Friday, October 14, 2016

DC Constitution & Statehood, Sept. 27 & Oct 6 Testimony, Consequences of Nov. 8, 2016 vote



The Mayor and 4 other people NOT elected to write a Constitution are now forcing us to make difficult choices when we vote on Nov. 8, 2016.  Our Council now has a few days to fix this before they vote for final language on Oct. 18, 2016.  Note that the DC4D (10/17/16) analysis includes email addresses and phone numbers for our 13 Council members.  Please contact them, urge them to not be persuaded by the Mayor to vote changes after the Nov. 8th vote.

[10/28/16]  The Council's revised Constitution, dated Oct. 18, 2016, is now available for your review.  In addition dcist.com has also posted an article on the Council's actions, with a window showing the Constitution in which changes are printed in red.  The provision stating that a real Constitutional Convention MUST be held within 2 year after we receive Statehood appears on Page 39 or (page 31 at dcist), ARTICLE VII, Sec. 4, a.  For many people this removes the major barrier to voting YES on Statehood.
     However, the Statehood Green Party will meet on Nov. 3 to make the Party's final decision.  So far as I know this Constitution no longer contains protection of minority party rights with a guaranteed set-aside in the legislative body.  This is likely to mean that no Statehood Green, Republican, Libertarian, or Independent is likely to be elected again to our State's legislative body.

[11/7/16]  Here is word from:  Darryl! LC Moch, Chair, DCSGP
     So far according to local activists who also checked with Councilmember Alissa Silverman's office there is no second vote.  Legal council for the Teacher's Union did not see how council could do a second vote legally.
      DCSGP has not issued a public statement but given that the council acted on most of our demands and the major demand that there must be a Constitutional Convention called within 2 years of admission satisfies the main points of our objections we stand with other partners in supporting the revised referendum- and still strongly object to not having that wording [listed separately] on the ballot so that the people can transparently vote on the final version of the resolution. 

[11/3/16]  The DC Statehood Green Party held it's monthly meeting.  We were informed of several changes the Council made in the Constitution, which the dcist posting of the 10/18/16 shows in red which makes it clearer just exactly what the Council actually changed.  The Council adopted this 8 to 5 as a Resolution which only requires 1 vote, rather than the 2 votes required by a Bill.  I could NOT find Mayor Bowser's reaction to this vote at Google.  However, at the meeting is was said that she may try to get the Council to make a second vote (after the voters have already weighed in on the Council's 10/18/16 document).  Thus some expressed fear that the Mayor and her big money backers my still try to change things to what they prefer after Nov. 8th.  Of course if they did this the voters would probably have grounds for a legal case.
     I asked for those who are trying to clarify this picture to send me information as soon as they get it so I can post it here.  No final vote was taken by the DCSGP on a YES or NO vote.  Several said they had already voted NO, others said they were still weighing the issues and the possibilities of funny business by the Mayor and big money interests, and were waiting until Nov. 8th to make their decision.  All agreed that having a Constitutional Convention no later than 2 years after achieving Statehood was better than not having a CC until we had been a state for at least 5 years.  
     All agreed we should start forming plans with allies to start our own work on a CC in early 2017.  The Coalition for Statehood and Democracy presented a statement that called for "a CC before congress approved the bid for statehood", and said "Ward 8 Dems, ANC7F and ANC8D have called for a no vote" because they also objected to waiting even 2 years for a CC.

[10/13/16]  Anise Jenkins has just added this urgent plea.   "If you want to vote for DC Statehood Referendum, but want to be able to make changes in the future to the DC Statehood Constitution - call your Councilmember and Council Chair Phil Mendelson at  202-724-8000 and tell them you want them to add an amendment allowing for a Constitutional Convention made up of elected delegates from the people so that your changes can be made."  [Good news, Council listened.]

[10/20/16]  Kesh at DC for Democracy has sent this updated information.
     Wow, what an unexpected victory yesterday, when the Council voted 8 to 5 to adopt an amendment offered by Councilmembers Charles Allen, David Grosso, Kenyan McDuffie, Brianne Nadeau, Elissa Silverman, and Robert White to the Council Resolution “Constitution and Boundaries for the State of New Columbia Approval Resolution of 2016″ (PR 21-913). These Councilmembers were joined by Yvette Alexander and LaRuby May to pass the amendment. Please read the Washington Post article about the vote. We are also heartened to learn that Mayor Bowser supports the changes to the constitution.  [11/3/16 - This may no longer be true.]

     DC for Democracy members have argued that the constitution deserves serious deliberation by a bona fide constitutional convention of elected delegates. That is why, despite numerous concerns with the constitution, we focused on changing the method by which the constitution could be amended. With this amendment, we won three of the four key provisions we pushed for, in collaboration with a broad grassroots coalition.

The three provisions we won are:
  • Ensuring the delegates to the constitutional convention would be elected (not "selected"). The constitution passed by the New Columbia Statehood Commission did not specify that the delegates would be elected, and the so-called "constitutional convention" last summer was reason to demand that this be made explicit.
  • Ensuring that the constitutional convention could change any aspect of the constitution. The original committee print had given the Legislative Assembly power to constrain the scope of what the constitutional convention could consider.
  • Ensuring that the constitutional convention had full authority to change the constitution, subject only to ratification by voters. The original version had empowered the constitutional convention to merely make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly.

We failed only to change the timing of the constitutional convention. While we had pushed to have the constitutional convention held one year after admission, the Council kept the timing to two years after admission -- not a big deal.  [Actually the language is that the CC be held within 2 years, so we could do it in the first year if we are ready and organized.]

We have more work to do on this front (i.e. initiate a constitutional convention in 2017 or 2018, so we don't have to wait until we become a state to fix our constitution), but please take a few minutes today to feel good about what you, DC4D and our progressive allies accomplished for democracy and civic engagement!

So many DC4D members helped by contacting Councilmembers that I cannot possibly thank everyone by name, but I would like to highlight a few members: Steering Committee members Keith IveyJesse Lovell, and Andrea Rosen for the key role they played in defining our strategy; Anise Jenkins, for mobilizing the members of Stand Up for Democracy/Free DC; Ann Loikow for mobilizing support of the Ward 3 Democratic Committee; Markus Batchelor, who might well be credited with in winning LaRuby May's voteClaudia Barragan and Walter Deleon for their work through the DC Latino Caucus; and David Schwartzman for mobilizing the Statehood Green Party.

And if you can, please also take a minute to thank the Councilmembers who voted for democracy yesterday (feel free to tweet, as well):
At-Large Councilmember David Grosso dgrosso@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8105
At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman esilverman@dccouncil.us (202)-724-7772
At-Large Councilmember Robert White rwhite@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8174
Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau bnadeau@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8181
Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie kmcduffie@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8028
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen callen@dccouncil.us (202)-724-8072
Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander yalexander@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8068
Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May LMay@DCCOUNCIL.US (202)724-8045

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[10/19/16]  This information about changes made on Tuesday by the Council was distributed by one of the people who recently testified about the Constitution.
     "THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HAS OFFICIALLY APPROVED AN EXEMPLARY CONSTITUTION FOR A 51st STATE NAMED WASHINGTON, DC -- THE “DC” STANDING FOR “DOUGLASS COMMONWEALTH.”
      THE CONSTITUTION CREATES A 21-MEMBER UNICAMERAL LEGISLATURE FOR THE NEW STATE, AND MANDATES THAT A FULL-FLEDGED CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION BE HELD WITHIN TWO YEARS AFTER STATEHOOD IS ACHIEVED.   
      COPIES OF THIS CONSTITUTION WILL SOON BE DISTRIBUTED THROUGHOUT OUR CITY.
      THIS IS THE CONSTITUTION THAT WILL BE REFERRED TO IN THE STATEHOOD REFERENDUM THAT WILL BE INCLUDED ON THE BALLOT IN OUR CITY’S FORTHCOMING ELECTION.
      VOTING BEGINS ON OCTOBER 22nd AND CONTINUES THROUGH NOVEMBER 8th.

 [10/18/16]  This just in from Kesh at DC4D.  I await further information to add.  "So grateful to Elissa SilvermanRobert WhiteCharles W AllenDavid GrossoBrianne KN, Kenyan McDuffie, Yvette M Alexander and LaRuby May for passing the amendment 8-5."  Here are additional sources of information about this day's Council actions:
http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20161018/AP/310189767/
http://wtop.com/dc/2016/10/washington-dc-statehood-name-change/

[10/17/16]  After a detailed analysis of Council recommendations the folks at DC for Democracy have issued the following analysis and recommendations:

"The Committee of the Whole of the DC Council has released the latest version of the Constitution.
The good news is that they have heard our demand for a constitutional convention.
The bad news is:
1) the constitutional convention only gets to recommend changes to the Legislative Assembly (our new legislature), it does not have authority to make changes itself.
2) the constitution doesn’t make it absolutely clear that the delegates are elected by the people.
3) the Legislative Assembly gets to decide the scope of what the constitutional convention can do.
4) the constitutional convention is called TWO years after admission into the Union.

We think the Council should change the constitution as follows:
1) the constitutional convention should have the ability to amend constitution.
2) make it absolutely clear that the delegates are elected by the people.
3) remove the provision that allows the Legislative Assembly to constrain the scope of the constitutional convention.
4) call the constitutional convention ONE year after admission.

If you agree, you need to ACT.
First, sign our petition.

Second, call and email your Councilmembers NOW to demand the above changes to the “Constitution and Boundaries for the State of New Columbia Approval Resolution of 2016″, PR21-913.
We need to act before Tuesday, October 18, so we strongly recommend emailing Councilmembers, and following up with a phone call. If you need more information, please read our earlier blog posts.

Feel free to use the points above as talking points.
Chairman Phil Mendelson is the most important target. Email and call the Chairman, and copy Evan Cash, Director of the Committee of the Whole.
Chairman Mendelson pmendelson@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8032, and Evan Cash cow@dccouncil.us.

Also email and call the At-Large Councilmembers and your ward Councilmember, as well as any other Councilmembers you know.
At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds abonds@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8064
At-Large Councilmember David Grosso dgrosso@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8105
At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman esilverman@dccouncil.us (202)-724-7772
At-Large Councilmember Robert White rwhite@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8174
Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau bnadeau@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8181
Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans jevans@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8058
Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh mcheh@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8062
Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd btodd@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8052
Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie kmcduffie@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8028
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen callen@dccouncil.us (202)-724-8072
Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander yalexander@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8068
Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May LMay@DCCOUNCIL.US (202)724-8045
Please spread the word!

--- Kesh Ladduwahetty, Chair, DC for Democracy

- - - - - - - - - -
[10/17/16]  Here is another plea by a long time community activist:
     "Only in DC, the colony, could it be found acceptable to push for Statehood by legislative decree and to do so without a real Constitutional Convention fully untethered except by that of the will of the people through elected delegates.
     Maybe the residue of the control board still pervades your minds and souls, where the people of DC cannot be trusted to determine their own fate.  Hogwash!
     Your bill Mr. Mendelson and Mrs. Bowser is a great paradox and will make it difficult for your push for statehood to pass in high numbers or if at all.  You are risking Statehood through this greatly flawed bill.

We, the people of DC, deserve:
     1) to have a real constitutional convention with delegates to amend the constitution
     2) to make it absolutely clear that the delegates are elected by the people
     3) that any provision which gives any Legislative Assembly the chance to constrain the scope of the constitutional convention be removed
     4) a call for a constitutional convention ONE year after admission
Chris Otten, 16 Year Ward One resident
co facilitator DC for Reasonable Development., www.dc4reality.org

- - - - - - - - - -  [10/10/16]   There are several immediate and major flaws in the Mayor's Constitution which I list here.  Other changes can be considered once a true Constitutional Convention with elected Delegates is convened, preferably early in 2017.
     1)  Voters are asked to vote YES on Statehood, but if they do they are also voting YES on the Mayor's Constitution.  At this time we of the Statehood Green Party and many others feel we must vote NO unless serious flaws are removed from the Constitution and a dated Constitution posted on line before Absentee and Early voting.
     2)  The Mayor's Constitution eliminates the minority party 2 Council seats set-aside which will help keep her party (Democrat) in total control.  Probably no more Statehood Green, Republican, Libertarian, or Independent Party members elected when we become a state.
     3)  New language was added to the Mayor's second draft of the Constitution.  ARTICLE VII, Sec. c., says NO Constitutional Convention can be held until 5 years after we get Statehood.  Lots of time to consolidate pay to play politics.  This provision must go.  The people want to begin drafting their Constitution in early 2017.
     4)  The Independent Auditor, Chief Financial Officer, and Attorney General will all be under control of the Governor (former Mayor).  Recent firing of two DC employees for not choosing the bid of a local contractor who bid more than double ($6 versus $13 million) shows the extreme danger of that move.

     In several places I have added my own comments or additions to original testimony by several others on this blog article shown in brackets [  ].

   

Testimony by G. Lee Aikin, before DC Council Committee of the Whole, 9/27/16 on B21-826, Constitution of the State of New Columbia Approval Amendment Act of 2016

Thank you for hearing our very grave concerns regarding this bill. By any reasonable analysis you should not even be considering such a bill. No one elected the Mayor, the Chairman, or the three “Shadows” to write a Constitution in a few short months. Earlier elected Delegates worked a number of months to create a fair and comprehensive document which the electorate then voted to approve.

People are being told we had 3 days of “Constitutional Convention”. This is not true, they were basically 3 days of hearings with people allowed 3 minutes each to testify. No one was elected to do anything with this information. Now, although at least ¾ of the people testifying then insisted a vote for Statehood should NOT be combined with a vote for the Constitution, you are asking us to include this Constitution in our vote for Statehood. The majority testifying also wanted a true Constitutional Convention started early in 2017, and I do too.

Will the final language even be available for voter viewing prior to Absentee and Early Voting? Are you even aware that the spring version of the Constitution and the one that is currently available for reading on line have NO DATE? Is this Council acting like shyster lawyers presenting us with an undated blank check for our approval and signature? Already serious changes have been made from the draft given to us in May at the Lincoln Cottage. Who knows what other changes without our knowledge will appear in the document we will automatically approve if we vote YES for Statehood in November.

The more recent change has added a paragraph c. to Article VII, Sec. 3, saying “on or about the fifth anniversary of [Statehood], the House of Delegates MAY call for a Constitutional Convention...” In essence we could not have a Constitutional Convention to change the one voted on in November until at least 5 years after we achieve Statehood.

This is very wrong, and it deeply pains me that unless a major change is made in Article VII, Sec. 3.c. I will NOT vote for Statehood with this Constitution included in this form when I vote on November 8. I will also urge all whom I contact to vote NO if unchanged. As a DC Statehood Green Party candidate for At Large Council member, it deeply pains me that after all our efforts to achieve Statehood we face the supreme irony of recommending a NO vote.

A substitute that could change our NO to a YES vote is the following language. “No later than one month following the effective date of the Admission Act, the House of Delegates shall initiate steps to hold a Constitutional Convention charged with creating a constitution for our new state with this process following the model of the 1982 Constitutional Convention with elected delegates. Completion of the work of this Constitutional Convention and the vote ratifying its Constitution must occur no more than one year after the effective date of the Admissions Act. The election of new members to the House of Delegates should only occur after the new Constitution is voted on and approved by a majority of qualifed voters.”

Only timely placing this change in the published, dated Constitution can permit our YES vote.
By timely is meant the Council makes this change final and perfectly transparent to the DC electorate with the Constitution ready, printed and on line in final voting form, with the publication date included, at least one week before absentee balloting and early voting begin. Only this will cause us to revisit our decision to vote NO in the current circumstances.

Other issues related to the Constitution include the fact that the set-aside created in 1973 to have at least 2 non dominant party (non-Democrat) members elected to the Council has been completely omitted from this Constitution. All references regarding voting refer to “shall be elected on a partisan basis.” This could be remedied by changing this wording to “shall be elected on a non-partisan basis.”
As it stands, this means that virtually no DC Statehood Green, Republican, Libertarian or Independent stands much chance of ever being elected to the Council [state legislature]. In addition to being grossly unfair, this also means that Republicans in Congress will be even less likely to support Statehood for DC.

I am also told that the Independent Auditor will no longer be independent, but rather under control of the Mayor, I mean the Governor. Given the recent action by the administration to fire several people because they failed to approve a favored (generously contributing) nearby business for a contract this is a serious consideration. Even the fact that this contractor's bid was more than double the winning bid did not save these people their jobs. [It was also pointed out that the Chief Financial Officer was being moved under the control of the Governor, and the Attorney General appears there too. With this Constitution in force for 5 years, will we be voting for a pro big contractor Governor or a Dictator?]

I also favor the name Douglas Commonwealth rather than New Columbia. NC already stands for North Carolina whereas DC should be acceptable to more in Congress.

The electorate has recently demonstrated their opinion of the Mayor's actions on a number of topics, even before most became aware of this effort to force us to choose between her Constitution and Statehood. Three of her frequent supporters will not be back on the Council next year. Unless you demonstrate a willingness to abide by the wishes of your voters, you may join them in future years. It is not too late to demonstrate your understanding and willingness to support the wishes of the voters and correct this draft Constitution to support the will of the majority. Or else you could separate the vote for this Constitution from the vote for Statehood, so we have the liberty to vote for Statehood while displaying a different opinion on this Constitution.

Thank you for giving careful consideration to the serious decisions you must make if we are to have a successful vote for Statehood. [Items in brackets added after testifying.]

G. Lee Aikin, DC Statehood Green Party, and 55 year resident of DC.
gleeaikin@yahoo.com

[I hope you will consider voting for me on November 8, 2016 as one of your two At Large choices.
Please vote G. Lee Aikin, At Large Council*]

[* Paid for by ELECT G. LEE AIKIN, campaign committee, 1754 Swann St., NW, Washington, DC 20009, Don Wharton, Treasurer
Contributions can be written to ELECT G. LEE AIKIN, and mailed to 1754 Swann St., NW, Washington, DC 20009
A copy of our report is filed with the Director of Campaign Finance of the DC Board of Elections]

- - - - - - - - - -
Testimony, COW Public Hearing on the following Legislation: B21-826,
Constitution of the State of New Columbia Approval Amendment Act of 2016.
Sept. 27, 2016 11:00AM, Room 500, Wilson Bldg., by David Schwartzman, PhD.

These are the 4 main points of my testimony:
     1)From its start with a 5 member Commission holding a charade of a Constitutional Convention, the process creating the draft Constitution has been a travesty of democracy, disempowering to the cause of DC Statehood. As Professor Maurice Jackson, a delegate to the 1982 Constitutional Convention and Chair of the DC Commission on African American Affairs, said at Lincoln Cottage on May 6, 2016 "If we want democracy, we have to give democracy". As a result the draft Constitution's Bill of Rights is highly deficient compared to the progressive 1982 Constitution.
     2)Such a Constitution should be created by an elected delegated Constitutional Convention, following the model of the 1982 Convention process. This opportunity is lacking in B21-826.
     3)The Council could have facilitated a strong positive vote for Statehood on the Advisory Referendum by either removing language regarding the constitution or providing for separate votes on each section. We vigorously lobbied the Council to remove any mention of a constitution in the wording of this Referendum, leaving a simple vote Yes or No on statehood, and of course we would have strongly urged a vote of Yes if this change was implemented, but the Council rejected our plea. Hence the DC Council and Mayor should be held accountable for a weak or negative vote
on the Advisory Referendum on November 8. Such a vote should not be interpreted as a vote against DC Statehood.
     4)Therefore we urge the DC electorate to vote NO on the Advisory Referendum on November 8 since we only get one vote on all sections of the text, unless the DC Council does the following:
  a)The draft Constitution now being considered by the Council must require the convening of a Constitutional Convention, following the model that created the 1982 Constitution, and the ratification of its Constitution must be completed in no more than one year after admission of the state of New Columbia, and
  b)The DC Council make a [dated] final text with this revision widely available to the DC electorate no less than one week before absentee ballot/early voting.

Further explanation
     The whole process to produce this "Constitution" is a facade of democracy, starting with the three hearings of the so-called Constitutional Convention held in May and June as well as the DC Council hearings today and on October 6. Only an elected delegated Constitutional Convention along the lines of the 1982 model can produce a legitimate Constitution for what we prefer as the name of our state, "The Douglass Commonwealth", with the name of our state to be likewise determined by this Convention.
     We say so-called Constitutional Convention because this was not a democratic process, no one elected the New Columbia Statehood Commission to come up with a new Constitution, now being considered by the DC Council. This task is not in their job description. No one was delegate to a real Constitutional Convention in this charade, nor should anyone so claim for those who testify to the DC Council in this public hearing. A delegate is elected, participates in the drafting of a constitution and has a vote on its final product.
     We first point out that unless the final approval of this "Constitution" is completed and made fully transparent to our electorate before November 8, we will be asked to "approve a Constitution of the State of New Columbia to be adopted by the Council" without actually seeing the final text. Is this Council actually expecting our electorate to approve a Constitution without full transparency regarding its text? If a second vote on this bill comes after November 8 that is precisely what will happen, an outrageous assault on democratic practice.
     We want to emphasize the top-down undemocratic process that created this "Constitution", and its gross deficiencies, for example in its Bill of Rights and number of legislators in the House of Delegates in comparison with the visionary 1982 Constitution, the only one ratified by voters (go to http://statehood.dc.gov/page/statehood-resource-center for pdfs of both and compare). The Bill of Rights in the 1982 included provisions for freedom from discrimination based on race, color, religion, creed, citizenship, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, poverty, or parentage, and disabilities (Section 3), right to employment or for those unable to work, an income sufficient to meet basic human needs (Section 20), and equal pay for equal and comparable work (Section 21). As such these provisions anticipated the official status by our Mayor and Council as the nation's first Human Rights City on December 10, 2008 based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent Conventions in international law.
     The number of legislators in the House of Delegates provided for in the draft Constitution is too small (21, compared to 40 in the 1982 Constitution). A House of Delegates of 21 corresponds to a ratio of legislators to population one half that of Delaware, one fourth that of South Dakota and one fifth that of Wyoming.
     There is only one revision in this draft "Constitution" that may change our decision to vote NO, a change in the amendment process spelled out in Article VII, Section 3. We urge the deletion of this text as it now stands, all provisions, noting especially the following:
"c. On or about the fifth anniversary of the effective date of the Admission Act, the House of Delegates may call for a Constitutional Convention to assess the transition from a federal district to a member of the Union." [bold added]

As a substitute we urge the following language:
     "No later than one month following the effective date of the Admission Act, the House of Delegates shall initiate steps to hold a Constitutional Convention with the charge of creating a constitution for our new state with this process following the model of the 1982 Constitutional Convention, with elected delegates. The name of our new state shall be reconsidered in this Constitutional Convention. The completion of the work of this Constitutional Convention and the ratification vote of its Constitution must occur no more than one year after the effective date of the Admissions Act. If ratified by a majority of qualified voters this Constitution shall replace "The Constitution of the State of New Columbia" The election of new members to the House of Delegates should only be scheduled after this process is completed."
     If the Council makes this change final and perfectly transparent to our electorate with the Constitution ready, printed and on line in final voting form, with the publication date included at least a week before early voting and absentee balloting begins, then we will revisit this decision to vote NO.
     We support parallel legislation by the Council for the convening of a Constitutional Convention in 2017 following the 1982 model, as the basis for a petition for statehood to the U.S. Congress. Further, the likelihood that a statehood bill will be approved by Congress and signed by the President in 2017 should be clear by the results of the Nov. 8 election, and the legislative agenda of both the incoming President and Congress. If this likelihood is low, then we support efforts, e.g., by Council legislation or Initiative, for the convening of a Constitutional Convention in 2017 following the 1982 model, as the basis for a petition for statehood to the U.S. Congress.

David Schwartzman, PhD
Political Policy and Action Committee, DC Statehood Green Party
dschwartzman@gmail.com, 202-829-9063


- - - - - - - - - -
Testimony on Behalf of the Coalition for Democracy and Statehood, on B21-826,
Constitution of the State of New Columbia Approval Amendment Act of 2016,
October 6, 2016 by Glenda Richmond
[For some reason Google refused to allow me to make proper paragraphs in this testimony.]

     First, I wish to thank those elected members who served as delegates at the DC Statehood
Constitutional Convention and who utilized the democratic process for drafting the constitution
for the state of "New Columbia". This constitution was approved and ratified by 60% of the
electorate of the District of Columbia, in 1982.
     Thank you, Charles Cassell, David Clark (D), Hilda and Charles Mason (D), Reverend James E.
Coates, Absalom Jordan, Theresa Jones, Mildred Lockridge, Gwendolyn Paramore, Reverend
Jerry Moore, Reverend James Terrell, Richard Bruning, Maurice Jackson, Robert Love, Marie
Nahikian, Anita Shelton, Joel Garner, Franklin Kameny (D), Michael Marcus, Talmadge Moore,
Norman Nixon, Samuel Robinson, Harry Thomas (D), James Baldwin, David Barnes, Alexa
Freeman, Barbara McGuire, William Cooper, Jeannette Feeley, Jannette Hoston- Harris,
Victoria Street, Howard Croft, Janice Eicchron, Chestie Graham, Charlotte Holmes, Geraldine
Warren and a dear friend and mentor Barbara Lett Simmons.
     My name is Glenda Richmond. I am a resident, as well as a registered voter of the District of
Columbia. I am also a supporter of the Coalition for Democracy and Statehood. Today, I rise in
support of statehood. The struggle for statehood is a struggle for freedom... freedom from the
colonial oppression of the Federal Government and self-determination from the economic
oppression and dominance of the Federal City Council. We, the residents of Washington, DC,
deserve better. We deserve the ability to determine our own destiny and the right, that is, we
the people, to create our own constitution utilizing the democratic process. We must not
allow our destiny to be controlled and determined by the Federal Government, the Federal City
Council nor our "shadow" government of the District of the District of Columbia.
     Again, I am a supporter of DC Statehood, however, I am oppose to the process which was
utilized by our Mayor/City Council to create the constitution now contained in this bill, B21-
0826, Constitution of the State of New Columbia Approval Amendment Act of 2016.

  •The process creating the draft Constitution for petitioning Congress for admission as
the state of "New Columbia" is a facade of democracy, disempowering to the cause of
DC Statehood. A 5 member commission voted on this text. [Not elected to do this.]
  •The District electorate is being asked to vote in the upcoming election on November 8,
2016, for a proposed constitution. This constitution was not created by an elected
delegated Constitutional Convention.

Therefore, we are asking that the DC electorate vote NO on the Advisory Referendum on
November 8, 2016, unless the DC Council does the following:
  1. That the Council agrees to offer and support an amendment to Bill 21-0826 which will
require the election of and funding a Constitutional Convention , as provided in DC Law
3-171, within 30 days of the approval of the Advisory Referendum on statehood, and
  2. The DC Council make a final [dated] text of the Bill 21-0826 with this revision widely
available to the electorate of the District no less than (1) week before absentee ballot/early voting
commences.

Glenda Richmond, 2001 15th St., NW, #602, Washington, DC 20009, Telephone: (202) 367-5527

- - - - - - - - - -
[This next testimony emphasizes the general feelings of confusing and puzzlement I have encountered among DC voters regarding the sudden rush to approve a finished Constitution. I agree that inclusion of a Table of Organization showing which offices are subordinate and which offices control others would be very helpful. In addition a map showing the actual boundaries of the Federal Enclave would be a valuable addition.]

Council Hearing on the Proposed Constitution for the State of New Columbia
Testimony of Anntoinette White-Richardson, 10/6/16, Ward 4 Resident
Good evening my name is Anntoinette White-Richardson and I am a Ward 4
resident, whose "roots" date back in this city since 1833. I come before you today
as a citizen very confused and disappointed at the proposed New Columbia
Constitution.

If this document's mission was supposed to be informative in explaining the
positive effects of supporting statehood to residents, then it has done the
opposite effect. It is inconceivable that this city council expects anyone to
understand such an unwieldy document. Portions of this document such as the
Legislative Districts and the Board of Education are vague in defining jurisdictions
and oversight. In most geography classes you learn that states consist of
municipalities (cities, counties and/or townships). However there is nothing
proposed in this constitution that speaks to this concept being applied in the
planning of New Columbia. Fact, in our surrounding jurisdictions they (the
municipalities) are responsible for the maintenance of their own schools, libraries,
parks and etc. The bone of contention around internal boundaries deals with
questions around tax and revenue bases being equally shared from one set of
funds to maintain entities equally, regardless of where they are located. Also,
there is a lack of clarity in reference to the organizational structure at various
levels and who is in charge of what!

As an Education Specialist with a focus on literacy a few diagrams could have
helped in the presentation of this proposed constitution from the aspect of helping
those who are more visual, interpret the governing body.

I understand that having a voice on the Hill is important, but at what cost! We are
already dealing with issues around gentrification that are whispered, but never
spoken about in the open. This constitution looks as if it could add to our
gentrification fears, because it is not easily understandable for most of us to feel
comfortable enough to vote for statehood. People say Washington DC is a
transient city, but the reality is it is only transient for a certain population. It is a
permanent home for natives and those seeking a better life. In 1973 we got home
rule and most residents native or newly arrived can't even begin to tell you what
we got out of it! Mayor Bowser's Parents and my parents all had "Good
Government" jobs that were federally funded and we both grew up with a solid
middle class upbringing.

In addition, I am unclear to whether or not our status as the Nation's Capital will
stay intact, the constitution does not address this concern. I say concern, because
being from the Nation's Capital gave me great pride and bragging rights wherever
I travelled in these United States and abroad.

In closing there are too many unanswered questions for me to feel comfortable
about supporting statehood for the District of Columbia. I thank you for your time
and listening to my concerns.

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[Google sometimes did not allow me to make proper paragraphs here either.]
[Prior to writing our testimony, activists in our DC Statehood Green Party communicated to determine the most serious defects in this entire “Constitutional” process and decide key points to emphasize in our testimony. The DCSGP members who testified are marked below in bold type.]

Our draft position on the Constitution/Advisory Referendum for your review
From: David Schwartzman <dschwartzman(>gmail.com> Today at 3:37 PM, 9/20/16
To Eugene Puryear, Scott McLarty, Mike Wang, Darryl Moch, David Bosserman, Dominique
Hazzard, Tracye Redd, Jonathan Lykes, Philip Barlow, Lee Aikin, Lino Stracuzzi, Jenefer Ellingston,
Philip Blair, Debby Hanrahan, John Hanrahan, Jabari Zakiya, Ann Wilcox, Perry Redd

I made a few clarifying revisions from what I sent you on Sept. 9, we need to come to a
final position on the conference call tomorrow at 9 pm, see below.

     The whole process to produce this "Constitution" is a facade of democracy, starting with the three
hearings of the so-called Constitutional Convention held in May and June as well as the DC Council
hearings today and on October 6. Only an elected delegated Constitutional Convention along the lines
of the 1982 model can produce a legitimate Constitution for what we prefer as the name of our state,
"The Douglass Commonwealth", with the name of our state to be likewise determined by this
Convention. As Professor Maurice Jackson, a delegate to thel982 Constitutional Convention and Chair of DC Commission on African American Affairs, said at Lincoln Cottage on May 6, 2016 "If we want democracy, we have to give democracy".
     We say so-called Constitutional Convention because this was not a democratic process, no one elected the New Columbia Statehood Commission to come up with a new Constitution, now being considered by the DC Council. This task is not in their job description. No one was delegate to a real
Constitutional Convention in this charade, nor should anyone so claim for those who testify to the DC
Council in this public hearing. A delegate is elected, participates in the drafting of a constitution and
has a vote on its final product.

     We first point out that unless the final approval of this "Constitution" is completed and made fully
transparent to our electorate before November 8, we will be asked to "approve a Constitution of the
State of New Columbia to be adopted by the Council" without actually seeing the final text. Is this
Council actually expecting our electorate to approve a Constitution without full transparency regarding its text? If a second vote on this bill comes after November 8 that is precisely what will happen, an outrageous assault on democratic practice.
     We want to emphasize the top-down undemocratic process that created this "Constitution", and its
gross deficiencies, for example in its Bill of Rights and number of legislators in the House of Delegates in comparison with the visionary 1982 Constitution, the only one ratified by voters.                  Therefore we urge the DC electorate to vote NO on the Advisory Referendum on November 8 since we only get one vote on all sections of the text. The Council could have facilitated a strong positive vote for Statehood by either removing language regarding the constitution or providing for separate votes on each section. We vigorously lobbied the Council to remove any mention of a constitution in the wording of this Referendum, leaving a simple vote Yes or No on statehood, and of course we would have strongly urged a vote of Yes if this change was implemented, but the Council rejected our plea. Hence the DC Council and Mayor should be held accountable for a weak or negative vote on this Advisory Referendum on November 8. For the reasons we provided, such a vote should not be interpreted as as a vote against DC Statehood.

     There is only one revision in this draft "Constitution" that may change our decision to vote No, a change in the amendment process spelled out in Article VII, Section 3.
We urge the deletion of the text as it now stands, noting especially the following section:
"c. On or about the fifth anniversary of the effective date of the Admission Act, the House of
Delegates may call for a Constitutional Convention to assess the transition from a federal district to a member of the Union." [bold added]

     As a substitute we urge the following language:
"No later than one month following the effective date of the Admission Act, the House of
Delegates shall initiate steps to hold a Constitutional Convention with the charge of creating a
constitution for our new state with this process following the model of the 1982 Constitutional
Convention, with elected delegates. The name of our new state shall be reconsidered in this
Constitutional Convention. The completion of the work of this Constitutional Convention and the
ratification vote of its Constitution must occur no more than one year after the effective date of the
Admissions Act. If ratified by a majority of qualified voters this Constitution shall replace "The
Constitution of the State of New Columbia" The election of new members to the House of Delegates
should only be scheduled after this process is completed."

     If the Council makes this change final and perfectly transparent to our electorate with the Constitution ready, printed and on line in final voting form, with the publication date included at least a week before early voting and absentee balloting begins then we will revisit this decision to vote No.

     We support parallel legislation by the Council for the convening of a Constitutional Convention in 2017 following the 1982 model, as the basis for a petition for statehood to the U.S. Congress. Further, the likelihood that a statehood bill will be approved by Congress and signed by the President in 2017
should be clear by the results of the Nov. 8 election, and the legislative agenda of both the incoming
President and Congress. If this likelihood is low, then we support efforts, e.g., by Council legislation or Initiative, for the convening of a Constitutional Convention in 2017 following the 1982 model, as the basis for a petition for statehood to the U.S. Congress.

Monday, October 10, 2016

G. Lee Aikin, WAMU, GLAA & DC4D Questionnaires, More Detailed Answers for 2016 General Election

Here you will find my answers to several questionnaires from an assortment of local constituencies and groups interested in providing fair and detailed information on candidates for the public in 2016 elections.  Their questions are in Italics, my answers are standard type.  They include:
   * WAMU, radio station
   * GLAA, serves gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning people
   * DC for Democracy, mostly progressive Democrats fighting for the people

If you like my answers, please make me one of your two votes on Nov. 8 for At Large to the Council.  Also campaign contributions would be very welcome.  On checks write Elect G. Lee Aikin and mail to 1754 Swann St., NW, Washington, DC 20009*
[Items in brackets were added to the original answers.]

In addition to questionnaires there are also YouTube videos of my presentations at various events.  This link is to Green TV in Virginia.  There is a 26 minute interview with myself when I ran against the Chairman in 2014, and a Virginia green candidate.  We cover items like solar, light and high speed rail, and other environmental and social issues.  At this site there is also a 6 minute interview from when I ran for "Shadow" Representative to Congress.  My current Treasurer, Don Wharton, also spent some time explaining the energy savings from Passive House construction.
     Here are listed a number of sites with video or other material on my positions and various candidacies in 2012, 2014, and 2016.  There is a link to my answers regarding the current marijuana situation in DC.  If elected, even if not elected, I will push for reasonable taxation of commercial MJ production and sale, and use of these funds for addiction related help for all with substance abuse problems.  We should be sure to retain the private growth permissions.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
     The WAMU questionnaire asked many important questions.  Each space provided by WAMU only allowed 1000 characters total.  Some of the issues raised were very complex and could not be answered well in only 100 to 200 words.  See below for a lot more detail on the issues of my 3 most import actions once on the Council, housing for all, closing down DC General, how to fix criminal justice system, and the Mayor's Constitution.  Other answers fit within the space allowed, including why am I the best choice for At Large, taxation of marijuana, and schedule fairness for hourly workers.

Name:   G. Lee Aikin
Party:   DC Statehood Green Party (SGP)

Age (As MM/dd/yyyy): Given that date of birth information is one of the things we are warned not to make public to protect from fraudsters, I cannot for my own safety give you this information. Just say over 65.

Family: Widow, 2 sons--Grant (wife, Dierdre Ford) and Neal (wife, Michelle Corretjer); four grandsons—Connor, Archer; Sebastian, Joaquin

Length of residency: 55 years

Education: *BA, St. Univ. of Iowa, Major—General Science, Minors—Education and Spanish
*Two summers, Mexico City College, Mexico City, Mexico
*Dept.of Agriculture Graduate School, courses in Psychology

Occupation: Self employed entrepreneur

Are you an incumbent?   No
Website (blog):    http://gleeaikin.blogspot.com
Facebook Page:    http://G Lee Aikin
Twitter:   http://@gleeaikindc
YouTube Channel: http://
Email Address:   gleeaikin@yahoo.com

Campaign HQ Address: Elect G. Lee Aikin,
1754 Swann St., NW, Washington, DC 20009
[Above information is good for filling out and mailing campaign contribution checks, Don Wharton - Treasurer.  Report filed with Dir. Campaign Finance, DC Board of Elections]

Campaign Questions

What are the three most important actions you would take if elected?

      If you are not including hiring a capable staff, then it would be:

1) Stop the mad rush to total gentrification of the city, with major efforts to increase the building of low and moderate income housing. For example I was recently informed that over decades DC government had returned $140million in unspent funds to HUD, from just 1 of 5 programs we could be using. How much more did we not use in the other 4 HUD programs? See: http://gleeaikin.blogspot.com/2015/11/dc-government-fails-to-use-millions-of.html
Change the law that allows OTR to increase annual property tax assessments by 10% and more even when no improvements have been made. Basing this on one or two nearby high end renovations is just plain wrong, and needlessly causes rent increases. Change the Basic Business Law which requires home owners to jump through hoops just to rent out one or two rooms in their home. It is a needless barrier and a cruel process for elderly empty nesters who need income from their vacant rooms.

2) I have since been told that there are other programs where available Federal money has not been used for community needs. Therefore, I would plan to form consulting teams of experts to keep track of money available in various programs—housing, education, community development, health, etc. My conference room would be made available to such groups. I would like to keep some of my staff funds available for modest payments for some of these efforts.

3) A lot of important work needs to be done in the area of education. We must not loose our schools to developers because a right wing funded report says that Wards 7 and 8 have too many underutilized schools. We must maintain the cluster concept for our schools. We need our low use schools for additional programs like adult education, after school tutoring, meaningful technical and other employment skills education, and childcare programs. We also need to explore better ways of reducing violence among our students, starting in the early grades. Given our large number of dropouts, we need to develop different ways of engaging the minds and energies of these students, many of whom may be dyslexic or have ADHD, and are not taught effectively by focusing on reading and writing in early grades, or sitting still in classes for most of the day. With both a mother and husband (with 12 years in DC Junior and Senior High Schools) who were teachers I have given these matters a lot of thought.


What are the key differences between you and your opponent(s) that make you the best choice?

     My campaign is mostly self-financed which means my loyalty and votes are NOT bought and paid for. I will always vote for what I believe is best for this city. This means a balance of housing and benefits allowing a healthy mix of businesses, entrepreneurs, and employees within DC. This would allow most of us to afford to live near where we work, and reduce dependence on private carbon based transportation and costly public transportation. I would openly vote on important issues. My guiding philosophy would be to support efforts to enhance success of the lower ecnomic half of our population while causing minimum distress to the economic upper half of our citizens. Having worked in various fields and also been self-employed for 30 years I have had much experience with DMV, Tax & Revenue, DCRA, and Special Education and resolved many issues successfully.


How would you ensure that residents of all income groups can remain in the city? What would you do to keep and expand affordable housing units for low-income residents, and what — if anything — would you do to keep middle-income residents with families who are also being squeezed by higher prices?

     See the next question for answers that also pertain to this question. In the past, developers building on public land have promised to build percentages of lower cost housing units. Frequently they did not and often no legal action was taken by the city. This must change. Also, we need to see if all larger projects could be required to build a mix of low, moderate, and market units that would allow workers of all types to live and work nearby. What appears to be a taken-for-granted 20% mark up on contracts must stop. The fact that 2 people were fired for granting a contract to an out of area builder who wanted $6million rather than $13million is outrageous. The angry local contractor already has a former employee sitting on the DC Council.  If we need to go out of area to find reasonably priced contractors, then we should do so until our local contractors wake up.  This kind of thing is one reason I am running for At Large.
     Several additional measures that could help us keep middle-income families include: 
 1) Stop raising property taxes on unimproved homes 10% and more each year based on the renovation activities of one or two neighbors. Taxes should go up for no more than inflation until sold at a much higher price when they would be reassessed. 
 2) Eliminate the BBL for owners renting only a few units; also simplify the D-30 tax form for small income owner rentals. 
 3) Change the one month Vacant Property law which forces homeowners with serious health issues or heirs to property to make immediate sales to developers who then sit on the property for years making minor improvements but waiting for the market to get better. Neighboring counties have one year Vacant Property laws we should have the same. 
 4) Speed up coupling our D-40 income tax deduction and exemption rates with the federal rates. This change I began work on in 2004 will put $85 million back into the pockets of
5) In addition almost no one knows about the improved D-40, Schedule H benefit for renters and home owners. Since tax year 2014 they may have been eligible for up to $1,000 a year if individual and family income for those under 70 was $40,000 or less, or for those 70 and older $60,000 income or less. There are 3 years to file an Amended Tax Return, and links for all forms needed can be found at:


Do you support the most recent plan to close the shelter for homeless families at D.C. General by opening shelters in neighborhoods across the city?

     I support the need to find better housing options for homeless families than DC General. However this effort was marred by the Mayor's choice of options, many of which were specifically designed to reward her political backers. Already less costly options have been found and more should be. It is not fair to concentrate such housing in only a few parts of the city. Lower income renters are rightfully hostile to any project that proposes to force them out of housing before suitable replacement housing is available. The New Communities program (Williams administration) involving Barry Farms, Park Morton, Northwest One, and Lincoln Heights has failed to meet it's obectives: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/housing-complex/blog/13124286/report-d-c-should-redevelop-public-housing-without-replacing-units-first
     The “plans were presented as ready for implementation when they were in fact very conceptual and lacking all the necessary ingredients in place, such as site control, partner agreements and due diligence...." What has been planned or built is ¼ market rate, ½ moderate income, and only ¼ low income (amounting to under 400 units). This will not solve the problem with 70,000 on waiting lists.        Perhaps the idea described in my blog post might allow faster construction: http://gleeaikin.blogspot.com/2014/10/can-creative-use-of-shipping-containers.html
     Unfortunately, few of our developers are interested in many modest contracts with no 20% add on. The Trump disease of glitz and glamour has infected the majority and low cost housing doesn't attract them.  If we have to go out of area to find reasonably priced contractors, then we need to do so until our local contractors get the message.  
     I have one more question.  Why the sudden rush to vacate DC General?  What is planned there?  Will any of it include low and moderate cost housing???


Former Police Chief Cathy Lanier recently said the city’s criminal justice system was “broken.” What are the most practical things you think the council can do to fix it?

     Police officers are deeply distressed that they have had almost no increase in pay for SEVEN years. A reasonable and fair increase needs to be negotiated; this is not the depths of the 2008 recession. We should not be loosing seasoned officers because they know they will have an inadequate pension based on the present salary rates.
     Good officers are concerned that they no longer patrol, hunting for crime and difficult situations. They do not consider that stationing officers in cars at high visibility stationary posts is a good substitute. Hardheaded stubbornness by both labor and management in grievances and other situations has resulted in many unsettled arbitration cases. Hopefully a new Chief will handle these things better.
     Murder rates have increased 50% in the last 2 years. Auto theft is rampant. I understand there is no Auto Theft Unit. Does organized crime need a special unit? Given the recent publicized police killings of people with mental and drug problems, perhaps specialized training and experience with the hospitalized mentally ill would be useful. Perhaps the formation of a Mental Health Unit, similar to Special Victims, would help and could be called upon to report rapidly to appropriate scenes to take over negotiations and arrests. In several cases of police killings it appeared that police acted quickly to kill someone who probably would have surrendered weapons if handled patiently and with empathy.
     [An incident from my own life illustrates what drives good employees away—job insecurity and disrespectful treatment. My late husband taught 12 years in DC (including 8 at Eastern High School), but most years we did not know until the latter half of August if he had a job for the next year. One year he was offered a job on Aug. 20th in Arlington Adult Education. We decided he should take it. On August 27th a DC Schools manager called and said, “Hey, Aikin, you are to report to XXX on XXX.” “I'm sorry, sir” said Robert, “but I have a signed contract with Arlington.” A few hours later a higher level manager called and insisted in knowing why he would not report to DC schools. Again my husband explained. Finally the top man called and demanded to know why he was not going to report.  Again he explained to this rude ex-boss. Arlington Schools was a decision he never regretted.]


Do you support the statehood strategy Mayor Bowser is currently pursuing?

      Absolutely not. No one elected her or her four associates to write a new Constitution. We are being forced to either vote AGAINST STATEHOOD, or if voting For Statehood, then approving her very undemocratically written New Constitution.
     This scam was furthered by holding 3 SO-CALLED Constitutional Conventions (actually 3 days of 3 minute testimony) at which the large majority testified they were against this whole process.
     Between spring and summer a new ARTICLE VII, Sec. 3, (c) was added. This says that NO CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION could be held until FIVE years AFTER we gain Statehood. Five long years for the big money folks to consolidate their power with the governor and delegates. Five more years to force low and moderate income voters out of the city with their housing policies.
     Neither the document given us this spring at the Lincoln Cottage, nor the document now online and made available at the 9/27 and 10/6/16 have a date on them. Thus we are being asked to vote for a Constitution which could have changes made after our vote with no way to prove when they were actually made part of the Constitution.
     This Constitution does not protect the guaranteed 2 seats on Council (future legislature) which means it is highly unlikely that a Statehood Green, Republican, Libertarian, or Independent could ever be elected again. Even honorable Democrats should be against this disenfrancisement of minorities.  [This remains unchanged.]
[I and others also testified before the Council on Sept. 2 and Oct. 6, 2016.  Fortunately the Council made some important changes in the Mayor's Constitution which makes it more likely that people will vote YES for Statehood, which means YES for the Constitution as well.  See link for details and testimony:  http://gleeaikin.blogspot.com/2016/10/dc-constitution-statehood-sept-27-oct-6.html]


Should the city be preparing a system for the taxation and regulation of marijuana sales within the District?

     Even though Congress is blocking such efforts, to the point of not even allowing DC government to spend it's money to do that work, we should move forward with volunteers helping put together such potential regulation and taxation for more rapid consideration and approval once we are able to do so.  Whatever taxation and regulations are eventually decided on, the current system of allowing people to grow a few plants and give presents of small amounts to their friends should remain the law.  Tax money could then be used for drug, alcohol, and tobacco addiction treatment. Funds could also be use to deal with obesity issues and better nutrition.


Should the Council revisit legislation that would require employers to make schedules for hourly workers more predictable?

     Absolutely. All workers should have the right to fairness and a degree of predictability in their hours and working conditions. This includes planning for time off, whether for doctors visits, vacations, or family needs. It is especially important that working parents have at least 48 hours notice to provide alternate childcare if needed. Many doctors and dentists charge for the visit unless it is changed/canceled more than 24 hours previously. Of course a good union can provide some of these protections with a well negotiated Collective Agreement, but not all workers have good unions.

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The GLAA Questionnaire has a 10 point rating scale.  My score was 7.5.  Four of the 10 points were based on what one had done at a real level to help the GLBTQ community.  Since I have not held office or worked for an elected lawmaker, I did not have the advantage that those who have voted for favorable legislation could claim.

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC 2016 Questionnaire for DC Council Candidates Answers from G. Lee Aikin, At Large candidate

     Before answering the 9 questions I would like to make some general observations. First, GLAA should be recognized for it's very detailed and well prepared position paper, Building on Victory, A 2016 election guide to LGBT issues in Washington, D.C. The extensive and comprehensive list of 90 References is a gold mine of information for anyone interested in working with/for the GLAA community on major issues.
      The emphasis on questions regarding health of the old, addicted, and youth, and society's overall treatment of issues regarding sexuality of the non-traditional variety points to the underlying problem of the GLAA community and our wider society—selfishness, prejudice, fear, and anger. The most obvious examples are the violent and hateful treatment seen in bullying, unnecessary incarceration, and deliberate marginalization of sex related business. The more subtle manifestations are overall indifference to the problems of others, and failure to realize that what harms one group and makes them a target reduces security and safety for us all. It is this awareness of and concern for the wider problems that do affect us that makes me want to serve the people of DC. As the bull's eye on the target of indifference, neglect and even hatred, unaddressed GLAA issues for me serve as the “canary in the coal mine.”

HOME RULE - 1. Will you oppose congressionally imposed school vouchers, which have been shown not to improve students' academic achievement, and which often go to schools that operate outside the nondiscrimination provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Act?
          YES.
     The move by Presidential candidate Ted Cruz and others to force our 660,000 residents to fund a voucher program that we don't even want is disgusting and offensive. The fact they are used for private schools demonstrates the overall effort of the far right to eliminate public education and all government programs that help people, especially those least able to help themselves. The Walton Family Foundation funded IFF Report several years ago proposed closing or charterizing a large number of public schools, mostly in Wards 7 and 8. Now they are at it again, and vouchers is one of their tools. [www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/01/27/walton-family-steps-upsupport-for-school-choice-with-1-billion-pledge/] Our Mayor is reportedly “hopping mad.” at Walmart deceit.
      In addition, various studies have indicated outcomes in charter schools are often not as advertised. Moreover, most do not adhere to non-discrimination provisions of the DC Human Rights Act. Nor do those teachers have the protection of the Washington Teachers' Union. I hope that Mendelson, Orange, Todd and Cheh have been or will be persuaded to sign on to the 2015 letter to Rep. Chaffetz opposing their latest voucher program. If At Large Councilmember Orange has not, I will be happy to replace him on the Council and sign that letter.

HEALTH - 2. Will you press the Department of Health to complete and issue the long-delayed LGBT Health Report, which is supposed to be issued annually?
          YES.
     For our government to have delayed submitting the annual LGBT Health Report since 2010 borders on criminally negligent, especially as it already has much of the needed data. This report should be followed by speedy distribution of funds to appropriate LGBT organizations. An analysis of possible loss of federal funds to LGBT health and other programs would be wise. See this astounding report that DC has returned $140million in unspent housing money on just 1 of 5 HUD programs over decades. [http://gleeaikin.blogspot.com/2015/11/dc-government-fails-to-use-millions-of.html] The fact that in 2014 our DC residents and businesses paid $26.4billion in federal taxes highlights this need for monitoring. If elected I would like to support volunteers and part time paid personnel to examine waste and non-use of all our granted and available federal funds.
     How much money has the DC government received from the federal government and failed to spend on LGBT related mental health and substance abuse treatment (question 3); marginalized LGBT workers (question 6); upgrading quality of police, fire and EMS services (questions 4, 6, and 7); or services and treatment for LGBT homeless youth, transgenders, seniors, and terminally ill (questions 5 and 8)? If the housing issue linked above is any example, it must be substantial.

     3. Will you support budgets that target funds to address LGBT health disparities, including in mental health and substance abuse treatment, and mandate data collection on this population across all programs?
          YES.
     Our DC government spends entirely too much money supporting rich sports franchise owners and high end developers, including some who have never even engaged in competitive bidding. Given the higher levels of stress and disapproval experienced by LGBT children growing up, it is not surprising that they have a higher than average level of PTSD and suicides. Back in the 1980's I remember a study showing 30% of gay men reported less safe sex practice now that HIV/AIDS was a known fatal health issue. This figure correlated well with other forms of slow suicide like drug abuse and alcoholism. Money and efforts spent to treat the underlying PTSD will bear dividends in lower costs for mental and physical health care. Newer coverage through Obamacare and trans-inclusive coverage should be a big help.
      The Council should be alert to funding and laws needed to adequately support HIV testing and linkage to care, as well as appropriate use of PrEP and PEP. It was ultimately proven that government paid monitoring was needed to insure consistent follow-up treatment of Tuberculosis. This Bulletin from the World Health Organization [http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/85/5/06-038927/en/] outlines the kinds of steps useful for stopping the spread of TB, and could contain useful advice for monitoring PrEP usage and other issues covered at HAHSTA.
     Without proper collection and dissemination of health related statistics, it is hard to properly and effectively allocate resources both human and monetary, and for the Council to make correct decisions on the legislative aspect of these allocations. As more and more elderly become widowed or divorced, they become especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and other STDs that were not an issue when happily mated to a spouse. For elderly these chronic illnesses become especially costly given their frailty.

     4. Will you support separating Emergency Medical Services from the Fire Department?
          YES.
     It makes sense to separate these functions. Effective EMS personnel do not need training in firefighting. Some people with chronic conditions need repeated EMS assistance over time. There should be a readily available data base and communication procedure so that appropriate assistance is sent to people who should be listed in a rapid help evaluation system. There is no need to send a hook and ladder truck where it is known that a repeat illness victim is not morbidly obese and lives on the 1st or 2nd floor. Information on a preferred hospital would be good where the victim is unconscious.        DC schools should do more in the way of vocationally oriented education to prepare young people for such jobs as EMS and Firefighting. My son was in ROTC for 3 years, and the discipline there encouraged him to look at possible work as a firefighter. More can definitely be done to enhance public education to help our young people explore career options in health and public safety. My son's ROTC training enabled him to enlist as a better paid Private 1st Class, rather than Private 3rd Class.

JUDICIARY - 5. Will you support and press for passage of Bill 21-38, the Death with Dignity Act?
          YES with questions.
     I have read the complete bill and also the criticisms. First, some of my concerns are based on caring for my mother slowly dying at my home of congestive heart failure, and my husband of 44 years slowly dying at home of Alzheimer's. Fortunately, neither was experiencing extreme pain or suffering as some might when dying of cancer and other illnesses. I read the provision requiring a written request. If my husband had been dying of both Alzheimer's and painful cancer, he would have been unable to write a request in any form even 2 years before he died. There is no mention of the prescribing physician being required to be present when this written request is made, so I wonder what protects the dying from predatory or impatient relatives and caretakers.
     When my husband was 4 months from death I went to see the VA doctors about his advanced directive for NO heroic measures to sustain life (tube or intravenous feeding, ventilator, etc.). Two VA doctors examined him and asked about the advanced directives. He was unable to answer them so I repeated the questions in simplified terms. He answered with an emphatic NO!!! When I followed their instruction to ask again, he again answered NO emphatically. When he was on his death bed, my son and I were able to call them and received appropriate specific instructions about feeding or not feeding. I think refinement could be made in language regarding witnessing some steps of the process that would safeguard the mentally vulnerable from coercive actions by family, doctors or institutions. My husband died at home with visits from a hospice nurse. The funeral parlor put that he had died in a hospice on the Death Certificate. I reported this to Medicare as a possible case of fraud.
     Thus, while I generally favor this bill, I think there are some ways in which it could be improved. I would hope to bring my very hard won experience to perfecting this measure for all who might need it. However, I do not believe that search for the perfect should be the enemy of the good. Councilmember Alexander should move forward to obtain additional public input on ways in which this bill satisfies the needs of the dying and caregivers, or ways in which it could be improved.
     As a separate but related piece of legislation, I would like to see an expansion of the DC D-40 individual income tax provision for Exemptions. It allows (2015 tax year) a $1775 exemption for a blind person. I would like to see the same exemption for any person medically certified as handicapped as much as a blind person. In the last 2 years of life my husband needed much more care and supervision than a blind person. A person in the 15% tax bracket would save $266.25 in tax payment, and in the 25% tax bracket save $443.75. Such a saving might permit an exhausted family caregiver to hire a non-family caregiver and occasionally go out alone to a movie or do necessary shopping.

     6. Will you press for the District to provide “Jobs Not Jails” by developing alternatives to incarceration for marginalized citizens who resort to sex work for survival?
          YES.
     Incarcerating adults (16 in DC with an age gap provision) for any agreed upon activity with a consenting adult is stupid and wasteful. However, we must make it easier for young adults to learn and find work that does not force them into making unwanted decisions in order to survive. The failure I referred to in Question #2, of DC to spend government money to build much needed low-cost housing must be stopped. It even seems as thought there is collaboration among most of our leaders to make it almost impossible for lower and lower middle income people to find low-cost or affordable housing.
     Prevention of bullying and fighting in our schools is essential. The Council will need to be alert to effective implementation of the Safe School Certification Program due to begin in the 2016-17 school year. In addition to encouraging this implementation the Council should also determine that the $3.8million grant from the National Institute off Justice is being spent effectively. I am not aware that bathrooms are a transgender school problem in DC, but am sympathetic to the issue.
     During the fight to keep the IFF Report from closing schools in our poorer neighborhoods, I thought it might be good to use one or more of those schools as a low cost dormitory for youth under 22 years. It/they could have “dorm advisers” who were graduate students of Sociology, Psychology, Public Health and similar disciplines receive free room and board and a stipend to supervise these dwellings. Included could be a cafeteria and laundry where the young residents would work part time and receive training and rental credit. In addition there should be counseling and other treatment and adult health education made available. This is just one example of kinds of creative alternatives to incarceration or street living for our marginalized citizens I have imagined. I would work to implement others as well.

     7. Will you support and press for passage of a reintroduced Bill 20-63, the Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act, to give the Office of Police Complaints unfettered access to information and supporting documentation of the covered law enforcement agencies?
          YES.
     The Bill 20-63, Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act, formerly introduced by Tommy Wells needs to be reintroduced. Apparently earlier language requiring “unfettered” access of the Office of Police Complaints (OPC) to information and documents had been converted to the vague term “reasonable” access. The stronger term “unfettered” should replace “reasonable” in a newly introduced bill.
     I have several questions which depending on the answers might require legislation and/or funding. Have the OPC and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) ever adopted the Police Complaints Board's recommendation that OPC and MPD together establish a joint monitoring system for allegations of inadequate police response to reported hate crimes? Has OPC been better able to determine the number of hate crime related complaints referred to MPD? Does OPC now have access to complaints filed with MPD's Internal Affairs bureau? Is there now a “rapid response” protocol for handling routine, customer service oriented complaints? Given the potential fear of reprisal felt by members of the LGBT community, does OPC now have the capacity to look at MPD performance and responses to LGBTQ complaints even for just a small number of them? In recent years I have noticed a definite increase in reports of harmful treatment of Transgender people. Has the review of complaints regarding demonstrations of police bias toward people of color been expanded to include LGBTs and especially Transgenders?

     8. Will you support improved services and treatment for LGBT homeless youth and seniors, including transitional housing?
          YES.
     Since a significant minority of LGBT youth are rejected by their families and made miserable in school, homelessness is a serious issue for them. For the elderly, loss of a partner and shared economy, or inability to work because of age and illness are some causes of homelessness. In addition LGBT youth are at higher risk of suicide, and isolated seniors are probably also at higher risk. Thus, both these LGBT populations need more specialized counseling, education on health and sexuality, and assistance with housing needs. The fact the DC government seems to have no interest in providing low cost housing hasn't helped. The fact that anyone wishing to rent out a room or two needs a Basic Business License doesn't help. See answer at Question #9.
     Here again you have these particular vulnerable populations serving as the “canary in the coal mine.” Given the overall failure of the city to promote low cost housing, and basic employment education for much of the population, it becomes especially noticeable among young and elderly LGBTs. In addition to working specifically to help vulnerable LGBT populations, it is important for GLAA to work closely with other groups engaged in the good fight against greedy and indifferent developers and the politicians they support.
     For example, how can support services for needy populations be paid for when the city plans to spend $3billion tearing up the streets and putting ALL electric lines underground? Where homes are far apart it is cheaper and quicker to repair above ground cable breaks, and pay arborists and tree trimmers to keep dangerous branches cut beforehand. Why should over $60million be allocated this year to destroy over 20 acres of historic water filtration caverns at McMillan Park when this space could be used for STEM education and projects growing hydroponic food and fish to feed the poor and teach useful skills? Has all the money spent on the H Street light rail system been a total waste? The common element here is that in each case developers and contractors will earn heaps of money, often at inflated rates, and only they and upper income residents will benefit. I am told that NO housing developer has ever been sued by the city for failing to include the promised lower cost units that were negotiated and agreed to before permits were issued.
     One result is that although the Tax Revision Commission agreed with my 11 year effort to restore the parity D-40 Deductions and Exemptions rates had with IRS 1040 rates in 1973 when we gained home rule, the Council approved scheduling this restoration of justice over SIX years. Thus, it will be 2020 before the full $85million a year will flow back into our pockets and out to our local businesses.  For this April's 2015 taxes, a young single could deduct $6,975 on the D-40, but $10,300 on the 1040. An elderly single could deduct $8,750 on the D-40, and $11,850 with the IRS 1040. Somewhat better savings were given in 2015 than in 2014, but see [http://gleeaikin.blogspot.com/2014/10/in-2019-dccouncil-approval-of-2-tax.html] for a more detailed view of previous figures.

CONSUMERS AND BUSINESSES - 9. Will you defend the right of adults in the District to choose adult-oriented entertainment for themselves, and the right of appropriately licensed and zoned businesses to provide it?
          YES.
     Adult-oriented entertainment and business are part of our “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” When young and exploring the hidden world of sexuality, I read some gay porn. I believe my husband of 44 years benefited from some of the knowledge gained. There was also a period in the 1980s when my husband was away a lot and the children almost grown that I visited a number of gay oriented clubs including Ziegfeld's, Tracks and Lost and Found near S. Capitol. Living near DuPont Circle, I more often went to Friends, the Fireplace and Rascals, including to their 3rd floor, and others. I remember how the S. Capitol clubs were displaced by the subsidized ballfield, and wondered why it was fair to pay off one business at the expense of another.
     If I should be on the Council while businesses are being displaced by the Buzzard Point soccer stadium, I would certainly work to persuade other Councilmembers to pass fair legislation. As an increasingly popular city for tourism and late night entertainment, we should not allow prudes to dictate the legal and properly regulated pleasures of others. The legitimate desire of people to gather in appropriate public settings to socialize and use marijuana also needs fair and practical action.
     Two other measures I would pursue if elected would be to make it easier for young, elderly, and small entrepreneurs to begin a micro-business. Even something as simple as a lemonade stand can bring grief [http://www.copblock.org/7170/lemonade/]. All non service businesses in DC require a Basic Business License. If one owes the city a traffic fine, back taxes or other monies above $100 it is impossible to get the BBL. A waiver should be provided for payments that are in adjudication or negotiation. An elderly friend with 5 joint replacements needed a BBL for an agent to rent out her apartment for 6 months. The number of hours and places she had to visit to achieve obtaining the BBL were physically painful and exhausting. Therefore I would recommend not requiring a BBL until one year after grossing $250,000. Instead the prospective entrepreneur should take a ½ day course on how to file DC business (D-30) and income (D-40) taxes and the federal business taxes they are based on.
     This brings me to the second issue—the D-30 Unincorporated Franchise Tax. In 1986 it was determined that any business grossing over $12,000 should pay a minimum $100 fee and taxes for profits above that. Recently, the $100 minimum was raised to $250, but the $12,000 gross income was not adjusted for inflation which should bring it up to between $25 and $30,000. In addition if all earnings are DC based then there is no need to have the long, complicated, poorly explained D-30 form filled out. One should merely have to submit the IRS 1040 Schedule C for general business, or the Schedule E for rental income, along with the first 2 pages of the D-30.

Related Personal Actions and Experience Your record is part of your rating. Please list any actions that you have taken that may help illustrate your record on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

     In the past four years I have made a point of forwarding articles about GLBT issues and human interest to appropriate members of the GLBT political and journalistic community. A number of years ago I made a presentation at Whitman-Walker on new highly effective methods of dealing with emotional/PTSD/abuse issues (which I used for 10 years seeing clients about such issues). When my husband died from Alzheimer's, I gave all his adult diapers to Joseph's House. I would be happy to speak with a GLBT group about home care of the dying, and planning an at-home death.  I personally observed a number of people in the early 1980's experiencing the problems of living as a GLBT person. My husband was seldom around and my sons were mostly off with their friends, so I started going to the bars on P St. near my DuPont Circle home. I especially liked the piano bars at Friends and the Fireplace. As a fun but maternal figure a number of young gay people became my friends and long term acquaintances. They would tell me their troubles and ask for advise. I was answering so many questions about nutrition and health that I wrote and printed a 20 page pamphlet titled “PROTECT YOUR HEALTH THROUGH BETTER DIET (from AIDS and other diseases).” I distributed free copies to anyone who asked.
     I will outline some of these people's stories. They have mostly all died, so I don't think I will be breaking confidences. However several followed my advice about careful sex and super-nutrition and were still healthy and alive ten years after HIV first appeared in DC.
     A) A man in his 30's who had suffered severe sexual abuse by his brother and was neglected by his alcoholic mother. He developed AIDS and gradually went blind. He called me one day in panic, “I can't see anything, it's all black.” He lived with an abusive lover who didn't believe he was blind and left obstacles for him to trip over, and even refused to let him get a guide dog. I begged him to let me find a better placement for him, but he refused. They both died a year or two later.
     B) A 17 year old, emancipated as a 15 year old minor to flee the abusive foster home system. He lived with an older gay man who died of AIDS. We did some renovation work together, I taught him some some skills, and he developed his artistic talent and started a business. He succeeded in creating a good life for himself, including providing my son a job and mentorship, but died at 50 from Hepatitis C caught in those early years.
     C) An artistically and dramatically talented young man who was reasonably successful as a drag performer. I gave him a free place to live in my home for several months. He had been severely abused physically and emotionally by his alcoholic single mother. Subsequently he was raped by an HIV positive “friend”. He probably became HIV positive (he had practiced protected sex in the ordinary course), and ODed either accidentally or on purpose a year or two later.
     D) A man in his 30s who was into leather daddies who beat and bruised his butt so badly I warned him he was in danger of dying from a lung embolism. He started coming to a free self-help therapeutic group I had organized. In a major breakthrough he realized the origin of his behavior in his relationship with his distant father who passed off discipline of this son onto his overwhelmed wife. After this he no longer engaged in abusive sex, and had several relationships before he died of AIDS a few years later.
     E) A man in his 30s who had been abused by both his upper middle class parents. When we first met his T-4 level was around 400 and he could only walk a few blocks before exhaustion struck. He was also a cocaine addict. His father arranged for me to monitor a stipend for his rent and food. We went shopping and sometimes cooked together. I set him up with an array of supplements. After 4 months his T-4s were 1100, and we could walk 11 blocks without suffering fatigue. Two years later his father stopped the stipend and he moved home. He misplaced his supplements in packing, his parents restimulated feelings from his childhood abuse, and a lover dumped him. He died 3 months later.
     I could provide at least a half dozen other stories, but the point is, I have heard the tragic early histories and watched the successes and failures of a number of GLBT people over time and helped where I could. I will continue to do so whether elected or not.

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DC for Democracy Questionnaire - For 2016 General Election Council Position Sought: At Large Candidate Name: G. Lee Aikin (DC Statehood Green Party) 

     1. Bills now before the DC Council are intended to reduce the influence of big money donors through several approaches: 
   ● banning corporate campaign contributions, 
   ● keeping donors who make very large contributions from getting government contracts and special tax breaks, and 
   ● providing for public financing of political campaigns through a system that matches small donations, similar to what it used in New York City. 
     Where do you stand on each of these approaches? 

     a. The amount allowed for all contributions needs to be seriously reduced, and those from corporations need to be clearly identified. Voting in Council to do this and speaking out for our people to support the Move to Amend is something I will do whenever appropriate. Corporations are not people, and money is not speech.
     b. If (a) is done there won't be any very large contributions, open bidding on government contracts should be allowed by all, but special tax breaks like the East Banc deal at 22nd and L Sts. should never be allowed, nor should the NO-BID contract and $1million annual subsidy to destroy McMillan Park be permitted. Contributions by bidders should be clearly identifiable to all, and the Independent Auditor should remain so.
     c. I would certainly want to know a lot more about the New York City matching donations program, as well as others that have been tried. How effective have they been, have people discovered ways to game these system, and how does the general voting population feel about them and their fairness?

     2. The DC Council recently passed a law to gradually raise the DC minimum wage to $15 by 2020. However, they failed to eliminate the difference between the tipped minimum wage, as called for by the ballot initiative that prompted the law. What is your position on the tipped minimum wage?  
     For many years the minimum wage has been ridiculously low. Efforts are finally succeeding in raising it closer to the level it should have been if increased often to reflect inflation. The tipped minimum wage has also been very low for a long time, and should be raised in fair proportion to it's relationship with the minimum wage increase.
     Frankly I also think there should be a maximum wage law​. For example 35 or more years ago the ratio between top CEO pay and low level worker pay in their companies was about 40 to 1. Now it can be as much as 1,000 to 1 and is often 400 to 1. Fifteen dollars x 40 hrs. per week x 52 weeks = $31,200. That wage times 40 = $1,248,000. So let's round that out to $1,250,000 and say that any business that pays their executives more than that cannot deduct the excess salary from their corporate income taxes. This is a complex idea, but that is an example to start us thinking about ways to curb the corporate excess which among other things is robbing Social Security. See: http://gleeaikin.blogspot.com/2012/10/saving-social-security-wage-cap.html. Read how corporate wage inflation has destroyed the 90% wage cap that both parties agreed to in 1983, and is now threatening the future of SS benefit payments.

     3. Child care on average costs $21,000 a year for families. What would you do to ensure access for all families? Do you support universal child care? 

     A few years ago the Walmart funded IFF Report said we should close or repurpose over 40 “underutilized” DC schools, the majority located in Wards 7 and 8. DC government should use some of that excess space to house low or no cost childcare programs. Among the developed countries, only in Switzerland is the cost of childcare a greater percentage of family income, a figure which should shame our country into doing better. For this and other important social programs a slight increase in upper level income taxes would help. California's top rate is 13%. DC's is 8.25%

     4. In recent years, DC has lost tens of thousands of units of affordable housing. Over the next few years, we are projected to lose thousands more. How many of these units should the DC government replace or preserve? What steps do you propose to replace and preserve that many units? 

     The poison of all big development, expensive housing, and gentrification is driving all low and moderate income workers to MD and VA. Our Metro woes show how dangerous Council actions are to continue that trend. Soon few firemen, teachers, police, hotel restaurant, or hospital workers will be available in any emergency.
     All builders of big housing should be required to supply a mix of low, moderate, and market rate units to allow workers of all types to live and work near home. Mark-ups of 20% on contracts must stop. DC workers were recently fired for granting a $6million contract to a distant bidder, rather than a $13million bid by a local contractor whose f ormer executive is now on our Council. We should continue to reward low bids, even if the bidder is out-of-area, until local bidders learn honesty and make competitive bids.
     Our Mayor recently proposed a high priced plan for housing the homeless that rewarded campaign contributors. Immediate negative reaction has forced finding some less expensive alternatives, but more should be found. Low income renters are rightfully hostile at being kicked out before promised housing is built. The Williams administration's New Communities program involving Barry Farms, Park Morton, Northwest One and Lincoln Heights failed to meet it's objectives. What was planned and built is ¼ market rate, ½ moderate income, and only ¼ low income (less than 400 units). There are 70,000 on waiting lists. For one of my low cost housing ideas see: http://gleeaikin.blogspot.com/2014/10/can-creative-use-of-shipping-containers.html 
     Other fixes include: 1) Stop raising property taxes 10% and more on unimproved homes because some neighbors renovated. 2) Eliminate BBL for owners renting a few units and simplify the D-30 for small owner rentals. 3) Change the one-month Vacant Property law to the one year VP used in nearby counties. This has caused panic selling, by people who are ill or heirs at the worst time of their life, to real estate speculators (who then sit on the building waiting for the market to go up).
   
     5. What actions would you take to enhance public safety and reduce violent crime while reforming racialized policing that unfairly targets people of color? 

     Violent behavior begins early. Danes and Germans react very differently when children fight on playgrounds. Danish methods could be taught to our parents. We need to hire a new police chief who does not repeat past mistakes and can negotiate effectively with police representatives. Making police sit in cars at high visibility static posts frustrates good officers who want to patrol, hunting for crime and other trouble. Do we need a special unit for rampant auto theft?
     Regarding recent police killings of people with mental or drug problems, more training to deal with mental illness and intoxication is needed. Perhaps a new Mental Health Unit, like Special Victims, should exist to provide better negotiation and unrushed empathic handling on scene. Police are upset with one small pay raise in 7 years. Long term officers leave early because pensions are based on 3 best earning years. This is not 2008, we can pay more. DC jail could use more funding for counseling, education and treatment of illness and mental health.

6. Good government requires checks and balances between the Council and the Mayor. Which policies do you support that are different from Mayor Bowser’s policies? Please be as specific as possible. 

     The Mayor's Statehood/Constitution effort is a real danger to checks and balances. The current document still limits future Delegates to a smaller number than approved and voted in 1982. It is harder for special interests to influence a larger number than a few Delegates. Her Constitution eliminates the 2 Council member set-aside for nonmajority party candidates like Statehood Greens, Republicans, Libertarians or Independents, further limiting independent thought and votes on the Council. Putting the Independent Auditor and Chief Finance Officer, as well as the Attorney General under direct control of the Governor is very dangerous. The Auditor, who questioned the NO-BID contract allowing one contractor to plan destruction of our last big parkland, McMillan, is an example. The recent firing of workers for approving a much lower bid to an out of area contractor rather than a well connected local one is another example.
     The Mayor has added a provision to the Constitution to not allow a true Constitutional Convention for at least 5 years after statehood. Does the Council have the courage to oppose the Mayors dictatorial moves which many testifiers brought to the Councils's attention? [The Council in fact did vote to call for a Constitutional Convention within 2 years of achieving Statehood.]  These moves include her creating a committee of 5, with the Council Chairman on it, to write/approve this Constitution when this was not in their job descriptions when we elected them. Holding 3 days of Constitutional Convention, which in fact were merely hearings with people allowed 3 minutes to testify, with no one elected as a Delegate to actually write or vote was a total denial of the 1982 Constitution process. Then elected Delegates worked and wrote a document DC voted to approve in Nov. 1982.
     Now they want our YES vote for Statehood Nov. 8. This vote contains the POISON PILL of an undated Constitution that is dangerous and anti-democratic. Vote NO if the Council fails to correct and date the Mayor's dictatorial Constitution before you vote.  [The Statehood Green Party will meet on Nov. 3rd to decide if the Council's changes merit a YES vote on Nov. 8th.  I am inclined to accept the Council's recent changes and vote YES, but want my party's guidance.]

     7. The New Columbia Statehood Commission has proposed a Statehood Initiative that calls for an Advisory Referendum that includes approval of a new Constitution and boundaries to be adopted by the DC Council. If you had designed the Statehood Initiative, would it be different in any way, and if so, how? 

     Many of the problems with the Mayor's proposed Statehood Initiative are described above in question 6., but here is how I would have done it differently.
     With voter input, I would have prepared an Advisory Referendum for voting on Nov. 8, through the regular Initiative process with many thousands of petition signatures by DC Voters. There would have been 3 separately voted sub-items on the ballot. The Initiative would have included a stand alone vote for Statehood. There also would have been a separate call for a Constitutional Convention, like 1982, beginning a date early in 2017 with a date for completion. A separate vote for a manner of electing Constitutional Convention delegates and the number of delegates would have been included.      No actions influencing the time and content of the Constitution should be made by the current Council which still has two lame duck members. [Who did, if fact, vote for the improvements in language.]  The repudiation of 3 of the Mayor's supporters in the Primary elections makes current Council actions regarding our future Constitution highly inappropriate.

 Detailed articles related to some of the issues above can be found on my blog: gleeaikin.blogspot.com​. Click INDEX under my photos for a complete list of over 70 articles which I write in detail and update where appropriate.

 
*Campaign expenses paid for ELECT G. LEE AIKIN, campaign committee, 1754 Swann St., NW, Washington, DC 20009.  A copy of our report is filed with the Dir. of Campaign Finance, DC Bd. of Elections.