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© 1999 - 2002 League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham and
League of Women Voters of the United States

The Voter

February, 2002

A Publication of the League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham.
Re-formatted here for web publication with index and links added. Web Editor's navigational notes added in [bracketed italics].


It's Program Planning Time Again

What's program planning? It's member review of existing positions to
decide if they should be retained, dropped or restudied. This is also the
time to recommend new studies.

Leaguers review local program positions every year a couple of months
before the Annual Business Meeting and state and national positions every two
years (but not in the same year) before the respective conventions.

This review is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the issues
which interest the League and to participate in one of our organization's
main functions: influencing public policy after study and consensus.

This month, Birmingham area Leaguers will review local and national
positions. They will meet at Southside Library at noon on Tuesday, February
26. (See the Calendar for the address.)

Consult your copy of the LWVGB Yearbook for local positions, and bring
your copy along. Summaries of national positions will be available at the

After the program review, many will go to lunch at a restaurant in Five
Points South. If you're attending on your lunch hour, bring your lunch to
the meeting.

-- Sarah McDonald


Observer Corps Changing Gears

Since much of the discussion and debate on issues acted on by the
Birmingham City Council take place in Council Committees, we will focus on
observing the committees. A listing of the committee meeting schedule appears
on page 3 of this Voter.
Please call or email Sandra Smith (see Board list on page 2) to help
with this important function. An orientation for new Observers and forms for
taking notes and reporting to the Board are available. Sandra Smith
Do You Concur with the Proposed LWVUS Position on Trade? If you do or if
you do not, you need to meet a deadline to register your view with the
National League office. The postmark deadline is March 18. The fax and
online deadline is March 22.
The LWVUS website, fax number and mailing address are on page 9 of the
National Voter and the Calendar in this Voter. See pages 9 and 10 of your
December/January 2002 National Voter for the proposed Trade concurrence and
the form for responding to the proposed concurrence. You can also find the
proposed Concurrence and the form on the LWVUS web site.

-- Gayle England


Annual Business Meeting April 20

LWVGB's Annual Business Meeting will be held on Saturday, April 20, in
the Friends Room of the Birmingham Art Museum. The meeting begins at 11 a.m.
After the meeting, Leaguers who want to have lunch will meet in the Museum's
Terrace Cafe. Lunch reservations are not required.
The business of the Annual Meeting includes adoption of a budget for the
2002-03 League year, consideration of proposed bylaws changes, election of
officers and directors who take office in even-numbered years, and debate and
adoption of local program for the next year. The March Voter will be devoted
to information for the business meeting.
If you think you might be interested in serving on the board, call
Nominating Committee Chair, Jean Johnson, at 870-3063.
Mark your calendar now. Come to the Annual Meeting, help plan for
2002-3, see old friends, make new ones, and have lunch. See you there.

-- This announcement comes to you from your Board of Directors.


Board of Directors

Gayle England, President
205-979-7102 Email:

Sarah McDonald, 1st VP
Membership Chair
205-967-2829 Email:

Rose Packer, 2nd VP
Voter Service 205-592-2729

Yvonne Knowles, Treasurer
205-968-9863 Email:

Diane Holmes, Director

Colette Scott, Secretary/PR
205-988-0868 Email:

Anne Findley Shores, Director
Constitution Reform Chair

Sandra Smith, Director
Observer Corps 205-957-7964

League Office
Commerce Center â?? Suite 806
2027 1st Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35203-4127

The LWVGB Voter is a publication of the League of Women Voters of Greater
Birmingham. President, Gayle England; Treasurer, Yvonne Knowles; Editor,
Becky Sylvester.

Voter Addresses: 604 Paden Dr., Birmingham, 35226.


President's Message

Our local, state, and national 2002 spring agendas prove that the
opportunities for members to get involved in League activities are plentiful.

We began 2002 with consensus meeting on methods for reforming the
Alabama Constitution and an informational meeting on the proposed LWVUS Trade
position update. Having done their homework, members got so involved in the
Trade discussion, I had to call time so we could move on the question of
which of the two methods for constitution reform the League should support.

The Board has begun to plan the Annual Business Meeting. As you know,
electing officers and directors is an important item on the Annual Business
Meeting agenda. You may be getting a call from the Nominating Committee
asking you to serve on the Board.

Election monitoring of housing community council elections resumes this
month. Call or email Rose Packer to let her know when you can help. "At Your
Fingertips" (LWVGB's guide to contacting government officials) is due for an
update to reflect the new Birmingham City Council. It's another Voter
Service priority.

The revival of the Observer Corps is off to a slow start. But, now that
the newly appointed Birmingham City Council Committees are meeting, we can
get back to work on this. (See the Observer Corps article on page 1 and the
Council Committee schedule on page 3.)

You can have a voice in the future of local and national program by
participating in the February 26 review of positions at the Southside
Library. (See the article on page 1.)

Have you ever wanted to go to Miami? The 2002 National LWV Convention
will be held at the Fontainbleau Hotel in Miami June 14-18. LWVGB is
allotted one delegate based on our current membership, but any number may go
as visitors. It's a stimulating experience and great opportunity to learn
more about the League. Call Sarah McDonald (see Board list) if you're
interested in joining other area Leaguers in Miami.

Nothing sounds interesting? Contact me or one of the board members
(see Board list.) if you have an idea for a League activity. Or just contact
us; you may find that we have something for you.

-- Gayle England


Refrain of the "Got an Itch to Make a Pitch" Pitch

Okay. So you didn't have an itch last month. That's difficult to believe.
Leaguers have itches to express opinions and offer fixes for public policy
issues. It's a known fact.

So here's the refrain: we want to hear your opinion on an issue facing the
Birmingham or metropolitan area. The no-nos are few: no discussion of
candidates; no use of the column for your personal action agenda; and no
speaking for the League on an issue unless authorized to do so by the Board.
Keep you opinions short and to the point. Look to your left for ways to send
your article to the Voter Editor. You are cordially invited to give it a go.


LWV of Alabama A Long-term Supporter of Constitutional Reform

The League of Women Voters of Alabama has been committed to constitutional
reform so long that we refer to it simply as CR. During consensus sessions
last month on methods of constitutional reform, we were reminded of just
how long.

From 1966-70, LWVAL conducted a series of studies under the CR banner. Three
years after the League began study, the Legislature, with support of Governor
Brewer, established a Constitutional Commission which studied and deliberated
over a four-year period and submitted its proposed revision of the
Constitution to the Legislature in May of 1973. Leaguers had observed many
of the Commissions' sessions.

League action followed study and consensus. The action agenda included annual
legislative sessions; fundamental law (not statutory law) in the
constitution; a broad grant of power to local governments; an equitable tax
structure; removal from the constitution of fixed tax rates and earmarked
funds; a state debt limitation that is a percentage of the state's wealth;
and a unified court system to replace the existing "judicial hodgepodge" as a
1976 League paper put it.

As a member of the LWVAL CR Committee and state President from 1979-83, our
own Anne Findley Shores was a key player in LWVAL's CR action efforts in the
70s and early 80s. Anne and her colleagues observed Constitutional
Commission sessions, testified before legislative committees, wrote action
letters, spoke to community groups, and rallied local Leagues to work for
constitutional reform.

Annual sessions of the Legislature and a unified court system, two measures
proposed by the Commission, got voter approval in the 1970s. Leagues were on
the front line of the action campaigns for both measures
But, merit selection of judges and much of the League's CR action agenda
remain on the "to-do" list. In 2002, constitutional reform is LWVAL's top
action priority once again.

The LWVAL Council may consider reopening the CR study for update if it
decides it's necessary for the current CR reform effort.
We are, indeed, long-term CR supporters. We've stuck to a commitment made
decades ago. The public interest continues to drive the League's commitment.
The work of the League in support of constitutional reform is a source of
pride for present and future Leaguers.

Today, LWVAL is not the lone organization supporting constitutional reform.
Newspapers, educational, business, religious and political groups have
joined the effort. The numbers seem to be growing.

Maybe, just maybe, CR's time has finally come.

-- Becky Sylvester


Birmingham City Council Committee Schedule Close to Completion

City Council Committees meet at City Hall, 710 20th St. N, usually in
Conference Room A, D, or E. On the day of a committee meeting, check with
the City Council Receptionist on the third floor of City Hall or call the
Receptionist at 254-2294 for the location of the meeting you want to attend.

Committee Council Chair When
Economic Development Carol Smitherman TBA
Finance and Budget Elias Hendricks Mon., 2 pm when called
Parks and Recreation Bertram Miller 3rd Tues., 2 pm
Administration Lee Loder 3rd Tues. 3:30 pm
Education and Community Service Gwen Sykes TBA
Public Improvement Roderick Royal 1st Thurs. 3:30 pm
Transportation and Communication Carol Reynolds 3rd. Tues. 4:30 pm
Public Safety Joel Montgomery TBA
Planning and Zoning Valerie Abbott 2nd & 4th Tues. 5 pm

 The Voter will print the regular meeting dates of the three committees (see TBA) when the information is available.

-- Sandra Smith



Tuesday, February 26 Local & National Program Review
Southside Library
1814 11th Ave. S., Birmingham
12 Noon
Monday, March 4 LWVGB Board Meeting
Commerce Center, Conference Room

2027 1st Ave. N., Birmingham
12 Noon
Monday, March 18 Postmark deadline for mailing your
Concurrence form to

League of Women Voters, Trade Concurrence
1730 M Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
Wednesday, March 20 LWVGB Annual Business Meeting
edition of the Voter due
Friday, March 22 Fax & online deadline for Concurrence form. Website:
Fax # (202)-429-0854.
Saturday, April 20 LWVGB Annual Business Meeting
Friends Room, Birmingham Museum of Art

2000 8th Ave. N., Birmingham
11 a.m. -
1 p.m.
An update of the Election Monitoring schedule was not available by the Voter deadline. Call or email Rose Packer (see Board List, page 2) to volunteer to help with this important democratic process.


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