January 31, 2009

DC SATURDAY

NY Times - The formulas by which the stimulus money for public schools would be allocated to states and local districts are complex, but take into consideration numbers of school-age children in poor families. The level received per student would vary considerably by state, according to an analysis by the New America Foundation, a research group that monitors education spending. New York would be among the biggest beneficiaries, at $760 per student, while New Jersey and Connecticut would fall near the bottom, with $427 and $409 per student, respectively. The District of Columbia would get the most per student, $1,289, according to the foundation's analysis.

Your editor will join statehood senators Michael D. Brown and Paul Strauss, councilmembers Harry Thomas and Michael A. Brown, Ann Loikow of the DC Statehood Yes We Can Coalition, Anise Jenkins of Stand Up for Democracy, and WTOP's Mark Plotkin for a discussion of DC statehood next Thursday, Feb 5, 7-9 pm at UDC School of Law, 4200 Connecticut Avenue NW, Building 39, Room 201. There will be food and refreshments as well as musical entertainment. More info.

Aaron Lloyd, Politico - If a voting representative will not solve the puzzle of the District's unequal status, why are we fighting for it? If we "win" this battle, and our newly empowered representative votes against Congress controlling our local tax dollars, will we in the District feel better that the bill passed by one less vote? Or will her vote instead be providing legitimacy to a system that is fundamentally discriminatory? . . . I could be an active, enthusiastic part of the movement to get a voting representative for the District, if only I thought it satisfied the rule of first doing no harm. But I fear that this drive to empower Delegate Norton distracts us from the real issues of the District's unequal status. And as long as the District is not a state, or incorporated into another state, no vote of Norton's will free us from inequality.

DCist - Funds for a $200 million renovation of the National Mall was removed from President Obama's stimulus package during a House Rules Committee session. The move is a blow to D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and to groups like the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, who have been pushing hard for Mall repairs for the last several years. Mall advocates had been hoping the national spotlight on the Mall during Obama's inauguration ceremonies would shore up support for funding restoration work. Visitors to the Mall have long been disappointed to find dead grass, mud and cracked sidewalks around the splendor of the monuments and museums.

Mark Plotkin's reaction to Obama dissin' DC over its handling of icy weather: 'What does he know about Chicago? He grew up in Hawaii.'

NY Times - The Pew Research Center found that while more than 8 in 10 Americans rate where they live now as excellent, nearly half say they would rather live in a different type of community. City dwellers feel the most mismatched. A majority would rather live in a suburb, small town or rural area. The survey found that Denver, San Diego and Seattle top a list of 30 metropolitan areas that people preferred. Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati ranked lowest. New York was in the middle, between Washington and Dallas. All of the top 10 preferred areas are in the West or the South, but geography isn't necessarily the first priority for various groups. Young adults prefer New York and Los Angeles. Phoenix is the favorite of Republicans and San Francisco of Democrats.

Michael Neibauer, DC Examiner - About a thousand members of D.C.'s Irish community may be exempted from the city's smoking ban so they can continue the annual rite of toasting St. Patrick with a tumbler in one hand and a cigar in the other. Ward 2 D.C. Councilman Jack Evans has introduced legislation sparing the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, a social organization that comprises much of Washington's elite Irishmen, from the ban for their 81st annual St. Patrick's Day dinner at the Capital Hilton on March 17. The city's smoke-free law provides an economic hardship waiver for struggling bars and restaurants, Evans said, but it leaves no wiggle room for a single event, like the St. Patrick's Day gala or Fight Night at the Washington Hilton. . . Evans is a member of the Friendly Sons organization, though he claims not to partake in the cigar end of the toasting tradition

Washington Post - D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) has again failed to file his tax returns. The former District mayor has not submitted federal or city tax forms for 2007 -- the second instance in which he has not filed required returns while on probation for tax offenses, said two sources familiar with the situation. Two years ago, federal prosecutors failed to convince a federal judge that Barry should be jailed for violating the terms of his probation, which was ordered in 2006, because he did not file 2005 tax returns. The probation expires in March.

Union City - Add worker unrest to the economic problems facing the Gap. Last Sunday, the clothing retailer's Georgetown store was picketed by local students who are supporting Teamsters who have been on strike against Gap contractor Oak Harbor Freight Lines since last September. The workers struck after the company cut healthcare benefits for workers and retirees.

Bill Myers, DC Examiner - The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles has issued an emergency order exempting federal judges and their spouses from a rule that requires drivers to surrender their home state licenses when they register their cars in the District. . . It's unclear what the rationale is behind the new order, or why it was classified as an emergency. D.C. has long had "reciprocity" laws that allow members of Congress as well as students and military personnel to keep their out-of-state licenses. This is because such people are considered "temporary residents." However, federal judges are usually lifetime appointees. And a judge's spouse ordinarily has no part in a judge's "official duties." . . . [An official] told The Examiner that the emergency order sprang from "a situation" recently. "We needed to take care of something on an emergency basis," she said. "I can't really say anything else at the moment." She denied, however, that the emergency order came to assuage an angry judge. "I don't think I've ever spoken to an angry judge," she said.

Leaders of the New Capitol Park Towers Tenants Association in SW were threatened with arrest when they met in the lobby of their building to discuss issues including rent disputes, code violations and allged tenant harassment.

Daily Show's Wyatt Cenac
came to town to figure out which church Obama should go to.

Martin Austermuhle of DCist
mangled the story of DC statehood, writing: " "The last time statehood was seriously considered was in the mid-1980s, when a constitutional amendment to create "New Columbia" failed when not enough states opted to ratify it. Since then, statehood has been more a rallying cry than a reality." Actually statehood was voted upon in the House in 1993 when it lost 277 to 153. Also, in the 1990s, both the New York Times and the Washington Post endorsed statehood. Austermuhle totally misstates what the constitutional amendment was about. It was not to create New Columbia but merely to continue the city's colony status but with representation in Congress.

Washington Business Journal -
Despite hosting museums commemorating such things as criminals, airplanes, stamps and even beads, Washington still has no museum that documents the ongoing struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights. When [Tim] Scofield, a former collections specialist at the Smithsonian Institution, saw the National Museum of American History reopen with virtually no reference to the 40-year fight, he took action. . . Two years ago Scofield created The Velvet Foundation to build a museum that will preserve the movement's memory for future generations that grow up never thinking twice about Ellen DeGeneres' sexuality. Once the foundation has a firm grip on its collection and its mission, it will look for a home and begin fundraising in earnest.

READER COMMENTS

Vote in the House

My views are that a voting delegate in the House is fluff, feel good ineffectiveness. My stress would be on total self-government as a prelude to statehood, e.g., a law that provides independence and a date certain for statehood. - Dave

I bet the marshal was a D.C. resident and like the security guard I met at Arlington Cemetery whose face lit up when he saw the statehood posters in my trunk and then waved me through. The regular folks in this town know the score and will take statehood any time over "voting rights." - Ann