LWVN Newsletter, Vol 24 Issue 1
Table of contents
- President’s Letter
- Smell gas? Newton has 588 leaks in underground gas lines
- Yes for a New Charter campaign retrospective
- Voter Service Update Fall 2017
- Pollworkers’ Thank You Party held on December 14
- Welcome, New Members!
- In Memoriam
Dear LWVN Members:
Since the start of our LWVN year, we welcomed two new Board members: Pat Acton, a long-time active LWVN member and past president of the Wallingford, CT LWV, and Frieda Dweck, former PTO Council Co-President and co-chair of the Yes for a Newton Charter group. With a large Board this year, we hope to expand the number of active committees and improve our own internal processes to support our members.
It’s been a busy year so far…here’s what we’ve been working on:
- Candidates’ Forums: LWVN was once again pleased to work with NewTV on a series of forums in time for the elections. Together, we sponsored and organized eleven forums from the end of September to mid-October. All were aired on NewTV and are available on NewTV.org.
- VOTE411: For the very first time, LWVN used this online tool to present our Voters Guide. Leagues around the country have used them and been very pleased with the results. On October 10th, we made this available to our members and all voters in Newton. By inputting your address and zip code, you are able to see all the races you vote on, and the responses of the candidates to our questions. We received generally positive feedback from voters, and hope to continue this again.
- LWVN Supper for Elected Officials: every two years, at the start of a new legislative session, LWVN hosts our City Councilors, School Committee members and Mayor to a supper before a full meeting of the City Council. This year we had a great turnout for wraps and appetizers from Jake’s Falafel in Newton Center. Thanks to Linda Morrison, Sharyn Roberts, Tami Roberts and Pat Acton for their help with set-up and clean-up.
- “The League Presents…”: With the help and guidance of LWVN member Maureen Reilly Meagher, LWVN has a new program on NewTV! This program will cover timely topics of importance in our city. The first two episodes (September and October) were on the proposed charter vote, followed by the November show featuring three newly elected officials who were not in contested races. In December we talked about school transportation, followed by Newton Power Choice in January. Our most recent show was a conversation with Newton State Representatives Ruth Balser and Kay Khan. You can view all of these shows using links from the LWVN homepage at lwvnewton.org. We look forward to our next show with guest Mayor Ruthanne Fuller!
- Voter Registration: Our registration guru Sharyn Roberts and her volunteer corps has been hard at work at all the Farmer’s Markets and Village Days throughout the summer and fall, as well as both Newton North and Newton South High schools, to register voters. Please contact us at email@example.com if you would like to help.
- LWVN Environmental Committee: This committee meets regularly each month to discuss environmental issues important to our community. They collaborate with other environmental groups here in Newton and around the state as well. If you’d like to join and/or attend a meeting, check the LWVN calendar for their next scheduled date. Thanks to committee chair Lucia Dolan for her terrific leadership!
- Topic Meetings: Thanks to Bonnie Carter, Pat Acton, Linda Morrison and Theresa Fitzpatrick for organizing a number of topic meetings so far this year. Our March meeting will focus on local program planning, our regular yearly discussion of what we’d like to work on next year.
- Membership: Don’t forget to renew for the 2017-18 year if you haven’t yet—we’ve added an opportunity to automatically renew your membership each year so you don’t have to remember. Thanks to Lisa Mirabile, Bonnie Carter, Ellen Grody, Andrea Kozinetz and Sharyn Roberts for all your efforts.
- Lots of upcoming events: Be sure to check out the LWVN calendar—we post not only our own events, but also those of neighboring Leagues, LWV of Massachusetts, and LWVUS.
Thanks to all who have volunteered with us so far this year, and especially to Linda Morrison, who has organized this newsletter and who has endless reserves of patience.
Smell gas? Newton has 588 leaks in underground gas lines
by Lucia Dolan
Natural gas leaks:
- Can cause explosions
- Kill trees by attracting bacteria to their roots
- Are harmful to human health
- Are an extraordinarily potent greenhouse gas
- Waste a valuable fossil fuel that has been harvested through fracking
What’s more – we pay for all the gas wasted in leaks!
A topic meeting about gas leaks which was held at NewTV on Novermber 9. The Resource People/Speakers were Launa Zimmaro, LWVMA Environmental Specialist and Ellie Goldberg from Mothers Out Front (MOF) who is also a LWVN member. There were three members of MOF in attendance, as well as 12 League members. The Discussion Leader was Priscilla Leith. We learned that methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, that we are paying for gas that we don’t use, that if the gas company fixed the leaks, there would not be a need for the proposed new gas lines. We need to work on getting the gas company to deal with the aging infrastructure. Launa encouraged us to go to the LWVMass website to learn about LWVMA action at the State House. There is a list of bills that the LWV is working on, as well as the League testimony.
Yes for a New Charter campaign retrospective
by Frieda Dweck
With a few months behind us since last November’s election, the Yes for a New Charter campaign has had some time to reflect upon the campaign to approve a new city charter, and the effort to change the size and composition of our city council.
Our task was a challenging one – to convey a difficult message about a complex subject, and to convince voters to make a change. While we were all disappointed by our failure to get a new city charter approved in the election, we have much to be proud of.
Over the course of the campaign, we found there is still a large proportion of the Newton electorate that is uninformed about how our local government is structured, the choices that they are entitled to make when they step into the voting booth for municipal elections, and how their elected officials respond to them as constituents.
As a result of our efforts to change the charter, we believe that we provided a forum for Newton residents to engage in thoughtful conversations about how our local government works, and asked them to imagine how our local government could be better.
It is our hope that these conversations continue, that we keep tackling the difficult questions, and that we continue to challenge the status quo and continue to strive for a better government.
Finally, here is an accounting, by the numbers, of what the campaign and its many volunteers, accomplished:
- knocked on over 10,000 doors
- held over 30 coffees (or charter chats, as we liked to call them)
- had a presence at every fair, the farmers markets, and most other community events
- mailed three informational mailers to almost 20,000 households
- produced two palm cards that were distributed to thousands of people
- submitted over 40 letters to the Newton Tab, and many more letters to the city council
- installed over 500 lawn signs
- listed over 500 endorsers on its website
Voter Service Update Fall 2017
by Sharyn Roberts and Sue Flicop
This past fall was an exciting election season and with a series of Candidates’ Forums as well as a new format for our Voters Guide.
With 12 contested races, we had two certified candidates withdraw their names before the deadline and one write-in candidate announce her run after the deadline. LWVN determined that the write-in candidate met the standard set by LWVUS to be invited to join in LWVN voter service activities.
Newton had a preliminary election for Mayor, and LWVN held a Candidates’ Forum with our partner, NewTV, for all seven candidates. The September preliminary election reduced the number of candidates to two: Ruthanne Fuller and Scott Lennon.
LWVN, in partnership with NewTV, held eleven Candidates’ Forums, starting on September 25th. A forum for the Ward 1 Ward Councilor seat was not held, as the candidate Franco Cedrone declined to participate. Additionally, Jay Ciccone, Councilor and candidate for Ward 1 At-Large City Council seat, has also declined to join the forum for that seat. That forum, for the at-large seat, was still held because all three other candidates have chosen to attend.
All forums were recorded at NewTV studios and aired by the station throughout the election season. The programs were also available on NewTV.org—look for the “Newton Vote” section of their website at newtv.org.
This year, LWVN participates in VOTE411, an online Voters Guide that was created by LWV. We invited ALL candidates, even those who are not in contested races, to answer three questions that were of concern to our community. That was available to all Newton voters on October 10th by going to vote411.com and entering in a Newton address.
LWVN had a booth at all the Newton Farmers Markets, Village Days, and some school fairs registering voters who are new to Newton or who have reached age 16 and are participating in the state’s pre-registration. We also did a “brisk business” in absentee ballot applications for those voters who were not in town either for the Preliminary Election on September 12th or for the Municipal Election on November 7th. We were also educating the public in cooperation with the “YES” Committee on the November ballot question determining whether Newton should update the current Newton City Charter.
Sue Rosenbaum and Sharyn Roberts also spent an evening in August teaching some of the people at the Tosteson Medical Education Center at the Harvard Medical School how to run voter registrations.
We also provided rides to the polls for election workers and voters during the Preliminary on September 12th and and again on Tuesday, November 7th, Election Day.
LWVN also participated in National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, September 26th by registering students at Newton North High School in the morning in conjunction with Terry Yoffie and the adults and students of the NNHS Center for Civic Engagement and Service; and at the Cold Spring Farmers Market all afternoon. We registered and pre-registered students at Newton South High School the next week.
Our work continues! If you are interested in helping register voters, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Pollworkers’ Thank You Party held on December 14
On Dec.14, the City held a thank you party for the poll workers who worked on the elections last fall. Pizza, salad, and cake were enjoyed by all. A number of LWVN members joined them, circulating, expressing appreciation, and hearing people’s experiences or thoughts about elections. One poll worker expressed real concern about voter fraud and the integrity of our elections. Newton’s system, which reads ballots electronically, preserves the actual paper ballots. Wouldn’t it be progress if a federal law required all election systems to preserve such a paper trail!
Since November 2017, LWV Newton has welcomed the following members:
- Paula Fazli
- Sabrina Feldman
- Luis Fernandez-Herlihy
- Victoria Gifford
- Jane Harper and Neil Kulick
- Martina and Daniel Jackson
Thanks so much for supporting LWVN–we hope to see you at an event soon!
LWVN mourns the loss of three members who contributed greatly to the organization: Jane Leighton, Ingrid Kefauver and Ruth Fernandez-Herlihy.
Jane Leighton was LWVN President from 1975-77, and passed away on January 13. The Jane Leighton Award was named in her honor in 1980. Jane was honored to have her name symbolize service to the community and the League, and all those who worked with her remember her with great fondness.
Ingrid was an outspoken person and long time member who particularly valued the LWV practice of active citizenship and Voters’ Service.
Ruth Fernandez Herlihy
Ruth was active during the 1960s, and chaired the LWVN committee studying whether the City should form a Charter Commission (Florence Rubin later chaired the Commission itself). She is remembered as a lovely person and must have been a stalwart leader!
Ruth Fernandez Herlihy: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/wickedlocal-newton/obituary.aspx?pid=185661549