Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.


At a recent LWV of Rochester forum, more than 60 attendees heard Sister Anne Urquhart, Sister Barbara Lum and Sister Josepha Twomey of the Sisters of St Joseph of Rochester tell the story of their work in Selma, Alabama. The Sisters of St. Joseph began their work in Selma in 1940 with black families living in poverty and grew through the decades to include teaching and nursing and starting a nursing school at Good Samaritan Hospital. This hospital treated blacks at a time when other hospitals in the area did not. In 1965 when marchers at the Edmund Pettis Bridge were beaten and no other hospital in the area would treat them, Good Samaritan with its 64 beds treated more than 100 victims. Among those seriously injured was John Lewis, currently a U.S. Congressman from Atlanta, Georgia, who visits the Sisters at the Mother House in our area whenever he is in town. The Sisters’ first-hand accounts of the Civil Rights Movement in Selma and Alabama were riveting. See photos below – on left is LWV-RMA President Mary Hussong-Kallen with Sr. Josepha Twomey.

The Rosendale Theatre hosted a showing of  the film “Electoral Dysfunction” with a post-film discussion on the Electoral College by Prof Joel Lefkowitz of SUNY New Paltz Department of Political Science & International Relations, organized by the LWV of Mid-Hudson.

The Rockefeller Drug Laws – Alternatives to Incarceration was the topic for the March meeting of the LWV of Tompkins County. The so-called Rockefeller drug laws have resulted in a massive increase in the number of incarcerated perpetrators of minor drug offenses, particularly of members of minority communities. Their Health Committee put together an excellent panel to discuss what is happening in our area: Professor Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, Cornell History Department;  Matthew VanHouten, Tompkins County District Attorney; Honorable Judge Joseph R. Cassidy, Felony Drug Court; Angela Sullivan, MPA, MAIR, Executive Director, Alcohol/ Drug Council of Tompkins County; Bill Rusen, Chief Executive Director, Cayuga Addictions Rehabilitation Services (CARS).

LWV of East Nassau hosted Rabbi Dr. Art Vernon, who discussed “The Courage of the Suffragists,” in recognition of March being Women’s History Month and 2017 being the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in New York State.

LWV of Syracuse is a co-sponsor with the state League on the program, De-Mystifying the 2017 Constitutional Convention Ballot Proposal, to be held on April 27 at Onondaga Community College.

In keeping with the promise found at the base of the Statue of Liberty, the LWV of Albany County presented an in-depth look at the issues and concerns of the immigrant/refugee community in the Capital District as part of a panel discussion. The panel featured guest speakers from the Capital Region Refugee Roundtable, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, the Refugee and Immigrant Support Services at Emmaus, the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society and the New Sanctuary for Immigrants. The panelists shared some “human interest stories” and then discussed the services they offer as well as ways that people can be involved and supportive of their mission.

“Our Outer Harbor: What is it? Why should we care? What can we do?” was the topic of the March meeting of the LWV of Buffalo/Niagara. Nicole Matteson of the Our Outer Harbor Coalition will speak about public policy concerns and Margaret Wooster will review the ecology of the Outer Harbor. An author, environmental advocate and teacher, Margaret is a well-loved Western New York authority on water and the ecology of our area. She is also author of “Somewhere to Go on Sunday” and “Living Waters: Reading the Rivers of the Lower Great Lakes.”

Barbara Bartoletti, LWVNYS Legislative Director, was the speaker at the monthly Lunch with the League in NYC. She discussed the issue of reproductive choice. New York State was one of the first states to legalize abortion in 1970, three years before the Roe v. Wade decision. However, New York has never codified the Roe decision in our State statute placing a women’s decision to have an abortion under the appropriate statue and protecting health care providers. Codifying Roe is a top League priority for this legislative session.

LWV of Schenectady held a program on Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility and Adequate Funding for Indigents’ Defense. The panelists included: Assemblyman Phil Steck; City Court Judge Mark  Blanchfield with moderator Helga A. Schroeter, of the League.

LWV of Broome and Tioga Counties held a program on How Big Pharma Influenced the Practice of Psychiatry with League Member, Ruth Blizard, presenting. Ruth Blizard is a psychologist in Binghamton, NY, with over 30 years of experience in treating persons with severe trauma, dissociation, and personality disorders.

The LWV of Geneva organized its annual fundraiser, Wine and Chocolate Night Out, open to the public and held at the Billsboro Winery.

The Natural Resources Committee of the LWV of the Hamptons will present “Wind, A Clean Energy Solution” in April. Renewable energy as a cost-effective reliable solution to Long Island’s electricity needs. Panelists include Michael Voltz, P.E., Director of Energy Efficiency & Renewables, PSEG Long Island; Clint Plummer, Vice President of Development Deepwater Wind; and Doreen Harris Program Manager, Large Scale Renewables, NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research & Development Authority)

Next Generation Politics and the LWV of Huntington have recently begun working in conjunction to advance our common goals of educating and involving young people in government and the political process. As an entirely student-run organization and movement, Next Generation Politics’ chapter leaders seek to engage fellow students to interact with their government representatives, debate critical issues, and participate in government.

New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will speak on “Political & Policy Issues on National & State Levels of Government” at the annual luncheon co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Larchmont-Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye, Rye Brook, Port Chester and Harrison.

LWV of New Castle is presenting a program, “Media and Politics: The Impact on Our Democracy”  which will address the issues and the impact the media had on the 2016 Presidential election and will have on elections moving forward, both local and national. Panelists include Jon Klein, Cable News and Internet Executive; Jerry McKinstry, Media Strategist and Journalist; Phil Reisman, Columnist/Radio Talk Show Host; with moderator, Jeanne Zaino, PH.D., Political Analyst and PRofessor at Iona College.

LWV of the North Country invited Helen Nerska, County Historian, to discuss Women’s Suffrage in Clinton County. Helen Nerska discussed the early role of Clinton County women in the suffrage movement.

LWV of Saratoga County is holding a consensus meeting to discuss a possible new local position. The League’s study committee will present its findings relating to “whether local governments in Saratoga County should separate executive (or administrative) functions from legislative (or policy making) functions in the villages, towns, cities and the county government.”

The program “Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial” will be presented by Jennifer Lemak and Ashley Hopkins-Benton, organized by the LWV of Utica/Rome. Jennifer Lemak is the Chief Curator of History and Ashley Hopkins-Benton is Senior Curator of History at the New York State Museum. Both Lemak and Hopkins-Benton are curating the NYSM exhibition, Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial, which opens on November 4, 2017. The exhibition will include collections from over 40 lenders statewide including the Clinton Historical Society.

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