Making Democracy Work

President's Report

Messages from your LWV President

June Message from the President

It's heartening to see so many groups springing up, eager to participate in the political process. Because without that citizen participation, government can easily drift into abusive practices. Not because of malicious intent, but simply because government officials, whether it's at the national, state or local level or even on the Board of Education or Planning Commission, become lazy and convinced that only they know what's best for the public.

It might start with a conviction that only the government understands what's at stake because they know all of the details. Although, sometimes this is true because the government has been reluctant to share those details with the public.

Oftentimes, abuse or corruption in government comes down to preferential treatment, to the advantage or disadvantage of a group or individual. That unequal treatment is often financial, such as awarding contracts under an unfair bidding process, nepotism in personnel decisions or regulations that are burdensome for a small business owner

The League of Women Voters is first and foremost a good government group. The best antidote to corruption and abuse is for the public to pay attention to what their elected and appointed government officials are doing. It's a lot harder to pass self-serving legislation when people are sitting in the audience asking questions. The press plays a valuable role in reporting on government actions but does not generally ask questions of officials during a meeting. League members in the Observer Corps play an equally valuable role in attending public meetings and making statements during public comment periods

The goal of government should be to ensure fair treatment under the law. The League is proud of our efforts towards that goal.

Cheryl Nechamen

May Message from the President

The State League of Women Voters has been urging local Leagues to come up with one or more events to celebrate the big centennial anniversaries coming up: women's suffrage in NYS in 1917, formation of the NYS League of Women Voters in 1919, passage of the 19th amendment ratifying women's right to vote in 1920 and formation of the national League of Women Voters in 1920.

At the March LWV Board meeting, Ann Hatke, who volunteers at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), mentioned that there's a real need in Schenectady for a mentoring program for legal residents who wish to become U.S. citizens. The Board agreed that this was the perfect project for the League--helping people become U.S. citizens and of course, encouraging them to vote. We also felt that the Citizenship Mentoring Project would be an appropriate way to celebrate the big four anniversaries with an enduring legacy of creating new voters. And to complete the trifecta, it will be a great opportunity to introduce potential members to the League of Women Voters.

We're very excited about this project and have begun the planning process. See the article on the LWV Citizenship Mentoring Project in this bulletin for more details.

Cheryl Nechamen

Letter supporting the work of the SCCC

The following letter was sent by LWV President Cheryl Nechamen on behalf of the League and in support of the work of SCCC.

Jennifer Miller, Director of Community College Support SUNY System Administration Office of Community Colleges and the Educational Pipeline SUNY Plaza, 353 Broadway Albany, NY 12204 Dear Ms. Miller: The League of Women Voters of Schenectady County enthusiastically supports Schenectady County Community College's application to the SUNY Community College Community Schools (CCCS) grant. Schenectady County Community College (SCCC), in collaboration with an array of public, private and nonprofit partners, seeks to support high need students, and to build a network of accessible, on-campus, non-academic resources essential to successfully retaining and graduating these students.

The proposed SCCC Community Schools initiative, DESTINATION: SUCCESS, integrates college resources and community based services for students and their families through a centralized location on the College's campus. SCCC's DESTINATION: SUCCESS is aimed at increasing student retention rates of high-needs students by directly connecting them to multiple community resources available to support them through life's non-academic challenges. On-campus support will help students to navigate and address such issues as employment, food, housing, finances, childcare, primary care and mental health services, legal support, transportation, and other day-to-day needs than can negatively impact student success.

The League of Women Voters will partner with SCCC to develop and implement this important initiative. The League will hold voter registration drives on campus to increase the number of new voters. During the voter registration drives, pamphlets will be available that help students who may have felony convictions, disabilities or who are homeless which will enable them to exercise their right to vote.

The League distributes information on candidates and issues during election campaigns. In addition, the League has a long history of holding educational programs on local, state and national issues that will help students to become active and informed participants in our country.

The proposed DESTINATION: SUCCESS initiative is designed to improve SCCC's retention and graduation rates by significantly scaling up the College's ongoing efforts to provide support to its diverse and ever-changing student population. Providing on-campus access to crucial services will give SCCC students the support they need. This, in turn, will further strengthen student's families, our larger community, and our region. We enthusiastically support the College's application for SUNY Community Schools grant funding.

Sincerely,

Cheryl Nechamen

President

League of Women Voters of Schenectady County