Though April showers may come your way
They bring the flowers that bloom in May.
So if it’s raining, have no regrets,
Because it isn’t raining rain you know,
(it’s raining violets).
Lyrucs by B.G DeSylva, music by L. Silvers
Yes, spring is here at long last and it’s time once again to hold our annual meetings to plan for the future. Members of the State Board extend our congratulations to all of the local leagues for another successful year. Elsewhere in this publication, you will find the dates for the annual meetings of each of our local leagues. You will be happy to know that all over the country and here in Maryland, we are finding that people are looking for an organization like the League of Women Voters that works for the benefit of people who want to vote and provides the information that voters need to vote intelligently. We have witnessed increased membership in local leagues which is being duplicated around the country.
While local leagues are planning for the future, so too is the State Board. This year is convention year! We are holding our convention at George Washington College in Chestertown, MD, June 9-11. We are thrilled to have as our featured speaker President Sheila Bair of Washington College at our banquet on Saturday evening of the convention. Previous to her present demanding role as college president, she was director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation during the 2008+ financial crisis and authored the book The Bullies of Wall Street and other publications. We are especially pleased that she will answer questions while she is with us, so have your questions ready. Members of the Kent County League are planning an excellent convention that is more affordable than some in the past and full of activities .Plan to join us as early as Friday evening, June 9th and stay until Sunday afternoon to participate in sessions that will bring you up to date on issues of importance to all of us as well as provide the opportunity to attend the banquet to hear our speaker. Additional information, including how to register, is available elsewhere in this State Board Letter.
We will have much more to say about our legislative priorities in an upcoming issue of The Voter but we are very pleased that the legislature passed legislation to ban fracking and are very disappointed to report that they failed once again to pass a reasonable measure to accomplish redistricting despite all of our efforts coordinated with other organizations with views similar to ours. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn sine die on April 10th. You can find our testimony on issues which arose in the General Assembly so far at www.lwvmd.org/testimony .
See you at annual meetings and convention!
Barbara Schnackenberg Nancy Soreng
We continue to be impressed and thrilled by the dedication of League volunteers. Over 60 of you signed up for Legislative Day and your enthusiastic participation in the day’s events was very rewarding to the organizers. To date, we have submitted testimony on nearly 70 bills all of which was initiated and written by volunteers. Our reporters for Report from State Circle have produced four issues and written about more than 250 bills. You have responded to action alerts, shown up at the Fracking Ban Rally and Redistricting Day. League members truly exemplify what it means to be civically engaged.
This urge to “do something” to improve democracy seems to be spreading as many local Leagues have experienced an up-tick in people interested in joining the League They seem to want to learn more about how government works and how they can participate in making sure that policies and programs that they care about stay in place. LWVMD and LWVUS are discussing strategies to help local Leagues make the best of this exciting opportunity. We are planning to have a discussion about this at the LWVMD convention in June, but may be sharing information with you before then. Stay tuned.
This issue of State Board letter has information about a number of upcoming events that I hope you will have the opportunity to attend.
- On April 8th, the League of Women Voters of the National Capital Area is hosting a A Place to Call Home: Affordable Housing Forum.
- Carole Conors will be taking League members to Capitol hill to visit the offices of Maryland’s members of Congress on April 26th.
- And the culminating event of our work year will be the LWVMD Convention from June 9-11 in beautiful Chestertown, Maryland. More information about these events is in our newsletter and on our website LWVMD.org.
Nancy and Barbara
February seems like such a boring month. In astrology, it is represented by a fish. It’s usually a cold month with too many more weeks of bad weather conditions that sometimes inconvenience us. While February 2017 has been unusually warm in Maryland, elsewhere there have been tragic floods, frigid temperatures, and snow or rain in abundance. Most years we spend this month looking forward to March and the promise of spring. But perhaps we should reconsider.
February is Black History month, when we celebrate such Americans as Ida B. Wells, a founder of the NAACP and journalist who chronicled in scathing terms the history of mistreatment of Black Americans. The Ida B. Wells award is conferred by the National Association of Black Journalists and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University to journalists who have worked to increase opportunities for Black journalists.
We celebrate Valentine’s Day, established on February 14th because, it is alleged, this is the day when birds traditionally begin to find their mates for the spring season. There are many references to various stories of Saints Valentine from which one
can pick the story one prefers. The tradition of sending valentine cards seems to have originated in England in the mid-18th century.
For League members, February 14th is the anniversary of our founding, our 97th birthday this year. Thanks to Carrie Chapman Catt we have a strong organization with the purpose of intelligent voting. To that end we have maintained our nonpartisanship, providing voters with information about candidates in the candidates own words.
The pictures of Mrs. Catt most often available make her look like someone from two centuries ago, when in fact she lived until March 1947, was a close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, and became a peace activist in her later years. In 1933 she sent to Adolph Hitler a letter from the Protest Committee of Non-Jewish Women Against the Persecution of Jews in Germany and continually campaigned for the admittance of Jews to the United States who were being persecuted in Europe. She was also a staunch supporter of the United Nations.
Perhaps we should re-evaluate our misgivings about February when there is so much to celebrate. Nevertheless, we will no doubt still look forward to spring.
In League, Barbara Schnackenberg and Nancy Soreng LWVMD Co-Presidents
There were two trainings offered during Council this year, one on setting a local website up to handle membership renewals (Power Point version/PDF version) and a second on Maryland’s Health After Implementation of Health Care Reform (also offered in Power Point and PDF versions.
The League joined 38 other civil rights, faith, labor, humanitarian, social justice, and immigrant and refugee service provider organizations to send an appeal to Governor Hogan to reconsider his statement asking that Syrian refugees not to be directed to our state, and to stand with his constituents in upholding the proud tradition of welcoming with open arms those who flee persecution and death. Read our letter here.
Thirty State Leagues signed a letter to officials at the Environmental Protection Agency recommending key ways their Congress-mandated report on fracking needs to be improved. Read the letter here.
On July 16, LWVMD and our Tame the Gerrymander coalition partners commemorated the birthday of Elbridge Gerry, the namesake of the practice of gerrymandering election districts. Featured at the event was a chef who shared his recipe for Gerrymander Cake. To read the recipe, click here. To see a fifteen minute video of the event, click here.
To see a 2 minute video of the chef baking his cake click here.
The League of Women Voters of Maryland has been invited to present expert testimony at the first public meeting of Gov. Hogan's Redistricting Reform Commission in Towson.Read more
The Voter is published three times a year. Check it out on our "Newletters" menu...
Those thinking about signing up for website training BEWARE. All training will be done on Saturdays, and the original email had one scheduled for October 2nd, a Friday. That training is on the 3rd!
Our final training will be in Stevensville rather than in Centerville - not the change in location.