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Local Leagues in New Mexico

 

League of Women Voters of New Mexico

Board M inutes

November 12, 2016, 11:00 am - 2: 30 pm

Socorro Public Library

Board members present:

Meredith Machen, President; Gwen Hanson, President GLC; Suzanne Schmidt, President SFC; Akkana Peck, LWVNM Secretary and Webmaster; Barbara Calef, Co- President LA , Action Co-Chair, & Natural Resources Co-Chair; Karen Douglas, Co-Vice President CNM; Diane Goldfarb, Reproductive Rights Director; Judy Williams, Program, Natural Resources Co-Chair, & Acting Treasurer; Dick Mason, Vice-President & Action Co-Chair; Carol Tucker-Trelease, Co-Vice President CNM

Guests: Ardyth Norem, Vice President GLC; Miriam Ries, La Palabra Editor and Voter Editor, SFC; Becky Shankland, Co- President LA and Nominating Committee Member

Meredith called the meeting to order at 11:10 and asked for approval of the agenda, which was approved with no changes.

She then asked for approval of the minutes for the September 24, 2016 Board meeting.

Gwen moved to approve the minutes as corrected. Seconded and Approved (SA).

President's R eport

ELECTIONS

NM elections were very smooth: we haven't heard of any problems. The Voter Guides were "absolutely phenomenal," thanks to the excellent work of the Voter Services Committee. CNM printed 30,000. SF and CNM both ran out of copies.

Diane said numerous people came to the LWV office wanting to vote there: some people said Siri said to go there; others said it was on their GPS.

Gwen got lots of interesting questions: people wanting to help transport voters, a woman saying her vote had been challenged (Gwen directed her to the Bureau of Elections) and a wide variety of others. She also got calls from people wanting to know whether their employers were required to let them off.

Dick was poll watching in Bernalillo, and their schools were closed for Election Day, but that's not true in all districts.

Suzanne mentioned an incident in Santa Fe, where an election judge told a voter who had been purged that she did not have the right to vote. LWVSFC Board member Barbara Conroy, who was serving as a poll watcher, corrected the judge, and the woman was allowed to vote provisionally.

FRAUD INCIDENT

Our bank balance will read $10,000 less than it did a month ago. The treasurer got some phishing emails that superficially looked like they came from the state League president. She believed them, and wired $5,000 twice from our Wells Fargo account to a Bank of America account in Naples, FL. A police report has been filed with the Los Alamos PD. There's also a report filed with the AG's office, and a fraud report at Wells Fargo, all of which are under investigation.

There was much discussion about whether we had options for recovering the money and what legal actions might be warranted. For now, Mary Wilson is advising us on legal matters, and one thing we should do is send a letter of demand.

MSA: Dick moved that we send a demand letter.

There was some discussion of when to send the demand letter. It would be nice to wait until the investigation is finished, but that could take up to two years. Meredith will check with Mary on how long we should wait and will also work with her to draft a public statement.

The treasurer has resigned and Judy Williams is serving as acting treasurer. The old accounts have been shut down, new accounts created, and the names of those with access to the accounts updated.

Treasurer's Report

Judy presented a report showing holdings of $4136.74 in a CD; $4231.44 in the checking account; and $1257.71 in the Education Fund.

CHANGES TO FINANCIAL POLICY and PROCEDURES

Our existing operating procedures a lready prohibited what happened. Expenses beyond $250 required approval of the president. Judy had some suggestions for amendments we could make to make it harder for something like this to happen.

Several people thought we should officially prohibit electronic transfers in addition to requiring two signatures for any check over $1000. Dick will ask Wells Fargo what kind of limits we can put on electronic transfers and whether the bank can enforce a 2-signature requirement for large checks.

MSA: Dick moved to add an item to Procedures to prohibit electronic transfers.

MSA: Dick moved that any disbursement over $1000 require two signatures.

There was a discussion of non-budgeted items. Why should there ever be non-budgeted expenses? Small things sometimes come up that nobody remembered to add to the budget ahead of time. We could add budget item like "Miscellaneous". Disbursements of non-budgeted items are already covered by other parts of the policy, so #1 under Safeguards and Controls is redundant and can be removed.

There was general agreement on Judy's changes to the policies.

MSA: Dick moved to authorize the treasurer to consult with others to make any grammatical changes needed in the financial policy document.

Miriam asked if we should buy security bonds for the state and local leagues to protect us against theft or fraud. They're a type of insurance.

That segued into a discussion of our insurance policies, and the history of the state and CNM Leagues sharing office space in Albuquerque. Diane explained that CNM has an insurance policy on the office space; the state league has insurance that covers liability at events. The state treasurer had been concerned that these policies were redundant, but actually they cover very different things and they're both needed.

The state L eague's liability p olicy lapsed Sep t. 25 -- the state treasurer didn't pay the premium because she thought it overlapped with the insurance CNM is already paying for -- but State Farm will let us renew it late. Judy will pay the $475 premium right away.

Miriam: SF has taken the money from CDs as they came due and put it into a business account with Synchrony Bank. A business account with them pays .85%, which is a lot more than other banks pay.

Meredith gathered signatures for a resolution to close our CD once it comes due and move it into a regular bank account.

Charter School Regulation Position

Meredith thanked Judy, Barbara , and Akkana for stepping in and working on the consensus questions when the original charter school committee lost impetus. Now we need to look at what principles we need in a standalone statement, which eventually will be merged into our education position.

MSA: Dick moved that we adopt the position on charter schools as sent to the board in a 2-page document.

This can now be used for lobbying by the action committee, and will be integrated into our official positions at the convention.

Action Committee Report

ADVOCACY WORKSHOP

Judy announced the Effective Citizen's Advocacy workshop will be Dec 10, 10-12 at the Roundhouse, Room 322, with Senator Peter Wirth, Representative Jimmie Hall, and Minda McGonagle, lobbyist. Judy will write to Rep. Hall and ask him to spend a few minutes talking about the capitol outlay process. She would like a guideline on how a League member can become a citizen advocate. Meredith will send her the latest version: we have documents on the Action page on the website.

Dick commented on the need to revise the "How to Use the Legislative Website" document every year and said their website is getting worse.

LEGISLATIVE RECEPTION/LEAGUE DAY

What topics should we cover? Dick sent out an Action Committee report with a list of topics suitable for the evening reception at League Day, but some of them, like criminal justice, are less critical after the results of the election. Maybe reproductive rights or maintaining the protections of the A ffordable Care Act (A CA ) are more important right now. The Fairness Project (adequately funding essential services) cuts across everything and of course is relevant. Charter Schools are also important since we have a new position. We need to pick one, and it should be something fairly focused so we can have one or two speakers: if there are more, people feel they don't have enough time for interacting with people. We also have two 45-minute slots for League Day.

There was discussion of various speakers and options. The group decided on the Fairness Project/ Essential Services for the evening reception topic , Feb 8 . Dick said that it cuts across all other areas including health care and offered to invite James Jimenez , NM Voices for Children, Executive Director, as speaker.

The group decided on the two topics for League Day, Feb 9 . Diane will ask Julianna Koop from Planned Parenthood to speak on reproductive rights. Meredith will find a speaker for education, maybe Veronica Garcia, Superintendent of SF Public Schools and former Secretary of Public Education.

Dick suggested we try to find out about upcoming pieces of legislation,so people listening to the talks know what to support.

Last year we spe nd almost $1000 at Garrett's: $850 for the reception and $150 for League Day. Can we afford it this time?

Other Action Committee I ssues:

We will work with Common Cause on issues we have in common, including the need for an Ethics Commission and a Public Accountability Act.

Is there anything we can do to follow up on the Constitutional Amendment regarding school board elections?

We may want to de-emphasize criminal justice following the results of the election, but we're still signing onto ongoing actions.

We don't know when the repeal of the Affordable Care Act is going to come, but there may be action regarding how the state responds. We hope we can encourage the state government to be vocal about the benefits NM has seen from the ACA, like increased jobs.

There was some discussion of trying to get the new majority leader to commit to transparency, including bringing up every bill in order by the date it gets posted, before voting on it. Dick will draft something about this and send it around.

We shouldn't have been listed as a partner in APD (Albuquerque Police Department) Forward, but we're now signed on because the organization mistakenly listed LWVNM instead of LWVCNM. LWVCNM is an active partner.

Local League Reports

Gwen, GLC:

LWVGLC has a nice relationship with the Bureau of Elections, which has led to collaborations on going into high schools, and great voter registration training.

On the Voter Guide, it was lookin g iffy whether CAFe (Comunidades en Acción y de Fé) would be able to help with the Spanish translation this year, but fortunately it worked out.

LWVGLC lost a great venue they've used for many years, but KRWG-TV, the local PBS-affiliate, has been supportive and ended up hosting the candidate forums, except for the forum for county candidates. It was held at the county building, which worked out great.

Empty Chair Issue: All local NM legislative candidates facing opposition were invited to participate in the candidate forum at KRWG.  If both candidates for a seat attended, a League moderator and KRWG moderator interviewed them, and a League sign was displayed.  If one of the candidates for a seat did not attend for any reason, the opponent was interviewed alone, ONLY by the KRWG moderator for 30 minutes, and the League sign was removed.  The moderator explained that both candidates had been invited and that the missing candidate would be invited at a later date to be interviewed alone for thirty minutes.  The five unopposed candidates for House and Senate seats were interviewed together for one hour with the League and KRWG moderators.

Voter Guide Participation: It's been rare historically that candidates didn't respond to the GLC Voter Guide questions. This year, there were quite a few -- and they all lost their races. Many people commented on the blank spaces in the Voter Guide.

Immigrant Rights: LWVGLC participated in a community-wide immigration forum, which 80-90 people attended. They also sent a letter to US Attorney Martinez but have gotten no response so far. They're working with the school district on Youth Engagement.

Affordable Housing: LWVGLC worked to condense a huge report into something digestible, then sent a letter to the city council. There are some interesting programs going on: tiny homes on wheels, a well-regulated tent city, and meals for residents.

Suzanne, SF C :

LWVSFC had lots of poll watchers and other election workers involved with the election.

National LWV President Chris Carson will be coming to speak about conversion from a 501(c)(4) to a 501(c)(3) and coalition building, probably in Jan-Feb. Of course, other Leagues are invited. It could be arranged to coincide with a board meeting if we'd like. There was some discussion of possible dates, but it was decided that Santa Fe will arrange a date with Carson and inform everyone.

"Wine, Women, and the Vote" was very financially successful.

Barbara Calef, Los Alamos:

LWVLA had some notoriety at one of the forums. There was a charter amendment on the ballot to get rid of the position of sheriff. A few days before the forum the sheriff changed his mind about participating because he didn't like his opponent. LWVLA said they weren't going to un-invite his opponent, but he could suggest someone else to speak in his place. He picked his undersheriff (who may or may not be legally a law enforcement officer since the county stripped the sheriff's office of many duties). The undersheriff showed up wearing gun and handcuffs, and someone in the audience called one of the county councilor candidates, who called the police chief, who sent 2 officers. The officers called the undersheriff into the hall to talk to him. He returned and the forum went well, but the incident was much discussed both in the local papers and at the next forum.

LWVLA has a new empty chair policy, and new co-presidents following the president's resignation.

Karen Douglas, CNM:

LWVCNM has been trying to focus on positions, voter turnout, and ethics in government. In December Sen. Ivey-Soto will be speaking on the school board election issue.

Reproductive Rights

Diane reported that LWVNM might be able to get a $4000 grant for education on reproductive rights. Barbara said she found out recently that the Los Alamos public health office closed for a while, and recently reopened but no longer offers any help in family planning. The office is run by the NM Department of Health. Is that a statewide problem? Diane didn't know the answer and will investigate.

Natural Resources

Barbara began a report on LWVSFC activity in Santa Fe regarding the State Land Office.

Judy mentioned that the meetings of the Land Trust Advisory Board are difficult to find out about since they are not posted online. She found out about a meeting through a Sierra Club member who lives in Farmington. They're clearly not set up for public attendance, which is a transparency issue.

Barbara explained that the state receives rent plus royalties for State Trust Lands leased by oil companies. But with oil prices so low, oil companies might consider abandoning wells. So the state land office has told them they'll suspend rents and reduce royalties. But what meaning is there to reducing royalties if there is no production?

This needs more investigating, and it needs more transparency: Barbara agreed with Judy that the committee does not seem to be following the Open Meetings Act. Jody Larson and Judy are looking into this further and hope to write something up.

Judy has been going to some of the PNM integrative resource planning meetings, where they show how they develop resources, what happens if they close down the other two San Juan units in 2022, etc. There's some particularly interesting information on how they manipulate an energy model called Strategist. She's thinking of writing a piece for La Palabra . Would anyone be interested? Everyone said yes.

C HANGE in CANDIDATE FORUM POLICY

Meredith presented some draft language to add to our Candidate Forum Policy, following the Minnesota League's Empty Chair Policy. It is similar to LWVLA's revised candidate participation (empty chair) policy which Barbara had waited to send out until after the election. The main change is that if only one can candidate can show up, he or she can answer questions as well as making a statement. LWVSFC has a similar policy.

Meredith said the LWVNM policy should specify that we're only going to use the official campaign address, email and phone number registered at the SOS. The candidates have a responsibility to keep that information up to date; they can't expect us to chase down other ways of contacting them. But no one made a motion to add wording to that effect.

MSA: Barbara moved to adopt the policy as amended.

Program

No discussion.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:20 p.m. Submitted by Akkana Peck, Secretary.

Edited by Barbara Calef and Meredith Machen.

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