July 2012 Edition The VOTER League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham http://www.lwvgb.orgSpecial points of interest: A Word from the League President Next League Member- Greetings, Members! President, Trisha Powell If you are available to serve in ship Meeting in Birming- Crain. LWVGB made history any capacity with upcoming ham will be held in Sep- The work of the League con- with the appointment of its first events, projects or commit- tember. Stay tuned for tinues, and its efforts were male board member, Michael tees, please dont hesitate to more information. celebrated on June 28th, ODonnell, who will serve as contact a board member. when the United States Su- Treasurer. Thank you for your continued Next Constitutional preme Court upheld the Af- support of LWVGB, and all Revision Commission fordable Care Act. The Meeting dates were set, port- that you do! Meeting on July 22 at 9am League of Women Vot- folios were assigned and in Montgomery in Room ers worked tirelessly to sup- deadlines were discussed for In League, 617 of the State House. port the Acts passage in upcoming Bylaws and Audit Cyrondys Jackson 2010, and has vowed to fight committees. Overall, sea- President ACCR Luncheon Meeting for its protection. soned League members & Update on August 11 at agreed that we were getting 11am at Samford Univer- The advocacy continues, as "back to basics" and forging sity in the Moot Court Leagues across the US ener- ahead. gize members to take the charge and support issues While reading this issue, close to their hearts. Locally, please ask yourself two ques-Inside this issue: in this election year, the efforts tions: 1) What do you want of the LWVGB will center on from the League, and 2) What Voter Services, headed by qualities or talents do youConstitutional Reform 2 board member Arlene Godwin. bring to the League? Please During last months planning email your responsesPublic Transportation 2 meeting, returning board to firstname.lastname@example.orgAbroad members welcomed our new- m. est Directors and First ViceBack to Basics 3Happy Birthday Title IX 3 LWVGB Changes to a New Facebook Page LWVGB is changing over to a keep you posted on all the site and not as open to theLeague National Conven- 4tion new Facebook page! Please League action and project public. LWVGB President Cy- go to www.facebook.com/ news on the new page. rondys Jackson and the BoardAlabama’s Clean Energy 5 LWVGB and "like" us. The want the LWVGB FacebookFuture original LWVGB Facebook Why the change? The presence to be more inclusive.FREE ACCR Luncheon 5 group page will be LWVGB Facebook "group" is We thank you for your pa- "mothballed" soon, but we will a somewhat more restrictive tience as we move forward.Lest We Forget 6
The VOTER Page 2 Constitutional Reform by Nancy Ekberg At the Constitutional Revi- a.m. in Room 617 of the State sion Commissions meeting House in Montgomery. All on Wednesday, June 20, meetings are open to the pub- Professor Howard Walthall, lic. ACCR is providing tran- provided a discussion of scripts of the meetings, avail- constitutional law that out- able on the website of the lined ways in which home Alabama Law Institute http:// rule could be accomplished. ali.state.al.us/ . The Commission has ap- pointed member, Greg But- rus, a lawyer with Balch and Bingham to head up a sub date. committee to discuss all the options that Professor Walthall The next full Constitutional cited, and report back to the Revision Commission will whole Commission at a later meet August 22nd at 9:30Service is the rent we pay for being. Public Transportation Abroad by Leonette Slay It is the very While in southern Chile for a has more seats, as the seats to travel between U.S. cities inpurpose of life and few weeks, I had the opportu- recline about 120 degrees, a "semicama", more travelersnot something you nity to take two overnight bus and the assistant provides the might opt for bus transporta- trips, and they were a revela- same services. tion. do in your spare tion. Chile is 3,000 miles long time. and its citizens have an aver- ~ Marion Wright age yearly income of about Edelman $8500. Several inter-city bus lines provide safe, inexpen- sive travel throughout the country. The buses that I rode were "semicamas", meaning that passengers had seats that reclined and other ameni- The upper deck tickets cost ties that made for a very com- about $30. As the bus nears fortable seven hour its destination, the assistant trip. These buses are double opens the curtains, collects deckers, with the bottom hav- blankets and pillows, and ing only eight seats, since the gives each passenger a juice seat reclines 180 degrees for drink and cookie. I rode on overnight sleeping. An assis- two different bus tant to the bus driver hands lines, and both out a small pillow and blanket buses left on time to each passenger and shuts and were very the curtains for the overnight clean, as were the trip. These seats cost about bus stations. If we $50 one way. The upper deck had an opportunity
The VOTER Page 3Back to Basics by First Vice President Trisha Powell CrainThis year, our League will go meetings of local governmen- News, the League’s efforts in“back to basics” and focus on tal bodies/agencies, observers this area become even moreareas of the League that are learn more about what their essential by providing physi-at the heart of our mission: government is doing. They cal coverage at governmentalfacilitate citizen participation in learn about the issues facing body meetings. Reports willgovernment decision-making. be published, although we their community and are em-How do we plan to do this? are still working on the best powered to take action, if war- way to do that: online, inWell, this being an electionyear, Voter Services rose to ranted. They also learn how print, or both.the top of the list. The League issues are being addressed. No special qualifications arewill redouble and expand ef- Observer programs benefit the needed to become a memberforts to provide access to community by: of the Observer Corps.voter registration and opportu- League members come tonities to register to vote. Vot- Creating a civically engaged the League with a desire toing is the most basic and di- and empowered cadre of know more about their localrect way that citizens partici- watchdogs; representative government,pate in government’s decision- Connecting individuals and this is an excellent op-making. Your participation in (observers and others portunity to contribute yourstaffing these events is essen- with whom their observa- efforts to the League and totial in order to cover as much tions are shared) with the broader community. Lookterritory as possible. Look for government; for information in the nearopportunities to participate in Promoting open, transparent future about how to get in-the near future. and accountable govern- volved in the Observer Corps. ment;Next on the list is reinvigorat- In addition to Voter Service Connecting elected/appointeding the League’s Observer officials with their con- and Observer Corps, we areCorps. From the National stituents; looking to broaden our mem-League publication, Educating the public about bership and recruit new faces“Observing Your Right to issues impacting their to the League. Begin consid- communities and their ering inviting potential mem-Know”: an observer is an indi- lives; and bers to our membership eventvidual who attends a govern- Identifying areas where action in September.mental meeting, or improvement is We are excited about gettingnotes what hap- needed. back to basics this year, andpens at the meet- With concerns about the count on your help to Read more about theing, and reports back breadth of local news cover- strengthen our local League.to the League and the com- age starting in the fall due to League’s Observer Corps atmunity. By attending public staff cuts at The Birmingham http://www.lwv.org/files/ LWVEF_ObservingYourGover nment.pdf .Happy 40th Birthday Title IX! step forward in achieving The League is committed to equal opportunity for women. continuing to help protect Title This simple sentence did IX as it has over these 40 it! “No person in the United years. We know that hard- States shall, on the basis of fought gains in civil rights re- sex, be excluded from partici- quire constant vigilance pation in, be denied the bene- against attempts to diminish fits of, or be subjected to dis- them. But today, we celebrateThe League was jubilant when crimination under any educa- Title IX and all it has meant toTitle IX of the Education tion program or activity receiv- the daughters and grand-Amendments Act was passed ing federal financial assis- daughters of those whoon June 23, 1972. Passage of tance.” blazed the trail to this mo-this historic Act was another ment!
The VOTER Page 4League National Convention by Joyce LanningLWVAL President Kathryn email@example.com for “advocate strongly for all ap-Byrd lead a seven-member more information. propriate, duly-consideredAlabama delegation to the measures …. to set reason-50th National Convention of The LWVFL was commended able regulations on campaignthe League June 8-12, 2012 in a presentation by Attorney contributions and expendi-in Washington, DC. Appropri- General Eric Holder for its role tures; and insure that elec-ately, most of the team was in filing an amicus brief in a tions are determined by thefrom LWV Mobile, which re- Justice Department suit suc- voters. How to address theceived the Strengthening De- cessfully challenging the ille- impacts of the Citizens Unitedmocracy Power the Vote gal and inaccurate voter purge decision was a major topic ofaward for their highly success- initiated by the state of Flor- Watch Videos from the 2012 discussion.ful Vote 18 project. See more ida. Approved a new study to LWV National Convention aton their website at http:// review and update thewww.lwvmobile.org/ . Con- The LWV is a deliberative http://lwv.org/blog/watch- LWVUS agriculture position,gratulations LWV Mobile! body and models the proc- which dates from 1988. videos-convention-2012. esses it promotes. A half-day Retained all other currentThe LWVGB was represented each of four days was spent LWVUS Positions in Repre-by board member Joyce on League process and pro- sentative Government, Inter-Lanning who spoke to a cau- gram and the rest of the time national Relations, Naturalcus sponsored by the LWVUS was available for very useful Resources, and Social Policy.Climate Change Task Force and informative workshops For a full report on the resultson which she has served for and informal sharing. The of the Convention, see http://four years. The program cov- major decisions made by the library.lwv.org/events-series/ered the recent additions to delegates were: convention-2012the national Toolkit for ClimateAction which is available on Raised Per Member Pay-the LWV website at http:// Lanning suggests that anyone ment due to National for each who has the opportunity at-participate.lwv.org/c/9217/ member from $30 to $31. tend a National Convention dot/6398/p/salsa/web/common/ Concurred with the LWVDC so. “You will learn more aboutpublic/content? Sentencing Policy position: the LWV programs and proce-content_item_KEY=3766 - or The LWVUS believes alterna- dures and be energized andjust search for LWV Toolkit. tives to imprisonment should informed.” She reports return- be explored and utilized, tak- ing home with a broader per-With little international or na- ing into consideration the cir- spective and even greatertional progress being made to cumstances and nature of the dedication to our programscontrol the emissions and land crime. The LWVUS opposes while feeling the support ofuse changes which are in- mandatory minimum sen- members all over the countrycreasing temperatures and tences for drug offenses. who are making democracyacidifying oceans, the LWV is Decided to undertake a com- work for all in their own com-supporting local and state prehensive program to edu- munities.improvements in efficient use cate members and communi-of energy in buildings and ties on the issue of campaignimplementation of renewable finance in order to inform ourresources. The presentation education and legislative ef-will be available on the forts as needed.LWVUS website. Go to An additional motion callsthe Toolkit, or contact upon the LWVUS Board to
The VOTER Page 5Transparency Encouraged in Planning for Alabama’s Clean Energy FutureMatt Bowden, Alabama Power 2016, even as they convert to determining how to meet pro-Vice President for Environ- natural gas to take advantage jected demand, and Alabamamental Affairs, and Joyce of the cleaner-burning fuel and Power could expand its effortsLanning, LWVGB Board Mem- lower prices. in that direction to help reduceber and LWVAL Natural Re- customer energy use and bills.sources chair, spoke on July Dr. Lanning pointed out that28 to over seventy people Alabama’s power residential Citing the League’s longstand-gathered at the Birmingham bills are third highest in the ing tradition of transparency inHarbert Center for The nation due to our price and public decision-making, sheWomen’s Network meeting. use, and that had we been called for citizens to come Georgia Power energy con- together for policy changesMr. Bowden explained the sumers in 2010, customers which would require appropri-company’s activities and ex- would have saved almost ate stakeholder input in thependitures – over $3 billion - $463 million that year. This development of a state energyto bring the company into may or may not be an appro- plan for our clean energy fu-compliance with Environ- priate comparison, due to dif- ture. Also, other utilities andmental Protection Agency ferences in costs in the two states allow citizens greaterregulations under the Clean states. However, Alabama has access and an ability to im-Air Act. The act requires EPA no state energy plan as many pact utility Integrated Re-to use the latest science to other states do, and the Inte- source Plans and Public Ser-protect human health by re- grated Resource Plans re- vice Commission rate deci-quiring that harmful pollution quired of utilities are inacces- sions – access which shouldbe contained. sible to us, even with proprie- be also available to Alabam- tary portions removed. Due to ians.Recognizing that the Clean Air the processes used by ourAct had been successful in Public Service Commission, The Alabama Environmentalreducing health-harming pollu- which regulates our monopoly Council, with Lanning as ation while electricity use and utilities, there is very little op- contractor, is working to ex-the economy grew, Mr. Bow- portunity to impact decisions pand options for a clean andden questioned the benefits of being made about our energy energy-efficient future for Ala-imposing new requirements, choices or prices. bama. Joyce Lanning can beespecially under short time reachedframes. The company is pur- As one example of possible at firstname.lastname@example.org asuing alternative energy, es- improvement, Lanning pointed nd AEC at http://pecially wind, and has plans out that energy efficiency www.aeconline.org/ .for spending another $1 billion should be treated as a re-on coal-plant controls by source – a first fuel – when You are cordially invited to attend a FREE Annual ACCR Meeting named after founder, Bailey Thomson, on August 11th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Samford University in Birmingham. This will be held instead of the Bailey Thomson Award Luncheon, which will be held next year. The meeting is free and open to the public. It will update us on what is happening with constitutional reform, particularly the new Constitutional Revision Commission, legislation that needs our vote in November, and plans for legislation next year. We will also learn about ACCR plans to educate and organize this reform movement throughout the State. The meeting will be held in the Moot Court Room of the Cumberland School of Law, which is co-sponsoring this event. Featured speakers at our meeting will be Dean John Carroll of the Cumberland School of Law, Professor Wayne Flynt, Gover- nor Albert Brewer, retired Executive Director of the Alabama Law Institute Bob McCurley and some of the early leaders in this movement. We will let you know what the new Commission plans as it reviews Article IV, the Legislature. This article can bring changes to county governance and is a great hope for reform for our state. Keep in mind that there will be three constitutional amendment reforms on our ballots in November. They include elimination of the racist, unconstitutional language, revision of the banking article and revision of the corporations article. They all need our support! Note: While this is not a League event, the League strongly supports Constitutional Reform.
League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham League of Women Voters Mission StatementPO Box 530522 The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encour-Birmingham, AL 35253 USA ages informed and active participation in government, works to increase under-Phone: 205.583.5000 standing of major public policy issues, and influences public policy throughWebsite: http://www.lwvgb.org education and advocacy.Making Democracy Work! League of Women Voters Education Fund Mission Statement The League of Women Voters Education Fund works to encourage the active and informed participation of citizens in government and to increase under- Lest We Forget by Voter Services Chair Arlene Godwin Property-ownership, religion demographic differences such voters, volunteering at voter prerequisites, citizenship stan- as race and gender, inhabit registration drives, and work- dards, literacy tests, poll the same nation and are ing as poll monitors. Too, we taxes, race, and gender bound together by more things are all obligated in this regard, bias—all of these are past common than different. not only to those who share hurdles to inclusion in the our own personal political Voting on every scale, funda- American voting process. creeds or who rally behind the mentally impacts how citizens Each were challenged by a same causes we support, but are represented in matters of few in order to ensure the to all citizens. Lest we forget, state. However, major elec- rights of many. They were our role is not to control voting tions, such as the impending challenged, not just as acts of trajectory, but to preserve and 2012 Presidential election, morality or for political postur- safeguard the very right to should particularly remind us ing, but to promote democratic vote. of those who took up the suf- posterity. Specifically, legisla- frage charge on our behalf. tive milestones constitutional We can honor their efforts by amendments 15 and 19, serve holding firm to the baton that as edicts, “officially” declaring has been passed, serving as the worth of certain groups as catalysts for change by edu- valuable members of a co- cating current and potential citizen collective, who despite
Board of Directors, 2012-2013 Cyrondys Jackson President Trish Powell Crain 1st VP Michael O’Donnell Treasurer Nancy Ekberg Director – Constitution Reform Karen Threlkeld Director - VOTER Editor Wanda Godfrey Director - Education Joyce Lanning Director - Environment Jean Johnson Director - Technical Arlene Godwin Director – Voter Service Leonette Slay Nominating Committee Chair Donald Marks Social Media (Off Board)League of Women Voters of Greater BirminghamP. O. Box 530522Mountain Brook, AL 35253