Making Democracy Work

Because democracy is not a spectator sport

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. The League does not support or oppose any candidate or political party. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Another Chance to Learn about New York State's Constitutional Convention Question

A Constitutional Convention in New York State?.

Saturday, March 25, 2017, 10:30 AM

Greenburgh Public Library, 300 Tarrytown Rd., Elmsford, NY

Three legal scholars discuss Pros & Cons of change to the NYS Consitution:

  • How it can be changed;
  • Procedures for a Convention;
  • Specific areas of possible change.

Sponsored by: League of Women Voters of Rivertowns, American Association of University Women, Westchester Women's Bar Association

Learn about New York State's Constitutional Convention Question

This November voters will be asked to vote on: "Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?"

Learn The Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of New York State's Constitutional Convention Question in a forum held on February 7th, featuring speaker Sally Robinson LWVNYS Vice President of Issues and Advocacy.

We greatly appreciate all the efforts of the LWV of White Plains who organized this meeting. Eight Leagues throughout the County co-sponsored the event.

<View the vidio.>

Join us as the LWVW is honored by the Westchester County Board of Legislators

The LWVW will be honored by the Westchester County Board of Legislators on March 6th as part of the Legislature's celebration of Women's History Month and the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in New York state. Join us in this honor for all Leaguers at 148 Martine Ave., 8th Floor, White Plains with a reception at 6pm and a brief ceremony at 6:30pm.

LWVW Report of Property Assessments is Published in The Journal News.

A CONFERENCE COMMEMORATING THE CENTENNIAL OF WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE IN NEW YORK STATE

League of Women Voters of NYS

WOMEN IN POLITICS: PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE

Friday & Saturday, April 21 & 22, 2017

The League of Women Voters of NYS Education Foundation is pleased to announce its co-sponsorship on this educational conference to be held in Hyde Park, New York, in April. League members are encouraged to attend for an exciting presentation and discussion of women in politics and women's history in NYS.

The Conference is being held on Friday, April 21, at the Wallace Center at the FDR Library in Hyde Park, and on Saturday, April 22, at the Lecture Center at SUNY New Paltz. You can attend just one day, if you wish. Keynote speakers include Dr. Allida Black, George Washington University, at Friday's dinner, and Barbara Smith, Black Feminist Author & Activist, at Saturday's lunch. For a detailed agenda of the speakers and programs, please click here.

Special Offer for League Members and Friends The League has arranged a luncheon and tour of Val-Kill, the home of Eleanor Roosevelt, for League members and friends on Friday, April 21, preceding the conference. Space is extremely limited so register NOW.

Wylecia Wiggs Harris, Executive Director of LWVUS, will join us for lunch and will be presenting at the Friday conference reception with Dare Thompson, LWVNYS President.

The cost of the luncheon is $50 and includes the tour of Val-Kill. League members receive a special discount rate (on registration form) IF YOU REGISTER BY FEB. 24.

Download registration form here.

League of Women Voters of New York State, 62 Grand Street, Albany, NY 12207 Tel: 518-465-4162 FAX: 518-465-0812, Website: http://www.lwvny.org

League of Women Voters Seeing Sudden Surge in Membership

Why this nearly 100-year-old organization is seeing a resurgence thanks to Trump's election

<Washington Post Article>

Legislative Action Center

Feb. 8, 2017

To Residents of New York: Your Drinking Water May Be At Risk!

Contact Governor Cuomo to demand he and the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) continue indefinitely the moratorium on shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations, including gas storage, involving the Delaware River Basin!

Background:

15-17 Million Americans (that's 5% of Americans) living in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware source their drinking water from the Delaware River Basin. The DRBC was established in 1961 during the Kennedy administration to establish a unified approach to managing the Delaware River system and steward the water quality and water use, without regard to political boundaries (http://www.state.nj.us/drbc/). Now the DRBC, whose governance includes the four basin state governors and the Division Engineer, North Atlantic Division, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers who serves as the federal government's representative, is reviving review of regulations, currently stopped by a moratorium, which if given the green light would allow shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations in the Delaware River Basin. DRBC has simultaneously limited the role of citizens to provide public comment on these regulations and other DRBC decisions affecting the water. In addition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is greenlighting new pipelines running under the Delaware River Basin which the DRBC gets to weigh in on. Meanwhile, it was recently revealed that Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Preservation suppressed disclosure of 9,442 citizen-reported fracking complaints, over 4,100 of which involve adverse impacts to drinking water. http://www.nationofchange.org/.../9442-citizen-reported-frac.../ For more information, read our joint letter, from the League of Women Voters of Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to the DRBC. http://www.lwvny.org/.../Letter-to-Delaware-River-Basin-Commi...

Action Needed:

Call Governor Cuomo and urge him to protect New York's drinking water! Please take action today to preserve the drinking water of 15-17 Million Americans who source their drinking water from the Delaware River Basin. Use or adapt the following text. Make your voice count! Governor Andrew Cuomo: 1-(518) 474-8390 "Governor Cuomo, I am your constituent and I vote. Please protect the drinking water for 15-17 Million Americans. Take all steps within your power to continue indefinitely the moratorium on any shale gas drilling operations, including gas storage, in the Delaware River Basin. Take all steps within your power to stop the installation or expansion of gas pipelines under or near the Delaware River Basin. In addition, do not limit the right of citizens to comment to the Delaware River Basin Commission about their drinking water. Thank you."

More Ways to Get Involved:

POSTCARD OR LETTER ABOUT SHALE GAS DRILLING

Dear Governor Cuomo: I am your constituent and I vote. Please work with your fellow Commissioners of the Delaware River Basin Commission to prioritize and preserve water safety for the 15-17 Million Americans who access drinking water from the Delaware River Basin. Take all steps within your power to continue indefinitely the moratorium on any shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations, including gas storage, in the Delaware River Basin. In addition, do not limit the right of citizens to comment to the Delaware River Basin Commission about their drinking water. Finally, read this report on Pennsylvania's suppression of 9, 442 citizen-reported fracking complaints, over 4,100 of which involve adverse impacts to drinking water. http://www.nationofchange.org/.../9442-citizen-reported-frac.../ Sincerely, [Your Name, Town and State]

Send your letter to the Delaware River Basin Commission at DRBC_Comment@drbc.nj.gov

and send it by email to the Governor at his office: https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form

Send by mail to:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo Governor of New York State NYS State Capitol Building Albany, NY 1222 Contact by phone: 1-(518) 474-8390

POSTCARD OR LETTER ON THE PIPELINES

Dear Governor Cuomo: I am your constituent and I vote. Please work with your fellow Commissioners of the Delaware River Basin Commission to prioritize and preserve water safety for the 15-17 Million Americans who access drinking water from the Delaware River Basin. Take all steps within your power to stop the installation or expansion of gas pipelines under or near the Delaware River Basin. In addition, do not limit the right of citizens to comment to the Delaware River Basin Commission about their drinking water. Finally, read this report on Pennsylvania's suppression of 9, 442 citizen-reported fracking complaints, over 4,100 of which involve adverse impacts to drinking water. http://www.nationofchange.org/.../9442-citizen-reported-frac.../

Sincerely, [Your Name, Town and State]

Send your letter to:

the Delaware River Basin Commission at DRBC_Comment@drbc.nj.gov

and send it by email to Governor Cuomo: https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form

Send by Mail to:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo Governor of New York State NYS State Capitol Building Albany, NY 1222 Contact by phone: 1-(518) 474-8390 Forward this email to a friend

League of Women Voters of New York State® 62 Grand Street, Albany, New York

Delaware River Basin Commission|DRBC Home Page

See more at STATE.NJ.US

LWV will PARTICIPATE in January 21st WOMEN'S MARCHES on Washington

The LWVUS Board of Directors has voted unanimously to participate officially in the Women's March on Washington.

From LWVNYState and LWVNYC we have learned that the LWV will be in the 12:30 group marching in NYC. The start point is Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at 47th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues but we can join at any point along the parade route (South on Second Avenue to Fifth and up Fifth to Trump Tower).

We each need to sign up so that the organizers will have an idea of how many will participate but you do not need a ticket.

It was important for us to take the time to confirm that this peaceful protest is in line with the League's principles. We know this event will bring together many organizations with a variety of priorities and messages for the incoming administration, not all of which we will agree with. But as women and defenders of our democracy, there is more that unites us than divides us.

This is an opportunity for the League to make our voice heard on our priorities. We march for voting rights. We march to reform money in politics. We march for health care. We march for the environment. These are our core issues and we want to ensure they are front and center.

Visit the Women's March on NYC Facebook page.

LWV of Westchester call for County Property Tax Increase to Balance 2017 Budget

League of Women Voters:

County Property Tax Increase Essential for Balanced Budget

Making its annual critique of the proposed County Budget, the League of Women Voters of Westchester, pointing out that staffing of County departments has been cut to the bone following six years without any increase in County property taxes, recommends an increase now rather than reliance on the sort of "one-time revenue infusions" that have been used in the past.

The proposed 2017 budget is not balanced, the League said. The group criticized the Administration's inclusion in its proposed budget of income from a thus-far unapproved contract with a private firm to operate the County airport. The LWV noted that the complex airport contract had reached the Board of Legislators for its approval only on the same day that the 2017 County budget was submitted.

The County property tax is roughly 20 percent of a property owner's tax burden. An increase "well under the two percent tax cap," said the League, "could provide monies that would close the budget imbalance and allow many aspects of the proposed 2017 County budget to remain in place."

The entire League of Women Voters statement sent to the County Executive and to the Board of Legislators and to be read at the Legislature's December 7 public hearing, is as follows:

"The League of Women Voters of Westchester (LWVW) thanks the Board of Legislators for this opportunity to express our views on the proposed 2017 County Budget. The adopted changes in the Charter that mandated an October release of the Capital Projects budget and a November 10 release of the Operations Budget have been extremely helpful. We thank Budget Director Larry Soule for having met with us both informally and then at a public meeting the League held at the Scarsdale Public Library on November 17th, when he provided needed information and insights.

"Of paramount concern to us is the fact that the budget as submitted is not balanced. It relies on revenues from a proposed contract for management of the County airport that may or may not be approved. The League has studied and reached consensus on the County budget for many years; never before have we had to study and reach consensus on an unbalanced budget.

"In January 2016 the County Executive announced that for the seventh year in a row a property tax increase would not be an option for the 2017 budget. However, new revenues are essential. Not only have previous budgets resulted in expenses and staffing for most county departments being cut to the bone, but income from sales tax revenues for several years has not met goals set in adopted budgets. The sales tax gap in the 2015 budget was filled by a one-time revenue infusion from the sale of the Austin Avenue property, yet the 2016 budget again is in deficit, in part because of lagging sales tax receipts. Hence, we presume, the public/private partnership announced to both the public and to the Board of Legislators on the same day as the release of the proposed 2017 County Budget.

"The League of Women Voters repeats the recommendation we made in December 2015. Raise the property tax. The County could remain well under the two percent cap and still provide extra monies that would close the budget imbalance and allow many aspects of the proposed budget to remain in place, including keeping flat the funding of non-profit agencies, so many of which complement the work of County departments and contribute to Westchester's quality of life.

"We worry about managing the budget by not filling vacancies, as has been done to a certain extent in the Department of Public Safety. This department increasingly has been asked to handle municipal police duties and has been forced to shift personnel from one place to another to meet emergency situations. The Department should be fully staffed.

"One department that has had an increase in staff is the Board of Elections. That is appropriate. This Board now is responsible for conducting municipal elections and for the provision and maintenance of voting machines for all elections, including those for school boards and budgets. There has been an increase in the number of elections held as well, as more primaries have been conducted.

"We note that all County personnel now are working out of contract. However, the proposed budget contains not even one expense line that might cover raises and benefits resulting from upcoming contract negotiations. If negotiated raises are covered by drawing down the fund balance, this might affect the County's credit rating.

"One item proposed in the capital projects budget is an outdoor ice rink at the Kensico Dam. We believe County resources, both financial and human capital, are better directed toward improvement and maintenance of the County's existing infrastructure, with attention specifically to roads, bridges, and flood mitigation.

"We are pleased to see in the budget a decrease in tax certiori expenses. We note that these could be reduced even further if more municipalities would conduct property revaluations and then keep them up to date. Although revaluation is a local matter, the county could help facilitate both this and flood mitigation projects that cross municipal lines.

"In summary,

·The budget is not balanced.
·We propose increasing property tax to balance the budget."

Marylou Green, President

Betsy Shaw Weiner, Co-Chair, County Budget Committee

The Proposed 2017 Westchester County Budget

Learn the Facts

Ask Questions

Reach Consensus

When: Thursday, November 17, 2017; 3:00 to 6:00 pm

Where: Scarsdale Public Library, 54 Olmsted Road, Scarsdale NY

Sponsored by: League of Women Voters of Westchester

What: In a meeting open to the public, County Budget Director Lawrence Soule will present salient facts about both the proposed 2017 Operating Budget and the proposed 2017 Capital Projects Budget. A Q&A session will follow. After closing the meeting to the public, LWV members will discuss and reach consensus about the LWV statement to be made to County Legislators at a subsequent public hearing.

Madeline Zevon, from League of Women Voters on Universal Health Care in New York

DIRECTORY OF OFFICIALS OF WESTCHESTER COUNTY CITIES, TOWNS & VILLAGES

The Directory is league-produced annually. To obtain copies, contact the league at lwvwestchester@optonline.net or (914)949-0507.

$6 per copy if picked up at the LWVW Office, 570 Taxter Road, Suite 565, Elmsford, New York.

$7 per copy if mailed.

Make checks payable to : LWVW Education Foundation

Send check to : LWVW Education Foundation, 570 Taxter Road, Suite 565, Elmsford, NY 10523

Note: Multiple Directory discount for order of 50 or more at $5 per Directory. Large orders must be picked up a the LWVW office.

Printing of this directory was made possible through a generous contribution from Con Edison.

"The Fight to Vote" by Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center

Read what Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice and author of "The Fight to Vote" has to say about our Right to Vote.

Michael Waldman and President Marylou Green at the LWV of Westchester 2016 Annual Luncheon.

It's the end of the road for one of the worst anti-voter laws in the entire country.

League of Women Voters -- We did it!

On August 31, 2016, the League won the final battle in our long legal campaign to overturn North Carolina's voter discrimination law when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid to revive the outrageous measure.

It's the end of the road for one of the worst anti-voter laws in the entire country. It's a tremendous victory for hundreds of thousands of voters in North Carolina who could have otherwise been blocked from the polls.

And it's the latest contribution you and other League supporters have made in our ongoing campaign to protect the right of all Americans to vote. Thank you for standing with us!

Wednesday's ruling lets stand a lower court's order barring North Carolina from requiring photo IDs and ordering the state to restore a week of early voting and maintain same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. In a blistering opinion, the lower court found that North Carolina's law targeted communities of color "with almost surgical precision."

The North Carolina law was one of many passed in states across the country shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act back in 2013. Wednesday's decision follows a string of other recent victories for voters' rights in states including Texas and Kansas.

I hope you are as encouraged by this latest news as everyone here at the League is--and I hope you feel a well-deserved sense of pride in contributing to it!

Thanks again for doing your part in Making Democracy Work®!

Sincerely,

Lloyd Leonard Senior Director of Advocacy

P.S. For information about the upcoming election in your state, be sure to check out VOTE411.org, the League's one-stop voter information resource.

League of Women Voters 1730 M Street NW, Suite 1000

We Won! Voting Rights Victory Again!

League of Women Voters

Dear Marylou,

On Friday, a federal appeals court sided with the League in our lawsuit against the state of North Carolina and overturned one of the worst voter-discrimination laws in the entire country. This is an overwhelming victory--not just for the League but, far more important, the hundreds of thousands of voters in North Carolina whose right to vote had been imperiled by the new law.

And it's a measure of the tremendous impact committed supporters like you are having in our ongoing campaign to protect voters' rights. Thank you for standing with us! The court barred North Carolina from requiring photo IDs and ordered the state to restore a week of early voting and pre-registration and maintain same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting.

In finding that the new law would disproportionately impact communities of color, the judges noted in their decision that "we can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent."

Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters applauded that statement: "We are grateful to the Court of Appeals for seeing this bill for what it was: a race-based, chilling attempt to silence the voices of eligible voters." The North Carolina law was one of many passed in states across the country shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act back in 2013. Friday's decision was the third major victory for voters' rights in recent weeks, following similar decisions against anti-voter laws in Wisconsin and Texas.

I hope you are as heartened by this news as all of us here at the League were when we heard it on Friday--and I hope you feel a real sense of pride in contributing to this victory for democracy!

Thanks again for all that you do!

Sincerely, Jeanette Senecal Senior Director, Elections and e-Democracy

P.S. To learn more about elections in your state, please visit VOTE411.org.

Voters Won Today: League of Women Voters Prevails in Major Federal Voting Rights Case 07/29/2016

League of Women Voters North Carolina, voter id, HB 589

by Jessica Jones

Politicians have no business standing in the way of our right to vote

Raleigh, NC: The League of Women Voters has just won a major federal voting rights case, reinstating significant rights for North Carolina voters in time for Election Day. The League has been fighting HB 589, an omnibus voter suppression bill designed to limit the rights of voters, especially communities of color, since 2013.

"Democracy wins today. Voters win today. This decision is the latest in a string of major federal rulings that send a clear message: Politicians have no business standing in the way of our right to vote," said Mary Klenz, co-president of the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, a plaintiff in the case.

"We are grateful to the Court of Appeals for seeing this bill for what it was: a race-based, chilling attempt to silence the voices of eligible voters," said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

"As we've seen in Wisconsin and Texas, and now North Carolina, federal courts are calling foul on post-Shelby attempts to suppress voters' rights. Their rulings are loud and clear. Politicians do not control our democracy; voters do," Carson said.

"With this ruling, League volunteers will be able to get back to what we do best: equipping voters with the information they need to cast a vote this year," continued Klenz. "We have a lot of work to do to make sure North Carolinians understand how this ruling affects them, and we stand ready to help millions of North Carolinians exercise their most fundamental right to vote."

The League of Women Voters was represented by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union, and was joined by North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, Onestop Unifour Collaborative, Common Cause North Carolina, and five individuals as plaintiffs on this lawsuit.

Contact: Maggie Bush, 202-429-1965

"A win for voters' rights - The Westchester Board of Legislators passes law that makes voter registration a little bit easier."

Law passed on June 20, 2016 by the Westchester BOL:

NYS Voter Registration Forms will be available in all Westchester County departments.

Students Inside Albany - 2016

This year the LWV of Rivertowns, the LWV of Larchmont/Mararoneck and the LWV of Westchester (ILO) sent a total of five high school students to participate in the Students Inside Albany Conference from May 22nd - 25th.

From the left:

Sponsored by the LWV of Rivertowns: Robert Epstein, Ardsley High, 11th Grade; Amanda Prechtl, Montessori Academy, 11 Grade.

Sponsored by the LWV of Larchmont/Mamaroneck: Katie Lawless, Mamaroneck High, 12th Grade; Victoria Patti, Mamaroneck High, 12th Grade.

LWV of Westchester (ILO): Jennifer Tommmasino, Tuckahoe High, 11th Grade.

Possible NYS Constitutional Convention - Learn the Issues

Every 20 years, the state constitution sets a statewide referendum on whether to convene a constitutional convention. The next vote arrives November 7, 2017. Through 2016 and into 2017, WCNY will develop a campaign of content exploring this important expectation of the electorate, including a series of six episodes of Connect: NY so that voters are able to make an informed decision.

Below is a link to the first of the 6 part series of one-hour programs on the issue of a possible constitutional convention in NYS. The LWV of NY is a partner in these programs through the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany.

http://video.wcny.org/video/2365754208/

Running and Winning 2016

The LWV of Westchester thanks the Westchester Community Foundation for its significant grant to finance Running and Winning 2016. Generous support was also received from the American Association of University Women."

Women Elected Officials Offer Teen Girls Advice on Community Involvement and on "Running and Winning". Fourteen women elected officials from Westchester County came to the White Plains YWCA recently [April 14] to share their stories once again with a new group of bright young women from Westchester schools for the Fifth Annual "Running and Winning" workshop held at the White Plains YWCA; co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Westchester, the American Association of University Women, and the White Plains YWCA; and funded by the Westchester Community Foundation.

Learn more about the Westchester Community Foundation: http://www.wcf-ny.org

and the American Association of University Women: http://westchester-ny.aauw.net

Read more about Running and Winning 2016: http://www.lwvnet.org/lwv/easyweb/preview/Youth-Programs.html

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef interviewed Janet Zagoira and Marianna Stout of the LWV of Westchester on her "Ask Sandy" cable show.

Click here to view interview: