When I came to Syracuse, I didn't expect to wind up educated on the concept of voting rights for the District of Columbia, but here I am. At this morning's anniversary program for the Community Wide Dialogue to End Racism, the speakers included Dr. William Pollard, a founding co-chair of the organization. Pollard - formerly the dean of Syracuse University's College of Human Services and Health Professions - is now president of the University of the District of Columbia, the city's only public university. After recalling his time in Syracuse and the start of the Community Wide Dialogue, he told us this morning he had "an advertisement" for D.C. voting rights.
He explained that most college presidents and deans can talk to the senators and representative from their area and encourage them to support the institutions and higher education in Congress. But in Pollard's case, he has no senators and his representative - Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton - does not have a vote in Congress. Think about it: Wyoming, with only about a half a million people, has three voting members of the U.S. Congress, but the nearly 600,000 residents of the District of Columbia have none.
The D.C. statehood movement has been around for a long time, and the D.C. Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act has already been reintroduced in the 110th Congress as H.R. 328. It would give D.C. a voting member and give Utah an extra one, too, thus balancing the traditionally Democratic D.C.'s vote with another for GOP stronghold Utah, which narrowly missed gaining a vote after the 2000 Census. I think it sounds like a good solution, but then again, you all had plenty to say two weeks ago about why we ought to abolish the Electoral College - or not.
Here's a fun fact from Wikipedia: "Vehicle license plates in Washington D.C. contain the quote 'Taxation without representation.' Former President Bill Clinton had these plates placed on the presidential limousines during the last few months of his administration. However, President George W. Bush, in one of his first official acts as president, had the tags removed." I suppose after what happened to his Daddy ("read my lips"), the Decider doesn't want to have anything to do with the nasty T-word, unless he's slashing 'em for the rich folks.