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   League of Women 
  Voters of Berrien 
   & Cass Counties
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"The Voter"
Nov., 2019

Remember to Vote Tuesday, Nov. 5!

    Candidates and Races on Local Ballots

      If you live in Berrien County:
Benton Harbor: City
St. Joseph: City

     In Cass County:
Calvin: Township
Dowagiac: City
St. Joseph: Intermediate School District
Three Rivers: Community Schools

For more information, contact the Elections Department, 269.983.7111, Ext. 8264 or at
For more information in Cass County, contact the Clerk Register Office at 269.445.4464 or at CassCountyElectionInfo

You can study your choices at the League's own nonpartisan website:  vote411.org
Dues and Donations, Please!!!
    Unless you joined the League after February 2019, you will be receiving a letter with renewal information in the next couple of weeks. We are grateful to the members who pay annual dues in November, so that reminder emails, letters, and phone calls will not be necessary.
     As the holiday season approaches, please also consider including the League in your year-end giving either by check or through PayPal.
     One of the League's most prominent voter service activities is the production of Voter Service Guides prepared by volunteers and a small staff. Citizens rely on the information the League's Voter Guides provide free of charge prior to every statewide election in printed and online versions. Your support enables us to continue to provide services to Michigan voters.
     Checks can be made payable either to LWVBCC or to the LWV Education Fund and mailed to LWVBCC, P.O. Box 1032, Niles, MI 49120. Contributions to LWVBCC are not tax deductible, but those to LWV Education Fund are.
      To contribute to LWVBCC through PayPal, click here to go to our website and donate.  And THANK YOU!!!
      If you have not yet renewed your membership and do so by check, you can also donate to LWVBCC by adding the donation to the amount of the dues-payment check.
New Opportunity for 
Civil Discourse Planning
      Now, perhaps more than ever before, civil discourse seems to be a lost art. Way too often, shouting,
excoriating, scorning, and mocking replace respectful discussion of important issues with the aim of understanding and solving problems. That's not good for any of us. But it's devastating for the democratic process.
      Last May, LWVBCC began an effort to address this issue with a civil discourse forum attended by more than 60 people. You can read about it by  clicking here .
      Because so many who participated thought we should do it again, planning for a second Civil Discourse Forum will get underway at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, November 12. Your concerns, ideas, and insights will be welcomed. 
     If you are willing to help, please click here and send us an email.  We will choose a convenient meeting place when we know who will be there. Please be part of this important task.
Civil Discourse Discussion at LMC
November 13, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    Dr. Amy Scrima's honor students are inviting LWVBCC members to their community outreach event on Wednesday, November 13 from 6 until 7:30 p.m. at the Benton Harbor campus of Lake Michigan College. 
     The students came up with the idea to have a panel speak to the pros and cons of healthcare, identified as the top serious issue from a survey given to the student body. Healthcare also matters to the LWV.
     During the past 20 years, the League has lobbied for healthcare policy solutions to control costs and ensure a basic level of care for all. Throughout the healthcare debates, the League has worked to provide millions of Americans with objective information about the healthcare system and its significant reforms. This included organizing community education projects, holding public forums and debates, creating and distributing resource materials, and engaging leading policy makers and analysts.
     Also of interest to LWVBCC is that these potential League members chose to organize a civil discourse discussion. According to student Noah Hayden, "I believe using the civil discourse model will ensure that the presenters will stay on topic, because the purpose of this discussion is to inform the students. Unlike a debate, we are organizing the discussion by questions, meaning that once one question has been asked, answered, and rebutted, the discussion moves on to the next topic. 
     "With civil discourse, we hope to eliminate attacking the issues and to stick to informing the students about the issues. We aren't trying to say that one side is better than the other, nor are we attempting to sway the students' opinions; rather the whole point is to provide information on this very important and relevant topic."
     Dr. Scrima is really excited about the students' enthusiasm for this project. Please plan to attend!
Holiday Party December 8!

    Sunday, December 8, is sure to be festive from 4:00 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Judy Scully's home because that's when our LWVBCC's annual holiday party will be happening.
     Please come and bring  an appetizer, salad, bread, main course, dessert, or other dish of your choice along with wine, beer, soft drinks, or anything else you would like to share.
     Later this month we will email directions to Judy's home along with numbers for you to call or text with your plans to attend, others who will come with you, and your likely contributions to the potluck table.
     It is always good to celebrate together the joys of the season.
Book Group: December 9
     The next meeting of the LWVBCC Book Group will be Monday, December 9th at 10:00 a.m. at Chris Zilke's home.
     We'll continue the discussion of the Bridges books and various ideas put forth by the authors; we can build Bridges.        You are welcome to attend and participate in the discussion even if you have not yet read any of the books. Please call Chris at (269) 449-2225 to let her know that you plan to attend.  
Successful Update, Yet More to Do
     Thanks to Michigan voters' approval of Proposition 3 last November, important changes to voter registration and voting rights and procedures are being implemented now.
     Enthusiasm for the changes was evident at a "community conversation" at the Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (BUUF) in St. Joseph, with the support of LWVBCC, on October 23.
     Particularly useful at the gathering was a slide show highlighting the changes in both English and Spanish, prepared by BUUF director of religious education Katharine Lion and translated by Nico Rojas.
     Another part of the evening was a screening of "Suppressed, the Fight to Vote" about the 2018 election for governor in Georgia. You may view it on YouTube at by clicking here.
     If you would like to use the slide show to help other groups understand the changes, or would like information on screening the film elsewhere, feel free to contact dre@berrienuu.org
LWV  Lake Michigan Region
Annual Meeting and Conference Review
      The annual meeting of the League of Women Voters Lake Michigan Region was held at the Lakeside Inn on October 25 and 26.  And it was filled to capacity by members from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. 
     For those arriving by early Friday afternoon, there was a choice of field trips to Galien River County Park; Galien River Sanitary District facility; and the Pokagon Environmental wetlands site. Attendees enthusiastically enjoyed their field studies, and you can view pictures from the 2019 Annual Meeting at https://www.lwvlmr.org.
     According to our feedback, it seems everyone appreciated and learned from guest speaker Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW--For Love Of Water. Her presentation was augmented by a 19-page report, "The Sixth Great Lake: The Emergency Threatening Michigan's Overlooked Ground Water Resource", as well as with a fact sheet and brochure, all of which were available to the audience.
     Ten LWVBCC members were in attendance for the Friday evening social hour and dinner (including me). Three of us represented BCC at the Saturday morning information sessions on the status of current regulatory issues related to water in the Great Lakes. After lunch we attended a presentation about a group of contaminating, man-made industrial chemicals known as PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) also known as "forever chemicals" because of their persistence in the environment and our bodies.
     My sincere "Thank You" to the LWVBCC members who were able to attend.                            -- Christiana Zilke
Environmental News
     It's been a month or so since beach cleanups took place throughout the Great Lakes. Literally millions of pounds of visible trash were collected --  most of it plastics, including bags, straws, bottles, wrappers, spoons and the like.
     The invisible plastics -- micro- and nanoplastics -- are cause for increasing concern because the impact of these tiny particles on humans has yet to be researched and established.
     One study from 10 diverse locations throughout the world has found microplastics in the excrement of humans. This is a truly disturbing discovery but one that should not surprise us.
     Please do your part to reduce, reuse, and recycle.                                                                        --  Christiana Zilke

LWVBCC: Contact Us

P.O. Box 1032
Niles, MI 49120

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Tuesday, November 5
7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
VOTE for candidates and/or proposals in
City of Benton Harbor, City of St. Joseph, Cass County Calvin Township, City of Dowagiac, St. Joseph ISD, and Three Rivers Schools

Tuesday, November 12
3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Civil Discourse Planning

Tuesday, November 12
 6:00 p.m.
LWVBCC Board Meeting
Lincoln Township Library
Community Room

Wednesday, Nov. 13
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Students' Civil Discourse Discussion at LMC
Benton Harbor Campus

Sunday, December 8
4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
LWVBCC Holiday Party

Monday, December 9
10:00 a.m.
Book Group

Board of Directors
Anita Rutlin, President
Laura Odenwald,  Vice President
Michael McCaffrey, Secretary
& Voter Svc.
John Ripley, Treasurer & Communications Coord.
Linda Cheek
Jane Raymond
Amy Scrima
Christiana Zilke

Quick Links

Joe Jilek
Insurance Agent
(269) 695-2200

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Please  Encourage 
Membership  in LWVBCC!
Non-Partisan Policy

The League as an organization does not support or oppose any political party, candidate for elected office, or any group that supports candidates. As individuals, though, but not as representatives of the League, members are encouraged to participate in political activity and to run for office.  Our non-partisan policy does require two Board members--the President and the Voter Service Chair--to totally abstain from partisan political activity.  

The League:  Helping to Make Democracy Work Since 1920!
And Celebrating our 100th Anniversary!
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Interested in joining the League?  
Please go to our website or 
click here to email us.