President's Message: Thoughts on State Council 2006 (Sue Irvine)
Florida League Takes on Frightening Legislation (Mary Anne Raywid)
Why Don't More Good Candidates Run? (Carol Bain)
Violence Prevention Committee to Meet (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Helene Hale's Legacy (David Shapiro)
Legislative Report (Jean Aoki)
League Goals and Objectives (Jackie Parnell)
Fate of Full Public Funding of Campaigns (Kory Payne)
Women's Suffrage (Jean Aoki)
Chapter Reports - Honolulu (Piilani Kaopuiki)
Chapter Reports - Kauai
Chapter Reports: Hawaii (Marianna Scheffer)
Thoughts on State Council 2006
I was energized by our state Council meeting in May and would like to share a few highlights with those of you unable to attend.
As Hawaii state representative to League's national Convention this summer, I was asked to provide four single words that come to mind when one thinks of our state League. (National is using the words for a Power Point presentation while I take 60 seconds to tout our League in the Roll Call of States.) State Council attendees started our gathering by giving me input on the most apt words: BRIGHT, SEASONED, RESPECTED, and FUN. I chose these four as I feel one of League's biggest draws for me is in working with a bright group of people who are able to come to consensus and then present our stand effectively to our lawmakers. I'd like it even better if our views always prevailed in passing legislation, but I do think we have earned respect because of the way we operate. The word "seasoned" is not entirely a positive attribute of our membership it does mean we have experience, but it also means we need to address "challenges such as lowering the average age of our membership." (from the council flyer written by MaryAnne Raywid and Jackie Parnell) I added "fun" to our list of words when our breakout group began brainstorming on the future of the League, and I realized a collective sense of humor makes it gratifying, even fun, to participate in League activities.
Our semi-annual state Council is generally a time for self-assessment and this year was no exception. I was impressed by several intriguing suggestions for addressing the continuing aging of our League membership. John Higgins, new League member with Voter Owned Elections, suggested that, rather than just talking to young people, we invite them to co-participate in action. John may have some insight on attracting diverse, young members as he is not only male, but has Samoan blood, and is young. One of our guest speakers, Dan Boylan, historian and political commentator, suggested we might bluntly and loudly tell young folks, "I vote you don't. I'll vote to take care of me." The implication was that we seniors would take care of our needs, but young families might be left without funding for theirs unless they become politically active. Arlene Ellis was enthused about the idea of using Education Fund money to send birthday letters to every 18 year old in the state. I hope we can keep these ideas in mind as we move forward.
Valere McFarland asked "Why does Hawaii have the lowest voter turnout in the nation?" This is certainly one statistic League would like to change. To that end, Susan Miller, Honolulu Vice President, volunteered to chair a committee and to report to state board with any information on the causes and possible League action to change this situation.
Our luncheon program consisted of a panel of two experts on political affairs in Hawaii, Professors Dan Boylan of the University of Hawaii at West Oahu, and Randy Roth at UH - Manoa. Moderator Mary Anne Raywid put to them questions extremely difficult to answer and we all stretched our minds listening to them wrestle with issues like "Just how essential is a two-party system to a democracy, and to what extent does Hawaii have one? What would it take to get a healthy two-party system operating here?" and "Hawaii is known for having one of the most powerful interest group systems in American politics. Interest groups are known to function as veto groups when it comes to reform. Given the power of interest groups within the political parties here, and their control over the political process, how can reform ever take place in Hawaii?"
Responses of the two were fascinating, and both ranged broadly in replying to such questions. It was an opportunity to watch two sophisticated thinkers with a great deal of knowledge about Hawaii's politics tackle some weighty issues. The questions proved provocative for our guests and tapped into a great deal of recent experience for both. In the course of the discussion, Boylan suggested that the Republicans need to do some grassroots organizing, since what we have now is the Democratic Party and the Lingle Party. Roth is hesitant about campaign finance reform on the grounds that it will give undue influence to commentators, shifting the power from the candidates to the commentators. A question about corruption in public life evoked an interesting discussion about BROKEN TRUST. All in all, it was a stimulating session.
League of Women Voters of Hawaii
President - Sue Irvine