City Desk

Taxation Without “Best Doctors”?

Last weekend, with another D.C. statehood protest underway outside the White House, Washingtonian editor Garrett M. Graff tweeted out some thoughts: “Congress might be more willing to give DC more rights if DC elected people who seemed more worthy of power.”

For a veteran of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, never mind the editor of a District-based publication, it seemed a strangely undemocratic impulse. Why should Washingtonians’ autonomy be contingent on who D.C. voters elect? No one’s talking about putting Congress in charge of the Illinois whose citizens elected Rod Blagojevich, after all.

So we asked Graff to expound, in more than 140 characters. His response?

My tweeted observation had less to do with voting rights—there’s no reasonable excuse for D.C. residents not to have voting rights—and more to do with the governance issues D.C. faces as a federal district. I do think there’s a certain disconnect when the D.C. Council and mayor’s office complains that Congress treats them like children, when their own behavior seems to indicate that they shouldn’t be trusted with more authority... If the mayor and the city council want to prove they’re capable of governing D.C. without Congress looking over their shoulder, they should strive to be paragons of good governance. This spring especially, I don’t think they’ve met that standard.

Consider yourself chastised, Wilson Building! But don’t worry: If Washingtonian’s disapproval leaves a bruise, the magazine can recommend a plastic surgeon to take care of it.

Screen grab from CNN

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
  • Martin

    So there's "no reasonable excuse" for D.C. residents not having voting rights, but then Graff lays out a seemingly reasonable excuse (local officials behaving badly)?


  • Grace

    This is a total non-story. I couldn't agree more with the sentiment. DC governance has been nothing but an embarrassment to its residents this year, which is hardly likely to convince congress we can take care of ourselves.

  • Reid

    Number of balanced budgets soon to be passed by the DC Council: 1

    Number of balanced budgets soon to be passed by Congress: 0

    We may have our tacky scandals and some low grade corruption, but we're paragons compared to Congress.

  • Michael

    See, this is the thing: not only is Graff's statement inane, but it's looking at the wrong side of the problem. DC's lack of autonomy is a contributor to its poor local governance: why would you want to be elected to a powerless body? The creme of the (potential) DC crop move elsewhere to run for office.

  • BrunchBird

    So his contention is that a predominantly black city's voters must be twice as good as their counterparts everywhere else in the country? Groundbreaking theory.

  • mike

    Does remind me of the paternalistic, head patting apologists for segregation who advised blacks to "be patient" in the '50s. If "good behavior" were the requirement for legislative autonomy, there should be a lot of other federal districts out there.Although, frankly they can keep the "representation" if they got rid of the "taxation" part.

  • Stray

    Isn't Graff's argument a bit condescending and demonstrative of a colonial mindset?

    Riddle me this: If DC hasn't earned the right to statehood in Congress's eyes, why the heck has Congress attempted to fast track Puerto Rico to become a state? Anyone who looks at Puerto Rico's problems with rampant public corruption (look up former governors "Pedro Rossello" and "Anibal Acevedo" online to see how half of Rossello's cabinet went to jail and how Anibal was questioned by the FBI), unemployment (15%), economic outlook (all signs point to "bad"), % of the population on federal assistance (nearly HALF the island's population). Nevermind that in plebiscites the Puerto Rican population has consistently voted against statehood. How, in Congress's eyes, has Puerto Rico earned the "right" to opt for statehood?

    Sorry but the "DC hasn't earned the right" statement doesn't fly if you compare us to other territories that Congress has pushed to become states. Don't get me started on the Northern Marianas...