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Leaders Update


January 26, 2012

TODAY: January 26, 1961 – President John F. Kennedy appointed Janet Travell as his personal physician, making her the first woman in history to hold the post

PRESIDENT’S CORNER

  • President’s Message: Silence Is Not an Option (NEW)

CONVENTION

  • Apply to Win an LWVUS Convention Award
  • Convention or Program Planning Questions? Join our Discussion List!

ADVOCACY

  • Sign the Petition to Put SuperPacs Out of Business
  • Lobby Corps Action in January
  • U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Texas Redistricting Plans (NEW)

MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP

  • Reminder #8: Less than 1 Week Left to Update Your Online Roster (NEW)
  • Important Information on Transferring Member Records in LWVUS Database
  • LAST CALL: Submit Your League Picture to the LWVUS Membership Brochure Contest!

EDUCATION FUND (Elections; Redistricting; Fair Judiciary; Global Democracy)

  • Elections: LAST CHANCE – VOTE411 Online Voters’ Guide Software Webinar, 1/30 at noon EST
  • Elections: Voting Rights Act under Attack (NEW)
  • Elections: Voter Education Publications Available!
  • Redistricting: LWVUS and State Leagues Speak Out (NEW)
  • Fair Judiciary: Spartanburg County (SC) League’s Judicial Diversity Visual Media Contest (NEW)
  • Global Democracy: People-to-People Travel to Cuba (New)

OTHER

  • Registration for Rio+20 Conference Now Open (NEW)
  • Online Store Sale (NEW)
  • Purchase Impact on Issues
  • Leaving a Legacy

PRESIDENT’S CORNER

Dear League Leader:

If the first three weeks are any indication, 2012 is going to be even more interesting and opportunity-filled for the League than we imagined. In some cases, the League has already been in the spotlight in ways that we could not have anticipated.

Last week, the President released an ad in several states touting his own record on ethics and the environment. In that ad, he quoted several sources, including a joint press statement sent in April of 2009 by the League, Common Cause and other good government groups commending the then new Administration's ethics policies. Use of the statement was not authorized by the League. The ad, but not the League, has been criticized in the media. State presidents were alerted to the ad last Friday.

In addition, as you know, the environmental community, including the League, engaged in issue advertising throughout 2011. This work focused on protecting the Clean Air Act and the EPA by highlighting votes in Congress. This week, Sen. Scott Brown, now a candidate for re-election to the Senate from Massachusetts, and Elizabeth Warren, a possible Democratic opponent, entered into an agreement designed to ban independent advertising in that race. So far, the only independent ads have been from the right and aimed at Warren. To balance their stories, several news outlets (Time, NY Times) mentioned the League of Women Voters and the League of Conservation Voters as independent groups aiming attacks at Scott Brown. Several of the stories were inaccurate and those reporters have been contacted. Every news outlet that contacted the LWVUS for comment on the agreement received a response that corrected the timeline and the notion that the League has any interest in the current Massachusetts Senate race.

Taken objectively, there are many positive aspects to the recent spate of visibility. The League voice matters, and candidates, elected officials and reporters think our opinions are newsworthy. The League has a long and proud history of speaking to our elected officials about issues that matter to us. In this political environment, we must be prepared to have our words, positive and negative, used by politicians and the media for purposes that we never intended. We can take two approaches to this new environment. We can stop speaking out on issues and make sure that candidates have no new fodder for their campaigns or we can honor our traditions and celebrate the visibility and effectiveness that controversy brings.

Our research shows that taking stands and speaking out on issues is positive for the League and keeps us in the public eye in a manner that reinforces our role as a source of information and an advocate for voters. That research also suggests that we should appreciate this kind of visibility. The Obama ad refers to us as an ‘independent government watchdog group,’ and the clear inference is that we have enough credibility and name recognition for the president to think that our opinion matters and should be shared. Politics is not for the fainthearted, but we know our hearts are strong and our message matters.

To clarify our position, we have added some language in several places on our website stating clearly that the “League of Women Voters never supports or opposes candidates for office, or political parties, and any use of the League of Women Voters name in campaign advertising or literature has not been authorized by the League.” We encourage you to add similar language to your websites in this important election year.

Speaking Out in League,

Elisabeth

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CONVENTION

Apply to Win an LWVUS Convention Award
The LWVUS would like to recognize our state and local Leagues’ outstanding program work. Since this is a major election year, the LWVUS wants to highlight your League’s projects around elections, voter service and reform. The Convention theme focuses on the “Power of the Vote,” and we can’t think of a better way to showcase the League of Women Voters than highlighting your success! Please visit the Convention Section of the LWVUS website to learn more about how your League can apply to win a Convention Award.

Convention or Program Planning Questions? Join our Discussion List!
Do you want to discuss program planning and the upcoming LWVUS Convention with other League leaders? Now you can! Join the newly-created Convention/Program Planning discussion list here.

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ADVOCACY

Sign the Petition to Put SuperPacs Out of Business (NEW)
Let’s fight back against the big money pouring into political campaigns this year. Sign the petition on The White House website urging President Obama to appoint new commissioners to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). NOTE: To successfully sign the petition, you need to create an account on WhiteHouse.gov and respond to a confirmation email. Use our helpful step-by-step guide to do this. We need at least 25,000 signatures of support by February 10, 2012, to get a response from The White House. Don’t just sign it yourself; post the petition on Facebook, Tweet about it and forward to all of your friends.

Lobby Corps Action in January (NEW)
This month the Lobby Corps is urging Senators to oppose efforts in the Senate to overturn Administration initiatives that protect public health and the environment. These initiatives include the new mercury and air toxics rule and the recent decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline. More here.

U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Texas Redistricting Plans (NEW)
“The League is disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to block the San Antonio federal court’s maps, and urges the federal court to ensure that any new redistricting plans provide the fair representation that Texans deserve,” said LWVUS president Elisabeth MacNamara. “We are, however, encouraged that the Supreme Court decision avoids the worst possible outcome—implementation of the state legislature’s original, discriminatory redistricting plans, which clearly violate both sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act.” Read more.

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MEMBERSHIP AND LEADERSHIP

Reminder #8: Less than 1 Week Left to Update Your Online Roster (NEW)
There are only a few days left to update your online roster! Changes you make in the LWVUS membership database will be reflected in your League’s current SUMMARY SHEET. Update your roster before January 31 to ensure correct PMP billing and Convention delegate representation in 2012. Remember: Update members’ expiration year to 2012 or beyond. Have questions or need help? Email membership@lwv.org.

Important Information on Transferring Member Records in LWVUS Database
Transfers of a member’s record will be processed after February 1, 2012. Until this date, the member record must remain on your League’s active roster to ensure correct PMP billing and Convention delegate representation in 2012. If you have any questions, contact membership@lwv.org.

LAST CALL: Submit Your League Picture to the LWVUS Membership Brochure Contest!
The LWVUS is redesigning the Membership Brochure for 2012 and YOUR League could be featured in it! Submit a picture of your League in action online and enter to win a spot on the LWVUS Membership Brochure. Pictures must be high resolution (at least 300 dpi and 4”x6” in size) and submitted online by Friday, January 27, 2012. The winning League will receive 100 Membership Brochures courtesy of the LWVUS. Multiple entries per League are welcome. Send questions to Sara Sanders, SSanders@lwv.org.

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EDUCATION FUND (Elections; Redistricting; Fair Judiciary; Global Democracy)

Elections: LAST CHANCE – VOTE411 Online Voters’ Guide Software Webinar, 1/30 at noon EST
Join the LWVEF for an interactive basic training webinar covering all you need to know to get started using VOTE411’s Online Voters’ Guide software. Because the system has been updated based on member feedback, these webinars will be useful to new and experienced users alike. Sign up now for the webinar Monday, January 30, 12pm (EST). Additional advanced training webinars will be available in the future.

Elections: Voting Rights Act under Attack (NEW)
A challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act has been on the radar of voting rights groups across the country as numerous new voter suppression laws are being implemented. Section 5 requires all or parts of 16 states (called "covered jurisdictions") to "pre-clear" proposed changes in voting or election procedures with either the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. Last Friday the U.S. District Court in DC heard arguments to overturn Section 5. We anticipate that this argument could be heard by the US Supreme Court before the November elections and could jeopardize a key provision that has been used to protect millions of voters. Find more information here.

Redistricting: LWVUS and State Leagues Speak Out (NEW)
The LWVUS and the Texas League spoke out following last week’s Supreme Court ruling regarding the state’s controversial redistricting plans. Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania League and a group of citizen plaintiffs are celebrating a historic victory as the state Supreme Court has struck down the state’s overtly partisan redistricting plans. The California League joined other groups in submitting comprehensive recommendations for improving upon the state’s Independent Citizens Commission for the next redistricting. 

Elections: Voter Education Publications Available!
Stock up on your favorite voter education publications, like our “5 Things” Card in English or Spanish and our VOTE! Brochure in English or Spanish. All the publications are available in the League’s online store at very low cost and will help you reach out to new voters in 2012. 

Fair Judiciary: Spartanburg County (SC) League’s Judicial Diversity Visual Media Contest (NEW)
On February 16, 2012, the Spartanburg County (SC) League will launch a contest open to South Carolina high school students, “Picture This: The 5W’s of Judicial Diversity—Who? What? When? Where? Why?: Using Visual Media to Bring a Message to the Public.” The goal is to challenge the students to learn about their state’s courts and to consider the importance of judicial diversity. Students are to submit a 1-minute video, slideshow, photo or graphic illustration conveying the idea that “[a] diverse judiciary in South Carolina is important because it instills confidence in citizens that court decisions will be fair and impartial.”  Submissions, due April 15, 2012, will be judged for creativity and clarity, and shared for public comment on the Spartanburg County League’s Facebook page. The winners will be announced on Law Day (May 1, 2012).

Global Democracy: People-to-People Travel to Cuba (New)
The League of Women Voters Education Fund, in close partnership with the Education Fund of the Florida League, is offering several opportunities for League members to travel to Cuba in 2012. Find more information here.

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OTHER

Registration for Rio+20 Conference Now Open (NEW)
The Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, "Rio+20," will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20-22, 2012. The conference will be preceded by the third Preparatory Committee meeting of the Conference from June 13-15. Registration is now open and will close on May 20. All attendees must be registered by our UN Observer, Rosalee Keech (unobserver@lwv.org). Find information on the conference here and follow news on the League’s website.

Online Store Sale (NEW)
From now until the end of February the online store is holding a sale of logo items for $2.00 + shipping and handling.  

Purchase Impact on Issues
Impact on Issues, the League’s public policy handbook, contains a wealth of information, including official statements of position for each program area, a brief history of League actions and achievements, and updates from the 2010 LWVUS Convention. Order your copy here for $9.00.

Leaving a Legacy
Including the League of Women Voters Education Fund in your will is among the easiest ways to offer support of the LWVEF's work for years to come. We suggest the following language to include the League as a beneficiary of a will or trust: " I give, devise, and bequeath to the League of Women Voters Education Fund, a charitable organization formed in the District of Columbia, with offices at 1730 M Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, {the sum of $___ } {___ percentage of my residuary estate}." If you already have a will, you can have your attorney add a codicil to include the LWVEF. After you've added the League, please contact the Development office by email so we can list you as a member of our Carrie Chapman Catt Legacy Society.

"Like" the League on Facebook at www.facebook.com/leagueofwomenvoters and connect with us on Twitter: @LWV.
Donate to the League and support our work.

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