League of Women Voters of NYS


November 2014  

From the President

Thank you for everything all of you did this fall to register voters, distribute voters guides, organize Vote 411 and hold candidate forums for the general election.  We also very much appreciate your help and support in our successful effort to pass Proposal 1 on the ballot, reforming how redistricting is done in this state. The League and Citizens Union issued the following statement after Election Day:


"We are pleased that voters seized this once in a fifty-year opportunity to fix our state's rigged redistricting process and end the practice of drawing districts to favor incumbents, protect majority party control, and discourage competition.


The constitution now guarantees New Yorkers fair redistricting rules and the ability to hold the legislature accountable to end partisan gerrymandering. It is a real change from the system we have now, and we look forward to following this enacted reform through to reality in 2021, when the time comes again to draw new state legislative and congressional districts that will bring fair and competitive elections back to New York State."


I believe that this joint effort by the state League and local Leagues exemplified what is best about the League and our truly nonpartisan approach to making elections work and protecting voters.  I was also very pleased that we were supported in this effort by the national League and the state League in Florida, another state in which the League has been and continues to be a leader in redistricting reform.


Sally Robinson, President

League of Women Voters of NYS
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During this holiday season, if you are purchasing gifts at Amazon.com, you can have a small percentage of your purchase price be donated to the League's Education Foundation. Simply click here and sign into your regular Amazon account. The donation will be sent automatically to the League's Education account for any purchases you make. Thanks!

Giving Tuesday is Dec. 2
On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, the League of Women Voters of New York State Education Foundation is joining over 10,000 organizations from 46 countries to celebrate the third annual #GivingTuesday. Coinciding with Thanksgiving and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday was created to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to causes they support, and help create a better world. People are encouraged to donate to the League or the League's Education Foundation online. Anyone interested can click here.


Carol Mellor, Camellor@aol.com

The next Update on Issues conference call will be held on Thursday, December 11 at 7:00 P.M.   Rather than explore a particular issue, we are going to discuss the process by which decisions are made to support (or oppose) particular legislation or ballot proposals.  This discussion emanated from the recent redistricting ballot proposal, but the conversation will not be limited to that topic.  Already, questions have been posed about the process by which we will address the upcoming question of a constitutional convention, and we can talk about other issues, as well. Email me at camellor@aol.com if you'd like to join the call. Call in information:

Call 800-582-3014

Passcode: 87721689


You are reminded that we are always looking for topics to discuss during these conference calls, so let me know if you have any ideas.

Gladys Gifford, schuford@earthlink.net 

Although I have been preoccupied with other issues, transportation still need attention from LWVNYS.  As we prepare for the NYS legislative session and the next budget, the focus for transportation must be on fiscal realities.  Opportunities exist right now to help us support a sustainable and effective transportation system throughout our state.  As we visit our legislators, please include a strong message concerning transportation- both infrastructure and operations.  Reminder: elected officials tell us that they do not hear about transportation issues from their constituents.  So, let's make some noise! 

  • As always, transportation is a concern in the NYS budget. What will Cuomo propose that impacts transportation funding?  Appropriate action: remind NYS legislators that any action to "reduce tax burden"  must continue to support improved transit funding in the 2015-16 budget.
  • The governor attempted to partially fund the Tappan Zee bridge project by raiding funds from the Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund but was rebuffed by the Federal EPA. LWV Westchester has been following this project intensively, and can provide more information on the details.  The enormous cost of this project impacts the whole NYS budget.  You can see structures already in the river in preparation for the new bridge-especially from Amtrak, traveling south.  Appropriate action: ask legislators to require that the governor disclose a real financial plan for this project which involves appropriate sources for funding
  • A significant new struggle in Albany is over the distribution of more than $5 billion from recent lawsuit settlements.  Shall this money go to the general fund? to schools? to mass transit?  to infrastructure?  This is a one-time windfall: wiser use would be to invest in long-term benefits, such as long-delayed infrastructure improvements.  Rail track improvements needed for higher-speed rail in upstate, deferred subway maintenance in NYC after Superstorm Sandy, possible highway removal in Syracuse and consequent improvements to transit, long-delayed investments in Long Island RR, as well as Tappan Zee Bridge funding-all deserve a hearing for the use of this new money.  New York Public Transit Association sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo on 8-18-14, urging him to invest these funds in public transit infrastructure.   Appropriate action:  call on NYS legislators ASAP, to express your support for any local transportation investment that will endure for the long term.           
  • The current Federal transportation bill, "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century"(MAP-21), was extended to May, 2015.  Additionally, Congress authorized stop-gap funding to maintain the Highway Trust Fund only until December, 2014.  For more information, see the blog on Transportation for America t4america.org for updates. Appropriate action: maintain relationships with our Congressional representatives, especially to ensure adequate funding for public transportation (all modes) and to monitor closely the next transportation bill, after MAP-21.

As we continue to advocate for better transportation options, do keep in mind that other organizations share this concern.  Organizations such as AARP, Sierra Club, Citizen Action, Congress for New Urbanism tackle the transportation issue in a variety of ways and from their own perspectives.  When possible, joining voices with other organizations does strengthen our own.  


Madeline Zevon, madeline.zevon@gmail.com

We are pleased to announce that Madeline Zevon, LWV of White Plains, has agreed to Chair the state League's Committee on Health Care. Anyone interested in joining this committee should contact Madeline at madeline.zevon@gmail.com.


This is an exciting time in the campaign for universal single-payer health care. Because a majority in the last session of the State Assembly supported New York Health, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried's single-payer Bill, Speaker Silver has asked the Assembly Health Committee to hold hearings around the state on the proposed legislation to build support for the bill. Hearings will take place from December to January in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Mineola, NYC and Albany.  Madeline will give the official State League statement in New York City but we encourage League members around the state to attend or testify as a private citizens.   http://www.nyhcampaign.org/calendar


The campaign has designed a New York Health Survey to gather testimonials some of which may be presented at the hearings. Through these testimonials, http://www.nyhcampaign.org/tell_your_story, the legislators hope to learn about the struggles people are having with the current health care system, such as lack of coverage, economic hardships, inadequate coverage or limited networks. The Affordable Care Act has improved a broken health system. Assemblyman Gottfried's bill will close the gaps that remain.


Last year  the state League issued a Memorandum of Support for this bill (A.5389-A Gottfried) and its complementary bill in the State Senate (S.2078-A Perkins) http://tinyurl.com/lyq4j6d .   When the new bill is reintroduced a new Memorandum of Support will be issued.  The State of Vermont has already passed a similar bill.  New York has always been at the forefront of providing quality health care for its citizens.  We must not let this opportunity go by.  


VOTE 411 
Marianna Stout, marianna.stout@att.net
Victoria Melillo-Jordan, Victoria@lwvny.org 

Thank you to all the League members who helped make Vote 411 such a success. We should have the statistics on usage shortly to see how many people actually used Vote 411. The future of voter information must be online and the League is working hard to ensure that the information is available in a easy-to-use, nonpartisan manner. And, we can't do it without all of you! Thanks again.


 League Day at the United Nations, November 13

Over 100 League members and friends convened at the United Nations on Thursday, Nov. 13, for the annual League's Day at the UN. Attendees toured the newly renovated (and still being renovated) facilities, seeing part of the old Berlin Wall, the Security Council Chambers and Human Rights wall. Lunch in the Delegates' Dining Room was beautiful and delicious as usual. The briefing in the afternoon on the topic of water was presented by two speakers: Dan Thomas, Head of Communications for the UN Secretary-General's Climate Change Support Team, and Nicolas Franke, Associate Expert in Water Policy at the Division of Sustainable Development of the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs.


Mr. Thomas spoke about the Climate Summit hosted by the Secretary-General in September to

engage leaders and advance climate action and ambition. The Summit served as a public platform for leaders at the highest level - all UN Member States, as well as finance, business, civil society and local leaders from public and private sectors - to catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions and strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will for an ambitious global agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature. Mr. Thomas presented clips of presentations at the Summit.

  • Opening video: Make a World of Difference


  • President Obama delivered remarks at the 2014 Climate Summit at the United Nations in New York, New York.


  • Statement by Ms. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Civil Society Representative from the Marshall Islands at the opening of the Climate Summit 2014. Her speech included a very moving poem she wrote to her infant daughter.


  • Statement by Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio, UN Messenger of Peace, with a special focus on climate change, at the opening of the Climate Summit 2014.



Mr. Franke spoke about how unsustainable water resources management leads to water scarcity and poor water quality worldwide and the link to human production and consumption. He presented numerous statistics to emphasize his points on the link between human consumption and water scarcity. His notes are here (http://www.lwvny.org/programs-studies/un/2014/Frankes-presentation-notes.pdf).


One of the League's co-sponsors for the day, Grace Communications Foundation, has more information on the topics discussed by Mr. Franke, as well as a link to the water footprint calculator described. The website for Grace is www.gracelinks.org, and the Water Footprint Calculator can be found at www.gracelinks.org/calculator.


Rosalee Keech, LWVUS Observer to the United Nations, also briefly spoke about the League's activities at the United Nations. She suggested that people go to http://webtv.un.org/ for webcasts of many of the UN meetings.  Many of the things the League does are in conjunction with coalitions we belong to.  The Working Group on Girls is one that also works on violence issues as well as girls' empowerment; their website is girlsrights.org.  


Also, CSW (Commission on the Status of Women) will be holding its 59th annual meeting on March 9-20, 2015.  The Commission will undertake a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The review (Beijing+20) will also include the outcomes of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly, the first five-year assessment conducted after the adoption of the Platform for Action, which highlighted further actions and initiatives. The session will also address opportunities for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the post-2015 development agenda. See more at: www.unwomen.org.  The LWV can sign up 15 folks to attend & will be sponsoring a panel discussion on Women in Government: Impact to Economic & Social Change.  Also we'll host a reception for LWV attendees.  Sign up is on a first come, first served basis.   Please let Suzie Maltz (suzanne.maltz6@gmail.com) know of anyone interested (person does not have to attend for the full 2 weeks). 


We'd like to thank our co-sponsors for the day - they provide great support for the League, but also encourage attendance by their own members and friends to enlarge the participation at the UN. Their members add greatly to our discussions at the UN.

  • Zonta International District 4
  • United Nations Department of Public Information
  • GRACE Communications Foundation
  • Women's Bar Association of the State of NY
  • General Federation of Women's Clubs

Dare Thompson, darethompson@gmail.com

Local leagues in and near the Southern Tier will be gathering in Elmira on Saturday, January 10 (snowdate January 24) to share concerns and solutions and explore ways to support and collaborate with one another. If you're interested in participating, let your president know or contact me for details.


If you would like such a regional meeting to happen in your area, let us know. We all benefit so much from seeing and hearing from one another in person! 


The LWV of Westchester County held an information meeting on the County budget on November 19th. Westchester County Budget Director, Lawrence Soule, reported on the administration's 2015-16 proposed budget and responded to questions posed by LWVW Budget Chair Betsy Shaw Weiner.


On November 17, 2014, the LWV of Scarsdale held a general membership and consensus meeting to discuss the proposed Scarsdale Schools $18.12M bond referendum. And, this League is now on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/League-of-Women-Voters-of-Scarsdale/815388915177928.


Sara Wokan, Co-President of the LWV of Broome and Tioga Counties, receives the award for presenting at the most number of forums on redistricting during the election season. Sara presented the information for the League and other organizations in her county. As a result, the proposal passed by 63% in Broome County. Congrats and thanks to Sara!


NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, who lost her re-election bid, will speak to the LWV of Albany County members at its annual holiday luncheon. At their holiday luncheon, LWV of New Rochelle will have David McKay Wilson, Tax Watch columnist at The Journal News as the speaker.


"A Local Example of Fair and Affordable Housing in Northern Westchester," a presentation by Westchester County Deputy Commissioner of Planning Norma Drummond will be the topic of discussion for the LWV of Bedford, Lewisboro and North Salem's meeting. The program will address several aspects of affordable housing, including the process that goes into the development of country-sponsored housing, the involvement of local municipalities, and the selection of residents.


Maria Whyte, Erie County Commissioner of the Department of Environment and Planning will be the guest speaker at a lunch sponsored by the LWV of Buffalo/Niagara.


League members in NYC recently conducted their consensus meetings on the state studies of term limits and ballot access during their monthly lunch meeting.


LWV of Chappaqua members graced the cover of the magazine, Inside Chappaqua, which included a wonderful article about the League. Click here


Minda Rae Amiran, Pat Christina and Marcia Merrins of LWV of Chautauqua manned the League table at the Women's Rock the Vote Program at the loca college. Over 20 students were registered to vote in Chautauqua County. Many thanks to student League member Courtney Loiacano for organizing this event.


LWV of East Nassau and Nassau County ILO held a post-election supper with commentary on the election results presented by Newsday Columnist Joyce Brown.  LWV of Long Beach also held a post-election supper and hosted Ellis Henican, also a Newsday Columnist and author of NY Times Bestsellers. Dr. Chris Malone, Associate Professor of political science at Pace University and Chair of the Political Science Department, returned to the LWV of Somers to present his annual analysis of election results on November 10, 2014.


The LWV of Geneva (LWV- G) organized a presentation by Paul Passavent, Associate Professor of Political Science at Hobart & William Smith Colleges, entitled: The Supreme Court & Democracy: the Right To Vote." Dr. Passavant has taught courses on Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, and Law and Society. He is the author of several books including: No Escape: Freedom of Speech and the Paradox of Rights (NY Univ. Press, 2002). 


LWV of Port Washington/Manhassett will host Mr. James Coll, Adjunct Professor of American and Constitutional History at Hofstra University and Nassau Community College, to discuss "The Constitution in America Today ...Does It Still Matter?" He is the founder of ChangeNYS.org, a notfor-profit organization formed to educate New Yorkers about the need for non-partisan civic understanding and political reform in our state, and a NYPD detective.


In October at the LWV of Larchmont/Mamaroneck's Issues Breakfast on The Courage to Do Good, international activist Connie Schneider shared anecdotes from Afghanistan, Chad, Syria and Sudan, and reflected on her experiences with the School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA), which runs the country's first multi-ethnic girls' boarding school. Go to the League's website at http://lwvlm.org/?p=1695 to get more information on SOLA and how you can get involved or support these efforts.


LWV of Mid-Hudson created a book club and discussed the classic novel "Nickled and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenriech, about low-wage jobs.


LWV of New Castle created a survey asking the New Castle community to help them better understand why the turnout on election day was so low and whether residents believe they are getting sufficient information to make informed decisions. It is not their intention to conduct a statistically valid survey, but rather to gather anecdotally some information so that the League can ensure that the community is getting the information it needs about the candidates and the issues. 


LWV of Rochester Metro Area, The Children's Agenda and The Center for Governmental Research presented "Stand with Families and Children in Our Community! A Report on Childcare for All Children in Monroe County." The presenters included Erika Rosenberg, Center for Governmental Research (CGR), Erika Rosenberg, CGR, Nancy Kaplan, Rochester's Child & Community Foundation, Sarah Davis, Parent, and Carolyn Lee-Davis, The Children's Agenda & Early Childhood Development Initiative. This research was funded through the Beatrice Bibby Endowment Fund of the League.


LWV of Rye, Rye Brook and Port Chester is hosting another Fireside Chat this Sunday with noted historian and lecturer, David L. Auerbach, who will be  "telling the story" of a remarkable duality of good and evil: The Enigma of Richard Nixon: Prelude to Watergate, with discussion following.


Schenectady Recycles! is a newly formed group of LWV of Schenectady members with a clear mission and an ambitious, but achievable, goal. The group's goal is to increase recycling in the City of Schenectady from its current 8% to the statewide average of 34%.


LWV of Syracuse organized a tour of the new WCNY Studios and learned about their Enterprise America Program. The Enterprise America program is an exciting hands-on co-curricular program for middle school students with the goal of preparing them for the 21st century. Following the three week program, students spend a day operating WCNY's Enterprise America City where they are responsible for governing the city and operating businesses.


Climate Change, Food and Farming in the Northeast, presented by Alison Chatrchyan, Director, Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture, and Slowing, Sinking and Spreading Water in Tompkins County in the Face of Climate Change, presented by Scott Doyle, Senior Planner, Tompkins County Planning Department were the two topics discussed at a recent meeting of LWV of Tompkins County.


And for a smile, Paula Blum of LWV of East Nassau shared a link to a video from the John Oliver show on the importance of state legislatures - enjoy!



onth Year
League of Women Voters of New York State
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