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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 80, No. 5, May 2004

Making Our Voices Heard — Making Our Votes Count

733 15th Street, N.W., Suite 432, Washington, DC 20005
202/347-3020,  fax: 202/347-2522
Website:, E-mail:

President's Message
Congressional Representation
Delegate Norton Wants Helsinki Commission Hearings on DC Voting Rights
LWV NCA Convention
National Program: LWVUS Board Approves New Position on Presidential Selection
District of Columbia Legislative Briefing
Affordable Housing Committee
International Relations Committee
Transportation Committee: Report from METRO Board MeetingsEnvironmental Concerns
Language Access Act of 2003 (A15-414)
Member News
Congressional Voting Rights
Calendar, May 2004
Honoring the Buffalo Soldiers reservation form

By Frances Gemmill

Our League program year began as the 83rd year ended with our 84th Annual Meeting on April 22nd, held at the David A. Clarke School of Law, UDC. Mr. Robert Bobb, Deputy Mayor and City Administrator of the District of Columbia, spoke to the meeting about the state of our government. His words met with widespread appreciation for his clarity and honesty (he made clear some areas of disagreement with the League's views), and we have received several requests for a report on what he said. Those requests have been forwarded to his office, and we will publish them when they are available-perhaps in the July/August VOTER.

Now, with some new officers and Board members, we move towards May and several major events. First, on May 11 our Congressional Representation Committee will present -an all member meeting on that subject, where committee members will inform us about. the current options in Congress and, with the help of Lloyd Leonard, Senior Lobbyist for LWVUS, we will consider our current views on strategy as we continue to work for full voting representation in Congress. See article and insert for details and background.

Second, the National Capital Area League Convention will meet on Saturday, May 15 Instead of a speaker, the NCA Committee on Homeland Security will inform us about its studies during the past year, and make recommendations as to next steps.

Third, on May 22, be sure not to miss a unique opportunity, when the DC League will present a dramatization by Johnnie Thomas, telling the story of the Buffalo Soldiers. More than 180,000 AfricanAmericans served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and of these, more than 33,000 died. After the war, Congress passed legislation establishing cavalry and infantry units. The mounted regiments were the 9th and 10th cavalries, soon called "Buffalo Soldiers" by the Cheyenne and Comanche. ' Did you know there's at least one Buffalo Soldier who is a member of the DC League? See if you can guess who!

Board members and others all over town are, selling tickets at $25 each-get yours soon, and mark May 22 on your calendar.

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DC Voting Rights Committee

On May 11 the members of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia will gather at the Sumner School to hear a discussion of the four bills before the House of Representatives which pertain to voting rights for DC citizens. After the discussion, the membership will consider the best strategies to follow to support the League position for full voting rights. For more information about the proposed discussion, see the insert in this Voter.

For over 200 years DC has lacked voting representation in the legislative branch of our federal government, which also serves in place of our state legislature. To correct this anomaly, we must be clear about our tactics - when an opportunity arises, the League needs to be ready to act. — Kathy Schmidt, Chair (237-5550)

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On April 7, Del. Norton released a letter to congressional representatives who comprise the Helsinki Commission requesting hearings on a February finding by the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that the United States is in violation of international human rights law by denying congressional voting rights to D.C. residents. The letter was addressed to Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) Chairman, and Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (RCO), co-Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, consisting of 18 members of the House and Senate, and two officials from the Departments of State and Commerce. Norton's letter said "...the OAS has found our own government to be in violation ... of the American Declaration of the Rights of Man ... we believe that the Commission has an obligation to hold a hearing on this violation in our country and to. recommend compliance with the OAS recommendation." Twenty-three D.C. residents, led by international human rights activist Tim Cooper filed the OAS case 11 years ago.

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Saturday, May 15, 2004
9:30 am - noon
at the Arlington Hilton Hotel and Towers 950 North Stafford St., Arlington, VA (Ballston Metro Stop - Orange Line)

The NCA Annual Convention breakfast will begin at 9:30 AM Registration. The cost, including breakfast, is $25. All League members are welcome to attend.

To make a reservation, send a check made payable to LWV NCA to Pat Sullivan, 16 W. Walnut St., Alexandria, VA 22301 (703 739-0731). Deadline for reservations is Friday, May 7. Delegates to the convention representing LWVDC are Frances Gemmill, Madlyn Calbert, Kathryn Ray, Leona Rumsey and Joyce Leader.

The NCA Homeland Security Committee study, which was authorized at the 2003 Convention, has drawn participation from all local Leagues, including Leona Rumsey and Joyce Leader representing D.C. The Committee Report at the 2004 convention on May 15 is to be the main program of the convention instead of a guest speaker.

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The , National Convention: Preparation for , the National Convention is in full swing. Volunteers are needed, and reminded that a free ticket to the performance of the **Capitol Steps** is available for you. See the insert in your March DC VOTER for information on volunteer opportunities at the June LWVUS °National Convention. Guests are welcome at the performance of the Capitol Steps on Sunday June 13--$25 per ticket.

Delegates and others planning to attend the convention from this area are invited to attend a briefing by staffer Greg Leatherwood of the LWVUS Office in the conference room at 1730 M Street NW, on Friday, May 21, 2004, 10 AM to 12 NOON. — Grace Malakoff and Barbara Sherrill, NCA News & Notes

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"Psssst... Don't Miss out!
Tell a Friend....
Tickets are selling fast for the May
22nd Dramatization of the Buffalo Soldiers - a LWVDC Education
Fund Benefit. Order your tickets today - only $25. 

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The LWVUS Board approved the following new position on Presidential Selection:

The League of Women Voters believes that the direct-popular-vote method for electing the President and Vice President is essential to representative government. The League of Women Voters believes, therefore, that the Electoral College should be abolished. The League also supports uniform voting qualifications and procedures for presidential elections. The League supports changes in the presidential election system - from the candidate selection process to the general election. We support efforts to provide voters with sufficient information about candidates and their positions, public policy issues, and the selection process itself. The League supports action to ensure that the media, political parties, candidates, and all levels of government achieve these goals and provide that information.

The margin of acceptance was: 63% strongly supported, 24% accepted, and 13% did not accept the proposed new position. This represents 5,249 members, 670 Leagues, and 51 states, including the District of Columbia. Members were overwhelmingly satisfied with the process, and 86% reported the League should use the individual member concurrence method of member agreement for future updates, while 14% would not use this method in the future.

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District of Columbia Legislative Briefing

Saturday, May 15, 2004 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm
Howard University
Keynote Speaker Mark Plotkin, Political Commentator and Analyst, WTOP Radio
will speak at 12:30 pm

Workshops, which relate to issues such as Health, Education, Families and Children, Homelessness and Housing, Criminal Justice, Aging, and more, will follow during the afternoon. The event is cosponsored by the Howard- University School of Social work and the Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. For more information, please call League member Natalie Howard, 2372163

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Grace Malakoff presented the DC League's testimony to the DC Council Committee of the Whole on the Budget Support Act of 2005 on April 19, 2005. The statement said, in part: "While bonds are certainly a valid mechanism for funding affordable housing, we are opposed to using the Budget Support Act to change the way the District finances affordable housing. If the administration believes there is justification for replacing what has been called 'one of the best housing funds in the country,' it should offer its proposal through stand-alone legislation."... Now is the time for the Council to maintain the Housing Production Trust Fund, and to fully fund it."

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A full room listened to guest speakers from the American Turkish Association who spoke about Turkey with various topics from its formation up to the present, women's issues and Turkey's relationship with the United States. This meeting concludes the 2003-2004 Committee Program.

We will begin again in September with a discussion of the book Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed The World by Margaret MacMillan. League members are encouraged to read the book over the summer and join in the discussion. The book is available in area bookstores or through various on-line booksellers. — Susan Rao (636-1688) and Anne Porowski (364-0557), Co-chairs

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Metro is considering unprecedented measures to meet the challenge of funding urgent infrastructure maintenance costs, such as elevators, escalators, and more rolling stock.

The. purchase of additional buses to meet increasing demand is so urgent, and the available funds so limited, that the Board is considering postponing purchase of very expensive high tech models to a later time, in order to get into service more new models of their traditional diesels. They have requested a specific air quality impact evaluation of this choice.

As important as getting more buses is getting more service out of existing equipment, by gaining bus right-of-way on existing roadways to meet schedules. Even if a traveler is willing to board a bus, how can .the bus get to any destination. through existing traffic jams? When the League talked to radio stations about getting public service announcements to encourage' transit use, the stations felt too dependent on drive-time advertisers to undertake it.

Even more financially daunting is the effort to fund the' goal of introducing eight-car trains. This change will require not only the purchase of the additional cars, but also an equally hefty investment in expanding the power and station capacity of the system, even if the longer trains run only on the red line, the one with far and away the heaviest usage. Because the rail system is at capacity on. existing rolling stock on all lines at rush hour, the Board is up against the reality that the system has a finite capacity - whatever they do. One member commented "they say the railroad cannot be widened - we may have to face the possibility that it cannot be lengthened either."

Budget struggles within each jurisdiction of the transit zone (Metro's service area) have left officials with scant time to plan for available budget allotments, and cuts in existing service remain a possible necessity, due to the shortfalls in local jurisdiction support. The budget impasse at the state level in Maryland and Virginia has created a tidal wave of work for the financial planning staff of Metro, which is now exploring issuing bonds as a possibility. Because of the interest rate differential for Metro bonds versus local government bonds, this is a codex. _undertaking both in calculation and in politics. Another measure being explored by the financial staff is the imposition of "emergency" increases in fares and fees to meet the shortfall in FY 05 and beyond. — Grace Malakoff (387-7540) Chair

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Cleaning up the Anacostia

At its April 7 meeting, the Board voted to join a group of local environmental, business, and civic groups led by the DC Appleseed Center for Law & Justice to endorse the legislation in Congress, the Anacostia Watershed Initiative Act". The House bill was introduced by D.C.'s Delegate Norton, and cosponsored by several legislators, including Reps. Van Hollen, Wynn, and Hoyer; the Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Sarbanes and co-sponsored by Sen. Mikulski among others, and it would provide the cleanup necessary for significant economic, recreational, recreational, health, and educational benefits for the District and Maryland. More information, including a copy of the proposed legislation, is available in the League Office. — Frances Gemmill

Georgetown Boathouse Still Pending

The proposed transfer of federal parkland from The National Park Service to Georgetown University has not yet taken place. ' The parkland just west of the Key Bridge was to be exchanged with Georgetown U. for a parcel upstream. A group called "Defenders of Potomac Parklands" of which the DC League is a member urged in May 2004 that an Environmental Impact Statement taking account of the potential impact of the proposed boathouse (which is the length of a football field) be done. The EIS has not taken place.

The celebration last week of the 50th anniversary of Justice Douglas's famous walk from Cumberland to Washington is a reminder of the value of the parkland to the public. The proposed building will have an effect on the entrance to the historic C & 0 Canal. — Frances Gemmill

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Non-English speaking populations in the District that "constitutes 3% of the population or 500 individuals, whichever is less" will be provided language assistance. This legislation was passed by the DC Council on April 6, 2004 and signed by the Mayor. Under the new law, the District agencies are required to provide written translation of documents as well as interpretation services at public meetings. It has been called "a major achievement for the African immigrant community, who work hard and pay taxes in the District of Columbia, to be able to communicate with District agencies in Amharic, while learning English."

The city agencies with "major public contact" will implement this Act over a three-year phased in schedule. The District of Columbia is the third city in the nation - after Oakland, California, and New York City - to enact similar language access legislation.

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Honoring the Buffalo Soldier
A Benefit for the DC League of Women Voters Education Fund

$25/each person
People's Congregational Church
4704 13th Street, NW, Washington, DC
Sat, May 22, 2004 - 2:30 pm-5:00 pm

Featuring Storyteller Johnnie Lockett Thomas's Dramatization of the Buffalo Soldiers. The cost is $25/each. Refreshments will be served.
Click here, print form, and send check and completed form to LWVDC EF Benefit, 733 15th St., NW, Suite 432, Washington, DC 20005.

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Sheila Keeny Honored: Each year the Citizens Advisory Council of Iona Senior Services sponsors a celebration honoring seniors who have provided superior service to our community. This year, the DC League chose Sheila Keeny as its nominee to receive the honor.

Some 40 volunteers are recognized from the over 150 local organizations. Although the primary purpose of the SUPER SENIOR program is to show the important role active older persons play to further the work of non-profit programs, it is also an opportunity for agencies and organizations to highlight the wide variety of their services and encourage participation by older persons.

This year's ceremony took place at the Blessed Sacrament Church, and was attended by Sheila's husband Spurgeon Keeny, as well as several of Sheila's League friends: Madlyn Calbert, Billie Day, Frances Gemmill, Barbara Luchs, and Geraldine Whitley. This year's audience enjoyed a musical interlude, with songs by Joe Glazer, a senior himself. Glazer introduced the show: "I've performed at Madison Square Garden and the Kennedy Center, and today's performance is the highlight of my career".

Questions concerning League membership can be directed to Linda Softli (667-8210), Membership Chair

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Click here for the LWVDC MEMBERSHIP FORM

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Congressional Voting Rights

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
11:30 am.-1:30 pm

Sumner School, 1201 17th St., NW
(Corner of M and 17th Streets)




Please Note: No Food is allowed by Sumner School. You may want to plan to eat before or after the meeting.


LWVUS Position

The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the citizens of the District of Columbia should be afforded the same rights of self-government and full voting representation in Congress as are all other citizens of the United States   

LWVDC Position

LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT AND REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS (Adopted in the 1920s) The LWVDC supports local self-government and representation in Congress. Our goal is the fullest possible citizen participation in and responsibility for the government of the District of Columbia and full voting representation in the Senate and House. LWVUS also supports this position.

STATEHOOD (Adopted June 1993) The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia supports self-government and full voting representation in Congress for the District of Columbia, and accepts statehood as a means of achieving this goal. This position acknowledges that many serious concerns, including the economic and fiscal resources of the proposed state and the federal enclave, need to be resolved in order to make statehood a viable concept.


Interim steps to full voting rights for the District of Columbia which have been taken are the 1961 presidential elections Constitutional Amendment, the 1970 right to elect a House of Representatives delegate, and the 1973 home rule act. Other incremental steps may be needed.


1787 CONSTITUTION, Article 1, Section 8-District Clause
1790 District of Columbia site selected by Congress from VA & MD land
1790 DC citizens voted in Maryland but too small population for own voting district
1800 disenfranchised but no Congressional nor Constitutional reason found
1846 Alexandria and county retroceded to VA (1/3 DC area)
1871 designated by Congress a territory with a delegate to House of Representatives
1874 territorial status revoked by Congress
1961 DC granted voting right for President and Vice President (23rd amendment; 1964 election) [DC Delegate denied participation in 1999 impeachment proceedings]
1970 HR delegate granted right to vote only in committee
1978 HR & Senate pass Constitutional amendment to allow full voting representation
1985 Amendment failed (only 16 of required 38 states ratified)
1993 DC delegate gained vote in Committee of the Whole; introduced statehood bill which garnered 150 votes.
1995 HR delegate Committee of the Whole vote rescinded
1998 to date DC Delegate introduced "No Taxation without Representation" bills
2002 hearings in HR & Senate committees on DC voting rights
2004 4 bills (Davis, Norton, Regula, and Rohrabacher) Assigned to HR committee.
Please bring this paper with you to the meeting. These bills will be described at the May 11th Meeting 

Home Rule - City Council, Mayor, boards elected; issues include taxation at the source, payment in lieu of taxes, etc.
Retrocession - DC except for federal enclave returned to Maryland; DC like Baltimore or Baltimore County
Statehood - DC, the 51st state assuming all judiciary and pension costs

Taxation without representation
denied by the Supreme Court in 1822, 1886, 1922, 2000

"exclusive legislation" over DC for military security, police

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2 3 4 5 10:00 am LWVDC Board Meeting 6 7 Reservation deadline for May 15th NCA Convention 8
9 10 11 9:45-11:00 am Voter Registration at Naturalization Ceremony for New US citizens
11:30 am-1:30 pm All Member meeting on Congressional Voting Rights
Deadline for June DC Voter
12 10:00 am Education Committee Meeting
12:00 pm Sen. Joseph Biden Briefing Lunch on CEDAW - $25 Dirksen S.O.B. Room 106. Call Madlyn Calbert 832-7305 for info.
13 14 15 9:30 am-noon, NCA Convention, Arlington, VA
12-5 pm DC Legislative Briefing
16 17 18 19 20 21 June DC Voter mailed 22 2:30-5 pm Honoring the Buffalo Soldier - Ed Fund Benefit
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31 Memorial Day Observed          

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