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President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
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Committee Meetings
Can We Reform Our High Schools?
Planning & Zoning: Testimony (Astrid Monson)
Statement on Bus Fares
Statement on Zoning: Historic Structures
Statement on Convention Center
Testimony on Ewa Marina Zone
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President's Message

Of the many National Councils I have attended, I consider Council '93 "Many Voices -One Vision" to be among the most exciting. It was opened by LWVUS President Becky Cain wielding the gavel used in the U.S. House of Representatives when the Motor Voter bill was at last passed. The gavel and one of the pens used by the President to sign the Bill will be displayed in the National League office to symbolize just what "fighters for freedom," as the President described the League members and other Americans who had preserved and finally achieved passage of the National Voter Registration Act, can accomplish.

The highlight of Council '93 was the invitation to the White House by President and Mrs. Clinton to thank us personally for the vision that made motor voter a reality -the same vision that is now directed toward future accomplishments in building citizen participation in democracy.

Both President and Mrs. Clinton noted that the League was not welcome to the White House since 1980, but that they were glad to have us back. "Your being here symbolizes what we want to do and what you want to do -- open up the political system to informed citizens," said the President. The motor voter bill was a landmark milestone toward that goal, according to Clinton who called it one of the most profound voting rights laws in recent years.

"We want to empower people to take care of their own business," he said, citing his goals of fighting to create jobs. "We Americans need to get our house back in order," Clinton declared, "so that we can have control over our own destiny again." And he issued a challenge guaranteed to strike a resounding chord to every Leaguer in the audience: "This is your government -- take it back."

On Capitol Hill the next day we were congratulated and thanked by Republican Senator David Durenberger and Democrat Senator Paul Wellstone, both from Minnesota, for League's leadership role in passing effective voter registration reform legislation.

Opening up the system was the continuing goal of the League grassroots lobbyists who blanketed the Hill that day. The issues were campaign finance reform and health care reform, and the League message was fundamentally the same: citizen participation in government.

We told members of Congress that only by enacting the comprehensive campaign finance reform can Congress reduce the influence of special interests, ensure fair political competition and get the public back into the election process.

Armed with the newly adopted position on health care, we told legislators that access to quality health care -universal coverage -- is necessary linchpin for ensuring a fair and humane health care system. We urged them to heed the voice of citizens rather than the cacophony of special interests, in working to heal the nation's health care system.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala said she most admired the League for "providing the best leadership training opportunities for women in this country" in a luncheon speech to us. Shalala told the Leaguers that the administration's health care reform plan will focus on universal access and on prevention. In addition to emphasis on childhood immunization and encouragement of health lifestyles, she promised more research into women's health problems and how to prevent them. An intensive morning workshop was conducted by Dr. Jeanne Nutter of William Patterson College in New Jersey focused on building the necessary skills and awareness to build a more diverse League of Women Voters. As one League member put it, "When we are more diverse we will be better able to advocate with people rather than for people."

There will be much more on the subject of diversity in the League's future.

The frosting on top of the cake was the honor given by Council '93 to Marion Saunders for her dedication to the League. Marion and her late husband Dr. Allan Saunders founded the League of Women Voters of Honolulu in 1948. Marion spearheaded the formation of the League of Women Voters of the Neighbor islands to enable the emergence of the League of Women Votes of Hawaii in 1965. Throughout the years Marion was an active participant in League activities. Forty. five years has past and Marion is active as Chair of the State League's Education, Chair on the Board of the Honolulu League as Schools Chair and a respected and compelling voice in the State Legislature. Her honor was justly deserved.

Arlene Ellis

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