2015 LWVWI Annual Meeting
––Ingrid Rothe, LWVDC Co-President
This year’s LWV-WI Annual Meeting was held at the Chequamegon Hotel in Ashland. Approximately 90 people were present, including Dane County LWV delegates Mary Anglim, Joanne Elder, Mary and Steve Ploeser, Ingrid Rothe, and Caryl Terrell.
The theme was Ensuring a Healthy Environment and a Strong Economy for All, which ably addressed by the main speakers. We were welcomed on Friday night by Deb Lewis, Mayor of Ashland, who noted that all major leadership positions for the city of Ashland are held by women. The 2015 Zabelle Malkasian lecture (funded by a gift to the state league from Bill Malkasian in honor of his mother, a long-time league activist from Ozaukee County) was given by Jody Knauss from the Center for Media Democracy. Jody presented a lot of data on the declining U.S. economic growth rate in the last 30 years, and the increasing levels of economic inequality, with ever larger proportions of both income and wealth being controlled by only 1 percent of the population. On Friday evening, we also heard a poem by Andrea Kaminski in honor of the service (and retirement) of Melanie Ramey, president of the state league for the past 10 years, followed by a toast to thank Melanie.
On Saturday, the morning keynote was given by Dawn White and Esteban Chiriboga, from the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Dawn spoke of the connection of the Anishinaabe people to the mother earth and to her water, and of the great wisdom of past elders in assuring that the Anishinaabe people could continue to hunt, fish and gather on the ceded territories, which include more than 90 percent of the Lake Superior drainage basin. In thanks for the gifts from the mother earth and the water (fish, game, and wild rice), the Anishinaabe feel they must protect the mother earth and the water so future generations will also receive these gifts. Esteban spoke of the long-term environmental effects of mining, focusing on the impacts associated with the movement of huge quantities of water caused by digging deep pits in the earth and moving the mining waste in a slurry composed of water and tailings. Natural flow of water into mining pits results in drawdown of the water table, with affects the flow of water in streams and rivers. Piping slurry into tailing pits results in too much water at those sights, flooding wetlands. Maintaining water purification systems required for mines also entails maintenance of the pumps and filters for at least 500 years although inadequate funds are set aside to assure this will happen.
After the keynote, a panel discussed membership, leadership and fund development for local leagues. Two members of the panel were Dane County delegates Mary Anglim, Board Membership Director, and Steve Ploeser, Board Business Systems Director. Steve demonstrated our new ACCESS database for tracking member information and donations, and Mary discussed aspects of her work as Membership director.
During the business meeting we adopted the budget, which reflected recent experience in receiving declining grants from foundations. We also accepted the recommendations of the state program committee: 1) review and update of our urban policy position; 2) developing and expanding presentations on infrastructure and the economy; 3) continuation of the campaign on protection of water resources; and 4) education and advocacy on redistricting. We elected the new officers and board. The new incoming officers are President: Debra Cronmiller (Appleton) and Secretary: Andrea Kaminski (Dane County).
After the plenary session, a number of awards were announced. Helen Schwartz (Green Bay) was given the Meg McLane Award for Advocacy, for her long-time work on immigration and with immigrant populations to help them become citizens and voters, secure educations, learn English and obtain employment. Six leagues, including Dane County, were given awards for Membership and Leadership Development.
On Sunday, about thirty of us traveled south of Ashland into the Penokee Hills, not far from the proposed GTAC mine, to hear Northland College Associate Professor of Geophysics Tom Fitz give an excellent talk on the geology of the Penokee Hills, including how iron ore was originally laid down at the bottom of the seas, and how it came to be so near the surface at the Penokee Hills.
In addition to listening to the invited experts, the Annual Meeting is a great opportunity to learn what other Leagues are doing. Think about becoming a delegate for the 2016 Annual Meeting.