Thanks to the ZOOM management expertise of Board Director Kandea Mosley, Treasurer Cynthia Chen and LWVBAE intern and Albany High graduate Karanina (Laszlo) Zim, the League’s first virtual Annual Meeting was a great success for the large crowd of members and guests who “gathered” on-line June 4 at 6:30 pm!
After a minute of silence in sympathy with the families of African American George Floyd and too many other minority victims of police abuse, the panel discussion on “Meeting the Challenges of COVID-19” began with opening statements by Berkeley City Auditor Jenny Wong, Berkeley Unified School District Board Vice President Ty Alper and Albany City Mayor Nick Pilch.
The video of the meeting can be viewed by clicking (video). Viewers can see clearly from graphs and data on Auditor Wong’s slides the painful decisions Berkeley has faced in dealing with financial dilemmas wrought by COVID-19, BUSD Board finance point person Alper’s presentation of the District’s weighing equally devastating budget cuts – but not to programs benefiting African American students — to keep afloat, and Mayor Pilch’s pitch for voter support in the Nov. 3 election of the Schools and Communities First! measure to reform selectively the property tax basis of assessing large commercial properties, which will be critical for even the much smaller city of Albany to make up for greatly reduced revenue due to COVID-19.
During the following Q-and-A, responses by all three elected officials were similarly mindful of COVID-19’s presenting challenges but also opportunities for improvement to questions posed by LWVBAE President Ruby MacDonald — including how community members could volunteer to meet the crisis; how the pandemic has focused attention on the shortcomings of and possible need to re-design existing health care delivery and unemployment support systems; what, if any, measures to increase fairness of our economic system could lead to its increased efficiency and how the distant future of our communities could be impacted positively, as well as negatively, by having had to weather COVID-19.
After nonmembers left the meeting, the annual LWVBAE business meeting was held. Highlights included presentation by Sherry Smith, answering of questions by Cynthia Chen and approval by the membership of the 2020-2021 Budget; a vote to confirm the program priorities Homelessness/Affordable Housing, Climate Change, Prop. 13 Reform and Voter Services approved in January 2020 with the addition of Rank-Choice Voting; election of 2020-2021 Officers, Board Directors and Nominating Committee members; and Directions to the new Board from the floor. A subsequent article will report more extensively on the business meeting.
–Ruby MacDonald, LWVBAE President
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