Convention Report – League of Women Voters of California 2017

The Pre Convention Briefing was held on May 24th at Sue Graham’s home to prepare and introduce the new League members to the working sessions and the fun sessions for the up coming conference.  We discussed convention registration, hotel, mileage, parking, meals, etc. as well as all things work related and as requested had brought copies of selected sections of the Convention Workbook to review.

At 7:00am, Friday, June 2, several cars departed Los Altos Mountain View area for Sacramento and made excellent time arriving around 9:15am.

A Capitol Connection, the California League of Women Voters Convention 2017 Plenary Session was called to order on Friday, June 2 at 10 AM and concluded on Sunday, June 4 at 11:45 AM or thereabouts.

The business portion of the convention included adopting the following:
The Rules of the Convention
The Order of Business

The Budget which achieved a 100% clean audit.

The following two items although passed did generate quite a lot of discussion.

The Program which emphasizes three Issues
(1) Making Democracy Work in California

(2) Natural Resources

(3) Response to Changing Federal Policies and Budget Actions.

The three issues were adopted but there was lengthy debate about the ‘Not Recommended Program Items that went through their own votes but eventually failed.

The Bylaws Revision were also passed but likewise went through much debate concerning verbiage on Article III Sec 2 Types of Membership.

The officers and the directors were elected with no objections

The conference had some free time and opened it up to the attendees to discuss anything they wished.  The issue that was brought up was ‘Why are there not more Black women represented in the league and why is there not more outreach to the black members?’  Very well thought out and articulate discussions began and resulted for me in vowing to be more aware  of life.

We had excellent speakers joining our convention:

Chris Hoene – Executive Director of California Budget and Policy Center. They are an independent nonpartisan organization like the LWV who neither support nor opposes political parties or candidates running for office.  They focus on how public policies affect low and middle-income Californians and help to create outcomes that benefit all Californians.

Celinda Lake – Lake Research Partners – What a dynamic speaker.  Definitely a ‘womans woman’, an expert on electing women and framing the issues to what matters to women.  Her research and focus groups generate powerful information for political parties, candidates and clients.

Michael Tubbs – Mayor of Stockton, California.  What an amazing young man.  At the age of 22 he was serving as a City Councilmember for Stockton, the youngest in their history and one of the youngest elected officials in the United States and then announced his candidacy for Mayor.  He grew up in poverty in South Stockton to a teenage mother and a father who was incarcerated.  As a high school student he wrote an essay about overcoming the mistakes of his parents which was published in the San Francisco Chronicle and went on to be a member of a team of three who won a National debate competition in Cincinnati Ohio sponsored by the NAACP. He went on to graduate from Stanford University with a BA and a Masters Degree.  This young man is our future and how exciting it will be to watch him develop.

Brooke Binkowski – Managing Editor of  Brooke is a smart very engaging journalist who believes we all must question what we read when we read something that just doesn’t ‘sit right’.  It use to be pretty easy identify ‘fake’ news but now that is not the case.  News is coming fast and furious, it may be quite complex, media outlets no longer have the resources they need to do the back checking and the public wants their news now. Once the truth is established it has to be repeated again, and again, and again.

Workshops and Caucuses Attended by our Members


I attended the Friday afternoon workshop titled

Impact, Engagement & Sustainability: Future Framework presented by Melissa Breach-

I thought she did a good job of presenting changes that are potentially coming up for the League from the National to the State and Local levels. I can’t say that I agreed with her (and other’s analysis of the weaknesses of the League), but who am I to say…I just joined and there must be some sort of consensus among long time members that these structural changes need to be made.

I was concerned that there was so much attention being paid to structural issues withing the League and not enough attention to the idea that there is an immanent threat to our form of Federal government. How to have Impact regarding that would have been the discussion I would have liked to have heard.

I also attended the Saturday afternoon Caucus titled

Meet the Slate of Nominees-

It was an awkward room set up to begin with but the group managed.

The meeting consisted entirely of going around the room and everyone introducing themselves (not just the Nominees). That took the whole hour and a half set aside for the meeting.

I was glad to hear the stories of each person. It would have been good to get a more in depth idea of where each of the nominees felt the League should put their energy this coming year. Nobody addressed the urgency of the alarming National situation.

I also attended the Saturday afternoon Workshop titled Impact & Influence-

While the web site Voter’s Edge is great, it will not change any upcoming election.The “strategy” you took away from this workshop was totally inadequate to address the “next election season” that we face.

I also took in some of the Saturday workshop titled

Engaging New Members Around Local Issues-

Again an awkward room for the assembled crowd. I was not able to hear well enough to stay long.

I also realized it was not my real interest.


Impact, Engagement and Sustainability: Future Framework Workshop

Melissa Breach, Executive Director, LWVC

 LWVUS is currently conducting meetings with state and national leaders to explore ways that our organization can change and grow in order to become more resilient, better positioned to engage more people and to have a bigger impact on public policy as we strive to Make Democracy Work. Ideas include: reach new audiences, attain more community visibility, streamline local Leagues to make more time for advocacy, and reorganize to make all the Leagues work more as one entity. LWVUS will be communicating with us this summer about their plans.

Fix Proposition 13! Caucas

LWV Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville

 LWV Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville has assembled a team to study what it would take to reform Prop 13, the People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation, passed in 1978. It is hoped that the State Legislature will soon initiate a bill to remove commercial real estate from the Prop 13 regulations, thereby, increasing property tax revenue for the state. The first step for the League is to educate the public about what this change would mean and how it would impact homeowners. For more information about what LWV Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville is doing, go to this website.



Caucuses are the best part of Convention – passionate members talking about their favorite topics.  And, an easy way for newbies to get up to speed on a topic.  I attended the Single Payer Healthcare for California caucus hosted by Pat Snyder of LWV Diablo Valley.   Information about Senate Bill 562 – the Healthy California Act was distributed.  See    There is a Yahoo group for Leaguers to exchange information:     I also attended League Survival: Recruiting and Engaging New Members.  The emphasis was on recruiting young people.  Leagues host after work “socials”  in bars or libraries with a speaker on a current topic.  They do serious follow up with the attendees.  The last caucus was Bridging the Divide: Sharing the work of local Leagues.  LWV Pasadena reported on a project which both involved a number of members and produced useful information for the communities in their area.  They gathered information on the number of men and women on each appointed board and commission in the cities.  Planning boards were likely to have all male members and youth commissions and senior center commissions were likely to have all female members.  The aim was to encourage cities to strive for more diverse boards and commissions.   Another League (name forgotten) offers help to cities in which boards are at loggerheads.  Each board member is talked with individually and then board members meet in small groups.  The aim is to get the members to realize what they have in common and then provide tools for dealing with issues.  And, of course, I attended the Impact & Influence workshop which discussed the current status of Voter’s Edge (formerly Smart Voter).  With the help of local League volunteers Voter’s Edge is able to provide information about all candidates and measures on the ballot.   After one of the caucuses, which ended at 10pm, I spent a very satisfying 3 hours talking with a Leaguer from southern California.   If you need more information about the caucuses please contact me:  Barbara Wardenburg, [email protected]


 Friday, June 2 Climate Change: Taking it Local 

Presented by Diz Swift of LWV Berkeley Albany and Emeryville League of Women Voters and Gloria Chun Hoo of League of Women Voters San Jose Santa Clara.

The League of Women Voters has been at the forefront of the environmental protection movement for decades and Berkeley has been holding the flag.  In October 2015 SB 350 the California Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act was signed into law and states by 2030 all buildings must use 1/2 the energy they use now. This workshop dealt with how to take this policy and bring it home and implement it locally.  Some very interesting suggestions were to have our elected officials show their support by taking public transit one day a month or have the public transit be free one day a month so everyone can participate in this effort.  There are many ways to deal with climate change such as planting more shade trees to cool the earth and help absorb the carbon dioxide, reduce permit fees and streamline permitting requirements for energy efficient and renewable energy related building renovations implement building energy audit in retrofit programs in residential solar programs replace public lighting with energy efficient lighting, implement more water efficient landscaping.

National Voter Corps: Voting Rights Action for All Leagues USA

Host Alice Schaffer Smith LWV Palo Alto  Ensure all citizens are able to vote , encourage registered voters to exercise their right to vote with reminders of how when and where to participate.  Help voters get to the polls on Election Day.  Work with local organizations community colleges United Ways of California Civil Liberties Union’s to increase greater voter registration and participation. Additional information

Impact and Influence! Using the voters edge California project.

I actually used this in the 2016 election and found it extremely helpful but found that it was more than just a ballot look up tool. The panel that presented this workshop each had different stories to tell and how it appealed to their constituencies.

Bridging the Divide Sharing the Work of Local Leagues

There were over 20 leagues that did some amazing work and a number of them got up and spoke a bit about their work.  One group from San Diego worked with building their young professional membership by organizing an after work informal meeting with wine and small bites to discuss relevant political topics.  They called this gathering ‘Sip & Civility’.

The Orange Coast League of Women Voters collaborated with the Orange County Registrar of Voters in in creating a pamphlet for college students called ‘Voting 101: A College Student Guide to Voting in Orange County which was very successful

The League of Women Voters in Los Angeles through the Trans Voter Empowerment Project created a ‘Tip Sheet for Poll Workers’ which raised awareness of the challenges that are faced by transgender voters in the community