A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change
April | 2023
Message from the Steering Committee

The LWVA Steering Committee has been busy this month.  Working to gather input for the Review of the Town Charter, communicating the League position on the Elementary School Building Project, recruiting members to help lead our organization by joining the Steering Committee, formulating a budget, it’s been quite busy. And I'm sure I haven't listed everything that's going on!

I’m writing today to ask for your help.  
We have several tasks for which we really could use your input.  First, let’s talk MONEY!  (That usually gets people’s attention.). I’m not asking you for any, so please read on.  We’ve done such a great job of fundraising and using our resources efficiently that we have some surplus funds from this year’s budget, and we’d like to spend some to support organizations whose work is in line with our mission and principles.  I should point out, that we have enough money in reserves that if we were unable to have another Book Sale, we could still maintain our League for 7 years without deficit spending.  
So, please think about organizations in our community who are involved in work that dovetails with the values we at the League hold dear.  Send your thoughts to Treasurer, David Shanabrook. When the Steering Committee gathers next, we’ll review all the suggestions and come up with a few that we can support this year.  And hopefully this can become an annual ritual.  Democracy is threatened more than it has ever been in our lifetime, so it makes sense to use our resources and influence to protect and preserve it. If not now, when?
And now, here comes my other big ask – we really need to grow our organization, and for this I’m asking you to speak with your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family members to see if they’d consider joining the League.  We’ll be doing some outreach, and if each of you can try to bring one new member, we’ll be able to do more to support democracy in our community and beyond.  
With gratitude,
Sue Lowery
SC Chair of the Month
"[Three suffragists casting votes in New York City(?)]" in Library of Congress https://www.loc.gov/item/97510725/ No known copyright restrictions.
Upcoming Events

The Charter Review Task Force has developed a survey to ascertain residents' opinions regarding Amherst’s Council/Manager form of government under the 2017 Home Rule Charter, in light of good government principles. The survey is in anticipation of the town’s review of the Charter scheduled for 2024 when the Council will consider whether any portions of the charter should be amended or revised.

We ask that you share with your groups and networks so that we can get responses from a representative sample of the town.

We will also send the survey to elected town officials, as well as staff. The deadline to respond is April 17, Patriot’s Day.

We will host a public forum to share the results and take public comments. In addition, a researcher is compiling information on the other towns that share our Council/Manager form of government. Those results will also be shared.

Thank you for your participation.
~ Phyllis Lehrer

The LWV Book Group will resume after the pandemic hiatus. 
The group was founded in 1994. The first book read was Artist in the Floating World by Kazou Ishiguro. The Road to Coorain by Jill Kerr Conway and The Ladies of Seneca Falls by Miriam Gurkho were also read that first year. We read a play each year.

Each member suggested two books. Ballots were distributed and the top 10 were chosen. We read fiction and non-fiction, biographies and some related to government and politics: What’s the Matter with Kansas, and Making Our Democracy Work.

Members contributed $3 a year to pay for monthly reminder postcards sent by Liz Chilton. The group met monthly except for August and December. We first met in homes, then the Jones Library and at Applewood.

Now, we will have to pick a day and time. At first we can meet outdoors until we can gauge comfort level of meeting in homes or public spaces.
If interested email (no more postcards) Phyllis Lehrer.
Include available days and times. At first we met at night, then afternoons.

~ Phyllis Lehrer
Come join us on Earth Day! 

The Amherst League will have a table on the Common at the Sustainability Festival on April 22.
We’ll have Voter Registration materials, information on the Judy Brooks series and the Book Sale…and more, including information on the Sustainability and Climate Action legislation LWVMA supports and the relevant priorities of the State and National Leagues.

Please consider sitting at the table for an hour or two between 10 and 4. Shifts are any hour between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.. Contact Susan Millinger to sign up for a shift or two.

SACAC Members, this means you: or any League member or friend who is concerned about Sustainability and Climate Action!
News from our Committees

Elementary School Project Vote
In case you missed it, the LWVA is asking you to vote "Yes!"

The last day to register to vote for the Special Town Election:

  • Friday, April 21, 2023 by 5 p.m. (in-person), or by 11:59 p.m. if registering online. 

  • Last day to apply for a mail-in ballot: Tuesday, April 25 (5 p.m. in-person)

  • Deadline to return mail-in ballot: Tuesday, May 2 (close of polls) at 8 p.m. Town Clerk's office or drop box only.

  • Special Town Election Tuesday, May 2

from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. to vote “Yes” or “No” on the following question:

“Shall the city known as the Town of Amherst be allowed to exempt from the provisions of Proposition two- and-one-half, so called, the amounts required to pay for the bonds issued in order to construct, originally equip and furnish an elementary school on the Fort River site, located at 70 South East Street, Amherst, Massachusetts, including the cost of architectural design, project management, demolition of the existing building and other necessary site improvements and all costs incidental and related thereto?”

Read full warrant and find your district voting location at Amherst Special Town Election [pdf].

Girl Scout troops in central and western Massachusetts will learn more about the importance of elections and voting rights this fall, thanks to a Civic Action Grant.  The LWVA Steering Committee approved $1,000 to create the Election Connection patch program proposed by the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. 

 "I’m very excited about this program and even more excited by the grant!’ wrote Dana Carnegie of the Girl Scout Council. ‘I will have everything in place by August ahead of our 2023/2024 program year which begins September 2023. And of course, ahead of the 2024 election. Again, thank you so much for the grant, for your enthusiasm, and for all you do for democracy!"
Updates on Town Initiatives 

  • The Amherst Sustainability Festival is Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. Come find our tent! Say hello!
  • Waste Hauler proposal to change to a town contract accomplished through a competitive bidding process, and including curbside compost pick up: the proposal is in the Town Services and Outreach Committee. See March 23 presentation by Zero Waste Amherst (at 37 min.) on the results of its recent Trash, Recycling and Compost Services Survey. See also the Amherst Indy article: Survey of Town Trash Practices Reveals Little Incentive to Reduce Waste.
  • Community Choice (Electricity) Aggregation: Valley Green Energy Working Group plans to take public comment on the joint (Amherst, Northampton and Pelham) Aggregation application to the Department of Public Utilities during May and to apply in June.
  • New zero energy school building debt exclusion override vote on May 2.
  • And much more....

Read all the updates on town initiatives and other local Climate Activist information.
April 15–22 is International Dark Skies Week!

Turning our outdoor lights off at night is a simple thing we can do to positively effect our health and the health of our ecosystems:

"It may seem harmless, but light pollution has far-reaching consequences that are harmful to all living things. Effective outdoor lighting reduces light pollution, leading to a better quality of life for all. The dark sky movement is working to bring better lighting to communities around the world so that all life can thrive." Read more at the International Dark Skies Association.

Read also: Night Skies Are Even Brighter than We Thought by the National Audubon Society.

Here is the March issue of the HCR4US newsletter: read it on the HCR4US Toolkit.
LWV Member Survey

You may have recently received information about a survey which is important to us. It asks about what roles we want the State and the National Leagues to play in the life of local Leagues.  Amherst is used to being very independent. Do we want to stay that way? Do we want to cede more of our functioning to either State or National? One of the issues is control of dues. Please answer the survey to let National know your opinion.

Here’s the letter some of us received from Karen Price, a Massachusetts League member sitting on an important National committee shaping the future.

Dear Mass. League Leaders,
You should have received this survey in an email from Deborah Turner on Monday. If you did not receive it, or did not take the survey then, please do it now at the link below. The survey was sent to all members.
The plans for the new model for LWV dues/membership are underway, and now is the time to give your input. This change will impact every local League, and it is especially important that our League leaders weigh in.
This is all a part of the Transformation Journey, an initiative to grow League membership in number and diversity.

The survey is open from April 3 — April 22 and is only open to LWV members. Your response will guide the next steps. Please take the survey and share it with your fellow League members.
Thank you.
Karen Price, LWV-Needham
Better Together: Building an Inclusive Electorate

Mark your Calendar Now for Convention: Saturday, June 10, 2023

LWVMA leaders are excited to announce that the LWVMA Convention will be held in-person for the first time since 2019! We are looking forward to re-connecting with many of you – it’s been a very long four years! This Convention will be hybrid, so there is an option to participate virtually.

Where:  Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA & Zoom

When:  Saturday, June 10, 2023
  9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (in-person)
 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Zoom)

Why: Participate in interactive break-out sessions on important topics
    Plan the program and pass the budget for the next biennium
    Elect LWVMA Officers and Directors 
Statement from the Nashville LWV on the recent undemocratic and racist actions of the their state legislature.

NASHVILLE — The League of Women of Voters of Tennessee issued the following statement after the Tennessee State Legislature voted to expel two general assembly members:

“Today is a sad day for democracy in the state of Tennessee. Two Black representatives, who were duly elected to represent the people of Nashville and Memphis, were expelled from their seats for peacefully protesting gun violence. 

"The people of Tennessee deserve a state legislature that represents all communities, instead of robbing majority Black communities of their right to representation in our government. Instead of prioritizing gun safety that Tennesseans called for, the Legislature chose to vilify the three members, Representatives Johnson, Jones, and Pearson, who courageously stood up with their constituents.  

"What happened today in our general assembly was shameful. The racist tone of floor arguments, along with the outcome that exempted the one white representative from expulsion, make clear the real intent behind our assembly’s actions today. 

"The voices of the people will not be silenced, and our general assembly must listen to the cries of Tennesseans for fair representation and protection against gun violence.”
See Where the League Puts its Legal Might

Fighting the good fights: see a list of all the lawsuits LWV is currently engaged in.

"Litigation empowers our fight for the issues that matter most to communities: protecting the right to vote, promoting fair and accessible elections, ending big-money corruption, and reinforcing the dignity that people across the country deserve."

Go to the Legal Center at LWV to read up on all the suits current and archived.
LWVUS Joins Letter Supporting LIHWAP

LWVUS joined coalition members in urging Congress to allocate $1 billion to continue the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) program to help families with growing water debt and rising water costs. Read the full letter of support.

This monthly message is for anyone interested in the League, not just members. If you know someone who might be interested, forward this message and invite them to subscribe themselves, using the link below.

Darcy Dumont, At-Large
Trish Farrington, At-Large
Rebecca Fricke, At-Large
Marla Jamate, Social Media
Phyllis Lehrer, Membership
Susan Lowery, At-Large
Susan Millinger, LWVMA and LWVUS liaison 
Leslie Nyman, Recorder
Deanna Pearlstein, Event Organization
Jessica Ryan, e-Bulletin editor
David Shanabrook, Treasurer
The Editor of the LWVAmherst e-Bulletin, Jessica Ryan can be contacted here. The Associate Editors are Trish Farrington and Susan Millinger; Assistant Editors are Phyllis Lehrer, Sue Lowery, and Kay Fite who checks the links. Contributors to this month's e-Bulletin include LWVA members: Darcy Dumont, Sue Lowery, Susan Millinger and Barbara Pearson. Material on LWVMA and LWVUS comes from Mass League Action newsletter and lwvma.org; League Update and lwvus.org, respectively, selected by Susan Millinger.