President's Message (Grace Furukawa)|
Consensus on Gambling Study
Tax Reduction -- For Whom? (Astrid Monson)
Women's Coalition Package Update (Ina Percival)
League Testifies at the Public Hearing on One Archer Lane
League Monitors Domestic Violence Cases (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Orientation Meeting (Grace Furukawa)
Making Democracy Work
Arlene Ellis and I attended the LWVUS Council Meeting in Washington D.C. June 7-10. Council's main function is a review of the fiscal condition of National LWV and EDFUND as well as leadership training. The focus this year was on "Campaign Finance Reform". All Leaguers visited their representatives in Congress with the same message. We pushed for an incremental reform package believing this would have the best chance of passing. The incremental reform approach hopes to stop the worst abuses observed in the 1996 campaign. It would start by closing the soft money, issues advocacy and independent expenditure abuses. It would strengthens the Federal Elections Commission and provide free television time for candidates. Any legislation that does not end the soft money system is not real reform.
We managed to speak to the staff of Senator Inouye's office (he was attending an Arms Services Committee meeting). We did speak directly with Senator Akaka and Representatives Patsy Mink and Neil Abercrombie. They all agreed there was little chance of a comprehensive bill passing this congress, but admitted that incremental bills, might. Many congresspersons were submitting bills with different emphasis on reform. Rep. Mink submitted a bill that eliminates "soft money". She indicated that the climate in Congress may allow such a bill to pass. Here in Hawaii we are working at the state and local levels in a coalition with several other organizations to achieve this same goal.
There were excellent speakers at the various plenary sessions. Norm Ornsterin was very impressive. He clearly spelled out the detrimental effect of doing nothing about campaign reform. His point was the obvious the voters get pushed into the background as political leaders are inclined to attend to the desires of powerful interests who continue to fund their campaigns.
Vice President Gore made a surprise visit at our final dinner, complete with his cadre of secret service men. He is much more personable than his TV appearances would suggest.
In discussion with the Presidents of Big City Leagues, I found the problems of membership and diversity in membership much the same as ours. We had some suggestions for each other, but on the whole, they are struggling, as we are, to get new, younger and diverse members, particularly those who might be potential leaders.
It was a good experience for me at Council and I look forward to convention next year in San Diego. I hope many of you will come along, since it will be close to us think about it and let us know.
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