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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



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.




The D.C. Colonist receives a warm welcome from Senator Joe Lieberman at today’s Business Meeting of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
|| 2/11/2009 || 2:43 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Roll Call’s photo of the week from April, 2007

Today I attended the Business Meeting of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs dressed in my colonial attire. I wear this costume for every congressional hearing related to representation for the residents of Washington, DC. I arrived early enough to snag a decent seat and sat down next to my friend Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown. As the other Senators arrived for the meeting he & I chatted about ideas related to what we can do next to get statehood for the District of Columbia.

A few minutes later when Senator Joe Lieberman walked in, Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown stood up, greeted him, and shook his hand. Senator Lieberman then looks at me and said something along the lines of “I’m glad to see that we have a colonist here. Do you go by the name of Paul Revere?” I said, “No, I’m just a DC colonist.” He followed, “So you don’t have a name? Just ‘DC Colonist’?” and I responded, “I’m just a DC Colonist that suffers taxation without representation.” He smiled, walked over to the end of the table, and sat down at his seat. A few minutes later the hearing began and he decided to greet me publicly…..

Click here to listen to the audio
or
Click here to watch the video

[to watch the video, you first need to hit play, then scroll the slider over to about 21:10 to watch the introduction]

Senator Lieberman said:

I do want to note and welcome Mayor Fenty of the District of Columbia we are honored that you are here and a somewhat older resident of the District from colonial times [laughter] also present. I gather you are making the general point about taxation without representation [off camera I nod in the affirmative]. Okay I don’t need to make my case any stronger than that [laughter]. Thank you for being here.



Also worthy of mention is that later on in the hearing (at around 43:15 into the video), Senator George Voinovich mentions the time when the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe were in Washington, DC and we lobbied them on the Potomac River (right photo). Hearing him mention that day made me laugh. It was one of my favorite demonstrations I’ve ever taken part in! I remember watching the parliamentarians applaud our efforts from the ship and the following day they passed a resolution calling on the United States government to give DC residents congressional representation.

In the end, only Senator John McCain voted against the bill, S.R. 160, the senate version of the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009, and it passed the committee with a vote of 11-1. Unfortunately, I agree with McCain’s opinion, only states should receive representation in Congress.

I feel that DC Vote and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton wasted a huge opportunity to give DC residents equal representation in Congress by reintroducing this three-year-old, constitutionally questionable legislation that was written for a Republican controlled congress. Times have changed, however, the bill and its constitutional underpinnings have not. I’m not sure what will happen next to the bill, like when will it be voted on, but I am sure it will be challenged on it’s constitutionality. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to work with my Shadow Delegation on lobbying for statehood for the District of Columbia.



UPDATE: February 12th, 2009 – Comedian Stephan Colbert interviewed Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton the following night:

Its too bad the editors missed the chance with the Colonist…

Related Colonist Entries:

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Hey Google & YouTube, that is not my Representative or Delegate!
|| 2/8/2009 || 6:21 pm || Comments Off on Hey Google & YouTube, that is not my Representative or Delegate! || ||

Recently Congress changed their rules to allow Senators and Representatives to utilize YouTube to share information with their constituents. Today I noticed a tragic flaw in their layout. Since the residents of Washington, DC are denied representation in Congress, the coders at YouTube are using the state of the District of Columbia to show videos from different congressional committees, not from my elected “Shadow” Representative Mike Panetta or Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Moreover, as you can see below, the Google maps remove the words District of Columbia at different scales. This further shows how little YouTube/Google cares about the people of the District of Columbia:

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Interviewed on MSNBC this morning
|| 1/19/2009 || 4:24 pm || Comments Off on Interviewed on MSNBC this morning || ||

not me in the background…

This morning after I woke up and turned on the TV, I noticed that someone in the background was holding up one of the “Yes We Can – DC Statehood Now!” posters (above). I decided remove my poster from the window and head down to the Mall to see if I could join the person. After I arrived it turned out that the person had already left, but fortunately the crowd was pretty thin around filming area and I was able to go right up to the fence and hold up my sign. Around 10am David Shuster went outside and interviewed different people around the fence and eventually came up to me. He let me speak about DC statehood for about 15 seconds on live TV! It was quite rewarding to say the least! I ended up staying around the fence holding up the sign for the next 3 hours and left when I started to get hungry. I hope to get the footage shortly and when I do, I’ll post it here.



Welcome to DC, we have no vote, we have no voice.
|| 1/17/2009 || 3:07 pm || Comments Off on Welcome to DC, we have no vote, we have no voice. || ||

I spotted these prints by “Hear Our Voice” outside of the Convention Center today. They all mention something about DC’s lack of representation in Congress. My favorite one features Michelle Obama and says “Michelle Obama rocks the mic. DC has no mic.” Read more about these posters here.



YouTube Video of Newschannel 8’s coverage of the “YES WE CAN – DC STATEHOOD NOW” poster
|| 1/15/2009 || 11:50 pm || Comments Off on YouTube Video of Newschannel 8’s coverage of the “YES WE CAN – DC STATEHOOD NOW” poster || ||

I was able to snag this video from the Newschannel 8 website and upload to YouTube. I know its not quite legal, but neither is being denied representation in Congress.

Below is the text of the article:

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My DC license plate redesign was discussed today on the WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show
|| 12/5/2008 || 6:15 pm || Comments Off on My DC license plate redesign was discussed today on the WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show || ||

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a friend asking if I knew who was behind the “1/3 Representation Please” poster that has been showing up around town. I responded by stating that I did not know who the person was and sent the friend the two links related to poster. In the response e-mail it was then suggested that I contact the show to further the dialogue. So before the show started I decided to e-mail Kojo Nnamdi with the license plate above and the D.C. flag redesign as attachments and state for the record that I was NOT behind the poster or its placement around town.

The executive director of DC Vote, Ilir Zherka, was the guest on the show during the voting rights segment. Through the years he & I have had a very turbid relationship. We have a differing opinion on the 1/3 representation route his organization is advocating. During the show I paid close attention to his words and realized that he is not advocating for statehood at all, which is very sad because more DC residents want statehood and not fractional representation. During the show’s dialogue, the subject of president-elect Barack Obama changing the license plates on his limousine comes up….

Click here to listen to an MP3 of today’s show. The clip starts out with Zherka speaking about Obama changing the plates, then Tom Sherwood throws in a little bit of history, followed a question from Sommer Mathis, editor of one of my favorite DC blogs- DCist, then Kojo brings up my license plate, and Ilir Zherka responds….

Of note is that he states that his organization is already preparing for a court challenge if the bill his organization is advocating for gets passed in the House or Senate. Frankly I find this both sad and frustrating. Sad because they are knowingly trying to advance a bill that is not constitutional– only STATES can receive representation in the House or Senate. This is also frustrating because it only delays the equality for the residents of the America’s capital city. They could easily be advocating a new bill using a new strategy because there is a new congress, but they are still pushing for a piece of sub-par legislation that will be struck down on constitutional grounds.

After the show Kojo had an on-line chat in which I participated in. Below is the text from the chat:

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What D.C. Statehood Would Mean To Black America – Ebony, October, 1990
|| 11/11/2008 || 10:11 pm || Comments Off on What D.C. Statehood Would Mean To Black America – Ebony, October, 1990 || ||

Today I posted the article below to numerous DC neighborhood yahoo groups. The aim was to get people thinking about what the coming administration might be able to do for the disenfranchised Washington, DC residents. I’m hoping some people see the importance of the next few months and are motivated to demand full representation in Congress.

“There is no Black America… there is the United States of America.” but do residents of Washington, DC get to participate?

Below is the e-mail I sent out:

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The Dr. Bill Show!
|| 6/9/2008 || 9:00 pm || Comments Off on The Dr. Bill Show! || ||

I’ve been at odds with DC Vote for years. While we are on the same side regarding the importance of congressional representation for DC residents, I’ve been quite dissatisfied with their approach toward bringing true equality. As an ardent supporter of statehood, I’ve been annoyed that DC Vote has been a puppet of the Democratic Party and has wantonly gone after partial representation instead of full representation.

Last year I modified their logo to create a 1/3 fraction because of their support for the constitutionally dubious Norton-Davis bill that would give DC a token vote in the House of Representatives, but no representation in the Senate, or 1/3 representation. This was followed up by a nice phone call from the executive director of the organization asking me nicely to not screw around with their copyrighted logo (free speech rules!). I even created multiple designs of the DC Flag that had only one out of the three stars filled in to show my fractional contempt. However, my best creation was the modified DC license plate that said “TAXATION WITH 1/3 REPRESENTATION,” which was ultimately mentioned in the Washington Times.

Worse is that DC Vote has been able to conflate “voting rights” with “statehood” in public discourse to the point that people use the words “voting rights” incorrectly. The inherent irony is that they’ve been advocating for a voting right (singular) because they are staunchly in favor of giving Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton *a* vote in the House. In my opinion, “voting rights” (plural) involves DC residents having Congressional representation in both the House and the Senate. I remember when we marched at last year’s rally, I had to stop people from chanting “Give us the vote” because they were naively advocating for partial representation when we were holding a large flag that said “DC STATEHOOD NOW!


Earlier this afternoon I noticed an advertisement on Wonkette for “Dr. Bill” and after clicking on it I was brought to DC Vote’s website to watch a flash version of the video above.

Frankly, I really like the video and that’s why I am posting it here today. With my reservations about DC Vote aside, I actually like this video as a means for explaining the disenfranchisement of DC residents. There is no mention of any constitutionally dubious legislation, rather its a simple & straightforward video that makes a strong case for giving DC residents representation in Congress while making fun of America’s worst president.

If you are reading/watching this from outside of Washington, DC, please share this video with your friends. If you think “change” is coming to Washington, maybe it should start with the enfranchisement of DC residents.

Related Entries:

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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  • thank you,
    come again!