Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

in general have stuck to one fundamental view which is that this very real problem of suffrage for the people who live in this city cannot be solved adequately this side of a constitutional amendment, for the reason that Congress does have and does not relinquish by any of these bills that I know anything about here, its exclusive power of legislation.

Mr. HARRIS. It cannot do it under the Constitution, can it?

Mr. WALDROP. No; it can't. It can bring on the process of changing the Constitution, however, as it has done many times, and I see no reason why it should not do that. In fact, I would say it ought to do it, because there is not any sense and there is no excuse for forbidding the people who live in this particular community from having the same political rights that people have generally in the United States.

People living in Washington are just as good Americans as any others and ought to have the right to vote for representation in Congress and for the President and to elect some form of local government which would be responsible to them for the laws enacted.

Mr. HARRIS. Do you mean that the District of Columbia should be made a State?

Mr. WALDROP. Well that is pretty close to it. I don't think it ought to be completely cut out of the Federal system in which it is inextricably imbedded, but I do think it ought to have representation in the House and Senate.

Mr. HARRIS. The chairman of the committee (Mr. McMillan) posed, I thought, a very interesting question a few days ago. I had not thought much about it until he had suggested it; and that would be to cede, or rather re-cede the greater part of the District of Columbia back to Maryland.

Mr. WALDROP. I am not against it. I have thought about it a good many times. It might be the best way yet, excepting the land federally owned and on which are Federal buildings; in other words, let it go back to the State of Maryland from which it came. It does not shock me particularly. After all, a good portion of the District was re-ceded to the State of Virginia at one time because the Virginians had a little bit more backbone and insisted on getting back in the political establishment of this country; and if Congress would really feel that it ought to abandon its responsibility which it now has to make the Treasury participate or rather the taxpayers of the country as a whole participate in the cost of this city as a price of home rule, I think it ought to go the rest of the way and lift out the 51 percent of this community which now, as you know, Congressman, is off the tax rolls. You know, Congressman, that the land area, that is the taxable land area, is being reduced every day. I don't think these bills you are considering really have any bearing at all on suffrage. They don't mean anything as far as home rule is concerned. I think home rule is a misnomer for this particular legislation.

Mr. HARRIS. I agree with that statement entirely. I appreciate your frankness and the fairness with which you approach this question. There are only two ways, as I see, to bring about real home rule. - Mr. WALDROP. That is right.

Mr. HARRIS. And one of them would be, cede back to Maryland the portion of the District of Columbia and give the people who live in that area the same right and privilege to vote.

Mr. WALDROP. That is right.
Mr. HARRIS. And the other would be a constitutional amendment.
Mr. WALDROP. That is right.

Mr. HARRIS. Giving the District certain authority which the Constitution restricts.

Mr. WALDROP. Yes, sir.

Mr. HARRIS. And in our full practical approach to it, I sometimes wonder if we would all not be better off if we would approach it in a practical way instead of a theoretical way,

Mr. WALDROP. Well, anybody who studies the history of this city's government knows perfectly well that there is not anything fundamentally new in these bills. We had city councils and appointed and elected officers and combinations of the two; and we have had the same troubles under all of these varieties of government. The fundamental trouble is that Congress must under the Constitution be the legislative authority here. You can't abdicate that responsibility, and I don't see how these bills would help Congress at all.

Mr. HARRIS. Aren't you going to have naturally some confusion so long as you have a dual authority in control over the local affairs?

Mr. WALDROP. Well there is not any dual authority and there will be no dual authority under these bills. Authority stays with Congress. If we had a city council it would make good newspaper stories but it would not mean anything in respect to accomplishing an improvement in government. The people have found that out.

Mr. HARRIS. I think you are pointing up a very fundamental problem which should be considered by everybody, including the people of the District of Columbia as well as the Congress of the United States.

Mr. WALDROP. Yes.
Mr. HARRIS. Are there any further questions?
Do you desire to make any further statement?

Mr. WALDROP. No; not a thing. I just want to reiterate that I do not think “home rule” is a good term to apply to these bills.

Mr. HARRIS. Are you in favor of these bills?

Mr. WALDROP. If you pass them, they will make good copy for the newspapers but they won't improve the city, for we will still have irresponsible government.

Mr. HARRIS. Will you take the position that it might be of some personal value?

Mr. WALDROP. No; as a matter of fact I said I did not agree, I did not think these bills should be passed in their present form. If there is to be a referendum attached to these bills, the referendum should come before Congress passes the bills rather than afterward, because then the city is put in a position of "take it or leave it" on the form of the bill as handed to them.

Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much. We are very glad to have your statement.

The next witness will be Mr. John T. O'Rourke of the News.

Mr. MILTON BERLINER. Mr. Chairman, Mr. O'Rourke is not here, but I am instructed to say that the News is in favor of it.

Mr. HARRIS. What is your full name?

Mr. BERLINER. I am Milton Berliner, a reporter of the Washington News. I say that the News has been in favor of home rule for 25 years and we will not take up any more of your time.

Mr. HARRIS. Thank you.

We will next hear from Mr. C. Melvin Sharpe, president of the Board of Education and chairman of the committee of 100 on the Federal City of the American Planning and Civic Association.

STATEMENT OF C. MELVIN SHARPE, CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE OF

100 ON THE FEDERAL CITY OF THE AMERICAN PLANNING AND CIVIC ASSOCIATION

Mr. SHARPE. Mr. Chairman, my name is C. Melvin Sharpe.

Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Sharpe, we appreciate your coming up to this committee. I think you have been interested in this fundamental question for some time.

Mr. SHARPE. I might say, Mr. Chairman, I am not here as president of the Board of Education, I am here as chairman of the committee of 100 of the American Planning and Civic Association.

The Board of Education has filed its own statement, which was supplemental and not in anywise affecting the statements of the committee of 100. This is a rather lengthy statement which I have submitted and I will not read it.

Mr. HARRIS. Without objection it may be filed and become a part of the record and be inserted in the record at this point.

(The statement is as follows:) STATEMENT OF C. MELVIN SHARPE, CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE OF 100 ON

THE FEDERAL CITY OF THE AMERICAN PLANNING AND CIVIC ASSOCIATION ON THE KEFAUVER BILL, S. 1527, As It PASSED THE SENATE, WITH COMMENTS ON OTHER PENDING BILLS CONCERNING THE DISTRICT GOVERNMENT

The Kefauver bill (S. 1527) as it passed the Senate is an improvement in many respects over the various Auchincloss bills of 1948. It contains, in whole or in part, at least a dozen of the improvements suggested by the committee of 100 Some of these improvements were included in later Auchincloss bills. They in-. clude:

1. Two of the 11 (instead of 12) Council members are to be appointed by the President to give some representation to the interests of the executive arm of the Federal Government. The other nine are to be elected at large from the District, rather than by wards or areas—a distinct improvement.

2. The provision for literary test for voters to the extent of requiring the filling out of registration forms in the handwriting of the registrant is retained in the latest Kefauver measure.

3. Administrations of schools and libraries are separated.

4. The composition of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission conforms to the recommendations of the Bureau of the Budget as they were interpreted in 1948, though the introduction of a more complete reorganization of the Commission is now before Congress in H. R. 4848 and S. 1931 and the two should be brought into harmony.

5. The purchase of parks and playgrounds by the Commission would not be changed by the bill.

6. The National Capital parks are retained under the National Park Service and all expenses of maintanance and improvements of grounds and buildings under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service are to be met from appropriations by Congress from the Federal Treasury.

7. Provision to transfer the Park Police to the Metropolitan Police is omitted from the later 1948 and 1949 drafts of most of these bills.

8. The zoning set-up seems an improvement in principle.

9. Administration of sources and transmission of water supply is omitted from the bill and would leave the matter in status quo.

95148–49 -14

10. Congress may not only disapprove by concurrent resolution passed by both Houses all legislative proposals of the Council, which must also be signed by the President who may exercise a veto, but retains specifically the right to initiate any District legislation it desires.

11. The formulas in all 1948 bills for Federal participation were unsatisfactory. The Kefauver 1949 version, as it passed the Senate, makes the Federal Government responsible for 20 percent of all income of the District of Columbia in the preceding year. This is more liberal than former oposals and as the virtue of rising with increasing revenue of the District; but probably falls far short of full Federal responsibility which should be based on the Federal stake in the Federal City and not on what local citizens are willing or able to tax themselves.

12. The proposed bonded indebtedness in the April and May 1948 Auchincloss bills was limited to 3 percent of assessed real property values; but the Kefauver , bill sets the limit at 5 percent. This may prove useful in taking care of the arrears of capital improvements, but it should be remembered that bonds are simply a method for spreading the expense of capital improvements and that so far from saving money in the budget they ultimately add to the amounts to be repaid as compared to the present pay-as-you-go system.

THREE BOARDS DEFENDED

We particularly deplore the proposals for the Board of Education which for a long period of years has been free from local or national politics under the present system of appointment, and we express our approval of the report of the Superintendent of Schools as adopted by the Board. We regret to see the passing of the responsible Library Board, and the establishment of a department with an advisory board. We believe that the Recreation Board will function better as a responsible board which appoints its director than as a department under a city manager, with an advisory board.

DISTRICT CITIZENS NOT REPRESENTED IN CONGRESS

In other ways, the Kefauver bill contains certain provisions which are less sound than some of the provisions in former bills. There is no provision for any kind of representative in Congress of the citizens of the District not voting elsewhere. Since Congress retains its constitutional authority for all major legislation affecting the District, it is only fair that the citizens who do not retain their citizenship in any of the several States (and thereby their representation in Congress) should have the same privilege as other citizens of the United States. Probably the provision for some type of representation in Congress is omitted because it is generally conceded that adequate representation in Congress of the unenfranchised citizens of the District must be by constitutional amendment. This is a longer and more laborious method than simple congressional legislation; but who can doubt that the sound first step toward rendering justice to the citizens of the District is to grant them the suffrage to vote for adequate representation in Congress and for the President and Vice President of the United States. They would thus be constituents of certain Members of the Congress which is, when all is said and done, in charge of legislation for the District, and would be electors of the President who carries definite responsibility for the Federal City, not only in respect to the sites and buildings which house the executive agencies, but for the scale and character of the Federal City itself.

When it comes to the delegation of minor defined legislative authority to the Council; this is something which could have been done by a simple act delegating such authority to the District Commissioners at any time, now or in the future. All of the absurd illustrations of matters to which Congress has given its attention in the past could have been corrected at any time, had Congress chosen to do so. We do not need an expensive Council of 11 instead of the 3 Commissioners to bring about this desirable reform.

CONGRESS STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR LEGISLATION

The provisions for the handling by the Council of legislative proposals which will become law if Congress does not disapprove by concurrent resolution within 45 days and if the President does not veto them, as stated above, indicate that the drafters of the bill must have come to the conclusion that Congress could not alienate its constitutional duty. As a matter of fact, the Commissioners have frequently proposed legislation to Congress, but Congress has insisted on extensive hearings and has seldom accepted the legislation in the form submitted.

ELABORATE, EXPENSIVE GOVERNMENT PROPOSED So far as we can see, these proposals, instead of streamlining the District Government, would blow it up into an inflated system. The provisions in the early Auchincloss bills provided for an unpaid Council, except for an honorarium for attendance at meetings. Then the compensation was hiked to $3,000 and in the final Kefauver bill to $5,000 with $7,500 for the President of the Council, plus an expense account. It has been our experience that a higher degree of ability can be secured in members of boards whose principal function is attendance at stated meetings and concerned with policy-making, not administration, than through the appointment or election of paid board members. I regret to say that in my belief $5,000 is enough to attract many politicians and might lead to the election of those entirely unfitted to serve on such a policy-making Council.

It must be remembered that in addition to this Council of 11 which would inherit only a small part of the duties of the District Commissioners, there would be a city manager, presumably paid a large salary-perhaps equal to the pay of all three Commissioners as set up today—and he would inherit the administrative duties of the three Commissioners as they now function.

In addition there would be the 12 department heads with assistants and clerical service. With these 24 policy-making and executive heads and their assistants mulling around it will be a miracle if economy or efficiency in government can be achieved.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT FIRST STEP

A campaign to relieve Congress of dealing with unnecessary details has resulted in a superficial opinion on the part of many citizens in the States that their representatives in Congress should not be spending so much time on the affairs of the people who live in the District of Columbia. The Kefauver bill does not in fact relieve Congress of the ultimate duty placed upon it by the Federal Constitution and it is doubtful if congressional committees will spend any less time on District legislation than in the past, except as Congress may do what it could have done at any time, delegate defined legislative authority to the District government—whatever it is along the lines suggested by the late Charles Beard.

We agree with Jesse C. Suter, writing in the Sunday Star on June 12:

“What the American people whose homes are in the District of Columbia want and need is the right to participate with their fellow Americans of the States in the government of their country. This is absolutely true measured by all of the fundamental principles of the American form of government and supported amply by the experience of these voteless and unrepresented people at the Nation's Capital.

"What the District of Columbia needs is an amendment to the Constitution of the United States which will empower Congress to provide by legislation that there shall be in the Congress and among the electors of President and Vice President members elected by the people of the District constituting the seat of the Government of the United States, in such numbers and with such powers as the Congress shall determine."

"Such an amendment to the Constitution would, of course, require passage by a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and then ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States. When this fundamental reform is accomplished the creation of a local government will be a mere detail handled by a Congress in both Houses of which the District is regularly represented and submitted for the signature of a President who in part was elected by the citizens of the District.

In these bills we have put the cart before the horse and propose to set up a too-elaborate local machine, still subject to a Congress in which the District citizens are not represented.

*

FINANCIAL BURDEN WITHOUT AUTHORITY

In other words, in this measure it seems, Congress would be passing the financial buck to the residents of Washington (many of whom are citizens of 1 of the 48 States) without transferring from Congress the ultimate power which_Congress holds under the Constitution and without providing that the Federal Treasury meet its manifest responsibility for its' Federal City.

Can anyone suppose that a council with nine elected members, responsible for raising the proposed budget, would approve the further alienation of private property from the tax rolls of the District in order to provide sites for Federal

« AnteriorContinuar »