What Won't Be On The D.C. Quarter (Nice Try, Mr. Mayor)
Mayor Adrian Fenty's three proposals for the design of the D.C. quarter have about as much chance to be accepted by the U.S. Mint's state coins program as I have of winning simultaneous admission to the Soccer and Pet-Lovers Halls of Fame.
There's nothing objectionable about Fenty's suggestions that the District flag or the images of Benjamin Banneker or Duke Ellington grace the obverse of the coin when it's finally Washington's turn to get our own coin. But in all three of the mayor's recommendations, those images would be accompanied by the slogan "Taxation Without Representation." And the federal government is about as likely to approve that message as Rush Limbaugh is to launch a torrid affair with Hillary Clinton.
In fact, if those three words end up on U.S. currency, I hereby promise to spend a week as the mayor's personal valet.
The slogan that has appeared on D.C. license plates since 2000 "is evocative of the battle cries which mobilized the founding of this nation," says Fenty's filing with the U.S. Mint. But the mayor was nervous enough about how the slogan would be received by the Mint that he included with the official recommendations a two-page memo from the Secretary of the District, Stephanie Scott, arguing that the "Taxation without Representation" phrase "defines the District of Columbia."
I don't know how hard they were chuckling to themselves over at the Wilson Building when they put together this memo, but I congratulate them for having the guts to make the attempt. Since the official design criteria for the 50 State Quarter Program state that "priority consideration will be given to designs that are enduring representations of the state," the District's government argues that hey, the license plates have been around for a whopping eight years, and a million of them have been issued. And if you don't like that argument, try this one: "Taxation without Representation is more than a phrase, it is a daily fact of life." (And it's a floor wax and a dessert topping.)
The fact is we have no vote in Congress. "The issue itself is self-evident and stands without either controversy or contravention," the city's memo says. So I guess all those court battles, congressional debates, street demonstrations, lobbying campaigns and education efforts I've been covering for the past 22 years were all one happy, harmonious embrace. But again, you gotta love the mayor for giving this the old college try.
The memo culminates in a ringing analogy to the Boston Tea Party, "a defining moment of the value Americans place on democracy." (Yes, the whole memo is written in this clumsy style.)
"Taxation without Representation stands as an apolitical and nonpartisan motto; a declarative and defining fact about the District of Columbia. We are neither advocating for any particular solution nor making any type of call to action. As such, we feel that this motto, like the distinguished mottos which appear on our currency today, would make a fitting, appropriate, dignified, historical and educational addition to the design of the District of Columbia's quarter...."
Ok, prize time: The reader who comes closest to guessing the date on which the Mint tells the District to forget about its slogan wins a fine selection from this here blog's Vast Vault of Values--with a bonus gift to the reader who comes closest to predicting the language and tone of the blow-off letter the Mint sends the mayor. Please post your entries here on the comment board. When the actual rejection letter arrives and is reported in the Post, I will review your entries, pick the winners and report back to you, at which time the winners will be asked to contact me to claim their rewards.
Have at it. (And if any of you believe the mayor will prevail on this one, please come ahead with that prediction--you too can be a winner. Yeah, right.)
By Marc Fisher |
February 27, 2008; 8:11 AM ET
Previous: I'll Have The Chicken--And By The Way, I'm Packing | Next: Mint to D.C.: Leave It On Your License Plates
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