Archive for the 'Shadow Representative' Category

20 Questions With Mike Panetta

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

The Hill did a published a piece on me as the Shadow Rep. today. I talked to the reporter a few months ago, so I guessed they saved it for a slow news day during the recess. We were still rounding up votes when I said we needed 5-6 more senators. We think we have the votes now - so my numbers seem way off now. Otherwise, I think I came across alright, what do you think?


20 Questions: Michael Panetta
By Kelly McCormack
August 15, 2007

This week, 20 Questions profiles Michael Panetta, D.C.’s shadow representative.

What are the shadow representative’s duties?

There are no official duties, but each person that has had the job has been tasked with securing D.C. voting rights.

How many predecessors do you have?

I think there were five before me. Ray Brown did it for three terms.

It’s a two-year term?
Yes. D.C. voted on a Constitution [which was adopted by voters in 1982]; the Shadow Delegation was part of that. [There are] one statehood representative and two statehood senators.

What are the perks?
The perks are few and far between. It’s a platform. It gives me a sense of legitimacy of what I do.

What sorts of things have you done?
[We had a campaign] to rename RFK the Stadium Taxation without Representation Field. A grassroots effort to name the grass. In early 2006, we started a D.C. curling team [to be] part of the Olympics. [Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands can have teams] but D.C. does not have its own Olympic team. Papers all around the world did stories on it.

What are the drawbacks?
Beyond having a small office, there is really no support for District government, and the District is prohibited from spending its own funds. The shadow [delegation] operates in a gray area. We’re elected and on the books, but there is no funding.

How do you pay the bills?
I work at Grassroots Enterprise, a public-affairs consulting firm that uses technology to help clients achieve goals.

Do you ever get recognized?
Not like on the street … I’m never recognized at Safeway, which is fine because usually I look like a mess when I’m in public.

How often are you on the Hill?

Probably a couple of times a month. I don’t do a lot of visiting offices — pressing the flesh up there, it’s not my strength. I’m much more valuable at getting people in [a lawmaker’s] district and state to contact them.

What are the chances that D.C. will get a voting member in the House?
We’re getting close. We’re as close as we’ve ever been at getting a vote in the House. [We need to get] six [more supporters], maybe, if you count the president. We have five [Senate] Republicans on record.

If D.C. does get a voting member in the House, will you challenge Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)?
No. I would not do that. It would be a fool’s errand. Norton would likely run and win.

Was it a close election to become the shadow representative?
It literally was the last job on the ballot, but a lot of people wanted it. I ran against two people in the primary. There was a Republican on the general ballot and a Green Party candidate.

Do you ever actually “shadow” any lawmakers?

People say “shadow,” but it’s not an apprenticeship or an internship … When new states [entered into] the union, representatives were called shadows. I don’t actually shadow.

Do you ever feel like you are a shadow?
Sometimes. Sometimes the position personifies, in flesh and blood, the fact that we don’t have voting rights.

Why do you do it?

I’m in it for the issue. It’s the wrong thing to run for if you’re looking for glory.

Are you allowed on the House floor?

No. I’ve never tried.

Do people ever refer to you as “The Shadow,” like the 1930s and ’40s “furtive crime solver” made popular by Orson Welles?

I had to get a lot of signatures [to be on the ballot — 2,000]. That was a lot of standing in front of Safeways, Metro [stations]. Older people would say, “The Shadow!” Friends do jokingly [call me The Shadow] sometimes.

When did you begin campaigning for the position?

May of last year.

Would you run again?
I hope not, because I hope [the position] does get eliminated when this bill passes [and D.C. gets a voting member of the House]. But I’d run again if for some reason it doesn’t.

Who are you supporting for the White House in 2008?
I’m supporting the presidential candidate who’ll take the most proactive stance on addressing the disenfranchisement of the citizens of the District of Columbia. I’m not sure who that is yet.

Senate Committee Passes DC Voting Rights Act

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Earlier today the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs voted to send the DC Voting Rights Act to the full Senate. In addition to the Democrats on the Committee, GOP Senators Collins (ME), Coleman (MN), and Voinovich (OH) voted yes on the bill. It was unfortunate that our neighbor, Senator Warner of Virginia, chose not to listen to his House colleague, Representative Tom Davis, and voted against giving the District a vote.

I really liked what Senator Norm Coleman had to say. He spoke about his experiences as an urban mayor, and how things in his city were really affected by what the federal government did. He also said it was time to end the “paternal” relationship Congress has over the district, as it was not fair and just wrong. It’s nice to see a member of Congress draw from his or her own experiences and do what they think is right – that doesn’t happen as often as it should. I also have to give thanks to Senator Lieberman for leading this bill through the Senate and working to get today’s bi-partisan vote.

Today was a great day for DC voting rights, but there is still work to be done. The full Senate will vote on this bill later this summer and we still need to convince a few Senators that the time to give DC a vote is now! Please remember to tell your friends, family, and co-workers about – it only takes a few minutes.

Senate Judiciary Hearing on Voting Rights Tomorrow

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

I’m swamped today, so I’m just lifting this right off of as there is no need to re-invent the wheel….thanks guys :)

After passing the House and getting a hearing in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee last week, The D.C. Voting Rights Act moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow. The committee has scheduled a full hearing on Wednesday called “Ending Taxation Without Representation: The Constitutionality of S.1257,” which will address, natch, the constitutionality of the bill. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, is a supporter of the bill and will preside over the hearing.

Tomorrow’s hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. in room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building – which means if you’re willing to take a late lunch, you could be there to lend your support for the legislation that would grant a full voting member in the House to the District of Columbia, and an additional member for Utah. There’s a long list of witnesses set to testify: Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mark Shurtleff, Attorney General of the State of Utah, Richard Bress, an attorney at Latham & Watkins, John Elwood, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel for DOJ, Charles J. Ogletree, Harvard Law School professor, Kenneth R. Thomas from Congressional Research Service, Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Law School professor, and Patricia Wald, a Former Chief Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Hearings Scheduled in Senate for DC Voting Rights Bill

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will be holding a hearing on the DC Voting Rights Act on Tuesday May 15th.  The hearing starts at 10:00 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 342. More information can be found here.

Senator Lieberman, a friend of the District as well as the primary Senate sponsor, will be chairing the hearing.  It should be interesting as we’ll see the level of support the bill has. On the Democrat’s side we have people like Lieberman, Obama, and Landrieu who are co-sponsors. Senator Tester is supportive (or at least that is what he told me when I talked to him at a YearlyKos fundraiser). The other Dems on the committee should line up in support of this bill…so hopefully that will not be a problem.

On the Republican side, there are guys like Senators Stevens and Pete Domineci who will never support this bill . What will be key is to see where moderate GOP Senators Collins, Warner, and Coleman come down on the bill. Also, Trent Lott has told people like Jack Kemp that he’s a supporter…we’ll see at the hearing how much that’s actually true. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Lott could mend a lot of fences if he were to take a leadership role on this bill.

I’m planning on being at the hearing. Hope to see you there.

Yea! We Passed the House. Now What Do We Do?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

The high of the DC Voting Rights Act passing in the House has worn off and the reality of the uphill battle looming in the Senate has sunk in amongst the supporters of DC Voting Rights. And the fact that Joe Lieberman may not be in charge of the bill in the Senate is another reason some are nervous about the future.

What do we do now? Simple. We step up our game.

This fight reminds me when I was working on a campaign to stop nuclear waste from being dumped at Yucca Mountain in 2002. Running the standard playbook, we targeted the usual suspects with “the world is going to end” environmental messaging. The results were so-so. However, when we reached out to conservative/right-leaning lists with a “states rights” message (instead of the environment) the action rate was several times higher.

If this bill is going to pass the Senate, we’re going to need to reach out beyond the “latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading” liberal civil-rights crowd that has carried the water on this bill to date, and also reach out to the conservative media and interest groups and dangle the prospects of another Republican House seat (and, yes, electoral vote) for Utah in front of them.

It’s a basic segmentation of audience and message . . . not rocket science.

We are also going to need to:

  • Put grassroots and grasstops pressure on Bennett and Hatch from Utah citizens
  • Recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in the states of the Senators whose committee(s) have jurisdiction over the bill
  • Figure out which Senators are on the fence and what will move them

Yes, it’s going to be fight. But I do think it’s one we can win.

Do you have ideas? Please comment using the links below, I’d love to hear from you.

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