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. The League can then take firm action or advocate for a particular issue addressed by the position. Without a position, action/advocacy cannot be taken.
Local studies provide an opportunity to research a local issue, and perhaps will lead to a new position. Past studies that lead to positions are summarized with the LWV-Needham positions.
This study committee is conducting its research in 2020-2021 and plans to complete the Study Report and hold the Consensus Meeting in May 2021.
Rationale for Study: Needham has made several changes over the years to increase efficiency in government. In 1934, it changed to a Representative Town Meeting. In 1982, LWV-Needham took a position (based on a study) that the Finance Committee and the Personnel Board should be appointed, not elected, and this was accomplished. Since moving to a Town Manager form of government in 2005, there has not been a study of Needham town government. It is time to take an objective assessment of the elected boards in town to educate ourselves and perhaps recommend changes.
A study of the approaches to improving communication between Needham residents and Town Meeting Members was approved at the May 2018 Annual Meeting. A committee was formed but research has been stalled due to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is still interest in re-opening the study in 2021 or 2022.
In 2018, LWV-Needham completed its study on community use of town buildings.
Position on Community Use of Town Buildings
The study and consensus meeting concluded that the following local position related to town government should be recommended to the Board and the membership:
Support maximizing the availability of town buildings for community use and ensuring that the town has a consistent, user-friendly process to obtain information, arrange for their use and provide support during their use.
At the study’s consensus meeting, the following were agreed upon:
LWV-Needham participated in the study of the Ballot Question Process in Massachusetts. The consensus meeting was held in January 2019 and our responses were submitted to the state. The positions resulting from that study and the study documents are posted on the LWVMA website.
LWV-Needham participated in the study of Charter Schools in Massachusetts, completed with the passage of the new position on charter schools at the LWVMA Convention 2017.
LWV-Needham has participated in recent national studies including Agriculture, Constitutional Amendments, and Money in Politics. There are currently no national studies.