[from May 2001 issue]


Pretty sleazy, crummy, mean, nasty--and some four-letter words thrown in. This is about the only way we can react to Maryland Republican Congresswoman Connie Morella's clumsy attempt to do an end-run around our elected Congressional Delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, by announcing that, as chairperson of the House committee having oversight for DC affairs, that she would seriously consider establishing some kind of successor to the soon-to-be-dissolved Financial Control Board.

She could have at least accorded a modicum of Congressional courtesy to her House of Representatives colleague not to jump in as she did; such would surely have been done had the action of any other committee chairperson been directed at any other Congressional district. But, we're not really a Congressional district; we're just something they have to put up with and so pay us lip service from time-to-time and continue to tax us silly but keep us groveling. Have they no shame?

We think Mrs. Morella, who used to profess support for us running our own affairs here in DC, has become emboldened to turn against us now that her party is so completely running the show and that President Bush has made it very clear that we ought to continue being second-class citizens, notwithstanding that DC has a larger population than six other states (of which we have not heard any Republicans complaining about having voting members of Congress).

We continue to be astounded by all this talk from mostly Republican politicians that, Constitutionally, we're not entitled to have a voting representative because that great document's language was written using the word "states" alone. Yet, it was also written in a time when the drafters could not have possibly foreseen our country becoming something of an imperial power and acquiring territories, as we started doing in the late 19th century.

But more to the point, given the history of how our national capital did not even have a separate district of its own in 1789 and that the creation of one was to be carved from an existing state or states, there is no reason to assume, as many scholars and others have pointed out, that the drafters intended for the citizens residing within the federal capital to be disenfranchised.

We do not recall reading anything about this in the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention, nor do we recall reading anything along these lines in the proceedings of the original Continental Congress. Often, especially when there is a paucity of clues as to what the drafters intended, one scours The Federalist papers to find evidence of underlying philosophy or intent. But, as far as we can recall, there is nothing in those highly analytical writings suggesting that we should not be permitted to have a voting representative at least in the House of Representatives.

But we digress. The main question for today is why should Mrs. Morella think that we can't do our own financial oversight? Just because Marion Barry and the city council didn't do it 10 years ago is no reason to assume it won't be done by us in the 21st century.

We now are blessed with a city council that has aggressively moved into a posture of exercising appropriate Executive Branch oversight, something its members were loathe to do in the early years and something which we complained about many times. But a new culture has emerged within the council and we believe that it has taken hold and will continue. Already, ever since Ward 2 Councilmember took over as chairman of the finance committee, he and his committee colleagues have effectively ridden herd on the Administration and have not hesitated to raise concerns about fiscal issues.

With several members of the council acting as "junkyard dogs" on our behalf, we are seeing that it is no longer possible for the mayor's people to pull the wool over our collective eyes. The whistle gets blown a lot, but it is our elected representatives and their allies who are blowing the whistles--and that is how it should be since it's mostly our (read, taxpayer) money at stake.

We have heard whisper that the mayor and his minions encouraged Mrs. Morella to try her tactic. If that is true, then it is contemptible. Frankly, any effort by the mayor--the former head "green eye shade" guy for the control board--to even appear to have had a hand in floating the idea of a "shadow" control board or some Congressionally-mandated fiscal oversight entity, advisory or otherwise, is most worrisome indeed. We citizens must keep a close watch on where our mayor's ultimate loyalty lies. There are many who doubt it lies with us in the District. This will surely be a legitimate issue at re-election time.