LWVN Newsletter, Vol 26 Issue 2
Table of Contents
- President’s letter
- What’s Happening on the Board…
- Voter Service/Elections
- Citizen Education (Topic Meetings/League Presents)
- Climate Change, COVID-19, and Zero Emission Vehicles
- 2020 LWVUS Convention Report
Dear LWVN Members,
In August, the Board of Directors met, virtually, for our annual planning meeting. At this time, we welcomed our new Board Members Judy Jaffe and Rhanna Kidwell. We then thought it was extremely important to reaffirm our Leadership Standards, which guide how we work as a Board with each other and the LWVN membership:
LWVN Leadership Standards
|The Board of Directors:
|Each member of the Board of Directors:
Then using the “Direction to the Board” which we received from you in June and our Approved Program we confirmed our priorities, actions and identified Board and LWVN members who will take the lead for each priority area (see Program Priorities, 2020-21). If you are interested in participating in an effort, we ask that you please volunteer for any/all priorities that are of interest to you by contacting the Board Leads at email@example.com.
Though we got a bit of a late start this year, we have continued to function within the safety guidelines from the CDC and the City. Given these limitations, I am pleased to summarize our significant accomplishments during the first quarter (July-September):
- Validated our Non-Partisan Policy
- Voter Service: Co-sponsored Congressional District 4 & Middlesex District 10 State Representative candidate forums, Provided voter information the LWVN website, co-sponsored Newton Free Library’s Ranked Choice Voting educational forum and promoted voting through the LWVN masks fundraiser
- Advocacy: Letters supporting CPA applications and advocating for increased transparency within our government
- League Presents: Zoning Redesign and Voting in Newton during the Pandemic
- Newton Reflects on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- Participation in the LWVUS convention
What to look forward to in the second quarter:
- Distribution of LWVN VOTE Signs to remind people to vote
- Improve our governance with more efficient processes and clear policies
- Continuing to observe the Community Preservation Committee and Newton Police Reform Task Force
- Working with City Leaders to increase transparency in government
- The League Presents: Ranked Choice Voting
- Topic Meeting on Zoning Redesign
- Implementation of the LWVN Scholarship Program
- Enhanced LWVN Brochure
LWVN Scholarship Program
Our Scholarship Committee (Nicki Dawes, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Ellen Grody, Andrea Kozinetz, and Josephine McNeil) has been working diligently to establish a program that would enable the LWVN to award two scholarships of $1000 to graduating seniors who have plans to continue their education after graduation (College, Vocational Education etc.). Criteria, being considered, are as follows:
- The student lives in/goes to school in Newton. This would include public & private school students, METCO students, and students who are home-schooled
- In his/her life and school work, holds core values that are in alignment with those of the League
- The student has been actively involved in Newton’s civic life.
- There is a financial need
The timeline, as currently planned is:
- Application process will open on January 1, 2021 and will be due on March 1,2021
- During March & April, evaluation teams will review applications and make a final decision
- Awards will be made on May 1, 2021.
The program will be publicized through the high schools, PTO Council, NTA, and other recommended community groups.
The LWVN Handbook is in the process of being updated for 2020. Following the election in November, the updated Handbook will be available for download and printing on the LWVN website. For privacy reasons, the digital version will not feature the Member Roster. Instead, the Member Roster will be made available separately to members. In addition, a printed booklet version of the 2020 Handbook will be made available to members upon request. Please stay tuned for further details.
In September, we held a “show your LWVN spirit” with this colorful face mask that promoted active engagement in our democracy while helping to protect good health practices. We sold 35 masks and raised $139 for our work, especially in the Voter Service space. We hope to continue to offer a version of these LWVN masks, as we all will be wearing masks for the foreseeable future. Thank you to Jen Abbott for her creative thinking and initiative with this project.
The LWVN has had a long history of having Observers of Newton City Government. Though we are in need of observers for all aspects of the City’s activities, we do have regular Observers at Newton’s Community Preservation Committee. This year our committee, led by Linda Morrison, with members Lucia Dolan, Judy Jaffe, Jack Lovett and alternate member Marcia Johnson made recommendations to support the following projects, with approval from the LWVN Board:
- The LWVMA has been a long-time supporter of programs, policies and regulations to address the housing needs of low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Click here and see section on “Affordable Housing.” Therefore, the LWVN observers with the approval of the Board of Directors submitted letters of support for the Golda Meir project and the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Relief
- In addition, we endorsed the Commonwealth Avenue Carriageway Project as it fits our positions of improving infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians, and will increase greenspace in that edge of the City.
- In support of the LWVMA mission and vision and the LWVN membership’s direction to the Board, we provided our observations and recommendation, to the Newton Police Reform Task Force, for increased transparency and a more effective means to gather and communicate personal experiences. We will continue to observe the Task Force’s meetings and have input where we think it may be valuable and helpful.
by Karen Manning and Sharyn Roberts
Since March, with the COVID-19 pandemic constantly affecting most of our activities, Voters Service has been set back on its heels. Our usual, very physical presence at Village Days, Farmers Markets, voter forums, and other community events has greatly been curtailed.
So we are learning to pivot. We have strengthened our collaborations with other groups, reached out to the public with our extensive use of modern day electronic methods, and continued to be visible without being physically there.
We were lucky this summer to have two newly graduated students from Newton South High School “womaning” a table at the reconstituted Farmers Market. They were part of the youth coalition Students of MA-04 concentrating their efforts on the 4th Congressional District Primary with fact sheets on how to vote, and information on each of the candidates highlighting their qualifications with QR codes directly linking voters to each of those candidates’ campaign websites.
We collaborated with Leagues from Brookline, Needham, Sharon-Stoughton, and Wellesley to co-sponsor the 4th Congressional District Candidate Forum; and with Waltham and Watertown for the 10th Middlesex District Candidate Forum before the Primary Election. We are grateful to Marcia Johnson, our LWVN President, for her effective leadership ensuring we fulfilled our Voters Service obligations. We are thankful to BIG (Brookline Interactive Group} and NewTV for hosting these candidate forums and allowing us via Zoom, YouTube, and Vimeo to record and then electronically share these forums with the public by distributing and sharing with other television stations in the respective districts until the Primary.
Thank you to our very busy LWVN Marketing Committee (Jen Abbott, Frieda Dweck, Theresa Fitzpatrick, and Karen Manning), who with Lisa Mirabile and Marcia Johnson have prepared an updated trifold for voters, oversaw a LWVN “Vote” face mask fundraiser, designed and now are distributing our own LWV VOTE lawn signs. Our MARCOM Team has also been instrumental in making sure that our Voters Service activities are covered by news media (i.e. Boston Globe Metrowest, Newton Patch, and Newton TAB), and social media in press releases, on FaceBook, our LWVN website, and other community websites (Newton Needham Chamber of Commerce, Village 14, etc.).
We encourage community members to access the lwvnewton.org website for excellent voting information as you make your plan to vote. Also included are Candidates Forums for contested races. Thank you to Lisa and Marcia.
The LWVUS website vote411.org is a further option to find out exactly what will be on your ballot. It includes a Voters Guide showing you the races on which you will be voting, the candidate’s biographical information, campaign websites, and responses to questions asked by the League showing where the candidates stand on issues.
We have been advising Boston College on registering their students to vote as is pertinent in their home state or using their college address, applying for absentee ballots, differing states’ deadlines, what constitutes appropriate voter identification, and concern about retaining their grants or scholarships.
We are currently attending virtual sessions being held on different facets of Voters Service by LWVMA, LWVUS, the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, NPR, PBS, American Promise, Senator Cynthia Creem, Yes on 2 Ranked Choice Voting, Newton Needham Chamber of Commerce, Zoom.US, National Voter Registration, Common Cause, non-partisan GOTV, Safe Elections Network, Nonprofit Vote, and other nonpartisan, collaborative groups.
We welcome offers from people willing to drive voters to vote at the polls either on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd, or during early voting. Please leave your contact information (name, phone number, and email address) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-383-4598.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we have been limited in what we have been able to do outside of the information provided on our website. We have been able, working with LWVN member Maureen Reilly Meagher and New TV to produce two The League Presents shows on two very important topics to Newton residents:
- A Conversation with Councilor Deb Crossley, Ward 5, on Zoning Redesign
- Voting in Newton during a Pandemic with City Clerk David Olson
Welcome, new members!
We welcome new members to the LWV!
- Mary Bradley
- Heather Amsden
- Marcia Karp
- Ilene and Daniel Pincus
- Madeline Ranalli
- Srividya Subramanian
- Arline Egyud-Moritz
by Lucia Dolan
“People with COVID-19 who live in US Regions with high levels of air pollution are more likely to die from the disease than people who live in less polluted areas,” according to a recent Harvard Study. Middlesex County has the second highest level of air pollution particulate matter in Massachusetts, much of it concentrated along the Mass Pike and 128 (A Clean Transportation System for my Patients).
The Massachusetts Zero Emission Vehicle Coalition and partners, including the Newton EV Task Force and League of Women Voters Massachusetts, sent the Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection a letter urging action beginning with asking the State “Set a goal and create an action plan for all vehicles to be electric by 2040. Commit to all electric transit and school bus fleets by 2035. Commit to complete electrification of state and municipal fleets by 2035. Establish goals and incentive programs for the conversion of private vehicle fleets.”
School buses call for special priority, most, including those in Newton, are diesel and emit more particulate matter than gasoline. Young lungs are more susceptible to damage from air pollution.
On the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, 2020, Governor Baker committed the Commonwealth to an ambitious, aggressive, science-based net zero emissions limit of GreenHouse Gases at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Transportation is Massachusetts largest source of Green House Gas emissions, setting a goal and creating an action plan for electrification of vehicles is an important step toward achieving the State’s ambitious net zero emissions limit.
Moving in the right direction to lower GreenHouse Gases in Newton, NewMo, the City’s transportation service for seniors, uses hybrid vehicles.
by LWV Newton delegates Lucia Dolan and Bonnie Carter
Over 1,100 delegates across America joined the virtual convention and stayed through the inevitable Zoom challenges to discuss, debate, and vote. We welcomed in a new board, led by incoming president, Dr. Deborah Turner, of the Des Moines Metropolitan League. Dr. Turner has served on the Finance committee, Governance Committee, and chaired the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, in addition to chairing the Board of Trustees of the League of Women Voters Education Fund. The new LWVUS Board.
Finances: the LWVUS is in good shape with 6 months of operating expenses in reserves. Per Member Payments was held at $32. There was a lengthy discussion on whether or not to admit students for free, what the definition of a student should be and whether this discriminates against young people who go straight into the workforce or an apprenticeship. They retained the definition of student, full time or part time at an accredited institution, which could be a trade school. The local League does not pay PMP for students, but the local League can set dues at any level.
Program Motions Adopted:
- A non-recommended item, the abolition of the electoral college by Constitutional amendment as a LWVUS action focus for the 2020-2022 biennium. The motion PASSED on 681 yay, 458 nay votes (There was a debate that this undermined current LWVUS action for the National Popular Vote.)
- Concurrence on the Transfer of Federal Public Land. The motion PASSED on 885 yay, 207 nay votes (There was debate that LWVUS should focus on voting issues) Federal lands should benefit all Americans; should be transferred only after assessments including health and environmental impacts; the LWV opposes sale of federal lands to private entities.
- Voter Representation/Electoral Systems Concurrence to support electoral systems at each level of government that encourage participation, are verifiable and auditable and enhance representation for all voters be adopted. The motion PASSED on 1064 yay, 79 nay votes
- To retain all current LWVUS positions in the areas of representative government, international relations, natural resources and social policy. The motion PASSED on 1157 yay, 25 nay votes
- The proposed LWVUS program for 2020-2022 Campaign for Making Democracy Work®: ensuring a free, fair and accessible electoral system for all eligible voters by focusing on Voting Rights, Improving Elections and advocacy for the National Popular Vote Compact, Campaign Finance/Money in Politics and Redistricting and to continue to work on urgent issues: Climate Change, the Equal Rights Amendment, Health Care, Gun Safety, Abolition of the Electoral College and Immigration. The motion PASSED on 1139 yay, 30 nay votes
- We resolve that the LWVUS reaffirms our commitment to Immigration reform, for efficient, expeditious immigrant entry into the United States. The League stands in solidarity with immigrants and our immigrant rights community partners. Congress must take immediate action to pass common sense, fair immigration policies that end the crisis at our borders, end the separation of families, ensure their health and safety, and provide a clear path to citizenship, including DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) young people. The motion PASSED on 1,092 yay, 12 nay votes
- We Resolve First, That the League advocates against systemic racism in the justice system and, at a minimum, for preventing excessive force and brutality by law enforcement. We also call for prompt actions by all League members to advocate within every level of government to eradicate systemic racism, and the harm that it causes; We Resolve Second, That the League help our elected officials and all Americans recognize these truths to be self-evident; that Black, Indigenous and all people of color (BIPOC) deserve equal protection under the law; and that we demand solutions for the terrible wrongs done, so that regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and gender identity or sexual orientation we may truly become a nation “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. The motion PASSED on 1094 yay, 32 nay votes
- Resolved, that the LWVUS calls for an immediate, wide-scale, mobilization by the United States, to restore, protect and fund an ecologically sustainable environment and climate, based on an interrelated approach that is environmentally sound, science based, just and equitable, dedicated to adequately addressing the scale and speed of the global climate change emergency. The motion PASSED on 1,091 yay, 21 nay votes
Resolutions Committee Report The resolutions committee was presented with five resolutions. They ruled that two of them did not fit the criteria for resolutions. We passed the other three – see above.