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Quarter Debate Begins

A day after a citizens' advisory panel recommended that a design featuring Benjamin Banneker be used on the upcoming D.C. quarter, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton is speaking out to say that the decision is far from final. Norton contacted the U.S. Mint to be sure that the other two design finalists -- featuring Frederick Douglass and Duke Ellington -- are still in play and that D.C. residents' voices will be heard on the matter before Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson makes a final choice. The 11-member Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee made its recommendation of Banneker two days ago.

"D.C. residents will have an opportunity to express their views on the city's choice for the person who should be on the quarter during the comment period beginning later this week and finishing in late June," Norton said in a statement released by her office. "Apparently, the recommendation of the advisory committee is an expression of its own views and does not speak for the U.S. Mint, D.C. officials or the residents of the District of Columbia and does not
trump the city's final decision.

"I sought clarification from the Mint because I was concerned that any pre-approval, even by an advisory committee composed of people that do not even live in the District of Columbia, would be inappropriate," Norton said.

The city plans to solicit input from residents over the next month before making its recommendation to the Mint. The quarter will be minted early next year. In an unscientific poll at washingtonpost.com, the Douglass design garnered 46.7 percent of the 1,589 votes, compared with 27.7 for Ellington and 25.6 for Banneker.

By David A Nakamura  |  May 22, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  City Life , David Nakamura  
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