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Local Leagues in New Mexico

 

LWVNM State Board Meeting, 3/31/18, Santa Fe Library

The meeting was called to order at 11:09.

Present:
Judy Williams
Akkana Peck
Suzanne Ronneau
Chris Furlanetto
Barbara Calef
Dick Mason
Leah Ingraham
Janet Blair

Laura Atkins
New member, Karen Wentworth, Co-President of CNM

The minutes were approved.

President's updates (Judy Williams):

The LWVNM State Council meeting will be May 19 11:30-2:30.

Searchlight New Mexico is a journalism group started by Ray Rivera of The Santa Fe New Mexican to do in-depth investigative journalism. They're interested in partnering with the LWV on issue forums, e.g. child wellbeing and early childhood issues. The format is that they talk a little about an issue and try to come to consensus in the community about what's needed. Would we be interested in co-sponsoring forums? Karen Wentworth said CNM might be interested, but not until after the election. Barbara Calef said she'd prefer to do something before the election.

The national Convention will be June 28 - July 1 in Chicago. We haven't gotten the letters with our official member numbers yet, which normally we'd expect to have by now. Last year we had the numbers by Feb 24. Williams asked someone from National when we could expect to see them, and was told "sometime soon". The official numbers determine how many delegates each local league will be allowed to send to the convention, and how much they need to budget.

Registration for the convention is $450, whether for a delegate or just a member who wants to attend, plus 3-4 nights in the hotel. Local leagues should start thinking about choosing their delegates.

National is waiving PMP for students ($32). So if local leagues have students interested in joining, it will be a little cheaper for them.

Williams had sent out some daunting documents on LWVUS's "Transformation Journey." They're considering moving to a trickle-down rather than a trickle-up model, where national would collect dues and distribute them. The Oregon league has sent around a proposal to so amend the bylaws. It will be discussed in a session at the national convention, but they're not going to make any decisions about it there.

National also wants all states to participate in Vote411. They're determined to have candidates from all 50 states answering questions they can put on Vote411. We've stayed away from Vote411 because it has various problems: for instance, at one point it considered New Mexico to be Mexico rather than part of the US, and it comes up with outdated or wrong information for New Mexico zip codes.

But National is now offering to do Vote411 primary voter guides for states that aren't doing one. Williams has surveyed the local leagues to see who is doing what for the primaries. Most agreed that we don't want LWVUS to contact our politicians with questions. This is a topic that needs to come up at convention, along with related geographic issues like what information comes up when you enter a zip code. There was concern that National seems to think that local leagues are concentrating too much on issues peripheral to "Making Democracy Work," and they might want to prevent our advocating on other issues -- like most of the issues we care about locally. Laura Atkins said it's hard to retain members if all we can focus on is voter issues: there are so many other issues some members care about more. There was general agreement.

There was some discussion about the long and rambling documents on the National "Transformation Journey", and several people wondered how much it had cost to commission the report.

Treasurers Report (Suzanne Ronneau)

We went a couple hundred dollars over budget on the Legislative Reception. We also received $5k from Planned Parenthood with no strings attached.

Barbara Calef moved that we double the budget for the Convention, $1200 to $2400, since Chicago is expensive. That's still less than the $2800 Los Alamos has budgeted. Approved.

Ronneau said that Andrea Targhetta had enquired about a check from a donor that she had sent to LWVNM. Suzanne had not received it and Andrea did not know who the donor was.

Action (Dick Mason):

Mason considered this year's legislative session a success, though some bad things as well as good things happened.

There's no summary of HB 98 on the legislative website, and he's asked why. It went through the two houses, with amendments being added and deleted along the way, and it's hard to know what finally passed -- it's a 300-page bill! Someone at the Sec of State's office said they weren't going to do a summary until after the primaries, but the Legislative Finance Committee is going to try to do a summary sooner. This is an important bill, and it could be a good activity for local leagues to work on getting their localities to opt in. But what elections are affected? Is there an opt-in, an opt-out, or both? Nobody knows.
Mason listed some other bills that we considered important, including bills that passed, didn't pass, or were vetoed, but overall it was a good session.

Williams wondered if we advocated on too many bills in this past session -- there was no time to read all the bills before speaking on them. Maybe we need to be more targeted. Barbara Calef said we need to be sure someone on the action team reads every bill we advocate on, or at least consults with the people analyzing them.

Williams talked to Geraldine Salazar, Santa Fe county clerk, and asked whether there have been any* attempts at c*yber attacks in NM. She said basically no, except, of all places, in Lincoln County. She thinks Lincoln being so small might make them more of a target than larger counties.

The Action committee has been waiting until after the session for the legislative process changes we've been working on with Peter Wirth. The #1 problem is the dummy bills. They'll be talking with Wirth and Egolf about the proposals.

There was discussion of the upcoming April 13 meeting to discuss a list of issues regarding elections and voting.

Meredith Machen had sent out a long list of issues we could discuss at the meeting, such as initiative and referendum. Williams wondered if we really wanted to take that on now.

Williams mentioned the current issue on the upcoming US Census: the LWVUS has taken a strong position against the citizenship question on the census, as has the state of NM, and that will be an issue discussed at the meeting.

Akkana Peck wondered how this related to the ongoing discussion of improving the legislative process. Mason clarified that the elections issues meeting had nothing to do with that. Peck wanted to know what was going on with the legislative process change recommendations: will something be sent out about what we're recommending, now that the session is over? Mason said that the Action committee had been waiting until after the session for the legislative process changes they've been working on with Peter Wirth. The #1 problem is the dummy bills, and they'll be talking with Wirth and Egolf about the proposals. He said he'd send out a summary.

Mason also recommended that education about the court system would be a good project for the LWVNM to take on.

Election Procedures proposal:

The board considered a proposal for several changes in the Election Procedures position, last revised in 2007, including concurrences with positions from LWVCO, LWVVT and LWVOR.

Barbara Calef moved to concur with the LWVVT position by replacing our point 8 with: "The LWVNM supports ranked choice voting (RCV) for all statewide elections." replacing anything about "run-off elections". Approved.

The proposal also suggested removing "in the US House of Representatives" from our existing point 7. No one was sure why that clause was there, so removing it seemed like a good idea, but many people wanted more time to figure out why it was there to begin with before voting to remove it.

The proposal included another point recommending "alternatives to plurality voting that allow people to express their preferences more effectively (LWVCO), including ranked choice voting (LWVVT) which assures that the candidate preferred by a majority of voters wins in an election", as well as one recommending "systems that improve the election experience and provide ease of ballot access including vote-by-mail, supplemented by secure ballot drop boxes and accessible voting centers (LWVOR)." Although these seemed like good ideas, as long as we were tabling part of the proposal to do more research, several people wanted more time to consider these points as well. They will be considered at the next board meeting.

Finally, the proposal included a recommendation of "methods that increase voter participation, including automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration". Although everyone agrees with this, there was no specific position mentioned for concurrence and we already advocate for these things, so most people thought we didn't need to add that point.

Communications (Janet Blair)

Blair presented a plan for Public Service Announcements. They could have an evergreen message encouraging viewers to register and vote. The cost would be $15,000. We'd be buying 3 months of viewing, from August to October, pushing it out in July. (Oct 9 is the deadline for voter registration.)

Mason wondered if the money was available. Williams said Thornburg, who said they wanted to fund PSAs, may not be interested after all, but she'd be meeting with someone the following week who might be interested. Are there other organizations we could ask? Grants we could apply for? Leah Ingraham suggested that CNM's fundraising expert, George Richmond, knew a lot of people in related organizations and could inquire. Dick Mason suggested that we write a one-page concept paper describing what we're trying to do and why it would be worth funding. Blair will do some research on possible funding sources.

There was some discussion of the $15,000 cost. Some of that goes to the NMBA scholarship fund. Williams wanted to know if there was a way to get a breakdown: how much goes to scholarships, how much to production, and whether we could save some money by doing some of the production ourselves?

Website Akkana Peck reported on the website: during the last session she wrote a bill tracker that scrapes the legislative website and sends emails about bills you're interested in that have changed status. She thinks it's working well enough that we could make it available for the next session, though maybe not on the LWVNM.org website due to technical limitations of our hosting provider; she might have to register a new domain for it.

Social Media: Williams wanted to talk about social media. We're not using it enough. Janet Blair said she could do more Facebook but she doesn't do Twitter. Peck offered to do Twitter if Blair can provide the content.

Mason will be using Zoom for online meetings and will report on how well that works and whether we could use it for meetings.

Voter Guides: All the local leagues are doing voter guides for the general election, though only Santa Fe is doing one for the primary. Suzanne Ronneau reported that they've generated Voter Guide questions for the Santa Fe County primary Voter Guide, which will cover districts 43, 46 and 22 (which is mostly in CNM but there's a sliver in Santa Fe county), as well as 1st Judicial District (shared with Los Alamos).

What about forums? Should the state league do forums for state-level positions? We need to decide by June 1. Janet Blair and Karen Wentworth could coordinate with KNME, or ask the various commercial stations. The FOG gubernatorial forum did go forward. Williams was disappointed that they partnered with Common Cause but never came back to the League to offer a similar deal.

Program:

Federal Land Transfer study (Barbara Calef):

The committee interviewed Cal Joyner on Feb 20, and that along with other interview summaries is now up on the LWVNM website. They're probably done with interviews now and will summarize what they've learned, and will bring consensus questions to the board at the July meeting. There will be a report in La Palabra.

Healthcare study (Akkana Peck):

At the last meeting we agreed on some clarifications to the wording of our position. Peck will write up a proposal and send it around to the committee members for presentation at the July board meeting.

Nuclear Waste Storage Primer:

Williams has been in touch with the acting exec director of LWVUS about copyright and other rights issues on the Primer. Williams is waiting for a callback, but it was made clear to her that this is not a LWV priority and has not been in 20 years. National hasn't been very responsive. We can't do the Primer unless LWVUS gives us permission, because they own the copyright, so the Primer is on hold until we hear more.

Nuclear Waste Storage Study:

Karen Douglas wasn't present, but Barbara Calef reported that Karen Wentworth wrote a very interesting article about nuclear waste transportation for La Palabra. The rail lines don't seem to be adequate. Chris Furlanetto said that both of the current applications seem to be up in the air and it's not clear what's going to happen with them. It's also not clear where we'd put pressure even if we had a position: the legislature doesn't have any say in this, and the local governments are in favor of the sites. Some people wondered if maybe the scope of the committee should be revised. Williams suggested that, if nothing else, we could take a position on process and transparency.

Local Reports:

Santa Fe:

There's a proposal to put a huge Flying J truck stop at the southern edge of Santa Fe, and the LWVSF made comments at the planning commission meeting. LWVSFC had a nice event for Women's History Month, with a wonderful speaker who had persuaded the state to put up markers celebrating women's contributions.

Los Alamos (Barbara Calef):

LWVLA is now a 501c3 organization. Robert Gibson came to present a critique of the legislative process and a discussion of what could be improved. He said the legislature should reduce the number of bills introduced, the introductions of people and the memorials. Dick Mason commented that Peter Wirth has said that they're not going to get rid of introductions, but they might reduce the recognition memorials.

Calef said she was contacted by a representative for one of our Republican Sheriff candidates, who said he didn't like the League based on experience with the Santa Fe League. He didn't like the way LWVSFC screens the questions, which LWVLA doesn't do. It's not clear whether he'll be coming to the LWVLA forum or not.

LWVLA also had a very successful voter registration event during the high school walk-out.

CNM (Karen Wentworth):

LWVCNM has been busy organizing their candidate forums. They're also going to focus heavily on voter turnout during this election cycle.

The next state Board meeting will be right after Council on May 19. We should distribute a copy of the new budget we just agreed on, including more money budgeted for Council. Calef will re-send the board agenda to Blair. We should also decide at that time whether the state will be running forums for statewide candidates, and we should also discuss the PSAs since Williams will know by then whether we'll be getting outside money for them.

Adjourned at 2:25