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League Newsletter December 2010

LWV logo
The League of Women Voters
of the Princeton Area
 Volume 25  Issue 3
 December 2010  
In This Issue

From the President's Desk

Voter Service Report

Looking Backward

NJ Juvenile Justice
System Inadequate

Know Your Town

Running and Winning

Dates to Consider

Wednesday, December 15
"Tax Caps:
What They Are and
How They Work"

The League of
Women Voters of
Lawrence Township

Saturday, April 30
LWV-NJ Convention

The League of Women Voters
of the Princeton Area
welcomes information
about issues
in our League area and
encourages comments at

The League of Women Voters
of the Princeton Area
PO Box 253
Kingston, NJ 08528

From the President's Desk
To our Voter Services folks, and to all who helped with registration, debates, candidates’ discussions, and our candidates questions and responses – many, many thanks! This was a very active time for everyone, and a fabulous job was done! And to our members – please remember this is a great way to get to meet people and learn about the League. I truly enjoyed the people I met when registering people and handing out information about the League.

And now with the election cycle over, it is time to begin planning for the State Convention. While this may seem to be very far in advance, it does take much coordination among the many Leagues, as well as gathering input from our own members here locally.

As local League members, we are being asked to review the current positions, and propose new ones. This is a time for discussion and friendly debate; and when having different opinions on a topic, and having to stake out ground about that position, and then discuss it from all angles, is a very inspiring way to deal with these different positions. See Response Form on our website.

And at this time of year, LWVNJ is asking for us to take a look at what issues the membership of the Leagues would like to study going forward. These are positions that the League already has and whether or not to continue them (please refer to LWVNJ Study and Action Guide 2009-2011), or if you feel strongly about an issue this would be the time to propose discussion on it. I would like our members to start this dialogue early so we can begin to review these topics before sending our suggestions to State.

Another way that we hope to improve communications with our members is our newly designed website at - many thanks Sandy! I hope you all will bookmark this new site on your computer, since we can keep people updated most quickly by posting to the site.

Upcoming we hope to have a brown bag lunch on advocacy, which we will notify you about with email, postcard, and, of course, on our new website.

And finally, please mark your calendars now for the State Convention date of Saturday, April 30th – location is yet to be determined.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season,

Ruth Ann Mitchell

Voter Service Report

by Chrystal Schivell

In response to a request from the Group English Conversation Program, Rita Ludlum dug out notes from her days of giving talks to the University League conversation group. On October 21, she spoke at the Davis Center at Princeton University to a group of about fifty adults, most of them visitors to the United States, about American elections. She received compliments for explaining in an easy-to-understand manner the structure of our government, both locally and nationally, and the procedures required to run for office. Thank you Rita, for using your years of experience on behalf of the League.

Initially, when tickets were required for the Holt-Sipprelle debate at Rider University, LWV Princeton Area gave four of its then-precious tickets to reporters from school newspapers at Princeton, South Brunswick, and West Windsor-Plainsboro North and South High Schools. All the reporters were there and enthusiastic.  League received from Princeton High School its October 22nd issue of The Tower, which featured lively graphics of a donkey and elephant above side-by-side stories: “Holt-Sipprelle debate begins race for the House” and “Seniors get their first taste of true democracy.” The stories quite perfectly exemplified the League's mission to inform citizens as well as to encourage them to vote. It was rewarding to witness the interest in the debate and the gratitude for the tickets exhibited by these young reporters.

School Board elections may seem far away, but it is never too early to think about questions for the candidates. I would like to have a bank of questions for each of LWVPA's municipalities by the end of February. Should an issue or question cross your mind, perhaps during a conversation with a neighbor, please jot it down immediately and send it to me. The Princeton Packet expects to continue its collaboration with League in publishing candidate responses, and we will post our voters' guides on the League's wonderful new website.  All we need is the questions!

Looking Backward

This is from the October 11, 1934 Newsletter.

At the call of the president, Mrs. Eldridge, the Executive Board of the Princeton League of Women Voters met in special session at their home on October 11th at 11AM…. Mrs. Loomis moved that the League establish three election booths to be open from 9:30 to 12:30 on Friday, November 2nd and Monday, November 5th to give information about candidates for election and publicity about the League and that the president appoint a chairman to make such arrangements. This was seconded and carried.  Mrs. Eldridge then asked Mrs. McAlpin if she would take charge of the arrangements for booths.  Mrs. McAlpin accepted.  The president then asked Mrs. Osgood to approach the chairmen of the Democratic and Socialist Parties; Mrs. Farr the chairman of the Republican Party; and Mrs. Loomis any other parties on the elections.

NJ Juvenile Justice System Inadequate
by Beverly Kestenis

Society cannot afford to continue the present juvenile justice system such as it is in New Jersey, according to NJ assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman who spoke at the October meeting of the Princeton League.

What is happening to our children, their futures and the future of our nation? Why does the US have a higher incarceration rate than many other countries? Do present sentencing laws create problems for juvenile offenders instead of remedying them? These are a few of the problems that Coleman addressed in her informative and passionate talk.

Minority offenders and those from poor income families receive unequal treatment. The incarceration rate of minorities in New Jersey is six to one. Crimes reported by school districts are overwhelmingly those committed by a minority class. The same offense may result in different courses of action and results. If you are a two parent household in the suburbs with parents working full time and traveling, this is considered supportive. However, if you are an inner city single parent in a similar situation with several jobs but less income you are considered not stable. This juvenile is moved through the system. He or she starts building a record which is difficult to overcome.

Less than half of prisoners are in prison for violent crimes. They are usually drug or property related . Cheaper alternatives to prison are available such as day programs and the use of ankle bracelets.  Education is extremely important and currently neglected.

The second chance idea is elusive. Juveniles come out of prison unprepared and find an insufficient number of jobs for them. They are not getting jobs nor are they being embraced in the community. We need to break the cycle by education and higher expectations. This does not mean that  a community is soft on crime. Approaches are needed which are both social and fiscal.

Coleman stressed advocacy throughout the evening. Citizens need to speak up and show a collective interest. Advocacy is one very important way the League of Women Voters can help.  With the help of the League more people may become informed and involved.

Is this an area that interests you?  Would you like to help the local League be an advocate. If so, contact Ruth Ann Mitchell.

National LWV Position on Juvenile Justice

The League supports rehabilitation programs including a broad range of graduated sanctions and services and adequate funding for community based facilities. It supports measures to reduce disproportionate representation of minority youth in the system and a single independent state level agency.

Know Your Town
by Sandie Rabinowitz

Back in 1962 to 1963, we were revising “Know Your Town” and I was in charge of distribution. My name and phone number were printed on the back. I was excited about this project, especially since I would be promoting and selling it. The printing was finished just before my husband was invited to Kanpur, India, for a year, where my husband was a key man in setting up the very first computer at the Indian Institute of Technology. I was pretty upset about having my name on the back cover while I was halfway around the world. Nevertheless, the booklet sold and was a big success.

After settling in, I became involved in various activities. One was being part of the Faculty Wives Association. This was the second year of a ten year project with nine American Universities including Princeton. Some people stayed two years, others for one year. We actually stayed away half a year longer than anticipated. New faculty and families arrived when we did. I suggested we write up a booklet as an aide to acquaint newcomers with as much information about living there. The name was “Know Your Kanpur.” It was a fun group project for Indians and Americans. We got to know each other and picked up all sorts of important information. My copy is probably packed away with a lot of other memorabilia.

Running and Winning
by Jesse Burns, LWVNJ Director of Communications and Projects

Recently I had the opportunity to attend my first “Running and Winning” program. It was organized and sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Greater Red Bank Area. “Running and Winning” is an amazing day-long League program that encourages high school girls to consider a political career.

I found the commitment of the League members, other sponsoring organizations, volunteers, female elected officials and political operatives, and the enthusiasm of the student participants extremely inspiring and encouraging. Young women who may have never before considered a career in politics or who may have thought that a political career was not possible, left that day excited, empowered and confident in their ability to work on a campaign team or run for elected office. The young women spent the day interviewing women who have political careers, researching the pros and cons of a policy issue and working together in teams to prepare and deliver a campaign speech about that issue.

Currently four local Leagues – LWV of Cape May, LWV of Mountain Lakes, LWV of Camden County and LWV of the Greater Red Bank Area – organize and sponsor local “Running and Winning” programs in their communities. I would like to say thank you to the many people who work so hard to provide this opportunity to high school girls in those areas. All of you are playing a huge role in shaping the future of these young women and working to decrease the gender gap in our political system. As I watched each group of students deliver their speeches, I was so very proud to belong to an organization that not only encourages political participation, but also provides hands-on leadership skills to foster our future female political leaders.