January 2021 Minutes and Directors' Reports

League of Women Voters of Howard County, Inc.
Board Meeting Minutes
via Zoom
January 14, 2021

In attendance: Cynthia Williams, Barbara Russell, Virginia Kirk, Krista Threefoot, Linda Wengel, Linda Frascarella, Laura Mettle, Sandy Levy, Cheryle Wharton, Lucie Geinzer , Michelle Rice Trotter.
Absent: Amber Treat
 
Meeting called to order at 7:07 pm by President Cynthia Williams.

Changes to Agenda: There were no changes to the agenda.

President’s Report: Cynthia Williams referred the Board to her written report. See full President’s Report for specifics.

Secretary’s Report: Virginia Kirk – Laura Mettle moved, Lucie Geinzer seconded, that the December 10 Board Meeting minutes be approved. Motion passed.

Treasurer’s Report: Barbara Russell – As of December 31, 2020, the checking account balance is $53,430.73. There was not much activity since the last meeting.  The Treasurer’s Report will be filed for review.

Program Report: Krista Threefoot – The December meeting with Sheriff Marcus Harris and State’s Attorney Rich Gibson was well-attended. The January meeting will be devoted to reviewing the LWVMD positions and decided to retain, update, or drop each. The February meeting topic will be the LWVHC Education Study Report. There was a suggestion that a unit meeting be devoted to the Racial Equity Taskforce and that our Education Study, once a consensus is reached, be sent to them.

Directors’ Reports

Action: Linda Wengel – The funding for the New Cultural Center in Downtown Columbia was approved by the Council on January 4th. There will be 74 affordable housing units in a mixed income building.  There was no new legislation introduced which is particularly relevant to our issues. With the Housing Opportunities Task Force Report and the General Plan being completed by late spring, we will have plenty to consider. Forecast: APFO, zoning for multi-family housing, growth in general

Schools, schools, schools will be the divisive issues.

 

Communications—Internal: Linda Frascarella will take over putting out The Voter on a trial basis. Linda Wengel, Laura Mettle, Sandy Levy will send articles.

 

Education: Linda Frascarella -- There was a meeting of BOE on Jan 7 and then the BOE met with the County Council on Jan 11. The biggest topic is the pandemic.
Metrics set by BOE for returning to school are:
Per the Board of Education, HCPSS will move to a virtual environment if the HCHD/MDH reports a positivity rate above 5% over a 7-day range and the 7-day rolling average case rate per 100,000 increases to 10 or greater for two consecutive weeks, or based on a Howard County Health Department Recommendation. The positivity rates and rolling averages will serve as primary guides and other data points will be considered.

Here are some dates that were discussed:
Feb 1 - looking at moving to small groups (assuming the metrics are met)
Q4 - April: assuming metrics are met, assuming vaccines, would like a more robust in person offering
Striving for in person graduations and opportunities for Seniors to do senior activities

Vaccine -
HCPSS Staff was surveyed and, of those that responded, over 90% said they’d be willing to get the vaccine.
School Nurses will be partnering with MD Health department for vaccine administration / distribution.

 

Environment: Sandy Levy--

2020 State of the Bay Report - Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Overall score D+

 

NYTimes: The Year in Climate

 

Companies Seek to Green the Grid With Trash Gas

The Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2020
Pipeline owners and utilities eye manure, landfills, sewage to burnish environmental credentials

 

50-year-old Maryland power plant to stop burning coal in 2027

Baltimore Sun, December 22, 2020

A 50-year-old power plant in Charles County is the latest in Maryland to announce its plans to stop burning coal in the years to come.

 

The coal-fired units at the Morgantown plant, which is run by GenOn Holdings, will be deactivated in 2027, the company said. The plant still will generate energy using natural gas and oil.

 

Stimulus deal includes raft of provisions to fight climate change

Washington Post, December 21, 2020

The most substantial federal investment in green technology in a decade includes billions for solar, wind, battery storage and carbon capture. Congress also agreed to cut the use of HFCs, chemicals used in refrigeration that are driving global warming.

 

To Cut Emissions to Zero, U.S. Needs to Make Big Changes in Next 10 Years

New York Times, December 15, 2020

New research details major infrastructure work — including immense construction projects — that would need to start right away to achieve Biden’s goal of zero emissions by 2050.

 

The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Conference

February 3-7 2021

Dr. John Francis, Planetwalker and our Keynote Speaker, will join us on February 6 at 1:00 PM. Dr. Francis advocates for our planet through his actions. He is a National Geographic Society Fellow, an author, a UN advisor in environmental education, and world-renowned speaker about his journey and how you can take action towards solution-based change.

 

Patapsco Heritage Greenway Announces FY2021 Mini-Grant Recipients

December 17, 2020

CONTACT : Aaron Shapiro, Executive Director | [email protected] | 410.696.1328

ELLICOTT CITY, MD—Patapsco Heritage Greenway’s (PHG) Patapsco Valley Heritage Area (PVHA) Mini-Grant Program is designed to assist heritage-related sites, organizations and municipalities to develop new and innovative programs, partnerships, exhibits, tours, events, and other initiatives consistent with the regional goals and objectives stated within our state and county approved Management Plan. The program, administered by Patapsco Heritage Greenway (PHG), encourages proposals that include collaborative partnerships, enhance preservation, encourage stewardship of natural resources, and promote heritage tourism.

 

Howard County Selected to Apply for EPA Loan for Ellicott City Safe & Sound North Tunnel

January 12, 2021

Media Contact:

Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced the County was selected to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finance the North Tunnel and other flood mitigation projects as part of the Ellicott City Safe & Sound plan. The invitation to apply follows the County’s submission of a letter of interest last October and signals that the EPA intends to fund the projects included in the application, pending a review of detailed financial and engineering information. 

 

Maryland Legislature current bills related to the environment

 


Fundraising: Michelle Rice Trotter and Amber Treat – Michelle Rice Trotter followed up with the financial planning seminar idea. There is nothing concrete planned, as yet. 

Membership: Lucie Geinzer – Membership is increasing. The total membership is now 121.

Publications: Amber Treat – absent

Voter Service:  Cheryle Wharton – Nothing to report.

Communications – External: Laura Mettle –Laura Mettle presented a proposal to professionalize our web presence. She moved, Linda Frascarella seconded, that we allocate up to $1,000 to the company Systems and Software to set up a domain and conduct training. Motion passed.  See the Directors’ Reports document for full details about the scope of work.

Unfinished Business

  • Website: See above
  • Racial Equity Task Force – Laura Mettle. All committees have had two meetings. Testimony from the public is welcome. There will be a report in the spring.
  • The Voter: See above – Communications External
  • Budget Committee Nominations – Barbara Russell noted that this committee needs to meet soon. Amber Treat and Linda Frascarella are representing the Board. Three non-board members needed.
  • Donations to MLAW, ACS, and the Food bank – Cynthia Williams. Cynthia Williams moved, Lucie Geinzer seconded, that we make $50 to MLAW and ACS and $100 to the Food bank. Motion Passed.
  • Ideas for staying active in the community – Cynthia Williams will organize volunteers for the Food Bank and other organizations, such as Columbia Cares.

 

New Business

  • Invite R. Novotny to the Legislative Breakfast. The general agreement was to invite him.
  • Allow Executive Ball introduction – General agreement to allow. There was a discussion of how the meeting will be organized. Krista Threefoot will host; Laura Mettle will monitor the chat room. Topics were sent to Representative Feldmark. Each legislator has a 5 minute introduction and a two minute summary.
  • Recruit One Person Drive – Lucie Geinzer noted that nothing has been done with this idea. Cynthia will follow up.
  • Voter deadline: 1/15/2021

 

 

Adjournment:  Michelle Rice Trotter moved, Krista Threefoot seconded, that the meeting be adjourned. Motion passed. The meeting was adjourned at 8:35pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Virginia Kirk, Secretary

LWVHC – January 14, 2021 Meeting: Program and Directors’ Reports

 

Program Report – Krista Threefoot

 December Meeting:  We had a successful, well-attended meeting in December with State’s Attorney Rich Gibson and Sheriff Marcus Harris. 

January Meeting: The topic for our January Unit Meeting (Jan. 21, 7 pm, via Zoom) is the LWVMD Program Planning consensus.  The meeting has two purposes — first, to review current LWVMD positions and decide if we want LWVMD to retain, update, or drop each position. The second purpose is to discuss any new programs or studies we would like LWVMD to conduct. 

Because of how much we have to cover, we’ll be asking everyone to review the current positions before the meeting. You can use this link to help you prepare: 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CKE0ESwBLcBbVfyNKYmOfzlF4UnCZ8riJGnVaMjQlow/edit?usp=sharing

I’ll be sending out an Eventbrite link ASAP. (Probably before the Board meeting, which might make this irrelevant. :)

February Meeting:  I have our Feb. meeting on my calendar for the 18th. We’ll be reviewing the Equity in Education study that has been put off since the COVID shutdowns in March. More details later. 

Action: Linda Wengel -- The funding for the New Cultural Center in Downtown Columbia was approved by the Council on January 4th. There will be 74 affordable housing units in a mixed income building.  There was no new legislation introduced which is particularly relevant to our issues.  With the Housing Opportunities Task Force Report and the General Plan being completed by late Spring, we will have plenty to consider.  Forecast: APFO, zoning for multi family housing, growth in general

Schools, schools, schools will be the devisive issues.

 

Internal Communications –   


External Communications –
Laura Mettle:  

For ACTION by the Board: 
 Upon the recommendation of Richard Willson, LWVMD co-president, I solicited a proposal from Ed Ko of Systems and Software, Inc., for professionalizing our web presence and strengthening control of  our Internet Domain (not the same as NationBuilder) and in setting up a G Suite for Non-Profits or Google Workspace for Non-Profits web presence for us, which would integrate with NationBuilder. Ed's company has been in business locally for more than 30 years, and was one of the first companies to partner with Google in this arena (Google hosts our Domain), and has 100's of clients to whom he provides these services, including the LWVMFD. He charges $149 per hour for their work. Ed estimates this job would take a few hours, but obviously this estimate is subject to actually seeing what the situation really is when he gets into it.  The more information I can give him, the less time it will take him, and I think I can provide most of what he needs. I am asking the Board to approve this request.  


We need to get our Internet Domain under professional management, which is in the long run much better for us than using a sequence of amateur volunteers. In November we went dark, because of Domain issues, which are currently handled by one volunteer.  My discussion with Richard made me very aware that this is not an area in which I or any other non-expert person should be playing with. I am uncomfortable with the idea that if something happens to the one volunteer, we could lose our website. I will contact her to tell her that we are looking into professionalizing and she should expect an outreach from the company, if the Board approves. 

 

The upgraded Google presence is very affordable, at present virtually free for qualified non-profits (we are qualified already), with the option to upgrade services for a price.  I believe it would be highly desirable for us to pursue this records management and communications plan. The following discussion is based on Google Suite for Non-profits, which costs less than $10 per month.  Ed Ko tells me that Google Workspace is going to offered, and I don't yet know the specifics of that program. 

 

 We would be able to have multiple email addresses designated for the positions of the Officers and Board Members that would belong to the organization, and not be personal email addresses. These could be transferred to the new incumbents of these positions. These could be used for all League communications, making record retention and continuity of business easier for us. Email lists can be set up within this system. Committees can set up teams for their members to collaborate online on their work. 

 

 We could also have a dedicated email for our Zoom license (which was recommended by Zoom, and is the reason we don't yet have the Zoom account) based in our Domain, or we could use the Google Meet App, which would be part of the package, and would be less expensive for us.

 

 We would also have a shared electronic database (Google Drive) for all our Documents (Minutes and Reports, the Handbook, Financial workbook in Sheets, Slide shows for presentations, etc) that would belong to our Local League and could not get lost if somebody's computer died, carrying all the records with it. Access to these files can be limited to specific individuals, based on their roles within the organization, and can be changed or updated when the Board Members and officers change. This would give us continuity and protect our records. The Administrator would be able to reset passwords if necessary. 

 

I will be making a Motion Thursday night to approve this contract and hire Systems and Software, Inc. to manage our Internet Domain, and if we haven't already approved it, a motion to set up a Google platform (League Email addresses for Officers and Board Members and a League Drive) to manage our communications and house all of the League's records: documents, financial records (you can control access), and presentation packages.

 

Education – Linda Frascarella: There was a meeting of BOE on Jan 7 and then the BOE met with the County Council on Jan 11.
The biggest topic is the pandemic.
Metrics set by BOE for returning to school are:
Per the Board of Education, HCPSS will move to a virtual environment if the HCHD/MDH reports a positivity rate above 5% over a 7-day range and the 7-day rolling average case rate per 100,000 increases to 10 or greater for two consecutive weeks, or based on a Howard County Health Department Recommendation. The positivity rates and rolling averages will serve as primary guides and other data points will be considered.

Here are some dates that were discussed:
Feb 1 - looking at moving to small groups (assuming the metrics are met)
Q4 - April: assuming metrics are met, assuming vaccines, would like a more robust in person offering
Striving for in person graduations and opportunities for Seniors to do senior activities

Vaccine -
HCPSS Staff was surveyed and, of those that responded, over 90% said they’d be willing to get the vaccine.
School Nurses will be partnering with MD Health department for vaccine administration / distribution.

Environment Report – Sandy Levy
  

2020 State of the Bay Report - Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Overall score D+

 

NYTimes: The Year in Climate

 

Companies Seek to Green the Grid With Trash Gas

The Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2020
Pipeline owners and utilities eye manure, landfills, sewage to burnish environmental credentials

 

50-year-old Maryland power plant to stop burning coal in 2027

Baltimore Sun, December 22, 2020

A 50-year-old power plant in Charles County is the latest in Maryland to announce its plans to stop burning coal in the years to come.

 

The coal-fired units at the Morgantown plant, which is run by GenOn Holdings, will be deactivated in 2027, the company said. The plant still will generate energy using natural gas and oil.

 

Stimulus deal includes raft of provisions to fight climate change

Washington Post, December 21, 2020

The most substantial federal investment in green technology in a decade includes billions for solar, wind, battery storage and carbon capture. Congress also agreed to cut the use of HFCs, chemicals used in refrigeration that are driving global warming.

 

To Cut Emissions to Zero, U.S. Needs to Make Big Changes in Next 10 Years

New York Times, December 15, 2020

New research details major infrastructure work — including immense construction projects — that would need to start right away to achieve Biden’s goal of zero emissions by 2050.

 

The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Conference

February 3-7 2021

Dr. John Francis, Planetwalker and our Keynote Speaker, will join us on February 6 at 1:00 PM. Dr. Francis advocates for our planet through his actions. He is a National Geographic Society Fellow, an author, a UN advisor in environmental education, and world-renowned speaker about his journey and how you can take action towards solution-based change.

 

Patapsco Heritage Greenway Announces FY2021 Mini-Grant Recipients

December 17, 2020

CONTACT : Aaron Shapiro, Executive Director | [email protected] | 410.696.1328

ELLICOTT CITY, MD—Patapsco Heritage Greenway’s (PHG) Patapsco Valley Heritage Area (PVHA) Mini-Grant Program is designed to assist heritage-related sites, organizations and municipalities to develop new and innovative programs, partnerships, exhibits, tours, events, and other initiatives consistent with the regional goals and objectives stated within our state and county approved Management Plan. The program, administered by Patapsco Heritage Greenway (PHG), encourages proposals that include collaborative partnerships, enhance preservation, encourage stewardship of natural resources, and promote heritage tourism.

 

Howard County Selected to Apply for EPA Loan for Ellicott City Safe & Sound North Tunnel

January 12, 2021

Media Contact:

Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced the County was selected to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finance the North Tunnel and other flood mitigation projects as part of the Ellicott City Safe & Sound plan. The invitation to apply, follows the County’s submission of a letter of interest last October and signals that the EPA intends to fund the projects included in the application, pending a review of detailed financial and engineering information. 

 

Maryland Legislature current bills related to the environment

 


 

Fundraising – Michelle Rice Trotter and Amber Treat:

 

Membership – Lucie Geinzer
Membership is increasing!

As of January 9, we have the following number of members:

Primary -   100 
Additional - 14 
Life            -   4 
Student     -   3

________________

TOTAL:       121

 

 

 Publications – Amber Treat

   

 

Voter Services – Cheryle Wharton :  Nothing to report.

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