Fall 2007 Edition
Published December 6, 2007
© 2007 League of Women Voters of Alabama

President's Paragraphs

At the State Board planning retreat in September, the Board evaluated resources, reviewed our mission and goals and discussed the best strategy to increase our impact.  In all our discussions, we kept coming back to the need to grow membership.  All the Alabama Local Leagues have great ideas and dedicated people. All are doing good things to promote and preserve good government and democracy.  All need more members in general, and more members willing and trained to take leadership roles in particular, to be able to significantly increase their activities and impact.  It was decided that additional resources should be committed to membership recruitment, both by increasing league visibility statewide and by specific activities to assist in Local League growth and to increase MAL (member at large) memberships.

The "ask" and increased public visibility were identified as primary ways to increase membership.  LWVUS has reported that its Membership Initiative, tested as a pilot project by several Leagues around the country, found that people will join the League if  someone they know actually asks them to join.  Too often we assume that everyone knows what the League is and does.  We believe that if our friends had the time, money and interest, they would already have joined.  Since becoming President of the State League, I have learned that a great many educated, civic minded people (including those who are active in other organizations with which the League works on issues of common concern and those who "admire and respect" the League) do not really know very much about the League.

Let's all make a New Year's resolution to tell our friends, family and acquaintances about the League and invite them to join.  You may find that they had wondered why we hadn't asked before.

The Board also concluded that in view of limited resources the State Board should focus this year on priority issues affecting State government.  These include the Initiative and Referendum consensus, the study of offsite voting, a review of our healthcare positions, monitoring HAVA implementation, working to improve the legislative process in Alabama, and working with others to affect important legislation proposed in the 2008 Session that is consistent with our priorities.  The Board will formally adopt priorities for the upcoming legislative session at its December Board meeting.  In the 2007 session our legislative priorities included constitutional reform, a ban on Pac to Pac transfers, lobbying and ethics reform, voting and other election issues, legislative process improvements, natural resources and judicial selection reform.

It was also decided that the State League should support national and local issues when needed through appropriate calls to action, facilitating communication among Leagues, and authorizing and assisting in Local League lobbying efforts at the State level as requested when consistent with existing State positions.  It was decided that in 2007-2008 State League resources did not permit participation by the State League in the international efforts of LWVUS or extensive participation in national efforts such as the attempt to secure DC voting rights.

At the September State Board Meeting, we updated, revised and clarified the League Advocacy Policy and readopted Nonpartisanship and Board attendance policies.   Among other things, the Advocacy Policy addresses notice and approval requirements prior to official Local League action involving contact with members of the State Legislature or State Executive Branch.  The policy is designed to be sure that the League speaks with one voice and that our efforts are coordinated for maximum effect.  This and all State League policies can be found on the website at www.lwval.org.

Off-Board positions have been accepted by:  Jean Johnson, who has agreed to continue to be our technical director; Nancy Ekberg who, along with Jeanne Lacey, will represent us and keep us informed and motivated on Constitutional Reform, and will do the same on transportation issues; and Jeanine Normand who has expressed an interest in helping us with fund raising and publicity. 

Council 2008 will be on May 3 in Birmingham.  Mark your calendars.  Speaker and workshop announcements coming soon!

It can be frustrating fighting the same battles over and over again. The alternative, however, is simply not acceptable.   We have only to listen to the international news to know how fragile democracy can be, or the national news to know how easily individual rights can be lost in the interest of "security", or our local news to know how rare civil discourse and reasoned decision making are in a polarized society where too many leaders practice a divide and conquer strategy.  Protecting democracy and our civil society is important work and worth the effort.  It is important that the League keep on keeping on.  Thank you all again for your devotion.

-- Mary Lynn Bates
League of Women Voters of Alabama

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