Archive for the 'dcist' Category

Things You Can Do This Week For DC Voting Rights

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

As you know, the DC Voting Rights Act is still in the Senate where it is just a few votes shy of being filibuster proof. Next week Congress leaves town for its August recess, so it’s urgent that you take some time for one more push on this bill before the Senate shuts down on August 3rd. Here are few quick things you can do:

National Call in Day

Tomorrow (Tuesday, July 24) DC Vote is organizing a national call-in day for the DC Voting Rights Act. Please take a minute and call 1.866.346.3008 between the hours of 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM EST, and you will be patched through to your Senate office. Tell your Senator to pass the DC House Voting Rights Act (S. 1257) this summer! If you live in DC, you will have the chance to tell the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell how much this legislation would mean to you. The call is free and it will make a difference.

Lunchtime Rally

On Wednesday on July 25 from 12:00 - 1:30 PM, DC Vote will be organizing another voting rights rally outside of the Dirksen and Hart Senate Office Buildings. We will meet on the north side of Constitution Avenue between First and Second Streets, NE, for a short rally and then fan out in the Senate office buildings to distribute literature to staffers. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), one of the sponsors of the DC House Voting Rights Act, is a tentative special guest.

Do You Know Anyone in Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania, or Virginia?

If so please tell them to go to and send a message to their Senators. They are the swing states . . .and we need to you to push them the right way!

DC Voting Rights at YearlyKos Convention

On Friday August 3rd I’ll be leading a panel entitled “Taxation Without Representation: Alive and Well in the Nation’s Capital” at the YearlyKos convention in Chicago. I’ll be joined by Martin Austermuhle from, Kesh Ladduwahetty from DC for Democracy, and Danny Rose from DC Vote.

YearlyKos is an annual conference of the top progressive political bloggers in the country. Many of these bloggers are very influential in their state’s political scene, thus having them educated and mobilized on District voting rights is critical. I always say the fight for DC voting rights takes place in every district during every election and these bloggers will be key allies in all those races. You can find out more at:

Please do what you can to help out this week. Thanks for all that you do!

Letter to the Editor in Gohmert’s District

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

I spent some time last night at the DC Voting Rights Happy Hour at the 18th Street Lounge. It was a great event put together by DC Vote and DCist, there was a lot of engery in the room and anticpation for the march on April 16th.

I met Mike Licht, who told me he wrote a letter to the Panola Watchman in Representative Louie Gohmert’s District thanking him for taking on the job of being the District’s representative. I thought that was a brillant idea, and even better. . . .it got published! The letter is pasted below. If you’d like to send your own letter, email it to: [email protected]

Mike’s letter is as follows, and it’s starting to get some traction on Texas blogs:


To the People of Carthage:

We who live in the District of Columbia appreciate your generosity in sharing your congressman, Louie Gohmert, with us.

Mr. Gohmert recently said that we, the Federal Income Tax-paying residents of DC, don’t need a vote of our own in the U.S. Congress because “. . . Washington, D.C. is . . . the only city in the entire country that every Senator and every Member of Congress has a vested interest in seeing that it works properly, that water works, sewer works, and no other city in America has that” (Congressional Record-House, March 22, 2007, H2845).

DC residents will now contact Mr. Gohmert about problems with our schools, roads, traffic, sewers, trash services and other local Washington, DC issues.

We are glad that Mr. Gohmert has been able to solve all these urban problems in your fine city. The DC population is 572,059, a bit smaller than the whole population of the 1st Congressional District, but with Mr. Gohmert’s energy and urban expertise, I’m sure your requests to his office will be answered as promptly as ever.

Mike Licht
Washington, DC

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

I’ve been working on a new grassroots action site, and it’s finally done. It’s at and it enables people to easily send a message to their U.S. Senators and Representatives in support of H.R. 328.

If you live in DC you can use the site to send a message to your friends and family who live outside of the District.

Please take five minutes and take action.

George F. Will on Voting Rights

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Conservative columninst George F. Will wrote a piece in The Washington Post today about the recent move by the House of Representatives to give all the five territorial delegates in the body voting powers in the Committee of the Whole. Here’s a link to the op-ed:

Voting Rights Chicanery

The fact that he even cares about this re-affirms my fears about what would happen after the Democrats gave the delegates’ their votes back - it’s now being spun as a partisan power grab and the District of Columbia is lumped together with places like Guam and America Samoa in our struggle for voting rights.

Mr. Will should know that the courts have struck down his arguments before. As Vince Treacy was nice enough to summarize in an email to me:

“House Republicans filed suit in U.S. District Court in 1993, citing a violation of
the Constitution. But Judge Harold H. Greene ruled in favor of Norton and
the other delegates, saying their votes posed no constitutional problems
because they were ’symbolic’ and therefore ‘meaningless.’ That decision was
upheld on appeal.

The case was Michel v. Anderson, 817 F.Supp. 126, 141 D.D.C. 1993, affirmed
14 F.3d 623 D.C. Cir. 1994 - in case you want to review it yourself.

In his op-ed, Mr. Will also argues that:

“The 58,000 Samoans pay no federal income taxes, but their delegate will be able to participate in raising the taxes of, say, Montanans.”

That’s a bit of a stretch as the delegates can’t vote on final passage - and if their votes do make a difference, the vote can be done again without the delegates’ participation. Therefore a single vote from Guam or Puerto isn’t going to raise (or lower) taxes in the American heartland.

I do wonder what does Mr. Will thinks about the opposite of that situation. What would he say about the citizens of the District of Columbia who do pay federal taxes and are not represented with a real vote in Congress? By his own taxation/representation logic he surely can’t be in favor of that.

As I feared, this delegate vote is becoming a problem in terms of getting (and keeping) bi-partisan support for H.R. 328 - the bill that gives DC a real seat in Congress with an additional seat for Utah which was recently re-introduced by Congresswoman Norton. We need to keep focused on making sure that legislation keeps moving in this Congress. Let’s not get bogged down in this debate with the other Congressional delegates.

We deserve more as we pay Federal taxes and they don’t.

The Delegate Vote: Not Enough

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

So the House gave the chamber’s delegates (Distirct of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa) the right yesterday to vote on amendments to bills on the House floor, a privilege that really only symbolic. This was also the case for a few years during the time Democrats controlled the House when President Clinton was in office - but the GOP majority took it away in 1995.
While I’m sure they meant well, I think this was handled poorly as it was rammed through Congress in a very partisan way, and will likely cost us some bi-partisan of the bill that really matters — H.R. 328.

Also, this delegate vote in the Committee of the Whole business is going to confuse the issue among Members of Congress who don’t really focus on such matters. I can already hear some of them saying “Didn’t we already to that?” when we ask for a DC Congressional vote later this session.

According to the Post, Delegate Norton was also not happy about the way this went down:

“This debate is extremely heartbreaking for me,” Norton said in an impassioned floor speech, after Republicans assailed the rule change. She questioned why lawmakers were arguing about the constitutionality of the limited measure, when the courts had upheld it in the 1990s. She said Congress should instead be considering the broader bill, which supporters call their best hope in years of getting the District a full vote in the House.

Also, Gary Imhoff at DC Watch had this to say in his “themail” newsletter:

Although the bill to give the DC voting status in the House along with giving Utah a new Congressional district (HR 328) had bipartisan support and would probably pass this year, today the Democratic majority again revised the House rules to give Committee of the Whole voting rights to all five nonvoting delegates. This move imperils, and may doom, bipartisan support for HR 328, and it guarantees that the next time Republicans have a majority in the House they will strip Committee of the Whole voting rights from the DC delegate along with the other four delegates.

What we really need is Nancy Pelosi (and the rest of the Democratic Leadership) to commit to bringing the DC Voting Rights bill (H.R. 328) to the floor, so it the mark-up committee process can begin. You can help make this happen by calling her office at: (202) 225-0100 or contacting her online by clicking here:

Here’s a link to the full Post Article:

Delegates Gain Limited Voting Rights
Norton Pushes to Equalize District’s Footing With That of State Representatives

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