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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
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 www.giantfood.com. 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
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:
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
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, ChrisMatt@igc.org.
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.
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
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
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
DCPS CITYWIDE STUDENT ELECTIONS
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
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
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:
83RD ANNUAL MEETING
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