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Making Our Voices Heard Making Our Votes Count
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202/347-3020, fax: 202/347-2522
Website: http://www.dcwatch.com/lwvdc, E-mail: LWVDC@aol.com
Education Committee: DC School Vouchers Forum Report
Children at Risk Committee
Voter Services: Presidential Primary Registration Deadline
Welcome New Members
League Archives May Need Your Files
LWV NCA News
Representation: DC Voting Rights Committee
December Meeting Schedule
Boathouse Proposal Revisited
Calendar: December 2003
Brown Bag Dialogue Meeting with DCPS District 3 School Board Member Tommy Wells, October 27, 2003, LWVUS Board Room
November has seen several important events on the D.C. League calendar, and the month is only half over! On November 10, a noontime dialogue organized by our Housing Committee with the assistance of Anna Marsh took place in the Boardroom of LWVUS at 1730 M St. Some 25 people heard Cheryl Cort of WRN, Nina Dastur, a housing attorney, and Robert Pohlman, Executive Director of the Coalition for Nonprofit housing and Economic Development explained the latest developments in the legislative and zoning initiatives, as well as new initiatives that are in the works. On November 12 the League forum on Vouchers took place at The Sumner School. (See report from the Forum.) Next week, by the time this VOTER is mailed (Nov. 21). Our Units will have met and discussed all the many issues relating to school vouchers.
Also on November 12, our Voter Service Committee got a head start on the coming election year, by cooperating with the D.C. Public Schools and staff members of the Board of Elections to give an afterschool workshop on voter education and registration to high school students and their teachers. Each of the participating schools received a supply of voter registration forms, information as to location of polling places, and more materials to begin spreading the word about elections.
On November 13, the Congressional Representation Committee heard from representatives of three D.C. groups working toward congressional representation for D.C. as well as local autonomy: Get the Vote, the Statehood/Green Party, and the Committee for a Capital City.
Before December and the year 2003 have ended and the year 2004 begins, I want to thank all of our wonderful members for their continued support for the League -- moral, and financial. Soon you will receive the annual letter from your President, once more asking you to "send money."
Let's all thank Elaine Melmed, for the $598 her imaginative table game produced for our budget on the occasion of our annual fall luncheon - it is possible to have fun while giving money. Your contributions are appreciated. Speaking of fun, we should also thank Linda Softli, Naomi Glass, and the 38 people who attended the Hillwood tour on October 5 for helping keep our balance sheet in the black.
Happy Holidays, Frances Gemmill, President
If you have moved since the last election or are a new resident in the District, please note that the Last Day To Register To Vote in the January 13th Presidential Primary is MONDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2003. (See below.)
EDUCATION COMMITTEE: DC SCHOOL VOUCHERS FORUM REPORT
Four panelists with different perspectives on school vouchers presented their views November 12 to an appreciative audience of about 50 League members and guests in The Sumner School. Arnold Fege, President of Public Advocacy for Kids, pointed out that over 60 national organizations officially oppose vouchers, that only Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Florida use public funds to support voucher plans, and that polls show that 80% of the American public value our public schools. Cornelia Spinner, DC State Education Officer, acknowledged that the Mayor and some DC Council members favor school vouchers. There no definitive studies on the impact of vouchers on a school system or the students; and that imposition of the plan will "add to the chaos in our city. Warlene Gary, Director of Human and Civil Rights Division of the National Education Association, pointed out that race and poor performance are the basis of the movement -that it contributes to the privatization of our schools- and that what they actually need for reform is full financial support. Marnie Shaul, Director of Education Issues for the General Accounting Office (GAO) said that because of the difficulty in designing valid studies, there is no definitive research, that the three Milwaukee studies have produced widely different outcomes. During the question and answer period, Cornelia Spinner agreed that studies of those DC students who have used privately funded vouchers show that there is a high attrition rate. Fege noted that the same accountability is not required for private schools as that for public schools. Courtney Snowden of the National Coalition for Public Education clarified the pending legislation -$7500 each for 1000 to 1300 DC children each year, much less than Mayor Williams had initially expected. The legal counsel to Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton urged us to call senators and congressmen to let them know that majorities of the DC Council, the School Board, and other organizations in the District oppose vouchers, despite the support of Mayor Williams, Councilman Chavous, and School Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz. — Kathy Schmidt
The Children at Risk Committee is concerned that proposed legislation --which will soon come before the City Council-- is not in the best interests of children. Proposed measures aim to punish parents of juvenile offenders with fines and notification of their arrest to public housing authorities.
These measures also would lower the age at which juveniles can be tried in adult courts and confined in adult facilities. Experts in juvenile justice matters are attacking these proposals. In their place they urge integration of substance abuse, mental health and educational services for juvenile offenders. They argue that the number of juvenile offenders could be lowered if city youth had access to after school programs, vocational training, mentoring, decent housing, parent involvement in schools. They stress the impact of poverty on crime and present most delinquents as victims rather than dangerous and violent criminals.
In March the Children at Risk Committee will prepare for the units a review of the sorry state of juvenile justice in D.C. and many other cities across the country. — Joan Wilson (237-6264), Chairs
The Nominating Committee is getting in gear for the 2004-2005 season. Your talents are needed! Please feel free to nominate yourself or others to a board position, or just make an informal suggestion.
Contact the committee: Chris Matthews ( ChrisMatt@igc.org 269-3890), Mary Rodgers (2441933), Joan Domike (966-3865), Sheila Willet (5881734) or Grace Malakoff (387-7540). — Chris Matthews, Chair
Presidential Primary Registration Deadline
Monday, December 15th is the last day DC residents can register to vote in the January 13"' Presidential Preference Primary for the Democratic and DC Statehood-Green Parties. The Republican Party will hold a caucus in February 2004. Visit www.dnet.org/dc for a list of candidates.
LEAGUE ARCHIVES MAY NEED YOUR FILES!
We are grateful to the Washingtoniana Division of the Martin Luther King Memorial Library for keeping LWVDC archives. We are in the process of making sure these are in a usable form. Although they have many boxes of material that various Leaguers have submitted, there is not a concise way to access key documents without going through several boxes. Therefore, we are compiling a box of a complete run of the Voters as well as other key documents so that they are all together.
Don't clean out your basement for us, but if you happen to have original copies of the following, it would be appreciated. We need Voters from 1989 (vol. 62, nos.6-16) and anything prior to Jan. 1983 (vol. 57, no. 6). Some are simply missing, and for some, we have one copy, but would like not to have to do a lot of photocopying. Also needed are Voters' Guides prior to September 1978 and Where We Stand prior to 1977.
As the office is small, please do not bring in files. If you have these particular issues, please contact Chris Matthews at 269-3890 (ChrisMatt@igc.org) to arrange pickup. If you have an interest or time to devote to this project, let me know! — Chris Matthews (269-3890), Chair
LWVUS, in conjunction with LWVNCA and LWVDC is planning to launch a new listserv on DC Voting Rights. LWVUS Board member Olivia Thorne will assist with the initial moderation of the listserv.
Save the Dates: June 11-14, 2004 for the 2004 LWVUS CONVENTION to be held at the Hilton Washington Hotel, Washington, DC. Volunteers will be needed for these positions during the convention: Registration, Credentials, Dine-around, Doorkeepers, Elections, Hospitality, Information, Monitors, Timekeepers, and Ushers. Mark your calendar now and watch for signup sheets in the DC Voter in early 2004. — Andrea Morris Gruhl & Barbara Sherrill, NCA News & Notes
CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATION: DC Voting Rights Committee
Report of the November 13th Presentations
Matt Marcou of Get the Vote made a case for a constitutional amendment to correct this clear civil rights violation, which would provide for full voting rights as well as local autonomy. Reviewing the process of developing the constitution, he reminded us that the amendment process was devised to change the constitution as needed. In succeeding years, amendments have repeatedly expanded the rights of citizens to vote. The process of achieving support needed for a constitutional amendment is not quick or easy. To persuade Congress and the 50 states to support it, we must first build agreement and consensus among ourselves.
The Statehood/Green Party, represented by Scott McLarty, wants full statehood like that of the current 50 states. Remembering some of our distinguished citizens who have supported Statehood (Josephine Butler, Julius Hobson, and Hilda Mason), he said Home Rule has changed our circumstances, but not enough. Statehood would be permanent, and allow us to develop a democratic state. Representation alone is not democracy, and it should come from democracy, not precede it. There was a question from a member of the Committee about our fiscal ability to maintain a viable state under statehood, which still needs to be answered.
The Committee for a Capital City, represented by Rick Dykema, advocates reunion with Maryland. Washington, D.C. would become a Congressional district and vote with other Maryland citizens. One problem, though, is that the consent of Maryland is required for such a solution, and Maryland opposes retrocession. Dykema also acknowledged that we would lose at least two of our electoral votes, and might after the 2010 census be redistricted with parts of Maryland.
You are invited to attend the next meeting of the Congressional Representation Committee on December 11, at 2:30 p.m., in the Cleveland Park Library, Connecticut Avenue and Newark St. NW. Speakers from other D.C. groups with different perspectives will be announced in our weekly electronic news "This Week in the League." For more information, call Kathy Schmidt. — Kathy Schmidt (237-5550) Chair
Election of the President/Presidential Selection: The League has had a position in favor of direct election of the President and abolition of the Electoral College since 1970. The position is being updated this year by a LWVUS Task Force, which recommends adding two sentences to the existing position. The new position will be the subject of our concurrence Unit Meetings in February, when we will discuss what the position means and whether we support it. The text of the proposed new position follows, with added sentences in italics:
Looking ahead to January, save the 15th from noon to
2:00 pm for a General Meeting on The Electoral College and its
Alternatives, when we
Human Rights Day December 10: The LWVDC will have a table at the luncheon sponsored by the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area to celebrate the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Again this year, our Board has voted to recognize someone who has worked to achieve the right to representation in one's own government, one of the rights enumerated by the Declaration. Our honoree this year, Ilir Zherka, is executive director of DCVote. The luncheon ($30/person) will be held from noon to 2 pm in the Caucus Room of the Russell Senate building. If you are interested in joining the League table, call Kathy Schmidt at 237-5550.
National Program Planning: One of the challenging tasks that lead up to the League's National Convention, to be held in DC, June (dates needed) is reviewing LWVUS positions with a view to recommending that they be retained, dropped or updated. As a grassroots organization, the League does this in consultation with its members; Unit Meetings on the subject are planned for January. Members attending Units meeting in December are encouraged to identify the "burning issues" that they want the LWVUS to address. — Sheila Keeny (966-1692), 3rd Vice President, National Program
December Units are traditionally Unit Choice meetings with some units partaking of a holiday brunch and/or inviting a local elected representative (DC Council, School Board, or other community leader) to be a guest speaker. The Next Unit Council Meeting will be held on Monday, December 8 at 12 Noon at the DC League office. Joan Domike (966-3865), Unit Director•
Tuesday, December 16
9:45 am, Southwest Unit at the home of
Leona Rumsey (863-7484), 550 N St., SW, #S202
Wednesday, December 17
9:45 am, Upper 16th Street Unit at the home of Constance Tate (882-0387) 609 Delafield Place, NW
Thursday, December 18
9:45 am, Chevy Chase/Ingleside Unit in
the Lounge at 3050 Military Rd., NW Co-chairs: Ruth Allen 362-8953 and
Joan Wilson 237-6264
On November 6 the National Capital Planning Commission held a public hearing relating to the proposal by Georgetown University to build a boathouse just west of Key Bridge on a plot of former parkland. Geri Albers and I joined several members of the coalition "Defenders of the Potomac River Parkland" at the hearing, and I presented a statement similar to the League statement at the hearings of the D.C. Zoning Commission on May 19.
Our statement read, in part:
After discussion, the NCPC Commissioners voted only to approve the zoning approved by the DC Zoning Commission, referring approval of the boathouse proposal back to the DC Zoning Commission -- Recognizing that the proposed boathouse would be 60% larger and 35% taller than that allowed by the 1995 agreement between the National Park Service and the DC State Historic Preservation Office.
Opponents urged consideration of alternative locations for a Georgetown "Universal" Boathouse - open to all university, high school, and boating programs. In that way, the first new boathouse on the Georgetown waterfront would accommodate everyone and be truly "Open Space", with open doors. — Frances Gemmill
Questions concerning League membership can be directed to Linda Softli (667-8210) or Suzanne Campagna (338-1055).
Has your League Membership expired?
Please check the address label on the back page of the printed and mailed version of this issue. If the membership date above your name has passed, print out the renewal form and mail with your check (made payable to LWVDC).
We wish you Season's Greetings and Good Wishes for the Holidays! DC League Board
CALENDAR: DECEMBER 2003
"BROWN-BAG DIALOGUE" MEETING WITH
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