Sunday, December 4, 2016

McMillan Park - A Finer Vision for Pro-People Development & Major Court Decision

I felt deep concern over DC's plans to help destroy the only pre-WWII park open to African Americans.  The NO-Bid developer our taxes have subsidized for the past 7 years would have destroyed most of the 20+ acres underground and built an inner city Tysons Corner above.  I concluded that politicians must have received a lot of financial support to do something so foolish, but that one solution is to interest a different group of developers in making use of all this underground space scheduled for destruction.  Fortunately the DC Court of Appeals has ruled unanimously that alternative designs must be considered.  [See the letter to Friends of McMillan Park posted in this article.]

The Administration should want to receive long term benefits of taxes generated by employing people, sales and use fees, and long leases as they are doing with the Old Post Office Building (Trump Hotel) for 60 years.  Instead the MAYOR intends to sell OUR park to VMP for $17million when it is assessed at $100million.  Surely we could find a better way to use this space that would open it to all DC residents and visitors, and also generate income to the city.

Then I saw the picture reproduced on page 3 below in the Sept. 2001 Wine Enthusiast Magazine whose lead article was "Ultimate Wine Cellar Dining".  The ceiling of that restaurant looked almost identical to the ceiling of McMillan's underground space.  Bingo, a new idea was born and I prepared the document below.  Unfortunately it did not transfer with clarity from Libre Office, so I will write out what is hard to see for your easier reading.  Please add your Comments for ideas that are not listed here.


Page 1:  A FINER VISION FOR McMILLAN PARK

     For seven years we in DC have paid $1million a year to subsidize a NO-BID developer named Vision McMillan Park (VMP) to plan destruction of this historic site to turn it into another Tyson's Corner.  Community action, pleading to our DC Council and other efforts have failed to stop this juggernaut.  Our prepaid DC government wants development at all cost, so we now need to consider better development that will provide the tax revenues they demand.  [This was written before the Court ruled unanimously on our case and said we must come up with something better than VMP's plan.]
     Since one strong argument against the current plan is that the intersection of North Capitol St. and Michigan Ave. is already a rush hour traffic nightmare, a better plan should focus on off peak hours.  The plan suggested here responds to those concerns.  Why not have Wolf Trap and Glen Echo type events here?  To enhance them and provide added revenue, why not have a mix of high and lower end restaurants, wine cellars and rathskellers in the underground spaces with their 15 foot ceilings.  DC already has thriving custom brewery businesses, and Virginia and Maryland can offer more and fine vintages from wineries.
     Custom foods like mushrooms, culinary herbs, and other specialties could be grown underground to supply them, and ceilings painted in spectacular art can attract visitors and paying customers while providing a venue for our artists.

Page 2:  Two restaurants in the article, The Westin Salishan in Oregon, and the Sardine Factory in Monterey, California, are described here in detail.  The top and bottom of the page reads:
     DC must have a score of restauranteurs, custom brewery owners and others who would be excited by this concept.  Now we must go out and find them, so they can add their voices to the fight to keep McMillan Park close to its original form and for uses that will be unique and attractive to visitors and residents.
     Let us contact and encourage such bold entrepreneurs to take part in creating a real vision for McMillan Park that will not resemble Tyson's Corner and its nightmare traffic and inhuman scale, a vision that very few in DC would desire.

Page 3:  Under this photo of the Federalist Restaurant/XV Beacon Hotel, Boston, MA, I wrote:
     This photo, which so resembles what could be built in McMillan's underground spaces, inspired this "Finer Vision."  G. Lee Aikin (DCSGP), December 2016.

Page 4:  Here is one view of the 20+ acres of underground space that could be developed without harm to the above ground park.  The VMP plan is to destroy most of it.  The ceilings are 15' high and the distance between columns is about 22'.  There is a total of nearly 1,000,000 square feet just waiting for imaginative use.  Below that photo are suggested uses for both below and above ground.  I will list them under page 4 and will be adding to them as new comments and ideas are suggested or found.




List of potential uses for the 20+ acres of underground space with 15' ceilings:
    * Unique wine cellar and rathskeller type dining and wining establishments
    * Brew pubs and possible small brewing capabilities
    * Underground farming of specialty herbs,mushroom, other foods for above businesses 
    * Underground fish culture [can provide nutrients for vegetable growth]
    * Ceiling space and columns used for murals and public art (our own Sistine Chapel?)
    * Other stores, social, and artistic spaces, as well as open area for public activities
    * You supply your ideas:  Place them as Comments at bottom of this blog post.

Above ground ideas not envisioned by the so-called VMP "Visionaries":
    * Wolf Trap, Glen Echo and Torpedo Factory type events and activities
    * Community gardens, including ones for busing in seniors and people from Wards 7 & 8
    * Solar installations to power below and above ground needs.
    * A jogging track and other small group sports spaces
    * You supply your ideas:  Place them as Comments at bottom of this blog post.

Major activities should be oriented to non rush hour times to avoid the terrible gridlock VMP's plan will invariably cause at this already difficult intersection.

A number of interesting McMillan photos are included in an article printed in this magazine for the Architectural profession.

------------------------
If you wish to contact Council members and other key city officials to urge support of this and other ideas to be developed, below is a list of email addresses, mostly of Council members and their staff asistants:
     Email:  * mayor@dc.gov, eom@dc.gov, 
* bnadeau@dccouncil.us, 
* jevans@dccouncil.us, jackevans@dccouncil.us, 
* mcheh@dccouncil.us, 
* btodd@dccouncil.us, 
* kmcduffie@dccouncil.us (McMillan Park is in his Ward 5),
* callen@dccouncil.us, 
* vgray@dccouncil.us, vincegray2016@gmail.com, 
* twhite@dccouncil.us, trayonwhite2011@gmail.com, 
* rwhite@dccouncil.us, 
* abonds@dccouncil.us, 
* dgrosso@dccouncil.us, 
* esilverman@dccouncil.us, 
* pmendelson@dccouncil.us (Council Chair), 
* karl.racine@dc.gov (Attorney General), and 
     Staff:  brian.kenner@dc.gov, joaquin.mcpeek@dc.gov, sarosh.olpadwala@dc.gov, eric.shaw@dc.gov, Colleen.Willger@dc.gov, david.maloney@dc.gov, tfazzini@dccouncil.us, tjackson@dccouncil.us, sgrant@dccouncil.us, rwerner@dccouncil.us, jwillingham@dccouncil.us, nrentz@dccouncil.us, snewman@dccouncil.us, dturner@dccouncil.us, bmitchell@dccouncil.us, rgulstone@dccouncil.us, lmarks@dccouncil.us, aphelps@dccouncil.us, chuck@chuckthies.com, mngwenya@dccouncil.us, bbledsoe@dccouncil.us, dmeadows@dccouncil.us, TTate@dccouncil.us, kforrest@dccouncil.us, tgoodman@dccouncil.us, srosenamy@dccouncil.us, mblackwell@dccouncil.us, aweisbard@dccouncil.us mwynn@dccouncil.us, mbattle@dccouncil.us, alan.bergstein@dc.gov, bennett.rushkoff@dc.gov, james.pittman@dc.gov.
     Please invite your friends to do the same.
----------------------------     
Why is Mayor Bowser having a "groundbreaking" on Dec. 7, 2016?  [The following day, Dec. 8, the DC Court of Appeals said she and the developers could not do what they wanted.  Specifically they could not violate Covenants DC had signed with the Federal Dept. of the Interior.]  Suggested reasons by Friends of McMillan Park:

We learned late last week without notice that Mayor Bowser will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the city's planned development of the McMillan site on Wednesday, December 7th at 11am (see announcement here).  

So what's up with that?  The D.C. Court of Appeals has not yet handed down a decision on the case, and no building/demolition permits have been issued for the site, right? 
 That's correct.  The Friends of McMillan Park is the lead plaintiff in that challenge of the D.C. zoning and historic preservation decisions enabling the project, and we'd know right away if the court had handed down a decision.  It hasn't.  We think the decision may come in January 2017.  

So why is the Mayor doing this?  DMPED and the Office of the Mayor are not exactly on speaking terms with the Friends of McMillan Park, so they haven't confided in us what's behind all this.  But we suspect that what motivates the permit applications and this groundbreaking event is the fact that a number of key entitlements that the city awarded to enable the project are about to expire.  The zoning order that approved the first stage Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the site in November, 2014 (zoning order in case 13-14) and the land disposition and surplussing legislation from the D.C. Council dated December 2014, and perhaps other subsidiary documents, expire after two years from issuance, which is right about now.  So, we presume, these actions -- groundbreaking and permit application -- are formal gestures sufficient to make sure these entitlements don't expire.  Looking at this from the city's point of view, if the court were to rule in the city's favor (which we of course do not want nor expect), but the PUD and other key entitlements had expired, the city would have to redo all the expired entitlements supporting the project.  If you'd like to see the permits the city has applied for, visit the DCRA permits page and look for 2940 North Capitol Street, NW, the mythical address of this yet-unbuilt project. For those of you anxious to have a look tonight, DCRA has taken down the page for maintenance but it should be back up Monday. 

So if that's the case, that this is not actually the beginning of demolition/construction on the project, why didn't DMPED and the Mayor say so in the event announcement?We wish we knew. The Washington Business Journal immediately picked up on the fact that this matter is not even out of court yet.  The city's announcement did not say that construction would begin right away, but it led a lot of people to assume that. The city has not been too open or transparent in this process, so at least they're consistent.   Other than extending the life of the entitlements and sowing widespread confusion, the city is doing nothing of substance with this groundbreaking ceremony that we know of.  Have a good time, RSVP for the event, and please extend to her honor the Mayor continued assurances of our highest consideration. 

Thank you for your continued interest and support, 

John Salatti, Kirby Vining, and Hugh Youngblood
Board of Directors, Friends of McMillan Park, Inc. 

----------------------- Links supplied by Kirby's 12/17/16 email:


Tour the magical spaces of McMillan Park in this lovely video in the PBS Digital Library. Please consider donating to our legal fund to stop the city’s plans to demolish our park.

District investigative journalist Jeffrey Anderson has done an   authoritative series of articles on many aspects of McMillan for the Capitol Community News:
See also the following from Street Sense and the New York Times:

The InTowner also has a wonderful series of articles: 




-------------------------
Detailed comments on the Court victory - same day as above list of links:

The Court of Appeals Ruled in Our Favor, but the War Goes On 

Dear Friend of McMillan Park, 



            We are still euphoric over the D.C. Court of Appeals' decision in our favor, issued just one week ago. That court decision frankly was more favorable to our side than we had dreamed. This court decision is the first time that there has been any official look at the city's plans outside of the Wilson Building. With the notable exception of the D.C. Auditor Kathleen Patterson, everyone else in the Wilson Building apparently sees no problem with the proposed development and thinks it's a great idea. 


This court decision vacates (cancels or nullifies, in ordinary language) the District's one zoning and two preservation orders that enable the proposed development.  We were hoping that the court would at least remand this case back to the city to revise specified aspects of the plan, so cancellation of the three entitlements is more than we'd hoped for. Without those three orders, nothing can be done on the site at this time.  Not legally, anyway. The court order obligates the District to rethink this whole project, and it actually recommended that something else entirely might be considered.  Although those words sound rather innocuous, this is pretty strong language in a court order. The court stated that all the things the city wants to do could be justified, but they have not been justified, and was so firm in that position that it cancelled the three orders.  

             We are not so naive as to think that the District is not right now looking closely at that order and trying to figure a way to push the project forward anyway. The Mayor has said as much in the few government statements her office has made. But this is a game changer, and just tweaking some details of the existing plans aren't sufficient. Alternative designs are REQUIRED, both by the District's preservation law and specific mention of that in the court decision. The court found the District's plans not in compliance with its own rules and regulations.  

              So we are gearing up for another fight.  But we don't yet know what the District plans to do, or how, or when.  Most likely the District will hold new hearings to try to justify some modified form of its plans. The District government would like to characterize us as interfering.  On the contrary, we would very much like to work WITH our government and see a request for proposals for an open bidding and design competition (never happened) that is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan's recommendations for the site, the historic designation of the site, and community opinions and wishes.  If our government would just work WITH existing rules and regulations, we'd be with them, helping. But they're not even close yet.  Not even close. High rise buildings and demolition of 80-90% of the site? Traffic?  Not even close. 

               We are planning a gathering sometime in January, a time to celebrate this wonderful judicial ruling and talk about the future, and of course we hope to raise some additional funds with our new credibility.  We will advise you when we have a time, date, and place for this event.  On the fundraising side, so many of you have been extremely generous, but at this moment we have covered only about one quarter of the costs accrued in the lengthy zoning, preservation, and court challenges. It is certain that there will be additional battles. 

               In the meantime, if you would like a copy of the court's decision, please contact the email address at the bottom of this message and we'd be delighted to get a copy to you as an email attachment (it's not very large).  And we're always looking for volunteer help with a variety of things that help us keep going, so please let us know if you're interested.

               Please spread the word of our success, even though FINALLY we are getting a bit of press coverage on who we are and what we have done.  
Thousands of persons like you have done something, minor or major, even if only to mention to a friend or neighbor that there's something wrong with what the city's doing at McMillan, and that has helped this effort succeed.  That is what this is about: a community focused on the revitalization of something of astonishing beauty. Keep it up!  Christmas has come early for those of us who want a beautiful McMillan Park in our future and you are angels, helping us bring our park back to life.  


John Salatti, Kirby Vining, and Hugh Youngblood

Board of Directors, Friends of McMillan Park, Inc. 



If you have any questions, please contact restoremcmillan@gmail.com or call 202.213.2690.

----------------------
Links from Daniel Wolkoff, Dec. 18, 2016

Daniel Goldon Wolkoff, McMillan Park links

Peoples Plan for McMillan Park 
Prof. Miriam Gusevich Catholic University of America with Collage City Studio You tube power point 
----------------------
National Register of Historic Places McMillan nomination 
(http://www.nps.gov/nr/feature /places/13000022.htm ) by DC Office of Historic Preservation architectural Historian Kim Williams. She describes a remarkably intact, fascinating, even charming engineering marvel slated for demolition in violation of federal law.
------------------------- 
 Bowser and PR Firm Fontaine lied "it was never a park", The High Line in NY was never a park, it was an elevated Railroad. They had the foresight to save it, and a fabulous success for NY.

Bloomngdale elder Ms.Ella relates her childhood spent in the PARK, the children called McMillan "our beach".


                           https://youtu.be/X0iqLezE6G0
-------------------------
To ram the development down our throats the DC govt. hired Jamie Fontaine PR firm to "neutralize opposition", a violation of the Constitutional right to "petition the govt. for redress of grievances". When exposed to Bowser, Mendelson , they have covered this up and Deputy Mayor Miller lied about his office paying for Fontaine! 
                           http://youtu.be/uXkOgHV7Lhw
--------------------------
The community struggle to Save McMillan Park, preserving the ENTIRE "GREAT PLACE", Olmsted designed surface-park and existing 20 acres underground, creates the exciting potential for Sustainable large scale "indoor agriculture", numerous adaptive re-use that is allowed with Historic Preservation and building real careers, parks are economic development.
Different than Kojo and Roger K. Lewis  model.                        
                            http://youtu.be/ILzWmw53Wwo
----------------------------
DC Wolf Trap at McMillan outdoor concert stage with sunset vistas, Glen Echo arts/performance campus, Wine cellars,
City Bazaar, Breweries, performance space, public land for the public use, and ownership, start the Conservancy NOW!
                          https://youtu.be/JQ2L0vpVqls
----------------------
                                     Pope Francis
"we have created new idols. The worship of the ancient Golden Calf
has returned in a new ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and
the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose"

How did Pope Francis know about "the Monstrosity on Michigan Avenue"?

DC administrations collude with VMP,their development partners to steal 25 acres of public recreational land, the biggest land theft since Manhattan!

-----------------------
Given that tourism is a major DC source of income, and given that government employment could suffer during a Trump administration, we should consider ways to enhance the tourism potential of McMillan Park.
     I recently watched a Japanese TV show about mushroom culture in Japan.  They have 21 species of mushrooms used there for culinary purposes.  We could have an underground store featuring international goods and foods. Unusual Japanese style mushrooms actually grown in the underground area could be a product sold there.  Perhaps we could approach the Japanese Embassy to see if this is a project that would interest them.  The same could be done with other embassies and food or cultural products like cheese and pasta.
     Having observed the popularity of watching products and food being made through a store window, I believe craft and food production showcases should be a popular addition.  Examples near 14th and U Sts., NW are the Cupcake Factory on U St., and another baked goods store on 14th south of U St.  Studio and craft space for artists and artisans could be provided at a low cost, with the opportunity to draw people by actually producing items before a window by the walkways.  The Torpedo Factory in Alexandria is a nearby place where this sort of activity has taken place.

--------------------------
If we have to build a big building, here is one of the better ideas I have seen for putting in a park.
http://www.wallpaper.com/architecture/best-tall-building?utm_source=aol&utm_medium=media&utm_campaign=aolfeature#136046


     Please be sure to add any ideas you may have at the Comments below.



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. 

[11/9/16]  Enough people were persuaded that the Council had made sufficient corrections to the Mayor's Constitution  that on Nov. 8, 2016 the people voted over 78% to approve Statehood (and that Constitution).  Results are the last item on the link provided.

[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

- - - - - - - - - -
[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.

- - - - - - - - - -
[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.