« AnteriorContinuar »
whelming majority of the people, with its passage the people of the District of Columbia will have suffrage like people in the rest of the country. The people here want suffrage. They want home rule; they recognize imperfections and inadequacies of this bill, but nevertheless they recognize it as a great step forward and one that will give many advantages to the voteless citizens of the District of Columbia that they do not have today.
Thank you, gentlemen.
The one point that seems to be raised by your testimony which does require, in my opinion, quite serious consideration, is the question of whether this would be a step toward improving the municipal government here; and, second, the question as to the pressure that would be brought to bear here where influences would be set up by legislation from other sources, as you indicated with reference to the Recreation Board.
Now the same type of pressure would certainly be apparent in the various other branches and departments in activities of such proposed local boards.
Mr. WENDER. I think I get your point, sir. I would like to say that the Recreation Board is a unique agency in that it is the only agency that I know of that has to make agreements with three other Government departments. We use the facilities of three agencies, one of which is Federal.
Mr. HARRIS. That is no more unique, Mr. Wender, than many other things. The Highway Department cannot make any kind of a program here and plan without going into the Federal agencies, the Public Roads, the Public Works, and the Engineers. It is not any more unique from that standpoint, but the fact remains that it is a part of the District government.
Mr. WENDER. But there is a difference, Mr. Chairman, that we are to enter into agreements to use their facilities. In the Highway Department Congress passes legislation calling for public aid in highway planning, and so forth. There are no ideologies that are involved.
Mr. HARRIS. What?
Mr. WENDER. Ideologies involved, nor is there any philosophy involved as there is in connection with recreation. In recreation we have an entirely different situation. I do not want you to think I am begging the question but we must recognize what I am talking about.
Mr. HARRIS. I am just saying the same principle is involved in other departments of the municipality where somebody else has a voice and authority.
Mr. WENDER. I think you have got representation of the community for the determination of over-all policies, and you have got some members of the Federal Government, but I don't think they are necessary but I don't particularly object to them. I think for the ordinary matters of the District of Columbia other than in education and recreation which involve philosophies, which involve a kind of ideology which you would not have for other agencies and which you do have in the case of the Board of Recreation—that is my opinion.
Mr. Harris. Thank you very much. We appreciate your statement.
The next witness will be Mrs. Milton Dunn, director in charge of structure of government for the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia.
STATEMENT OF MRS. MILTON DUNN, DIRECTOR IN CHARGE
OF STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT FOR THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Mrs. Dunn. I am Mrs. Milton Dunn, director of the District of Columbia League of Women Voters in charge of structure of government.
I am here today to represent the 800 members of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia. We wish to endorse the District charter bill, S. 1527. In favoring S. 1527 we want to give credit to Mr. Auchincloss and the House District Committee which worked so hard last year and laid the excellent foundation on which this bill is based. We believe Mr. Auchincloss's present bill, H. R. 28, which this committee is considering, is a good bill. Both bills call for an elected council-appointed-manager form of government.
Both bills call for nonpartisan government which as a nonpartisan organization we heartily commend.
We favor S. 1527 because we believe the Senate committee has had the opportunity during this session of Congress to continue the mature consideration started last year in this committee. We consider the following features of S. 1527 especially praiseworthy:
1. The two members of the Council appointed by the President would assure the protection of the Federal interest in the Nation's capital. Of course, the Federal interest is paramount, and since Congress has final say over the District, Congress would always be in the position to protect the national interest. Nevertheless, the presence of the two Federal representatives on the Council should be in answer to those who are worried on this score.
2. The method of negative approval of legislation proposed by the Council as set forth in this bill is an excellent way to retain congressional jurisdiction over the District. It would also save the time of Congress, which is one of the primary purposes of the bill.
3. The formula for Federal payment seems a fair statement of Federal responsibility to the Nation's Capital.
I want to take a minute to comment on two points in which this committee seems interested. The question has been asked: "Can the District have real home rule without national representation ?” We have always vigorously supported national representation, but however desirable it is in itself, we would have little or no more home rule with national representation than without it. We would have in the Congress two or three Representatives elected on national issues. While that small representation would give us our fair share of voice in the National Government, it certainly would not give the citizens of the District opportunity for local self-government.
The interest of the Federal city is and should be first. But there seems to be no reason why Congress cannot delegate some of its task to an elected local government. It has done so in the past. It delegates to appointed officials now; why not to elected officials?
Another point which has been argued before this committee is that we would not have better city government with home rule. That, of course, is up to the voters. The government outlined in this bill would be representative. No government, no matter how good, is satisfactory unless it is responsible to the will of those who are governed. Those who say Washington has a better city government than other cities do not advocate a benevolent dictatorship for those cities. The answer does not seem to be less self-government, but · more intelligent self-government. Why could not the electorate, which could be trusted to send Representatives to this Congress if we had national representation, also be trusted to elect a city council?
The goal of the League of Women Voters is active and informed citizen participation in government, and to that end we will assume our share of responsibility toward making a local government in the District of Columbia a complete success. We hope that this committee will report the bill favorably and that the House will then give us this opportunity.
Mrs. Kathryn H. Stone, first vice president, League of Women Voters of the United States, intended to be present today but was unable to do so, and she has asked me to submit her statement, which reads as follows (reading):
STATEMENT OF MRS. KATHRYN H. STONE, FIRST VICE PRESIDENT,
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF THE UNITED STATES
Mrs. STONE. The League of Women Voters of the United States, as a Nation-wide organization with 89,000 members organized in 720 communities, has long been interested in helping the citizens of the District of Columbia regain control over their own governmental affairs. In addition, we view the lack of suffrage as a national problem: First, because the government of the District now requires a disproportionate amount of the valuable time of our national legislators; second, because it has become an increasingly conspicuous and embarrassing anomaly before the world that 900,000 citizens in the Capital City remain voiceless and without control over their local affairs.
The people from other countries who visit the league invariably express their amazement at the total disfranchisement of the citizens of the District of Columbia.
The league believes that S. 1527, as passed by the Senate, embodies the best plan thus far produced for home rule. We like especially its provisions for the Council-Manager form of government, since we have long supported this form, and a great many local leagues have worked to establish it in their own communities.
Since your committee has for the past 2 years given such careful attention to the evolution of home-rule legislation, we hope that you will soon report out S. 1527 in order that it may be acted upon before Congress adjourns.
Mr. Harris. Thank you very much, Mrs. Dunn.
The CHAIRMAN. Mrs. Dunn, where is your office located in the city of Washington?
Mrs. Dunn. I don't have an office. I am a housewife.
Mrs. Dunn. I am from Pennsylvania, but I have been here a long time. My husband has been here since 1923. My husband comes from nearby Loudon County.
The CHAIRMAN. You are very much interested in the Government?
Mrs. Dunn. Yes, sir; I am very much interested in the city government, and certainly in this particular.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much. We are very glad to have your informative statement.
The next witness will be Mr. Culver B. Chamberlain, representing the Central Suffrage Conference.
STATEMENT OF CULVER B. CHAMBERLAIN, ESQ., PRESIDENT,
CENTRAL SUFFRAGE CONFERENCE, INC.
Mr. CHAMBFRLAIN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, it is my privilege to address you as spokesman of the Central Suffrage Conference of the District of Columbia, of which I am presently the president.
Since the conference, with its affiliated organizations, is in hearty accord with your committee's expressed wish to speedily conclude these hearings, to enable a prompt report to the House, I shall be brief.
Our position on the measures under consideration, and particularly Senator Kefauver's District of Columbia Charter Act (S. 1527), has been repeatedly made a matter of record before the District Committee of the Senate and this committee in the last Congress as well as in the press.
The object of the Central Suffrage Conference is restoration of the American right of local self-government to the people of the District of Columbia by election of their officials. This was anticipated by the founders of the Nation. True, the Constitution gives Congress exclusive legislative powers over the Federal City. But “A municipal legislature for local purposes (i. e., for the District) derived from their own suffrage will, of course, be allowed them,” said James Madison (The Federalist Paper No. 43). And who could speak with greater authority than the Secretary of the Constitutional Convention which framed the Constitution, Madison himself.
And what were the views of Thomas Jefferson? We need not guess. While Secretary of State under Washington, he was charged with supervision of plans for developing the site for the Capital. In a memorandum to the President dated March 11, 1791, Jefferson wrote:
As there is not as yet a town. legislature (i. e., for the District would seem justifiable and expedient that the President should form a capitulary of such regulations as he may think necessary to be observed, until there shall be a town legislature to undertake this office (Pp. 561-563, Writings, Washington ed., VIII, quoted on p. 48, Jefferson and the National Capital).
It is significant that later, during Jefferson's first term as President, Congress by the act of 1802 incorporated the city of Washington, with an elective city council, which form of local self-government, with various modifications, continued for over 70 years until 1874. Congress could, and did, delegate its exclusive legislature power. It can and should do so now.
Then a reactionary and timid Congress, concerned by the influx of a huge unassimilated refugee population following the Civil War, and the activity of local “carpetbaggers,” passed the Temporary Organic Act of 1874, abolishing local self-government.
Now, gentlemen, I trust that it will be unnecessary for me or anyone else to be obliged to argue as to the efficiency of democracy. Need I remind you that as Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams put it:
Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed (par. 2, Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776)
Have we forgotten that in the same document these same men, in their specific charges against him, denounce the King of Great Britain and his officers:
For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;
For suspending our own legislature and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
Patrick Henry said flatly that "Taxation without representation is tyranny.” I challenge anyone to seriously contend that these basic principles, on which our country was founded and perfected, are inapplicable today, here, in the District of Columbia of all places.
Democracy, like charity, should begin at home. Self-government is the very keynote of democracy. Without self-government, there can be no democracy, no possibility for the full realization of community responsibility and progress. Washington has been deprived of this right, the right enjoyed by every other American community, for 75 years. That is too long.
Will it be good for us? Gentlemen, I say to you that if local democratic self-government is good for Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, and South Carolina, it will be good for the District of Columbia; if elective town and city councils are good for New York, Boston, and San Francisco, for Florence, El Dorado, and Oklahoma, I have no hesitation in predicting that they will prove equally efficacious for Washington. Return to us our franchise and we will look after ourselves, just as your constituents do.
Further, Mr. Chairman, were you gentlemen to return to your constituencies and propose the abolition of their elective forms of local government and advocate the form of government that we have here in the District of Columbia—, well if you were to undertake such a course, I will venture to say that, come another Congress, there would be a lot of vacancies on this committee.
Will it be in the interest of the Nation at large? It is urged in all earnestness that this country, these United States, as the great advocate of democracy, denouncing totalitarianism and preaching the virtues of our system to Germany, Japan, Italy, and Russia, can ill afford to present to the world the spectacle of maintaining an authoritarian regime in our National Capital. Why, our occupation troops have set up and supervised popular elections in Berlin and Tokyo. How, then, can these rights logically be denied to us here in Washington?
I understand that they vote even in Moscow. Are we less capable of self-government than the deluded minions of Mussolini and Hitler, the Mikado, and Stalin?
Permit me to remind you, gentlemen, that most of the important functions of our Government-the day-to-day conduct of our Federal departments and agencies, the detailed handling of national finance, budgets, intelligence, foreign relations—are largely confided to residents of this city. They have served in our armed forces; they pay taxes. They are intelligent, educated, and responsible.
How, in all common sense, can it be seriously suggested that these same people are incompetent to manage our own domestic, municipal housekeeping? How high weeds should be allowed to grow; what to name new streets; surgery on living dogs; how to raise local taxes; regulate the practice of optometry and podiatry; and how late drinks