Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

October 17, 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
Oct. 18, 10 a.m., Energy Committee meeting . Open to all members. See Committee section below for details.
Oct. 19, 3 p.m., How to Talk So Your Legislators Will Listen, talk by Nancy Brumback of LWVMA, Woodbury Room, Jones Library.
Oct. 21, 3 p.m., Book Discussion of Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, at Applewood. For information, contact Phyllis Lehrer, 253-5179.
Oct. 26, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., League Leader Lunch, Worcester. 
Oct. 27, 3:30-5 p.m,  League History: Conversation with Long-time Members, Applewood.  
Oct. 28, 7 p.m., Candidates Forum, the Bangs Center.   
Oct. 30, Abortion Bill Lobby Day, State House.
Nov 2, 2-4:15 p.m.,  Regional Climate Conversation, Smith Vocational and Agricultural School, 80 Locust St., (Rte. 9) Northampton. 
Nov 4, 1- 3 p.m., Steering Committee Meeting, 61 Pondview Drive. All members are welcome, but please let the host know you will be attending. 
Nov 4, 6:45 p.m., Affordable Housing in Amherst: Fall Housing Forum, Unitarian Universalist Social Hall, 121 N. Pleasant St.    
Nov 11, 7-830 p.m.,   Can We Save Democracy and the Rule of Law: Is Impeachment the Solution?, talk by Austin Sarat, Amherst College professor of jurisprudence and political science, Amherst Woman's Club. 
Nov. 18, 3 p.m., Book Discussion of Sisters-in-Law by Linda Hirshman, Ap:plewood.    

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!

A message from this month's chair, Adrienne Terrizzi

As readers of our monthly bulletin know well, our Amherst League is engaged on the many matters of public policy issues confronting us - local, state, national - and demanding our time and our attention. Our priorities include climate and the environment, improved elections and health care, but our policies drive us to support other local policy initiatives as well.

At the same time, we have events that celebrate the LWVA's 80th year as we plan for the 2020 Centennial of the women's suffrage movement and our national (and state!) Leagues' founding. These events are listed in the announcement sections and elsewhere, but I'll highlight a few of our endeavors for the month and these 'not to miss upcoming events:'
  • October 27: showcases our members of many decades in an informal discussion of their recollections of the League in the 50s through the 80s.
  • October 28: Candidates Night must be included, as this fall sees Amherst's first turn at electing ALL members for School Committee, Library Trustees, Amherst Housing Authority, all for  2 year terms, according to terms of the Charter.
  • Nov. 2: The Leagues of Western MA--including Amherst-- are holding a climate action meeting with our State Senator and local Reps.
  • Nov. 4: Affordable Housing Forum that we are Co-sponsoring as members of the Amherst Coalition on Affordable Housing
  • Nov. 5: Local Elections: take a few friends and neighbors to the polls with you, then tune into Amherst Media and watch election results after the polls close at 8 PM. 
More? Yes! We are active members of Amherst's Complete Consensus Count Committee; have established a Task Force on Funding Request; the Energy Committee is ready to recharge; and the Bylaws Review Committee will begin its work this week. Health Care and Local Action for Social Justice continue their important work. 'Byline with Stan Rosenberg,'our weekly presence on Amherst Media, which I have had the honor and privilege to lead on your behalf continues our year-long effort to chronicle the new stewards of town government during Amherst government's year of transformation.

Please contact any Steering Committee member listed in this bulletin if you want to join us for a short term task or to help on any of these committees. We welcome and need your perspectives for a dynamic League.

On behalf of the Steering Committee, our thanks to all of our volunteers and committee members who continue to make our League strive and thrive.
Don't Forget that
Dues are Due 
Please return your check with the membership form.
Questions? Contact the Membership Chair 
        An Invitation to a Conversation

Curious about what the League was doing 40 or more years ago? Come hear--and participate in --a Conversation about LWVA from the 1950s-1980s. Fifteen to twenty members from those years will be joining in a conversation at Applewood on Sunday, October 27, 3:30-5 p.m. Those of us whose memories don't reach that far back are invited to listen, ask questions, and enjoy.

In contacting the invitees, I heard an interesting story about Lucy Benson's husband, who was the first man to join LWVUS. Lucy, then president, and at the podium, had his membership application all filled out and ready to go when the vote was passed to admit men. Lucy told me she won't, alas, be able to join us, but what stories may we hear from other early members?

The event is sponsored by the Centennial Commemoration Committee, as one of a series of events celebrating the League and its history. Look for other celebratory events, including the February Birthday Lunch celebrating the 100th birthday of LWV with speaker State Senator (and League member) Jo Comerford (Feb 15, 2020) and a talk by Barbara Berenson, author of the fascinating and very readable Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement: Revolutionary Reformers (April 5.)  

How to Talk So Your Legislators Will Listen:
October 19, 3 p.m. at the Jones Library's Woodbury Room
Learn the most effective ways to reach your state legislators and make your voice heard on issues that are important to you in this non-partisan presentation by Nancy Brumback.  Learn at what point in the legislation process is communication from constituents the most effective.  Discover why it is important to contact legislators even when you know they agree with you.
Nancy Brumback is currently Co-Chair for Program and Action of LWVMA's State Board. She also chairs the Legislative Action Committee, overseeing LWVMA's activity at the State House, and represents LWVMA on coalitions to combat voter suppression and reform election laws with such organizations as Common Cause, ACLU and MassVOTE.
The Amherst League of Women Voters is a co-sponsor of this event, a program in the Civics & Democracy Series funded by the Friends of the Jones Libraries and the Woodbury Fund.
Free and open to the public.  For more information, please contact Janet Ryan at 413/259-3223.

Affordable Housing in Amherst-Opportunities for Growth: Fall Housing Forum
Monday, November 4, 6:45 p.m. in the Unitarian Universalist Social Hall, 121 North Pleasant St. Guest Speakers: State Sen. Jo Comerford and State Rep. Mindy Domb. Sponsored by the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust, and the Amherst Affordable Housing Advocacy Coalition, of which the LWVAmherst is a member. 
Questions? Contact Nat Malloy, Senior Planner for the Town of Amherst at (413) 259-3322 or email. 

Voter Service  Events Oct 28, Nov 1 and 5 
Notes from the Voter Service Chair
Service Opportunities: Runners needed for Amherst Election Night, Nov 5. 
Contact Voter Service Chair if you can help 
Be Informed! Meet local candidates at the Candidates Forum on Monday, October 28 at the Bangs Center starting at 7 p.m.  School Committee and Library Trustee candidates will introduce themselves and answer questions in the Large Activity Room. Remember, there is a contest for seats on the School Committee this year. Both boards are facing critical decisions on building projects that will have an impact on Amherst for decades to come. Candidates for Housing Authority and Elector, Oliver Smith Will are also invited to introduce themselves to voters.  Becky Shannon from the Northampton League will moderate the evening which is also being videotaped by Amherst Media for re-broadcast. 
Don't miss the League's annual Election Guide which is scheduled to be printed in the November 1 edition of the Amherst Bulletin. School Committee and Library Trustee candidates describe their priorities for the next two years in brief statements. The Guide also explains voting options (absentee voting, write-in candidates) and provides a list of polling places for new voters.  Jones Library has agreed to display sample ballots starting October 21 at a table that is also open for campaign literature. Look for the ballots in the front hallway.  The Town Clerk's office has sample ballots online here and links to Candidate websites, etc. here.
Vote Informed on Tuesday, November 5! Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The next election for local officials will be in 2021. We need volunteers to call in results for School Committee candidates from every precinct at 8:00 p.m. Amherst Media will report the preliminary vote count in a scroll at the bottom of the screen on all three local cable channels. If you can help, please call Bonnie 413-256-1021 or email me.   Thanks!

Regional Climate Conversation, November 2: solar_panels_3.jpg
What role can western Massachusetts play in reaching the state climate goals for 2050?
The Northampton Area League is planning a regional conversation with legislators, scientists, and planners to identify "next steps" toward reaching the Massachusetts climate goals for 2050. The focus will be on developing solar energy in western MA.
Join State Sen Jo Comerford. State Rep Lindsay Sabadosa, and Zara Dowling, Research Fellow, US Mass Department of Environmental Conservation and others,
Sat, Nov 2, 2:00-4:15, Smith Vocational and Agricultural School, 80 Locust t (Rte 9), Northampton
For further information, watch Northampton's webpage or Facebook page or contact Nancy Polan. 
'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.

We began this year-long series on January 6 to inform residents and to help them understand the evolving structure and functions of our new form of town government during its transitional first year. Watch Stan share his political insight interviewing town and state government leaders, or choose from the 40 programs we've already taped, such as David Ziomek, or Council's Hanneke and Ross updates on the Governance, Organization & Legislation (GOL), one of the five Council Standing Committees. If you've missed any of our shows, you can view them on demand at and on YouTube.
David Ziomek, Asst Town Manager; Director of Conservation & Development

 Pictured at right: From the Town Council Standing Committee GOL, its Past Chair & At-Large Councilor Mandy Jo  Hanneke and District 4 Councilor Evan Ross


Pictured below: Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Chair John Hornik & Executive Director Valley Community Development  Corporation Joanne Campbell - Friday, Oct. 11, Monday, Oct. 14

  BYLINE programs in next two weeks:
 LWVA members Barbara Pearson and Diana Stein, LWVA Health Care and Medicare for All Area Hub - Friday, Nov 1 and Nov 4 (pictured below left.)

Pictured below right, Amherst's Director of Human Resources Evelyn Rivera- Riffenburg - Friday, Oct. 18, Monday, Oct. 21 (Pictured below left,)

: barbara rivera-riffenburg

              Also to be shown in coming weeks:

Sustainability Coordinator Stephanie Ciccarello
Ranked Choice Voting Commission Chair Tanya Liese and Vice Chair Jesse Crafts-Finch
Community Resources Committee Chair Evan Ross and Vice Chair Dorothy Pam

Remember that programs air on  local television station Ch. 17, Fridays at 8 p.m. and Mondays at 6 p.m. For content descriptions, check out, like and share on our FB page: Amherst League of Women Voters.
Recent Events
Opening Meeting : Too Good To Be Missed

Attentive audience.
At Opening Meeting an engaged group of about 50 enjoyed a presentation by Stuart Naifeh, a voting rights lawyer, currently senior counsel at Demos. The audience was curious about Demos; in case you are, too, here's its website. In brief, it is a think tank whose main purpose is well-expressed in this quotation from its website: "The freedom to vote must be protected. Money in politics must be reduced. The democratic process must reflect our diverse electorate. Demos is committed to creating an inclusive democracy."

Demos, we learned, has a small staff, so works locally with groups that share its goals. Given their shared focus on voting rights, Demos has often worked with the League. Demos goes where it has the ability to gain the most voters their rights, not where partisan politics might benefit.

Good-sized group
Naifeh talked about the different varieties of voter suppression, which produces in the U.S. the lowest voter turnout in the developed world. Asked how Massachusetts fares, he commented that the annual town/city census does not meet federal rules preventing keeping people off the rolls. Naifeh also referred to the situation in Springfield, which John Bonifaz talked to us about several years ago, when too few polling places, poll workers, and machines created long lines which turned away people with jobs to go to.

Our speaker was very open to questions, and given that his topic is near and dear to LWV hearts, there were a lot of questions as well as comments from LWV members with related experience. Naifeh's knowledge is so interesting and relevant to us that it was generally felt that we should invite him back.

Source to Sea Cleanup, September 27
Cleanup at Fort River.

On a beautiful autumn Saturday morning, 100-150 volunteers converged on Groff Park in Amherst for the Fort River Watershed's section of the Connecticut River Conservancy's Source to Sea Cleanup.  Armed with large plastic bags, big white buckets, gloves, poison ivy ointment (!), Susan Millinger and Elizabeth Davis set off on the Emily Dickinson Trail. The trail goes along the edge of the Fort River until it intersects with the Norwottuck Rail Trail. The good news was that this trail was in pristine condition with nary a piece of trash in sight. The bad news was that our bags were empty! We made up for that by walking back to Groff Park along Mill Lane where we quickly filled our bags. Back at the park we emptied our bags onto a large tarp where several young men were sorting the trash into piles - glass bottles, aluminum and tin cans, plastics, balls of various sizes, metal objects, and one large porcelain sink. It is amazing what things people discard along the roads and other trails.
More on this story when the complete tally will be made for the thousands of volunteers and hundreds of cleanup sites from the river's source in northern New Hampshire along the Connecticut River and its tributaries to the sea at Long Island Sound. Stay tuned....

For more information go to the Fort River Watershed's website or the Conservancy's website:  or contact Elizabeth Davis at

2020 Census : Report on the Oct 10 meeting; info on Census
The meeting on the 2020 Census was held at Town Hall on October 10. Speakers included Mindy Domb, Rep. Paul Mark (House Committee on Redistricting), and Georgia Lowe (US Census Bureau).

The importance of getting a complete count of every person in the US was emphasized. The count is the means of determining how much federal funding comes into one's community. More than $675 billion in federal funds is distributed to states and communities based on the census count. That money is spent on schools, public works, roads, hospitals and other vital programs. The count also determines congressional representation and how many seats each state gets. Based on population shifts from the census count, state officials redraw boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts.

In mid-March every household will receive by mail a letter with an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census. Everyone will have the option of responding online, by mail or by phone. This is the first year an online response is possible. In rural areas or areas not likely to get an online response, a paper questionnaire will be included with that invitation letter. In the absence of a response, reminder letters or postcards will be sent several times if necessary. If there is no response by April 20-27 a final reminder will be sent before there is a follow up in person by a Census worker.
All responses are safe, secure and protected by federal law. Your answers can be used for statistics ONLY and in no other way. Responses cannot be used by a government agency or court - not by the FBI, CIA, DHS, or ICE.

Census workers will be needed for a variety of jobs. One can apply online or by phone 1-855-562-2020. The pay is $18 per hour.

Rosemary Kofler

Energy Committee Regrouping 
The Amherst Town Energy and Climate Action Committee wanted a group of League members to serve as one of the focus groups they have been meeting with to hear what environmental issues Amherst residents are interested in seeing the town emphasize. Nancy DiMattio, the Steering Committee liaison for matters environmental, convened the members of the Energy Committee and a few others focused on the Climate Emergency to meet with Darcy Dumont on October 1.

As a result of that meeting, the energy committee is meeting on October 18th to regroup, and in light of the climate emergency, perhaps rename and refocus. If you are interested in joining us, we will meet this Friday at 10 a.m.  Contact the host, please, if you intend to come. Email  Nancy diMattio or call 413-256-0809.
Health Care for All
Healthcare Committee members Diana Stein and Barbara Pearson spoke to the Amherst Club at their October 8 meeting at the Bistro63 on North Pleasant St in Amherst.  They managed to streamline their presentation to 15 minutes, and still cover their topic: the major arguments in favor of "Improved Medicare for All for Massachusetts."  Diana presented the social justice and historical overview, while Barbara concentrated on the cost benefits.   
The slides, the script, a handout and (so far) one of the references is in a shared folder on Barbara's Google Drive.  You can access them with this link:   

Abortion Bill Lobby Day -- and what you can do at home to support the ROE Act 
The ROE Act coalition is planning a lobby day at the State House Wednesday, Oct. 30, in support of H3320 / S1209   An Act to remove obstacles and expand abortion access (which is commonly known as the ROE Act.)  Look for more details on LWVMA's  Facebook page closer to the date. LWVMA is part of this coalition and supports this bill to expand the circumstances when an abortion after 24 weeks is allowed to include fatal fetal anomalies. The bill also removes the requirement that pregnant teens have the approval of a parent or judge to obtain an abortion and establishes safety net coverage for abortion for people excluded from MassHealth. 

You can also help by contacting your legislators and telling them you and the League support this bill, even if you have contacted them before. The opposition to this bill continues to flood the State House with misleading information.

LWVMA Board Votes to Supports Two Ballot Question Initiatives

The petition to implement ranked choice voting in the state, and the Constitutional amendment to restore the right of incarcerated prisoners to vote will both be supported. The League's name will appear as a supporter of those two efforts, and we encourage local Leagues and individuals to participate in the signature-gathering process, perhaps with petitions at your fall events. Petitions must be filed by early November, so now is the time to circulate them! 

For information on working on the ranked choice voting ballot initiative, go to Voter Choice Massachusetts ballot question website.  

For information on working on the prisoner voting issue, click on MassPower at EmancipationInitiative website

Information about Hearings on Legislation
LWVMA will post future hearings when its specialists will testify in person on its Facebook page , so you can check what's coming up. If there is a bill you are particularly interested in, please ask the specialist to let you know when a hearing is scheduled by clicking here  LWVMA specialists appreciate having League members back them up by attending hearings.
Invitation to a Musical about Women's Rights, Needham, Nov 3
Needham League is inviting League members to the musical We Did It for You:Women's Journey Through History. Written by Thea Iberall, with music by Oscar-winning songwriter Paul Williams, the play has been performed throughout Massachusetts in churches, museums, libraries and theaters since 2017. Needham League is bringing it to Needham for a special matinee showing in its Town Hall, Nov 3 at 3.p.m.
According to the invitation, "The play follows a high school student whose history project requires her to determine who has done the most for the women of today, and she learns the answer from the women [of U.S. history] themselves."  For information and to purchase tickets, see Needham's  website. Info about the play is available  here. 

LWVUS Census Action Plan
LWVUS offers a one-page guide on how to think through getting out the count. Check out this new resource:   Get Out the Count: Mapping Out a Plan.

LWVUS DEI Webinars

LWVUS continues to host a series of webinars on diversity, equity and inclusion in 2019. All League members are invited to participate.  Upcoming Webinars: Oct. 30 Register; 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 October  
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 September 2019 e-bulletin include LWVA members Elizabeth Davis, Nancy diMattio, Bonnie Isman, Rosemary Kofler, Barbara Pearson, and Adrienne Terrizzi.
 With thanks to the LWVMA's newsletter Mass League Action News, the editor's source 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.