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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 76, No. 2, February 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
G. Louise Perry
Educate Voters Via DNET
“Understanding the WTO”
Member News
News from the Units
Health Care
International Relations Committee Report
“Granny D” Arrives in Washington, Feb. 29
LWV/National Capital Area
B & B’s Needed
The World Trade Organization After the Failed Seattle Summit

President's Corner

It's a new year, a new millennium and a new look for the VOTER. Our hope is that this new format, developed by Sheila Willet, will not only be easier to read but will make it easier to stay on top of the programs and activities of the League.

There's good news on the fund raising front. Ralph Watkins, former DC resident and long time Leaguer, has given the DC League $3,500 for Voters Service activities this spring. This is a very welcome infusion of funds since it looks like we'll have an item on the ballot May 2 related to the restructuring of the School Board.

Since the DC League's current school board position was taken 25 years ago and unit discussions four years ago found no wide support for the current position, the Board is not confident that the regional consensus is current. Therefore, the League does not support or oppose any of the current proposals. Instead our plans will focus on a massive educational effort. We shall print approximately 90,000 Voters Guides explaining the ballot issue and will distribute the information through the DC public schools, civic associations and by direct mail. We will be raising additional funds for a special campaign in two precincts to test the efficacy of the Voters Guides. We need volunteers for this ambitious and timely effort.

On a sad note, I am saddened at the news of the death of Louise Perry. She embodied everything 1 know and believe about the League. She held almost every office and worked on almost every committee. She attended to the day to day minding of the League and made sure it ran smoothly. She took on major issues -- was asked in the late 1960's by LWVUS President Lucy Benson to take part in a special project in Chicago that focused on welfare mothers. Louise was the League, she did it all with grace and charm and a gentle touch of humor never missing a beat. Everything she touched shined a little brighter. she left a ray of light.

Yours in the League, Elizabeth M. Martin, President

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G. Louise Perry

As this issue of the DC Voter is going to press we learned of the untimely death of Board Member Louise Perry , who Passed away in her home on January 14` . A League member since 1964 and ardent supporter, she held the position of Director (Private Elections) and was active in the Upper Sixteenth Street Unit as well as the DC Voter mailing crew. We shall miss her greatly and extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

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Educate Voters Via DNET

DNet is the "Democracy Network," a partnership with the LWV/EF and the Center for Governmental Studies. The goal is to enter information about candidates for national election next November. The LWV/EF is looking for volunteers who can spend at least five hours a week working on Dnet at the LWVUS office. LWV/EF contact is Jeanette Senecal, 263-1322.

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“Understanding the WTO”

Wed. February 16, 2000
"Understanding the WTO"
Guest Speaker Marcus Noland
SUMNER SCHOOL, 17th & M Streets, NW
11:30 a.m. Brown Bag Lunch
12:00 noon -1:00 p.m. Program

Marcus Noland, author of "Learning to Love the WTO" (Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct 99) will be the speaker at the general meeting of LWVDC on February 16t" at the Sumner School. The IR Committee will host this meeting.

Attendees can bring brown bag lunches at 11:30 a.m. or order a lunch from the Sixteenth Street Unit for $5.00. You may utilize the form enclosed to order a lunch.

Mr. Noland is Senior Fellow at the Institute for International Economics and a former senior economist at the Council of Economic Advisors.

For further information on Mr. Noland's views, see the accompanying flyer in this issue and read his article in Foreign Affairs. Leaguers are also encouraged to read an article with a different viewpoint, "Labor's New Internationalism," by Jay Mazur, President of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees and Chair of the AFL-CIO's International Affairs Committee, in the Jan/Feb 1999 issue of Foreign Affairs.

The IR Committee feels that the topic of the WTO (World Trade Organization) particularly relevant to Leaguers since the LWVUS is considering reviewing the IR position on trade. Please come to the general meeting to learn more about this timely subject!

Leaguers are encouraged to invite nonLeague members to attend this meeting. For further information, contact Susan Rao (202-6361688). Susan Rao, IR Committee Co-Chair.

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Thank you to the following members for their generous donations: Bonnie Barhyte, Guy E. Coriden, Penelope Feuillan, Howard L. Jones, Lloyd Leonard and Elizabeth Wiener, Barbara Lucks, Jeanette and Charles Miller, Ellen S. Overton, Dr. Harriet J. Smith, Ellyn Swanson, Ralph E. Watkins, and, J. Burke Wilkinson. With sorrow we report the death of DC League member, Ruth Smalley.

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Unit meetings originally planned for February are replaced by a General Meeting about International Trade. Five of our units held special holiday meetings, with programs of their own choosing. Forty-one League members attended, as well as five guests. Peter Jones, Director of Southwest Community Center, described the several groups that serve that neighborhood for members of the Southwest Unit. The joint meeting of the Chevy Chase and Northwest Day Units hosted ANC 3C Chair Anne Loikow, who spoke on development plans for Ward 3, and how they mesh or fail to mesh with the general plan for DC. The Upper Sixteenth Unit discussed key education issues such as an appointed vs. an elected School Board. Recognizing an opportunity to raise $$ for the League, the Unit also made plans to sell box lunches at the General Meeting in January (other Units take note!). Last of the holiday meetings took the Northwest Evening Unit to India and Nepal, where hostess Traci Goldberg and husband spent November sightseeing. Among the highlights were visiting-the Taj Mahal and other Mogul sites, exploring an astronomical laboratory in Jaipur and watching sari-clad women working in construction. Their sober observation: So many people, so much poverty! — Sheila Keeny, Unit Director

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The National League is entering the second phase of a public policy voter education initiative A PUBLIC DIALOGUE ON HEALTH CARE: MAKING CHOICES IN YOUR HEALTH CARE AND YOUR REPRESENTATION.

Obtaining unbiased information is a hurdle to many citizens who wish to participate in public policy discussions and decisions. The first phase of A Public Dialogue on Health Care focused on Medicare and health care. The LWVUS created this initiate to arm citizens with in-depth knowledge of the health care policy issues that are being debated in the 2000 elections and to encourage citizens to make their voices heard in November 2000.

Phase I of this project was a success because hundreds of dedicated Leaguers participated. Won't you consider contributing your time and skills some more? Call the DC League office for more information. Sue Whitman is our health liaison contact but we need more Leaguers to follow health care issues. — Barbara Yeomans, 3rd VP, National Programs

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At its Dec. meeting, the IR committee discussed the general meeting on the World Trade Organization which the committee will host Feb. 16. (For details see article above.) The committee reviewed the flyer prepared by Susan Rao and the summary prepared by Janet Burmester to publicize the meeting.

The Committee also discussed its plans for the Great Decisions discussions for 2000. The Committee decided to study a different topic each month from March through June, with an emphasis on obtaining outside expertise where possible. The Discussions will be held at the Committee's regular meeting time, the second Wednesday of each month from 1-3 p.m. at the LWVUS office.

Non-members and members who are interested in participating in the Great Decisions discussions are invited to contact Susan Rao at 202/636-1688 to order a discussion guide. The committee's next meeting will be Feb. 9. — Susan Rao and Sheila Keeny, Co-chairs.

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Starting in Pasadena on January 1, 1999, Granny D, almost 99 years old, started walking her way across America at the rate of 10 miles per day in an attempt to compel Congress to pass Campaign Finance Reform legislation. The Virginia League may be her escort to DC once she crosses into Virginia near Winchester. You can contact her by email at The goal is 1,000 marchers to join Granny D as she arrives in the Capital.

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Don't Miss
Brown Bag Dialogue
February 28 11:30 a.m.
LWVUS 10th Floor Board Room
1730 M Street, NW
Topic: Juvenile Justice

LWV/National Capital Area: FIRST BOARD ACTION OF YR 2000

The NCA Board voted to seek LWVUS concurrence with its newly developed positions on DC finances, one of which requests restoration of the federal payment and the other seeks relief from the imposition of the federal budget process even for locally raised DC funds. Concurrence at the national level would be especially valuable in this case, since the government officials are, in fact, U.S. Congresspersons.

The LWVUS convention is always exciting, but this NCA effort will make it even more so for those of us living in the area. And, because it is here, even those of you who are not delegates can feel a part of the action. Complete the volunteer forms that appear in your newsletter and send it in; if you can't find the form, contact Mary Valder (703-620-2185) or Molly O'Brien 703-6209806) .

Important date: Saturday, March 11, 2000: The NCA-sponsored discussion on "Whither the League?" is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon (registration beginning at 9:30), at the Montgomery County Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe St., Rockville, Md. The building is close to the Rockville Metro station and ample parking is available in the area. Join us if you can. Call Vice President Pat Dougherty (301-2997886) for any further information you may need. Naomi Glass, President 202/686-0124

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We have an urgent need for additional Bed and Breakfast hostesses for Convention 2000 (June 17-19). This is a special opportunity to meet Leaguers from across the country, make new friends or visit with current ones and raise revenue for the DC League at the same time! Also we are getting calls from Leaguers who are coming to Washington to Volunteer for Dnet at the end of February. Call Jacqueline Russler (966-1218) or Natalie Howard (882-8762) to offer your home.

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CALENDAR February 2000

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
  1 2 LWVDC Board Mtg. 10:00 a.m., LWVUS Board Rm, 1730 M Street, NW, 10th Floor 3 4
7 8 March DC Voter deadline 9 10:00 a.m., Education Committee Mtg., 1614 Hobart St., NW
1:00 p.m., Int'l Relations Committee Mtg., LWVUS
10 11
14 15 16 11:30 a.m., General Speaker Meeting on International Trade, Sumner School 17 18 March DC Voter mailed
21 22 23 24 25
28 11:30 a.m., Brown Bag Dialogue, LWVUS 29 Granny D Arrives in DC      

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The ill-timed Seattle summit, intended to launch a new round of talks to liberalize world trade, collapsed as a coalition of environmentalists and labor activists took to the streets to protest against globalization. WTO members had arrived in Seattle at the end of Nov. with no agreed agenda. The US was already distracted by the approaching presidential election, making any US concessions on trade politically impossible. Insiders blamed the debacle on inadequate preparation and lack of prior agreement on a limited agenda by the big players. The sheer number of participants, the breadth and complexity of the issues, and the fact that the easiest problems such as tariffs had been solved and only difficult issues remained were contributing factors. WTO Director General Michael Moore noted that "we're running an institution of over 130 members based on a culture 50 years old of 30 or so members." The European Union's top negotiator suggested that the WTO would have to be "reassessed and maybe rebuilt."

The WTO, only five years old and little understood by the public, has inevitably been injured if not fatally wounded by the negative publicity broadcast around the world. Environmental, human rights and labor NGOs had skillfully used the Internet to join their various constituencies to demand that the WTO incorporate labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. President Clinton surprised everyone by telling the Seattle Post Intelligencer while en route to Seattle that he favors eventual sanctions for countries with lax labor standards. During his visit he repeatedly said that he agreed with many of the goals of the peaceful demonstrators, who said they wanted better working conditions and more attention to the environmental impact of trade. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council, defended the administration's efforts to broaden the trade agenda to cover concerns about the environment and labor standards.

Marcus Noland, who will speak to the LWVDC on February 16, argues in the September/October 1999 issue of Foreign Affairs against such linkage of trade policy to social and environmental issues. He and other experts agree with the developing countries that industries and labor groups seeking protection from legitimate foreign competition could too easily hijack such provisions to shut off imports from the developing world. Linkages in the past have resulted in double defeats: trade was less liberal than it would have been otherwise and the linked objective was not achieved.

There is overwhelming agreement among economists that, in the long term, economic growth will raise both environmental and labor standards and that coercive efforts to force adoption of higher standards through threats of trade sanctions would be counterproductive.

Moreover, economic sanctions are seldom effective despite the fact that they have become the "weapon of choice" since the end of the Cold War. The US currently imposes economic sanctions against 26 countries with more than half of the world's population. Sanctions reduce US exports by $20 billion annually and deprive our economy of 200,000 high-paying jobs in export industries.

Yet Noland and other economists recognize the validity of the NGOs' long-term environmental and social objectives. Trade experts are generally in agreement that the WTO cannot afford to ignore these issues. Some suggest that the WTO Secretariat could play a quiet role behind closed doors around the world to promote the use of carrots (various kinds of aid) to promote environmental and social objectives.
Nevertheless, there appears to be an emerging consensus among economists and political scientists that the WTO is the wrong forum in which to pursue these objectives, that they would best be pursued in forums such as the ILO or an international environmental agency.

The WTO, with fewer than 500 employees and a budget of less than $100 million, is already strained to keep up with increasing numbers of trade disputes brought before it. Its responsibilities to negotiate the entry of new members and to implement the Uruguay Round trade agreements have left little or no capacity for technical assistance to developing and transitional economies. Despite the fact that the WTO is expected to join the IMF and the World Bank as the third pillar of international finance, it is the smallest and least well financed among international economic agencies. The negative impressions left by the Seattle discord will not help win further staffing and funding. The WTO will nevertheless be judged harshly for any shortcomings. We must therefore worry about its very survival.

Paper prepared for the International Relations Committee and the LWVDC by Committee member Janet Burmester

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