September 1987 Home   Newsletters

December 1987

February 1988

From the President (Anne Lee)
Primary Elections in Hawaii?
Vacancy Study
People's Water Conference
Legislative Action '88
Legislative Help Wanted!
League Profile: Marian Wilkins
Legislative Access for Neighbor Islanders (Debbie Kimball)
Action for Education (Libby Oshiyama)
LWV Continues Action and Leadership in Juvenile Justice Issues (Libby Oshiyama)
Safety on Tap (Kiyoko Nitz)
Wanted: Oahu Representative for Comparable Worth (Debbie Kimball)
When You See This Symbol
Debates Conference Gets Gannett Grant (Anne Lee)
Update: Corporate Drive
Shelter Aid: Help for Abused Spouses (Tisha Hickson)

photo by Carla Anette

From the President

An opportunity I could not pass up! Ms Program, who writes the Ms Program's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct League Study and Action for the Texas LWV, recently took a vacation in Hawaii. Taking time out from relaxing on the beach, she agreed to answer some questions the Hawaii State League had just received.

What is this thing called consensus anyway?

Curious in Kailua

Ms Program: The term "consensus" is defined as "general agreement." In League language it is used interchangeably with the term "member agreement" to refer to the overall decision-making process by which substantial agreement among members is reached on a issue and to a specific technique used traditionally in the League to discuss and arrive at conclusions on issues.

Before the League can act, members must agree in broad terms on what they think about various aspects of an issue. Members should have the opportunity to become informed on the issue before being asked to decide - that is why we put out Facts and Issues and/or hold informational meetings. Used as a technique for reaching member agreement, consensus is a process whereby members participate in a group decision on an issue.

Well, how in the world does this process begin and end?

Skeptical in Lihue

Ms Program Every two years, at a League Convention, new studies can be proposed. If the delegates from the local Leagues agree that the League should take on this new study, study committees are set up to carry out research, lead informational meetings, write articles for newsletters, and prepare Facts and Issues. The main goal is to inform the total membership on all the aspects of the issue. Once the Board determines that the study phase is completed, it approves "consensus" questions. Local Leagues then hold meetings for the purpose of reaching member agreement on the issue. However, sometimes member agreement is reached through a tear-off form in a newsletter or special mailing or sometimes even through telephone polling.

Each local League then reports to the State Board what the membership agrees to (or does not agree to). It is the responsibility of the State Board to evaluate the reports from the local Leagues in order to formulate a "position." This position expresses the League's point of view regarding an issue and forms the basis for League action.

What about concurrence? I'm confused.

Confused in Hilo

Ms Program: There is no need for confusion. Sometimes we reach membership agreement through a slightly different process called "concurrence." This is the act of agreeing with a position proposed by a study committee, a League Board, or another League. The end result is the same, however: membership agreement that allows us to determine if there is a position under which we can act.

I want to take action! Now!

Eager in Honolulu

Ms Program: League is strong because our action only comes after we have reached a position. I always say that action is the lifeblood of the League. It includes lobbying and monitoring, and sometimes litigation, in those areas where we have reached a position. The Board has the responsibility of working out an action strategy because action will not be, effective if it is a hit or miss proposition.

I just got a copy of the Hawaii League's Facts and Issues on primary elections. But it doesn't come to any conclusions. You mean I have to make up my own mind?

Lazy in Kaimuki

Ms Program: You hit it right on the head. This publication does not come to any conclusions, but discusses some background history and presents pros and cons. That is because the membership must come to agreement. You wouldn't want someone else to make up your mind for you. It is the local Leagues that will get membership agreement on these issues. So, get off your okole and attend a meeting. Make sure you make your views known. Take part in the League process.

What about this education study the 1985 Convention adopted? What is going on with that?

Studious in Hawaii Kai

Ms Program: After much study the committee put together a Facts and Issues which was distributed to all Hawaii members and. then member agreement meetings were held on a consensus question. As a result, your State Board formulated a position.. Now you can take action. And I understand that plans are underway.

In 1987, the delegates voted to continue the study with the idea that you needed to come to membership agreement on additional aspects of education. In reviewing the intent of the study and the position reached, however, the State Board agreed that the position allowed action on all areas members were concerned about. This does not mean that the committee won't do any more research and informational publications. There is still the task of determining what specifics will be addressed under the position.

So, the process never ends?

All knowing in Kihei

Ms Program: Hey, you are sharp. You can see that the process never ends. . . Even once we have reached a position and can take action, lots of work has to be done: gathering more information and letting members know what is happening in particular areas, as well as lobbying and monitoring. At any one time, a League is at various stages in this process. We may be thinking up new studies, studying issues adopted at the latest Convention, and working on action for those issues where we have member agreement, all at the same time. Wherever we are in this cycle, one key element to traditional League functioning is keeping the members informed and basing our work on their agreement - that's what makes the League the respected organization it is.

Thanks, Ms Program! We hope you return to Hawaii real soon.

Anne Lee

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