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WINTER VOTER NEWSLETTER



IN THIS ISSUE...


PRESIDENT’S COLUMN

By Becky Gladstone, LWVOR President



League communications are usually urgent. The LWVOR quarterly newsletter, The VOTER, is perfect for a deeper look than usual. This Winter 2022 edition features advocacy. Thanks to Robin Tokmakian for the COP 26 attendee view in Glasgow. We’re working on campaign finance reform and redistricting initiatives for November ballots. Our Legislative Reports are resuming, pre-session, with brief weekly emails, linked to the extensive online coverage. Now is the time to Manage Your Subscriptions.


We are busy preparing for the 2022 elections. Midterm elections often get less voter attention than presidential elections. Oregon’s 2022 midterm will get plenty, from the six new redistricted congressional districts, the hot governor’s race, the unusually important legislative races with a new House Speaker, Senate President, and leaders, to unusually contentious local races. We will be busy with forums, candidate interviews, and our full online candidate and ballot measure coverage.


We hope to again be distributing our printed state Voters’ Guides, in English and Spanish, also in multiple online formats, including audio, and Video Voters’ Guides. Our volunteers collect the Oregon content for the public VOTE411.org website, for ballot previews of all Oregon candidates and ballot measures. We search election websites, then using candidates’ filing email addresses, we invite them to share information. Behind the scenes, our VOTE411 software manages all of this.


Nationally, many League signature values are under attack, with gerrymandering getting worse in places, and the freedom to vote and counting every vote being eroded, affecting many individual issues.


In today’s disinformation climate, we value being well-informed from reliable sources. It is inspiring to hear directly from our board members and advocates. We want informed Oregonians to have a voice, from elections issues, to our economy, to so many aspects of our environment, and more. We can use your help. Please share this newsletter, and read and forward the email. As League members, always look for actions we can take, with hope for the future. Here’s to 2022, knowing we’re doing all we can.


Yours in League,


Becky Gladstone

President, LWVOR


Have you seen all the new items in our store?

2022 INITIATIVE PETITIONS TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE

By Marge Easley


Although the League does not usually endorse initiatives until they qualify for the ballot, we do have strong positions on gun safety and would like to make you aware of two initiative petitions, sponsored by Lift Every Voice Oregon, that are currently circulating:

IP 17: Requires a permit to acquire firearms; police maintain permit/firearm database; criminally prohibits certain ammunition magazines.


IP 18: Prohibits manufacturing/possessing/transferring many semiautomatic firearms; criminal penalties; exceptions require firearm registration, restrict use.


The complete text of each initiative, as well as instructions for circulating and/or signing the petitions and can be found here. E-petitions are also available that allow you to download and print single signature petitions.



ARE FIREARMS BANNED IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN YOUR COMMUNITY?

By Marge Easley


Oregon’s 2021 gun safety bill (SB 5541) gives school boards the authority to prohibit any

person from intentionally possessing a loaded or unloaded firearm while in school buildings

or grounds. Several local school boards, including Lake Oswego and Bend-La Pine, have

recently done so, and it is hoped that more will follow.


If your local school board is discussing a gun ban, and you would like information or help with League advocacy on this issue, please contact Marge Easley (marge.easley@frontier.com), LWVOR Gun Safety Specialist.



OREGON WILDFIRE RESOURCES 2021

By Chris Cobey

Photo by Issy Bailey on Unsplash

How did you like last fall’s process of the state legislators’ picking their own districts -- and voters? If you think that’s wrong, and many commentators did (one national redistricting analyst graded Oregon’s legislatively-drawn districts overall as an “F”), we have a solution!


IP 34, which would create a citizens’ independent redistricting commission and has been endorsed by the LWVOR, is currently in the ballot title phase of qualifying for the November 2022 ballot.


IP 34 is an updated version of 2020’s IP 57 and would require redistricting in 2023, for the 2024 elections. Final clearance of IP 34 for qualifying signature circulation from the Oregon Supreme Court is expected by next month, with petitions available for circulation as early as March. Signature qualification requires gathering 149,360 valid signatures unless a court allows a lower qualifying number. The last day to submit signatures is July 8, 2022.



BEYOND MEMBERSHIP

A note from a member of the LWVOR Nominating Committee Seeking Candidates for Next Term’s LWVOR Board

Why would someone want to be on a board? Perhaps they were bribed (as I once was, with a scone); perhaps they wanted out of the house (as I did more than once). Maybe they wanted to know more about, or have a say in, the bigger decisions that got made (bingo!). So, why am I on the LWVOR Board? Because someone asked me if I would like to be. I thought about it for a day and decided I could be a “liaison” of sorts to my local League, so I said yes. The experience has turned out to be so much more than I had originally thought. I have been an ardent League member for decades, but now I get to participate in a different way. Besides Zoom meetings (now, Board members can be anywhere to attend) participation has also meant being part of a larger discussion about what happens at the state level, and for me, how it might affect my local League. It has been revelatory and exciting.


To quote a past LWVOR Board member, “So, when someone asks you to serve, think carefully, and then say, ‘YES’.”


For information, to recommend someone, or to say yes, please contact:

Jackie Clary, Nominating Committee Member

jackieclary@gmail.com

541-479-4486



THE PANDEMIC CHANGED THE WAY LWVOR SPENT FUNDS THIS YEAR


The absence of in-person meetings and events did away with spending for venue rent, catering, and mileage. Instead, we encountered more staff and internet service costs for the remote events that replaced them. Our loyal donors have continued to support us.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


We are now increasing activity and concomitant spending for voter education ahead of the Spring Primary election. We’re producing, and paying for, Voters’ Guides and Vote411 support, including grants to local Leagues for advertising. We’re advocating for ballot initiatives for a redistricting commission and for campaign finance reform. And we’re planning an in-person Council 2022 in Newport. We should expect inflation will increase many of these expenses beyond what we budgeted. We are fortunate to have reserves that will allow us to meet the increased costs.



THE LATHE OF HEAVEN

By Amy Vandegrift


Our Marion and Polk County book group started in 2000. Each year in August participating members suggest a book that they have read and think other might enjoy. Some years the group agrees on an overall theme such as Oregon authors and other years our list is eclectic. We have two rules: the member must have read their selection and our library should have at least one copy of the book on its shelves. In years past we met the first Wednesday of the month, usually at a member’s home, shared tea and treats and spent time discussing the book. For the past two years we have been meeting virtually via Zoom. The member whose book is featured is the discussion leader and begins with a brief explanation of why they selected the book. Then we do a round robin, one minute for each member to talk about their major impression of the book. After that, the group begins discussion with the leader sometimes offering prompting questions.


In October we read The Lathe of Heaven, a novel by the Oregon author Ursula K. Le Guin. It was published in 1971 and is a science fiction classic. Le Guin set the story in Portland Oregon in the late 20 or early 21st century. She refers to many places we all know. The world is dealing with exponential population growth, pollution, racism, climate change, decimation of the land and its natural resources, warming of the atmosphere and war between nations.


The story is about a man named Orr and his therapist Doctor Haber. Orr is frightened when he realizes that his dreams can become reality. The Doctor, in treating Orr’s problem, realized that he is able to alter the world through his suggestions when Orr enters a dream state. Haber can “improve the world” and his own life as he treats his patient. All this leads to many unintended consequences such as every person being the same shade of gray, millions of people suddenly vanishing from the earth and an alien invasion as a way to bring all the nations of the world together. Although it was written 50 years ago, these are contemporary problems for us today. Our discussion covered many topics such as unintended consequences of our actions in our own world today. Who has the authority or right to implement changes? What is ethical behavior? Are there solutions to our problems? How do we remain true to our core values in changing times? Whether our book is a work of fiction, or book about the life of birds, or US diplomacy, we never lacked for discussion.

COP26 SUMMARY

By Robin Tokmakian


INTRODUCTION


The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP26, was the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference, held at the SEC Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, from 31 October to 13 November 2021. The League of Women Voters was represented at this conference by ten local LWV members:


• Carol Parker, North San Diego County

• Alexis Juday-Marshall, formerly of Seattle, now in La

Brea, CA

• Emily Polakowski, Southeastern, CT

• Rebecca Boyd, formerly of IL, now in MD

• Lora Lucero, Central New Mexico

• Ashley Raveche, California, at-large member

• Elizabeth Lonoff, Fairfax, VA

• Toni Ray Monette, Nebraska

• Cynthia Bell, Mid-Hudson Region, NY

• Robin Tokmakian, Portland, OR (delegation head).


Some attended for the whole of the two weeks, but most

attended for one week.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash


LWVUS aligns with the Women and Gender Constituency, one of 10 constituencies, made up of NGOs from around the world, focused on how women and other underrepresented groups are affected by changes to the climate. When allowed, this group made interventions” (statements) in the negotiation space to advocate for women’s rights, human rights, and a just transition. COP26 was a gathering of people from around the world to debate and educate others on every aspect of climate change. It was an opportunity to hear and learn from others, especially those from the global south, the disabled, the indigenous people, people from small island states, in addition to the big names such as Secretary John Kerry, and former President Barak Obama.


The first two days was the World Leaders Summit, which resulted in limited access to the negotiations. (One of the most powerful speeches was from the President of Barbados.) It was a hybrid event and many of the negotiations and side events could be streamed online with the required pre-registration. While the UN leadership and the UK presidency of COP26 insisted that this COP was the most inclusive of all COPs, LWVUS observers found that it was less inclusive, more opaque than previous COPs, with limited access to negotiation rooms (partly due to COVID) and country delegations.



NEGOTIATIONS SESSIONS


“COP26” refers to the 26th convening “Conference of the Parties” who are signatories to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty, signed by almost 200 countries. (It was signed by President George H. W. Bush in 1992, and ratified by the Senate.) These negotiations are the heart of COP26, with the side events added for broader engagement and information transfers. The first week of negotiations are called “informal” where various negotiators who are experts on a topic formulate language for country ministers to discuss, modify, and finally agree to in the second week.


It was clear in the first week, that there would be some difficulties reaching compromise outcomes. At various points during these negotiations, the constituencies were allowed to intervene to give input to the member states. There was a strong push from constituencies to add language in support of disabled communities and for indigenous peoples. Most important was the discussion on providing funding to address “loss and damage” that developed countries imposed on developing countries, especially the global south, small island states, and indigenous peoples. The most controversial negotiation was on “Article 6”, the article in the Paris Agreement that addresses various forms of trading credits which should lead to reducing carbon emissions.


Many newspapers have reported the outcomes of COP26. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin has written an excellent summary. In short, Article 6 can now be operationalized. There is a timeline for countries to submit and update their Nationally Determined Contributions (how a country will reduce its own emissions). Countries will discussion how to address and fund “loss and damage” in the next few years.


The COP’s cover statement includes the phrase: “…accelerating efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies…”. This is the first mention of the primary sources of carbon emissions in any UN climate agreement. In the end, international cooperation is a very slow process, with many different needs, viewpoints, and concerns. Perhaps the most effective way forward is to consider how we, here in the US, can effectively address the issue on a local, state, and federal level. Our first step should be for the LWVUS to ask the US to sign on to the UNICEF’s “Declaration on Children, Youth, and Climate Action”.


SIDE EVENTS


LWVUS was the co-sponsor (along with McGill Univ., Human Rights Watch, and the International Disability Alliance) and moderator of a side event entitled “Disability-Inclusive

Climate Action: Rights and Obligations."


The panel included His Excellency Jan Walberg, Ambassador for Climate Change, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland; Katherine Lofts, McGill

Univ; Susie Fitton, Inclusion Scotland; Pratima Gurung, Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network; Cara Schulte, Human Rights Watch; Jose Viera, International Disability Alliance; and Sue Swenson, Inclusion International.


Each panelist gave us their wisdom about how they or those close to them experienced the impacts of climate change or how we should be addressing the issue in climate policy, both at the local, state, or international level. It was satisfying to know that one of the outcomes of COP26 was the formation of a new NGO constituency for addressing issues related to the disabled. Other insights from side events: One member referred to the pavilion side-event area of COP26 as “a marketing extravaganza for countries, institutions and businesses”, as it is an area of large booths for countries to hold their own events. The first week included a large number of talks related to forests and reducing deforestation. At an event held at the US’s Pavilion (all events), Secretary John Kerry stated that USAID has pledged money to aid foreign countries in saving forests and respecting indigenous people’s lands.


Additionally, financial institutions that are part of the Forest Investment Club and the LEAF foundation as well as others that represent $9 trillion, pledged to divest of projects that cut forests for agriculture use by 2025.


The WHO held a panel discussion entitled Healthy Climate. The panelist from International Council of Nurses spoke about respiratory illness due to diminishing air quality and natural disasters that result in the spread of infectious diseases, as well as depression, anxiety, grief, isolation and PTSD. He stated that “Nursing is the most trusted profession in the world” and as such, can be mobilized to influence policy.


A panel of indigenous people from Nepal, Chad, Peru and elsewhere was organized by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and International Work Group Indigenous Affairs. In response to the question “Will market mechanisms kill the 1.5 C goal?” the Nepali representative noted (paraphrasing) that ‘carbon capture’ and the other tools that the governments are counting on don’t exist. Carbon markets have many limitations. It will depend on how these mechanisms are implemented in the future.


Several LWVUS delegates attended a discussion related to litigation paths to addressing climate issues. A Greenpeace representative stated that to hold countries and companies accountable, litigation maybe the only way forward, especially to reduce “greenwashing” of companies’ policies on climate. Some examples of successful litigation include:

• Advocates in an Amazonian case have been fighting for the past 30 years and making arguments about nature’s rights. Finally, lawyers have stepped up to help them with this fight.

• In another case, a young man from Australia asked a representative from a pension fund what their plans and investment criteria are regarding climate. The fund representative was unable to provide answers. He took them to court and now investment firms and pension funds in Australia have changed their modus operandi regarding climate factors.


President Obama spoke to a capacity filled plenary room about giving us, the attendees to COP26, especially the youth, a way forward. One of the things he listed as actions one could take was to vote, and to vote your interests (vote for those who know and understand the climate urgency). Vice President Gore also spoke to the youth to provide hope for the future. Several of LWVUS observers were able to be in the room for these speeches.


Many of the side events have videos from COP26 and can be found here.




TAKE ACTION WITH OUTREACH CIRCLE


The League of Women Voters is now using Outreach Circle to make it easy for supporters to take action and learn more about League activities. To join, download the Outreach Circle app and then search for "League of Women Voters Oregon" and "League of Women Voters US" and any other League you're interested in following.


Oregon Leagues are encouraged to use this free tool to share their message with their membership as well as others interested in taking action. Staff at LWV US are leading to help Leagues step-by-step as they begin to adopt this tool. Additionally, Elisabeth Anderson of LWV Corvallis is willing to assist Leagues by meeting with members, providing tips, and discussing the benefits of this application over the phone. You may contact her at e.anderson@lwvor.org.


Learn more about Outreach Circle here: https://tinyurl.com/ye23ehdv



Terry Styner DESIGNER: Allison Griffin






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