February 18 Education Program Explores "Fake News" and Today's Journalism

Sifting Fact From Fiction: Journalism in the Social Media Era
Saturday, February 18
10 a.m. to Noon
Central Library, Lecture Room
Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Avenue

(9:30 a.m. social time/doors open at the downstairs, Lottie Street entrance)

"Fake news" is in the news these days. What is it, and how can you tell? A professor of journalism, a reporter, and an editor will talk about journalistic ethics, the process journalists and editors undertake with each story, and why it is critical for the public and those in the journalism industry to read critically and carefully. Presentations will be followed by Q&A and a practical exercise to help attendees apply what they've learned.

Our goal is for attendees to: 1) leave understanding what "fake news" is, having learned the tenets of journalism; 2) have a sense of the harm created through false information, while appreciating the value that accurate news provides an informed citizenry; and 3) understand that we each have a role to play, by thinking critically and choosing not to "share" bad information.

Join us for what is sure to be an interesting and informative program! For more information, please contact Board member Amy Cloud.
January meeting: Thank you to everyone who joined our annual program planning meeting to determine priorities for the year ahead. The results of this well-attended and lively discussion will be advanced for full membership consideration at our annual meeting this spring. We’ll also submit information from this meeting to the state League, to be incorporated into state-level planning. Photo by Carol Comeau

League Acts on the Front Lines of Democracy At Local, State & National Level


Word has it that the groundhog did not see his shadow and we’re in for another six weeks of winter. It’s tempting to just hunker down with a stack of good books, a cup of good tea (or a glass of good wine), and spend these dreary days of winter in bed, avoiding the chaos of 2017. But that’s not who we are, and it wouldn’t be very League-like. Instead of hiding, the League at every level – local, state and national – is on the front lines for democracy!
The national League is posting statements almost daily from LWV President Chris Carson that address a broad range of issues including the administration’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, the Keystone Pipeline, and the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny” or REINS Act, which requires Congressional approval for all major regulations.
Chris Carson made a powerful statement denouncing the executive order on immigration: "The League of Women Voters is opposed to deportation of non-criminal undocumented immigrants. The League supports cities, towns, counties and states that make a decision not to cooperate with federal deportation and enforcement actions that include non-criminal undocumented immigrants. The LWV is opposed to discrimination, including discrimination in immigration, based on religion. This is timely as the Bellingham City Council prepares to vote on whether or not to become a sanctuary city.
At our state level, LWVWA is busy in Olympia advocating and educating. They have a terrific set of 2017 Advocacy Issue Papers prepared by the issue chairs from the Lobby Team. Topics include charter schools, climate change, economic justice, education, energy, gun safety, health care, representative government, reproductive rights and gender equity, revenue, transportation, water, river and forests, and wetlands, shorelines and land use. Contact our Advocacy Chair Jean Carmean if you wish to be included in advocacy efforts on any of these topics.
Locally, despite weather delays and cancellations due to illness, we’re moving ahead with multiple projects. We had to cancel the Ferndale outreach meeting on February 4 due to ice storms. The WES group is starting to work on its goals on February 21 after cancelling on the 7th for snow. The Climate Change Committee is working on the March education program meeting, and the Position Study Group will meet later in February. Our board didn’t have a quorum at the February meeting but we’re moving ahead with electronic votes on a proposal to update our web site and on program recommendations for state. We have terrific educational programs scheduled for the rest of this year, and people already thinking about next year.
We’re pleased to report from TRY Editor Tanya Baumgart that They Represent You (TRY), A Directory of Elected Officials is at the printers and should be available soon. We’re looking for volunteers to help us distribute the TRY throughout the county. Let one of us know if you are interested.
Speaking of volunteers, we have a wealth of interesting committees that members can plug into, but we’re also hearing requests for hands-on work. We are developing a list of volunteer roles for our League that will offer new and current members some concrete opportunities to “do something for democracy.” If you have specific volunteer ideas, please forward them to Membership Chair Joy Monjure.
Lastly, please take the time to complete our survey about our monthly newsletter. We’re making plans to improve communications but we won’t capture your brilliant ideas if you don’t complete the survey. Despite requests in last month’s newsletter and a direct email to all members, (because we don’t think everyone receives our posts through our electronic mailing program – called MailChimp) we still have only about a 10% response rate. We need your voice!
Thanks for all you do for our league and our community!

In League, 

Judy Hopkinson & Rebecca Johnson
Last Chance to Take
The Voter Survey

Whether you hardly ever read it, skim the headlines or read all the details, we want to hear from you! We would like to hear from more members than we have so far. Please take a moment to let us know what you think about The Voter. Your answers are anonymous unless you choose to include identifying information in comments. Here’s the link: Feedback about The Voter
Annual Convention in Seattle, June 2-4, 2017

We encourage members to mark your calendars, consider attending, and stay tuned for more details about the annual state convention. Planning is underway for the League of Women Voters of Washington Convention, scheduled to be held in Seattle, June 2-4, 2017. The theme for the conference is "Democracy: Must Be Present to Win!" Details expected here soon: LWVWA website.

Committee Updates

Our standing committees are going strong and meeting regularly to explore specific topic areas of great interest to League members. Below are updates from their January meetings. 

Women’s Economic Security (WES) Committee
To inform next steps for WES, several committee members researched and reported on communities throughout the country that are working on equity and social justice endeavors similar to those of WES. Great ideas emerged. Cities included Pittsburgh; San Diego; Fairfax County, Virginia; Burlington, Vermont; and King County, Washington State. Next steps for the committee include:
  • Identifying what we still need to understand in preparation for setting our goals.
  • Drafting goals for the WES project – what do we want to accomplish in 2017?
Join the conversation: Next meeting is 1-2:30 p.m. February 21, at the Whatcom Center for Philanthropy, 1500 Cornwall Ave, Suite 202. 

Healthcare Committee
“Fake news” was the subject of the Healthcare Committee’s January meeting. Brian Bowe, Ph.D, an assistant journalism professor at Western Washington University, gave an excellent talk to help us discern fake news from real news. Among many good tips, he noted the websites Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, and Politifact.com are good online resources for fact checking. Brian will be a panel member at the February 18 League event Sifting Fact from Fiction: Journalism in the Social Media Age (see more details, above).

Join the conversation:
  • February meeting: Next meeting is 10-11:30 a.m. February 20, in the Community Food Coop Healthy Connections Building Classroom, located at 405 E Holly Street, Suite 103 (across Holly Street from the Coop grocery store.) We will learn about the Parish Nurse Program, implemented by community churches and now managed by PeaceHealth St. Joseph Hospital. Rev. Tessie Mandeville, who is the interim program coordinator, will explain the duties of the nursing and spiritual staff. 
  • March meeting: 10-11:30 a.m. March 20, at the Cordata Community Food Coop Roots Room, located at 315 Westerly Road (where it intersects with Cordata Parkway). Meeting will include presentation titled: The Shocking Significance of Hearing Loss -- It's Pervasiveness and Impact on our Community. Our speaker, Charlene MacKenzie, is co-founder of the Hearing Loss Association of America, Whatcom County chapter. This volunteer organization has been vital to hundreds of people since it was formed in 2004. We will also discuss legislation specifying medical assistance coverage for hearing devices for adults (see more info below)

Here are some important bills to ask your legislators to support:
  • SB 5163 Addressing unknown changes to the federal Affordable Care Act. This bill provides an exemption from the four-year budget outlook requirements for State Medicaid until we see detailed budgetary and programmatic changes in federal law. 
  • HB 1117 Health care services balance billing. Addresses surprise billing, which is an unexpected bill because the care provider wasn’t in the patient’s insurance network. 
  • HB 1264/SB 5179 Specifying medical assistance coverage for hearing devices for adults. Medical devices for hearing were covered prior to 2011, but during the economic downturn, this assistance was removed from coverage. These bills would restore that coverage.

New Study Groups Underway

Two new study groups started in January. All members are welcome to join. For more information about each group and the schedule for upcoming meetings, contact Judy Hopkinson.

Climate Change Advocacy
Next meeting date to be determined.
This group held its first meeting with a review of our League's history of advocacy regarding Cherry Point. Future meetings will support our continued advocacy efforts. Please contact Judy Hopkinson if you would like to attend.

Positions Study Group

Next meeting date to be determined. Study group participants will be reviewing all of our local League positions at the next meeting, followed by a review of topic-specific state and national positions. Watch for a schedule of when each position topic will be studied. All League members who would like to participate are welcome to attend. Contact Rebecca Johnson or Judy Hopkinson for more information.

Education Programs in the Months Ahead

Mark your calendar! The following topics are planned for education programs in the months ahead. As schedules and locations sometimes change, please stay tuned to The Voter and our website for schedule and topic updates.

Saturday, February 18, 10 a.m., Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room. Sifting Fact from Fiction: Journalism in the Social Media Era. See details above.

Saturday, March 18, 10 a.m., Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room. Solar Sidewalks, Electric Cars, Green Buildings: Changing Our Energy Landscape and Creating Jobs. Planning underway, stay tuned for details.

Saturday, April 15, 10 a.m., Whatcom Community College Heiner Center. Jail Diversions: The World of the Possible. Planning underway, stay tuned for details.

Meet A Member: Karen Funston


Karen Funston has been working on political campaigns since she was 14 years old, so it was a natural fit to pursue a degree in political science when she came to Western Washington University from southwest Washington in 1975.  She jokes that she got a degree about every 10 years: a bachelor's in political science in 1980, a master’s in political science in 1987 and in 1998, a law degree from the University of Washington. Perhaps her favorite activity in law school was working under a practicing lawyer as she helped people in an Affordable Housing Development Clinic.

Karen never stopped campaigning, however, and along the way met some of her heroes, including Jimmy Carter and Joe Biden. She became involved with many local campaigns – especially with nonpartisan judicial races. She successfully co-chaired Deborah Garrett’s second campaign when Garrett became the first woman to become a Superior Court Judge in Whatcom County. They had met when they wrote grants for the Womencare Shelter and Karen was also the director of the Whatcom County Food Bank Network.

Karen seems to have done it all – she was a Whatcom County employee in the Public Works Department who started by flagging for road work and ended up in accounting. She and her husband also raised two boys.

All of her varied work experience makes Karen an ideal candidate for League leadership and she was appointed to the Board of Directors in January. She is a partner at Buri Funston Munford PLLC and will bring her legal skills and her non-profit experience to her League portfolio, which is Voting Rights and Redistricting.

Karen appreciates the League’s focus on education – as she says “an informed electorate is the key to democracy.” She is concerned about the divisive tone of politics these days and feels the League offers opportunities to build bridges.

Leaguers Join the Women's March

On Saturday, January 21, marches held around the country and across the globe inspired millions to stand up for values that people hold dear in our democracy. The League of Women Voters officially participated in the Women’s March on Washington in DC, as did some state and local chapters. Thousands of people gathered in downtown Bellingham as part of this nationwide peaceful and historic demonstration. 

Though we were unable to obtain the required liability coverage to allow us to officially march together as our local League chapter, many of our members marched as individuals and many displayed their League pins proudly. Many who marched used this opportunity to make their voices heard on League priorities, such as voting rights, reproductive choice, reforms to money in politics, health care, the environment, and other key issues. 

Photos: Top - Crowd gathers in front of Bellingham City Hall before the march begins, photo by Janice Keller. Middle - Leaguer Annette Holcomb (center) during the march, photo by Robin Holcomb. Bottom - Leaguer Jayne Freudenberger (far right in photo), marching with her daughter and granddaughter, displays her League pin proudly, photo by Bill Freudenberger.

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival February 16-25

League members may be interested in the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival, February 16-25 at various venues in Bellingham and Whatcom County. Many of the films and the topics they explore support the League's voter education efforts.

The film festival, now in its 17th year, supports independent filmmakers, fosters dialogue and promotes action. Volunteer committee members have selected insightful and moving films they hope will encourage the community to explore and engage with critical issues. Films are followed by facilitated discussion, some led by the filmmakers themselves. Additional information about topics explored and follow-up actions is available as well.

This year's festival begins with the film "Disobedience" at the Pickford Film Center on February 16, with a silent auction that begins at 6:30 p.m. and two showings of the film at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

More information and a complete schedule of films, visit the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival website

February City Club Presentation: What Will It Take to Reduce Jail Overcrowding?

Attend the Bellingham City Club luncheon on February 22 for a discussion of jail overcrowding and ideas to address this problem. For example, a large population in our overcrowded jail includes people with behavioral problems. Are there better solutions for this population?

Speakers Dr. Robert Crittenden, Governor Jay Inslee’s special assistant for health reform legislation, and Jill Bernstein, co-chair of the Whatcom County Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force and former LWVBWC president, will be moderated by Anne Deacon, Whatcom County’s Human Services Manager. This is a great chance to become better informed about this topic, which will be explored further in a LWVBWC education program scheduled for April 15. For more information about the Bellingham City Club program, including online ticket purchase, visit the Bellingham City Club website.

Hear From League Leaders on National Radio Program

The League of Women Voters of the United States is excited to partner with The Union Edge, the only nationally-syndicated labor talk radio program in the country, to discuss voting rights, public policy issues and advocacy. 

Regular segments featuring League leaders started last month, and air the first and third Tuesday of every month at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time/1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

The Union Edge is a four-hour daily live radio program out of Pittsburgh, PA, syndicated on 33 stations nationwide, and available by web streaming, mobile app and podcast. For more information and to download the free app, visit www.theunionedge.com.

“The League looks forward to reaching a diverse new audience of listeners across the country,” said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, in an announcement late last year. “The Labor community has a strong record in elections and we embrace the opportunity to have thoughtful discussions about issues that impact American voters.”

Charles Showalter, host and founder of The Union Edge, said his organization is “excited to partner with the League of Women Voters for their strong commitment to voter engagement, voter protection and education.”

“Union members are Democrats, Republicans and Independents; all should have the unimpeded chance to vote their conscience. As a non-partisan organization, the League always brings a fresh perspective on the critical issues facing working people across the country,” he said.


Judy Hopkinson, Co-President
Rebecca Johnson, Co-President
Allison Aurand, Vice-President
Susan Mancuso, Secretary
Donna Williams, Treasurer

*Click underlined names for
email contact information
Riley Abel
Kirsten Barron
Jean Carmean
Amy Cloud
Caroline Correa
Karen Funston
Janice Keller
Joy Monjure
Becky Spithill
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