Minutes May 3, 2017

In Attendance: Clara Sartori, Liz Mao, Jim Cameron, Carolyn Bayne, Stephanie Maher, Laura Mosher, Enid Oresman, MaryEllen Moore, Karla Coe, Shelly Skoglund, Sue Okie, Martha Banks, Kate Larson, Joan Davis, Mary Genco, Mimi vanDyke, Laurie Williamson, Jean Sweeney, Taylor Carter, Gwen Mogenson, Nancy Cahoon.

Call to order: Co-Presidents Gwen Mogenson and Clara Sartori called the meeting to order at 9:35 am and thanked Susan Spain for taking April minutes. On motion by Shelly Skoglund, seconded by Jim Cameron, members approved these minutes, with abstentions by those not in attendance at April meeting.

Treasurer’s Report: Kate Larson distributed and briefly discussed “Darien League of Women Voters 2016-2017 Financial Statement,” updated through April. Past month activity was light, and at approaching year-end closing the budget should approximately break even. Her report reflects new pre-paid 2017-18 members Tiffany O’Connor, Debra Ven, Sally Houlihan, and Stephanie Maher.

Co-President’s Announcement: Gwen Mogenson noted State H.B. No. 5434 had been voted out of committee.

Note: HB 5434 is “An Act Adopting the Interstate Compact to Elect the President of the United States By National Popular Vote.” This would “enter Connecticut into the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote, thereby committing the state’s votes in the Electoral College to the presidential candidate that wins the popular vote nationally, regardless of whether such presidential candidate wins the popular vote withing the state.” Source:   cga.ct.gov.

Observer Corps Light: Members welcomed member Jean Sweeney, who is working with “ERA Action,” a grassroots organization working on the 3 State Strategy and to get the House and Senate Bills passed to remove the ERA deadline (HJ Res 53 & SJ Res 5). Jean reviewed brief history of ERA, distributed copies of “The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions – Seneca Falls Conference (1848),” and noted that as of 1982, 35 states had ratified the ERA, and on March 22, 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify, leaving two more states to reach the required minimum of 38 states. Arizona recently failed to ratify it, but Legislatures in Illinois, North Carolina, and Virginia are working on it. Updates and background are available at ERAaction.org.

She noted that prominent women’s rights groups such as NOW and AAUW generally make no mention of ERA, and some activists prefera start-over amendment known as the “Equality Amendment.” When ERA ratification became close there were 5 States that rescinded their ratification of the Amendment. The Supreme Court didn’t hear a case on the issue because the 1982 deadline made the issue moot. All Connecticut’s Senators and Congressional Representatives have shown support for removing the ratification deadline except Rep. Elizabeth Esty (5th Cong. Dist.). Jean will continue addressing groups as a means of advancing support of removal of the ratification deadline and the 3 State Strategy of getting 2 more States to ratify the ERA.

LWV Volunteer of the Year: Gwen congratulated, and members applauded, Karla Coe for her recent well-deserved town-wide recognition!

Town Officials Event: Gwen thanked Karla Coe and MaryEllen Moore for their organization of the April 5 Town Officials Discussion, an evening presentation at Darien Library that attracted about 40 in audience and about 22 on Channel 79 Vimeo re-plays. Chairs of Boards of Selectmen, Education, Finance, and heads of Planning & Zoning Commission and RTM gave presentations, followed by Q&A with audience.

You and Your Town Government Publication: Mary Genco reported this should be ready within the next week in hard copy, and she suggested letter to editor announcing availability and explaining content. Enid Oresman requested that the Darien League’s new 2017 Government Guide be posted on our website in its entirety.

Annual Meeting: Karla Coe reported invitations have been mailed for our Annual Meeting at 11:30 am, and Luncheon and Speaker Program, 12 N, Thursday, May 25, at Country Club of Darien, 300 Mansfield Avenue. Featured will be Clyde White, a citizen leader who will discuss history, values, and goals of the organization “NO LABELS” in a speech entitled “The New Center Strikes Back.” She urged all to attend.

Food for Thought: Karla Coe invited all to next FFT, Thursday, May 18, 12:30-2:00 pm, hosted by Ann Ferris, 30 Hale Lane.

Agenda change and donation to The Depot: As moved/seconded by Jim Cameron/Kate Larson, members voted to change the agenda to include brief discussion and vote on a voluntary contribution similar to previous years by our League to the organization hosting our meetings. As moved/seconded by MaryEllen Moore/Kate Larson, members voted unanimously to donate $100 to The Depot in appreciation of their hosting our monthly meetings.

Other Information (the 411) – CT Legislative Session Updates

Bottle Bills: Gwen noted the State LWV’s positions on several pending Legislative bills. Several bottle bill proposals are being considered: S.B. 996 would put a nonrefundable 4 cent tax on all carbonated and most non-carbonated beverage containers with funds going into 4 separate accounts, including one-half of funds going into State’s General Fund.

State LWV opposes this bill for numerous reasons (lwvct.org).

State LWV supports HB 5618, which would increase the handling fee paid by distributors to stores and redemption centers. The fee has never been increased since its enactment 37 years ago.

Members are encouraged by the State League to contact their Legislators to support retention of current bottle bill.

NPV: Gwen noted that the State League supports the State’s entry into the National Popular Vote Compact.

Other Legislative Issues:

CT Budget Crisis: Several members commented on an increasing necessity of structural changes in future State budgeting, given recent unprecedented fall-off in State tax revenue collection together with other financial reports and news. The current fiscal year ending June 30 is projected to have an operating deficit of several hundred million dollars, possibly up to $.5 billion.

CT Mirror, CT-N Channel 59: Jim Cameron emphasized the current unbiased, free, non-profit features of these important “open government” oriented news sources and their benefits to readers of their daily newsletters and other reporting. A current pending bill would limit access of coverage to programs pre-approved and selected by Legislative leaders, thus compromising editorial independence.

Darien Board of Education: This Board is considering a proposal by the Superintendent and administrators to add another level of administration to address issues of efficiencies and consistency, with outcome uncertain.

Gwen noted that members are urged to contact any or all of Darien’s four Legislators with concerns about these or other matters.

Clara Sartori reminded members about upcoming State League events: (1) an energy Symposium, Saturday, May 12, 9 am – 1 pm, New Haven, $25 pp before event, $30 after May 5, and (2) the State Annual Meeting, Saturday, June 17, 8:30 am – 1:00 pm, Quinnipiac University, North Haven Campus, $30 pp before event, $35 after June 5.

Adjournment: As moved by Mary Genco, seconded by Kate Larson, all voted to adjourn at 11:10 am.

Respectfully submitted,

Laurie Williamson, Co-Secretary