Mayor Gray while in office and on the campaign trail called for DC Statehood not voting rights and not fake home rule yet his actions are not consistent with his public pronouncements. In 2010, before he had decided/announced that he would run for Mayor he spoke at the PennBranch Citizens Civic Association. At that meeting he spoke passionately about the need for statehood as it is the only path to achieve true Home Rule and full voting rights in Congress. At events as mayor he has continued the same line but the Office of the Secretary for the District has a request for applications (RFA)out now asking for non-profits to apply for grants to promote District of Columbia Self Determination, Voting Rights or Statehood. See link here: http://opgd.dc.gov/opgd/cwp/view,A,1316,Q,586841.asp
If the mayor and those around him were true to their word and their beliefs they’d take down that RFA and repost it to explicitly state that the funds will only go toward “Promoting District Statehood.” I’m glad the city is putting $150,000 to fund organizations promoting District Statehood but funding “voting rights” seems aimed at one non-profit that hasn’t gotten us anywhere closer to what the mayor wants and what we all deserve as a right (statehood). This non-profit is good at organizing, has a good presence on Capitol Hill, but has not moved anything forward. I think specifically writing the RFA to say work must be focused on statehood would help push that non-profit and others to all be on the same page and to speak with the one voice for statehood.
The mayor and his administration are missing a big opportunity and could potentially be wasting $150,000 to fund an issue (limited voting rights) which the mayor has disparaged repeatedly in the past. $150,000 could do a lot of good getting grassroots organizers in all 130+ neighborhood in the District focusing on statehood. $150,000 could fund an outreach campaign to have a large march for statehood on Emancipation Day 2012. $150,000 could fund a whole lot of good work for statehood but mixing ‘voting rights’ in the RFA confuses the message and divides our movement.
The mayor should continue to speak with a clear voice and keep us all focused on statehood but his policies and funding practices need to reflect what comes out of his mouth. Mr. Mayor, put your (our)money where your mouth is and let’s stay focused on statehood.