Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

September 19, 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

Sept. 19, Amherst's Block Party, 5-dark. Stop by LWVAmherst's Voter Registration table.
Sept. 20 Global Climate Youth Strike , meet at UMass at noon to join their strike. Everyone is welcome. For update on place, click here.
Sept. 24, National Voter Registration Day.
Sept. 26, 7 p.m., Opening Meeting, Amherst Woman's Club. Speaker Stuart Naifeh, Voting Rights Lawyer. See Coming Events for more info.
Sept 27-28, Connecticut River Conservancy's Source to the Sea clean-up. For i nfo on Fort River clean-up Sept 28, see Coming Events.
Oct. 7, 1-3 p.m., Steering Committee Meeting, 16 Stagecoach Rd . Members are welcome to attend, but please contact the host so there is a chair for you.
Oct. 9, 9-10:30 a.m., Centennial Commoration meeting, Panera Bread. All are welcome to join us with ideas.
Oct. 17, 10 noon ,  LWVMA's Day on the Hill. Keynote Speaker: Senate Pres. Karen Spilka. More info in LWVMA News.
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 27, 3:30-5 p.m, Conversation about LWVA 30-50 years ago, Applewood. See Coming Events for details.
Nov 4, Affordable Housing Forum. Save the date-- details in October e-bulletin.

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, Janice Ratner

September is already here and that means the start of another League Year. Opening meeting will take place at the Amherst Woman's Club on Thursday, September 26. Stuart Naifeh, a local attorney, will be speaking about voting rights, his specialty. (See Calendar, above)

In October, the League will be working on events in preparation for the election on November 5. (See the Notes from the Voting Service Chair, below in Coming Events.)

The Amherst League, which is in its 80th year, will be participating in the celebration of the 100th anniversaries of the national and state Leagues, as well as the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. An event on October 27 will explore change and continuity in the Amherst League from the perspectives of long time members: see calendar and Coming Events.

Amherst League membership renewal forms have been mailed and we hope you will renew your membership by mail or at the Opening Meeting.

We hope to see you at Opening Meeting and at events and activities throughout the year. Your participation is always welcome!
Birthday Greetings to Peggy Roberts, who will turn 92 on Saturday, September 21!

The editor will be happy to announce the birthdays of any member turning 90 or older. Please send the information to the editor, since we will not be tracking birth dates.
Members and their guests are invited to gather at 7 p.m. at the Amherst Woman's Club for a program in celebration of the Centennials of the LWV and the Women's Suffrage Amendment.  
Our speaker will be Stuart Naifeh, a voting rights lawyer working to reduce barriers to political participation in the United States, particularly among people whose voices have traditionally been marginalized.  Mr. Naifeh is currently senior counsel at Demos. 

Through advocacy and litigation, Mr. Naifeh works to ensure compliance with the National Voter Registration Act's requirement that states offer individuals who apply for public assistance the opportunity to register to vote.  Mr. Naifeh also works to redefine the role of business in American society by challenging traditional understandings of social progress and reducing the influence of corporations in the political process.

Click here for more information on our speaker.                     

Source to Sea: Connecticut River and Tributaries Cleanup
September 27- 28

Fort River Watershed Cleanup only on Sept 28, 9:30 a.m.- 2 p.m
(Cleanup to noon; lunch and other activities 12-2:00 )

For the first time the Connecticut River Conservancy's Source to Sea cleanup will have a cleanup site on the Fort River in Amherst. The Fort River is one of the Connecticut River's six main tributaries in Hampshire County, and itself has six main tributaries. 
More than 100 groups have registered in CT, MA, VT and NH to participate in this year's Source to Sea Cleanup. One amazing fact about this annual event is that over 11,000 tires have been removed from the Connecticut River and tributaries in the 23 years that Conservancy volunteers have done this work.
The Fort River Watershed Association is in charge of the Fort River event.
Photo thanks to the Connecticut River Conservancy
Participants will meet at Groff Park (off Mill Lane on east side
of Route 116).

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

Notes from the Voter Service Chair
Service Opportunities: Amherst Elections and related events 
The League will have a voter registration table at Amherst's downtown Block Party on September 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. Stop by and help register newcomers!
Local elections for School Committee, Library Trustee, Housing Authority, and Oliver Smith Will Elector will be held on Tuesday, November 5. The last day to register to vote is Wednesday, October 16.  This election will bring all elective offices onto the new two year cycle spelled out in the new Town Charter. Candidate night presentations will be held in late October, and an Election Guide will be published to help engage voters. 
As of November, 2021, Amherst's local elections will be held using Ranked Choice Voting. The Ranked-Choice Voting Commission is now meeting to determine how the process will work in Amherst.  Observers are needed to track the progress of their deliberations.  Please contact me if you would like to get involved. Email the Voter Service Chair, Bonnie Isman, or phone 413-256-1021.   

Conversation about LWVA's not-so-recent history

On Sunday, October 27, from 3:30-5 p.m., the Centennial Commemoration Planning Committee, as a way to showcase our League's history, is hosting a conversation with some of the more long time members of the Amherst League. 

Invitations will go out soon to long time members, but consider yourself invited if you have been a member for several decades, say 30 years or more.

The conversation, to be held at Applewood, in the Crafts Room, will be informal.  Open to all members and the general public to hear memories and ask questions. 

 'Byline with Stan Rosenberg" launched its second season on Friday, Sept. 6th with T own Council President Lynn Griesemer's review of what Council has accomplished in the past eight months, and what townsfolk can expect to happen in the next four as the new government completes its first year of existence. 
 Rose & Draucker 
Pres. Lynn Griesemer
On September 13, replayed on tthe 16th, Chair Laura Draucker and Vice-chair Andra Rose of the newly constituted Energy and Climate Action Committee, discussed the ambitious committee charge to establish Amherst as
 a policy leader as they lay out their future plans.   
On Friday the 20, replaying on Monday 23, Doug Slaughter, Chair of the Board of License Commissioners, and former Select Board member during the transition to the new government, will explain the authority of the Board under both systems for local licenses, including the potential issue of licensing recreational marijuana.

September will conclude on the 27the and 30th with an interview with Asst. Town Manager & Director of Planning & Conservation David Ziomek.
October programs will include Chair John Hornik & Joanne Campbell, member of the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust and Committee on Governance, Organization & Leadership Chair Mandy Jo Hanneke and Vice-Chair Evan Ross. 
 Remember that these programs can always be viewed at a later date online on Amherst Media and on Youtube.   
Recent Events
Women's Equality Day Breakfast, Sunday, August 25

The Breakfast was started last year to honor women's leadership in the Pioneer Valley in hopes of inspiring greater participation in all levels of government. This year is the 99th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, so the focus of the event was A Celebration of the Right to Vote. The next day, August 26th, was the actual 99th anniversary of the signing of the proclamation which made the 19th amendment officially part of the Constitution. (See cake!)

 One of our members reported on the excellent speakers
and provided pictures of the cake and this year's recipient
of the award, named in honor of our very own member
Lucy Wilson Benson, who among other offices was President of the LWVUS as well as of LWVA and LWVMA; HHS Secretary under Governor Dukakis; and Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology in the Carter administration.

This year 's awardee: Hampden County Superior Court
Judge Constance Sweeney, was appointed to the bench by Gov. Dukakis.  
A bit about Judge Sweeney:

"Sweeney's growing reputation [in Springfield, her home town, where she was City Solicitor] for blunt independence...followed her to the Superior Court bench ... and was enhanced... [in 2001] when Sweeney made perhaps the most momentous decision of her judicial career, ordering the public release of 10,000 documents from 84 lawsuits against former priest John Geoghan... Given her background, including 16 years of Catholic education, Sweeney would seem an unlikely candidate to handle the Catholic Church with anything but the softest of kid gloves. But those who know her say her ruling fits with her reputation for fierce independence and a preference for bringing issues out in the open."

From a story which ran on page A17 of the Boston Globe on 5/8/2002. © Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company. Read the whole article.


      Naturalization Ceremony, September 4

 League members were invited to attend the first naturalization ceremony to be held in Amherst, held on September 4 at 12 noon in the Woodbury Room of the Jones Library. A number of us were able to attend, and all agreed it was a splendid and moving event.

The oath taking.
Judge Katherine A. Robertson presiding

The Woodbury Room was packed: SRO for late comers. The new citizens' excitement was powerfully evident.

U.S. Rep. McGovern speaks

Taking the oath; another view

Many thanks to Marcie Sclove for registering new voters at the Naturalization Ceremony--
a truly inspiring event

Signature collector
Training on Campaign Skills: Collecting Signatures on Ballot Question (technically, initiative) petitions 
How many signatures should you collect on each initiative petition? What should you ask of the signer with an illegible signature? When should you stop collecting signatures in order to leave them to be collected in the probable second round next summer? Such practical issues were addressed by VoterChoiceMA's Liz Popolo and Dan Gilbert in their presentation on September 12 to an audience from the League and the general public.
Time is short to collect signatures: petitions are due in the local registrars by November 20.
Questions were also asked about Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), since a ballot question on the topic is one of the 12 initiative petitions to have been approved this fall, and VoterChoiceMA educates about RCV.  For more info on the petitions, see the Attorney General's website. For more info on Ranked Choice Voting, click here.

News from LWVA's Committees

The Centennial Commemoration Planning Committee members held their second meeting to discuss plans for various events: including speakers for the Annual Lunch Meeting in February, Conversations at Applewood with long-time members in October (scheduled for Sunday October 27, 3:30-5 p.m. at Applewood), and general brain-storming for the coming commemorative year! All ideas are welcome. Schedules and details will be forthcoming-stay tuned. All members are welcome and encouraged to join the committee. Next meeting will be held October 9th, 9:00 a.m. at Panera Bread in Hadley.
Come and join us, bringing your ideas and expertise. Contact one of the members: Martha Hanner Barbara Pearson, Jessica Ryan, Adrienne Terrizzi, or Kathy Vorwerk, whether to join the committee, provide suggestions about commemorative events, or simply learn more.

Affordable Housing News

Advocates continue to work on affordable housing. There will be a forum on November 4 [Note change of date from that given in the August e-bulletin.] In the meantime, for the East Street project, (family housing at the site of the East Street School) - the town has issued a request for proposals.  The official deadline for responses is the beginning of October but that may be extended.

Health Care for All
L WVA and area Hub Health Care Committee members Barbara Pearson and 
Diana Stein have been taped for a Byline interview on the Resolution urging our state legislators to vigorously pursue Health Care reform, such as Improved Medicare for All in Massachusetts.   
'Byline' will broadcast the program once a date for presenting the resolution to Town Council is secured by the Committee. Meantime, Amherst League members are urged to write to their District Councilors or to the entire Council to urge their approval of the Resolution and are asked to attend the meeting once a date is determined. Watch the Byline section for that announcement.
Barbara, Diana and Stan in taping 

Highlights of Town Council Meeting of August 26, 2019    
 League Observer: Barbara Pearson 
  Board Members:

There does not seem to be a summer slow-down for Town Council.  As the League Observer, I was in the Town Room from 6:30 pm, when the meeting opened, until 11 pm when the Council recessed to an executive session (but the public got to go home).

Major topics considered in the open session
1.        Possible purchase of the 149-acre Hickory Ridge Golf Club by the town to be used as open space and conservation land, with 1 mile of Fort River frontage.
2.       Proposal by John Hornik, chair of the Affordable Housing Trust, to create a policy on Affordable Housing, which the town does not yet have.
3.       Council will assign a committee to address objections by the state to the Percent for Art Bylaw passed by Town Meeting in 2017.  The goal is to find a path to implementing the Bylaw.
4.       Real Estate assessment will begin in the fall, done by the now retired Principal Assessor.  The search for his successor was also put on the agenda for fall.
5.       The extensive evaluation of the Town Manager's performance was presented, and a draft is now on the Town Council website.
Less weighty measures were a Proclamation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Jewish Community of Amherst (JCA) in the town, and the introduction of the new Business Improvement District Executive Director, Gabrielle Gould.

For the Observer's detailed account of this meeting, see the LWVA website.
On the Town Council   website are links to the agenda, meeting packets, Amherst Media recordings and (after approval) official minutes of each meeting.  Agenda and meeting packets are posted in advance on the Council web page.
Join the Youth Climate Strike in Boston or Locally 
LWVMA is a cosponsor of the Global Climate Strike on this Friday, September 20. For maximum impact, State is asking us to join the Boston Strike. However, for those who can't go to Boston, there are local actions in both Amherst and Northampton.
The Amherst Walk Out for Climate will rally on the East Pond at 12 noon. The UMass student organizers are asking non-students from the surrounding communities to join them. It is estimated that the event will end at 3 p.m.  For the latest info, click here
The Northampton Solidarity Strike will include a rally at Pulaski Park from 12-2 p.m. and a march at 4:30 p.m., starting at Sheldon Field. There will be a concluding rally at 5 p.m. at City Hall. For the latest info, click here  
Greenfield and Springfield both have events. For these and other western Massachusetts events for the week of Sept 20-27, see Climate Action now's calendar here. 

Help Enact League Priority Legislation:
Participate in LWVMA's Day on the Hill, October 17

Democracy is not a spectator sport! It's time to take the field and make the League's voice heard loud and clear at the State House.

Our Day on the Hill lobby day, Time to Act, will be Thursday, October 17, in Room 428, with coffee at 9:30 a.m. and the program starting promptly at 10. After the program ends at noon, plan to meet with your own Senator and Representative.

Senate President Karen Spilka is our keynote speaker.

The program will also focus on legislation in four priority areas:
  • Election Day Registration
  • The climate crisis
  • Education funding reform
  • Women's reproductive rights
Register in advance here . The office will let legislators know to expect visits between noon and 1 p.m. from their League constituents for the League members who register before October 11. You can also contact your legislators directly to let them know you will be on Beacon Hill that day.

Visits from constituents are a powerful force for legislator action. LWVMA needs us at the State House on October 17.

People-Powered Fair Maps Campaign
LWVUS recently launching this 50-state + DC campaign to create fair and transparent district maps. The National League has committed a half-million dollar investment for "funding to support advocacy, education, organizing and mobilization, partnerships, litigation, and protection around redistricting processes."

League members were invited to a town hall forum on Sept 4th; the recording of the town hall will be available on line.

For more information, here's the text of the press release

For context for LWVMA's Climate Emergency Resolution, passed at Convention in June, read the interesting blog post written by by two members of Oregon Leagues.
E-bulletin Staff and Contributors in September  
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, Barbara Pearson, Janice Ratner, Jessica Ryan and Adrienne Terrizzi.
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.