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.
Study Ongoing (2021): Town Meeting Communication Study
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.
Recently Completed Study (2021): Needham’s Elected Boards and Offices
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.
- May 2020 Annual Meeting, study approved
- September 2020 – May 2021 Study research and document preparation
- May 20, 2021 Consensus Meeting
- June 2021 Annual Meeting, positions approved
- Support providing information on the town website that helps residents decide whether they are suitable candidates for elected boards and other positions.
- Support providing a web portal for the various options for residents interested in getting involved in town government.
- During the town election season, support posting on the town website up-to-date information on 1) who has taken out nomination papers for a town election, 2) who has taken out and returned papers for a town election, and 3) who the final candidates are.
- Support the town ensuring that openings in town offices that will be on an upcoming ballot are widely publicized, including to organizations involving people of diverse age, race, gender, and socio-economic status.
- Support encouraging boards to consider ways to involve additional residents in order to develop a pipeline for future board membership.
- With regard to meetings of town boards, support:
- Allowing board members to join an in-person meeting or hearing remotely and fully participate in the discussion and voting.
- Making all board meetings and hearings available on cable TV, via videoconferencing, or other platforms, in real-time, for the public to observe and making video recordings of all board meetings or hearings be available for viewing afterward.
Do not support remote-only meetings and hearings.
- Support providing contact information in addition to mailing address on the town website for all elected board members and Town Meeting Members.
- Support appointing rather than electing the following elected boards and officers:
- Town Clerk by the Town Manager
- Board of Assessors
- Trustees of Memorial Park
- Commissioners of Trust Funds
Do not support appointing other elected boards.
- Support the town undertaking a full review of all elected officers and elected and appointed boards. Such a review might include, but would not be limited to, manner of selection; current relevance of the mission, role, composition, and/or other factors; need for new boards; term limits for appointed boards; and rules governing rotation of chairs.
Recently Completed Study (2018): Community Use of Town Buildings
In 2018, LWV-Needham completed its study on community use of town buildings.
- May 2015 Annual Meeting, study approved
- September 2015 – September 2017 Study research and document preparation
- January 2018 Consensus Meeting
- April 2018 Board approved position; May 2018 Membership approved position
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:
- Given that making town buildings more accessible contributes to successful volunteer and nonprofit efforts throughout the town and improves civic engagement, the town should make the process of obtaining suitable space as streamlined and user-friendly as possible.
- While guidelines for who can use facilities should be as consistent as possible, it is most important that the policies for each space are clear and implemented according to the policy.
- Suitable spaces, including conference rooms should be made available for public use.
- Although the town might need to “bump” a public user of space, it generally should not be able to do so except when extreme needs arise.
- Information on spaces that the public may use should be readily available on town websites, including details on room capacities, costs, audio-visual equipment, and ease of filming for Needham cable, and information should be presented in a way that enables easy comparisons.
- While basic fees seem appropriate, the assessment of a percent of ticket sales in the Center at the Heights and in Powers Hall should be removed.
- The town should further support the users of town-owned space by sending confirmation of the reservation, providing a contact person in advance for room set-up, providing instructions on the room’s equipment on-site or in advance, providing information on who can provide support during the event, and providing a means for reporting on the experience with the space after the event.
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.