A look ahead...
LWV public meetings are held in the Sons of Norway Lodge, 722 2nd Ave.
N., Fargo, in the meeting room behind the cafeteria. Members and guests
who wish to go through the buffet line and eat together (in the lodge
meeting room), may do so at 11:30 a.m.
- March 7, 2003, 12:00 noon
- Lunch available beginning at 11:30 a.m.)
First Friday, Sons of Norway, 722 2nd Ave. N., Fargo
Water Quality and Quantity in the Red River Basin
Speaker: Lance Yohe, executive director of the International Coalition
for Land/Water Stewardship in the Red River Basin
- March 29, 2003
- LWVRRV Annual Meeting, VIP Room, 624 Main Ave, Fargo
11:15 a.m. - Registration
11:30 a.m.-Meeting & Brunch
(Reservation required. More information will be sent to members in a
- April 4, 2003, 2:00 noon
- Lunch available beginning at 11:30 a.m.
First Friday, Sons of Norway, 722 2nd Ave. N., Fargo
The Mission of the Family HealthCare Center
Speaker: Sherlyn Dahl, Executive Director of the Family HealthCare Center
- March 1, 15 & 29, 9-10:30 a.m.
- Fargo City Commission Room
Fargo Area Legislative Forums
- March 8 & April 5, 9-10:30 a.m.
- Council Chambers, Moorhead City Hall –
(note - this is a different site than previously announced)
North Dakota & Minnesota Legislative Forums
The League, in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce, has scheduled
several forums to follow the action during the 2003 North Dakota & Minnesota
Several of these forums have already been held during the month of February.
Nine legislators have appeared in 2 legislative forums so far in Fargo.
We filled the Fargo City Commission Chamber for each of the 90-minute
meetings. Among the issues audience members questioned legislators about
were: the proposal for a N.D. Human Rights Commission, teacher's pay and
education funding, economic development proposals and accountability for
current programs, hunting issues, and of course, concerns about budget
priorities and proposals to change the N.D. tax system. More questions
were received than could be asked and we are hoping that even more questions
will be asked at the next 3 forums, which will be
on Saturday, from 9-10:30 a.m., March 1, 15, and 29
in the City Commission room
at Fargo City Hall, 200 3rd St. N.
Scheduled to attend on March 1st are Senators Tim Mathern and John Syverson,
Representatives Byron Clark, Steve Zaiser and Al Carlson. On March 15th,
Senator Tom Fischer and Representatives Ron Iverson, Kathy Hawken, and
Sally Sandvig are scheduled. On March 29th, Sen. Carolyn Nelson and Representatives
Blair Thoreson and Randy Boehning are scheduled to attend.
On January 2nd, five League members attended a legislative interview
with Rep. Morrie Lanning during which he responded to questions that were
submitted by the Minnesota State League.
The Minnesota legislative forum on February 8th was attended by more
than 100 people. This was more than the Townsite Centre Board Room could
comfortably hold, so the next two forums will be held in the Council Chambers,
at Moorhead City Hall, 500 Center Ave. These meetings will be on Saturday,
from 9-10:30 .a.m., March 8th and April 5th.
These forums will also be sponsored by Moorhead Community Education.
It is expected that Senator Keith Langseth and Representatives Paul Marquart
and Morrie Lanning will attend.
Voter service extends its thanks to the City of Fargo, the media representatives
who attended, David Martin and all those at the Chamber of Commerce of
Fargo Moorhead, and all League volunteers who give their time and effort
to bring success to these forums
If you are interested in helping the League at any of these meetings,
please contact Barb Headrick (email@example.com) for Fargo Forums.
For Moorhead forums contact Mary Davies (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a message
at the League office (232-6696).
At both the January and February First Friday meetings, the focus was
on the Afghanistan and Pakistan region. Both meetings were very well attended
by League members and as well as several guests.
At the January meeting, League Co-President Julia Jones spoke about her
trip to New York City to attend the UN Briefing on the Progress on Women’s
Rights Around the World.
One of the speakers at this briefing, Jane Connors, Chief of Women's
Rights in the United Nations, explained the inner workings of the “Convention
for the Committee for Discrimination Against Women.” She stated that in
some countries around the world, legislation discriminates against women
especially in areas of citizenship and family issues. CEDAW provides a
constructive way forward and it is imperative that the U.S. ratifies this
Another speaker, Susan Safi Rafiq, the founder of the International Federation
of Afghan Women, gave an emotional description of conditions in Afghanistan,
both in the past and present. She stated that prior to 1964, the Afghan
Constitution gave many rights to women, and that returning to this Constitution
may offer the best chance for permanent improvement in their lives. Julia
Jones passed around a list that Susan Safi Rafiq had created, of items
that Afghani women need to start to rebuild the society. This list was
diverse, including seeds, magazines, textbooks and professional clothing.
At the February meeting, Nancy Friesen spoke on “Life Behind the Veil:
a Visitor’s View of Islamic Life.” Ms. Friesen has lived and worked in
rural Pakistan, near the Afghan border. She and her husband and three
young children spent several years in a small city in Pakistan, while
her husband was helping to construct small power generating projects.
She explained that visitors need to be sensitive to the culture of foreign
lands, especially in isolated areas, before they will have any chance
of being listened to. She showed us examples of the types of clothing
that she wore as a woman in a traditional Islamic culture, including a
Ms. Friesen explained that after the residents of the area felt comfortable
with her acceptance of their culture, the women would come to meetings
in her house. Many of the women had not known their neighbors before this
as they had not felt able to visit anyone except their relatives. At these
meetings, the Pakistani women would practice their English and, at the
same time, be exposed to Western thoughts on education and hygiene.
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization,
encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in
government, works to increase understanding of major public policy
issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
The League of Women Voters values diversity in its members. In
principle and in practice, the League knows no barriers on the
basis of age, creed, disability, gender, national origin, race
or sexual orientation, and encourages full participation in and
contribution to the organization by all its members.
Our country is faced with many challenges today. I believe the work our
local league does, in cooperation with the LWVUS, is instrumental in helping
our citizens to be politically aware and informed in this fast moving,
media driven world.
Our work is important. The League has stood the test of time and it is
with the commitment of concerned citizens that we continue to closely
monitor government at the local, state and national levels.
As the LWVRRV Annual Meeting draws closer, our board has been busy planning
next years budget, slate of officers and local program. We continue
to grow in membership and visibility, though there is much more work to
be done! Your involvement on all levels is encouraged and welcomed.
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to have served as your
Co-President this year. I have worked with many wonderful people and find
my time with the League is an enriching part of my life.
Happy Spring to all of you and well see you on Saturday, March
29th at the V.I.P. Room.
-- Julia Jones, Co-president
The LWVRRV Advocates
Local boards and commissions
The following letter has been submitted to the editors of local newspapers.
To the Editor:
The League of Women Voters of the Red River Valley recently completed
a study of advisory boards appointed by the city governments in Fargo,
Moorhead and West Fargo. We presented our recommendations to the cities
last fall. Beyond giving lip service to our findings, recent events demonstrate
that little is being done to change.
In our study we found that the present makeup of most appointed boards
and commissions does not reflect the growing diversity of our communities.
We urged local governing bodies to take steps to make sure that all segments
of our population have representation. However, all appointments to Fargo’s
Liquor License Advisory Group to date have been men. Overall membership
on Moorhead committees remains 70% male.
The League of Women Voters recommended term limits for local appointments
in order to increase the opportunities for citizens to serve. In Moorhead,
names were recently put forth for re-appointment to the Public Service
Commission and Planning Commission even though they had served well past
Moorhead’s term limit. By continuing to re-appoint the same people, we
are missing out on the new ideas and energy brought by younger residents
and by citizens from diverse backgrounds. We find it particularly ironic
that the possibility of re-appointing the same men came up at the very
meeting where the Moorhead City Council received recommendations from
the Human Rights Commission, one of which was to increase diversity on
city boards and commissions.
The League also recommended an open appointment process whereby residents
are aware of openings and have a way to apply if they are interested.
Some of our local units of government do put ads in the paper or use a
website. We commend this practice and encourage all local units of government
to do this. However, they also need to consider more aggressive ways of
reaching out to groups of citizens not currently involved in local government.
The League of Women Voters believes that citizen involvement is key to
a strong democracy. Let us start at home by involving as many citizens
as possible in local government. We will all be stronger for it.
--Julia Jones, Co-President League of Women Voters of the Red River
LWV Of North Dakota
Takes A Stand On Campaign Finance Reform
In North Dakota, Senate Bill 2403 was recently introduced as an attempt
to clarify and to expand our current laws regarding campaign contribution
statements and our campaign finance laws. North Dakota has a been a leader
in preventing corporations and special interest groups from having too
much sway through our campaign finance laws. Currently, corporations may
not make direct contributions to aid any political party, political committee
or organization. A portion of this bill, introduced by the leadership
of both parties, would eliminate our high standards by allowing corporations
to make donations to state political parties for the use in “purchasing,
maintaining or renovating a building” or “purchasing fixtures, furnishings
or equipment for the building.”
Not only does this change the scope of this law, it expands it without
monetary limits. This means that the availability of funds to cover the
political party’s overhead will free up more hard money for candidates
to spend directly on their campaigns. In addition, the wording of the
bill provides that said donations do not have to be disclosed to the public
until January 31st of each year after an election.
The League of Women Voters of North Dakota supports campaign finance
reform that would improve the methods of financing political campaigns
in order to ensure the public’s right to know, and to combat corruption
and undue influence. This legislation would appear to take North Dakota
backward in our quest for fair elections.
The League of Women Voters of North Dakota has submitted testimony to
the North Dakota Legislature urging that this portion of SB 2403 not be
enacted into law.
--Suzanne M. Dobbins, President
League of Women Voters of North Dakota
League of Women Voters of the Red River Valley
Co-Presidents: Julia Jones* and Janet Van Amburg*
Vice President: Barbara Headrick*
Secretary: Mary Davies*
Treasurer: Suzanne Dobbins
Marlene Batterberry, Carla Hartje, Margaret Blue,*
Carolyn Bowe,* Helen Rudie,* Carol Sawicki *
Bea Arett, Judy Lee, Lois Ivers Altenburg, Mary Davies and Margaret Blue
* denotes terms expiring in 2003
Fargo School Board
At a special meeting on Saturday, February 15, 2003, the Fargo School
Board met to discuss issues relating to the Long Range Plan for Facilities.
One issue was that of a single grade configuration, on which a decision
must be made before remodeling and construction needs, as well as school
size and location, can be determined. Four models that were submitted
by the Facilities Steering Committee in 2002 were considered. They were
- A) K-6, 7-9, 10-12 (current north side configuration)
- B) K-6, 7-9, 10-12 with 9th grade “academies” (school-within-a-school)
at Ben Franklin on the north side, and at South or Discovery on the
- C) K-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-12 (current south side configuration)
- D) K-5, 6-8, 9-12
The analysis process considered how each model aligned with three dimensions:
community (the guiding principles developed by the Facilities Steering
Committee based on public input), pedagogical considerations, and fiscal
implications. Following group discussion, each member rated the models
separately on these three dimensions. Model D was given the highest average
score with Model A deemed the second highest by consensus. The administration
was asked to supply more in-depth information on each of these two configurations.
It was clarified that any change in configuration would not occur immediately
but rather be phased in over time. It was also affirmed that what occurs
within the classrooms between teachers and students is more significant
to learning and achievement than building configuration.
Consideration was given to a first draft of a rubric for prioritizing
major facility renovations and ongoing maintenance concerns. Instructional,
safety and operational needs would be weighed and ranked in terms of their
urgency. Timelines and cost estimates would then be prepared and incorporated
within the long range facilities plan for projects planned during the
ensuing five year period.
(Drawn from Board Briefs for February 15, 2003; edited by Audrey Richmond)
Fargo City Commission
Since the North Dakota Legislature has been in session, the Fargo City
Commission has held legislative updates as part of their regular meetings.
There is a list of over 70 bills being considered by the legislature which
would have an impact on the city if enacted, so city staff and commissioners
follow them closely. The bills that are of the most concern are those
that would take away local control from city government. The recent annexation
matter with West Fargo, and special assessment issues have also led to
the introduction several bills of concern to the mayor and commission.
--Carol Sawicki, Observer
Be a Part of the League Observer Corps!
Are you interested in government and how it works?
If you are a member of the League of Women Voters, then the answer to
this question is almost certainly yes. Would you like to learn more and
become more involved in local government? If the answer to this question
is yes, then maybe you should consider joining the Observer Corps of the
League of Women Voters of the Red River Valley.
Would you like a chance to help other local Leaguers be better informed
citizens? This year the League is studying local board and commissions.
There are a large number of these that operate in Fargo, Moorhead, West
Fargo and Cass and Clay Counties. Most local citizens are not aware of
the duties and importance of these bodies. A LWV observer can report back
to our members via the Voter newsletter and help them learn more.
An observer, in most cases, spends only one or two hours per month attending
the regular meetings of a local board or commission. All observers wear
a badge identifying them as a league member. They do not participate in
the meeting, except to ask a question for clarification if necessary.
Many regular Observers have discovered that attending local board meetings
is an interesting and highly educational experience. The LWVRRV is a respected
organization, and the people who make up these local decision-making groups
come to know and respect individuals who come to observe them.
Observing is a good way for anyone who is considering political office
to become known to the community. It can also help them decide where they
can best use their own interests and talents to serve their community.
If you are interested or would like to learn more about the LWV Observer
Corps, please contact Carol Sawicki at 232-5676.
At the January meeting, the LWVRRV Board discussed the need to raise
local dues, due to an increase in the PMP (per member payment) that our
chapter is required to send the national league organization. The Board
agreed to raise the annual dues to $45/individual, $67.50/household and
$15/student. This increase will go into effect for the membership year
that begins in April 2003.
Since the attendance at monthly general membership meetings has not been
very good, it was decided to have these meetings quarterly instead in
the upcoming year.
A flyer announcing the 59th annual Minnesota State League Convention
was distributed. This convention will be in Duluth, MN on May 30-31. Anyone
who would like more information about attending this convention should
contact Mary Davies (email@example.com) or Janet VanAmburg (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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