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We will insert at this point in the record a prepared statement by Mr. Soterios Nicholson.
(The prepared statement referred to follows:)
(By Soterios Nicholson) Good citizenship is the backbone of community life. Without it, the community would flounder on the rock of indifference.
The good citizen assumes along with his right to reside in the city of his own choosing, a certain responsibility. While he pays taxes for services provided by the city, he also gives voice to the welfare of all the taxpayers.
Unfortunately, the District citizen is not able to exercise the vote, which is an inalienable right of all his fellow Americans in the 49 States.
Here in Washington, this denial handicaps the citizen. Without the vote, he cannot register his protest or his individual opinion on what the local government decides or does.
This is a failure in our National Capital's structure that makes the citizenry inarticulate, for, without representation, the citizen's voice is not necessarily heard, or if heard, it is not accepted.
The local resident, however, need not isolate himself from his community even though his right to vote may be denied. He can engage spiritedly in the local citizen's group within his neighborhood. He can contribute his ideas to the forum of local public opinion.
The local civic units form the nuclei for combined action, based on the enlightenment gained by individual members working in collaboration.
The Federation of Citizens Associations, for example, is the striking force for better government. As the representative body of its membership civic groups, it can build a cohesive and molded opinion.
Talk of self-government, national representation, suffrage, has been with us in the District of Columbia since the city of Washington became of age as a metropolis.
Chief proposals, which have been advanced in the press and on the platform, center to two approaches : that of local government and that of national representation.
The desire for these developments take different and varied roads. Some would have us assume local self-government with eventual national representation, after the experience of first governing ourselves.
Other would have us shelve local government for sometime in favor of national representation, for a voice in the running of our Nation's affairs.
Both of these rights are desirable. There are persons who would understandably wish to plunge with both self-government and national representation in the District.
All of these viewpoints are commendable. Perhaps the desire to take up local self-government first is the most reasoned.
There are dissedents to these general expressions of suffrage. Some of this opposition has been recorded on Capitol Hill and has made the rounds of the cloakrooms and has been registered in the legislative chambers . The contention of this group, as the assertions have been made privately and publicly, is that the local citizenry is unprepared to assume the obligation of self-government.
There is the feeling that a balance will be struck in the various voting interests of the city. The argument goes that various minorities can knock fair representation out of kilter.
With these many arguments both pro and con, there is a green pastured middle ground that gives spur to the exercise of the right and responsibilities of local citizens.
This ground is available for those citizens who will participate in the local groups which are open to them. If the local citizens fail to take part in the regular and normal channels of self-expression and self-assertion, then truly the asset of civil experience is absent.
We do not want to develop into a city that is void of civic pride and most important, civic accomplishment.
This type of action can come from the practice of good citizenship. With this type of participation, we (the people) can rightfully maintain that we, and we alone, are fit to run our own affairs.
It is forgotten that the local citizens are able to manage both the social and political responsibilities necessary in the event that suffrage is achieved. The mere fact that an enlightened citizenry is available for leadership and the assumption of departmental duties is proof enough that selfish or minority interests will not prevail over the general welfare.
This is the principle upon which our Nation has persevered. With the desire to build a community of which every American citizen can be justly proud, the individual civic group member, the enlightened Washington citizen, can take hold of the guiding reins.
In all due time, Washington will get its suffrage. People will vote here as they do in every State of the Union. Washington also will have its vote in Congress as do the member States in this great Nation of ours.
Meanwhile, it is the responsibility, the natural interest for each and every citizen to take part in some civic endeavor. The natural heritage of selfassertion must not be lost because taxation without representation is allowed in the District of Columbia.
Regardless of the voting climate, we must continue to keep warm the platforms of local public opinion.
It is, therefore, respectfully suggested :
1. That the Federation of Citizens Associations undertake a campaign to enlist all available citizens to become members of their respective civic associations;
2. That the federation instruct its national and local suffrage committee to write a short explanatory pamphlet to:
(a) State the meaning of local government as set out by the different bills introduced in Congress at this session.
(6) To explain the advisability for a Delegate to Congress to speak for the District pending the amendment to the Constitution for full national representation.
(c) To properly solicit the cooperation of all independent associations in the District of Columbia to organize properly, through committees, and work actively for the amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. We will adjourn until tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock.
(Whereupon, at 5:15 p. m., the committee adjourned to reconvene on Thursday, February 22, 1951, at 10 a. m.)
HOME RULE AND REORGANIZATION FOR THE DISTRICT
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 1951
: UNITED STATES SENATE, COMMITTEE ON THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10 a. m., in the District of Columbia room, United States Capitol, Senator Matthew
M. Neely (chairman) presiding. • Present: Senators Neely (chairman) and Case..
Also present: Robert H. Mollohan, clerk; Gerhard P. Van Arkel, committee counsel, and William P. Gulledge, assistant committee counsel.
The CHAIRMAN. The meeting will be in order.
There will be inserted at this point in the record a letter, the. original of which was sent by the President to the Speaker of the House of Representaitves, on the 25th of July 1949, relevant to the question before the subcommittee.
(The letter referred to is as follows:)
The following letter was sent by the President to the Hon. Sam Rayburn, Speaker, House of Representatives :
JULY 25, 1949. MY DEAR MR. SPEAKER : On May 31, 1949, the Senate passed, without a dissenting vote, S. 1527, a bill to give home rule to the people of the District of Columbia. A subcommittee of the House Committee on the District of Columbia is now holding hearings on this legislation. I am writing to you to express my hope that the House will complete legislative action on a home-rule bill and that it will be sent to me to sign into law before this session of the Eighty-first Congress adjourns.
As passed by the Senate, the bill has three major purposes: (1) to relieve the Congress as much as possible of the burden of District of Columbia affairs, without surrendering its constitutional powers; (2) to create a representative local government for the District of Columbia chosen by the qualified electors; and (3) to provide an efficient and economical government for the District of Columbia.
I am very much in favor of all of these objectives.
It is little short of fantastic that the Congress of the United States shouldas it now does-devote a substantial percentage of its time to acting as a city council for the District of Columbia. During the past 2 years, during which it was confronted with many major problems of national and international importance, the Congress has had to find time to deal with such District matters as parking lots, the regulation of barbers, the removal of street obstructions, and the establishment of a Metropolitan Police Force Band, to name only a few.
The people of the District of Columbia should not be placed in a different status from that of the people of all other American cities and almost all democratic capitals of the world insofar as local self-government is concerned. In my message to Congress transmitting the budget for the fiscal year 1947, I said:
"The District of Columbia, because of its special relation to the Federal Government, has been treated since 1800 as a dependent.area. We should move
toward a greater measure of local self-government consistent with the constitutional status of the District. We should take adequate steps to assure that citizens of the United States are not denied their franchise merely because they reside at the Nation's Capital.”
It was not the intention of the architects of our Constitution to deprive the District of Columbia of home rule. Writing on this subject in the Federalist, James Madison said that the inhabitants of the District "will have * * * their choice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them” and that “a municipal legislature for local purposes, derived from their own suffrages, will of course be allowed them."
The establishment of a well-organized and efficient governmental system in the District of Columbia is a desirable adjunct to the successful operation of the home-rule principle. The present organization of the District government is complicated and administratively cumbersome. I am strongly in favor of better organization and greater efficiency throughout the executive branch. The District of Columbia government should not be an exception carved out from the general rule.
There is nothing partisan about this proposal. The platforms of both major parties urge home rule for the District. The bill which passed the Senate unanimously received the support of both Republican and Democratic Members of that body. I am sure that the great majority of the people of Washington want home rule. I am equally sure that they ought to have it without further delay. I hope that the House will not adjourn this session without completing action on this important measure. Very sincerely yours,
HARRY S. TRUMAN. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Leeman, will you please proceed?
STATEMENT OF HERBERT P. LEEMAN, REPRESENTING THE
FEDERATION OF CITIZENS ASSOCIATIONS
Mr. LEEMAN. Mr. Chairman, my name is Herbert P. Leeman. I reside at 1610 Sixteenth Street NW., Washington. I am the president of the Federation of Citizens Associations of the District of Columbia. That organization is composed of over 70 individual citizens' associations, which cover the entire area of the District of Columbia.
The CHAIRMAN. What would you estimate the total membership of those associations to be, Mr. Leeman?
Mr. LEEMAN. I would say the best estimate that we can give is 80,000, because we do not have individual records of memberships. The federation is made up of delegates from these associations, and we can only estimate that from reports that we have, as to the total membership of these individual associations. But I can say that it is thoroughly representative of the average people of the District of Columbia. Its membership is made up of business, professional people, trade unionists, and other people engaged in other occupations.
The CHAIRMAN. And you are speaking as a representative of that estimated 80,000 ? Mr. LEEMAN. That is correct, Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the membership of the Board of Trade? Mr. LEEMAN. The report that I have is about 8,000. The Federation of Citizens' Associations, when this same bill was before the last Congress, endorsed this bill in principle.
At our meeting about 2 weeks ago, the federation specifically endorsed this Senate bill 656, and directed me to appear before this committee and any other committees of the Congress considering it, and urge its passage and adoption as law.
I want to say that the suffrage committee of the Federation of Citizens Associations last year carefully considered this bill paragraph by paragraph. A report of that consideration was given to the assembly of the federation; the delegates were thoroughly familiar with the contents of this bill when they took the action that they did.
I personally know that this bill is the result of hard work on the part of Members of this Congress and the leading citizens of the District of Columbia. It is a carefully thought out piece of legislation, designed to bring a form of government to the District of Columbia, which is in accordance with our democratic principles.
For a long time the finger of scorn of representatives of foreign governments has been pointed at us because we advocate democracy, and we maintain taxation without representation in the District of Columbia.
We are very grateful, Mr. Chairman, to your committee for promptly holding hearings on this bili. We think that a situation exists in the District of Columbia which should be ended by affording to the people of the District of Columbia the privilege of self-government.
I think that a duty rests upon the Senate to promptly repass this bill, because this bill was considered by the committee before it was passed by the Senate in the last Congress.
The opponents of this bill have circulated the report that the Senate carelessly passed this bill in the last Congress believing that it would be killed in the House of Representatives. We know from our experience with the Senate that the Senate has given very careful consideration to the matters that the people of the District of Columbia have brought to it, and I feel and I believe the thoughtful Members of the Senate will feel that it is the duty of the Senate to promptly repass this bill to show that the Senate knew what it was doing, understood this legislation, and intended to pass it when it did.
In the last session of Congress, I am informed that at one time as many as 207 Members of the House of Representatives signed the discharge petition which was designed to bring this bill to a vote in the House of Representatives.
The CHAIRMAN. That was only 11 less than a sufficient number? · Mr. LEEMAN. Approximately.
The CHAIRMAN. No; exactly.
Mr. LEEMAN. I believe those who have appeared before the committee before have covered objections to this bill, and I will be very glad to answer questions that may be propounded, but I feel that the people of the District of Columbia want home rule, and want the Senate to pass this bill giving us home rule in the District of Columbia.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Paul Matthews. Please proceed, Mr. Matthews.