Twenty-five Ozaukee County League members along with two guests; Katie Egan-Bruhy and Paul Grunze attending the January 26, 2019 Program Planning Meeting. League Members were joined by guest speakers Erica Turner of Bridge the Divide and Erin Grunze, Executive Director of League of Women Voters--Wisconsin.
Program Planning Background: All leagues across the nation have the opportunity to offer
program planning input. The program planning process is one of the important ways to focus
our grassroots work to align the organization on our issue priorities and our mission. The
LWVUS has issued a “Declaration for American Democracy” which includes tenets such as the
freedom to vote and have that vote counted, the need for honesty, the opportunity for
meaningful participation, providing transparency into our government and our elections, and a
democracy that is responsive. League program planning is encouraged to incorporate the
broad concepts of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Speaker Erica Turner gave an overview of the “Bridge the Divide” origins and current involvement in the Ozaukee County community. Erica explained that she has lived in Ozaukee County about 10 years. However, being a minority as an African-American in Ozaukee County at the time that some of the fires, violence, and property destruction occurred in Sherman Park in 2017, brought into stark contrast the disparities. Of particular concern was that very few people in Ozaukee County were discussing the losses and concerns of the Sherman Park community in contrast to the direct experience of many of her friends living in the midst of this challenging time. This prompted“Bridge the Divide”. Her group provides a safe forum to discuss our different perceptions. It is a place to begin to start the conversations that can help “Bridge theDivide”. Erica and co-leader Heidi Wheeler meet the first Monday of the month at the Cedarburg Library at 6 p.m. All are welcome. The February program will feature Venice Williams who will discuss her involvement in “Alice’s Garden Urban Farm” which is located at one of the former Underground Railroad sites. The discussion will also demonstrate the usefulness of the graphic recording tool to provide a way to “visualize”a discussion. “Bridge the Divide” has applied for a grant that would be used to show films that would help to bridge cultural differences. The Cedarburg Library is the official sponsor of this program. There are podcasts, and Heidi will have a monthly column in the News Graphic. More information can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaker Erin Grunze stated that she and husband have lived in Madison with their 2 children for about 18 years. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Erin led the very successful League program “Gear up To Vote”. Erin highlighted some of the priorities at the state Level. The first issue involves the Whitford Gerrymandering case. This had been sent back noting that plaintiffs needed to have “standing”. There are now 30 plaintiffs with “standing” and it is hoped that it will go forward in the spring. The Supreme Court has taken up gerrymandering cases from North Carolina and Maryland. A second priority involves FOXCONN and a water diversion request. The third legal issue involves a case contesting the legitimacy of the Lame Duck session held by the state legislature, and whether that is consistent with the state constitution. Erin also highlighted the broader work by her “E” team (Erin, Ellen, membership, and Eileen, voter services). They trained a significant number of election observers. This is an important role, and Erin gave one example that they were able to support a county clerk in advocating additional support due to the documentation from election observers about wait times and limited polling locations for voters. We have a primary coming up February 19th and Erin encouraged League members to continue the good work on educating voters. They are supporting groups of individuals in different parts of the state that are evaluating whether to start new leagues. The league continues to take positions on government, resource issues, and social policy concerns such as Fair Maps, transparency in government, protection of wetlands and clean water, and education, and immigration, juvenile justice, and health care. They send out alerts to members via email when there is pending legislation. Many of the league’s broad issue positions have remained the same over the years. However, what has changed is that some of the issue positions have now become attributed to one political party. This can create a perception of bias by the public. This is a continued challenge to educate our communities about the league’s positions and non-partisan mission. The state league works to develop coalitions and partnerships. Currently this involves educating about the importance of the 2020 census, Fair maps, and strengthening the recusal process in our courts. The Annual meeting will be held June 8th. It will be a one day event at the Green Lake conference center in Ripon. Information on details will be shared as we near the event. Erin also mentioned the League’s fundraising event March 5th “Big Share”. Lastly, Erin highlighted the planning for the Centennial celebration of the Nineteenth Amendment ratification.