By The Stand Up! for Democracy in DC Coalition
(July 21, 2009) - The Stand Up! for Democracy in DC Coalition objects to the District Council’s earmark of $250,000 in the FY 2010 budget for DC Vote to lobby for a vote in the House of Representatives.
Stand Up! was founded in 1997 to demand full democratic rights and statehood for the District of Columbia. We object to the policy of steering contracts to DC Vote, for the following reasons:
- The grant was awarded to a single organization without competition or any opportunity for other organizations to compete for the funds.
-The grant was awarded to DC Vote while the District, to this point, has provided no funding for our Statehood Senators and Representatives – the officials elected by the citizens of the District to lobby for statehood – other than the voluntary check-off on DC tax returns. Although the fiscal 2010 budget would allocate $100,000 to the Statehood delegation, this amount – even with the approximately $60,000 from the check-off over the past two years – would be only a small fraction of the $2.75 million given to DC Vote over six years to promote the single-vote bill.
-The funds will be used to lobby for a single representative in the House of Representatives. This constitutes neither “full democracy” nor does it reflect the will of D.C. residents. Statehood – which includes full voting rights in the House and Senate, as well as control of our local budgets, legislation and criminal justice system – is the only solution to our lack of democratic rights that has been voted on and approved by D.C. residents.
The single-vote bill continues to encounter obstacles in Congress, most recently over the Ensign amendment that would invalidate the District’s gun laws. In addition, concerns have been raised over the bill’s constitutionality, making it almost certain that it would be challenged in court. We question the strategy of focusing the District’s efforts to win democratic rights through this failed proposal that will leave us far short of full equality with the rest of the United States.
It is time for the Council to reconsider such major funding for a single organization and single piece of legislation at the expense of other organizations and other strategies for securing full democratic rights for the District. We urge the Council to reconsider the grant to DC Vote and to institute a process to enable other District organizations to receive funding for proposals to advance the cause of full democracy for the District.
We appreciate the Council’s new focus on D.C. statehood and how it would provide the full democratic rights that other proposed solutions to the District’s disenfranchisement would not. In particular, we would like to thank Councilmember Michael A. Brown for his leadership as chair of the Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination; and Councilmember Yvette Alexander, chair of the Committee on Aging and Community Affairs, for her July 8 hearing on the “51st State Commission Establishment Act of 2009” which spotlighted the need for statehood and for engaging D.C. communities on the issue. We hope that more councilmembers will step forward and make achieving D.C. statehood a leading priority.
Anise Jenkins, president
Bill Mosley, secretary
Malcolm Wiseman, treasurer