It has been a grueling month for District residents insulted time and time again by Republican congressional leaders attacking the D.C. Home Rule Charter. The most recent assault came from U. S. Rep. John Mica (R-Fl.) responding to President Barack Obama’s comment about supporting statehood for the District of Columbia.
Stand Up! For Democracy in D.C. (Free DC) has launched an aggressive campaign to respond to the derogatory remarks made by Rep. Mica and to send a message to others on Capitol Hill – racism will not be tolerated.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said nobody can ride your back if you stand up. It’s time to stand up and stop the constant bullying of DC residents by members of Congress,” said Anise Jenkins, executive director Stand Up! For Democracy in D.C. (Free DC).
On July 21, President Barack Obama spoke about DC’s right to statehood. “I’m in DC, so I’m for it,” Obama said at the Walker Jones Educational Campus. “Folks in DC pay taxes like everybody else. They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be represented like everybody else. And it’s not as if Washington, D.C. is not big enough compared to other states. There has been a long movement to get DC statehood and I’ve been for it for quite some time.”
Three days later, the wolves attacked as if they were intimidating slaves running to freedom. “The president must be spending too much time in Colorado, because you’d have to be high to think that Congress or anyone else is going to support making the District of Columbia the 51st state,” said Mica.
Mica agreed that D.C. residents should have full rights but under these conditions. “I think one of the things we might consider is giving back most of the District [of Columbia] to Maryland, just keep the public buildings in the District and possibly disband the D.C. Council,” Mica said.
District leaders express their disagreement.
“He is a known District basher. John Mica finds that he cannot get press in Washington unless he bashes the District,” said U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Sen. Michael D. Brown, (D-DC) agreed. “Rep. Mica has never been a friend of the District of Columbia, but this time his remarks are reprehensible. They illustrate his long standing contempt for the good citizens of the nation’s capital,” said Brown, who has no voting rights in the senate.
Mica also said the controversies surrounding past and present elected leaders in the District cause him some unease. “I’m very concerned about the lack of integrity,” he said. “Some of the officials have had to step down. Some need to step down and hopefully we’ll get some new blood here because the District’s demographics are changing.”
But according to a report by Citizens for Ethics in Washington (CREW), that monitors how elected officials on Capitol Hill use their position to benefit themselves or family, Mica’s career is also marred with controversy. The report states that Mica has the most family members registered to lobby or employed in government affairs. Mica earmarked $13 million to his daughter’s client’s business. Although Mica is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, several of his family members lobby for corporations that benefit from his position.
“Rep. Mica’s statements are ridiculous. DC’s recent corruption scandals are not unique. New York’s state legislature buffets from scandal-to-scandal, and no one has suggested New York’s statehood should be revoked,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW executive director. “Similarly, Congress has suffered a number of corruption scandals, but it does not mean the entire body should be disbanded. The solution to public corruption is tough anti-corruption laws, swift and thorough investigation of misconduct, and severe consequences for wrongdoers.”
“Rep. Mica is playing games with the lives of real people in D.C. who struggle to support their families and make ends meet. We have 16 years of balanced budgets in D.C. We deserve respect, and equality, and the right to govern ourselves,” said Lorie Masters, past president of the Women’s Bar Association of D.C.
DC Statehood Now! Free DC! is encouraging people around the country to tweet, blog, email, call, or write to Mica’s office to express yourself. “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones,” said Jenkins.