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The Voter, March 2016 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 Williams, Treasurer
Riley Abel
Allison Aurand 
Tanya Baumgart
Naomi Bunis
Jean Carmean
Caroline Correa
Judy  Corliss
Janice Keller

 

   
Mental Health & 
Whatcom County Jail:
Where are We Going?

Saturday
March 19, 1016
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM  
Downstairs Lecture Room
Bellingham Public Library
210 Central Avenue

Bellingham, WA 98225

Details 

* * *
Women's Economic Security
Wednesday
March 16, 2016
2:30 - 4:00 PM 

Film is Truth Conference Room
Bellingham Public Market
1530 Cornwall Avenue
Bellingham, WA 98225


A presentation & discussion on the statewide Initiative on a Minimum Wage/Sick Leave.

* * * 
Healthcare Committee 
Monday
March 21, 1016
10:00 AM - 11:00 PM  
Co-Op Connections Building
405 East Holly  

Bellingham, WA 98225,
Guest - Steve Morse, Bellingham School District
Topic - School Mental Health Programs  

Details below

* * *
Women As Political Change Agents
Saturday
April 9, 2016
10:00 AM - Noon

Bellingham Public Library
210 Central Avenue

Bellingham, WA 98225


A program for League members and the public presented in partnership with Humanities Washington and the Bellingham Branch of AAUW (American Associaton of University Women)
Guest Speaker:
Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County Councilmember, Sociologist & Author
More Information 

 

Check our website calendar for details of these events. 

 

New Members Have Joined

We send a warm welcome to these women who have joined our League since the last issue of the Voter.
Alice Litton
Cathy Watson
Wendy Lawrence
 
It's great to have you!


Kudos for our Martha's
 
We thank Martha Burns and Martha Mills for stepping up and taking on voter registration training of the Washington Square Residence Board. Your leadership and can-do attitudes are greatly appreciated!!
 Tanya Baumgart, Voter Service Chair


Healthcare Committee News

Steve Morse from the Bellingham School District and a substance abuse counselor will be attending the monthly healthcare meeting to report on mental health programs in the public schools. They will address early detection and treatment of mental illness, substance abuse, and anger management, They will also update the group about diabetes in children, health education, and preventive care.  

All league members are invited and there will be time for questions after the presentation which will be held at the Co-Op Connection Building on Monday, March 21 (10:00 - 11:30 AM)

 

March 8th is International Women's Day

International Women's Day is established to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.  The theme for emphasis this year is gender parity and our League will take a look at some aspects of  this issue at our March 16th meeting of the Women's Economic Security Continuing Conversation Group.  Find out more about pay equity issues in our state and a proposed ballot Initiative concerning Minimum Wage/Sick Leave.  Meeting details above.
 


Learn more about amazing American women who had significant achievements in many different areas life.  Check out American Women's History: An A to Z of People, Organizations, Issues, and Events, by Doris Weatherford.   

They Represent You Brochure

In the League, you will often hear a colloquial term that may seem strange until you are familiar with what it is.  

For example, many Leagues in the United States publish a Directory of Public Officials, which League members call "TRY" which is an acronym for "They Represent You". The TRY brochures list elected officials as well as governmental offices and information as a service to the county or area that the League represents. 

Our League distributes 4800 of these brochures throughout Whatcom County as well as displaying the information on our website.  Members will be receiving the a 2016 copy of the TRY soon – when your copy arrives, please browse through it and note the font of information that it contains!

Big Thanks to Our Community Supporters
Companies that donate $100 to our educational efforts are acknowledged in the TRY with their logos. We greatly appreciate contributions from these community supporters.
 
Accounting Offices of Bruton & Shellberg
Bagelry
Barron|Smith|Daugert – Attorneys at Law
Bellewood Acres
Community Food Co-op
Garden Spot Nursery
Health Center Solutions
The Print Stop
Village Books & Paper Dreams
Waycross Investment Management Company 
Whatcom Educational Credit Union. 

We especially thank the Print Stop (of Lynden) who generously provides printing services. We encourage members to support our supporters with your business!
Tanya Baumgart, Voter Service


Board Briefs
 
 Our LWVBWC Board of Directors is currently working on the following projects.
  
* Preparing LWVBWC material to be archived at the Center for Northwest Heritage which is part of Western Washington University libraries.  The archive holds the state’s Women’s History Collection, so our local archives document women’s history in Washington.  We currently have archived documents from the 1930s through 2012.  

* Voter Services is working on a Youth Registration project that aims to develop in the schools a culture of voting and not just getting a few seniors registered to vote.  There will be a mock voting experience.  
 
* The Water group continues to be active, and their most current activity is a meeting with partners on the topic of concentrated animal feeding operations.
 
* The LWVWA Climate Change Committee, co-chaired by local league member Jean Carmean, is surveying members about local climate change issues.  Read more.

Our League membership continues to grow.  We are the second largest League in the state, after Seattle, with 216 members.  

Our Board meets regularly on the first Thursday evening of the month, September through May.  

Any members are welcome to attend and observe the meetings. Please contact one of the co-presidents for details.

Let's Develop a Culture of Voting

 
The League of Women Voters® of Bellingham/Whatcom County will partner with two Whatcom County High Schools and the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office to encourage our young people to register and vote. 

The League will facilitate the students’ participation in the Mock Election sponsored by our Secretary of State, May 16-20, 2016 – see http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/student-mock-election.aspx#/landing. 

We will facilitate voting registration prior to the mock elections so that students would then be able to vote in the November General Election. Our goal is to encourage active participation in our democracy by the citizens and leaders of tomorrow and develop a voting culture in our youth.

This will be a great opportunity for members to get involved in a vitally important function of the League of Women Voters.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Tanya Baumgart at VoterServicesChair@lwvbellinghamwhatcom.org or by phone at 360-739-1427. 

March 2016

 

Looking back:
2008 – Voters said "Yes" to a sales tax to fund mental health & chemical dependency programs.
2015 - Voters said "No" to the sales tax proposition to build a new jail.


Where are we going next? 
On Saturday, March 19th, our dynamic program will explore how behavioral issues are addressed at the Whatcom County Jail. Expert panelists from our community will discuss the challenges to providing services to citizens going through the criminal justice process who suffer from mental illness and/or substance abuse.

Learn about programs being developed to forestall inappropriate or unnecessary incarceration and recidivism in Whatcom County. Learn about improvements and challenges in providing mental health & substance abuse services.

Our Guest Panelists: 
  • Anne Deacon – Human Services Manager, Whatcom County Health Department
  • Wendy Jones – Chief Corrections Deputy, Whatcom County Sheriff's Office
  • Charles Snyder – Judge, Whatcom County Superior Court 
Saturday, March 19, 2016
10am-12pm
Bellingham Public Library
Downstairs Lecture Hall
Doors open at 9:30 AM


 Join us and bring a friend.  This program is open to members and the public. 
Whatcom County Incarceration Prevention & Reduction Task Force
In February, the Whatcom County Incarceration Prevention & Reduction Task Force released their Phase 1 report.  The Task Force focused on properly addressing the needs of people with mental illness and substance abuse problems as well as ways to better utilize alternatives to incarceration in our justice system.
Find the task force report here and additional very informative charts in the Report Addendum.

 

Members, once again, your cookies are requested!
Those with last names beginning with Q through Z, please bring cookies or bread for the meeting on March 19.   


March is Women's History Month

As part of the celebration, we will honor a member of our League with the Carrie Chapman Catt Award. 

Carrie Chapman Catt was the founder of the League of Women Voters® and was instrumental in securing the passage of the 19th amendment which guaranteed women the right to vote.  

Award nominations are requested
Nominate a member who has made history in our local League by showing a strong and enduring commitment to our League and whose contributions have helped further the League’s ninety-six-year goal of making democracy work. 

This member should not be a current board member but a person in the general membership who has consistently given their talents to our League’s mission

The Carrie Chapman Catt Annual Award was initiated in 2015 when Georgia MacGregor was so honored. The Board's choice for this year will be honored at our May Annual Meeting

Please E-mail your nominee’s name and why you think she/he deserves this honor by April 10, 2016, to league@bellinghamwhatcom.org.

A myriad of ways to get involved...  
 
Do you ever wonder what the League is up to? 

We love to have all our members involved in our work – each according to their time and abilities –  but sometimes we don’t convey to you the available opportunities.  Please reach out to us and join any one of our ongoing efforts. Email us League@lwvbellinghamwhatcom.org and we will connect you to any of these activities:

  • Helping plan our March 19th educational program about Mental Health & the Whatcom County Jail.  
  • Becoming part of the hospitality team for our public outreach.
  • Observing the County redistricting meetings
  • Planning a registration and voter turnout pilot program in high schools for May
  • Filing Observer reports after attending a public meeting of the County or City Council or the Port Commissioners. 
  • Distributing our directory of public officials, the TRY  (They Represent You) to 120 locations
  • Joining the Water Group as they schedule an April forum in the County – bringing together farmers and fishers to discuss new rules from the Department of Ecology 
  • Attending the Women’s Economic Security (WES) group who will meet to discuss minimum wage issues.
  • Planning the 2016-2017 League budget
  • Arranging informal small group meetings for new and seasoned members

Have we intrigued you yet?  All these activities welcome your participation. See the rest of the VOTER and the website for more information.  You, our fantastic members, are the ones that make our League a thriving and effective organization in our community. 

We thank you!

 Judy           Jayne       Rebecca

 



CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS & SOLUTIONS  

The effects and causes  of climate change are already all around us: fish dying in streams, shellfish being unable to reproduce because of increased ocean acidity and warmer temperatures, coal trains spewing dust and diesel.

While climate change is global, the League of Women Voters of Washington believes that we can address these issues most effectively by concentrating on the local impacts and on ways to alleviate them.  In the process, we may even discover that some of these negatives can be turned into positive actions. For example, some of the unemployment and economic growth problems of reduced fossil fuel transport and burning could be offset if government support of these industries were transferred to 
wind, solar and geothermal production; to research into mini-units for households; and to employee retraining. Certainly health hazards to miners, oil field workers, and those who live along rail lines and count on the ocean for recreation and livelihoods would be reduced.
 
LWVWA Organizes for Action
To begin this effort, the LWVWA Climate Change Committee, Co-Chaired by Jean Carmean (Bellingham/Whatcom) and Ellyn Murphy (Benton/Franklin) is asking local leagues to discuss and rate the importance of nine clusters of effects of Climate Change on local communities. (e.g. Community Infrastructure including Housing and Transportation: increased damage/disruptions from flooding, wildfires, mudslides. etc.)

In late March or early April, we would like to hold a discussion with all of you who believe that climate change is one of the most important issues confronting us. Together, we will decide which impacts are most important locally, and then recommend actions the LWVWA might take to reduce effects of these impacts.
 
Here are two especially helpful publications focusing on the State of Washington.  Both have executive summaries that are focused and clear, with links to in-depth detail of the complete studies and recommendations.
 
1. Preparing for a Changing Climate, Washington State’s Integrated Climate Response Strategy, April 2012, Pub No. 12-01-004, Washington Department of Ecology  https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/1201004.pdf

2. The State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound Executive Summary, Climate Impacts Group, College of the Environment, University of Washington, Nov. 2015.
http://cses.washington.edu/picea/mauger/ps-sok/ps-sok_cover_and_execsumm_2015.pdf

Contact Jean Carmean if you would like additional information or would like to participate in this work. (360 733-2308) stje.carmean@gmail.com

 


Meet a Member  - Hank Kastner 

Talking with Hank Kastner is akin to taking a seminar on the important environmental issues our county faces. He is knowledgeable about the coming clash of fossil fuels and climate change and the issues behind each.  

In 2013, Hank and his wife, Karen, chose to retire to Bellingham because of our university, our recreational choices, and our community values. Hank has put his passion for the outdoors to work volunteering with RE Sources and doing hands-on work with the Whatcom Land Trust.

Hank grew up in the East, finished his education at the University of Texas and worked in Houston for Shell Oil. He spent 20 years helping to manage changing refinery operations technologies.  Then he transitioned to the Human Resource department which he describes as on-the-job learning about the human element in the workplace.  He puts these skills to good use now as he works at bringing together the disparate factions to seek solutions for the allocation and protection of our scarce water resources. 

Hank speaks eloquently about the values the Lummi Nation brings to the community—values that are under appreciated—values, we may need to emulate as climate change makes inroads on our sustainability.

 
Hank joined the League because he appreciated our role as an impartial convener of different factions.  His research work on the Continuing the Conversation Water Group has been invaluable to us as he has a technical perspective as well as an understanding of the human concerns.   Hank likes the fact that the League can be assertive in its positions once we have made a careful study of the issues. 


 
 

 
League Water Group Update
 
The Water Group continues to provide stimulating and fun opportunities to learn about Whatcom County's water challenges and to meet both experts and ordinary people who have different perspectives on the issues.  

Working to better understand our water resources
In February, we had a fascinating meeting with Dan Eissis, manager of the Blaine & Birch Bay Water and Sewer District.  Dan told us about basic hydrology in the area and the history of the water district.  He also discussed the $700,000 grant recently awarded by the WA Dept. of Ecology for a District water feasibility project. Water Group participants Hank Kastner, Eric Hirst, and Andy Ross provided a great summary of the presentation including a link to the slide show.  
http://www.lwvnet.org/lwv/wa/bellinghamwhatcom/files/Summary_Notes_-_Birch_Bay_water_project.pdf

CAFO permits
CAFO stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, and CAFOs need permits.

The WA State CAFO permit expired in July 2011. The Department of Ecology is updating the permit, and the public will be asked for comments.  Final permit requirements will have a huge impact on both water quality and the viability of area farms and fisheries.  You can see the problem.   

Our Water Group is planning a forum to educate the public and bring all parties to the table for a discussion of the challenges CAFOs present, possible solutions that might be required by the permit, and consequences of those solutions - both intended and otherwise. 

All League members concerned about water issues in the county are welcome to participate in this group. 
 

2/25/2016 LWV Progam: Jayne Freudenberger moderates the conversation with the League's guests, McKenzie Dent, Sam Sefzik,  Dean Wright, and Cathy Allen.
 
Voting: Can We Turn Up the Turn-Out?
 
A small thing like not having a stamp was cited as a barrier to voting by one of our student panelists, McKenzie Dent from WWU, at our February program Voting: Can We Turn Up the Turn-Out?
After all, she continued, “It’s not the money – it’s just that our demographic doesn’t write letters – our lives are online with phones and devices…we don’t buy stamps.” This was just one of the barriers our panelists described and it pointed up the need for more ballot drop boxes at WWU. 

Referring to that student demographic, Dean Wright encouraged all of us to join the age of Twitter while explaining ways the media has changed in how information is delivered, during his long career as a journalist.
 
Barriers to Voting:   Our featured speaker, political consultant Cathy Allen, led us through a list of other barriers and myths concerning voting: No doubt all the items below contribute to low turnout but what would you guess is the #1 reason people don’t vote?
  1. Too many independent expenditures (dark money)
  2. Biased news coverage – in left or right silos
  3. Boring issues, unlikeable politicians, and people are too busy
  4. Hating political parties
  5. Believing nothing ever changes – voting is a waste of time
All the panelists were asked: “What would you tell people about why they should vote?” Samuel Sefzik, our other student panelist, said he would encourage his friends to vote as a part of their responsibility to look at how they could solve their own problems and not wait for someone else to solve them.

This is just a sample from the informative and inspiring program.  

–––> Correct answer: Oh, and if you guessed 3 you were right. 28% of nonvoters said they were just too busy to vote.
 
 
Pictured below are League friends & neighbors of Donna Packer. Donna passed away in December 2015 and neighborhood Little Free Library was installed in her memory.   

 
The VOTER,  March 2016 
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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