Summer, 2019  

President's Message

July 2019
Dear Fellow League Members,

Fiscal 2018-19 was an exciting year with significant accomplishments thanks to many dedicated volunteers.  During the mid-term election cycle, the Voter Service Committee organized candidate forums for all major local races that had at least two candidates participating, we also held pros/cons presentations with good attendance.  The Voter Information Booklet team managed to get us a healthy level of fees as they once again delivered, in record time, a product which we believe helps to some degree level the playing field for candidates who may not be as well funded but want to run for office.  The net proceeds will enable us to invest in several projects such as the upcoming 100th anniversary celebration and the Parkland Voter Movement project.

One of the most exciting projects in the past few years has been a collaboration with the Parkland Voter Movement for which our League serves as Partner and fiscal sponsor.   This project was brought to us through the initiative and leadership of a mother/son team, Julie and Michael Dunkle.   The Parkland Voter Movement Project is based on empowering our youth to lead the way by channeling their grief and outrage at gun violence and towards active civic engagement. Through this effort just over 3000 high school students have been registered or pre-registered to vote just in our local high schools! 

Alex Starr, I, Julie Dunkle and Michael Dunkle attended the League of Women Voters of Californias State convention at the end of May, as delegates, and our league won an award for sponsoring this project.  Julie Dunkle was also invited to present at a workshop featuring the best practices of Leagues across California. In addition, our delegation presented at a caucus attended by other League members to share information on how to replicate this project.  Julie and Michal Dunkle have also been nominated for a national democracy award.  You can read more about the convention in a later article in this Voter.

June 4th 2019 was the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment by Congress in 1919.  However, it would take over a year until August 18, 1920 for the amendment to be ratified.  Meanwhile, the League of Women Voters was established on February 14, 1920 as the first President Carrie Chapman Catt stated, to finish the fight and provide tools for women to be informed voters.  The 100th anniversary team, lead by Andrea Schacter and Sets Amann are planning several exciting celebratory activities  such as marching in the July 4th Parade. Please speak with them if you want to participate.

We invite you to join us in the year ahead - your input and your participation are vital towards fulfilling our mission to make democracy work. The hallmark of the League of Women Voters has been grassroots participation and empowerment  this is what got us the vote  nearly a 100 years ago and this is what will ensure that we continue the fight and much needed work towards a healthy democracy.   The work of the League, with authoritarian regimes flourishing and attacks on civil rights increasing, is needed now more than ever. Please join us to make an impact and safeguard our democracy. 

In League,

Syeda Reshma Inamdar

Julie and Michael Dunkle's Reflection on LWVC Convention

Thanks to our local and state Leagues, we had an enlightening and inspiring trip to the state convention.  Each delegation was welcoming, eager to share and curious to learn.  The numerous ad-hoc conversations and mealtime chats were warm and stimulating.  We learned so much from everyone.  Even in our own caucus “presentation,” we learned many tips and tricks from those in our audience.  The inclusive and collaborative spirit was refreshing to be immersed within.  Of course, it was also a special treat to be surprised by the “Supporting Diverse Communities” award.  Although we had a lot to share and be proud of from our own League’s collective hard work, we also received many ideas on how we can improve to become both better leaders in our own communities as well as stronger supports for other Leagues.  Thank you for supporting our trip to the state convention.  Oh, and Michael and I also enjoyed some quality mom-son time on our first ever excursion to Universal Studios.

LWVC President Helen Hutchison's
Welcome to 2019 LWV California Convention

President Helen L. Hutchison welcomed the delegates and guests to Convention 2019. She introduced LWVUS representatives present: President Chris Carson; Chief Executive Officer Virginia Kase; and Fundraising Trainer Amy Hjerstedt. She noted the large number of first-time attendees in the audience and urged more experienced convention goers to assist them as needed. President Hutchison noted, Well also learn from and be inspired by a variety of speakers. We all will leave with a renewed sense of why we joined the League  and particularly why we continue to commit our time and energy to the League.

Find in-depth information on speakers, workshops, special events, caucuses, and more on the Documents page.

Guest Speakers Welcomed during Convention:

  • Veronica Carrizales, California Calls
  • PaKou Her, Tseng Development Group
  • Chris Hoene, California Budget and Policy Center
  • Virginia Kase, League of Women Voters of the United States
  • Zahra Noorbakhsh, Comedian
  • Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California
Delegates voted to retain current positions as follows:
  • Government, including campaign financing, constitution, election systems, intergovernmental relationships, public libraries, redistricting, state and local finance, and voting rights.
  • Natural Resources, including agriculture, air quality, energy, hazardous materials, land use, solid waste, transportation, and water.
  • Social Policy, including children and family issues, child care, community college system, education: pre-kindergarten through 2, housing, juvenile justice/dependency, legal aid, mental health care, and public higher education.
Delegates adopted the recommended Issues for Education and Advocacy for 2019-2021:
  • Making Democracy Work in California
  • Schools & Communities First Campaign
  • Climate Change
  • Housing and Homelessness
  • Criminal Justice Reform
Delegates adopted the recommended new positions by concurrence as detailed on pages 42-47 of the Convention Workbook:
  • Criminal Justice
  • Electoral Process (replaces the current position on Election Systems).
Not-Recommended Program item approved by the delegates:
  • LWVC update of the PreK-12 Education position to include charter schools' accountability
"Will of the Convention" Resolutions for 2019
The delegates approved two Will of the Convention resolutions:

  • Resolution Motion No. 550: Resolved that the LWVC statewide convention ask our elected representatives in the US Senate, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Kamala Harris, to take all measures within their power to move forward the passage of the provisions of HR 1 in the Senate.
  • Resolution Motion No. 551: Resolved that we as delegates of California local Leagues assembled at the 2019 LWVC Convention call upon the LWVC Board, Action Committee and local Leagues to advocate for Climate Emergency Declaration and relevent action by state, county, and local governments.

Presentation of Awards to Local Leagues:
  • Engaging Underserved Communities - LWV Fremont/Newark/Union City and LWV Santa Barbara
  • Promoting League Visibility - Mother Lode MAS/MAL Unit
  • Making Democracy Stronger - LWV Los Angeles
Editor's Note: I have attended several state conventions. This was the best one by far. Good speakers, lots of content sharing in the workshops and caucuses, excellent information sharing every day, and the hotel food was pretty darn good!!!
Congratulations to PVM, our League and friends of the League for winning an award for
Engaging Underserved Communities!!

New Criminal Justice Position Adopted at LWVC Convention
Position in Brief
The LWV California supports:
  • a criminal justice system that is just, effective, equitable, transparent, and that fosters public trust at all stages, including policing practices, pre-trial procedures, sentencing, incarceration, and re-entry;
  • the elimination of systemic bias, including the disproportionate policing and incarceration of marginalized communities;
  • policing practices that promote safety for both law enforcement officers and the communities they serve;
  • collaboration between government and community throughout every stage of the criminal justice system;
  • a focus on humane treatment and rehabilitation with the goal of promoting the successful reentry into communities of those who have been incarcerated; and
  • reliance on evidence-based research in decision-making about law-enforcement programs and policies (including scheduled, periodic audits of program and policy effectiveness)
Policing Practices - constitutional policies and procedures established by law enforcement with input from the communities they serve:
  • Ensure that crime prevention and promotion of public safety are the primary roles of state and local law enforcement agencies.
  • Build public trust and positive community relationships through police engagement with community members.
  • Encourage community participation in the development of policing policy.
  • Provide police accountability via independent citizen oversight of law enforcement and publicly available data on officer conduct.
  • Disseminate information to the public about policing policies, recruitment, procedures for complaint/commendation, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens and officers in interactions with each other.
  • Provide sufficient psychological services and counseling to meet stress-related needs of police personnel.
  • Staff police departments to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, and establish recruitment efforts that reflect this principle.
  • Train police to identify individuals with mental health conditions, disabilities, or substance abuse/addiction, so that officers will request support from appropriate medical and mental health professionals, with the goal of diverting those individuals into treatment instead of jail.
  • Require all officers to render first aid to people who have been injured as a result of police action.
  • Conduct comprehensive background checks, to include such history as PTSD, domestic violence, sex offenses and affiliations with domestic terrorist groups, for all applicants to law enforcement positions.
  • Establish de-escalation (the use of time, distance, communications and available resources whenever it is safe to do so) and anti-bias training, and ensure that all staff are provided with this training.
  • Authorize minimal use of force during police encounters with the public, and consider deadly force only when necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury.
Pre-trial Procedures - actions taken after an individual has been arrested, which embody the constitutional presumption of innocence:
  • Ensure no person suffers discrimination before the law due to their economic status nor should they be subject to risk assessment tools which can produce biased outcomes.
  • Provide adequate numbers of public defenders to defend indigent accused.
  • Provide prosecutors, defense attorneys, court counselors and judges with regular training on alternatives to incarceration, including pre-trial diversion and restorative justice practices.
  • Recognize that mental health conditions and substance abuse/addictions are public health issues, not crimes.
  • Implement the use of specialty courts, e.g. drug treatment courts and restorative justice programs.
  • Consider community-based treatment programs and other alternatives to incarceration when appropriate.

Sentencing - judgment made after an individual has been declared to be guilty:
  • Consider the individual circumstances of the person charged and nature of the crime, rather than mandatory minimum sentences.
  • Consider split sentencing and/or alternatives to incarceration when appropriate.
Incarceration - policies and procedures that apply to employees of and incarcerated individuals in local jails and state prisons:
  • Ensure that all correctional systems provide humane, dignified, non-discriminatory treatment of inmates and personnel, including appropriate healthcare and access to community-based rehabilitation programs. 
  • Eliminate the practice of solitary confinement.
  • Ensure that inmates and corrections officers have clear, safe and accessible ways to report abuse.
  • Address recidivism by instituting programs that focus on rehabilitation, education, mental health treatment, substance abuse recovery, and transitional programs.
  • Adapt case management services to match education, behavior, job training, work, and mental health programs with the needs of incarcerated individuals.
  • Provide sufficient psychological services, including training and evaluation, to meet the needs of corrections officers.
  • Encourage family and community visitations and ways to maintain contact.
  • Eliminate private prisons. Until space in public prisons is available, ensure that private prisons comply with all of the standards for state-run jails and prisons.
Re-entry - programs in place during and after incarceration to help individuals become successful members of their communities:
  • Collaborate with community-based organizations to facilitate reintegration of people released from prison.
  • Provide pre- and post-release programs, inclusive of probation services, to prepare as well as assess and address the needs of people re-entering the community.
  • Remove technical violations of parole as a reason to return an individual to prison.
General - statements which apply to some or all of the above categories:
  • Standardize data and setting up systems so that information can be easily shared among criminal justice agencies.
  • Rely on evidence-based research in decision making about criminal justice programs and policies.

LWVC Convention 2019
Perspective from our League President Syeda Inamdar

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The League of Women Voters of California (LWVC) has adopted the principles and practices around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as framed by the League of Women Voters of the United States.   Accordingly, LWVC formed an Equity Task Force to assist with the implementation of these principles and practices.  I currently serve on the Equity Task Force and also served on the LWVC nominating committee as part of the implementation.  The nominating committee interviewed several candidates and selected Board members who were not only outstanding League members but also brought additional diversity to the LWVC Board.  This was one of the first goals of the Task Force.

The Equity Task Force also presented a workshop at the 2019 biennial convention as well as held an informal brown bag lunch to more openly discuss issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. The workshops main messages were the following: 1. Incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into our work was more of a journey rather than a check off list; 2) It was better to approach DEI by incorporating practices and principles in all of our bread and butter work rather than adding it as yet another task. For example, in our voter registration efforts, we could seek out partners in underrepresented communities and work with them. 3) DEI can strengthen our mission. Finally, successful DEI incorporation, as with any kind of community organizing required building trust and relationships.  The presentation as well as the handouts will be posted on LWVCs website.

During the informal brown bag lunch, I brought up some current events related to racism and bigotry.  This topic discussion yielded some honest sharing about some of the more controversial historical background of the LWV and the US Suffrage movement as related to Black women.  One League member shared how her mother, who was Black, was not allowed to join the League in Louisiana. Several of the league members expressed that an honest discussion at the National level and an apology would go a long way towards healing. As it happened, just after the lunch, when LWVs Executive Director was speaking, another league member brought up that perhaps the LWV should take better control of how the discussion around LWV and racism should be framed, essentially saying that it made LWV look bad. Virgina Kase replied (summarizing)that in fact LWV needed to be forthright and upfront about the past and that it was the only way to heal from it. Her response was greeting by a standing ovation.  League members seem to understand that indeed, diversity, equity and inclusion are a strength both to our mission and to our democracy.  

100th Anniversary Events
  • Suffragettes march in July 4th Parade in Fremont
  • Library displays  January Newark, February Union City, March Fremont
  • February 23rd Open House celebration at Artist Walk
  • Iron Jawed Angels movie viewing in Niles Essanay Theater
  • Possible Poetry Slam for Students
If you want to help out contact Andrea Schacter or Sets Amann for information.

LWV Bay Area Mini League Day
Saturday, August 17, 2019
San Francisco Public Library
Equity for Women

Redistricting Commission Applications from LWVC

With apologies for cross-posting - I want to get this to the broadest League audience that I can:

The initial phase of applications for the next California Citizens' Redistricting Commission  is now open. League members are both encouraged to apply, and to encourage others to apply. Think about the people in your circles who would make good commissioners, and reach out to them.

A sample email is available here. You are welcome to adapt this to your needs. The important thing is to get a broad representation of Californians to apply for the commission.

Helen Hutchison

2018-2019 Member Donor List

Walter Starr
Syeda Inamdar
Judy Chong
Lynn Locher
Jill Duerig
Alexandra Starr
Kay Emanuele
Sandra Pantages
Martha Crowe
Gail Blalock
Marilyn Singer
Miriam Keller
Joanne Landers
Judy Zlatnik
Julie Dunkle
 Kirti Reddy
Gail Venti
Shirley Gilbert
Sandra Cashmark
Kristy Boer
Elaine Sanchez
Holly Walter
Anne Macleod
Ellen Culver
Lynn Locher
Joanne Landers
Kathy Steel-Sabo
Jill Duerig
Sam Neeman
Merna Morse
Annette Crosbie