The Nashville Voter
Volume 76, No 6-- June 2023
Welcome to this issue of the LWVN Voter. You'll notice that the Emma page design allows you to access the LWVN Calendar by pressing a button at the top of the page!
Please note, you can increase your screen size within your personal information manager (i.e., Microsoft Outlook). In the Microsoft Outlook Message Bar at the top of the e-mail page, choose "Other Actions'' and then in the dropdown menu choose "Zoom." The Zoom window allows you to increase the file size; try 140% for easier onscreen reading.
Also, please note that if you want to share/forward this newsletter to others, you MUST click on the envelope icon at the upper right side of this emailed version.
Don't Miss the Fireworks at TPAC! What will it take to get two dozen powerfully passionate, exceedingly complicated, and all-too-human individuals to settle their differences, while they hold the very future of a nation in their hands? The Tony Award-winning Best Musical 1776 features 17 Broadway cast members who reflect multiple representations of race, gender, and ethnicity, portrays the fiery founders of this country, putting history in the hands of the humans who were left out the first time around—and the result is an epic show of passion, debate, and roof-raising musical fireworks. Click here to learn more. To receive tickets for a discount, use the code WOMEN or simply click this link.
It was so great to see so many of you at the annual meeting at Casa Azafran! We accomplished the business of the LWVN by approving the budget. The new slate of officers on the board was also approved. The Molly Todd award was given to Brenda Gilmore, who has been a dedicated public servant in Nashville and a dedicated league member for many years. At the end of the meeting, LWVN member, Sabina Mohyuddin, spoke about the history and mission of Casa Azafran.
Molly Todd Award Recipient 2023: Brenda Gilmore
The recipient of this year’s Molly Todd Award, Brenda Gilmore, dedicated her life to serving her community by serving in government and serving in different community and civic organizations.
Brenda Gilmore served on the Nashville Metro Council from 1993-2003 as councilperson for the 1st District. She served in the Tennessee General Assembly as a state representative and state senator. Serving in the state legislature wasn’t always easy, and Brenda Gilmore tirelessly worked for her constituents and the people of Tennessee especially people who were marginalized including victims of domestic violence and formerly incarcerated people. She was an advocate for voting rights and worked tirelessly to expand voting rights in Tennessee despite opposition.
Her service to her community didn’t begin as an elected official. Even before she took public office, she served on numerous boards in the community and at her church. She also volunteered in the community and in Metro schools. This commitment to service and leadership was evident in her career. She was a Director of University Mail Services and Recycling Coordinator for Vanderbilt University. Over the course of her career, she has worked as a Counselor at Fidelity Federal Savings and Loan Association and Director, Postal Services Division, State of Tennessee.
She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Tennessee State University, 1984 and a Master's Degree from Vanderbilt University, 1988. She is also a graduate of the Tennessee Government Executive Institute and Vanderbilt Leadership Development Forum.
Brenda Gilmore has been a long-time member of the league and many other organizations. We are honored to have her as a member. Over the past several years, she has led the nominating committee and helped recruit new members and new board members. She helps keep our organization thriving with new people and new ideas as we continue to navigate the challenges to democracy in our state.
We are honored to present the Molly Todd award to long-time member and friend, Brenda Gilmore.
Who Was Molly Todd?
Mary “Molly” Hart Todd was a powerful and effective leader not afraid to push the boundaries of citizen advocacy in public policy. Her first job was as a social worker in birth control clinics in New Jersey and in Kentucky. In 1939, she moved to Nashville with her husband, James Todd, and began her work as a volunteer.
In 1948, she helped reinvigorate the League of Women Voters of Nashville, which had lost momentum after the passage of the 19th Amendment. Under her leadership, the LWVN mobilized support for a host of public policy issues. She engaged the League in vigorous campaigns to develop government support to ease overcrowding in county schools, improve library services, establish a family service agency, and invest in child welfare programs. The League also published the city’s first brochure on voter education, worked to abolish the poll tax, and engaged in efforts to consolidate city and county government services.
Todd joined and usually held positions of leadership in an impressive number of organizations, and in every group, she sought an agenda dedicated to social and political advancement. In 1962, she became a plaintiff in the Baker v. Carr case that came before the Supreme Court. The decision of this case by the Supreme Court led to the “one person, one vote” standard for legislative reapportionment.
In 1995, the Nashville League established the annual Molly Todd Award. It is given in recognition of a member of the League who has followed in Molly Todd’s footsteps, providing leadership and service to both the League and the voters of Nashville. And it identifies someone who shows the same bold spirit and optimism that Molly always demonstrated.
VOTE411 On-Line Guide Available for August 3 Metro Nashville Election to Share
The LWVN VOTE411 on-line voting guide for the Metro Nashville August 2023 election is available at www.Vote411.org. As of June 14, 86 of the 106 candidates (80%!) had posted their responses to the LWVN questionnaire. Hopefully, even more to come.
The August 2023 local election includes 106 candidates: Mayor (12 candidates), Vice-Mayor (2 candidates), Metro Council At-Large (21 candidates for 5 positions), and District Council Members (71 candidates for 35 Council Districts). A lot of candidates to learn about and decide how you will vote beginning July 14, 2023.
Vote411 is a great resource with general Tennessee voting information on registration, voting requirements, election dates, and deadlines as well as your personal guide to races and candidates in your district. All candidates were asked to participate by providing information about their campaign and answers in their own words about their vision and priority issues for Nashville.
What can you do?
Go to www.VOTE411.org, enter your address and view your ballot of candidates. Let me know if you have any issues with the website that I need to address. If you see candidates who have not responded, please encourage them to respond.
Share www.Vote411.org with others for their education about the August 2023 candidates. LWVN has developed some cards you can hand out to others about VOTE411. If you would like us to send you some cards to give to others, please send a request to LWVNash@gmail.com with your address and how many cards you want.
Help LWVN develop a publicity campaign about VOTE411 and to encourage voters to vote. Let Lara Webb (firstname.lastname@example.org) know ASAP if you have ideas for our publicity campaign and ways you can assist. We have a budget to really get the word out to VOTE and use VOTE411 for important election information.
By Karen Wieckert and Melissa Hanson
As we celebrate Pride Month this June, we cannot forget that LGBTQIA+ rights, like so many other civil rights in recent months, are being threatened by state-level legislative action across the country. Unfortunately, Tennessee leads the nation in advancing increasingly harsh and discriminatory policies. To help the Hot Topic audience learn more about the current state of affairs, Joseph Woodson, Board member and Advocacy Chair of the Tennessee Pride Chamber was joined by Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) and shared a legislative update.
We are reminded that over the past few years, the League of Women Voters US has filed amicus briefs in cases involving key issues in the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights, including Bostock v. Clayton County, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, Hecox v. Little, and Adams v. School Board of St Johns County.
Bostock considered whether Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination in the workplace covered LGBTQIA+ workers. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the provision does prevent discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community.
In Fulton, Catholic Social Services challenged the city of Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination requirement for government contracts. Their contract with the city was denied after the organization refused to place children in the foster system with LGBTQIA+ parents. The Court ultimately ruled in favor of Catholic Social Services and said that the city was wrong for denying their contract. Fortunately, the ruling was not as broad as it could have been, but the ruling was a major setback for anti-discrimination policies.
In Hecox, students are challenging Idaho’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which prohibits transgender women and girls, intersex persons, and non-binary people from participating in school sports. The law was introduced by a state representative who alleged that the mere participation of transgender girls and women in sports is a “threat” because of the “inherent, physiological differences between males and females.” The LWVUS amicus brief highlighted the harm that gender testing does to the transgender community and how it has been used to harm communities of color who do not fit the Eurocentric definitions of femininity.
In Adams, the LWVUS brief was filed in support of Andrew Adams, a transgender boy who was denied access to the boys’ restroom at his middle school in Florida. The lower court’s opinion upheld protections for the student and the case is currently on appeal at the Eleventh Circuit. The LWVUS amicus brief explains the harm that comes from denying transgender children gender-affirming treatment.
Of course, we are also very familiar with the Supreme Court Dobbs ruling last year that overturned the constitutionally protected right to an abortion established in Roe v. Wade in 1973. This decision threatened the erosion of critical cases such as Obergefell v. Hodges (establishing a constitutional right to marriage equality), Lawrence v. Texas (establishing a constitutional right to engage in consensual private sexual activity), and Griswold v. Connecticut (establishing a constitutional right to contraception).
Indicating the priority for both the House and Senate, the very first bill filed in the 113th General Assembly, SB1/HB1 bans gender-affirming care for minors. This passed and will go into effect on July 1. The ACLU has filed an appeal. Also among the earliest bills filed, SB3/HB restricts public drag performances and could also have the effect of putting trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people in danger. This bill was signed into law on March 3.
A federal judge overturned the law on June 5 calling it "unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad."
SB466/HB1269 specifies that a teacher or other employee of a public school or LEA is not required to refer to a student using the student's preferred pronoun if the pronoun is not consistent with the student's biological sex; insulates a teacher or other employee of a public school or LEA from civil liability and adverse employment action for referring to a student using the pronoun that is consistent with the student's biological sex. In effect, this bill which went into effect in May, allows for the adult bullying of children by not respecting their self-identification.
SB1440/HB239 also passed and added "sex" as a defined term for statutory construction purposes and effectively excludes transgender people from protection or coverage under a veritable minefield of instances.
These 4 bills are among at least 22 bills filed that directly target or have discriminatory implications for the LGBTQ+ community.
Sanders pointed out though, that progress is not always linear. "It advances, retreats, twists. and turns and this is why groups such as TEP and the Pride Chamber exist."
For additional information, refer to:
Readers are reminded that there will be NO July Hot Topic; we will reconvene on August 4 with our next informative session. See you then!.
Health Care/Public Health
By Constance Caldwell and Claire Sullivan
In preparing a position statement last fall on reproductive justice in a post Dobbs Tennessee, the LWVNashville Public Health Committee felt strongly that economic and social supports for single parents and young families needed to be significantly strengthened. Key among those supports would be increasing access to affordable housing and establishing a living wage goal for all Tennesseans. [A living wage is the income that a working person needs to afford a decent standard of living for themselves and their family in a specific location. It covers basic necessities such as food, housing, healthcare, education, transportation, and other essential needs, and eliminates the need to rely on outside assistance. It is different from the minimum wage, which is the lowest legal amount that an employer can pay an employee. A living wage is usually higher than the poverty level and adjusts for inflation and living costs].
We thus took interest in the recent debate over wage issues in the current Nashville City budget, and learned about a recent report on racial and gender equity for Metro employees--IncluCivics--that had been updated this year by the Nashville Human Relations Commission [link: IncluCivics 2023 (FINAL) (nashville.gov) ].
Ashley Bachelder, Director of Policy and Research for our Human Relations Commission presented the findings of the report to us at our June meeting. While the report shows that gradual progress has been made over the past 8 years since the first report was issued, both racial and gender disparities still remain. The report also shows that more and more Metro employees are moving out of the county, we suspect in large part due to issues of affordability. During recent budget hearings, Metro employees, through SEIU Local 205 which represents them, have been requesting a 7% cost of living adjustment [COLA] to keep up with inflation. The Mayor's original budget only offered 3%. Per an accepted calculation methodology used by the United Way of Middle Tennessee, a living wage in Davidson County in 2023 is $19.20 per hour if healthcare and benefits are provided, and $21.16 if not. Not all Metro employees are earning at this level.
Following Ms. Bachelder's presentation of the report, we agreed to contact our council representatives in full support of the 7% COLA, and also to learn more about the equity priorities of the current mayoral candidates. Note that a similar report on racial and gender equity for Metro School employees is being prepared for release later this year.
By Pat McCauley and Jack McFadden
Here’s a recap of the Metro Council Meetings 5/16/23
A resolution passed increasing the maximum income limit for eligibility to $60,000 in the Property Tax Freeze Program that provides financial assistance to low-income 65 years old or more beginning in Tax Year 2024. This is a current state program whose income cap is currently $47,500. Cap was increased with state bills HB0366 sponsored by Rep. Harold Love and SB0871 sponsored by Sen. Akbari. Bill passed with bipartisan support. In Nashville, it would be administered by the Metropolitan Trustee who is Erica Gilmore. Contact that department for questions.
- A bill passed on third reading regarding how many unrelated people can live in one dwelling. Up to 4 are allowed, unless there are 4 or more bedrooms, in which case, more may live in the dwelling.
At the public hearing regarding metro’s budget, several people spoke to the council supporting a raise for substitute teachers in MNPS. It was stated that they are only paid $11.33 per hour and were not included in raises. Someone requested that an additional $35 million be added to the budget to raise substitute teachers pay to $18 an hour and gave their information to the council.
- A resolution was passed requesting Metro Employee Benefit Board re-evaluate its decision to offer Group Medicare Advantage plan to Metro Government pensioners as their only option. This is a problem for some retirees who have expensive medical care that is not included under this plan.
Metro’s budget passed on first reading. 2 mixed use developments passed on 3rd reading that have been controversial and have had many amendments. They are Belle Meade Plaza and one in Pennington Bend. Pennington Bend will include an archeology survey (apparently metro now has an archeologist on staff), and an RV park in a flood plain.
Tennesseans are encouraged to submit their thoughts on the legislation they would like to see passed in the special session by completing this form. It’s important that the Governor hears from voters.
By Reba Holmes
Annual Membership Drive
It's that time again… Our annual membership drive began on June 1, 2023.
Membership allows you to share a year's worth of experiences promoting democracy, educating others in the community, participating in political discourse, and registering new voters, to name a few. Plus, the annual membership includes membership to the national, state, and local LWV organizations. Details regarding the various support levels may be found on our website <http://lwvnashville.org/join/.
We sincerely appreciate all our members who support the League's activities, programs, and underwriting. Join us today!
We Are Stronger Because of You
Our League Administrator, Tracy Depp, reviews our membership roster every month. As of June, we have 274 members in our League.
We hope to keep growing our membership and encourage more people to become advocates for democracy and its essential cornerstones. By becoming a member, you can participate in various activities, such as promoting democracy, educating others in the community, engaging in political discussions and forums, and registering new voters.
Your annual membership will also grant you access to the national, state, and local LWV organizations. You can find more information about the different support levels on our secure website https://lwvnashville.org/membership/.
We Are Looking for Volunteers
We are excited to announce the formation of a Membership Committee. This committee will assist with the annual membership campaign and work on other critical membership-related initiatives. We would like to invite you to join the committee and take on tasks such as aiding with membership communication and recruitment.
Committee Job Description:
- The committee will provide a strategic vision to increase membership, focusing on effective, comprehensive growth, new member integration, and membership retention
- Develop a program designed to mentor new members, specifically young adult members
- Increase awareness regarding the League throughout our community by working with other portfolio managers to develop a communication and outreach program
- Develop annual renewal implementation procedures, timeline, communication, and follow-up
- Develop a strategy to recruit potential members across various demographics
- Work in partnership with other portfolio managers, e.g., Voter Services, Education, Metro Council, etc.
If you are interested in serving on the committee please send an email expressing your interest to email@example.com
We want to hear from you. Please share your comments regarding why your joined the League of Women Voters? Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
In Memoriam: TN Representative Bill Beck
The LWVN is saddened to hear of the loss of Rep. Bill Beck. He dedicated many years to serving his community in the legislature. We send our condolences to his family and friends.
Stay Informed about Upcoming Calendar Events!
If you get the electronic version of the Voter, we want you to know that the upcoming calendar events are available on our wonderful, new website – www.lwvnashville.org. On The calendar scrolls on the events of the current and upcoming events thanks to Tracy Depp, who keeps the calendar current. If you haven’t taken a look, do so to make sure you mark your calendar so you won’t miss a thing!
ATTENTION: The Nashville Voter is a digital publication. If you have received this copy of the Voter in the mail, it means the League of Women Voters of Nashville does not have an e-mail address for you. Please help us by sending your e-mail address to LWVNash@gmail.com. Being on the LWVN e-mail database ensures your receipt of all LWVN newsletters, event invitations, meeting announcements, and Call to Action alerts.
2022-2023 LWVN Board of Directors
Co-Presidents: Lara Webb
Immediate Past President: Madeline Garr
1st Vice Presidents: Melissa Hanson and Karen Weickert
Secretary: Elise Lamar
Treasurer Susan Mattson
Communications: Ophelia Doe
Community Connections: Sabina Mohyuddin and Katelyn Benhoff
Education: Harper-Grace Niedermeyer
Environment: Russanne Buchi-Fotre and Kalen Russell
Health Care/Public Health: Constance Caldwell and Clare Sullivan
Membership: Reba Holmes
Metro Government: Pat McCauley and Jack McFadden
Voter Services: Beth Gordon and Emily Grohs
Williamson County Representative: June Bond
Nominating Committee Chair: Senator Brenda Gilmore
Nominating Committee Members: Betsy Walkup, Constance Caldwell, Hasina Mohyuddin, June Bond, and Brenda Wynn