September 2012

PREPARATIONS FOR THE SEPTEMBER 24 CANDIDATE FORUM: The Elections Committee (Keith Ivey, Kesh Ladduwahetty, Jesse Lovell), ably assisted by Events Director Nicole Witenstein are now finalizing preparations for the Candidate Forum to be held at the Southwest Public Library next Monday, January 24 at 6:30pm. The library is a short walk from the Waterfront station on the metro green line and has off-street parking available. While we were unable to reserve our preferred room at One Judiciary Square, we think this one will suffice and it gives us the opportunity to conduct a major DC4D event in another part of the city, in this case, Ward 6.

Eight candidates, including Chairman Phil Mendelson, have confirmed their attendence. We will finalize the time allocations and sequence of offices/candidates shortly so that candidates as well as our members will know in advance. Clearly, we must start promptly at 6:30pm, and the Library expects us to depart by 8:30. We will have to stick rigidly to our schedule.

The same basic procedures used in recent forums will apply. Jerry Clark will moderate, assisted by a timekeeper. We do not expect to have time for questions from the audience and will discourage cheering or other rowdy pro-candidate behavior. Written questionnaires have also been sent to the candidates. Responses will posted on our website prior to our October 10 Endorsement Meeting.

We will have light beverages and snacks (one advantage over our prior venue). The entire event will be videotaped once again. We hope for a great turnout of DC4D members and friends, and perhaps a few folks from the Ward 6 environs. As previously announced, our candidate endorsement meeting will be combined with the regular October meet up on October 10.

The mayor, with the active support and lobbying of the Chamber of Commerce, is proposing a bill that would provide truly extraordinary and, in our opinion and that of our allies and several Councilmembers, a totally unnecessary tax break to high tech investors. For your further information, a copy of our letter to Council Chair Mendelson may be found here. WE URGE YOU TO CALL OR EMAIL YOUR COUNCILMEMBERS WITHOUT DELAY. CLICK HERE to use the Fair Budget Coalition’s handy online letter template.

The bill will be taken up by the Council Wednesday afternoon, September 19. While a vote at that time is unlikely, we think it is important for members of the Council to be aware of the depth and breadth of opposition to this measure before it sees the light of day again.

The reception of delegates and other attendees at the Democratic National Convention to our lobbying for statehood for the people of DC was nothing short of amazing. Not only were our buttons and brochures widely sought after (we ran out of buttons within the first two days), but our highly visible red tee shirts with bold white lettering made our volunteers veritable magnets for delegate attention. Whether at state delegation breakfasts, in the halls of the Convention Center, or at the many caucuses we attended, it took little or no effort on our part to get the support of almost everyone we encountered. It did not seem to matter what state or region, the response was overwhelming support. We appreciated the work of Shadow Senators Brown and Strauss and Shadow Representative Panetta in arranging for two very large billboards at key locations touting our statehood message. It certainly helped to make us one of the most visible and popular causes at the Convention.

We have not yet had time to tally the sign up sheets, so we don’t know how many names and addresses we captured in Charlotte. What can be said for sure is that we could have captured far more with a larger number of hard-working volunteers than the 21 we had. The support was genuine and widespread.

The Congressional Black Caucus Annual Conference takes place beginning Wednesday of this week. We have ordered more tee shirts and buttons to add to our supply of brochures, and we expect to have even more volunteers from among our allies working for the cause of statehood this week. Our goals include collecting still more signatures of support from the thousands of people who will attend the conference, while also signing up members of congress who belong to the CBC to co-sponsor HR265, the statehood bill introduced last year by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Special thanks to Keshini Ladduwahetty, our “organizer in chief” and Jesse Lovell who was incredibly helpful in many ways, not the least being obtaining free housing for many of our volunteers in Charlotte. You should also be aware that Jerry Clark became Interim Chair of the DC Statehood Coalition in July, representing our strong commitment to moving forward on this very important project.

Unfortunately, we remain mired in a contest with the Board of Elections staff to determine the precise number of valid signatures on the petitions we submitted on July 8. Keith Ivey has been an invaluable resource, using his tremendous computer sophistication to array the volumes of data in ways that make it considerably easier to do the tedious, line-by-line checking that is necessary. The current phase of our work will end by October 2, by which date we must submit our final data and argument for the Board’s further consideration. A critical decision must be made soon, as time is running out for the initiative to be approved for the November ballot in time for we (and any opponents) to campaign for its passage or defeat. We will keep you informed and would expect to have a more complete report by the October 10 meet up.

WEEKLY OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN PROTEST AT WHITE HOUSE OVER GUN VIOLENCE: The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, on whose board we are represented, has formed a band of ardent advocates for gun control and for stronger limits on who can obtain guns. Given the continuing and seemingly growing rate of mass murders involving people who should never have been eligible to own guns in the first place, public concern is growing. For those of you who are able to be in the downtown area during the middle of the day, you will find an intrepid group of volunteers at the White House every Monday from 11:00am to 1:00pm. You can participate for 15 minutes or the full two hours, but we urge those of you who care about this issue to consider making this a regular vigil and spread the word. It is clearly a serious and growing problem for the nation and for the District.

DC for Democracy Chair, Jerry Clark, sent the following letter to DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and all Councilmembers on September 17, 2012.

DC for Democracy expresses its strong opposition to pending legislation that would allow some wealthy high-tech investors to pay the lowest income tax rate in the District. The legislation, expected to be voted on this Wednesday, September 19, by the City Council, would lower taxes on the income of these investors to just 3 percent. Strikingly, this would be lower than the tax rate paid by even low income taxpayers, including those earning the minimum wage and who receive unemployment.

DC for Democracy is a leading non-aligned progressive organization with over 500 members, including community leaders and citizens across the city.

The District has already attracted millions of dollars in investments from tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Twitter and others. Moreover, DC recently was named the fifth best city in the country for tech start-ups. We have a large, well-trained workforce in this field, including a rapidly increasing number of young college-educated residents so important to start-ups when they decide where to locate.

Do we really want to give tax breaks like the one proposed to essentially the top one percent of income earners? Doesn’t this proposal sound like what one would expect from the Republican Party? Our voters have shown consistently they do not share these values and do not believe in “trickle-down” theories of economic growth, locally or nationally.

Also, major cuts have been made to social programs for children and families in need in recent years. This is hardly the time to reward those who take advantage of the endemic “pay-to-play” culture in the political process to the detriment of lower income and vulnerable District citizens.


Jerry Clark, Chair
DC for Democracy