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give the people of the District a chance to become voting citizens and responsible participants in their local government-a chance to approach full citizenship in our glorious democracy.
We wish this statement to be made part of the record of these hearings.
Mr. O'HARA. Mrs. Newman, how long have you resided in the District?
Mrs. NEWMAN. Since 1930.
Mrs. NEWMAN. Yes, with a short time during the war when my husband was sent out of the District, and I went with him, of course, and another previous period when we lived in nearby Maryland.
Mr. O'HARA. Would you state what you call your home State?
Mrs. NEWMAN. Well, originally when I came to the District of Columbia, at the time we were married we kept voting rights in New York. We then moved into Maryland and decided we wanted to vote in Maryland and declared our intention to do that. By the time the time elapsed and we would have been given a chance to vote there, the war came on, and my husband in the Patent Office was moved and we went into Virginia, and after that we came back to the District of Columbia. I have three children who were born in the District of Columaia and, of course, will not be able to vote now.
Mr. O'HARA. Did you vote in the last election?
Mr. O'HARA. The reason I asked that, I understood there were an estimated 200,000 absentee voters in the District of Columbia.
Mrs. NEWMAN. Those not able to vote would have the right to vote under this bill.
Mr. O'HARA. How do you interpret that this is going to lessen the work of Members of Congress, when they would have to pass on all acts of the Council or all proposals of legislation for the District of Columbia?
Mrs. NEWMAN. Well how do you pass on legislation? That is considered by responsible groups which have been selected. I think that should lessen the time that you would take.
Mr. O'HARA. Well, as a matter of fact there is the same responsibility which we have today, to have hearings upon every bill after it has been passed by the Council. It would be necessary that hearings be had and that it be gone into by the members of the committees of the House and of the Senate. Isn't that true? And then again it would be considered upon the floor of the Congress.
Mrs. NEWMAN. Well, sir, there are certain revisions in the bill, and I am not familiar with all of the provisions of this bill that would eliminate a lot of work by Congress.
Mr. O'HARA. I personally cannot see that. I tried to but I can't agree with you on that.
Mrs. NEWMAN. I am sure that is the hope or intention. I know that is your hope and intention but that is the chance we have to take.
Mr. O'HARA. We would still have to take them up under the Kefauver or the Auchincloss bill. There is no question of that.
Mrs. NEWMAN. I am sure it is the belief and hope of all of us who have considered this matter that under home rule the Congress would not have to spend the same amount of time that they now do.
Mr. O'HARA. It may be your hope but it is not a reality.
Mr. HARRIS. The next witness will be Mrs. Charlotte Sillers, Women's Auxiliary, United Public Workers, CIO.
STATEMENT OF CHARLOTTE SILLERS, PRESIDENT, WOMEN'S
AUXILIARY, UNITED PUBLIC WORKERS OF AMERICA, CIO
Mrs. SILLERS. I have a written statement which I would like to offer and then speak away from my statement.
Mr. HARRIS. Do you intend to file your statement for the record?
Mrs. SILLERS. The Women's Auxiliary of the United Public Workers, CIO, has been in the forefront of the fight for suffrage for the District of Columbia. In every phase of our activity in civic affairs the lack of suffrage is evident. We are more than ever convinced that the residents of Washington, D. C., must be given their constitutional right to vote. The time is now, as President Truman himself has publicly stated.
Plebiscites that were held in 1938 and 1946 proved conclusively that the people of the District of Columbia want to govern themselves; want the right, duty, and privilege of voting for the men who will carry out their wishes in public affairs; who will determine how tax money collected shall be spent.
Because of our contact with the community of Washington, on consumer problems, sales tax, fare increases, utility rate increases, we know the unfair, and in many cases prejudiced attitude taken by officials not responsible to an electorate.
The women's auxiliary would like to recommend the establishment of a District Council-Manager form of government whose members would be elected by qualified voters at least 18 years of age, by the method known as proportional representation. Annual salary should be at least $5,000 in order to attract civic-minded individuals. The term should be of 2-year duration. The Council should have authority to recommend legislation on local matters which, if not acted on adversely by the President or Congress within 40 days, should become law.
The Board of Education should be an elected body. Nonteaching personnel should be under civil service and the teaching staff should be within the purview of the Civil Service Retirement Act of May 29, 1930. This would result in minimum personnel turn-over and greater administrative efficiency.
Because we believe the policy and practice of segregation in the school system is undemocratic and costly, we should like to see provided in a home-rule bill a section which would specifically prohibit segregation in schools and in recreation facilities as well as in employment of personnel for these activities.
In order to carry out a policy against discrimination in the operation of the District Government, an agency like a Fair Employment Practices Commission should be set up.
On the subject of finances, the following points, if carried through, would provide adequate revenue for District needs:
1. Federal contribution commensurate with the tax value of the land occupied by the Federal Government.
2. Floating of bond issues to finance capital improvements, not to exceed 5 percent of the assessed value of taxable real estate in the District, such issues to be approved by referendum vote.
3. Elimination of segregation in all facilities operated and controlled by the District of Columbia.
All public facilities, hospitals, restaurants, theaters, etc., should be available to the people of this city regardless or race, creed, or color; and incorporated in a home-rule bill should be provision for the enforcing of such a policy.
We urge that this committee act immediately so that a home-rule bill will be on President Truman's desk for signature this session of the Eighty-first Congress.
I think if we can decide on the principle of suffrage for the District of Columbia, we can overcome any obstacles in the way of granting suffrage to the residents of the District.
The Women's Auxiliary of the United Public Workers, CIO, has been in the forefront of this fight for years. We have testified at previous hearings and we have participated in action in the plebicites that have been held.
We feel that it is time now certainly to grant that right; or, as other people have said, to restore the right of suffrage to the District of Columbia residents.
Take the things that throughout the States are made campaign topics—such things as sales tax, the raising of the utility rates, transit fares. Now we have to go before committees of Congress, we have to go before Commissioners who are appointed by the President and who have shown very decided bias. In local communities these are actual campaign issues, as I think you gentlemen probably know, and I think the citizens of Washington want to be able to express themselves at the polls on all these things. And why shouldn't the public have something to say?
I would like further to say that we feel that the council that has been suggested—the city council-manager form of government-should be instituted in the District with salaries of $5,000 per annum, which would attract civic-minded people. This council could then carry out the wishes of the people.
We feel that an elected Board of Education should be a part of the home rule bill of the District. We feel also that the practice of segregation is both costly and undemocratic, and that provision should be made for its elimination in the public school system and throughout the District, as far as services are concerned. We feel that some sort of an agency should be set up so this could be carried out by the District government.
I know that the subject of finances is always brought up in consideration of a home rule bill for the District, and as we have testified before, we feel that the floating of a bond issue, subject to the will of the voters, is one way of raising revenue. Another way would be for the Federal Government to contribute its share, according to tax value of the real estate it occupies.
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?