Commission on the Status of Women
Annual Report 1997 - 1998

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Annual Report (99-00) 
. Annual Report (97-98) 
Annual Report (96-97)

 

Commission on the Status of Women -- Annual Report 1997-98

July 1, 1997 - June 30, 1998
Presented to the Board of Supervisors September 1, 1998

BACKGROUND:

The Humboldt County Commission on the Status of Women, authorized by Ordinances 1178 and 757, was created in March 1971. Members are appointed to four-year terms by the Board of Supervisors, with one representing each of the five supervisorial districts plus five at-large appointments.

The commission advises the Board in all matters concerning the status of women within the county. It oversees basic and legitimate women's concerns by working for the elimination of such inequities in laws, practices or conditions as may adversely affect the women and girls of Humboldt County. It provides consultation to public and private entities working to develop equitable programs to meet the special needs of women and girls. It acts as a two-way information agency for federal, state and local women's groups and other Status of Women Commissions. It helps promote awareness of women's unique role, whether in traditional fields or otherwise, by planning special study groups, workshops, conferences or events.

The members and their terms of office are as follows:

    • District 1: Nancy Nieboer (2001)
    • District 2: Mary Ann Murphy (1999)
    • District 3: [vacant 6/30/98] (2001)
    • District 4: [vacant 6/30/97] (1999)
    • District 5: Simone Taylor (1999)

At-large:

    • Teralyn Gomez Prucha (1999)
    • Diana Cooper (2001)
    • Carol Cransdon (2001)
    • [vacant 6/30/98] (1999)
    • [vacant 6/10/98] (2001)

The commission meets monthly on the second Tuesday at 6:00 p.m., in Conference Room A at the County Courthouse. Additional meetings and educational forums may be held on the third Tuesday or as necessary. Notices of meetings are posted at the County Courthouse, are reported in the Times-Standard, the Humboldt Beacon, the Southern Humboldt Life and Times, and other community publications.

The Commission began the 1997-98 year with seven members. All have continued to serve except Bonnie Green, who resigned in June, 1998. Amber Marcia and Jennifer Van Der Heide were appointed to fill two of the vacancies. Two positions remained to be filled. In late June, 1998, Commissioners Marcia and Van der Heide resigned unexpectedly, to pursue career opportunities outside the county. This increased the vacancies to four, leaving six active commissioners.

The first order of business was the selection of officers for the year. Nancy Nieboer was elected Chairperson, with Simone Taylor as Vice-Chair, Diana Cooper as Secretary. Mary Ann Murphy served as Treasurer. Tera Prucha served as Secretary pro tem when needed.

The Commission is not funded by the County, but maintains a small account for donations. The account balance in July 1997 was $160.47 and $138.54 in June 1998, reflecting expenditure for the year of approximately $22. The funds were used for postage and copying costs. Some additional expenses were defrayed by members of the commission who generously contributed their funds, equipment and supplies.

FOCUS:

Topics monitored during the year included: the needs of women in the workforce, child abuse, modifications in welfare-to-work programs, and facilities and programs for women inmates in the county correctional facility. A proposed county ordinance, researched and submitted by the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission to create a registry for domestic partners, was studied and supported.

ACTIVITIES:

Women Work Television series:
This series of four programs, Meeting the Challenge of Change, The Financial Challenge, Take Charge (of Your Life) and Yes You Can aired from November, 1997 through February, 1998. Commissioner Cransdon conceived and hosted all four shows. Deborah Heiman was Producer and Director with the technical support of an all woman crew from HSU Media Services and HSU Sponsorship of the Department of Business and Economics. Commissioner Carol Cransdon hosted the series with guests including Judge Marilyn Miles, historian Dee McBroome, Susan O'Connor, CFP, entrepreneur Gabrielle Parkinson, Katie Darden, Nancy Rowland, Nancy Richard, Sue Santche, Fran Clark, Susan O'Connor, Lynell Robles and Aveda Rada. Many other community members contributed their expertise via the telephone to add to the success of the shows. Callers to the program received the Women Entrepreneurs Directory as a gift, courtesy of Ms. Parkinson.

Grant funding was requested from the Humboldt Area Foundation for purchase and duplication of videotapes to be duplicated for donation to Humboldt State University, Humboldt County Main Library, College of the Redwoods Career Center and the Women's Resource Center for public education and information.

CSW also issued a letter in support of a $300 grant request that would enable the HSU Media Center to upgrade its stage set area.

For 1998-99, a proposed call-in series on child abuse was to be planned by a committee chaired by Commissioner Marcia.

County Domestic Partnership Ordinance:
At the second hearing of the proposed ordinance, the commission again spoke in favor of adoption of the revenue neutral legislation to allow recognition of domestic partners. After considerable public discussion, the Board voted to table the issue pending resolution at the State Legislature. There has been no further action to date.

Women's Correctional Facilities:
The commission toured the new wing on March 6, 1998. Lt. Melinda Ciarabellini spoke about the Phase II facilities and conducted a tour prior to its opening. Commissioners were particularly interested in the opportunities for exercise, education and recreation provided for female as well as male inmates. Questions also were raised about the respiratory health of inmates and correctional officers, after several commissioners experienced asthma and allergic reactions to the new paint and construction materials during the tour. Lt. Ciarabellini described the procedures for health emergencies. A follow-up contact with her after two months indicated that no other respiratory problems had occurred after the facility was occupied.

Women's History (February and March):
The theme for 1998 was "Living the Legacy of Women's Rights." A display in the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission in February honored the accomplishments of African-American women and other women of color.

The Board proclaimed March as Women's History Month. A March display in the Main Library marked the achievements of local women and American women of note.

August 26, 1998 marks the 150th anniversary of the Women's Rights Movement.

Published Statements: Chairperson Nieboer responded to a Times-Standard editorial [August 31, 1997] which implied that women and minorities were less qualified to compete for "schooling, employment or contracting." The response defined "equal access," "equal opportunity" and "standards of qualification," and encouraged the editorial board to be guided by the principle of fairness implicit in affirmative action, as originally defined.

In October, the Chairperson communicated with the community via the three major newspapers following an attack on a senior woman in her home. The purpose of the letter was to commend the anonymous victim for planning some defensive measures before a nighttime break-in. It also encouraged readers to profit from her example by studying their own situations, seeking advice from the police or fire department, and preparing to respond quickly in case of fire or burglary.

Guest Speakers:
Stephanie Bunch, County Personnel Office, spoke about county personnel policies and practices with respect to equal opportunity, and the projected impact on as a result of the passage of Proposition 209. No changes were anticipated, as county policy addresses the issue of affirmative action with outreach and expanding opportunities, rather than through a system of preferences. Pay equity has been fully implemented in the county.

Sheri Johnson, Domestic Violence Prevention Coordinator, Department of Public Health, spoke about the domestic violence prevention program grant received by the Health Department, and about child abuse issues in the county. She reported that problems identified in recent years by the civil grand jury are being addressed. There will be outreach to outlying areas of the county and to non-English-speaking residents, specifically the Hispanic and Hmong communities.

Suzanne Riley-Barri, CAL-WORKs Analyst, Department of Social Services, described this latest phase of the welfare-to-work program. She provided a wealth of printed information as background, and answered many questions and concerns about the way the developing program will actually work and the impacts-both positive and negative--on participants.


OTHER ACTIVITIES:

Website:
Early in the year, Commissioner Murphy generously donated her time to create a web site for the CSW, using a donated personal web page. In June, the web site was moved to a more accessible location thanks to a donation of space by Humboldt Community Information Network and the efforts of Casey Meaden. The address is www.northcoast.com/~hcin/csw/ It is also accessible through the HumGuide.

Women's Health Fair:
Assisted Commissioner Cransdon and Soroptomist International in seeking grant funding to organize a women's health fair May 30, 1998 at Redwood Acres. Health testing and a wealth of information were available in a setting comfortable for women and their young children. Door prizes included free mammograms. Joyce Johnson, County Adult Services Librarian, volunteered to compile a bibliography of women's health resources available through the Main Library. The event was attended by over 500 people and generated donations of $300, which was donated to Safe Haven, Redwood Community Action's Transitional home for women and children fleeing domestic violence. Soroptomist International is to be commended for this successful project, which will continue next year.

CSW Brochure:
The brochure describing the commission's history and purpose was revised and updated by Commissioner Nieboer and printed by Commissioner Taylor. A copy is attached as [Enclosure A].

Child Support Legal Advocates Guide:
This reference manual, provided by the National Center for Youth Law, makes current legal information easily available to parents. The original was placed in the County Main Library Law Section, and copies were provided to the Redwood Community Action Agency Shelter Office and the Women's Resource Center. Updates are provided on a regular basis.

Inclusion in Directories:
The CSW is listed in the League of Women Voters Community Resources pamphlet and in the Women Entrepreneurs Directory.

National Association of Commissions for Women:
The CSW is a member of the NACW. The newsletters and meetings offer a broader perspective on issues and report on workable solutions for many common problems facing women and girls throughout the country.

California Commission on the Status of Women:
The Humboldt County CSW is a member of the state organization, and receives regular newsletters and updates. Such contacts provide the basis for networking with other county commissions. Commissioner Murphy will attend an organizational meeting of the new California Commission on Women in August, 1998.

Legislative tracking:
Commissioners Murphy and Prucha have taken the lead in developing a legislative tracking committee, to focus attention on legislation which may impact on the women (and children) of the county. The committee requested support for AB160, requiring insurance carriers to include contraceptive prescriptions in their coverage. This bill was subsequently vetoed by the governor.

Outreach to Southern and Eastern Humboldt:
With the appointment of Commissioner Van der Heide, an attorney for the Hoopa Tribe, and Commissioner Nieboer's projected move to Southern Humboldt, the CSW broadened its geographical spread. Additionally, all announcements and communications were routinely sent to the media throughout the county. Media releases included an invitation for members of the public to submit written comments if unable to attend meetings of the commission.

Community Forums:
Community forums on race issues will be monitored by Commissioner Taylor. Commissioner Murphy will be liaison with the committee on hate crimes.


GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. We encourage the Board of Supervisors to carefully consider all CalWORKs policies and their impact on the lives of children and women within our community. We request that members of the Board be vigilant of their decisions and attentive to their responsibility to all citizens of our community and the tremendous impact their decisions will have on those living in poverty.

2. As the economic picture changes in Humboldt County, the Commission would encourage the Board to recognize that the impact of economic changes will fall most heavily on women and their children. We ask the Board to plan affirmatively for the mitigation of those often subtle impacts.

THE FUTURE:

For 1998-99, the officers will be Simone Taylor as Chairperson, Mary Ann Murphy as Vice-Chair, Tera Prucha as Secretary and Carol Cransdon as Treasurer.

Proposed activities and educational forums for 1998-99:
Acquisition of funding from HAF, creation of cover art and descriptive copy and presentation to Library, HSU, Women's Resource Center & CR Career Center

The commission appreciates the assistance offered by members of the Board, the Clerk of the Board and the Board staff throughout the year. We look forward to working together in the new fiscal year and appreciate the continuing opportunity to advise the Board on matters affecting women and girls in the county.

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy A. Nieboer Simone Taylor
Chairperson, 1997-98 Chairperson, 1998-99