July 2019


Membership:  New Member Meeting

The League’s New Member Meeting was held June 3, 2019 hosted by Mary Carlsen at her home. Everyone enjoyed socializing and eating appetizers specially prepared from recipes found in Judy Covey’s copy of at 1983 LWV-MN cookbook (The People’s Choice Cookbook) that had been shared at the History Harvest Annual Meeting in April.

New 2019 members were welcomed including Mary Ellen Connolly, Jennifer Johnson, Carol Spear, and Win Wen Ooi. Members who joined in 2018 were also recognized (Angelique Dietz, Melanie Freeze, Susannah Ottaway, Amy Smith, Debby Walser-Kuntz, and Serena Zabin).

The formal program began with small group discussions on people’s personal climate stories. Alexandra Miller of the Northfield Climate Action Taskforce provided an update on the Northfield Climate Action Plan. Kathleen Doran Norton then spoke about climate related efforts in the MN state legislature. Janet Petri of Citizens Climate Lobby provided an update on the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend bill in the U.S. Congress.

The next membership meeting will be a Books and Brews.

Books and Brews:  August 10, 2019 1:00 – 2:30 pm  Imminent Brewery , Northfield, MN

This is our second annual LWV-NCF Books and Brews Gathering. Come learn from our fellow League members while drinking our own local brews both alcoholic and not.

Please bring a good book or recent title to share (or come to learn of others) and bring a friend!

We will be holding tables so if you know you can make it, let us know and also how many you will be. You can still just show up, but if you know in advance, it would be helpful know for our planning. Contact Melanie Freeze at melsue2@gmail.com

 Education and Letter-Writing:

We continue to have monthly information and letter-writing on the third Saturday of each month.  Come to the Hideaway between 9:00 and 10:30 AM.  This is an opportunity to discuss issues with other League members and friends; enjoy coffee, tea, scones, etc.; and to take time to write letters.  Come and bring a friend.

In June, Ricky Peterson prepared materials on affordable housing in Northfield.   The focus was on the Northfield strategic plan for 2018-2020.  Letters were written to city council members.

In July, Debbie Walzer-Kuntz prepared information on gerrymandering and the For the People Act. See information on our website (https://lwvnorthfieldmn.org/2019/07/14/information-and-letter-writing-july-20-2019/)

In August, Janet Petri will provide information on climate change.  If you are interested in organizing a letter-writing session on a topic of interest to you, contact Pat Johnson at pjohnson2@udayton.edu

Affordable Housing:

During spring semester 2019, LWV Northfield/Cannon Falls partnered with St. Olaf’s Social Work class on Groups, Organizations and Communities to study affordable housing in Northfield and its environs. Culminating the semester was a 3½ hour brainstorming session, led by students in the class, to which community members with varied experience and expertise were invited. These included leaders of housing non-profits like Habitat for Humanity; social workers from the public schools, Rice County, and the Community Action Center; architects; contractors; public officials; youth workers; members of the faith community; employers; community organizers; and LWV members. See the notes on this meeting at: https://wordpress.com/page/lwvnorthfieldmn.org/789

News from the LWVMN:

Over the past year, the League of Women Voters at the state level has been working to strengthen their organizational structure and prepare for the upcoming centennial. They provide regular updates of their efforts at the State Capitol which you can find on the state webpage: https://www.lwvmn.org/member-resources. The last Capitol Report of the year summarized the year’s legislative efforts. The League had three big wins on efforts for which members advocated including: providing funding for Census 2020 outreach; securing funding for election cyber security from the National Help American Vote Acts grant; and protecting voter privacy during presidential elections so that people’s party preference is not public information during the presidential primaries. If you want to learn more about their work and get involved, a first step would be to sign up for the Capitol Newsletter. If you are interested in joining the Lobby Corps, please let Adrienne know and she can connect you to folks at the state level.

This upcoming year, the League will be doing significant work on mobilization for Census 2020. For more information on this, please contact Adrienne Falcon, who is now on the State Board, or Corinne Smith, who is the co-chair of the Northfield Complete Count Committee and our Northfield Cannon Falls’ League secretary.

At the Convention in April, the League board approved doing two studies over the upcoming year, one focused on revisiting the gun control policy. Mary Lewis Grow is a Northfield League member who is on that study team. The other is focused on examining the reimbursement of educational funds for special education.

The League will also be celebrating the centennial of the League with a series of events. The first of these is on September 8th to celebrate Women’s Suffrage Day – the day that MN approved the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. For more information see: https://www.lwvmn.org/minnesota-womens-suffrage-day

News from the LWVUS:

Supreme Court Punts on Gerrymandering

Thursday, on their last decision day of the term, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina that no fair test exists for courts to determine when partisan gerrymandering has gone too far.

This decision is a disappointment, and the Court missed a crucial opportunity to strengthen our republic. But, while this decision is a setback in the fight for fair maps around the country, the fight is far from over. We must redouble our efforts outside the courtroom to put the voices of voters first. Independent citizen-led commissions have been highly successful in ensuring that district maps fairly represent the population.

While some states are taking a proactive approach to gerrymandering with ballot measures, a wider solution exists in Congress. The For the People Act would create fair redistricting standards for the entire country. Take action by reaching out to your member of Congress and demanding a hearing on this vital legislation.

Census Citizenship Question Rejected

Another important case was decided upon by the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday, Department of Commerce v. New York, challenging the attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

The Supreme Court ruled that the citizenship question cannot proceed for 2020, rejecting the notion that the purpose of a citizenship question was to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

The suggestion of a citizenship question in the census was a scare tactic designed to decrease participation among non-English speaking and immigrant communities. And, while we celebrate the Court’s ruling and are relieved that the question will not appear in the census questionnaire, damage has already been done by instilling fear in the public. Now, it’s vital we double our efforts to ensure the most complete possible census count, with a focus on hard-to-count communities.

Northfield/Cannon Falls LWV and a Complete Census Count:

Northfield/Cannon Falls LWV is partnering with the Northfield Complete Count Committee and both St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges to help ensure that as many of our residents as possible are counted next year.

The Northfield Complete Count Committee is busy this summer increasing public awareness of the upcoming Census.  In the fall, they will intensify educational efforts by reaching out to a variety of groups, multi-unit housing areas, and hard-to-reach communities.  The committee can always use more volunteers.  If you are interested in sitting at a table and handing out information, telling the story of the Census to a group, or sharing information with your neighborhood, friends, or other group, please contact Corinne Smith, f.corinne.smith@gmail.com, LWV representative to Northfield’s Complete Count Committee. The committee also welcomes questions and comments  They meet monthly, and our meetings are open to the public.  Join us:  Third Tuesday of each month, 1:00-2:30, Training Room, City Hall

Watch for more information on other events related to the Census.

 From the Board

We plan to send the newsletter 4-6 times each year. If you have thoughts about the newsletter or contributions you would like to offer, please contact Pat Johnson pjohnson2@udayton.edu

If you would like to become more involved in the League, we are looking for people to join the membership committee or the letter-writing group.

If you are interested in attending a Board Meeting, they are listed on the calendar https://lwvnorthfieldmn.org/league-events/upcoming/. You can also contact Adrienne Falcon at adrienne.falcon1@gmail.com

If you have not yet paid your dues, please do so. (Our dues year begins April 1, so this is the ideal time to stay current.) The membership approved a small increase in dues; details, amounts, and a brand-new online payment portal are at https://lwvnorthfieldmn.org/become-a-member/

You can also mail a check to LWV Treasurer, P.O. Box 527, Northfield MN