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DC Voting Rights Act Fails to Advance in the Senate

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

A set back today as the DC Voting Rights Act only got 57 vote - 3 short of the 60 it needed in the cloture vote.

Here’s the Post Article.
D.C. Vote Bill Dies in Senate

I’m very upset that Democrat Max Baucus voted against it. I’m happy we got 8 Republicans to vote with us (Hatch, Bennett, Voinovich, Coleman, Snowe, Collins, Lugar, and Specter).

But you know who I’m going to work like hell to remove from the Senate? Mitch McConnell. He put the strong arm on a number of Senators who were going to vote with us, but changed their minds before the vote. We thought we had Smith. We thought we had Cochran. I hope everyone in this city will work with me to make sure we Ditch Mitch! I’ll have more information on this later. (link updated)

I have to thank DC Vote for all the work they’ve done. In my advocacy work on a number of issues, I’ve learned there talkers and there are do’ers. The group at DC Vote is a bunch of doers…and we’ll all be back an get it done.

Voting Rights Bill Set for Senate Vote Next Week

Friday, September 14th, 2007

After a long summer and waiting out the Senate’s ‘vacation without representation’ the DC Voting Rights Act (S. 1257) is due for a cloture vote Tuesday at 2:30 PM. This is a make-or-break moment for this bill, we’ll need 60 votes to be sure to beat any filibuster attempts.

What can you do to help? Glad you asked!

1. Attend the DC Vote rally on Capitol Hill on Monday, September 17th. It’s from 11:00 to 12:30 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building at Constitution Avenue, NE and 1st Street, NE. You can RSVP with our friends at DC for Democracy by clicking here. I’ll be there and I hope you can be too.

2. National Call in Day for DC Voting Rights: Also on Monday, September 17th there is a national call in day to the Senate to urge the passage of the DC Voting Rights Act. The number is 1.866.346.3008 between the hours of 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM EDT. Targeted Senators include:

  • Arlen Specter (R-PA)
  • Richard Lugar (R-IN)
  • Gordon Smith (R-OR)
  • Sam Brownback (R-KS)
  • John McCain (R-AZ)
  • Thad Cochran (R-MS)

If you need some talking points, Marc Fisher had a great list of reasons for Senators to vote for this bill in his column earlier this week:

Giving D.C. Residents the Vote: It’s the Right Thing to Do

Tuesday will be an historic day for DC Voting rights - please do what you can make sure it’s also a day of celebration.

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.

Back from Yearly Kos

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

I just got back into town after being at YearlyKos the latter half of last week. We (Danny Rose from DC Vote, Martin Austermuhle from DCist, and Keshini Luddewhetty from DC for Democracy, and myself) had a great session on DC Voting Rights and Martin even live blogged it in case you couldn’t make it.

I talked to anyone and everyone who would listen about the need to pass the DC Voting Rights Act so that we could end our colonial status in our our own country. I even told Howard Dean that, although I liked his 50-state strategy..I was more interested in a 51 state strategy. He laughed and said he’s been working to get the DC Voting Rights Act passed. I said it’s a good first step :)

Did you know that the Olympics start in one year?? Do you know what we are going to do if this bill doesn’t pass? That’s right…fire up the ‘ole DC Olympic Team. What should be our summer sport?

No Vacation Without Representation!

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Vote on DC Bill Likely Not Happening in August

The Post reports today, what we found out yesterday before the rally. That the Senate will likely not take up the DC Voting Rights Act before the August recess. Congresswoman Norton assured everyone that this will not affect the chances of passage…but we should still push to get it on the agenda before the break.

DC Shadow Senator Mike Brown had the line of the day:
“No Vacation Without Representation!

(Photo by Keith Ivey)

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