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The D.C. Plantation: Freedom Soon? – The New York Times, November 25th, 1991
|| 10/8/2009 || 9:42 am || + Render A Comment || ||

The D.C. Plantation: Freedom Soon?

New York Times, Nov. 25, 1991

The effort to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., could well become a campaign issue in 1992.

A bill that would admit the District to the Union as New Columbia, the 51st state, was introduced in the Senate on Thursday. And hearings on the House version of the bill saw a welcome burst of enthusiasm. Three Democratic Presidential candidates testified in favor of statehood and others sent messages of support.

That’s as it should be. The District’s treatment is a scandal, albeit one with a long history. The Federal Government runs the city like a plantation, denying it a voting representative in Congress, forbidding it even rudimentary self-rule and limiting severely its ability to raise revenue.

President Bush favors keeping the District on its knees. But Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, Gov. Douglas Wilder of Virginia and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa testified before Congress that the District deserved to become a full partner in the Union. The three were on the mark.

Washingtonians have long been denied rights that the rest of us take for granted. They weren’t allowed to vote in Presidential elections until 1964. And it was not until the Home Rule Act of 1973 that they could elect a mayor and city council; both had previously been appointed.

The Home Rule Act left the Federal Government’s dictatorial powers intact. Congress can overturn any law the District council passes. A powerful senator can throw some cash to friends by attaching amendments to the city’s budget bill. And one meddlesome Congressman can by himself trigger bearings on any law by simply raising an objection to it.

The Federal Government is not above extortion. Mr. Bush recently vetoed the city budget, forcing the District to ban the use of locally raised tax revenues to furnish abortions for impoverished women. And Congress used similar blackmail to force repeal of a law that made gun dealers and manufacturers liable for injuries from assault weapons. The citizens have reinstated the measure; gun-lobbying senators may yet thwart it. The District’s non-voting representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, spends much of her time fending off odious infringements like these.

Fiscal restrictions abound. The Federal Government’s real estate is exempt from taxation; the city is forbidden to tax the earnings of commuters, most of whom are Federal employees. District officials say these restrictions cause the city to forgo $1.9 billion in revenues per year. Last year the Federal Government paid a paltry $430 million in return. Denied sources of revenue, the city levies some of the highest taxes in the nation.

Those who oppose statehood typically offer weak constitutional arguments against it. It seems fairly clear, however, that Republicans who oppose statehood do so because the District would send two more Democrats to the Senate.

But most Americans understand democracy well. The issue of statehood for the District raises an obvious question: How can we justify championing democracy abroad while inflicting second-class citizenship in the nation’s capital? The answer is obvious, too: We can’t.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Congressional Record in the Library of Congress related to H.R. 51, The New Columbia Admission Act of 1993. The article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Free the Government’s Plantation – The New York Times, October 6th, 1991
|| 10/7/2009 || 9:33 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Free the Government’s Plantation

The New York Times, Oct. 6, 1991

Washington, D.C., with a population of 607,000, has more people than Alaska, Wyoming or Vermont. But its elected officials have no real power and the city is denied a voting representative in Congress. The Federal Government treats the District as a colony, controlling local policy on issues ranging from sanitation to abortion and undermining the city’s ability to raise revenues.

Washingtonians deserve self-government no less than other Americans. A bill pending in Congress, H.R. 2482, would admit Washington to the union as New Columbia, the 51st state. The bill deserves attention and a vote of approval in the House. But that won’t happen until languid Democrats schedule hearings. The legislators need to provide more than lip service they’ve given to statehood in recent years. Even if statehood fails, debate could suggest intermediate solutions. The current arrangement is more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy.

Washingtonians have suffered long under second-class citizenship. They were first allowed to vote in Presidential elections in 1964. Permission to elect local officials followed slowly: in 1968, the school board; in 1971, a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives; and in 1973, the mayor and the city council.

The Home Rule Act of 1973, which granted limited self-rule, contained dictatorial restrictions. The city cannot so much as reschedule garbage collection without groveling before Congress, which has 30 days in which to disapprove. Nor can the city determine its own budget or set independent policies. President George Bush recently forced the District to disallow the use of local tax revenues to furnish abortions for impoverished women. His weapon: vetoing the city budget. Impoverished victims of rape and incest will be denied a choice available to American women elsewhere.

The Federal presence harms the city fiscally. The District is forbidden to tax nonresidents, many of them Federal workers, who comprise about 60 percent of the work force. Federal properties are also exempt from real estate taxes. The city calculates that all taxing restrictions combined cost it $1.9 billion a year in revenues.

An ill-informed Mr. Bush said last year that he opposed statehood because the city’s funds `come almost exclusively from the Government.’ That’s wrong. The Federal contribution at that time was about 14 percent of the city budget, the Government gave a paltry $430 million in lieu of lost tax revenues. The cost of municipal services provided to the Government is difficult to calculate but potentially worrisome.

Those who oppose statehood often claim that the Constitution forbids creation of a state in the District. That claim is without merit. The Constitution says only that Congress will exercise exclusive legislative control over a seat of Government that does not exceed 10 miles square. A state could be created that reduce the size of the Federal enclave but not eliminate it.

The real objections to statehood are political. When Mr. Bush opposes statehood, he is opposing the creation of two additional Democratic Senators, one of whom would surely be Jesse Jackson, now an unpaid lobbyist, or `shadow senator,’ who represents Washington in the Senate. The Democrats also have acted spinelessly, giving statehood little more than token support.

How can the United States champion democracy abroad while it disenfranchises District citizens who die in wars and pay taxes the same way other Americans do? There is every reason for Democrats to gather courage, convene hearings and then bring the issue to the floor. Sooner or later, Congress will realize it has more important tasks than overseeing schedules for garbage collection.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Congressional Record in the Library of Congress related to H.R. 51, The New Columbia Admission Act of 1993. The article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Statehood for the District of Columbia – The Minneapolis Star and Tribune, June 27th, 1987
|| 10/6/2009 || 9:21 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Statehood for the District of Columbia

The Minneapolis Star and Tribune, June 27, 1987

Walter Fauntroy, nonvoting delegate who represents Washington, D.C., in the House, seeks to transform the District of Columbia into the state of New Columbia. Fauntroy’s quest is a long shot, despite support from such prominent Democrats as House Speaker Jim Wright and Majority Leader Tom Foley. Yet he deserves to succeed because his cause is just.

In the past two decades, district residents have been granted home rule and the right to vote in presidential elections. But they still lack representation in Congress. In 1978, Congress offered for ratification a constitutional amendment that would have provided congressional representation but stopped short of statehood. When the seven-year limit on ratification expired in 1985, only a few states had approved the amendment. Minnesota was one of them. With the failure of the 1978 amendment, Fauntroy offered his statehood proposal, which requires only congressional approval and presidential signature.

Like all other U.S. citizens, district residents honor U.S. laws, pay U.S. taxes and serve in the U.S. military. Unlike other U.S. citizens, they have no direct say in what laws Congress will pass, what taxes Congress will impose and what wars Congress will declare. Fauntroy seeks to redress that fundamental unfairness.

There are also practical reasons for granting statehood. Like many core urban areas, the district has suffered a declining population, loss of commercial and industrial tax base to surrounding suburbs and increased poverty. Costs grow faster than city resources. Most states, recognizing the vital role central cities play in metropolitan economies, respond with urban aid raised by taxing suburbs–or by giving core cities the power to impose a payroll tax on suburban commuters.

But Washington has no state government to help out; its suburbs are in Virginia and Maryland. And the district charter prohibits a payroll tax. Which leaves only Congress to finance the rising cost of district Government. And that means Minnesota taxpayers shoulder as much of the district’s financial burden as those in Virginia and Maryland, who benefit directly from the district’s government-dominated economy.

Federal support will always be appropriate, given the government’s enormous tax-exempt holdings in the district. But statehood would allow Washington to tax commuters or work out other arrangements requiring Virginia and Maryland to bear a larger share of the district’s burdens.

Fauntroy’s bill is likely to come to the House floor this fall. Because the district is Democratic, urban and black, it faces opposition from Republicans, rural legislators and bigots. None relish adding district representatives to Congress. Such crass partisanship and bigotry should not be allowed to subvert the drive for statehood. To ease the district’s financial burden and to erase an embarrassing political injustice, Congress should pass the statehood bill and welcome New Columbia to the Union.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Congressional Record in the Library of Congress related to H.R. 51, The New Columbia Admission Act of 1993. The article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



Why Not Statehood for D.C. Citizens? – Seattle Times, May 11th, 1987
|| 10/5/2009 || 9:06 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Why Not Statehood for D.C. Citizens?

Seattle Times, May 11th, 1987

The path is strewn with all sorts of political and legal obstacles, but the District of Columbia is pressing ahead on a campaign that could give it full statehood–a 51st state to be called New Columbia.

And why not? Despite its place as the seat of national power, the district long has been a governmental orphan whose residents have second-class political status. It elects a mayor and City Council, but local decisions are liable to congressional veto. Residents can vote in presidential elections, but their representation in Congress is limited to a single nonvoting delegate.

In 1978 Congress proposed a constitutional amendment to give D.C. full voting representation–two senators and at least one representative–but only 16 of a required 38 states had approved it before the ratification period ran out three years ago.

Now advocates of full statehood are saying there’s no need to pursue the tortuous constitutional-amendment process. Congress, they say, could establish New Columbia simply by enacting a law, and a bill to do that is working its way through the House.

Citing various legal authorities, opponents disagree and promise a court battle if Congress approves the statehood measure.

The Reagan administration also is resisting the statehood proposal, partly because of expectations that the members of Congress elected from New Columbia would be liberal Democrats.

Still, the case for statehood remains strong, if only as a matter of simple fairness. The district’s population at last count stood at some 637,000–far more than in Alaska, Delaware, Vermont or Wyoming.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Congressional Record in the Library of Congress related to H.R. 51, The New Columbia Admission Act of 1993. The article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to continue my advocacy for full representation for the American citizens of the District of Columbia.



[Washington Times] CITIZEN JOURNALISM: D.C. Voters Eye 51st-State Status By Ann Loikow
|| 9/2/2009 || 11:19 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Screen grab from the Washington Times website.  Click to read the article by Ann Loikow on the Washington Times website.

Click to read the article in today’s Washington Times about DC Statehood by my friend Ann Loikow.



The sign I posted outside of MTV’s Real World DC house is transcribed in today’s Washington Post
|| 8/16/2009 || 3:01 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

Last month's photograph of the sign I wheatpasted outside of the Real World DC house in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC

Last month I posted the photograph above in my entry about adding some political commentary to the area around the Real World DC house in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC. This morning a friend of mine left a somewhat cryptic comment on my Facebook page telling me to check section E6 in today’s Washington Post. I ran downstairs, opened the paper up, and let out out a hearty laugh.

Transcribed near the end of Dan Zak’s article, Neighborhood Watch: MTV Is in the House, and Everyone Else Just Wants to Be, is the text of my sign:

Reality Bites

Sometime in July, a sign is posted on the base of the lamppost on the northeast corner of the intersection. In simple black lettering on a plain white background, it reads, one word per line:

IN
THE
REAL
WORLD
ALL
AMERICANS
DESERVE
FULL
REPRESENTATION
IN
CONGRESS.

In the next section of the article there is choice quote from some teenagers from Maryland:

“It’s been 23 years. . . . D.C. is a treasure. . . . They’ve been to New York, like, five times. . . . It’s the capital. . . . It’ll be a really good representation of the city. . . . I talked to the cast before and they’re really down to earth.”

(underline added for emphasis of the Congressional lack thereof)

While I was not identified as the creator of the sign, even though a simple Google Search would have brought the author to my website, and the author only mentioned that there was one sign (there are 8 still up last time I counted), I’m very pleased that my sign was mentioned in today’s article. In that respect, the ten dollars spent making those signs & purchasing the wheatpaste was completely validated— my message made it into the Washington Post. But the real question is if the message will make the cut and be mentioned in any of the episodes set to air on MTV in 2010?


Since the sign(s) has been up now for just about a month, I figure its time to remove them and put up something new. I already have the next flyer made, but I’m debating if I should put them up or not. The flyer is a bit over the top, but well, umm, so are most of the people mentioned in the article. But unlike the ones who actually give two shits about the show, my aim is not to get in the house or hang out with the cast (I really could care less about that), but to use their presence in Washington, DC as a vehicle to get out the larger message of DC residents being second class citizens denied representation in Congress.


Click on the screen grab below to read the last page of the article:

Screen grab from the Washington Post article about the Real World in DC where the text of my sign is transcribed

What’s interesting about the text on-line versus the text in the printed article is that there is extra space between lines of the poster in the on-line version captured above. These extra line breaks actually make the point of the poster appear more important on-line than it does in the print edition, which does not feature extra line breaks. But since the print edition of the Washington Post is not delivered outside of the Washington, DC area, this typographical difference carries significantly more weight on-line than in print. In that respect, I must thank the web editor at the Washington Post for giving the text of my sign a little bit more emphasis than it would otherwise have received if it were identical to the print edition.


UPDATE – After I posted this entry, I went back to the Washington Post website and found that the poster was briefly shown at the beginning of the video portion of the article:

Video still of the poster being shown on the video that accompanies the article


A message to MTV’s Real World DC cast members: IN THE REAL WORLD ALL AMERICANS DESERVE FULL REPRESENTATION IN CONGRESS
|| 7/14/2009 || 11:58 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

MTV’s show “The Real World” is currently filming their next season here in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC. There has been a lot of hoopla regarding the cast & crew being in DC; from a pop culture blogger hoping to actually get inside of the house to neighbors who started an Anti-Real World DC blog which describes in detail the comings and goings of the cast to even a Twitter user that only tweets gossip, errr, Newz about the cast. I haven’t watched the show in years, so I’m mildly amused by this type of hype.

For the last few weeks I had been brainstorming about a way that would hopefully spark a discussion about DC’s lack of congressional representation on the show. I came up with phrase: “IN THE REAL WORLD ALL AMERICANS DESERVE FULL REPRESENTATION CONGRESS.” Earlier today I went to Kinkos, printed up 10 copies, and this evening I put them all up around a one block radius of the house. I am curious how long they’ll stay up! I am even more curious if they’ll even discuss this civil rights issue on the show.


Update: below is a TwitPic photo by Mehan Jayasuriya that taken the following day. It’s been viewed over 1,500 times!


The message made its way to the Washington Post on Sunday, August 16th, 2009:

Screen grab from the Washington Post article about the Real World in DC where the text of my sign is transcribed


Happy 4th of July, but remember…
|| 7/4/2009 || 7:00 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

The residents of Washington, DC are still second-class citizens who are denied the same representation in Congress that all other Americans enjoy. Today we celebrate the American independence from British tyranny, but there are still Americans struggling to overcome the tyranny of the 535 members of Congress…. I figured this photograph would ensure you are kept abreast of this continued human rights violation.


Photograph taken on Sunday May 31st, 2009 at the Coolout on the rooftop of the Beacon Hotel in Washington, DC



Obama can’t criticize Chavez on at least one issue
|| 4/18/2009 || 1:21 pm || Comments Off on Obama can’t criticize Chavez on at least one issue || ||

From Time Magazine:

Those same Chavistas add that the U.S. has scant right to criticize Venezuela’s policy on its national capital when residents of Washington, D.C., still aren’t allowed representation in Congress.

This sounds similar to what a senior official in Hong Kong said a few years ago to Representative Tom Davis: “Give your nation’s capital the right to vote and then come talk to us about democracy in Hong Kong.”



Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton & Senator Joe Lieberman introduce a D.C. Statehood Bill
|| 4/1/2009 || 11:10 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Upon hearing that the Justice Department has found the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009 to be unconstitutional, this morning Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) introduced a D.C. Statehood bill to Congress.

This bill will make the nearly 600,000 citizens of America’s capital city equal to those in every other state in America. The legislation will allow District residents to elect two senators & at least one member of the House of Representatives. It will also grant the residents complete budget autonomy, control over the penal system, and allow residents to vote for their own district attorney. The bill also shrinks what is considered the “Seat of Government” to the area around the United States Capitol and National Mall to allow Congress to retain some control over the District of Columbia.

“I’m tired of being treated like a second-class congresswoman,” said Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton this morning at the press conference, “and D.C. Statehood is the only route to full equality.” She went on to say that she was pressured by the high-profile advocacy group DC Vote to push for partial representation because they wanted to make sure D.C. only has one vote in Congress. She concluded, “they didn’t want to have to change their name to DC Votes.”

Former vice-presidential candidate Senator Lieberman introduced the Senate’s version of the bill that contains a unique compromise. Unlike previous D.C. Statehood legislation, it contains a provision that prevents D.C. residents from electing two senators from the same political party.

“As an independent, I understand the importance of partisanship and the current view of Washington, DC is that the residents only vote for candidates in the Democratic Party.” By including this controversial provision, Lieberman hopes to win over Republican leadership who fear that the senators will always come from the Democratic party. The DC Home Rule Charter already contains a similar provision for a portion of the At-Large City Councilmembers to be from minor political parties and this practice will be continued in the DC Statehood bill.

In order to help District residents understand the importance of what D.C. statehood will provide, this evening ACLU and many other human rights groups are hosting a teach-in & free concert on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Their goal is to educate District residents on the benefits of D.C. statehood.

Below are two different flyers for tonight’s event at the U.S. Capitol:





UPDATE: In case you didn’t figure it out, this entry was my April Fool’s Day joke. While the event at the U.S. Capitol was real, the introduction of the D.C. Statehood Bill was a farce. I do, however, contend that Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton should stop wasting her time on the DC Voting Rights Act.






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  • thank you,
    come again!