Organiza.gif (1182 bytes)

Home     Organizations

Forward to July 1998 DC VoterBack to League of Women Voters main pageBack to May 1998 DC Voter

The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
June 1998

2025 Eye Street, N.W., #916-917, Washington, DC 20006
(202) 331-4122/(202) 331-4196 (fax)

National Program Preparing for LWVUS Convention
Colbert King Promises Improved Campagin Coverage; Commends “Making Our Votes Count”
Where Are the D.C. Voters? by Colbert King
Making Our Votes Count
Making Our Votes Count for a Better City Is a Non-Partisan Coalition Project
Committee Updates

D.C. Affairs
Fund-Raising Efforts Fiscal Year 1997-1998
International Relations
Private Elections

Stormy Weather Fails to Dampen “Picnic” Fund-Raiser
Statement of Chief Charles H. Ramsey, Metropolitan Police Department
LWVDC Salutes Student Contest Winners

Josef C. Hapli
Anthony Borges
Angell Mayes

Civic/Voter Responsibility Contest Supporters
You Can Help Remove Intoxicated Drivers
“Brown Bag” Discussion, April 27, 1998: Status of DC Health Systems

Public Health
Home Health Care
Emergency/Trauma Care
Emergency Departments in DC

Member News

New Member Welcomes
Ed Fund Donor Thanks
D.C. Leaguer Honored

President’s Corner
Memo For: All League Presidents
In Memoriam: Elsie Mae Perry
LWV/The National Capital Area
Join the League of Women Voters
Auditor Needed
Southwest Unit Picnic

National Program Preparing for LWVUS Convention

At our annual meeting the written report on the National Program was supplemented orally with more recent information as to the recommended program to be submitted to the League's Convention this June in San Diego. It is elaborated here for the record.

Proposed 1998-2000 Program: The Board of the U.S. League of Women Voters (LWVUS) recommends retaining all current positions. They will also be the basis of a moderate level of advocacy on priorities to cover the four basic program areas comprising the main structure of the program ("Government," "International Relations," "Natural Resources" and "Social Policy.") You will recall that the detailed items within the main structure were reported in the Voter for the national program planning units held in February 1998. The D.C. item on Home Rule and Congressional representation falls under "Government" and the U.N item under "International Relations."

Legislative Priorities: The LWVUS Board selects legislative priorities after election of a new Congress. Based on positions and proposals for emphasis submitted by members, the likely priorities are expected to be global warming and protection of new clean air standards, U.N. funding, and patient's rights relating to both HMO's and Medicare. The LWVUS Education Fund plans a series of health care forums on patient's rights as well as projects on wetlands, drinking water and nuclear waste. The Fund also will continue its Global Community Dialogue (e.g., Africa).

Proposed 1998-2000 Issue for Emphasis: "Making Democracy Work: Seeking Change." As you will recall, when launched "Making Democracy Work" (MDW) envisaged work in three stages (measure, report, seek change) and had five components: voter participation, campaign finance reform, civic education and knowledge, diversity of representation, and civic participation. The Board proposes to focus efforts to "seek change" in the area of "civic participation." The MDW goals and strategies would be:

There are mechanisms to discuss items which were proposed to the LWVUS Board but not accepted to be "recommended" to the Convention. As previously reported, your Board had proposed that Congressional representation be expressly recognized within the "Making Democracy Work" rubric and that a selected U.N. restudy be undertaken. In light of developments your Board is pursuing options to gain support at Convention for revising the finally adopted program to reflect our interests. We have sent a letter about the D.C. issue to all League Presidents (over l000! — see p.13). We also will have co-signed an all-League letter with LWY-Montgomery County about the U.N. re-study. We are pleased, at minimum, that the current position on the District of Columbia was recommended for retention, similarly, the U.N. item (as far as it goes, which does let LWYUS lobby for payment of the U.S. arrears). — Barbara T. Yeomans, 3rd Vice President (National Program)

Back to top of page


Jun 3, (Wed), noon, Resource Roundtable, noon, LWVUS, 1730 M Street, NW
Jun 8 (Mon), 12-5, Bridge Party Fund Raiser
June 9 (Tue), 7:00 p.m., MOYC Workshop, Reeves Center, 2000 14th Street, NW, 2nd Floor
Jun 10 (Wed), 10:00 a.m., Education Committee, LWVDC, 2025 Eye Street, NW
Jun 13-16, LWVUS National Convention, Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, CA
Jun 17 (Wed), July/August DC Voter Deadline
Jun 25 (Thu), Southwest Unit Picnic, see below
Jun 26 (Fri) Voter Mailing
Jun 28 (Sun) Coffeehouse, 12th & Otis St, NE, LWV/NCA
Jun 1 (Fri), 10:00 a.m., LWVUS Meeting

Back to top of page

Colbert King Promises Improved Campaign Coverage, Commends “Making Our Votes Count”

Mr. Colbert King, of the Washington Post, spoke to the LWVDC's annual meeting gathering on April 14, 1998. He recalled 14th and U Streets, where our annual meeting was being held, as the center of black life in D.C, during his childhood but an area which over the last 40 years had deteriorated badly and is now in a period of slow, steady revival. He suggested that it mirrors the city of the past four years. With the restructuring of the financial and management agencies under federal mandate, the city this year will show a surplus in funds.

If the District is able to maintain the positive financial balance for two more years, the Control Board and Emergency Transitional Education Board of Trustees will go out of existence; therefore, this year's fall elections are very important, King said, as the electorate will select those who will provide leadership for the transition.

Mr. King suggested that our political life is questionable. Only seven percent of eligible voters in September 1997 exercised the vote; less than 50%, in September 1994, when we elected our mayor. The black middle class migration from the city has left a large population of undereducated and under employed, who traditionally are not voters. Party loyalty in the past has been responsible for getting large voter turnouts, but the biggest percentage gain in registration has been with independent voters. Added to this is a 13% decrease in population within four years. This January there were only 340,000 registered voters in D.C.

Perhaps more important than the primary this year, he suggested, will be the general election in November: independents could tip the balance. Mr. King commended the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia for its initiative "Making Our Votes Count." He promised an earlier and more thorough coverage of the campaign by the Washington Post. — Kathy Schmidt

Back to top of page

Where Are the D.C. Voters? by Colbert King

This article, which reflects the author's presentation at the LWVDC annual meeting, originally appeared in The Washington Post, April 25, 1998 (p. A19). Reprinted with permission

Talk about a word that concentrates the political mind. I had asked Terry Lynch, well-known local activist and 20-year resident of Ward I, how his candidate, Jim Graham of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, could beat 15-year incumbent Frank Smith in this year's ward council race. Lynch's one answer: "turnout."

I've been poring over several D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics reports recently. You know what? Lynch may be off base about Graham's chances, but he's onto something else. Voter turnout, along with shifting demographic and citywide voting patterns, may well give D.C. leadership a new look next January, when the mayor and council members take their oaths of office.

Lynch was confident that Graham's supporters living mostly west of 16th Street NW in the Mount Pleasant, Adams-Morgan and U Street areas would show up at the polls on Sept. 15, while Smith's supporters in Columbia Heights and along the Georgia Avenue corridor would stay home. In a follow-up interview, a more expansive Lynch said Graham conceded no turf to Smith and would win by campaigning hard on the issues all across the ward. But Lynch didn't back away from his earlier prediction that voter turnout in Ward l's higher socioeconomic precincts and the influx of similar new voters would give Graham a primary victory.

Undoubtedly this will be the District's most important election year since 1974, when voters produced the first home-rule government in 100 years. At stake: seats for mayor, council chairman, two at-large council members, one at-large school board member, and four council members and four school board representatives in separate ward races. The balloting will decide who will be in office when the financial control board and school trustee panel are phased out in a few years. A pivotal year, indeed.

But if District voters see it that way, they're hiding it well. In fact, the opposite may be true. The records show that more and more residents are turning their backs on the electoral process. Don't think so? Look at last year's races.

In December's special election for an at-large council seat, only 7.5 percent of the voters went to the polls. The turnout for the July 1997 council chairman special election was even worse: A mere 5.5 percent cast ballots.

The low turnout explanations are as predictable as they are incomplete. Residents stayed home, it is said, because: (1) They are disillusioned following the financial control board's takeover of government; (2) they were turned off by their choices; and (3) the press failed to publicize the special elections. Give them a good reason to vote, it also is said, and voters turn out in large numbers, as they did in Marion Barry's smashing victory in '94 .

Well, now's as good a time as any to blow away some of the fiction that has developed around D.C. politics.

Barry's '94 win was an impressive comeback from near political death. But it was not because a majority of the city wanted it so. Despite a major voter registration drive and some highly questionable get-out-the-vote activities on Primary Election Day by Barry supporters (which escaped detection by a weak Office of Campaign Finance and a clueless press), Barry, then-Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly and council member John Ray combined could attract only 50 percent of all registered Democrats to the polls. It didn't get any better in Barry's contest against a surprisingly competitive Carol Schwartz in the general election — only 49.3 percent of voters visited the polls. Hardly a triumph for voter turnout. And remember, those high-profile races were conducted before there was any thought of a financial control board.

True, poor candidates and light press coverage didn't help last year. But getting at the question of Election Day no-shows requires an examination of the electorate itself. This isn't the same city that voted for home rule in '74. The fact is, the District has been losing many of the residents who are most likely to study the issues, track the candidates and vote: the better educated and civic-minded African American middle class now living in Prince George's and Montgomery counties and voting for the likes of Wayne Curry, Alvin Thornton and Ike Leggett.

In the past four years, nearly 13 percent of the District's residents have packed up and moved, leaving the city with a disproportionately poor, undereducated and underemployed black population — a group, pollsters and political scientists tell us, that is least likely to march regularly to the polls.

Here's another set of statistics worth pondering.

D.C. voter rolls are shrinking as fast as the population. Between Barry's '94 election and the '96 presidential race, total voter registration fell by nearly 3,000. In the past two years, an astounding 21,263 registered voters were wiped off the books.

And let's kill another myth while we're at it. The District is no longer a predictable Democratic stronghold. The fastest-growing political force in the city is not the Democratic Party. Yes, Democratic registration is still the largest by far. But new voters registered as independents by a whopping 42 percent between 1988 and this year, to reach 46,003 in March, while increases in Democratic and Republican registrations lagged far behind at 20 percent and 12 percent respectively.

Independents are the District's second-largest group of registered voters, double the size of Republicans and swamping the Statehood and Umoja parties. In fact, there are more registered independents in Ward 3 than the combined total of Statehood and Umoja party members citywide. And if evidence of D.C. Democratic Party impotence is needed, look no farther than last December's council race, in which the D.C. Democratic State Committee's handpicked candidate, Arrington Dixon, mustered only 37 percent of the vote in one of the lowest turnouts on record.

What does all this mean?

There is a distinct possibility that this year's decisive action — with or without a Barry candidacy — may not be in the party primaries but in the general election, where independent voters could hold the balance of power. Clues to look for: low voter turnout in the primary, a divisive Democratic mayoral contest that leaves a splintered party, and a strong independent or GOP mayoral candidate.

But all residents, regardless of voter registration, should be concerned about this apparent lack of citizen participation in government. It was Topic A at the D.C. League of Women Voters' annual meeting last Tuesday. To get at the problem the league is spearheading a nonpartisan, citywide coalition of civic, social and religious organizations in a campaign called "Making Our Votes Count for a Better City." The effort, which begins this month, includes workshops for neighborhood leaders to educate voters about the issues, organizing hard-hitting candidate forums and planning energetic get-out-the-vote campaigns for the fall. The coalition, however, needs more participants, including groups and individuals looking for a chance to become part of a serious endeavor to politically revitalize this city. If you're interested — and you should be — call the league's Elinor Hart at (202) 387-2966. She's waiting. So are the District's leaders for the next century.

The writer is a member of the editorial page staff of The Washington Post.

Back to top of page

Making Our Votes Count

Neighborhood workshops are the focus of the project during May and June. Reggie Yancey conducted the first in Ward 2 at Hannah House. It was enthusiastically received by 15 women who are expected to cast well- considered votes this fall. Early next month, Kelly Young and Elinor Hart will be coordinating a workshop in the Mount Pleasant area of Ward 1. If you're interested in doing one in your neighborhood, call Elinor at 202-387-2966.

Two citywide workshops at the end of April marked the public launching of the project. Featured presenters were Barry Campbell, former chief of staff for Mayor Marion Barry, Matthew Watson, former D.C. Auditor, and Tom Sherwood of Channel 4 News. Those working on the project were pleased with the turnout of some 60 people and favorable press coverage in The Washington Post and Northwest Current. We're also very excited about the Chevy Chase Unit's Bridge Fundraiser on June 8th.

Save our Candidate Forum Dates: July 21 for mayoral candidates and July 28 for at-large council and council chair candidates. — Elinor Hart, Chair

Back to top of page

Making Our Votes Count For a Better City Is a Non-Partisan Coalition Project

Initial participants are:

American Association of Retired Persons
American Association of University Women, Centennial Chapter
American Friends Service Committee D.C. Peace and Economic Justice Program
Church Association for Community Services
D.C. Federation of Civic Associations
Federation of Citizens Associations of D.C.
Greater Washington Area Chapter of the Women Lawyers Division of the National Bar Association
Greater Washington Area Urban League
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Martin Luther King, Jr. D.C. Support Group Inc.
National Political Congress of Black Women
Tau Gamma Delta Sorority
Young Lawyers Division of the Washington Bar Association.

The project's administrative sponsor is the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia Education Fund.

Back to top of page

Committee Updates

D.C. Affairs

New Publication by LWVDC Education Fund

As all who attended the Annual Meeting in April are aware, the Fund has published: "'ABC's … XYZ's' A Tour Through D.C.'s 'Revitalization' Legislation of 1997." It is, in effect, an anthology of provisions of law focused on the District which were included in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act and the 1997 Taxpayers Relief Act. These provisions had profound effect on D.C. finances and the District's relationship with the federal government. We regret that we have made an error in the document. On page 23, concerning the Water and Sewer Authority, change references to "Control Board" and "Board" to "Authority." The new document (29 pp.) is available at no cost to League members who wish to pick up a copy at the League office (one copy per member please). A member may request a copy by mail, but we ask that the cost of postage be reimbursed, i.e., please provide $1.25. Apart from the basic League distribution, the price of the document is $4.00. Payments should be made to "Education Fund of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia."

Back to top of page

Observer Corps at Work: Hearings Concerning Washington's New Police Chief

A member of the observer corps, Elizabeth Hobby, has covered hearings occasioned by the arrival of the new police chief, Charles H. Ramsey. She covered April hearings conducted by the District Council; a report has been filed. The televised hearing was taped. Chief Ramsey did not submit a formal statement at that occasion. Rather, he responded to a range of citizen comment given prior to his appearance. Earlier, however, he had submitted written answers to questions submitted by the Council. The Committee (Ms. Hobby) is obtaining a set.

On May 8 (as we are going to press), Ms, Hobby covered a Congressional hearing on "District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, Oversight and Federal Law Enforcement Assistance. Now, if you had our new publication on the D.C. "Revitalization legislation (see above), you would know precisely which 32 federal agencies are authorized to cooperate with the D.C. Police.… Yup, 32. The hearing was held by Representative Tom Davis (R-VA), Chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. Congresswoman Norton also participated. The hearing marked the first Congressional appearance of the new D.C. police chief. A copy of Chief Ramsey's statement is included in this issue, A full set of the formal statements, including Congresswoman Norton's opening remarks are available at the office. — Barbara T. Yeomans (for Anna Marsh, D.C. Affairs Chair)

Back to top of page


The committee is currently working with staff of D.C. public middle and junior high schools on a social studies unit for presentation next September — just before the primary elections. The unit will teach the elements of voter registration: how one registers and the Constitutional authorization. In late October, we propose to continue the lesson with one on the candidates who will be running for office. If you are interested in helping with this important work, please join us at our next meeting June 10 at the League office.

See also the results of the Civic/Voter Responsibility Contest, beginning p.5. — Betty Nyangoni/Kathy Schmidt, Co-chairs

Back to top of page

Fund-Raising Efforts Fiscal Year 1997-98

This year the LWVDC focused its fund raising efforts on the Education Fund — the rationale being that tax deductible contributions would be more attractive to nonmembers and might encourage larger contributions. Additionally, the LWVDC-EF was unable to pay its obligation to the LWVDC last year and might be unable to meet its obligation again this year without extensive fund raising efforts. The campaign raised a total of $5,315.00 with expenditures of $613.00. Our members responded enthusiastically and with generosity. However, to mount the education programs that expect and want we must more successfully tap the larger D.C. community.

Non-profit and not-for profit organizations are becoming more sophisticated in their fund raising efforts and the LWVDC is moving in that direction. A computer program aimed at nonmembers was installed last fall and promises to make this effort easier and more productive. However, the list of nonmembers needs expansion. After a lapse of several years in soliciting nonmembers, list development is a priority and it takes time to reappear on a contributor's radar screen. — Liz Martin

Back to top of page

International Relations

As we go to press, there is no news on the status of U.S. arrears to the U.N., subject of an "Action Alert" sent all Leagues by President Becky Cain in March (see May DC Voter). The State Department authorization bill that includes a U.N. arrears payment plan passed the Congress in April, but has not been signed by the President, who has been expected to veto it because of restrictions on family planning contained in an unrelated amendment. As explained in a weekly report published by the United Nations Association/USA, "The Republican leadership in Congress and the Executive Branch continue to blame each other. Although the President has ten days to sign the bill once received, congressional leaders have indicated they will not send the legislation to the President immediately," evidently hoping he will change his mind.

For many observers, the situation is grim, containing the real possibility that the U.S. will lose its vote in the General Assembly next fall. Some see this as precursor to further marginalization of the U.N. by the Congress, leading to possible U.S. withdrawal from the world body this country did so much to create.

In the meantime, D.C. League members attending the League's biennial Convention in San Diego will carry the message that the League must be prepared to support the U.N. both with continuing advocacy and with a limited restudy of our 1977 U.N. position. In a letter drafted jointly by the D.C. and Montgomery County Leagues and sent to all State and local Leagues as they prepare for Convention, we state, "unless we bring ourselves up to date on other critical U.N. issues where our position is not clear, our advocacy will be limited and we will end up as spectators, sitting on the sidelines, while others debate the future of the U.N. and its role in U.S. foreign policy."

The focus of the restudy proposed in our letter would be to refine our support for use of peacekeeping procedures (Does this include enforcement? What about a standby military force), and collective financial responsibility. (Would we recommend a lower cap on the US assessment or seek outside sources of funding? Should other US peacekeeping costs be credited to the U.S./U.N. peacekeeping account?) We would also reconsider our opposition to revision of the U.N. charter (Should the Security Council be expanded? What about extending the use of the veto?)

The letter ends by reminding Convention participants that "For more than 50 years, the League has been a staunch proponent of an effective U.N. designed to promote world peace and improve the social and economic health of the world's people. But the world has changed profoundly since our current support positions were adopted 20 years ago and demands for innovative global approaches to global problems are more compelling than ever. At the same time, the United Nations is under attack inside and outside our own U.S. Congress. Now is the time for League members all across the country to add their voices of reason in informed opposition to those who seek to diminish or even dismantle the U.N. Evidence of widespread grassroots understanding and support for the U.N. may be the only thing that will move our leaders in the right direction. Let's start with our own organization so that we can be part of a vigorous effort to save and to strengthen the United Nations." — Sheila Keeny, Chair

Back to top of page

Private Elections

Expressing special thanks to Lois Laster, Phoebe Layton, and Grace Savage for their assistance counting election results for Town Square Towers election on May 6th. The League earned $200.00. (Leaguers are the greatest people around Town.) — Louise Perry, Chair

Stormy Weather Fails to Dampen "Picnic" Fund-Raiser

On Sunday, May 2nd, we had a "picnic" at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. Altogether, twenty people are known to have made reservations, and most attended despite crazy weather. The performance went smoothly and so did the reception that followed. Many thanks to Sheila Keeny, Louise Perry, June Duke, Betty Nyangoni, Jeannette Miller, Joan Domike and Naomi Glass for their delectable contributions. We cleared $510. Additional donations went to the Conservatory to cover their expenses. Those who were part of the event seemed to enjoy it greatly. — Barbara Lucins

Back to top of page

Statement of Chief Charles H. Ramsey, Metropolitan Police Department

[This statement is also on the DCWatch web site.]

LWVDC Salutes Student Contest Winners

During the 1997/98 school year, the LWVDC sponsored a Civic/Voter Responsibility Contest for senior high school students in the D.C. Public Schools. Students were invited to write essays on their personal involvement in civic and/or voter activities.

The response was enthusiastic and revealed significant, diverse civic and voter related work. It was difficult for the judges to make decisions regarding the winners, because there were so many good entries… But three top winners were selected.

At the 78th Annual Meeting of the LWVDC on April 14, 1998, the winners and their guests were feted. Winners read their essays and were presented monetary awards ($500, $300, and $100 for the first, second, and third prizes, respectively), as well as a certificate, and an inscribed book of poetry, Passionate, by local author Gayle Danley, the Poetry Slam Champion of 1994-95.

The winning essays are included in this issue of the DC Voter (see pp. 8-10), along with the names of contest judges and donors (see p.10). A compilation of all contest entries will be available in the fall.

The LWVDC Education Committee is appreciative of all who supported this exciting effort. We salute the winners and all students who took the time to share with us their involvement in civic and voter activities in the city. — Betty Nyangoni, Contest Coordinator

Back to top of page

Congratulations, Award Winning Essayists!

Josef C. Hapli (3rd place), Benjamin Banneker Academic High School — Untitled Essay

Though I can't vote, I have encouraged adults I know to vote. Washington, D.C. — the federal city, the cradle of government, the capital of the most powerful nation on earth, Washington, D.C. is the bastion of democracy in America, and has drawn people of all cultural, economic, and ethical backgrounds for this very reason. The District of Columbia has always been two cities — the federal district of the United States and a city where its citizens work and live. These two factors are what make Washington, D.C. into a political superpower, These two factors are also how I, a citizen not yet of voting age, have influenced adults to vote.

Living in the home of the federal government has allowed me easy access to politics and governmental affairs. I have taken advantage of this fact by being an active participant in the government itself. Through a special program I participated in a Congressional internship in the office of a Congressman. While in my internship, I viewed committee proceedings and participated in the daily business in the House of Representatives. I truly felt as though I was contributing, as a critical part, to the running of the government. As a Congressional intern, I felt as though I was assisting in the bureaucratic process as well as acting as a role model for my peers. With my experience in the federal government, I wanted to bring something home to influence the District government. I have encouraged adults I know to vote with my experience in the federal government. By discussing governmental affairs with adults, I have demonstrated that people have virtual direct access to the government by way of their Representatives and Senators in Congress.

The District of Columbia is in an interesting position — the representative in a non-voting position. Contrary to popular belief, this does not leave the citizens of the District of Columbia powerless in and defenseless against the federal government. Though we citizens may be at a disadvantage because of this, there have been two generous acts of Congress which have increased our access to government — 23rd and the 26th amendments to the Constitution. The 23rd amendment allows citizens of the District of Columbia to vote in national elections. The 26th amendment gives suffrage to eighteen year old citizens. I hold these two rights as precious to me as the freedoms of speech, religion, and press allowed in the first amendment. I have chosen to exercise these rights to participate in whatever levels of government open to me, particularly student government. I was treasurer of my class for two consecutive years, a student government representative for my advisory, and co-treasurer in the National Honor Society.

By being an active participant in all levels of government possible, I have encouraged adults I know to vote.

Back to top of page

Anthony Borges (2nd Place), Dunbar High School.
How I Have Prepared Myself to Re An Active Voter in All Elections When I Reach Voting Age

My interest in civic responsibility started when I entered Dunbar High School's Pre-Engineering program. The program promotes citizenship, academic excellence in science and technology. I started to work with the Dunbar Student Council under the auspices of the class sponsor. The Student Council appealed to me because of its voter education program. I had often heard my teachers and family members speak about the importance of voting and why African-Americans in particular must use the vote to protect their civil and human rights. I never took the voting process seriously until I assisted the Student Council with the planning of their yearly election for new officers. It was a detailed process which required the use of the District of Columbia electoral policies and procedures. Students who were interested in seeking elected office had to have a signed and registered petition; be cleared by a committee of faculty members and students; campaign and demonstrate to the student body their leadership qualification and skills by delivering a speech. On the day of the Student Council election, I served as an election official. This required that I certify and announce the successful candidates for offices. I witnessed the Oath of office of the successful candidates. During the school year, I also observed how the elected officers led the student council. I found that I was not satisfied with the leadership and their positions on certain school issues. I decided to seek elected office in my Junior year as President of the Dunbar Student Council. During my junior year I was also a candidate for the citywide student member to the Board of Education. Although, I was not a successful candidate for this elected office, I was able to learn a great deal of information about the electoral process. I started to understand the "one Man (Woman), One Vote" and majority rule philosophy of participatory democracy. This philosophy became meaningful to me, as a result, I sought the office of President for the Dunbar Student Council. It was a challenge speaking to students and seeking support for my candidacy. The interesting aspect of the Dunbar electoral process, is that all students must register to vote. The program emphasizes that each student register to vote when they reach the required age. This means that Dunbar students learned about the electoral process in which to become a responsible voter and global citizen. Our qualified graduating seniors leave school with a diploma and voter registration card. This process has added many eligible citizens to the District of Columbia's voters list in past years.

My school has also involved itself in mock elections. When the National Student/Parent Mock Elections organization held their Mock elections with the District of Columbia Public Schools, I was involved in planning and assisting the school's coordinator for the Presidential Elections. In this capacity, I learned about the major issues and platform issues of the Independent, Democratic and Republican Parties. In addition, I was responsible for recruiting students to work on the president's inaugural activities. Many students, because of their outstanding volunteerism, were invited to attend Presidential Inaugural Balls. Presently, I am assisting the Coordinator with D.C. Mock Elections which will be held in October, 1998. Unfortunately, I will be away at college, but I am leaving the torch for the next student leader to encourage and promote voting.

It is through my local school's voter education program with student services, that I have acquired knowledge about voting and its importance. The program has instilled in me the responsibility of supporting candidates who keep the idea of participatory democracy alive. To conclude, one vote made France a Republic, destroyed apartheid and saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment. I intend to be an active citizen in the voting process in American for the rest of my life. I plan to keep Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s philosophy alive by being a "drum major for justice" through the vote. I will continue to "let freedom ring" by echoing the words of the late John F. Kennedy, "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." It is through the vote that these great words live.

Back to top of page

Angell Mays (1st Place), Cardozo Senior High School, What I Have Done to Be Active in My Community and City

Throughout my teenage years I have supported the improvement of my school and community in many ways. In the larger Washington, D.C. community I have served as a volunteer at Children's Hospital, assisting with filing, typing and answering telephones. By taking care of these responsibilities, other hospital staff were able to focus on their main job responsibilities and patients. I believe many people, young and old, who saw me volunteering at the hospital, were influenced in a positive way; I believe they saw me, and thought about the possibility of becoming an active citizen themselves.

A major center in my community is my high school. I have volunteered for two years in the main office at my school, Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School. I assisted the main office staff by answering telephones and distributing mail to teachers' mailboxes. Although this kind of service may seem simple, it benefited parents and community members, as well as the office staff. Due to the large volume of calls our school receives, and the limited number of telephone lines, many callers become frustrated when they are put "on hold" for long periods of time. While I performed service in the school's main office, callers were able to receive the assistance they needed in a more timely and efficient fashion.

Some of my community service was performed in other areas of my high school. For example, I volunteered for one year in my school's attendance office with a program called "Parents for Cardozo." I supported parents' efforts to improve their children's attendance by typing, photo copying, filing, distributing mail and answering telephones. Further, I supported our school's NET DAY, helping to wire classrooms and offices for the Internet. My service at Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School has promoted my own commitment to serving my community as well as my peers' commitment to civic responsibilities. Many students at Cardozo respect my opinions and therefore they value the things I do. Kids not only copy the bad things they see their peers doing; they also copy the good things teens do. Since I have become responsible about "giving back" to my school and community, many of my friends have begun volunteering here as well. Some help out on their lunch hour and after school in the book room, the school media center, and the school bank.

One of the areas in which I am a role model for citizen responsibility is helping people less fortunate than me and my family. In this area of community need I have supported an organization called Martha's Table. At Martha's Table I prepared food for needy families and traveled to different sites in Washington, D.C. to deliver food to families. At Saint Augustine Catholic Church I separated donated food and bagged food for delivery through the Share Program. This kind of service is a reminder to everyone I touched that every citizen has a role to play in the improvement of our city and neighborhood. Helping others is sometimes a job, but it is always a duty.

I have reached out to help other agencies and organization in Washington, D.C. as well, including the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the National Zoo. Since I benefit from these agencies as a citizen, I have a duty to help them run efficiently if I can.

Through my volunteer service in both the private and public sectors, I have gained valuable experience and knowledge that has better prepared me to be an active citizen in my community, city, and country. Among the many things I have learned is how funding has an impact on an organization's ability to do its job successfully. I have also learned how important it is to have the right kind of leadership in city government, an organization and a school. These experiences have prepared me to express my opinions on issues and have a voice in the selection of city leaders. I am now better prepared to make educated choices in elections, and as soon as I am old enough to vote, I plan to register and vote.

Thanks again to students who took the time to enter this contest, sharing their experiences and ideas on civic and voter responsibility; judges who read essays; donors who made prizes possible; Leaguers and teachers who worked to make this contest a reality.

Back to top of page

Civic Voter Responsibility Contest Supporters

Essay judges were:

Suzanne Campagna
Carolyn Jackson
Kathy Schmidt
Beth Walton
Barbara Luchs
Betty Nyangoni

Co-sponsors were:

Kathy Schmidt
Madlyn Calbert
Suzanne Campagna
Arrington Dixon
Joan Domike
Audrey Hatry
Sheila Keeny
Barbara Luchs
Hilda H. Mason
Betty Nyangoni
Mary Weiler

Sponsors were:

Sandy Allen
Natalie Howard
Anna Marsh
Charles and Jeanette Miller
Ruth Nadel

Contributors were:

Ethel Cooper
Clara Kirkman
Lois Laster
lola Piggett.

The D.C. League of Women Voters wishes to extend deepest appreciation to all contributors.

Back to top of page

You Can Help Remove Intoxicated Drivers

Leaguer Joan Corboy, currently serves as local volunteer coordinator for RID (Remove Intoxicated Drivers). She took up anti-drunk driving work following the Maryland League's 1981-1982 study of the problem. At present, RID is in need of additional volunteers for this important program.

Twice each month, volunteers visit the D.C, Probation Officer and talk to drunk drivers who have been sentenced to attend the RID program.

"Most of these people have been repeat offenders," Joan notes, "so it is really important that they hear a speaker who is a victim — someone who has lost a family member or who has been seriously injured in an alcohol-related crash. We have also used repentant drunk drivers who have caused injuries and want to warn others not to make the same mistake."

Back to top of page

“Brown Bag” Discussion, April 27, 1998: Status of D.C. Health System

Connie Fortune introduced our featured panelists: Dr. Alan Noonan, M.D, Director of the Department of D.C. Health; Rolda Hamblin, R.N., Optimum Home Health Care Services, Inc.; and Dr. Cherie Terry, M.D., Assistant Program Director, Howard University Emergency Department.

Public Health

The Department of D.C. Health is a relatively new creation, having been established on January 1, 1997, when the former Health Commission was abolished. Its responsibilities include medicare, medicaid, licensing and regulation regarding health facilities and health professionals, and environmental health; and some service delivery programs (such as running the detoxification unit and methadone treatment). Responsibility for major front-line delivery of services — clinics, school nurses, and D.C. General Hospital — were placed under a new Public Benefits Corporation, separate from the Health Department. Recall that the Commission on Mental Health has been taken over by the Courts and is in receivership under Dr. Scott Nelson.

Dr. Noonan became the Director last fall. There are about 1000 employees. The annual budget is on the order of $1 billion. Of this amount over $800 million represents medicaid/medicare costs, according to Dr. Noonan. Thus, at an annual level, roughly $200,000 is available for everything else. Dr. Noonan noted that the Department is trying to recover from 15 years of significant budget cuts. As an example, the District used to have 1000 detoxification beds; it now has 143. Further, the resources to focus on prevention have not been there for years and the consequences cannot be turned around overnight. Training has suffered. Staff have not had a raise in seven years. Dr. Noonan is attempting to develop policy so that it will drive budgeting, not vice-versa. With the budget he inherited, he has no dedicated planning office; he and his four deputies currently comprise the planning capability but, in due course, he expects to have a proper strategic planning capability. He was able to report that at least the Department can now apply for grants on time.

There was vigorous discussion as to when Dr. Noonan may be able to put a formal planning element in place.

At present Dr. Noonan is focusing on operational matters. He noted several current priorities. One example is "healthy start" to expand health insurance for children, utilizing $12 million from federal funds which D.C. must match with $3 million. Other examples are establishment of a birthing center for nurse midwifery and prenatal health. The latter is an area contributing to D.C.'s woeful infant death rate. There are 14.4 infant deaths per 1000 live births, twice the national rate. And tuberculosis is coming back strong, including some new strains resistant to drugs. Dr. Noonan reported that of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S., the District ranks among the top ten "states" in eight of 10. (The top three causes are cardiovascular, cancer, and violence, followed by AIDS and substance abuse.)

In terms of preventable deaths, the top five causes are smoking, substance abuse, unprotected sex, violence and lack of proper diet and exercise. If those five causes were eliminated, half of the preventable deaths in the country could be prevented. But those causes are chronic, reflecting need to change behavior. This in turn means turning to behavioral science specialists; but he inherited no such staff and thus will have to consider how to acquire or tap into requisite capability.

Back to top of page

Home Health Care

Ms. Hamblin's firm, Optimum Health Care Services, is regulated by the Health Department. Health insurance regulation, however, is under the now-independent D.C. Insurance Administration (formerly under the Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Department). Ms. Hamblin reviewed the range of home health care services which are needed by D.C. residents, such as skilled nursing; physical, occupational and speech therapy; dental services; and home infusion therapy. Insurance is a tricky matter and typically is conditioned on being "home bound." Medicaid "tests" of eligibility may be used by other insurers. Not all health problems or situations are covered.

Back to top of page

Emergency/Trauma Care

Dr. Terry noted the classic first recourse to #911 to get emergency treatment, with attendant over abuse and even "underabuse" such as driving oneself to the hospital when suffering signs of a heart attack. She addressed the new specialty of Emergency Medicine, where physicians in an emergency room are expressly trained rather than relying on a pool of specialists and the one(s) on duty are not necessarily the one needed. Dr. Terry provided a map in this issue of the Voter which indicates the location of hospitals with emergency rooms inside the beltway and the respective capabilities. The types of trauma are characterized as Levels I, II and III, with Level I being the most severe. Those hospitals with separate pediatric facilities are indicated, which means that children do not need to be in the traumatized situation of a general emergency room. Some have so-called "fast track" capabilities, so that, even if not life-threatening or most serious, a patient does not have to get bumped to the bottom of the waiting list. Those emergency rooms staffed by the specialized Emergency Medicine Physicians also are indicated. Columbia Hospital for Women is not listed because it does not have an emergency room. See table p.12) — Barbara Yeomans

Back to top of page

Emergency Departments in DC

Emergency Department Location Trauma Separate Pediatrics Fast Track Physicians
Greater Southeast Community
1310 Southern Avenue, SE
Level II Yes Yes E.M.
DC General Hospital
1900 Massachusetts Avenue, SE
Level I Yes Yes Various
Hadley Memorial
4601 M.L. King Ave., SW
Level III No No Various
Providence Hospital
1150 Varnum Street, NE
Level II No No Various
Howard University
2041 Georgia Avenue, NW
Level I Yes Yes E.M.
Georgetown University
3800 Reservoir Road, NW
Level I No Yes E.M.
George Washington University
2140 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Level I No Yes E.M.
Washington Hospital Center
110 Irving Street, NW
Level I No Yes E.M.
Sibley Memorial
5255 Loughboro Road, NW
Level II No No E.M.
Children's Hospital
111 Michigan Avenue, NW
Level I Yes Yes P.E.M.
Walter Reed Army Center
6825 16th Street, NW
Level III/II No No Various
Veteran's Administration
50 Irving Street, NW
Level III No No Various

Back to top of page

Member News

New Member Welcomes

The following members, many students at Trinity College, have joined the D.C. League in recent weeks:

Kate Ambach
Jan Campbell
Corinne Cannon
Elizabeth Carlisle
Amanda Coatley
Samantha Dallaire
Rebecca Dobbins
Stephanie Dorko
Mary Dunne Myles Glasgow
Danielle Green
Loretta Hobbs
Norma Hunton
Jaime Hyatt
Jennifer Kietter
T. Lumumba-Umoja
Shari Miles
Mekina Morgan
Sandy Quimbaya
Claire Solu
Topaz Terry
Jerry Clark

Welcome all!

Ed Fund Donation Thanks

A special thanks to members who have donated money to the League recently. We do try to acknowledge personally when possible, and please excuse us if we have missed someone! Your support is so important to us!

MacClaire Arlt
Dorothy Beltz
Beate Bloch
Suzanne Campagna
Emilie Curtis
Evelyn Falkowski
Virginia Gorma
Audry Hatry
Ann Ingram
Anna and Luther Marsh
Irving Panzer
G. Louise Perry
William Rice
Marilou Righini
Grace Savage
Mary Turner
Constance & George Windsor
Barbara Yeomans

In addition, many thanks to all of you who attended and/or supported our fundraisers!

Back to top of page

D.C. Leaguer Honored

Lois Laster was honored recently by the Southwest Waterfront Chapter 4751 of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of Women's Rights Movement (1848-1998). She was one of three neighborhood workers cited for untiring and dedicated activities in pursuing the rights of women active in neighborhood endeavors. An active member of the Southwest unit in the D.C. League, she also valiantly served as a Red Cross Warden during overseas conflicts.

The D.C. League joins AARP in congratulating Lois Laster.

Back to top of page

President’s Corner

In preparation for the League Convention in San Diego, D.C. League delegates: Betty Nyangoni, Barbara Yeomans, Anna Marsh, Kathy Schmidt and yours truly have met with NCA Delegate Naomi Glass and Convention Observers Sheila Keeny and Elinor Hart. We have also met with nearby Maryland and Virginia League delegates to prepare for Convention Caucuses on establishing full voting representation in Congress for D.C. and to promote a limited restudy of our U.N. positions, a request which we share with the Montgomery County League. I must apologize to Liz Martin for not including her report on direct mail fundraising in the Annual Meeting Workbook. She did an amazing job which has helped to pull us out of our financial slump. The report is published in this Voter. On the subject of June fundraising, please note our Bridge Party on Monday, June 8, the Picnic by the River on Thursday, June 25 and our Coffeehouse on Sunday, June 28. Close to Women's Suffrage Day (August 26), a Coffeehouse is being planned. Ideas? E-mail Judy Butler ( or call the office.

The Annual Meeting was a wonderful success with over 70 attendees who heard provocative and humorous remarks on local history and voter participation by Dunbar High alumnus Colbert King and inspiring essays from our Civic/Voter Responsibility Contest Winners. The essays are included in this newsletter. Mr. King followed his address to us with a column in the POST on April 25, p.A1. "Where are the D.C. Voters?" He directed readers to call our own Elinor Hart and get involved with Making Our Votes Count (MOVC)! A few days later (April 29) the Northwest Current published an article by Bill Rice on our MOVC workshop at First Baptist Church. Earlier in April, one of our Coalition partners, the Martin Luther King Support Group, represented by Ms. Helen Tate invited me to emcee their April 4 Prayer Breakfast at First Baptist Church to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination. On that occasion I shared the dais with pastor of First Baptist, Rev. Frank Tucker and the pastor of St. Gabriel's, Fr. Gregory Butta, honorees; Rev. Ernest Gibson of First Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and Deacon Daniel Talley of Liberty Baptist. The keynote speaker, Rev. Graylan Ellis-Hagler of Plymouth Congregational, reminded us that those who have benefited from the gains of the Movement led by Dr. King must not get too comfortable and forget the poor and the youth of the city who still suffer the violence of this society. — Luci Murphy

Back to top of page

Memo For: All League Presidents

Subject: Making Democracy Work in the Nation's Capital/Congressional Representation for the District of Columbia

We ask your support to amend the description of the proposed Issue for Emphasis, "Making Democracy Work: Seeking Change." Specifically, we seek express recognition in the description of the elements within the Issue of the need for full, voting representation in Congress for the District of Columbia. You are cordially invited to caucus with us at Convention '98 .The times and locations on Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and June 14, will appear in your program.

Come and discuss with us what we would propose for educational efforts in the upcoming biennium to bring all League members current on the issues entailed in Congressional representation for the District. Notwithstanding earlier League efforts, we have found that many in our country, Leaguers among them, do not realize that we have no voting representation in the House or in the Senate. We, who live in your nation's capital, are nonplused when asked to consider how to make democracy work better. Indeed, we find it embarrassing to escort visitors who seek models for democratic institutions they want to develop in their own countries.

We are pleased to note the LWV-US proposal to retain all positions, thus including "the District of Columbia" position. The proposed scope and focus for the Issue for Emphasis is written broadly and, on the surface, a reference to the District might seem too specific. But it is under the rubric of the Issue for Emphasis that the League of Women Voters will mailing be seen before the public and it might engender such efforts as a major article in the National Voter.

Calls from political leaders for "democracy" around the world ring hollow for us in the nation's capital. Calls from National in the form of Action Alerts to lobby Congress do not even "ring." We have no voting voice to call upon.

We are supported in our appeal to you by the Board of the League of Women Voters of the National Capital Area, comprised of ten local Leagues. We look forward to seeing you in San Diego.

Luci Murphy

Back to top of page

In Memoriam: Elsie Mae Perry

The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia remembers Elsie Perry, a member since 1967. Her many friends knew her from the In Town Unit and then the George Washington University Unit and the Northwest Day Unit. For those whose job requirements took them away from active League participation, it was comforting to return to the League and find Elsie Perry creating continuity and that fabric of friendship so important in the League.

Active in The early fight for home rule and voting representation for Washington DC, she helped carry the word to National League Conventions in the '70s. We will remember her as an even-tempered, loyal member, quiet but always there when you needed her.

Ms. Perry was a Washington, D.C. native, who graduated from Cardozo High School with a major in business. She attended Howard University School of Liberal Arts until the Second World War began She served as an accountant to the Department of the Army's Department of Finance for 32 years. In addition to League work, her lifelong interests included American History and music, from the church choir to the symphony.

Relatives and friends, in and outside the League, will miss Elsie Mae Perry.

Back to top of page

LWV/The National Capital Area

President: Naomi Glass, 202/686-0124. Editor: Gloria Harvey

From the President:

A highlight of NCA's April endeavors was the Voters' Service "Talk-Out." Katy Cannady, NCA Voters' Service Chair, reports:

Our meeting was well attended by League members from D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. Guest speaker Kirsten Nokes, Citizen Participation Specialist for the National Office, presented some surprising information on why people don't vote. Researchers found that alienation and lack of trust in elected officials are not important factors. (Voters are also distrustful.) Non-voters, though, are less likely to understand how election results affect important issues. They also feel that they do not know enough about the candidates and issues to make wise choices, and they perceive the voting process as difficult.

Ms. Nokes suggested these remedies to improve voter turnout:

After Ms. Nokes talk, there was a spirited discussion of what activities member Leagues can promote given constraints of time and money. Joan Trafton, Voter Chair, Montgomery County, described a project that her League is working on. They are planning to print a comic book that will illustrate the voting process. Speech balloons will contain different languages, such as Spanish or Vietnamese.

At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that NCA would continue 'Super Saturday' for now, but will seek, and serve as a clearing house for, enterprises that promote voter education and improve voter turnout.

A special thanks to Katy and to Kirsten for the excellent presentation.

Meetings on D.C. Finance and Structure, based on NCA's committee work, were well received in Fairfax and Alexandria. Other NCA Leagues have scheduled May meetings. There are plans to present the study at the LWVUS Convention in June. We thank Elinor Hart and her terrific committee for their work. Some of you, we hope, noted the promotion given Elinor and the League in Colbert King's column in The Washington Post on April 25 (reprinted in this Voter, p.2).

Major convention-related preparations, at all levels, consumed much of the remaining April League energies. The June column will include reports of the consequences of those events as they relate to NCA.

Back to top of page

Join the League of Woman Voters

If you are age 18 or over and a citizen of the USA, becoming a member of the League is easy. Just print out this form, return it together with dues, (check payable to the D.C. League of Women Voters), to: LWDVC, 2025 I Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20006.

Back to top of page

Auditor Needed

If there are any members who are accountants (or good friends with one) and would be willing to do the D.C. League's annual audit pro bono, please speak up! Your talents (or contacts) are needed.

Southwest Unit Picnic

All League members and friends are invited to the Southwest Unit Picnic and fund-raiser, Thursday, June 25, 1998 at Dugge (Audrey) Harty's place on the Patuxent River near Huntington, MD. Bring a dish to share. Drinks will be provided. The picnic is at 1:00 p.m., rain or shine. Call Grace Savage, 202/554-3474, no later than June 22 to make reservations and to get directions to Dugge's place. A contribution of $5 or $10 to the League of Women Voters Education Fund is suggested.

Back to top of page

The DC Voter is a monthly publication of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia. It is available either through membership ($40.00/year) or through direct subscription ($10.00 per year). President, Luci Murphy, Treasurer, Naomi Glass; Editor, Virginia Spatz (email:
LWVDC, 2025 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006. 202/331-4122. Fax: 202/331-4196.
Website:   E-mail:

Back to top of page

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)