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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 74, No. 2, October 1998

1234 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Suite 208, Washington, DC 20006
202/347-3020,  fax: 202/347-2522
Website:, E-mail:

President’s Corner
Unit Calendar
October Units Focus on Board of Education (School Board) Candidates
Committee Updates

Education Committee
International Relations
Making Our Votes Count: Post-Primary Challenges

Freedom Charter or Straightjacket
LWV/The National Capital Area
The Case of the District of Columbia Program
Global Community Day
Member News

President’s Corner

Howard University called us last month to see if we had suggestions for increasing voter turnout. Before the primary, Elinor Hart of Making Our Votes Count Coalition (MOVC) and I met with Dr. Hassan Minor, VP for Government Affairs at Howard. Dr. Minor emphasized the role of the University's public TV station (WHUT-TV 32) in providing D.C. voters with election information. A full day of special voter programming was scheduled. to air before election day on Channel 32.

To increase voter turnout in the upcoming November Elections, the Voter Service Committee and the Education Committee are working together to produce a Voter's Guide focused on the much neglected School Board Candidates. With help from MOVC, we will distribute the printed Guides to senior centers, I libraries and elementary schools. Young students will take them home to encourage their parents to vote. If you can help to deliver the Guides, let me know.

Civic Activists and public policy researchers, Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff of DC WATCH ( ) are working with new member (and computer specialist) Steve Waters to update and link our websites. DC WATCH posts candidate responses to our questionnaires and the text of our newsletter.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was on the agenda, when International Relations Committee Members Frank Bourne, Sheila Keeny, new member Anne Porowski and I attended the annual United Nations Conference for non- governmental organizations (NGOs). From September 14-16, we heard U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and a host of experts and U.N. division directors discuss progress in the education about, and the protection of human rights. I hope you will come out to Global Community Day at American University (AU) which our League cosponsors with the United Nations Association. There we will expand the dialog. The League is particularly interested in Article 21 of UDHR (the right to be represented in the government of one's country).

Which brings me to AU Law Professor Jamin Raskin's law suit. Following our July petition to Congress which was ignored, 57 D.C. residents (including eight Leaguers) filed a suit and hosted a press conference September 14 demanding citizenship rights for U.S. citizens living in Washington. Later on September 17, Professor Raskin spoke to our opening luncheon. He uplifted the spirits of 80 attendees by describing how succeeding court decisions interpreting the U.S. Constitution have been moving to provide support for this suit. To follow up on October 2, AU will host an all-day seminar on the D.C. Case. For more information, call the school at 202/2744268. Many thanks to the luncheon committee chaired by Betty Nyangoni for a great event. The last hurrah goes to the Rhumba Cafe's Friday night guitarist, Richard Miller, who donated his wonderful Brazilian music to our opening luncheon.

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Oct 7 (Wed) 10:00 a.m., LWVDC Board, LWVUS, 1730 M Street, NW
Oct 14 (Wed) 10:00 a.m., Education Committee, LWVDC, 1234 Massachusetts, NW
Oct 14 (Wed) noon, International Relations: U.N., Sumner School, 17th & M, NW
Oct 20-22, Units: Board of Education, calendar and notes
Oct 23, Worldwide Vigil for U.N., see I.R. committee report
Oct 24,  U.N. Global Community Day, see I.R. committee report

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Election-Time Reminder: The LWV encourages members to choose a party and be active in support of candidates. Only LWV board members are prohibited by our by-laws from endorsing or working for candidates.

Unit Calendar, October 1998

Chevy Chase Call for address
Mary Rodgers, 202/347/3020
Oct 21 (Wed) 9:45 a.m.
Northeast Day Woodridge Library, Rhode Island & 18th, NE
Roberta Johnson, 202/347-3020
Oct 22 (Thu) 12:45 p.m.
Northwest Day Iona House, 4125 Albemarle St., NW
Jeanette Miller, 202/347-3020
Oct 20 (Tue) 1:00 p.m.
Northwest Eve Call for address
Joan Domike, 202/347-3020
Oct 22 (Thu) 7:30 p.m.
Southwest Call for address
Anna Marsh, 202/347-3020
Oct 20 (Tue) 9:45 a.m.
Upper 16th St. Call for address
Louise Perry, 202/347-3020
Oct. 21 (Wed) 9:45 a.m.

October units focus on the Board of Education election and are presented jointly by the D.C. Affairs, Education, and Making Our Votes Count committees.

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October Units Focus on Board of Education (School Board) Candidates

October Unit Meetings will feature Board of Education (usually referred to as the School Board) candidates for election in November. Each Unit will be inviting certain candidates from Wards 4, 7, and 8, as well as At-Large candidates, and will be opening their meeting to friends and neighbors, especially those active in PTA or education. A recorder will take appropriate notes. It is hoped that these Unit meetings will provide a much-needed opportunity to meet school board candidates and to discuss the serious issues which beset our public schools.

School board members are charged with the critical governance tasks of setting a vision for their schools, ensuring that school administrators and teachers have the necessary tools and structures to fulfill that vision, overseeing the performance of schools to provide public accountability, and acting as public representatives and advocates for children.

The Control Board (D.C. Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority) issued a report in November 1996 called "Children in Crisis" with the subtitle "A Report on the Failure of D.C.'s Public Schools". Immediately after the school board election in November of 1996, the Control Board removed the superintendent of schools and greatly diminished the power of the D C Board of Education by appointing a chief executive officer, five others, and the chair of the elected Board of Education to the "Emergency Transitional Education Board of Trustees". This is what the report said about the past performance of the Board of Education:

Examining Board voting patterns on key issues provides an example of its inability to collaborate and illustrates how divisive the Board has become. In the past several years, the Board has voted 6-5 on many key issues concerning education in the District. In a democracy, there is nothing inherently wrong with split votes. The problem with this Board, however, is the failure to make a serious attempt to reconcile differing positions and bring about a consensus. Such a failure often results in policies that are not fully implemented as a result of a deeply divided Board. For example, Board members are split philosophically on such educational and management issues as school closing, privatizing services, and bringing in a private firm to manage several schools. Similar 6-5 votes occurred between 1994 and 1996 on education policies such as.

The Control Board report concluded that "inherent lack of Board Collaboration illustrates how the political process and the organizational culture are undermining our children's ability to learn effectively.

How do the candidates propose to improve the effectiveness of the D.C. Board of Education?
The October Units are sponsored by the D.C. Affairs, Education, and Making Our Votes Count Committees.— Anna Marsh and Joan Domike

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Committee Updates

Education Committee

In September, the members of committee delivered to the middle and junior high schools packets of materials for 8th grade social studies teachers to use with their classes. The mini-unit dealt with registration and voting, a subject of timely interest because of the primary election. Similar packets will be available at the October units for members to peruse.

At the request of the D.C. Affairs Committee, the Education Committee has prepared questions for Board of Education candidates. The responses will constitute the 1998 VOTERS' GUIDE. Currently, the committee is contacting elementary school principals to ask their cooperation in distributing the Voters' Guide to students at each of the schools so that they may be delivered to parents. — Kathy Schmidt, Education Co-Chair

NEXT MEETING: October 14, 10:00 a.m., LWVDC

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International Relations

October is U.N. Month: The U.N. will celebrate its 53rd birthday on October 24; accordingly, the I.R. Committee has plans for many ways to observe the event. All Committee activities are open; we welcome guests.

October 14: Human Rights. First on our program is an open Committee meeting, Wednesday October 14, when we will recognize the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed by the U.N. General Assembly fifty years ago this December. Our first speaker will be Margaret Galey, formerly a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, whose recent article on the role of Congress in implementing the Universal Declaration was published by the American Political Science Association in its journal. We will also hear from Joseph Mettimano, Assistant Director for Public Policy and Advocacy at the U.S. Committee for UNICEF and Chair of the Washington Working Group on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Also invited is a representative from Human Rights Watch who is working on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, also known as CEDAW. We will meet at the Sumner School, 17th and M Streets, NW, from noon until 2:00 p.m. Bring a sandwich and a clear beverage.

October 23: Third Worldwide Vigil for the U.N. The D.C. League will be represented by a delegation headed by President Luci Murphy at the third annual vigil for the U.N. The purpose of the event is to call the attention of our lawmakers to the U.N.'s financial crisis, due in large part to the longstanding failure of the U.S. to pay its assessment in full and on time. The candlelight vigil will take place on the eve of U.N. Global Community Day. All are invited to join our delegation!

October 24: U.N. Global Community Day. The U.N.'s birthday the following day, Saturday, October 24, is the occasion for the annual U.N. Global Community Day, to be held at American University. Following the diplomatic community's flag ceremony, addresses and seminars will focus on Human Rights. Sponsored by the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, the even is co-sponsored by the D.C. League of Women Voters Education Fund, thanks to your contributions. See the enclosed flyer for details about the vigil and Global Community Day.

November and December Units to Discuss Human Rights: Unit Meetings planned for November and December will give the Committee the opportunity to discuss with members what the U.N. is doing in the field of human rights, a U.N. topic that we have not addressed for some years. As you can see, we will have ample material to share with you. Given the enormous breadth of the field, we have decided to concentrate on three Human Rights treaties, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and the proposed International Criminal Court. We will also update the Units on the status of our outstanding arrears owed the U.N., as well as the status of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, linked to perhaps the most basic human right of all, the right to peace. Call me, 202/966-1692, for further information about any of the planned activities. — Sheila Keeny, chair

NEXT I.R. MEETING: October 14, noon, SUMNER SCHOOL, 17 & M Streets, NW

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Making Our Votes Count Post-Primary Challenges

Education, the issue voters care most about, was a major focus of the primary campaigns for the District's Mayor and Councilmembers. Our short term challenge is to focus this welcome concern about education on the general election races for School Board. The MAKING OUR VOTES COUNT coalition is working with the League's Education and Voter Service Committees on a School Board Voter's Guide.

Our intermediate term challenge is to monitor the formation of the new Mayor's executive team — cabinet and subcabinet officials as well as appointments to key boards and commissions. Whether our new Mayor can make his or her vision a reality will depend to a great extent on the effectiveness of the executive team.

Our continuing, long-term and very daunting challenge is citizen and voter participation. Meeting this challenge will require the kind of strategies, goals, objectives and timetables we've begun to insist that our elected officials provide. And it will require resources. In the short-run, League members can make sure that their yard, window, or door has a sign urging people to vote on November 3. These signs are available in the League office. Thanks to Washington Gas for duplicating them and to PEPCO for duplicating the signs urging people to vote in the primary. — Elinor Hart, chair

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Freedom Charter or Straightjacket?
Annual Luncheon Features Straight Talk about a Fundamental Injustice

Over 80 members and friends who attended the annual fall luncheon Thursday, September 17 at the Channel Inn were treated to an exciting presentation of the legal grounds supporting D. C. citizens' claim to voting representation in the U.S. Congress by Jamin Raskin, American University professor of law. He reported that the law suit, styled Clifford Alexander v. William Daly, filed September 14 in the U.S. District Court, challenges the Congress and the courts to right this wrong.

Those present enjoyed the view of the Potomac and its boats, and the tasty luncheon that was served. Background guitar music was provided by Richard Miller, a doctoral student at Catholic University. Luci Murphy, President, presided and introduced guest Marcus Raskin, father of the speaker and himself the cofounder of the Institute for Policy Studies.

Board member "Reggie" Yancey presented LWVUS and LWVDC certificates to Joan Ronder Domike as an Honorary Life Member, having been a member continuously for 50 years.

Thanks go to Betty Nyangoni, chair of the event, and her committee, including Gladys Weaver and Joan Domike. — Joan Domike

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LWV/The National Capital Area

President: Naomi Glass, 202/686-0124. Editor: Gloria Harvey, 301/530-7379.

From the President:

In anticipation of the Fall elections, Voters Service activities are high on all League agendas, including NCA's. Super Saturday, long a regional League voter registration drive, will be held again this year at area Giant stores on October 3. Voters Service Chair Katy Cannady (703/428-0584) reports that with the advent of "Motor Voter" legislation, many Leagues consider that getting out the vote should take priority over registering voters; she plans to poll members to discover what they are doing to that end.

An exciting development in the Voters Service arena: Channel 4 has approached NCA to explore ways in which we can cooperate to better serve the voting public. Although nothing definite has been determined at the time of this writing, possibilities include placing local Leagues' voters guides on Channel 4's web site and announcing Leagues' candidates meetings via public service announcements. Public Relations Chair Ginny De Simone (703/528-2162) has spent many hours identifying and contacting those leagues in Channel 4's listening area which are not in the NCA region, an effort which extended to distant Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Ginny, NCA Board members and local League members who have been involved are enthusiastic and hopeful that this could be the beginning of a truly fruitful enterprise.

This NCA Board believes that enhanced interleague communication is one of its vital functions. Thus, Interleague Coordination Chair, Mary Elizabeth Gordon (703/280-5186) is planning a brown bag lunch "talk out" on membership to be held at noon on Friday, November 20. Declining membership is a concern shared by Leagues throughout the country. A special emphasis suggested was how to appeal to working leaguers. At least one more "talk out" will be held in the spring; the subject has not yet been determined. — Naomi Glass, President, 202/686-0124

Dates to Remember

10/2/98, 10:00 am, NCA Board Meeting, LWVUS offices
10/3/98, Super Saturday Registration, Various Giant locations
10/9/98, Local League Presidents' Brunch
10/15/98, noon, Water Resources Committee, LWVUS offices
10/20/98, noon, Membership "Talk Out," LWVUS offices

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Is there a Constitutional Right to Vote and Be Represented?
The Case of the District of Columbia

Friday, October 2, 1998
9:00 – 5:00 p.m.
American University, Washington College of Law

Speakers include:
Linda Cropp, D.C. Council; Mark Plotkin, WAMU
the Honorable Judge Stephen Markman and the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
Howard Gillette, Jr., American Civilization at George Washington University
Professor Thomas Sargentich, American University Program on Law and Government
and Dean Claudio Grossman, Washington College of Law

Call Program on Law and Government, 202/274-4268 or, American University Law Review, 202/274-4437

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Join the D.C. Delegation to the Third Worldwide Vigil for the U.N., October 23

United Nations Association of the National Capital Area
and co-sponsors, including the D.C. League of Women Voters,


Global Community Day
Saturday, October 24, 1998
American University Campus

Please see I.R. Committee notes, President's Corner, and enclosed flyer for more information.

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Click this link to go to a membership form that can be printed and mailed to join the League of Women Voters or to pay annual dues.


Welcome new members: Carl Andersen, Marjorie Belcher, Marlene Berlin, Jane Blair, Edward Brynn, William Cousins, Will Craven, Barbara Elkus, Laura Faer, Margaret Feldman, Norman Frumkin, Joseph Gastwirth, Ruth Gramlich, Grace Hart, Janey Hart, Walter Jacobson, Hugh Jenkins, Leonard Lapidus, Susan Learmonth, Frances Lesser, Peter Levine, James Margolis, Norma Melendez, Lela Moore, Joan O'Dell, Lee Park, Marian Pettibone, Annette Posen, Heidi Robinson, Virginia Sandifer, Martha Shannon, Alyson E. Steele, Flora Stetson, Margaret Stewart, Steve Waters, Virginia Watkin, Luella Wells, Walter Wells, Frances Wilkinson.

Thanks to the following members for donations to the LWVDC: Joan Domike, Jean Fleming, Fran Garro, Jehu Hunter, Marcellina Jackson, Edith Lesser, Mary Rodgers.

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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, 1234 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005. 202/347-3020. Fax: 202/347-2522.
Website:   E-mail:

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