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Monday, July 23, 2018

  • Thursday, July 19, 2018 4:00 AM
    The United States Constitution mandates that redistricting of the United States House of Representatives and state legislative districts occur following the Census taken every 10 years. The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting was created by the AARP, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of Indiana and others to encourage a redistricting process that is fair and open and results in compact districts which protect communities of interest, and upholds the Voting Rights Act.
    Tuesday was the anniversary of the birthday (July 17, 1744) of Eldridge Gerry, noted as the “Father of Gerrymandering.” Gerry had run unsuccessfully for Massachusetts Governor several times before winning the office in 1810. In 1812, he encouraged the legislature to approve a district which looked much like a salamander to assure a positive outcome. The term “gerrymandering” has been used ever since to identify the process by which electoral districts are drawn with the aim of aiding the party in power.
    The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting declared July 17—Gerry’s birthday the Day of Action for Redistricting Reform to remind state legislators that time is running out for redistricting reform and to put this at the top of legislative agenda next year.
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  • Thursday, July 12, 2018 4:00 AM
    Eighty-one percent of assessed stream miles in Indiana are polluted with unsafe concentrations of pathogens. Added to that is the fact that Indiana has more of these coal ash lagoons (84 in total) than any other state. More than West Virginia or Kentucky! These are just two of the topics that were part of a recent Lunch with the League presentation by Liz Solberg, League of Women Voters of Indiana State Natural Resources Advocate. 
    Solberg has spent almost five decades studying and monitoring the Wabash River Watershed. This is one of the three Mississippi River sub-basins that have the dubious distinction of delivering the highest nutrient loads (large quantities of nitrogen, phosphates and other chemicals) into the Gulf of Mexico. This has resulted in the creation of a huge "dead zone" (a more common term for hypoxia, which refers to areas in the ocean of such low oxygen concentration that animal life suffocates and dies) in the Gulf. Think about it--pollution in not only the Wabash River but Sugar Creek, Big Raccoon Creek and all the other streams and tributaries in our area affect habitats thousands of miles away. There is a lot of work to be done.
    Nationally, the League has a very clear position on water quality: Support measures to reduce pollution in order to protect surface water, groundwater and drinking water. The League of Greater Lafayette has taken it one step farther by promoting environmentally sustainable corridor development along the Wabash.
    Four decades ago, as many might remember, there were open garbage dumps along the banks of the Wabash. The League worked hard and secured an EPA grant for solid waste management education. Events were held for local officials to raise awareness of the deadly implications of ongoing disposal practices. Thanks to another EPA grant, the League was able to show the effects of non-point water pollution (Nonpoint source pollution generally results from land runoff, precipitation, atmospheric deposition, drainage, seepage).
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  • Thursday, July 5, 2018 4:00 AM
    Independence Day yesterday marked 52 years since the landmark Freedom of Information Act went into effect—yet some Americans are still distrustful of government.
    The Freedom of Information Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 4, 1966. This legislation gives citizens the right to request and obtain documents from any agency of the Executive Branch of the United States Government except those that are exempted by statute such as classified documents.
    FOIA applies only to federal government agencies. Each agency is responsible for meeting FOIA responsibilities for its own records and for having specific information available on its website. Each agency must provide clear description of its central and field organizations and places from which the public may obtain information, make requests, or obtain decisions.
    The law has been amended over the years, first in 1974, following the Watergate scandal. In 1976, the Sunshine Act amendments specified several exemptions, such as national defense. A Presidential Executive Order in 1982 allowed withholding information related to national security.
    The Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 required certain types of records to be available electronically. In 2001, a Presidential Executive Order restricted access to records of former Presidents. The Intelligence Authorization Act of 2002 precluded any covered US intelligence agency from disclosing records in response to requests made by foreign governments.
    The “Open Government Act of 2007,” signed by President Bush, was a bipartisan effort to achieve meaningful reforms with over a dozen substantive provisions to achieve four objectives:
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  • Thursday, June 28, 2018 4:00 AM
    “From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City” was a recent Green Issues Film co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Wabash College Library. “From Flint” helped viewers realize the impact of Flint, Michigan’s devastating water contamination crisis on ordinary citizens. This failure of public service began in 2014 and its impact continues today. Viewers are taken on the ground to see how public services that we take for granted will fail if governmental officials fail to protect public health.
    The 28-minute “From Flint” goes well beyond news headlines to hear residents describe their personal struggles, including serious medical issues that affected them. Up to 12,000 children may have been exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water. Some residents were also forced to abandon their homes without warning.
    The film also highlights how citizens of Flint organized large, peaceful protests to express to the wider world the anger over their local government that first failed to protect them and then was slow to admit that and take corrective measures.
    In 2014, city officials in Flint switched the city water supply from Detroit’s municipal water system, one of the world’s cleanest, to water drawn from the Flint River which is highly contaminated with lead and other contaminants. Not only was the health of an entire city of 12,000 impacted, but the polluted water damaged the infrastructure through which it flows.
    Flint’s citizens have not only been victims of this catastrophe, they have been its heroes. “From Flint” also highlights how people and local organizations have banded together to help and support one as they deal with their own health issues and with issues that arise when water from taps cannot be used for drinking, cooking, nor bathing.
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  • Thursday, June 21, 2018 4:00 AM
    Saturday will mark the 46th Anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the law that opened up many opportunities for women in the classroom, sports and more. The National Women’s History Projects notes “Title IX of the Education Amendments for the 1972, signed by President Nixon, is one of the most important legislative initiatives passed for women and girls since women won the vote in 1920.”
    Title IX, passed on June 23, 1972, states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
    While many people think of Title IX with its impact on high school and collegiate athletics, the legislation covers all educational activities. However, the benefits Title IX brought to the playing fields of our schools can also be credited with increasing the numbers of women graduating from high school and college, earning graduate degrees and entering into traditionally male-dominated careers.
    Title IX was written by Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink who cited the adversities she faced in obtaining her college degrees at the University of Hawaii, University of Nebraska and the University of Chicago as a driving force for her to initiate this landmark legislation.
    Interestingly, Indiana Senator Birch Bayh has often been called the “Father of Title IX” as he too was instrumental in crafting the legislation and then successfully seeing it through the United States Senate. The former Senator returned to Indiana in 2002 to participate in the 30th Anniversary celebration of Title IX conducted at the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis and at which the LWV of Montgomery County was represented.
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  • Thursday, June 14, 2018 4:00 AM
    Indiana has a dubious commonality with Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, and Wyoming. We’re one of only these four other states that have no statutes criminalizing various types of bias-motivated violence or intimidation. In a recent “Lunch With the League” presentation, Dr. Anita Joshi, who has practiced pediatrics in Crawfordsville for over 20 years, made a clear case for the need of such legislation in Indiana.
    Hate crimes are those motivated by biases based on race, gender, gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. They are particularly sad because the person committing a crime like assault might have no other reason for the attack other than the person they are attacking happens to be Hispanic or gay or whatever. The underlying crime is assault. This crime becomes much more troubling and serious when it becomes clear that the underlying motivation is bigotry or racism.
    Indian law does have a definition for hate crime and law enforcement agencies are required to report them. The problem is, defining hate crimes is one thing. Backing up the definition with anti-bias legislation is really what we need. Legislation would allow for harsher penalties for the criminals. It would help in the maintenance of more consistent record keeping of hate crime offenses as well as giving prosecutors an much more robust tool to show the public that intolerance is unacceptable to the citizens of Indiana.
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  • Thursday, June 7, 2018 4:00 AM
    “Straws” was the first film shown at the May 24 Green Issues Film Series co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County and the Wabash College Lilly Library. The film outlines how billions of non-recyclable plastic straws litter streets and wash into oceans.
    A small, plastic straw is something that comes with most beverages people order, from soft drinks or even a glass of water. While this small straw may not seem like a lot, the impact is actually causing a serious problem for the environment. In the United States, people are using 500 million straws every day. This is enough straws to circle around the Earth 2.5 times! This is creating a lot of trash and potential litter.
    Why are straws so bad for the environment? First, plastic straws cannot be easily recycled as they are most commonly made from type 5 plastic, or polypropylene. Trash is impersonating food, causing animals to eat whatever fits in their mouths. This plastic trash remains in the food chain and is eventually introduced into our human bodies. Since the beginning of plastic products 150 years ago, 50 percent has been produced in the last 15 years. That is an unprecedented increase, and we are still trying to find out the effects it will have on ecosystems around the world.
    When restaurants switched to the more expensive paper straws, they saw a 28% reduction in cost. Why? The bars and restaurants decided to adopt a policy of “straws provided upon request.” They learned when people were served without a straw in their drink, no one really cared.
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  • Thursday, May 31, 2018 4:00 AM
    The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County presented the “2018 Making Democracy Work Award” to Deborah Kochert at the recent Annual Meeting of the LWV.
    This award recognizes and honors a member of our community who has been a leader and actively engaged in the hands-on work to keep Montgomery County a strong, fair, and vibrant place to live and has demonstrated an on-going commitment to making democracy work.
    Born in Staten Island, NewYork in 1972, Deborah has lived in Crawfordsville from age two and graduated from Crawfordsville High School. Her interest in dance started at the Steven’s Dance Academy as a youngster.
    Twenty-two years ago she created “Dance by Deborah”, first teaching in a small studio and then expanding in the large studios at 131 East Main Street where she works each year with 230 or more students of all ages teaching Ballet, Point, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Tumbling and Cheerleading. Deborah’s students develop confidence and a sense of accomplishment and compete successfully in a variety of competitions, the most recent just a few weeks ago.
    Deborah welcomes and works with everyone. She became frustrated with the divisiveness in our community so she took action in November, 2016 leading to the creation of Humans United for Equality (HUE), a grass roots group dedicated to individuals who believe diversity and equality make our community stronger and our lives richer.
    HUE has organized and sponsored many activities showing both children and adults that our differences are integral to the vibrancy of our community and this awareness and participation can be key to making democracy work!
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  • Thursday, May 24, 2018 4:00 AM
    A Green Issues Summer Movie Series will again be co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County and the Wabash College Lilly Library. Free to the public, the movies will start at 7 p.m. in the Korb Classroom at the Fine Arts Center Wabash College on South Grant Street.
    Light refreshments will be provided at each of the films. The Green Issues Film Series is provided as a free service to residents of Montgomery County to spark awareness of and interest in environmental issues facing Americans today. This year six films will be offered.
    Wednesday, May 30-From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City + Straws
    “Winner of the Student Academy Award, From Flint goes beyond the news headlines to spotlight the impact of the devastating water contamination crisis on the people of Flint, Michigan. The film highlights the stories of residents along with work of local organization and individuals that rallied to support them. Straws outlines how billions of non-recyclable plastic straws litter streets and wash into oceans. Straws provides alternate, sustainable solutions and is ultimately a tale about how small actions can lead to big change.” Video Project
    Tuesday, June 12 -Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock
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  • Thursday, May 17, 2018 4:00 AM
    Success, advocacy and promotion. These are the key benefits and services that the Crawfordsville/Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce provides to its members. The role of the Chamber in ensuring economic vitality in our area is integral to all of us. In a recent presentation at the League of Women Voters Lunch With the League program, Executive Director Rick Hernandez gave us an insightful look at all the many aspects of the Chamber’s contributions to our local businesses.
    Founded in 1918, the Chamber is celebrating its centennial year with a fresh logo and Website. Rick is bringing a fresh wave of enthusiasm to the Chamber’s mission to celebrate this milestone. Collaboration and networking between members works to everyone’s advantage. Montgomery County has more resources for business needs that you might think. By holding regular breakfasts, lunches and special events, members are able to talk with each other and discuss problems and solutions to various issues they might have in common.
    Part of the benefits of membership includes special seminars. For example, the Chamber has partnered with the Montgomery County Leadership Academy to learn more about personalities and how to work together to become more successful. In another seminar, they discussed collaboration and conflict resolution. Another important partner is Franciscan Health Care. One program dealt with the importance of sleep which is very relevant to the rotating hours necessitated in some of our manufacturing facilities. 
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  • Thursday, May 10, 2018 4:00 AM
    The League of Women Voters applauds all who participated in the May 8 Primary Election. The LWV believes that government can work if people are informed and engaged. Overall 5,130 Montgomery County citizens voted or 21.47% of registered voters.
    An election takes a great deal of work by many people. The Montgomery County Clerk Karyn Douglas coordinated the running of the Primary Election with the help of many county employees and party officials. This involved providing training for poll workers, assuring ballots were accurate, distributing voting equipment to the early voting stations and five vote centers on election day, receiving the equipment after the election, running through computer results and distributing results to political parties, new media, radio, LWV, and others.
    Many people assisted with early voting at the Court House as well as at Rock Point Church, Ladoga Library, Waveland Fire Station, Waynetown Christian Church and Darlington Armory. Early voting attracted 1,736 of the 5,130 total number of voters. This took a great deal of organization by County Voting officials.
    Each Vote Center Tuesday had eight workers who checked voter identification, assigned voting code by precinct, and helped voters individually at ten voting stations. St. Bernard’s Catholic Church Vote Center workers were the first to return to the Court House Tuesday night having 704 voters of 2440 registered. Highest number of voters at a Vote Center occurred at Rock Point Church with 1018 voters. 617 voted at North Montgomery High School, 601 at Whitesville Church, and 454 at Friendship Baptist Church.
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  • Thursday, May 3, 2018 4:00 AM
    Tuesday, May 1 marked the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of Law Day, a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law. Law Day was created in 1958 by the American Bar Association and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The 2018 focus is on the theme “Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom.” 
    League of Women Voters is a longtime cooperating partner. Every year, through educational programs nationwide, Leagues and other organizations help underscore how law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms that all Americans share. The LWV of Montgomery County recognizes the importance of fair and impartial laws and why every vote matters to the people of Montgomery County, encouraging all citizens to vote in the Primary and General Elections.
    Since 1958, proclamations have been issued on Law Day each year by United States Presidents. Donald J. Trump’s 2018 proclamation states:
    “On Law Day, we celebrate our Nation’s heritage of liberty, justice, and equality under the law. This heritage is embodied most powerfully in our Constitution, the longest surviving document of its kind. The Constitution established a unique structure of government that ensured to our country the blessings of liberty through law for nearly 229 years.
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  • Thursday, April 26, 2018 4:00 AM
    Consideration of Wind Energy is an important and hot topic for the residents of Montgomery County. The League of Women Voters sponsored a public forum recently with Mitchell Kirk, reporter with the Pharos-Tribune in Logansport/Cass County, discussing issues related to Wind Farms he has observed in Cass, Fulton and Miami Counties. Attendees at the local forum included both advocates and opponents to Wind Farms, but discussion was conducted in a civil manner.
    Renewable Energy Systems (RES), which has locations all over the world, including the United States, is proposing a project for Cass County as well as other counties in Indiana. RES is owned by Dr. Robert McAlpine, a construction company based in England. All three Cass County Commissioners are in favor of the project, and there is both support and opposition by the public.
    RES is calling this a $900 million project and they have secured 35,000 acres for the project from landowners in northern Cass and Miami Counties. The Cass County Commissioners and RES are currently continuing to negotiate. A number of issues and an economic development agreement will result from the negotiations.
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  • Thursday, April 19, 2018 4:00 AM
    Founding by the activists who secured voting rights for women, the League has always worked to promote the values and processes of representative Government. Over the decades, the League has developed a set of basic principles which guide the study and advocacy of the organization at local, state, and national levels.
    The League of Women Voters believes in representative government and in the individual liberties as established in the Constitution of the United States. The LWV of the United States believes that all powers of the U.S. government should be exercised within the constitutional framework of a balance among the three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial.
    The LWV believes that democratic government depends upon informed and active participation in government and requires that governmental bodies protect the citizen’s right to know by giving adequate notice of proposed actions, holding open meetings and making public records accessible.
    The LWV believes that every citizen should be protected in the right to vote; that every person should have access to free public education that provides equal opportunity for all; and that no person or group should suffer legal, economic or administrative discrimination.
    The LWV believes that efficient and economical government requires competent personnel, the clear assignment of responsibilities, adequate financing, and coordination among the different agencies and levels of government.
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  • Thursday, April 12, 2018 4:00 AM
    “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” So said James Madison (Federalist #51, February 8, 1778.)
    Our system of government is unique and daring. In a recent Lunch with the League talk, Robert Leming clearly demonstrated how the understanding the Constitution—its history, its role in shaping American life and politics, and its relevance today—is essential for anyone who wants to be a better-informed voter, leader, or citizen. Leming is National Director of the “We the People Program” for the Center for Civic Education and Professor of Graduate Studies at Kansas State University.
    Leming has put together an adult education program he calls “Constitution 101.” It’s a (once a week for two hours) six- week course in which he leads a group inquiry into a critical look at government and the Constitution. Weekly topics range from “What Are the Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System?” to “What Challenges Might Face American Constitutional Democracy in the Twenty-first Century?”
    During Leming’s recent LWV presentation, he used excerpts from the Federalist Papers (specifically from James Madison’s Federalist #51) to make his points.
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