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LWV - Sonoma County
555 Fifth St. Suite 300O
Santa Rosa, CA 95401 
Phone #: 707-546-5943
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The Voter - April 2023

Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.
Your Vote is Your Voice

The Voter
The official Newsletter of the League of Women Voters of Sonoma County.
Volume28, Issue 4
In this Issue:

Monthly Monday League Meeting
Monday April 24th 11:30 am - 1:00 pm Zoom meeting

A Key Water Resource Will Be the April Monthly Monday Meeting Topic

Fresh, clean water is one of our most precious resources. We have to preserve and protect all our watersheds and keep an eye on how much water is extracted each year.

In recent years our League’s Advocacy Committee and Board have been actively engaged in water resources issues--from monitoring the Underground Water Basin plans to giving input on the water impacts in the County cannabis ordinance, and most recently signing two letters regarding the new County Well Ordinance.

This month’s Monday Meeting topic will be on the role of wetlands, another valuable water resource. Anne Morkill, the Executive Director ofThe Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation will talk about this amazing 22-mile-long wetland complex that covers an area from Cotati to Sebastopol and drains into the Russian River.

According to the SonomaResourceConservation District, “The Laguna de Santa Rosa (Laguna) watershed is an ecologically and economically important area of Northern California. In addition to having the largest freshwater wetlands complex on the northern California coast, the Laguna is also the home to a diverse assemblage of over 200 species, including several state and federally endangered plants and animals, and has recently been recognized as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The Laguna is the largest tributary of the Russian River, draining approximately 254 square miles through approximately 435 stream miles. The watershed contains a diversity of habitat including creeks, open water, perennial marshes, seasonal wetlands, riparian forests, oak woodlands, and grasslands.”

Come to the April 24thMonthly Monday Meeting to learn more about the Laguna de Santa Rosa.Anne Morkill.will share information about how the wetlands impact water resources in Sonoma County as well as the activities of the Foundation in preserving this wetland and educating the public.Invite a friend to attend.

Monday April 24th 11:30 am - 1:00 pm Zoom meeting

Register Here
The Zoom link will be sent to you after you register

Meeting the Housing Crisis

By Barbara Coen

I recentlyjoined Karen Weeks in a meeting with the Santa Rosa Housing and Community Services Department (SRHCS) to exploreways our League might work jointly to further inform our community about their work.


As a member of the Advocacy Committee I started following the monthly meetings of the Santa Rosa Housing Authority, a separate legal entity within the City, and supported by SRHCS. I began observing with literally no understanding of their work, and after a year am a bit further educated and very impressed with their work. It occurred to me that others in our organization might be similarly interested.


In that vein we will start with this overview, and plan to take each of their major functions and delve into them a bit more from time to time here in the newsletter.


SRHCS consists of three main areas of focus: Rental Assistance, Housing Trust and Homeless Services. The Department works in conjunction with the County when appropriate.


Megan Basinger is Director of the Department with a vision that all people, regardless of income level, have the right to live in affordable, safe, and healthy homes and neighborhoods. No small set of tasks! Here is a brief overview of housing assistance:


Rental Assistanceadministers the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Rental Assistance Program, provides rental referrals, affordable apartment contacts, emergency assistance referrals and fair housing information.


Santa Rosa Housing Trustadministers affordable housing development, rehabilitation loan programs, home ownership program referrals, Housing Allocation Plan contracts, Density Bonus contracts and federal and state reports.


Homelessness Solutionsadministers homeless service contracts, providing support for a drop-in center, emergency shelters, a street outreach program, and housing resources.


Mobile home Rent Controloffers information on mobile home parks and the City’s Mobile home Rent Control Program.


The Department produces a document called SR Affordable Housing Project Pipeline…well worth following. At the time of this writing 130 units were listed as Due for Completion in the second half of 2023, including units for homeless, seniors and farmworkers.


Other categories in this report include Completed Within Last 24 Months: 215 units; Fully Funded-Awaiting Permits or Financing Closing: 93 units; Awaiting Additional Funding or Permit: 377 units; Development Concepts: 457 units; Funded Acquisition, Preservation and/or Rehabilitation: 104 units.


With the work of SRHCS the city of Santa Rosa is making a serious dent in the our community’s housing needs. A future newsletter segment will explore in more detail the Homeless Services work.

Sonoma County Well Water Ordinance


Sonoma County has been working to update their well permitting ordinance for several months now to comply with the state mandated Public Trust Resource Area. The PTRA includes navigable waterways and feeder streams. With over 45,000 wells in Sonoma County the impact on groundwater can be significant.


Our League supports the goal of ensuring that groundwater is sustainably and equitably managed for the benefit of all citizens. The goal is to stop unsustainable groundwater extraction and to ensure long term water security for all residents during a changing climate with increased cycles of drought. The cumulative impacts of new wells combined with all other existing groundwater extraction must be evaluated. We support amendments to the well drilling ordinance for wells that impact the Public Trust Resource Area and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.


A wide coalition of environmental and community groups signed a letter listing their concerns about the present state of ground water and recommendations to modify the well ordinance permitting process. Our board approved being a signatory to the letter.This letter can be viewed on our website under member resources.

Link to Letter

Some of the highlights of the letter that we signed are:

  1. Timely review and update of the well ordinance in two years & regularly thereafter.
  2. Expand the Public Trust Review Area to be more inclusive by eliminating the “stream buffer” concept and treating all impacted public trust resources equally….
  3. Expand “Well Metering, Monitoring, and reporting” to all well types and uses….

The board of supervisors meeting on April 4threviewed the Permit Sonoma draft of the well ordinance that was completed by the two working groups (technical and policy). The board voted 3 to 2 in favor of the revised ordinance. Chair Coursey and Supervisor Gorin did not support the ordinance because they wanted further protections for the Public Trust Resource Area.


From Permit Sonoma website: “The amendments create a new regulatory process that considers potential adverse impacts on public trust resources, such as habitat for Coho salmon, when approving well permits. The amended ordinance also includes requirements for water conservation measures for all new wells, and requirements for well meter installation and water use reporting of new non-residential wells.” The Board also extended the well moratorium for another six months on non-emergency well permits. The revised well ordinance includes substantial fees for well permits requiring more oversight.


Water has always been a highly contentious issue in California with the many competing interests. The revised well ordinance did not include everything the signers of the letter would have liked. The revised ordinance limits monitoring to just the navigable waterways in Sonoma County, and there is no timeline to review impacts on the well ordinance on groundwater. The issue of well metering was also not significantly expanded.


The board of supervisors will meet again on April 18thfor a second reading of the proposed well ordinance.

Voter Service:
Legislative Interviews
by Evan Farmer

Over the past few months, the League of Women Voters has had the pleasure of interviewing several elected California officials. Sonoma County, Napa County, Humboldt County, and Marin County Leagues all contributed to these interviews.

Our first interview was with Senator Mike McGuire, who represents Senate District 2. McGuire believes that there needs to be more emphasis on things that the general public deals with daily – such as housing prices and availability and, in turn, homelessness, student debt, and debt overall. Especially for younger people, ages 16-25, these are immensely critical issues. Finding ways to get them involved in eliminating or mitigating these issues is significant to him. One of McGuire's priorities outside of housing and homelessness is "big oil." McGuire, and a few others, passed a bill mandating oil companies to provide more transparency on their taxes. California is jam-packed with commuters; therefore, providing numbers on how much profit oil companies make per gallon to them is essential when considering how gas prices affect the general population.

Second was our interview with Assemblymember Jim Wood, representing the 2nd Assembly District. He shed light on some critical considerations voters should make. He reminded us that the 2nd Assembly District is different from other districts, such as those of Los Angeles County. He emphasized, "We don't have the same positioning to acquire grants the same as big cities do." For this reason, Wood's attention is purely on district priorities Wood very much would like to see more oversight of broadband services by having them provide accurate mappings of who has the signal and who doesn't, yet at the same time, allowing internet service providers a chance to tap into areas without internet or lacking quality. He is also focused on programs that would increase the usage of alternate energy plans and combat inequity within the healthcare system.

The League of Women Voters' third legislative interview was with Assemblymember Damon Connolly, representing the 12th Assembly district. Connolly, at the time of his interview, was just in his sixth week in office! Among many other things, he is part of a Climate Policy Committee deliberating on ways California could decrease its emissions by 2045. He is also on the Budget Committee, where current deliberations were taking place on School District funding. In addition, Connolly is highly focused on transportation, the environment, and natural resources. He describes these as the "bread and butter of our area." Most of all, he wants district residents to be healthy by providing ways to fund organic farming and mitigating chemical usage through "healthy soil practices." Connolly also has a program every year called "There Ought to Be a Law," in which residents can send in their own bill proposals! The best submission will then move forward as proposed legislation!

Finally, we wrapped our legislative interviews with Senator Bill Dodd. Dodd represents the California State Senate 3rd district. Dodd's priorities include consumer protection through the minimization of vague contractual language and advertisement. For example, the current proposed legislation he supports would eliminate misleading advertisements from airline companies and hotels. Dodd is also focused on reducing wildfires and finding better ways to protect fire-prone areas, financially and physically. Notably, he is also sponsoring a bill that would put safeguards on the development and usage of Artificial Intelligence. He believes this uncharted territory could present dangers, especially when AI is developed with biases.

To all those we had the pleasure of interviewing on behalf of the League of Women Voters, thank you!

April Transportation Report


Rick Luttmann, a member who follows all things transportation for our league, has written a very comprehensive report this month that includes several updates on SMART, the Great Redwood Trail agency, and the controversy regarding abandoning the railroad and much more. His report is now posted on our website under Member Resources > References> Advocacy. It’s a good read.

Link to Article


to February Article on Social Security

In the February 2023 article on Social Security, we stated “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.” That was an error. The cap has been raised several times, but has not ever been removed. The 2023, the maximum amount of earnings on which you must pay Social Security tax is $160,200. It is still true that those earning the most are not paying into the system as much as they ought to do. And completely removing the cap would solve the funding issue for Social Security.

Message from Our President
Donna Roper

The League is focused on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) and the myriad ways we can improve our community. Although we have adopted the National policy listed below, we feel we need to be more active in achieving the goals of DEIB. One of these ways is to educate ourselves on the diversity already in Sonoma County. The county is made up of about 503,000 people, 330,000 of which are Caucasian, 133,000 are Latino or Hispanic, 25,000 are Asian and Pacific Islander, 11,000 are African American and 5,000 are Native American. Last month we invited Kirstyne Lange to speak from her perspective as chair of the NAACP. It was very provocative and thoughtful. Exactly what we want in our presentations.


This month some League members visited the new Pomo basket weavers exhibit at the SRJC. (see photos) I heartily recommend seeing this exhibit before it closes in December located in Bussman Hall. It is free to visit, and the hours are 10-3:30 Monday - Thursday.

Pomo women
Pomo Weavers

You might also check out our monthly book group which discusses many of the important issues of the day.

And here are suggestions from Los Cien :

  • Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism by Derrick Bell
  • Racial Conditions by Howard Winant
  • The Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon
  • White by Law by Ian Haney Lopez
  • Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America
  • The Racial Contract by Charles Mills
  • My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem
  • Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-black Bias and The Struggles For Equality by Tanya Kateri Hernandez

Going forward we hope to partner with more groups that share our values and goals of voter engagement.

LWV is an organization fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in principle and in practice. Diversity, equity,inclusion, and belonging are central to the organization’s current and future success in engaging all individuals, households, communities, and policy makers in creating a more perfect democracy.

There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, race, native or indigenous origin, age, generation, sexual orientation, culture, religion, belief system, marital status, parental status, socioeconomic status, language, accent, ability status, mental health, educational level or background, geography, nationality, work style, work experience, job role function, thinking style, personality type, physical appearance, political perspective or affiliation and/or any other characteristic that can be identified as recognizing or illustrating diversity.



Pomo Exhibit Visit
Pomo Exhibit visit 2

LWVSC Calendar


Coming Events

Check theOnline Calendarfor the latest schedule

and for location or links to virtual meetings.



Do You Love a Parade?

Last year our League members and AAUW, Santa Rosa members marched in the ½ mile Apple Blossom parade and we had a great time. A local jazz band was right behind us in the parade, so some of us actually danced our way through the parade.

This spring several fun parades are coming up soon.Join other League members marching in local parades:

Butter & Eggs day Parade in Petaluma Sat., April 22nd 11:30 am - 1:00 pm



Apple Blossom Parade in Sebastopol Sat., April 29th 9 am - 11:30 am

Sign Up


Gay Pride Parade in Santa Rosa Sat June 3rd 10 am -12:30 pm

Sign Up


Let the community know about our local league. Wear your League T-shirt or get a free one at the parade. Bring a friend, comfortable shoes, a smile, and water.


Questions: Contact President Donna Roper at


LWV State Convention 2023

The 69th State Convention of the League of Women Voters of California

Friday, May 19 - Sunday, May 21, 2023.

Hyatt Regency San Francisco Downtown SOMA, 50 Third Street,
San Francisco, CA 94103

The Board selected the three voting delegates who will represent our League at the May convention: President Donna Roper, Program/Outreach Chair Leona Judson, and Voter Service Co-chair Therese Scherrer.

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: This site is updated as plans take shape, so please check this site frequently.

If you are interested in attending as a non-voting delegate, send an email to

Youth Vote

Youth Outreach Programs
Lynn Dooley, Coordinator

Greetings from the Youth Committee. Here is an update on our many activities.

Welcome to our 8 newIn-Classroom Voter Education & Registration Programpresenters: Evan Farmer, Chlele Gummer, Paula Hawkes, Leona Judson, Laraine Kelman, Gayle Peterson, Karen Weeks & Connie Williams. They join our great existing team of presenters: Robyn Bramhall, Elaine Covell, Nancy Lewis & Chris Riezenman. Everyone’s interest and dedication is appreciated and will pay off as we travel to Sonoma County High Schools this spring and next fall to register eligible students to vote.

Also thank you to Elaine Covell, Nancy Lewis, Gail Vann & Connie Williams for reaching out to Sonoma County High Schools to schedule our sessions. More on that to follow.

At the suggestion of our Superintendent of Schools Amie Carter, we will be presenting our In-Classroom program to the Sonoma County Office of Education’s History Fellowship this month. The goal of the presentation is to bring the program to as many history & government teachers in the county as possible. Thank you, Chris Riezenman for making this presentation and Donna Roper for connecting us to Ms. Carter.

The LWV Elections Ambassador Programis beginning to take shape. Thank you to our intern and SSU Campus Liaison Evan Farmer for working to bring this program to life.

Evan will host an information table at Sonoma State University this month. Evan, along with some of his peers, will speak to students about becoming LWV Elections Ambassadors and register eligible students to vote. Evan is also setting the table for this program to continue in the Fall. Thank you, Evan!

If you’d be interested in getting involved in either the In-Classroom Program or the LWV Elections Ambassador program contact Lynn Dooley at



April 20, 2023: Moderated byJudie Coleman

The Orphans of Davenport: Eugenics, The Great Depression, and the War over Children’s Intelligence,by Marilyn Brookwood352 pages 2021

In 1934, two toddler girls at an orphan’s home had acombinedscore of just 81 on the IQ tests and were labeled as having subpar intelligence and were therefore deemed to be unfit for adoption. They were sent to an institution for the “feebleminded”. There, with the loving attention of the attendants, their IQ scores came up to normal. This challenged the then mainstream psychology which obsessively unshakably believed that IQ was determined genetically and that IQ at age 4 would always be your IQ at age 40. This was when eugenics was all the rage both here and in Europe. Remember the Terman IQ tests? Terman was one of the most adamant supporters of the idea that genetics were the sole and only determinant of IQ.

This well researched and well written book is an amalgam of three stories. The first is the heartwarming story of children given a life worth living when placed in a caring environment. The second is the story of well-meaning young scientists who challenge the status quo and are persecuted professionally and personally by senior scientists. The third story is that of confirmation bias where people cannot recognize data and evidence because they are so confident in their world view.

May 18, 2023: Moderated by Mary Virdeh

Lessons from the Edge. By Marie Yovanovitch. 416 pages. 3/15/2022

This is a memoir from a former United States Ambassador to Ukraine and a witness on the first impeachment trial. I enjoyed the book, first as being very well written and also as a interesting chronicle of the foreign service career. Her emphasis is on the Soviet and post Soviet world. Her father left the Soviet Union as a child, and her mother survived WorldWar II in Nazi Germany. She was fluent in the Russian Language and studied in Moscow and joined the Foreign Service in 1986. She served as ambassador under three US presidents, the last being Donald Trump. She went through many dangerous assignments and relates all with grace and composure. Her career ended with Donald Trump when she was referred to during a phone call from Donald Trump to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as bad news.This is an informative, well written and up beat book.



Zoom Meeting
March 2023
Debbie McKay,Secretary

Well Ordinance: The Board approved the signing of a letter (along with 37 other organizations), authored by Rue Furch regarding the proposed Well Ordinance and water resources. The Board of Supervisors will act on the Well Ordinance on April 4th.


Finance: the Board approved moving funds in excess of operating expenses to Edward Jones where we will receive a better return on our funds. The funds in Edward Jones are federally insured.


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB): The Board held a Strategic Planning meeting on March 24thto brainstorm how we may make our organization more welcoming and inclusive for all community members.


Membership: Our membership is continuing to increase. Soon our membership brochure will be translated into Spanish, which we hope will help is attract a more diverse membership.


Annual Membership meeting: The Board selected June 26that 11:30 am as the date & time for our 2023 Annual Membership meeting where we will vote on the proposed 2023-24 budget, select the 2023-25 board members and officers and vote on any proposed by-law changes. The budget committee is hard at work developing a budget for next year.


Events Calendar: The Board approved posting events from other local leagues on our online calendar making additional educational opportunities available to our members. We will be posting other events from local organizations which are non-partisan and are about topics in line with our positions and areas of interest. Information is power and we want to support opportunities to be well informed on issues.


Intern: Our Intern, Evan Farmer, will be posting on both Facebook and Instagram to help us reach a wider audience.


Marketing Survey: The results of our recent marketing survey are in: Preferred Target: Everyone and all ages. Preferred Theme: Making Democracy Work. Preferred Tagline: Your Vote is Your Voice.


Tabling & Parades: Our League will be participating in three parades: the Butter & Eggs Day parade on April 22 in Petaluma, the Apple Blossom Parade on April 29thand the gay Pride Parade on June 3rd. See Parade article for sign up information.


Grand Jury Luncheon: The Board decided to hold a luncheon in June for prior year Grand Jury members to share their experience. Due to the size of the meeting room, the event will be limited to 40 people, and 15 of those are Grand Jury members. Further details will be provided once we have secured the room. It will be an in-person event at Charlie’s Grill in Windsor.


Connect with the League

We want to hear from you!
LWVSC Board of Directors

Contact Us

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
Open, Programs
Juanita Roland, Web, Communications
Jim Masters, Member at Large

Some Useful Links
LWV of
LWV of the United




Join Us
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, is always available to answer your questions.
Individual Membership $75
Household Membership $110
Elizabeth Cady Stanton Membership $100
Carrie Chapman Catt Membership $200 or more

Additional Household Member: ____________________________________
Email: ________________________________________

Please circle any topics you are interested in knowing more about:

Voter RegistrationCandidate ForumsTransportationHousing/Homelessness Climate Change Immigration Newsletter Website ManagementLocal Governance
Membership dues and donationsare tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law

Here are some links of interest.
LWV Sonoma Web Site
LWV Sonoma YouTube
555 Fifth Street, Suite 300O
Santa Rosa, CA 95401-8301
(707) 545-5943