League of Women Voters of the RivertownsPO Box 142, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706
LW State Voter Newsletter
LWV NYS Capitol Beat Weekly Wrap-Up
- Hot Topics Breakfast
- Movie Screening
- Voter Registration
- Statement on Release of NY Voter Data to Federal Commission
- Annual Meeting Highlights
- Legislation on Trafficking
- Legislative Action
- Defend Democracy
- Legislative Procedures
- Support for the New York Health Act
- LWVR Leaders Urge NYHA Passage
- Youth Engagement
August 2, 2017
It is very distressing to hear that the New York State Board of Elections has agreed to release voter information to the federal Election Integrity Commission.
Although the release of this information through Freedom of Information Law requests is not uncommon, this particular request is a veiled threat to our state’s voters. It is our fear that the collection of this data will ultimately lead to an increase in voter suppression. The Commission is already having a negative impact on our voters. The League has received many phone calls from individuals wishing to “unregister” themselves and remove themselves from the state voter database in order to remain anonymous to this commission. We encourage all voters to stand strong in the face of oppression. Get registered, stay registered, and VOTE in all upcoming elections.
– Jennifer Wilson, Program and Policy Director, League of Women Voters New York State
Highlights for 2016-2017:
At our kick-off meeting in September, Mary Jane Shimsky spoke about her many responsibilities as a county legislator and especially as chair of the infrastructure committee. She inspired us all, along with Emma Lou’s environmental committee, to send comments about the proposed parking of barges on the Hudson.
Emma Lou launched a letter-writing campaign on this topic.
Fall voter registration activities reached a new high, to be detailed by Lynn Levine.
Since November we’ve had a significant uptick in members and Ruth will be announcing our newest totals. In January many of us attended the Women’s march, either in New York or Washington DC. Also in January Susan Schwarz hosted a successful event for new members to identify areas of interest and opportunities for participation. In March we held a forum at the Greenburgh Public Library on the pros and cons of a constitutional convention where we had a record turnout of 75 audience members. Also in March, we were invited by the Social Studies Chair at Hastings HS to submit job descriptions for internships in May for seniors. Char Weigel prepared the job descriptions which were very well received; we will submit them again next year.
Rivertowns was also represented this year at the April 27 Running and Winning Program, with students from Irvington, Sleepy Hollow, and Ossining HS. In April some of us attended events in Albany such as the Health Care is a Human Right rally on the 4th, and the advocacy and lobby day on the 25th. In May, we sent two students to the Students Inside Albany Program. For the first time, thanks to increased outreach for both student events, we had more applications than we could accommodate. On May 4 we held a school board candidates night in Hastings – and on the 9th our hot topics breakfast put together by Susan and Char Weigel was held at the Doubletree Hotel where Aliso Boak spoke about human trafficking. And thanks to Barbara Dannenbring, we co-sponsored an event at the Irvington Library where the film “I Voted?” was shown. Later this month Susan Schwarz and Char Weigel will be attending the State League Convention upstate in Liverpool. Our annual meeting today is again highlighting the possibility of passing a single payer bill in NY with Betsy Rosenthal. We are also looking forward to our annual retreat on August 16 here at the lovely home of Jean and Ernie Howell.
A recent article from The Hudson Independent on human trafficking in the Rivertowns can be found here.
Child Trafficking in Westchester County: Taking Action
By Charlene Weigel
Camp. Summer jobs. Typical family conversations this time of the year. What about child trafficking? Attendees at a recent event sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Rivertowns were surprised to learn of a linkage between these three topics. Alison Boak, Executive Director of the International Organization for Adolescents (IOFA), discussed child trafficking in Westchester County in her presentation “Taking Action: Human Trafficking in the Rivertowns and Beyond.”
Boak, speaking as part of the League’s Hot Topics Breakfast series, highlighted local cases of child trafficking. Teenagers from Mexico, recruited by New York sleep away camps, were abused and forced to work long, unpaid hours. Joseph Yannai of Pound Ridge was convicted of sexually abusing young women whom he had lured to work on a book project. An example that struck home with several attendees was that of children or teens selling candy or magazines door-to-door for a “school project” who cannot name the local school that they attend. These cases are not isolated. Per the National Human Trafficking Hotline and the Polaris Project, there were 327 cases of human trafficking (labor and sexual) in New York State in 2016 alone.
Boak educated attendees to identify minors who may be trafficked. Clues include significant school absences, fear of an employer or family member, a child who is not allowed to socialize with other children or to leave the home, or a child who is always sleepy or unable to rest. These and other signs may be subtle, but repeated observations could raise questions in the minds of informed observers.
Spotting a trafficker can be more difficult. Boak described traffickers as family members, employers, coaches, virtually anyone. Traffickers often recruit vulnerable minors by showing attention, appearing to care for the child with promises of friendship and love. Traffickers may target minors in public places, especially those alone late at night, or, even more commonly, online via social media.
Boak urged attendees to take action if they encounter a situation of potential trafficking. She emphasized that 911 is the appropriate call if a child is in immediate danger. More likely, though, someone may observe a non-acute situation that raises suspicions. Attendees put two numbers into their cell phone to take action: (800) 342-3720 (NY State Child Abuse and Maltreatment Hotline) and (888) 373-7888 (National Human Trafficking Hotline).
Boak highlighted the work of the Westchester County Anti-Trafficking Task Force. In addition to IOFA, Task Force members include the Pound Ridge Police Department, My Sister’s Place, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, and the US Attorney’s Office (Southern District of New York). Boak encouraged attendees to ask their local police departments to join the Task Force. Participating police forces receive specialized training in best practices for approaching and assisting suspected victims of child trafficking. Attendees received a summary of three proposed bills on human trafficking sponsored by New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin with guidance on how to support passage of the legislation. Boak ended her presentation with a simple but compelling call-to-action, “Do Something!”
We are hearing that Leagues nationwide are seeing a spike in interest from community members who want to “do something.”
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On December 10th, the LWVR met to come to a consensus on updates to NYS legislative procedures.
Here is some helpful background information to familiarize you with the questions that were considered.
The Rivertowns League reached consensus on the following items:
Term Lengths for State Legislators
The consensus was for staggered 2-4-4 terms for both Assembly Members and Senators. A system with legislators who serve one two-year term and two four-year terms every ten years is considered a 2-4-4 term system.
Legislative Leadership and Committee Chairs
There was a consensus for restrictions on leadership and committee chair positions. As it can take time to develop expertise, 8-10 years seemed like a reasonable limit for a committee chair and there would be allowances to assume other titles. Entrenched leadership can produce corruption and stagnation and chill the development of new talent to move up the ranks. There was agreement that no limit should be imposed on the number of positions allowed in each chamber.
Allowances for Leadership Positions, or “LULUs”
A metric should be developed to define which committees deserve stipends as some committees accomplish meaningful work while others appear to exist to “make work”.
There was a consensus that no limit should be imposed on outside income but all income (including campaign contributions) should be publicly traceable and enforced by an independent ethics board. Legislators should recuse themselves if a conflict presents itself. All compensation should weigh in the cost of living in different areas of the state.
The League of Women Voters Rivertowns wants teens to get involved in the political process! Every spring local high school students are chosen to attend “Students Inside Albany.” For more information see the application at the bottom of this page.
Other opportunities for teens to get involved in the political process: