Summer 2008 Edition
Published September 12, 2008
2008 League of Women Voters of Alabama

President's Paragraphs

As I write this, we are in the midst of the political convention season.  The Democratic Party’s convention has just ended and the Republican Party’s convention is in full swing.  No doubt there are League members, perhaps some from Alabama, among the delegates to both conventions.  We are a nonpartisan organization.  Many Leaguers, however, are active members of some political party.  League members are passionate about good government so it is not surprising that many will express that passion in partisan politics-- as well as in our nonpartisan efforts to promote participatory democracy and good government.  That is a positive thing.

The trick is in being careful to separate the two efforts.  To preserve our credibility and maximize our ability to protect the democratic process and effectively advocate for our membership’s positions on everything from election reform to health care and global warming, we must avoid both the reality and the perception that our League efforts are meant to support any particular candidate or party.

I am very proud of how careful we all are to preserve the nonpartisan nature of the League.   The willingness of League members to set aside partisan emotions and prejudices to work with and learn from each other constantly inspires me.  It also gives me hope that other organizations (such as the Alabama legislature) can learn to do the same thing.

While we are on the subject of conventions, I want to challenge every Alabama member of the League to plan to attend the 2010 LWV Convention in Atlanta.  Certainly all of our local leagues and the state league should send a full delegation when the Convention will be so close to home.  Members who are not delegates are also urged to attend.  Non-delegate members can’t vote or speak on the Convention floor, but you can attend all the sessions and participate in all the workshops, caucuses, etc.  Take advantage of this rare opportunity to attend Convention right next door.  You will be glad you did.

And what about our 2009 Alabama League convention?  It is scheduled for May 2-3.  We still need a location.  If you are interested in helping with Convention logistics and would like us to come to your town, let your local league board know.  We are looking for a local league to host the convention.  In any event, put it on your calendar.  Place, speakers and workshops will be announced on the LWVAL webpage.  Check it often.

(And don’t miss the LWVAL Ed. Fund online judicial voter guide.  See the article in this Voter.)

Thank you to the Birmingham League, Birmingham League President Ginny Randolph, and Convention planner Sarah McDonald for hosting Council this year.  (See the article in this Voter.)  It was excellent.  Thank you, too, to our luncheon speaker, Mark White, the current President of the Birmingham Bar.   Mr. White pointed out some of the ways that a privately funded partisan judicial election system like ours can damage the reputation of the courts and undermine their effectiveness.  He also asked the League to support efforts by the Alabama Bar to pass legislation that would impose additional experience requirements on judicial candidates.  A final thank you to Dr. Mona Fouad from the University of Alabama in Birmingham.  Dr. Fouad’s workshop presentation educated us about rural and minority women’s health care issues in Alabama and her research project to address some of those issues.  She also used that project to illustrate how an organization can enlist the help of other governmental, nonprofit and civic groups, with varying interests and agendas, to accomplish a common goal.  Her discussion of the obstacles to such a cooperative project and the methods used to overcome them was informative and inspiring.

Congratulations to Jean Johnson on being the first recipient of the Birmingham League’s new Pattie Ruffner Jacobs service award.  If you are reading this online, you are benefiting from Jean’s outstanding work as our technology director.

The people of Alabama suffered a serious loss this summer.  Sue Flood, who served this State and the League in many ways over the years—most recently as our unpaid lobbyist in Montgomery, died after a battle with cancer.  Sue paid all of her own expenses to drive from Auburn to Montgomery during legislative sessions where she represented us wisely and effectively.  Even while struggling with her illness, she continued to advise us when she could on legislative issues.  She is missed.

Mary Lynn Bates,

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