The Alabama Voter 
Fall 2009 Edition
Published December 19, 2009

What Have We Been Up To?

by Kathryn Byrd, LWVAL Co-President

I have been Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Alabama for approximately a half year, and it has been a growth experience, to say the least. Even though the legislature has not been in session since I assumed office, our board and off-board members have been busy doing the work of the League. We have been working on our “public face”, with the launching of our “Facebook” page, which has attracted both members and nonmembers to learn about LWVAL matters. Thanks to Scarlett Gaddy for spearheading this effort. Also, our LWVAL website has been upgraded, thanks to the talents of Jean Johnson. Jean also asks that local leagues be sure to email her up-to-date information on their boards. She also recommends that local leagues update their website each month by posting their local Voter. Contact Jean at if you need help.

The Board and some off-board members held a telephone board meeting in November to further discuss our projects for this year. Plans are continuing for the LWVAL to work with the University of Alabama Student Government Association and Alabama Disability Advocacy Program (ADAP) to cosponsor a televised gubernatorial debate in the fall. Plans are for Auburn’s SGA to also work with the LWVAL on a second gubernatorial forum. The LWVGT team would work with UA, and the Eastern Alabama/Montgomery Leagues would work with Auburn, if all goes well. Stay tuned.

The LWVAL has successfully prepared candidate questionnaires for the judicial elections in the past. We plan to build on our successes, using the same format (posted on our website, with press releases advertising this public service). With the expert help of Mary Lynn Bates, Becky Sylvester, and Jean Johnson, the voters of Alabama should have the opportunity to read how the candidates “speak” to the issues, since our dream of merit selection of these judicial candidates remains to be fulfilled.

We have had the opportunity to offer testimony and attend events related to our positions on the Environment. Through Environment Chair Joyce Lanning, we stated our position on coastal zone management at the triennial review of ADEM (Alabama Department of Environmental Management). She has represented us at other events as well. See her report.

The 2010 Alabama legislative session begins very early this year—January 12th. The LWVAL is already looking ahead to what lies ahead. See the LWVAL website to see our three-tiered legislative priority list. Anne Permaloff has examined the prefiled bills and assigned them to members of the board with the appropriate portfolios and/or expertise, since we do not have an official lobbyist on the board at this time. We thank Anne for her excellent guidance as our Advocacy Chair. Check the LWVAL website often during the legislative session.

Our support of Alabama Constitutional Reform continues. Nancy Ekberg and others (including Past LWVAL President Mary Lynn Bates’ husband Jesse) have been busy in the production of a docudrama on DVD regarding some interesting circumstances regarding the development of our infamous 1901 Alabama Constitution. Aptly entitled “Open Secret,” it should be released in the spring. And don’t forget to make a contribution to Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform. For further information, go to

There are other times when the League just has to speak out on the issues. One such event occurred recently, when Tuscaloosa News Senior Writer Robert DeWitt wrote an alarming “Commentary” on why property taxes should not be raised. As his rather mean-spirited commentary progressed, DeWitt managed to attack the poor (who, if they worked harder, could raise their standard of living), attacked the views that sales taxes are “regressive,” and more. His commentary appeared on Wednesday, December 1, 2009, and our reply, in the form of a “My Turn” op-ed appeared the following Sunday, December 6th. Both are accessible on the Tuscaloosa News website. Although the article went out under my name, as LWVGT spokesperson and LWVAL Co-President, I received excellent input both locally and from state board members. The League has received so much positive comment from the editorial from fellow Leaguers, and, importantly, from the community—it makes me proud that League is there, serving as a voice of reason.

Finally, the LWVUS convention will meet June 11-14, 2010, in Atlanta. What a wonderful time for Alabama leaguers to see our awesome national organization in action. Plan to try to attend, even for a day—meet Leaguers from around the country to see what their concerns and solutions are. Hope to see you there.