President's Message: September 2017

DC Statehood Education

We were so thrilled to get our second grant from the DC government to educate League members in other states about statehood for the people of the District of Columbia.  LWVDC will get a much larger share of the $50,000 grant this year, and the money will enable us to go to at least 10 states.  I want to give kudos first to Anne and her committee for the careful planning and the activities they have already embarked on.  As I write this, speakers have already delivered two of the five practice sessions we had promised; and committee members have signed up to speak at each of the states they’ve selected.   Second I want to say thank you to Kate Kennedy, the Chief Development Officer for LWVUS, who was enormously helpful to us in finalizing the grant application.  You can expect to hear much more about the events.

October Healthcare Forum

Goody Braun and her Health Committee have planned a terrific forum for our October 14th Luncheon at Carmine’s.  Community leaders - see our enclosed flyer - will give us an in-depth accounting of the status of national health care legislation and a review of what we can expect for health care in the District of Columbia.  Congressional activity on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this summer was both harrowing and in the end a great relief.  But we can still expect more efforts to use the ACA as means to enact more tax cuts for the wealthy, and we know that much needs to be done to truly improve the ACA so that it serves everyone.  Be sure to plan to attend this important Forum.

Voter Services

Our Voter Services Committee headed by Linda Softli has been very busy this summer.  In addition to events across the city, League members attend Naturalization Ceremonies to register new voters.  Generally, these are held the second Tuesday of every month at the District Courthouse; however, this summer there has been a significant increase, with three ceremonies in July and three in August.  My theory is all the ugly rhetoric about immigration has encouraged immigrants who have held a green card for the required five years or more to move expeditiously to acquire their citizenship.  There will be three events in September as well:  September 8, September 12, and September 26.  Witnessing the ceremony and then talking to the new citizens is an extraordinarily moving experience.  I urge you to attend at least one if you can.  The more members we have there to meet the 100 or more new citizens, the more voter registrations we are able to obtain.

Fair Elections Coalition

Abigail Nichols is leading our participation in this coalition that is very actively supporting the Fair Elections Act of 2017.  The bill would provide a 5-1 match for all small donor contributions for candidates who agree not to accept any contributions larger than $250 for a mayoral race and lower amounts for the District Council and Board of Education members.  We hope it will pass in the Fall so that it will be in place for budget planning next year.

Other Council Action

We are supporting several other campaign finance bills that would greatly diminish the pay-to-play scenarios we have seen in the past.  There are now four bills before Council.  Councilmember Charles Allen, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, has indicated that he would like to work with the authors of these bills to craft one solid measure.  Among the potential provisions are the assurance of independent expenditures, elimination of “dark money” loopholes, restrictions on bundled contributions, requirement that only individuals can contribute to political committees, and clear disclosure requirements.  Watch for more action here.

Civic Cocktails and Other Events

We would like to encourage more participation in our Civic Cocktail event the third Tuesday of every month, and we are looking at other events such as coffees and discussion meetings.  Mary Pat Twomey, our Membership Chair, has several good ideas.

Office Move

Less exciting than other events is our need to move to new offices.  We are now investigating several possibilities and hope to have a new address soon as we must be out of our current space by October 31.

Happy fall to all!