League of Women Voters of NYS


November 2016  

From the President
    With recounts going on and who knows what else coming next, this year's presidential election may never end, but there is a silver lining to the turmoil and the concerns: We all have the League of Women Voters as a calm and civilizing tool!

    My local league had a Saturday morning meeting a week ago simply to talk about League issues and generate activities, and we were startled to have to turn people away! There were even some parents with young children in tow who were determined to be there even though it was in a cafe with no babysitting. I hear we're getting ten new or returning members from that event along - a big leap for us. 

    Your league may be experiencing the same thing. Now we really need to engage these new people (and ourselves) in ways that satisfy the yearning for positive and effective action. 
Let's try new things!

    Most leagues have stopped having babysitting at meetings. Do you know young families we could work with to establish a good time and place and re-institute the practice?  

    Might you help us establish meetings at a supportive local business that has a lunchroom we could use? Maybe a business you own or work for?

    What about offering a gathering at a cafe or pizza place for a quick bite before a town or county board meeting to fill in one another about who the players are and what to listen for?

     Share with you fellow League members any ideas YOU have on how to capture this renewed interest in government. The presidential election has us all talking, but a new state legislature will be going into session in January, and our local bodies are going all year round. We need different strategies for all three levels. 

     As for me, while I lobby at all levels, I especially love how quickly I can make a difference locally. I'm renewing my own commitment to get to local meetings more often - and to offer rides! Next year most local offices will be up for grabs. Think how much better we'd be as voters if we all actually knew what these offices are about and what we think of the people who currently hold them. 
Dare Thompson, President
League of Women Voters of NYS
  darethompson@gmail.comTel: 518-465-4162
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March in DC on January 21
The LWVUS Board of Directors met this past weekend and discussed whether the League should participate officially in the planned Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017. The board considered feedback from the State Presidents call, the State Presidents/ED listserv, and the State Executive Director calls to inform its decision.  We also considered information about the March available online. After a thoughtful discussion weighing the pros and cons, the board decided that LWVUS is not planning to officially participate in the Women's March. We believe in the freedom of assembly as a cornerstone of our open democracy. We support political activism and encourage people across the United States to let their voices be heard. If League members wish to attend this event, we do not discourage it. We kindly request that League members do not wear League buttons or carry League signs in this march. We will monitor the organization of this event and if additional information emerges before January 21 that indicates it will be a non-partisan diverse, and inclusive event, the LWVUS may reconsider its decision.
Annual Day at the United Nations: Nov. 17
Over 90 League members and friends convened at the United Nations on Thursday, November 17th, for the annual League's Day at the UN. The event was co-sponsored by Zonta International, District 4, and the Women's Bar Association of NYS. Attendees toured the newly renovated facilities, saw various gifted art pieces from member states, and the Human Rights wall. After the tours, guests were treated to lunch in the Delegates' Dining Room. In the afternoon there were two presentations on the topics of Refugee Crisis and Anti-terrorism. The lectures were presented by two speakers: Bela Hovy, Head of the Migration Section within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations, and Mattias Sundholm, Communications Adviser to the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate. LWVUS's UN Observer, Rosalee Keech, also made comments to the group about the League's role in overseeing the functions of the UN. For more details on the speakers and notes from the presentations, visit the League's website here. Also thanks to our co-sponsors for the event, Zonta District 4, and the Women's Bar Association of New York State. 

Vote 411 - Thanks!
The election is finally over!! Congratulations to all of our Local League who worked so hard this year to provide information on local and state races and candidates. This was a difficult year for all but our Local Leagues did a fantastic job especially with regard to Vote411! We don't have the official usage totals from National just yet but we did hear that the Friday before the election every state ALREADY has more sessions than we did in all of 2012! On Election Day itself, the voter guide section alone had over 400,000 sessions across the country! It was a 280% increase in the number of sessions we had on Election Day in 2012. 

Judie Gorenstein, VP Voter Services, J udieL728@aol.com
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the local Leagues, MALs and ILOs for their diligence in registering and educating voters as well as turning out the vote on November 8 th .  The good news is that New York is no longer one of the five lowest states in voter turnout.  The data from the United States Election Project has New York above Hawaii which is the lowest, then Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Although this is not terrific, it does show improvement and I have to believe that all of our efforts in this area did make a difference. I also believe that our Leagues took their task of remaining nonpartisan seriously and, from some feedback I have received, voters did appreciate this.  In a year when voters were more polarized than ever and it often was difficult for voters to discern fact from fiction, VOTE 411 with its online voter guide and our candidates nights throughout the state, gave voters the opportunity to hear from and evaluate what the candidates themselves were saying.  Our websites, facebook pages, and Voter Guides also helped educate voters.  There is much more to be done.
 While I indicated the good news, there is also bad news in the deep divisions within our country that were highlighted in the election.  This presidential election will be discussed and studied for years and years.  Many of the laws we as a League advocated and lobbied for may be challenged or repealed.  The Electoral College will meet on Dec. 19 to vote for president elect Trump and he will be sworn in on January 20th, 2017.  This will be only the fifth time in American history where the winner of the national election failed to win the popular vote. Since 1970 the LWVUS has had a position for abolishing the Electoral College and supporting the direct election of the president by the popular vote.   This would take a constitutional amendment.   In 2010, LWVUs supported the compact for the national popular vote as a means to enable the president and vice president to be elected by the popular vote without abolishing the electoral college and therefore not requiring an amendment.  NY is one of the states that has signed unto this compact, but it does not go into effect until the electoral college votes of those states in the compact total 270 and at present the total is only 165. It does not appear this will happen anytime soon if at all.
What can we do now?  New York has antiquated election laws that disenfranchise our voters. In 2017, local Leagues are being asked to present a program on the NY State Constitutional Convention and inform LWVNYS of their opinions as to whether we should have a position on the 2017 ballot proposal.  This is one way our archaic election law can be changed.   Remember as you visit and lobby your state senators and assemblymen that voters this year did complain about these archaic election laws and the legislators can vote on changes to make the improvements.  
Voter Turnout Symposium
Jennifer Wilson, Director of Program & Policy, Jennifer@lwvny.org
Citizens Union Voter Turnout Symposium
Following this year's historic election Citizens Union hosted a forum on how to boost voter turnout in New York State. The forum featured input from representatives from the Brennan Center, the New York State Assembly, the New York State Board of Elections, the NYC Campaign Finance Board, and several advocacy groups working for minority voting rights. The League had great representation at the event with many New York City League members attending.
After the opening panel there were two concurrent panels on increasing voter turnout and partisanship in New York and the impact partisanship can have on elections. The speakers offered an interesting perspective on the topics and gave a fresh take on the issue of partisanship. The event was concluded with comments from Mayor Bill de Blasio who spoke at length about his criticisms of the electoral college. You can view the entire event here.
Sally Robinson, VP Issues and Advocacy, robintwins@gmail.com
Legislative Procedures Update Response and Conference Call
At the 2015 State Convention, League members agreed that it was time to update our position on whether or not we should have a full time or part time legislature and how long the terms of state legislators should be.  The Legislative Procedures position is critical to our role as a state good government voice and banning or limiting outside income is a widely discussed issue in ethics reform.
The update addresses the ambiguities in the current position and aims to re-focus the position on the policies most significant to ethics reform and performance of the Legislature.
●  Outside Income
●  Length of terms
●  Staggered terms
●  Tenure for Legislative Leadership
Local Leagues should email, fax or mail your responses to the Legislative Procedures Update by December 15 to be included in the consideration of an updated position . Each local League President/Co-Presidents received the packet of info and update questions (one paper copy mailed and electronic to all) to complete consideration of an "update" to the state League position on Legislative Procedures. Local Leagues are asked to respond by December 15 to the consensus questions.  So far we have heard from fewer than 10 local Leagues that they are participating by holding a consensus meeting.  We hope that more will do so. 
But for individual members of local Leagues who are not participating in the study, we are offering a conference call to go over the update materials and discuss the consensus questions.  The call will be on Monday, December 12, at 7 pm.  Depending on the number of members who participate in this call, the state board will decide at its December 7-8 meeting on how to incorporate their individual input into the overall consensus process.
Individual members will not be allowed to participate in the State League conference call consensus meeting if their Local League schedules or has held a consensus meeting.
Please respond by December 6 (email Katrina@lwvny.org or call 518-465-4162) if you would like to participate in this call.  It is open to all members of local Leagues who are not participating in a Legislative Procedures consensus meeting.   
Madeline Zevon, Co-Chair, madeline.zevon@gmail.com

The New York State single-payer bill, New York Health, has successfully passed by a large margin in the last two Assembly sessions. Our focus now is to work toward passage in the State Senate. There are 22 co-sponsors and 4 other pledged votes - so our goal is in sight. The Campaign for New York Health, of which the League of Women Voters of New York State is a supporter, has been working together with over one hundred organizations to build grassroots support for this legislation. Go to the website nyhcampaign.org and click on resources to learn more about how the bill will save New York State $45 billion the first year while insuring 100% of the population with a more comprehensive coverage plan. There are no co-pays, deductibles or premiums because it is paid for by a progressive income tax. Print out the postcards from this site and have constituents mail them to their Senators urging them to support the bill. The New York State Nurses Association and Physicians for a National Health Program are two of the leading supporters of this healthcare reform which builds on the progress we've made with the Affordable Care Act. The Campaign now has an upstate coordinator, Ursula Rozum, ursula@nyhcampaign.org located in the Albany area. Also, there will be a major organizing conference in New York City the weekend of January 13-15. Contact Katie at   katie@pnhpnymetro.org to register.

Watch a short video of Madeline Zevon discussing Universal Healthcare by clicking here.

New Members - Learn More about Advocacy
Carol Mellor, carolmellor140@gmail.com
ATTENTION NEW MEMBERS :  As the Grassroots Director, I attempt to provide a link between the locals, the members and the State Board and to facilitate understanding of how (and sometimes why) the State Board acts on advocacy matters.  It is, at times, difficult to understand the relationship between the action we take and the positions we hold, a complexity which is only made worse by the relationship between the levels of League and the levels of government.  If you would like to participate in a conference call exploring these issues, and any other questions you might have as a new or recent member, please contact me at carolmellor140@gmail.com.  I am planning the call for early in the new year, but would like a sense of interest as soon as possible. 

57th Biennial State Convention - June 9-11
The 57th State League Convention is scheduled for June 10-11, 2017, at the Holiday Inn Express in Liverpool, NY (just off the Thruway near Syracuse). We will be sending out the registration kits in February. 
Field Trip!
To celebrate women achieving the right to vote in 1917 in NYS, the state League is organizing a field trip from Liverpool to Seneca Falls on Friday, June 9 (day before Convention actually begins). This is will a separate charge and everyone is welcome (not just convention attendees); tours of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton home, Women's Hall of Fame and the Women's Rights National History Park (and Wesleyan Chapel), as well as dinner and a speaker at an historic restaurant in Seneca Falls, will be included. You will need to be in Liverpool by noon on Friday to join this trip. Watch for more information in the registration kit.

Workshops will be organized for Friday evening, June 9, and Saturday morning, June 10. Please email the state office (Katrina@lwvny.org) with specific topics you would like us to offer as a workshop during Convention. Local Leagues and members can also offer caucuses or info sessions to share their own concerns or successes and times will be available for these also.

Mark your calendar to join us NOW!
State Nominating Committee
Celebrating Our History - What's Your League Doing?
The History Committee of LWV of Tompkins County is making great strides on our project of building the League Archives to be preserved at The History Center. We are motivated and energized by our goal to complete the project by the end of 2016.!! Members are Lucia Sciore, Amy Panek, Diane Kelleher, Debbie Levin, Kathy Burlitch and Kathy Yen with Flo Smith as chair. We generally meet for work sessions with Donna Eschenbrenner on Wednesday afternoons once a month at the History Center. 

Work sessions? For me, our time at the History Center is more fun and play than work. I enjoy discovering the older documents and newspaper clippings, telling stories and sharing memories with each other. 

On Wednesday, October 19th, the Committee, directed by Donna, quickly organized the three large tables for the 2nd sorting by specific categories, such as: voting services, natural resources, education, health, local government, zoning, development and housing. We also sorted the important local League internal documents: Board meeting minutes, membership data, treasurers reports and budget info, posters and publicity produced for public educational events and collections of newspaper stories of our events and activities. 

I'm looking forward to our next work session at the History Center. We will refine our sorting and continue the filing and labeling process. 
Florence B. Smith, LWV of Tompkins County Historian  
Kate Jankowski, Director of Communications & Development, Kate@lwvny.org
Many of you are planning your year-end giving now and we have several opportunities for people to give to the Education Foundation:
Education Foundation 2016 Annual Fund Appeal
Right after Election Day, our annual letter asking for donations to the Education Foundation was mailed. This mailing is sent to over 4,000 people who have supported the Education Foundation in the past. Please look for it if you haven't already seen it. Or, give online now at https://secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/pVB04lfnW649ZRVDNXGxlw . Your gift to the EF is tax deductible and you can designate it in honor or memory of a loved one. We will notify the person you honor of your generosity.
Monthly Giving
Over the past several years, many donors have discovered the ease and opportunity of making a monthly gift to the state League. Year-end is a great time to consider joining a monthly giving program. When you sign up for monthly giving, your gift is charged automatically to your credit card each month, you will no longer get appeal letters so you save paper and postage, and you can often give more to your favorite charities by spreading out your gift than you would be able to give in one lump sum. It's also a win for your favorite charities because they know they can depend on that income each month and they save on printing and postage.  If you are interested in joining our monthly giving program, click here:
Stock Gifts
If you are someone who has invested in stock over the years, donated appreciated shares is a great way to make a gift. You can support your favorite charities and get a tax benefit from your donation while avoiding the capital gains taxes on the shares you donate. If you are interested in transferring stock as a gift to the Education Foundation, please contact Kate Jankowski, Communications and Development Director, by phone at (518) 465-4162 or by email at kate@lwvny.org .
IRA Gifts
You can lower your taxable income by gifting your minimum required distribution to a charity of your choice. When you gift this distribution, it is removed from your taxable income and helps a cause you care about. To make a gift from your IRA distribution to the Education Foundation, please contact Kate Jankowski, Communications and Development Director, by phone at (518) 465-4162 or by email at kate@lwvny.org .
And Give to Your Local League, Too
Please consider joining in the year-end giving season by making a gift to your local League, too. To give a tax-deductible gift to your League's educational grants management fund, click here:  Local League EF Donations . You will be prompted to choose your local League when making your gift.
Should you have any questions about making a gift, please contact Kate Jankowski, Communications and Development Director, by phone at (518) 465-4162 or by email at kate@lwvny.org .
Thank you for your support of the LWVNYS. You are making democracy work!

Many local Leagues have been holding meetings to discuss voter turnout during the past election, the League's consideration of our legislative procedures position, and holiday parties with interesting speakers.

LWV of Buffalo is hosting its holiday luncheon with speaker, Mary Travers Murphy, the executive director of the Family Justice Center of Erie County, a non-profit agency that provides free services for domestic violence victims and their children. The Schenectady County Community College's Van Curler Dining Room is the location for LWV of Schenectady's holiday luncheon; the speaker, Laura Goff, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs, will describe the collaboration by the SCCC and the Rivers Casino to provide an academic program to prepare students for jobs in the casino. The LWV of Westchester is hosting a holiday buffet lunch with honored guest and speaker, the Honorable Jonathan Lippman, retired Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. Dr. James Ketterer, Dean of International Studies and Director of the Bard College's Globalization and International Affairs Program, will be the speaker at the holiday luncheon of LWV of Albany County.

Abolish the Electoral College?   This is the question that will be explored at the holiday luncheon of LWV of North East Westchester. Professor Jeanne Zaino, Ph.D., will give a comprehensive presentation on the electoral college and take some questions from luncheon guests. Jennifer Wilson, LWVNYS Director of Program and Policy, and Barbara Bartoletti, LWVNYS Legislative Director, will provide a sneak peak at the expectations for the upcoming legislative session at the holiday brunch of LWV of Broome/Tioga.

In past news, many local Leagues have shared photos and summaries of candidate forums held prior to the election. LWV of Huntington's photo from the forum for the 3rd Congressional District is at right. LWV of Chemung paired with the NAACP, Chemung Co. Council of Women  and the YWCA for a candidates forum in November.  It featured candidates for County Judge, State Senator, State Representative and other local candidates.  There were about 90 people in attendance.

In October, LWV of Chemung and AAUW held a joint meeting with speakers from the Citizens Climate League.  The topic was global warming and how it can be slowed/stopped.

LWV of Tompkins County held a meeting in November Roads To Our Energy Future: The Tompkins County Energy Roadmap; And How Do We Get There? With speakers, Katie Borgella, TC Planning Dept. and Jonathan Comstock, Heat Smart Tompkins.
LWV of NYC obtained great visibility in the New York Times for work they performed this fall in helping to register homeless individuals to vote. See the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/08/nyregion/in-new-york-homeless-and-making-plans-to-vote.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=2

LWV of Rocheste r also received great visibility when referenced as a good source for nonpartisan candidate information in the  Democrat and Chronicle ; see article here:  http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2016/10/28/electoral-collage-tips-election-day/92885708/
Bob McCarthy, political reporter for The Buffalo News, presented reflections on the 2016 election for LWV of Buffalo in November. He was named by Brill's Content magazine as one of New York's 10 most influential political journalists, and is often a panelist for local and statewide debates.
This fall the Sy racu se League  (photo left) hosted a forum with Dr. David Rubin, former Dean of the Newhouse School and Moderator of WCNY's Ivory Tower. Dr. Rubin discussed how electronic media has changed the role of the media and presidential elections.

LWV of Scarsdale continued its book club this fall with a discussion on the book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. In January, LWV of Mid-Hudson's book club will be discussing, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.
New members of the LWV of the Hamptons were welcomed at the New Member Orientation and Reception in October. The fourteen new members who have joined the League since last year's orientation are Elaine Burns, Anne Cassells, Liz Corker, Angela DeVito, Elaine Marinoff Good, Nancy Harley, Victoria Kahn, Judith Kron, Jeanne Luboja, Joan McGivern, Elena Rivera-Williams, Margaret Stevenson and Evelyn Sussman. Although not all of the new members were able to attend, those who did had an opportunity to meet Board members and committee chairs and learn about the work of the various committees. Welcome new members!
LWV of the North Country is discussing fundraising techniques at their December meeting. Kerry Haley, Executive Director of the Foundation of CVPH will give an overview of Techniques of Fundraising in the North Country.

League of Women Voters of New York State
62 Grand Street, Albany, NY 12207
Tel: 518-465-4162;  FAX: 518-465-0812
Website: www.lwvny.org
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS