Monday, March 03, 2008

Mayor Fenty folds like than a clean sheet on DC Quarter inscription

On Friday, or Take Out the Trash Day, Mayor Fenty released news that his office had resubmitted designs for the new quarter. Gone are the flag and the "Taxation Without Representation" inscription. Those are substituted with Frederick Douglass and the inscription "Justice For All", which is the English translation of the District's motto Justitia Omnibus.

Wow! Talk about a guy that is really committed to DC's injustice. Rather than just wait a little and let a grassroots movement development, he quickly folded to the demands of the Mint. The Mayor's letter to the Mint isn't very enlightening about why he had to move so quickly.

I'm a big fan of the Mayor, but at a town-hall style meeting I asked him directly what he would do to educate Americans about the strange situation for DC residents. He told me he'd do everything he could and that he hoped that our status would change under his administration. Clearly he isn't that committed to the cause.

Again, I'd like to revisit the idea that "Taxation Without Representation" is controversial. There is nothing controversial about it. It is a fact of life for 600,000 DC residents. There is nothing more controversial about that than phrases like the "sun rises in the east" or "a picture paints a 1000 words".

What was controversial to me was the declaration that my status as a disenfranchised taxpayer is controversial. The response by the DC mayor's office was controversial because he just rolled over. The original phrase wasn't controversial. The rejection and response were.

I do see where those that think this phrase is controversial. But they are making one extra step that doesn't need to be. Being good Democrats several commentors would want to do something about the injustice; namely give DC residents representation in Congress. That move is certainly controversial, but is an additional step from the original phrase. Some of my good Republican friends don't make that jump. They don't think anything needs to be changed for DC residents. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution clearly lays out that the District is not a State and gives all power over the District to the Federal Congress. They see this as a clear prescription by the Founding Fathers as to what to do about the District. Others, like DC Nemesis, have said that maybe DC should join the rest of America's territories and not pay federal income tax. Again, that's controversial, but one additional step from the phrase "Taxation Without Representation"

As far as adding "No" to the phrase, I'm not sure makes much difference. In fact, the "no" seems to make a stronger demand on the reader because of the double negative in the phrase. But I'd be willing to go with that if the Mint would sign off on it.