Tag Archives: Convention

Steve Kornacki and Myrna Perez to Speak at the League of Women Voters of New Jersey 60th Biennial Convention

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey will hold their 60th Biennial Convention on May 4, 2013 at the Conference Center at Mercer in West Windsor. Myrna Perez, Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, and Steve Kornacki, political journalist will speak during the lunch banquet.

Myrna Perez works on a variety of voting rights related issues, including redistricting, voter registration list maintenance, and access to the ballot box. Most recently, Ms. Perez was present when the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments from Shelby County, Alabama that a key provision of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional and should be struck down. Ms. Perez represented the Brennan Center, which has filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to keep preclearance. She believes that the Voting Rights Act “remains a vital piece of our national moral commitment to never permit racial discrimination in elections again” and will discuss the Voting Rights Act and the case at Convention.

Convention will also feature Steve Kornacki, new host on MSNBC’s “UP” and senior political writer at Salon.com. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Boston Globe, Daily Beast, and at Capital New York. Mr. Kornacki spent three years in New Jersey, chronicling the state’s political world and co-hosting a weekly show on News 12 New Jersey.

Perez and Kornacki will speak during the lunch banquet at 11:30 am. The lunch is open to the public. The cost is $35 and registration is required. To register please visit the League of Women Voters of New Jersey’s website or call 609-394-3303 for more information.

Highlights of Our 59th Biennial Convention

The following entry is written by Toni Zimmer, LWVNJ President

I just finished participating as board member and incoming President at the League of Women Voters of New Jersey state Convention for 2011. Knowing I was about to take over the reins of this wonderful organization made the convention especially exciting for me. I watched outgoing President Anne Maiese very carefully as she led us through the event, knowing that at the next convention that would be my role!

A Green Event

This year, we had the privilege of utilizing the conference facility at the Verizon Operations Center in Basking Ridge (a few miles south of Morristown) for our event. The facility has earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED  Silver certification for its environmentally friendly design and energy efficiency. To make the 1.4 million-square-foot facility more energy efficient, Verizon uses temperature sensors and energy-management systems to monitor heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.  Bravo, Verizon!

Step Right Up

Local League delegates line up for the "Roll Call"

As described in this issue’s “From the President” column, for the first time, the LWVNJ conducted a Roll Call of Local Leagues which gave each representative a chance to summarize their group’s 2-year accomplishments and activities.  It was impressive to hear so many fine achievements. Congratulations to all!

Guest Speakers

When it came to guest speakers, we were definitely not disappointed.  First, it was a wonderful privilege to have our LWVUS liaison, Marcia Merrins, speak to us on the important aspects of non-partisanship and elections in a new era. She was eloquent, direct, and had a sense of humor that kept a smile on our faces as we absorbed such serious information. We are very fortunate to have Ms. Merrins as our liaison and mentor.

John Mooney

Our other esteemed guest speaker was John Mooney, founding editor and education writer of NJSpotlight, an online news service providing insight and information on issues critical to New Jersey.  Mr. Mooney shared his views and expertise on various school issues facing New Jersey and the important role of education journalism.

Moderator Workshop / Caucuses

Marcia Merrins

Marcia Merrins conducted a comprehensive moderating workshop that covered everything from how to choose a debate format to maintaining correct protocol during the event.

Caucuses are informational sessions, often with elements of planning and strategizing. For example, members might hold a caucus to promote an action they intended later to introduce at convention. At this convention,  some caucuses included these topics:

Immigration: Deborah MacMillan led this caucus which attracted more than a dozen core immigration group members and newcomers.  The annual report was reviewed and the group discussed a summary of the immigration survey. Current and future conditions were discussed,  including (1) the latest immigration climate in Hightstown and (2) the Morris County Freeholder board’s objection to granting in-county tuition for illegal immigrant students. The Freeholders state that money should only be used to subsidize tuition rates for students born in the United States or living in the U.S. legally.

Education Caucus

Education:  Led by Pat Libutti, the caucus explored a strategy for the progressive emergence of education study materials, i.e. PowerPoint presentations, short and/or comprehensive papers and the  possibility of speaking with other Leagues to combine information meetings.  Of paramount importance to the group was the impending new budget which is slated to cut a total of 20 vital education programs, including:  The Jacob Javits Act program for education of the gifted;  Even Start – a head start program for migrant workers; and a total of five critical literacy programs.  For more information, visit: http://www.edweek.org/media/program_elimination_051211.pdf

Human Trafficking: This well-attended caucus was successfully led by Doris Schapira. Doris is currently abroad and unable to provide a summary of caucus events for this publication. However, the caucus yielded important and timely information we believe needs to be shared with members across the state, so pertinent information regarding the blight of Human Trafficking will be published in our next Voter. Thanks to all who participated in this caucus.

Awards and Accolades

Awards Ceremony

Several well-deserved awards were presented to League members for outstanding service, membership longevity, and generous financial support. At the risk of inadvertently omitting a name of any of the recognized recipients, I won’t list them here. Their exceptional contributions to the League are deeply appreciated.

Approved Study Programs and Board Actions

Study:  The delegates voted by voice majority to approve a study on electronic voting devices. For a number of years it has been a concern of the national League that electronic voting devices are not secure unless fully backed up by paper ballots that can be used to verify that the machines worked correctly. New Jersey currently has very few machines with paper trails, and we are thus dangerously dependent on the adequacy of the electronic devices and software. This study will investigate the situation in New Jersey, determine what plans are afoot to solve the problem, and make recommendations on what the League should support or oppose.  One of the great things about this organization is that we always carefully study issues and come to member consensus before taking a position.

Board Action:  A number of delegates came together to urge action against human trafficking, which they said was disturbingly common in our state. They proposed, and the  delegates agreed, that the board should write to the Attorney General to urge him to use the utmost effort to train law enforcement to recognize and to rescue and assist victims and to prosecute the perpetrators of human trafficking.

As usual, this League convention was engaging and fast paced.  Our one-day format made it even more so than when we had one and a half day conventions. I learned a lot, enjoyed the give and take of discussion and issues, and I’m looking forward to leading the organization for the next two years. If you are not already a member, I hope you will join us as we move forward with our important work.

Educate. Advocate. Empower.

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey (LWVNJ) will hold our 59th Biennial Statewide Convention Saturday, April 30th at the Verizon Headquarters in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. LWVNJ is a grassroots network, directed by the consensus of its members throughout the state. Local League delegates will have the opportunity to vote on the business of the state League including program, nominations, bylaws and the budget. There will also be opportunities to discuss topics such as immigration, natural resources, voting, moderating and membership. Marcia Merrins’, LWVUS Board Member, will lead an important discussion on defending the League’s nonpartisan stance—a discussion that will be particularly useful to League moderators.

This year’s luncheon speaker is the founding editor of NJ Spotlight, John Mooney, who will speak about the present state of education in New Jersey. He has covered education issues for 15 years as a reporter for the Newark Star Ledger and Bergen Record and recently has been a contributing writer for the New York Times.

The awards ceremony will take place during the luncheon. During this time, LWVNJ will honor the service of local Leagues and the contributions of outstanding individuals, moderators, and 50-year members.

During the luncheon, there will be the raffle drawing in which three lucky ticket holders will have the chance to win a new laptop, a Kindle, or an iPad2. There is still time to purchase your raffle tickets and you do not have to attend the convention to win. The proceeds of this raffle benefit LWVNJ-EF’s mission to educate the public and promote civic participation. Tickets can be purchased online or by mailing a check made out to LWVNJ-EF Raffle, 204 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608.

Register for the 59th Biennial Convention today! The registration deadline is Friday, April 15th. A late fee will apply after this date.

Register Online or Register by Mail.

Thank you to our Platinum Sponsor:

League of Women Voters Convention

The following entry is written by LWVNJ Board Member, Ed Gracely.

I just returned from an exhilarating experience at the League of Women Voters of the US Convention in Atlanta. I am always impressed by the breadth of interests League members have! For example, during this convention members proposed, discussed, and adopted statements on marriage equality for same sex couples (we support it!), the travel ban to Cuba (we oppose it), the Senate filibuster (we’d like a lot less of it), and “improved Medicare for all” (we support it). In addition, we will be busy over the next two years working on the studies adopted (one on privatization, the other on the federal role in education).

Some of the New Jersey delegates with past LWVUS President, Susan Lederman (from NJ), seen here in the red jacket in the center of the photo.

These activities illustrate the processes by which the League of Women Voters reaches decisions. Our members choose the issues that we will study and our members decide the positions that we will take –  a very grassroots process! Potential issues to study are proposed at convention and debated, often with informative caucuses, and speakers. After debating, members vote on whether or not to undertake the study. Now that we have two new studies, committees will be formed, materials distributed, and local Leagues will hold meetings to provide their input to the national League. The conclusions reached from local League members will determine our future position on the issues studied. This process of proposal, debate, study, and consensus is at the heart of the League’s approach to public policy issues, and represents a significant part of why the League’s views are respected on so many topics. Every member of the League of Women Voters has a voice within our respected organization, which translates to a powerful voice in government on important legislation — a great reason to be a member of the League!

We didn’t spend quite all of our time debating positions and adopting studies (see more pictures from Convention)! Among other things, there were numerous interesting workshops and caucuses to attend. For example, proponents of marriage equality, Medicare for all, and the education study all held caucus meetings to promote their views.  Workshops offered training on how to advocate at the federal level, issues in redistricting, creating a League web site, and many other topics. League of Women Voters of New Jersey members participated in panels on using online tools in the community, encouraging women to run for office, and election integrity.  We also heard from notables like Kathleen Sebelius (Health and Human Services Secretary) and John Lewis (civil rights leader and inspiring congressman from the Atlanta area). We had a speaker on women’s suffrage at the banquet, and we got to watch a movie all about gerrymandering (creating election districts to achieve political goals).

I love conventions. I always learn a lot, plus I enjoy the give and take of the debates on the floor, and even the nit picky challenges to procedures (which I’ve been known to make!) The best part about conventions is the same thing I love about the League of Women Voters — both provide an opportunity to be personally, hands-on,  involved in a wide variety of decisions and activities that are part of the League’s mission of making democracy work.