Bill Bauer’s comments about the League of Women Voters of Santa Monica (LWVSM) in his June 20 column betray his ignorance about the way the League of Women Voters of Santa Monica works.
First, we are a nonpartisan, political organization. While we are always “neutral,” to use Bauer’s word, when it comes to individual candidates and the parties they may represent, we are a political organization that takes positions on issues and ballot measures. We have always done that, and will continue to do so.
Let me explain the process by which the LWVSM decides its positions on local ballot measures.
It’s not a vote. We come to consensus. It’s more like what you may be familiar with when a jury reaches a verdict. It is a decision-making process by which substantial agreement is reached on an issue.
We study the measure, beginning with the actual language that will be placed before the voters.
We then review our organizational authority to take a position on the particular measure, authority given us by League policy positions that have been developed over time.
We look at the history behind the measure, situations in which similar measures have been adopted (or not), and we examine the arguments for it and against it.
Then we get together to discuss and debate the recommendation of the study committee, which could be to support, oppose, or stay neutral.
This is the procedure we used with regard to Residocracy’s LUVE initiative.
And there was a robust debate among members of our board in this case. Had the board members decided they could not or did not substantially support the study committee’s recommendation as a group, we would not have reached consensus. We would instead have declined to take a position.
The consensus meeting was long and various points of view were fully presented and argued.
Our consensus was based on the authority given us by policy positions developed well before anyone could have even imagined the LUVE initiative.
We hope this clarifies at least a part of the way we work and reassures community members that the process by which we reached consensus on the Residocracy initiative is thoughtful, deliberate and well-founded.
It is interesting that Bauer and others who have opposed our positions in the past have accused us of “damag(ing our) credibility” only when we reach conclusions that are different from their own.
Actually, we wouldn’t be a credible organization if we agreed with everyone all the time. Our opposition to the Residocracy initiative is a case in point.
Ann K. Williams
Director and Past President, League of Women Voters of Santa Monica