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IN THIS EDITION
Presidents' Message: Committees, the Backbone of the League
Event: Voting Rights Reform & Money in Politics
Event: LWV of California Convention

Event: LWV of Napa County Annual Meeting
Member Update: Annual Membership Dues Renewal
Board Notes: May Highlights 
Herstory: Notable Member Hillary Clinton
Words Matter: The Filibuster
Tech Bytes: Fact-Checking Misinformation Online
PRESIDENTS' MESSAGE
Committees: The Backbone of the League
By Kim Farmer & Bernie Brooks

womenpowerDid you ever wonder how things get done in a nonprofit organization with no paid staff? At the League of Women Voters of Napa County (LWVNC)––an all-volunteer organization––work is handled by committees. The board plays a role by making decisions that provide direction, but most of the actual work is done by committee members working together toward established goals.
 
For example, Administrative committees focus on internal and legal requirements, such as Bylaws/Policies and Budget. The Membership Committee works on recruiting and retaining members, who form the source of all the League’s endeavors. The Communications Committee publishes Voter, our monthly newsletter, and edits and produces content for our website and social media. Program (or Action) committees, such as Climate Change, focus on advancing local issues of emphasis through education and advocacy.  
 
Historically, Voter Service is the most visible and widely known group. This committee registers voters, sponsors candidate forums throughout the county, and provides unbiased, nonpartisan education on ballot measures through pro-and-con forums, the Easy Voter Guide publication and website, and the popular voting information website Voters Edge. Every semester, teams usually go to classrooms to register students and provide election information. Because of this spring’s virtual learning, we provided digital video resources for teachers to incorporate into their online lessons. See the article in the May Voter.

 
In addition to these activities, the Redistricting Committee, a subcommittee of Voter Service, aims to educate the community about the redistricting process and involve them in helping to determine several new district boundaries based on 2020 census data. The committee is looking at multiple ways of accomplishing this, including assisting the County of Napa with its outreach efforts and holding an educational event in September, which is being arranged by the Events Committee.
 
We invite you to become involved to help Make Democracy Work! Click here to fill out our interest survey and to let us know if you would like to join one of our many committees.

UPCOMING EVENT

Voting Rights Reform & Money in Politics
Featured Speaker Jared Huffman, US Representative
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Sonoma & Marin Counties

Wednesday, June 2nd, 10:00 am–11:00 am
REGISTER HERE FOR THIS VIRTUAL PROGRAM
 
Congressman Jared Huffman will talk about the For the People Act (HR1 and S1), a sweeping reform that would curtail voter suppression tactics, make voting easier, and limit Big Money in campaigns. This landmark legislation has passed the House and awaits a Senate vote. This is the third event in the lecture series Making Democracy Work.
LWV OF CALIFORNIA EVENT
The 2021 California Convention
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of California
Monday, June 7th–Sunday, June 13th

MEMBER ALERT! Here is your opportunity to attend a League of Women Voters of California Convention VIRTUALLY, which makes convention-going so EASY! Caucuses, meetings, workshops, and a special event are scheduled from June 7th through 10th and are held two times daily: (usually) 12:00–1:30 pm and 5:00–6:30 pm.
 
Caucuses and meetings, held on Monday, are FREE. For only $25 you can register to attend all workshops, held Tuesday through Thursday. There’s a $50 added charge to go to the event. Plus, ALL activities, including attending or watching the plenary sessions, held from June 11th through 13th, are available to League members as well as the public. Tell your friends! For the schedule of activities and other details, click here.

 
LWV OF NAPA COUNTY EVENT
2021 Annual Meeting
Featured Speaker Allison Haley, Napa County District Attorney
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Napa County
Saturday, June 19th, 10:00 am–Noon
REGISTER HERE FOR THIS VIRTUAL PROGRAM

You won’t want to miss this opportunity to meet Allison Haley, the first woman to serve as Napa County’s district attorney (DA). Having served as DA for five years, she has many interesting things to report. There will also be a Q & A session via chat. 
 
After the first hour with Ms. Haley, the business portion of the annual meeting will begin. This is your chance to “meet” board and committee members, hear about some of 2020–21’s accomplishments, vote on nominees for next year’s board of directors, and help transact other business.
 
You will want to hear about recommendations for the three issues chosen as top priorities for our educational and advocacy work in 2021–22. Two are currently on our list of important topics: Affordable Housing/Homelessness and Climate Change. A third new subject is Criminal Justice. You will be able to hear details during the meeting before you vote.
 
You will receive your 2021 Annual Meeting Kit in the mail. The kit will also be posted on our website here. The meeting is open to the public, so please tell anyone who might be interested in hearing more about the League. Also, be sure to register to get your Zoom link. Click on the registration invitation above or visit our website at LWVNapa.com. We hope to see you at our virtual meeting!
MEMBER UPDATE
Annual Membership Dues Renewal
As of 2021, the Napa League has moved to a yearly dues calendar. Your annual membership fee is now due at the beginning of the new fiscal year: July 1st. Click here if you would like to renew online using PayPal or a credit card. Individual membership is $75 and a household of two is only $110. Students are free with an ID card. Please contact lwvnapa@gmail.com if you or someone you know would like to apply for a scholarship that deeply discounts a one-year membership.

You may also make out your check to LWVNC and fill out and send the online form with your check letting us know your updated contact information. (See above link.) Address your envelope to PO Box 10560, Napa, CA 94559.

Your annual payment helps all levels of the League to operate. $32 goes to the US League, $28 supports the California League, and $3 is sent to the Bay Area League. Only $12 is retained by the Napa County League. Keep in mind that without the support of these national, state, and regional Leagues, our local League could not operate. The League is powerful because every organizational level has grassroots involvement––we are all connected.

When you visit the website for your dues form, please also take our online member survey; click here. We want to know your interests and concerns, all so important to a better functioning local League.
BOARD NOTES
May Highlights
Excerpted from May’s minutes by Ingrid Swenson, Secretary
 
  • Received an invitation from the Kiwanis Club of Napa to speak at their noon club meeting. A presentation will be scheduled at a later date.
  • Confirmed roles and responsibilities for board members at the annual meeting to be held Saturday, June 19th, from 10:00 am to noon on Zoom. 
  • Canceled the June board meeting
  • Discussed holding a retreat for board members and committee chairs, tentatively scheduled for July 12th. The purpose of the retreat is to set goals for the next year.
  • Approved a request to co-sponsor a healthcare caucus at the LWVC Convention in June.
  • Events Committee: Received approval to begin planning for the fall, including a film event in August and an event on redistricting in September at which California redistricting commissioner Pedro Toledo will be invited to speak.
  • Communications Committee: Outlined plans for the June Voter. No Voter will be published in July.
  • Membership Committee: Considered having a membership recruitment effort at the Napa Farmer’s Market.
HERSTORY
Notable League Member: Hillary Clinton
By Kayla Vix for LWVUS, March 2019    
Updated by Connie Wolfman for LWVNC, June 2021
Hillary Clinton made a big splash in the League at a young age. At 22 years old, she gave the banquet address at the League’s 50th anniversary national convention. She was awarded this high honor due to her League work in youth and community involvement and her academic projects in law and social action.

Hillary’s influence on national and international politics began during her years as First Lady from 1993 to 2001. As a lifelong advocate for women and children, she played a leading role in the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Designed as a federal-state partnership, this program represented the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance for US children since 1965. She was also the point person on the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, making it easier to remove children from abusive situations while providing support and services to adoptive families. That bill is credited with increasing foster adoptions by 64 percent by 2002.

In 1995, she traveled to Beijing for the United Nations World Conference on Women. In a memorable speech, she shocked her Chinese hosts and the Clinton White House when she declared, “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.” That speech helped to set a higher standard for US-China relations, signaling that even as the United States did business with China, it would continue to confront its human rights abuses.
 
Subsequently elected as the first female senator from New York, Hillary served two terms from 2001 to 2009 before making her first run for president. Although defeated during the primary by Barack Obama, she assumed the role of secretary of state in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2013. While leading the State Department, Hillary set a travel record by visiting 112 countries, while making gender equality a priority. She created the position of ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, a post charged with ensuring that the rights of women are fully integrated into the formulation of US foreign policy. Hillary is also lauded for her role in rallying China, Russia, and the European Union to enact meaningful sanctions against Iran, ultimately bringing the Iranians to the negotiating table over their nuclear program.

As the first woman to receive the Democratic party’s nomination for president in 2016, Hillary Clinton lost the election when the electoral vote was tallied. Even so, she did win the popular vote, inspiring young women around the world by making 65 million cracks in the “highest, hardest glass ceiling.”

Connie Wolfman is a member of the League's Communications Committee.
WORDS MATTER
The Filibuster
By Robyn Orsini
The filibuster is a strategy used in the US Senate by a minority party to prevent or stall a piece of legislation from being voted on. A loophole to stymie simple majority voting occurred in 1806 when vice-president Aaron Burr recommended eliminating the need to “move the previous question” (end debate) before voting on the issue before them. Without this procedural rule, endless filibustering could technically last long enough to curtail a vote. Rarely used until the 1960s, various filibuster rules have been enacted over time, including the frequently cited rule that requires three-fifths of senators to bring debate to a close (called cloture).
 
At one time, cloture referred to three-fifths of those present and voting; now a cloture vote is set at three-fifths of the total number of senators (60 out of 100), called a supermajority. In the 117th Congress, the Senate is split 50–50, with the vice president creating a Democratic majority. Therefore, when voting along party lines, 10 senators from the minority must also vote to end debate and pass any important piece of legislation.
 
The once traditional talking filibuster occurs when one or more senators speak as long as they wish—without real debate and on any subject. One notable example occurred when southern Democrats tried to block passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by talking for 75 hours; Senator Robert Byrd (D-WVa) spoke for 14 hours and 13 minutes. Finally, two-thirds of those present voted for cloture and the act passed. Nowadays, with a set supermajority, it is possible to have a virtual filibuster when even one senator threatens that s/he intends to filibuster.
 
The nuclear option is a proposal to allow the Senate to invoke cloture (end debate and call for a vote) by a majority vote. Minority leader Mitch McConnell’s well-known response was that if passed, “Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like.” This threat has caused a few Democrats not to attempt ending the filibuster, a symbolic gesture since it would still require a supermajority vote to change the filibuster rules! 
 
The filibuster has fallen out of favor in some legislative areas. The nuclear option rule passed in 2013, allowing a simple majority to appoint certain government and court nominees. In 2017, the nuclear option was passed for Supreme Court nominees, allowing a simple majority to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the bench.
 
Filibuster rules have been eliminated for budget reconciliation procedures. While budget reconciliation has limitations, it is a way to enact important financial laws, such as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 that provided COVID-19 relief (passing the Senate 50–49).
 
With the Senate often unable to act, presidential executive orders and court decisions have become more powerful and more plentiful. Both of these strategic actions can be dismantled more easily than legislation by changes in administration and by court appeal. With less legislation coming from Congress, Supreme Court decisions have become more prominent in making national policies, which only this same highest court can later overrule. 
 
One way to avoid the power of the Senate minority filibuster is for the majority to be elected to 60 or more seats in the Senate. For example, the Clinton healthcare reform did not pass, even with a 57-member party majority, but the ACA (Obamacare) passed (by 60–39) when the Senate had a Democratic/Independent majority of 60 senators.
 
California’s next US Senate election is for Diane Feinstein’s seat in 2025. Alex Padilla, appointed by the governor in 2021 to replace Kamala Harris, will be up for election in 2023.
 

Robyn Orsini is a past president of LWVNC and a member of various committees. 
TECH BYTES
Fact-Checking Misinformation Online 
By Sheri Thomas

When we talk about bad or questionable information, what do we do to check the facts and where do we go that is trusted? Who is the author and are they qualified to make their statements?  It is our job to decipher and qualify the information we consume; however, we are not good at it. 
 
In a 2002 study, most participants said a website’s design was a key factor in judging that site’s credibility. If a friend on Facebook cuts and pastes a story into a post, do you accept what they are saying? Do you say something if the information is misleading? If the friend continues to post questionable information, do you report them? Hide them? Unfriend them? Or do you post a fact-check, letting them know that someone has misinformed them?

Creators of websites may be producing content purely to benefit their own idea, to boost sales of a product by posting made-up reviews, or to communicate their position on specific subjects using anonymous or fictitious sources. Websites with charts and infographics appear to portray facts, but where is that data coming from? 
 
Algorithms in search engines like Facebook and Google send us to sites or share information in our feeds based on our viewing history. Guarding against misinformation can seem daunting, so we’ve added some tools to our website to help you sort things out at https://www.lwvnapa.com/links-facts. You will also find helpful information on the Napa County League’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-BVcmfJzOE7behjsZy-mCw.   

Recently, the LWV of Kittitas County in Washington State created a discussion series of ten short and informative videos covering all things related to finding your way through online clutter. Once you understand where the information is coming from (using lateral reading or fact-checking sites), you will be able to better navigate the information highway. Visit: https://kittitasleague.org/resources/navigating-digital-information/

Sheri Thomas is a board member and chair of the League’s Communications Committee.

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