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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 76, No. 6, June 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
DC Leaguers Head to LWVUS Convention, June 16-19, 2000
News from the Units
DC Representation in Congress
International Relations
Member News
“Spirit of America” Free Tickets Available
May 8, 2000 “Hill” Meeting on Regional Transportation
Celebrating Our 80th Anniversary: Arlene Ackerman Addresses Annual Meeting — April 29, 2000
Flyer on June 27th Special Election
Letter to President on ABM Treaty Amendment


Many thanks to Hope Marindin for a successful bridge fund raiser. It was a lovely change of pace and a relaxing afternoon. The unofficial total for the afternoon, which will support our Voters Service efforts, is approximately $650.

As we go to press, we just received a letter and generous check for $2,500 from Ralph Watkins to further our Voters Service education outreach. Thank you Ralph.

Our public forum on the restructuring of the school board was mixed. It was broadcast live over WAMU, a important public service, and attracted a number of media representatives. However, in spite of many co-sponsors and calls from groups across the city commending the League's effort, citizen turn out was frustrating. But we made new contacts and raised our visibility.

In other actions, the DC League has written a letter to Linda Cropp, Chair, DC Council, commending her for introducing legislation to change DC license plates to read: "Taxation Without Representation."

Additionally, we have written to President Clinton urging him not to deploy an unproven missile defense system (see insert). Please use this letter as a guide to write your own message to the president.

At our annual meeting Jane Schwartz, DC president 1965-67, gave the League the pen used by President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the bill which created our Metro system. It has been properly framed and is now hanging in the League office. Thank You, Jane. It is a striking reminder of past successful efforts. — Elizabeth M. Martin, President

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Along with LWV/NCA, the DC League will serve as a host for this years convention at the Washington Hilton here n D.C Major speakers scheduled include our Mayor Tony Williams. It is still not too late to volunteer an hour or two of your time to help "host" this convention and get to see the Capital Steps Satire FREE on Saturday, June 17 8 pm. See your March DC Voter for volunteer information.

A major focus for delegates will be adoption of the next biennial program as well as the budget and election of new officers. After hearing from Leagues and members in response to the survey, the National Board has recommended initiating a systematic review of League positions, beginning with an update of the International Relations Position on Trade. Delegates will hear other proposals from Leagues, for example, addressing peace enforcement under the United Nations position.

In addition to the business session there are numerous opportunities to meet with other Leaguers and learn about a variety of matters. Two special caucuses will be held to educate participants about D.C. issues.

DC Vote Coalition will conduct a caucus on Sunday, June 18 from 7:30-9:00 a.m. in The Conservatory. Further, LWV/NCA will sponsor a session to seek support for restoration of the Federal Payment (details being worked out). These caucuses are open to DC Leaguers but with the request that they defer to delegates should there be a squeeze for space. Also open is the Wares Mart, at which NCA will join with Maryland State League in sponsoring a booth to raise funds. There will be some really good goods!

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In June, as is our tradition, the Units are planning different social/political events to mark the end of the Unit program year. Plan to attend your own Unit's special event; bring a prospective member.

All members are invited to attend whichever Unit meeting appeals to them; this invitation applies particularly to new members. Call the hostess if you have any questions.

The next Unit Council meeting will be held Monday, June 12, at noon, at the LWVDC office. — Sheila Keeny, Unit Director


Tuesday, June 20

Southwest, 10 AM, Plans for Washington Navy Yard. The Southwest Unit will meet at the Washington Navy Yard with a member of the Office of Community Services to discuss future development plans for the Navy Yard.

Unit Chair: Grace Savage, 554-3474, Meeting Place: Washington Navy Yard, Admiral's Conference Room, Building 200, Second Floor (picture ID needed - call Chair for Information)

Northwest Day, Noon, Potluck Luncheon. Hostess: Jeanette Miller, Chair, 362-1203. Meeting Place: 2841 Tilden St., NW (see also invitation from the NW Evening Unit below.)

Unit Meetings offer something for everyone! Don't miss one this month!

Wednesday, June 21

Chevy Chase, Noon, Potluck Luncheon. A chance to meet with old friends. Hostess: Jean Fleming, 363-0221; Meeting Place: 2711 Jenifer St., NW

Upper 16th St., 9:45 AM, Special Guest from AARP. The Upper 16th St. Unit will be joined by Lucretia Paschall, District Coordinator for AARP, who will describe the services offered retired persons by her organization. Hostess: Paula McKann, Chair, 829-0656. Meeting Place: 4709 16th St., NW

Northeast Day, 9:45 AM. The Northeast Day Unit is invited to join the Upper 16th St. Unit for a discussion of AARP services (see above). Unit Co-Chairs: Iola Pigott, 526-8315; Roberta Johnson, 526-4469.

Thursday, June 22

NW Evening, 7:30 PM. Special Guest - Council member Kathy Patterson. The Northwest Evening Unit has invited Ward 3 Council member Kathy Patterson, who will speak to the issue of reducing the cost of primary elections in DC and other topics. Members of other Units who are interested in hearing her remarks are most welcome; they should call Unit membership chair Jean Hall, 362-4526. Hostess: Joan Domike, Chair, 966-3865; Meeting place: 4200 Massachusetts Ave., NW #304.

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Plans for the Wares Mart booth sponsored by NCA and the State of Maryland League are well underway. Please call Beryle Lednicer (301-581-0343) or Joan Trafton (301-530-8567) if you can volunteer sometime or would like to discuss some wares you might like to sell. What a good opportunity to "network" with fellow Leaguers from around the country while filling our coffers.

NCA Annual Meeting Reminder: NCA's Annual Meeting will be held Saturday morning, June 10, at the Arlington Hilton. Amy Liu, Brookings Institute, will discuss "A Region Divided," their recent study of transportation/land use concerns in the national capital area. All are invited. Reservations for brunch are $20 each. Please contact Mary Elizabeth Gordon (703 280-5186) for details and/or to register. — Naomi Glass, President

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House parties have been held throughout the city. If you are willing to host one, please, call Kathy Schmidt. Walter Smith, formerly in the office of the Corporation Counsel, is being supported by the Coalition on a cross country bike ride. Those interested in sponsoring him may do so by contacting Kathy Schmidt.

Anyone interested in doing data entry of the names from the petitions should contact the Coalition office — 202-872-8683. League members who circulated petitions for full voting representation in Congress at the polls May 2nd were June Bashkin, Suzanne Campagna, June Duke, Coralie Farlee, Jean Fleming, Fran Garro, Pat Hallman, Audry Hatry, Natalie Howard, Jean Jones, Susan Learmonth, Barbara Kemp, Lois Laster, Anna Marsh, Carol Ragsdale, Kathy Schmidt, Gladys Weaver, and Sheila Willet. Thanks to everyone. Kathy Schmidt, 202-232-6460

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The IR Committee meets at the LWVUS office (1730 M St, NW) the second Wed. of each month. For the next two months (June and July) the committee will meet from 2-4 PM — please note that this is a time change. We will not meet in August.

The committee is currently discussing the Great Decisions book for 2000.

We met on May 10 to discuss Humanitarian Intervention/Humanitarianism. Our guest speaker was Lt. Col. Charles Shotwell, Senior Military Fellow at the National Defense University's National Institute for Strategic Studies. He argued in favor of international procedures to codify the conditions of humanitarian intervention under which diplomatic and economic sanctions and even military intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign state could be justified.

Sven Burmester, husband of member Janet Burmester, who heads the UN's Population Fund in China and Korea, joined our group. He briefly described the program's distribution of contraceptives in 45 Chinese provinces.

Janet Burmester will lead our discussion next month (June 14) on "The Euro's Challenge to the Dollar."

We will have another guest speaker on July 12, Betty Bigombe, a social scientist for the Africa Region at the World Bank. Ms. Bigombe is Ugandan and she will discuss "Africa: Prospects for the Future."

We invite all those who have any interest in these important topics to attend our meetings. — Susan Rao, Co-Chair.

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We extend a warm welcome to new member: Maria L. Carrier.

Many thanks to the members who sent in additional contributions to support the League: Vinna Freeman, Elizabeth Hobby, Jeanette Miller, Jane K. Schwartz (in honor of League's 80th Anniversary), Joy Simonson.

A special "Thank You" to the following members who have opened their homes this summer for Bed & Breakfast before, during and after the LWVUS Convention: June Bashkin, Joan Corboy, Jean Fleming, Morella Hanson, Chris Matthews, Jeanette Miller, Grace Savage, Kathy Schmidt, and Sue Whitman.

A correction to the March DC Voter, Josephine Wade writes, "I am not, I repeat NOT in a nursing home. I reside independently in a retirement apartment where assistance is available, but I've no need yet!" [Editor's note: Good for you Jo, we stand corrected.]

With deep sorrow we report the death of Mary C. Dwan, a lifetime member who joined the League in 1943.

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"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill

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The League has obtained a limited quantity of free tickets to two performances of "Spirit of America" at the MCI Center on Tuesday, June 14, 8 pm and Wednesday, June 15, 1 pm. Call the LWVDC office 347-3020 to get your tickets.

"Spirit of America" is a dynamic, educational and entertaining event that showcases the US Army, states Lt. Col. Richard L. Breen, the public affairs officer for the show. "We believe Spirit of America is a great way to tell the American people about our soldiers, our heritage and our Army."

The 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) and The U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own" -- the premier ceremonial troops of the Army -- are staging and performing in the show with production guidance from the office of Ceremonies and Special Events, principally Mark Murray, the show's producer.

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Long-range regional transportation issues in the Washington area was the focus of this Monday evening public meeting at the House Cannon Office Building. Sponsored by the Washington Regional Network for Livable Communities and the Coalition for Smarter Growth, comprised of local and regional organizations, we were addressed by representatives on the Council of Government's National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (representing DC is Council member Mendelson).

According to its literature, the TPB's primary activities are development of a Long-Range Plan, which must look forward at least 20 years and development of a rolling 6-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The long-range planning process itself involves two district efforts: "vision" planning and the so-called Constrained Long-Range Plan (CLRP) Updates (at least every three years).

We are now in a cycle for updating the CLRP. Contentious issues abound, as press coverage has indicated over a number of months. The vision statement is attempting to put more discipline in the process, by establishing priorities for selecting projects, such as reducing reliance on cars and focusing development where mass transit is available. A strong collateral "driver" for the region is meeting requirements under the Clean Air Act and avoiding the penalties for being out of compliance. New transportation projects have to be in accord with plans to meeting air quality goals.

A key factor "driving" debate is a federal requirement for the CLRP that funding sources be identified and all strategies and projects be included in the long-range plans. Only those that can be implemented over the planning period with funds that are "reasonably expected to be available" can be included in the CLRP. Relevant jurisdictions say they don't have the money to do what is needed, despite increasing tax receipts and economic growth. Thus budgetary projections and competing priorities among jurisdictions impede coherent planning on a regional level.

For perspective, in D.C. existing street and rail needs over 25 years are estimated at $6 billion, the relevant Maryland region projects $90 billion and Virginia projects $70 billion. Discussion indicated that around 80% of jobs are on several major corridors; thus the concept of a spider-web type of horizontal connection across jurisdictions should be questioned. Unfortunately the meeting did not go into how to address budgetary commitments over 25 years when the usual horizons in the budgetary authorization & appropriation process on the part of governments, including Congress, are relatively short.

Another issue in the view of some is that the TPB process is driven by departments of transportation, among which there are conflicting philosophies. Over all, there is a weak commitment to public transit. Further, on a regional basis the governmental focus on transportation is pursued separately from land use. Getting development incentives right will significantly affect transportation approaches, e.g., changing tax policies that promote sprawl or inhibit neighborhood approaches (shopping and housing) where walking and bicycling would be viable.
Speakers gave some basis for confidence that more accountability and rationality might be brought into the process and the TPB will no longer be a mighty "stapling machine" whereby it collects and passes disparate projects to relevant authorities for approval.

For further information about COG's Transportation Planning Board contact Gerald Miller (202/962-2319).

Copies of the NCRTPB's "Vision" Statement and pamphlet titled "Making the VISION a Reality Together" are available from the League office. — Barbara T. Yeomans

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Celebrating Our 80th Anniversary: Arlene Ackerman Addresses Annual Meeting - April 29, 2000

Almost three years ago, Mrs. Ackerman came to Washington, D.C. and found its children and the public school system in crisis..."an educational crisis of the greatest proportions." She cited broken systems, the lack of basic infrastructure like personnel, procurement, and finance. She also cited the achievement crisis: 70% of the 10th graders reading below basic level and 89% of these tenth graders performing below basic levels in math punctuated by inadequate, unsafe school buildings. She found "a burdensome bureaucracy (almost 20% of the total district's budget spent on central office administration) a bureaucracy which appeared to be designed, at times, more to provide jobs for adults than to support its children in the schools." She found "a public school system where the layers of governance are many. An elected Board of Education, an appointed Board of Trustees, a city council, a control board appointed by Congress and the U.S. Congress -- a governance structure so complex that when asked to whom she reported, she usually replied "Everybody . . . because it is true."

Not all of her findings were bleak. She found some dedicated staff, some involved parents and community, and 77,000 beautiful students. She also came with a lifelong commitment, a burning passion and the Edgar Guest's poem "It Couldn't Be Done" that provides her with inspiration and encouragement. She came with the advice of the late John Stanford, Superintendent of the Seattle Public Schools, to start with a vision, then to make sure the staff understand the mission. Articulated goals and standards raised expectations for all students and test scores have risen for the past two years. Additionally, the summer program, STARS, provides support for students with deficiencies and expands enrichment opportunities for students. The Army Corps of Engineers brought resources and pro- current authority to execute capital facilities projects. New accountability systems are now in place for students, teachers, principals and central office staff. Management, administrative and instructional technologies systems have improved. An incentive plan was developed jointly by the Washington Teachers' Union and the DCPS administration. She declared, "We are making progress but reforming the public schools is not accomplished." In conclusion, she challenged all of us to take responsibility for all of our children so that no child is left behind. — Gladys Weaver, co-chair Education Committee

Photos of the Annual Meeting by Bernard Harris

Arlene Ackerman speaks to the League
Arlene Ackerman speaks to League
Jane Swartz presents signing pen
Past President Jane Swartz ('65-'67) presents signing pen (see above)
Kathy Schmidt models hat and surplice
Kathy Schmidt models hat and surplice delegates will wear to the LWVUS Convention, June 16-20
Carol Ragsdale, Elizabeth Martin, Barbara Luchs singing
Carol Ragsdale, Elizabeth Martin, Barbara Luchs singing “The Women of the DC League”
Luci Murphy singing
Luci Murphy sings “Simple Justice,” written by Barbara Luchs
Linda Cropp and Anna Marsh
DC Council Chairperson Linda Cropp and Anna Marsh, our League’s DC Government Affairs Chairperson, enjoy breakfast and program
past presidents
Left to right, past DC League Presidents: Sheila Keeny (1989-91), Lucy Murphy (1997-99), Connie Fortune (1969-71), Naomi Glass (1974-75), Anna Marsh (1991-93), Leona Rumsey (1987-89) pose before cutting the 80th Anniversary cake

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Calendar — June 2000

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
5 6 7 10 am LWVDC Board Mtg., Jefferson Junior HS, 7th & H Streets, SW 8 9
12 Unit Council, 12 pm, LWVDC Office, 733 15th Street, NW, #432 13 14 Education Committee, 10 am, LWVDC Office
IR Committee, “Great Decisions,” 2 pm
15 16
19 20 Unit Meetings:
Southwest, 10 am; Northwest Day, 12 pm
21 Unit Meetings:
Combined Upper 16th Street and Northeast Day, 9:45 am
Chevy Chase, 12 pm
22 Unit Meetings:
Northeast Day, 12:45 pm
Northwest Eve., 7:30 pm
26 27 VOTE Special School Board Election 28 29 30

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Before You Vote June 27th for the Special Election on the

Proposed Charter Amendment III, "The School Governance Charter Amendment Act of 2000"

(See Summary Statement of the proposed Charter Amendment in box below.)

Plan to attend the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Education
Wednesday, June 21s't at 7:30 pm
825 N. Capitol St. NE 20002
To observe first hand the operation of the school board to further help you to make an informed decision.

The Summary Statement for this proposed Charter Amendment is as follows:

This Charter Amendment, if passed, would amend The Home Rule Act by:

  • Reducing the number of Members of the Board of Education from 11 to 9;
  • Combining eight election wards to create four new school board election districts;
  • Allowing voters to elect four Members from new school election districts;
  • Allowing voters to elect one Member at-large as Board President; and
  • Allowing the Mayor to appoint four Members to be confirmed by the City Council.

The Charter Amendment will allow the Board to hire, evaluate and remove the Superintendent, establish personnel policies for hiring principals, and approve an annual budget. This Amendment allows the City Council to create a state education agency, and directs that the provision for the make-up of the new Board and the school election districts will end in four years. Thereafter, the selection and size of the Board shall be made according to local law.

All D.C. registered voters will be eligible to vote "FOR" or "AGAINST" the Proposed Charter Amendment.

As always, DC League members are encouraged to be informed voters. This is another opportunity to observe the school board in action.
On the Internet visit LWV's "Democracy Network" at
Thanks to the suggestion of the Upper Sixteenth Unit for this flyer.

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May 24, 2000

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing on behalf of the members of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia to express our deep concern over the Administration's efforts to amend the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty to permit deployment of a National Missile Defense (NMD).

The League of Women Voters has long supported the ABM Treaty. During the Reagan years, the League played a key role in legislative efforts to limit funding for the President's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and to uphold the traditional interpretation of the ABM Treaty. Today we are reluctant witnesses to the rebirth of the SDI in a new form which, although less ambitious, presents the same threat as did the SDI to the entire arms control regime, so painstakingly negotiated over the past thirty years.

Our principal concern is the negative impact that the proposed amendment would have on strategic stability and on the possibility of further reductions of strategic offensive weapons. The United States committed itself to these goals as recently as May I at the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference. However, in trying to reassure Moscow that the proposed NMD will not threaten Russia's strategic deterrent, the United States appeared to sanction Russia's policy of keeping their nuclear weapons on constant alert and signaled that we do not expect to reduce our arsenal below 1,500 to 2,000 nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future. This raises serious questions about our commitment to reducing nuclear dangers and suggests to others that nuclear weapons are indeed necessary for them as well. The Chinese, for example, with their current very small strategic missile force, are certain to see any missile defense system as a threat to their deterrent capability and begin a build-up, which will, in turn, stimulate an arms race in Asia.

In assessing the risk, the threat of ballistic missile attack by so-called "rogue states" such as North Korea or Iran, appears greatly exaggerated. Many observers have predicted that a terrorist or rogue state is more likely to attack the United States by non-missile delivery means, which are cheaper, more reliable, less traceable and more accurate than missiles.

The system's daunting technology and its rising cost are also deeply troubling. The difficulty inherent in perfecting a NMD system, one that could not be easily overcome by countermeasures, suggests the investment will be staggering. The League opposes spending more billions of dollars on NMD when other needs here and abroad are so great. We therefore urge you to decide against deployment of NMD as your contribution to reaching the goal of a nuclear-weapons free world, a most worthy legacy.

Respectfully yours,
Elizabeth Martin, President

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