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Make D.C. count

(Published April 10, 2000)

Despite extensive efforts to encourage all U.S. inhabitants to complete and return their Census forms, D.C. residents again are trailing most of the country in cooperating with the decennial count. We urge any D.C. residents who have not yet completed a 2000 Census form to do so promptly.

Census data help determine how many of our federal tax dollars get returned to our local government for public use. Unlike the states, the District does not receive an apportionment of representation in Congress based on the Census. But that data would be the basis for such a determination, should the struggle for full citizenship rights succeed. Please send in your form.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator


Hollow support

(Published April 10, 2000)

Seven years ago, D.C. residents had high hopes when Bill Clinton entered the White House pledging his support of statehood, full citizenship rights and self-determination for U.S. citizens living in the nation’s capital.

While the President has continued to pay lip-service to his pledge and receives continual praise from his political compatriots – prominent among them, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton – for being "a friend of the District," his record tells another story.

We have a problem with heaping praise on politicians for simply fulfilling responsibilities that go along with their office. Federal tax dollars rightly flow into services in the District of Columbia that support our city’s distinction as the nation’s capital. Federal tax dollars also rightly flow back to the D.C. residents who pay them to support local D.C. government programs – in the same manner that taxpayers living in other U.S. jurisdictions receive federal dollars. We hesitate to profusely praise the President for simply supporting our due share.

Rather than a "friend," it might be more accurate to describe the President as the "architect of the destruction of D.C. home rule."

It was President Clinton’s appointees in his Office of Management and Budget, after all, who created the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (aka "the control board"). Congress tinkered with it and approved it, exercising the federal legislature’s ultimate constitutional authority over the District. The President appoints the control board’s members, who have exercised almost universal authority over our city government’s legislative and executive functions since 1995.

Likewise, it is President Clinton’s people in the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau and the Justice Department who have successfully (so far) argued against two citizen lawsuits that seek voting representation in Congress for D.C. taxpayers and the right to local self-determination.

Recently, Delegate Norton – whose former chief of staff is managing Vice President Al Gore’s presidential campaign – praised the President for reiterating his support for statehood.

But the President’s written pledge to continue working "with all members of the District community to find the best means of achieving" congressional voting rights falls far short of his authority. The President noted, in his March 28 letter to Norton, that officials who serve at his pleasure in the Justice Department are merely "reviewing" the recent federal court decision in the two citizens’ lawsuits they opposed. We consider such support for D.C. residents hollow.

Is this a case of the President expecting D.C. residents and Congress to swallow an attitude of "Do as I say, not as I do"? Apparently so.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator