December 2000 Newsletter
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM DC VOTE
We are delighted to send holiday greetings and to report on the considerable successes that DC Vote has had in the last year. This year DC Vote established itself as the leading group in the drive to achieve full voting representation in Congress for the citizens of the District of Columbia. We have attracted a wide range of supporters through our dynamic and much-lauded presence on the web at www.dcvote.org and through regular appearances in the media.
Our new office, in the vibrant U Street corridor, has become the busy drop-in center we hoped it would be, bringing in volunteers and holiday shoppers who are choosing DC Vote merchandise as gifts. We are reaching school children in the District and beginning to work with college students around the country. In this presidential election year, we engaged the candidates on our issue of fundamental democratic rights. One of the most exciting developments is that the city is abuzz with a new commitment to work to finally achieve full voting rights.
We need your help in building on our success. To fulfill our strategic plan, we must create an organization with the resources to conduct a national campaign on behalf of our "Taxation Without Representation" message. The nation has shown how much it values every single vote. DC Vote is committed to raising awareness about the fact that every resident of the District wants his or her vote to count in Congress.
We invite you to join our efforts. If you have been a loyal volunteer, we want to personally thank you. If you are unsure about how to get involved, allow us to make two suggestions. First, please join with District families in welcoming the 107th Congress on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2001 on the Senate side of the Capitol building. Our goal is to have 100 families greet the families of the members of Congress as they are being sworn in on January 3rd by delivering 535 baskets brimming with local D.C. information.
Second, we urge you to consider giving DC Vote merchandise to your friends, family, and neighbors for the holidays. DC Vote t-shirts are already spreading the word about D.C.'s "Taxation Without Representation" all over the globe, including Costa Rica, India, Chile, Guatemala, Ireland, Kenya, Gaza, and Egypt.
GET YOUR "TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION" HOLIDAY GIFTS
Now's the time to get your "Taxation Without Representation" merchandise to give to friends and relatives. You can stop by our office at 1500 U Street during regular business hours (M-F, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) to get t-shirts, license plate holders, and key chains. Our t-shirts are also available at the popular athletic store Fleet Feet at 1861 Columbia Road.
"GIVE IT BACK" EFFORT GETS OFF TO A SUCCESSFUL START
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton launched her six-week campaign to get back her vote in Congress to overflow crowds in two recent meetings on Capitol Hill. On Tuesday, December 5th, Ms. Norton introduced Ralph Neas, Executive Director of People for the American Way, who will manage the effort. Ms. Norton had a vote on the floor of the house briefly, before it was revoked by the 106th Congress in 1994. DC Vote looks forward to focusing our coalition efforts on this campaign throughout January. Please join us. A new website has been created for this campaign. Check it out at www.giveitback.org.
DC Vote would like to thank the Stern Family Fund and the Trellis Foundation for their generous support of our programs.
JOIN US IN WELCOMING THE 107TH CONGRESS ON JANUARY 3, 2001
On Wednesday, January 3rd, 2001 District families will greet the families of the 107th Congress as a personal follow-up to a letter of welcome sent by DC Vote to the new Congress. Please call us at 202-462-6000 if you would like to help with this event. The letter to congressional members, old and new, highlighted the discrepancy between the rights enjoyed by their constituents and those living in the nation's capital, and called on them to support full voting representation for D.C. In the letter, DC Vote Executive Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer wrote:
As you consider your policy priorities for this first session, I invite you to think about those of us living in the nation's capital where you serve. Your constituents have voted you into office, and you, in accordance with our national democratic principles, will dutifully serve them. Your voice will be heard, and your votes will be cast on behalf of those who put their trust in you.
Unfortunately, you will not be joined on Capitol Hill by a member of Congress who can do the same for the 515,000 people living in Washington, D.C. In spite of the fact that we pay taxes, serve in the military, and fulfill the duties and responsibilities of citizenship - exactly as your constituents do - the citizens of the District of Columbia are denied the fundamental democratic right of "one person, one vote."
D. C. DRIVERS TELL TYRANNY TO "HIT THE ROAD"
Some 870 D.C. drivers came out to the Department of Motor Vehicles early on Saturday, November 4th to trade in their old license plates for the revolutionary new ones bearing the proclamation "Taxation Without Representation." Drivers came from all wards of the city, some arriving as early as 3:30 in the morning to guarantee that they could be among the first to make this important statement to the world. Mayor Anthony Williams, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and members of The D.C. Council joined the staff of the D.C. DMV, DC Vote, and the Shaw Junior High School Marching Band to celebrate and discover the new plate.
Among those at the podium was Sarah Shapiro, who is credited with being the first to publicize the idea. She drove home with the words "MY IDEA" on her new plates. We know of at least one supporter who got her new plate just in time for a cross-country road trip, on which she also carried our t-shirts, and bumper stickers.
IN MEMORIAM: CHARLES RUFF
The D.C. Voting rights movement lost a great friend
last month with the unexpected passing of Charles
"Chuck" Ruff. Almost two years ago, when the nation's
eyes were glued to the impeachment trial of President
Clinton, Chuck Ruff introduced himself to the Senate
as the president's lawyer. He also introduced himself
to the nation by saying "my name is Charles Ruff and
I am from the District of Columbia, and we don't have
a vote in the Congress of the United States." This
simple statement spoke volumes about Chuck Ruff and
what he meant to our efforts. Of all the things he
could have said when he opened the President's defense,
he bravely made a personal political statement to
point out the injustice of our disenfranchisement
and the proceedings as they related to his hometown.
It was Chuck's example on the floor of the Senate that led us to start asking other national leaders who live in D.C. to open their speeches by letting people know that we are not fully enfranchised citizens. He was delighted when we told him we had started to do this and that we had been getting a great response from those we had approached. Although he has been eulogized in many places, we want to offer our own tribute to a man who served the District well in many capacities, and most especially as a champion of full equality for his fellow citizens. His passing leaves a void in our city and a challenge to DC Vote--to finally achieve the equality he believed in so passionately.