The Darien League of Women Voters held its annual luncheon Monday, June 4, at the Waters Edge at Giovanni's. The featured speaker was Dr. Susan Herbst, President of the University of Connecticut and author of "Rude Democracy: Civility and Incivility in American Politics."
Herbst pointed out that even though many feel our civility seems to have hit "rock bottom," some incivility has been part of our history since revolutionary times. It can even be used as a strategic weapon in political discourse. She quoted one U.S. Senator, however, as saying that discourse in that body is "worse than you can imagine." There is a need to hear and consider both sides of issues. To help reduce this rampant incivility, she suggested, young people should be taught courtesy and citizenship in school and practice debating in a civil manner.
Prior to the luncheon the league held its annual meeting including a review of the highlights of a busy year and the election of the Board of Directors for 2012-2013. The theme of the LWV for 2011-2012 was "The Role of Media in a Democratic Society." In September, Mitchell Pearlman, executive director emeritus of CT Freedom of Information, spoke at a luncheon at the Country Club of Darien. His presentation focused on the rise of "entertainment news" at the expense of "hard news" as newspapers focus more on their financial bottom line and deal with new media competition. He stressed the importance of citizens taking the time to educate themselves and get involved in civic affairs.
The traditional "Candidates Night" was held Oct. 25 in the Town Hall Auditorium. Kay Maxwell, former state and national LWV President, moderated remarks by candidates for Board of Education, Board of Finance, Board of Selectmen and First Selectman.
In February, the Darien League and Darien Library co-hosted the showing of the film, "Page One - Inside the New York Times." The film highlights the changes and challenges in providing news to the public in the age of the Internet. Close to 150 people attended this enlightening documentary.
Also in February the LWV of Darien along with several local Leagues and Tree Conservancies co-hosted a panel discussion entitled "Power Struggle - Balancing the Needs of People, Power and Trees." It focused on the widespread Connecticut power outages and slow power restoration related to recent storms. Participants included: Joe McGee, Chair of the Governor's Two Storm Panel, Jonathan Schrag, Deputy Commissioner for Energy, Eric Hammerling, Executive Director of CT Forests and Parks Association, Chris Roy, Engineering and Operations Manager, Concord Massachusetts Municipal Light Plant and a representative from Connecticut Light and Power.
The league was chosen by the Darien Housing Authority to run its tenant commissioner elections. State legislation requires that the tenant commissioner be elected by the residents rather than appointed and that the election be conducted by an independent third party. The election was held April 25. Mary Genco and Gwen Mogenson coordinated the event with other league members serving as poll workers and ballot counters.
Also in April, the league hosted a panel discussion about the challenges facing the local media. Participants included representatives from the Darien News, Darien Times, Darien Patch, Daily Darien and TV 79, our local Government Cable Access Channel.
In addition to the programs open to the public, the league held its traditional members-only events. These included a legislative coffee with state senators and representatives; a town officials lunch where the group had a chance to meet informally with Darien's elected officials; and "Food for Thought," a monthly discussion of a timely topic in current events.
To continue to run the Darien LWV in 2012/2013, the following members were elected to the Board of Directors: President, Gwen Mogenson; Vice-President for Voters Service, Mary Genco; Vice-Presidents for Program, Evonne Klein and Arlene Tulacro; Treasurer, Stephanie McGraw; Secretary, Mary Flynn; Voters Guide, Martha Banks and Martha Yaney; Government Guide, Vickie Riccardo; Finance Drive, Nora McIlree and Gail Matthews; Food for Thought, Carla Coe; Hospitality, Kate Larsen and Betsy Shay; Membership, Mary Ellen Moore, Priscilla Wong and Nancy Cahoon; Nominating, Liz Bacon and Sue Okie; Spotlight, Fran McGovern, News Features, Joan Davis; Legislative interviews, Joyce Critelli; and Tech Support, Deepika Saksena. Directors at Large are Carolyn Bayne, Ann Ferris, Sandy Filmer, Dot Kelly, Marcia Meinerth, Kathy Monro, Enid Oresman, Jennifer St. Jean, Callie Sullivan, Barbara Thorne and Laurie Williamson.
Visit lwvdarien.org for more information.