New Year, New Goals!
LWVVC "New Year, New Goals" (Program Planning) meeting was held via Zoom on Tuesday, February 21, at 12 pm.
You can watch the entire meeting HERE.
Clicking on each heading below will take you directly to that part of the video.
Attendees: 24 voting members
Meeting Notes: There were 10 presentations of proposed activities for our local League, followed by a group discussion on what to support as our recommendation to the LWVVC Board to consider for the 2023-24 year. These recommendations, if approved by the Board, will be presented for approval by our membership at the LWVVC Annual Meeting in June 2023.
This discussion of our local League priorities was followed by a discussion of topics and a vote on recommendations of 3 "Issues for Emphasis" to the CA League for 2023-25.
Making democracy work is part of the League's core work (national, state and local) and always will be. For our democracy to thrive we need an informed and engaged electorate and this provides us with many opportunities to step in. The goal of making Democracy Work informs most of our activities in Ventura County including helping to register voters, providing education about the voting process, conducting candidate forums, pros and cons and other voter education activities. Observing our government at work, such as the Observer Corps is also a way to make sure that our democracy is working. Informing people about how our government works is another aspect - and includes such aspects of a proposed Govt 101 project which will be addressed later, as well as a Lunch with the League series that is also proposed. Undoubtedly there are other projects we could incorporate to further our mission of Making Democracy Work and ideas are appreciated.
I want to acknowledge and give thanks to our current scholarship committee: Melanie Ashton, Mary Bergen, Sharon Bushman, Ashley Chelonis, Carmen Hurd, Carol Lindberg, and Kay Armstrong (chair)
- In 2014 LWVVC founded a scholarship fund. Donors made it possible to offer a $1000.00 scholarship, on a rotating yearly basis to VCC, Oxnard College and Moorpark College, to a qualified student.
- In 2020 we raised the Scholarship to $1500 and modified our scholarship requirements.
Our current requirements are as follows:
- Must be a transferring student from the designated college to a 4 year university.
- Must have a minimum GPA of 3.0.
- Must carry a minimum of 12 units.
- Must have completed or currently be enrolled in a political science, history or government course. A stated major in these fields is preferred but not required.
- Must demonstrate financial need.
- Leadership, community service and extracurricular activities is a plus.
- Because of very generous donor bequests and donations the committee voted for, and the board approved, raising our scholarship amount to $3000 for each of the three colleges. (Note: We give VCC $3000 plus a fee of $333 so that $3000 goes to the students)
- We were pleased to award 2 $1500 scholarships each to Ventura College and Oxnard College. Moorpark awarded a $3000 scholarship.
- We will also be awarding $3000 in scholarships to the three community colleges.
- Scholarship applications are currently available at each of the 3 colleges.
- We invite League members to join our committee in communicating with the community college foundations, contacting recipients, attending award ceremonies, and offering encouragement to our award recipients.
If interested please contact me at kayaarmstrong [at] gmail.com
Donations to the Scholarship Fund are welcomed and appreciated!
Last year we studied and took a position in favor of Measures A & B, which would have upheld oil operation setback regulations passed by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. Unfortunately the oil companies succeeded in using our referendum system to repeal them. Now the oil companies have successfully qualified a referendum for the Nov 2024 General Election to overturn California's SB1137 (oil setbacks). We intend to partner with other organizations to help push back this attempt to overturn SB1137.
We will also be looking for the Inflation Reduction Act incentives and push those out.
Maybe look for opportunities table and partner with other climate groups in the area.
My goal is to see if we can have more participation in the climate groups in the California and national Leagues.
4. Race and Social Justice AND Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - co-chairs Kay Armstrong and Laura Hernandez
Laura and I are co chairing DEI/ R&SJ.
I will give a short recap of our beginning and some of our accomplishments last year to now.
Laura will speak to our SWOT process and the evolution of the process leading to our goal framework.
At the planning meeting in 2021 a Race & Social Justice Committee was formed. We decided to meet monthly and currently meet the 3rd Thursday of the month from 4-5pm.
Getting going was fun but we soon found ourselves with lots of ideas but no firm direction.
Laura Hernandez suggested using a SWOT analysis (Strenghts/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) and volunteered to lead us through the process.
In reviewing the year I was happy to see how involved our committee has been in inviting outside DEI/R&SJ speakers to some of our meetings and in becoming involved in community activities relevant to our mission.
Speakers We were honored to have:
Phin Xaypangua, Ventura County's first DEI officer
Rabiah Rahman, then co chair of Ventura county's Public Safety Racial Equity Advisory Group ( PSREAG)
Regina Crawford, president of Ventura County NAACP spoke at our planning meeting last year
Last year through the present we attended and tabled at:
- LGBTQ+ film festival
- Oxnard LGBTQ community event
- Carmen Ramirez remembrance
- MLK Day
- Next week we will be tabling at ADL's Stop the Hate Walk.
We have also compiled a R&SJ reading list and several of us attend meetings such as Public Safety Racial Equity Advisory Group (PSREAG), LWVC subcommittees on Criminal Justice Reform, Sheriff oversight, etc.
Please consider joining us!
Voter Services is an umbrella committee covering several League activities including voter registration, voter education about the candidates, the Pros & Cons of ballot propositions, and the process of voting. We also coordinate educational presentations such as "Lunch & Learn with the League" where we interview locally elected county officials to learn more about what their jobs entail. Lunch with the League interviews are posted on You Tube. Our goal is to provide voters with unbiased, factual information so they can make informed decisions when they vote.
Since we are not going to be busy with candidate forums and elections until next Spring, we could also plan some informative forums about topics important to our members and voters. Such presentations are yet to be decided upon. We would like suggestions.
High School Voter Registration/Education - Co-Chair Betsy Patterson
About 20 years ago, Carmen Hurd began registering high school students to vote in the Oxnard Union HS District. She began with one school and has expanded the outreach to the 10 high schools in the District. She has been tireless and persistent and her work inspired us to expand.
In 2014 we expanded into the Ojai USD, and in 2018 into the Ventura USD, with events held in the Fall and Spring to correspond with Voter Education Weeks promoted by the CA Secretary of State and the Superintendent of Public Education. We work with the Social Science teachers for Government, Economics and American Democracy to register 18-year-olds, and since 2016 we have been able to pre-register 16-17-year-olds so they will automatically be registered to vote when they turn 18.
Besides registering students to vote, we engage them in a discussion about what issues are important to them and show them how voting can have an impact on those issues. Last Fall (2022), we met with over 1800 students and collected 616 new registration forms; 49 students were already registered. We have better success when we visit individual classrooms but some schools are so big that we have to meet in larger venues with combined classes.
We have trained volunteers to lead the voter registrations in the classrooms and are working on training volunteers to help with the outreach to the school principals and Social Science Dept Chairs in anticipation of eventually working with all of the school districts in the county. We also hope to develop a student-led voter registration program.
Assisted Living Voter Registration/Education - Lillian Zelinski, Member Volunteer
Before the 2022 CA primary, my mother-in-law asked me to talk to the residents of Atria, an assisted living community of about 140 people. At their resident's council meeting, I talked about voter registration and offered to help anyone who wished to register. Anyone who's changed their address, changed their name, or wished to change their political party needs to re-register.
I registered 2 people and guided another on how to verify their party status and registration information online. The Resident Council President asked me to come back and help more residents register to vote. I registered a total of 14 people on a return visit.
Ventura County has over 119 facilities. The larger retirement communities have a 10-20% turnover rate. Many generous League volunteers helped to contact the facilities and offer help by providing voter information and registration forms and meeting with residents in person to help them register. Betsy, the LWVVC president was most supportive and helpful. Cathy Trevino, Jeanne LaRocco, Joan Palmeiri, Karen Draper, Marianne Flan, Shari Zaiger, Mary Lyman, Sandy Diaz, and Kathy Morgan made phone calls and deliveries to senior communities.
There are three steps involved:
- Volunteers are asked to make contact with each facility (predominantly in their own zip code), identify the name, phone, and email of the facility activities director.
- Contact the activities director to ask if they would like us to provide them with a package of voter information and voter registration forms.
- If they would like us to do a presentation to a group of residents or hold a registration activity at their location.
Typically, different volunteers worked each step.
- 12 volunteers contacted 35 of the 119 facilities in Ventura County
- We delivered 20 Registration packages
- We held 7 in-person events
- We registered 41 voters and only required 28 volunteer hours
2023 Voter Registration Campaign:
We plan to expand the list of facilities and increase the number of people we register. I'd like to send attendees of today's meeting the list of communities we have now and ask if they know of a facility that is missing or should be added.
New Projects or Activities Being Proposed:
Ventura County has suffered a sharp decline in local news reporting. The Ventura County Star is owned by Gannett, parent company of USA Today. The budget, and the staff of the paper has been reduced dramatically. The paper carries very few local stories. Like many parts of the country, we in Ventura County are on our way toward becoming a news desert.
The League (LWVVC) has a history of trying to keep an eye on local government. The League used to monitor various city council and board of supervisor meetings. It sometimes produced reports on special subjects of interest in local government. The League is no longer filling this role. So, how can the LWVVC help to support local news today?
The League of Women Voters of Washington state produced a report about how the severe decline in the local news industry is causing democracy to suffer. Local news is critical to civic engagement. And research has found that the costs of government are higher where there is no local reporting on government. The Washington LWV will be discussing the Crisis in Local News at their state conference in May, and deciding on adopting a position. LWVVC might want to bring this discussion to our state conference.
How can LWVVC advocate for journalism? One way we have discussed would be to offer a scholarship to journalists who create local news, whether that is print or digital. That could be at the high school or college level.
We have a meeting set up with the Ventura County Community Foundation to learn about a new program: Fund to Support Local Journalism. They have started supporting two journalists with the VC Star. We will also learn about their scholarship program--how they run it and how they fund it.
Over the League's 103 year history, we have studied many issues at the local, state and national levels. Leagues at these levels propose and agree upon the issues to be studied, research them, educate members and then come to consensus. The League has developed a clear set of principles to guide our studies and our actions. They are summarized in a booklet called A Guide to Public Policy Positions. The appropriate Board authorizes action once it determines that the process has been followed, member agreement exists, and that action is appropriate.
At the national level there is an Advocacy Department which leads the organization's federal lobbying efforts and it provides information to state and local Leagues about advocacy priorities. In Washington DC, the LWVUS president and members of the Board testify on Capitol Hill and lobby members of Congress with phone calls and visits. LWVUS also has paid professional staff to carry out day-to-day lobbying.
Action Alerts are issued by LWVUS and state and local leagues are expected to take whatever action is being requested. The League's clout is magnified when our members lobby their representatives. However, only a League spokesman, usually the president, speaks in the name of the League. Leagues are not allowed to take action in opposition to LWVUS on federal issues or the state League on state issues. The League's message must be consistent on national and state issues.
LWVUS reviews its current program and priorities through the program planning process in even years while the state league does its program planning in odd years. So this meeting is our opportunity to work together on how to use our influence on public policy.
The numbers are increasing for the Homeless Count but the report from the recent 2023 Count won't be out until April. There were 158 people who died unhoused in our county (that they know of) from December 1 2021 to Nov 30, 2022. It is expected that there will be more people on the street when Project Room Key ends on Feb 28th even though social service agencies are working hard to get people places in shelters before the hotel program closes. Kappy states that they saw a lot of new and returning people at Ventura One Stop (one of Ventura County's whole Person Health Care Resource Center sites) after the floods - many of whom were from the river bottom. She states that other Resource Center sites are at River Haven, Community Action, Oxnard, Santa Paula and Camarillo. The City of Ventura is working with the county to apply for a grant to upgrade the ARCH, Ventura's homeless shelter which is managed by Mercy House and currently has 55 beds. It is a congregate dorm type shelter with a few private rooms for the terminally ill and medical isolation. Salvation Army has rooms from time to time and also has a respite care (about 5 beds) where homeless people can recuperate when released from the hospital. She further states that more older people are getting priced out of their long term rentals. The Area Agency on Aging has a HomeShare program that connects seniors with extra rooms to people needing housing. Families are fairly quickly placed into housing. 2 Churches in Ventura have a safe sleep program - both are limited to 5 vehicles. There are many agencies working to get people housed but there are not enough available houses.
Housing Eligibility ranges:
- Ultra Low income housing range is 0-30% of median ($115,000) = 1 minimum wage earner
- Low income housing income range 31%-50% beginning teachers, new firefighters, office managers
- Moderate income housing range 51%-80% young engineers, accountants
Section 8 vouchers have an 8-10 year wait and many landlords will not rent to Section 8 clients. Ventura City has a 2-3% vacancy rate so there is little incentive.
Each City is required to submit a housing plan for the next several years. If they don't, funding may be jeopardized. This is an ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITY
Volunteer Opportunities -
- Clothing, Shoes and Hygiene kits to the Whole Person Health Care Resource Center sites
- Help set up a program in your city such as the Ventura Social Services Task Force's "Homelessness Prevention Program" which gives up to $1,500 for a one time help to offset a temporary setback with the goal of keeping the person/family housed. In Ventura the program is managed by the Salvation Army and Sue Brinkmeyer is working with other cities to set up their programs. Donations are always helpful as well!
- Volunteer as classroom helpers and other organizational tasks for Step Up Ventura - a preschool for near homeless and homeless children
Work with House Farm Workers - Ellen Brokaw
Reported on a LWV Housing Advocacy Zoom meeting she attended in January with presentations by LWV Santa Monica, LWV Pasadena, and LWV Orange County about affordable housing work they have been doing: housing elements that all cities in county have been doing; rent-control; and homelessness. LWVVC had a connection with House Farm Workers in the past. She wanted to encourage us to have a committee focusing on housing issues and where the league can be influential and have impact.
Other resources and links were provided by Kappy and can be sent out to interested individuals.
In 2016, League of Women voters of the United States launched Campaign for Making Democracy Work (R). The campaign is intended for national, state, and local levels. The identified components of this campaign are:
- Voter registration
Government 101 is an education component of the League of Women Voters of Ventura County to make democracy work at the local level. Government depends on informed and active participation. Government 101 educates members what they have a right to know, where they may participate with local government bodies, and how they may participate.
Goal: Engage our general membership with educational material leading to consistent knowledge of local public government
b- posting of agenda
c- access to minutes and votes
1- Member education: visual with overlays of the different districts on a county map
2- Links to enabling documents
Patty Chan: Observer Corp is a structured way for our league to learn of decisions which impact our lives by exercising our right to know. By having an organized system to observe our public process (which includes elections) our league is able to provide a valuable service to our community by assisting the transparency of our government process.
Engage our membership with an established structure for LWV-VC to observe government processes.
2- Establish annual goals for corps
3- Establish mentorship
1- Written guidelines for corp members
2- Kick-off program to introduce board approved formal program to membership
Pat Butler: The goals of the Observer Corps are to let the government body know the League is paying attention, and to inform the membership of the government body's actions.
Any member who wishes to participate is free to observe the actions of the County Board of Supervisors, the City Council in any of the ten cities, school boards, water districts, and any other government body of interest. This is a non-structured committee. We show up, observe, and report items of interest back to the editor of the Voter newsletter. It is entirely up to you to decide what and when to observe.
When we observe, we do just that. We do not comment on the proceedings. We listen and watch, take notes, and show our participation by wearing our blue league shirt and an Observer button. We then complete the Observer Corps Form and/or write a report that is forwarded to the editor of the newsletter, the Voter, for publication.
Group Discussion: Questions, Expansion of proposed projects:
For the full discussion, see the video recording on You Tube: https://youtu.be/fgviWyvBYaI
Advocacy (1:21:45) - an ad hoc committee learned a lot about how to develop a Pro or Con position, based on established League positions, regarding oil drilling set-backs in Ventura County; this issue will be a statewide referendum on SB 1137 - signed into law by Gov. Newsom in Sept 2022, but on Feb 3, 2023 Sec of State Shirley Weber certified that enough signatures were obtained to bring it to the people as a referendum on the Nov 5, 2024 ballot. Wayne will check with Climate Change Interest Group to see if the LWVC will be taking a position on this referendum. There may certainly be other areas for advocacy by the LWVVC but members are reminded that they may contact their elected representatives, as an individual constituent not representing the League, on any issues at any time.
(Voter Services / Citizen Education is a non-partisan, voter education group; Advocacy researches issues to determine if the League may take a position based on established positions. The Chair of Voter Services should not be Chair of Advocacy; Voter Services remains non-partisan.)
Recommendations were made for our members to consider joining a LWVC Google Group or LWVC Interest Group on a variety of issues that we do not currently work on actively but which might be a resource for our members to become informed and engaged.
LWVC Discussion/Interest groups info: https://my.lwv.org/california/join-online-discussion-group
Advocacy Interest Group
- Voter Service Interest Group
- Climate Change Interest Group: Email: climatechange [at] lwvc.org
- Criminal Justice Reform Interest Group
- Homelessness Interest Group
- Immigration Interest Group
- Local Redistricting Interest Group
- Money in Politics Interest Group
- Program Planning Interest Group
- Sheriff Oversight Interest Sub-Group
- Water Interest Group
Advocacy: Sharon Crane, Judy Murphy; survey responses: Jan Demonsy, Kay Armstrong, Regina Crawford
Housing/Homelessness: Judy Murphy, Sharon Crane, Ellen Brokaw, Kappy Paulson, Karen Flock; survey responses of interest: Maria Navarro, Kay Armstrong,
Observer Corps: Lillian Zelinski, Doris Simmelink, Ellen Learned, Pat Butler, Patty Chan, Kathy Morgan
Education (Govt 101): Kay Armstrong, Doris Simmelink, Pat Belt, Patty Chan, Terri Hargleroad, Sandy Diaz, Betsy Patterson, Pat Essick, Chelsea Sutula, Lou Vigorita, Kathy Morgan, Susan King Roth
Water Issues: Kay Armstrong & Chelsea Sutula (water boards educ with Patty Chan)
What activities should we recommend to the Board to be considered and presented at our Annual Membership meeting in June for the year 2023-24?
After much discussion, it was decided, by consensus, that all 10 of the proposed programs were important work for our local League. While some of these activities already have member support and leadership, we felt that the others might generate interest among our membership such that there would be enough support and involvement to take on the new projects. Without the membership support and active participation, the activity or action on an issue will not occur.
The proposed Issues for Emphasis were gathered by a survey sent to the entire membership during the weeks before this meeting. Based on the responses to the survey, we submitted the following 5 areas for consideration at the meeting:
- Making Democracy Work in CA
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Water Issues
- Climate Change
The members present were asked to vote for their top 3 preferences and here are the results and recommendations:
Top 3 Priorities (in addition to Making Democracy Work in CA):
Member Volunteers: Betsy Patterson and Pat Butler
Member Volunteers: Kay Armstrong and Laura Hernandez
Member Volunteers: Judy Murphy, Sharon Crane, and Ellen Brokaw