Letters to the Editor of Mercury News and other local newspapers. Op Ed pieces
To the Editor:
The League of Women Voters is dedicated to ensuring that all eligible voters have the opportunity to vote in an open free and secure electoral process. There is a movement in Congress to terminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). With continuing controversy about the accuracy, conduct and participation in American elections, this is not the time to abolish the only federal entity devoted exclusively to improving election administration on a bi-partisan basis.
The EAC does invaluable work to improve our nation's election systems on a voluntary, non-regulatory basis. It oversees the federal voting system certification program that sets standards for the upgrade of America's voting machines and that 47 states depend on to maintain their voting machines. The EAC also improves accessibility at the polls for more than 37 million voters with disabilities. Finally, local election officials rely on the EAC to provide best practices on voting and election administration.
The EAC instills confidence in our election system. Rather than eliminating the EAC, Congress should provide the agency with resources and a renewed commitment to sponsoring and encouraging information sharing among state and local officials.
Elections are the lifeblood of a democracy and the EAC instills confidence in our election system. We strongly urge Representatives Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna and Zoe Lofgren to actively oppose The Election Assistance Commission Termination Act.
Mary Collins President, League of Women Voters San Jose/Santa Clara
To the Editor:
The Clean Air Act saves lives. Since 1970, it has cut unhealthy levels of air pollution throughout the country at reasonable cost. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was delegated responsibility to review, monitor and develop appropriate controls.
Now, it is updating regulations to control air pollutants, curb emissions, and address global climate change. But, special interests and their allies in Congress are trying to curtail EPA's authority and sidetrack these new rules.
This is a critical public health and environmental issue. But it is also a good government issue. Bypassing this process which Congress created to avoid politics and assure scientific and technological expertise is simply bad government.
The League of Women Voters believes that new clean air regulations are needed, and that Congress should not yield to special interests and undermine EPA. Scientific and technological decisions must be based on knowledge and expertise rather than raw politics.
Sincerely, Martha C. Beattie, President, League of Women Voters of San Jose/Santa Clara
To the Editor:
Secret campaign cash has no place in American democracy. Yet we have the largest campaign expenditures in history, with huge sums from secret sources going into campaign advertising. With changes in the law, there are no disclosure requirements. League of Women Voters has called on Congress for months to act on the DISCLOSE Act, which would have stopped manipulation of elections by anonymous hit groups, and prevented the infusion of undercover expenditures. The U.S. Senate has refused to act, even after the House passed a strong bill. Voters deserve to know who is paying for election advertising. We call on all candidates to disavow secret advertising and ask our media outlets not to accept ads unless the names of the true donors are made public.
Sincerely, Martha C. Beattie, President League of Women Voters of San Jose/Santa Clara
Thank you for your correction about the League of Women Voters' stand on Proposition 20 (September 14, 2010), which would add Congressional redistricting to the work of the Citizens Redistricting Commission being formed to draw the lines for state legislature.
Proposition 20 is well-intentioned but premature. The commission should draw Congressional district lines, but the process should be fully implemented before responsibilities are expanded.
We are striving to implement this major reform of our redistricting process, and thus strongly oppose Proposition 27, which would kill what voters approved in 2008 and return the authority for redistricting to the backrooms of the Legislature. Let's give redistricting reform a chance to work the way the voters intended before we take the next step and add Congressional redistricting.
Sincerely, Martha C. Beattie, President League of Women Voters San Jose/Santa Clara
To the Editor:
Proposition 16 is a cynical and misleading effort by PG&E, a for-profit corporation, to protect its business from competition.
Cities like Santa Clara have enjoyed lower electricity costs by being able to purchase cheaper power using its own utility, Silicon Valley Power, for over 100 years.
If Proposition 16 passes there would be less chance for communities to get cheaper electric power or take advantage of more renewable or less-polluting sources than they now receive from their current utility, PG&E. Such opportunities would be all but impossible with the super-majority rule required by Proposition 16.
PG&E is spending tens of millions of its shareholders' dollars--collected from ratepayers-- to promote this measure, and will continue to spend whatever it takes to defeat any measure that would cut into its business.
The San Jose/Santa Clara League of Women Voters urges you: Vote NO on Proposition 16.
Sincerely, Martha Beattie, President, League of Women Voters San Jose/Santa Clara
Editor: The League of Women Voters urges you to vote YES on Proposition 15! Proposition 15 on the June 8 ballot is a first step toward changing the way we finance elections in California. It is a pilot project to make voluntary public financing available to Secretary of State candidates in 2014 and 2018. Fees on lobbyists fund the program, not taxpayers' dollars.
Public financing of campaigns has a successful, proven track record in Maine, North Carolina and Connecticut. It frees politicians from fundraising and dampens the impact of special interest lobbyists. Elected officials have passed bipartisan, ground-breaking legislation without fearing retribution from powerful special interests. Qualified candidates from all backgrounds are encouraged to run, because they, too, can be elected, not just those who are wealthy or know wealthy donors.
Vote Yes on Proposition 15.
Respectfully, Martha Beattie, President, League of Women Voters San Jose/Santa Clara
March 11-17 is Sunshine Week, a national initiative promoting government transparency. San Jose has come far since last year's initiative, when the Mercury News together with our organization called for open government and several city council members proposed Sunshine reforms. A Sunshine Reform Task Force was formed little more than two months later. By August, the City Council began to enact new ordinances reflecting Sunshine concerns, and since January that pace has accelerated, under the clear direction of the new mayor. There has clearly been a change in direction for the city that will benefit all who live in San Jose.
The League of Women Voters is always working to keep our community strong, healthy and vibrant, which requires an open government.