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Local Leagues in New Mexico

 
Albuquerque, Domingo Baca Center

Judy Williams called the meeting to order at 9:57.

Present at the meeting:
Judy Williams
Dick Mason
Karen Douglas
Kim Sorenson
Akkana Peck
Judith Binder
Janet Blair
Becky Shankland
Leah Ingraham
Chris Furlanetto
Barbara Calef
Meredith Machen
Laura Atkins
Diane Goldfarb
Guest: Martha Romero

The agenda was approved, with minor modifications.

Minutes from last meeting:

Barbara Calef pointed out that Kathy Taylor's last name was erroneously listed as Campbell.

The policy on studies was written in 2006, not 2004. Calef moved to approve the minutes as amended; seconded and approved.

Convention wrap-up:
A few people filled out spreadsheets at the convention; Akkana turned it into a spreadsheet. Everyone was asked to review the spreadsheet and contact people who are interested in their areas.

Bylaws:

Barbara Calef proposed that we remove the term MAL. National has expressed dissatisfaction with that term. "Members at Large" is clearer. There was some discussion about "MAL units", and a past email discussion where the consensus was to go with "members at large".
It was moved, seconded and approved to use the term "members at large" instead of MAL.

The "Members at Large Unit" is a group of League members who do not comprise a local League. Such a unit is allowed one vote and one delegate. for Council and Convention.


Diane Goldfarb described her trip to the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY. She passed around some materials people might be interested in. She also met Carol Simon Levin, who showed her a book she'd written entitled "Remembering the Ladies: Amazing American Women, Not JUST a Coloring Book". Levin sells these to local leagues for cost, around $4, so the leagues can resell them as a fundraiser. Goldfarb passed a copy of the book around.

Judy Williams introduced Martha Romero, an expert on board development and working together. She led the board in several exercises to determine our priorities and plans for the upcoming year. Everyone agreed that voter education and communication were important reasons for being on the board, with advocacy also being important, and many people mentioned how much we ourselves learn in the process. The top priorities for the coming year:

- A Communication plan, including:
- raising our visibility and better outreach: being a voice on state issues
- Enlarge the participation group
- Get to know other leagues and share best practices

After the lunch break, the board discussed the Non-Partisan Policy. Barbara Calef noted that the title had been changed; the words "conflict of interest" were removed. She moved that we re-adopt the policy, with the indicated changes. Seconded and approved.

Executive Committee:

Judy Williams noted that we voted at the convention to add an executive committee in the bylaws, consisting of the President and four other board members. Becky Shankland moved that we create an executive committee consisting of: Judy Williams, Janet Blair, Dick Mason, Barbara Calef, Meredith Machen. Seconded and approved.

Communications:

Janet Blair has been working on a communications plan that includes strategy and tactics for dealing with various groups. How do we use our main message (the statement describing what the League is), and how do we state it for other groups, such as elected officials, news media representatives, prospective members, and civic groups that might be interested in our messages? Blair has made a grid listing groups and our goals and tactics for each group.

She also suggested we should establish a Speakers Bureau of subject matter experts (SME), with Judy as our "main mouth". Then we can market ourselves as a resource to the news media.

Blair said we need to be out there with our message; if an organization doesn't have a message, other groups and especially opponents will make up a message for them. And the news media need to know to call us for comment on stories. Raising our visibility will also make us more attractive to prospective members.
She also proposed training in how to speak in sound bites. A tweet is like a short sound bite. A sound bite is 30 words and takes about 10 seconds; a tweet is typically more like 8 seconds. The person with the best sound bite wins. We should get all our SMEs, anyone who's going to be a mouth, and train them in the essence of making sound bites, teaching them to divvy their thoughts into 10 second components.

She also wanted to appoint a Communications Committee. Judy Williams, Laura Atkins, Judith Binder and Akkana Peck were interested. Everybody agreed that the communication people from the local leagues should also be on the committee, so Brenda McKenna (CNM) should be included.


The training will occur at the next board meeting, in Santa Fe. Several members couldn't make September 16, so the meeting was moved to Sept. 9. It'll be a long meeting, roughly 3 to 3.5 hours for the training, 2 to 3 for the meeting.


Janet will send the draft communications plan to the board for review.

She's still checking on how much it would cost to scan the old La Palabras.

Website:

Akkana Peck reported that we got a modest increase in our disk quota, and if we decide to use the website for document storage, we could, at least for a while. Do we want to do that? Nobody had strong feelings, though Meredith suggested using Dropbox, and the discussion was tabled until later.

Action:

Dick Mason reported that there's continuing development with the lobbying corps. They're talking about adding speaking training to the advocacy workshop.

Do we want to continue to file as lobbyists? It's not required. The consensus was no: it's a hassle, lobbyists have to do a lot of reports, so we should stop requiring registration.

The LWVNM put together a meeting with Common Cause, FOG, and NM Ethics Watch to talk about ethics; Mason sent out the document they produced. Janet Blair wanted to know which organization was leading -- Dick said we were -- and whether there would be a news release about it. Dick said news releases need to wait until after the group has approached the legislative leadership about it; they shouldn't find out about this from a news release before the group has contacted them directly.

The Action Committee will also be monitoring interim sessions at the legislature. There was discussion on documents to help people advocate. There's a document being worked on called "Tips for Testifying Effectively" with guidelines for addressing the legislature: rules that beginners don't know about that are important to follow, like beginning with "Madame Chair".


Judith Binder brought up the issue of the "fake news" about supposed voter fraud: what can we do to combat this? Does the Action committee have any way they could speak against it? Diane Goldfarb suggested that a better approach was to speak against the real problem of voter suppression.

Meredith Machen described a campaign finance rule change going into effect in October that affects us, clarifying that "advertisements" do not include Voter Guides by 501c3 organizations. Machen was concerned that local Leagues that aren't yet 501c3 may have their Voter Guides classified as advertising and would require Leagues to report all donations to the Secretary of State.

Machen thought they should extend the exemption to 501c4 organizations or eliminate the reference to 501c3.

Judy Williams said opening it to 501c4 was a bad idea for a lot of reasons. Dick said that Maggie Toulouse-Oliver had tried to address this issue on "New Mexico In Focus", but didn't have a chance to get very far. Comments on this will be due by July 12.

Some Voter Guides in the past have included donations from candidates. Donors are listed on the back, and in future we shouldn't take donations for the VG from candidates. Leagues can use Ed Fund monies to pay for Voter Guides, thus eliminating any problem.


Treasurer's Report:

Suzanne Ronneau reported that our balance is $16,738, and we're expecting a little money back from Santa Fe from the Convention.

We closed out the CD and have no immediate plans for another one.

Judith Binder mentioned that CNM is looking into local banks they can use instead of Wells Fargo. But several people pointed out that for the state league, we want an account somewhere that has branches near all four local Leagues; several people have looked and have not been able to find a suitable local bank.

State Study Document:

In 2006, Barbara Calef wrote a document on how to conduct a state
study. It was revised in 2009. The board discussed it again in 2013 and 2014. Somewhere along the line, the document has been revised and some of the important parts, as well as some of the authorship credit, have been removed. Calef moved that she restore the missing pieces and fix the document: seconded and approved.


STUDY UPDATES

Nuclear Waste Storage:
Karen Douglas reported on recent news related to the study. There will be a study committee meeting in Santa Fe this month, and an online discussion group.

She said there is a meeting the next Monday relating to a grant for various activities, such as revising a 1995 Nuclear Waste Primer. The idea of using Yucca Mountain is being resurrected by the current Administration and there's an item in the 2018 budget, but it wouldn't have the facilities immediately to accept nuclear waste. The two potential NM-area storage areas are for interim storage, until something permanent like Yucca Mountain is available. Meredith Machen asked what interim meant; Douglas said probably at least 20 years, but the interim storage contracts run for 100 years.

Judy Williams asked if the Nevada delegation is still opposed to Yucca Mountain. Douglas said they are, but Congress is in favor of it because there are many reasons, geographic and geological, that make it a good site. Williams asked, doesn't LWVUS still oppose Yucca Mountain? Douglas says the wording is nebulous, and she doesn't see it as officially opposing it. Williams said she should make sure we weren't going against LWVUS policy.

Health Care:
Akkana Peck has been working on a rush contract and hasn't done much yet; she's collected names (five people so far) and is saving news articles and will send out email this month, but probably nothing significant will happen until August.

Machen mentioned a SIM (state innovation model) document, which she will send to Peck, but Williams didn't think the document, from NM DOH, would be very useful.

Federal Land Transfer:
Barbara Calef: 7 people have signed up besides Judy Williams, but no one yet from Las Cruces. Calef has been collecting research on topics like the basis in constitutional law and significant court cases. She'll summarize for the next La Palabra.

The committee will study the financial and environmental consequences of transfer. Wyoming and Utah have related positions. BLM and USFS sometimes list land they think are appropriate for transfer, so there will have to be cases where transfer is allowable.

Special Projects:
Meredith Machen had a few copies of a National Council of State Legislators presentation. Courts & Corrections will be working with DHS. It included some shocking statistics: for instance, if you're arrested for anything and you spend more than two days in jail, you're more likely to stay in the prison system. A mandatory 5-day or 7-day sentence for even tiny drug infractions put people in the system, and they lose any momentum they need for treatment/recovery, and become more likely to stay in the prison system. Some groups have seen a 30% reduction in incarceration by doing other things for early offenders besides jailing them. They're calling this "Justice reinvestment" and a lot of states are doing it.


Williams asked what Machen saw the grant money being used for. Machen said our state, unlike other states, doesn't have fact sheets about what's going on and what's needed in specific communities, so that's one of the things we could do with the grant.

Williams asked about treatment programs in the state prisons vs. the jails: we know what's going on in the jails but we don't seem to have much idea what's going on in the prisons. Calef pointed out that part of the proposal includes producing fact sheets explaining current programs, so that would be well within the scope of the project.

The grant money can also be used for making copies, refreshments, and video-taping meetings so people can understand what's going on.

Williams wanted to know if we're still focusing on problem solving courts, or are we trying to restructure government? The original scope of work we'd planned for focused only on the problem-solving courts. Machen would like to change the title to focus on "diversion" rather than "problem solving courts".

Blair described how the Metro Court found that problem-solving courts were immensely effective. Most offenders had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the program, but by the end they described it as "life changing", and the graduation ceremonies would bring you to tears. It only cost $11/day, whereas jail cost $66/day and recidivism was close to 60% over the first 5 years, versus under 12% for the problem-solving courts. People were able to turn their lives around. Machen agreed they're effective, but where will the money come from?

Someone suggested "Incarceration Reduction programs" as a name for the focus, and everybody liked that.

Machen stressed that the grant is for "community conversations".

Reproductive Rights:
Diane Goldfarb said CNM and Las Cruces have scheduled programs focusing on reproductive rights, and Goldfarb hopes Los Alamos and Santa Fe will have programs too.

Membership and Leadership Programs:
Judy Williams discussed the Membership and Leadership Development (MLD) program, a coaching program run by the national League. Diane Goldfarb worked with them in the past, she was never sure what she was supposed to be doing; she had calls and great discussions with other local members, but she felt that national was focusing too much on recruitment rather than helping local Leagues, and the national calls were a waste of time, though Linda Moscarella apparently thought she got something out of them. The then-president of the SF league said she wasn't going to participate any more. Goldfarb felt it would be more valuable to have interaction among the various local League presidents.

Barbara Calef thought the purpose of the calls should be for the league presidents to find out what the other Leagues were doing. That was the value in the old MLD program, when they basically ignored national's list of talking points.

There was a consensus that there was no point in going back to participating in MLD, and we should just keep up communication between our local leagues instead.

LWV 100th Anniversary
Meredith Machen reported that 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the LWV, and LWVUS is encouraging Leagues to start planning special events to celebrate.

Calef noted that the document from national mentions focusing on the past 50 years, and she wondered why 50 rather than 100. Machen thinks it's because the League got a lot more active 50 years ago so there's more to focus on, but we can certainly focus on all 100 years.

Local League Reports:

Santa Fe: Laura Atkins reported that LWVSFC didn't have a president yet; they will have a board retreat to organize portfolios. They do have events planned, but the structure of the board itself isn't clear right now.

CNM: they had an exciting time in May. There was an annual meeting, and they went to a show, which was so well attended that they're going to have more theater parties, with meals afterward, as fund-raisers. They also have a deal with a restaurant where if people come in with a special flyer, the restaurant will donate part of the proceeds to LWVCNM. Leah Ingraham is developing a Powerpoint on the history of voter protections and the impact of the League.


Las Cruces: Kim Sorenson reported that they're planning for their 2018 anniversary celebration (50th?). Everybody's collecting material on the history of LWVGLC. They started an observer corps so they'll have better reporting. The youth engagement committee is studying 18-25 year olds, and why they aren't voting. They're also focusing on expanding voter services, how to reach younger audiences, and how to use social media more effectively.

Los Alamos: Barbara Calef reported that LWVLA wrote a letter regarding the closing of our public health office, and the council added funds to the budget to address that issue; LWVLA needs to follow up and see what they're doing with it. Their application for 501c3 is continuing. Los Alamos had a recent bond election after which two leaders of the local Republican party resigned after being attacked by two of their party members. LWVLA wrote a letter to the local paper pleading for civil discourse.

Meeting adjourned at 2:51.