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Strategy Session on Voting Rights Today

At-Large D.C. Councilmember Michael A. Brown (I) is chair of the council's new Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination.

Today he's holding his first "statehood strategy" meeting with statehood and voting rights advocates. He's invited a long roster of organizations, including: DC Vote, DC Statehood Green Party, Statehood Now! Yes We Can, DC Represent, Stand Up! For Democracy in DC Coalition, Common Cause, DC Appleseed, DC Chamber of Commerce, DC Democratic State Committee, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, DC for Democracy, League of Women Voters , NAACP, National League of Cities, National Urban League, DC GOP, Our Nation's Capital American Heritage Foundation, and People for the American Way.

It will be interesting to see the turnout in room 502 at the John A. Wilson Building at 4 p.m. The city is already in a bad state on the represenation question. The fight for one full vote in the U.S. House is forcing residents to face choosing between gun laws and the vote.

The council committee, in fact, owes its very origins to the vexing vote fight. It set up the panel on March 3 after the U.S. Senate attached its gun rider to the vote bill that U.S. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and others at first thought would sail through a majority Democratic Congress on the wings of President Barack Obama. But we now know better.

None of it is pretty. Just last week Mayor Adrian M. Fenty was at odds with Norton and members of the council who were upset the mayor would say aloud what many know: That if the vote bill is going to pass, it probably will mean the city surrendering to Congress the power to regulate guns.

And as statehood purists will point out, all of that trouble isn't even over the fight for statehood. They see the one vote issue as a distraction from the all-out push for statehood, which would make the current struggles on the Hill look like a playground spat. Everyone knows that statehood is the toughest challenge, and no one sees a real way to get there.

So just how do you navigate a big strategy session when everyone isn't even on the same page?

Councilmembers Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), Kwame Brown (D-At Large), Mary Cheh, (D-Ward 3) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) are also members of the committee. Brown will need all the help he can get.

He said in the statement announcing the meeting, "We must seize the moment to move collaboratively on this issue of self-determination for the more than 500,000
District residents, who deserve to be full participants in the American democratic process. At this initial meeting, I expect us to find common ground for advancing the cause!"

D.C. Wire believes that might take more than one meeting.

By Marcia Davis  |  March 24, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Voting Rights  
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Here's some advice about the legislative process: Anytime you want all OR nothing, you will end up with NOTHING!

Compromise and incremental progress are the only ways you will accomplish anything at all.

Posted by: ArtKelly | March 24, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Remember...having 2nd amendment rights as a law abiding citizen is considered a good thing by the majority. The strategy should be about getting rid of anyone on the DC council that has caught the Hugo Chavez bug.

Posted by: civilrightist | March 24, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

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