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Making Our Voices Heard Making Our Votes Count
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202/347-3020, fax: 202/347-2522
Website: http://www.dcwatch.com/lwvdc, E-mail: LWVDC@aol.com
Salute with a Snow Shovel!
News from the Units
“Why People Don’t Vote”
African Specialist to Share Knowledge about Ghana
National Program: United Nations Wrap-Up
|Highlights of March 5
Board and Trustees Meetings
Fair Budget Coalition of the District of Columbia
January 2003 Brown Bag Dialogue — The Human Genome
83rd Annual Meeting and Dinner Reservation Form
UN Wrap-Up 2002
83rd Annual Meeting Notification and 2003-2004 Nomination Slate
The District of Columbia, as is every city and state in the nation, is facing budget frailties. Thus, the D.C. Mayor discussed the critical situation which he classified as "The Challenge, A Goal and The Options", with local citizens who were recently invited to give input and advice at a special presentation of the proposed budget for FY 2004. The briefing, prior to the formal presentation to the Council, alerted us to the critical decisions that must be made to remain solvent while focusing on the Mayor's priorities: Education, Public Safety and opportunities for all.
The Mayor indicated that the national economic downturn is being caused by: declining revenues, unfunded mandates, (special education) and the threat of war. The Challenge is to focus our goals on continued service improvements and still balance our budget? The Mayor specified that the budget pressures of FY03 caused a revenue decline of $53 million and an increase of service needs of $27 million, are compatible with other jurisdictions. The FY04 budget of $3.8 million faces pressures of increased due to growth in special education, charter schools, health, increasing federal entitlement programs and addressing deferred investment in basic facilities, equipment and training.
The Goal is to have discussions with local residents, strategize the priorities, and focus on residential priories, i.e., children, adult education safety, housing job opportunities and health. OPTIONS: There are myriads. Some are Capital Project reductions, The Federal Fair Compensation Act "Tax Commuters," and a regional investment. In explaining where the expenditures "money goes," he said 44% goes to Human Support Services, 4% for Economic Development and Regulation, and 6% for Public Works. Some basic services are protected from cuts such as safety and health, police, fire, corrections, mental health and the elderly, road repaid and most recreation programs. Revenue increases will be an ongoing discussion, but some have been passed such as deed tax recordation, and transfer, property, sales and public utilities.
The timeline for decisions are: March 17 when the Mayor presents his proposal to the Council. March April are the budget hearing and votes on changes to balance FY03 budget. May - the Council votes on the FY04 budget. Maythe Mayor signs the budget into law. Many citizens gave input and suggestions on the presentation.
YOUR oversight at these hearings is essential because all of this impacts the D.C. citizen's quality of life. — E. Patricia Hallman, President
On February 27, Beaver Press couldn't navigate through the snow to make its usual Thursday night delivery of the VOTER, but it managed to deliver it at 12:30 pm Friday the 28th. A salute with a snow shovel to Jean Fleming, Ruth Allen, Sheila Keeny, and Hope Marindin, who reported to Frances Gemmill's house on February 28, to prepare the March Voter for mailing. If you haven't received your March Voter when you read this, please call me.
Barbara Luchs (363-0853), DC Voter Mailing Coordinator [Ed. Note: And what would we do without Barbara Luchs, who held the stalwart crew together, and delivered the VOTER to the Friendship Post Office on Monday, Mar. 3?]
NEWS: As this issue goes to press, co-editor Frances Gemmill is recovery from surgery. She is progressing nicely and hopes to be back to her usual routine soon. She wishes to thank all for their good wishes.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS: We welcome new member Dr. Sarah C. Gotbaum.
CONTRIBUTIONS: We gratefully thank and acknowledge contributions from our members: Suzanne Campagna, Jean Fleming (in memory of Jane Schwartz), Walter O. Jacobson.
CONDOLENCES: We are sad to report that Margaret (Peggy) Thompson has recently passed away.
In light of the Annual Meeting to be held on April 24th, there will be no Unit meetings this month. Reports on activities of the March Units will be provided in the May issue of the DC Voter.
A panel discussion entitled "Why People Don't Vote" will be presented on Saturday, April 19 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Washington Highlands Public Library, 115 Atlantic Street, SW. This event is sponsored by the by the Ward Eight Democrats. For more information contact Angela M. Copeland, Chair, Program Committee at 889-5631. — E. Patricia Hallman
Three bills of the City Council have direct bearing on our lack of full voting representation in Congress. In two cases all 13 Council members have cosponsored. "The Commuter Tax Act of 2003" is one of the two. By the 1974 Home Rule Charter the District has been prohibited from levying such a tax. On April 15 a group of citizens will enter a suit in federal court to challenge the Constitutionality of the prohibition: no state nor other local jurisdiction has such a prohibition. If the proposed 2% tax on income earned by non-residents were in effect, the District would gain between $600,000,000 and $800,000,000 each year. Even with the $50,000,000 sales tax which comes to D.C. from non-residents, the financial difference is huge and would more than provide for the services currently being reviewed for elimination. The obvious argument is that it is our lack of equal voting rights with those of all other Americans that is causing this inequity.
The other bill with all 13 as co-sponsors is the "Presidential Primary Election Amendment Act of 2003". Over and over again emphasis was on our lack of full, voting rights. Several members acknowledged that the national parties would probably deny them seats at the nominating
conventions, but they were adamant in using this legislation as way of gaining national attention on our plight. Council Chair Cropp noted that D.C. residents pay $3,000,000,000 taxes per year, have suffered military war dead larger than several states, but have no vote in Congress.
Finally, a bill will require new hires by the District to be residents of D.C. 65% of those who are our teachers, firemen, police, maintenance people, etc. do not live here. Again we are the only jurisdiction is the country prohibited from having such a law: it is a Congressional mandate.
SUPPORT DC VOTING RIGHTS: Please join DC Vote on April 15th for the annual Democracy Day Rally. The rally this year will take place at Freedom Plaza at 5:00 pm and will top off a series of activities that will take place on this day. Come to support voting rights for the citizens of DC while listening to provocative speakers, great music and poetry. Freedom Plaza is located on Pennsylvania Ave, NW between 13th and 14th Streets and is accessible by Metro at Federal Triangle (Blue Line) or Metro Center (Red Line). For additional information call DC Vote at 462-2000. — Kathy Schmidt (237-5550), DC Vote Liaison
TO SHARE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT GHANA
|1||2 10:00 am Mtg. LWVDC Board||3||4 3:30 pm Great Decitions at Ingleside||5|
am, Voter registration of new citizens
May DC Voter Deadline
am Education Committee
12:00 pm Great Decisions
|10||11 10:00 am LWV NCA Board Mtg.||12|
|13||14||15 5:00 pm, Democracy Day Rally||16||17||18 May DC Voter mailed||19 2:00 pm Why People Don't Vote|
|20||21||22 1:00 pm Healthcare Committee||23||24 5:30 pm 83rd Annual Meeting and Dinner||25||26|
|27||28||29||30 12:00 pm Great Decisions||There are no unit meeting in April All are encouraged to attend the 83rd Annual Meeting and Dinner on April 24th.|
We are looking for donations of new or valuable items or services that people would real want ! Since our members are talented and resourceful we are asking you to contribute your skills, talents, services as well as merchandise, sports or theatre tickets, a vacation home weekend, to name a few possible contributions. Also, ask the people at any restaurant, beauty salon, and boutique that you frequent for a possible gift certificate.
Donors can negotiate with the winners for future delivery of services and larger items. We will provide the related "gift certificate" at the table.
People who purchase a $5 raffle tickets will select an item from the $5 table. People who purchase a $10 raffle ticket will select an item from the $10 table. The more tickets you buy the more chance you have of winning! And we make it easy with the discounted rates listed below:
|Raffle Ticket||Buy 1, you pay||Buy 2, you pay||Buy 3, you pay|
Donate 1 or more hours to do a specific task; such as:
run errands or teach a "how to" class
provide computer training
do gardening or arrange flowers
give someone a perm or manicure
Create Your Specialty, such as:
scrumptious dessert or casserole that everyone loves to eat
do you paint, make pottery, crochet, knit, or sew? can you contribute a weekend at your vacation home?
do you own a business that can contribute an item?
Other items needed are:
sports or theatre tickets
can you ask a favorite restaurant, boutique, hair salon/nail salon to for a gift certificate?
LWVUS President Kay Maxwell wrote a letter to President Bush prior to the decision to go to the UN, urging him to do just that. See the letter at http://interactive.lwv.org./News/News.cfm?ID=470&c=7
As the New Year dawns, the US has now requested the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to appeal to the UN Security Council on the question of North Korea and nuclear arms. The end of the year saw the withdrawal of IAEA's inspectors from North Korea, which North Korea demanded, and a dismantling of IAEA's monitoring devices. (In order to assure the autonomy of a country, the UN cannot remain in a country against the country's wishes.) The IAEA is an autonomous organization under the United Nations established in 1957.
We hope that this new relationship between the US and the UN will continue. The LWVUS UN position states that the United Nations should be an important component of US foreign policy.
Children and Child Soldiers and Optional Protocols
League Observers Doris Schapira and Margery Cohen took part in the General Assembly Special Session on Children in New York, May 810, 2002 and in all the preparatory meetings previously held. Representing the League on the Steering Committee for the NGO Committee on UNICEF's Working Group on Girls, they are involved at the UN on issues affecting children. The result of the Special Session was that governments committed to hold themselves to timebound goals for children and for specific steps to achieve those goals. The four priority areas include health; quality education; protection against abuse, exploitation and violence; and combating HIV/AIDS. In a new outreach by the UN, the Special Session attendees included over 400 children. For more information, see the website of UNICEF at www.unicef.org and of the Working Group on Girls at www.girlsrights.org.
Near the end of 2002, the Secretary General issued a report in which he named the countries in which child soldiers have been used. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the involvement of children in armed conflict sets an age limit of 18 years for compulsory recruitment and direct participation in hostilities, and requires State parties to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment to at least 16. The US Government recently ratified this Optional Protocol and at the same time, also ratified the other Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography. The US has not as yet ratified the CRC itself.
International Criminal Court (ICC)
On April 11, 2002, a treaty event took place at the UN for the establishment of the International Criminal Court. At that time, 10 countries ratified the treaty bringing to 66 the number of ratifications of the treaty (60 ratifications were required.) This treaty establishes a permanent court to bring individuals to trial for crimes against humanity. League Observers Doris Schapira and Margery Cohen were present at this historic ceremony. On May 6, the Bush administration "unsigned" the treaty by stating that it did not intend to ratify it and was not obligated by its previous signature. (When governments sign a treaty, they are pledging that they will pursue ratification.) One of several ways a case can come before the court is by the recommendation of the Security Council on which the US has veto power, so it remains to be seen how this process will be affected by the US actions.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported the return to Afghanistan of 2 million Afghans who had previously fled the country. The report added that about 4 million Afghans still remain abroad and that with a budget of $200 million it expects to help 1.5 million more return in 2003. With the return of the Afghan refugees in 2002, UNHCR is still assisting just fewer than 20 million refugees worldwide. The last of over 500,000 Rwandan refugees returned home from Tanzania at the end of 2002.
The UN maintained 15 peacekeeping operations and 13 political and peace-building missions in 2002. According to a UN report "as many as 90 UN Member States contributed uniformed personnel to these operations, which, as of November, saw some 44,000 military personnel and civilian police deployed in peacekeeping operations around the world. Working with these uniformed personnel were some 3,661 international and 7,962 local civilian staff. In the course of the year, 52 civilian and military personnel lost their lives while engaged in UN peace operations."
New Members of the United Nations in 2002
Two more countries became UN members in 2002 bringing the total number of member countries to 191. Timor-Leste became a member of the UN following its independence. It was previously called East Timor and gained its independence following UN stewardship under a Transitional Administration. Switzerland also joined the UN as a member this year.
The United Nations Development Programme
Most League members are aware that the UN is more than the General Assembly, the Security Council, and peacekeepers. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is a UN agency whose mission is to help countries to improve the lives of its people. In many countries, there is the need to provide clean water and sanitation facilities, access to health care (with HIV-AIDS and other life threatening diseases rampant), and to fight an uphill battle against poverty.
UNDP publishes the Human Development Report each year, which rates countries not by their GDP but by achievements in health, education, and other services it provides for its people. UNDP also has projects in many poor countries to help women to play a more equal role in their societies and to achieve political empowerment. For more information about UNDP, please see www.undp.org,
League Observer Patty Day attended the Second World Assembly on Aging in Madrid, Spain, in April 2002. The Conference committed governments to act to meet the challenge of an aging population. Patty had also been involved in the preparatory meetings as the League's representative on the Sub Committee on Older Women.
Other important UN World Conferences this year included the "International Conference on Financing for Development" in Monterrey in March; the "World Food Summit: five years later" in Rome, Italy, in June; and the "World Summit on Sustainable Development" in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August and September.
Colombia, Ireland, Mauritius, Norway and Singapore finished serving their 2-year terms as non-permanent members of the Security Council. Angola, Chile, Germany, Pakistan and Spain will replace them in 2003.
The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination
The League issued an action alert on The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) this year after the treaty, signed by President Carter, was sent by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the full Senate for a vote on ratification. Unfortunately, the Senate became preoccupied with Iraq and never took up the ratification of CEDAW. When the new Senate convenes, it will be back to the Foreign Relations Committee for this important treaty for women.
League UN Observers
Doris Schapira, Patty Day and Margery Cohen continue to represent the League at the UN and within the NGO UN Community. Doris serves on the UNA-USA Council of Organizations New York Board. Patty serves on the Department of Public Information - Non Governmental Organization Executive Committee and on the committees working on the issues of older persons. She is on the Board of the NGO Committee on Aging. Doris and Margery serve on the Steering Committee of the NGO Committee on UNICEF's Working Group on Girls. The observers are also members of other NGO Committees.
What Can League Members Do
League members should continue to follow these rapidly developing issues and help to inform the public.
January 7, 2003
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