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Election 2006 Voter Services Committee Meeting
President's Message: Potomac Shoreline Parks should not shut out the rest of us
Welcome New and Reinstated Members
Draft DC Comprehensive Plan Presented in Neighborhood Meetings
Public Hearing Scheduled June 15th on Disposition of MLK Library
The Latest News on Medical Homes
Annual Report of DC League Education Committee for Year 2005-2006
Comment Period Still Open on Regional Metrobus Routes
A Sudden, Sad Death, May 4, 2006
Travel with the League
Membership Form to Join or Renew
Calendar June/July 2006
Notes from Education Unit Presentations in May 2006
All Member Meetings
The 47th National Convention will be held June 10-13 in Minneapolis, MN. In addition to electing officers and board members to 16 positions, the delegates will vote on the National Program 2006-2008. National Board recommenda-tions include adoption of existing positions on government, international relations, natural resources and social policy as well as a three-year study of immigration policy; and concurrence with the Illinois position favoring abolition of the death penalty. Over 70 non-recommended items are listed as eligible for consideration for study by action of the convention. Only a few were recommended by more than one league, and over five leagues recommended fiscal policy, health care, individual liberties, military policy and defense spending, and proportional representation.
By-laws changes proposed for consideration: add the words "of citizens" pertaining to League policy on "informed and active participation in government; single dues payment for lifetime membership; roll call votes by the LWVUS board (not recommended by present board); direct election of LWVUS officers and board (opposed by the present board) posting of proposed by-laws changes (opposed by the present board).
At the national level, the League's advocacy committee accounts for a five-page report just to list the numerous issues addressed in the U.S. Congress: election reform, campaign finance reform, civil liberties (108th Congress); adding redistricting reform, ethics and lobby reform, reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act; and perennials like clean air and DC voting rights.
The Grassroots Lobby Corps grew to 20,000 active participants, and 135,000 e-mails were sent to Congress from Leaguers.
We are exploring new ideas for the traditional Voter Guides. Should questions and Guides be an option for individual Wards?
Candidates for the September 12 Primary will be asking you to sign their petitions through July 5th. Challenges are allowed through July 17. When you sign a petition, be sure you clearly print your address and name to help your candidate get through this hurdle. Many signatures may be invalidated by minor errors.
Questions about candidate positions on the issues can appropriately be posed when you are asked to sign a petition or attend a forum.
What are some questions grass roots citizens pose? The audience at the Mayoral Candidate Forum sponsored by LWVDC, DC Appleseed, and the DC Bar in 2005 generated 25 pages of questions. Most were not answered due to a shortage of time.
You can obtain copies at the League office or view them and on the Internet at www.dcbar.org/forum_lawyers/sections/district_of_columbia_affairs/mayoral_questions.cmf.
To find candidate forums neighborhood newspapers; candidate websites; and civic, church, and professional organization newsletters are helpful. DCWATCH.com carriesmore current notices since it publishes every few days. Our VOTER is on the website of DCWATCH, which also carries our updated membership form. Direct address: www.dcwatch.com/lwvdc. This site will post any candidate or election material we want to display. (Also available on this site are the publications and notices of the DC Citizens Association.)
PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE: Potomac Shoreline Parks should not shut out the rest of us
I visited the site of the proposed boathouses May 17, 2006. The lovely summer evening dramatized the fact that the present use of the site can hardly be improved. We joined a bevy of bikers and walkers on the wild green shore. With no motorized traffic, it was a world away from the frenzied rush hour just a quarter mile back. The size and numbers of trucks needed to service the proposed rowing teams would blot out the present use.
The unpublicized real estate deals which lie at the beginning of this ever-growing proposal are perplexing. We, who have often worked to support positive public use of our resources, are discouraged to learn that our leaders worked a complex set of arrangements quite smoothly as well as privately to secure this plum from the public domain.
Our riverfront is a finite and infinitely valuable resource. We need to insure that it is in fact ours to use and enjoy, not to be traded away. That this diversion of riverfront land from the park was not shown on the maps made at the time of Park Service acquisition, nor known to the professional Park Service staff, suggests that this "arrangement" would have raised eyebrows even then.
Our environmental chair, Geraldine Whitley attended the Park Service meeting on the Environmental Assessment, made available about May 1,2006. She reported that In the two hour meeting (no transit access to the hearing) many specific questions remained unanswered. The assessment staff had performed less work than anticipated in filling in many gaps in the existing research on the site. -- Grace Malakoff
be Mt. Pleasant unit is 104 years young!
Davis Bill out of Government Reform Committee. Next stop, Judiciary Committee.
District of Columbia representation in Congress inched a bit closer with the landslide vote of approval (29-4) on H. R. 5388 in Representative Tom Davis' committee on Government Reform on May 16, 2006. In the Cannon Building hearing room a sizeable DC audience remained a bit apprehensive as the well-greased machinery of successful legislation smoothly trimmed away any effective reservations. Jack Kemp, representing a special Republican partiality to DC, hovered at the cloakroom door, creating a persuasive moment which dramatically changed one vote at the last moment. Our longtime neighbor at the Gray Panthers and League member Susan Murany rushed to share the delight at the victorious end of the tension.
The bill had morphed a bit in the final days before the committee scheduled the vote - making the House a permanent two seats bigger, and creating Utah Congressional Districts which overlap - one a single district for the whole state and the other a subset for the incumbent Democratic House member. Many Leaguers looked on - Marie-Louise Bernal, John Forster, Joe Grano, Lloyd Leonard, Joanna London, Elizabeth Martin, Betty Pierce, Nelson Rimensnyder, Kathryn Schmidt, Carol Wansong as well as League supporter Daniel Solomon on the DC Vote Board.
Next legislative step is in the Judiciary Committee chaired by James Sensebrenner of Pennsylvania, where the reception is expected to be cooler.
The DC Office of Planning concludes presentation of the draft DC Comprehensive Plan in neighborhood meetings scheduled in June from 6:00 – 8:30pm at the following locations:
Monday, June 5 at Petey Green Center, 2907 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., SE. Metro: Anacostia Station. Bus: A2, A4, A8
Wednesday, June 7 at King Greenleaf Recreation Center, 201 N Street, SW. Metro: Waterfront Station – SEU. Bus: 70, 71, A42, A46, A48, A9, P1, P2, V7, V8, V9
Thursday, June 8 at Emery Recreation Center . Georgia Avenue and Madison Street, NW. Metro: Georgia Avenue/Petworth Station. Bus: 60, 62, 66, 68, 70, 71, H8
The Mayor's Public Hearing will be held twice on Tuesday, June 13 at 1:00-3:00PM and 5:00-8:00PM in the Old Council Chambers, 441 4th Street, NW. Metro Judiciary Square Station. Call 202/442-8812 to sign up to testify.
A revised working draft of the plan is available on the Internet at www.inclusivecity.org. For further information, please call the DC Office of Planning at 202/442-8812. -- Jill Diskan, Long Range Planner, DC Office of Planning
PUBLIC HEARINGS SCHEDULED JUNE 15th ON DISPOSITION OF MLK LIBRARY
The following is a recent comment providing an overview of the issue on the DC WATCH website reprinted by permission.
Councilmember Kathy Patterson, chair of the Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation, will hold a public hearing on the Library Transformation Act of 2006 (Bill 16-734) on Thursday, June 15, at 10:00 a.m. Mayor Anthony Williams is seeking quick action on this bill to dispose of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Library by leasing it for 99 years and building a new central library on part of the old convention center site. Anyone wishing to testify should email Evelyn Bourne-Gould at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 724-8195. Written testimony can be sent to Ira Stohlman, Acting Secretary to the Council, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, 20004. The record will close on June 22.
On Friday (April 28), the Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation issued its budget analysis and markup on the mayor's FY2007 budget. On page 104, it addressed the mayor's proposal to lease out the Martin Luther King, Jr., central library and to build a new central library. The committee recommends "that the Committee of the Whole delete Title II-D from the FY2007 Budget Support Act, and consider the Mayor's library financing and development proposal as stand-alone legislation. The Committee makes this recommendation because the central library proposal is both a major policy initiative and a very complex piece of legislation that merits more public discussion, debate, and understanding.
"The decision about whether the District government finances and builds a new central library, with a projected cost of $180 million, will shape the future of library services for decades to come. Title II-D spans 16 pages in a piece of budget legislation that, as introduced, contains seven titles and 20 other subtitles, many of which also deal with very complex and important policy questions. The due diligence that such a project requires will be served better through separate consideration of this important proposal. There are also additional pieces of analysis, such as a financial review by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, that are not yet complete and should inform the Council's decision-making about the proposal. If Title II-D is removed from the Budget Support Act, the Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation would work closely with the Committee on Economic Development and the Committee on Finance and Revenue to coordinate the review of the central library proposal and recommends a joint hearing of the three Committees."
This is good news, and a welcome response to citizens' weighing in on the issue, but nothing is settled yet. The Committee of the Whole still has to take an affirmative vote on May 9 to remove the proposal from the budget support act. If it does, the real fight will begin. The mayor, along with the Federal City Council and his appointees on the library board, will continue to push hard to dispose of the MLK building. Right now, the mayor is returning from London, where he went to inspect its libraries. He traveled with John Hill, chief executive officer of the Federal City Council and chair of the DC Public Library Board of Trustees; and developer Richard Levy, chairman of the library trustees Facilities Committee. The Committee on Education, Libraries, and Recreation recommends leaving $2.2 million dollars in the capital budget to continue planning for a new central library. The power is still on the side of the city's getting rid of one of its greatest and most valuable assets, and the people will be able to save it only with concerted and continued effort. -- Gary Imhoff, email@example.com, and Dorothy Brizill, firstname.lastname@example.org
At the League’s Brown Bag Dialogue, Monday, May 8, Charles Allen, Director of Public Policy, DC Primary Care Association, explained that a Medical Home is a clinic where patients go for routine care such as monitoring high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma. These clinics have been lowering the number of hospital admissions for disorders of this type, he reported.
Allen further reported there now are 42 medical homes in the District, and 210,000 patients are seeking care there. The 42 Medical Homes are run by 13 entities, the largest of which is Unity Health Care; it operates 28 sites, according to Allen. Other updates he gave include:
Many thanks for generous contributions received since the last DC Voter issue: Bobbie Brinegar, June Duke, Evan Fotos, Iona L. Hargrave, Elizabeth Hobby, Norma M. Hunton, Belle and Roger Kuhn, Jeannette Miller, Vic Miller, Carolyn Reinhardt, Lillian K. Rubin, Harriet J. Smith, Ginny Spevak. Gifts in memory of Frances Gemmill: Sheila and Spurgeon Keeny, Gina Trippi, Mary Rogers, Albert and Kathryn Schmidt.
ANNUAL REPORT OF DC LEAGUE EDUCATION COMMITTEE FOR YEAR 2005-2006
This report is included in the DC Voter as it was not included in the report provided to members at the Annual Meeting in April.
During the League year 2005-2006 the following DC League members have been active on the Education Committee: Constance Tate and Gladys Weaver, co-chairs; Grace Malakoff, DC League President; Frances Gemmill, Immediate past president, Sheila Willet, Madlyn Calbert, Naomi Glass, Anna Marsh, Reggie Yancey, Suzanne Campagna, Leona Rumsey, Dorothy Marschak, Elinor Hart, and Barbara Luchs. Committee meetings were held on the second Wednesday of selected months. As the year went on, the committee became involved in the work of the Library committee chaired by Kathryn Ray.
In May 12, 2005, a planning meeting was held for a May 18 visit with Dr. Clifford Janey, DC Superintendent of Schools. On May 18 Dr. Petr Parham, the Assistant Superintendent, appeared for Dr. Janey, who had a conflicting obligation. He and Dr. Janey had established DC Compact, a coalition from university, business, CEO and political communities,to study education issues. He distributed a version of the "Declaration of Education". Dr. Janey has studied school standards throughout the country and has adopted Massachusetts standards. There was an in-depth discussion of the school budget and the need to give the Superintendent control now lodged with the Mayor's office. Another major issue was the need to get high school students 18 and over registered to vote. At the end of the meeting Dr. Parham joined the League. Dr. Janey attended the meeting near the close and stressed the need for multi-year budgeting for the schools to save staff time. He provided the names of administrators to work with the League.
Sept 14: Committee plans to join library committee to study public school libraries, subsequently approved by the Board; Also addressed the inclusion of music programs in the public schools. Committee members attended public library "listening sessions" to initiate this program.
September 29: Members of the committee met with the WAMU Community Council to discuss the school budget, estimated at $815,000,000 for FY 2006. Of that, $200,000 is for special education, of which a disproportionate amount goes for transportation of students, often to sites outside of DC. Work on the Master Facilities Plan was described as nearing completion. Grace Malakoff attended the 21st Century Fund community presentation on the plan on 24 April 2006.
A brown bag lunch featured Iris Toyer on February 27, informing the League about a proposed initiative on the fall election ballot to commit DC to provide quality education to each student citizen. -- Constance Tate, Gladys Weaver, Barbara Luchs
COMMENT PERIOD STILL OPEN ON REGIONAL METROBUS ROUTES
As a daily rider of Metrobuses in the District, I am greatly disturbed by the WMATA proposal to eliminate 48 specific Metrobus service and routes throughout the region:
WMATA plans to use the savings generated from the elimination in bus service to reduce overcrowding and improve schedule adherence on 18 Metrobus routes in the region.
In DC specifically, most of these routes are what I call "sandwich routes" in that they connect to other routes that reduce the travel time significantly.
For instance the weekday 5B route takes you from L’Enfant Metro Station to Tyson Corners in about 38 minutes. The alternate routes makes the travel time about 90-110 minutes as you leave from Ballston or Roslyn Metro Stations in Virginia. The H5 and H7 routes take you from the Mount Pleasant area to Connecticut Ave., to Van Ness Metro Station and UDC.
The X6 route on weekends provides a direct ride from Union Station to the National Arboretum. WMATA proposes to add the National Arboretum to two existing routes that do not leave from Union Station; thus, lengthening two already long routes and adding the burden of additional bus transfers.
I have some concern about the late night routes of H2, 4 which connect Connecticut Ave., Van Ness Metro Station through Mt. Pleasant to the Washington Center Hospital, Children’s Hospital, and the Veteran’s Rehabilitation Hospital and back. Many who travel this route may have no other options other than taxi to go to and from work.
Notice of the proposed Metrobus cuts and public hearings included a one page notice in English in the local newspapers, a small print notice posted in some of the buses and a notice posted on WMATA’s website. For Metrobus riders who do not read English fluently these notices are inadequate. Public hearings for Docket B6-02 was sparse. Because of the number of routes to be cut, the lack of public comment is of concern.
Comments from the public are still sought by WMATA to be considered along with the results of the public hearings and may continue to be submitted to Chuck Woodruff, CFO, WMATA, 600 Fifth Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 no later than 5:00 p.m. on June 8, 2006.
For more information on the hearings, see the hearing docket at http://www.wmata.com/about/community/B06-2.pdf and the methodology used to identify the bus service proposed to be eliminated at http://www.wmata.com/about/community/B06-2_methodology.pdf -- Sheila Willet, Transportation Committee
Concluding meeting of Great Decisions series offers delightful surprises.
Sharing notes on well known but strange places is the best of ways to spend an afternoon. At the high point of the series Great Decisions series, Turkey was the topic. Geri Albers and Judy Smith led the discussion. True to our traditions, our members are our wonderful, rich story. With two discussion leaders of wide travel experience, were well set.
But with her trademark gently amused smile, our own Suzanne Campagna topped it all. With her family history - Dad taking a surname to follow the rules set down by the great liberalizer and secularist, Ataturk. (But he let his Parisian wife choose a Breton surname for the family.) And he was for twenty years a member of the Turkish Parliament. Steeped in the Turkish culture, Suzanne helped us learn the nuances of "Turkishness" – who often preferred to be considered Muslim, not Islamic. She is firmly committed to secular education, but never dismissive of religion. And now we treasure her as a reliable devotee of our environmental interests, of everything good citizenship means. She has honored her father by giving his library to the Boston University where an annual lecture series is held in his name and her husbands. On the web, you can read the lectures at http://www.bu.edu/alumni/http://www.bu.edu/alumni/advancement/2004/fall/turkey/index.html
Frances Cook Gemmill, President (2003-05) held many other offices in LWVDC and led in environmental and education issues for over 30 years of membership. Her memorial service on May 23 was charmed by the music of the handbell ringers with whom she played for many decades.
Frances came to Washington DC in 1943 from her native state of Arkansas to work for the War Department. She worked at the International Monetary Fund from 1948 to 1952, while attending George Washington University at night. After graduating, she earned a master’s degree in psychology in 1958. She taught writing workshops and was chief of the Reading Improvement Branch in the Central Intelligence Agency between 1952 and 1961. Later, she worked at the Kingsbury Center in the Department of Agriculture Graduate School and the Urban Teachers Corps teaching reading, writing and study skills.
A member of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, she served on the altar guild and vestry and was a member of the hand bell choir. Survivors include her husband of 47 years, Robert Gemmill, a son John and daughter Elizabeth, two grandsons Max and Jake, and two brothers.
Her family has requested that memorial gifts be in the form of donations to the DC League of Women Voters.
Did you know? When you Travel with the League, the DC League will be sent $100 for each person who mentions the DC League when booking their travel. Contact: Travel Concepts International Inc., 5550 Bucks Bar Rd., Placerville, CA 95667. Telephone: 1 800 762-4216 or 1 530-621-3007 Email: gwen@travelwiththeLeague.com Website: www.travelwiththeleague.com
Questions concerning League membership can be directed to the League office at 222-0710. See the LWVDC MEMBERSHIP FORM.
Southwest, Capitol Hill, and Northwest Day Units hosted Tommy Wells. Upper 16th Street Unit hosted Jesse Nicholson. Northwest Evening and Chevy Chase/Ingleside Units hosted Victor Reinoso. The following are notes taken at each of these meetings.
Tommy Wells, elected Board of Education member, reported working with parent groups in his Capitol Hill area to facilitate their goals. He mentioned that the lack of DC statehood has deprived the schools of a state education office which, in other states, picks up many oversight functions now lacking in DC. Such an office is now in existence, and may in the future be a resource for initiation and evaluation of DCPS. He judges that the current members of the Board of Education have begun to work well together, and the part-elected, part appointed membership plan should be left in place for the time being.
Jesse Nicholson, Coordinator for Social Studies in the Office of Superintendent, DC Public Schools stressed that the DCPS school system is guided by a Master Education Plan with goals for learning, teaching, and system "transparency"; and the Facilities Modernization Plan with goals of "right-sizing the infrastructure" by closing 20 schools; leasing out unused buildings (to charter schools, for example; and moving towards a pre-K-5, 6-8, 4-year high school system which will include an international baccalaureate program and other specialized programs. Objectives for his department include (1) senior student work at the polls this election cycle, (2) expanded "May Madness" debates, which develop public speaking, and (3) Model United Nations program.
New academic standards are being drawn up for all departments. Mathematics, Sciences, and English & Language Arts standards have been approved.Mr. Nicholson developed the standards for Social Studies which have been published for a 30-day comment period.Next year the standards will be developed for Music and Visual Arts, World Languages, and Health & Physical Education.
A major goal is national board certification for every teacher, requiring participation in a professional development institute four times a year. Only one DC teacher is now certified. At present DC awards a $5,000 bonus after certification. DCPS has improved financial accountability with computer tracking.
Victor Reinoso, elected DC Board of Education member, originated an amendment to the plan for closing six school buildings calling for detailed transition plans for "sending schools" students and "receiving schools". There will be hearings at each of the schools to be closed, and the Board will finally vote on June 28, 2006.
Reinoso outlined the current work of the Board: (1) school closings; (2) facilities modernization plan; (3) new contract with the teachers' union; (4) new academic standards; and (5) new state level standardized tests.
Factors contributing to the decrease in DCPS school population are: declining population (now stabilized), families leaving the District, new residents being young professionals and retirees, decline in number and size of family units with fewer children, and rise of charter schools, which now account for 28% of public school enrollment. He noted that the Board of Education is reluctant to certify new charter schools, while the State Charter School Board has certified quite a few recently.
The highest drop-out rate occurs at the 8th grade, where low reading skills discourage students from going into high school.
Turnover of principals is high in DCPS. In 18 months, Mr. Janey has replaced half of the principals. The new Office of Accountability has a principal evaluation program.
Special education is a problem area in the system, characterized by poor performance of the Special Education division, where the directorship is currently open. Mr. Reinoso pointed out that it is difficult to attract and retain professionals to that area. The Board of Education has recently changed the burden of proof from the school system to the parent; that is, when parents ask the court to rule that the District must send their child to a private institution (usually out of state and very costly) the burden of proof will be on the parent that the District services are not adequate, rather than on the District to prove otherwise. Inadequacy of service is often equated by the court to the mere nonappearance of the DC official at the hearing.
Mr. Reinoso is also recommending that special education charter schools be established in the District. One such application by Saint Colletta School is pending for 80 DC pupils.
Education materials available for review at the DC League office: Parents United evaluation (see quotes in May VOTER); Report on 21st Century session at Sumner School on proposed school closings Monday May 22.
CONTRIBUTION ANNOUCEMENT from Member Natalie di Capua Marra (202 238-4938): I wish to announce that I will contribute from $250 to $500 to the Education Fund of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia. Each contribution will be generated by the sale and/or purchase of residential property in the District of Columbia or Maryland which uses my 27 years of licensed experience with Long and Foster.
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