Yes, your favorite on-line and purely subjective awards for achievement in the push for D.C. Statehood are back. 2016 was filled with highs, lows, twists, and turns as it relates to D.C. Statehood. Progress was made in some areas and we had a few setbacks in others but most importantly the work goes on and the cause endures! Without further adieu let’s get to our 2016 Hoodie Award Winners:
Hoodies for Good Deeds:
Hoodie for Clear Collective Voice: D.C. Voters
On November 8, 2016, over 244,000 District voters, 86% of those who voted on the referendum, voted in support of D.C. Statehood. Let there be no mistake that the people of D.C. spoke with a clear and collective voice telling our friends, families, and neighbors in the 50 states (and their elected representatives in Congress) that we have chosen statehood as our democratic destiny. The people of D.C. want equal treatment nothing more nothing less.
Hoodie for Vision: Mayor Muriel Bowser, Chairman Phil Mendelson, Sens. Michael Brown & Paul Strauss, and Rep. Franklin Garcia – Statehood Initiative
Though an imperfect process (see below) the Statehood Commission statehood initiative in 2016 deserves praise. The District’s statehood initiative put a renewed and substantive focus on many of the steps we need to take to become a state and culminated with a clear and overwhelming vote for D.C. statehood. The vote in November is now something that statehood advocates can point to as the first vote for statehood and by an overwhelming margin by District voters in over 30 years.
Hoodie for Outreach Strategy: D.C. League of Women Voters
In 2016, after several years of hard behind the scenes work the D.C. League of Women Voters got the National League of Women Voters to adopt a resolution in support of D.C. Statehood putting this national civil rights group on record in support of statehood. Then, with support of a grant from the District Government, the D.C. League went to 5 states to meet with local League chapters to educate their members on the statehood cause in an effort to enlist them as our state-level advocates for statehood. This is a model that should be replicated with Unions, Civil Rights & Voting Rights Groups, Religious Groups, and other groups to build a real national movement for statehood.
Hoodie for Trusting the People: David Grosso, Elissa Silverman, Robert White, Charles Allen, Kenyan McDuffie, Brianne Nadeau, Yvette Alexander, and Laruby May.
During the Council’s review of the statehood constitution approved at the “Constitutional Convention” the aforementioned Councilmembers voted to ensure that post-statehood there would be a real and more democratic constitutional convention made up of delegates elected by the people and that the subsequent constitution would go directly to the people for a vote. These Councilmembers stood tall by working to ensure a more democratic constitutional convention takes place so that the people of D.C., for the first time ever, can truly have final say over the structure of our own government. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Hoodie for Best Behind the Scenes Work: DC Council Staff
You know who you are but there were staff from half a dozen Council staff fully engaged on trying to understand the rushed constitution, listening to citizens concerns about the constitution, and then working with their bosses to amend the constitution to make it better. Council staff deserve a lot of praise for their hard and thoughtful work to make the constitution approved on November 8th a more democratic document. Well done, y’all!!!
Hoodie for Best Business: The Pug
Businesses across the District support statehood but The Pug and its owner, Tony Tomelden, took an extra step in standing up for the District. Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA) said that D.C. deserved a recession. Wishing economic ill on the people of D.C. was too much for the Pug so they organized a fundraiser for his opponent. He ended up winning re-election against Monica Vernon but the Pug’s action should be precedent setting. When members of Congress threaten the well being of the District we should stand up against them not just by blocking traffic but by threatening their jobs. We hope that more District citizens and businesses talk with their checkbooks in future elections so that we support those who support us and go after those who oppose us.
Hoodie for the 4th Estate: Tom Sherwood
As the Dean of the D.C. Press Corps Mr. Sherwood’s sharp wit and biting questions help cut through B.S. and to the heart of the issue at hand. Mr. Sherwood keeps us all honest by asking tough question and holding a mirror to us all. Tough, hard, and thoughtful questions don’t just help keep the public informed on what’s going on but the serve as a challenge to activists and politicians to do better. He also deserves an award for two phrases he’s coined and made popular: 1) The District of Columbia is the most un-American place in American and 2) Local Washington is only as good as the people active in it. Thanks for being who you are, Mr. Sherwood.
Hoodies for Not So Good Deeds:
Hoodie for Worst Constitutional Convention: Statehood Commission
Is there a crystal clear structure that all constitutional conventions should follow? Nope, however, the process for developing a constitution in 2016 led by the Statehood Commission veered far from the spirit of most constitutional conventions. While the constitutional convention did provide numerous venues for public input on the constitution it proved no opportunities for public empowerment on the development of the constitution. Five elected officials made up the Statehood Commission and only they could offer amendments and vote on them to the constitution despite the fact that none of them were elected on the premise that they’d be empowered to draft a constitution on behalf of the voters. We should expect better, we should have done better, and we will do better.
Hoodie for Worst Election Result: November 8, 2016
President Elect Trump does not have a clear policy position on D.C. statehood (Secretary Clinton, Gov. Gary Johnson, and Dr. Jill Stein all were in favor and lost). So while our president elect is still a statehood wild card Republicans in House & Senate, many of whom are both anti-statehood and anti-Home Rule, now control both bodies and that really sucks for the District. With the GOP controlling both Houses of Congress ideologues and shameless hypocrites like Reps. Mark Meadows, Jason Chaffetz, and Andy Harris along with their Senatorial hypocritical brethren like Sen. Rand Paul and Mark Lee now have open legislative paths to repeal the District’s gun, abortion, and anti-discrimination laws as well as a the potential to repeal budget autonomy itself. Does it seem like repealing DC laws is the top of PEOTUS’ agenda? No. Does it seem likely that the shameless congressional hypocrites will push their anti-DC agenda? Yes. Does it seem likely that PEOTUS would veto anti-DC laws? No. In other words, the election on November 8, 2016 seems like a big-time threat for autonomy in the District of Columbia but only time will tell.
Hoodie for Trusting Voters to Elect You But Not Trusting Voters to Elect Others: Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, and Phil Mendelson
These three Councilmembers led the failed effort to have the Council (Legislative Assembly) post-statehood have the final editing rights on any constitution drafted by elected delegates at a constitutional convention. There were/are a couple of troubling facets to this line of thinking: First, they are more than happy to trust the voters to elect them to make laws but they don’t trust the voters to elect others to draft a constitution. And second, there’s an inherent conflict where the constitutional convention could change the powers of the legislature then the legislature itself changes that (probably to protect their powers) before voters can vote on it. At that point why even have a constitutional convention since the legislature would have the final say anyhow?
Hoodie for Worst Fucking Congressman: Mark Meadows (R-NC)
This is by far the most competitive category as many members of Congress go out of their way to grandstand at the expense of the people of the District. Given Representative Meadows’ role as head of the District’s Oversight Sub-Committee he gets the award for his “ALLOW Act.” The ALLOW Act would not only wipe away some licensing requirements required of small businesses in the District but the bill would REQUIRE the creation of a committee or subcommittee within the Council to deal with occupational licensing issues. Yes, this ‘local control over local affairs’ hypocrite wants to not just change D.C. laws but he wants to force the creation of a new committee or subcommittee within the Council to deal with these issues.
That’s it for the 2016 Hoodies now lets all aim to get Hoodies for Good Deeds in 2017!!!