Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Year at a Glance - LWVDDH President's Report

Last June you elected me as your new president.
I would like to introduce others who became part of my Board. Jenni Dunn was elected Secretary. Joe Borrajo continued as vice President and Arnika Eskeland continued as Treasurer. Directors are Carolyn Buell, Kathleen Gapa, Barbara Goryca, Mona Hammoud, Judy Patrick, and Toni Tront. Off–board portfolios were held by Mary Jo Durivage, Betsy Cushman, Chris Sullivan and Agnes Dobronski.

The Transition happened immediately with (summer activities for)an August 4 Primary Election looming – the Voter Service Committee under the direction of Betsy Cushman was activated to prepare Voter Guides for the Dearborn City Council race. They were published and distributed throughout the city and posted on our website. In addition, the local newspapers quoted our material in editions of their papers.

On June 24th Carolyn Buell and I attended a joint conference Southeast Michigan and Toledo Council of Governments regarding plans for rapid transit and found that Ohio was further along because their communities were in agreement.
On June 30 – Judy Carty & I were invited to speak at the Outer Drive Kiwanis.
Members of our league assisted in a project to interview 100 candidates for Detroit City Council and 40 for Charter Commission. The interviews were taped for viewing on Public Television in partnership with Uof M, LWV-MI, Arise and MIVOTE.

On July 13- league members held an informal discussion about pending health-care reforms, sharing personal experiences about insurance coverage. Discussion covered the need for access to adequate facilities and preventive care as well as insurance.
Our league through Voter Service activity really became visible in the community sponsoring three forums:

• On September 23 a candidate forum for what was on the Dearborn ballot was held at Henry Ford Village. Under suggestion of Agnes Dobronski we allowed each candidate to speak for four minutes and everyone liked that format.
• On September 29, a Forum for the Dearborn candidates was held in Council chamber.
Explanations were given about the Henry Ford Community College millage renewal and the Wayne County Millage renewal. Four candidates for School board and fourteen candidates for city council participated.
• On September 30, a forum for Dearborn Heights Council was held in the Heights council chambers. Ballot proposals were presented and six of eight council candidates participated.
• On October 13 – A Dearborn Mayoral forum was held with two candidates.
For the November Election, once again Voter Guides were prepared under the direction of Betsy with help from Kathy Gapa, Chris Sullivan, Judy Carty, Judy Patrick, and myself. Diane Locke designed the layout of the data. Five thousand copies were printed and distributed. The VG was available on our website. Toni Tront did a great job of publicizing our activities into the local newspapers.

On October 15 – members of AAUW , local teachers and students, as well as our league members turned out to view the film “Iron Jawed Angels” that dramatically portrayed the struggle for women to ‘earn’ the right to vote.

On November 20 – Jenni Dunn chaired a “Hot Topics” discussion of several issues.

Joe Borrajo had been working on a project for our league to sponsor a plaque for the magnificent Oak Tree on the campus of HFCC.

On December 13 – Mona and Abed Hammoud hosted a luncheon meeting at their home. Abed, who is an Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor, presented information about mortgage fraud and his analysis of the past election.

January brought the Voter Service Committee into action again to update the Who’s Who of elected officials to reflect the most recent elections.

On January 23- we had a meeting to discuss National Program Issues. We did a review of the established positions to determine if they were still adequate to meet changing conditions. We discussed proposals for new studies suggested by other leagues. Our league favored a study on establishing a Department of Peace. We learned that most leagues favored a study on the Federal Role in Education.

At our February 4th board meeting – members were invited to help celebrate the 90th anniversary of the LWVUS which was established on Valentines Day (February 14). We received congratulations from Congressman Dingell, Mayor Daniel Paletko, and Dearborn Council members Tom Tafelski and Nancy Hubbard.

On February 18 we hosted a meeting about the 2010 Census. It was held at the Centennial Library with Census specialist Ahmed Nassar.

At our March 4th board Meeting we welcomed Barbara Adams as our new treasurer. We thanked Arnika Eskeland for her many years of dedicated work as our treasurer and we will miss her when she moves to Maryland.

On March 18- we concluded our study about Prison Reform and submitted the consensus response. Members appreciated the depth of information presented and the thoughtful discussions which led us to favor restorative and alternative measures to address criminal behavior. We noted a need for alternative treatment for mentally ill persons who commit crimes.

March 31 & April 1 found league members Joe Borrajo, Judy Carty, Kathy Gapa, Judy Patrick, Toni Tront, and I, monitoring student government elections at the University of Michigan – Dearborn campus. We enjoyed interacting with the students and watching their enthusiastic campaigning.

April 16, Agnes Dobronski and I attended the Volunteer Recognition luncheon at Henry Ford Village. Our leagued was thanked for the candidate forums and voter Guides.

On April 21, Carolyn Buell, Judy Carty, Kathy Gapa, Dennis Kirchoff, and I attended the workshop in Lansing hosted by the LWV-MI. After learning about advocating for reforms to make voting easier – we visited our local legislators in the Capitol or in their office to urge no excuse absentee voting and early voting. We interviewed Representatives Polidori, & Constan who presented us with a proclamation about
the 90th anniversary of LWV. We also interviewed Senator Tupac Hunter and spoke to the staff of House Speaker Andy Dillon.

Our April 29 meeting was a showing of the video “Blue- Gold, World Water Wars” a 90 minute thought provoking documentary identifying world water shortages and the need to prevent wasteful use of fresh water resources.

Our May 20 meeting continued our environmental concerns. Carolyn Buell brought information from National Graphic, Kathy Gapa brought statistics about the Great lakes, Judy Patrick offered information about the use of wind-turbines, especially as it relates to off-shore locations in Lake Erie.

June 15 , five of our members ( Joe Borrajo, Carolyn Buell, Jenni Dunn, Kathy Gapa and Tony Perry) assisted with video interviews of candidates for State Office. The project was possible through partnering with the Center for Michigan, Detroit Public Television, MIVOTE, out of U of M and LWV-MI.

Most recently, Carolyn Buell, Kathy Gapa, Judy Patrick and I are busy again gaining information for a Voter Guide for the August 3 Primary Election. Friday, we mailed letters to 44 candidates who will be on the ballot for Dearborn & Dearborn Heights. This election covers Michigan Governor, State Senate & Representatives, Wayne County Executive, Wayne County Commissioners, Wayne County Sheriff, Circuit Court and Probate Court judges. Dearborn Heights also has a council seat race.

I cannot believe that the first year of my presidency has gone by. I am so proud of our accomplishments and so thankful for the members who stepped forward to make
these possible.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Offshore Wind Turbines - Judy Patrick

Our recent focus on the Great Lakes led to a discussion on offshore wind turbines as a means of providing alternative energy.

Alternative energy means anything other than deriving energy using fossil fuel combustion. Ninety percent of our current energy usage comes from fossil fuels with possibly 70 years left with that resource. It is evident, then, that there is a clear need to invest in alternative energy sources.

So what are the advantages of offshore wind? There are none on a large scale. However, wind energy in general can supply supplemental power that can be fed into the power grid and sold to consumers. Wind energy is emissions free.

Intense wind is needed and greater sources of wind can be found on water.
A disadvantage of wind is that it is a highly variable source of energy with low efficiency. (20-30%). Getting the wind power to the grid is a major factor and challenge. The grid must have the capacity to receive the wind energy.
The grid must also be flexible to respond to changes in the rise and fall of demand. An example of problems in the grid occurred in Michigan several summers ago when we experienced serious “black-outs.”

Bird and bat mortality is a serious concern particularly if offshore wind turbines are placed in migratory paths. This also applies to butterflies and dragonflies. Generally, environmental groups support the move to renewable energy. However, they caution that much study is needed on how offshore wind turbines would affect wildlife and the environment and how to regulate them.

There has been some recent political activity in Michigan related to offshore wind energy. Bills were introduced this year by Senator Patricia Berkholz of Saugatuck and Representative Geoff Hansen of Hart. Birkholz”s legislation would mandate the Michigan Public Service Commission develop rules and procedures for issuing permits and for site selection. Hansen’s Bill would set up a public notice and review process for offshore wind farm proposals, including hearings at which citizens could voice their opinions. In May, Representative Tim Bledsoe of Grosse Pointe held a community forum about the proposed Canadian wind turbines on Lake St. Clair.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Asian Carp

Silver and bighead carp were first
captured from the wild in the 1980’s, and
continued escaping aquaculture facilities
through the 1990’s.Both fishes grow quickly
to large size (50 to 100 pounds). Thousands of
carp can be caught from an area less than half
an acre. These carp pose a considerable
hazard to boaters, mainly due to silver carp
jumping into moving boats, causing human
injuries and property damage. Damage from
a jumping carp hitting an object might
reasonably be compared to being hit with a
bowling ball. Water skiing is a risky sport in
waters that silver carp inhabit.
These carp are in direct competition
with native fishes for food and space, and may
prey on larvae of native fishes. Most native
fishes eat plankton during part of their life
cycle, the same food that Asian carps eat. Like
the introduced zebra mussel, Asian carp have
the potential to disrupt the ecology and the
food web of large river systems.