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League of Women Voters of Somers, NY

PO Box 371, Somers, New York 10589



Report on UN Briefing in November

The Somers League Goes to the United Nations

This year, the annual United Nations Briefing included a tour of the U.N. and briefings on water policy and climate change. It was held on November 13th and attended by three members of the Somers League, Sandra Brinkman, Ann Harper and Francoise Bennett, who have reported the event for the League.

When you enter the United Nations, you are leaving the United States of America. Founded in 1945 with 51 member nations, it now numbers 193. Built on land provided by John D. Rockefeller, the property comprises 17 acres from 42nd Street to 48th Street bounded by 1st Avenue and the East River. Funding for the organization is based on the ability to pay, as measured by the Gross National Income of the countries.

On November 13th, three members of our League attended the annual briefing at the United Nations in Manhattan and reported to the membership at the December meeting. Sandra Brinkman covered the UN Tour, noting some of the high points. A recently restored painting by Norman Rockwell stands 8 feet high and weighs 1/2 ton. It depicts people of different nationalities standing together with the words, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” inscribed on the surface. An extensive exhibit, “For a Mine-Free World,” displayed the serious threat of unexploded mines around the world with upwards of 20,000 vic-tims per year.

Following the tour, the group was escorted to the dining room where they feasted on a very delicious buffet including one giant table of desserts. This year the UN Briefing was fo-cused on “Water for Life.” Ann Harper reports that currently 2.7 billion peoples are living in basins that experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year. It was noted that the average U.S. citizen consumes 1,800 gallons of water per day as compared with a global average of 1,000 gallons each day. Food production of bread, rice, beef, cotton and other basic items require up to 2, 000 gallons per day, leaving the people who live in the regions without enough water for their needs. The UN is now focusing on a series of actions including:

Achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
Achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all
Improve water quality by reducing pollution
Protect and restore water-related ecosystems.

Francoise addressed climate change, noting that more than 120 Heads of State and Government attended the one-day Summit in 2014 hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to generate political will toward a meaningful universal climate agreement in 2015, and advance action on the ground that will reduce emissions and build resilience to the impact of climate change. The Summit will serve as a public platform for world leaders to mobilize politi-cal will for an ambitious agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsi-us rise in global temperature.

President's Message January-February 2015

Happy New Year!
I do prepare myself for a new year in September when, as I feel, everything start anew. My scholastic planner said so with new schedules! After Labor Day, people are back from their July and August vacations. Stu-dents are going back to school. Many things, such as some religious holidays, remind me of a new year. Some historians feel that our New Year’s celebrations can be traced back to ancient time around the winter solstice.

January is a month named after the Roman god Janus. He has two faces; one looks ahead toward the future and the other looks back at the past. We know through experience what we did wrong and what we did right and hope to do better during the new year On January first, we make New Year’s resolutions. Do we? Some people make ambitious New Year’s resolutions; others just take a deep breath and hope for the best! 45% of Americans do make New Year’s resolutions; 49% of those have infrequent suc-cess. Losing weight-related resolutions account for 38%; self im-provement or education resolutions for 47%!

Let’s make some practical resolutions for the Somers League of Women Voters! We still need to work on improving the participation of the Somers High School students in different League activities. Thanks to Harriet Leib and her committee we are in the right direction! Cindy Kennedy has been working on the Stu-dents Inside Albany (SIA) program. The Town Planning Committee, with Polly Kuhn, will continue to be busy with the Somers Afforda-ble Housing question. The Development Committee might organize a visit to a known artist or plan a superb authors’ luncheon in the Spring. We do need to revitalize the Membership Committee. As the chair of the Voters Service, I would like to see an improvement in the way we handle the debate/forum. If your New Year’s resolu-tion is to be active in the Somers LWV, do talk to Loretta or me!

Remember: January is the start of the new Legislative ses-sion; the third Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday; and last but not least, January is the National Thank You month. Thank you for your support!

Let’s keep marching!

What Makes a Good Election System

The New York State League of Women Voters is conducting a Ballot Study to determine the role of both main and third parties in the process of gaining ac-cess to the general election ballot. As part of the process, the State is examining studies completed in other states.

Listed below are some of the criteria identified in California and Oregon studies:

ENSURE MAJORITY RULE. Winning candidates should have the support of the majority of voters.

ENCOURAGE MINORITY REPRESENTATION. Minority representation can be identified by political affiliation, or defined in terms of race, ethnic background, sex, etc. Minorities must feel included.

PRODUCE FAIR AND ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF POLITICAL VIEWS. With accurate representation of views, public policies will more likely reflect the views of constituents.

INCREASE VOTER PARTICIPATION. Voter participation is essential to a healthy democracy. NYS has a notori-ously low voter turnout. We ranked 44th in the 2012 election.

ENCOURAGE SINCERE VOTING AS OPPOSED TO STRATEGIC VOTING. Voters should be able to vote for their “first choice” without worrying that their vote will result in the election of their least favorite candidate.

PROVIDE A REASONABLE RANGE OF VOTER CHOICE. The type of system used has a large impact on both the number of candidates and the variety of political parties on the ballot.

PREVENT FRAUD AND POLITICAL MANIPULATION. The most common example is political gerrymandering: drawing of district lines to favor certain incumbents or political parties.

ENCORAGE COMPETITIVE ELECTIONS. Incumbent reelection rates in NYS and throughout the country are notoriously high.

EASY TO USE AND ADMINISTER. Citizens should be able to cast their votes easily and understand the re-sults of an election.

OTHER IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS INCLUDE: promoting healthy political parties, ensuring stable government, encouraging issue-oriented campaigns and producing results viewed as legitimate.


of Events

Mon. Jan. 12
10am Monthly Meeting
10:30am "Report from the Legislature" with Peter Harckham & Michael Kaplowitz. Somers Town Hall, Route 202

Mon. Mar. 9
10am Monthly Meeting
10:30am "The State of our Schools" with Dr. Ray Blanch. Somers Library, Reis Park.

Mon. Apr. 13
10am Monthly Meeting
10:30am Report to the People with members of the Town Board. Somers Town Hall, Route 202

Mon. May 11
10am Monthly Meeting
10:30am "Women and their Money" with Paul Sheldon. Somers Library, Reis Park

Thurs. May 14th
12:00 Book & Author Luncheon, Traveler's Rest, Route 100, Ossining



The Somers League met on December 8th for its monthly meeting which was a year-end party. Cookies, cake and other goodies were enjoyed by all and followed by creative games arranged by Francoise. It was a lovely end to a successful year.



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.

Updated by Valerie Castleman Jan. 4, 2015