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   League of Women 
 Voters of Berrien 
 & Cass Counties
October, 2017

President's Message


     This year and each of the next three years marks the 100th anniversary of a milestone of women's suffrage.  This concentration of important events offers a rare opportunity to bring the story of our organization to the broader community.  We don't want to squander it.
      A timeline of women's history provided by the Michigan Women's Studies Association at Western Michigan University shows how long and arduous the path to suffrage was. [i]   The stirrings began only a few years after Michigan, in 1837, became a state.  In 1866, a bill for women's suffrage was defeated in the Michigan legislature by just one vote.  But not until 1917 -- half a century later -- did such a bill pass.  The year after that, in 1918, Michigan voters -- all male -- approved an amendment to the Michigan Constitution that gave women the right to vote in all elections.
     By then, the movement toward suffrage by way of amendment to the Constitution of the United States was advancing nationwide.  On June 5, 1919, the U.S. Senate passed the 19th Amendment.  It provided, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."  It is one simple sentence.  But oh, how significant.
      Then began the process of ratification by the states. Within five days (on June 10, 1919), the legislatures of Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin ratified the amendment-the first three to do so.   Michigan acted at a legislative session called only for that specific purpose. [ii]
Ratification by thirty-six states (2/3 of the total at the time) was required before the amendment would succeed.  That took more than a year. On August 26, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby issued a proclamation certifying adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
      By that time, another event of significance to our organization had occurred.  On February 14, 1920, the League of Women Voters was born.  The energy that had been directed to women's suffrage now would be channeled into other issues in service of our democracy.
This is our legacy.  Four years, four milestones: four centenary years in a row.  This rich heritage fairly shouts for celebration with our larger community.  The planning has started.  Your ideas are welcome: just pass them on to any member of the Board (listed below).  Please do.  Let's get started.                                                                              -- Marilyn

[i] http://www.michiganwomen.org/womens_history_timeline1.aspx
[ii] Eleanor Flexner, Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States; Harvard University Press, rev. ed. 1975
Special Event!
On Thursday, October 5 at 6:30 p.m., LWVBCC is sponsoring a public forum by Berrien County Circuit Court Judge Charles LaSata on "Specialty Courts in Berrien County -- Healing Victims and Offenders." The forum will take place at Berrien RESA, 711 St. Joseph Avenue in Berrien Springs.   
     Berrien County has four specialty courts -- Drug Treatment Court, Drug Court, Domestic Violence Court, and "Swift and Sure." For the past three years, Judge LaSata has presided over all four.
     Swift and Sure, in particular, has generated considerable interest. It targets felony offenders with a history of probation violations who are at high risk of winding up back behind bars because they fail to follow the rules of their probation. The program is designed to help probationers develop personal responsibility and accountability through additional monitoring and support.
     This is a good opportunity to learn about innovative programs in our local court system, how they work, and how they are related to the broader legal system. An opportunity to ask questions will follow Judge LaSata's presentation.
     Please come to the forum Thursday evening, and bring friends and neighbors with you. The forum is free and open to the public.

Another Special Event!
Tuesday, November 14:
   "This Changes Everything" documentary based on Naomi Klein's book --   
"This Changes Everything
    Capitalism vs The Climate"
Join us at the Vickers Theater, Three Oaks, doors open at 6:00.  Movie will start promptly at 6:30.
     It's been three years since this book was published.  Three years that have seen continued, dramatic reductions in the arctic ice mass, increases in global temperatures, increased intensity of climatic "events" such as recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, continuing droughts in many areas of the world. 
     When the book was published, Ms. Klein held expectations that realistic, positive steps could be taken to "save us" from perhaps irreversible changes to our small world's climate.  I'm not sure what her feelings are today.
     Come learn how we may be able do to our part to protect our fragile, beautiful planet.                                                                     -- Chris
Book Group

The next meeting of the LWVBCC book group is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Monday, October 9, at Emelie Shroder's home. Two books have been selected for discussion: "Climate of Hope" by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, and "Strangers in Their Own Land" by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
      Both books, to a greater and lesser extent, offer insights on climate change.  The emphasis, though, is quite different.  Climate is at the heart of Bloomberg and Pope's book, as they describe the issue, highlight its seriousness, and offer creative ways to address it.  Hochschild, on the other hand, tells of her experience with people in Louisiana's bayou country whose livelihoods and way of life have been severely impacted by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident.
      Participants are encouraged to read either or both of these books, or another of their choice dealing with related topics.
      Then please call Emelie to let her know you will be attending.  Her telephone number is 269-266-7299.
Invasive Species Topic of 
Most Recent League Luncheon

We learned perhaps more than we wanted to at the luncheon presentaton by Rubia Jasinevicius, an expert on invasive species.      
     Ms. Jasinevicius is on the executive board of the Friendship Gardens in Michigan City and shared with us many stories and warnings about the dangers of Japanese Knotweed, an aggressive invasive.
     The plant was introduced to Great Britain in the early 19th century as an ornamental.  Within just a few decades, it had become so prevalent that it is now against the law in parts of the UK to sell property if the plant is present.  It invades foundations, walls, and ceilings of buildings with impunity, takes over entire fields once dedicated to edible crops.
     Though other invasives were discussed, Japanese Knotweed is by far the one currently causing the most concern. Control is difficult and expensive; if wrongly undertaken, ineffective attempts can result in nearly uncontrolled spread of the plant through the root system.
     It is already present in New Buffalo and other locations in Berrien County.  If you are not familiar with this invasive, please learn about it today.  Many websites have photos, descriptions, additional important information.                                                                    -- Chris  http://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/knotweed_BCP_372280_7.pdf  
Committee Coordinators
Energy and the Environment : Chris Zilke
Health and Social Services: Dorothy Parker
Public Education: Linda Cheek & Jane Raymond
Voter Services : Mike McCaffrey & John Ripley
Budget and Finance: Mike McCaffrey, John Ripley, Chris Zilke
Membership: Marilyn Klawiter & Mike McCaffrey
Nominating: Karen Ristau
Special Events: Donna Dutton & Chris Zilke

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.  

LWVBCC: Contact Us

P.O. Box 1032
Niles, MI 49120

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Thursday, Oct. 5
6:30 p.m.
Presentation from Judge Charles LaSata on "Specialty Courts in Berrien County -- Healing Victims and Offenders." At  Berrien RESA in Berrien Springs.
Monday, Oct. 9
League Book Group
10:00 a.m.
Meet at Emelie Shroder's home. Call to let her know you are attending: 269-266-7299 by Saturday 10/7.
Tuesday, Oct. 10
League Board Meeting
1:00 p.m. 
Quiet Reading Room #2
Lincoln Township Library
2099 W. John Beers Road, Stevensville
Tuesday, November 14
"This Changes Everything;" documentary.
Vickers Theater, Three Oaks, doors open at 6:00. 

Board of Directors
Marilyn Klawiter, President
Dorothy Parker, Vice President
Karen Ristau,  Secretary
John Ripley, Treasurer
Donna Dutton
Michael McCaffrey
Linda Cheek
Jane Raymond
Christiana Zilke

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The League:  Helping to Make Democracy Work Since 1920!
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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?  Go to our website or 
email our Membership Chair  Donna Dutton