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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.



The Pentagon Timelapse Animated GIF (2001-2005)
|| 9/1/2009 || 5:00 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Still frame from The Pentagon Timelapse Animated GIF featuring USGS aerial photography from 2005Still frame from The Pentagon Timelapse Animated GIF featuring USGS aerial photography from 2005
Click the image above to watch the animation

Last night I was going through one of my external hard drives and rediscovered a cache of “old” satellite imagery. I rarely publish any entries that use satellite imagery due to copyright issues because, generally speaking, the company that owns the satellite also owns all the pixels and this prevents me from legally creating derivative works. Today, however, I decided to test the boundaries with this legacy satellite imagery of the Pentagon and feel that this creation is protected under the fair use doctrine of US copyright law. You can always contact GeoEye if you are interested in purchasing satellite imagery from the IKONOS satellite.

The Animated GIF below features 9 frames consisting of 7 satellite images from the IKONOS Satellite (2001-2002) and two public domain aerial photographs from the USGS (2002 & 2005). It begins with satellite imagery taken four days before 9/11/01 and ends with a USGS aerial photograph taken in September 2005. The frames in between show the aftermath and the subsequent rebuilding of the Pentagon. I did my best to line up the building in my image editing program, but it’s not 100% perfect due to the angle in which some of the imagery was taken.


I have chosen to place the The Pentagon Timelapse Animated GIF “below the fold” so that visitors to the front page of this website are not downloading the somewhat large file. Please be patient while it downloads……

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My own Coat of Arms, the Origin of the Stars & Stripes, and Hartburn, DC
|| 6/2/2009 || 1:57 pm || 2 Comments Rendered || ||

Original image created in Chicago, 1894.
From the Library of Congress’ An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera.

Some time in the future I’d like to read more deeply into heraldry and come up with my own Coat of Arms. Today there is so much talk about name branding that I think it would be an interesting juxtaposition where my Coat of Arms could visually explain some subtle details about me. My motto would either be Socio Ditata Labore or Gloria Immortalis Labore Parta, but how would I go about designing the shield? That is where I am currently stuck at, but I imagine that if I were to dig deeper into the arcane traditions of heraldry, I would come up with something fitting.

About two months ago I was rummaging through the Library of Congress’ An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera and came across the image above. I knew that the DC flag was based off of George Washington’s family crest, but I didn’t know that it had been changed over the centuries prior to his family’s arrival in America. Moreover, I didn’t know that the city I currently live in, Washington, DC, might have been called something completely different…

From a New York Times’ Letter to the Editor published on April 8th, 1984:

Eberhartpence, Eberhart, Hartpence, Hart – what’s in a name? Indeed, had it not been for a change of name back in the 12th century, our nation’s capital might be Hartburn, D.C.

You see, when George Washington’s British ancestor William de Hartburn moved from Hartburn to Wessington in 1130, he changed his name to William de Wessington, which later became de Washington. The ”de” was dropped when the family arrived on these colonial shores around 1659.

Had William retained his original name, the father of our country would have been one ”George Hartburn.”

Imagine that– a gastrointestinal themed capital city. The people’s pyrosis!

I bet the George Hartburn University would have an even better medical school too! It makes me wonder if there would even be a Hart Senate office building, lest someone get the wild notion of burning it down. Or what about the lexical ramifications of when the British torched Washington in the War of 1812? Would this alternate history be called The Burning of Hartburn? I can only laugh and, of course, take some antacids.


A very long time ago, a couple weeks after the reelection of George W. Bush in November of 2004, I wrote that my most recent map looked similar to the gas mask I had purchased days prior:

Yet living in DC with 4 more years of Bush, I am expecting some acid reflux in the belly of the beast…

While there was only one case of acid reflux to hit Washington, DC during the subsequent 4 years, and a mild case at that, I can laugh again at this alternative history double entendre. Acid reflux in the belly of the beast? Only if George Washington’s ancestor didn’t change his name.



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.




An Act for establishing the Temporary and Permanent seat of the Government of the United States
|| 2/24/2009 || 12:35 pm || Comments Off on An Act for establishing the Temporary and Permanent seat of the Government of the United States || ||

For last month or so I’ve been adding historic pieces of legislation here on my blog. The aim here, and the general aim of this blog, is to keep an ongoing, on-line journal that features things that I’m either interested in or things that I have created. Historic pieces of legislation related to the District of Columbia fall into the former category, and today’s entry is the text & scans of the act that established the Temporary (Philadelphia) and Permanent Seat of the Government of the United States in a “district of territory” that would eventually become named the District of Columbia.



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Video of my vote at Precinct #137 in Washington, DC
|| 11/4/2008 || 3:01 pm || Comments Off on Video of my vote at Precinct #137 in Washington, DC || ||


Voting at Precinct #137 in Washington, DC from Nikolas Schiller on Vimeo.

I’ll be back later and add details to this entry. Fast forward to about 4:30 to watch me vote!



Spam from presidential candidate John McCain: Make History Tomorrow
|| 11/3/2008 || 10:05 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

This entire election season I have not received any unsolicited e-mails from any presidential candidates or local candidates, until tonight. The image above is a screen grab of the e-mail that I received in my mailbox earlier tonight. Talk about last ditch effort. Below is a screen grab of the WHOIS search of the e-mail’s source:

While this can be spoofed by a mildly intelligent person, I have a feeling that this spam is legitimately from the campaign office of John McCain. It was sent to e-mail address listed on the right side of this blog, which is not an e-mail address I use for communication. This means that the e-mail address was harvested from a spider that was then sold to John McCain’s campaign. Nice job illegally contacting me, but I’m still going to make history tomorrow.

By clicking the “vote” link in the e-mail above the recipient is brought to this landing page:

To the unsuspecting visitor the forms that they are being asked to fill out look as though they would help them find their polling place. However, this might just be a covert means to gain voter registration information for future races. This type of clandestine data mining would definitely be considered “the double maverick.”



UPDATE: +5 Minutes
I decided to fill out the information with a fake name, supply the address of a vacant house on my block, and click the button. The resulting map did not load correctly on both Safari or Firefox. Well done!



UPDATE: 11:15pm
Others who are reporting that received spam:
• DailyKos user SoonerG: McCain Campaign Just Spammed Me
• McCain Camp Resorts to SPAM in the 11th Hour
• I just got a spam e-mail from McCain…



Related 2008 Election Entries:

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  • thank you,
    come again!