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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 79, No. 6, June 2003

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 Message
News from the Units
Bed and Breakfast Hostesses Needed June 6-9, 2003
International Relations Committee June 3, 2003
Great Decisions Meetings
National Program
Council 2003 June 7-9
Notes from May 7 Board Meeting
Member News
Congressional Representation
Summer Schedule
Education Committee
A Publicly Funded Baseball Stadium for DC?
LWV National Capital Area
Zoning Commission Hearings Begin
Voter Services
Transportation Committee
Calendar - June 2003


At our 83rd Annual Meeting held on April 24 at Gallaudet University, the 60 some members attending adopted a proposed budget for the coming League year, elected new officers and directors, and applauded Pat Ha Hallman for her dedicated work as President during the past two years.

They also approved the Board recommended program for 2003-2005, -- that all of our current positions be retained, and that an update of our positions on Congressional voting rights be undertaken, with particular attention to the various options for attaining representation. Kathy Schmidt, who was a elected to a two-year term as Director, agreed to continue her work for voting rights by chairing this study.

Molly Raphael, Director and State Librarian for the D.C. Public Libraries, gave a presentation which brought us up to date on a subject dear to our hearts, but which we have not studied in recent years. She described the current trend for public libraries to serve as community centers - a place where people of all ages like to meet, to work, to gather.

It's a privilege and opportunity to serve as your President, remembering that in continuing this work together, we stand on the shoulders of our predecessors -- from Carrie Chapman Catt to Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins - from Miss Harlean James (1920) to E. Patricia Hallman (2002), and also remembering that our predecessors were never afraid to explore new ways to work together for the public good. — Frances Gemmill, President

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As this voter goes to press, the May Units are meeting to discuss "Children at Risk." Conclusions and findings from the meetings will be provided in the next DC Voter.

Traditionally, June Units plan their own "yearend" program activity at the May meeting. Contact the Unit Chairs listed below for individual unit information for June activities. Units begin again in October 2003 following the Fall Opening Luncheon on September 18 that kicks off the League's 20032004 program year.

Tuesday, June 24 
9:45 am, Southwest Unit, Leona Rumsey 863-7484, Gladys Weaver 554-3055
12:45 pm Northwest Day Unit, June Bashkin 337-0949 & Barbara Kemp 362-4529 
6:30pm, In-Town Evening Unit, Sheila Willet 347-3020

Wednesday, June 25
9:45 am, Upper 16th Street Unit, Paula McKann 829-0656, Constance Tate 882-0387
9:45 am, Chevy Chase/Ingleside Unit, Ruth Allen 362-8953, Leslie Dunbar 364-6457, Joan Wilson 237-6264

Thursday, June 26
7:30 pm, The Evening Unit, Joan Domike 966-3865

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Many Leaguers are coming into town for Council 2003 June 7-9 who will need housing. This is an opportunity for us AND YOU to make some money as well as promote good will.

Of the $40 per room we charge ($60 couple), half goes back to the hostess. As a hostess, you are asked to provide a private bedroom, access to a bathroom, cold breakfast (with hot coffee or tea) and some friendly conversation. Please contact Chris Matthews if you can help at or 269-3890.

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Former Presidential Adviser on HIV-AIDS

Sandra L. Thurman, President of the International Aids Trust and former advisor to President Clinton on HIV-AIDS issues, will speak at the June 3`d meeting of the IR Committee. Ms. Thurman is one of the nation's foremost experts on HIV-AIDS, particularly as it affects Africa. All League members and friends are invited to attend this meeting, whether active IR Committee members or not.

The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:00 pm at the Cleveland Park Library, First Floor Auditorium (Intersection of Connecticut Ave. & Macomb St., NW). A Q&A session will follow Ms. Thurman's remarks. If you have any questions, please contact Susan Rao at — Anne Porowski (364-0557) & Susan Rao (636-1688) Co chairs

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Intown Group

Great Decisions 2003 will conclude in June with a meeting beginning at noon on Wednesday, June 11, when we will discuss developments in Nigeria. Cecilie Jones will lead this discussion. The group and other interested League members are invited to a final get-together on Sunday, June 22 at 3 pm at the home of Sheila Keeny, 3600 Albemarle St., NW (966-1692). This extra meeting will permit us to become updated on events transpiring since we discussed this year's eight topics and to hear again from Helen Metz on one topic, the situation in Saudi Arabia, where she lived for many years. If you think you may be interested in Great Decisions 2004, join us. Sheila Keeny.

Ingleside Group

A June meeting is being planned to hear Ms. Kirstin Haffert from the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs to speak on "Women's Political Participation." The date and time is still to be determined. The location is 3050 Military Rd., NW. Call Joan Wilson (237-6264) for more information.

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Council 2003: The LWVUS national Council, meeting in odd years between national Conventions, will take place in DC on Saturday, June 7 through Monday, June 9, at the Marriott Metro Center Hotel. The board of each State League, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, chooses two delegates. Our delegates, President Frances Gemmill and Vice President for National Program Sheila Keeny will be joined by observer Madlyn Calbert, Vice President for Local Program, and others. LWVDC members may wish to attend the (open) Symposium on Presidential Selection (Monday, 11 - 12:30). The Symposium is open to any League member interested in the Presidential Selection issue discussed below.

Update on Presidential Selection: Members attending the last LWVUS Convention in 2002 identified the LWVUS position on electing the president, last revised in 1982, as deserving an all-member update. In focusing on this issue in earlier planning meetings, many members apparently did not realize that the LWV supports direct election of the President and favors abolishing the Electoral College. The May-June National Voter (expected any time now) will carry an article introducing this and other issues surrounding the election process; the article will include an all-member survey that will help structure a subsequent article containing a concurrence questionnaire. A committee to work on this topic is being formed; current members include Naomi Glass, Barbara Yeomans, Elinor Hart and Sheila Keeny. This Committee would appreciate feedback from members - call or email Sheila Keeny ( or 966-1692) with your comments on the article and/or the survey and how they contribute to your understanding of the electoral process and its problems.

Other news from LWVUS - According to LWVUS executive Director Nancy Tate, National expects to make increasing use of the Internet to communicate not only with local Boards but also with individual League members, including a monthly newsletter. — Sheila Keeny (966-1692), 3rd Vice President, National Program

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COUNCIL 2003 June 7-9

Marriott at Metro Center (12th @ G Sts), Washington, DC

LWV FIRST: Securing Our Future

Financial Sustainability
Impact on Issues
Revitalized Leagues
Strength in Diversity
Team Work and Tolerance

LWVDC Delegates and observers to the biennial LWVUS Council of Leaders will have the opportunity to network with other League officers and members across the nation as well as attend sessions on Saturday and Sunday which include FY2004 LWVUS budget, nominating committee report, current program and focus on membership; as well as an interview with LWVUS President Kay Maxwell and Executive Director Nancy Tate.

League members are invited to attend the sessions on Monday, June 9 at no charge: Media Training (8:30-10:30am); Symposium on LWVUS Update on Presidential Selection (11 am-12:30 pm); and one of five Plenary sessions (1:30-3:00 pm). Session topics include: Global Democracy Programs (both domestic & international); Judicial Independence; Election Reform; and Technology; Development Strategies.

League members and their guests are invited to attend the Sunday evening June 8th banquet that features U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as keynote speaker.

The Banquet cost is $40 per person. Reception/Cash bar (6:30-7:30 pm) Banquet (7:30-9:30 pm.) To obtain a banquet ticket, write a check made payable to LWVUS for $40/each person and send to LWVUS, Attn: Natalie Testa, 1730 M Street, NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20036. —Natalie Testa (429-1965), LWVUS

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The Board welcomed three members who accepted one-year appointments to serve at its May 7 meeting - Elizabeth Martin, Linda Softli, and Reggie Yancey. Board members continuing, in the second year of two year terms are Elaine Melmed, Judy Smith, and Joan Wilson. Constance Tate and Gladys Weaver will continue as co-chairs of Education. An updated handbook, with LWVDC Officers and Directors 2003-2004 will arrive in your September Voter.

Leaguers are invited to join the Board and committee chairs at the home of Frances Gemmill on Saturday, June 21 from 10 am-3 pm for long range planning. — Frances Gemmill

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NEWS: LWVDC Board member Barbara Luchs was honored May 1st at Iona Senior Services' Twentieth Annual Superior Day sponsored by the Citizens Advisory Council of IONA as LWVDC's nominee. Her many volunteer efforts on behalf of the League and other organizations were cited in the award presentation. Two of her current activities are organizing the monthly mailing of the League newsletter, The DC Voter, and working as a volunteer for WAMU radio.

A recent telephone conversation with Gilda Varrati revealed that she is well and living in a retirement community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she has joined a League group there and sent a number of "peace postcards" to her Member of Congress. A long-time federal government employee, Gilda was a member of the U.S. Mission to the UN under Ambassador Andrew Young; following her retirement, she was an active member of the IR Committee and the Southwest Unit. [Editors Note: We are pleased to see that our report of Gilda's recent death was incorrect and wish her many happy productive years in her home in Chapel Hill.]

CONTRIBUTIONS: We gratefully acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions to the League support: June Bashkin, Joan Domike, Naomi Glass, E. Patricia Hallman, Norma M. Hutton, Clara Kirkman, Lois Laster, Elaine Melmed, Ann Porowski, Susan & Firoze Rao, Leona Rumsey, Barbara Yeomans 

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At the League's Annual Meeting on April 24, a proposal that grew out of the Program Planning meeting for a study to explore possible options to achieve full voting representation in Congress was approved. I have agreed to chair the committee. Any and all who are interested in participating may contact me. I shall circulate possible times and places for meetings once enough members to form a working group are identified.

April 15 DC Vote sponsored Democracy Day, the first income tax day event endorsed by the mayor and the city council. LWVUS Executive Director Nancy Tate participated.

The week before Democracy Day, a letter was sent to the Hill asking for co-sponsorship of the "No Taxation Without Representation" bill. This was the first time DC Vote had taken a position on a legislative solution to DC's disenfranchisement.- DC Vote; organized the effort and 17 organizations (local and national, representing a range of groups and interests) signed the letter.

In anticipation of the coming presidential election DC Vote met with the Congressional Black Caucus, which agreed to make full voting representation in Congress for D.C. one of the issues it will present to all candidates. — Kathy Schmidt (237-5550), DC Vote Liaison

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Article submission deadline for the July/August DC VOTER is July 8. It will be mailed July 25. Members should receive it by August 8.

As an adjunct to the Voter, we will continue to email "This Week in the League" highlighting League events dining that week. We are preparing a "member fax number list" in order to fax the same information to those who have a fax machine but not an e-mail address.

Please notify the League office of changes or additions in your e-mail address or fax number. — Sheila Willet (347-3020), DC Voter Editor

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At the Board's May 7 Board meeting, the Education Committee presented a proposal to study available data on the effects of school vouchers on the performance of children, with particular attention to their potential impact on the District of Columbia public schools. The Board approved the proposed study in concept. The study would begin in the fall of 2003 by collecting information about the effects of vouchers, continue with an informational meeting (all-member or in units), and would follow up with unit meetings for consensus in the spring of 2004.

We are looking for more League members to join the committee to undertake this task. Call either Connie or Gladys and volunteer to help. The next meeting will be held at 10 am Wed., June 11 at LWVUS Rosalie Goodman Room, 1730 M St., NW Suite 1000. — Constance Tate (882-0387) & Gladys Weaver (554-3055), Co-chairs

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On Monday, May 19, Ed Lazere of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute presented a comprehensive summary of the current negotiations of major League Baseball to find a home for the Montreal Expos. The District is competing with Northern Virginia and Portland, Oregon to buy the Montreal Expos. Major League Baseball will make the decision by July, and the DG Council would need to approve 'the Mayor's financing plan in order for the District to compete.

A public hearing on the subject is scheduled for June 12. Mr. Lazere reviewed the financing plan, as well as academic research on the impacts of publicly financed baseball stadiums. Detailed information is available in the office. — Frances Gemmill

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The annual convention of the National Capital Area Leagues was attended by eight members of the D.C. League as delegates, alternates or NCA Board members. Our delegates were Frances Gemmill, Grace Malakoff, Sheila Willet, Joan Wilson, and Reggie Yancey. Suzanne Campagna, our liaison to LWVNCA, and Mary Rodgers were alternates, and Elinor Hart was there in her capacity as an NCA Board member. The Convention voted to add Homeland Security to its program for 2003-05, and to retain its present positions for action and/or study, with emphasis on housing.

The Madeline Naumann Award went to the Falls Church League for a project to increase the awareness of citizens of Falls Church, the City Council, Boards and Committees and city staff of the Falls Church's comprehensive plan in preparation for the plan's review and to encourage better use of the Plan in the city's decision making process.

The Membership Award went to the Loudoun County League who increased their membership by 51 percent.

Eleven Leagues comprise the National Capital Area League, an inter-League organization formed to cooperate in study and action on issues common to them. In addition to the LWVDC, the member Leagues are Maryland State, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Virginia State, Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Loudoun County and the newest member, Queen Anne's County on Maryland's Eastern Shore. — Frances Gemmill

NCA News & Notes

The Carroll County LWV to the west of Baltimore has decided to disband due to lack of interest and despite much effort by LWVMD to rescue them.

Leaguers residing in Queen Anne's County on Maryland's Eastern Shore are establishing a LWV chapter in the county. They have 45 members. — Andrea Gruhl & Barbara Sherrill

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"Georgetown Boathouse Proposal"

At the initiative of Geri Albers, a League member who maintains a strong interest in environmental matters, the League Board approved League testimony before the Zoning Commission on Monday May 19, suggesting, in part, that a new Environmental Impact Statement, which would take account of the impact of the proposed boathouse be completed prior to approval of the application for re-zoning.

The hearing started at 6:30 pm. Frances Gemmill and Geri Albers joined around 50 people for the Zoning hearing on May 19, including several representatives of Georgetown (architects, lawyers, the head coach) and a representative of the National Park Service, along with representatives of the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the Washington Canoe Club, the C&O Canal Association, and the Capital Crescent Trail. The presentation of the applicant (Georgetown University) was followed by a period of questions by the Commissioners as well as by the President of the Washington Canoe Club and a representative of the Capital Crescent Trail. As 11.00 p.m. approached, the Chairwoman adjourned the hearing, after arranging to reconvene it on Thursday, June 5, at 6:30 p.m. Stay tuned - Geri & Frances will be there for the rest of the story, and we invite other Leaguers who are interested to join us. — Geri Albers, 302-2605 Frances Gemmill, 362-6784

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Help America Vote Act of 2002, Public Law 107-252

The Board of Elections and Ethics held a Public Hearing on May 14, 2003 seeking public input on the District's election process as part of the ongoing procedures outlined in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Frances Gemmill, LWVDC President and more than 13 persons spoke to the Board and a full audience on subjects ranging from voting procedures, voter registration, voter education, accessibility of polling places and voting equipment, pollworker training and recruitment, non-citizen voting and other matters. She stated in part, "The League believes the administration of elections in DC is in excellent shape, and relatively free from the problems that led to the enactment of HAVA. Thus, DC is in the enviable position of focusing on making the administration of our elections truly outstanding. Additional emphasis on voter education and precinct operations can significantly enhance the civic process in DC." Mrs. Gemmill testified. Members can call the League office for a complete transcript of the League's testimony. For further information about HAVA see the May DG Voter or visit the Federal Election Commission's website at — Sheila Willet

Why People Don't Vote?

On April 19th, more than 100 people gathered at the Washington Highlands Public Library to hear and discuss strategies for increasing voter turnout. League member Anna Marsh was one of 10 panelists. Conclusions from the discussion were: The top three reasons people give for not voting are: 1) my vote doesn't make a difference; 2) politicians fail to address the issues that young people care about; 3) voters today think more as individuals rather than as a group (labor unions, etc.) Strategies defined for addressing these issues included face-to-face visits and one to one conversations where people gather, such as dance hall, club, laundromat mat, colleges, churches, new citizen swearing in ceremonies. — Anna Marsh

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National Voter Registration Act enacted Mary 20, 1993

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Show Me the Money: Financing DC's Transportation System, a public meeting hosted by the Citizens Advisory Committee to The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) on May 7 was cosponsored by LWVDC and the Committee of 100 on the Federal City. The featured speakers were: Councilmember Jim Graham (Ward 1) and Council Member Phil Mendelson (At-Large) and Dan Tangherlini, Director, District Department of Transportation (DDOT).

DC Councilmember Jim Graham warned that further increases in rail and bus fares are likely in the near future to meet inevitable budget shortfalls. He chairs the WMATA budget committee, and described the budget committee debate on the recently proposed fare and parking fee increases. DC pushed hard for the longer hours that were adopted (3:00 AM closings on weekends and 7:00 AM openings). Transit fares were increased about 10% instead of the proposed 27% and fees for parking at Metro's 58,000 subsidized parking spaces inched upward. Final approval of the recommended fare and parking fee hikes will come before the Metropolitan Washington Transit Authority in June, with implmentation expected July 1, 2003.

Money was set aside for continued repair of the WMATA escalator and elevator system, and it was proposed to make Metro Access conform to Federal reimbursement guidelines.

DC Councilmember At Large Phil Mendelson, now chair of the regional Air Quality Committee, pointed out that DC transportation habits mean that DC emits only 8% of mobile source pollution although it has 11% of the population of the air quality region. Compliance with ozone standards by 2005 is expected to challenge regional planners. This DC pattern is revealed in the US Census commute-to-work figures showing that 38% of DC workers drive solo to work versus nearly 68% for the region as a whole.

DC Department of Transportation Director Dan Tangherlini was pleased to announce that the DC Council had just that day approved a dedication of a number of parking and other fees to be collected in a special fund to be available to meet Federal requirements for a matching share on many projects, to guard against a repeat of a recent budget year in which not matching funds were available.

The Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan (CLRP), revised every three years, will be completed in June. The current draft increases transit funds to about 60% (from 52% in the 2000 plan). Federal funding prospects remain uncertain, and a number of projected WMATA projects, especially in the suburbs, are not fully approved. The projected regional 20-year budget is nearly $100 billion. DC infrastructure needs center on bridge repair, for which the department is lobbying Congress. Some monies to repair streets are available from a fund collecting charges for street work by utilities, and from a terminated Barney Circle highway project. [Note: If you've notice a flurry of street repairs around town, you might like to know DC is required to spend these funds within one year.] However, the budget shortfalls are threatening department basic operations at all times.

New efforts to find revenue resulted in a cosponsored bill (Mendelson/Graham) to impose a. parking fee on all spaces not subject to the sales tax. These would include spaces leased on Capitol Hill for staff there.

Many in attendance stressed the importance of improving bus information and schedules. Mr. Tangherlini noted that increased ridership is financially pure gain since the facilities are in place whether they are used or not. An effort at WMATA to get consultant help to improve information at bus stops was funded by DC DOT but was abandoned due to computer programming errors. — Grace Malakoff (387-7540), Transportation Chair

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Click on the above link for a copy of the League membership form.

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1 2 3 6:30 pm, IR Cmte, Guest Speaker Sandra L. Thurman, Topic HIV-AIDS in Africa 4 10:00 am, Mtg. LWVDC Board 5 6 7 9:00 am-9:30 pm, Council 2003 Plenary Sessions for State Delegates
8 7:30 am-4:30 pm, Council 2003 Plenary Sessions for State Delegates
6:30 pm, Council 2003 Banquet, SC Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Speaker, $40
9 8:30-10:30 am, 11am-12:30 pm, 1:30-3 pm, Council 2003 Sessions, free to League members 10 11 10:00 am, Education Cmte
12:00 pm, Great Decisions
12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21 10 am-3 pm, LWVDC Board Planning Meeting
22 3:00 pm, Great Decisions final get-together 23 24 Unit Meetings
9:45 am, Southwest
12:45 pm Northwest Day
25 Unit Meetings
9:45 am, Upper 16th St.
26 Unit Meetings
9:45 am, Chevy Chase/Ingleside
7:30 pm Evening
27 28
29 30          

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