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Celebrating Our 80th Year of Service, 19202000
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Website: http://www.dcwatch.com/lwvdc, E-mail: LWVDC@erols.com
Dynamics in DC: Report on LWVUS Convention 2000
Coming in September: Mark Your Calendar!
News from the Units
Election Help Needed
|DC Representation in Congress
Voters Guide: June 27th Special Election
Save the Date August 26, 2000
Bed & Breakfast a Success!!
May 22 Brown Bag on Transportation Recorded by WTOP
LWVUS Convention 2000
The Neighborhood Units Retain, Restructure or Replace? A Survey
Special thanks to Naomi Glass, Barbara Luchs, Mary Rodgers and Sheila Willet. Without them our school board referendum voters guide would not have hit the streets in time to inform voters (see article, Voters Guide, p. 5). And now we're in the throws of putting together questions for candidates for the fall election. Isn't summer supposed to be a time for reading and relaxing? Not for League members!
My first national convention was a blast (see adjacent report on Convention 2000) - Mayor Williams set the scene with his cry for representation in Congress. And with the incomparable work of Elinor Hart, League delegates from across the country supported a federal payment for the District. The "Day on the Hill" provided a perfect opportunity for Leaguers to educate congressional representatives about the issue since they had just received a letter from LWV President JeffersonJenkins urging them to support full representation.
With the adoption of Trade as a national study item, we shall be running a seminar on "Globaphobia" organized by Janet Burmester. Save Wednesday, September 13 for the kick-off session at 1730 M Street, NW. 10th floor.
A look at D.C. Council reform, organized by the Local Affairs committee under Anna Marsh, is planned for October and we will examine Charter school issues in March under the leadership of Connie Tate and Gladys Weaver.
A first for the League is a D.C. public school training session for teachers on "Making Our Votes Count" to be held on September 26 at Logan Training Center. Elaine Melmed, Reggie Yancey and the committee are developing curriculum materials and DC Vote has donated videotapes of their excellent program on representation in Congress for use in the classroom.
Stay tuned. It's going to be an exhilarating year. Elizabeth M. Martin, President
DYNAMICS IN D.C.: Report on LWVUS Convention 2000
Convention 2000, held at the Washington Hilton June 16-20, opened with the League's 80th anniversary celebration and a focus on the District
Mayor Anthony Williams gave the welcoming address (using points developed by our Kathy Schmidt) and zeroed in on our "voteless" plight in Congress. Our President Liz Martin followed with a welcome on behalf of the DC League and cohost LWV/National Capital Area. In support of the Mayor, we Leaguers demonstrated on the side of the hall for D.C. voting representation in Congress, wearing the tri-com hats and straw "boaters", and special vests (made by Kathy Schmidt) with the words front and back "80 Years Without the Vote." Additionally, the DC Vote Coalition organized an excellent briefing for convention delegates. It was well attended despite its early schedule on Sunday morning.
LWV/NCA led by Naomi Glass and Elinor Hart also conducted a early Sunday morning briefing; and they succeeded in getting the Convention to agree, by concurrence, that the Federal Payment should be restored to D.C. Based upon the Convention's action, this view will be formally recognized in the LWVUS position on the District of Columbia, i.e., the position will include support for "the restoration of an annual, predictable federal payment to the District to compensate for revenue denied and expenses incurred because of the federal presence." Success was especially sweet. LWV/NCA had contacted all leagues prior to Convention, in accordance with special requirements when seeking concurrence at Convention. A two-thirds vote, not a simple majority, was required. It passed with an overwhelming voice vote.
Another effort important to DC Leaguers also proved successful - updating positions on both Trade and the United Nations. Based on the survey taken earlier in the year and local/state league program planning, LWVUS had recommended that the process of updating positions begin in the International Relations area, with a focus on trade.
The Montgomery County League, building on the lobbying effort conducted at Convention 1998 and subsequently, spearheaded the effort to add selected updating of the United Nations position as well.
The Convention also agreed to support a two-year study of national drug policy and, subject to outside funding, a study of systems used to elect legislative bodies and executive officers. During the course of activities we were addressed by a number of outside speakers, including Senators Jay Rockefeller (R-WVA) and Paul Wellstone (D-MN), Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, journalist/commentator on health care Hedrick Smith, and former Texas Governor Ann Richards. Other basic business included adoption of the next year's budget and election of officers. President Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins was re-elected after a spirited election campaigning by nominees. Barbara Yeomans, 3rd Vice President (National Program)
COMING IN SEPTEMBER MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
See the next DC VOTER for further details.
The Unit Meetings held in June marked the end of our program year. Following a three-month summer hiatus, Unit Meetings will pick up again in October as the November election period draws near. Watch for news in an upcoming DC VOTER about your Unit's plans for October.
Our June Units' Choice meetings provided an opportunity for each Unit to explore different agendas: In a new departure, the Southwest Unit met at the Navy Yard to discuss development plans for the site while the Upper 16th St. Unit met with a representative of AARP to learn about services it provides seniors. The Chevy Chase Unit held its annual potluck luncheon, while the NW Day and Evening Units met together to hear from Ward 3 Council member Kathy Patterson, who spoke in support of the School Board referendum.
Average Unit attendance this year has been just over 40 people, or about 10% of our paper membership. This modest percentage raises the question whether we are adequately meeting the needs of our varied membership. The summer break seems like a good time to take stock of membership wishes. Enclosed with this DC VOTER is a green survey that will take less than five minutes of your time to fill out, fold and return to me at the address shown. Your thoughtful comments may take a few minutes, but are particularly solicited. As the LWVDC enters the new century, we need to rethink many of our time-honored practices; for this we need your help. Please send me your responses ASAP. Sheila Keeny, Unit Director
IR Committee members and friends met on July 12 to discuss Africa with Betty Bigombe, Social Scientist for the Africa Region with the World Bank. The meeting was part of the Committee's Great Decisions Discussion Series, which will begin again next spring. In the interim the Committee will participate actively in the Trade Seminar directed by Committee member Janet Burmester (see above for dates), leading to a General Meeting and Units Meetings scheduled for February.
The Unit Meetings are intended to pave the way for an update of the League's position on trade, a goal adopted at Convention 2000. At the same time, Committee members are following UN developments in anticipation of subsequently updating the LWVUS position on the UN, another program item adopted at Convention 2000. There is much interesting work to be done - new members of the Committee are most welcome. Call Susan Rao (636-1688) or Sheila Keeny (966-1692), Co-chairs. Sheila Keeny, Co-Chair
The Voters Service Committee needs people to be available now through November 1st to help with a variety of activities associated with the upcoming Primary (Sept. 12) and General (Nov. 1) Elections. Can we call upon you for a few hours to contact candidates for forums or voter guide information, deliver voter guides to locations in your neighborhood, staff voter registration tables at events, etc.? Call the LWVDC office (347-3020) to let us know you can help.
New Members: We extend a warm welcome to new members: Maria L. Carrier, Ann Fitzcharles, Saundra Garrett, Ann Herzog, and Judith A. Smith.
League Support: Many thanks to the members who sent in additional contributions to support the League: Mary Armstrong Amory, Barbara Brooks Atkinson, Sally Ann Ethelston, Frances Garro, Eone G. Harger, Charlotte Kuh, Louisan Mamer, Mary Rankin, Louise Steele, Constance P. Tate, Eleanor H. Trowbridge.
In Memory: With deep sorrow we report the death of Mary Lilla Browne, 69, a member of the DC League's Southwest Unit, who died April 16 after a stroke.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and its law school, she had a career with a wide range of positions that included an' Army Department librarian in Germany and Korea. She retired in 1991 after about 15 years as a lawyer with the National Labor Relations Board. Ms. Browne, who lost her right leg to cancer in the early 1960's, was an advocate for the rights of the disabled. In addition to LWVDC, she was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and a regent of the D.C. Fort McHenry Chapter.
Accolades: Joan Corboy (Northeast Day Unit) was the recipient of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program's Citizen Activist Award for 1999. She was also a finalist for the same award given by the National Commission Against Drunk Driving. Joan's involvement with this issue began in 1981 when she co-chaired the Washington County (MD) League's study on drunk driving. In the past 5'/2 years she has hosted 135 Victim Impact Programs for D.C. drunk drivers and would welcome hearing from any League members who have been victims in alcohol-related crashes.
Clara Schiffer, LWV lifetime member, was feted at a luncheon July 9 at the George Washington University Club with over 60 friends, colleagues, and family in attendance. The luncheon was given in Clara's honor to celebrate and thank her for her endeavors and accomplishments in varied areas affecting women, including prison reform, health, and aging issues.
Past President (61-63) Joy Simonson was honored as one of National Treasures at a reception in April at the Sewell-Belmont House. She was presented a Medal of Honor from the Veteran Feminists of America for her work on women's rights during the 1960s & 70s.
In full regalia, including hats, bibs, signs and banner, Geri Albers, Susan Campagna, Ethel -Cooper, Fran Garro, Naomi Glass, Pat Hallman, Elinor Hart, Natalie Howard, Thea Johnson, Jean Jones, Sheila Keeny, Anna Marsh, Liz Martin, Chris Matthews, Carol Ragsdale, Susan Rao, Kathy Schmidt, Connie Tate, Gladys Weaver, Sheila Willet, Reggie Yancey and Barbara Yeomans attended the opening session of the LWVUS convention representing DCVote and LWVDC to call attention to and in support of Mayor Anthony Will Williams' welcoming speech.
Liz Martin conducted the workshop/caucus at the convention. Chris Matthews, Reggie Yancey, and Barbara Yeomans assisted with materials distribution and sign-ups. Over 40 delegates from outside DC attended.
Update on lawsuit: On June 23 a Jurisdictional Statement was filed with Supreme Court in the Alexander v. Daley lawsuit: it asked the court to hear the arguments pro and con for full voting rights for DC citizens. DC Vote and religious groups requested the Attorney General to support the jurisdictional statement but .not desist from arguing the con side. In August the Corporation Counsel and Covington & Burling will ask the Supreme Court to hear the appeal and the ABA and LWVUS will file amicus briefs.
Video Available: The video on DC Voting Rights is now available at www.speakout.com/coop/dcvote. Kathy Schmidt, 202-232-6460
VOTERS GUIDE: June 27h Special Election
In the first effort to test the efficacy of the Voters Guide, using the Watkins grant monies, we selected two neighboring precincts in Ward 4 which were similar in size and demographics and with similar turnouts in the 1996 election, 50.5%. We mailed voters guides to registered voters in precinct 54 using labels from the Board of Elections and Ethics.
The result appears to be a solid endorsement of the effectiveness of the Voters Guide. Precinct 54 had a turnout of 16.9% while Precinct 55, the comparable one to which no guides had been mailed, had a turnout of 10.9%. If one were inclined to further puff the Voters Guide, we could note that the overall turnout was 12.2%. There were mailings from other organizations and selection of precincts was not a sophisticated analysis. However, in the 1994 and 1998 elections, the same two precincts were within 1/6% of each other in turnout.
In the future, we hope to add both volume and sophistication to the exercise but it is comforting to have a favorable result the first time. Guy Coriden, Voters Service Co-chair.
SAVE THE DATE - AUGUST 26, 2000
CELEBRATE WOMEN'S EQUALITY DAY
BED & BREAKFAST A SUCCESS!!
Thanks to several very accommodating hostesses, we were able to host 12 guests during the LWVUS Convention this June, netting the DC League over $1000 (and the Falls Church League at least half that again). In addition, some guests needed rooms before and after convention, and our revenues and visibility have risen (bringing an addition $990 since April). We're getting requests through the summer now.
Appreciation goes to June Bashkin, Joan Corboy's daughter Eileen Corboy, Jean Fleming, Morella Hansen, Audrey Hatry, Sheila & Spurgeon Keeny, and Kathy and Al Schmidt. Some of these hostesses not only housed and fed the guests but also ferried them to and from metro and other destinations. Also, thanks to the Falls Church League and Marjorie Whitting for taking "our overflow"!
We're losing a few hostesses who are moving. If you're interested in making $20 per night for yourself (and the other $20 for the League) hosting Leaguers from around the country, please call Chris Matthews at 202-269-3890. Chris Matthews, B&B Chair.
MAY 22 BROWN BAG ON TRANSPORTATION -- RECORDED BY "WTOP"
A distinguished panel from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Offices within the Division of Transportation, D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW) addressed League members and guests. Those speaking included: Gladys W. Mack, Chair of the WMATA Board of Directors. Alex Eckmann, Office of Mass Transit: Responsible for D.C. activities supporting WMATA. Michelle L. Pourciau, Chief, Transportation and Public Space Policy Division.
Ms. Pourciau gave an overview of the first Strategic Transportation Plan for D.C., often referred to as the Vision Plan. It was first presented in 1997 and is now being updated. The Plan takes two views, one with a sixyear horizon and the other twenty years (updated every three years). As you may recall from the June issue of the D.C. Voter, we are in the process of a formal update cycle for the long-term plan, and all of this has to be coordinated through the Council of Governments (COG).
Plan focused on what transportation should be in the future for a world capital city...
The Plan comprises the first application of scenario planning to a U.S. urban transportation system. Instead of taking current conditions, which were bleak economically, the Plan focused on what transportation should be in the future for a world capital city, meeting needs of its citizens as well as tourists. This includes funding to sustain a world-class infrastructure; improving efficiency, safety and attractiveness of the existing system through improved maintenance, streetscape and signage; addressing internal circulation, including movement of commercial goods, providing excellent alternatives to driving, and developing non-traditional modes such as water-taxi and light rail in key corridors (e.g., down Georgia Avenue). Bear in mind, however, that funding is highly competitive and that approval of federal funding -- which supplies most of D.C.'s needs -- requires clearance through COG. Projects must have funding identified and they must take into account air quality requirements (the region is now in a state of "nonattainment"). A federal study of D.C. needs identified $15 billion over the next 25 years but funding prospects for only $11 billion.
Mr. Eckmann addressed the status of D.C.'s mass transit system. With the financial woes of the 1990's, service was cut 20% (35% for buses). Most of D.C. rider ship is on buses rather than rail, in contrast to that of commuters. Now programs have recovered and D.C. is No. 2 in the nation in mass transit (based on rider ship and size of the system), behind New York and closely followed by Chicago. The fare system has been drastically simplified; there is a single base regional fare, with no charge for bus-to-bus transfers and more liberal time between transfers. The extension of the Green Line has brought thousands of riders and without drop-off of bus rider ship.
The final section of the planned 103-mile rail system is to be completed next year, with extension of the Green line to Branch Avenue. Development of a new Red Line station in the general vicinity of New York and Florida Avenues looks promising. A region-wide bus study is to be undertaken, looking at neighborhood circulation, feeder routes to Metro bus and rail points and reverse commuting.
Mr. Eckmann . reviewed the elements of decisions relating to use of smaller buses on selected routes and plans for new service for the employee growth at the Navy Yard. Further, there will be a new, simpler type of school transit subsidy pass. As to the future, he indicated D.C.'s interest in engaging WMATA on selected light rail corridors.
Annual D.C. appropriation . . . about $128 million...
Mrs. Mack gave us perspective on the region and WMATA. The annual D.C. appropriation for Metro is now about $128 million, most of which goes to subsidize mass transit (50 cents for every $1.00). D.C.'s share is dictated by a long-standing formula. There have been challenges, such as problems with relays requiring manual control of trains and the recent fire, which revealed the problems of incompatible communication systems above and below ground, now in the process of being rectified.
But there are successes. Through the web site (www.wmata.com) a rider can construct a ride guide. The Metrorail spring rider ship hit a new record- over 600,000 passenger trips per day. Mrs. Mack noted that there had to be sustained efforts on the WMATA Board to get the intended system built out and hold off expansion fever. Now under discussion for the future are possible extensions of the Orange Line to Tyson's Corner and on to Dulles. The Blue line might be extended to Largo. The system could be doubled in the next 25 years. Metrorail SmartCard has been in operation for one year and is very successful, with 75,000 customers. Over 90,000 are participating in MetroCheck whereby employers provide transit subsidies up to $65 per month. All federal agencies in the region now offer this program.
Metro will be 25 years old later this year...
Metro will be 25 years old later this year; its 1960 legislation had a sound statement of needs and goals which remain valid. [Editor's note: LWVDC was instrumental in the passage of this legislation and attended the signing by President Johnson. The signing pen is mounted and hangs in the League office.]
In the Q&A session, concern was expressed about how Metro will manage to expand. Competition for funds is fierce. One rail car costs $1.5 million. There was extensive discussion of making the bus system more comprehensible, including better and more maps. Mrs. Mack said information boxes for all bus stops have been ordered (some are in place). Other concerns were the size of trucks on D.C. streets and bad truck drivers who, for example, run over curbs; inadequate loading and unloading sites; problems with the small buses; tour bus parking; downtown bus circulation; poor quality of PA announcements on Metrorail (equipment problems and enunciation); and ... the perennial pot holes. Barbara Yeomans, 3rd Vice President; Pat Hallman, Brown Bag Seminar Chair.
It's been a busy time for the National Capital Area -- punctuated by our Annual Meeting, the LWVUS Convention, and NCA's organization board meeting, with new and old board members.
NCA Annual Meeting.
Since I am writing this on July 4, it's fitting that Ben Franklin's words come to mind: "we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." The message from our speaker Bruce Katz, Director of the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, which generated a report titled "A Region Divided, the State of Growth in Greater Washington," was a variation on Franklin's message; just substitute "plan" for "hang." We were reminded why NCA exists, and the message reinforces our resolve to study and act on issues that cross jurisdictional lines. Copies of the worthwhile Brookings report are available from the Institution. Annual Meeting business included the passage of several bylaw amendments, the election of new board members, and the approval of a budget ($4,175). We elected Pat Sullivan (Alexandria) as V.P.; Linda Dwyer (Alexandria) as Treasurer; Ethel Cooper (D.C.) and Elinor Hart (D.C.) as Directors; Natalie Testa (Montgomery) as Nominating Committee chair; and Molly O'Brien (Fairfax) and Leona Rumsey (D.C.) as Nominating Committee members. The newly elected board members will join me and the other continuing board members: Secretary Shirley Olsen (Fairfax), Forest Williams (Prince George's) and Ann Ross (Arlington). In addition, Arline Calaby (Howard) and Elissa Kramer (Montgomery) have been appointed as Directors. Local League liaisons will be selected by their respective Leagues and, according to a newly approved bylaw amendment, will serve as full-fledged NCA Board members.
Less than a week later, we found ourselves completely absorbed with LWVUS extraordinary Convention 2000. There was heartening, near-unanimous concurrence with NCA's position supporting "restoration of an annual, predictable federal payment to the District to compensate for revenue denied and expenses incurred because of the federal presence." The success of the concurrence campaign was testimony to the energetic support of localLeague delegates and the numerous volunteers from the NCA area. But it would not have happened without the inspiring leadership and hard work of NCA Board Director Elinor Hart. Elinor is now enthusiastically planning Action.
The program-hungry Convention approved three additional items. [Editors Note: See separate article, Dynamics in D.C.]
Program decisions were made against a busy background of a half-dozen interesting outside speakers and an unusual floor action to elect the LWVUS Board. President Carolyn JeffersonJenkins was reelected and our own Joan Paik (Howard County), past-president of LWVMD, was elected to her first term. See the next issue of the National Voter for complete results.
LWVNCA 2000-2001. The Board's organization meeting took place a couple of days after the LWVUS Convention.
Breaking tradition, the Board will now meet on the third Friday of each month instead of the first. We will still meet at LWVUS headquarters, barring unusual circumstances, and we welcome all Leaguers who would like to attend.
We have created a new Board portfolio: LWVUS Coordinator. Elissa Kramer, long active on Montgomery County's International Relations Committee, has agreed to fill the post. A major goal will be to develop and publicize opportunities within the NCA area for the exchange of information and discussion of issues related to LWVUS program. The update on Trade and the UN will, no doubt, receive immediate attention. Watch for details. Naomi Glass, President
LWVDC League Members Lobby for the VOTE at CONVENTION 2000: Photos provided by Christine Matthews
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