Making Democracy Work

About LWV Utica-Rome Metro Area

Local league activities pattern themselves after the League of Women Voters NYS and League of Women Voters US. Local programming is additionally formulated to reflect issues and concerns of our local communities and region. Among recent activities:

General Membership Meetings and Educational Programs

Our 2017 + 2018 organizational year was busy with the Centennial Celebration of Woman Suffrage being the Hallmark activity of the year. More comments on this function are provided in the Women's Issues Committee below.

The Leadership Team model continued to be the method our League used, sharing responsibilities in members' areas of strengths. The Team consisted of Mary Kelly-Monaco, Lorrie Wasielewski, Nancy Agen, Barbara Gibbs, Karen McBride and Shirley Hilts-Adams. This model of League operation will continue for the 2018 + 2019 organizational year.

In addition to being busy, the year has been challenging and productive. Eight of our members attended a Regional League training, held in the Central NY Living History Museum in Cortland in early April. It was a day well spent in receiving and sharing information with sister affiliates from Central and Southern New York. Again, eight members attended the Advocacy Training/Lobby Day in late April in Albany, providing visitation opportunities with our Assemblymen and Senator whom were visited in their home offices earlier in the year, along with our Congresswoman. In mid-April a busload of twenty-two members and guests attended the special exhibit on Woman Suffrage at the NY State Museum in Albany. The exhibit was made more meaningful through the information provided by the well-informed tour guide.

In addition to voter registration activities at Federal and County Ceremonies and voter drives at other locations; the selection of two students for the League's Students Inside Albany endeavor; and member Karen McBride receiving a Civic Humanitarian Award from the NYS Women, Inc., were all meaningful activities. Our general meetings, held every two months, covered the following topics:
  • Citizenship Test + Could You Pass It?
  • The Opioid Crisis in Oneida County
  • Women's Issues in New York State
  • Voter Registration in 16 Easy Steps

Our 2018 Annual Meeting speaker, Dawn Catera Lupi, Oneida County First Assistant District Attorney and Special Victims Unit Bureau Chief, shared her journey to her current position. Her talk was entitled Defeating the Challenges, Defending the Victims.

Voter Services

Since May 2017, our League held a total of 37 voter registration drives at 9 different sites and registered to vote (209) members of the public. Drives were conducted (2/21 + 4/4/18), at Utica City Hall while AARP volunteers assisted members of the public complete their income tax returns. We also set up voter registration at the Dorothy Smith Advocacy Center of the Resource Center for Independent Living, (RCIL), (4/16 + 4/17/18) during income tax preparation sessions. The majority of new or updated voter registrations resulted from drives conducted at fairs and festivals such as the Oneida County Public Market and Hanna Park celebrations, along with those at the colleges: Mohawk Valley Community College, Herkimer College, and Utica College.

Since May 2017, our League participated in (10) naturalization ceremonies, federal and county sponsored. Of the (483) citizens newly naturalized at these ceremonies, we registered to vote (247) of them, or (51%). (Our "thanks" to all the volunteers who staffed these registration tables--especially the (3) new members at our 17-day sojourn at city hall.) During this same period, we signed up (50) people wishing to donate tissues and/or organs via a tear-off section on the NYS voter registration form. We've been doing this since mid-2015 to assist the New York Alliance for Donation gain donors. [By the way, NYS Public Health Law 4301, effective 2/14/17, allows youth ages 16 and 17 to choose to be an organ donor. More info. on this at: www.info@dlnys.org and http://www.alliancefordonation.org.]

On Jan. 23, 2018, at the New Hartford Public Library, our League's Voter Service Committee meeting was the subject of a photo and article in the September issue of A'ccent Magazine, issued monthly by the Observer-Dispatch, focusing on the League's history as a suffragist organization, our local League's mission and activities, and League Centennial celebrations.

Our Sat., Mar. 24, 2018 General Membership Meeting featured a panel discussion on voter registration entitled Voter Registration in 16 Easy Steps, comprised of community leaders from four organizations: Committee for Voter Registration Expansion, (CVRE), the Mohawk Valley Latino Association (MVLA), the United Way's Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI), the NAACP, plus the League. Panelists shared ideas and provided insight, tips, and inspiration for helping increase the number of local citizens who are registered to vote. All who attended left with a commitment to continue to work together using each others' areas of expertise to reach our common goal.

Once again, our Voter Service Committee knows well that none of the above-mentioned events could have occurred without the support, enthusiasm, and resolve of our associates and fellow League members. "Thanks" for another successful year!

Contact the Voter Services committee at Voter_Services@lwvuticarome.org.

Youth

We have selected excellent candidates for this year's Students Inside Albany conference sponsored by the LWVNYS Education Foundation. The conference will take place May 20-23 and includes high school students from across New York State. The students that have been selected to represent LWV Utica/Rome this year are Sandra Bajrektarevic, and Cameron Kilpatrick.

Sandra, a junior at Thomas Proctor High School was selected for the position of Battalion Operations Officer and Drill Commander of her NJROTC unit. It is the first time that this position has been held by an underclassman. Sandra's extracurricular activities include earning Varsity letters in track and field. Her goal is to be accepted into the Naval Academy.

Currently a senior at Rome Free Academy, Cameron Kilpatrick is an outstanding student/athlete in Football, Basketball, and Lacrosse. Despite his rigorous schedule, he finds the time to volunteer as a Rome Common Council Youth Advisor, and is active in I Serve Mohawk Valley Food Recovery Network. His career goal is to become an Engineer. Cameron has been accepted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Women's Issues

The special Centennial Committee effort took the most effort this year. The committee successfully celebrated New York State's 100th anniversary of the passage of Women's Right To Vote with a party on November 6. The Honorary Chair was our own long-time member and women's advocate, Mary Chapin. The Oneida History Center provided an ideal location. There were proclamations from Senator Griffo, Representative Brindisi, County Executive Picente, and Mayor Palmieri. Live music, beverages and appetizers were provided. 59 people attended including politicians, judges, and historians interested in the local activities of that era. Several people, unable to attend, sent donations to the League. Committee members were essential to this effort and their assistance is greatly appreciated.

On April 14 the committee organized a bus to the New York State Museum in Albany to view the Women's Suffrage Display. Although only 22 people rode the bus, we had excellent reviews from attendees. A docent described the long history leading to the vote and the continuation of efforts in recent years for women to obtain credit, strive for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, equal pay, family leave and other issues critical to women.

Publicity

News items/press releases or calendar items were submitted to the local newspaper and TV station. Lorrie Wasielewski and Dianne DiMeo appeared on WKTV's Live at Five talk-show segment several days in advance of the Centennial Celebration (CC) for Women's Suffrage at the Oneida County History Center (OCHC).

In addition to names of potential attendees to the CC submitted by local League members, all social service agencies that dealt with women's issues were researched, online, for their presidents, executive directors or staff members and were added to our data base for invitees to the Centennial Celebration at OCHC. IHEs (Institutes for Higher Education) were researched for faculty members in Women's Studies, History, Political Science, and Economics and added to our data base of invitees. Also added were elected officials at the city, county, state and national level. Our Treasurer, Nancy Agen, then took the information of the 250 accumulated invitees and transferred the information to a spread sheet to ease the tracking of potential attendees.

Working with the CC Ad Hoc Committee, an invitation and response package for the Centennial Celebration was developed. The package was printed at The Gallery, a local print shop. Joan Stalloch, Utica Public Library (UPL), provided a space in the Main Lobby from late October to Mid-November for a display of centennial material on Women's Suffrage. Female library staff members expressed their thanks and appreciation for the display. Carl Antonucci, a reference librarian at UPL showed the movie Iron Jawed Angels on a November evening. Upon introducing the program he commented on the turnout + "...better than most for our films." He was moved to learn more on the topic so researched peripheral topics, some of which he shared with the audience. A comment heard after the movie, from an attendee: "I had no idea women experienced the violence and imprisonment that they did for the sake of getting the vote." Additional information was provided via display boards set up on a table with a prominently displayed newspaper headline from November 7, 1917 proclaiming the NYS vote. Following the movie, a WKTV reporter, Callihan Marshall, interviewed Lorrie Wasielewski, Lu Blanchard and Karen McBride on facets of Women Suffrage.

Our Local Program of Interest

Following a local study, our league supported the 1965 referendum creating the Part County Sewer District which was expanded in 2006 by county legislation. Over the years this became a "back burner" item for us then once again a "hot topic." In 2007, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation mandated eliminating of overflows into the Mohawk River and county planning for the Oneida County Sewer District Compliance and Abatement Project was initiated.

Measures to reduce pollution to protect surface water, ground water and drinking water have been a League issue at all levels for decades. As an extension of our local issues, earlier in the decade Smart Growth study we recognized water quality as an essential element to smart growth and in 2008 adopted post study monitoring of the project planning and progress.

The project moves steadily on target towards the 2021 completion date with sanitary sewer and pumping station rehab projects and new construction at the Water Pollution Control Plant. Educational information provided by Project Ripple Effect is widely available at public events, schools, libraries, PSA's and through a monthly newsletter on line at http://www.rippleeffectocsd.org. See quarterly and annual updates at http://www.ocgov.net/wpc.
The Proposed Local Programs for the coming year, to be voted on at the Annual Meeting, are:
  • Retain post-study monitoring of local planning, the Oneida County Sewer District
Permit Compliance and Abatement Project and water quality measures to further
Smart Growth and development in Oneida County; and,
  • Promote the use of containers made of recycled and recyclable materials, where practical, in restaurants or places that serve food, to replace Styrofoam containers.

Annual Reports

Newsletter

Five editions of the "VOTER" Newsletter were prepared and distributed during the 2017-18 year. In addition, it is posted to our website for wider viewership and archival purposes. The "VOTER" is mailed to city, county, state and national representatives, as well as to those members without email or who request a hard copy. Since most members are able to receive the newsletter by email, printing/mailing costs have continued to decline. To help off-set the expenses of the newsletter, we have advertisements from local businesses. We ended the year with a total of 9 advertisers. When you patronize these businesses, please mention the League of Women Voters and our newsletter, the Utica/Rome Voter.