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League of Women Voters of Somers, NY

PO Box 371, Somers, New York 10589

 

 

November 10 Meeting

The New Look of Government: 2014 Results!

Our favorite professor, Chris Malone, returns to the Somers League for the annual analysis of electitition results. On Monday, November 10th, at 10:30am, Dr. Malone will discuss the events leading up to the electitition and what the results indicate for the future. His talk will follow our monthly meetititing at 10:00am.

Dr. Malone is Associate Professor of politititical science at Pace University and Chair of the Politititical Science Department. He is natititionally recognized as a teacher of civic engagement and public values and was identititififified in 2004 by the Washington Post as one of the natitition’s most innovatititive teachers. From 2007 to 2009, he served as Director of the Pforzheimer Honors College in New York City.

Over the years, Dr. Malone’s analysis of our current politititical situatitition has always been very interestititing and informatititive. Who will control the Senate for the next two
years? How do the gubernatorial races affffffect the country? What are the implicatititions for future electititions? League members have the opportunity to examine the full meaning
of our electitition. Be sure to attend!


President's Message

I did mention earlier the only reason I be-came an American citizen is to vote. It is an im-portant matter for me, a duty. Is voting a moral duty or a civic responsibility? Both. Civic ethics are a practical vision of our society. It is about finding more creative ways to be involved in a local and global community, to have inclusive decision in the government-making process. Voting should be a habit, not a chore!

We need to teach our children their social responsibili-ties. The importance of a civic education is not only to learn American History but also to prepare youth to participate in so-ciety with knowledge of government. Education should motivate children and young teens to participate in public affairs in their adult life. The Somers League is now working with the Somers Schools to enhance for junior and senior students an under-standing of the government.

Recently, I read an article about voter turnout. “It is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an elec-tion.” (Wikipedia). In a presidential election year the turnout of voters in the USA is fair; in 2008 it was: 64%, generally it is 55%. In an off year election, turnout is 40%, one of the lowest voter turnouts in the world!! In Austria, for example, the voter turn-out is 92%! Difficulty in voting is one of the reasons for lower turnout in the US. In New York the short term solutions would be to improve the ballot design and train poll workers. The long term solutions are: getting rid of paper; voter registration on election day; early voting; easier access such as in a department store or in a supermarket, and no photo ID or similar re-strictions. “Congress needs to quit seeing voting in partisan terms and make it a fundamental right that cannot be limited by states trying to block access to the poll.” (NYT August 13, 2014). We still have much work to do!
Let’s keep marching!


You Have the Right to Vote!

Exercise this right on Tuesday November 4th! This year, in addition to gubernatorial, congressional, judicial and state representative races, there are three propositions on the ballot.

NYS, Proposition Number 1: An Amendment, Revising State’s Redistricting Procedure
The proposed amendment to sections 4 and 5 and addition of new section 5-b to Article 4 of the State Con-stitution revises the redistricting procedure for state legislative and congressional districts. The proposed amendment establishes a redistricting commission every 10 years beginning in 2020, with two members appointed by each of the four legislative leaders and two members selected by the eight legislative appoin-tees; prohibits legislators and other elected officials from serving as commissioners; establishes principles to be used in creating districts; requires the commission to hold public hearings on proposed redistricting plans; subjects the commission’s redistricting plan to legislative enactment; provides that the legislature may only amend the redistricting plan according to the established principles if the commission’s plan is rejected twice by the legislature; provides for expedited court review of a challenged redistricting plan; and provides for funding and bipartisan staff to work for the commission. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

PROPONENTS of the amendment argue that this will create a fairer redistricting process that bans politi-cal gerrymandering, has a clear timeline and creates new opportunities for public participation. Propo-nents further argue that composition of the proposed amendment is a significant improvement because it prohibits those with conflicts of interest, including legislators, from serving on the commission. They also argue that since the proposed amendment will include representation from majority and minority parties in each house, in addition to appointees who are neither Republicans nor Democrats, it will allow for meaningful participation in the process by minority parties and third parties.

OPPONENTS of the amendment argue that it does not go far enough in adequately reforming the redis-tricting process. They object to the fact that eight of the ten commissioners are appointed by legislative leaders and are critical of the legislature’s power to amend the plans if they fail to achieve legislative ap-proval after two votes. They argue that this is the equivalent of the legislature drawing its own lines since the Commission’s plans are ultimately approved by the legislature. In addition, opponents object to the proposal’s requirement that future mapmakers must consider the core of existing districts when drafting new ones. Opponents also argue that the structure of the commission will result in partisan gridlock and that voting rules for both the commission and legislative approval are overly complex.

NYS, Proposal Number 2: An Amendment, Permitting Electronic Distribution of State Leg-islative Bills
The proposed amendment to section 14 of Article 3 of the State Constitution would allow electronic distri-bution of a state legislative bill to satisfy the constitutional requirement that a bill be printed on the desks of state legislators at least three days before the Legislature votes on it. It would establish the following requirements for distribution: first, legislators must be able to review the electronically-sent bill at their desks; second, legislators must be able to print the bill if they choose; and third, the bill cannot be changed electronically without leaving a record of the change. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

PROPONENTS of the amendment argue that allowing bills to be distributed to the desks of members in electronic form will save taxpayer dollars and reduce paper waste. Proponents suggest that this amendment offers an environmentally friendly alternative to paper bills and will help modernize the way state govern-ment operates.

The League of Women Voters of New York State could not identify any organizations in opposition to this amendment.

NYS, Proposal Number 3: An Amendment, The Smart School Bond Act of 2014

The SMART SCHOOLS BOND ACT OF 2014, as set forth in section one of part B of chapter 56 of the laws of 2014, authorizes the sale of bonds of up to two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000) to provide access to class-room technology and high-speed internet connectivity to equalize opportunities for children to learn, to add classroom space to expand high-quality pre-kindergarten programs, to replace classroom trailers with per-manent instructional space, and to install high-tech smart security features in schools. Shall the SMART SCHOOLS BOND ACT OF 2014 be approved?

PROPONENTS of the amendment argue that disparities of classroom technology exist across school dis-tricts and the Act will increase students’ access to classrooms that are equipped with advanced technologies, enabling them to gain the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century.

OPPONENTS of the amendment have argued that technologies will be obsolete by the time the state is finished paying for them. Others have expressed concern that equipping classrooms with advanced technol-ogies without ensuring the availability of personnel that know how to use and train others on the technology could result in underutilization. Also, opponents feel that public dollars should only be allocated to public schools, rather than parochial or private schools.


Annual League Day at the United Nations Nov. 13

On Tuesday, November 13th, the United Nations will present a program on how water scarcity, poor water quality and inadequate sanitation impact food security, livelihood choices, and educational opportunities for families across the world. (for more information, contact Francoise).

Briefing Program…$50.00

Optional tour of the UN….$15.00

Lunch in Delegates Dining Room….$50.00

All 3 activities .$110.00

Water is essential for life. No living being on planet Earth can survive without it. It is a prerequisite for human health and well-being as well as for the preservation of the environment. However, four of every ten people in the world do not have access to even a simple pit latrine; and nearly two in ten have no source of safe drinking water. Every year millions of peo- ple, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene. According to the World Health Organization, each and every day some 3,900 chil- dren die because of dirty water or poor hygiene; diseases transmitted through water or human ex- crement are the second-leading cause of death among children worldwide, after respiratory dis- eases. Water scarcity, poor water quality, and inadequate sanitation negatively impact food security, livelihood choices, and educational opportunities for poor families across the world. Water- related natural disasters such as floods, tropical storms and tsunamis exert a heavy toll in human life and suffering. And all too regularly, drought afflicts some of the world's poorest countries, exacerbating hunger and malnutrition.

Calendar
of Events

Tues. Nov. 4 Election Day 6am-9pm. Activity Center (Heritage). Middle School, check for other town locations

Mon. Nov. 10
10am Monthly Meeting
10:30am Dr. Christopher Malone, Pace University, Analysis of Election Results.
Somers Library, Reis Park

Tues. Nov. 11 Veterans Day Parade (Somers). 10am. Bailey Square, adjacent to St. Luke's
10:30am March from Somers Hall to Ivandell Cemetery

Thurs. Nov. 13 United Nations Briefing: Water for Life. 1:30-3:30pm United Nations Headquarters, NYC see below for details

Mon. Dec. 8 
10am Monthly Meeting
10#0am Holiday Party


Spectra Energy Pipeline

Spectra Energy wants to replace its current 26-inch gas pipeline with a 42-
inch pipe. This pipe would cover a 2.6 mile stretch of Somers, including the backyards
of some residents. This pipeline is part of the Algonquin Pipeline which runs
from New Jersey to Massachusetts. It has raised considerable concern in the community
and is being debated by the Town Board and other groups.


Candidates Night

At Town Hall on October 7th, the Somers League of Women Voters held its annual Meet the Candidates Night. Andrew Falk and Steve Katz faced off as candidates for the State Assembly. Falk addressed the needs of the middle class and his intention to fight for higher minimum wage, tax credits for hiring new employees, jobs and eco-nomic growth.

Katz characterized himself as “the voice of middle class voters.” He focused strongly on Speaker Sheldon Silver, holding him responsible for most of the ills in Al-bany including widespread sexual harassment. Senior citizens, veterans, businesses and medical marijuana are priorities for him. Falk strongly supports the Women’s Equality act while Katz is opposed to the Act, stating that our focus should be on implementing the current laws. The candidates also clashed about the pipeline which Katz supports while Falk stated that he would not support the use of the Yorktown land.

The evening program also included a debate between Justin Wagner and Terrence Murphy, candi-dates for the State Senate but Murphy did not attend. According to the rules of the League, Wag-ner was permitted to make a statement. Wagner stated that he believes in the Hudson Valley but knows that our region needs help. He believes that we have “been doing the same thing over and over” and stressed the need for reform in Albany.

The forum was well attended and included a number of informative questions for the can-didates.


VOTE411.org
Election Information You Need

This web site, developed by the League, provides complete election infor-mation, including profiles of the candi-dates running for office in your district, summaries of any propositions on the bal-lot and much more. Be sure to consult the site so that you have an in depth under-standing of your ballot.


Benefactors

Benefactors help to support our League with their tax deductible donation of $25.00 (+) to the Somers LWV Educational Fund.

For those of you who have generously supported us in the past, it is time to renew your donation. For others, we ask you to join in this effort and send your check to the Somers Educational Fund, Box371, Somers NY 10589.


 

OUR SINCERE THANKS TO  WATPA AND THE WESTCHESTER LIBRARY SYSTEM FOR HOSTING OUR SITE. Watpa WATPA Home Page WLS Westchester Library System
Updated by Valerie Castleman Oct.30,, 2014