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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 80, No. 11, December 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:

President’s Message by Frances Gemmill
December Unit Meetings
Georgetown University Boathouse Proposal Update
Health Committee to Meet Dec. 1
Congressional Representation: DC Voting Rights Committee
DC Primary Care Association (DCPCA) Annual Meeeting
Voter Services Committee: League Helps DCPS Conduct Mock Election
Membership Form
Calendar — December 2004
Refresher LWVDC 101


This December Voter is to be mailed November 19 because the following Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, so we hope you'll receive it no later than early December. I'm writing as an intensive week gets underway, with Unit discussions on Affordable Housing, to cover the progress of the Comprehensive Housing Strategy, proposals for lnclusionary Zoning, and other problems, including the rejection by HUD of tenant renovations of housing under Section 8. Your November VOTER included background on these, and you can find further coverage of housing beginning on page 77 of your Know the District of Columbia.

Our DC League Board enjoyed returning to the new Board Room of LWVUS for our November 3 Board meeting; thanks to the Board and staff of LWVUS for this hospitality. The new Board Room is somewhat smaller than the old one, but we find it large enough, and its windows along one wall are most welcome.

December will begin with two important meetings on December 1. The long-standing custom is for our Board to meet on the first Wednesday of each month, which happens to be December 1 this year. The Board and the Education Fund Trustees will meet in the Board Room at 1730 M St. from, 10 am to 12:30, and our Health Committee will meet in the same room from 12:30 to 2 pm. The Health Committee is reaching out to work with other community groups, including AARP, so new potential members of their committee are expected to attend this meeting. Each member is encouraged to provide his/her own lunch, to munch during the meeting. If you missed the October 29 Healthcare Forum, catch up by reading the report on it in this VOTER.

Units Choice is the traditional focus for December Units, and this year is no exception. Our new Capitol Hill Unit is considering returning to the "League 1.01 discussion, which was the topic for last year's Units. Enclosed is the background for that discussion for use by other Units if they choose-seems like a good time to review traditional League purposes and values.

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Wishing all League Members and their families Happy Holidays!

This Year, Consider Giving "Know The District of Columbia As A Holiday Gift!
Send $7.00 to the League office with the recipient's name and address and your personal note.

The League will enclose your personal note and send the book for you.

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Discussion topic for December Units is traditionally the Units Choice. As the newest unit, the Capitol Hill Unit has chosen "Refresher LWVDC 101." All members are welcome to attend. Call the Unit chairs listed below for the location of these December Unit meetings.

Tuesday. December 14
9:45 am, Southwest Day, Leona Rumsey (863-7484) and Gladys Weaver (554-3055)
12:45 pm, Northwest Day meets at IONA Senior Service Center, 4125 Albemarle St., NW Barbara Yeomans (363-8940) 

Wednesday December 15
9:45 am, Upper 16th Street, Paula McKann (829-0656) & Constance Tate (882-0387)
7:00 pm, Capitol Hill Eve., Betty Pierce (544-5547)

Thursday, December 16
9:45 am, Chevy Chase/lngleside meets in the Lounge of the Ingleside Community at 3050 Military Rd, NW.
Ruth Allen (362-8953) and Joan Wilson (237-6264) 
7:30 pm, Northwest Eve, Joan Domike (966-3865) & Jean Hall (362-4526)

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On October 14, the National Park Service (NPS) announced that it will prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) to analyze the impacts associated with the construction of a proposed Georgetown University (GU) Boathouse.

As part of the EA, NPS will conduct a "scoping meeting", during which the public will be invited to list their concerns about the impact of the proposal. If the impacts are determined to be significant, a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) - a more rigorous study - will be conducted.

In preparation for the scoping meeting, those who appreciate the Park - including users of the Capital Crescent Trail, the Towpath, and the River - will want to consider the following:

  1. Location - Is it in the public interest to build any. structure, much less an enormous private facility, at the entrance to a busy, narrow, fragile recreational corridor in a national park? 
  2. Size - Would the boathouse (the length of a football field and so tall that it would rise above the level of the Towpath and Canal Road), have a significant impact (visual, historic, environmental, traffic, safety) on the entrance to the Park, both during and after construction? 
  3. Alternatives - Are there better alternatives (location and size) that are more in the public interest (downstream and outside the Park), a significantly smaller building more in scale with the historic setting, more accessible, safer, and open to other boating programs, including high school groups?

The proposed GU boathouse is based on old waterfront plans dating from 1987, 1989, and 1995, which NPS has modified in recent years without proper public scrutiny. In almost 20 years, circumstances along the GeorgetownPalisades waterfront have changed, including an increase in traffic along the popular route. A full review of this boathouse proposal and others is warranted. We can have boathouses along the waterfront and protect the Park, too. [This article is based on an Update written by Sally Strain, a member of Defenders of Potomac Parklands. Editor's Note: At the November 3 Board meeting, the LWVDC Board approved in concept the proposal to re-affirm its letter and statement of May 2003 urging that an EIS be undertaken before approval of the plans for the proposed boathouse.] — Frances Gemmill

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The Healthcare Committee will meet December 1, from 12:30 to 2 pm (immediately following the monthly LWVDC Board meeting) in the Board Room of the League of Women Voters of the United States, 1730 M St. NW, 10th floor. Possible plans for a forum about the responsibility to the community of nonprofit health care providers, which include organizations such as Care First as well as hospitals. The discussion will be more complete than the one held following the annual meeting of the DC Primary Care Association on October 29th. For a report on that meeting, see page 3. DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice is, completing a study on the subject, preliminary results of which were given on the 29 . The Health Committee will plan a forum at which DC Appleseed and others will discuss the complete report. Also on the committee's agenda will be a discussion of other health care activities the committee might be undertaking. Bring your ideas - AND YOUR LUNCH. — Goody Braun (723-2477) & Rene Wallis (638-0252 w), Co-chairs

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Late in October here in Washington our Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton along with several spokespersons for nonprofits testified before the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on the lack of voting representation in Congress for District of Columbia citizens.

DC VOTE, at its annual fundraiser "Champions of Democracy" honored Cathy Hughes, Jack Evans, and Sweet Honey and the Rock. Cathy Hughes, owner of the 65 radio stations of Radio One and TV One, promised in the coming year to use her resources to educate the listeners about our lack of voting representation in Congress.

We have been informed that on November 2, 2004, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the United Nations introduced a draft resolution on the "Situation of Democracy and Human Rights in the United States of America." The draft resolution highlights the denial of equal voting rights to the people of Washington DC, who have never enjoyed the basic right to equal voting representation in their own national legislature. — Kathy Schmidt (237-5550)

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"Making Health Care Reform Happen"

The DCPCA all-day event was rich in information about the status of health care activity in the District, the city's expenditures for healthcare, and the challenges that face not only the government but community activists. Some highlights of the morning general session:

  • Robert Bobb, City Administrator, set the stage by expressing his concerns about health care in the city and his commitment to Medical Homes. Dr. Gregg Pane, Director, Department of Health, also supported Medical Homes.
  • A panel on how rising health care costs are affecting the DC budget and will impact health care reform: Natwar M. Gandhi, PhD, DC Chief Financial Officer, reported the city has a balanced budget and the largest cash reserve of any large city in the country, but suggested the city cannot afford "what we'd like to do." Noting that DC medical expenses are the highest in the U.S. and Medicaid enrollment has risen 23 percent since 1999, he said "We cannot sustain this level of growth. Mr. Gandhi also spoke of the need to make the city's budget more transparent.
  • Noel Bravo, Senior Advisor for Budget and Finance, Executive Office of the Mayor, said using health-related services under Medicaid is a way to get more money from the federal government. He also emphasized the need for Medical Homes, pointing to the need for places to house clinics.
  • Ed Lazere, Executive Director, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, said "We need to get used to high health costs and should not have arbitrary caps on these expenditures. To slow health costs, he suggested better nutrition for children, more public health efforts and preventive care such as Medical Homes services for high-risk populations and substance abuse. Mr. Lazere stated that DC budget's increase cap of 4.5% is not feasible with the rising cost of health care.

Separate afternoon sessions were devoted to economic development/health data, impact of the city's rising costs on primary care payments, how money for Medical Homes moves into the community, and the status of school-based health care.

Concluding the day was a forum co-sponsored by the DC League of Women Voters, DC Appleseed, and DCPCA about the obligation of nonprofits to meet the health needs of their community. Walter Smith, Executive Director of DC Appleseed, gave preliminary findings of research by his organization that show Care First has not engaged in activities it should to serve the community. There was some discussion of the legal obligation of Care First to the community. Suggestions of what nonprofits might do included encouraging healthy behavior, supporting children's health initiatives, overcoming such barriers as those caused by language difficulties, and making fewer errors. The LWVDC Health Committee is planning a more thorough forum on this topic when DC Appleseed has competed its report. See the committee report above. Goody Braun

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On October 28, Elaine Melmed, Elinor Hart, Liz Martin, and Reggie Yancey counted the votes of DCPS students and some parents in the quadrennial Student/Parent Mock Election. More than 75 DC schools joined schools across the country in casting their votes for candidates seeking national office and selecting the issues most important to them. DCPS students chose the Kerry/Edwards ticket over the Republican Candidates by a margin of almost 10 to 1. Education emerged as the issue most important to DCPS students. They identified homeland security/war on terror and healthcare as other critical issues. Michon Peck, who is in charge of student affairs for DCPS, coordinated the DCPS Mock Election activities.


Registered Voters Ballots Cast %

20 04

383,919 207,901 54.15


363,211 133,302 36.70


354,410 205,748 58.10
We can see, by the figures above obtained from the DC Board of Elections and Ethics website, voter registration and overall turnout increased. However, the percentage of voters between the 2000 and 2004 presidential election decreased. — Elinor Hart (387-2966) & Judy Smith (882-3021), Co chairs

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Join the League or renew your membership. Questions concerning League membership can be directed to the League Office at 347-3020.

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      1 10 am-12:30 pm, LWVDC Board Mtg 2 3 10:00 am, NCA Board Mtg. 4
5 6 7 9:45-11:00 am, Voter registration at Naturalization Ceremony for new US citizens
January DC Voter deadline
8 Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments annual membership and awards luncheon 9 10 11
12 13 14 Unit Meetings
9:45 am Southwest Day
12:45 pm Northwest Day
15 Unit Meetings
9:45 am Upper 16th St. Day
7:00 pm Capital Hill Eve
16 Unit Meetings
9:45 am Chevy Chase/Ingleside Day
7:30 pm Northwest Eve
17 January DC Voter mailed 18 12-4:00 pm, Child Care for All Campaign. Call 347-3020 for more info.
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

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The purpose of the League of Women Voters shall be to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government. Policy: The League may take action on governmental measures and policies in the public interest. It shall not support or oppose any political party or candidate.

As shown above, the League was founded for the purpose of informing ourselves and others on the issues which affect all citizens and then taking action to influence the political process on behalf of the public interest on these issues. Historically, it grew out of the Woman Suffrage -movement, and had as its first objective in 1920 to train newly enfranchised women voters following the passage of the 19th Amendment. 

Some LWVUS achievements:

1921 Helped win passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act providing federal money for maternal and children's program, stepping stone for the Social Security Act of 1935.

1928 Sponsored the first national radio broadcast of a candidate forum.

1955 Testified against Sen. Joseph McCarthy's abuse of congressional investigative powers. 

1976 Received an Emmy Award for the presidential debates between Carter and Ford.

2000 Launched Democracy Network (DNet): Interactive election information on the Internet providing local, county, state, and national candidate positions on many issues across the nation.

Local, regional and state Leagues claim other achievements and continue to work on issues of election reform, voting rights, protection of the environment, education and world peace and justice.

Structure - The League is organized so that those who join are simultaneously members of a local League, a state League, the national League and an inter-League organization (ILO), if one exists in the particular area. Members are invited to be active on any or all levels. The DC League is regarded as both a state and a local League and it is a member of the National Capital Area League, an ILO. Some local Leagues are organized in the unit system, which began during WW II, when gas was rationed and women started meeting in their neighborhoods. Each unit has a chairperson; a representative of the unit chairs is often on the local Board. As a grassroots organization, members suggest topics to be studied and take those suggestions to their local League Board. The Board reviews and recommends the issues to the membership at the next annual meeting or convention, which then selects the topics for the next biennium. Local Boards fill out additional monthly program topics. A general membership meeting will be held Tuesday, January 18, 2005 to discuss and select the 2005-2007 program issues to be presented for adoption at the DC Annual Meeting (April 28, 2005) and the NCA Annual Meeting (May 14, 2005).

The DC League offers six Unit groups that meet monthly to discuss League program: Southwest, Upper 16th St., Chevy Chase/Ingleside, Capitol Hill Evening and Northwest Day and Evening. Longtime League members will remember Units that formerly met in Georgetown, SE Anacostia, Cleveland Park, Connecticut Ave., and Northeast. The present Unit configuration reflects changes over time in Unit leadership and women's working lives. The DC League welcomes additional Units started. Contact DC League President Frances Gemmill if you wish to explore starting a new Unit.

The national, state, ILO and local Leagues are governed by a volunteer board of directors, elected by the membership to serve two years, with staggered terms. The current Board of the DC League is composed of president, 3 vice presidents (administrative, local issues & national issues), secretary, treasurer, 6 elected directors and 3 appointed directors (serving for one year). Directors have a portfolio, assuming responsibility for a specific area. LWVDC also has 12 committees including a nominating committee. The Member Handbook and Directory / Program Calendar 2004-2005 lists the officers, board members and committee chairs.

While individuals are urged to work in the political party of their choice, the political activities of all Board members are restricted.

Funding support for activities come from members, non-members and the community at large, foundations, corporations, and businesses.

The League can take action only on those governmental issues on which it has positions. These positions are arrived at after study and group discussion, either by consensus or concurrence.

Summarized and edited from a Fairfax LWV document by LWVDC Board (Dec 2002), Revised December 2004.


  1. What are some of the historical achievements of LWVDC and NCA? Do you have additions to the list of achievements for LWVUS?
  2. How many of us work in political parties? Should political activities of Board members be restricted?
  3. What are ways in which LWVDC raises money for support? What do we receive from the community at large, foundations, corporations, and businesses?
  4. What is our per-member-payment to NCA and LWVDC? How and when is it decided?
  5. Do we have local positions or are all set by LWVUS and NCA? Have our positions been reached by consensus or concurrence?

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