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

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

Fundraising Concert a Wild Success
Funny You Should Ask
Convention '98
National Program Planning Units
Dialogue: Revitalization Act
Using Interns in the LWVDC
Congressional Attack on "Motor Voter"
Conservatory Offers Fundraising "Picnic"
Regional Meetings of Note
MetroWatch Observers Needed
Member News
Committee Updates
LWV/The National Capital Area
Mongolia/US Democracy Exchange Comes to Metro Washington
Membership Goals Established
Join the League of Women Voters
Brown Bag Dialogue, March 23, 1998
Annual Meeting, April 21, 1998

Luci Murphy, Andy Lawrence, Derek Mathis at Franklyn's CoffeehouseFundraising Concert A Wild Success

Super Bowl Sunday found over 50 League members and friends gathered at Franklyn's Coffeehouse Cafe in Adams Morgan for a musical fundraiser. LWVDC President and mezzo-soprano Luci Murphy, together with baritone and guitarist/lutanist Derek Mathis and singer-guitarist Andy Lawrence, provided a musical alternative to "Super Bowl Sunday" and, in the process, raised close to $800 for the League. The League is indebted and grateful to "Luci and her friends" who entertained us with Old English melodies as well as classics from the Latin American guitar book.

Franklyn's Coffeehouse Cafe opens its doors to selected community organizations once each month and has helped local organizations raise over $5,000. Our thanks to them and to Alisa Wilkins, who organized the fundraiser. – LWVDC staff

Photo: Luci Murphy, Andy Lawrence, Derek Mathis


D.C. League

Mar 4 (Wed) noon, LWVDC Board Meeting, LWVUS, 1730 M Street NW
Mar 10 (Tue) 10:00 a.m., Voter Service, LWVDC conference room
Mar 10 (Tue) 10:30 a.m., April DC Voter deadline
Mar 11 (Wed) 10:30 a.m. Education Committee, LWVDC conference room
Mar 11 (Wed) 11:00 a.m., I.R. Great Decisions: Development, LWVUS, Rosalie Goodman Room
Mar 23 (Mon) 11:30 a.m., Brown Bag: Churches/Community, LWVUS office
Mar 25 (Wed) 11:00 a.m., l.R. Great Decisions: Human Rights, LWVUS, Rosalie Goodman Room
Mar 20 (Fri) February DC Voter mailing
Apr 21 (Tue) LWVDC Annual Meeting, Guest speaker: Colbert King


Mar 6 (Fri) 10:00 a.m., LWV/NCA Board Meeting, LWVUS conference room
Mar 17 (Fri) 7:00 p.m., DC Finances Committee, MLK Library

We welcome the following new members: Joan Corboy, Natalia Pane, John L. Zalusky. Also, a renewed welcome to Kendra Davis, whose name was misspelled in the previous DC Voter. Reggie Yancey, Membership Chair

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Editor's Note: There is no President's Corner this month. Thanks to Nancy Perry whose "Funny You Should Ask," adapted with permission from the Falls Church newsletter, is perfect for Membership Month.

Funny You Should Ask
adapted from a piece by Nancy Perry, Falls Church League

In a recent conversation with a Leaguer who is considering whether to join again this year, I became aware that many of the features of the League which are second nature to me are still a mystery to this fairly new (and, so far, uninvolved) member. Perhaps there are others who might also benefit from a quick primer in "League."

Our mission is to encourage informed, active participation of citizens in government and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. We are nonpartisan, but not nonpolitical, and any citizen over 18 may become a voting member. All of us are volunteers with the exception of paid staff at national headquarters and a very few others in larger Leagues.

When people think of the League they usually think "Voters Service/Citizen Education." These are our most visible efforts and are designed to provide citizens with unbiased, factual information as a basis for reaching their own decisions. This phase of our work is distinct from League program, which is based on member study of selected issues and involves action and support of or opposition to specific measures.

But program (member education) is the League's "reason for being," the basis for both education and action efforts. League program consists of those governmental issues that members choose for study and action. Every January our League debates at a unit meeting what to study in the coming year or two. The suggestions proposed are then voted on at the annual meeting, a committee is formed, and the study begins. At the conclusion of the committee's work, the membership discusses the findings and come to a consensus on a position the League should adopt. The Board then evaluates the reports and member thinking in units or general meetings and determines broad areas of agreement and disagreement; it then formulates a position that expresses the League's views and that becomes the basis for action. National, state, and regional studies also rise from local League members, and this is why the League is a true grassroots organization.

When we say "action," we mean 1) testify before government bodies; 2) write letters to the press; 3) hold a town meeting on a timely issue; 4) participate in an inter-organizational activity; or 5) talk to neighbors about a particular issue. We don't study an issue for the sole purpose of informing only ourselves; we study to find a consensus among the membership on which we can then take action.

The League is a complex and sometimes confusing entity to newcomers, but, like most worthwhile activities, it gives back much more than the effort you expend. League membership provides challenges and opportunities for leadership and brings out the best talents in all of us. The best way to learn is to jump into an active role.

League Lingo

Action: Steps taken by the League to further its positions.
Agreement of League members with a position reached by another League.
Consensus: Member agreement through the traditional League process of discussing and arriving at conclusions on issues.
Education Fund: Tax-deductible League arm; monies used only for educational purposes, e.g. Voter Guides, never for position support activities.
Position: League's point of view, arrived at through member study and consensus or concurrence and used as a basis for action.
Programs: Plans for speakers, discussion, etc.
Unit: Division of large local League membership into small groups to facilitate discussion.
Voters Guide: Nonpartisan publication of candidates' qualifications and positions on selected issues, printed and distributed to local press and libraries.

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There are no Unit Meetings in March.

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Convention '98. June 13-16, 1998

Hotel del Coronado. San Diego, CA

The League of Women Voters of the United States will convene in San Diego, CA, June 13-16, 1998. On the delegates' agenda will be deciding on the national program, voting on the League's 1998-99 budget, hearing great speakers on topics that concern League members, and attending leadership training workshops. The Hotel del Coronado, site of the 1998 Convention, offers many amenities, including sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.

For more information, contact the LWVDC office at 202/331-4122.

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National Program Planning Units

The benign weather helped assure a nice, relatively even turn-out in each unit, totaling about 50 members. It is important that decisions by the Board be informed by as wide a spectrum of views as possible and that the basis for consensus is truly legitimate.

Two things were clear:

A useful suggestion was made, in more than one unit, as to how our D.C. issue could be effectively pursued in a national program at Convention. It should be considered within the Issue for Emphasis, Making Democracy Work, and full voting representation should be expressly identified as a significant element of that issue.

No unit proposed dropping an item – and certainly not the D.C. Government item, which gives our platform for education and future action. D.C. should be prepared to defend against any proposal by another League to drop our item. Rest assured; the D.C. Delegation will be properly instructed.

All units want to see a moderate level of legislative lobbying in Congress within the four categories under which League positions fall (outlined in the January issue of the Voter).

The discussions also gave the Board food for future thought, e.g., regarding our own program and how to pursue periodic updating of full positions on items. Thanks to all who participated. – Barbara Yeomans, 3rd Vice President, National Program

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Dialogue: Revitalization Act

Past LWVDC President Connie Fortune moderated the Brown Bag Dialogue on the pending D.C. sentencing legislation. The dialogue took place on January 26 at the LWVUS office. Panel members were Jack Evans of the D.C. City Council's Judiciary Committee and Mary Jane Defrank of the ACLU.

Mr. Evans explained that under President Clinton's plan, the Revitalization Act, the D.C. Council was instructed to make changes in the sentencing of convicted felons to comport with federal sentencing laws. He suggested a panel to study criminal law in D.C.

Ms. Defrank said the ACLU might call upon the League to lobby the Council in support of such a panel. She noted many concerns with the current sentencing and imprisonment of felons across the country.

League questions centered around private prisons, parole and determinate sentencing, and comparisons between D.C. and the states. It was suggested that LWVDC establish a committee on criminal justice to "keep tabs on what's happening and to maintain contact with the ACLU." This proposal was referred to the D.C. Affairs Committee. – Pat Hallman, Brown Bag Coordinator

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Using Interns in the LVWDC

It has been suggested that the League might recruit students from the various District colleges as interns. The students would support the various committees as researchers, observers, and writers.

The positions would be for credits and would require approximately ten to fifteen hours a week.

Your suggestions are requested for job description input and qualifications. -- Pat Hallman

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Congressional Attack on "Motor Voter" (National Voter Registration Act)

On February 10 League of Women Voters President, Becky Cain, kicked off a press conference at the Capitol to oppose legislation in the House, i.e., H.R. 1428, the so-called Voter Eligibility Verification Act introduced by Representative Steve Horn (R-CA). Similar measures had also been introduced, and LWVUS had sent out an "Action Alert." This measure, however, suddenly appeared on the House "suspension" calendar – to be used for non-controversial items -- and was scheduled to be taken up in a matter of days. (Action was expected shortly following the copy deadline for this Voter. Strange to say, but we hope this report will prove irrelevant, because the bill was withdrawn or defeated.)

The national League has produced a set of questions and answers to help educate readers on this matter. Sue Whitman, Chevy Chase Unit, has been our first "customer" as she prepared to rebut a call to repeal "Motor Voter" which has been circulated in advance of the "Silver Haired Congress" convening in Washington, D.C. (February 23).

League President Cain shared the platform at the press conference with representatives of other members of the national "motor voter" coalition, namely, the American Council of the Blind, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Other organizations present and opposing the legislation included Common Cause, National Council of La Raza, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. H.R. 1428 is far from non-controversial. It would discourage voter registration and voter participation. Because of the way it is drafted, it would have the effect of undermining the national Voter Registration Act and overturning the Voting Rights Act. It gives great discretion to the states in seeking to "confirm" citizenship of those applying to register as well as to vote; this would be done through use of a specially created federal data base drawing upon social security and immigration records. While various matters in the bill are made subject to protection in federal law, key provisions are not – basically how local election officials may seek to "confirm." Such omission was deliberate, not an oversight. It poses significant potential for discrimination and invasion of privacy. The bill is not needed to pursue fraud; current law is clearly adequate.

Copies of statements and other information obtained at the press conference are in the D.C. League files in connection with "Motor Voter." – Barbara Yeomans, 3rd Vice-President, National Program

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Conservatory Offers Fundraising "Picnic"

The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts is willing to assist the D.C. League of Women Voters by presenting a fund-raising production of "Picnic" by William Inge. The Conservatory, a non-profit institution of higher education dedicated to the performing arts, was established in 1975. It is one of the few accredited institutions in the U.S. offering a structured two-year program in professional actor training plus a one-year advanced acting program. NCDA is housed in the lower level of the Georgetown Lutheran Church (1556 Wisconsin Avenue, NW) and seats approximately 50 people.

A special date may be set aside for the D.C. League on Saturday, May 2 at 2:00 p.m. The League would sell the tickets and would benefit from the proceeds. A small reception would follow the play. Tickets will be $20.00 for this special event. To make this a reality, all we need is a host to coordinate ticket sales and publicity. Please call Luci at the office by March 10 to volunteer.

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Regional Meetings of Note

Regional Welfare Reform Collaborative
Meeting: Wednesday, March 18 at 10:00 a.m.
Income Maintenance Administration/JOBS
33 N Street, NE, Wash, DC 202/727-3443.
(Union Station Metro)
Washington Metro Area Transit Authority
Meetings of the Board of Directors:
March 12 and March 26 at 10:30 a.m.
600 Fifth Street, NW, Wash. DC 202/962-1234

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MetroWatch Observers Needed

The next meeting of MetroWatch is Tuesday, March 3, from 6:00 -7:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Library in room 221. A volunteer to serve as the D.C. League observer is needed. Please call the LWVDC office for more details.

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Member News

Long time member Roberta Chestnut is temporarily at Lynn House (a temporary rehab. center) in Alexandria. She participates in the Northwest Day Unit. If you wish to contact her, call the office to get her direct line.

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Committee Updates

Children At Risk

The Committee notes that the Truesdell School in the District is seeking tutors, five days a week, 10:00-11:30 a.m. Call Jody Schwartz, 301/320-5940 if interested. – Joan Domike, Co-Chair

D.C. Affairs

The DC Affairs Committee exists to keep League members and D.C. residents informed. We have a desire to identify the issues that effect us and to learn how to combine efforts to improve life in our city.

As you read this, Committee members are working on the "ABC's of DC's Revitalization Legislation of 1997." The purpose is to help explain how the 1997 legislation has changed the District's relationship with the federal government.

Recently we attended Delegate Norton's Town Meeting and Speak Out on Self Governance and Democracy in D.C. Harvey Gantt, former Mayor of Charlotte, N.C. and current Chair, National Capital Planning Commission, described Charlotte's experience in having an elected mayor, an elected council, and professional city manager. Mr. Gantt discussed a few pluses of this system: 1) The mayor has an opportunity to serve primarily as a policy maker. 2) Since the position (mayor) is part-time, one does not forget how people earn a living. 3) Lastly, the Mayor has the ability to veto council actions.

A few minuses: 1) The mayor lacks power to hire and/or fire. 2) The mayor's salary is not equivalent to full-time. 3) The mayor lacks the ability to affect legislative change.

Professor Jamin Raskin at American University, Washington College of Law, discussed his proposed law review entitled "Is This America? The District of Columbia and the Right to Vote" citing cases defining the principle of "one person, one vote." We look forward to learning more on constitutional responses to the question.

Another recent town meeting was held by the D.C. Citizens Reform Coalition on corruption and mismanagement in the District government, particularly with respect to the Metropolitan Police Department. Ms. Wilma Lewis, U.S. Attorney, outlined her priority, enforcing the law to erase public corruption.

Mr. Elijah B. Prettyman, Inspector General, said his goal is to restore traditional respect for police officers. Mr. Mark Tuohey, D.C. City Council Special Counsel, is investigating matters relating to misconduct, malfeasance, or mismanagement in the D.C. Metropolitan Policy Department. In three to six months, we hope to report on how responsive these persons have been to public safety issues.

Last fall, you expressed the need for an Observer Corps. This group is forming and will identify issues to be addressed this calendar year. It will keep us abreast on current legislation as it proceeds through D.C. Council and Congress. Help us define what role can be played as part of discussions and decisions made by non- elected bodies (Control Board, Commission, Task Forces, community activists, etc.). Using collective data, our local board will be able to promote League action, inform and educate D.C. citizens, and provide testimony on how to help resolve economic and fiscal issues. We know local constituents can sway local representatives.

Should you wish to become a part of League program (one hour, one issue, one task), call Anna Marsh (202/331-4122). Let's make sure we put forth worthwhile efforts to have an informed public. – Anna Marsh, Chair


The committee continues to work on the Civic/Voter Responsibility Contest. We have called on our high school staff contacts to be sure that all the material and information each may need is available to them. The response from you and from community League supports has been such that the prize money has been raised. We shall be reading the essays on March 19 at

10:30 a.m. in the LWVDC office. If you would like to help, please call the League office and leave your name. The winners will be honored at a reception preceding the annual meeting in April.

Our next meeting in Wednesday, March 11 at 10:30 a.m. in the conference room of the League office. Come join us. – Kathy Schmidt, co-chair

International Relations

U.N. Update: Our February DC Voter included a copy of our letter to President Clinton urging him to voice his strong support for the U.N. in his state of the Union message. Close followers of the speech may have noted that the message included a sentence calling upon Congress to "make good on our debt to the United Nations." Secretary Albright, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 10, was more outspoken when she referred to the House action last November to block final passage of a measure to pay "our long overdue U.N. bills" as an "act of legislative black mail." We hope our letter, which was also sent to the State Department, counted in the final decision to press this issue.

On February 2, in a supplemental appropriations request, the Administration proposed paying $1.021 billion dollars over the next two fiscal years to cover accumulated arrears to the U.N. and other international organizations. The future of this proposal remains cloudy, however. Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was quoted as saying on the Evans and Novak Program of January 31, "Not until the U.N. reforms itself am I going to give a penny." Stay tuned.

Great Decisions-March Schedule: An enthusiastic group of thirteen opened our Great Decisions program with a discussion of "U.S.-Cuba Relations" and the problems inherent in our present policy of isolating Cuba. After a second February meeting to discuss "Africa, a Role for the U.S.," March will find us discussing "Financing Development" (Wednesday March 11) and "Human Rights – What Role in U.S. Policy?" (Wednesday March 25).

Our meetings, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm (note new time!), are held at the LWVUS headquarters, 1730 M Street, NW. We welcome visitors. Call Jean Jones for information at 202/331-4122. – Sheila Keeny, Chair

Voter Service

The committee met on February 10 to discuss its role in the proposal, Making Our Votes Count. The committee agreed to take the initiative for planning and developing the various candidates fore projected for the coming election season – logistics, contacting candidates, developing questions, etc. The next meeting is set for March 10, when the committee will begin work on specifics of this task. – Fran Garro, Chair

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LWV/The National Capital Area

President: Naomi Glass, 202/331-4122. Editor: Gloria Harvey

From the President: The date for the 1998 Annual Convention of the NCA League of Women Voters has been set: Saturday morning, May 16 at the National Press Club. Local leagues have been informed as to how many delegates they may have but all are welcome. Space, however, is limited, so call me soon if you would like to join us ($15 admission includes a buffet continental breakfast). Long-time leaguer Jean Packard, currently Chair of the Interstate Commission of the Potomac River Basin and formerly Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, will address us.

Jean Packard is also a member of the NCA's Water Resources Committee which has decided to move beyond the present to what we need to be thinking about regarding potable water for the Metropolitan area 25 years in the future. The Committee's next meeting is at noon on March 6 at the LWVUS headquarters. Call Chair Bob Perry (703/534-5421) for further information.

We will be electing a vice-president, treasurer, and two directors at this year's NCA Convention and the NCA Board will be able to appoint up to four additional directors. Please call Nominating Committee Chair Carolyn Cooper suggesting names for these posts (including your own, if work in this area appeals).

The D.C. Finances Committee, under Elinor Hart's leadership, is busily preparing background material for presentation in April or May, depending upon local league scheduling. The committee will meet next on March 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Library. Leaguers are invited, even encouraged, to attend local league meetings in jurisdictions other than their own, if their local league was unable to arrange a meeting or if they want to hear additional points of view. More on scheduling next month or call LWVDC office (202/331-4122) for local league meeting locations.

Katy Cannady, NCA Voters Services Chair, observes that voter registration is up but the percent of registered voters who get to the polls is down. Is the traditional LWV/NCA emphasis on registration outmoded? A "Talk Out" on this subject will be held on Friday, April 17, from 10:00 a.m. to noon at the LWVUS headquarters. Katy will contact local league presidents and voters service chairs but all interested are enthusiastically welcomed.

R. Burmaa, Chairperson of Women for Social Progress, a Mongolian counterpart of the U.S. League of Women Voters, will spend some time in the Washington Metropolitan area. For more information about this unique opportunity for information and idea exchange, see this article.

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NCA Calendar: Advance Notice

Apr 3 Fri 10:00 a.m., NCA Board, LWVUS
Apr 17 Fri 10:00 a.m., Voters Service Talk Out, LWVUS
May 16 Sat 9:00 a.m., NCA Annual Convention, National Press Club

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Mongolia/U.S. Democracy Exchange Comes to Metro Washington

R. Burmaa, the founder and chairperson of Mongolia's Women for Social Progress, a counterpart of the U.S. League, is in the United States to study our electoral system and the part women's organizations play in the political process, culminating in a paper entitled "Women's Role in Democracy Building."

Ms. Burmaa was in California from in December and January under the auspices of the Placerville Area League and Gwen Erwood of Travel Concepts International. Her visit included LWV board meetings, general meetings, training sessions; meetings with UNA volunteers; media visits; and Christmas in an American home. She spent February at Indiana University in Bloomington, where there is an active Mongolia Society.

Ms. Burmaa arrives in the Washington area March 1 and will be here until April 5. She will visit Congress, City Council, the Women's Democratic Club, Great Decisions discussions, and the Maryland Legislature. She will also tell leaguers about Mongolia. LWVUS is providing us with marvelous opportunities to meet Ms. Burmaa and exchange information: Thursday, March 12 (noon), Brown Bag Lunch at LWVUS headquarters; Saturday, March 14 (2:00 p.m.), Dulin Methodist Church in Falls Church; Monday, March 23 (2:00 p.m.), Mongolian Embassy; reservations are required for this event. Her visit is funded by the International Research Exchange.

If you are able to open your home to Burmaa for a few days, starting March 17, please call Marge Witting, a Northern Virginia Leaguer who is coordinating Burmaa's arrangements. Additionally, the Embassy of Mongolia is providing soft drinks for the reception on March 23 but Leaguers are asked to provide snacks. Again, please call Marge to assist in this matter.

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Membership Goals Established

Our 1998 goal for membership for the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia is to increase our membership by fifteen percent. As of January 31, 1998 LWVDC had 433 members. Fifteen new members joined since January 1, 1998. To meet our goal, we need to recruit or reactivate at least 52 more members. Will each member help us?

Do you know someone who would like to
Work on a community issue?
Meet people who share common interests?
Grow intellectually?
Make a difference?
Express ideas and feel appreciated?
Gain organizing and leadership skills?
Become familiar with our government?
Meet our local and national decision-makers?

Then, introduced them to the League! – Reggie Yancey, Membership Chair

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Join the League of Women Voters and Add Your Voice to Make Things Happen

Make Your Annual Meeting Reservations Now!
Please return this form, together with dues (check payable to D.C. League of Women Voters),
to: LWVDC, 2025 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006.

We need you as we continue to be a voice for citizens and a force for change in Washington, D.C., promoting positive solutions to public policy issues through community education and advocacy, and building greater board- based citizen participation in the democratic process. Even if you do not have the time for active participation, your being a member will strengthen our voice.

If you are age 18 or over and a citizen of the USA, becoming a member of the League is easy.

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Brown Bag Dialogue: D.C. Churches Helping Create A Community

Monday, March 23, 1998
Noon, LWVUS, 1730 M Street, NW, 10th Floor
Rev. Terry Lynch, Downtown Cluster of Churches
Rev. Frank Tucker, First Baptist Church
Rev. Archie Lemone, National Council of Churches of D.C.
Farragut North (Red) or Farragut West (Blue/Orange) Metro; limited parking

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Annual Meeting, April 21, 1998

Washington Post Columnist Colbert King, Guest Speaker
Coach and Four Restaurant, Reeves Center
5:30 p.m. Tickets $25.00
U Street Metro (Green line); parking available

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:

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