President's Message: Convention Highlights
League Receives ABA Award
Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling (HCALG) (Grace Furukawa)
National Convention (Marianna Scheffer)
League Attends Special Drug Policy Forum Event (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Whither Goes Our Republic? (Jean Aoki)
Sad News (Carol Whitesell)
Explanation Worth Considering (Valere McFarland)
Voter Owned Elections (Kory Payne)
On Voting and Not Voting (Carol Bain)
Other Voting Facts
BOE Election (Mary Anne Raywid)
Report of Convention 2006 Action (Sue Irvine)
Growing Movement for National Election of President (Jean Aoki)
Chapter Report - Kauai (Carol Bain)
Chapter Report - Honolulu (Piilani Kaopuiki)
Chapter Report - Hawaii (Marianna Scheffer)
Keynote, Panels, and Entertainment
League's biannual national convention is inspiring not only because one gets to meet and caucus with so many stimulating League members, but also because of the caliber of the people from outside the organization who agree to address the gathering. Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute spoke on the topic of his latest book The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track. Mann told us that this Congress has been "supine" in the face of Dick Cheney's "extreme perception of executive power." Congress has ignored its responsibility to represent, provides no oversight, no deliberation or transparency in its actions, and has met for fewer days and hours than any Congress since Harry Truman labeled Congress "do nothing." In spite of this assessment, Mann is optimistic that through public education, we can change the situation. He encouraged League to keep working on redistricting procedures, campaign finance reform, and to keep monitoring election procedures to ensure they are fair.
Attendees were privileged to hear a panel discussion on judicial independence and accountability, "Understanding the System to Defend the Courts." I came away glad that we don't elect judges in our state. The panel made it clear that a judge's job is quite different from that of most elected officials, and elections are a poor way to choose judges.
Garrison Keillor lumbered on stage after our banquet reminding me of a bear. I was surprised to see that he is as big as his voice is deep. He regaled us non-stop for an hour with memories of his youth and the League in the incredible town of Lake Wobegon.
Retiring President Kay Maxwell spoke to the Convention concerning our number one challenge: Membership Growth. Unless League reverses the 30 year trend of shrinking membership, we will no longer be able to afford our broad national agenda while preserving our financial stability. Nationally, League is targeting new retirees as potential members. In typical League fashion, a study was done and the results indicated that this is the most likely group to target for League membership. I think this is as true in Hawaii as it is nationally.
Membership growth is also necessary to preserve our financial stability without constant increases in national PMP or decreasing our Washington office and staffing beyond organizational viability. At this Convention, we approved PMP increases for the next two years: to $26.30 for '06-'07 and $26.80 for '07-'08.
Delegates amended LWVUS bylaws to remove "of citizens" from Article II Section 1, so our purposes are now to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government and to act on selected governmental issues.
At caucuses, I was most impressed by LWV of California's handle on technology for websites and election information. National is competing with them at this time, but I think the California Ed Fund has the best handle on setting up sites that would be most helpful to voters national does not have candidate links, California does.
Redistricting captured my interest at Convention even though action on this issue was not taken. Consensus was that we should use the term redistricting, not reapportionment. Food for thought: you can't have both competitive and representative districts. It was recommended that we look at Arizona's independent redistricting commission.
Caucuses run non-stop at League convention from 7 a.m. to midnight. It is a bit overwhelming because so many of the topics were compelling, but one can't do it all. I have written separately about the issues adopted for program (see page 6.) I did not make it to caucuses on National Healthcare and International Peace issues, both of which are important to all of us. I came home with the message that LWVUS cares, but our resources are not unlimited.
League of Women Voters of Hawaii
President - Sue Irvine