D.C. Playing a Political Name Game with Penn. Ave.
||Washington Examiner (DC)
||Thursday, January 13, 2011
The D.C. Council is looking for a way to create a constant reminder of the city's ongoing quest for statehood by renaming a portion of Pennsylvania Avenue, just blocks from the White House.
Thursday evening, at-large Councilman Michael Brown held a hearing where the public could suggest new names for Pennsylvania Avenue between the 1300 and 1400 blocks in Northwest.
That section sits near the White House and is well-traveled as thousands of tourists make the trek from the president's mansion to Capitol Hill. It also sits directly in front of the John A. Wilson Building, the District's city hall.
The council also wants to add a statehood-focused slogan to the District's gateway signs. But the city's elected shadow representatives said at the hearing that renaming a street in the city won't be enough unless it's followed by cash.
"It's not all about the Benjamins, but it's a lot about the Benjamins," said shadow U.S. Sen. Michael D. Brown. "We need to put real money and real muscle behind this."
The District has budgeted $200,000 for statehood lobbying efforts, compared with millions spent by Puerto Rico, Brown said.
"If we don't get our message out beyond our borders, [the name change] may be another empty, symbolic effort," said shadow U.S. Sen. Paul Strauss. The name change could make a difference, though, if it stirs up controversy, he said. "The best thing for us would be to get opposition," Strauss said. "We're doing this to call attention to us, and sometimes the best way to call attention is picking a fight."
On the list of names for the block of Pennsylvania Avenue: "Give D.C. Statehood Avenue," "Statehood for D.C. Avenue," "D.C. Demands Statehood Avenue," "D.C. Statehood Now Avenue," "D.C. Demands Full Democracy Avenue" and "Give D.C. Full Democracy Avenue."
On the list of names for gateway signs (all start with "Welcome to Washington"): "unrepresented in Congress for 200 years," "denied full democracy for over 200 years and counting," "the nation's capital and the country's last colony," "where over 600,000 residents are denied full democracy each day," "where over 600,000 residents are tasked with all the responsibilities of a state but afforded few of the rights," "where citizens are taxed but denied representation in Congress," "enjoy your stay and join our fight for Statehood," "ask your Representative to give D.C. a vote," and "tell Congress D.C. residents deserve statehood."