Making Democracy Work

Steering Committee

May Message from the Steering Committee

You might ask, since we'll be voting on the budget for the League at the annual dinner on June 10th, what are my dues used for? Of the total, 33% goes to the State League and 53% is paid to the National League in per member payments, leaving about $973 to fund the activities of our local League. Fortunately, we have other revenue sources for the local League- more on that in a moment.

Most of the money sent to the State and National Leagues is used to support advocacy on issues of interest to League members. Those issues have been defined by positions that were developed and approved by local Leagues throughout the state and country.

Our State and National Leagues send letters and testify before legislators and state and federal agencies and file amicus (friend of the court) briefs in state and federal courts. Local Leagues receive information from the State and National Leagues as summaries of news articles and in-depth analysis of issues.

At least as important to members as advocacy, however, is the educational mission of the League. In fact, many of the activities that are most closely identified with the League in the mind of the public are educational in nature- voter registration, candidate forums, voter guides, VOTE411.org, Who's Who, Students Inside Albany; not to mention supporting materials for the studies and updates that guide League positions. Lobbying activities, which are funded by dues, are not tax-deductible (which is why your dues are not tax-deductible). The State League has an Education Foundation, in which our local League has an account, which can accept tax-deductible contributions to fund educational activities. That's why we ask you to write separate checks to the Schenectady League and to the LWVNYS Education Foundation.

The $973 in dues money that the local League keeps covers a number of important activities. The bulletin costs about $2100/year in printing and mailing costs, of which $500 is defrayed by ads. The Who's Who guide is published in alternate years and the cost is covered by ads. Videotaping of candidate forums is budgeted to cost $1400. We also budget $700 and $2200 to send members to the State and National League conventions, respectively, which occur in alternate years. The LWVNYS Education Foundation pays $600 to send a high school student to Students Inside Albany; we think this is such a valuable program that we send an additional student with money from our local League.

As you've no doubt noticed, this comes out to a lot more than $973. We depend on members' generous support of fundraisers, such as the silent auction planned for the annual meeting on June 10th, to fund these valuable activities. Thank you for your continuing support.

Cheryl Nechamen, Lead

April Message from the Steering Committee

The State has a new e-mail retention policy, or more accurately, an e-mail deletion policy. The executive branch handles the nuts and bolts of State government, the daily interaction between bureaucracy and citizens. E-mail is essentially the record of that interaction.

The new policy of the State government is automatic deletion of executive branch e-mails after 90 days. State employees have the option of saving and archiving what they consider to be important e-mails but the default setting is deletion. The problem is that state employees may only realize an e-mail exchange is important in retrospect, possibly years after the exchange has taken place. Lawsuits can take months, even years, to wend their way through the courts. How often will a case be dismissed because the underlying evidence, an e-mail exchange, is no longer in the State archives? Likewise, freedom of information requests often cover time periods that exceed 90 days.

On January 29, 2014, good government groups, including LWVNYS, Citizens Union, NYCLU, Sunlight Foundation, Citizen Action and many others, submitted a letter to Governor Cuomo asking that the State conform to the federal policy of retaining e-mails for seven years.

Electronic storage is cheap; the cost of destroying public records is very high. It's time for the Governor to reverse this policy.

Cheryl Nechamen, Lead

STEERING COMMITTEE

Joan Elliott

Lead for May 2015-July 2015

Ruth Bonn

Lead (completed)

Carol Furman

Lead (completed)

Cheryl Nechamen

Lead (completed)