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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 78, No. 1, January 2002

Making Our Voices Heard — Making Our Votes Count

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

President’s Corner
Opportunity Knocks
News from the Units
Unit Members Toured Columbia Heights-Shaw Neighborhoods
Units to Plan 2002-2004 National Program
Education Committee
Congressional Representation
International Relations Committee
Affordable Housing Committee
Brown Bag Dialogue Series
Voter Services: DCPS Youth Service Learning Project
Election Reform
Health Care Committee Report
Highlights of Dec. 5 Board Meeting
Member News
Thanks to Our Members: Fundraising Report
Report of Dec. 2 General Mtg. on Regional Transportation
UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons
Report on November 19, 2001, Brown Bag Dialogue on Regional Transportation Issues
Public Policy Positions: League of Women Voters of the United States
Great Decisions Discussion Series



As we reflect on what we plan to do this year and the. impact of 2001 on our lives, let us review our LWV involvement.

Are you taking the LWV for granted? Would you promise to become involved by attending a meeting? Please reflect and ask how to become involved, get off the sidelines, and take time from your busy schedule to help us.

This month the Units will focus on Program Planning to select one National position for review and update three issues. Please plan to attend a Unit for this important meeting. Your input is needed.

As we rnove into 2002, issues related to ELECTION administration reform will be in the forefront and hold our attention We testified before the D.C. City Council on December 17th, 2001 on the Voter Information and Education Act of 2001, requiring the Board of Elections and Ethics to provide each registered voter a voters guide or pamphlet prior to election; the Early Voting Amendment Act of 2001, which would allow registered voters to apply for permanent absentee voter's status relating to absentee ballots; and the Election Recount and Judicial Review Act of 2001 to require a recount when the margin of victory is less than one percent of the total votes cast.

In a recent hearing in Congress on the Ney-Hoyer Election bill (HR3295), a communication on a local league's letterhead expressing an opposing viewpoint to that of LWVUS was cited during a floor debate on the bill. LWVUS President Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, in a letter to State and Local League Presidents, stated emphatically the "importance of speaking with one voice," and the importance of our most basic action policies and procedures, as stated in our By-Laws: "Leagues may act on national program only in conformity with positions taken by LWVUS." For an update on national Election Reform legislation, see article below

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11:30 a.m. Monday, January 28, 2002
1730 M STREET, NW SUITE 1000

TOPIC: "Council for Court Excellence"
Peter Willner, Executive Director

(See below for more information)

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Here's my letter to Santa: "Dear Santa, Please send a Leaguer to help in the League Office; or, if you can't find any Leaguers with free time, please send us a new bus (we could use more than one, but we understand they are expensive) to help move us around the region; but if that's asking too much, could you spare a few stars for our hardworking Leaguers who are making a difference around our city. Sincerely yours," E. Patricia Hallman, President

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December Unit Meetings - Many Choices: Reports from the Units about their December meetings tell of socializing, plus a variety of other activities.

  • Southwest -- an animated discussion of Southwest development plans, led by Margaret Feldman.

  • Northwest Day, Northwest Evening, Upper 16th - watching a video featuring UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, with Walter Cronkite, Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, and others across the nation.

  • Chevy Chase/Ingleside -- took a busload of members and friends on a housing tour of Columbia Heights/Shaw Neighborhood.

The next meeting of the Unit Council will be Monday, January 14, from noon - 1:30 p.m. at the LWVDC office. — Sheila Keeny (966-1692), Unit Director 

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Unit Meeting Schedule - January 2002

Topic: 2002-2004 National Program
(See pg. 3 article and Public Policy Positions Insert

Tuesday, January 22

9:45 a.m. Southwest Unit, Hostess: Audrey Hatry (554-4450), 530 N St., SW #S605
12:45 p.m. Northwest Day Unit, Iona House, 4129 Albemarle St., NW, (Metro: Tenleytown), Hostess: June Bashkin (337-0949)

Wednesday, January 23

9:45 a.m. Upper Sixteenth Street Unit, Hostess: Sheila Willet (588-1734), 2034 17th St., NW, Basement (Street parking is difficult to find; 1 block from various bus routes. Call Sheila for bus directions.)

Thursday, January 24

9:45 a.m. Chevy Chase/Ingleside, The Lounge, Ingleside Community, 3050 Military Road, NW, Hostess: Joan Wilson (237-6264)
7:30 p.m. The Evening Unit, Hostess: Naomi Glass (686-0124), 5533 33rd St., NW

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..a "Go-see" tour of affordable housing

With a strong interest in affordable housing aroused by the October LWVDC Housing Committee presentation, the Chevy Chase-Ingleside Unit opted to take a bus tour of the Columbia Heights-Shaw neighborhoods as their December agenda. Around 25 League members and friends participated.

A young and very knowledgeable community organizer from the Manna Shaw Development Group, David Heyman, led the tour. In the brief space of two hours, he illustrated housing problems and solutions in his work area by identifying specific examples of transitory housing sponsored by church groups. He pointed out sections of row houses that sold for little a few years ago, but now bring hundreds of thousands of dollars when renovated.

To dramatize the threat of gentrification to low income families, he pointed out the potential rippling effect of the new Convention Center that abuts several buildings serving low income tenants on sites which will become prime targets for hotel development by the time the Center opens in 2003.

He cited the need for new and middle-to-high income residents to broaden the tax base for the city, while at the same time assuring an adequate supply of low-income housing. Because safe, affordable rental housing is the major crisis today in Washington's real estate market, producing the crunching disorders of homelessness and double up or tripled up families, there is a manifest need for government action. Mr. Heyman lamented the
absence of any comprehensive planning to manage both these needs in some sort of balanced endeavor.

Mr. Heyman urged all to respond to the action alerts of the LWVDC Housing Committee, because the D.C. Council is scheduled to vote on significant legislation on January 8, 2002. — Joan Wilson, Chair, Chevy Chase-Ingleside Unit

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Time: 6-8 P.M. Cost: $12 per person. Place: 4000 Massachusetts Ave., NW, # 1510
RSVP: Geri Albers 202-362-2605
Bring friends and family to taste various wines and cheeses and make money for the League!
Fundraiser sponsored by NW Evening Unit

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We enter a brand new year to begin preparation of the next biennial program cycle of LWVUS. Brainstorming is the first stage, which we commence at the Unit meetings in January.

In the past two cycles, LWVDC has had very concrete agendas of its own, namely getting the issue of full voting representation in Congress as a formal part of Making Democracy Work and then pushing for updating two positions (trade and the UN). In contrast, at this stage no burning issues of interest to D.C. Leaguers have been brought to the attention of the LWVDC Board of Directors. Our unit meetings will focus on the LWVUS request that we choose one National position for review and update as well as select three issues that our League sees as issues of community concern at the state and local level. The issues themselves could be state and local as well as national issues. Start thinking now about what commands your interest. For example, do you think our position on the Electoral College should be revisited? The future of National Program depends on you.

LWVUS positions fall into the major categories of Representative Government, International Relations, Natural Resources. and Social Policy. The details are published in "Impact on Issues 2000-2002, A Guide To Public Policy Positions." The Office has a reference copy, as do LWVDC Board Members. The document also is available on the LWVUS website at Barbara Yeomans, (363-8940), 3rd VP (National Program)

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We attended the D.C. Voice meeting held on Dec. 6 at the Whitelaw Hotel that was convened with the goal of organizing community groups to work for change in education. A discussion of the State of Pennsylvania's influence on the public schools revealed a wide range of spending per pupil: approximately $3000 in Philadelphia compared to $12,000 per pupil in a nearby suburban public school. Questions for further study include the access of school buildings for the physically impaired, the role of mainstreaming for special education students, transportation and other provisions for homeless children. The next Education Committee meeting is Wed. Jan. 16 at the LWVDC Office. — Constance Tate (882-0387) & Gladys Weaver (554-3055), Co-chairs

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DC Vote and its Executive Director Amy Slemmer were joined at the first annual CHAMPION OF DEMOCRACY fundraiser on Dec. 12 by Senator Mary Landrieu (LA), Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Councilmember Adrian Fenty, E. Patricia Hallman, President of LWVDC and several other LWV Board members who have been working for full voting rights for some decades. Senator Landrieu current Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the District of Columbia, spoke of her appreciation for the opportunity to work for the District of Columbia. She comes to us with a strong interest and background in large cities, many of which share some, but not all of the problems we have here in D.C.

The ceremony honored Major-General Warren Freeman of the District of Columbia National Guard, along with several members of his staff; Clifford Alexander, Jr., Roger Wilkins and posthumously Art Schultz, III for their commitment to gain full voting representation in Congress for District citizens. This was the first Champion of Democracy Award reception. DC Vote plans to hold a similar ceremony each year. — Kathy Schmidt, DC VOTE Liaison (237-5550)

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Great Decisions Discussions Series begins. The IR Committee invites League members and their friends to discuss world issues by joining our Great Decisions group, a program begun by the Foreign Policy Association in 1954. A flyer describing the program and how to participate is enclosed. The first meeting is Friday, Jan 25.

UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons: Also enclosed in this month's DC VOTER is a paper by Lora Lumpe, Senior Associate at the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, based on her presentation before the IR Committee this past September. It may give you some ideas that you may wish to bring up at our Unit Meetings on National Program Planning to be held this month. — Sheila Keeny (966-1692) Co-Chair

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We think it is fair to say that the D.C. League has gotten the attention of Council members and has affected the "Omnibus" Housing Bill, making it more responsive to low-income District residents. 

December was a busy month for the committee. By the time you get the VOTER we will have testified at two hearings (confirmation of Stanley Jackson, Director, Department of Housing and Community Development, and hearing of the Economic Development Committee, Chair, Councilmember Harold Brazil, on Bill 14-263, Creating Affordable & Diverse Housing, known as the Inclusionary Housing Bill.) See testimony below. We also participated in a press conference and listened to the Council debate the "Omnibus" Housing Bill and consider amendments. And, of course, we continue to visit Council members. On December 21, committee members and representatives of other community groups met with the Washington Post editorial reporters Claudia Townsend and Colbert King. We are hoping for an editorial to appear in the near future before the council's final vote on the housing bill. The final vote on the bill is now scheduled for Tuesday, January 8. We hope as many Leaguers as possible will be at the Council chambers during that session, which starts at 10:00. Call the Secretary of the Council at 724-8080 to be sure the agenda has not changed, and to check the meeting place. — Elizabeth Martin (537-3043) & Julia Cuniberti (387-0122), Co-chairs


(Presented at a Public Hearing Before The Committee on Economic Development, Harold Brazil, Chairperson, On December 12, 2001, Agenda Item: "Creating Affordable and Diverse Housing," Bill 14-263.) The full text of the testimony and attachments are available in the DC League office.

"Good morning Councilmember Brazil and members of the Economic Development Committee. My name is Elinor Hart. I am presenting testimony on behalf of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia.

We know the District urgently needs ways to pay for affordable housing with private dollars. We expect that because of D.C.'s limited capacity to raise revenue, our need is probably greater than any other jurisdiction in the country. We want to commend both the Mayor and Councilmember Graham for proposing that the city use the concept of inclusionary development to create affordable housing with private 

funds. However we feel that neither of their proposals applies this very valuable concept as effectively as it needs to be applied.

Our testimony will include a brief discussion of the four criteria we think are essential to an effective inclusionary development policy and an assessment of how both approaches measure up to those criteria. The League wants an inclusionary development policy that produces the maximum number of affordable units possible each year. We feel that the approaches proposed by both the Mayor and Councilmember Graham would produce too few units. We think the impact would be similar to that of San Francisco's current inclusionary development policy which requires that 10% of the units in housing projects that seek Planning Commission approval as conditional uses or planned unit developments be affordable. . . . We are submitting with our testimony a review of the city's inclusionary affordable housing policy prepared by the San Francisco Planning Department.

The League wants an inclusionary development policy that fosters economic and cultural diversity throughout the city. Councilmember Graham's legislation permits a developer to build affordable housing at another city location or to make a contribution to the Housing Production Trust Fund. The League is concerned that these options will the meeting place. significantly reduce the economic integration that results from inclusionary development.

The League wants an inclusionary development policy that is an integral part of the city's comprehensive affordable housing strategy. Inclusionary development, the Trust Fund, the Homestead Program, and HPAP as well as the other housing programs DHCD administers will all have greater and easier to measure impact if they are closely tied to goals of numbers of units per year and defined income levels.

. . . The League recognizes that an effective inclusionary development policy will put reasonable pressures on the profitability of private development. The goal of the policy must be to capture a portion of but not eliminate the profits of private developers.

Because of the importance of finding private dollars to fund affordable housing, the League urges the Committee to carefully consider the concept of linkage — a mechanism that requires commercial developers to either pay a per square foot fee to a housing fund or build a number of affordable units determined by a formula based on the square footage of the commercial development.

The League appreciates this and the other opportunities we have had to testify on the critical issues of housing. In conclusion, we want to recognize the daunting challenges facing the Committee. They include pressing DHCD and the Office of Planning to come up with a draft comprehensive affordable housing strategy for the city, legislation that will make it possible to capture private dollars for housing, and making sure DHCD has the capacity to manage the housing programs enacted into law. We wish you the very best and look forward to working with you on meeting these challenges."

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On Monday, January 28, 2002 at 11:30 am in the LWVUS Board Room, 1730 M Street_ NW Suite 1000, the 2002 Series will begin with the topic: "Council for Court Excellence." The speaker is Peter Willner, Executive Director. The Council for Court Excellence is a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic organization that has been working since 1982 to improve the administration of Justice in the courts and related agencies in the Washington metropolitan area, and to increase public understanding of our justice system. Among its other achievements, the Council was the moving force behind adoption of the one-day/one-trial jury service.

Several D.C. Leaguers participated in a Court Community Observers Project last fall and winter, as reported by Nathalie Black in the September issue of the DC VOTER. Come to this dialogue and learn more about how our courts work. — Anna Marsh (554-7719), Brown Bag Dialogue Coordinator

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VOTER SERVICES: DCPS Youth Service Learning Project

Turnout in DC's 2002 election is expected to be low. If what has happened in previous elections is repeated next fall, less than 40% of DC citizens registered to vote will go to the polls, and the participation of voters under the age of 25 will be even more disappointing. One reason so few people under 25 vote is that less than 40% are even registered.

The Voter Services Committee has developed the following project to utilize the 2002 elections that offer high school students the opportunity to help improve voter participation in the city in several ways. One way is to register their fellow students who become eighteen by November 5 to vote. Another is to help the city's Board of Elections connect school parents to the upcoming elections by teaching them about the new voting machines. The project tentative timeline is:

January 25
  • Voter Registration & voting machine workshop for high school service learning volunteers. These students will demonstrate the voting machines and register voters on the subsequent dates listed.
February 1-12
  • Voter registration for graduating seniors February 13

February 13

  • Voting machine education for parents involved in teacher conferences at high school, junior. high school, and middle schools

April 24

  • Voting machine education for parents involved in teachers conferences at elementary schools

Leaguers interested are encouraged to contact Elinor Hart to help with this project. — Elinor Hart (387-2966), Co-chair.

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LWVUS has been working diligently with members of the civil rights, disability and civic organization communities to bring the best election reform legislation possible to the floor of the House of Representatives. H.R. 3295 (Ney-Hoyer bill) was passed by the House. Having expressed disappointment that the Ney-Hoyer bill passed without amendment of some major flaws, the LWVUS on Dec. 13 praised the bill outlined by Sens. Dodd (D CT) and McDonnell (R KY). "The Dodd-McConnell bill gives more protection to voters in two vital and significant ways ...First, it has minimum federal standards for voting machines and their associated systems ...Second, it ensures that voters who need them will receive provisional ballots. This means that if a voter's name is not found on the registration list in the polls, that voter can still cast a provisional ballot." ..."The League urges the Senate to take up this bill quickly and pass it so that election administrators can get to work improving our elections system ...."

Mr. Philip Zelikow of the National Commission on Federal Election Reform wrote to LWVUS and questioned some of the League's positions. A letter replying to Mr. Zelikow's critique of LWVUS stance can be found along with other Election Reform materials on the League website at: We encourage all League members to access the web site to become more familiar with Federal Election Reform.

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The Healthcare Committee met November 27 in the DC League Office with five members present The main topic of discussion was Nursing Education and Practices, with a briefing presented by Karen V. Scipio-Skinner, MSN, RNC from the D.C. Nurses Association (DCNA). Ms. Skinner reviewed the many different levels of education that may now be reflected by the term "RN", from practitioners, midwives, anesthetists, and psychiatric nurses to Advanced Practice nurses. The DCNA is pleased that the District of Columbia produced legislation in 1994 providing that advanced practice nurses can write prescriptions and practice independently. We need more options for care.

Ms. Skinner noted that the District's reimbursement rate for Medicaid is one of the lowest in the nation; some physicians won't accept Medicaid. The large amount of complicated paperwork required by the District for Medicaid patients is a real burden for providers.

Many career options are open to accredited nurses. Some of the options are: home health nursing, pharmaceutical companies, consultant to law firms, and nursing agencies. All of these options have drawn nurses away from hospitals, where shortages make the work even harder. More patients are really sick; patients who used to be in intensive care are now added to the responsibilities of a regular floor nurse. Today's nurses won't put up with double shifts or mandatory overtime. There are many management problems.

The next Healthcare meeting will be on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2002 at 10:30 am., in the D.C. League Office, 733 15th St. NW, Suite 432. Evening meetings have not been productive, so we will try late morning, 10:30 to 12:30. We will hear the latest on the Greater Southeast Health Alliance and the proposed CareFirst Blue Cross/Blue Shield conversion. — Natalie Howard (882-8762), Chair

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International Relations / UN: The LWVUS United Nations Task Force foresees a short. compressed study; some of the lead issues: peacekeeping, globalization, and humanitarian concerns.

Transportation Study: The committee is identifying state and local authorities in MD. VA art DC At its December meeting the committee will go over all local Leagues' reports and discuss what direction to take. A Transportation General Meeting will meet Saturday, March 2"d at COG Headquarters. The guest speaker will be John Mason, Mayor of Fairfax City, President of COG's Transportation Planning Board, and delegate to the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

DC Finances: Elinor Hart reported that the two main finance issues facing D C are bucket autonomy arid revenue. On November 15 the House D.C. Subcommittee, under its chair Rep. Connie Morella, marked up HR 2995, the Fiscal Integrity Act of 2001, giving D.C. control over locally raised revenue.

Future Meetings: Beginning in January, the NCA Board will meet on first Fridays at 10 a.m., at LWVUS headquarters. Any League member may attend. The initial meeting of a new Voters Service Roundtable was set for Friday, January 18, also 10 a.m. at LWVUS office.

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The Board devoted significant attention to several items that are covered elsewhere in this Voter, including action on housing legislation and voter education bills; regional transportation studies, and other activities. These Highlights cover only items that are NOT reported elsewhere in this VOTER. Mailing options for VOTER: Following widespread delays in delivery of our December Voter, which was mailed the day after Thanksgiving and as of December 5 had not been received by many members, Barbara Luchs met with Mr. Pressley of Friendship Post Office (our contact for mailing the Voter) to explore our mailing options. We could send up to an ounce First Class for around $170 (most of our Voters weigh more than an ounce). The cost of the bulk mail we use each month is normally around $61, to mail to approximately 400 members plus a hundred other contacts (State and Regional Leagues, the D.C. Council). For earlier delivery, Mr. Pressley suggested earlier mailing, and he said mail is always slow the day before or after a holiday. After discussion, the Board agreed that we should continue the system we now have rather than changing it, and the January Voter will be mailed on December 28. Opportunity for less expensive access to Internet and e-mail: Sheila Willet reported that LWVUS has given the OK for LWVDC to go ahead on a project offering our members an opportunity to purchase an Internet receiver which is less expensive and less complex than a personal computer. AOL will give our members a special price for the device. At present, some 130 of our 403 members are online, and the Board would like to encourage more members to use e-mail. The Board approved the proposal. See your February Voter for more information. — Frances Gemmill

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New Members: Jennifer Cihon, Patricia Kinch and Annie Long.

Contributions: We gratefully thank the following members for additional contributions received to sustain the DC League's programs: Geraldine Albers, Anne Anderson, Dorothy P. Armstrong, Suzanne Campagna, Susan A. Carpenter, Guy E. Coriden, Marian S. Cowan, Julia Cuniberti, Ruth P. Dixon, Joan R. Domike, Betty Good Edelson, Jean E. Fleming, Robert M. Forcey, Charlotte Frank, Alice E. Fusillo, Frances Gemmill, Naomi Glass, Ginni Gorman, Dr. Susannah Gourevitch, Cecilie K. Jones, Sheila S. Keeny, Barbara H. Kemp, Lois I. Laster, Anna B.J. Marsh, Elaine Melmed, Jeanette S. Miller, Ruth W. Miller, Hilda J. Mintzes, Betty W. Nyangoni, Ellen S. Overton, Iola Pigott, Anne Porowski, Mary L.B. Rankin, Doris Rich, Leona J. Rumsey, Grace Savage, Elaine D. Simons, Stanley Sloss, Lillian and Ralph Smuckler, Carol Stocking, Gilda E. Varrati, Mary Weiler, Patricia A. Wheeler, Geraldine J. Whitley.

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Our members, as usual, have been very generous as our fund raising drive attests. The Board joins me in thanking you. We are just a few hundred dollars short of our goal of $2,500 for the General Fund--an especially generous outpouring since these monies are not tax-deductible. We have collected a little more than half of our goal of $4,000 for the Education Fund. In the past several years, we have been doing a better job in our fund raising efforts and, therefore, raised our goal. We are also anticipating a rise in new members as we set the budget. For those members who have yet to make a contribution, please pull out your checkbook. Dues only cover about one-third of the League's expenses.

Non-member contributions are coming in slowly this year; however, it is too early to tell if we have lost our base due to September 11th. We have a small long-time core of contributors, and we should know in a few weeks if our League is following a national trend. — Liz Martin (537-3043), Direct Mail Fund Raising Coordinator

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Arlington Leaguer Beth Cogswell, Co-chair of the National Capital Area (NCA) Transportation Committee, led a lively general meeting for DC Leaguers on December 2. The meeting was based on material developed by the Committee. Similar meetings have been held in the other NCA local leagues.

Responding to the question of how transportation decisions should be made, DC Leaguers felt that there must be input from Congress and federal agencies, but that more and better effort to involve the District, as a whole, as well as directly impacted individual neighborhoods should be made. Leaguers also recommended that the Committee look at entities like the New York Port Authority to see how they balance the concerns of separate states. They also felt that COG needs more authority.

When considering who understands best and is best equipped to decide the local impact of decisions, Leaguers believed the neighborhoods, experts, the mayor, and the city council must all be involved for a balanced decision. There was a strong concern that the interests of neighborhoods were not being heard sufficiently. In fact, the need to develop more and better communication channels with the public was stressed; mechanisms mentioned to accomplish this included greater use of ANCs and other community groups, improved advertisements on busses, and broader coverage by cablevision.

How do we accomplish regional decision-making? Regional authority with taxing power was recommended as a topic for future investigation. Consideration of how NCA positions might be improved led Leaguers to suggest coverage of the following issues: providing guidance to enhance use of public transportation such as maps, schedules, route and transfer information at bus and metro stops; incentives to encourage public participation in community meetings and on citizen commissions; and public transportation for elderly/senior citizens.

Although local League meetings like this one are clearly useful and yield interesting insights and comments, the Committee feels that a crucial element missing is citizens from different jurisdictions speaking with and learning from each other; and the NCA League is uniquely qualified to provide such an opportunity. Consequently, an NCA meeting is scheduled for Saturday morning, March 2, 2002. The keynote speaker will be Fairfax City Mayor John Mason. For part of that program, members of different Leagues will form small groups to discuss the issues among themselves. See February 2002 DC Voter for more information.

We want to thank Beth for her generosity in sharing her deep knowledge in this area and providing us with an enlightening presentation. — Naomi Glass (686-0124), 2nd VP (Local Programs)

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    1 2 3 4 10am, NCA Board Mtg. 5
6 7 8 10 am, DC Council Mtg. Final Vote on Housing Legislation 9 10 am, LWVDC Board MTG. 10 11 12
13 14 12 noon, Unit Council Mtg. 15 Deadline for Feb. DC Voter 16 10 am, Education Committee Mtg. 17  18 10 am, Voter Services NCA Roundtable 19
20 21 22 9:45 am, Southwest Unit:
10:30 am, HealthCare Committee Mtg.
12:45 pm, Northwest Day Unit
23 9:45 am, Upper Sixteenth Street Unit 24 9:45 am, Chevy Chase/Ingleside
7:30 pm, The Evening Unit
25 10 am, Great Decisions Discussion #1
Feb. Voter mailed
27 28 11:30 am, Brown Bag Dialogue          

For location of activities listed, see articles above or call 202-347-3020. 

PLAN AHEAD-SAVE THESE DATES: Fri. Feb 8 Wine & Cheese Party; Tue. Feb 12 Gen. Mtg. on Trade (The Upper 1C Unit will prepare Brown Bag Lunches for $5 each as a fund raising activity to support LWVDC. See Feb. Voter for details or call 347-3020 to order.); Fri. Feb 8 & 22 Great Decision Discussions #2 Sat. Mar 2 NCA Gen. Mtg. Regional Transportation Study: Thu. Mar 14 Gen. Mtg. on United Nations; Thu. Apr 25 Annual Dinner Mtg. 

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UN Conference on The Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons

by Lora Lumpe
Senior Associate, International Peace Research Institute, Oslo
based on her remarks before the
LWVDC International Relations Committee, September 14, 2001

The United Nations held its first-ever global conference on gun violence and the gun traffic that sustains this violence during 9-20 July in New York. Formally known as the "UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects," this meeting concerned the spread and misuse of hand-held weapons like grenades, pistols, shoulder launched anti-aircraft missiles and automatic rifles that fire hundreds of rounds in a burst.

Where did this conference come from? Prior to about 1995, these low-tech arms were not considered a national security or humanitarian issue worthy of much international attention. In his speech before the UN General Assembly that year, however, President Clinton raised the illicit traffic in guns, emphasizing the ease with which drug traffickers., criminals and terrorists can get such weapons. And earlier that same year, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali raised the need for "microdisarmament" - or small arms control - due to the threat these weapons posed to people around the world and to UN peacekeepers.

The ending of the Cold War had resulted in a glut of guns. Many militaries - in the East and West downsized, leading to massive surpluses of small arms. The US gave away several hundred thousand grenade launchers and assault weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition to countries around the world, subject only to conditions that normally obtain for US weapon sales or gifts under the US Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. Others did the same. At the same time, in the former Soviet republics and in some East European states, export control systems broke down and arsenals were looted and sold on the black market.

In addition, conflicts that had been contained somewhat by the East-West conflict blew wide open and new forces and conflicts emerged, resulting in unimaginable humanitarian catastrophes. Almost all of these new wars are fought out with low-tech weapons.

Although no one knows with certainty, it is estimated that on average a half million people around the world have died from guns annually in recent years. Of these, about 300,000 are in conflict or "postconflict" situations, and the other 200,000 are in places like America or Brazil where the gun death rates of 30,00045,000 per year approximate war levels.

By way of comparison, the global landmines epidemic is estimated to kill or maim 27,000 people a year. The successful anti-landmines campaign had emboldened several government's and many affected groups in civil society around the world to think that something could be done about the much larger small arms problem.

Exactly what could be done has never been clear. Unlike landmines, this broader category of weapons is not susceptible to a ban or a one-size-fits-all policy fix of any type. In fact, beyond a new and still quite weak agreement that a focus on this category of weapons was merited, the world's states had not agreed upon the purpose of the UN conference. The words "in all its aspects" were added to title of the summit to cover up a fundamental disagreement about the scope and purpose of the meeting. Was it to focus on narrowly defined illegal arms transfers, or was it going to note that the legal trade in guns and grenades is inextricably linked to the illegal trade? This is so because most of the weapons that end up in illegal circulation were originally produced and exported legally (i.e., with state authorization). Different governments had different interests and interpretations of the phrase "in all its aspects."

For most civil society groups - humanitarian, human rights, women's organizations, development groups, etc. - who have been campaigning to get this issue on the international agenda, the goal was to raise the costs of gun running. Put another way, campaigners wanted states to agree to make it more difficult for people (whether private actors or states) to put guns in the hands of murderers and abusers. It had become clear by March, however, following a series of preparatory conferences, that no binding treaty was possible. States simply did not have the will for such far-reaching measures. Instead, the July Conference aimed to develop consensus around a politically binding Program of Action - a political document outlining national, regional and international measures that might curb the illicit trade. Unlike a treaty, each state would be free to implement the Program of Action as it deemed appropriate.

Was the Conference a failure or a success? If your main way of judging is by the piece of paper that came out - the Program of Action - then one might view the conference as a rather dismal failure. The document was negotiated by people who came to the issue with a background in nuclear disarmament rather than humanitarian issues. As a result, the Program of Action is steeped in national security and sovereignty doctrine, rather than imbued with any sense of humanitarian urgency. The preamble to the document basically says "stay out of our business; we have a right to defend ourselves and to get guns to do so." There is little reference to the impact of these weapons on people or to the obligation of states to protect people in times of war. There is no sense of urgency or of willingness to hold the parties responsible or to take strong measures to curb the half million annual preventable deaths from guns. There is no reference in the Program to any kind of binding measures, to human rights, or to the connection between the legal arms trade and the illegal trafficking in arms.

The good news is that there will be a review conference in five years to assess implementation. What is to be implemented is an obvious question. However, if viewed as an educational and mobilizing opportunity - a link in a chain that is just building - then the outcome of the conference does not look quite so gloomy. Particularly helpful in this regard, paradoxically, was the strident negative position of the United States at this conference. On the opening day of this two-week summit, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton forthrightly laid down the US position. Since the document was being negotiated under rules of consensus, any one state could block action. Bolton made clear that the document could in no way refer to the need for domestic gun control (despite our domestic gun control laws); it could not refer to the need to limit the transfer of weapons to any non-state actors (insurgents or guerrillas) in other states, nor could it contain any legally binding measures. Media around the world reported on America's obstructionist positions, which were considered far out of the mainstream by the media, but which really masked widespread unwillingness on the part of many states to move aggressively to contain or control gun transfers. As a result, small arms control has now been added to the list of international issues where the US is seen as unilateralist, and this outcome creates a sort of multiplier effect - serving to raise the issue of small arms control over and over again; and in the process helping mainstream the idea.

Where do we go from here? Campaigners need to develop one or two specific priorities for policy action that would have the greatest impact on curbing the availability of weapons being used to kill civilians around the world. This campaign could be a focus on a particular weapon (e.g., assault rifles) or it could be a call for export moratoria to conflict zones or any number of other priorities. The trick is to find the aspect of this issue that captures the imagination of people and powerful NGOs around the world, who then might persuade progressive governments to step outside the consensus-based UN process to lead and see who will follow - as was the case with Canada and the landmines ban.

Q & A Background Note: Military trade has not been considered commercial trade since Works War 1. The main law at work is the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, which places all issues of weapons export under the executive branch of the national government. A "brokering law" was added to the basic law in 1996, in recognition of the need to control the activities of private individuals. As a result, the U.S. has the world's most progressive law on controlling brokering activities, although implementation is still not adequate.

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The Council of Governments {COG), and the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) of COG's Transportation Planning Board (TPB) joined LWVDC in hosting this meeting. Speakers were D.C. Council member Phil Mendelsohn, who is TPB vice-chair, as web as CAC representatives Bob Chase, Chair, from Montgomery County; Lee Schoenecker, D.C.; and Karen Jo Pope-Onwukwe, Prince Georges County. We thank John Swanson for his invaluable assistance in organizing the meeting. Nearly thirty attended, including LWV/NCA President Bra Sherrill, and several members of the COG/TPB staff. On display during the discussions were-several-showing Metro routes and bus routes throughout the region.

The authority for public involvement in transportation planning arises from federal highway legislation. The CAC considers problems and technical issues that the TPB must address, but neither the CAC nor the TPB commits funds for projects. Those decisions are made at the state level, and the political dynamics vary. D.C. is a state for this purpose, and the political process is relatively straightforward. We are totally urban; there is no Mayor/Council split such as occurs along inner and outer suburb; and Congress does not usually become involved, notwithstanding its oversight capabilities. The COG constituency from Virginia faces significant problems. Richmond had retained funding decisions, so that Northern Virginia jurisdictions must seek approvals down-state and in competition with the rest of the state. Maryland jurisdictions have more autonomy, but still some tensions with Annapolis.

Regional transportation problems have reached crisis proportions because of funding constraints. At the same time, federally mandated air quality requirements are tightening, and the area is trying to get in compliance with requirements relating to ozone emissions. D.C. Metro ranks second in the nation in moving people through mass transit (New York City is first).

Highways are overburdened, and Metro-Rail has been running at full capacity. Commuting patterns are changing. The region's population and jobs have shifted from the District to the outer jurisdictions. Where to put roads is increasingly problematic. Many roads planned in the 1960's have not been built, including major routes that were to be below ground through D.C. Twelve percent of the regional population and 25% of regional jobs are in the District of Columbia.

More busses are available to and from D.C. into outer suburbs of Virginia and Land; yet,. people still drive. Education to change the mindset of those who drive so that they will utilize busses could ease commuter congestion.

Just about every conceivable study has been done, but some opinion holds that better regional planning for transportation is needed relative to land use and funding mechanisms. Metro-Rail was built with a special appropriation. Currently, transportation projects are not considered if not in the Constrained Long Range Plan (CLRP), which title reflects the fact that plans have to identify related funding to pay for the projects.

No state in the region is paying for 100% of maintenance requirements. Plans for Metro-Rail over the next 20 years are being identified, but no jurisdiction has agreed to provide funds maintenance in the CLRP. By one estimate, about $1.75 million more a year is needed for rehabilitation, serious Metro growth, and improved road capacity. Issues related to emergency preparedness add to the competition for funds.

Major air-quality considerations add to these needs for funding: There are several catagories of requirements, such as carbon monoxide and ozone, the latter arising from nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds. The region is in compliance except for ozone, for which it is in "serious" non-attainment (which impacts on availability of federal funding). 

In addition to the mobile transportation sector, several sources contribute to the level of ozone: point sources like power plants; so-called area sources, like lawn mowers and dry- cleaners; :and non-road sources, such as institutional vehicles and shuttle buses on airport grounds. The total ozone burden to be eliminated is 8 tons. Efforts being considered to reduce ozone in the transportation sector include parking at Metro-Rail, encouraging bus ridership, with buses run on compressed liquid natural gas, and HOV lanes. The region expects to be in compliance with current requirements by 2005, but EPA is on the verge of setting stricter standards aimed at reducing "code-orange" days. Moreover, even as the mobile and power-plant sectors are reducing emissions, other sources are increasing emissions, notably, the growth of SUV's, non-road sources, and production operations for increasing consumption of goods.

Some believe that regional funding is necessary; the region cannot wait for the federal government to address all needs. The League was encouraged to lend its voice to educating the public to the facts of the crisis and the importance to considering solutions in a regional context. Unlike other regions, ours does not seem to get the heavy weights in business to provide leadership in educating the

In the Q&A session, discussion ranged across the lack of coordination among different bus companies and problems of transiting the region as well as transferring between transportation systems; the high cost of buses; coordinating the availability of transportation with hours of operation for public facilities (e.g. night library hours); extending hours but balancing such need with cost and nighttime available for maintenance. — Barbara Yeomans, 3rd Vice President, National Programs

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League of Women Voters of the United States


Promote an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive. 

Voting Rights 

Citizen's Right to Vote. Protect the right of all citizens to vote: encourage all citizens to vote. 

DC Self-Government and Full Voting Representation. Secure for the citizens of the District of Columbia the rights of self-government and full voting 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. 

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 precesses 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.


Promote peace in an interdependent world by working cooperatively with other nations and strengthening international organizations. 

United Nations 

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


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

U.S. Relations with Developing Countries 

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

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.


Promote an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest.

Natural Resources

Promote the management of natural resources as interrelated parts of life-supporting ecosystems. 

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 maximum protection of public health and environment. 

Air quality. Promote measures to reduce pollution from mobile and stationary sources. 

Energy. Support environmentally sound policies that reduce energy growth rates, emphasize energy conservation and encourage the use of renewable resources. 

Land Use. Promote policies that manage land as a finite resource and that incorporate principles of stewardship. 

Water Resources. Support measures to reduce pollution in order to protect surface water, groundwater and drinking water. 

Nuclear Issues. Promote the maximum protection of public health and safety and the environment.

Public Participation

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

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.


Secure equal rights and equal opportunity for all. Promote social and economic justice and the health and safety of all Americans.

Equality of Opportunity

Equal Rights. Support adequate and flexible funding of federal government programs through and equitable tax system that is progressive overall and that relies primarily on a broad-based income tax. 

Federal Deficit. Promote responsible deficit policies. 

Funding of Entitlements. Support a federal role in providing mandatory, universal, old age, survivors, disability and health insurance.

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. 

Income Assistance. Support income assistance programs, based on need, that provide decent, adequate standards for food, clothing and shelter. 

Support Services. Provide for essential support services. 

Housing Supply. Support policies to provide a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family. 

Child Care 

Support programs and policies 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.

Violence Prevention

Support violence prevention programs in communities.

Gun Control

Protect the health and safety of citizens through limiting the accessibility and regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic weapons. Support regulation of firearms for consumer safety.

Urban Policy

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

Whatever the issue, the League believes that efficient and economical government requires competent personnel, the clear assignment of responsibilities, adequate financing, coordination among levels of government, effective enforcement and well defined channels for citizen input and review.

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An Invitation from the International Relations Committee to League members

Great Decisions Discussion Series
Begins January 25, 2002

As in previous years, DC Leaguers are invited to participate in the Great Decisions discussion program sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association. For those unfamiliar with the series, the Foreign Policy Association launched Great Decisions nearly fifty years ago to "engage citizens in a dialogue about the crucial foreign policy issues of our time. In a democracy, such issues are every citizen's concern." Following a concentrated period of preparation and discussion of eight specific issues each year, participating groups fill out opinion ballots that the Association melds into composite views.

Discussion Meetings

8 Meetings held on alternate Fridays during January, February and March.
January 25, February 8, 22, March 8, 22, April 12, 26, May 10, 2002
(See the reverse of this flyer for a description of the eight topics to be covered this year.)

1st Meeting January 25. 2002

Our first meeting - on the roots of terrorism - will be held from 10 a.m. until noon on January 25 at the apartment of Joan Wilson, Chair of the Chevy Chase/Ingleside Unit, at Ingleside Apartments, 3050 Military Road, Apt. #438 (237-6264.) Exact dates, times and locations of subsequent meetings will be decided at this meeting.

Ancient Chinese Curse: "May you live in interesting times." Curse delivered, thank you. America was expecting a relatively peaceful future, with the end of the Cold War and rising prosperity. Now we are looking at a world of suspicion, violence, epidemics, danger and deadlock, much of it directed at or blamed on America. Why us? — Hope Marindin, Great Decisions Facilitator

Order your discussion book today! Contact Great Decisions Facilitator Hope Marindin ( or 202/966-6367) to order the Great Decisions 2002 Briefing Book ($15), which will be used as the basis for our discussion. In addition, we plan to show a video as introduction to each topic and to register our views for further analysis by the Association.

This activity is not limited to IR Committee members or even to LWV members. Join us and bring a friend!


Available January 2002

Introductory essay on terrorism, by Richard H. Ullman
  • Why Do They Hate Us! The Roots of Terrorism, by Bruce Stokes
  • Korean Security Issues, by Leon Sigal 
  • Middle East Peace Process, by Augustus Richard Norton 
  • Columbia and Drug Trafficking, by David C. Morrison 
  • South Asia: Focus on India, by Dennis Kux 
  • AIDS In Africa, by Salih Booker and William Minter 
  • Russia Reexamined, by Allen Lynch 
  • Energy and the Environment, by Bill Sweet

Actual titles and order of topics are subject to change.

GREAT DECISIONS — first published in 1954 —  is the centerpiece of the longest-running informal foreign affairs discussion program in the United States. Each year, thousands of Americans take part in Great Decisions discussion groups to increase their awareness and understanding of, and to express their opinions on, eight of the most timely, thought-provoking U.S. foreign policy concerns.

Each topic in the 112-page GREAT DECISIONS 2002 briefing book places the thematic/geographic issue in historical context and provides background, current policies and alternative policy options. Photographs, maps, charts and editorial cartoons illustrate the text. Discussion questions, annotated reading suggestions and additional resources, including websites, are provided. An opinion ballot accompanies each topic so that readers can express their views, Ballot results are tabulated by a professional pollster and presented in a National Opinion Ballot Report to the President, Secretary of State, other policymakers and the media.

GREAT DECISIONS 2002 ISBN no. 0-87124-200-1
Product ID no. 31511,
Price: $15.00 (including S&H)

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