President's Message to League Members
How is open government working today?
At our October Lunch with League, we were honored to hear Bert Robinson,
senior editor of the Bay Area News Group (which includes the Mercury News)
talk about his efforts to get information from local government departments so
the public can know what our government is doing for us.
Our League, along with Mr. Robinson, participated in the Sunshine task force several years ago which gave us a voice (or two) in helping to shape the local laws. He said the Sunshine laws recommended by the task force were mostly enacted by the city council and are working well.
One area that could improve is the ability to get city police reports. A new state law SB1421 (Skinner) should improve access to some of this data. Mr. Robinson has requested city police records pursuant to this law, but so far, this effort has been unsuccessful after a six-month effort. He plans to appeal to the city rules committee to at least get a schedule for the release.
He also announced the special series called “Who Owns Silicon Valley?” which required accessing many records from the assessor’s office, which he praised for being very forthcoming. The first of the series was published on Oct. 27.
Our local democracy is stronger when we have a free press with the resources and ability to help us all watch our government. You can help by supporting our local newspaper.
Don’t miss our next Lunch with League! Register HERE.
We are beginning our annual fundraising drive to raise enough money to support our efforts to make democracy work during the next busy year. We are asking our members and friends of the League for a donation and will be very grateful for any amount. We appreciate all of our members and friends! Donate to the League HERE.
In the last month or two, I’ve had to reach beyond my comfort zone and learn
more about subjects I knew little about in order to sign letters to public officials
on issues our League cares about. As you can imagine, the climate crisis and the
environment often top this list.
Our League has recently written letters on the subjects of:
● “Reach Codes”
● High speed rail
● Green Stormwater Infrastructure
Read these and all of our letters to public officials HERE.
I also attended a small, productive, meeting of San Jose city staff members and some local environmental activists on the subject of reach codes before the city council voted on the issue. These activists, including our Karen Nelson who works with Climate Reality, were impressive in their commitment to and knowledge of the issues and in their interaction with city staff.
What are “reach codes”, you may ask? The state has set certain minimal standards for construction, but cities have the power and are encouraged to exceed these standards, or “reach” above them.
And that’s what San Jose did a few weeks ago, joining other cities, in the huge effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We congratulate the San Jose City Council for moving the city towards all electric construction for buildings and for requiring more infrastructure to support electric vehicles. Rita Norton has done a wonderful job of explaining this new climate change processes on our new Climate Change page HERE.
We also marched at the youth-led Climate Strike on Sept. 20 and it was so inspiring to talk with some of these dedicated young people literally wanting to change the world. We had a table where League members registered people to vote.
The League is a great place to learn and we are so fortunate to have several experienced and knowledgeable members to learn from. Among many others, I personally thank Rita, Karen, Bob, Roma, and Gloria, for my continuing education.
You, too, can “reach” above -- just contact a chair of one of our several committees and join us in making a difference in our world.
Hello to all!
After three terrific years under the leadership of Mary Collins, I have some big shoes to fill. Thank you, Mary, and all other members of the board, for everything our League accomplished. We saw a strong voter service program to register more voters and help inform voters before elections. Strong committees worked on national, state, and local issues.
As your new president, I am honored to serve and plan to work with other board members and League leaders to enable you, our members, to be more effective in pursuing projects that you think will make our community and nation stronger.
Do you think the lack of civil discourse in political arenas is threatening our democracy? The five Leagues of Santa Clara County has a committee working on programs to help restore respect and reason to our public and personal dialogues. Sign up for "A House Divided: From Polarization to Collaboration: Bringing Back Effective Government" on Saturday afternoon, September 21. If you would like to work on this committee, contact me.
We had a very successful “Paris to Pittsburgh to San Jose” meeting in August on the Climate Crisis with 73 people attending. A huge thanks to Virginia Holtz and her hard-working committee and many other volunteers for this success. Our League will be planning more events in the future to bring community attention to various important issues.
There is SO much going on in the coming year!! 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote and the founding of the League of Women Voters. Santa Clara County is using a new voting process for the 2020 presidential election (all mail-in ballots and no precinct voting) and we will help educate voters about it. We plan to help our local government encourage everyone to participate in the 2020 census. And housing/homelessness, transportation, civil discourse, climate change, ....
Are there areas where you want to make a difference? Contact me or the people leading these committees and get involved! As Congressman John Lewis has said: “If we fail to act, who will do It?”