League of Women Voters of Oak Park & River Forest Newsletter August 2023 Volume 11 Issue 1

Presidents' Letter

Dear Friends, 

It’s hard to believe we’re at the beginning of the end of meteorological summer. 

We hope you’ve had time for picnics and visits and that you’ve enjoyed the fruits of your garden or perhaps better, the bounty of one belonging to a friend! 

While the League suspended summer Board meetings, work continued. The Environmental Committee was at the Oak Park Framers Market each Saturday during July to promote Plastic-Free July. The Advocacy chair facilitated a meeting with Senator Kimberly Lightford. The Fundraising Committee began its annual donation drive. The Treasurer closed the year’s books and prepared for the annual audit. Voter Services continued registering voters and delivered public comments to the Oak Park Village Board urging them to put a Ranked Choice Voting referendum question on the March 2024 ballot. The Second Tuesday and Drinks and Dialogue Committees met to plan the Fall Kick-off. Democracy in action! 

Thanks in part to member action, much League-supported legislation was passed in Illinois this spring: evidence-based funding for education, a ban on prison gerrymandering, a fine for book banning, and prohibiting pregnancy centers from practices that mislead patients seeking abortions. Although a renewed fight is expected, Invest in Kids, which diverts public funds from public to private schools, including religious ones, is not in the current budget. Perhaps the biggest news: Illinois became the first state to eliminate the cash bail system. 

Nationally, we applauded the Supreme Court for rejecting the “independent state legislature” theory and prohibiting race-based gerrymandering in an Alabama case with national implications. The court also upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act that seeks to keep native American children with their tribes. Affirmative Action, student loan forgiveness, and gay rights fared less well. 

The most sobering news was of that of the former president’s summer indictments. First in the documents case that among others included 31 counts of violating the Espionage Act, and in August, four charges accusing him of conspiring to overturn the election, interrupt Congress, and take away every American’s right to have their vote counted. Democracy is in the fight of its life! 

Save the date! The Second Tuesday and Drinks and Dialogue Committees will host the Fall Kick-Off “Better Choices at the Ballot Box” on September 19 at the Oak Park Main Library. Fair Vote Illinois will discuss ranked choice voting and efforts to adopt it locally, and the Institute for Political Innovation will explain how a top five open primary followed by a general election with ranked choice/instant runoff voting may create better choices at the ballot box. 

In October, Second Tuesday will present the LWVUS' "moon shot" goal to eliminate the electoral college, and in November, how the National Popular Vote can be used in the interim. Drinks and Dialogue returns in October and will feature speakers from Braver Angels on the urgent need to learn how to talk to one another amidst partisan animosity. 

On a final note, you will notice new signatures to this year’s letters as vice-presidents Tina Birnbaum and Judy Crown join president Jane Hastings as co-authors of the President’s monthly letter. We wish you a happy, healthy month and look forward to another productive year! 

In solidarity,

Jane, Judy, and Tina 

State Convention Update

LWVIL's 61st Biennium Convention was held on June 10–11, welcoming delegates from 36 of the 42 local Leagues in Illinois.

During the convention, delegates voted to adopt the proposed budget for 2023–2025, to adopt three new pillars for action, and to re-adopt all current positions as published in Where We Stand. Delegates also voted to undertake a study of gun violence prevention with the intent to update LWVIL's Gun Violence Prevention position.

Delegates had opportunities to gather and learn prior to Convention at three virtual meetings, including Convention Connections facilitated by LWVUS Midwest Regional Organizer Jessica Rohloff. Recordings of the DC Statehood and Anchorage Youth Vote educational programs are now available to all members on the LWV IL website's Convention Center.

Women's Equality Day

Mary Ann Porucznik will be leading a Women's Equality Day Walking Tour for the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest on Saturday, August 26, starting at 10:00am outside the Oak Park Public Main Library. Join her to celebrate Women's Equality Day--the anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment--and honor the women who worked tirelessly for equal voting rights. Space is limited, and League members can receive the Historical Society member rate of $8.00 per ticket. Register here.

Voter Service Meeting

Our first Voter Service Committee meeting will be Monday, August 21, starting at 6:30pm at Peggy Kell's house. Though there are no November elections, we can still make contacts for voter registration events at area high schools, senior living facilities, colleges, and community events. We welcome new and past members to join the committee. Please contact Peggy with any questions.

Membership Renewal

Have you renewed your membership? Letters were mailed in June to all about the importance of renewing your membership in a timely manner. If you haven't already, go online now to renew or mail in a check with this form. We need your support!

We have learned that long time member Gail Bien passed away in June. Gail was a past Board member and a long time volunteer for various events. Though she had been in poor health the past few years, we have no other information on her passing.

MWRD FLOW August Newsletter

LWV UMMRR August Newsletter

LWV US July 27 Update

LWV IL July Member Bulletin

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LWV OPRF Board/Committee List
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