Using the old League standby of the button pin and the new League standby of Zoom, incoming LWVBA President Sherry Smith offers an important election reminder. Screenshot by Alec MacDonald.

Given the unprecedented turmoil that 2020 has wrought thus far, we understand if you have more pressing concerns on your mind right now than the upcoming November 3 election. But the League of Women Voters is squarely focused on this looming landmark occasion, and we’re going to do our best to help everyone prepare for it.

Longstanding readers of the Monitor understand that this publication fills a specialized communications role within broader League operations, and as a result the magazine plays a proportionally smaller role during election season, when voter service becomes a more pertinent aspect of our organizational efforts. Nonetheless, we are happy to dedicate space here in promotion of that vital work, particularly given the electoral challenges that lie ahead.

Those challenges include the myriad constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and attendant issues such as insufficient funding for administering the election, technological and procedural glitches, and the threat of disinformation campaigns both foreign and domestic. For a thorough consideration of these pitfalls, head to for their July 24 article “8 Big Reasons Election Day 2020 Could Be a Disaster.” Reading it may alarm you, but you can confront those feelings of distress by conferring with a local League to see how you can help be a part of the solution. Visit LWVBA’s website to determine which of the 20 local Leagues in the Bay Area you should contact. Wherever you live in the region’s nine counties, chances are we have an affiliate you can connect with.

After all, LWVBA encompasses an expansive domain. Its full scope is on display on our front cover of this edition. The January 25, 2019 image comes courtesy the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite mission, and we offer it as preview for Robin Meadows’ article on sediment — a large plume of which can be seen flowing out from the Golden Gate into the Pacific. More concentrated sediment is visible in the brown hues coursing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta into San Pablo Bay.

You can learn more about this unheralded yet valuable substance in Robin’s article, and elsewhere in this edition find out about indoor air quality from Leslie Stewart, public-private partnerships for transportation services from Cecily O’Connor, and wheat cultivation from Aleta George. Accompanying that last article, this edition’s back cover features a photo (courtesy of Frog Hollow Farm) of workers on a wheat harvester.

We’re pleased to present this inaugural edition of our 46th volume, and we look forward to bringing you the remaining five editions scheduled for our 2020-21 publication year. As I’ve mentioned in the past two editions, that prospect has seemed dicey due to budget troubles, but most of our funders have come through with continued sponsorship pledges that, along with some belt-tightening on our part, should keep us afloat in the near term. We appreciate the support from them and from our readers, who continue to show us great generosity. In terms of the most recent contributions, we’d like to acknowledge donations from Suzanne Barba, David Calkins, Tamra Hege, Jean Matsuura, Marian Shostrom, Susan Polgar, Marjorie Blackwell, Crownie Billik, Alice Smith, and Sally Faulhaber.

Finally, we again entreat you to sign up for our weekly Monitor Notes email newsletter at — it will tide you over until our next edition in October, and might just come in handy as we all approach that big day in November.

Alec MacDonald
Editor, Bay Area Monitor