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buildings, however necessary to the Federal executive Government? It is true that the Federal Government could condemn land for public purposes; but the pressure of the voters and their elected officials decidedly would be against the extension of Federal holdings which would reduce the District income from taxable real property and, indirectly, as a result reduce the Federal contribution based on local income.
FEDERAL CITY UNIQUE The responsibility for the size and disposition of the budget is put squarely upon the local taxpayers. If they tax themselves enough they will receive from the Federal Treasury 20 percent of last year's income. The Federal City, established solely to serve as the seat of government, should not be limited in budget to amounts which the local citizens are willing to authorize. The Federal Government has a stake in its Federal City far beyond the estimated value of its buildings and grounds, and, as the years pass, the Federal Government will own an increasing area in the Federal City-larger in extent than the area of private property.
Concerning the provisions for the electorate, it is easily understood why the body of District voters would more nearly resemble a balanced community elsewhere if all or a large part of the Federal employees were permitted to vote; but we question the practicability, if not the legality, of permitting those who vote in the States also to vote in District elections. So long as the civil service and many other appointed positions draw quotas from the different States it is unlikely that many of these would relinquish their home State privilege of voting. At best, therefore, it is difficult, if not impossible to set up in the District a truly balanced community electorate, whereas if all those who live in the District and do not vote in any State were permitted to vote for representation in Congress, the ground would be covered without duplication or omission.
The fact that a majority of District citizens authɔrized to vote under the Kefauver or similar_bills, might elect to accept financial and governmental responsibility for the District of Columbia, does not in any respect justify Congress or the executive branch of the Federal Government in relieving themselves of the moral and legal responsibility which they bear for the Federal City.
Washington is not like any other city in the United States. It was founded, and continues, to serve as the seat of the Federal Government. Unlike other national capitals, it is not an industrial city. In a sense its principal and only industry is the National Government. Most of its citizens are employed by the Federal Government or belong to families so employed. While many Federal employees remain in Washington over considerable periods of time, there is a cyclical turn-over brought about by succeeding administrations, which, in spite of the comparative permanence of the business community, offers less continuity in residence and larger proportion of citizenship in different States than in any other city.
IN CONCLUSION We beg to submit, therefore, that the proposed legislation does not in fact transfer responsibilility (except in minor matters) from Congress to the Council; that Congress must still carry on the duty laid upon it by the Constitution in all major legislation; that the proposed machinery is expensive and overelaborate for the authority bestowed; that the citizens of the District of Columbia would be obliged to undertake the raising of an unfair proportion of the District budget in the face of a dwindling area of land in private ownership on which to collect taxes; that the citizens would acquire the doubtful privilege of discussing and recommending legislation and budgets without the authority to put them into effect.
We recommend, therefore, that Congress proceed forthwith to adopt a constitutional amendment which will confer the franchise upon all those who live in the District of Columbia who do not vote elsewhere, that they may have representation in Congress and vote for the President and Vice President of the United States. This is an act of simple justice and it is believed that once such a constitutional amendment has been adopted, a much simpler and less expensive form of District government can be devised—perhaps a small policy-making Council or Commission and a Governor to serve as a single administrator. In the meantime, the District Commissioners can carry on, as they have for many years, with somewhat better results than in most American cities; though we recognize that every government needs a periodic overhauling to systematize piecemeal expansion into a unified government.
Mr. SHARPE. Fundamentally the Committee of One Hundred is opposed to the home rule bill. We believe that the only genuine, positive action that can be taken by the Congress
Mr. HARRIS (interposing). May I inquire-perhaps I should know and this is for my own information as to whom comprise the Committee of One Hundred?
Mr. SHARPE. The Committee of One Hundred is composed of about 250 to 300 citizens of the District of Columbia. The committee was formed and started by Mr. Frederic E. Delano, who was succeeded by Mr. Justice Roberts, and more recently by a Congressman from Virginia and then myself. Our sole objective is the advancement of the city as a Federal institution.
We believe sincerely—I have lived here for 45 years so I have a rather concrete, certain knowledge of the civic affairs—I have been occupied much of my time in the advancement of the city and I have never drawn a cent of pay directly or indirectly from any source, and therefore I speak free and uncontrolled.
We believe that where James Gibbons wrote his great book on the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, another man will rise to write one on Washington if the Federal Government makes its sovereignty over to the District. We believe firmly, and the
facts prove it, that all the advancements, all the beautifications, all the fine realities of living which are so apparent in this city, have been due primarily to the Federal Government.
It must be remembered also when you talk about re-ceding to Maryland of the District of Columbia that Maryland did not give the ground to the District of Columbia. Maryland simply passed sovereignty or jurisdiction over it and those who owned the land here sold it. The only thing that would then be owned by the Federal Government, frankly, would be the sites on which our Federal buildings stand and the streets, alleys, and parks; so that as I see it, there is not a conflict of practicality but a question of conflict between the commercial interests and private interests who have invested in real estate and the Federal Government.
We must realize as sensible men and women that it would be rather abnormal for an elected council to sit by and see the taxable area reduced by the acquisition of Federal sites and the tax rate inevitably going up. It just is not a normal process of thinking, in my judgment.
We feel that this bill has many advantages over the Auchincloss bill. We in no wise are attempting to define or to deny the rights or privileges of the so-called democratic principles, but we think the first step would be that of a constitutional amendment which will confer the franchise upon all those who live in the District of Columbia who do not vote elsewhere, that they may have representation in Congress and vote for the President and Vice President of the United States. I have been denied that since the days of Theodore Roosevelt when I cast my first vote for him, by the way. We have never had the right to vote for a President and for Members of Congress.
The home rule bill as written, I am sorry to say, is filled with inequities. Now Washington has progressed. I defy any person in this room or elsewhere to show me where there are superior facilities, say for garbage collection or ashes, or better street paving or good,
clean water, or fire protection, or police. I defy you to show me any place where they are better than they are right here.
There is nothing wrong with the Commission form of government as I see it. I think we have advanced under the commission form of government. We will continue to do so with the appointment of proper men. That is all there is in any situation, whether they are elected or appointed, as to who are elected or appointed. It is a question of the quality of the men who are directing our interests.
I say, I am speaking not as the president of the Board of Education, as it would be very embarrassing for me to speak for them; or to read from this statement prepared by my conferees which they have written, of which I have no part. I do believe that the Board of Education, serving without pay, has served a good, frank purpose. I think all the autonomous boards that we have in the city-I know of no instance where the citizens have failed to realize the responsibilities and they have done good work for the advancement of the city. I
ve never been rejected; I have never been obstructed in any manner in regard to the freedom of thought by any Member of Congress or the Senate, when I have been expressing our ideas for the advancement of our city.
Are there any questions, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much, Mr. Sharpe, for the splendid statement. You agree with me in that I regard the right to vote for the President of the United States and the Members of the House, suffrage, participating in the election of the highest office of the land, that of President of the United States, as being the highest privilege.
Mr. SHARPE. Exactly, sir; and my committee, and I are in complete agreement with you on that.
Mr. HARRIS. And that should be granted to the people of the District of Columbia?
Mr. SHARPE. We think so.
Mr. HARRIS. And then, if I have understood your statement, you recommend that the people of the District of Columbia should have representation in Congress?
Mr. SHARPE. That is true.
I can say in fairness, I believe, with the previous speaker, that we are entitled to two Senators, but perhaps go beyond that; but I do think on the basis of true representation.
I am opposed to dual voting. I believe those people who are actual residents of the District of Columbia could vote for their Representative in Congress and do it with honor and with precision.
Mr. HARRIS. Do you mean a Delegate? Mr. SHARPE. That is right. . Mr. HARRIS. Of course, you know I have advocated a Delegate for some time.
Mr. SHARPE. I know you have. Mr. HARRIS. To do otherwise would require a constitutional amendment.
Mr. SHARPE. Right.
Mr. HARRIS. Now the third point that you have related here as the recommendation of your committee, as I understand it, is that the District of Columbia is the Federal city and should be retained as such.
Mr. SHARPE. That is exactly right and I can't emphasize it too strongly. I firmly believe the day the Federal Government relinquishes by any small item or measure, it will decline and decline badly. It is our sole hope for the maintenance; and please remember, as you well know, this is the only capital outside of Canberra that was actually formed as the capital of a country, that is a great country. All others were simply occupied, of major cities.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much. We are very glad indeed to have your
statement. We will next hear from Mr. Rufus Lusk, president of the Washington Taxpayers Association.
STATEMENT OF RUFUS S. LUSK, PRESIDENT, WASHINGTON
Mr. Lusk. My name is Rufus S. Lusk. I am the president of the Washington Taxpayers Association, for which I speak today. I am a native of Washington and I have conducted a real-estate and statistical publishing business here since 1930.
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Lusk, I have been quite anxious to get to you this morning, because I understood that your statement had already been given out; not that I know what the contents are, but in order that it may be made official we want to have your statement. It may be inserted in the record at this point. (The statement is as follows:) STATEMENT OF Rufus S. LUSK, PRESIDENT, WASHINGTON TAXPAYERS
ASSOCIATION My name is Rufus S. Lusk. I am the president of the Washington Taxpayers Association for which I speak today. I am a native of Washington, I have conducted a real estate and statistical publishing business since 1930.
The Washington Taxpayers Association by a formal referendum taken about a year ago is opposed to the election of a City Council. Atjthat time, 79 percent of the members who voted, voted no.
I have studied the testimony of every witness who appeared before the Auchincloss Committee in February, 1948, and the witnesses who testified before the Senate committee this year. Much of this testimony had to do with objections and suggestions to the proposed reorganization of the District Government.
There is not a para aph, indeed I don't believe there is a single line which tends to prove that Washington will have a better city government than it has now if we have an elected city council. The assertion was made that the government will be better but this is almost always accompanied with the statement that it will be better because the government will be streamlined under the bill as passed by the Senate. Of course, this is true, but it is not necessary to have an elected City Council in order to reorganize the city government. One has nothing to do with the other.
This is a very practical question with which we are faced. Running a city is a housekeeping job. There is no Republican or Democratic way of sweeping a street. Since the operation of a city is such a practical matter, we should adopt a practical attitude toward the so-called right to vote here. Will a better governed city result? Will taxes be less? The answer is, based on the experience of other cities throughout the country, that neither will occur.
I respectfully suggest to the members of this committee, that every proponent of an elected City Council should be asked to explain specifically and in detail, why we may expect to have a better city government, and lower taxes if we elect a Council.
Pin them down to brass tacks. Generalities simply will not do. Also, they should be asked to compare the government of the city of Washington with other city governments, as I shall do in a minute, such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Jersey City, New York, Boston, or Chicago. Press them to explain in detail how it happens that we have the lowest comparative tax rate in the United States when compared to any other city of similar size. Ask them to explain how it happens that in these council-managed cities, graft is rampant. That, in many a city, it's accepted by most as something that nothing can be done about.
The agitation for the vote of an elected City Council started about 1940 when the Washington Times-Herald began a campaign to put it across. There is little demand for it from among the older residents of Washington; those of us who were born here or have lived here for a good many years. There are exceptions, of course, to this, but, when we consider that such organizations as the Washington Board of Trade, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Businessmen's Association, the District of Columbia Department of the American Legion, and the Committee of 100 on the Federal City are opposed to home rule, it's time to stop and look and listen. Those five groups which I mentioned represent some 50,000 or 60,000 members and also they represent the thinking of a great many thousands more.
In addition to these organizations, which are formally opposed to the granting of suffrage to permit the election of a City Council, there are scores of other organizations which have remained silent. Indeed, there are so many of these prominent groups such as the Washington Real Estate Board, the Building Owners and Managers Association, the Homebuilders Association of Metropolitan Washington, the Washington Building Congress, that their silence is a shout.
In 1946 there was a plebecite, an informal plebecite, held here. The papers, the radio and even the moving pictures screamed that everybody should go to the polls and vote for the right to vote. They did not say, in all this propaganda, which exceeded any I have ever seen, the war bond drives or the community chest, that people should go to the polls and vote whether they wanted an elected city council. They were told to vote for the right to vote, which is the same as saying they should vote yes. But what happened? Barely 20 percent of all the people who were entitled to vote actually did, and the result was that only 70 percent of them voted for an elected city council. When this is broken down further, we find that 9772 percent of those voting in the colored precincts voted for a city council. In 14 of the white precincts, the vote was adverse, that is 24 percent of the precincts in the white areas of our town voted against the election of a city council. If this right to elect a city council is such a sacred thing, how does it happen that anybody voted against it? Not only did a lot of people vote against it, but it barely squeaked through among a considerable part of our population. Had there been as much propaganda on the other side, the result might have been twisted.
Now let me talk a minute about the government of the District of Columbia. I think I am well qualified to speak on that phase of this question. I have had dealings with officials of the District Government ever since 1924 and for the last 15 years I have been in almost constant contact with them, not only in my capacity as president of the Washington Taxpayers Association, but also as a businessman, as much of my business emanates from the work that we do on District records. I know practically every official of our government. The officials of other cities simply cannot be compared to the caliber of ours. Most of them are career men and I have yet to hear of a single official of the District government being charged with dishonesty. The only case that I can recall of anyone being charged with graft was an elevator inspector who about 20 years ago accepted a $50 bribe to pass an elevator.
The members of an elected city council will not be of the same stature as the District Commissioners and the members of the Committees of Congress which are appointed to take care of the affairs of the District government. Over a period of a great many years in appearing before Congressional committees, I have found, with an occasional exception, that every member of the House and Senate who has anything to do with the District of Columbia always tries to act on the basis of what is the best for our city and that is one reason that we have easily the best governed large city in the United States and one of the most beautiful. Let us compare for a moment the governments of other cities and that of the District of Columbia. And in making these comparisons I am not speaking simply by hearsay. I am familiar with most of these towns. I am familiar with them not only because I have visited them frequently, but in most cases, I have been in the city halls and discussed various things with different officials.
Let's start with Baltimore. Baltimore has a much higher tax rate than we have, and they still use gas lamps and some of the streets are still paved with cobblestones, something that wouldn't be put up with in Washington.
And Baltimore has an elected city council.