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League of Women Voters of Somers, NY

PO Box 371, Somers, New York 10589



July 14 Meeting

The Bard Prison Initiative

Laura Liebman, J.D., the Director of Development at the Bard Prison Initiative, will discuss the impact of mass incarceration and BPI's mission. 

The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, with more than 2.2 million men and women incarcerated. At the same time that the prison population began to soar in the mid-1990's, President Clinton and Congress ended federal funding for college programs and states soon followed suite, despite the fact that colelge education has proven to be on e of the most effective means of breaking the cycle of recidivism.

The Bard Prison Initiative was started by a Bard College student in 1999 in response to the dire need for higher education in the prisons. BPI has created opportunities for outstanding achievement in higher educationwithin prisons across NY State and now throughout the country. BPI helps break the cycle of recidivism and transforms the outcomes of the criminal justice system. PBI graduates earn associate and bechelor degrees from Bard College, going on to achieve success in academia, the arts, private businesses and social change organizations.

Monday, July 14. General meeting 10am. Speaker 10:30am. Somers Library.

Co-President's Message July 2014

“People detached from their homes and set loose in the world drift till they find the places that fit them.” (Owen Matthews) I found my place 50 years ago, here in America. I became an American citizen for only one reason: to vote. Several times, I was asked, how come I was here, and why? Here are some answers:

On the day of my second birthday, May 10, 1940, a German bomb fell on the house across the street from ours in Brussels. I was 6 years old when the war ended. But the les-sons of the occupation are still vivid in my mind. I had four brothers, three still alive. My father was a lawyer, very busy in local politics and internationally. My mother was one of the founders of “The School for Parents”. She believed strongly in the right of parents to choose the school of their choice for their children. My parents had a high regard for civic ethics which they transmitted to me. I was a girl scout, and a leader in a youth program. I went to Louvain University for 2 years and then got a job in a PR firm in Brussels. I needed to sharpen my English. So, instead of going to England, I chose New York where my father had contacts from his work with the United Nations. I arrived at Idlewild Airport (JFK) in August, 1963 dur-ing MLK's March in Washington. It was the year of JFK’s assas-sination and the start of the Vietnam War. I worked for Bloomingdale’s and then, for a Hotel Representative in NYC and became the manager of their Boston Office. I got married, moved to the suburbs, and had two children. I was a member of the Yonkers LWV in the late 1970’s when Yonkers had to integrate its schools and start busing children. I still believe young children should not be used for the purpose of integra-tion. I became VP of a community taxpayers organization, was the founder and president of the Crestwood Neighborhood Association and of the Crestwood Historical Society. I worked as a purchasing agent, buying computer parts to ship to France and Brazil. In 1994, I lost my job. I was then hired by Hunter College in the Dean’s office of Arts and Sciences, fin-ished my college studies and received a BA in Urban Affairs. I retired from Hunter, moved to Heritage Hills and became a member of the Somers League in June 2008. You know the rest. Let’s keep marching!

“Be A Responsible Traveler” A message from our friends at the United Nations

If you are one of the more than 1 billion tourists who are travelling the globe this summer then YOU have the power to make a difference. The role of tourists in preventing human trafficking is undeniably important.

Human trafficking is a heinous crime driven by demand. When visiting a foreign country don't fall into the trap of promoting human trafficking. If you believe that someone is being forced to work against their own free will, is being abused or if you see something that doesn't look right in a hotel or a restaurant, report it.”

The Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act before the New York Assembly is part of 10 bills that make up the Women’s Equality Act which has been “mired in political inertia” since 2013. Republicans in the Senate who share power with breakaway Democrats have refused to approve the Women’s Equality Act because it would codify New York’s abortion regulations. The Senate has passed the Trafficking Victims Act but the Democratic leader-ship in the Assembly refuses to deal with the bills separately. Hence, the entire act is in limbo.


Since 2010, 22 states, nearly all of them in the South and the Mid-west, have proposed new voting restrictions. These attempts have been re-peatedly opposed by our National League and other civic groups. Last year the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act by overturning a key section that protected voters in certain states from discrimination. Howev-er, the Justice Department has been able to file suits against discrimination by citing another section of the VRA.

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU has released a new report, “The State of Voting in 2014,” which points out that “many Americans face an ever-shifting voting landscape.” Of the 11 states with the highest black turnout rate in 2008, seven have new restrictions in place. In the 12 states with the highest Hispanic population growth from 2000 to 2010. nine now have more restrictive laws. In all, fifteen states have new restrictive laws.

Nevertheless, we now have reason for some optimism. According to the New York Times, recent Court decisions have tended to uphold voting rights. Last week a federal judge in Ohio ordered Ohio’s elections chief to restore early voting hours on the 3 days before the election. In the last 6 months, there have also been successes in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The challenges to these restrictive laws are having some success because the states have not provided the courts with any substantial evidence of voter fraud which is the rationale for many of these laws. In addition to these trends, the U.S. Senate has finally scheduled a hearing on the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014.

It is too soon to draw conclusions from the situation but studies on the impact of these laws in Indiana and Georgia, the 2 states with the longest voting restrictions, indicate that only a small fraction of voters were unable to vote. (NY Times). The United States has always proclaimed with pride its dedication to democracy, which is now being threatened by the maneuverings of politicians. As League members and as American citizens, we need to be very aware of any undermining of our constitutional rights.

of Events

Mon. July 14
10:00 Monthly Meeting
10:30 "The Bard Prison Initiative" Laura Liebman, J.D., Director of Development, BPI
Somers Library, Reis Park

Mon. August 11
10:00 Monthly meeting
10:30 Westchester Deptartment of Probation, Rocco Pozzi
Somers Library, Reis Park

Wed. Sept 3
Naturalization Court, White Plains

Mon. Sept. 8
10:00 Monthly Meeting
Paul Sheldon, Senior V.P. Wells Fargo Advisors
“Women and Their Money” Somers Library, Reis Park

Mon. Oct. 10 TBA

Tues. Nov. 4 Election Day 6am-9pm

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

News Items

The Somers LWV will be participating with the Lions Club and the Town in the July 4th celebration to be held on June 28th in Reis Park. We will have a table with music and candy for the children. Be sure to visit us!

"And A Good Time Was Had by All"

On Monday, June 2nd, the Somers League held its final meeting. A large group of Leaguers gathered to enjoy the delicious brunch prepared by the League’s outstanding cooks. After enjoying a variety of salads, puddings, cakes, etc., the pro-gram began with Loretta Nelson leading the meeting. Reports were given and the slate of Officers and Directors for next year was passed unanimously.
The day was an oppor-tunity for Leaguers to get to-gether and share the experi-ences of the past year. We welcomed our long-time members as well as some new faces and look forward to the plans now being formu-lated for this coming year

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 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 CastlemanJune 28, 2014