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Council of the District of Columbia

Committee on Housing and Workforce Development

Notice of Public Oversight Roundtable

John A. Wilson Building   1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW       Washington, DC 20004

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

COMMITTEE CHAIR MICHAEL A. BROWN

ANNOUNCES A PUBLIC OVERSIGHT ROUNDTABLE

BY THE COMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

THE POTENTIAL RENAMING OF THE 1300 & 1400 BLOCKS OF PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE & THE INCLUSION OF STATEHOOD/VOTING RIGHTS LANGUAGE ON THE DISTRICT’S GATEWAY SIGNS

THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, 2011, 5:00 P.M.

JOHN A. WILSON BUILDING, COUNCIL CHAMBER ROOM 500

1350 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, NW

Councilmember Michael A. Brown, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development, announces a Public Oversight Roundtable regarding the potential renaming of the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue and the inclusion of statehood/voting rights language on the District’s “Gateway” signs that are found at the major entrances to the city.  Testimony must be focused on proposals or reactions to suggested changes to these signs that would further the District’s efforts of realizing full democratic rights through statehood. The Public Oversight Roundtable is scheduled for Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 5:00 pm in the Council Chamber, Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

Individuals and representatives of organizations who wish to testify at the public hearing are asked to contact Ms. Alma L. Molina, Legislative Aide to Councilmember Michael A. Brown, at 202-724-8198, or via e-mail at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and provide their names, addresses, telephone numbers and organizational affiliation, if any, by the close of business on Tuesday, January 11, 2011. They should also bring with them 20 copies of their written testimony or submit one copy of their written testimony by close of business Wednesday, January 12, 2011. Persons presenting testimony will be limited to 3 minutes in order to permit each witness an opportunity to be heard.

Alma L. Cadenas-Molina

Legislative Aide, Office of Councilmember Michael A. Brown

Committee on Housing and Workforce Development

Council of the District of Columbia

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20004

p. (202) 724-8198

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2013926629_apusrenamingpennsylvaniaavenue.html

DC protest: talk of renaming Pennsylvania Avenue

Unconstitutional Avenue? No Vote Street? Statehood Way? Those are just a few of the suggestions that some Washington residents have proposed for renaming Pennsylvania Avenue - of White House fame - to highlight their lack of statehood.

By JESSICA GRESKO

Associated Press
WASHINGTON —

Unconstitutional Avenue? No Vote Street? Statehood Way? Those are just a few of the suggestions that some Washington residents have proposed for renaming Pennsylvania Avenue - of White House fame - to highlight their lack of statehood.

Backers of the idea to rename the capital's most prominent avenue, or part of it, say such a step would underscore the fact that the city's 600,000 residents have no vote in Congress.

D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown planned a meeting Thursday evening to seek input on ceremonially renaming Washington's most celebrated avenue. No one would take down any street signs if officials ultimately agree on a new name, but ceremonial street designation signs could go up under the existing Pennsylvania Avenue signs.

Because Congress has final say over city laws, any proposal could be rejected on Capitol Hill.

"Pennsylvania Avenue is the main thoroughfare between the Capitol and the White House. I think it represents government to a lot of people," said Brown, who already has collected more than a dozen proposals for a new name. "It's still our city street."

The White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but other important buildings also line the avenue including the FBI building, Washington's city hall and the White House visitor center. The street is also famous for being part of the route a new president follows during every inaugural parade.

This isn't the first time Washington residents have come up with attention-grabbing ways of getting their point across about representation.

In 2000 the city changed its red, white and blue license plates to include the phrase "Taxation Without Representation." And the city already has a street that calls attention to its lack of a vote: a portion of South Capitol Street near the city's baseball stadium has been named Taxation Without Representation Street.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

TESTIMONY OF ANN HUME LOIKOW

BEFORE THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

COMMITTEE IN HOUSING AND WORKFORE DEVELOPMENT ROUNDTABLE

JANUARY 13, 2011

I am Ann Hume Loikow, a longtime advocate for statehood for the District of Columbia and a member of D.C. Statehood – Yes We Can!.  I would like to thank Chairman Michael A. Brown for his support for D.C. statehood and the great work he and his staff did through the Council’s Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination.  Statehood advocates look forward to again working with him and this Committee.

As Mayor Vincent Gray said in his inaugural address on January 2, 2011, "in many ways, Washington is the greatest symbol of our nation's democracy. Yet, we as Washingtonians continue to be the only people in our nation that remain shut out of that democracy. ... That is why we cannot rest until we achieve true self-determination and become our nation's 51st state."

Although what is now the District of Columbia was once part of the original 13 colonies and our forebears fought in the Revolution for the freedom of all Americans, residents of the District of Columbia, now almost 602,000 strong, have been disenfranchised for over two CENTURIES. That is longer than most nations in the world have existed.

Despite being stripped of the democratic rights enjoyed by all other Americans who are residents of a state, we have borne all the burdens of citizenship and had very few of the benefits. Besides carrying one of the heaviest tax burdens in the nation, in part because our financial status is compromised by being a colony of the rest of the country, District residents have fought and died for this country at rates disproportionate to our population. As shown on the exhibit outside this Chamber, hundreds of thousands of District residents have fought for the United States and over 5,500 have died for our country, including eight in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are of all races, all sexes, and all ranks and yet none of them has the same rights as other Americans or even the rights of people in other countries whose right to democracy they are fighting to preserve.

It is long past time to cease looking at "incremental" ways to gain our rights. Anyone who seriously reviews our history will see that we have experienced at least once, if not more, virtually every possible kind of bastardized colonial status --from a century of complete federal control (by three Presidentially appointed commissioners) to mixed governments, partially appointed, partially elected, to a territorial government and to a Federal control board taking over most governing authority from our elected officials. It is time that we receive what we deserve -- our full democratic rights through statehood.

The people of the District of Columbia spoke out loudly and clearly 30 years ago that they wanted statehood. Leaders of our original home rule government got us the power of initiative, referendum and recall and one of the first initiatives passed (1980) was for a statehood constitutional convention. We elected delegates to the convention and they wrote a constitution that the voters approved (1982). The Council submitted the constitution to Congress for admission to the union and there it languished.

We need our elected officials to strongly and loudly demand statehood.  We urge this Committee to promptly report out the resolution the entire co-introduced on January 4, amending the resolving paragraph to thank our Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton for introducing the “The New Columbia Admissions Act” and urge her to work with the Mayor, the Council and the people of D.C. in getting Congress to admit us to the union.

I urge the Committee to make sure that the members of the 51st State Committee are promptly appointed and that the Committee is funded.  There is much work to do, particularly in developing educational materials and publicity campaigns on the need for statehood and having someone flesh out all legal and transitional issues, which is much more than this Committee can have the time and staff to do. We especially need to reach out to the millions of tourists and convention attendees who visit Washington. We need a dedicated District government entity to do it. The 51st State Commission Establishment Act was effective March 23, 2010 and yet it has not been implemented.  We can wait no longer.  Please make sure it happens soon.

Signs and symbols are also important. I would like to urge this Committee to make sure that all of the District Government’s signs and information support statehood.  In particular:

1.  Remove all references to “voting rights” from the electronic sign in front of the Wilson Building and have the sign say we want STATEHOOD and that we want the President to urge Congress to support Statehood.   Talking about “voting rights” or other incremental steps only muddies the waters, confuses people and just keeps Congress and the American people from taking us seriously.

2.  Revise the exhibits in the Wilson Building too say we want full STATEHOOD, not "voting rights."

3.  Revise the District Government's website to more fully discuss our history and demands for our rights and that what we want is STATEHOOD.

4.  Make sure our youth are educated about our need for statehood, both through a rigorous school history and government curriculum and as part of special programs such as the upcoming Youth Summit you are planning. The District youth who testified in the hearings the Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination held were some of the most compelling witnesses for statehood.

Finally, if the Council wants to rename the 1300-1400 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue, I would suggest "D.C. Statehood Way." The Gateway signs are really more important as more people will see them.  I would suggest saying "Welcome to Washington - Our 51st State."

As Mayor Gray said Sunday, "this is our city – one city. … (W)e won't stand for disenfranchisement because we aspire to be the best democracy in the world. President Abraham Lincoln once said 'allow all the governed an equal voice in the government and that, and only that, is self-government.' My friends, it is then and only then, that we can proclaim this nation's promise of justice for all finally has arrived in the District of Columbia."

We as a nation are about to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War that brought freedom to those of our nation's population who were in bondage. It is time that the residents of our nation’s capital regain the right of self-government and full citizenship in this nation. Two centuries of injustice and disenfranchisement must not continue.

_____________________________________________________________________________

PUBLIC OVERSIGHT ROUNDTABLE

ON STATEHOOD LANGUAGE FOR STREET AND GATEWAY SIGNS

BEFORE THE DC COUNCIL COMMITTEE

ON HOUSING AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

January 13, 2011

Testimony presented by Elinor Hart

Good evening Councilmember Brown. My name is Elinor Hart. I favor two names for the new street signs for Pennsylvania Avenue. They are DC 51st State Way and DC Statehood Now Boulevard.

For the gateway signs, I suggest Welcome to Washington, Land of the 51st State.

While we are on the subject of signs, it’s important to follow the example set by Mayor Gray in his inaugural address and you, Councilmember Brown, in the Statehood resolution you introduced in the Council’s first legislative session.

Like the Mayor’s speech and the resolution, the sign in front of the Wilson Building should be unequivocal in its advocacy for Statehood. There is no need to mention voting rights because Statehood includes voting rights.

It is very important for us to use clear Statehood language, because it reminds us and it informs the powers that be on the Hill that we know we deserve first class citizenship.

I know that we’re supposed to stay on topic during this hearing, but I do want to take this opportunity to thank you for taking on the Council’s Statehood portfolio.

 
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