Archive for the 'free dc' Category

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.

Speaking Truth to Power

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

An old boss of mine in the non-profit world used to use the expression a lot. I think it’s a very fitting expression for the coordinated efforts of the DC voting rights community today. My hat is off to DC Vote for coordinating the whole event, which I thought was great. I’ve worked on these “lobby days” before for other groups and when things go as smoothly as they did today, it’s because someone was sweating the details…and DC Vote did just that.

It was a great sight this morning as hundreds of people assembled in the Cannon Caucus room to hear introductory remarks from Mayor Fenty, Chairman Gray, and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Dozens of people who work so hard on this issue were on Capitol Hill today lobbying in support of H.R. 328. It was cool to see the “real” Washington showing up to lobby the “official” Washington.

I captained a team of people today and we had a number of meetings with Congressional staff. We would brief them about the bill, ask if they had any questions and inquire about their boss’s stance if they knew it.
Our “asks” in these meeting were:

  • Can you help get it through the Judiciary Committee?
  • Would your boss like to co-sponsor the bill?

You never get firm commitments from staffers (they can’t speak for their boss if he/she hasn’t taken a stance yet) but we had a lot of positive signals in our meetings and I think we may have actually picked up a few co-sponsors today.

Overall, it was a very positive day and I think we moved the ball downfield on the issue.

Update: Here is the Post’s coverage:

Seeking A Vote On Vote For D.C.
Hundreds Gather To Persuade Lawmakers
Were you there? What was your impression of the day? Please comment below.

Right On Fenty!

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

I meant to write about this sooner, but our Mayor stood up for DC today by refusing to sit with the First Lady (as is tradition) during tonight’s state of the union address. Here’s the Post article about it:

Fenty Won’t Sit With Laura Bush At Speech

Instead, he’ll be a guest of Speaker Pelosi. I hope Fenty uses the face time with Pelosi to get her stop dicking us all around and schedule a vote on the DC Voting Rights bill (H.R. 328) and stop just paying it lip service. Our lack of representation is now the DEMOCRAT’S problem, I really hope they “walk the walk” on this one.

The 100 hours are over. It’s time, in the words of Larry the Cable Guy, to ‘Get ‘R Done!”

Moving Forward on Voting Rights?

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Update: Nikolas Schiller sent along a clip of the video from Fox 5 news, you have to to see it for yourself!

So there was a press conference in the Wilson Building today about DC’s efforts to secure Congressional voting rights and plan for a lobby day and march. I applaud the effort, but I don’t think everyone had their ducks in a row before going to the media. They (the media) love to pounce on any fractures amongst elected officials, as shown in this Washington Post piece:

“[A]t the news conference, it was clear [Fenty] had not coordinated his plans with the city’s long-serving congressional representative, and the tension between them was evident. Norton told reporters she had not even been informed of the April march until she arrived at the news conference. “

Fenty also announced plans for a lobby day, but Norton didn’t really have his back on that:

“A zillion groups come up to lobby,” she said. The bill “will get attention from Congress when they see those citizens” in the street.

I don’t see why we can’t do both. What I’m focused on is getting contacts into Capitol Hill office from their constituents on this bill. Lobby days and marches are good - but a Representative will more likely be moved by a few letters from his or her district on the issue. (Don’t me wrong; when it comes to marches I’m like the Doobie Brothers!)

My other gripe is a little personal - nobody told me (or other members of the Shadow Delegation) about this event! I found about it about 10 minutes before it started, so I hustled over to see what was going on.

Now, I don’t have a big ego and nor do I expect to be invited to all official city events, to be asked to make remarks, or even to be recognized from the crowd. However, this is the one issue that the voters tasked me to work on — so I was a little upset that I didn’t get a little more of a heads up from the mayor’s people. Maybe next time :)

On a positive note, I had a nice conversation with Hilary Shelton from the NAACP after the event. I told him that Evan Bayh’s office had told me that the Indiana chapter of the NAACP had come to their office and mentioned that the Davis bill was a priority for them during the last Congress, and I thanked him for making that so. I also told him that that sort of homegrown contact was exactly what we needed to get Members of Congress to support the DC Voting Rights bill. He agreed and told me to contact him if we need to push anyone on the Hill.

At the end of the day, this is all internal DC city government bunk that nobody besides guys like Mark Plotkin really care about. Let’s keep our eyes on the goal line and keep pushing to get voting rights in the House in the short term — and statehood in the long term!

Fenty, Norton Clash Over D.C. Vote in House

Article About Shadow Delegation in Post

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

There was an article about the Shadow Delegation in the Post on Tuesday. It mostly followed Sen. Paul Strauss around as he made the the rounds on Capitol Hill. I didn’t get much ink, but they ran a photo of me, which was nice.

Shadow Delegation Toils in Obscurity for D.C.’s Day in the Sun

I was worried the article was going to have a “Golly, look at me I’m playing Congressman…” vibe to it, so I might have been a little hesitant with the reporter. Also, she seemed oddly obsessed with watching me getting my phone in my office to work, so I thought she had already written the article and was looking to have “This guy can’t even figure out how to get his phone turned on” sort of angle.

In the end it was limited ink for me, but they spelled my name right and put my photo in…so I got no complaints.

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