Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.
The official Newsletter of the League of Women Voters of Sonoma County.
The Truth about Social SecurityFunding
by Debbie McKay
“Social Security is a whopping 21% of the annual federal budget. Medicare makes up another 12.5%.”
So current headlines read.But what is the truth about these two programs?Would cutting these programs reduce our taxes and reduce the federal deficit?It’s not that simple.
Social Security and Medicare are not paid for by the general taxes people pay to the Federal government.Ninety percent of the funds for these two programs come from the payroll taxesmost all employees and employers pay for these programs out of weekly and monthly paychecks workers received. Social Security was based upon the concept that funds are set aside from earnings to ensure that nearly everyone will have some income if they can no longer work, or when they retire.
Other income for Social Security and Medicare comes from the interest on the money in these two funds that has already been deposited. In 2022 Social Security and Medicare received $70.1 billion from interest on money that the trust funds invested in federally backed guaranteed securities. The rest of the revenue comes from these sources: income taxes people paid on their Social Security benefits and repayments to the fund for money the federal government “borrowed” previously.
In fact, the Social Security fund was so flush at one time that the federal government “borrowed” from this fund to pay for other programs.Part of why there is a concern about the funding of these two programs is that the federal government has never paid back the full amount of the funds they “borrowed”. In 2022 the funds received less than $50 million from reimbursements to the trust funds from the U.S. Treasury. To learn more about how Social Security & Medicare are funded visit:https://www.aarp.org/retirement/social-security/questions-answers/how-is-social-security-funded.html
A second problem is that the ceiling on how much of a person’s earnings are taxed under Social Security was set decades ago, and hasn’t been raised.Therefore, those earning the most are not paying into the system as much as they ought to do.Removing the cap would solve the funding issue for Social Security.
Social Security provides monthly retirement benefits averaging $1,538 to 49 million retired workers. Social Security also provides benefits to 3 million spouses and children of retired workers, 6 million surviving children and spouses of deceased workers, and 9 million disabled workers and their eligible dependents.That represents a huge portion of our population which could slip into poverty if benefits were reduced or cut.
So don’t react to the headlines, get the facts. To learn more about where your tax dollars go visit the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.They are “a nonpartisan research and policy institute that advances federal and state policies to help build a nation where everyone — regardless of income, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, ZIP code, immigration status, or disability status — has the resources they need to thrive and share in the nation’s prosperity.”
Message from Our President
In honor of Women’s History month, I will re-visit the history of the League of Women Voters from their web site. Since 1920 we have been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that voters should play a critical role in democracy.
The League of Women Voters was founded by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920 during the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The convention was held just six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote after a 72-year struggle.
The League began as a "mighty political experiment" designed to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters. It encouraged them to use their new power to participate in shaping public policy. From the beginning, the League has been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that citizens should play a critical role in advocacy. It was then, and is now, a nonpartisan organization. League founders believed that maintaining a nonpartisan stance would protect the fledgling organization from becoming mired in the party politics of the day.
However, League members were encouraged to be political themselves, by educating citizens about, and lobbying for, government and social reform legislation. This holds true today. The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public. The League has a long, rich history, that continues with each passing year
However,we mustn’t romanticize the story of the 19th Amendment. The truth is that it did not break down voting barriers for all women—and even today, there ismore work to be done.
The path to women’s suffrage was complicated and sometimes ugly. History books tend mostly to credit the courage and tenacity of white women. It is past time to amend the history books and tell the real story of the suffrage movement. It is past time we all celebrate the women of color who were at the center of the movement alongside their white counterparts.
And it is past time for our country to acknowledge that when the 19th Amendment was ratified, many women still weren’t able to cast a ballot because of Jim Crow laws that denied them full enfranchisement. We need toensure significant black suffragists like Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, and Mary Church Terrell have their place in history, a place equally as prominent as that of white suffrage leaders. Famous photographs of suffrage marches and historic meetings often failed to capture the many African American women who fought equally as courageously as white women to win the vote. Every little girl should learn about women’s history in America and see themselves represented, and not only during Black History Month.
Thank you for being a member and I encourage you to invite others to join us.
Putting Out an All-Call for people who would like to be Callers in the LWV-Sonoma Phone Tree.
They would be responsible for calling 5 people.
Goal of the phone tree is (1) To spread Information re upcoming events; (2) To make a Friendship Connection – get to know each other.
Please contact Judie Coleman:email@example.com if you can help.
Sue Jackson, Coordinator
(During this period between elections, Voter’s Edge is in snooze mode. From time to time, we will be posting articles that pertain in general to elections.)
CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH
In the early history of the U.S., some states allowed only white male adult property owners to vote, while others either did not specify race, or specifically protected the rights of men of any race to vote. Women were largely prohibited from voting, as were men without property.
The 1828 presidential election was the first in which non-property-holding white males could vote in the vast majority of states. By the end of the 1820s, attitudes and state laws had shifted in favor of universal white male suffrage.
On February 3, 1870, Congress ratified the 15th Amendment, which stated that voting rights could not be “denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”There was no mention of gender.
August 18, 1920, Congress ratified the 19thAmendment, granting women the right to vote, stating that no one can be denied the right to vote based on gender. Several states, though, had laws in place that restricted the black vote.
August 6, 1965, Congress ratified The Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark piece of federallegislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.It wasn’tuntil thenthat black women were fully free to vote.
In 2013, the US Supreme Court removed key protections of theVoting Rights Actin the decisionofShelby v. Holder. Since then, a surge of anti-voter bills have swept across our nation– with many being legalized. For more information, go to https://www.lwv.org/voting-rights/fighting-voter-suppression.
Youth Outreach Programs
Lynn Dooley, Coordinator
Interested in Registering Sonoma County Youth?
You are in luck because the Youth Committee is currently training all interested members to become presenters in theHigh School In-Classroom Voter Education and Voter Registration Program.
Presenters go into Sonoma County high school classrooms in teams of two during senior history and government classes. They deliver valuable information about voting and then register and pre-register all eligible students to vote.
The presenter training includes a Zoom meeting to outline the process and to understand the content of the presentations.Follow up practice sessions will be held both in person and on zoom so all presenters can become comfortable with the content. There will also be opportunities for new presenters to shadow veteran trainers to get a first-hand feel for the process.
If you want to be involved, or know a high school we should contact, come to our next meeting on Thursday, February 23rdat 12:30PM. Contact Lynn Dooley firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a fun and rewarding way to make a difference in youth voter turnout!!
Time: Feb 23, 2023 12:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 878 9559 1968
Dial in by phone – you will need the Meeting ID: +1 253 205 0468 US
AnnouncingSonoma County LWV Elections Ambassador Program
The Youth Committee is creating a new peer to peer voter registration program this Spring. Our fabulous Sonoma State intern, Evan Farmer is helping gain interest and set up trainings for college students to becomeSonoma County LWV Elections Ambassadors!Students will learn how to register their peers to vote, answer their questions about the voting process and learn where to find trusted information about their ballot.
Evan will be kicking off the student outreach on Sonoma State University’s campus in April. If you are interested in being a part of this exciting program, contact Lynn Dooley at Youth@LWVSonoma.org.
Leona Judson, VP
The advocacy committee recently met to narrow our focus on what we can realistically do about the homeless crisis in Sonoma County. We have several short-term goals. But this month I want to discuss theHousing HeroesCampaign. Both the county and the city of Santa Rosa offer Section 8 housing vouchers, also known as Housing Choice, to low-income, qualified individuals and families needing rental assistance. This is a federally funded program through the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Funds are distributed by local Public Housing Agencies (PHAs). The Sonoma County housing authority and Santa Rosa housing Authority operate their Section 8 programs as do other cities in the county. Both landlords and low-income individuals need to apply to the program. There is usually a wait list for getting a Section 8 voucher, on average two years. Some individuals are given priority, such as those with disabilities. The advantage to the landlord is that the rent is guaranteed and paid directly to them by the PHA.
But receiving a voucher does not end the problem of finding housing. That’s whereHousing Heroescomes in. Once someone gets a voucher it is up to them to find a landlord willing to rent to them. There are many reasons why a landlord might be reluctant to rent to someone with a Section 8 voucher despite guaranteed rent. The goal ofHousing Heroesis simply to increase the number of landlords willing to rent to Section 8 voucher recipients. If vouchers are not used, they simply expire as did over 50% in 2021. If you or someone you know has rental property in Sonoma County or Santa Rosa, consider applying and become aHousing Hero. For Sonoma County go tohttps://sonomacounty.ca.gov/development-services/community-development-commission/divisions/sonoma-county-housing-authority/housing-heroes. For Santa Rosa go tohttps://www.srcity.org/3112/Housing-Authority Housing Heroes have the potential of making a real dent in housing the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless, something to consider.
February 16, 2023: Moderated byMarie McKinney
Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve.byLenora Chu 369 pages, 2017
When students in Shanghai rose to the top of international rankings in 2009, Americans feared that they were being "out-educated" by the rising super power. Chu and her husband decided to enroll three-year-old Rainer in China’s state-run public school system.
March 16, 2023: Moderated by Mary Fricker
I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times, by Mónica Guzmán, 287 pages, 2022.
Monica Guzman is the liberal daughter of Mexican immigrants who voted, twice, for Donald Trump. She is a former Seattle Times columnist who is director of digital and storytelling for Braver Angels, a group that works to heal the wounds between right and left by teaching people how to understand another’s point of view, not change their point of view. A central event in the book is a bus trip for 16 people from Seattle to travel to Sherman County. Oregon, to meet with 16 “opposite” people, not to argue, but to learn. They pair up and ask each other questions, and, most importantly, listen. Viewpoints are not changed, but people learn to look at each other differently. If you’re looking for a book to help you win arguments, this is probably not a book for you. If you’re looking for ways to find understanding and empathy with others, this is the book for you.
Check theOnline Calendarfor the latest schedule
and for location or links to virtual meetings.
Are We Doing Enough to Promote Equity & Social Justice in Sonoma County?
Please save the date and register for our second Monthly Membership Meeting of the year on Monday,February 27that 11:30 AM via Zoom.
Our League is working on increasing our knowledge on how to welcome and encourage Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB). It is a goal that requires a lot of introspection about how we do our work and how we engage with our broader community.
Join us for a conversation with Kirstyne Lange, President of the local NAACP chapter, as she guides a talk and discussion about what our League, and what we as individuals, may do to promote equity and justice in Sonoma County.
Event Registration Here
Meeting ID: 837 6990 6452
Find your local number:https://us06web.zoom.us/u/kbfe0k6Ru4
First Call to State Convention 2023
What:The 69th State Convention of the League of Women Voters of California
When:Friday, May 19 - Sunday, May 21, 2023.
Where:Hyatt Regency San Francisco Downtown SOMA, 50 Third Street,
San Francisco, CA 94103
Who:Attendance at Convention is open to all League members, but each League has a limited number of voting delegates. The LWVC is encouraging all members to attend and are eager for the public to come learn about the League. We ask that you extend invitations to your friends and contacts.
Why:LWVC meets every other year to conduct business as outlined by the bylaws. See below for specifics. But just as important, the purpose of Convention is to inspire and empower Californians to increase their active and informed participation in civic life. Come meet passionate people from across the state who are making democracy work!
Read about the schedule, workshops, special activities, and more on our site:http://lwvc.wordpress.com. This site is updated as plans take shape, so please check this site frequently.
Registration will open on March 1— watch for that upcoming email!
The Hyatt Regency Hotel is offering a special room rate of $229-239 per night— but you must book byApril 17to secure this rate. Visit theConvention website to book online, or you can call the hotel and mention the LWVC Convention. Don’t get caught without a room by waiting until the last minute; rooms may sell out before that date!
Prepare your League for Convention
Here are some things we are doing now to prepare for Convention:
- Our board will select who will attend as voting delegates.
- LWVC hopes to offer scholarships to reduce barriers for those who would otherwise be unable to attend. Please considermaking a scholarship donationto make this possible.
Business of Convention
The LWVC Bylaws govern the composition and business of the convention. At the Convention Voting delegates will:
- Electofficers, directors, and members of the nominating committee for the 2023-2025 biennium
- Adopt abudgetfor the 2023-2025 fiscal years
- Adoptprogramfor 2023-2025
- Adopt amendments to thebylawsas needed
Attending as a voting delegate is an exciting honor and a responsibility. LWV of Sonoma County is entitled to 3 voting delegates, in addition to the president. If you are interested in attending as a voting delegate, send an email email@example.com
We had a full agenda and busy meeting this month.
Library Commission: The local Sonoma County Library Commission has been discussing whether to adopt a policy on what items may be posted internally at local libraries. The local NAACP brought this discussion to our attention, and they are concerned that a new policy might prohibit materials referring to Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ issues. The League Board voted to send a letter to the Commission urging them to continue to follow their statement of Inclusivity approved by the library in September 2022. Here is the link to that statement:https://sonomalibrary.org/about-us/library-commission-adopts-statement-of-inclusivity
The Board will also send a letter to the local Analy teacher, Rachel Ambrose, who supported five of her senior year students being civically engaged by assisting them in making public comments at the February 1stLibrary Commission meeting on this topic. A link to hear the students' comments at the Library Commission's February 1st meeting is below: Go to minute 46.40 for the beginning of the statements. There are five students who speak. It lasts until about 54.57.https://sonomalibrary.civicweb.net/filepro/documents/19798/?preview=20203
Monthly Member Meetings: The Board is hoping you will develop a new habit in 2023---attending monthly League Member Meetings on a variety of topics. Member meetings will generally be on the fourth Monday of the month at lunch time 11:30 am to 1:00 pm. For those of you working, please take a longer lunch break, if you can, and join us. For those without outside employment, please pencil us into your busy calendars. See details about our February 27thmeeting elsewhere The Voter. Please invite a friend to attend too.
Membership Increasing: We have been adding new members each month and this January we welcomed four new members.
Voter Service: We had an all-time record of candidate forum views for the November 2022 General Election. Over 5000 local residents watched our forums through Facebook or YouTube, included over 400 views of the Spanish versions.
Voter service has a subcommittee working on guidelines for sponsorships and partnerships to help us reach even more voters in the future. If you know of anyone in the community – individual or business—who may be interested in sponsoring a forum, please send their name and contact information firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsors must be non-partisan.
Legislative Interviews: During February our League is partnering with several other local leagues, including Humboldt, Marin, and Mendocino,to conduct interviews with our state legislators on League priority issues. We do this annually, and each League has two representatives. This year Voter Service Co-chair, Karen Weeks, and our SSU Intern, Evan Farmer, are representing our League.
Youth Outreach: The Committee relaunched this month with a goal of expanding our high school voter registration education program. We have already recruited several new presenters and are doing more training in February and March. We plan to visit more high schools during the month of April.
Another goal is to implement a peer-to-peer voter registration & education program at SSU and the SRJC this year. Several league members are working with our SSU Intern to launch this new effort.
In addition, several members of the committee will continue to explore how we may partner with the local libraries on youth civics education. Watch for more on this in future newsletters. If you want to know more or want to be a part of our Youth Outreach activities, please send an email email@example.com.
Bay Area League Treasurer: Our League is a member of the Bay Area League which deals with issues common to the nine Bay Area counties. The Bay Area League needs a new treasurer, and our local league needs a representative to attend monthly Bay Area league monthly meetings via Zoom. It is a great opportunity to learn about what other leagues are doing. If you are interested in either opportunity, please contact Donn Roper atPresident@lwvsonoma.org
Connect with the League
We want to hear from you!
LWVSC Board of Directors
Donna Roper, President
Lee Lipinski, VP Administration
Leona Judson, VP Advocacy
Debbie McKay, Secretary
Linda Rosen, Treasurer
Judie Coleman, Membership
Open, Community Outreach
Karen Weeks. Therese Scherrer, Voter Service
Juanita Roland, Web, Communications
Jim Masters, Member at Large
League of Women Voters Sonoma County
555 5th St, Suite 300O
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
We'd love to have you join us. The most direct way to join is to go to our web sitehttps://www.lwvsonoma.organd click on theJoin Usbutton to fill in your contact information, preferences, and even pay your dues online, or you can print out your invoice and send it along with your dues to our office. If that does not work for you, you can fill out the information below and send it to us. Judie Coleman, firstname.lastname@example.org is always available to answer your questions.
MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION FORM
Individual Membership $75
Household Membership $110
Elizabeth Cady Stanton Membership $100
Carrie Chapman Catt Membership $200 or more
Additional Household Member: ____________________________________
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555 Fifth Street, Suite 300O
Santa Rosa, CA 95401-8301