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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 79, No. 7, July/August 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
Education Committee
Transportation Committee
Bed and Breakfast Still Alive
National Program
Congressional Voting Representation
July Board Meeting News
Make Our Votes Count
LWV NCA News & Notes
Report from the Council
83rd Annual Meeting League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Member News
Invite Your Friends to Become a DC League Member
Hillwood Tour and Tea Reservation Form
Opening Fall Luncheon Reservation Form


Let me call your attention to the Help America Vote Act, PL 107-252, legislation authorizing federal funding across the country for a five year effort to plan and improve election administration. The District of Columbia has received $5 million in early funding. Many states will receive funding under the section of HAVA which provides for replacing punch card systems. The District replaced its punch card system after the election in 2000 with the purchase of Optical Scan machines for all precincts; therefore, it may be eligible to receive those funds.

A Preliminary State Plan has been developed through the efforts of a Planning Committee including staff members of the Board of Elections and Ethics, representatives of several civic groups, (Pat Hallman and Elinor Hart for LWVDC), and other interested citizens. LWVDC testimony was presented at a hearing on July 8 along with testimony from approximately a dozen other speakers. The DC League statement, which I presented as President, congratulated the BoEE and its staff for its present system, and recommended that voter education, pollworker recruitment and training, and improved precinct operations be given priority in spending. We said that we will be following with interest the implementation of HAVA in D.C. with a view to providing League assistance as appropriate.

Referring to our comment on the significant reduction in funding appropriated by Congress from that authorized in the legislation, Chairman Benjamin Wilson and Board member Stephen Callas asked whether we could inform them as to National League actions about that funding reduction. Sheila Keeny, our Vice President for National program, followed up, and we sent to the BoEE copies of letters and information as to the lobbying National has conducted on the subject of funding appropriations for HAVA. Have you read the article by Jeanette Senecal, "HAVA: Make It Easier to Vote" in your current National Voter?

Incidentally, HAVA and election reform were of widespread interest among the state and regional LWV representatives who met for Council in Washington in early June, although the problems and challenges differed greatly from state to state. — Frances Gemmill, President

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Consensus Study Launched

Members of the Education Committee have begun plans to conduct a consensus study on School Vouchers. League members are encouraged to join the Education Committee in this endeavor to study this timely topic of interest to DC residents. Contact Connie Tate, Gladys Weaver or Barbara Luchs (3630853) for additional information and to get in on the ground floor of this study.

School Awarded Equipment & Supplies 

The LWVDC joins Giant in thanking moms, dads, grandparents and neighbors who used their Giant Bonus Card to give $2.6 million worth of equipment and supplies to area schools. Eastern Senior High School was awarded in supplies and teaching equipment worth a grand sum of $12,227.87. In their announcement, Giant listed 75 top winning schools. To find out how much your favorite school received visit Final school-by-school Safeway school totals will be available in a couple of months.

League members can be proud of their contributions to the school of their choice through this easy method made available through Giant Foods and Safeway. — Connie Tate (882-0387) and Gladys Weaver (554-3055), Co-chairs

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Consensus Questions To Be Considered

A two-year NCA Transportation study has been concluded. The DC League members will review the study and consider the consensus questions during the October Unit meetings. Plan to attend these meetings to give your input.

Awards Given To Promote Commuting 

On June 25, 2003 the first Code Red Ozone air pollution day was declared and a ceremony to recognize area efforts to reduce automotive commuting was held at the National Press Club. Our League was invited to attend the Best Workplaces for Commuters Award Ceremony by the sponsor the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG).

The goal of the effort is to significantly reduce vehicle miles traveled in this region. Three of the award winners this year estimated they are saving 1.2 million miles. Best Workplaces for Commuters effort was launched at the instigation of a joint effort by two federal agencies - the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, and built on COG's share-the-ride program.

Innovative ideas for encouraging employees to use mass transit or carpooling to commute to work were highlighted. For instance: 

  • Want your employer to buy a pair of shoes for your trip to work? Get a job with the Calvert Group of Bethesda, or if you bike, they will give your $350 - instead of a parking place. 
  • Want to buy your residence within walking distance of work? Discovery Communications of Silver Spring will give a$3,000 contribution to the purchase price if you work for them. These and other employers also provide showers and lockers to freshen up from the walk or bike ride. 
  • How about a laptop computer? Work for QED Consultants in Arlington with offices at a Metro stop - has 44 employees with 14 in Smart Commuters program - for the work trip; 8 use transit, 1 telecommutes and 5 carpool. Along with the laptop, the U.S. Treasury General for Tax Administration offers secure dial up lines for a tele-work with 35% of its 95 staffers telecommuting two or more days weekly. The savings realized in office space and overhead as well as the retention of highly valuable employees offsets the subsidized Internet and telephone costs. 
  • Another nationwide Federal program provides up to $100 monthly reimbursement for 200,000 employees who use transit for work trips. They will soon shift to WMATA Smart Cards to facilitate record keeping for Washington's participants, who are half of all users.

Robert Peck, President of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, DC resident, noted that 170 businesses signed up to join CoG's Best Workplaces for Commuters to date. — Grace Malakoff (387-7540) Chair

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Thanks to those of you who offered to make your home available for B&B during LWVUS Council in June. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the National Voter, where we placed the ad, didn't reach people until the week prior, we had no one book.

We still make the service available, and some of our "regular" hostesses are no longer available, so if you'd like to help the League in this way, contact Chris Matthews 202-269-3890,

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Presidential Selection

If you have not already done so, you are encouraged to read the article by Xandra Kayden, "Selection of the President" that appeared in the May/June 2003 issue of the National Voter. The survey printed at the conclusion of the article was to be returned by June 25 (if replying on-line). This is the first step in the process of updating the League position on Election of the President, which was adopted at Convention 2002. Ahead are two additional articles in the National Voter, the first in September with a second survey, the latter in January with a concurrence form in which members will express their opinions on a new position developed by the Presidential Selection Update Task Force, Chaired by Xandra Kayden.

The first article suggests that there will be no indepth review of League support for direct election of the President and abolition of the Electoral College, as called for in the current position. We have emailed Xandra our concerns that the update is giving scant attention to this issue, which we see as of central importance to the restudy. The DC League hopes to sponsor an open meeting on the subject in December when you will be able to discuss some of the issues raised. Watch for developments.

LWVUS Council

Highlights of the recent Council meeting, held here June 7 - 9 were the dynamic opening address by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton speaking on voting representation in Congress, the banquet, where the speaker was Justice Sandra Day O'Connor speaking on the history of woman's suffrage in the U.S., the open Symposium on Presidential Selection, attended by a number of DC Leaguers, and a special luncheon at the State Department, where a small group of League members was addressed by the desk officer responsible for Iraq. Next June, the biennial National Convention will meet in DC to elect new officers, review the Presidential Selection concurrence, and adopt program. We expect to discuss members' proposals for national program for the next biennium at Unit Meetings in January.

The United Nations Association and Congressional Representation: The United Nations Association of the United States, meeting at its biennial Convention here in DC June 28 - 30, adopted a "sense of the Convention resolution" dedicating its members to "calling upon the President and our members of Congress to initiate action that will lead to full voting representation for the citizens of the District of Columbia in both the Senate and the House of Representatives". Given widespread attendance at the Convention by UNA members from across the nation, this action was gratefully appreciated by LWVDC. We note that the LWVUS was a co-sponsor of the Forum and Convention and that LWVDC has worked closely with the UNA/National Capital Area for many years, with Anne Porowski and Sheila Keeny serving on the NCA Board. — Sheila Keeny, (966-1692), 3rd Vice President - National Program

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In response to a membership request at the February 2003 Program Planning Meeting, a committee to study the options to alleviate D.C.'s lack of full voting representation in Congress is being formed. If you are interested, please, call Kathy Schmidt at 202-237-5550. — Kathy Schmidt

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At its July 2 board meeting, the LWVDC Board welcomed and appointed three new members: Joan Domike, who will serve as Units Director; Connie Tate and Gladys Weaver, Co-Chairs of Education who are leading the present study of Vouchers - approved by the Board at its June meeting. June Bashkin has agreed to serve as Budget Chair, off-Board.

The next board meeting will be held September 3, 2003 at 10 am in the LWVUS Board Room, 1730 M Street, NW. — Frances Gemmill

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Once again this year, May 20-21, 2003, the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia was asked to help with the D.C. Public Schools city-wide student elections held at Backus Middle School, South Dakota Ave., NE.

Student Advisory Council Representatives from elementary, middle, junior and senior high schools were urged to attend and vote for city-wide officers of the Student Advisory Council (SAC) and for two student members who would serve as non-voting members of the Board of Education.

Preceding the vote, candidates for each position conducted short but very lively campaign activities. This was followed by a formal speech where candidates were given an opportunity to present their qualifications and platforms on what they hoped to accomplish if they were elected. Voting followed and League members collected and tallied the votes, certifying the winners for each position.

While only 29 out our 145 D.C. Public Schools participated in the election process, League members were encouraged to see how enthusiastically and competently the candidates presented themselves and their platforms. The voters listened attentively to each presentation and made their choices by marking their ballots.

The Student Elections were organized by Michon E. Peck who is Director of Student Affairs in the DCPS Office of Student Services and Student Affairs. League members who graciously and competently gave time to this important citizenship building activity were: Vinna Freeman, Minnie Fitzhugh, Barbara Luchs, Elaine Melmed, Kathy Schmidt, Linda Softli, Judy Smith, Elizabeth Yancey, and Barbara Yeomans. — Elaine Melmed (363-8764) MOVC Chair

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At it's June Board meeting, the NCA board formed two new study committees as a result of the May NCA Convention approval of two topics for study this year: a new study on Homeland Security and an update to the Housing position. League Presidents have been asked to appoint a representative from their League to serve on each committee. [Editors note: Call the League office 347-0230 and let Frances know if you are interested in serving on either of these two new committees.]

Homeland Security: The first meeting of the Homeland Security Committee will be at 10 am on the symbolic date, Thursday, September 11. The meeting will be held in the LWVUS Board Room at 1730 M Street, NW Suite 1000. The Committee is chaired by Andrea Morris Gruhl (Howard County League).

Housing Position Update: A meeting date has not yet been determined. The committee is chaired by Melpi Jeffries (Montgomery County League). The first activity of the Housing Committee will be a review of all local housing positions. 

Transportation Consensus Questions: Transportation Consensus questions have been defined and will be distributed to committee representatives in each League for Consensus Meetings.   [Editor's note: See Transportation Committee report on page 2.] 

Next NCA Meeting: The next NCA meeting will be held August 1 at 10 am in the LWVUS Board Room, 1730 M Street, NW. — Andrea Gruhl & Barbara Sherrill, LWV National Capital Area

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COUNCILMEMBER Jack Evans, Chair of the Council's Committee on Finance & Revenue, held a public hearing on June 12, 2003 concerning the "Ballpark Revenue Amendment Act of 2003", beginning at 10 a.m. As I entered the 4th floor hearing room at 10:05, very few seats were available, and 5 minutes later the room was full. League member Suzette Klein, an ardent baseball fan, had saved a seat for me. She shed a tear while supporting the League's opposition to public financing for the proposed stadium.

The witness list extended to three + pages, beginning with a panel of government witnesses, including Eric Price, Deputy Mayor, Dr. Natwar Gandhi, Chief Financial Officer, and three members of the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission. Ed Lazere, Policy Director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute headed the public witness list. The Washington Interfaith Network, an organization of church leaders across the city, boosted the slogan "Neighborhoods first before baseball" on their Tshirts and in their testimony-the WIN turnout included a speaker from every ward and many supporters. 

Much media coverage has followed the subsequent events relating to the proposed stadium. Following is an excerpt from Councilmember Evans Weekly Newsletter:

"Baseball in DC! Sounds great. Recent polling by the Mayor's office shows 80 percent of DC residents support baseball. If most people (including me) want baseball, the what's the issue? In a word "Money" Specifically, who is going to pay for the construction of a new baseball stadium in DC, and where is it going to be built.

"I want to begin by expressing my utter disappointment in how Major League Baseball (MLB is approaching this whole issue. As background, MLB purchased the financially failing Montreal Expos and has committed to moving the team to another city.

'The choices available are Washington, DC, Portland, Oregon, Northern Virginia and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Any casual observer would immediately recognize this as no contest... So, DC is the obvious choice ... But to get the most money for the owners, MLB is making cities bid against each other and themselves for the cost of a new stadium". — Frances Gemmill

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The 83rd Annual Meeting of the League of Woman Voters of the District of Columbia was held at the Kellogg Conference Center on the campus of Gallaudet University on April 24, 2003. This year, Elaine Melmed (photo right) organized premeeting fundraisers. Attendees were invited to purchase tickets for an opportunity to select "treasures" from either the $5 or $10 raffle pools. Gift certificates for home-baked pies were a particularly appetizing attraction for the attendees. There was also a silent auction for a weekend retreat. The fundraisers netted the league more than $600.

Shortly after 6:00 p.m., President E. Patricia Hallman called the meeting to order. The agenda was adopted as presented. Joan Paik, a member of the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) national board of directors, was introduced and appointed parliamentarian for the meeting. The minutes of the 2002 annual meeting were accepted. President Hallman acknowledged the presence of Eileen Williams of the League of Women Voters of the National Capital Area. She took the opportunity to thank the board members for their support during her presidency.

Treasurer Barbara Yeomans pointed out that the League ran a deficit of $9,921 in fiscal year 2002-2003. This shortfall was met again this year by drawing from the League's reserve funds. The bright spots for income generation remain Private Elections and the sale of the Vote pins, both coordinated by Reggie Yancey.

Third Vice President Sheila Keeny, National Programs, reported that the national study focus this year would be an update of the national position on selection of the President. Regarding full congressional voting representation, Kathy Schmidt noted that the League continues to be a full and active supporter of DC Vote and participates in the latter's outreach, educational, and media activities.

Anne Porowski, chair of the Budget Committee, introduced the proposed 2003-2004 budget, highlighting the following: balancing the budget will depend upon raising $10,000 through one or more major fundraisers; the salary of the office manager was increased 5%; and the cost of printing inserts will be charged to Committee Expenses rather than The DC Voter. June Bashkin suggested that the members be forthrightly apprised of the fact that the League is spending its reserves in order to meet annual operating expenses and called for full member participation in a major fundraiser. The budget was approved on a voice vote with no opposition.

Second Vice President Naomi Glass introduced the board-approved recommendation for Local Programs in 2003-2005. The recommendation, which resulted from a general planning meeting held in February, calls for the retention of all current positions and instructs the board to initiate an update of positions on Congressional voting rights for the District of Columbia, with an emphasis on the various options for attaining representation. Adoption of the recommendation was moved, seconded, and approved without dissent. Photo on the next page shows President Hallman, Elinor Hart, and Naomi Glass.

President Hallman called upon Joan Domike to introduce her proposal, previously endorsed by the board, for a by-law amendment. Domike's proposal would allow the LWVDC board to vote on issues using postal mail, electronic mail, or facsimile in lieu of calling special meetings. Domike noted that the Education Fund trustees already have this flexibility. Following a spirited discussion of the purpose and utility of the amendment, it was adopted with two in opposition.

Elinor Hart, chair of the Nominations Committee, introduced the slate of candidates. The nominees were as follows: President - Frances Gemmill; 1st Vice President - Naomi Glass; 2nd Vice President - Madlyn Calbert; Secretary - Ken Nesper; Directors - Barbara Luchs, Grace Malakoff, and Kathy Schmidt; and Nominating Committee - Matthews (Chair), Joan Domike, and Mary Rodgers. The floor opened for additional nominations, but none was received. Acclaim of the slate was moved, seconded, and approved unanimously. 

Hallman then turned the meeting over to newly elected President Frances Gemmill. Gemmill and other members of the board expressed their thanks for Hallman's service and dedication during her term as president.

President Gemmill opened the floor for member guidance for the board's consideration. The following topics were mentioned: prioritization of issues with a strong focus on Congressional Voting Rights; initiation of a strategic planning activity in light of the continued fiscal shortfalls and the future need to find new office space; continuation of efforts to reach more people by holding meetings at times and locations convenient to persons working downtown; development of League positions on public libraries; and consideration a direct petition to Congress in light of political opposition to a legislative solution to full Congressional Representation. Gemmill adjourned the business meeting at 7:12 p.m.

After dinner, Grace Malakoff introduced Mary E. ("Molly") Raphael, Director, D.C. Public Library, whose presentation was "Transforming Urban Public Libraries for the 21st Century". She stated that there is a renaissance in public libraries across the country. Libraries are becoming gathering places for diverse peoples by providing a welcoming environment. In many communities, the library is becoming the focal point for redevelopment. Raphael mentioned a number of new central and branch libraries that were constructed to address community needs as well as library needs. She also mentioned the range of new services that these innovative libraries are providing, such as computer training, information navigation, and Internet access. Turning her attention to the DC Public Library, she identified three areas of strategic focus:

  1. Life-long learning with an emphasis on instilling this virtue in children and youth;
  2. Information literacy with an emphasis on technology; staff training and technology refreshment are major hindrances;
  3. Library as a community-gathering place. (She added that four branch libraries are being rebuilt and consideration is being given to replacing or rebuilding the central library.)

The challenge facing the DC library is the past and current lack of adequate funding. Ms. Raphael noted the efforts by Ralph Nader under the "DC Library Renaissance Project" to activate community leaders to support the library and to solicit gifts, grants, and donations from private sources. This 18-month effort began in December 2002.

Ms. Raphael shared slides of some of the innovative libraries she had mentioned in her presentation and answered questions for the members.

At the close of Ms. Raphael's presentation, Gemmill adjourned the 83rd Annual Meeting. Report by Ken Nesper, Secretary.

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NEW MEMBERS: We welcome the following new members who joined via the DC League: Katherine S. Broderick, Clyta M. Dantzler, Dr. Billie Day, Amanda Espitia, Rev. Mary E. Ivey, Jamie McDonald, Betty M. Ramage, Constance Sullivan, Erma A. Wilson. And members who joined through the National League: Marianne R. Czuczka, Gloria P. Dunmore, Jacqueline D. Gallagher, Cynthia D. Johnson, Mary Johnson, M. Kathryn Kelly, Victor Miller, Thelma Moore, Jeanne S. Sinkford, JoAnn Scott, Barbara R. Stout.

Note: Whether one joins through the local or national League, each member is given full membership in both organizations. The national League is the parent organization of the local League.

CONTRIBUTIONS: We gratefully acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions to the League support: Mary A. Amory, Janet Burmester, Frank Daspit, Ann Ingram, Kathleen Mazure, Dr. Maureen I. McCarthy, Jeanette Miller, Hilda Mintzes, Ralph & Helen Petersberger in memory of Helen Stern, and Caroline Shugars.

IN MEMORIAM: Long time members Eugenia Bunch, Amy C. Donnelly, and Cora Grannis. DC League Past President (1953-55) Helen Latimer died peacefully in her sleep on Friday, July 11.

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Share the League with your friends and acquaintances. Show them this newsletter. Print out the membership form.

Invite them to attend the Fall Opening Luncheon and the Hillwood Tour and Tea. Additional flyers and membership forms are available from the League office (347-3020).

Questions concerning League membership can be directed to Linda Softli (667-8210) or, Suzanne Campagna (338-1055).

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Fri., August 1, 10am, LWV NCA Board Meeting, 1730 M Street, NW Suite 1000

Wed., August 13, 10am, Education Committee Meeting, 733 15th St. NW, Suite 432

There are no other scheduled meetings in the month of August

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Save These Dates

Opening Fall Luncheon
Guest Speaker: Alice Rivlin
Thursday, Sept. 18th
Reservation form

Hillwood Tour & Tea
Saturday, Oct. 4th
Reservation form

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