League of Women Voters of Oak Park & River Forest Newsletter December 2023 Volume 11 Issue 5

President's Letter

Dear Friends,

It is the time of the year for hope and light and when dozens of religious and secular celebrations occur across the world. It is also the darkest month of the year, and we enter it at a time of unprecedented domestic and international strife. Perhaps this year’s gift is to recall that good people accomplished remarkable things this year. Maya Angelou said, “Pick up the battle and make it a better world. Just where you are.” Do not let media noise diminish the battles won this year. 

Moms for Liberty candidates were roundly defeated across the nation. Reproductive choice was successfully defended in yet another state. Amid bad news about voting rights, the Supreme Court rejected the Independent State Legislative Theory. Alabama, after being ordered twice to redraw legislative maps, now has one that ensures better representation. History was made when Rhode Island elected its first Black congressman and several cities elected the first person of color, many of them women, as mayors. Virginia voters opted for balanced power and elected their first transgender state senator. The economy is historically strong, and real wages have increased for the first time since the pandemic. 

In Illinois, a first-in-the-nation initiative was enacted that prohibits book banning. Sixteen-year-olds will be able to pre-register to vote. With a deposit of $11.5 million dollars this month, Illinois’ Rainy Day fund exceeds $2 billion dollars. In 2017 the fund had just $48,000. 

Legislation was passed that protects women who use reproductive health care in Illinois from out-of-state subpoenas and shields the licenses of providers. Assault rifles were banned. The SAFE-T Act was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court and went into effect in September, eliminating cash bail. The Invest in Kids Act will sunset at the end of December, keeping more revenue in the state’s coffers for stronger, more equitable public school funding. 

Locally, the League has revitalized its Civic Engagement series: Second Tuesday and Drinks and Dialogue. The Observers Corps has three volunteers attending and reporting on municipal councils and boards. Forest Park, Oak Park, and River Forest adopted ordinances requiring restaurants to ask customers if disposable utensils are needed, and two of the three villages will ban polystyrene beginning in January. The Environmental Committee promoted plastic-free July at the Oak Park Farmers Market. The Voter Services committee participated in the Civic Service Fair at OPRF High School and moderated five successful, well-attended candidate forums for Oak Park and Forest Park. The Advocacy Committee conducted fruitful interviews with local legislators and helped organize the successful effort to end the Invest in Kids Act. 

The coming year will be a busy one for the League with our regular business, our LWV OPRF Centennial Celebration on October 24, 2024, and with what will likely be the most important presidential election in our nation’s history. Congratulations to each of you who helped win this year’s battles, both big and small. Now let’s be ready, from wherever you are, to win a decisive battle for democracy in 2024. 

Wishing you the gifts of gratitude, grace, and joy this December. Remember that somewhere this month a child, perhaps one newly settled in our community, will look out a window and see snow for the first time. Happy December!



FLW Bagley House

On Thursday, November 30, 20 members from our League and the LaGrange League attended a presentation on social reformer Grace Bagley. Grace worked with Jane Addams in the early years of the 1900's to improve juvenile justice, establish pre-schools and playgrounds for immigrant children, improve living conditions in tenements, and ensure that women got the vote. In 1896, the Bagleys commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright early in his career to design their summer home in Hinsdale. The home was threatened with demolition in 2021, but Lukas Ruecker and Safina Uberoi purchased the house with the plan to restore it to Wright's original design. The Bagley House, located on County Line Road in Hinsdale, does not look like a typical Wright prairie design, but it does have elements that would be part of his future designs. Our thanks to Julia Bachrach and Heidi Ruehle, curators of the exhibit, and owner Safina Uberoi, President of the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy, for generously sharing this opportunity with us.

LWV IL Voter Service Roundtable

There is still time to sign up for the Saturday, December 9 LWV IL Voter Service Roundtable. The speakers will go over the 2024 election calendar, talk more about the Illinois Voter Guide, candidate forums, and the LWV IL Get Out The Vote toolkit and will answer questions you may have. Any League member interested in voter service is welcome to attend. Register here for the 10:00am discussion.

Voting Signatures

We just wanted to share some information that may be coming to you about your voting signatures with the Cook County Clerk's Office. These letters are being sent to active voters whose official signature in their voter file is 25 years old or older, which it would be many of our members. The mailers are intended to update signatures to make it easier for the County to verify mail ballots. When an in-person voter’s signature differs slightly, an election judge can verify the voter’s identity on the spot. With mail-in ballots, that is harder to do and can lead to ballots not getting counted.

The letter from the County is on the back of a white mail-in voter registration form. If voters do not want to provide all requested personal information such as drivers’ license number, etc., that’s ok. But they should provide the following, with signatures being the most important thing: Name, Address, Date of Birth, and Signature. These letters just went out a week ago. Don't worry if you don't get one. This is not an attempt to throw people off the voter rolls. Please contact Peggy Kell with any questions.

Observer Report

Read a November 24 River Forest Village Board Observer Report from observer Sue Jaffee.

Mark your calendars now for the upcoming LWV IL Annual Issues Briefing on Saturday, February 24. More information to come.

LWV US November 30 Update

LWV US November Highlights

LWV UMRR December Newsletter

League Calendar
Editor Contact
LWV OPRF Board/Committee List
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