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Gray Panthers Rap, Spring, 1999

Spring Membership Meeting & Elections

Gray Panthers were shocked and alarmed with the news that the last supermarket in Ward 8 was closing its doors, leaving only high cost neighborhood markets to meet the community's food needs. The Steering Committee decided to make the food crisis, and the issue of appropriate development in general the focus of the spring membership meeting.

Gray Panthers General Meeting and Annual Elections
Saturday, April 10. 10:30PM
Seventh Precinct Police Station
2455 Alabama Ave. SE, WDC
(Orange or Blue Line to Potomac Ave,
cross street, take 32 bus "Shipley Terrace")

Our speakers will be Sherry Brown from the Americans for Democratic Action, D.C, Chapter, John Friedrich from Community Harvest, and Shahis Mustafa from Bethesda Co-Op, followed by a discussion. Please try to attend this important meeting and bring friends. If you need transportation call the office at 202-347-9541.

Conveners Corner

As the Gray Panthers of Metropolitan Washington enter the new year of 1999, we are proud of our numerous involvements and accomplishments. We offer thanks to `our supporters who have marched, protested and attended our meetings and seminars. They have labored with us in our struggles for the survival of Social security, Medicare, and the University of D.C.. With us, they have taken a positive stand on affordable housing for the elderly, nuclear disarmament and military reductions, and our actions with the unions for fair wages for all.

We are honored to have several of our members represent us on city and national boards, commissions, Statehood Senator(Florence Pendleton), and programs for youth and the elderly. As we move toward the millennium, we plan to work more closely in conjunction with the Mayor's Office, The Agency On Aging, The City Council, and The Chief of Police for more effective law enforcement, sustainable economic growth, and the making of a better and more just Capital City and area.

We pray that the leaders on Capitol Hill become more compassionate to the poor and all mankind, and set aside hate and seek peace for this country and the world. We hope they will listen to our plea for the sanctity of Social Security, and direct them into productive action to secure the future for the children and the elders. We are reminded of the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and implemented by Thurgood Marshall. We also have dreams of living in a better world. We dream that those who control the resources of this nation be more sensitive to the needs of the children, the poor, the hungry, and the homeless, and direct those funds into the right programs such as jobs, education, health care, and other rewardable programs.
We ask you all to get out on the prowl with the Gray panthers. Help us realize our dreams. Come join with us!

Bernice Fonteneau


We who were able to attend the Gray Panther 25th Birthday Celebration pity those who couldn't. The place was jumping with the marvelous singing and playing of Rod MacDonald and Steve & Peter Jones. And we raised money - more than any previous We have many to thank for this gala evening. First a note of appreciation for Rose Marie Flynn's putting together our incredible, action filled history for the program document, despite the fact that the Flynns had to prepare for an imminent overseas trip. Many thanks to Calvary Baptist Church for letting us use the Shallenberger free of charge, and Pastor Lynn Bergfalk who provided the invocation. We appreciated the enthusiastic performance of our Mistress of Ceremonies, Nkenge Toure, from WPFW. Our Convener, Bernice Fonteneau, gave her usual excellent welcoming speech - she's a wonder! The Honorable Frank Smith, Ward 1 Councilperson, presented the D.C. Council's resolution honoring us. And the Honorable Florence Pendleton, U.S. Senator for D.C. Statehood, gave us Mayor Barry's laudatory Message. Tim Fuller, Executive Director of National Gray Panthers, congratulated us on 25 years of action. Betty Finkelstein, resplendent in a sparkling red dress, read one of her lovely poems. Finally, Louise Franklin-Ramirez ushered the audience to the refreshments, including a beautifully decorated cake with a fitting, witty tribute.

We could not have organized a successful fundraiser had it not been for the incredible response from the many unions we have actively supported; they paid handsomely for congratulatory messages in the Program. In addition, Entertainment Sound Production generously provided their equipment and services without charge. Finally, the performers kindly performed for reduced rates.

Last, but not least, congratulations and thanks are due John Steinbach for doing almost all the planning and leg work, and in pushing hard for this event in the face of general skepticism from many of the rest of us. Okay, John, you win! Let's do it again.

Gerry Brittain

We Need Food Stores More Than Sports Facilities

Anthony Williams, the District's new Mayor, seems to have chosen construction of a $300 million baseball stadium as his first high profile economic salvo in the downtown area. While a stadium would serve certain interests - property owners in the targeted area, construction companies, ballplayers and those directly associated with the game - it would be an expensive "ornament" for the city that would have little impact for the general public. What should be at the top of the mayor's economic agenda instead is the development of grocery and retail centers in the District's neighborhoods.

It need not be this way. In other cities, urban cores have become areas of opportunity and expanding market share. What is needed in the District is a municipal government willing to exercise eminent domain to assemble parcels of land large enough for modern grocery store developments. The District also needs "account managers" -i.e. persons from within the government who will assist grocery store chains in getting building permits and other approvals on a timely basis.

In addition, tax relief for a specific period for the development of stores in targeted areas would encourage retailers to come to the city; better traffic flow and security partnerships with neighborhood development groups also would help.

What the district needs are neighborhood places to shop that offer real choice, quality service and excellent prices while providing desperately needed job opportunities. The development of retail centers offering groceries, electronics, apparel, sit-down restaurants and other services would do more for revitalizing the city's neighborhoods than the expenditure of $300 million on a downtown stadium.

A new baseball team in the District definitely would be nice. But given that baseball expansion to the District is iffy at best and that a stadium already is available at RFK, it is hard to understand the mayor's enthusiasm for all the expense and effort a new stadium would require. Then again, the mayor probably doesn't have to shop for bread and milk east of the Anacostia.

This article was taken from the February 28 Washington Post with the author's permission. Terry Lynch, the author, is Executive Director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations.

The Gray Panther Lair

"The Rap" is now twenty six years old.and is the principal link between the Steering Committee and the membership. Whether it be meetings, picket-lines, parties, or Task Force reports, "the Rap" is there to let you know what's going on in the Gray Panther family.

There are many crucial issues facing the community and the nation which demand our attention. We wish Mayor Williams well and hope to work with him and the new Council for the betterment of our community. The Mayor's recent proposals regarding U.D.C., privatizing the city's work force, and the future of D.C. General are radical steps which demand thorough community input in the decision making. Mr. Mayor! Let's work together to make this city a model with peace and justice for everyone..

We are especially in need of volunteers and financial contributions.. To volunteer call the office at 202-347-9541 and leave a message

John Steinbach, Editor

Ring in the Future of Medicare

Local Networks and Activists call your Members of Congress and President Clinton every Tuesday from now through the end of April.Tell them Gray Panthers want them to preserve services, expand benefits and extend coverage of Medicare. Save the future of Medicare. Keep calling and identifying yourselves as Gray Panthers to the President and your members of Congress. For every 20 calls, the President gets a written report on his desk-let's let him know that Gray Panthers are here and active! White House: 202-456-1111; Congress: 202-224-3121
Please let the national staff know of your progress and actions so that we may report
them in the newsletter and to our allies.

Gray Panthers' 7 Medicare Principles

Gray Panthers asserts that Medicare program reform be guided by the following seven

Continue to guarantee universal eligibility for those 65 years +.
Guarantee adequate, defined package of benefits that includes coverage for preventive care, long-term care, and prescription drugs.
Ensure financial viability by supplying sufficient revenues to meet growing needs and reserving 15% of the non-Social Security budget surplus specifically for Medicare.
Ensure that Medicare payments will keep pace with the growth in benefit costs, without using artificial budget inflators or caps on spending.
Ensure the affordability of beneficiary contributions and improved protections for low-income beneficiaries.
Allow those 55-64 years of age to buy into the system at a fixed rate more affordable than private insurance.
Improve and maintain effective: quality assurance systems to combat fraud and abuse, beneficiary financial protections, and information that beneficiaries need to make informed choices.

Call Washington every Tuesday from now 'til the end of April. Let them know you are watching!
George Neighbors, Jr, Field Director,
National Gray Panthers
voice: 800-280-5362 x25
fax: 202-737-1160
733-15th Street, NW Suite 43
Washington, DC 20005

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