Making Democracy Work

Action and Advocacy

We are truly a grassroots organization...

The League of Women Voters takes action on an issue or advocates for a cause when there is an existing League position that supports the issue or speaks to the cause.

Positions result from a process of study. Any given study, whether it be National, State, or Local, is thorough in its pursuit of facts and details. As the study progresses, a continuing discussion of pros and cons of each situation occurs. Prior to the results of the study being presented to the general membership, study committee members fashion consensus questions that are then addressed by the membership.

Additional discussion, pro and con, takes place as members (not part of the study committee) learn the scope of the study. After the members reach consensus, the board forms positions based on that consensus.

It is the consensus statement -- the statement resulting from the consensus questions -- that becomes a position. Firm action or advocacy can then be taken on the particular issue addressed by the position. Without a position, action/advocacy cannot be taken.

Positions on Government

Budget

LWVS supports the review of program budget decisions at the departmental level by citizen advisory boards, the public, and departmental executives. Elected officials should be responsible for priority-setting for the total budget.

Sacramento City Governance (adopted 2009)

Sacramento as a city of neighborhoods is better suited for a collaborative council-manager form of government, where the mayor participates with the council as a city-wide representative. This structure gives the public equal access to the mayor and council. It is important for the both mayor and council members to hear public testimony.

It is reasonable for a city to change its form of government only when there is a clear body of evidence that shows there are structural problems which can be solved by altering the form of government and that such change will address demonstrated problem.

The council, including the mayor, should have the power to appoint and remove the charter officers: the city manager; city attorney; city clerk and city treasurer. It is important that these officers are chosen for their professional qualifications and experience.

Changes in the budget process can be made to incorporate best practices without changing the city charter. The public should be engaged early in the priority setting stage of the budget process as well as in ongoing deliberations.

The council should continue to hold the powers not explicitly delegated in the city charter.

Government Organization

LWVS supports measures to encourage city/county efforts toward functional consolidation, the reduction of the number of special districts, while ensuring the adequacy of responsible and responsive special districts. LWVS also recommends the merger of the Sacramento city and county governments, and of the fire districts and other essential service districts.

Mayor's Office (adopted 2002)

LWVS believes the position of Mayor, City of Sacramento, should be a salaried, full-time position.

Merit (adopted 1956) LWVS supports public personnel systems based upon merit principles for employment in Sacramento city and county governments; supports measures to promote equal opportunity in employment.

Positions on Human Resources/Social Policy

Child Care (adopted 1987)

LWVS believes that the rearing of children is a social as well as a parental responsibility. Parents should provide a nurturing, caring environment that will promote the emotional, physical, and intellectual well-being of children. A coordinated mix of private and public child care programs, including self-supported and subsidized programs, is a necessary support system for both parents and children. These programs should be available to all children, including special needs children, in all age groups and designed to meet their special needs.

Programs that are affordable, accessible and of high quality should be available to parents at all income levels who choose to use them. Diverse alternative forms of child care responsive to the widely diverse social and economic needs of families, including consideration of transportation needs, should be provided.

Government regulations, funding, and active participation in coordinating child care needs, are necessary to ensure high quality of care in these programs.

Community-wide efforts are needed to educate all segments of society about the need for quality child care and the benefits derived by the community and to coordinate information and referral on existing needs and resources.

Teachers and those who participate in the care of children should receive the level of skill and training, along with commensurate salaries, which is required for high quality child care.

Pay Equity (revised 1995)

LWVS supports the concept of pay equity for jobs which share comparable levels of skill, efforts, working conditions, and responsibility.

Housing (adopted 1981)

LWVS believes decisions on the location, type, and density of housing must be an integral part of the planning process, so that air quality, transportation, energy use, schools, police and fire protection, water and sewers, open space, parks and recreation will be considered. Also to be considered are the needs for hospitals and the preservation of agricultural land.

LWVS encourages incentives for in-fill development, where public services and utilities are already in place, and higher density housing where it will facilitate the use of public transit, bicycling, and walking. We also urge a review of high density housing proposals to assure that adequate open space is provided and good design is incorporated.

LWVS supports the availability of housing for the low and moderate income citizens of Sacramento County and encourages local government to explore a variety of approaches to increase the supply of housing affordable to these groups. Such actions may include: public/private partnerships for housing rehabilitation; replacement housing, particularly for the elderly who have lost their residences due to building conversions; the use of general revenues for specific housing activities as self-help; and the development of new sources of financing, such as limited fees and surcharges on housing related transactions.

LWVS believes that while local government plays an important role in the provision of affordable housing, federal and state governments must provide the major funding for these efforts.

Juvenile Justice (adopted 1956, updated 1970,1974,1989)

Advocating a public policy committed to the value of children and youth, LWVS supports a greater emphasis on the use of alternatives to incarceration. Long term, cost effective, quality juvenile delinquency prevention programs at all government levels should receive first priority for funding.

Under this statement we support:
1. adequate financing for juvenile delinquency prevention programs at all government levels;
2. concerted attention, including supporting programs and activities, addressing the critical problems of substance abuse;
3. effective social, vocational, and academic programs through well-trained personnel;
4. promotion of quality foster care;
5. increased funding for the County Subvention Programs to support local program;
6. specialized training in juvenile work for all law enforcement officers, juvenile judges and all others involved in working with juveniles;
7. manageable caseloads for all personnel involved in the care and treatment of juveniles equal to a state standard;
8. juvenile court judges dedicated to the protection of children' rights within an informal court atmosphere when that is appropriate;
9. increased funding for and use of counseling and psychological services for children in lower grades and their families;
10. coordination of all city, county, and community services for children and families.

Positions on Natural Resources

Flood Control for Sacramento County (Adopted 2007)

1. The LWVSC considers flood control a major safety, health and economic issue facing the region and believes that proper flood control includes the following: a. the prevention of flooding that includes well-maintained flood facilities. b. the safety of all people and updated evacuation procedures c. adequate funding to pay for protection and maintenance d. an effective emergency communication system e. the protection of property f. the provision of temporary or long-term care for flood victims g. matching or sharing of expenses with state and federal government.
2. In areas of high flood risk LWVSC supports: a. banning new building until 100 year protection has been certified by FEMA b. developers and real estate agents notifying first time home buyers and renters of high flood risk c. regular notification to existing property owners and renters of the high flood risk d. community dissemination of information regarding the National Flood Insurance program and continuing outreach to encourage property owners to purchase flood insurance; e. increased emergency response and evacuation preparation and planning including practice drills.
3. LWVSC supports requiring flood insurance.
4. LWVSC supports adequate funding so that structures can be protected from flood damage in an urban area.
5. LWVSC supports the following sources of local funding in the order listed: a. assessments on properties directly benefiting from a flood control project; b. development fees from new projects in flood prone areas; c. community wide taxes or assessments: d. the general fund.
6. LWVSC supports: a. local agencies conducting a full readiness inspection of equipment, update of evacuation plans, and availability of trained police and fire personnel prior to flood season and reporting the results of this inspection to the public; b. cities and the county participating in the sponsoring of flood awareness and preparation by disseminating information through the media prior to the start of each flood season with reminders during the season; c. local agencies continuing to monitor flood events in other parts of the nation and world.
7. LWVSC supports buying development rights or flood easements on rural property which may flood in a high water event. This must be voluntary on the part of the owners of the rural property.
8. LWVSC supports considering quality of life and habitat preservation when building levees as long as safety is not compromised: a. flood control projects should be designed to accommodate fish and animal habitat and to protect the natural beauty of rivers and streams; b. recreation and amenities such as hiking and biking trails should be preserved on levees as much as possible; c. open space, wildlife habitat and endangered plant species should be preserved as much as possible; d. the previously used approach of channelization and closed conduit conveyance facilities are not desirable.
9. LWVSC supports the current flood control policy for rural streams which can be at a much lower level of protection than for the American and Sacramento Rivers. LWVSC supports the current policy of leaving the Consumnes River in its mostly natural state.

Land Use/Planning (adopted 1981)

LWVS supports effective city and county planning programs based upon general plans, community plans, environmental impact studies, and land use principles which include:
1. preservation of open space, agricultural land, and natural waterways;
2. optimum use of industrial and commercial land;
3. planned acquisition of recreational land;
4. efficiently operating planning departments and commissions;
5. clear policy statements regarding general planning trends in the community.

LWVS supports project and policy planning commissions and community planning councils as they implement the goals of the general plans.

As an alternative to total government financing, LWVS supports methods by which those who profit from new development beyond the existing urban service boundaries pay for the extra infrastructure needed.

To solve problems associated with new development, LWVS strongly supports regional planning through the Council of Governments and the use of joint powers agreements.

Secondarily, we support the EPA-mandated consistency of the Regional Transportation Plan with attainment on National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

LWVS supports zoning to allow the use of higher densities in housing where it will facilitate the use of public transit, bicycling, and walking. We also urge a review of high density housing proposals to assure that adequate open space is provided and good design is incorporated.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) (adopted 1987, updated 1989)

1. LWVS supports prudent resource planning including: a. strong conservation programs including fiscal and other incentives; b. alternative power sources that are fiscally and environmentally sound; c. expanded load management programs; d. small scale incremental additions to power production capacity as needed; e. renewable energy sources whenever possible.
2. LWVS supports financial decisions which minimize uncertainties and reduce the risk to the ratepayers including: a. the execution of power purchase contracts when appropriate; b. the maintenance of the district in a state of financial health.
3. LWVS advocates an electrical rate structure which supports energy conservation, life-line rates, and a fair and equitable rate distribution among all customer classes including: a. the adoption of an inverted rate structure; b. the elimination of a fixed customer charge for residential customers; c. the recovery of all costs of energy production and/or purchase.
4. Recognizing the actual accountability of the SMUD customer/owners, LWVS maintains that the customer/owners have the right and the responsibility to participate in the conduct of SMUD affairs. LWVS: a. opposes any divestiture of SMUD assets which could inhibit community control; b. supports informed citizen participation during contract negotiations.

5. The SMUD Board of Directors, as the representative of the ratepayers, is ultimately responsible for the safe, reliable, and economic operation of all power production facilities.

6. LWVS believes in the maximum protection of public health and safety and of the environment. a. We advocate that the Sacramento Municipal Utility District develop alternative power sources and incentives for conservation. b. SMUD should insure safe storage of low-level radioactive wastes on site until such time as a permanent disposal site becomes available. c. SMUD should actively pursue solutions to public safety concerns by promoting the establishment of a federal disposal site for high-level radioactive wastes, and the establishment of adequate emergency evacuation procedures.

Transportation (updated 1982, 1990)

LWVS favors development of a more balanced transportation system for the region that will change our heavy reliance on the automobile. In order to solve the environmental and social hazards caused by overuse of the motor vehicle, we improved public transportation and vehicular restrictions which will promote our goals of sound land use and energy consumption policies while preserving the environment and quality of life within our region. LWVS supports the continued expansion light rail.

Water (1992)

LWVS supports measures that promote integrated water resource planning and management with an emphasis on conservation and a balance between surface and groundwater usage.
1. LWVS supports the Memorandum of Understanding on urban water conservation issued by the State Water Conservation Coalition.
2. LWVS supports consolidation and coordination of water agencies and planning including date collection and monitoring.
3. LWVS supports greater reliance on conjunctive use and conservation measures by both agricultural and urban users to reduce water needs.
4. LWVS believes the following criteria must be met before any additional diversions are considered on the American River: a. To protect fish, wildlife and plant species, minimum flow levels at least equal to those established in the 1989 EBMUD* decision must be met before additional water is diverted. b. Minimum flow levels must be adequate to maintain the American River Parkway greenbelt.