Thursday, November 19, 2015

Consensus Meeting (Jan 7, 2016): Money in Politics: Resources from LWVUS & Northern Valley LWV

"Who stole the people’s money?" Tammany Hall.  Thomas Nast, 1871.
Cartoon in public domain
Re-blogged from the LWVUS site 

Money in Politics Review is a study to "update  the League’s position on campaign finance for the purpose of addressing the lack of member understanding and agreement as to whether financing a political campaign is protected speech under the First Amendment."  The "Meeting in a Box" includes educational resources. issue papers,a background reading list, Powerpoint and script, and suggested uses in the community.

Background Readings
Oct 16 2015

Here are readings that provide background on the issues that the Part I questions are asking about:
Further Resources

Money in Elections  links current news articles about finance and elections.

Two other resources necessary for this discussion are: 
History of Campaign Finance Chart  (legislation and events)

Sources, Powerpoint and script  for information listed below were prepared by The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Campaign Finance Project and Toolkit .


CONSENSUS QUESTIONS:This set of questions is designed to determine the extent to which the First Amendment protections of free speech and freedom of the press should apply to different speakers or activities in the regulation of campaign finance.  Free speech and free press provide essentially the same protections to speakers, writers, publishers and advertising, whether or not they are part of the institutional press, and largely regardless of the medium.  Essentially, these protections extend to any conduct that is expressive.   Many of the options below would be found unconstitutional by the current Supreme Court, but we are seeking your League’s views, not those of the Court.  These are broad, overarching questions about spending to influence an election, including independent spending, contributions to candidates, broadcast news and other communication expenditures. 
Oct 26 2015  
 PART I QUESTIONS: Democratic Values and Interests with Respect to Financing Political Campaigns

1. What should be the goals and purposes of campaign finance regulation?  (Please respond to each item in Question 1.)
a.  Seek political equality for all citizens.
                                ☐ Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
b.  Protect representative democracy from being distorted by big spending in election campaigns.
                                ☐ Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
c.  Enable candidates to compete equitably for public office.
                                ☐ Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
d.  Ensure that candidates have sufficient funds to communicate their messages to the public.
                                ☐ Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
e.  Ensure that economic and corporate interests are part of election dialogue.
                                ☐ Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
f.  Provide voters sufficient information about candidates and campaign issues to make informed choices.
                                ☐ Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
g.  Ensure the public’s right to know who is using money to influence elections.  
                                ☐ Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
h.  Combat corruption and undue influence in government.
                                ☐ Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
2. Evaluate whether the following activities are types of political corruption: (Please respond to each item in Question 2.)
  1. A candidate or officeholder agrees to vote or work in favor of a donor’s interests in exchange for a campaign contribution.
                                ☐ Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
 b.   An officeholder or her/his staff gives greater access to donors.
                              ☐ Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
c.   An officeholder votes or works to support policies that reflect the preferences of individuals or organizations in order to attract contributions from them.
                                ☐  Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
 d.  An office holder seeks political contributions implying that there will be retribution unless a donation is given.
                                ☐  Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
 e.   The results of the political process consistently favor the interests of significant campaign contributors.
                                ☐  Agree     ☐  Disagree     ☐  No consensus
OPTIONAL COMMENTS (250 word limit):
PART II QUESTIONS:  First Amendment Protections for Speakers and Activities in Political Campaigns



Organizations involved in reform efforts (in addition to LWV):  From their site:" The Center’s work ranges from voting rights to campaign finance reform, from ending mass incarceration to preserving Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism. Part think tank, part advocacy group, part cutting-edge communications hub, we start with rigorous research. We craft innovative policies. And we fight for them — in Congress and the states, the courts, and in the court of public opinion."

Common  "In this spirit, Common Cause serves as an independent voice for change and a watchdog against corruption and abuse of power.  To make our democracy work, we must claim it as our own.  John Gardner, Common Cause’s founder, wrote that, “The citizen can bring our political and governmental institutions back to life, make them responsive and accountable and keep them honest.  No one else can.' ”   "Democracy 21 provides the public and media with the latest information and analysis on money and politics and campaign finance reform efforts. The organization’s activities include:
Promoting campaign finance reforms, including the creation of a new public financing system for presidential and congressional races to empower citizens by providing multiple public funds to match their small contributions, ending secret money in federal elections by enacting new campaign finance disclosure laws, curbing the role of Super PACs in federal elections and creating a new system to effectively enforce the campaign finance laws.” (This is the organization involved with Anti-Corruption Act)"What We Do We are building a fiercely non-partisan movement to pass tough anti-corruption laws in cities and states across America, and end the legalized corruption that has come to define modern politics."   "OUR GOVERNMENT IS CORRUPT. Not corrupt in any criminal sense. But corrupt in a perfectly legal sense: special interests bend the levers of power to benefit them at the expense of the rest of us. Both par  Center for Responsive Politics
"The Center for Responsive Politics launched the website following the 1996 elections. Before that time, the Center, founded in 1983 by U.S. Sens. Frank Church (D-Idaho) and Hugh Scott (R-Pa.), published its work tracking money in politics in extensive reports and books. The first Open Secrets book, published in 1990, was a massive 1,300 pages and analyzed contributions by political action committees in the 1988 congressional elections. Featuring contributor profiles for every member of Congress, it was an unprecedented resource that illuminated money's role in congressional elections and policymaking. "  “ We research and compile data about the sources of campaign contributions in U.S. presidential, congressional, state, and local ballot and candidate elections. We provide journalists and citizens with transparency tools that connect data on campaign contributions, politicians, legislative votes, industries, companies, and more to show patterns of influence never before possible to see. These tools allow users to gain unique insights into how campaign contributions affect policy so they can draw their own conclusions about how money influences our political system”.  "The Sunlight Foundation is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses the tools of civic tech, open datapolicy analysis and journalism to make our government and politics more accountable and transparent to all. Our vision is to use technology to enable more complete, equitable and effective democratic participation.

Public Citizen   " As the federal government wrestles with critical issues – fallout from the global economic crisis, health care reform, climate change and so much more …We have five policy groups: our Congress Watch division, the Energy Program, Global Trade Watch, the Health Research Group and our Litigation Group. Learn more about them here.

Money in Politics:  Democracy for Sale? was presented  to League members from Bergen County and the public on Thursday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m. at the Leonia Public Library. Nike Bach gave an overview of the history and current status of the role of money in poltics.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Consensus Meeting/Board Meeting Nov 18

LWVT November 18 Meeting@
Joyce's House: Consensus Meeting BEFORE scheduled Board meeting 7:30 PM 

"will study the process of amending the U.S. Constitution".  

Constitutional Amendment Study: Consensus Questions and New Deadline! (REMINDER)
At its post-Council 2015 meeting, the League Board approved the Constitutional Amendment study questions so that Leagues can begin to meet and discuss this all important issue. LWVUS will be asking for the results of your consensus meetings by December 1, 2015. The consensus questions are accompanied by short PRO and CON statements that will help League members consider their responses. 

Constitutional Amendment Study Reading Guide

Major Time Points for Constitutional Amendment Study: 
Summer 2015 Consensus questions, study guide and educational materials posted on LWV website. 

Late Summer 2015-December 1, 2015 Leagues hold consensus meetings. 

December 1, 2015 Consensus reports (electronic) from Leagues due to LWVUS. 

Late January 2016 LWVUS Board Meeting Consensus reports and resulting position(s), if any, approved.

Reading Guide: "Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides two ways of proposing amendments to the nation’s fundamental charter. Congress, by a two-thirds vote of both chambers, may propose constitutional amendments to the states for ratification. OR, the legislatures of two-thirds of the states (34 at present) may ask Congress to call a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution; this is commonly called an Article V Convention. Amendments proposed by either method must be ratified by three-fourths of the states, 38 at present.

The first method has been used by Congress to submit 33 amendments to the states, beginning with the Bill of Rights. Of these, 27 were approved; 26 are currently in effect, while one – the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) — was ultimately repealed. The second method, an Article V Convention, has never been successfully invoked."---From Committee's Reading Guide, above. Articles are listed in the guide for both alternatives.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

LWVT Calendar Nov 2015

Consensus meeting: Money in Politics and regular Board meeting: 
January 7, 2016 at Janet's house. Consensus resources are on the next post.

Conference call with LWVNJ President Nancy Hediger December 26.

Local coverage of the LWVT Forum for BOE included:
Teaneck Daily Voice, which linked this blog.

Updates and changes: LWVTeaneck Blog: Send  calendar items, Patricia O'Brien Libutti

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

LWVT sponsors: Margarita With A Straw,shown at TIFF Saturday, November 7th 3:05 PM

Margarita With A Straw, will be shown at TIFF on Saturday, November 7th at 3:05 PM at the Teaneck Cinemas.  

We are also co-sponsoring this film with Limitless Arts, a program affiliated with Bergen APC.  Limitless Arts is an arts (dance, music and theater) program for children with special needs.  Limitless Arts is a part of the performing arts school at BergenPAC in Englewood.
MARGARITA, WITH A STRAW directed by Shonali Bose
The story of a romantic mind trapped in a disobedient body
Synopsis Laila Kapoor is a spunky, talented 19-year-old girl from a close knit middle-class Delhi family. She was born with cerebral palsy. Her speech is garbled and she sits in a wheelchair. Laila is very close to her mother, Shubhangini Damle. As a result of her efforts Laila goes to college in the prestigious Delhi University. And when Laila’s heart is broken, it is her mother who enables her to continue her education at New York University. Here Laila meets the feisty Khanum - a visually impaired woman. And the chilled out Jared. Always curious about sexuality, Laila undergoes a journey that is beyond her wildest dreams. She calls it "wonderful but scary". She confronts her mother with her new truths about herself causing a huge conflict that rips them apart. Suddenly her world falls apart when her mother collapses in pain. Laila


Friday, September 4, 2015

About the League of Women Voters of Teaneck

Sixty Years and More of a Grand Idea:
History & Photo Album

Board Listing

League of Women Voters of Teaneck Board of Directors 2015-2016


Arlene Gartenberg, Vice President, Program Planning

Barbara Ostroth, Vice President, Voter Service

Joyce Jacobs, Secretary

Shirley Sosland, Treasurer 

Louise Williams, Membership 


Janet Austin,  Women's History

Doris Thurber, Advocacy


Margot Embree Fisher,  Education

Naomi Cramer, Observer Corps

Patricia O'Brien Libutti, LWVTeaneck Blog


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