  Mary Beth Ogulewicz the new director of the Senior Center arranged all the seating--even before we got there!  Amherst Media as usual did a quiet, skilled job of taping.

    The audience members were attentive and interested and continued conversations as the evening ended.  Every candidate expressed appreciation to the League for holding the Forum and giving them the opportunity to be heard.  Thanks for the compliments, but we were just doing our job!
Foreground: Maija Lillya, Jerry Brubaker
Election Coverage, November 5

LWV poll runners began calling in precinct totals for the
sole competitive School Committee race by 8:14 PM. Amherst Media
scrolled the results as precincts continued reporting until 8:47 PM,
when totals and winning candidates for School Committee were reported.

Results continued to be scrolled on Ch. 12, 15, & 17. Shout out thanks
to our runners, to Faith Gregory, Director of Programming at Amherst
Media for technical set-up, Maija Lillya, Jerry Brubaker and Adrienne
Conversation about LWVA in earlier years, October 27

On a rainy Sunday afternoon, thirty-four people, mostly of whom had joined the League (in Amherst or elsewhere) between the 1950s and the early 80s, exchanged reminiscences about those earlier years. Why had individuals joined the League? What particular experiences stood out in their memories? How would they assess those years?

From the free-flowing discussion, we learned that many, knowing no-one, joined soon after they arrived in Amherst accompanying husbands newly hired by UMass. In the League they made friends (often life-long) and had opportunities to use minds otherwise absorbed by bringing up small children. Most soon held offices, persuaded by older members that small children would not be a hindrance. The rewards of participating in study groups, if possible held in the homes of those with large playpens, were frequently mentioned. Also important was identifying and then working on Town concerns, whether bringing the Jones Library to professional standards, working to support a needed additional elementary school, or convincing the Town to fly the U.N. flag on the Common on U.N. Day.

Registering voters, marching in parades, publishing information about Town government were regular parts of Amherst League life. (We heard that They Represent You was a "sacred text" in the days before you could look up town officials on a website.) We learned about the creation of the Book Group and of the February LWV Birthday Lunch, and of the salvation of the threatened Book Sale. And much more.

A rich League history emerged from this entertaining conversation. The long-time members expressed appreciation for this opportunity to get together; the newer members enjoyed the stories and the opportunity to witness the conversation. Perhaps we will have another such opportunity. The event was organized by the Centennial Commemoration Committee. Thanks to facilitator Bonnie Isman, to Alice Swift, who coordinated the event at Applewood, and the members of the committee.

Austin Sarat on "Can We Save Democracy and the Rule of Law? Is Impeachment the Solution?"November 11

As a political scientist, Amherst College Professor Austin Sarat's professional interests are shared by the League, and the League provided him an informed and interested audience. Though his topic was gloomy, Sarat presented his ideas in an entertaining as well as thought-provoking way.

Sarat spoke of growing contemporary concern about the health of American democracy. The recent decline (since the 70s) in commitment to democracy and the rule of law is evidenced by such phenomena as low turnout at elections. Another kind of evidence is polls showing lessening belief in democratic institutions (such as accepting the results of elections), and decreasing trust in government.

Sarat suggested that the underlying causes of this political apathy and disengagement, which he finds most prevalent among younger people, include income inequality and political polarization. Too few nowadays think "it's more important to play by the rules than to get my own way." So the answer to the second question in his title is clearly a resounding "No!"

We were urged to be annoying at Thanksgiving dinners,
urging younger relations to take their civic responsibilities 
seriously. That's a way we can play a part in developing
a positive answer to the first question of his talk's title.

Energy Committee Becomes Sustainability and Climate Action Committee 
The LWVA Sustainability and Climate Action and Committee (formerly The Energy Committee) held its second meeting since regrouping this fall.  With the global climate crisis ever present in our minds, the committee is focused on 4 general areas:
- Energy efficiency
    - how can we use less energy?
   - how can we encourage homeowners to take advantage of Mass Save?
    - how can landlords be encouraged to improve energy efficiency in rental units?
  - Can public transportation be more widely used?
- Solar panels
    - where should they be sited locally?
- Resiliency and Climate Justice
   - should the Town of Amherst establish a tree planting goal, for example?
    - are there locations for more community gardens such as at Hickory Ridge?
- Sustainability
    - review the Town's Recycling and Solid Waste Committee Master Plan 2015
- advise the Town as to recommendations to follow up on from that Plan?
The Committee will review the LWVUS and LWVMA Climate Action positions in order to ensure that our positions are in line with other LWV relevant positions.

In the Phase One Outreach Report of the Town's Energy and Climate Action Committee, the members of this committee are Stakeholder #1, interviewed by Darcy Dumont. You can find a summary of its comments on pp. 28-20 in the Stakeholder Interviews. Members were expressing personal views, not speaking for the Amherst League.

Information on the third meeting, on November 18th will be available later. The next meeting date is.....  Please email Nancy DiMattio if you would like to participate in this upcoming meeting, or if you would like to receive the minutes of our meetings.

Nancy DiMattio
Health Care Committee: Monthly Report (Oct-Nov, 2019)
Barbara Pearson, chair of the Health Care Committee, is also a member of the steering committee for the LWV-US Health Care Reform Network (HCR4US).  The network runs advocacy events at the national convention every other year, and meets on a Zoom call once a month. (League members interested in joining the call can contact Barbara for the link.) In October, LWV-HCR4US hosted a special call with national health care advocate Wendell Potter.
Wendell Potter was for many years vice president of corporate communications for the health insurance company CIGNA, until a turning point around 2008 when he became painfully aware of the harm his industry was causing. He resigned his high-powered post and now speaks out to expose health insurance industry (mal)practices.  For example, he has testified before Congress in the run up to the Affordable Care Act and is a frequent commentator on TV and in print.  
The video of the talk with LWV members is here  (note: 2 minutes of extra noise around Minute 10).
This year, Potter and Richard Master (producer of the Fixit movies that we often show) founded a new national group to further advocacy among businesses to provide resources and support for businesses eager to get relief from the burden of providing health care to their employees.   If League members have a business that provides insurance to employees, or know of one where they have some influence, please contact Barbara or another member of the Healthcare Committee 
Inter-League Connecticut River Basin Committee: Source-to-Sea Cleanup
The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC)'s  23rd annual Source-to-Sea-Cleanup was again very successful in retrieving tons of trash from the river and its tributaries. CRC achieved the highest totals ever: 3,651 volunteers picked up from the ground, and  hauled out of the water, 66.9 tons! 162 different groups participated in the four states involved (CT, MA, VT, NH) including the League of Women Voters of Franklin County.

General categories of trash included construction materials, styrofoam, electronics & appliances, automotive parts, pharmaceuticals, scrap metal, mattresses (51), furniture, and toys.
A partial list of the trash items removed includes: 1,208 tires, 30,645 beverage containers (plastic, aluminum, glass), 3,950 paint cans & bottles, bathtub, wheelbarrow, 2 kitchen sinks, 
typewriter, 4 TVs, 2 computers, 2 refrigerators, 2 air conditioners, hot tub, 2 washing machines.

For the new cleanup site of the Fort River, 100 volunteers cleaned up at 12 sites. They removed 800 pounds of trash. (Two members of LWVA's Interleague Connecticut River Committee, Susan Millinger & Elizabeth Davis, were part of that cleanup crew). The Fort River is the longest Connecticut River tributary without any dams.
Elizabeth Davis 



 Patricia Comfort is the new LWVMA Executive Director. Pattye has spent her career working in the public interest, most recently serving as Executive Director of the Women's Bar Association and Women's Bar Foundation of Massachusetts. She joins LWVMA with extensive experience managing a nonprofit, collaborating with members and Board, and in education and advocacy. Comfort holds a B.A. in political science
from Boston College and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law.
For more informational about our new ED, see the November League Leader Update and the press release linked there.

Do your legislators have office hours in their in-district offices during Legislative Break, which starts tomorrow and lasts until after New Year's?  If so, LWVMA urges us to visit them and speak about the bills that are important to us. Notice that Nancy Brumback, in the talk reviewed in this ebulletin, says visits to legislators are the most effective way to communicate with them.

According to the November Mass League Action, "Pick your favorites from the list on and particularly include the priority bills from Day on the Hill: Election Day registration, three climate crisis bills, and the ROE Act for reproductive rights." To find the priority bills, click here
then click on the pdf Member's Day on the Hill Packet.

February 5 is the deadline for reporting bills out of committee (or giving them a brief extension.)

As promised in the October ebulletin, materials from the October 26 League Leader Lunch are now available at
Particularly recommended: the description of the new Civics curriculum and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion presentation and discussion. The links are to pdfs; power points (ppts) are also available at the main site.

HEADS UP FOR PROGRAM PLANNING: LWVUS  Proposing a Concurrence an Electoral Systems Position
LWVA should be receiving program planning materials from the national League this month. The LWVUS board has recommended a concurrence on an Electoral Systems position that will be voted on at the national 2020 convention June 25-28. It is a concurrence, not a study; it is a fully-formed position based on the language of many state and local LWV positions which were arrived at following state and local studies.
The proposed position in brief states: Support electoral systems at each level of government that encourage participation, are verifiable and auditable, and enhance representation for all voters.

To read the LWVUS non-partisan article explaining the process of impeachment, click
LWVUS DEI Webinars Continue

LWVUS continues to host a series of webinars on diversity, equity and inclusion in 2019. All League members are invited to participate.  Upcoming Webinars: Nov. 21 Register; and Dec. 19 Register. Recordings and resources from previous webinars are here on the League Management Site. This link offers an excellent review of what aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion LWVUS has been exploring, as well as an opportunity to watch webinars of interest.

E-bulletin Staff and Contributors in November  
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 November 2019 e-bulletin include LWVA members Elizabeth Davis, Nancy DiMattio, Trish Farrington, Bonnie Isman, Barbara Pearson, Deanna Pearlstein, and Adrienne Terrizzi.
 With thanks to the LWVMA's newsletters League Leader Update,and Mass League Action, the editor's sources for most of  the content-- text and all-- of LWVMA & LWVUS NEWS
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.