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May 1, 2011

The Low Priority of Statehood

Dear Advocates:

There are other important events happening in the world this evening, so I’ll be brief. To most readers’ relief, I am sure, this is the last thing I’ll say about DC statehood for a while, and the last message on statehood I’ll run in themail until and unless there’s a new development. I started this conversation by writing that I thought that the District of Columbia could achieve statehood, but that the cost would be higher than most of its most passionate advocates would be willing to pay. The ensuing comments have convinced me that that’s true.

To me, it is obvious that DC would get statehood much more easily by being nice to Congress than by alienating it. That seems to be the general rule for legislative success — make allies to get enough votes to pass a bill. Second, new states generally have to convince Congress that they will not upset any political balance that exists at the time they are admitted to the union. But the strongest advocates of statehood are the most adamant about not compromising any of the radical political stances that put DC on the fringes of US politics. My conclusion is that DC isn’t ready to make any sacrifices to gain statehood, and that statehood isn’t really that high a priority among the many other political causes that statehood advocates value more.

Gary Imhoff


Deposing Kwame Brown
Dorothy Brizill,

Tomorrow, May 2, the next and perhaps the final chapter in the Office of Campaign Finance’s investigation of Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s 2008 campaign finances will take place. At 10:00 a.m., OCF will question Kwame Brown and take his sworn deposition at his attorney’s Fred Cooke’s law office at 1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 200.

The deposition of Kwame Brown is OCF’s final effort to secure information under oath so that the agency can complete its investigation and audit of Brown’s 2008 campaign. As I have noted in previous postings in themail, on April 5 the DC Office of Campaign Finance issued an audit report highly critical of Brown’s campaign finance reports ( Following the release of the audit, a “show cause” hearing was then held at OCF’s office in the Reeves Building on April 18, to receive sworn testimony from Dawn Cromer, the treasurer of Brown’s campaign committee. Last Tuesday, April 28, OCF took sworn depositions from Charles Hawkins (who headed Banner Consulting, which received 30 percent of all campaign funds in 2008), Che Brown (Kwame’s brother, the owner of Partners in Learning, and the recipient of most of the campaign funds that had been funneled through Banner Consulting), and Marshall Brown (Kwame’s father). At tomorrow’s deposition, Kwame Brown will be asked to respond to specific charges contained in OCF’s “notice of hearing, statement of violations and order of appearance.” In that notice, OCF alleges that the 2008 Committee to Reelect Kwame Brown “failed to amend its Statement of Organization to include a bank account,” “failed to initially report 210 contributions totaling $102,763 that were received by the Committee,” “Failed to initially report 53 expenditures totaling $169,431.49 that were made by the Committee,” and “failed to maintain proper records of receipts and expenditures.”

For most of the months that OCF’s audit was underway, Brown refused to secure private legal counsel after his attempt to make the case that he should be represented by a DC government attorney was rejected by OCF. Since the release of the final audit in April, Brown’s legal counsel has been Fred Cooke, who is also the attorney for the Committee, Dawn Cromer, Charles Hawkins, Che Brown, and Marshall Brown, despite the obvious potential for conflicts of interest. Also troubling is the location of tomorrow’s deposition at Fred Cooke’s law office. I firmly believe that OCF’s decision regarding the site of tomorrow’s deposition smacks of special treatment for Chairman Brown. In the many years that I have followed the work of OCF and the Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE), I have never known OCF to conduct a show cause hearing or take a deposition except at its offices in the Reeves Building. For example, in past OCF cases involving Mayors Barry and Williams, they both came to OCF’s office for a hearing or to be deposed. However, according to William Sanford, OCF’s General Counsel, in the past year or so, OCF has on two other occasions acceded to requests by attorneys who represented councilmembers to hold depositions in their (the attorneys’) offices.


How to Get Statehood
Ann Loikow,

In the April 27 edition of themail, Harold Foster gave us a good history of efforts to become states. He makes some suggestions on how we can effectively work for statehood. Statehood for DC is constitutional because the Constitution only mandates the maximum, not the minimum size for the seat of government of the United States. Congress previously reduced the size of the District of Columbia by a third in 1846 when it approved retroceding the City of Alexandria and the County of Alexandria (now Arlington County) to Virginia. To make the rest of DC a state, Congress would have to carve out a smaller seat of government of the United States.

Congress has already defined the “Federal City” part of the current District of Columbia. It did it in 1973 in the DC Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, otherwise known as the “Home Rule Act,” Public Law 93-198. Section 739 of that act, defined and created the “National Capital Service Area,” which includes the principal Federal monuments, the White House, the Capitol Building, the United States Supreme Court Building, and the Federal executive, legislative and judicial office buildings located adjacent to the Mall and the Capitol Building. In the statehood constitution approved by DC voters in 1982, this same area is carved out as the new seat of government of the United States, otherwise known as the District of Columbia. Every statehood bill introduced in Congress since then, including H.R. 265 which our nonvoting Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced on January 12, defines this area as the new seat of government of the United States and defines the state of New Columbia as the remainder of the current District of Columbia, that is the residential and commercial areas of the DC which are not included in what Congress defined as the National Capital Service Area. It is in the latter area where the 602,000 residents of the current District of Columbia reside.

As to what DC residents must do to get statehood, we have to educate each other and Americans all across the country about our lack of rights and how that can be constitutionally corrected — i.e., statehood. We have to educate every organization to which we all belong about the need for statehood and get them to endorse it and join us in lobbying Congress to get it. We have to organize our friends, relatives, fellow organization members (unions, fraternal organizations, alumni groups, veterans groups, political parties, political issue oriented groups, civic and citizen associations, sororities, fraternities, etc.) to support statehood and lobby their Congressional delegations. We have to support politicians around the country who will support DC statehood and work to defeat those who don’t. We need to refuse to give money or volunteer our time to any candidate, whether for Congress or President, who does not actively support and promise to work for DC statehood. DC residents give millions in campaign contributions to candidates all over the country and tens of thousands of hours of volunteer labor. Similarly, we should not give money to any national issue group that does not also work for DC statehood. These are all the groups that ask us to contribute and go lobby our Senators and Congressional Representative. Folks are gearing up for the 2012 elections. So should we. We have clout. We just need to use it, starting now.


Essence of America
Timothy Cooper,

Gary Imhoff makes an innovative argument on behalf of DC statehood, asking the residents of our city to reinvent their political principles and social leanings in order to persuade moderate and conservative Americans to grant them basic political and social equality. But my question to Mr. Imhoff is this: where would America be today if the citizens of the original thirteen colonies had recast their political principles and social leanings in acquiescence to King George the Third’s more, shall we say, conservative demands? Surely, it would not be the country it is today. In fact, it would not likely be a country.

The people of the District of Columbia should continue to demand equality as well as remain true to their own social and political values. Such is the essence of America and its lasting dream.



Pre-Court Rally of Solidarity for DC Democracy Activists, May 5
Karen A. Szulgit, FREEDCNOW (at) gmail (dot) com

Please stop by Superior Court of the District of Columbia (500 Indiana Avenue, NW) between 7:45 and 8:45 a.m. to show support for some of the DC democracy activists who were arrested last month. On April 11, twenty-five members of the “DC 41” ( chose to “post and forfeit” (pay $50 collateral and forfeit their right to a court date). But fifteen were issued citations to appear in court to answer the charge of “Unlawful Assembly - Blocking Passage.” (One activist was taken to the hospital.) This misdemeanor crime may be prosecuted by the District’s acting attorney general. So, how will fifteen of the “DC 41” plea? Visit Courtroom 115 at 8:30 a.m. in the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse to find out. Either way, your fellow DC residents need your support!

On April 15, US (Statehood) Senator Michael D. Brown (D-DC) and activists Adam Eidinger and Bob Johnsen were arrested and charged with “Disorderly Conduct - Blocking Passage” after participating in a youth Tax Day protest. The three are also scheduled to appear the same day in Courtroom 115 at 9:30 a.m. Will the “DC THREE” plead guilty, or not? Stick around the courthouse to witness DC colonial history in the making. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (SMD 6C01) Keith Silver is due in court later this month, following his April 18 arrest. If you have contact information for the fifteen members of the “DC 41” that are to appear in court, please send word. Free the DC 15 of the “DC 41” and the “DC Three!”


Molly Smith at Woman’s National Democratic Club, May 12
Tonya Butler-Truesdale,

Thursday, May 12, luncheon with Molly Smith, Artistic Director of the Arena Stage. When Molly Smith last spoke at the Woman’s National Democratic Club she told of us her hopes and dreams for leading a reinvention of Arena Stage. She has focused her creative life on the programming and the architecture of the new Mead Center for American Theater. She has been a passionate leader in new play development for the past thirty years and has worked with many other theaters. Smith has just returned from the Shaw Festival in Canada, where she directed My Fair Lady. She has served as literary adviser to Sundance Theater Lab and formed the Arena Stage Writers council, composed of leading American playwrights. Oklahoma was completely sold out and is being held over. Smith has invited other theater companies to perform; for example, Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf was a stunner, performed by the Steppenwolf Theater of Chicago. She has brought artists of international renown to the theater, and is the recipient of many awards as well as doctorates from Towson and American Universities. If you haven’t seen how the old theaters are enveloped inside a beautiful bubble you have missed a real treat.

The luncheon will be at the Woman’s National Democratic Club on May 12. The bar opens at 11:30 a.m.; the lunch will be at 12:15 p.m.; and the presentation and question and answer period will be from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. $25 members; $30 nonmembers; $10 lecture only.


National Building Museum 2011 Honor Award Gala Celebration, May 17
J. Cochran,

The Board of Trustees of the National Building Museum invite you to attend the anniversary gala “Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future: 25 Years of the Honor Award.” Tuesday, May 17, at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW. The keynote speaker will be David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group, and the gala will feature musicians from the New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village.

Since 1986, the National Building Museum has presented its Honor Award to leaders who shaped our heritage, defined our culture, developed our communities, and crafted our built environment. On May 17, a special twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of the National Building Museum’s Honor Award will unite our history and our future. Together with our past honorees, we will celebrate the importance of the world we build and look to the inspiring possibilities of the next twenty-five years. Please join us for an extraordinary evening in the Museum’s historic Great Hall with the designers, developers, builders, and advocates who will become our future Honor Award recipients as we continue the journey of creating the nation’s building legacy.

Event Schedule: 5:30 p.m., President’s Reception; 6:00 p.m., VIP Reception; 7:00 p.m., Great Hall Reception; 7:45 p.m., dinner and program; 9:15 p.m., dessert extravaganza. Learn more about the 2011 Honor Award Gala or register now at


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