History of the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles County
By 1960, two difficulties ("grave faults") were limiting League effectiveness at the county level. "First, since each League had an equal vote, the larger Leagues with a greater membership could be outvoted by a number of smaller Leagues. Secondly, since all local League boards met at different times, two or even three months sometimes passed before a Council proposal could be ratified." In 1961, new Bylaws were formulated and permission obtained from LWVUS to form a new county League. The bylaws established annual conventions to determine program and budget and to elect officers. The number of voting delegates permitted each local League was based on the membership of that League. The Bylaws also empowered the board to make decisions about county issues that would apply to all local Leagues.
In 1962, the first LWV/LAC ILO convention was held. Officers were elected and the Continuing Responsibilities (CRs) of the County Council were adopted as a single-list program. They were to be restudied by all local Leagues. "From this review came positions of support for County Juvenile Facilities, increasing the number of the Board of Supervisors, giving charter status to the County Administrative Officer, and opposing the quasi-judicial functions of the Board of Supervisors."
By 1968, there were twenty local Leagues in the county. By 2000 there were thirteen: Beach Cities (1955), Beverly Hills (1937), Claremont Area (1938), Downey Area (1958), East San Gabriel Valley (1958), Glendale/Burbank (1941), Long Beach Area (1924), Los Angeles (1920), Palos Verdes Peninsula (1956), Pasadena Area (1936), Santa Monica (1934), Torrance (1962), and Whittier (1954).
In consideration of the size of the county, conventions and monthly board meetings are moved about the county to try to balance accessibility and time on the road. Presidents of local Leagues are invited to attend board meetings when they are nearby, and, of course, board meetings are always open to members interested in attending. In recent years the board has also held an annual two-day retreat somewhere within the county. A board meeting typically is held on the second day of the retreat.
We also publish a county Voter irregularly, usually three times a year. It is intended to be included with each local League's own Voter, but because they are published at various times throughout the month, finding a way to include timely information that will not be irrelevant by the time it arrives is a challenge.
We sometimes try to use it to publicize future events, but are experimenting with using it to cover county-relevant information from presentations at county events so that those unable to attend will not miss the information. For example, the 1999 Summer League Day (our traditional "Popovers in Pasadena" luncheon) featured a United Way state-of-the-county report, "A Tale of Two Counties - the Haves and the Have-Nots." Over 75 members attended, but there are about 2,500 members in the ILO and all needed to be aware of the information, so one issue of the LWV/LAC Voter was devoted to that report. We usually have a Winter League Day in late January. In January 2001, the conduct of elections and the election systems available were featured. Training on specific aspects of League work is often the focus for the January meeting.
Before each state-wide election we provide training for speakers who will be presenting the pros and cons in their communities. Some Leagues conduct their own training for their local speakers, but even the ones who do, often attend the county briefings. We hold our training on a Saturday. The Los Angeles League usually holds an evening ballot-measures briefing.
In recent years, we (both) have encouraged local League members of any of the county Leagues to attend whichever briefing they found most convenient; some attend both.
Since there is a county government in Los Angeles, a county League seems entirely appropriate and the area preordained. If we had one wish, I believe it would be to know better who among our League members has the latent interest, public spirit and willingness to travel to take on a county League role.