Annual Meeting – June 3, 2019
League of Women Voters of the Northampton Area
The 100thAnnual Meeting of the League of Women Voters of Northampton was held at the Elks Club in Florence with 48 members and invited guests in attendance.
Dinner concluded with a birthday celebration for Yvonne Boucher and Yvonne Freccero, both long time members of our local League who celebrated their 90thbirthdays this year.
Lou Bouley introduced Speakers State Senator Jo Comerford and State Rep Lindsay Sabadosa, each of whom briefly described their work as new representatives of our area and then answered questions. Both described specific bills they have sponsored and emphasized how important it is for citizens to stay in touch since our involvement helps them accomplish efforts on our behalf. Senator Comerford described her role in a very large district in three parts: constituent service, legislative, and budgetary. She said, “This is the most fascinating job I’ve had,” and mentioned her role on committees for higher education (the Promise Act; more equitable funding), public health (social components of health care), public transportation (rail and bus) and the environment (global warming; connections to transportation). She said, “We don’t have a spending problem in Massachusetts; we have a revenue problem.” She said she has filed and co-sponsored many bills, which are listed on her website, and that all have come from constituent concerns as expressed to her during her campaign.
Rep. Sabadosa also mentioned many bills she has filed and co-sponsored with various other Representatives with whom she has worked. Her committees are transportation, health care (Medicare for All and access to reproductive health for all), and Peace and Justice. She emphasized the importance of transparency in government and described that as an issue in the House of Representatives that needs to be addressed including the importance of a “culture change” in this respect in our state government.
Questions from our members to our legislators involved funding for the new Civics Education requirement in public schools, concerns about Governor Baker’s view that biomass and garbage burning is renewable energy, readability of ballot initiative information, funding, and the future of rank choice voting.
The business meeting was called to order by Lou Bouley at 8:10.
Program Reports- were presented in the following areas, and the following Local Programs were approved:
Health Care– Osa Flory – We will continue to monitor the progress of the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Act and U.S. H.R. 676. The committee will continue to support efforts to obtain single-payer universal health care as endorsed by the National League.
Education – 100thAnniversary of Women’s Suffrage– Margie Riddle reported an outreach project to area educators that has received considerable positive response. A committee has put together a one-page information sheet for educators encouraging them to include in their curriculum next school year the efforts to pass the 19thamendment in 1920. We especially encourage teachers to include research about the many African American suffragists including our local Sojourner Truth. Teachers who have informed us that they plan to include this topic in lessons next year, and have asked us to facilitate networking among them and their students.
Membership and 100thAnniversary – Lou Bouley reported that we now have 137 members including the Springfield Unit. Brigid Glackin reported several outreach projects for next year. Members are researching the archives at Smith College of our own local League, which dates back to 1922. They have also contacted Historic Northampton, the David Ruggles Center, authors of recent books about the history of women’s suffrage and area independent bookstores to encourage coverage of this historic event. We plan to invite at least one author to speak in the coming year, to encourage publicity through the media. We are also inviting members and friends to join book groups next week to read about the advocacy to obtain women’s suffrage that from about 1840-1920.
Meeting Basic Human Needs– Cynthia Sigda DiGeronimo – Members will continue to advocate for the needs of the homeless and provide a team of members once each month (November-April) to provide the evening meal to the clients at the emergency shelter for the homeless.
Voter Service– Osa Flory reported on the annual New Citizen’s Celebration July 4that the Hampshire County Courthouse. We will register new voters at that event.
Natural Resources/Legislative– Nancy Polan encouraged members to contact legislators about natural resource issues according to information she distributes and posts on our website. We will continue our Political Outreach Workshops for league members and the public. The strength of the LWV rests on the grassroots support of our members. We show that strength when we take action on important issues. Speaking directly to our legislators in support or opposition to legislative policy is our most powerful tool.
Springfield Unit –Zaida Govan reported that the Springfield Unit will continue to work with other groups to increase voter participation in the upcoming elections. There is a concern that voter turnout in Springfield is often less than 10%. Zaida has written a successful grant to investigate and improve this situation in the Indian Orchard area of Springfield.
Police Accountability Committee– (Springfield Unit) -We will continue our work by releasing the results of our series of community deliberative discussion forums and offering continuing opportunities for public education on civilian police oversight in Springfield.
Observer Corps– (Springfield Unit) – We will continue to develop our Observer Corps to help residents understand and participate in the work of Springfield’s boards and commissions, as well as City Council and School Committee.
A Commitment – Our League is developing an evolving commitment to ensuring our advocacy in all areas above that we specifically involve in decision making those whose lives we hope to benefit. For instance, with regard to Voter Service we have learned that most citizens in our area, including in neighborhoods of the Springfield Unit, are already registered, however they do not regularly vote. Through the grant Zaida Govan described, League members have been canvassing citizens in Springfield to understand the issues and remedy the situation. The specific goal with regard to Voter Service is equity of access to voting and improved evidence that exercising the vote makes a difference to those in the community. This principle applies to all of our efforts from health care to education to environmental concerns and is connected to the requests from both our state legislators that we convey concerns to them.
Treasurer’s Report and 2018-2019 Budgetwas presented by Lou Bouley, Treasurer, and accepted unanimously.
Total expected income for 2019-2020 is predicted to be $11,450.
Total projected expenditures for 2019-20 is also predicted to be $11,450.
Report of the Nominating Committee was presented and unanimously approved through a vote of the group.
Vice President Bob Riddle (2019-2021)
Secretary Margie Riddle (2019-2021)
Treasurer Mary Lou Bouley (2019-2021)
Assistant Treasurer Ingrid Flory (2018-2020)
Directors Continuing (2018-2020) Directors (2018-2020)
Jean Cherdack Osa Flory
Brigid Glackin Nancy Polan
Zaida Govan Cynthia Sigda-DiGeronimo
Nominating Committee (2019-2020)
Book Salewill be September 14. Members are encouraged to help by collecting, sorting and storing books at Smith Vocational High School and later by setting up for the sale and working on the day of the sale. Our annual dues cover our per member payments to the state and national LWV. Our Book Sale covers expenses of our local League.
Directions to the Board– a member has asked how much our dues would need to be raised if we no longer had a book sale. Lou Bouley reported that she has figured the dues would need to increase to $80.00 per person. Members spoke in favor of the book sale as a community service that involves literacy, recycling, and the community coming together. Others said the book sale also raises the profile of the League in the community and also allows League members to work together on an important project, which many enjoy.