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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 80, No. 7, July/August 2004

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:

Know the District of Columbia Is Now Available
President's Message
Plan Now to Attend
Healthcare Committee
Affordable Housing Committee
Welcome New Members
Child and Youth Policy Forum
Voter Services Committee
Student Elections
Reflections on Civic Education
League's UN Observers Report at Convention 2004
Citizen's Right to Vote
LWV National Program
Congressional Representation
International Relations Committee
The Green Door: The Door to Independence for People with Mental Illness
Member Contributions Acknowledged
Membership Form to Join or Renew
Calendar August 2004
84th Annual Meeting: League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Midsummer Melodies reservation form
Know the District of Columbia order form

Know the District of Columbia Is Now Available!

Know The District of Columbia is now available. The 144-page book provides a comprehensive overview of the city we call home. Kudos go to Editor-in-chief Jeanette Miller and the many League members for their fine work. The book may be picked up at the League office M - W, F from 9:30 am - 3:30 pm. League members receive a discount rate: League Member $ 7 (mailed), $5 (picked up in office). Non-member $10 (mailed), $8 (picked up in office. See insert enclosed.

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By Frances Gemmill

Many events important to the League have occurred since the June VOTER. Of these, the completion of the 2004 edition (3rd) of KNOW THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (KDC) is most noteworthy. The first edition appeared in 1980; the second in 1986, and many who contributed to this 3rd edition laud the work of former President Sue Panzer and League member Paul Whipple in paving the way for the success of KDC. Jeanette Miller deserves much thanks for assembling and editing this 3rd edition (as she did the 2nd edition), and Sheila Willet deserves tons of appreciation for her support and assistance in producing this latest edition.

Luckily, the arrival of KDC from the printer coincided with the LWVUS Convention, so that Leagues across the country could buy them at the NCA wares table. And, on the last day of convention, Madlyn Calbert, Kathryn Ray and I were able to present a copy to LWVUS President Kay Maxwell. Please see the top of the page to learn how you, our League members, can get your own copy.

Other distribution plans are underway: We have already received an inquiry from George Mason University, which wants to purchase it as a text for two classes (70 copies). A teacher-training week for DCPS teachers taught by Elinor Hart used KDC as text for DCPS teachers.

An appreciation dinner for Benjamin F. Wilson, retired DC Board of Elections and Ethics Chairman was held this month. Mr. Wilson served the DC citizens well during his 14-year tenure on the Board. Several League members attended the black tie affair.

Regarding the LWVUS Convention, in addition to our four voting delegates (Gemmill, Malakoff, Calbert and Ray), several DC Leaguers worked as volunteers. Notably Kathy Schmidt, who headed the volunteer desk. Linda Softli arranged, and carried out a popular visit to the Chinese Embassy as well as a visit to Africare (not on the same day) for the convention delegates.

In this VOTER are reports on two of the several issues considered at Convention: the League's "Citizen's Right to Vote Position" and the proposed resolution regarding the Death Penalty.

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A Midsummer Melodies with Double Play
A unique instrumental combination of a flute and a tuba!
August 11th at 8 PM
Cost $15
(See enclosed flyer)

September 23rd - Note: Date Change

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The Healthcare Committee members will be attending the 2nd Community Forum: Medical Homes DC on July 30 to be held at Kaiser Family Foundation, 1330 G Street, NW. The full day forum (8:30 am-3 pm) will feature many noted speakers: Anthony A Williams, Mayor; Robert Bobb, City Administrator; Herbert Tillery, Interim DOH Director; Eleanor HolmesNorton, Congressional Representative; Sandy Allen, Councilmember, George Jones, Chair Board of Directors, DC Primary Care Association (DCPCA); Sharon A. Baskerville, DCPCA Executive Director; Jack Evans, Councilmember; and Alice Rivlin, Brookings Institution.

Next Committee Meeting Agenda Set: The Health Committee will hold its next meeting on August 19, 12:30-2:00 pm at the office of the DC Primary Care Association, 1411 K Street, NW, Suite 400. Bring your lunch. On the agenda:

  • Plans for the League's Opening Fall Luncheon September 23'd: Herb Tillery, Deputy Mayor for Operations serving as Interim at DOH, will be the featured speaker.   He will talk about DC government's role in providing and ensuring health care for the vulnerable, the changes at the Department of Health, and where the department is headed in the future. He replaces James Buford in March, and has been leading reform efforts as DOH seeks a new director.
  • Plans for October 29 forum on "Responsibilities of Nonprofit Healthcare Providers to the Community: It is jointly sponsored by the DC League of Women Voters, DCPCA and DC Appleseed for Law and Justice and will be held in the early afternoon at GW University, immediately following the annual meeting of DCPCA.

Goody Braun (882-9335) and Rene Wallis (638-0252 w), Co-chairs

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Full funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund, $41.5 million for FY05, is the season's very good news. The entire Council and the Mayor deserve appreciation. Two other important issues, a Comprehensive Housing Strategy and the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, have also seen modest progress.

A Task Force of 28 members charged with developing a Comprehensive Housing Strategy is now underway. Appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Council, the members of the Task Force are builders, bankers, tenants, foundation officials, advocates for the homeless and affordable housing activists, as well as 6 city officials. In the fall, Councilmember Fenty will hold a series of roundtables, and the final plan is expected to be before the Council next spring.

Major problems remain. Of greatest significance is the pending expiration of the Section 8 provision. And the tenants' longstanding right to purchase their buildings is at risk, because the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has not been persuaded to move the (League-supported) legislation that protects the tenants' first right of purchase. — Janet Brown & Elinor Hart, Committee Members

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Welcome New Members

Mary A. Bain
Loretta V. Clarke
Janice Kruger
Linda Scope
Thea Koehler

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Prioritizing for Our City's Future
Tuesday, August 10, 8:30 - 10:30 AM
The World Bank, Building "J"
Conference Room JB1-080
701 18th Street, NW

Meet with key city policy makers. Hear about their vision for our children's future & well being in the District of Columbia

8:00 am Registration (continental breakfast)
8:45 am Policy Forum Begins
10:00 am Questions and Answers Session 

10:25 am Wrap-up

To register, contact DC ACT at (202) 234-9404 or email Space is limited so register early.

For security purposes all attendees should bring a valid photo ID to help expedite security clearance.

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The Voter Services Committee will be contacting the candidates running for office in the September Primary for the Democratic, Republican, or DC Statehood - Green parties. The telephone contacts will be made to inform the candidates how they can transmit biographical information and statements on various issues important to the citizens in DC.

To assist the team in telephoning candidates, contact co-chair Elinor Hart. Finalization of the Issue Questions that will be presented to the candidates is also under way. The information provided by the candidates will be available to the public the League's soon to be launched Online Election 2004 Website.



Thursday Network (TN) and The Urban Roundtable (UR), auxiliaries of the Greater Washington Urban League, are teaming up with the Washington DC Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to launch the Get Your Vote On campaign. Get Your Vote On is an educational campaign and voter registration drive to encourage people to vote and increase participation in the November elections.

The Voter registration drives are held the third Saturday of each month. Volunteers are needed for August 21st and September 18th, from 10 am to 12 pm, or, from 12 pm - 2 pm.

The drives will be located at Washington DC Metro Train Stations: Anacostia, African-American Civil War Memorial/U Street; Union Station, Addison Road, New Carrolton, Silver Spring, Minnesota Avenue, Rhode Island Avenue, Eastern Market, and Georgia Avenue/Petworth.

To volunteer or for more information, please call Linda Eatmon Jones at (703) 715-8877 or send a e-mail to and indicate the date and shifts you are interested in working. — Elinor Hart (387-2966) & Judy Smith (882-3021), Co Chairs

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For the fourth consecutive year, the D.C. League of Women Voters assisted the D.C. Public Schools' Division of Student Services in conducting its elections to Student Advisory Councils (elementary, middle, and junior high schools); and two student representatives (high schools) to the Board of Education.

On May 24 and 25, 2004 nine League members reported to Backus Middle School in Northeast Washington to distribute ballots, listen to the students' campaign speeches, and tally votes for each of the candidates.

At the morning session on the 24th of May, 13 elementary schools participated in the elections. In the afternoon, 3 junior high and middle schools elected their representatives. Eight senior high schools sent students to vote on the morning of the 25 h of May. As a result of this two-day effort, two students were selected to become student members of the Board of Education. Officers to the Student Advisory Council (SAC) were also selected.

League volunteers at this event were Frances Gemmill, Jack Mathison, Kathy Schmidt, Naomi Glass, Anna Marsh, Linda Softli, Judith Smith, Minnie Fitzhugh, and Reggie Yancey.

The very able Michon Peck of the D.C. Public Schools Student Affairs Office organized the elections. — Elaine Melmed

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What a lesson! As we volunteers greeted contingents arriving from different schools, we noted extensive preparation for this event by several students: stovepipe hats, red white and blue, surrounded one 5th grade candidate. Balloons and other expressions caught our attention. In the auditorium, candidates seated on the platform to take their turn making campaign speeches, moderated by the present school board representative. Each candidate showed evidence of thought in his or her speech. One fifth-grade boy won applause when he began "You may wonder why I'm wearing this silly hat. It's because I want to get your attention". Moving on to issues, he noted that improving cafeteria food had been remarkably unsuccessful in the past; he therefore proposed another priority, say, cleaner bathrooms. Another candidate noted the absence of press, and commented "it's too bad they aren't here to report such a good event as this, to consider along with all the bad things they say about the D.C. public schools." — Frances Gemmill

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League's UN Observers Report at Convention 2004

Convention 2004 offered an opportunity for delegates and observers to meet the League's UN observers, Doris Schapira, Margery Cohen, and Patty Day, whose responsibilities include attending weekly briefings, networking with other NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and serving on the Executive Committee of the UN Department of Information's NGO Committee. According to Doris, their hearts really belong to the NGO Committee on UNICEF's Working Group on Girls, which has established an International Network for Girls. Doris encouraged League members to attend the annual DPI NGO Conference September 8-10, which will address the UN's Millennium Development Goals. Anticipating that the U.S. view of the UN may improve now that the US needs the UN for international legitimacy, Doris urges Leagues to use our recently updated UN position to promote understanding of the UN and the need for UN involvement in collective approaches to international crises and global threats and challenges. — Sheila Keeny (966-1692)

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As a result of strong disagreement on the interpretation of the LWVUS Board's position on whether a VoterVerified Paper Audit Trail with Direct Recording Electronic Voting, the LWVUS position was revised to focus on goals or principles rather than any particular type of technology. The LWVUS interpretation will now read: In order to ensure integrity and voter confidence in elections, the LWVUS supports the implementation of voting systems and procedures that are secure, accurate, recount able, and accessible.

The LWVUS Board. is working through the application of this revised stance and will send additional guidance. In the interim, this message should provide an initial basis for a shared understanding among Leagues of the action taken at Convention. You can read a more complete report by going to www.Iwv.orci/membersonIv. — Frances Gemmill

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Distributing buttons proclaiming "Execute Justice not People", the Illinois League led a spirited, albeit unsuccessful, attempt to achieve concurrence on a position to abolish the death penalty. Armed with compelling statistics, the Leagues of Women Voters of Illinois, New Jersey, and their coalition held caucuses to inform delegates and answer questions. Prior to Convention, the Illinois League provided background material, including pros and cons, to all Leagues, complying with the "advance notice" Results of the Illinois study are posted on their website

Why would League convention delegates vote "No"? Several Leagues argued against the proposal because they are in the midst of a study and wanted to complete their work before being eclipsed by concurrence at convention. Others felt there was not unanimity among their League members; therefore, the issue should be studied at the local level first.

In the spirit of arriving at convention "informed", the following outline of DC's death penalty statutes and status was prepared for our delegation.


Until 1972, the death penalty was legal; however, rarely invoked. Under current D.C. law, no crime is punishable by death. Federal law, however, sanctions the death penalty for certain crimes. If such crimes are committed in D.C., they are adjudicated in the federal U.S. District Court, not the local D.C. Superior Court. (For a list of federal crimes punishable by death, search "death penalty" at


1942: The last execution under federal jurisdiction in D.C. was on August 8, 1942, when six men were executed for wartime espionage.
1957: The death penalty in D.C. is legal; however, rarely invoked. The last person executed in the D.C. was on April 27, 1957.
1972: In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court nullified federal and state (including D.C.'s) death penalty statutes. In Furman vs. Georgia, 408 U.S. 153 capital punishment laws permitting wide discretion in the application of the death penalty were struck down. Characterizing these laws as "arbitrary" and capricious", the majority ruled that they constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the due process guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court decision nullified the D.C. law; however, the death penalty law remained in the D.C. Code.
1980: D.C. Law 3-113, the "District of Columbia Death Penalty Repeal Act of 1980" formally abolished the death penalty under D.C. law. (Source:
1992: Congress ordered the District to place a death penalty measure on the ballot. City leaders rallied against the forced vote, calling it an encroachment on home rule. D.C. voters rejected the measure.
2000: Council Resolutions 13-511 & 13-512 adopted by the D.C. City Council to request that the U.S. Attorney General not seek the death penalty for crimes committed in the District of Columbia.
2001 A federal jury in D.C. failed to reach unanimity on the death penalty for "Murder, Inc." drug gang leaders who were charged under federal law with murder committed in aid of racketeering and as part of a continuing criminal enterprise. The federal government's decision to seek execution was approved by Attorney General John D. Ashcroft.

— Kathryn Ray, 3rd Vice President (244-0770)

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DC Voting Rights Committee 

On June 23, 2004, Congress held a hearing on five separate bills that would give Washington DC some form of Congressional Representation: three bills introduced by Republicans, and two by Democrats. Congressman Tom Davis, Chair of the House of Representatives Government Reform Committee conducted the hearing. Members of Congress, DC Mayor Anthony Williams, Council Chair Linda Cropp, Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Walter Smith of DC Appleseed, Ilir Zherka of DC Vote, Betsy Werronen of the DC Republican Committee, Ted Trabue of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and former US Solicitor Kenneth Starr testified.

The important outcome was agreement that Congress has the authority to grant Congressional voting rights to DC citizens by legislation, so that the cumbersome process of passage of an amendment to the Constitution which must be ratified by 2/3 of the state legislatures is not necessary. — Kathy Schmidt (237-5550) Chair

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PARIS, 1919: SIX MONTHS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, by Margaret MacMillan: A book discussion will be held at Susan and Firoze Rao's house on Sunday, October 3, from 2-4 pm. It is widely available in bookstores, the DC Public Library, and at It is not a fast read, so interested League members are advised to add the book to their summer reading lists. If you have questions, please contact Co-chair Susan Rao at 636-1688. — Susan Rao (636-1688) and Anne Porowski (364-0556) Co-chairs

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The Green Door: The Door to Independence for People with Mental Illness

Thanks to Madlyn Calbert our Board members each received copies of the Spring 2004 Green Door News. There is a crisis of homelessness among people formerly served under grants received through the Department of Mental Health subsidy program because of funding problems. For a more complete story about this, please call the DC League office and request a copy of the Green Door News).

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We gratefully acknowledge and thank the following members for their contributions to support the League: Herbert & Mary Bain, Reba Diggs, Ann L. Ingram, Ruth Kahn, Joy Simonson.

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Questions concerning League membership can be directed to the League office at 347-3020.

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 8:30-10:30 am, Child & Youth Policy Forum
9:45-11:00 am, Voter Registration at Naturalization Ceremony for New US Citizens
11 8:00 pm, Midsummer Melodies, $15 12 13 14
15 16 Last day to register to vote for the September 14 primary election 17 18 19 12:30-2 pm, healthcare Committee Mtg 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        

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The 84th Annual Meeting of the League of Woman Voters of the District of Columbia was held at the David A. Clarke School of Law on the campus of University of the District of Columbia on April 22, 2004. Members were able to greet each other, browse the information table, and even purchase jewelry to benefit the League before President Frances Gemmill called the meeting to order shortly after 6 p.m.

After adoption of the agenda, Geraldine Whitley, parliamentarian for the meeting, reviewed the Rules of Debate. The minutes of the 2003 annual meeting were accepted and Gemmill took the opportunity to thank all the members for their support this year.

Outgoing Third Vice President Sheila Keeny presented the report on National Program. She reminded the members of the League's proposals for National Program in the 2004-2006 biennium. These included updating the current national positions on apportionment and redistricting and a new study of immigration, in addition to the continued focus on election reform and full Congressional representation for the citizens of the District. The delegates to the national convention must approve the national board's recommended program.

Kathy Schmidt, in submitting the Report on DC Voting Rights, focused on plans for the May l 1 general membership meeting. A panel, moderated by Lloyd Leonard, League of Women Voters of the United States lobbyist, will describe the current and planned legislation for Congressional voting rights. Attendees will have an opportunity to discuss the merits of each program and endorse a proposed League position on interim steps toward full voting representation.

Treasurer Barbara Yeomans pointed out that the League ran a deficit of $3,923 in fiscal year 2003-2004. This shortfall was met again this year by drawing from the League's reserve funds. Expenses were 10% under plan, but income suffered from shortfalls, against plan, in Dues and Private Elections. The membership accepted the Annual Treasurer's Report as presented.

June Bashkin, chair of the Budget Committee, introduced the proposed 2004-2005 budget. She noted the following:

  • The League needs to find a way to shift financial dependency from the members to the community served by the League.

  • She identified the fixed expenses that the League must fund, such as rent for the office, salary for the office manager, Per Member Payment to LWVUS, and the DC Voter.
  • The committee recognized the need once again to propose the use of reserve funds to balance the budget.

Adoption of the budget was moved and seconded. The budget was approved on a voice vote with no opposition. President Gemmill and Budget Chair Bashkin are pictured during the budget discussion.

Chris Matthews, chair of the Nominations Committee, introduced the slate of candidates. The nominees were as follows:

1st Vice President - Grace Malakoff
3rd Vice President-Kathryn Collison Ray
Treasurer - Joan Domike
Director (one year) - Grace Watson
Directors (two years) - Goody Solomon Braun, Geraldine Whitley, and Joan Wilson 
Nominating Committee - Anna Marsh (Chair), Judith Smith, and Natalie Howard

Acceptance of the slate was moved, seconded, and approved unanimously. Following a period of announcements and statements by the members of the League, Gemmill adjourned the business meeting at 7:00 p.m.

After dinner, Second Vice President Madlyn Calbert introduced Robert C. Bobb, D.C. City Administrator. Mr. Bobb began his tenure with the District government in October 2003 and has recognized expertise in the areas of public finance, public safety, and economic development. He began by acknowledging the contributions that our League and all Leagues make to civic discourse. He noted that his principal areas of focus are development, finance, education, and medical care. His goals are to earn citizen respect and promote citizen engagement in civic activities. He, then, discussed initiatives in three areas.

FY2005 Budget. Mr. Bobb highlighted attempts to improve the budget process by addressing community priorities identified in the mayor's "citizen summits." He touched on the proposal to redirect and "securitize" the proceeds from the Housing Production Trust Fund in order to dramatically improve housing stock.

Health. In general, Mr. Bobb (pictured to the right) noted that the city was attempting to manage Medicare payments more effectively and to work with a reconstituted health care alliance to better serve citizens caught between Medicare and insurance. The flagship project is "Medical Homes," a joint partnership with Primary Health Care Association. He envisions these facilities are providing primary health care to neighborhoods and reducing the strain on emergency rooms. He added that the city was partnering with Howard University Hospital to build a new 250-bed hospital and trauma center on the grounds of DC General.

Children. He suggested that the city was attempting to create conditions for youth to succeed. This focus translates into proposal for free kindergarten for all city children, new after school recreational programs, and 12,000 summer jobs. He mentioned that the city was planning to make a sizeable investment in juvenile justice improvements.

Responding to a League member's question regarding Oak Hill, Mr. Bobb asserted that there was a continuing need for residential care for troubled youth. He called for better treatment of first offenders and the creation of secure, safe facilities for dangerous youth. He does not agree with suggestions that Oak Hill be closed and acknowledges the challenges of licensing group homes in residential neighborhoods.

Mr. Bobb acknowledged, but didn't necessarily agree with, the League's position that any changes in the distribution of funds from the Housing Production Trust Fund, such as "securitization," should be part of a well documented and widely discussed plan for affordable housing. At the close of Mr. Bobb's presentation, Gemmill adjourned the 84th Annual Meeting.

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