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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 81, No. 3, March 2005

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
101 Steps Toward a More Secure World?
LWVUS: Program Priorities Announced
District of Columbia News: Comprehensive Plan
District of Columbia News: Testimony Given to Committee on Human Services
Affordable Housing Committee
Voter Services Committee
Welcome New Members
NCA Convention Announced
Member News
Unit News
Membership Form
Do You Have Special Interests
Calendar: March 2005
Brown Bag Luncheon: Electric Rates: Is Deregulation Working?
Does CareFirst Have a $50-$100 Million Charitable Obligation to the DC Community?


Our January Voter published a report from the Healthcare Committee published by DC Appleseed which finds that Group Hospitalization and Medical Services Inc. (GHMSI - the D.C. Affiliate of CareFirst Blue Cross/Blue Shield) should commit about 40 times more money per year to support local public health needs than it actually spends at present, charged DC Appleseed for Law and Justice in a special report issued early in December. The health insurance provider has an obligation under its federal charter as a "charitable and benevolent institution" to spend far more than it does on health care for needy people in the Metropolitan Washington area it serves, according to the report.

Commissioner Lawrence Mirel has scheduled a public hearing for March .24 from l0 am - 4 pm, where the DC LWV will testify. The location of the hearing is 441 4th St., NW in the 1st floor auditorium. The DC Appleseed report will be the subject of League unit meetings in March (See Unit News for specifics) and of an all-member educational forum to follow the Units, so that our members as well as the public can explore, discuss, and review the report before the March 24 hearing. This hearing may be very important to the future of Healthcare in D.C.

The Units will hold joint meetings, one daytime and one evening on March 17, 2005 (See below & calendar). Plan to attend — put it on your calendar now. The health of our families, our children, and our entire community is at stake, and you League members must seize the opportunities to study and understand just what difference this issue makes. Attend the hearing if you possibly can. I'll see you there.

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Don't Miss Brown Bag Dialogue!

Bring Your Neighbor!
Monday, March 28, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Topic: Electric Rates: Deregulation
Speaker: Elizabeth A. Noel, People's Counsel for the District of Columbia
Location: 1730 M Street NW, 10th Floor Conf Rm

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LWVDC's 85th Annual Dinner Meeting to be held Thursday, April 28, 2005
(Location & time will be provided in our next issue.)

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The crisis over Iraq in the United Nations Security Council prompted Secretary-General Kofi Annan to name a High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. In its December 2004 report, the panel proposed to broaden the concept of collective security and made 101 recommendations to build a secure world.

League members of the National Capital Area LWVs heard a discussion of the report by Don Kraus, executive vice- president of Citizens for Global Solutions (successor to World Federalist Association) at the invitation of Falls Church [VA] LWV on February 15.

Whereas the UN was founded in 1945 to save the world from war, the UN panel recognized that 60 years later, the threats have multiplied, they recognize no national boundaries, are connected, and must be addressed at the global and regional as well as national levels. And terrorism is only one of them.

Terrorism is defined as actions intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or noncombatants, when the purpose is to intimidate a population or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act. The panel identified five other clusters of threats with which the world must deal: (1) poverty, infectious disease, and environmental degradation (2) inter State conflict; (3) civil- war and genocide (4) nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological weapons; and (5) transnational organized crime.

The 101 steps include enlargement of the UN Security Council, a commitment to non-proliferation and disarmament, meaningful development assistance by donor countries, strengthened International Atomic Energy Commission, reform of the UN sanctions system, enlarged UN peacekeeping operations, guidelines for the Security Council to authorize the use of force, an international civilian police, long-term strategy to reduce global warming, and support for the International Criminal Court.

The U.S. member of the panel was retired general Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor under President Gerald Ford and the first President Bush. He said the report puts forward a bold new vision of collective security to make the UN work better and the U.S. more secure. It would place many of U.S. security concerns at the center of a common world agenda, including stopping proliferation of nuclear weapons,. building public health defense against biological terrorism, and preventing nuclear terrorism. Mr. Kraus said the Bush administration is going to issue a detailed response to the report.

In March Kofi Annan will make his Report on the Millennium Review which will set the agenda for a summit of world leaders scheduled for September, the UN's 60th anniversary. — Joan Domike

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Voters of the United States issued the following statement on priorities:

The LWVUS Board developed and adopted a comprehensive, multi-year effort to strengthen and renew democracy as its top program priority. The Board included four issues that share a common theme because they are key ingredients of democracy. The specific issues are: protection of our electoral processes through ELECTION REFORM and CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM, advancement of our representative government through nonpartisan REDISTRICTING, and preservation of our constitutional rights through the League's positions on CIVIL LIBERTIES.

LWVUS encourages state and local Leagues to make this unique democracy agenda their priority also. The Board envisions an overarching effort in strengthening and renewing democracy through advocacy, education, and visibility efforts. This theme provides a framework for reaching out to the public, building League membership, and accomplishing core program goals. Additional information about this special focus will be forthcoming.

The Board recognized that advocacy on many other League issues will also be appropriate during 2005. The other issues on which LWVUS expects to take some degree of priority action are Clean Air, Social Security, D.C. Voting Rights, and protection of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from oil drilling.

Selection of these issues for priority action does not mean these are the only issues on which LWVUS will take legislative or other advocacy action. We plan to continue our current active monitoring of the many issues that are important to the League. However, we recognize that our resources are not unlimited and that there are many issues on which coalition partners may be better suited or more effective. For example, the Board discussed the fact that the major issues confronting Congress this year in the area of reproductive choice are likely to occur in the Senate's consideration of judicial nominees. The Board reiterated the League's firm commitment to reproductive choice, but confirmed that maintaining the League's policy of not taking a position on particular political or judicial nominees is essential to our position as a well-respected nonpartisan voice. — Frances Gemmill

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The Home Rule Act requires the District government to develop a Comprehensive Plan, a policy document that provides overall guidance for future development of the city. The Plan contains Federal Elements, prepared by the National Capital Planning Commission, to guide development of Federal facilities; and District Elements, prepared by the Office of Planning, to guide development for DC's neighborhood and business districts.

Next meeting of Citizens' Task Force is Tuesday, March 1 from 6:30 pm-9 pm at 777 North Capitol Street, NE. The public is invited.

The District's most recent Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1984 and 1985. The Plan has been updated periodically, most recently in 1998 and 1999.

In 2002, Mayor Anthony Williams and the DC Council asked the Office of Planning to explore options for the format, content, and usefulness of the Comprehensive Plan. With the help of a 29-member task force of community and business leaders, the Office of Planning developed and released recommendations. The Task Force concluded that the Comp Plan should undergo a complete revision, an effort which is now underway.

Plans for the revision of the Plan are to proceed in four phases, the first of which has just been completed in a series of public hearings. In Phases 2 and 3, the Plan will be developed and refined, and in Phase 4 the Draft Plan will be released and public hearings and Council meetings will be held. Changes will be incorporated, and the Plan will be adopted and finalized. Final adoption requires approval by the DC Council, planned for June 2006.

The new Plan is to support a vision including: "creating successful neighborhoods, increasing access to education and jobs, and connecting the whole city." The Current newspapers contained reports describing and summarizing the returns of a questionnaire distributed at the Ward meetings of Phase One. Future public meetings are planned for June 2005 and January 2006. In the meantime, the public is invited to attend meetings of the Citizens' Task Force. The next meetings of the Task Force are at 777 North Capitol Street, NE, on Tuesday, March 1 and Tuesday, April 5, 2005, 6:309:00 PM. You are invited to observe the meetings and offer your ideas on "public comment sheets" that will be available at each meeting. — Grace Malakoff and Frances Gemmill


The DC Council Committee on Human Services (Adrian Fenty, Chair) held a public oversight hearing on February 22, 2005 on the Department of Human Services FY 2004 & FY 2005 Proposed Budget. The following is the testimony submitted by LWVDC:

Members of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia are deeply concerned that proposed federal block grant cuts and District fiscal constraints threaten the children of this city. We urge you during your deliberations on the budget for this Department to hold as your guiding principle the safety, health and education of children as your first and lasting priority. If children are not consistently and forcefully nurtured as the essential future, this city's progress will be threatened by even more children homeless, lacking health care and poorly schooled, ill equipped to participate in a positive future.

All branches of city government must coincide in accepting a commitment to children first and act collaboratively to provide what are the universally recognized ingredients of healthy municipal life: affordable quality day care, proper medical and dental care, after school and summer programs, access to decent housing, good schools, recreation areas, and feeding programs for those with not enough to eat. The Department of Human Services must lead the way.

We urge the committee to keep children's interests as first priority when deliberating the demands on city finances. It is morally the right goal and in the long run also the best fiscal policy. History will judge if the capital of the richest country in history could marshal its resources to care for its young. Frances Gemmill, President of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia.

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Each year as the DC City Budget process unfolds, the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development (LWVDC is a member) holds events and rallies to show support for full funding of, the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF). League members are urged to attend to show Councilmembers and city officials of citizenry support, of the HPTF. The Trust Fund is the best source of money the city has for affordable housing - don't let them cut it or misuse it! Come out and spread the word!

Kickoff Rally In Support of the Trust Fund!

Wednesday, March 2 at 6:00 PM at Shiloh Baptist Church (9th and P Sts. NW) Food Is provided, and we'll have door prizes too!
"At the March 2nd kick-off rally, we will hear from residents who have been helped by the Trust Fund - and from those who hope to benefit from Trust Fund dollars in FY 2006.
Also at this event, we will present the community's vision for how the Trust Fund can best be used to support low-income residents of the District. The event will begin at 6:00 pm, with speakers beginning at 6:30 pm," states Bob Pohlman, CNHED Executive Director.

Meet City Officials 

Wednesday, March 9 at 9:00 AM at the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW)
Continuing, Pohlman states; "On March 9th, Advocacy Day, we will hold a meeting at 9:30 am, with the Mayor to ask him to join affordable housing supporters to ask for his commitment to full funding for the Trust Fund in the FY 20006 budget - and to ask that the Trust Fund be used in a way that adheres to the vision set forth by the community. Following this meeting, we will hold smaller meetings with individual Councilmembers to further explain our vision for how the Trust Fund should be used.

For questions concerning either event call Amanda Huron at (202) 745-0902.

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Howard University and the Washington Post are partnering to conduct a 2-part event on March 9, 2005 focusing on voter education and why or why not 18-25 year olds vote. The DC League will participate by staffing a. booth to promote the League and handout information. More than 300 students from area universities are expected to attend.


There will be an information meeting for all League members and prospective members who would like to participate in registering seniors at DC high schools during April. The meeting -will be on Saturday morning, April 2 10:30-11:30 am at a location to be announced. The time commitment for helping with the registration will be about an hour at the school of your choice. Call or e-mail Jamie Rose 544-7678 to sign up.


Mark your calendar now to join us on the second Tuesday in April for the Swearing-in Ceremony for new citizens, to be followed by the reception which we will sponsor again this year. If you would like to bring cookies or a cake, please call Judy Smith 882-3021.

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Mary Cooper
Frances L. Lewine
Angela Martin
Mable V. Mercer
Elaine Moore
Jeanne C. Nelson II
Cheryl Lynn ODonnell
Kathleen Mellettte Smoak
Romaine B. Thomas
Susan Gina Trippi
Dr. Roxann A. Van Dusen
Judith A. Walter
Diane W. Wood
Barbara Wyckoff

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Save the date!

The League of Women Voters of the National Capital Area has-announced that its 2005 Annual Convention will be held Saturday, May 14 at 9:30 AM at Arlington Hilton Hotel and Towers, 950 N. Stafford St., Arlington at the Ballston Metro Stop.

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Grace Malakoff Appointed to the 2005 Transportation Planning Board

A message from John Swanson of the Council of Governments (COG) dated February 16 announced the appointment of five members each from D.C., Suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia to the Transportation Planning Board Citizens Advisory Committee (TPB CAC). Dennis Jaffe of D.C. will chair the TPB CAC, and four Alternates were also appointed, all from D.C.

Grace is well qualified for this position. She has worked for and advocated the wider use of energy-efficient means of transportation through the D.C. League as well as the National Capital Area Leagues for many years. —Frances Gemmill


We extend our sympathy to League member Loretta Clarke, who lost her Mother recently.

We inform you with regret of the death of Mary Averill, former Chair of the League's Upper 16th Street Unit on January 27, 2005.

We Gratefully Acknowledge

We gratefully thank the following members for their recent financial contributions to support the DC League: Frank Daspit, Joan Domike, Susan Murany, and Dean Shatz.

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Units will join together on Thursday, March 17 to learn about the findings of the recently published DC Appleseed Center report entitled: CareFirst: Meeting Its Charitable Obligation to Citizens of the National Capital Area. Two meetings are scheduled - one morning, one evening. Plan to attend the Unit most convenient for you. The location & time for each Unit meeting is listed below as well as telephone numbers for the Unit chairs if you need directions.

Thursday, March 17

9:45 am, Chevy Chase/lngleside meets in the Lounge of the Ingleside Community at 3050 Military Rd, NW. Ruth Allen (362-8953) & Joan Wilson (237-6264)

7:30 pm Northwest Eve meets at the home of Joan Domike (966-3865) 4200 Massachusetts Ave., #304, NW

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Click here for membership form. Questions concerning League membership can be directed to the League office at 347-3020. 

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The Nominating Committee is searching for members to fill the following board positions:

2nd Vice President
(3) Board Members

Each position is a two-year commitment beginning April 28, 2005. This is an excellent opportunity for a League member to develop their leadership skills.

If interested or want more information, contact Anna Marsh 554-7719.

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    1 2 10:00 am LWVDC Board Mtg.
6:00 pm HPTF Kick-Off Rally
4 10:00 am NCA Board Mtg. 5 10:00 am NCA Fundraising Workshop
6 7 8 9:45-11:00 am Voter Registration at Naturalization Ceremony for New US Citizens
April DC Voter Deadline
9 9:00 am Advocacy Day meeting 10 11  12
13 14 15 16 17 Unit Meetins
9:45 am Chevy Chase/Ingleside Day
7:30 pm Northwest Eve.
18 19
20 21 22 23 24 10 am-4 pm Insurance Commission public hearing 25 26
27 28 11:30 am-1:30 pm Brown Bag Dialogue 29 30 31    

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Electric Rates: Is Deregulation Working?

LWVDC Acclaimed Brown Bag Dialogue Series

Elizabeth A. Noel
People's Counsel for the District of Columbia

Monday, March 28, 2005
11:3 am-1:30 pm
1730 M Street NW Suite 1000

Bring Your Lunch, Your Questions & a Friend!!

In a recent article published by the Washington Post (2/3/05 DC-Extra pgs 14-15) Peoples Counsel Elizabeth Noel, Esquire stated, "Many of you are aghast at increasing electric rates. Now you can fully appreciate how you are affected by the new legal limits on the ability of local regulators and the consumer advocate to control and curtail electric rate increases. OPC calls this phenomenon "Divestiture, Deregulation, Electric Restructuring and Retail Competition Gone Very Wrong!" PEPCO is spending ratepayer money on air time, "explaining" why it is not "to blame" and why D.C. consumers should pay for a "failed idea." You are asking "who is to blame?" Truth be told, OPC could join this pity party, saying "We told you so!" But as People's Counsel, I tell you this gets D.C. consumers nowhere. You, as consumers and ratepayers, deserve to know the ugly, unvarnished truth: how we got here and what we do now."

For Further Information Call 202 347-3020
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
733 15th Street, NW, Suite 432, Washington, DC 20005-6020

brings together the DC citizens and community or government leaders around a table to discuss issues that affect our lives.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens In government, works to Increase understanding of major public policy Issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

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Does CareFirst have a $50-$100 Million Charitable Obligation to the DC Community?

Recent reports have shown that the District of Columbia affiliate of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield ("GHMSI"), has a legal obligation to engage in charitable activities and that the company has the financial capacity to be spending $50 to $100 million each year on charitable activities without endangering its competitive viability. The billion-dollar GHMSI spent only approximately $1 million on charitable activities in 2004 — less than one-tenth of one percent of its assets.

With the support of expert analysis from Covington & Burling and Mathematica Policy Research, DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice reached the following principal conclusions about GHMSI's legal obligation and financial capability:

  • GHMSI is legally obligated to use its revenues and surplus to perform charitable activities in its service area.
  • GHMSI is financially capable of engaging in charitable activities at a much higher rate than it is currently doing, and still remain a viable and competitive company.
  • Using several conservative measurements, GHMSI could have spent between $41 and $61 million on charitable activities in 2004. By 2008, GHMSI could spend between $67 and $100 million on charitable activities.

(For a full copy of this report go to: )

March 18, 2005 - Learn More!

You will have chance to learn more about this issue at a public forum with Councilmember David Catania, sponsored by the DC Primary Care Association and the DC League of Women Voters 10:00 a.m. at the District Building 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Room 123

March 24, 2005 - Speak Out!

Your voice matters. There will be a hearing about what CareFirst should be doing with this money to benefit public health in the National Capital area! The District's Insurance Commissioner, Lawrence Mirel, is holding a Public Hearing to discuss this issue from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., in the First Floor Auditorium at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

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