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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 76, No. 3, March 2000

Celebrating Our 80th Year of Service, 1920–2000

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

President’s Corner
News from the Units: Meetings on Education to Follow General Meetings
March Units Meeting Schedule
March General Meeting: Charter Schools/Home Schooling

Insert on charter schools

Major New Partnership Announced by LWVUS Education Fund
International Relations Committee Report
DC Representation in Congress

Member News
Important Future Dates
LWV/National Capital Area: First Board Action of Year 2000
LWVDC Education Position Update
Mayor’s Follow-up Neighborhood Action Citizens Summit
Results of General Meeting on National Program Planning
“Brown Bag Dialogue” on Council Reform
Members Only Website
Be a Volunteer for LWVUS National Convention, Volunteer Form

President's Corner

One of the questions plaguing DC residents is how do we want our schools run? What should be the size of the school board and how should they be elected? But, more importantly, what can citizens (read this Leaguers) do to make sure our children are being well educated? These are just two issues we will be exploring in March.

The Education committee, co-chaired by Connie Tate and Gladys Weaver, has planned two meetings: one on Charter Schools, March 15 followed by a meeting on Home Schooling, March 16. The next week Units will further discuss these two issues as well as considering changes to LWVDC education positions adopted in 1982. The Board's concern about broad member support for these positions along with a study by the Education committee and their recommendations will be presented to Units for their action. The most controversial of these positions is the one on the School Board (see below).

The DC League's position adopted 18 years ago, supports the current structure of the DC School Board. Discussing this issue at Unit meetings four years ago, it was clear that there was "little member agreement" on the size or method of selecting school board members. Because of this lack of member support, the Board has voted to delete its position on the school board. To be effective, this action must be verified by members. The Board hopes to bring this issue to members early this Spring, so we can reach a new consensus.

As part of our focus on Education Arlene Ackerman, Superintendent, DC Public Schools, will speak at our 80th anniversary breakfast Annual Meeting, Saturday, April 29.

Yours in the League, Elizabeth M. Martin, President.

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Don't Miss
Two Speaker Meetings Present the "Pros" and "Cons" on

Charter Schools
Wed., March 15th 10 a.m. -12 noon

Home Schooling
Thurs., March 16th 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Sumner School
1201 17th Street NW
(comer 17th St. NW & M St. NW)

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NEWS FROM THE UNITS: Meetings on Education to Follow General Meetings

The Upper 16th Street Unit made a memorable contribution to the luncheon arrangements for the January and February General Meetings by providing delicious box lunches for just $5. A fundraiser for LWVDC as well as a pleasant break from the task of selecting national program, the January lunches raised $100 for LWVDC. Planned by our beloved Louise Perry, who did not live to enjoy this fundraiser, the box lunches were prepared by Paula McKann, Reggie Yancey and Kathy Schmidt. Other fundraising plans include a bridge party in May organized by Hope Marindin of the Chevy Chase Unit. Other Units should be thinking of similarly creative ways to help meet the Leagues' costs that are not covered by our dues,

Unit Meetings March 21-23 will offer members an opportunity to discuss Home Schooling and Charter Schools, the topics of General Meetings held March 15 and 16. The Units will also consider changes in our position on an elected School Board (see below).

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Tuesday. March 21
Southwest - 9:45 AM, Hostess: MacClaire Arlt, 554-4031, 560 N St, SW #N802
Northwest Day, 1 :00 PM, Unit Chair: Jeanette Miller, 362-1203, lone House, 4125 Albemarle St., NW

Wednesday. March 22
Chevy Chase - 9:45 AM, Hostess: Mary Rodgers, 244-1933, 4601 31st St., NW
Upper 16th Street - 9:45 AM, Hostess: Madlyn Calbert, 832-7630, 1261 Keamey St., NE
Northeast Day - Is invited to meet with the Upper 16th St Unit (see above), Unit Co-Chair: Roberta Johnson, 5264469

Thursday, March 23
Northwest Evening - 7:30 PM, Hostess: Anne Porowski, 364-0557, 4200 Cathedral Avenue NW, #1019

Sheila Keeny, Unit Director

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MARCH GENERAL MEETING: Charter Schools/Home Schooling

The Education Committee is pleased to present two informative presentations on a very timely topic -- Schooling! President Clinton just announced he was adding additional funding for Charter Schools in the budget proposal he is sending to Congress. Parents who want another alternative to public, private or charter schools are choosing Home Schooling.

Both presentations will be held at the Charles Sumner School, 1201 17th St., NW, Washington. At the corner of 17th St. and M St., Sumner School is conveniently located near the Metro Red Line Farragut North Exit.

To learn more about Charter Schools, plan to attend the presentation on Wednesday, March 15th from 10:00 a.m. - 12 noon. Guest speakers will be Darian Griffin, Assistant Director - Education Issues Dept.. American Federation of Teachers and Kent Amos, Principal of three charter schools. [See also the insert on charter schools.]

The presentation on Home Schooling will be on Thursday. March 16th from 6:30 p.m. 8:30 p.m. Speakers will be Virginia Spatz, Home Schooler, and Gladys Weaver, co-chair, LWVDC Education Committee.

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It's an exciting new world out there. The LWV US/EF announced on February 15 a partnership with that will now host the DNet candidate and election information, providing greatly increased server capacity and technology support. The LWV has agreed to provide coverage of all federal, gubernatorial, and local races. Local Leagues will cover as many local and state races as resources allow. Twenty states covered 1999 elections on the DNet system. The goal for 2000 is for all 50 states to have a presence on the system, ranging from congressional to local races.

Sheila Willet, DC League office manager, attended DNet training put on by National in late February. Thanks to her computer skills we are staying on the cutting edge!

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The IR Committee met on Feb. 9th to finalize plans for the Feb. 16th General Meeting on Trade. (An article on this meeting will appear in the April DC VOTER.) Following a discussion of current articles of interest on trade, led by Janet Burmester, the Committee set its agenda for the next few months. The Committee will be discussing topics in the Great Decisions book for 2000.

Great Decisions Discussions
2nd Wednesdays March - June
1:00 pm. - 3:00 p.m.
LWVUS Office, 1730 M St., NW

Great Decisions books may be obtained from the World Affairs Council at 1800 K St., NW. All League members and friends of the League are invited to attend the discussions. These meetings will be held at the LWVUS offices, 1730 M St., NW, 10th Floor from 1-3 p.m. the 2nd Wednesday of each month. The March meeting will be held in the LWVUS Board Room. The dates, topics and discussion leaders are as follows:

Mar. 8, The Middle East at the Millenium, Susan Rao
Apr 12, US Foreign Policy and the American Political  System, Hope Marindin
May 10, The Euro's Challenge to the Dollar, Janet Burmester
June 14, Humanitarianism, Sheila Keeny

Susan Rao Co-chair

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The Coalition for DC Representation in Congress is sponsoring a citywide forum Saturday, March 11, at 9:30 a.m. at the New York Presbyterian Church, 1313 New York Avenue, NW. All are welcome. For information call Kathy Schmidt 202/232-6460.

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Many thanks to the following members who sent in additional contributions to support the DC League: Frank Daspit, Roberta Johnson, Helen Marieskind, Kathy Schmidt, Frances Wilkenson.

Josephine Wade is currently in a nursing home. Her new address is: c/o Charter House #1112, 1316 Fenwick Lane, Silver Spring, MD 20710. It is with deep sorrow we report the passing of member Irma Mullins. Services were held Feb. 7th The League has lost a wonderful friend.


Many Leaguers are writing notes and contributing to the DC League in memory of Louise Perry. Through her Private Elections and Bed & Breakfast activities she was an ambassador par excellence. Everyone was her friend and she was friend to everyone. One member remembers working with her when "nobility from England" stayed with her. They became good friends and what a treat for them! The Board will take action in March to add the money given in Louise's memory to Jan Rosenblum's bequest. Louise would have approved. She worked tirelessly to improve the League's financial condition. Those who have contributed to date: Frances Gemmill, Naomi Glass, Clara Kirkman, Barbara Luchs, Anna Marsh, Elizabeth Martin, Chris Matthews & Ken Nesper, Martha Myers, Nelson Rimsnyder, Mary Rodgers, Kathy Schmidt, Reggie Yancey, and the Upper 16th Unit.

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Save these dates for the following future events:

Saturday, April 29th, 9:00 a.m., Annual Meeting, Guest Speaker: Arlene Ackerman. Details in next DC VOTER.
Sunday, May 14th, Million Mom March, See LWV/National Capital Area.
Saturday, June 10th, NCA Annual Meeting, See LWV/National Capital Area.
Fri.-Tues., June 16-20, National Convention, See page 7 or The National Voter for more information.

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LWV/National Capital Area: FIRST BOARD ACTION OF YR 2000

NCA Annual Meeting Update

We will meet at the Arlington Hilton on Saturday morning, June 10 for brunch. Happily, Amy Lin, Assistant Director of Brookings Institute's Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, has agreed to address us on their recently completed A Region Divided, The State of Growth in Greater DC. Several Leaguers who have heard presentations on this study enthusiastically recommend it, especially in light of our current transportation/and use program item. Plan to join us. More details will follow as the date grows near.

Reminder: "Whither the League?"

The colloquium is scheduled for Saturday morning, March 11, 10:00 a.m. to noon, at the Montgomery County Executive Office Building in Rockville, MD. Help identify problem areas and develop solutions. Call Pat Dougherty, 301/2997886 for directions or other information.

Million Mom March. Mother's Day 2000

A group of nonpartisan mothers is planning a march on Washington on May 14th to call on Congress to pass "common sense" gun legislation. The LWVUS has endorsed the effort and National Capital Area Leaguers, especially, are urged to attend the event.

LWVUS Convention 2000

The NCA Board has decided to sponsor a booth at the Convention in June to sell wares of all sorts. Of course, profits will be shared with contributing local leaguers. So far, we range from packets of trail mix (to serve as a quick, but healthy substitution for expensive, calorie-laden snacks) to elegant, hand-made scarves. If you have items you'd like included or ideas you'd like to discuss, call Naomi Glass.

Naomi Glass, President 202/686-0124

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In a long-term effort to update the DC League positions, the Education Committee has reviewed the Elementary and Secondary school positions and recommends the following actions. To take effect, the actions voted on by the Board must then be passed on by the membership.

1. Current position: "Vocational programs should be available to meet the current needs. Skills should be taught in a framework broad enough to be adapted to changing technologies and job markets."

Recommendation: The committee questioned whether the term "vocational" is still valid. Suggested change is from "vocational" to "career." Adopted by the Board.

2. Current position: "To provide for stability and continuity, it must be clear to each student that there is one teacher who will guide his/her progress at school."

Recommendation: Eliminate this paragraph since it is unrealistic at the secondary level that " teacher will guide..." and it is not practiced at the elementary level. Adopted by the Board.

3. Current position: "The present system of electing School Board members both at-large and by wards should be retained. Board members elected by wards better represent their own neighborhoods and at the same time ensure that the Board as a whole reflects the various interests of the entire community. However, at-large representation should also be retained to give the Board a comprehensive view of the city."

Recommendation: At Unit meetings four years ago, the Education committee found "little member agreement" on the appropriate size of the School Board or how it should be elected. Since the Board felt that it could not take action without an update, a motion to delete the position was passed by the board.

The above will be covered at the individual March Unit meetings (see above for meeting dates).

General Meetings and Unit Meetings provide Leaguers with the opportunity to discuss and stay informed about the current issues affecting our community and beyond.

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Mayor Anthony Williams convened a second Summit in late January, a follow-up to the November forum (see January 2000 issue of DC VOTER). The meeting focused on a revised draft of the Mayor's strategic plan that will guide the finalization of the DC budget. Over 1300 residents fumed out on a bitter day and packed the UDC gym. UDC President Dr. Julius Nimmons welcomed the crowd. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of Neighborhood Action, continued as moderator. Citizens again made use of key pads to record views and thus received nearly instantaneous analysis of a series of questions posed to characterize views and composition of the participants. The first item addressed was how important the summit was; 68% viewed this as "critical; must do" and 21% thought it "important."

Mayor Williams' goal is rebuilding citizens' trust in DC Government.

Mayor Williams stressed his goal of rebuilding citizens' trust in the DC. Government He reviewed how his first draft of the strategic plan had been revised in light of the November meeting. For example, attention to neighborhoods will be expanded beyond the original six identified for special focus. Neighborhood Services Managers will be located throughout the city. Citizens will be able to call on them to pursue assistance, especially where responsibilities cut across agencies.

Citizens' Top Concerns For:
Capital Resources is school facilities.
City improvement is fix streets & trash removal.

Among city-wide issues, the top concern for "improvement" were fixing streets (36%), followed by trash removal (26%) and getting rid of rats (22%). Support for tree trimming and planting was in the single digits. The top priority for capital resources was school facilities (46%). The next area for the government to focus on is job training. Participants again addressed issues at the neighborhood level; the views were collected for later analysis.

Barbara T. Yeomans

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DC Leaguers met at Sumner School in January to begin National Program Planning leading up to Convention 2000. The heart of the meeting was for Leaguers to voice their preferences for possible national study items. LWVUS is conducting a special survey of all members on the process for reviewing and updating positions, among other items. This was described in the winter issue of the National Voter as well as in the January DC VOTER.

There was unanimous agreement among attendees that international relations should be the first program area considered for updating and study. Within that area, LWVUS should look at two positions in parallel: the United Nations and Trade. This also was a recommendation of the DC League's IR Committee chaired by Susan Rao and Sheila Keeny who presented the rationales leading to this recommendation (e.g., major structural issues before the UN and, with respect to trade, collapse of the Soviet Union and advent of the World Trade Organization).

Members also had to decide whether to retain or drop any LWVUS positions. (Leaguers were reminded that the full texts of the detailed positions can be found in the LWVUS Publication: Impact on Issues.) No positions were recommended for deletion but all recognized that many positions need to be brought up to date.

The DC League reaffirmed its support for the proposal by LWV/NCA to seek support at Convention that, under the DC governance position, the federal payment to the District should be restored and that DC should have control over locally raised revenues, i.e., without Congressional review. These issues were addressed at unit meetings in Maryland, Virginia and DC last spring. The LWVUS questionnaire also led to a lively discussion of the future of the DC League.

Barbara T. Yeomans, 3rd Vice-President (National Program)

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The kick-off "brown bag dialogue" for 2000 was an opportunity for Leaguers to understand the recommendations on DC Council Reform made by the DC Appleseed Center and the National Conference of State Legislatures (see September 1999 DC VOTER). Executive Director, Josh Wyner and staff associate Anna E. Laitin, laid out the issues of staffing, standardizing the legislative process, emergency legislation and public hearings. Although the two reports addressed different issues, Mr. Wyner noted that neither group disagreed with recommendations of the other.

A major, long reaching recommendation. called for centralization of committee staff. The Council has 130 employees, about twice the number for councils in cities of comparable size; however, the District has state-level functions and has had especially heavy demands for constituent services. Each Council member is entitled to four staff and committee chairs have four additional staff. When a member changes committee assignments, typically the staff goes with him/her. Corporate memory and expertise are lost and new and reassigned staff may not necessarily be expert in the new committee assignments. Centralizing staff would improve professional quality and permit improved operation. Two central offices in particular are recommended: policy, fiscal analysis and research and legislative oversight. Further, the office of Legislative Counsel needs strengthening to improve the drafting of bills before hearings are held.

Other areas needing improvement include:

  • Standard Legislative Process: It is important that documents (draft bills, fiscal impact statements, and evaluations of a bill's legal and technical adequacy) be released early enough so that adequate analysis can be conducted. Responsible preparation for hearings by any witness depends on this. (Council members themselves have received draft bills on the day of a hearing.) Additionally, certain analyses are not released early enough. Draft bills need to be circulated earlier before a committee mark-up session (e.g. two days, and not the common practice of just before a session); to including the public, leading to more informed debate and better drafted legislation. The Council has taken some steps toward improvement, notably, placing bills on its web site.
  • Emergency Legislative Process: In recent years the Council has enacted almost half of all legislation under emergency procedures. This process permits enactment for 90 days after the mayor's signature and without any congressional review period. Beyond genuine emergencies, emergencies can arise because Congress can take too long to conduct reviews. The 30-day waiting period for Congressional review of DC excludes weekends and holidays plus periods when the Congress is not in session. Under the emergency process typically no hearings are held. Intent to employ emergency legislation usually is not announced in advance and the bills are not published. Legislation can be adopted at one reading; the standard process requires two readings 13 days apart. The public is left out and the Council loses opportunities to gain important information to improve legislation.
  • Public Hearings: The Council is supposed to hold hearings on proposed bills and notice is to be given. However, the Council extensively uses a process called a "roundtable" to discuss matters, in substantive effect like a hearing but with no statutory requirement that notice be given. Thus, although use of "roundtable" has basically been responsible, access to information to participate is inadequate. When there are hearings, adequacy of notice needs to be improved, together with dissemination in advance of relevant documents.

Barbara T. Yeomans

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League members with computers and access to the Internet can now access a "Members Only" site on the LWVUS / LWVEF web site ( Just click on the Members Only button. You will be prompted to type in a username and password that can be found in the League Connections section of the Sep/Oct 1999 and Dec/Jan 2000 (page 8 under "Good Bytes") issues of The National Voter.

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Would You like to See The Capitol Steps Musical Political Satire For Free ??

Saturday, June 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Crystal Ballroom of the Hilton Washington Hotel

Be a LWVUS National Convention Volunteer, June 16-20, 2000
Hilton Washington Hotel, 1919 Connecticut Avenue, Washington, DC 202-483-3000
Metro: Red Line, Dupont Circle stop, North exit

And You Can Have a Ticket to the Fundraiser for the LW\/-NCA

We are looking for volunteers for many different types of jobs, some behind the scenes and some on the floor of the convention. Don't miss this opportunity to be a part of this exciting League function in your own home town. It's work, but it's a lot of fun too. Like seeing The Capitol Steps.

Volunteers are needed as follows:

Every day (June 16-20)

Registration - staff registration desk; distribute badges and materials
Credentials - certify voting eligibility of delegates; prepare official daily attendance report
Information - staff information desk; provide tourist information to delegates and visitors
Personnel - staff volunteer room; assist with assignments; provide back-up to other volunteer areas
Teller/Elections - process vote cards; count and record results

Friday through Sunday (June 16-18)

Hospitality - greet delegates and guest; host hospitality suite; assist with information
Dine Around - staff "dine around" desk-sign-ups, reservations, information

Saturday through Tuesday (June 17-20)

Floor Committees:
Doorkeeper - check badges for eligibility to enter; distribute official materials; monitor doors.
- distribute, collect, deliver motion slips; collect vote cards; usher guests.
Microphone monitor - monitor floor mikes; keep order in lines; assist with vote counts.
Timekeeper - notify speakers when time expired.

Questions? Contact Janet Hay, 703-860-0112, or Shirley Olson, 703-860-0512,

Print out and return this form to Janet Hays, 2511 Trophy Lane, Reston, VA 20191. We'll contact you soon.

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CALENDAR: March 2000

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
    1 10:00 a.m., LWVDC Board Mtg., LWVUS Board Room, 1730 M St., NW, 10th Floor 2 3
6 12:00 p.m., Unit Council Mtg., 12 noon, LWVDC Office,  733 15th St., NW, #437 7 April DC Voter Deadline 8 10:00 a.m., Education Committee Mtg., LWVDC Office,
1:00 p.m., IR Committee "Great Decisions" LWVUS
9 10
13 14 15 10:00 a.m., General Mtg. on Charter Schools, Sumner School, 17th and M Sts., NW 16 6:30 p.m., Gen. Mtg. on Home Schooling, Sumner School 17
20 21 9:45 a.m., Southwest unit meeting
1:00 p.m., Northwest D unit meeting
22 9:45 a.m., Chevy Chase unit meeting
9:45 a.m., Upper 16th St., Northeast Day unit meeting
23 7:30 p.m., Northwest Evening unit meeting 24 April DC Voter mailed
27 28 29 30 31

LWVDC Office Seeks 4 Volunteers for 2 to 4 hours, one day a week.
Call Sheila Willet, Office Manager, 347-3020, to apply

Send mail with questions or comments to
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