Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Mr. O'HARA. The gentleman will agree that the law he refers to in Maryland applies to people temporarily residing in some other city than that of their domicile, but that it does not apply to citizens of other States. Is that the situation?

Mr. HODGKINS. There is a provision whereby citizens of Minnesota, perhaps you, coming to Washington, can work for the Governmeat and can live in perhaps the town of Cheverly out here in Maryland, and it turns out that most of the people living in Cheverly are similarly from some other part of the Union. There would be hardly anybody in Cheverly who would have a right to vote for town officers unless they somehow or other were given the right to vote under those circumstances.

Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much.
Mr. ALLEN of California. May I ask one question?

With reference to the statement of Mr. Madison in the Federalist, do you know what preceded the making of that statement? whether there was anything which caused him to make it?

Mr. HODGKINS. I understand it is rather evident from the other wording in that particular number of the Federalist that there had been some complaints on the part of anti-Federalists that this idea of giving the Federal Government a piece of property all its own was highly objectionable, and one of the objections raised was that the people might live there would have to give up all of their rights as American citizens; and to answer those objections he pointed out a number of things, among them the purely temporary circumstance, that the ones originally living there would have had their share in consenting to the cession of their area; which, of course, does not affect any of the original residents of the District, having been there 150 years or more; and also the point that so far as local affairs were concerned, the people who might be living there at any one time would be able to vote for their local municipal legislature—as actually was provided, of course, for more than 70 years.

Mr. HARRIS. In other words it is the same issue being raised, and Madison was merely endeavoring to overcome the opposition on the issue raised on that particular point, and he made this statement on that interpretation.

Mr. HODGKINS. He felt that was the feeling of the Constitutional Convention in adopting such a provision and wanted to make it clear to the citizens of New York and any other State that in the ratification of the Constitution that was the saving clause in the whole situation.

Mr. HARRIS. Did they ever raise the question of the right of the people of the District of Columbia to participate in the national elections?

Mr. HODGKINS. I support that objection was one of those that Madison had to consider, just as I mentioned a few minutes ago.

Mr. HARRIS. He did not have the answer to that one?

Mr. HODGKINS. I believe all he could have said if he wanted to bring that up was that the Constitutional Convention had so many other things to worry about in respect to representation in Congress and Presidential elections—they had great difficulty in settling it as it was. To add on what to do with a little area which would be set apart, which had not yet come into existence, was something they could leave to the process of amending the Constitution later.

Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much.

The next witness will be Mrs. Sarah H. Newman, president of the Potomac Cooperative Federation.

STATEMENT OF MRS. SARAH H. NEWMAN, PRESIDENT, POTOMAC

COOPERATIVE FEDERATION

Mrs. NEWMAN. Mr. Chairman, I am Mrs. Sarah H. Newman, president of the Potomac Cooperative Federation, which is an organization which does educational and promotional work and is a consumer cooperative in the Potomac area, including Washington, Maryland, and Virginia.

I have a very brief statement I would like to make.
Mr. HARRIS. We are very glad to hear you. You may proceed.

Mrs. NEWMAN. We believe it to be a basic right of our democracy that people who are taxed to provide funds for the expenses of their government have the right to elect that government.

The voteless Americans of the District of Columbia find themselves in a truly anomalous situation, being denied all participation in national or local government, while being required to bear the burdens. imposed by that government. Why should residents of the District have a different kind of citizenship, a lower grade of citizenship, from that of people of all other American cities? This was certainly not intended by our founding fathers, who expected a municipal legislature derived from the suffrage of the local citizens to be one of the rights of those citizens. Nor are these present-day citizens of the District of Columbia any less qualified to elect their municipal legislature than were those of the days of our founding fathers or in other parts of our country today.

When we are preaching democracy to the rest of the world, it is certainly no point in our favor to have so large a group of citizens without any say at all in their government-so large a group without that basic right of democracy-suffrage.

We are in favor of home rule, according to either the Kefauver Auchincloss bill, because they would provide the opportunity for citizens of the District of Columbia to arrange for the carrying on of functions of the local government by people and agencies responsible to those citizens, without taking away from the Congress of the United States any of the control over the District which is their responsibility. Passage of such home-rule legislation is desirable not only in order to give rights and privileges to the District residents in accordance with our Declaration of Independence and the United Nations Charter, but because it is imperative that Congress be freed from the laborious and time-consuming task of acting as our city Council.

It is fantastic that Congress should devote time to the consideration of such matters as the removal of stone piers from a street or the matter of parking lots, or the licensing of chiropractors, or the appropriation of every cent the District spends, at a time when grave matters of national and international importance demand their serious attention.

The President of the United States and the two major political parties of the United States have urged home rule for the District. The people of the District of Columbia have indicated strongly that they are in favor of home rule. We join all of these in urging you to

give the people of the District a chance to become voting citizens and responsible participants in their local government—a chance to approach full citizenship in our glorious democracy.

We wish this statement to be made part of the record of these hearings.

Mr. O'HARA. Mrs. Newman, how long have you resided in the District?

Mrs. NEWMAN. Since 1930.
Mr. HARRIS. 1930?

Mrs. NEWMAN. Yes, with a short time during the war when my husband was sent out of the District, and I went with him, of course, and another previous period when we lived in nearby Maryland.

Mr. O'HARA. Would you state what you call your home State?

Mrs. NEWMAN. Well, originally when I came to the District of Columbia, at the time we were married we kept voting rights in New York. We then moved into Maryland and decided we wanted to vote in Maryland and declared our intention to do that. By the time the time elapsed and we would have been given a chance to vote there, the war came on, and my husband in the Patent Office was moved and we went into Virginia, and after that we came back to the District of Columbia. I have three children who were born in the District of Columaia and, of course, will not be able to vote

now.

Mr. O'HARA. Did you vote in the last election?
Mrs. NEWMAN. No.

Mr. O'HARA. The reason I asked that, I understood there were an estimated 200,000 absentee voters in the District of Columbia.

Mrs. NEWMAN. Those not able to vote would have the right to vote under this bill.

Mr. O'HARA. How do you interpret that this is going to lessen the work of Members of Congress, when they would have to pass on all acts of the Council or all proposals of legislation for the District of Columbia ?

Mrs. NEWMAN. Well how do you pass on legislation? That is considered by responsible groups which have been selected. I think that should lessen the time that you would take.

Mr. O'HARA. Well, as a matter of fact there is the same responsibility which we have today, to have hearings upon every bill after it has been passed by the Council. It would be necessary that hearings be had and that it be gone into by the members of the committees of the House and of the Senate. Isn't that true? And then again it would be considered upon the floor of the Congress.

Mrs. NEWMAN. Well, sir, there are certain revisions in the bill, and I am not familiar with all of the provisions of this bill that would eliminate a lot of work by Congress.

Mr. O'HARA. I personally cannot see that. I tried to but I can't agree with you on that.

Mrs. NEWMAN. I am sure that is the hope or intention. I know that is your hope and intention but that is the chance we have to take.

Mr. O'HARA. We would still have to take them up under the Kefauver or the Auchincloss bill. There is no question of that.

Mrs. NEWMAN. I am sure it is the belief and hope of all of us who have considered this matter that under home rule the Congress would not have to spend the same amount of time that they now do.

Mr. O'HARA. It may be your hope but it is not a reality.
Mrs. NEWMAN. You could try it and find out.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much.
Mr. O'HARA. I never try to get the last word.
Mrs. NEWMAN. That would be difficult with a woman. [Laughter.]

Mr. HARRIS. The next witness will be Mrs. Charlotte Sillers, Women's Auxiliary, United Public Workers, CIO.

STATEMENT OF CHARLOTTE SILLERS, PRESIDENT, WOMEN'S

AUXILIARY, UNITED PUBLIC WORKERS OF AMERICA, CIO

Mrs. SILLERS. I have a written statement which I would like to offer and then speak away from my statement.

Mr. HARRIS. Do you intend to file your statement for the record?
Mrs. SILLERS. Yes.
Mr. HARRIS. You may do so at this time.

Mrs. SILLERS. The Women's Auxiliary of the United Public Workers, CIO, has been in the forefront of the fight for suffrage for the District of Columbia. In every phase of our activity in civic affairs the lack of suffrage is evident. We are more than ever convinced that the residents of Washington, D. C., must be given their constitutional right to vote. The time is now, as President Truman himself has publicly stated.

Plebiscites that were held in 1938 and 1946 proved conclusively that the people of the District of Columbia want to govern themselves; want the right, duty, and privilege of voting for the men who will carry out their wishes in public affairs; who will determine how tax money collected shall be spent.

Because of our contact with the community of Washington, on consumer problems, sales tax, fare increases, utility rate increases, we know the unfair, and in many cases prejudiced attitude taken by officials not responsible to an electorate.

The women's auxiliary would like to recommend the establishment of a District Council-Manager form of government whose members would be elected by qualified voters at least 18 years of age, by the method known as proportional representation. Annual salary should be at least $5,000 in order to attract civic-minded individuals. The term should be of 2-year duration. The Council should have authority to recommend legislation on local matters which, if not acted on adversely by the President or Congress within 40 days, should become law.

The Board of Education should be an elected body. Nonteaching personnel should be under civil service and the teaching staff should be within the purview of the Civil Service Retirement Act of May 29, 1930. This would result in minimum personnel turn-over and greater administrative efficiency.

Because we believe the policy and practice of segregation in the school system is undemocratic and costly, we should like to see provided in a home-rule bill a section which would specifically prohibit segregation in schools and in recreation facilities as well as in employment of personnel for these activities.

In order to carry out a policy against discrimination in the operation of the District Government, an agency like a Fair Employment Practices Commission should be set up.

[ocr errors]

On the subject of finances, the following points, if carried through, would provide adequate revenue for District needs:

1. Federal contribution commensurate with the tax value of the land occupied by the Federal Government.

2. Floating of bond issues to finance capital improvements, not to exceed 5 percent of the assessed value of taxable real estate in the District, such issues to be approved by referendum vote.

3. Elimination of segregation in all facilities operated and controlled by the District of Columbia.

All public facilities, hospitals, restaurants, theaters, etc., should be available to the people of this city regardless or race, creed, or color; and incorporated in a home-rule bill should be provision for the enforcing of such a policy.

We urge that this committee act immediately so that a home-rule bill will be on President Truman's desk for signature this session of the Eighty-first Congress.

I think if we can decide on the principle of suffrage for the District of Columbia, we can overcome any obstacles in the way of granting suffrage to the residents of the District.

The Women's Auxiliary of the United Public Workers, CIO, has been in the forefront of this fight for years. We have testified at previous hearings and we have participated in action in the plebicites that have been held.

We feel that it is time now certainly to grant that right; or, as other people have said, to restore the right of suffrage to the District of Columbia residents.

Take the things that throughout the States are made campaign topics—such things as sales tax, the raising of the utility rates, transit fares. Now we have to go before committees of Congress, we have to go before Commissioners who are appointed by the President and who have shown very decided bias. In local communities these are actual campaign issues, as I think you gentlemen probably know, and I think the citizens of Washington want to be able to express themselves at the polls on all these things. And why shouldn't the public have something to say?

I would like further to say that we feel that the council that has been suggested—the city_council-manager form of government-should be instituted in the District with salaries of $5,000 per annum, which would attract civic-minded people. This council could then carry out the wishes of the people.

We feel that an elected Board of Education should be a part of the home rule bill of the District. We feel also that the practice of segregation is both costly and undemocratic, and that provision should be made for its elimination in the public school system and throughout the District, as far as services are concerned. We feel that some sort of an agency should be set up so this could be carried out by the District government.

I know that the subject of finances is always brought up in consideration of a home rule bill for the District, and as we have testified before, we feel that the floating of a bond issue, subject to the will of the voters, is one way of raising revenue. Another way would be for the Federal Government to contribute its share, according to tax value of the real estate it occupies.

« AnteriorContinuar »