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Now all these are very specific proposals, but I want to come back to my original statement, that if we agree that the citizens of the District of Columbia are entitled to the same rights and privileges and duties that the citizens all over the country are entitled to, we can find some way of providing that right, and we would like to see this committee recommend action so that action will be taken in this session of Congress, and we urge that this committee act immediately so that a home rule bill will be on President Truman's desk for signature before the Eighty-first Congress adjourns, so that the President can sign it and give us that right.
Mr. O'HARA. During the first session or the second session of the Eighty-first Congress?
Mrs. SILLERS. This session.
Mr. ALLEN of California. Mrs. Sillers, you have covered quite a field. Of the three types of bills proposed, namely, the Auchincloss bill, which provides for a system of elections where the election is on every seat; and the Kefauver bill, where the plurality system is set forth; and in the Marcantonio bill, where proportional representation is used—which of the three do you prefer?
Mrs. SILLERS. We prefer the system of proportional representation.
Mr. ALLEN of California. Do you think that is the general view of the people of Washington?
Mrs. SILLERS. Well, I do not know that any poll has been taken on that. I only know we want the vote. The only polls that have been taken have been on the general topic, but the organization itself feels this is the only fair way of holding an election.
Mr. HARRIS. Any questions, Mr. O'Hara?
The next witness will be Mrs. Hugh Beshers, representing the Women's Alliance of All Souls Church.
STATEMENT OF MRS. HUGH BESHERS, WOMEN'S ALLIANCE OF ALL
SOULS CHURCH (UNITARIAN) Mrs. BESHERS. The Women's Alliance of All Souls Church has put itself on record in favor of home rule for the District of Columbia.
We have listened with open minds to the pros and the cons, and we feel it is in favor of the pros, who have put up more cogent reasons than the other side. We therefore are in favor of the Kefauver bill. The arguments in favor of the bill have been so ably presented that we feel there is no need for my saying anything further.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you. It has been very nice of you to come and give us your statement.
The next witness will be Mr. Charles S. Hill, representing the Local Joint Executive Board of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union, A. F. of L.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES S. HILL, REPRESENTING LOCAL JOINT
EXECUTIVE BOARD, HOTEL AND RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES AND BARTENDERS INTERNATIONAL UNION, A. F. OF L.
Mr. Hill. My name is Charles S. Hill, and I am the business agent of Hotel Service, Local 80, A. F. of L.
Briefly speaking, our position is this: The members of our organization feel as though, while they are citizens of the United States, that because they are residents of the District of Columbia, they have no vote, and this is an unusual thing, and it is what you might call a limited citizenship. They cannot understand why they bear the expense and the burden for other folks everywhere, that they must contribute, but when it comes to the rights of citizens, that citizens of other places have, they don't have them. They still think, as years ago, "Taxation without representation is tyranny.” They think that today.
They plead with you today for home rule, and in the wisdom of you gentlemen something should be worked out; and we want to be given a chance to have a choice and say how we should be taxed, how our money should be spent, and who should spend it. There is not a thing in Washington we can put our hands on and say, “This is our choice."
I thank you.
Mr. HILL. Yes.
Mr. HARRIS. That is what I am talking about. You want to determine how the people will be taxed?
Mr. Hill. Yes.
Mr. HARRIS. Can that be done in any possible way, leaving it to the choice of the District, under our Constitution?
Mr. Hill. Now, gentlemen, pardon me, but I did not come here to argue these things. For 150 years we have heard this. I have my doubts about it; but this thing can be done, that is, home rule can be granted us.
Mr. HARRIS. You mentioned something specific in Ohio, the way this matter should be approached, and I want your comments, too. You said we want to see how much taxes the people of the District of Columbia are going to pay in the operation of their government.
Mr. HILL. Yes.
Mr. HARRIS. That is a very worthy objective. At the same time you believe in the Constitution of the United States, don't you?
Mr. HILL. Yes.
Mr. HARRIS. Now how can that be done, how can you make that determination, in view of the constitutional provisions, without an amendment to the Constitution?
Mr. HILL. I have been in consultation and I have heard legal talent differ as to whether or not there had to be a constitutional amendment. Some say there must and others say there need not be.
Mr. HARRIS. I did not want to raise the question except that you brought it up.
Thank you very much, Mr. Hill.
The next witness will be Mr. Harry Leet, representing Local 1013, Government Workers Union, CIO.
STATEMENT OF BEN CUMMINS, A CITIZEN Mr. CUMMINS. I am Ben Cummins, and I am speaking as a citizen.
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Cummins, we have a note that you are appearing here as a citizen and not representing an organization and that you are giving us your viewpoint.
Mr. CUMMINS. It is my own viewpoint, my daughter's, and little dog's.
Mr. HARRIS. You have a very worthy organization. Give your full name and address.
Mr. CUMMINS. I am Ben Cummins, of 103 Missouri Avenue NW. I am in the automobile business on Connecticut Avenue.
I would like to read this letter, sir. It was dated at the time Senator Holland was fighting for home rule. (Reading:)
Senator Holland of Florida, thanks for your stand on home rule, also your colleagues. I address this to you because you were the Governor of the great State of Florida that I had the privilege and pleasure to live in and bring my family up in.
We had our chance to vote for you and your administration will stand out as one of not demagoguery, but business, like fashion, along with great prosperity. We thought enough of you to send you to Washington to speak in our behalf. It is with this in mind I pen this letter and add with poem in response to your charging the people with a lack of interest in their Government. Sir, I am now in this city and it is, I assure you, due to doctors ordering me out of the South that I am now residing here, where I am now reluctantly making my home. Seeing, as I have, the abuses that occur in opening one's business—it's true they do exist elsewhere, but at least you have a chance to correct them by vote or recall when justified—not so here. I'm not speaking of my own, but others that have been brought to my attention.
Televised legislation, which I presented before the Democratic Platform Committee in Philadelphia, would be one way to renew people's interest in their government on all issues pertaining to their welfare. But it, too, fell on deaf
This, Senator Holland, we do know: People are busy with their everyday need to make a living, and the red tape entailed makes them tired, and therefore look for relaxation in the evening. Thus the reason for their lack of voicing and demanding a right to vote such as the home-rule bill that you advocate.
To those, Senator Holland, that are opposing it on the ground of segregation, I but assure them this: Try to deny the people of your city their right to vote on
the same grounds and see if you could, even though you had a greater colored population. Let's not confuse the issue. It is taxation without representation, especially where the District sales tax is concerned, and that goes for other bills now pending, too numerous to mention. No Senator or Representative in the city he comes to; no representative or elected form of municipal government. What you do not advocate for yourself and your people, please do not advocate
Any good government, municipal as well, must be “of the people, for the people, by the people.”
It, too, is the reason many hold on to their voting right in their original home State, and is the reason they have the right to say that you cannot tax me as a resident of Washington, D. C., since I vote in some other State, or hold property there.
Senator Holland, I'm sure the people are for your way of thinking; and I, for one, shall be most grateful to my former Governor and now Senator for the stand you are now making for my voice in my newly adopted city, at least for a while; and more so for one from the deep South to be so liberal. I'm sure the people there are justly proud. Any man denied the right to vote is eventually denied the right to speak. And I charge many in this city with such behavior, as such a thing did occur in the courts of the District, in the case of my wife as a witness. She was told to raise her hand and told to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, and yet was denied the right to even open her mouth. Such procedure will never come in a Federal court, I'm sure.
Appointed officials are accountable to those that appoint them; not so when they are elected. They are accountable to the electorate.
IT'S A SHAME
To those that in graves lie,
Even on home rule. Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Cummins, you may have the privilege of printing your poetry in the record, but we only have a very few more minutes and I do feel that it is the purpose of the committee to hear witnesses and not take up the time having someone read poetry, although I know you are sincere.
Mr. CUMMINS. Thank you.
A FORM OF REAL DEMOCRACY
Where in this great land
It's a shame. Mr. CUMMINS. Mr. Chairman, you recall, when we studied our civics book as youngsters, we found that we had local, State, and Federal Government, and each district as it became bigger got more representation. Even in your own State, sir, you have that same thing. You have the local, State, and Federal.
Take when the Constitution was written. Madison and the rest of the signers never figured the city would get to be the size that the District is today.
Then when the vivisection hearing was considered I was told not to come before it. They said that I should not go for that in that I would thereby hurt home rule.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much for your statement.
The next witness is Mr. Robert Mars, president of R. Mars, the contract company, wholesale suppliers of furniture, rugs, and linens.
We are glad to hear you, Mr. Mars.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT MARS, PRESIDENT R. MARS CO.
Mr. Mars. I am Robert Mars, the president of R. Mars, the contract company. I had an appointment in New York for this morning which I was able to cancel, so I am here today.