Making Democracy Work

News & News Releases

Check here for press releases, League news or updates on current events

Media Release: Lunch with the League, Wednesday, September 9

Join League of Women Voters members for lunch on Wednesday, September 9 at noon at Coach's Bar & Grill, 2528 W. Glenlord in Stevensville. The speaker is Harbor Country's own Brian Kissman speaking on America's Literacy Crisis and what it will take to turn things around. He will focus on current trends, research-evidence, and his own work, including two books, Literacy Mats and Phonics Things. Remember phonics? Back to the future?

Brian has worked all over the world, in Bali, Qatar, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland, France, Japan, and Liberia, West Africa. But he was born and raised in Harbor Country and graduated from New Buffalo High School. His parents are Nadra and Al Kissman, long-time community leaders in our area. They formerly owned and operated Nadra K Real Estate. This past school year he served as a consultant to Benton Harbor Area Schools to improve their literacy program.

To expedite lunch service, attendees will be offered a choice of several of the most popular menu items rather than the entire large menu. Reservations are not required, but Coach's and LWVBCC would appreciate having an idea in advance of how many are coming.

Please contact Donna Dutton if you plan to come or for more information.

Book Selections for September Book Group Meeting

We have two book selection for the September meeting:

"Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption" by Bryan Stevenson and "Ghettocide: A True Story of Murder in America" by Jill Leovy.

The meeting will be held at a member's home in Harbert on Monday, September 21.

Berrien County Recycling Events

Berrien County offers many opportunities for residents to recycle hazardous materials, electronics, tires and unneeded medications.

For details visit the county website or e-mailrecycling coordinator Jill Adams.

Poverty Workshop Poster!

Media Release: A Conversation on Poverty July 14

On Tuesday, July 14 the League of Women Voters of Berrien & Cass Counties and Fernwood Botanical Garden are proudly co-sponsoring a 4-hour interactive workshop presented by Cass County Bridges Out of Poverty. The program will run from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm with lunch at approximately noon. Lunch is part of the experience--except for the food! Attendees will have the opportunity to meet people who have been through the program and other experts on the challenges of poverty.

There is much poverty around us: 17.5% of the people of Berrien County live below the poverty line and in Cass County it's 14.5%. Then there are those just above the line, the working poor. Most of us really have no idea what poverty is like or the challenges involved in rising out of it. We tend to have a judgmental attitude about the poor, as though they choose to be poor and can also choose to get a good job and no longer be poor. If this is your reference point, you need some education --and you can get it at this workshop!

Reservations are required and the deadline is Thursday, July 9. The cost for the program and a buffet lunch is $14. Make a reservation using PayPal by going to, then the calendar page, or call Fernwood at 269-695-6491 Tuesday through Sunday.

This meeting is definitely open to the public and representatives of concerned organizations are invited as well.

"The League and Nonpartisanship" by Susan Gilbert

This article appeared in the December 2010 LWVBCC newsletter and has been circulated by LWVMI and the LWVUS leaders. Numerous local Leagues have asked for permission to reprint it in their newsletters.

It is not uncommon for outsiders, and even some members, to question how the League can be nonpartisan yet advocate on positions that, in the slice of time that is now, appear to be partisan. In the highly partisan climate that has developed in recent years, the League is one of the very few political organizations that is not in either the liberal/Democratic camp or the conservative/Republican camp. And we have members of all political persuasions and encourage them to get involved in politics. So members may be partisan but the organization is not. All this is hard for many to wrap their minds around.

The League is nonpartisan in that we do not endorse or support any political party or candidate for office. We don't rate legislators, we don't track their votes and we don't threaten them if they don't vote our way. Voter service is one of our main missions and we publish nonpartisan voter guides and hold candidate forums to help voters educate themselves beyond TV ads. Education is an important League function, and we try in our meetings and in this newsletter to inform our attendees/readers and stimulate them to think about issues in our world.

However, the League is also an advocacy group, and we have positions on issues that have been developed over the years since our founding in 1920 and are the result of study and consensus of the local Leagues nationwide. These positions are updated from time to time, but are basically consistent. The positions and platforms of the political parties, on the other hand, do change and at times they resemble our League positions, or not. But the League doesn't change or drop it's positions because they are currently those of one party or the other. And we do speak out!

An example is health care. The League has a position on comprehensive health care for all Americans. President Truman liked that idea too and President Eisenhower delivered a special message to Congress on January 31, 1955 recommending a comprehensive health program for Americans. Lyndon Johnson got Medicare passed and that took the pressure off for awhile. But President Nixon encouraged HMOs as a way to rein in costs and provide health care for more people. Then President Reagan came along and decided the free market was the best way to manage health care and the Republicans have basically supported this idea since. But clearly both parties have been on both sides of the issue.

The key is not to confuse politics with position advocacy.