League of Women Voters of NYS


November 2015  

From the President
I hope you'll be taking a little breather this week to celebrate with family and friends all that you have to be grateful for. Let's keep the gratitude going through the year, because considering how easily things can go wrong, it's amazing how often they hum along all right!  Our bodies, our environment, and even our governments do have some remarkable corrective mechanisms built in.
Here are some things from this past month in my League work at the state and local levels that I'll celebrate.  
  • Seeing at my local polling site how carefully everyone was working to make sure each vote was protected, that ballots were secure, and that the process was accessible to all. The heads of the parties worked cheerfully together to make sure poll workers got lunch and dinner - kumbaya in an often polarized town!
  • Sitting in on a county Laws and Rules Committee with several other local LWV members to make sure it made no changes to the county charter we helped create. They know we are watching their every move.
  • Participating in a wide array of conference calls about strengthening local Leagues, making the League more visible, and addressing various advocacy and educational topics. 
  • Sitting in all day (!) on a state Assembly hearing on improving elections across New York and listening to our many thoughtful allies as well as our own Aimee Allaud and Barb Bartoletti make suggestions and respond to questions. 
  • Visiting (along with Laura Bierman) a very community-minded couple who have supported the League for decades both as members and as donors and who presented us with a generous annual gift.
  • Representing the state League at a cheerful and thoughtful board meeting of the Saugerties LWV and getting Krause locally-made chocolates as a thank you!
  • Participating in my local League's informational meeting on Raise the Age with four fine panelists. It's a little trickier issue than I had realized.
  • Hearing that the Governor just signed the legislation authorizing the Women's Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission! We can all thank Senator Betty Little for pushing this legislation through and putting the president of the LWV on the Commission. See the statement applauding the Governor for signing the legislation posted on our website. 
  • Lining up great state League leaders to serve as honorary chairs of our OWN celebration of the 1917 winning of the vote in NY, the 1919 birth of LWVNYS, and the 1920 winning of the vote nationwide. They are Shirley Eberly, Emily and Eugene Grant, Ruth Hinerfeld, Libby Hubbard, and Evelyn Stock. 
I'm putting lots of miles on my Subaru and wearing out my ears on conference calls, but how gratifying it all is. Happy thanks-giving to all of us!

Dare Thompson, President
League of Women Voters of NYS
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Twitter: @LWVNYS
Travel with the League
Click here  for trips and itineraries.
Holiday Shopping That Benefits the League
If you're shopping on Amazon this holiday season, first sign into AmazonSmile and then place your order. There is no difference in your order or price, and you can still get your Amazon Prime benefits, but .5% of each of your purchase prices will be donated to the LWVNYS Education Foundation. Click here for more information. 
1919 Society
Sally Robinson, robintwins@gmail.com
With the backdrop of the United States District court house and the trials of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos on federal corruption charges, the state League held a press conference with our good government colleagues to press for comprehensive ethics reform.  At the press conference we announced a letter to the Governor and legislative leaders giving a specific list of urgent reforms (posted on the state website and linked here). As most of you have been reading in the newspaper, the Silver trial has thrown a sad spotlight on the pervasive culture of Albany.  That is what the League is hoping we can finally change this coming legislative session.
On a more positive note, Aimee Allaud the League's Election specialist testified before the New York State Assembly Election Law Committee on early voting and no-excuse voting (again, posted on the state website and linked here). Here is an area where the League has traditionally been the leader around the country and we know there is much that can be accomplished in New York to bring our voting into the 21st century.
Barb Thomas, barb.lwv@nycap.rr.com
Many League members are following with great interest the efforts by some to raise the minimum wage in New York to $15 an hour. While we lament the shameful wage gap in our state and are eager to help those who are struggling to make ends meet, it's important to know that the issue - and its solutions - are complex.

As discussed at State Convention in June and in previous State Voteres, below is a statement from LWVUS about what state and local Leagues can and can't do concerning "living wage" efforts. In accordance with this, our state's Living Wage Committee has been exploring what we might consider a living wage in a diverse state like ours. It will report to the state board at its December meeting and the board will explore next steps. STAY TUNED.

Meanwhile we thank the Living Wage Committee: Barb Thomas (Saratoga) chair, with Ann Converso (Buffalo-Niagara), Carole Mehlman (NYC), Lenore Schwager (Cortland), and Sara Wokan (Broome-Tioga).

LWVUS Statement:
The LWVUS Board reminds Leagues that we have a national position on Meeting Basic Human Needsthat includes the following statement: "People who are unable to work, whose earnings are inadequate or for whom jobs are not available have the right to an income and/or services sufficient to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and access to health care." The Board is aware that in setting their own legislative priorities for this year, there are communities in which League Boards may find both the interest and the opportunity to take action on local or state legislation to which this position may apply. Every League Board has the serious responsibility to do its due diligence on any proposed legislation that addresses Meeting Basic Human Needs and judge whether there is member understanding and agreement that the proposed legislation meets the criteria quoted above. If it does, then the Board should carefully deliberate and make a decision based upon both the position and the needs of its own community. What fits other communities can only be addressed by the relevant League.

With the understanding that the LWVUS Board has not interpreted this provision of our position on Meeting Basic Human Needs to define a so-called 'living wage' at the national level or to support a federal minimum wage, action on state or local legislation using this or any other national position is in the discretion of the League Board at that governmental level. At the national level, Board and staff will continue to say that we have no member understanding and agreement as to a definition of a 'living wage' and that we cannot support a federal minimum wage, on the other hand, we do not presume to anticipate every possible legislative scenario that Leagues may confront in their own communities to which the language of the Meeting Basic Human Needs position may apply.

Carol Mellor, carolmellor140@gmail.com
State Conference Call: LWVUS Study Money in Politics
Over 40 people joined the conference call in November to discuss the US Study on Amending the Constitution. The materials, including a Powerpoint presentation, are posted on the state website for all to use and review.  
We are now offering a conference call to all members to go over the LWVUS materials on the Money in Politics Study.  Results will still have to be reported by the local Leagues as Leagues to LWVUS by February 1.  The conference call will be on Monday, December 14, at 7:00 pm.  We need you to RSVP as soon as possible by email to Laura@lwvny.org that you want to be on the call and we will get back to you with information for the call. The LWVUS materials on the MIP review and update can be found at http://forum.lwv.org/category/member-resources/our-work/money-politics-review.
LWVUS Studies
LWVUS Studies: 
Money in Politics and Constitutional Amendment Process
Money in Politics Materials
The final MIP background papers in the series have been posted. Hard, Soft and Dark Money presents ways used by outside groups try to influence elections through hard money, soft money and dark money and Options to Reform Money in Politics covers campaign finance reform strategies that are currently allowable in the wake of Supreme Court decisions. The official MIP Consensus form is also posted for Leagues to use to report their consensus reports. All these materials can be found on the Money in Politics page. For additional information, please contact Barbara Zia, MIP Committee Chair at MIPCommitteeChair@lwv.org.

Constitutional Amendment (CA) Study Materials
Leagues that are preparing to hold CA Study meetings should check out the Constitutional Amendment page on the League Management website, which includes the Study Guide, Consensus Questions and the official CA Consensus form. The deadline for response forms is December 1, 2015.
Every Vote Counts, Every Donor Counts
Kate Jankowski, Kate@lwvny.org
November is traditionally the time of year when donors start planning for and making their annual gifts so it is a busy time for any fundraising program. And the state League office is no exception. Currently, we have several opportunities for people to give to the Education Foundation:
Education Foundation 2015 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. It includes updates on our successes from the previous year as well as a glimpse of priorities for 2016. Please look for it if you haven't already seen it.
#GivingTuesday December 1, 2015
The state League Education Foundation will be participating in the #GivingTuesday movement for the third year in a row. On December 1, 2015, people around the globe will join together to demonstrate that generosity and giving are the focus of the holiday season. Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities.  We invite you to join the movement and to help get out and give this December 1. And, to help us celebrate #GivingTuesday at the state League, a small group of donors has offered to match any gift we receive for #GivingTuesday. Stay tuned for our email notices about this program as we get closer to December 1. To make a gift in support of #GivingTuesday, click here: https://secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/4ALAnURS6LRDel8cvUu58Q

Giving to Your Local League
Please consider also giving to your local League. You can make a tax deductible donation to your local League online here. You must indicate through the "drop down" to which local League you are donating. 

Congratulations to all local Leagues for all you did during the 2015 election cycle to register and educate voters. We saw many reports of voter registration events around the state-some Leagues even held 10-15 voter registration events between September and October. Thank you!

A candidate forum organized by the LWV of Bedford, Lewisboro and North Salem received visibility in the local paper; see the article here

Co-Leaders of LWV of Syracuse, Joan Johnson and Joan Durant, had their letter to the editor published encouraging people to vote on election day. See the letter here

Every year, LWV of Suffolk ILO develops a trifold brochure which describes the many many voter service activities performed by the five Suffolk County local Leagues. It is distributed to all at their annual post election event and it's also on their website. See the brochure here
Money in Politics was a hot topic for local Leagues during November. The following Leagues hosted programs:
  • The LWV of the Rivertowns hosted a discussion on Money in Politics this month. Brent Ferguson, Counsel to Brennan Center for Justice Democracy Program, will speak on a lawsuit to close the LLC loophole created by the New York State Board of Elections in 1996. This League will be considering the concurrence on "Raise the Age" at their December meeting.
  • Blair Horner, Legislative Director for NYPIRG, will be presenting on the topic of Money in Politics to a meeting of the LWV of Schenectady County this month.
  • The LWV of the Rochester Metro Area and the Social Justice Council of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester presented a discussion entitled, "Money in Politics:  Is Democracy for Sale?" this month. The panel included:  Professor Roy Gutterman, Director of Newhouse School at Syracuse University; Scott Forsyth, of the law firm Forsyth and Forsyth; and Sam Fedele, former Coordinator of Move to Amend/Rochester and their moderator was Dorothy Borgus, League Member.
  • This was featured at the "Hot Topics Luncheon" for the LWV of Chautauqua County.
  • The LWV of the Hamptons held a preparatory meeting to discuss this topic in advance of their consensus meeting in January.
Many Leagues also hosted programs on the "Raise the Age" concurrence:
  • The LWV of the Mid-Hudson Region is holding an information session on "Raise the Age" this month in advance of their concurrence vote in December.
  • The LWV of Saratoga County hosted a "Raise the Age" panel discussion that was open to the community this month. Penelists included a Town Justice speaking about present law and options for dealing with 16 and 17 year olds(not confirmed at time of publication); Paige Pierce, Executive Director of Families Together (Albany) speaking about brain development; and Karin Moran Carreau, Public Policy Advocate with Families Together (Albany) speaking about proposed legislation.
  • The LWV of Scarsdale held their "Raise the Age" concurrence meeting mid-November. They are also planning a program on Money in Politics for January.
  • The LWV of New Castle will hold their forum on this topic on December 1st. Their event is open to the public and speakers include:  Allison Lake, Westchester Children's Association; and Lisa Freeman, The Legal Aid Society of New York.
  • The LWV of Broome and Tioga Counties held their concurrence meeting early in November.
  • The LWV of Huntington held a meeting to cover information on two positions in one night-"Raise the Age" and the constitutional amendment issue.
  • The LWV of Utica/Rome heard from District Attorney Scott D. McNamara, and Investigator Patrick Johnson at their recent "Raise the Age" meeting.
On November 20, the LWV of Buffalo/Niagara will hear from Thomas J. Dearing, Commissioner of the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, on the topic, "Good Things Happen when Government Works: What did and didn't work and what we learned."

Scott Stringer, NYC Comptroller, will be the speaker at the LWV of NYC's December luncheon. He will speak about NYC pension funds and shaping boardroom policies, City agencies and support of women in business, the costs of legal claims against NYC, the role of federal funds in NYC, and transparency in NY governance.
The LWV of Rye, Rye Brook, and Port Chester hosted their annual Fireside Afternoon of History event. This year's topic was, "Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The Invisible Core of Greatness" presented by lecturer and historian, David L. Auerbach.
In early November, Dr. Christopher Malone gave his annual update to the LWV of Somers on the "Political Forecast" after the election. Dr. Malone is a nationally renowned political scientist with 15 years of leadership and faculty experience at Pace University and has been appointed associate dean at the Lehman College School of Natural and Social Sciences.
The LWV of Tompkins County's Healthcare Committee held a panel discussion on Women and Addictions as part of their Women's Health and Well-Being Series. Panel members included Arpi Hovaguimian, LCSW; Helen Kaplan, Alcohol and Drug Council; Lindsay Kolk, Cayuga Addictions Rehabilitation Services; and Casey Monahan, Department of Social Services. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is co-sponsoring this event.
On December 3, the LWV of Westchester County is holding their holiday luncheon. Their speaker will be Dr. Belinda S. Miles, new President of Westchester Community College.
The LWV of Albany County held a program called, ""What You Need to Know Before the Lights Go Out--Energy and Climate Change: The Future of Energy in NYS in the Era of Climate Change." Their speaker was Arthur "Jerry" Kremer, Partner, Empire Government Strategies, Albany.
The LWV of East Nassau held a post-election dinner with Joye Brown early in November.
Last month, the LWV of the Hamptons hosted Student Day at the Legislature. More than 75 junior and senior high school students from East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Southampton, Hampton Bays, Westhampton Beach, South Country, Rocky Point, Mt. Sinai, Central Islip, Brentwood and Patchogue, convened in the horseshoe chamber of the Legislature and began their day by hearing from Legislators Sarah Anker (6th District), Monica Martinez (9th District), Leslie Kennedy (12th District) and County Comptroller John Kennedy. A running theme was to not only to encourage students to vote but to get involved in their communities and to think about how they can make a difference.

Members of the LWV of Larchmont/Mamaroneck are invited to a Holiday Celebration and Community Discussion of Saving Historic Buildings in Larchmont & Mamaroneck with  Lynne Crowley, Larchmont Historical Society and Town Of Mamaroneck Historian and Historic Preservationist on December 1st.

Women's Suffrage Centennial News
The first annual Right to Run 19K and 5K will take place on Saturday, May 7, 2016 - a national fundraiser to benefit the National Women's Hall of Fame. The 19K distance is a nod to the 19th amendment - a perfect distance to run in Seneca Falls, NY - the birthplace of women's rights. The course is picturesque, and both distances run through the village and countryside, ending at the historic Seneca Knitting Mill on the Cayuga-Seneca River - under renovation to become the future home of the Hall as The Center for Great Women. Kathrine Switzer -  the first woman to run officially in the Boston Marathon and a leader in making the women's marathon an official event in the Olympic Games - is our national Spokesperson and will be here for the event. It is not too early to plan to be here for the inaugural event. Registration for both the 19K and 5K is open now: https://runsignup.com/Race/NY/SenecaFalls/RighttoRun19K5K
League of Women Voters of New York State
62 Grand Street, Albany, NY 12207
Tel: 518-465-4162;  FAX: 518-465-0812
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Twitter: @LWVNYS