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CHANGING CONCEPTS Recreation has taken its place in the community family with education, health, and welfare as an essential community function. The armed services quickly recognized that provision of recreation was as necessary to morale as food and shelter. No longer do public officials think of recreation as related only to child and youth activities. It is likewise necessary for our adult population. Decreased work hours, increased hours of unscheduled activity for children and youth, and increasing removal of open space for these facilities, all add to the need for providing playgrounds, playfields, and indoor facilities.
Recreation is an entity unto itself. It is year-long, not seasonal, and embraces. a wide variety of interests consisting of physical, social, creative, and cultural activities. It is a positive force which enables the community to provide a healthy, happy, and pleasant place in which to live. Wholesome recreation tends to assist the home, the school, the church, and social agencies in reducing delinquency and fatalities, in improving community discipline, and in developing community solidarity. But recreation is engaged in for its own sake and not as an antidote for social problems. Other social problems are the direct beneficiaries of a well-rounded program.
Economists and sociologists point to the not-too-distant future when the vastly improved methods of our mechanized age indicate a possible 35-to 30-hour workweek and a possible 45-week workyear. Surely our presently accepted 40-hour week is proof of what may transpire when in retrospect the 60- and the 54-hour workweek are not too far removed from our memories.
LOSS OF RECREATION BOARD'S AUTHORITY Specific reference should be made to the fact that removal of the authority for administration and operation of the District public recreation program would undoubtedly retard the development of the recreation system plan, and that few public boards or commissions can point to such tangible results and progress as have been accomplished in accordance with authority vested in the Board by Public Law 534 in 1942. It should also be pointed out that experiences and trends in other municipalities throughout the country as well as in the District of Columbia indicate that there is an effective job being done to provide public recreation services and facilities by an administrative board. Leaving the creation of a "recreation advisory board” for determination by the Director of Recreation would give no assurance to the community that the responsible authority, namely the Director of Recreation, would seek the advice, guidance, and suggestion of such a board. Another reason cited for the continuance of the Board is the fact that city-manager types of government tend to minimize community functions relating to direct human services and community welfare. This statement is made without authenticated data but is based on impressions obtained during recent years in discussions with other public recreation officials. City managers quickly recognize the need for bridges, sewers, streets, and health services, but the intangible services are those that are usually penalized. This should not be considered as a condemnation of the city-manager control, but more as a caution that lack of consideration for these community services has tended to create independent boards and commissions.
It will be necessary, for all time to come, for the administration of the recreation program in Washington, D. C., to utilize the education, housing, park, and many other public facilities. These complex property jurisdictions and an increasing understanding of the broader concepts of activities and opportunities associated with a community recreation program create a multiplicity of problems which need administrative direction by a strong board of lay and official representatives. It ws noted that S. 656 recommends the continuation of an independent Board of Education. It has been a definite trend throughout the United States to have independent Boards of Education and should likewise be a practice to have independent Recreation Boards particularly in the larger cities. It is hard to conceive how any one person could perform the duties of the present Recreation Board and do an effective job. It is far better that a group share the responsibilities.
In general the Board is inclined to concur with the recommendation presented on (1) making the Director of Recreation an ex-officio member of the Planning Commission. However, the continuance of an administrative Recreation Board is felt to be essential in the administration of a public recreation program for the District of Columbia.
From an analysis of S.-656 it would appear that to support the Board's conviction that it should continue to function in its present capacity, s. 656 could be modified by urging new language be substituted. Accordingly, the language in section 904 (a) and (b) should be eliminated and the following language inserted:
"That the District of Columbia Recreation Board shall administer the public recreation program in accordance with the provisions contained in Public Law 534, Seventy-seventh Congress, April 29, 1942; and that the District Council as proposed in S. 656 be substituted for the Board of District Commissioners as contained in Public Law 534.”
THE CHEVY CHASE BAPTIST CHURCH,
Washington, D. C., March 13, 1951. Hon. MATTHEW M. NEELY,
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR : I have followed the Senate hearings on the Washington home rule, and while I did not have time to appear I do desire to go on record as heartily favoring District home rule. I have urged and used my influence in favor of both District home rule and District representation of some kind in both Houses of Congress, so that we who are residents of the District can vote for the President and also have some influence upon legislation in Congress. I believe this is the real goal that must be sought. Anything less than both home rule, with safeguards because this is the Nation's Capital, and some representation in Congress in accordance with population and taxes will be beside the mark.
I give my support to the Kefauver-Taft bill, not that it answers all of the problems but it is a beginning to the solution. Apart from the Board of Trade I believe that the sentiment of the citizens generally is in favor of both home rule and participation in national affairs. I appreciate very greatly your interest in these matters. More power to you. Let us have the vote as soon as possible. Sincerely yours,
EDWARD O. CLARK, Minister.
HOME RULE HEADQUARTERS,
Washington, D. C., March 12, 1951. The CLERK, SENATE DISTRICT COMMITTEE,
United States Capitol, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: Please insert the two enclosed documents in the hearings on the home rule bill, S. 656. Thank you. Sincerely yours,
MARY Faith WILSON, Executive Secretary.
NATION-WIDE SUPPORT FOR DISTRICT HOME RULE It may interest members of the committee to know that the District's drive for home rule has won support from every corner of the country. This is indicated by the fact that some 20 of the Nation's most respected and influential newspapers repeatedly urge passage of home-rule legislation. These papers include: New York Times
Chicago Daily News St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Milwaukee Journal Boston Herald
St. Louis Star-Times Los Angeles Daily News
Philadelphia Inquirer Louisville Courier-Journal
Indianapolis News (Indiana) Hartford Courant (Connecticut)
Chicago Sun-Times Des Moines Register (Iowa)
Numerous papers from smaller cities and towns also urge home rule for the District. For example, to name but a few: Easton (Pa.) Express
Portsmouth (N. H.) Herald Paterson (N. J.) Morning Call
Muncie (Ind.) Evening Press Spokane (Wash.) Daily Chronicle Freeport (Ill.) Journal Standard · Columnists and radio commentators such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Elmer Davis, and Thomas Stokes also support District home rule.
THE FAILURE OF THE DISTRICT'S TERRITORIAL TYPE OF GOVERNMENT IN 1871 in No WAY INDICATES THAT WASHINGTONIANS ARE INCAPABLE OF SELF-GOVERNMENT
On occasions when testimony on home rule for the District has been given before congressional committees antagonists of local suffrage have made it their practice to refer to the failure of the Territorial government which Congress abolished in 1874. Mr. Connaughton in his remarks to the Senate District Committee on March 5 referred to this as an indication that Washingtonians were incapable of self-government, and similar statements can be found in a recently published volume of "revelations" concerning Washington which was fittingly reviewed in the Washington Post on March 4.
It is grossly inaccurate to draw any parallels between the Territorial government of 1871-74 and the city-council type of administration proposed under the Taft-Kefauver bill without considering the circumstances under which the former government came into being and why it was a failure. In 1871, before the administration of the District was unified, there were in existence three separate jurisdictions within the confines of the District: the Corporations of Washington and Georgetown, each with their mayor and city councils, and the levy court, which administered the rural “county of Washington."
Under this complicated and antiquated set-up and with insufficient assistance from Congress, the physical development of the District had lagged so greatly that in 1869 a movement to remove the seat of government to St. Louis received considerable congressional support. The Territorial form of government, in which the Upper House (Legislative Council) was appointed by the Executive and the House of Delegates elected by the people of the District was accordingly introduced as a means of streamlining the administration and increasing the participation of Congress in local affairs. Alexander Shepherd was appointed by President Grant as Vice President of the Board of Public Works, a body created specifically to carry out the much-needed improvements to Washington streets and water supplies.
The failure and eventual bankruptcy of the Territorial government can be directly ascribed to the overlapping of the authority of the Board of Public Works and that of the elected government of the District, and to the fact that Shepherd, a man of prodigious energy, accomplished more in 3 years than the corporations had in as many decades. The expense of the civic improvements, which entailed heavy special assessments, proved to be more than the taxpayers of Washington could bear, and Congress was forced to take over their burden for them.
Such a situation, however, could not reoccur under present conditions, where similar expenditures are no longer a crying necessity; moreover, under the TaftKefauver bill, which makes no provision for a Board of Public Works and which places stringent safeguards upon the borrowing powers of the Government as well as retaining the veto powers of Congress, the financial manipulations to which Shepherd resorted would be out of the question.
The arguments which ascribe the failure of the Territorial government to Negro suffrage repeated in Washington Confidential will not bear objective analysis. Negroes voted faithfully for the Republicans during the reconstruction period because that party had fought for their rights during and after the Civil War and because the Democrats had consistently opposed every measure by which they could achieve political, economic, and educational equality as citizens. Shepherd not only represented the party to which they are bound by strong ties of loyalty, but his program of civic improvements afforded them an opportunity of large-scale employment.
It is significant that the Irish, who constituted the balance of the laboring class, were equally solidly behind the Board of Public Works at this time. The chief organized opposition to their program came from such large property owners as W. W. Corcoran and George W. Riggs, the bankers, who would have the largest sums to pay in special assessments for improvements.
In the lengthy investigations made by congressional committees in 1872 and 1874 of the conduct of the Territorial government not one shred of evidence was disclosed to substantiate the charges that Negroes voted illegally. Even the editor of the Daily Patriot, the opposition organ subsidized by Mr. Corcoran, was unable when placed upon the witness stand to produce facts and figures to maintain the extravagant accusations made in his journal.
At no time did Negroes constitute a majority in the Legislative Assembly of the District; the largest representation which they achieved was 3 out of 11 in the Legislative Council and 5 out of 22 in the House of Delegates. To speak of the Negroes dominating District politics at this time is grossly to distort the facts, since the Board of Public Works, all members of which were appointed by the Executive, was responsible for the financial chaos in which the District fell in 1874, it is clear that they have been made the scapegoats for the errors of others.
While the substtitution of hearsay for facts is only to be expected of Messrs. Lait and Mortimer, it seems unfortunate that long-time residents of Washington should choose to repeat such distortions of local history year after year as arguments against the revival of local suffrage. The citizens of the District who are vitally concerned in the passage of the Taft-Kefauver bill would do well to investigate more closely the Territorial government and its operations so as to be equipped to refute such arguments in the future.
JAMES H. WHYTE. WASHINGTON.
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 5, 1951. Hon. MATTHEW M. NEELY, Chairman, Committee on District of Columbia,
United States Senate. DEAR SENATOR NEELY: I am sorry I was not in the committee room this morning when during the closing minutes you called for testimony in favor of home rule.
Attached is the brief statement I had planned to give on behalf of the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the Social Order Committee of the Friends Meeting of Washington. I shall appreciate your having the statement inserted in the record. Sincerely,
LEWIS H. ROHRBAUGH,
STATEMENT FROM THE SOCIAL ORDER COMMITTEE OF THE FRIENDS MEETING OF WASHINGTON AND THE FRIENDS COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL LEGISLATION
(Presented by Lewis H. Rohrbaugh) The Social Order Committeė of the Friends Meeting of Washington and the Friends Committee on National Legislation wish to place themselves on record as favoring home rule for the District of Columbia. Whatever problems of detail have to be worked out to make such government possible, they believe that local self-government should be granted to the residents of the District as a matter of democratic principle.
For 300 years the Society of Friends has testified to its belief in the individual obligation of every man to seek the truth and to exemplify his belief in his daily life. Where men are denied the right to participate as citizens in carrying the responsibility for decisions of policy in government, where they have no voice in selecting their own representatives, and have only the costs of government to bear, individual responsibility cannot be transformed into public service and the best interests of both the individual and the government suffer. We, therefore, favor legislation which would once more grant to the American citizens who live in Washington the right to participate in their own Government and to carry the responsibility for their own regulation.
SUPPLEMENTAL STATEMENT ON HOME RULE BY GEORGE W. HODGKINS,
WASHINGTON, D. C. A modified home-rule bill suited to the present situation, to obviate the chief objections and fears which have seemed increasingly to endanger the referendum adoption and the successful try-out of local self-government for the District of Columbia, should meet the following three conditions, which are obviously so closely allied that they will be met at the same time by a single type of bill.
(1) The bill should be made less forbidding and less vulnerable in its bulk and complexity, which are entailed by the effort to embody an extensive administrative reorganization with the basic home-rule set-up in a comprehensive new District charter. Although considerably shorter than some other recent bills for home rule and reorganization, the present S. 656 runs to 119 pages, which too few people can be expected to read carefully and understand. The extra bulk provides additional points on which objections and doubts may be raised, instead of concentrating on the main issues of an effective introduction of local self-government which various polls have shown the majority of local citizens desire although objections on details might cause many of them to argue and vote against any one particular measure for that purpose. In 1939 to 1945 there were several self-government bills for the District of 11 to 14 pages in length, and, while they may be judged to be a little too short to cover all that is needed, about 25 pages ought to be adequate for a bill which also meets conditions (2) and (3) below.
(2) The bill should provide for the try-out of the most essential changes, and avoid premature decision on many other matters which would have to be fitted into that changed situation in the most effective way. The District has had no recent experience with the operation of local self-government, and normal differences of opinion about provisions to be put into a charter are greatly increased by this circumstance, even among persons who are confident of the success of home rule in general, and still more among persons who are skeptical and are inclined to look for and magnify dangers. The general plan of councilmanager government follows successful practice in other cities, several of which are well enough within Washington's population class for such purposes of comparison, but critics have been reluctant to recognize that fact. Moreover, there are some respects in which Washington needs special provisions in its charter, for which there is not really a satisfying precedent anywhere else. Wherever it is not practicable to postpone such provisions to later local or congressional legislation after other features of home rule are a going concern, they should be tried out on a tentative basis in such a manner as to give the best foundation for a permanent decision. Of course, anything in S. 656 is subject to later change on the basis of experience if the bill becomes a law, but its comprehensiveness and some features of its wording seem to give an air of finality which adds to the fears of those who imagine dire consequences with which we may be saddled permanently. These fears are increased by the present bill's emphasis on making a clean break from the present system, as in its frequent phraseology abolishing existing positions and agencies (even where something wholly or largely identical is set up in the place of what is abolished). It would allay such fears, and also smooth the transition to the new government, if the bill adopted the basic prinicple of continuing existing organs and procedures of government, under the control of the new Council and Manager instead of the Commissioners, except where expressly provided otherwise, or until the new regime makes changes it may be empowered to make.
(3) The bill should give added recognition to the home-rule principle by enabling the people of the District, through elected representatives, to participate in working out the more detailed provisions of a comprehensive and relatively permanent charter of government for the District. In the States it is cusomary for home-rule charters to be worked out initially by locally elected charter commissions. The setting up of a charter commission for the District has been suggested from time to time, but there is the difficulty that the District has no present elective sysem as a background for creating such a cominission and for affording such a commission a basis of experience for decisions on many matters (as discussed above). Some of those who are opposing S. 656 as not providing "real home rule” in their special interpretation of that term have