The Voter – November 2015 news from the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County

League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County Officers and Directors
Jayne Freudenberger, Co-President
Rebecca Johnson, Co-President
Judy Hopkinson, Co-President
Susan Mancuso, Secretary
Donna Packer, Treasurer
Riley Abel
Allison Aurand 
Tanya Baumgart
Naomi Bunis
Jean Carmean
Caroline Correa
Judy  Corliss
Janice Keller


Action Workshop
November 14, 2015  
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM  
Northwood Hall
3240 Northwest Avenue
Bellingham, WA 98225

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Healthcare Committee Meeting

Guest: Lesley Rigg, 
Northwest Regional Council's Aging & Disability Resource Center


November 16, 2015  
10:00  - 11:30 AM  
Connections Room
Community Co-op
405 E. Holly St., Suite 103  
Bellingham, WA 98225

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Membership Meeting

Cookies - Coffee - Conversation
A chance for members to socialize & learn about League's present and future activities

Saturday, November 21, 2015
Bellingham Public Library
210 Central Avenue
10:00 AM - Noon
Doors open at 9:30

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Conversations with Elected Officials
December 3, 2015
5:00 - 7:00 PM
YWCA Ballroom
1026 N. Forest, Street
Bellingham, WA 98225

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"A River Between Us"
Movie Night 
Documentary film & follow-up discussion

A River Between Us captures the end of nearly a century of "water wars" in the Klamath River Basin where farmers, Native Tribes, local industries and environmental activists have learned to compromise and move forward.  
 League is organizing a panel discussion following the showing.
December 7, 2015
6:30 - 8:30 PM
The Pickford Film Center
1318 Bay Street 
Bellingham, WA 98225

Tickets and Trailer

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Check our website calendar for more details of these events. 

Other Community Events

Public Meeting 
Congressman Rick Larsen

Share your thoughts about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)  trade agreement between the US and 11 other nations with the 2nd District Congressman.

November 13, 2015
5:30 - 7:00 pm
Bellingham City Hall
210 Lottie Street
6:00 - 8:00 PM

It's that time of year once again!
Our 8th Anual Conversations with Elected Officials.

The League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County invites you to meet and greet our elected officials at our annual wine and cheese party.

3, 2015
YWCA Ballroom
5:00 - 7:00 PM

RSVP (360) 734-2366 

This event is popular with many of our officials and with our members.  
Save the date
Plan on attending and bringing your spouse, partner or friend.  

A note about parking: Guests may use the church parking lot at the corner of North Garden & Laurel Streets or park on the street.

New Members Have Joined

We welcome Jessica Lee,  Damani Johnson and Suzanne Devan who have recently joined the League.  
It's great to have you!

Party Helpers Needed

 Planning is well underway for the League's 8th annual wine & cheese party – AKA "Conversations With Elected Officials"  scheduled on December 3, 2015 in the YWCA ballroom.  We host our elected officials for an informal party to meet, chat and enjoy tasty appetizers.  

There are many ways you can help out and enjoy the festivity.

Contact our extraordinary event planner, Lynn Rein at (
360) 393-3209 if you'd like to provide food or help with some other task.  Yes, we always need a good clean-up crew to pitch in at the end of the party!

Keeping an Eye on Whatcom County's Voting Process
Janice Catrell, a League volunteer, attended the Whatcom County Auditor’s Logic and Accuracy Test on Thursday, October 29.  This was a test of the election programming and counting equipment for the November 3 General Election. The longer ballot needed for this election presented new challenges for tabulating the ballots. 

Here is a snip from Jan's
 report: “The Logic & Accuracy Test is conducted to certify the accuracy of the voting machines ahead of the election.  The individual who certifies the machines comes from the Office of the Secretary of State in Olympia.  The Whatcom County Auditor’s office prepares identical batches of simulated ballots that will test that the machines will count the ballots and the votes accurately, and that the machines”
Read more here

You may watch a video recording of the September 19 League program "The Future of Housing in Whatcom County: Affordable & Innovative - Can We Have Both?."  
We thank Robert Clark and the Center for New Media for providing the video.
View the recording here.
Speak Out  
This past year, quite a few members have been involved in advocacy work on issues on which the National, State, and/or Local Leagues take positions. This year our lists have been revised, condensed or expanded to include: Climate Change, Natural Resources/Parks, and Transportation/Infrastructure. 

If you are interested in advocating via e-mail or phone with elected officials on any of these topics, please let Jean Carmean know at (360) 733-2308 or at Jean would be glad to answer any questions about what is involved.

Remember, every call and email can make a big difference!  
League members serving at PeaceHealth
League members, Ursula Zvilna and Ellen Howard have been selected to be on the PeaceHealth Patient and Family Advisory Council.  Sheri Lambert has been appointed to be a Patient Ambassador for PeaceHealth, and in this capacity she will help with communications between staff and patients. These members, as well as Karl Kleeman, who also serves on the Advisory Council, are all active on the League's Healthcare Committee.  

"They Represent You"

Would you like your logo displayed in the League's brochure?

In February, your League publishes a brochure called "They Represent You" (TRY) that is a comprehensive reference of elected officials for Whatcom County residents.

Nearly 5000 of these brochures are printed and distributed throughout the county to a variety of outlets including all of the public schools, libraries, the county and city offices, city halls, chambers of commerce, radio stations, the Visitor Center, newspapers, and a variety of small businesses that request copies. A copy is also available on our  website (TRY)

Supporters of the League's educational work are recognized with a printed logo on the back of the TRY.  A typical donation is $100.00

If you, or a business you know, is interested in this opportunity, please contact Tanya Baumgart at or (360) 739-1427. 

BOARD BRIEFS – November 2015

PDC Complaint: The board voted to file a complaint to the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) regarding the flyer about the jail that was printed with public money and mailed to voters just before the election. If the PDC finds that public funds were used for election matters, individuals could be prosecuted.  

Woman's Economic Security Group: The board approved the formation of a “continue-the-conversation” group for members interested in continuing to learn and discuss ideas related to our study on women’s economic security.  Speakers, reading resources, and discussion meetings will provide members a way to engage more deeply with this issue in our community.  Kay Ingram will provide leadership of the group.   

Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan
Update: Our League and the WaterWork project at ReSources for Sustainable Communities collaborated to gather community input for the County Comprehensive Plan update. Their final report was approved and will be given to the County Planning Commissioners and the County Council.  An interesting outcome of the project was that it showed that people could talk about the issue with others who have very different perspectives. 

Women as Political Change Agents: Our league will co-sponsor a Humanities Washington program entitled “Women as Political Change Agents: From the late 1800s to the Present”  featuring 36th District Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles in the spring.

. . .   to our hard working Board members! 

The LWV of Bellingham/Whatcom County Board of Directors meets regularly on the first Thursday of the month.

Any League member is welcome to attend board meetings and may contact one of the Co-Presidents for meeting details.

November 2015 

After focusing on local housing and the fall election, your local league now shifts to several global and national issues, and how we can make an impact.  

Join us for our action workshop and an informal membership meeting! 

League members and friends are invited to this annual legislative training event put on by the LWV of Washington State and hosted by your local League.  

It will be held on November 14th at Northwoods Hall from 10:00 am  to 3:00 pm.  The Action Workshop is an amazing way to find out what's happening in our state, connect with our lobby team, and learn about key League issues - including climate change and carbon reduction alternatives being considered.   
  • Keynote Speaker - Ross MacFarlane, Director of Business Partnerships for Climate Solutions
  • Special Guest - 40th District Representative, Kris Lytton 
  • There is a $25.00 registration fee for the lunch and materials.
  • Some scholarships are available. Contact Rebecca Johnson at (360) 734-7922 for more information.
  • Online registration is available here.  
Members who attended the Action Workshop last year gave rave reviews to the program and said that is was an enjoyable day and great learning experience.  

 See the Co-Presidents' article below for more information. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015
10 am - 12 noon
(doors open at 9:30 am)
Bellingham Public Library
210 Central Ave
Downstairs Lecture Room
Did you know that the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County is the fastest-growing League in the state of Washington, and one of the most active?  Well, it’s your fault!

Yes, all of you remarkable women and men are responsible for that growth and that vibrancy.  Come and meet your talented, creative and dedicated cohorts.  Find out who they are and learn about the many behind-the-scenes activities that are happening in our League right now.  

Whether you are a long-time member, a new member (51 since last November!), or a prospective member, come and celebrate our success, meet new friends, and catch up with old companions as you marvel at the talent and excitement in the room.  

The Informal Agenda: Social hour begins when the doors open at 9:30.  At some time after 10:15 we will have a short orientation for new and prospective members and a brief introduction to this year’s activities.  Then project leaders will rotate from table to table to give informal descriptions of their projects, answer your questions, and hear your ideas in small groups where all voices can be heard.

Your ideas are the building blocks for our future, so please don’t hesitate to suggest possibilities for projects, studies, advocacy, or something totally different!  
Join us for Cookies, Coffee and Conversation!




Involvement in the League has been a profound experience for me.  Before joining the League about four years ago, my life endeavors focused on work and family, with little time for community involvement.
My world has enlarged and transformed, and one example is a recent experience with one of the country’s “most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced.”

There are many great history makers, and John Lewis is clearly one of them.  I had the privilege of meeting with him in October. A dear friend is a member of the Seattle League, recently retired, and a life-long civil rights activist. Her celebratory wish was to shake the hand of Georgia Representative John Lewis in Washington D.C. Through some politically connected friends and a local House Representative, her wish was achieved, and I was fortunate to be able to join the experience.  

As a college student, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters; participated and risked his life in the Freedom Rides; and was beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.  During the height of the movement in the early 60s, he was named Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  At the age of 23, in 1963, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington.  The next year he helped spearhead a seminal protest – the orderly walk across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, that resulted in a brutal police confrontation known as Bloody Sunday. This highly publicized event helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

He was director of the Voter Education Project (VEP), and under his leadership the VEP transformed the national political climate by adding nearly four million minority voters to the rolls.  He has continued his commitment to civil rights and voting rights as a moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber.  
Congressman Lewis is a friend of the LWV, and I was in awe that he was willing to have a private meeting with individuals who merely wanted to shake his hand. I am more inspired than ever to continue to contribute to activities and actions that strengthen our communities. 
(Proud) League member, Susan Mancuso

We are pleased to announce a unique opportunity for our members to see up close and personal the advocacy work of our lobby team when they come to town for an Action Workshop on November 14th.  Many of us forget the tireless work our lobby team does on behalf of our citizens, and now is the opportunity to meet these stalwart leaders and to learn what issues they will be taking up in the next legislative session.  Here is what Eric de Place policy, director of Sightline Daily, has to say about the League’s advocacy work…

“I am a huge fan of the work that LWV does on this (climate change) and many other issues. It’s hard for me to think of any advocacy group in the state that engages with so much intellectual depth”

This Action Workshop will have as its focus the combating climate change –  the number one challenge facing our planet. On November 14th from 10 am to 3 pm. at Northwood Hall, members of local Leagues from the northwest part of the state and their invited guests will meet to hear keynote speaker Ross Macfarland, director of Climate Solution’s Business Partnership Program, who will describe new ways to reach out to non-traditional allies and the future of clean energy.

Our LWVWA lobby team will be on hand to inform us of the legislative challenges coming in 2016, and we will learn concrete steps to take as we continue our work to hold “the thin green line” that is preventing the Northwest from turning into a shipping lane for fossil fuels. While our focus is climate change, we will also learn about the other league priorities – including education, health care and children’s services. 

The workshop fee of $25. includes lunch.  We encourage members to bring a friend who may be interested in how the league works and the small or large part they can take to help these actions. This is also a great chance to interact with other leagues in our northwest corner.  A limited number of scholarships is available.

 Please use this online form to register now.

As Pope Francis stated in his 2015 Climate Change Encyclical “Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is first and foremost up to us.”  

 In League, Jayne, Rebecca and Judy


Incarceration Reduction and Prevention

The Whatcom County Council has formed a task force to find ways to reduce and prevent incarceration in our community.  There are 24 members on the task force including elected officials, concerned members of the community, and a wide variety of professionals currently working in criminal justice and the behavioral health fields.

The Task Force is charged to review Whatcom County’s criminal justice and behavioral health programs.  They will make specific recommendations to safely and effectively reduce the incarceration of individuals struggling with mental illness and chemical dependency, and to minimize jail utilization by pretrial defendants who can safely be released from jail pending trial.   

The initial task is to develop plans for a new or expanded crisis triage facility for individuals struggling with mental illness and chemical dependency.     

The goal - using criminal justice resources wisely and humanely
This work places Whatcom County into the middle of a conversation that is happening throughout the State of Washington, and indeed across the nation, about how we can use our criminal justice resources more effectively and more humanely.   

The public is welcome to attend the Task Force meetings.  Recordings of past meetings are available on the WAHA Website.

As the co-chair of the task force,  I heartily invite your attendance at the meetings and your participation in the important work being done by this group. 
  Jill Bernstein 

Meet a Member
John Turnbaugh  

Somehow you don’t expect to listen to the song, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," while making the pilgrimage on the Santiago de Compostela.  John Turnbaugh will never get that out of his head, but he credits the walk with his finding the time to be still and ponder the moments of his life.  John walked the trail in parts for several years. When he retired for the first time from his job as a process design engineer in France, he started walking in the Pyrenees and made the last 500 miles of the pilgrimage in 35 days while listening to his new Spanish friend singing along the way.  

John's career in the oil industry took him from Ohio to Texas to France to Oklahoma and finally to Bellingham, where he retired again after 10 years at BP in Ferndale. Although his hometown was Baltimore, by the time he retired, he and his wife Chris had made friends and (as he jokes) had found a good doctor and dentist in our area. 

In retirement John has taken up music in a big way – taking violin and banjo lessons before returning to his first love, the piano.  This interest was sparked by the couple finding in France, a 1903 upright Steinway which they ultimately shipped home.   

John has been a good citizen in Bellingham, volunteering at the Food Bank building and farm, walking the trails with Mountain Stewards, and joining the League Observer Corps and Voter Service Committee. He has helped craft forum questions and has observed meetings at the City Council, the Port Commission and the Charter Review Commission.  He encourages anyone who wants to know the workings of the city to join the Observer Corps.  John can also be seen pouring wine at the League’s annual Conversation with Elected Officials event.  Ask him about his travels, and you will be fascinated by his stories.  

John likes the League because he is impressed with our effort to keep people informed and to treat them fairly. Without exception, he says, we treat people with respect regardless of their viewpoint. 



Kudos to Our Terrific Voter Service Volunteers 

When people hear that you are involved in the League of Women Voters, the first question often asked is, “Oh yeah, you do the election forums, right?”   And once you answer yes, the next comment is usually, “Thank you so much for doing that. It is such a great service for the community!” 

And they are so right!  Our election forums are a gift to our county and the hardworking League members that make them all possible are a gift to the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County. Without our members' efforts, it simply would not be possible to put together these educational, fair, and balanced forums that generate goodwill and gratitude from local voters.

It takes a village to make it happen; so let's give a cheer to the work and talents of these volunteers!
  • From the charter amendment proposition advisory committee of Judy Corliss, John Turnbaugh, Harriet Spanel, Jayne Freudenberger, Tanya Baumgart and Jean Carmean
  • To the question-writing committee led by the unflappable and inimitable, Jo Collinge, and her team of wordsmith wizards – Donna Packer, Riley Abel, John Turnbaugh, Kirsten Barron, Amory Peck, Tanya Baumgart, Judith Wiseman and Jill Bernstein
  • To the screeners of the audience questions – Jo Collinge, Donna Packer, Martha Burns, John Turnbaugh and Judith Wiseman
  • To the hosts – Jayne Freudenberger, Judy Hopkinson and Rebecca Johnson
  • To the moderators – Jill Bernstein, Annette Holcomb, Amory Peck and Tanya Baumgart
  • To the timers – Riley Abel, Melissa Bishop and Carol Comeau
  • To the candidate herders – Tanya Baumgart and Carole Hanaway
  • Plus, leading our crews of ushers & greeters for the three forums with their gifts of grace & style were Georgia MacGregor and Kathy Gablehouse.  Their fabulous team of volunteers that pitched in during a busy fall season included Jane Lowery, Martha Mills, Lana McClasson-Gitten, Darlene McLeod, Jan Fensch, Keith Phelps, Marianne Phelps, Linda Lambert, Jean Carmean, Ann Walton, Chris Turnbaugh and Janet Willing
May I express my profound gratitude for the energy and heart that all of you contributed to the Election Forums this year. I consider myself lucky to be a part of such a wonderful village.
Tanya Baumgart, Voter Services Chair, on behalf of the League Board and, most of all, the voters.  

$$$ In Politics  

Did you know that . . .Legislation regulating the money in federal campaigns dates back to 1907,  when Congress passed the Tillman Act to prohibit national banks and corporations from contributing to campaigns?

Did you know that . . . in 2010, the Supreme Court held that only quid pro quo corruption or its appearance can justify restrictions on the flow of political money?  This ruling struck down restrictions on corporate independent spending on the ground that it doesn’t lead to quid pro quo corruption.  

Did you know that  . . .  in 2012 total reported federal campaign spending for the House, Senate and White House reached almost $6.3 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics?

Did you know that . . . nonprofit corporations organized under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code are not required to disclose their donors publicly?

These and other facts will be discussed at our Money in Politics meeting in January.  At that time, we hope to have a spirited discussion and reach   consensus about what (if anything) should be done to limit the amount of money contributed and spent to elect officials and shape our public policy.

In the meantime, as the national elections for President and members of congress heat up, please be thinking about: Who are the big donors?  How much is being donated?  Should there be more effective regulation?

Find out more on our website!   You'll find some good reading to help you get informed on this issue.   
   $   $    $     $     $     $     $     $     $    $

September was back to school time.
League members, Judy 
Hopkinson and Carol Hanaway, had a great time helping students update their voter registration at the Bellingham Farmers Market.  Patriotic tattoo stickers were quite popular with the students and kids.

The VOTER,  November 2015
Newsletter Editors, Annette Holcomb & Joy Monjure
Our mailing address is:
League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County
P.O. Box 4041, Bellingham, WA 98227
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