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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 76, No. 1, January 2000

Celebrating Our 80th Year of Service, 1920–2000

733 15th Street, N.W., Suite 432, Washington, DC 20005
202/347-3020,  fax: 202/347-2522
Website:, E-mail:

President’s Corner: Good News, Bad News, New News
Don’t Miss Brown Bag Dialogue
News from the Units
Member News
D.C. Representation in Congress
LWV/National Capital Area
National Program Planning for Next Biennium, 2000-2002
Brown Bag Lunch Reservation Form
1999 Human Rights Day Community Awards Luncheon
Making It Happen: A Focus on Strengthening the DC League
International Relations
School Governance Buzz
LWVDC Fund Raising
LWVDC Membership Application
Citizen Summit: Mayor Launches Neighborhood Action and Draft City-Wide Strategic Plan Unveiled
LWVDC January 2000 Calendar
1998-2000 National Program

President’s Corner: GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS, NEW NEWS

The good news is that the name of the League is pure gold. It is synonymous with being objective, fair, impartial and reliable. In short we are trusted. If we could "sell" our reputation we'd be one of the highest profile organizations in the District. Almost weekly we are approached to join another coalition from health care and court excellence to school board reform and budget autonomy.

The bad news is that our membership is declining. Since April 93 members did not renew and we have gained only 13 new members. We do not want to become an organization of passive members but we do need to make League participation more consistent with lifestyles of a younger generation. We are not the only organization facing this problem. To develop new insights and possible programs, I am convening a group of our younger members in January to address this issue. I welcome all who would like to join in a rethinking, revitalization of our League.

The new news is that after several years of financial ups and downs, we are on a positive track. We have established an endowment fund that we hope will give us more financial stability in the future. Our fundraising to non- members is still marginal but we have some new initiatives that we hope will turn that corner in the next year. We have had one $1,000 "no strings" attached contribution this year and have the potential of a $5,000 grant for Voters Service.

Of course, carrying out these programs takes people and that gets back to membership. What if each member mentored a potential new member? That would be a giant start.

In the meantime, we have a lot of activities coming up. The National Program Planning General Meeting is January 19 and with $5.00 you can order a Brown Bag lunch complements of the Upper 16th Street Unit (p. 3). Then, the follow-up meeting to the Mayor's Summit is on January 27 (p. 7).

I hope at our Annual Meeting in April I can say, "I have good news and I have more good news."

Yours in the League, Elizabeth M. Martin, President

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Don't Miss
Brown Bag Dialogue
January 24th, 11:30 a.m.

D.C. Council/Governors Reform Reports

Guest Speaker: Josh Wyner, Executive Director

LWVUS 1 0th Floor Board Room
1750 M Street, NW

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As we go to press, the December Unit festivities are still ahead. I know they will be a success. The General Planning Meeting on January 19th replaces the Unit meetings for January. Unit meetings will resume in February.

A nose count of attendance at the November Unit Meetings shows that more members attended their Unit Meetings than in October (47 vs 39) but that we had fewer guests (2 vs 7). Message to Unit members: Share what this League offers with your friends. Message to members who have not attended a Unit meeting: See February's Unit Calendar in the next issue of DC Voter for a meeting near you and plan to attend. — Sheila Keeny, Unit Director.

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Member News

Thank you to the following members for their generous donations! Jerry N. Clark, Pablo Eisenberg, Evelyn Falkowski, Margaret Feldman, Ernest Lent, Grace Malakoff, Anna Marsh, Elaine C. Melmed, Ruth Nadel, Susan Rao, Anne Meredith Smoke, Patricia Wheeler, Alisa A. Wilkins.

With sorrow we report the death of two long time DC League members: Mary F.G. Shaw, was active with the Montgomery League; then later was chairperson of the Capitol Hill Unit helping register and educate voters. Harriette B. Short was active with the Sixteenth Street Unit, telephoning members monthly. She served on LWV '98 Nominating Committee.

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D.C. Representation in Congress

The Coalition for D.C. Representation in Congress is beginning to plan a citywide forum for citizens. This type of gathering was requested by Leaguers at the November unit meetings. Other requests and suggestions made at the units have been forwarded to the Coalition.

Membership on the Board of the Coalition now totals 15 with the election of Scott Harshbarger of Common Cause and Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Kathy Schmidt at 232-6460.

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LWV/National Capital Area

It seems to me passing strange that you will probably not be reading this until the year 2000 -- a year I was never quite sure would arrive. That "uncertainty" did not stop us, however, from planning momentous activities -- and planning to plan still more.

Our Transportation/Land-Use Committee is still busily developing a sound foundation, determining what areas need further study and what action can and should be taken. Others of us are moving to implement our new D.C.-finances positions.

Our Water Resources Committee, meanwhile, is cooperating with LWVUS on an EPA-funded project to develop a training program focused on how to organize intergovernmental and multi- stakeholder watershed management processes.

March Colloquium: ''Whither the League?" Both LWVUS and our local Leagues are facing the problem of having too few members to carry out League efforts needed within our local communities, our states, and in the nation. The millennium challenge for all of us is to find ways to over-come this problem in ways that are compatible with the League values. We will meet on Saturday, March 11, 2000, from 10 a.m. to noon (registration beginning at 9:30), at the Montgomery County Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe St., Rockville, Md. Come, discuss, help solve. The building is close to the Rockville Metro station, and ample parking is available in the area. For more information call Vice President Pat Dougherty (301-299-7886).

NCA's Annual Meeting. In a further effort to avoid conflict with member Leagues' activities and the LWVUS Convention, our Annual Meeting has been set for Saturday morning, June 10. What and where is still in the "arrangements" stage, but mark your calendar because that's always a busy time of the year. Best wishes for a happy and productive Year 2000 from all of us on the NCA Board.

Naomi Glass, President 202/686-0124
Forrest Williams, Editor 301/552-1681, email:

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National Program Planning For Next Biennium, 2000-2002

Bring this article and accompanying 1998-2000 National Program insert to January 19 meeting.

This general meeting is intended to gather from DC League members input to the LWVUS National Program Planning in preparation for the National League of Women Voters Convention 2000. The convention will be held June 17-20, 2000 at the Washington Hilton. For this round of planning, we will convene as a general meeting instead of in units. The key element of the Convention is to adopt a program for next biennium 2000-2002.

SUMNER SCHOOL 17th & M Streets, NW
11:30 a.m.
Brown Bag Lunch in Gallery Room

12:00 noon - 2:00 p.m.
Program in Lecture Hall 102
(absolutely no food or drink)

As part of a new planning process to shape the work of the League, individual member interest will be surveyed in the following areas: process for updating positions, identifying community concerns, help needed by State and local leagues, diversity, and voter services.

The survey will be included in the up-coming Dec/Jan. issue of the National Voter, to be mailed to all members in mid-December, but we will address it at the January program-planning meeting. We will look at current LWVUS "Positions in Brief" (see insert) and discuss the aspect of the survey related to the process and priorities for updating positions. The DC League's input is due by March 1 to LWVUS. Individual members attending our January meeting may fill out the survey form at the meeting and we will collect and pass them to LWVUS. Alternatively, you may prepare your response at home. Your Board, however, would like to know what members think. Accordingly, we ask that individual replies be sent to the DC League Office for forwarding to National.

On the next page for your convenience, is an extraction of the key survey questions related to updating positions with an opportunity to review all existing LWVUS positions:

1. Our Positions. "You'll notice that this survey does not ask you to review every standing LWVUS position. That activity has failed to yield valuable insights, resulting in many positions remaining on the books unchanged throughout rapidly changing times. "You have told us - at recent conventions and councils and through much correspondence- that the League needs to keep its positions up-to- date. The challenge is determining which positions are most outdated, which ought to be priorities for updating and what process will work best to accomplish this task.

"Because this concern has been evident for some time, and many good suggestions have been made, we are prepared to make some proposals. It's up to you to tell us if we're on the right track. Your League Board has been sent a separate Leader's Guide that will provide them with an opportunity to review all existing LWVUS positions.

PROPOSAL: That the LWVUS systematically review each position area (Government, International Relations, Natural Resources and Social Policy) on a rotating schedule through successive biennium's, choosing a priority position or positions within each position area for in-depth review and update. Please circle your response. Agree Disagree

PROPOSAL: That this process commence with a review of the International Relations area in the 2000-2002 biennium. Please circle your response. Agree Disagree

"We have identified two positions within this area that would benefit from a thorough review and updating. Letting us know what you think is most important.

QUESTION: Which position shall the LWVUS review and update in the 2000-2002 biennium? Please circle one of the following three options: United Nations Trade Other"

Your Board will be consulting with the International Relations Committee as to its views, and it will have deliberated about this and other matters prior to our January 19 meeting,

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible. And remember to route surveys through the DC Office if you have no objection. — Barbara T. Yeomans, 3rd VP, National Program

Brown Bag Lunch Available for January 19th Meeting

The Upper Sixteenth Street Unit is offering you a Brown Bag Lunch @ $5.00 each at the LWVDC Program Planning Meeting to be held Wednesday January 19, 2000 at The Sumner School. The Lunch will consist of a sandwich (your choice), fruit, beverage, and a sweet. To reserve a lunch, print out and mail this brown bag reservation form.

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1999 Human Rights Day Community Awards Luncheon

The DC League was very well represented at the 1999 Human Rights Day Community Awards Luncheon sponsored by the United Nations Association Of the National Capital Area, the UNA-USA Council of Organizations, and the Congressional Human Rights Council. We filled our own table and various League members attended in conjunction with other organizations to which they belong.

The luncheon was held on Dec. 10 at the Cannon Office Building at the Capitol. The keynote speaker was Julianne Cartwright Traylor, chair of Amnesty International-USA. The 1999 Louis B. Sohn Award for outstanding lifetime achievement and commitment to education and promotion of human rights and the rule of law was given jointly to Arvonne and Donald Fraser.Mrs .Fraser is the founder of the Women's Equity Action League and her husband, a former congressman, chaired the Subcommittee on International Organizations and Movements of the House Committee on International Relations.

Community awards for human rights activism were given to 29 local activists. These included Jamin Raskin and Charles Miller who were nominated by the DC League "for their efforts to secure for the citizens of the District of Columbia their full voting representation in their government, a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and now enjoyed by all other citizens of the United States." — Susan Rao

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"Get on your feet. Get up and make it happen." Those words are singer Gloria Estefan's, but I could use them about the League this year.

We can "get up and make it happen." But we need your help.

Call Guy Coriden, co-chair Voters Service, 2326759, to help with registering new citizens after they are sworn. Time commitment: 3 hours, second Tuesday of the month.

Call: Sheila Willet, Office Manager, at 347-3020. We have a variety of office jobs. Time commitment: tailored to your convenience.

Call: Susan Rao, co-chair International Relations Committee, 636-1688, to participate on the International Relations Committee. Time commitment: two hours per month.

Call: Gladys Weaver, co-chair of the Education Committee, 5543055, to participate in the committee's new project of voter education in the schools. Time commitment: four hours per month.

Call: The League office to cover committee meetings and hearings of the DC Council. Time commitment: minimum, four hours per month.

Call: Luci Murphy, chair, Nominating Committee, 234-8840, if you can serve on the DC League Board. Time commitment: approximately 15 hours per month.

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International Relations

At its December meeting, the IR Committee reopened its discussion of the LWVUS survey on program items for the next two years. After a long debate, the Committee adopted by general agreement the following position as the Committee's recommendation to the LWVDC National Program Planning meeting in January.

The LWVUS positions on International Relations are in great need of updating in view of the changes that have occurred since their adoption.

Among these are the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, increasing unilateral pressures at home, and rapid globalization. The Committee agrees that the UN and Trade positions are in greatest need of review and updating, noting that the former was adopted in 1977, while the latter dates from 1973 and 1965.

Some local leagues (including our own) and a group of individual members working together via e- mail have already reviewed the UN position. A number of independent expert studies on the UN are also available. We believe, therefore, that an updated position on the UN could be achieved relatively quickly and cost effectively by building on what has been done and by outsourcing the necessary background study. In recognition of its urgency and complexity, a restudy of the trade issue should begin simultaneously. This study will probably take much longer to complete. We have much catching up to do!

The Committee also discussed its plans for the Feb. meeting, deciding to invite a speaker for a general meeting rather than preparing for unit meetings. Confirmed plans will be announced in the February DC Voter.

The committee's next meeting will be January 12, 2000. — Susan Rao and Sheila Keeny, Co-chairs.

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School Governance Buzz

The conventional wisdom among a number of the city's political and civic leaders is that the governance structure of the District's public school system is in drastic need of change. DC Council members, DC Appleseed, a research group, and DC Agenda have been exploring modifications that would affect the size of the School Board, the way the Board members are selected, how the President of the Board is chosen, and the responsibilities of the School board. DC League President, Liz Martin and nine other League members recently participated in a series of task force meetings on school governance convened by DC Agenda. DC Council member Kevin Chavous, DC Appleseed, and DC Agenda have also recommended that the transition of power from the Emergency Board of Trustees, which the Control Board has scheduled for June of next year, be delayed until January 1, 2001.

Kevin Chavous has introduced legislation reducing the School Board to 9 members--a President, elected at large and eight members, who would be nominated in Ward primaries and then compete in a city-wide run off with the other top vote-getters from their wards. Council member Kathy Patterson has introduced legislation calling for a Board appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Council. Council member Sharon Ambrose is reportedly working on a bill that would create a School Board that is partially appointed and partially elected. The District of Columbia's Home Rule Charter says the City will have an 11 member School Board-one elected from each ward and three elected at large. If, as expected, the DC Council passes legislation changing the size and/or manner of election of the Board, these changes will have to be approved by the voters in a referendum that will take place at the time of the Presidential Primary on May 2 of next year. — Elinor Hart, Co-Chair, Voters Service.

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LWVDC Fund Raising

Keep this list next to your telephone for the next time you need one of these services. Don't forget to tell your friends and relatives too!

Computer Assistance: Firoze Rao (Board member Susan's husband) donates his computer expertise. Firoze works for Lockheed Martin and is willing to assist people with their computer needs for a $50 donation to the League for up to two hours of help. Call him at (202) 636-1688.

Desserts: If you need a special dessert, call Hope Mirindin at (202) 966-6367. Her daughter. Eleanor, bakes "the best carrot cakes" in town. Order one for a $35 donation.

Music: $50 will get you 2 hours of music with piano and trumpet. Call Liz Martin at (202) 5373043.

Bed and Breakfast: Another outstanding value for one's money is the League's Bed and Breakfast Program available to League members across the nation. Jacqueline Russler does an outstanding job of coordinating reservations with the B&B homes. We certainly appreciate each host/hostess. With the LWVUS National Convention slated for June 12- 14, 2000, we can expect to have additional requests. Accommodation fees are $60/night (double); $44/night (single). Call (202) 347-3020 to learn more about becoming a host or hostess.

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Print out and mail this membership application for yourself or to give a gift membership in LWVDC.

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CITIZEN SUMMIT: Mayor Action and Draft City-Wide Strategic Plan Unveiled

One Leaguer's Observations

This citizen attended ail day Saturday. Having not been at the introductory session the prior Thursday evening, I had no idea how the day would be run. I arrived with a healthy dose of skepticism. I was amazed; it truly was exciting. Most of the cost for the event was picked up by local firms.

There were 2,643 registered participants, plus many other staffing agency exhibits surrounding the hall of the Convention Center. The main program was kicked off by the Mayor around 9:30 a.m. and ran six hours straight with lunch brought in and served right at the tables. We addressed city-wide issues in the morning and then regrouped into neighborhoods within Wards in the afternoon. There were 39 groups of 3-4 neighborhood clusters occupying a number of tables as needed. The Mayor's draft strategic plan driving budget development provided focus for discussion; a follow-up evening session will be held at UDC in January. I think many for the first time believed there was some way to influence basic priority-setting early in the process.

Summit Follow-up - Citizen Workshop
Thurs. Jan 27th 7 9:30 p.m.

Naturally we need to see what flows from the "Summit," but I never thought such a credible effort for citizens to meet and exchange ideas could be organized. One key to the Summit's success was an excellent moderator, Carolyn Lukensmeyer (sp?), whom many Leaguers met last June at Council as she wound up a major assignment for LWVUS (Social Security). Another key was assigning people randomly to tables of ten, indicated by the folder you picked up upon entering. A third, and most telling, was the availability of computer-based technology (keypads) and related visual displays. At the outset Ms. Lukensmeyer led us through questions related to demographics: ward representation, income ranges, age, sex, ethnicity, children in school, and voting in last local election . We all had our own keypads (donated) and punched in the numbers of the appropriate answers. The results by percentages flashed instantaneously on two huge screens. Then Ms. Lukensmeyer gave us corresponding data for the City as a whole. We could readily gauge how reasonably representative the crowd was and thus gained confidence that the subsequent discussion would be worth while. Upon request of some, the percentage of City workers participating in the program was tallied (19% yes; 81% no) which added to confidence.

Attendance Demographics

Under 18, 12%
19-24, 12%
25-54, 35%
55-64, 19%
65+, 22%
0-25,000, 22%
25-39,999, 19%
40-59,999, 20%
60-100,000, 21%
100,000+, 8%
Voted in Last Election

Yes, 78%
No, 22%

Women, 51%
Men, 49%

DC Household Mean Income


DC Citizens who voted in the last national election
Children in School
Yes, 30%; No, 70%
Kids in Grades
Elementary, 22%
Middle, 13%
High School, 19%
Ethnicity at summit and in city
African-American, 61%, 62%
Asian, 5%, 2%
Caucasian, 22%, 31%
Native American, 5%, .5%
Multi-Cultural, 5%, N/A
Declined to state, 1%

(From notes taken at summit by Sheilla Willet)

By using the keypads as well as laptop computers (wired into the visual display system and operated by Public School student volunteers), we produced consensus by table on various issues. In the morning the top vote getting themes for budgetary priorities were "Building & Sustaining Healthy Neighborhoods." and "Safe Passages: Children and Youth Investment." The keypad results from all the tables were rapidly reported. In the afternoon the various neighborhoods registered their priorities...a number clearly being shared widely across the city.

Citizens were given the opportunity to address matters not presented in the prepared material, thus boosting our expectations that all concerns would be addressed. What got done in one day was astounding. — Barbara Yeomans, 3rd Vice Pres., Nat'l Prog.

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LWVDC January 2000 Calendar

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
3 4 5 LWVDC Board Meeting, 10:00 a.m., LWVUS Board Room, 1730 M Street, NW, 10th Floor 6 Health Care System Development Committee Open Forum, 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1 Judiciary Square, Room 1030 7
10 Unit Council Meeting, 12:00 p.m., LWVDC, 733 15th Street, NW, Suite 432 11 February DC Voter Deadline 12 10:00 a.m., Education Committee Meeting, LWVDC, Suite 432, 733 15th Street, NW
1:00 p.m., International Relations Committee Meeting, LWVUS, 10th Floor, 1730 M Street, NW
13 14
17 18 19 National Program Planning General Meeting, 11:30 a.m., Brown Bag lunch, Gallery Room, 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m., Program Lecture Hall, 102 Sumner School, 17th and M Streets, NW 20 21 February DC Voter mailed
24 Brown Bag Dialogue, 11:30 a.m., LWVUS Board Room, 1730 M Street, NW, 10th Floor 25 26 27 Citizen Summit Follow-up Meeting, 7:00 - 9:30 p.m., UDC 28

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League of Women Voters of the United States


Promote an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive; that has a fair and adequate fiscal basis; that protects individual liberties established by the Constitution; that assures opportunities for citizen participation in government decision making; that provides sound agricultural policy; and that preserves public health and safety through gun control measures.

Agricultural Policy

Promote adequate supplies of food and fiber at reasonable prices to consumers and support economically viable farms, environmentally sound farm practices and increased reliance on the free market.

Citizen Rights

Citizen's Right to Know/Citizen Participation. Protect the citizen's right to know and facilitate citizen participation in government decision making.

Individual Liberties. Oppose major threats to basic constitutional rights.

Public Policy on Reproductive Choices. Protect the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices.

Congress and the Presidency

Congress. Support responsive legislative processes characterized by accountability, representativeness, decision-making capability and effective performance.

The Presidency. Promote a dynamic balance of power between the executive and legislative branches within the framework set by the Constitution.

DC Self-Government and Full Voting Representation

Secure for the citizens of the District of Columbia the rights of self-government and representation in both houses of Congress.

Election Process

Apportionment. Support apportionment of congressional districts and elected legislative bodies at all levels of government based substantially on population

Campaign Finance. Improve methods of financing political campaigns in order to ensure the public's right to know. combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and promote citizen participation in the political process.

Election of the President. Promote the election of the President and Vice-President by direct popular vote and work to abolish the electoral college; support uniform national voting qualifications and procedures for presidential elections.

Fiscal Policy

Support adequate and flexible funding of federal government programs through an equitable tax system that is progressive overall and that relies primarily on a broadbased income tax: promote responsible deficit policies; support a federal role in providing mandatory. universal, old-age, survivors, disability and health insurance.

Gun Control

Protect the health and safety of citizens through limiting the accessibility and regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic weapons.

Voting Rights

Protect the right of all citizens to vote; encourage all citizens to vote.


Promote peace in an interdependent world by cooperating with other nations, strengthening international organizations, fostering long-term development, negotiating arms control measures and encouraging the successful resolution of conflicts through nonmilitary means.

Arms Control

Reduce the risk of war through support of arms control measures.

Military Policy and Defense Spending

Work to limit reliance on military force; examine defense spending in the context of total national needs.


Support systematic reduction of tariff and nontariff trade barriers and support broad long-range presidential authority to negotiate trade agreements.

United Nations

Support measures to strengthen the United Nations, in recognition of the need for cooperation among nations in an interdependent world.

U.S. Relations with Developing Countries

Promote U.S. policies that meet long-term social and economic needs of developing countries.


Promote an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest by recognizing the interrelationships of air quality, energy, land use, waste management and water resources.

Resource Management

Promote resource conservation, stewardship and long range planning with the responsibility for managing natural resources shared by all levels of government.

Environmental Protection and Pollution Control

Preserve the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the ecosystem, with the maximum protection of the public health and environment.

Public Participation

Promote public understanding and participation in decision making as essential elements of responsible and responsive management of our natural resources.


Promote social and economic justice, secure equal rights for all, achieve universal health care coverage at reasonable cost, promote the well being of children, and combat discrimination, poverty and violence.

Child Care

Support programs, services and policies at all levels of government to expand the supply of affordable, quality childcare for all who need it.

Early Intervention for Children at Risk

Support policies and programs that promote the well being, development and safety of all children.

Equality of Opportunity

Support equal access to education, employment and housing. Support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and efforts to bring laws into compliance with the goals of the ERA.

Health Care

Promote a health care system for the United States that provides access to a basic level of quality care for all U.S. residents and controls health care costs.

Meeting Basic Human Needs

Support programs and policies to prevent or reduce poverty and to promote self-sufficiency for individuals and families.

Urban Policy

Promote the economic health of cities and improve the quality of urban life.

Violence Prevention

Support violence prevention programs in all communities.

Whatever the issue, the League believes that government policy, programs and performance must meet these criteria: competent personnel with clear responsibilities, coordination among agencies and levels of government, adequate financing, effective enforcement, well defined channels for citizen input and review.


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