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26
Jan

February 2015 Unit Meetings

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In February we will address the issue of “Transportation in Tulsa and Surrounding Areas”. This issue was identified by our Tulsa membership as the priority topic of interest in an on-line survey completed in May 2014.

Unit Meeting Dates

Midtown: Tuesday, February 17, 11:30 to 1 pm on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at the League office, 3336 E. 32nd. Lunch and visitation 11:30 (bring your own lunch) Meeting 12:00 pm.

North Tulsa Unit: Monday, February 23, noon to 1:00 pm on the 4th Monday of the month at the Rudisill Library at 1520 N. Hartford Avenue.

Breakfast Unit: Tuesday, February 24, Meets from 7 to 8 am on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the ONEOK Cafeteria, 100 W. 5th street, Lower Level in downtown Tulsa.

“Transportation in Tulsa and Surrounding Areas” is a broad and complicated topic so please bring to the meeting your ideas about transportation.

Following are links to help in your study. For discussion we will start with the 4 articles under Transit Examples. Other links are included for background knowledge.

1. Transit Examples:

Walking - October 14, 2014, Tulsa World…Conference focuses on Tulsa’s walkability and its impact on economy. Sponsored by Tulsa Health Department, Tulsa Young Professionals, U. of Oklahoma Society of Urban Design Students

Disability – May 16, 2014 Tulsa World… Tulsa’s disabled fighting cuts to city transit.

BusSeptember 19, 2014 Tulsa World… Tulsa’s rapid transit bus system won’t get started until 2020s

Bus - July 12, 2014 Tulsa World… Take a Tulsa Transit but to a destination just once

2. History up to around 2010 - A New Tulsa Transit emerges out of the old by Mark Pritchard

3. Tulsa City + Tulsa County = INCOG, Indian Nations Council of Governments - See areas of activity under Transportation Planning which are bicycle/pedestrian planning, coordinated transportation, demographics and information, en Espanol, long range planning, meetings and agendas, programs and projects, regional maps, regional trails guide, regional transit plan, transportation links, transportation resource center.

4. Citizens Advocates for improved transportation- Transit Matters, a grassroots advocacy group promoting effective public transportation in Tulsa. Look at sections “about us”; “how you can help”; “transit facts”; ”contact us”

Tulsa Now, example: walking example: mass transportation

Consensus Meeting Report:

January 10, 2015, the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa held a membership /consensus meeting at Martin East Regional Library. Twenty members joined together in the study “Renewing our Commitment to Action”. Those present discussed policy positions in the LWVOK’s Program for Action book and made recommendations to bring these policies up to date for action and advocacy purposes. Discussion was led by Tulsa member, Debbie Zanovitch. New and long-term members, with their broad range of knowledge, participated in the exchange of information and ideas and the pooling of mental resources. Not everyone agreed on opinions yet issues were identified and common ground sought. By the end of the meeting all members present had contributed to the League’s decision-making process and eleven policies received recommendations.

The LWVMT’s Program Committee is now preparing the Tulsa Consensus Report containing recommendations from the January 10 meeting and those from the fall Unit Meetings. The Tulsa Report will be presented to the members of the LWVMT’s Board for acceptance before being sent to the LWVOK by the end of February.

If you would like a copy of the Tulsa Consensus Report for the study “Renewing our Commitment to Action,” please contact the LWVMT’s office.

22
Jan

Meet the Member: Pat Scherer

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Want to know who makes the League special? We’ve started an initiative to feature our membership on our “Meet the Member Mondays” blog series. Check back often to learn more about our members, see the diversity of our membership and see why they think the League’s work is important.

Name: Patricia Scherer (called Pat)

Day job: Retired teacher

3 words to describe you:   I like people, reading, & knowing what’s going on

Why are you involved with the League: I like League because it fulfills my liking for people & knowing what’s going on.

My favorite experience with LWV has been:   Meetings

On the weekend, you can find me:   Reading & if weather is right, gardening

Favorite Tulsa restaurant:   Jamils

Favorite vacation destination:   Estes Park
Words to live by: Do your best; then don’t worry

If your day had 25 hours, what would you use the extra hour for: Reading

One item you can’t leave home without: car keys

Favorite meal: dilled chicken or steak

Beverage of choice: wine

Who is your hero: Sonia Sotomayor
Biggest pet peeve:   Being told to do something that I’m already doing satisfactorily

What makes you laugh: Something that happens or is said about what is happening right now. Not retold jokes.

Best movie seen/book read lately: Flight behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
latest: Gold Finch by Donna Jaret

What should be taught in school that isn’t currently: How to play poker. What should be taught more is writing, writing, writing; reading of literature the students’ like; also current events.

Favorite Tulsa activity: attending my book club.

One word to describe Tulsa: A city large enough to have museums, concerts, & small enough to have areas that resemble suburban living.

9
Jan

Getting to Know: Steve Kunzweiler, Tulsa’s new District Attorney

steve kunzweiler

Entering his 25th year as a career prosecutor, Steve Kunzweiler was sworn in as the Tulsa County District Attorney just last week. Steve has spent the past 11 years as a Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney, with his most recent position as Chief of Criminal Prosecutor. With extensive prosecuting and leadership experience, Steve has tried everything from misdemeanors to violent crimes such as armed robbery and murder, as well as mentored and supervised 35 assistant District Attorneys through these cases.

Steve graduated from the University of Tulsa School of Law in 1988, has been married to his wife Christine for 25 years, and they have three beautiful daughters. The League of Women Voters of Metro Tulsa took a moment to catch up with Steve to get to know him more, and get a glimpse of what’s to come at the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office.

“The biggest difference between being an ADA and the DA is appreciating how many people inside the office are dependent upon you for a job, and how many people outside the office are dependent upon you doing your job.” –Steve Kunzweiler

What will the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office agenda be for 2015?

First and foremost the responsibility of any District Attorney is public safety.  We will continue to focus our attention on removing from the streets those individuals who pose the greatest risks to our community.

There are two areas which need to be addressed during the next four years – not just for 2015.  First, anything which will improve the lives and safety of our children will be a priority of our office.  We want to influence young lives in a positive direction to fulfill their dreams and goals.  Second, the funding for our statewide district attorney offices is woefully insufficient to do the necessary job of public safety.  A core responsibility of government is the safety of its citizens.  District Attorney offices account for less than one percent of the state budget – yet we handle the overwhelming majority of all crimes committed in the state.  Our state deserves to have offices staffed with career oriented prosecutors who have the experience to make the life altering decisions which impact so many of our lives.

What 3 changes will citizens see under your leadership as DA?

Tim Harris served our community well as our District Attorney these past 16 years.  He shepherded us through many difficult times involving gangs, methamphetamine, and senseless violence.  I will continue to follow in his footsteps to ensure the safety of our community.

The mustache will still be here, but I hope to build positive relationships with local law enforcement, schools, and our business community.

What is the biggest issue that Tulsa is facing?

We are still dealing with a crisis in addiction – whether it involves illegal drugs, prescription medications, or synthetic drugs.  Attacking this problem at its inception is our biggest challenge.

What misconceptions do you think there is of the DA’s office?

Our job is to find the truth and then seek justice.  We are ministers of justice.  Our obligation to our community is to uphold the rule of law.  Therefore, if we determine a person is wrongfully accused we will dismiss the case.

Can you give us details, elaborate, on your DA/Middle School mentoring program?

I believe that the best way to learn what is going on with our children is to have one-on-one contact with the people who are doing the educating.  Therefore each of my prosecutors will be assigned a school.  The prosecutor on a monthly basis will interact with that school – whether it is the principal, a teacher, a counselor, or a classroom of students.  The prosecutor should stand as a role model to these students.  The prosecutor can gather information from the school which will help our office in formulating policies designed to improve how we deal with children in the court system.

To you, what is the most significant case that you have worked on?

I have handled a lot of tragic cases, but the most inspirational case involved a young woman who was physically and sexually abused by her father for years.  She had every reason to give up on life, but she is now a wonderful mother and a model for overcoming adversity.  She refuses to be defined by her victimization.  She works hard every day to provide a better life for her child and for herself.  It is people like her who give me and other prosecutors the strength to wage the battles we have to on a daily basis.

Do you think the DA race should be partisan or non-partisan? Why?

Politics is politics . . . and prosecutors are not politicians.  We don’t care what the color of a person’s skin is, where they came from, what religion they belong to, or which political party they support.  The only thing that matters is “did he/she do it, and if he/she did it, what is the appropriate consequence.”

What is your favorite Tulsa spot?

With a fourteen year old soccer playing daughter it would be any soccer field in the county.  There is nothing more rewarding to a father than to see his daughter having fun with her friends in a game that never stops.

Do you have a song that gets you pumped up for work/trial? If so what song and why?

I am confident that the following list will get me in trouble with someone:

– Enter Sandman by Metallica (What red blooded American man doesn’t like this song?)

– Best of Both Worlds by Van Halen (Eddie Van Halen and a guitar is all that needs to be said).

– Blue Collar Man by Styx (Head banging music)

– Turn Me Loose by Loverboy (Head banging music part two)

What can we find you doing on the weekends?

You can find me at a soccer field cheering on my daughter.

19
Dec

The Party of Nonvoters

young-voters-hit-the-polls-in-2012

It is an often stated truth that strong voter turnout is integral to a strong democracy. However, voter turnout in the United States is at an all-time low. The November general election this year saw just 36.3 percent of registered voters go to the polls. This means that only one out of every three registered voters showed up to elect members of the US House and Senate, governors, state legislators and thousands of local officials.

The voters who did go to the polls were more likely to be older and more affluent than the ones who didn’t. These numbers contribute to the rise of what is being called “the Party of Nonvoters.” This Party is younger, more racially and ethnically diverse and less affluent and less educated than most citizens who vote regularly. Roughly a third of nonvoters are younger than 30. 43% of those who are not likely to cast ballots are Hispanic or African American. Nearly half of nonvoters have family incomes less than $30,000, and most nonvoters have not attended college.

Here in Oklahoma, we are echoing what is being seen on a national scale. Oklahoma has seen a steady decline in both the percentage of the eligible population that actually registers to vote as well as a decline in those that vote on Election Day. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, about 98 percent of eligible voters were registered in 1992. In 2012, this number was only 74 percent. Of those Oklahomans registered, only 40.7 percent cast a ballot during the November General Election. And, unfortunately, you can bet that the younger voters did not make up a majority of this percentage. In 2012 the 18-29 turnout was 27.1 percent.

What is to blame for this rampant voter disengagement in the 18-29 age bracket? Issues ranging from apathy for the political system to not identifying with elected officials and candidates and even the unfortunate thought that their vote just ‘doesn’t matter’ are all reasons that have been cited for lack of turnout in this age bracket.

We asked a couple of local experts their thoughts on the issue. This is what we heard from them.

“Young voters have proven in the past that when ballots consist of issues relevant to them and offer candidates that share their values and interests, young people will show up. They have in the past and would do so again. Leaders need to engage young people in the process, bring them into the conversation and create the change they desire. Additionally, and more importantly, young adults need to run for public office and view themselves as a critical component in community development and civic service. Social media posts and angry tweets are not enough. Our country need young leaders to channel their infectious optimism and passion into reshaping the political landscape from disheartening to inspiring. “ – Shagah Zakerion, Executive Director, Tulsa’s Young Professionals

“Young Americans are turned off from voting today because most politicians are lazy. It is easier to get elected by tearing down your opponent – by attacking them on simplistic, partisan grounds – than it is to put in the work required for a compelling, positive vision that you can offer voters.  This is a cynical but effective approach designed to reduce voter turnout and enable professional political operatives to more easily manage electoral outcomes.  And this approach will continue, until true leaders have the courage and imagination to show that you can be positive, be constructive – and still win.” – G.T. Bynum, Tulsa City Councilor

So where does the League fit in? Simple. Every day, we work toward our mission of educating and empowering the electorate. From registering citizens to vote, to producing Voters’ Guides packed with information about candidates and ballot issues, to holding candidate forums designed to increase transparency between candidates and citizens, the League is on the front lines to engage ALL citizens – including 18-29 year olds.

We could use your help to get our work in front of our youngest voters. Here are four easy ways you can help:

  1. Like the League on Facebook and invite your friends to do the same.
  2. Volunteer at an upcoming registration event.
  3. Share a copy of the League’s Directory of Elected Officials with young voters that you know.
  4. Join the League. Your membership will help to ensure the League’s future for generations to come.

Written by:

0701fd1 Diama Norris, Board of Directors Member

meredith-mcdaris-headshot-300x300 Meredith McDaris, Board of Directors Member

Sources:

http://www.thenation.com/blog/190769/what-do-about-record-low-voter-turnout-call-holiday#

http://www.fairvote.org/research-and-analysis/voter-turnout/

http://www.pewresearch.org/topics/voter-participation/

http://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p20-573.pdf

http://oklahomawatch.org/2014/11/04/oklahoma-sees-the-lowest-voter-turnout-for-governor-since-2002/

http://okpolicy.org/oklahomas-broken-democracy-hurts-millennials-guest-post-nikki-hager

http://okpolicy.org/oklahomas-democracy-broken-can

18
Dec
action

January 2015 Unit Meetings

  Dates and Topics for Discussion

  • Midtown: Tuesday, January 20, 11:30 to 1 pm on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at the League office, 3336 E. 32nd. Lunch and visitation 11:30 (bring your own sandwich) Meeting 12:00 pm. Discussion Topic will be: “What is Happening at the State Legislature?” Bring articles and information for discussion.
  • Breakfast Unit: Meeting date has been changed to Tuesday, January 20th, 7 to 8 am, at the ONEOK Cafeteria, 100 W. 5th street, Lower Level in downtown Tulsa. Discussion Topic will be: “Voter Registration and Turnout”. Materials will be emailed to group members by Unit Facilitator.
  • North Tulsa Unit: Will not meet in January. All members are invited to attend one of the other unit meetings.

And, please save the date for our Consensus Meeting: Saturday, January 10, 2015. 9:00 – 12:00. Learn more here.