A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change
May | 2022
Message from the Steering Committee
A Message From This Month's Chair,
Susan Millinger
Dear Members and Friends of LWV Amherst,

I suspect that many of you share the horror the Steering Committee members feel at the prospect of the Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade decision acknowledging that women have the right to control their own bodies. This newsletter includes links to the statements of LWV Massachusetts and LWVUS in response to this prospect: see the sections on LWVMA and LWVUS News. Before this news broke, the Steering Committee (SC) had voted to increase the amount in the 2022–2023 budget donated to the annual Roe v. Wade event. The SC has also approved the request of retiring SC members to be honored not by gifts of flowers—as gracious as those gifts are—but instead this year by a donation to Planned Parenthood, the organization judged most likely to be able to help women in states which criminalize abortion.

The SC encourages all members and friends to come with their families to the reception for new CRESS director Earl Miller, Amherst’s new DEI director (if named) and Jennifer Moyston, Assistant Director of DEI, on Sunday, May 22 at Groff Park pavilion from 3–5 p.m. The League is pleased for this opportunity to express its support for the Town’s actions for racial justice.

May involves the preparation for all the League meetings held in June. Members, we hope you have saved the date of June 2 for our Annual Meeting. Registration (necessary!) is now open on http://lwvamherst.org. For more information, see the article in this bulletin.

Massachusetts holds its biannual Council (which alternates years with Convention) on June 11, from 9–10:30 a.m.. Council will again be virtual, and in respect for people over-exposed to virtual meetings, it will be brief, with election of officers and the keynote address.The keynote topic, the fate of local journalism, was chosen in response to the recent conversation on this topic at leagueleaders@lwvma.org.

Amherst is allowed seven delegates; please contact Susan Millinger if you’d like to be one, but all members are welcome to attend as observers. Delegates’ names are submitted to State by the SC; observers register at this link.

Finally, National Convention will be held June 23–26. Amherst has three (virtual) delegates, Marla Jamate, Barbara Pearson, and Susan Millinger. Observers are welcome, though this year’s virtual observers are being charged a hefty fee to register. Significant bylaw changes are to be on the agenda: the delegates will report back on those and on the fate of the Healthcare for All proposal we supported. National has rejected the Climate Emergency proposal we and LWVMA submitted, despite the support of 32 Leagues. There is always the possibility that delegates will support its inclusion for discussion, as well as our other rejected proposal, Digital Equity, supported by over 50 Leagues! Most of the other proposals rejected were supported by a small handful of Leagues.

May is a busy month for many of us: I send warm wishes that you may find time to enjoy the warmer weather and the birds and flowers of spring.

~ Susan Millinger, Chair for May
Action Items and Upcoming Events
Annual Meeting

Save the date of June 2 for Annual Meeting! After initially thinking we would have an in-person meeting, considering the increase in the number of covid cases, and the vulnerability of a number of the usual participants at Annual Meeting, the Steering Committee changed to a virtual meeting.  We were then able to have an evening meeting. We will begin at 7 p.m., with a social period from 6:40. This meeting is for members only: be sure to register! Registration is open now at this link.

If the Post Office cooperates, you should be receiving your pre-meeting packet by the end of next week. Along with the usual business (the agenda is at http://lwvamherst.org ) we will be voting on a proposed review of the town of Amherst’s government, so that LWV Amherst will be prepared to comment when the Town’s review of the new government takes place in 2024.

There will also be a brief review of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative judged crucial by both National and State Leagues. As a result of the National Convention of 2020, all state and local Leagues were required to add to their bylaws a statement of the importance of DEI. You can find it at https://lwvamherst.org  under Positions in the lefthand menu on the homepage.

At our State Convention of 2021, delegates unanimously supported two goals: one committing us to work for racial justice in all aspects of the life of our communities (as our Racial Justice Committee has done and continues to do); the second, to assert the importance of all local Leagues and their members educating themselves on and seeking to apply the principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It should be remembered that “Diversity” refers to a wide range of characteristics, including gender, age, abilities, socio-economic status, education, and religion as well as race and ethnicity. You can find the State’s positions in Recommended Program on the LWVMA website. The preamble is the first action priority, focusing on the local League. Scroll down for the Racial Justice goal, under the priority Advocating for Justice and Equality at this link.

You will note that two positions on the Steering Committee have not been filled by the Nominating Committee: Spokesperson and the Chair (the position is best filled by two or more co-chairs) of Voter Engagement, which used to be called Voter Service. (The plus of Voter Engagement is that there are always willing helpers for what is the central work of the League.) Please think about whether you might be interested in one of these positions. Members are encouraged to send suggestions for the next year to the Steering Committee; please forward those suggestions to
lwva@lwvamherst.org. And finally, a reminder that all committee reports are due for publication in the June e-Bulletin.

Annual meeting will bring farewells to many SC members who have served us all well, some for many years, as well as welcomes to the incoming SC members we’ll be electing. (See your packet.)

We hope to see you there if only on screen!
Exciting News...
📚The Book Sale is Back!!!!  📚
Our League and the entire Western Mass community have been waiting for this "annual" event for two years. You may have been a part of our former book sales or you might be eager to get involved in one. Well now is your chance to participate in our only fundraising event of the year, the one that sustains all of the League's activities and philanthropy.  

It's a Happening Thing
July 29,30,31 and August 5 and 6
Fort River School Gymnasium 

Of course it takes a lot of effort to pull it off—set up, clean up, collect, organize, sort books, guide customers, cashier.  All done with volunteers like us.

A lot of effort? YES! But fun too—connect with League members old and new, make new friends, talk about and find books you always wanted or didn't know you wanted, laugh, converse, be part of an endeavor that brings great satisfaction and is always successful.

What's Next?

  • Tell everyone you know about the upcoming book collection and sale. Remember we only take books in good shape--not old, not moldy. Would you be willing to buy it? 
  • Check out the June eBulletin for sign-up information: jobs, time slots, ways to help.
  • Make note that the set up and organizing at the Fort River gym begins 2 weeks before the actual sale.

See you in July!!!
News from our Committees
Greetings from the Racial Justice Committee (RJC) for May 2022
First, we’d love to announce that we have renamed the Brown Bag Series to honor our dear League member, the late Judy Brooks. The Judy Brooks Conversation Series will continue to bring excellent opportunities to learn more about what is happening in Amherst to move racial equity and justice forward. With the blessing of Judy’s family, we are so happy to honor her in this way.
On May 19, 7:00 to 8:30 pm the Judy Brooks Conversation Series will be hosting Kevin Noonan, the Executive Director of Craig’s Doors to talk about “Homelessness in Amherst”. The link to register will be posted on the LWVA website or you can register here.
Community Reception
LWVA is hosting a Town-wide reception at Groff Park on Sunday, May 22, from 3 to 5 p.m., to welcome the new directors and their teams for the Community Responders For Equity, Safety, and Service (CRESS) and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Departments. The initiation of these programs marks a new era of racial justice and inclusion for Amherst and is truly a cause for celebration. Please plan to come meet the new leadership and show your support. It's important that LWVA be well represented, since we're the hosts! A separate e-Bulletin has been sent out asking for volunteers to help with setup and refreshments. We ask you to share the information with neighbors and friends and encourage them to come as well. Lively music, good food, and good fun!
Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) educational suggestions:

From Here to Equality, Reparations For Black Americans in the Twenty-first Century, by William A. Darity and A. Kristen Mullen is a must read to understand the Reparations concept. We hope to bring Darity and Mullen to a Brown Bag program later in the year.

This film is quite powerful: Race: The Power of An Illusion https://www.racepowerofanillusion.org
Action: Urge Support for Biomass Bill

The deadline for State Representatives to co-sponsor the Massachusetts House biomass bill, H.3333, has been extended another month, to June 2nd. This means more time for you to take action to help end subsidies for burning trees for energy!
If your Representative is already on the list of co-sponsors (click here to check), please thank them if you haven’t already. It’s important that our legislators know that removing subsidies for woody biomass energy remains a priority for their constituents as the bill moves through the legislative process.

Important Webinar on Transportation and Climate
This webinar will occur on May 9, before the publication date of Amherst’s bulletin, but it will be available as a recording later. Be sure to keep an eye out for later information on its availability.

Stepping Up Now: Climate, Transportation and Equity: A virtual forum to advance climate-focused transportation policy
Climate policy is at a crossroads, and state leaders must make progress now. The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, Transportation for Massachusetts, and other advocates urge bold, immediate action to transition the Commonwealth to sustainable and equitable transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve our climate goals. The state’s legislative and capital investment plans are not sufficient to meet our challenges. Hear from climate and transportation experts on what the legislature and administration must do now to accelerate the transition to clean and equitable transportation and help Massachusetts meet its targets to reduce carbon pollution.

Panel Moderated by Jen Benson, President, The Alliance for Business Leadership
Panel Members:
Joe Curtatone, President, Northeast Clean Energy Council
Stacy Rubin, Vice President, Environmental Justice, Conservation Law Foundation
Alexis Walls, Assistant Campaign Director, Massachusetts Public Health Association 
Did you know: April 22–30 was International Dark Skies Week. Find out simple measures you can take to effect immediate and positive change for your environment, your health, and the health of pollinators, wildlife, and migratory birds.
Speaking of which: 2022 World Migratory Bird Day's focus is on protecting the night sky for migratory birds. Find out more here.
Read our opinion piece in the Hampshire Gazette at this link, or read the text below:
Report on Housing Issues
Forums Coming Up: 

1. Future Housing Needs of Older Adults in Amherst 
May 25th, 2:30–4 p.m.
Planned by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC)

The meeting will gather ideas from older adults about their preferences for housing, barriers to achieving those preferences, and how the Town can support them. Becky Basch, from the PVPC, will present information about how to make Amherst a more age and dementia-friendly community, and the preliminary findings of the recent survey of older adults about these issues.

2. Forum for planning for the development of affordable housing at East Street / Belchertown Road.
Not yet scheduled; probably in June or September
Wayfinders, the selected developer, will lead the presentation and discussion.  

3. The Housing Trust is seeking a new President (John Hornik has been doing this job for a long time.). The Trust is also discussing the possible uses of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) Funding for homelessness and housing in Amherst. One goal is to create either a permanent shelter for homeless people, transitional housing, or both. Other goals include funding for affordable housing initiatives, possibly including a pathway to home ownership.  There is not enough ARPA funding to do all these things, so any choice will need to find other funding sources too. 

~ Elisa Campbell

The Steering Committee regrets to announce the passing of our over 50-year member, Margaret (Peggy) Roberts. We send our most sincere condolences to her family and friends. She served in numerous leadership positions in the League over the decades and participated in many studies. 
She was also active in the community, serving as a Town Meeting member and elected to several terms on the Amherst Redevelopment Authority that dealt with the property in the center of town that includes the Bangs Center and adjacent housing sites. 
We are grateful for her many contributions to the League and community.
Did You Miss Anything?
The LWVMA’s Legislative Action Committee recently organized an excellent webinar called “Advocacy 101 for Local Leagues,” which is worth watching. Speakers explain how local Leagues can act on issues arising at the federal, state, and local levels. Watch video webinar and check out more resources with link below:
Response to the Leaked SCOTUS Opinion

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts views the leaked Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, if it holds, as an attack on a fundamental right to health care and to the right of pregnant people to make their own decisions about what is best for them. In light of the probable overturning of Roe v. Wade, the League expresses its gratitude to the Massachusetts state legislature for passing, in 2020, the ROE Act, legislation that codified the right to an abortion in Massachusetts regardless of any U.S. Supreme Court decision. We salute our partners in reproductive health advocacy for their work in anticipating the need for this legislation. 
We now urge the legislature to continue this work protecting the right to make one's own health care decisions by passing without delay two additional bills:
  • H.1196/S.673 An Act ensuring access to full spectrum pregnancy care. This bill would provide financial assistance for a full-range of pregnancy-related care. See our testimony
  • H.2399/S.1470 An Act to require public universities to provide medication abortion. See our testimony
The national League of Women Voters continues to advocate for these rights on the federal level. 
LWVMA Council Meets Virtually, June 11, 9–10:30 a.m.

The business meeting will be brief, so that members can enjoy the keynote presentation on Local Journalism given by Ellen Clegg, former Editorial Page Editor of The Boston Globe, and Northeastern University Professor, Dan Kennedy. The two speakers are collaborating on a book about the future of community journalism, “What Works: The Future of Local News,” (Beacon Press, 2023.) All are welcome as observers. Amherst is allowed seven delegates. Observers can register now; potential delegates should contact Susan Millinger whose job it is to submit delegate registration. For more information, and for observers to register, go to this link. 
Massachusetts Legislation Updates and Actions
Final Push for Election Day Registration
(from May Mass League Action)

We expect the conference committee deciding the final version of the VOTES Act to report out this month. We want that version to include Election Day voter registration. Please call or email your state Representative and Senator this week to make this happen. Here’s what to say:

I strongly support including Election Day voter registration in the VOTES Act. Please contact the members of the conference committee–Senators Barry Finegold, Cynthia Creem and Ryan Fattman, and Representatives Mike Moran, Dan Ryan, and Shawn Dooley–and ask them to include Election Day registration in this bill. Thank you.

(If you email, include your street address.)
Excited to Get Medicare for All on the November Ballot?
(from May Mass League Action)

Join the campaign, no prior canvassing experience is required and you won’t have to answer any complicated questions about the bill or Medicare for All! You may canvas in your district or one close to you. To volunteer, email Stephanie here or here.
Our Nation

These past few days have been difficult. On Monday night, a Supreme Court opinion that would threaten reproductive care and jeopardize personal civil liberties was leaked. While Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are still the law, the drafted opinion made it clear that the Supreme Court is preparing to undermine a fundamental right. All people deserve access to quality health care, including abortion, and the privacy to make reproductive choices. As an organization that believes in the power of women to create a more perfect democracy, we will fight to preserve the individual rights of women to make their own reproductive choices.
I ask you all to join us in amplifying the work of trusted organizations with years of advocacy and expertise in the reproductive justice movement. For those of you joining our partners in action, please stay safe and prepare with our protest safety guidance. Additionally, we are already starting to see mis- and disinformation taking hold in conversations around this opinion. I strongly encourage you to share updates from trusted resources only and lift up the voices of leaders in this space. The League of Women Voters stands with our allies to protect women’s access to care and encourage you all to show up in solidarity. Our democracy depends on it.
More Reading to Get Your Blood Boiling
(And then get busy)
Photograph of Women Holding Banner, “If Men Got Pregnant Abortion Would be Sacred” at the National Women’s Conference, 1977
Unrestricted use. Retrieved from the U.S. National Archives, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/7452290

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 this month's e-Bulletin include LWVA members, Elayne Berger, Elisa Campbell, Elizabeth Davis, Trish Farrington, Bonnie Isman, Susan Millinger, and Marcie Sclove. Material on LWVMA and LWVUS comes from the website lwvma.org and lwvus.org, respectively, selected by Susan Millinger.