Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

November 16, 2018
In This Issue:


November 19, 3 p.m., Book Discussion of The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens at Applewood.
Reminder: No Book Discussion meeting in December.
November 28, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Observer Corps Planning Meeting, Amherst Room, Jones Library, 43 Amity St., Amherst.
December 2, LWVAmherst DUES should be paid by this date. Any questions? Call Membership Chair Phyllis Lehrer at 253-5179 or email.
December 3,1-3 p.m. Steering Committee Meeting, 197 Pondview Drive. All members are welcome, but please call 253-5179 or email to let the hostess know you plan to come.
December 5, 3:30-5:30 p.m. Holiday Party for members and guests, 197 Pondview Drive.
December 9, 1:30 p.m., International Human Rights Day Celebration, State Senator-elect Jo Comerford, Speaker, Woodbury Room, Jones Library, 43 Amity St., Amherst.
December 15, Deadline to submit Vlogs on "Why I Joined the League" to LWVMA. See LWVMA News below,
December 17, Deadline for submissions for the December e-bulletin.
To subscribe to the e-bulletin, visit, click on the blue tab "Sign up for Email Updates" and fill out the brief form found there.
Note: a print bulletin will no longer be published. If you have friends who would prefer a paper copy of the e-bulletin, please contact a member of the Steering Committee.

A Message from the LWVA Steering Committee

The summer and early fall of 2018 have been a very busy time for the Amherst League, with the Book Sale segueing into primary (and preliminary) and then general election activities. It might be expected that we would take it easy in the winter months, given all this activity ...but: the Steering Committee has begun planning for a revival of the Observer Corps, whose members would attend the meetings of the new Town Council (See article below on details of the planning meeting).
The Amherst League is also about to undertake a study, initiated by LWVMA, of the process by which ballot questions move from drafts to signature collecting and campaigning to a place on the general election's ballot. (See below for more details.)

LWVMA and LWV Amherst are enthusiastic about the long-awaited passing of a Civic Education Act. State Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose, a member of LWVA has shown his support locally for this cause by hosting Civics Nights at ARHS, co-sponsored with LWVA, the past two springs. The Civic Education Act has been important to him, and he has played a significant role in its passage. Read his remarks in LWVMA NEWS below.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) will be an important focus for both LWVUS and LWVMA in 2019. See LWVUS NEWS for a report on a DEI webinar recently attended by a Steering Committee member. 

Preparation for the Celebration of the League's 100th birthday in 2020 is a focus for both State and National Leagues. See LWVA NEWS for plans for the 100th Anniversary.

And a final note: Congratulations to the League of Franklin County, which is now a full-fledged League.

In Memoriam

The Steering Committee regrets to report the recent deaths of Amherst League members George Goodwin and Gretchen Fox.  We send our most sincere sympathy to their family and friends. We are grateful for their many contributions to the League and to their community.


Revival of Observer Corps? Planning Meeting at the Jones, November 28.

If there is sufficient interest, the Steering Committee intends to revive the Observer Corps (OC) that the Amherst League had for decades. Given that Amherst has a new Town Council, it seems appropriate that members of the League should observe and report on its functioning. A planning meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, November 28th in the Amherst Room of the Jones Library.

The use of an Observer Corps is a tool not infrequently used by Leagues of Women Voters, as a browser search will reveal. Barbara Ford and Phyllis Lehrer, who were observers, and Alice Swift, who was not a member of the OC, each shared information and responses to the Corps.

The Observer Corps was already in existence in the 1960s, when Barbara Ford moved to town. She thought of it as a regularly-used League procedure, like voter registration. The OC was a committee that observed the major town committees - one person would observe the Select Board, another the School Committee, a third the Planning Board, and a fourth the Zoning Board. The emphasis was-as it still is-- on silent observation.

In the previous Corps, each observer filled out a form for her committee's meeting, indicating what members were present, when and where they met, what votes were taken and issues discussed. Those matters on which the League had positions were of particular interest. The observers met together once a month, shared their findings, and produced a report which was published in the League bulletin. Alice commented that observers "served to remind the committees that the public was watching."

Phyllis remarked that the Corps was "a wonderful thing" which provided a snapshot of what was being discussed and what was about to become important. The observers were very well informed about Town government, and as a result, so, too, was the League.

Today's Observer Corps might not function just as did the earlier one, but the components would be the same: silent observation, written reports and publication by League media. The Steering Committee plans to start with observers of Town Council. Perhaps eventually, it might be extended to some other Boards and Committees, if interest warrants.

Please join us at the meeting on the 28th if you think you would be interested or would simply like to know more. Here's a new opportunity to be involved in the work of the League and the life of Amherst.

Ballot Question Process Study Begins 
Were you unhappy with one or more of the questions on this fall's ballot? Did the text of question 1 seem too long and complicated? Did money seem to play too large a role in what happened to Question 1? Did you wonder why on earth we were trying to solve this problem on the ballot? Did Question 2 seem unlikely to accomplish much? In Question 3, why were we voting to repeal an existing act? Are you unhappy with the Legislature's treatment of the sale of non-medical marijuana? Many Massachusetts residents have expressed frustration or anger with one or more ballot questions and their fate.
The State League of Women Voters has initiated a study of the ballot question process itself, in order to determine whether members desire changes to improve aspects of the process: language and length of questions, collection of signatures, campaigns run for and against, right of the Legislature to make changes after citizens have expressed their will.
The Amherst League is one of over 40 Massachusetts Leagues participating in the study. The Steering Committee has approved a collaboration with Northampton, Franklin County, and Springfield. Jean Cherdack of Northampton and Linda Matys O'Connell of Springfield have agreed to cochair the project. On November 19th, leaders of the collaboration will hold their initial meeting to plan our process. After that, Amherst will begin its share of the study.
If you are interested in participating, please contact the Amherst organizer, Susan Millinger. The Amherst consensus meeting(s) will be held in late January or early February: precise dates will be announced soon. The LWVMA Board will present to the Convention in June recommendations derived from the consensus reports. Convention will then vote whether or not to proceed to work for changes in the current process.
LWVMA's ballot question process committee spent last year doing an impressive job of researching the topic and writing a Study Report (with the background) and a Study Guide (with the questions.) Whether or not you want to be a member of a local study committee, you might want to take a look at these informative and well-written documents. They are available here.
Celebration of International Human Rights Day on December 9

The Amherst League is happy to cosponsor the annual commemoration of International Human Rights Day, arranged and hosted by the Amherst chapter of Amnesty International. This year's event, on December 9, 2018 from 1:30-4:00 p.m., will be in the Woodbury Room of the Jones Library, 43 Amity St. The event is free and open to the public.
The speaker will be our State Senator-elect, Jo Comerford. As Amnesty International Group 128 notes of Jo Comerford, "her long and deep record of human rights advocacy encompasses work as director or in leadership with American Friends Service Committee, National Priorities Project, MoveOn, Food Bank of Western Mass, and the Jackson Street School PTO.  This list is testament to her deep commitment in causes of equity, justice, peace, environment."

In celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted unanimously by the United Nations seventy years ago on December 10, 1948, we also remember and celebrate the achievement of League member Eleanor Roosevelt.

Two related events may be of interest. During December the Jones Library's atrium will contain a Human Rights Exhibit of art works made by students in Amherst Regional Middle School.  On December 10th, the actual anniversary, the Amherst Human Rights Commission will sponsor a reading of the Universal Declaration on the Amherst Town Common. You can read the tex t here.


Candidates Forum, October 23, was a busy night 
Districts 1, 2 and 3 Candidates; moderator Kathy Campbell 
At-large Candidates; Charlotte McLaughlin of Franklin County moderator 



District 4 and 5 Candidates

 Live Election Night Coverage

On November 6, the Amherst League revived its practice of organizing and hosting a live election night event on Amherst Media. Stan Rosenberg, former State Senate President and League member, hosted the show. Featured guests discussed national and regional races, challenges faced by the Town during the transition to a Council form of government, and the state-wide and local non-binding ballot questions. During the 90-minute program, preliminary election results were reported as they were called in by our poll runners.

Amherst made history on November 7, 2018 when voters selected 13 councilors from a field of 26 to serve as Amherst's first Town Council. At-Large seats went to Alisa Brewer, Mandi Jo Hanneke and Andy Steinberg. District 1 elected Sarah Swartz and Cathy Schoen; District 2, Lynn Griesemer and Pat DeAngelis; District 3, Dorothy Pam and George Ryan; District 4, Evan Ross and Steve Schreiber and District 5, Shalini Bahl-Milne and Darcy Dumont.

If you missed the broadcast, you can see the video repeated here:

Be sure to catch the 'spotlight on LWV' they created and and broadcast several times throughout the program. 

State Rep-elect Mindy Domb; Town Administrator Paul Bockelman; Select Board Chair Doug Slaughter
 The Steering Committee extends its appreciation to Stan and his guests: Mindy Domb, newly elected State Representative to the MA House of Representatives, Town Manager Paul Bockelman, outgoing Select Board Chair Doug Slaughter, UMass Political Science Professor Ray La Raja, the many League volunteers too numerous to mention who made election night coverage possible, and to Amherst Media, our community partner in civic information and education, without whom Live Election Night Coverage would not have been possible.
Adrienne Terrizzi, League spokesperson, accepts the award

Amherst Media Honored League's Service with Jean Haggerty Award

The plaque listing honorees.

Adrienne and Amherst Media's Jim Lescault  

Affordable Housing in Amherst

T he League of Women Voters of Amherst helped the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust (AMAHT) present a forum on affordable housing for Amherst at the Crocker Farm School on November 1. The AMAHT's stated mission is "to promote the town's affordable housing priorities as determined through the most recent town housing plan, particularly to create safe, decent, and affordable housing for our most vulnerable populations. "The most recent plan is the 2013 Housing Production Plan, which identified a number of unmet housing needs.
The Trustees hope to be able to coordinate the use of CPA funds for affordable housing and the development of properties owned by the Town, as well as seeking support from various state level funding sources. One of their current projects is the development of the East Street School site, which has been designated for the development of affordable housing. Over the summer, Kuhn Riddle Architects completed a study of the site and produced several conceptual alternatives. Three of these were presented at the November 1 forum, and then discussed by participants in small groups.
Architect's presentation of site plan
The major choices include: * Whether or not to retain the existing school building; * Alternative configurations for a supplementary apartment building (facing the East Street Common in front of and north of the school), as well as its exterior appearance; * Use of the designated wetland that comprises the back portion of the property (more than half of the total area, and currently available as a playing field); and * Parking.

Two of the three designs converted the existing school building into six one-bedroom units. With a proposed supplemental apartment building, the total number of units ranged from 24 to 34, and the total number of bedrooms from 36 to 69.   Reports from the small group generally approved of the parking ratio (about one parking space per unit in all of the plans) and the mixture of the number of bedrooms per unit (from studio apartments ( in two of the three designs), to three-bedroom apartments), although it was noted that two-bedroom units seemed to be in highest demand at existing complexes. All favored minimizing the impact of a large (3 or 4 stories) apartment building by texture, roofline, and porches as well as appropriate plantings on the street (south) side. There was less agreement about keeping the existing school: while the building itself is structurally sound, there was concern about the cost of making them energy-efficient and up-to-code, compared with the cost of tearing down the building and turning it into parking.

The Trust plans to use the resulting input to inform their preparation of an RFP for the site.
More information at the AMAHT web site, including links to a comprehensive housing market study from 2015 and a strategic plan for 2018-2022.

-Kathy Campbell's article has been abbreviated: for the whole article, click here .  

Questions about the Amherst League?

Contact the spokesperson of the Steering Committee for 2018-2019, Adrienne Terrizzi, here or through the LWV Amherst website at


Barbara with student Taylor Pelletier at Amherst College

The latest Voter Service Activities
Barbara Pearson reports of her work at Amherst College on October 26: "It was my honor to join the Amherst students today at their student union as they gave voting advice and helped fellow students with absentee ballots that they were sending all over the country.  (A few students also voted early at Amherst Town Hall)." Barbara was impressed by how well-organized the students were: "The students had everything in hand," she noted.

New member Olivia Brochu, a senior at Hampshire College, organized a voter registration drive in her schools dining hall on October 3. She had laptops accessible at her table so folks from both in state and out of state were able to register and request absentee ballots. At the end of the night, she was able to register and request absentee ballots for over 40 people!   
-Olivia Brochu
Olivia Brochu registering Hampshire College Students.

You may remember that at the suggestion of Rebecca Fricke, Amherst Regional High School agreed that on October 4th, every senior advisory would encourage registration to vote. Assistant Principal Talib Sadiq reported "I think this is a great idea ...maybe next time we'll plan to have multiple opportunities for students to register at school. Thanks for starting the process." 


The Connecticut River Inter-league Committee:   Connecticut River Success

Amazing results: In September the Source to Sea Cleanup project of the Connecticut River Conservancy pulled 48 tons of trash out of the river with the help of 2800 volunteers. Historically, in this annual cleanup over the past 22 years 25,000 volunteers have removed more than 1,000 tons of trash from the Connecticut River. What a great job!

However beneficial it is to remove all that trash from the river, what would be even better would be to prevent the trash from being disposed of in the river in the first place. The Connecticut River Conservancy works diligently towards achieving that goal.

The inter-League committee working on these issues plans to meet with a representative of the Conservancy soon to learn what their legislative priorities for the river are in 2019. If you would like to participate in this effort, please contact Elizabeth Davis at

-Elizabeth Davis

The Health Care Committee: Successful Campaign for Single-Payer Question

LWV-Amherst Health Care Committee, as part of the coalition, Western Mass Medicare 4 All, brought the idea of a single-payer health care system in Massachusetts to the polls November 6 as a non-binding ballot question.  As they did with similar ballots in 2010 and 2008, Amherst voters reaffirmed their overwhelming support, along with the rest of the Hampshire districts, 1st Franklin, 5th Hampden and 2nd Berkshire-77% overall.  It was 88% in favor in Amherst and 87% in Northampton, even 68% in Holyoke.  Lowest was 51% in heavily conservative Montgomery.  League colleagues (Trish Farrington, Rosemary Kofler, Diana Stein, Anita Page, Leslie Nyman, Alice Swift, and Barbara Pearson) were out at public venues with flyers-and newly inaugurated "sandwich boards."  Thanks go to Ann Kieser for the construction of the boards (modeled here by Ann and yours truly).
Ann Kieser shows her artistry and her zeal for Single-Payer
Barbara Pearson models a sandwich board.

There's a lot of buzz around the country for health-care reform.  Massachusetts led the way with "Romney-care."  Maybe we can do it again with single payer!

-Barbara Pearson 

LWVMA News   

Excitement about the enactment of the Civic Education law

For LWVMA's statement about the governor's signing of the Civic Education Bill, now Act, click here

For our own State Representative-and Amherst League member-Solomon Goldstein-Rose, the enactment of the Civic Education bill was a truly important moment. As he wrote:

"This was one of the most wonderful processes I got to be involved with as State Rep. The work of getting this bill on the agenda and brought to completion was a civics project itself, many years in the making. Sen. Chandler and Rep. Campbell put in tireless and patient effort. High school students have advocated for it for so long that one of the original ones joined our working group as a new legislator partway through the year! We made sure to have bipartisan, bicameral consensus internally before going to groups outside the legislature, and we made sure to have those groups on board before having a press conference or bringing it up publicly. It was careful and deliberative, yet one of the few proactive policy efforts I've seen succeed these two years. I'm grateful to have been a part of it."

Gov. Baker signs the Civic Education Bill. Solomon Goldstein-Rose second from reader's left.
Why Did You Join the League? Share Your Reason   

"A s part of LWVMA's 100th Anniversary celebration, we are inviting Massachusetts League members to submit a short video-a "vlog" -that completes the following question: "I joined the League of Women Voters because...."
These videos are meant to share one of your personal reasons for joining the League. We hope to hear from as many voices as possible!  Throughout the year, we will roll your reasons out on our website and social media outlets under the hashtag #100Reasons.

Join us in starting the celebration of the League's 100th Anniversary!  Here are the simple instructions,sample videos, and instructions for sending it to us.

Deadline for submitting your vlog to is Saturday, Dec. 15!"

LWVMA is creating a committee to plan the 100th birthday celebration. If you are interested in participating in this committee, "please submit to   Mary Ann Ashton a brief statement of your interest by Friday, Nov. 23. Your submission should state why you are interested in the committee, including what you hope can be accomplished, and how your interests and/or skills match with the work of the committee."

-from the November 2018 League Leader Update

LWVUS News  
LWVUS Webinar on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

 Steering Committee member Elizabeth Davis recently participated in a LWVUS webinar,  "Advancing the League's Goal to Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) through Action." It builds upon the Transformation Roadmap unveiled at the national League convention in Chicago in June.

Elizabeth described the content of the webinar:

Diversity can be defined as being invited to the party; conversely, bias means not being invited to the party. Equity recognizes that the playing field is not equal for everyone because the starting point is not the same for everyone. Inclusion refers to the celebration and nurturing of our differences. [Inclusion was also described at a recent LWVMA leadership event as participating and being accepted as a full member of the group.]

Leaders of the webinar stated that League needs to make a meaningful culture change with an intentional focus on the above three goals. Examples of such a culture change included: the Maine League produced voters' guides in Arabic & Somali, as well as audio and AFL resources for the blind and deaf; the New Mexico League produced voters' guides in the Navaho language; Ohio provided multi-lingual poll workers, and provided rides to the polls.

A member of the Bay Area League (San Francisco, Oakland) presented examples of DEI in her League. DEI means talking and listening to people, conducting surveys, having informal conversations. It means identifying all groups in your neighborhood, considering all points of view and considering also how any given group prefers to receive information. How does your League respond to others who are different? Look at bias. Aim to present information and our work in a non-threatening way in such community conversations.

--Elizabeth Davis

LWVMA's Focus on DEI

At the recent LWVMA League Leader Lunch, it was suggested that a way to begin is to collaborate with groups with diverse membership, working together on common goals like voter registration, access to the vote, or dealing with climate change.

LWVMA is creating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee: This committee will develop a set of strategies to help the League build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization. These strategies might include forums and educational workshops as well as other recommendations, and will leverage the work of other organizations and local and national Leagues.
If you are interested in participating in this committee, please submit to Mary Ann Ashtona brief statement of your interest by Friday, Nov. 23. Your submission should state why you are interested in the committee, including what you hope can be accomplished, and how your interests and/or skills match with the work of the committee.

-mostly from the LWVMA's November 2018   League Leader Update 

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.