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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 79, No. 9, October 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
D.C. Mental Health: A Needed Focus
Affordable Housing Committee
Private Elections
Education Committee
Children at Risk Committee
Transportation Committee
Congressional Representation: DC Voting Rights Committee
Voter Services Committee

In Memoriam
International Relations Committee
National Program
Report: United Nations
Unit News
October Meeting Schedule
Member News
Calendar, October 2003
Fall Luncheon flyer and reservation form


Even while we're still clearing away the trees, the debris, and the disappointment Isabel the hurricane left behind when she arrived on Thursday, September 18th, the day of our long-planned fall luncheon, we're moving to reschedule the luncheon for Wednesday, October 22. We hope all of the 107 League members and guests who had reservations for Sept. 18 will be able to come on this new date. If you can't come on October 22 and would like a refund, let us know. Please look to the enclosed flyer for details and to register and confirm your presence on the new date.

On September 8, 2003, the legal suit challenging the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), also known as the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation, came before the Supreme Court. More than 80 plaintiffs filed suit in federal court to stop BCRA from going into effect. The LWVUS has filed an amicus brief on the limits on sham issue ads. Kay Maxwell, several LWVUS staff members, and several Leaguers from the national capital area gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court prior to the opening of the session. Carrying the banner of "League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia", Grace Malakoff, Joan Wilson and I added our selves to the rally.

Meanwhile, October offers many interesting prospects, beginning with the D.C. League visit to Hillwood for an enjoyable Saturday on October 4. A limited number of spaces for the tour and tea are still available - please do send in your reservations soon, and bring your out of town visitors, potential League members, and family to enjoy this Washington treasure. Again, the flyer gives details, but we must have a final count soonest.
Moving back to League program, be sure to attend a unit meeting to learn about and consider the regional transportation study developed through the National Capital Area League. A background paper will be mailed to you under separate cover containing the results of the study and consensus questions. See p.5 for meeting places and times of our six Units, and remember that you'd be welcome to attend any one of the Units, although a phone call to confirm that there are no changes in location or time would be prudent.

As you gear up for Halloween and the end of October, be sure to attend a highly interesting Brown Bag Luncheon and dialogue, which will feature School Board member Tommy Wells, the elected School Board representative for District 3 (Wards 5 & 6). Mr. Wells will speak about The Status of the D.C. Public Schools, from the point of view of a school board member. This discussion should provide useful background for the planned discussion of vouchers in early November. — Frances Gemmill, President

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Fall Luncheon Re-Scheduled
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Guest Speaker
Dr. Alice M. Rivlin

David A. Clarke School of Law
See enclosed flyer for full details.

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The status of the D.C. Mental Health System is far from acceptable, according to a recent evaluation of University Legal Services, Inc.: The Protection and Advocacy Program for the District of Columbia.

In a memorandum addressed to the Director, D.C. Department of Mental Health and to Covington & Burling, Plaintiffs' Counsel in the Dixon Case, University Legal recognizes some significant system improvement; however, they find the Department of Mental Health still unable to change client outcomes for many consumers. Specific problems include: 1) Failure to Prioritize the Consumers with the Greatest Need; 2) Poor Quality Case Management; 3) An Overloaded Office of Accountability: 4) Lack of Coordination and Oversight of the Core Service Agencies: 5) A Non-identifiable Medicaid Enrollment Initiative; 6) Continuing, Multiple Problems at the St. Elizabeths Hospital; 7) Inadequate Individual Recovery Plans; 8) Lack of Performance-based Budget; 9) Inadequate Children's Services, not Successfully Integrated with Other Children's Agencies; 10) A Grievance System That Lacks Integrity.

Mental Health is a local issue which invites further community and organizational focus. We invite your participation in a League effort to make a difference by raising community consciousness concerning a significant local health problem. —Madlyn W. Calbert (832-7630), 2nd Vice President, Local Programs

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PLANS FOR HOUSING MEETING UNDERWAY Find out about everything that is happening on the housing front at the important noontime meeting. This will be an opportunity to hear a panel of advocate/experts from the nonprofit world discuss the status of important housing initiatives. The date for this event will be announced in the DC Voter when finalized. — Sharron Hines (395-9348), Chair

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As a nonpartisan organization, LWVDC conducts and monitors elections for private and public organizations. VOLUNTEERS are needed to assist in the myriad of tasks involved at on-site locations or in the League office. The tasks include mailing ballots, tallying the ballots, verifying mailing lists. If you have at least two hours to join an elections team please call the League office or the committee co-chairs. — Reggie Yancey (726-1929) & Elaine Melmed (393-4919) Private Elections Co-chairs

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The Committee continues its study on school vouchers. Plans are underway for the November 12 General Meeting on DC School Vouchers. Details will be available in the next DC Voter.

The next committee meeting will be held Wednesday, October 8th at 10 am at the LWVDC Office. All members are welcome. We urge all members to attend the October 27 Brown Bag Dialogue and hear Tommy Wells, District 3 Board of Education member. — Connie Tate (882-0387) and Gladys Weaver (554-3055), Co-chairs

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Don't Miss This
Brown Bag Dialogue With

Tommy Wells
District 3 (Wards 5 & 6)
Member of the DC Board of Education
Topic: DC Public Schools

11:30 am - 1:30 pm

1730 M Street, NW
Bring your own lunch and a friend.

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When the Washington Post recently published a series of articles on the failures of group homes and the juvenile justice system as a whole, a coalition of advocacy organizations submitted a strong appeal to Mayor Williams to take prompt action to reform the system. By vote of the Executive Board, the League has endorsed the coalition's proposals and has sent a letter to the Mayor urging action on those recommendations.

The LWVDC Committee on Children at Risk will report any follow-up and hopes in the next few months to organize a visit to Oak Hill, the notorious detention center for DC youth, by its subcommittee on Juvenile Justice. Any member interested on working on Juvenile Justice issues is cordially invited to contact Joan Wilson. — Joan Wilson (237-6264), Children At Risk Committee Chair

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Welcome New Members

Amb. Joyce E. Leader
Jennifer Swyers

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October Unit Meetings Consider NCA

Transportation Study & Consensus Questions Pet transportation projects for the Washington region face a process that produced the Metro, now loaded to capacity at rush hour, and that turned highway money into transit funding to help build it.

The planning process that evolved out of these pioneer efforts at getting our three "states" to work together on transportation planning will be the subject of October units sponsored by the National Capital Area League.

During our two-year study of the issue, the name of Robert Moses, the "Power Broker" of an award-winning study often came up. But the days of a secret czar to create billion dollar projects left plenty of complaining displaced businesses and residents. Secret planning gave way to requirements for citizen information and input. At the October Unit meetings we will take a look at how we see it now. Resource materials and consensus questions on Regional Transportation Planning will be mailed to League members the first part of October. Plan to attend one of the unit meetings to give your input. See page 5 for the location, date and time.
(Re) Building Communities Around Public Transit on the Eastern Side of the Region: A Public Meeting for Citizens and Community Leaders

Where: St. Luke's Center
4925 East Capitol St., SE, Washington, DC
When: Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2003 from 7:00 - 8:30 pm 

The public is invited by the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board to attend this panel discussion. DC citizens will have a chance to ask decision makers about the challenges and opportunities of Transit-Oriented Development. Are you interested in communities that feature a mix of jobs and housing clustered close to transit lines? Why hasn't more of this kind of development happened on the eastern side of the region? When you hear about Transit-Oriented Development, do you have concerns about gentrification and higher density development? The session will feature: Peter Shapiro, Chair of the PG County Council (moderator); Andy Altman, D.C. Office of Planning; Al Dobbins, MarylandNational Capital Park & Planning Commission- PG County; and, Denton Kent, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. For more details, please call CAC member John Swanson, CAC 202-962-3295 or go to their website at www.mwcoq.orq. — Grace Malakoff (387-7540), Transportation Committee Chair

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DC Voting Rights Committee

With three bills to be under consideration by the US House of Representatives the first meeting of the LWVDC Committee on DC Full Voting Rights discussed them September 11 in the Cleveland Park Public Library.

The three bills have been introduced by our delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Representatives Tom Davis of Virginia and Ralph Regula of Ohio. The first would grant citizens of the District of Columbia votes like all other US citizens for two senators and a representative. Mr. Davis' proposal reportedly (It is not yet in final form.) would give us a vote for a representative who would be part of the Maryland delegation but no vote for senators and would give an additional house seat to Utah until the 2010 election. Mr. Regula's bill would have DC citizens vote in national elections as if it were a part of Maryland; that is, for the two Senate seats and for a house seat. However, DC citizens would not retrocede to Maryland, nor vote for Maryland's Governor or members of the Maryland general assembly. There are many Constitutional questions about each of the plans.
The committee will be studying each of the bills and the various solutions favored by a dozen or so groups in the city. The next meeting is Thursday, October 9 at 2:30 in the Cleveland Park Public Library on Connecticut Avenue between Macomb and Ordway Streets. Everyone is welcome. Call Kathy Schmidt for details. — Kathy Schmidt (237-5550) Chair

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Plans are underway to register high school seniors in time to vote in the Presidential Primary on January 13th (that is, by December 14, 2003). As this DC Voter goes to press, the September 25th Voter Services Election 2004 Planning Meeting has not taken place. The next issue will report on this meeting and activities members can participate in for the 2004 Elections. — Elinor Hart (387-2966) & Judy Smith (882-3021), Voters Service Co-chairs

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We are sad to report the death of INEZ PARKS WHEELER, who served on the D.C. League Board and as chairperson of the N.E. Day Unit, and as a member of the League's Education and Voter Services Committees. After graduating from Dunbar High School in 1936, Inez earned a bachelor's degree from Miner Teachers College and a Master's at New York University. When she retired from a 25 year career in D.C. Public Schools, she worked as director of the Right to Read program, and in other community activities. We extend our appreciation and sympathy to her daughters and grandchildren, who led the ceremony to celebrate her life. Her daughter Pat Wheeler is a member of the DC League.

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United Nations Week, October 20 - 26

The DC League will co-sponsor a week-long observation of the birth of the United Nations and the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, the chief sponsor of the events. Watch for a flyer with details, to be mailed closer to the target dates. — Ann Porowski (364-0557) and Susan Rao (636-1688), Co-chairs

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Election of the President/Presidential Selection - Looking ahead to subsequent Unit Meetings to review and update the LWV position on Election of the President/Presidential Selection, members may wish to read a recent book by our colleague in the Congressional Representation struggle, Prof. Jamin Raskin. The book, Overruling Democracy - The Supreme Court vs. the American People includes an extensive review of the problems associated with the Electoral College. You may be particularly struck, as I was, by his assertion that "despite surges in voting in swing states, the overall turnout sat at the dismal 47 percent level, which put the United States behind every major democracy on earth. Thus, the electoral college system helps produce elections in which half of Americans do not vote. In 2000, less than half of the half that did vote or, less than a quarter of the nation - determined the victor." To understand the role of the Electoral College in this sorry situation, as well as proposed solutions, see Chapter 3 of Professor Raskin's book. — Sheila Keeny (966-1692) 3rd Vice President, National Program

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The October 3rd NCA Board meeting will host the President's Lunch and will have an agenda driven by the attending presidents of the ten local leagues participating in LWVNCA. The agenda replaces the usual NCA Board meeting agenda and will transpire from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. LWVUS President Kay Maxwell is the honored guest. — Andrea Gruhl & Barbara Sherrill, LWV National Capital Area

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Dept. of Public Information Conference for NGOs, September 8-12

The annual United Nations Department of Public Information Conference (UN DPI) for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) took place at the New York City UN Headquarters 8 - 10 September. Over 2000 representatives from over 100 countries were in attendance, of whom 40% were from the developing world. Among the attendees were 35 League members, one from as far away as Iowa. DC Leaguers attending were Luci Murphy, Billie Day and Sheila Keeny. This year's conference theme, Human Security and Dignity, was addressed in morning and afternoon panel discussions as well as in workshops presented by various NGOs during the lunch break. Below is a report from new member Billie Day on her participation in this Conference:

"As a new member of the LWV, I felt privileged to be able to share in this conference, to meet the League's UN observers and fellow League members from other areas, as well as to meet delegates from many varied organizations and nations.

The first afternoon session dealt with psychological complexities of human security and dignity including violence of individuals toward each other, violence in conflicted countries long after the peace agreement has been signed, and violence in non-warring societies. Other sessions focused on Education and on Empowerment, the latter session including representatives of indigenous peoples and of youth. There was an effort to include young delegates in the conference. One, a sophomore at Manhattanville College, was a graduate of Wilson High School. In the session on Sustainable Development, one speaker asserted, "globalization has not done much for the poor or for nature." Another urged everyone to give great attention to the concurrent WTO Cancun discussions and conflicts between peoples' needs and profit agendas. Overall, several speakers emphasized the UN Charter as focusing on "We the people of the United Nations" not "we the nations", urging a more coordinated, concerted role for NGOs in influencing their governments' UN representatives and bringing about the goals and ideals of the Charter.

Highlights of the midday workshops included Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who spoke about the need for a new paradigm away from that of "the inevitability of war." and a speaker on the civil rights panel, who cited the historical precedent for the role of the UN in human rights violations, including those in the US, which brought to mind the issue of DC voting representation.

It was a full three days; overall one was left with much to contemplate about pressing issues in the coming General Assembly session." -- Billie Day — Sheila Keeny (966-1692), 3rd Vice President, National Program

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Corrections to MEMBER HANDBOOK AND DIRECTORY included in September DC VOTER:

on p.2 change Kathryn Schmidt's email to  
on p.7 change Linda Softli's tel. no. to 667-8210

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The long awaited NCA Transportation Study will be this month's topic. Resource materials and consensus questions are being mailed directly to each member in early October. Please bring these with you to the Unit meeting of your choice.

The chairs of the Units will meet Monday, Oct. 6 at 12 noon at the LWVDC Office to prepare for the Unit meetings. — Joan Domike (966-3865), Unit Director

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Tuesday, October 14 at

9:45 am, Southwest Unit at the home of Audrey Hatry, 554-4450, 530 N Street, SW, #S-605
12:45 pm, Northwest Day Unit at IONA Senior Services, 4125 Albemarle St., NW, For information call Frances Gemmill 362-6784
6:30 pm, In-Town Evening Unit at the Irish Channel Inn (Restaurant/Pub), 500 H St., NW, in Chinatown (Gallery PI/Chinatown Metro stop). We will reserve tables for the meeting. Members can choose to eat or not. Call Sheila Willet by 3 pm on the 14th at 347-3020 if you plan to attend.

Wednesday, October 15 at

9:45 am, Upper 16th Street Unit at the home of Paula McKann, 829-0656, 4709 16th Street, NW

Thursday, October 16 at

9:45 am, Chevy Chase/Ingleside Unit in the Lounge at 3050 Military Rd., NW, Co-chairs: Ruth Allen, 362-8953, Joan Wilson, 237-6264 
7:30 pm, The Evening Unit at the home of Joan Domike, 966-3865, 4200 Massachusetts Ave., NW, # 304

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SPECIAL RECOGNITION: PAULA McKANN, a retired teacher who chairs the D.C. League's Upper 16th Street Unit, is featured in a recent issue of "Live and Learn", a publication of the National Retired Teachers Association. "In many ways (the article notes), Paula McKann is busier now than she was during the 25 years she taught fifth grade in Washington, D.C. At 80, she is President of the D.C. Retired Teachers Association, chair of the Upper 16th Street League of Women Voters, and a member of the D.C. Superior Court Board on Professional Responsibility. In addition, she is also active in her church and college sorority, and a card-carrying member of three bridge clubs." McKann's recipe for a long healthy and meaningful life is endorsed by current psychological thinking.

Congratulations to new member SHELLEY BRODERICK, Dean of the David A. Clarke School of Law, University of the District of Columbia, for being honored by the Women's Bar Association as a "Star of the Bar" for her accomplishments.

CONTRIBUTIONS: We gratefully acknowledge and thank Frank Drob and the Estate of Mary Drob.

SHARE THE LEAGUE: Share the League with your friends and acquaintances in 3 easy steps: 1) Show them this newsletter 2) Print out and give the membership form to them 3) Invite them to attend one of the October Unit Meetings or the Fall Luncheon with you. Additional membership forms are available from the League office.

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

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Has your League Membership expired?

Please check the address label on the back page of your mailed issue. If the membership date above your name has passed, print out the renewal form and mail with your check (made payable to LWVDC).

Several members have already responded to this effort to reduce League expenses. We hope you will be able to do so too. Thank you. — Frances Gemmill, President

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      1 10:00 A.M. LWVDC Board meeting1 2 3 10:00 am NCA President's Luncheon1 4 12 pm-3:30 pm, Hillwood Tour & Tea (Advanced reservation required)
5 6 12 pm Unit Council Meeting3 7 9:45 am Voter Registration of New US Citizens2
7-8:30 pm Public Transit panel discussion
Deadline for Nov DC Voter
8 10:00 am Education Cmte Meeting3 9 2:30 pm DC Voting Rights Committee 10 11
12 13 14 Unit Meetings
9:45 am Southwest Day
12:45 pm NW Day
6:30 pm In-Town Evening
15 Unit Meeting
9:45 am Upper 16th St.
16 Unit Meetings
9:45 am Chevy Chase/Ingleside
7:30 pm Evening Unit
17 18
19 20 21 22 11:15 am Fall Luncheon 23 24 Nov DC Voter mailed 25
26 27 11:30 am Brown Bag Dialogue 28 29 30 31  

1. Meets at the LWVUS office, 1730 M St., NW, 10th Floor Board Room
2. Ceremony held in Courtroom 20 on the 6th floor of the U.S. District Courthouse at 3rd and Constitution Ave., NW (Judy Smith 882-3021).
3. Meets at the LWVDC office, 733 15th St., NW, Suite 432.

October 20-26, week-long observation of the birth of the United Nations and the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. Watch for separate event flyer in your mail. 

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