A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change
March | 2021
Message from the Steering Committee
A Message From This Month's Chair,
Joan Rabin
Take heart, dear LWVA members! Spring is upon us—and was there ever a year when it was more welcome?  And with spring come several exciting LWVA forums.  

Yes, the forums will be on Zoom.  We know, we know, we are all over-Zoomed.  Still, your League has not let COVID deter us, and it can be heartening to come together to continue important work. We look forward to seeing you, if even from our individual little squares.
On Tuesday, March 23 (6:30-8:30) you are invited to learn about the efforts of six local groups, all working on issues of racial equity and justice.  Join us for their round-table conversation.  See details and registration link in this e-Bulletin.

This November, Amherst will hold its second election under our new Charter. All seats on the Town Council and elected boards are up for election. Every one of them!  We wondered how our League could support residents seeking local elective office—first-timers in particular. We asked this question of a number of candidates who ran for office in 2018 and 2019.  They generously shared their experiences and suggestions, which inform a new LWVA Guidebook: Running for Elective Office in Amherst.  Look for it very soon on the LWVA website.  

We also have two informational forums planned on the logistics of running for office, one hour each. If you have even a bit of curiosity about throwing your hat in the ring at some time in the near future, these forums are for you. You might learn the answers to questions you feel uncomfortable asking, such as:

  • Do I really need a committee?  It’s so awkward asking for help.
  • My mother-in-law has graciously offered to be my campaign manager. Is this a good idea?

We asked the candidates what they found to be the most challenging aspects of seeking elective office.  One issue that continually surfaced was how hard it is to find a treasurer.
Ready for a change of pace after a year of pandemic isolation?  Consider becoming the campaign treasurer for your favorite candidate.  Yes, YOU.  No, the job will not give you hives. Rather, it will give you the gratitude of the lucky candidate and the admiration of your community.  Find out what’s involved at our second forum on April 15.  
Mark your calendars!  Running for Elective Office in Amherst:
April 8:    7p.m.    Nomination Process and Campaign Issues 
April 15:   7p.m.   Campaign Finance Regulations and Reporting
See details and registration below.

Stay well, everybody!

—Joan Rabin
Invites you to a two-part series

Thursday, April 8, 7-8 p.m.

Jessica Ryan, Moderator
Susan Audette, Amherst Town Clerk
Sarah Barr, Campaign Manager, 2018
Eric Nakajima, MTA Dir. of Govt. Relations, former School Committee Chair
Jim Pistrang, former Amherst Town Moderator, 2018 candidate Town Councilor-at-Large
Thursday, April 15, 7-8 p.m.

Phylis Leher, Moderator
Jason Tait, Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance
Calls to Action

LWV is promoting the People Powered Fair Maps Day of Action on April 29 to raise awareness and promote action on redistricting. All Leagues are encouraged to participate. 
LWVMA will be holding a Day of Action focused on the Massachusetts redistricting process and providing background and training for you to be involved in the state redistricting process. We welcome any local Leagues who would like to co-sponsor this event with us.
You can find existing resources for your Day of Action on this page. 


“Redistricting: Then and Now” 
April 29, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

League members and the public are invited to join the conversation, moderated by Adrienne Terrizzi, between two veteran legislative members of Massachusetts’ Redistricting Committees: Stan Rosenberg, former State Senator and two-time Senate Redistricting Chair and State Representative Michael Moran, 2010 and current Chair of the House Redistricting Committee.

Congressional and state legislative district lines are drawn by the state legislature every 10 years following the completion of the U.S. Census. The Joint Committee on Redistricting is charged with redrawing electoral boundaries to reflect population shifts and shifting demographics following each decennial census. District boundaries, determined for 10 years, influences who runs for elective office and who is elected to represent voters.

Learn the basics and how we can influence the process and the outcomes for drawing fair and equitable local and state maps. Come and join the conversation!

Ask your questions on the Zoom chat line or ask live.
Registration in advance for this meeting is required:
Contact Your Legislature

The 2021-22 legislative session has begun. About 6,000 bills were filed by the February 19 deadline (later than usual because of the COVID-extended session of 2019-2020. It will take LWVMA’s Legislative Action Committee into the spring researching the bills judged important for LWVMA to support. But already several bills have been identified as worth our attention.
  • The Election Modernization Coalition. to which LWVMA belongs, supports the VOTES ACT, which would make permanent many of the voting reforms adopted as temporary last year, and adopts additional reforms, including Same-Day Voter Registration. See more about the Votes Act in the Voting Committee section of this e-Bulletin and the LWVMA info page linked below.
Contact your legislators to ask them to cosponsor this legislation which goes to the heart of what the League of Women Voters stands for. To see if your legislators are cosponsors, click here for bill link:
  • Thank your legislature for their support of: S.9, the Climate Roadmap bill. We now have a large majority of each Chamber voting in support of the bill with key, strong provisions intact. It will now go to the Governor's desk for his signature or his veto. Either way, the bill will become a law!

  • Support Medicare for All in Massachusetts: We need to get last year’s sponsors back on board and get the new legislators to sign onto HD.2656/SD.546 to support An Act Establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts. Please click on the bill links above to see if your Senator and Representative have co-sponsored the bill. If they have not signed onto the bills, please contact them to urge them to do so. It is time for this bill to be passed! 
For other bills important to support, click below on "News for Members" for the content of the March League Action Newsletter:
News from our Committees
Join the Environmental Action and Advocacy Committee

Are you interested in working with other League members in the state on environmental issues and action? The LWVMA Environmental Action and Advocacy Committee (EAAC) is gearing up again and is seeking new members as we look to the future.

The goals of the LWVMA EAAC are to inform members across the state on critical environmental issues and policies impacting Massachusetts, and to support and promote sustainable energy and environmental policy that incorporates meaningful provisions around environmental justice and equity, legislation and local action. The EAAC will meet monthly via Zoom on the 3rd Monday of each month, from 4–5p.m., beginning March 15. 

If you’d like to be a part of this team, please contact Launa Zimmaro with your name, local League, email address, and a little bit about your interests and experience. We are grateful for your support and welcome any questions you may have. 

~ Susan Millinger

MARCH 22, 12:00–1:30 p.m.

World Water Day has been celebrated on March 22 every year since 1993. The idea for such a day originated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It was this same conference that came up with the widely used definition for sustainable development: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The purpose of this day is to shine a light on the value and importance of clean water. Celebrated worldwide, each year’s celebration has a theme. This year’s theme is “Valuing Water.” Special focus will be on reaching Sustainable Development Goal 6: clean water for all by 2030. That will be a major achievement with an estimated two billion people today without reliable access to clean and safe water.

Locally, several environmental organizations, working on water issues in general and the Connecticut River specifically, are sponsoring a virtual celebration exploring “What Water Means to Me.” Scheduled events include remarks by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, a performance by Cyril the Sorcerer (recycling guru), panel on diverse meanings of water in our lives, speakers on key issues facing our inland waters, the Sound and oceans.

For more information and registration details contact Elizabeth Davis

~ Elizabeth Davis
The League of Women Voters Racial Justice Task Force is pleased to invite you all to our upcoming event: Working Toward Racial Equity: A Round Table and Dialogue. Six groups working on Racial Justice issues in Amherst will be part of a round table discussion and dialogue about their work and the obstacles and issues that they face. There will be time to ask questions as well. We hope to offer this opportunity to educate our membership and the public, and perhaps find out how we can support their work.
Please join us on March 23, 6:30-8:30 pm. Registration is required.

And, spread the word to your friends, neighbors, and networks. This is a public event. 


This month’s resource list comes from the LWVMA, thanks to Susan Millinger.
It is a comprehensive list. I have just begun looking at the work of Peggy McIntosh, starting with a great TED talk. 

I also found this documentary about Dr. ML King and his last days. The footage and interviews are powerful: “King in the Wilderness”    
~ Marcie Sclove

Affordable Housing Progress and Issues

A significant event:  The Amherst Housing Trust and Town of Amherst have purchased a property on Belchertown Road that will become a site for affordable housing. The site is on the northern side of Belchertown Road, opposite Colonial Village and beyond the former Sunoco Station. (There have been For Sale signs there for several months). The plan is to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) that invites developers to bid for a long-term lease on this property and the site of the East Street School together – because together the project can be larger and therefore more attractive to both developers and the state funding agencies. It is anticipated that 40 or more units, with 2-3 bedrooms for most units, can be built on the sites. Of course what actually gets designed and built will depend on what gets funded; the Housing Advocacy group had a lengthy discussion during our meeting in late February about what we’d like to see, what’s possible, etc. We are very excited about this opportunity.
The studio apartment project on Northampton Road is waiting for word on state funding. 

Meanwhile  – here are some links for learning more about affordable housing and advocating for it: 
On the Massachusetts Housing Partnership website, there are videos of conferences:
The Housing Advocacy group is thinking about possible topics for future learning and work; the chair, John Hornik has suggested the topics below and is following up with possible “meetings” (virtual of course):

Meanwhile please join: An Interactive Forum of the Amherst Housing Coalition and the Amherst Affordable Municipal Housing Trust

Creating A Path to Homeownership 
for Low Income Amherst Households

What are we doing? 
What do we need to do to overcome barriers?

Major Participants:
  • ˜   Amherst Community Land Trust
  • ˜   Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity
  • ˜   Valley Community Development Corporation
  • ˜   And YOU.  Please add you voice into the discussion.

Tuesday, March 30th, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Or Telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923 or
+1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 408 638 0968

Webinar ID: 852 5988 1689

~Submitted by Adrienne Terrizzi

Act on the VOTES Act to preserve early voting and vote by mail

The VOTES Act—HD.1536/SD.1002 (links above) An Act fostering voting opportunities, trust, equity, and security—was drafted by LWVMA and the other members of the Election Modernization Coalition to make permanent the temporary elections reforms in place for the 2020 elections. The VOTES Act bill was filed by Rep. John Lawn and Sen. Cynthia Creem and was co-sponsored by Sen. Comerford and Reps. Domb and Sabadosa. 
 The bill preserves access to voting, including expanded in-person early voting, and expanded access to voting by mail. Voters will be able to ask that mail ballots be sent to them permanently (until they cancel) without further application. It provides for drop boxes, an online portal for mail ballot application and prepaid postage for applications and ballots. It also continues the practices at election officials’ offices that make the process more efficient, including processing mailed ballots ahead of Election Day.

Other provisions:
  • Same-day voter registration (previously Election Day registration)
  • Requirement that corrections officials facilitate voting for those being held who are eligible to vote
  • Replace outdated audit system with Risk-limiting post-election audits every two years 
  • Adjust automatic voter registration practice to comply with original law to permit opt-out when voter is notified of registration rather than at point of contact
  • Require Secretary of State to join Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) by June 30, 2022. Law passed in 2018 required Massachusetts to join ERIC.

We need to support these reforms now in order to have them in place for Amherst Town Elections this fall!  

~ Bonnie Isman

Update on the 2021 Book Sale

For those of you who have not heard, the decision was made not to hold the book sale again this summer. Although this is very disappointing to everyone, there is a consensus that life is still too uncertain as to safety for all concerned. 

These early months of this new year are slipping by, and we continue to await more vaccines for all of us. It is uncertain when everyone will have this opportunity. Currently we have not been given notice of the availability of the Fort River gym, which is being used for storage at present. These factors and others have led us to conclude that we are unable to hold the cherished book sale successfully. Our treasurer has assured the Steering Committee that we are fiscally sound for another year without the funds that the sale provides, so that is good news. 

The process of preparing, selling, and then removing the unsold books is a wonderful opportunity for the League members to work together and catch up. May this next year continue to show improvement, and I look forward to seeing you all in the summer of 2022. Until then, stay well.

~Elayne Berger

LWVMA CONVENTION June 26: All Welcome!

Mark your calendars for Convention, June 26, 2021. All members are welcome and encouraged to attend this virtual event. How often do we get to attend Convention without traveling—usually a long distance for us in the West? Current plans call for a two-hour session in the morning and a second in the afternoon, separated by lunch time, with optional breakout rooms.  It is likely there will be webinars on topics of interest in the week leading up to convention, as there were at National Convention last summer.

This year the National Day of Action, April 29, in which both LWVMA and LWVAmherst will participate, will focus on redistricting. 
In June of 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina that no fair test exists for courts to determine when partisan gerrymandering has gone too far. As a result, federal courts will be hands-off in the redistricting process even when new district lines are drawn to intentionally decrease the voting power of voters based solely on their political party.

People Powered Fair Maps is a national redistricting program of the League of Women Voters focused on creating fair political maps nationwide in all 50 states and D.C. It was launched in September 2019 to create fair and transparent, people-powered redistricting processes that eliminate partisan and racial gerrymandering nationwide.  For more information about the program click link:
LWVUS’s blog will contain a series of pieces on redistricting. Here’s a link to the first of these, Alicia Gurriei’s “Redistricting Watch: I will fight for fair maps":
International Women’s Day, March 8, 2021 is celebrated in the LWVUS blog by LWVUS UN Observers, link below:

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.
The Editor of the LWVAmherst e-Bulletin, Jessica Ryan can be contacted here. The Associate Editors are Trish Farrington and Susan Millinger; Assistant Editors are Janice Ratner, Phyllis Lehrer, and Kay Fite who checks the links. Contributors to the March 2021 e-Bulletin include LWVA members Elayne Berger, Elizabeth Davis, Bonnie Isman, Susan Millinger, Marcie Sclove, and Adrienne Terrizzi. Material on LWVMA and LWVUS comes from the website lwvma.org and the newsletter League Update, respectively, selected by Susan Millinger.