June 2022

Home rule

DC Elected Its Own Mayors Under Home Rule Before Congress Intervened

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Tuesday’s primary elections in DC mark nearly half a century since Congress extended home rule to the district in 1973. But there was an earlier, mostly forgotten chapter when local residents — some of between them, at least – voted in local elections until Congress shot them. immediately in the 1870s.

In 1820, Congress amended the DC charter to allow white men who owned property to vote for mayor, and it lifted the property requirement in 1848. As a young congressman, Abraham Lincoln drafted a bill to end slavery in the district, but in an early nod to self-rule, he made the legislation conditional on gaining the approval of a majority of white male residents. (Women did not gain the right to vote until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920.)

DC’s election is a status quo referendum against the Liberal reshuffle

The beginning of the end of the district’s home rule probably came in 1867, when Congress made it significantly more democratic by extending the vote to black men in Washington. President Andrew Johnson, an opponent of black enfranchisement, vetoed the bill, but both houses of Congress overrode it by wide margins at the height of Reconstruction. As Sen. Charles Sumner (R-Mass.) hopefully said, DC was to be “an example for the whole country, and especially for the South.”

Testifying in favor of a DC state bill before the US House Oversight Committee last year, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) described the local government that followed the Black Emancipation as a Brief Success Story:

The city’s biracial government desegregated city bureaucracy, provided jobs for a burgeoning black middle class, implemented massive public works projects, and supported the expansion of what became the best black public school system. from the country. Yet that very success sparked a backlash from white conservatives and business leaders who persuaded Congress to back out of biracial democracy.

After the Civil War ended in 1865, radical Republicans in Congress pushed through civil rights measures, including the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to former slaves, and the 15th Amendment, which granted black men citizenship. right to vote – three years after the extension of this right. direct current

When Matthew Gault Emery, the city’s last mayor of this period, took office in 1870, he inherited a government that had accumulated large debts. While criticizing the extravagant spending of his predecessors, Emery announced that more spending would be needed to deal with debt and fund public works projects. He built schools and cleared the streets of pigs, goats and geese.

The interracial romance that stunned Washington – twice! — in 1867

At the time, Congress was seeking to undermine the domestic regime, including a proposal to make the city a territory, which Emery, unsurprisingly, opposed.

“If the people of the district are not able to govern themselves, the people’s government will be seen as a failure in the national capital. I am not ready to make such an admission,” Emery said. Congress voted for the proposal anyway, and in 1871 President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law.

The resulting hybrid form of government significantly eroded local control, with the president appointing a new governor and legislative council, while residents could vote for members of a new House of Delegates and for a delegate without the right to vote. vote in the United States House. But it didn’t last long: Congress abolished this system in 1874 after a congressional investigation found cost overruns, untendered contracts, and other problems under the head of the Board of Works. public appointed by the president, Alexander Shepherd.

“Alexander ‘Boss’ Shepherd’s massive public works projects had bankrupted Washington’s short-lived territorial government elected by black and white voters,” wrote Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood in their 1994 book, “Dream City : Race, Power, and the Decline”. from Washington, D.C. »

In its place, Congress proposed a temporary plan for the city to be run by three commissioners appointed by the president.

The Nation, a magazine founded by abolitionists in 1865, condemned the abolition of home rule, writing: “Under this bill there remains no vestige of popular municipal administration: aldermen, town councillors, mayors , boards of directors, school boards, police boards, primaries, conventions, everything is swept away, and the whole government is handed over to three men, appointed by a foreign authority, responsible not to their fellow citizens, but to the president and the president. Senate.

In 1878, Congress—which was now divided after the Southern Democrats returned—made this system permanent.

Haiti paid reparations to slavers. Just like Washington, D.C.

“The men of the district, white and black, rich and poor, lost their right to vote. They wouldn’t have cast another meaningful vote for a century,” wrote Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove in their 2017 book, “Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital.”

If there was any doubt about the role race played in the denial of autonomy less than a decade after black men won the vote, a U.S. senator from Alabama and former Confederate general named John Tyler Morgan made the link explicit. In the Senate in 1890, he compared Congress’s decision to abolish self-government in DC to the slaughter of animals in Kansas to prevent the spread of disease affecting livestock.

Sen. John Ingalls (R-Kan.) continued the metaphor: “Burn down the barn to get rid of the rats.

“Yes, burning the barn to get rid of the rats,” Morgan replied, explaining, “The rats being the black people and the barn being the government of the District of Columbia.”

Morgan, a plantation owner, said that after black people “flooded” into Washington, Congress had no choice but to strip the vote of everyone in DC:

Faced with this influx of black people from surrounding states, the Senate and House of Representatives, in order to preserve property rights and administrative decency in the central government of the United States here around the very walls of the Capitol, have deemed it necessary to disenfranchise every man in the District of Columbia, whatever may have been his reputation or character or property holdings, in order thus to get rid of that charge of black suffrage which has been inundated upon them.

Nearly 70 years later, DC residents won the right to vote in presidential elections after the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1961. But it wasn’t until Christmas Eve in 1973 that President Richard M. Nixon – plagued by the Watergate scandal – signed a law giving DC the power of the house that Washingtonians could vote for leaders in their own city.

“As the nation approaches the 200th anniversary of its founding, it is especially appropriate to assure those who live in our capital city the rights and privileges long enjoyed by most of their countrymen,” Nixon said in a statement.

The president said he voted for a self-government bill as a congressman in 1948 and called himself a “longtime supporter of self-government for the District of Columbia,” although a Washington Post article at the time said the White House had not actively lobbied for the bill.

The following year, the city’s president-appointed mayor, Walter E. Washington, became DC’s first modern elected mayor. He was sworn in on January 2, 1975, by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

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Self government

Juneteenth should reinforce that we are all capable of self-government

Slavery in the United States ended in practice at the end of the Civil War. We can find the ideals of equality in our Declaration of Independence, who said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator…” Indeed, Christian influence and revivals in America have strongly reinforced the idea that we are all created in the image of God, creating a culture ripe for fuller freedoms and emancipation.

Yet America has often struggled to put into practice this simple truth contained in our Declaration. The rise of the American civil rights movement has helped raise awareness to live up to our founding ideals. Civil rights leaders frequently borrowed founding words and documents because they possessed great recognition and authority with the public – especially given that they wanted to persuade white households. The “Let Liberty Ring” repetition of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is a clear reference to the Liberty Bell.

Fortunately, just as the civil rights movement draws inspiration from the founders, we can learn from one of America’s most important moral movements. The obvious lesson is equality before the law and human dignity, but the idea of ​​autonomy or self-government follows directly from this. Our founding documents give us the principles and the dignity of self-government. Unfortunately, unlike any other era in our past, many Americans are struggling to fully embrace self-government.

The American civil rights movement, often referred to as the second American revolution, came up against entrenched prejudices and the idea that some were essentially destined to be serfs.

African Americans demanded change, and many of those changes were to be fully integrated into the day-to-day practice of self-government, including the right to vote where previously prohibited in large pockets of the South, and to end segregation and discrimination based on race. .

It was highly divisive as the movement publicly challenged traditions and laws, but supported through peaceful protests and the art of nonviolence. One of the striking characteristics of the movement is raw courage. An anecdote from the Reverend Fred Shuttleworth, the hero of the Birmingham campaign, provides an excellent example. Reprinted in 2011 New York Times obituary are these words about Shuttlesworth:

In one instance, on Christmas Eve 1956, he survived an attack in which six sticks of dynamite exploded outside his parsonage bedroom as he lay in bed. “The wall and floor were blown away,” Ms. McWhorter wrote, “and the mattress was lifted into the air, supporting Shuttlesworth like a magic carpet.”

When he attempted to enroll his children in an all-white school in 1957, Klansmen attacked him with bicycle chains and brass knuckles. When a doctor treating his head injuries marveled that he hadn’t suffered a concussion, Mr Shuttlesworth famously replied: “Doctor, the Lord knew I lived in a tough city, so he gave me a hard head.”

The most important aspect of the civil rights movement is that it helped to awaken a deeper moral culture in America. The federal government could no longer ignore discrimination, especially during the Cold War era, when the nation’s image and credibility came under increasing scrutiny. Yet ultimately, the change in racial discrimination had to come from the heart of the human person.

The ordained calls for justice and freedom – backed by the moral authority of foundation and scripture – are being met today with the mounting violence and chaos we see in the news too often centered on ideological objectives and not on first principles. If we are to improve our experience of self-government, these are the kinds of ideals we must embrace: virtue, order, respect for the rule of law, and a peaceful transition of power. Like the civil rights movement, we must be grounded in higher truths.

While America has faltered at many times due to racism and internal violence, we are still the greatest country in the world that has expanded freedom more than any other nation in history. Helping to rediscover these truths – including the principles of Juneteenth – can make us a nation where self-reliance not only keep on going but prosperous.

Ray Nothstine is an editor of the Carolina Journal and a Second Amendment fellow at the John Locke Foundation.

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Home rule

Scottish independence: “home rule” should be considered, says Labor MSP

Alex Rowley, who represents Midland Scotland and Fife in the Scottish Parliament, said “all options” should be on the table, including devo max alongside yes and no options.

He told the Herald on Sunday that Scotland was in a “constitutional impasse” which was unsustainable.

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The chances of the Scottish government winning the referendum tribunal battle are ‘pretty slim’, according to…

Scottish independence supporters hold a march and rally outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty

“It translates into bad government, rewards political parties for maintaining divisions, and so we have to find a way forward and fix it,” he said.

Mr Rowley said the division and healing of the nation could not be solved by ‘telling 50 per cent of the population that they were wrong’.

“The way forward must be an open, civil debate that looks at the issues and has all the options on the table,” he said.

“My own view is that the ‘home rule’ option should be considered part of the debate, but regardless, the significant and material change since 2014 means that the same binary choice is not more on the table.”

Party leader Anas Sarwar has always ruled out backing a second referendum and accused Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon of “pitting Scots against Scots”.

A Scottish Labor spokesperson said: “In the election, Nicola Sturgeon promised her priority would be our recovery from Covid. But, true to form, she returned to the politics of divisiveness and Scottish versus Scottish opposition.

“This is all a deliberate attempt to distract from his failures.

“Scottish Labor MSPs consistently point to the failure of his government to use the powers it already has to deal with the cost of living crisis, the pressures on our health services, the lack of action on our gap growing in education and failures in transport

“The next electoral contest in Scotland will not be a referendum – it will be a general election. It is an opportunity for change.

The SNP said Mr Rowley should change his ‘broken record’.

Rona MacKay told the Herald on Sunday that “nobody can trust” Scottish Labor to keep their word.

The Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP said: ‘Scottish Labor made the same vow to Scotland in 2014 and then broke that promise.

“No one can trust them to keep their word this time.

“And no amount of constitutional tinkering would protect Scotland from Brexit disaster or the Tory-created cost of living crisis.

“The only way for Scotland to escape the corrosive control of Westminster is with the full powers of independence.

“However, Alex Rowley clearly recognizes Scotland’s right to choose its own future in a referendum, so he should demand that his boss, Anas Sarwar, abandon his Donald Trump policy of denying clear democratic election results delivered. by the people of this country.”

Constitutional expert Aileen McHarg, professor of public law and human rights at Durham University, said the chances of the Scottish government winning a court battle over a second independence referendum are “pretty slim “.

The comments come after Ms Sturgeon launched her new campaign for independence in Edinburgh on Tuesday, with preparations underway to hold another referendum in October 2023.

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Home rule

Matteson asks voters for home rule as Tinley Park District 140 seeks new school

Matteson officials promise lower taxes and fees if voters approve a June 28 referendum giving the village self-governing authority.

Such a decision “provides a greater level of self-determination” and gives the village greater financial flexibility, according to the village.

This is the second time Matteson has tried to win self-government status, as the referendum was rejected by voters in 2014.

Also on the primary ballot, a referendum in Kirby Elementary District 140 in Tinley Park seeks approval to build a new school, paid for with available cash reserves.

The self-governing authority gives a community options to impose new taxes, such as a sales tax or transfer tax, on property sales. Matteson officials passed a resolution stating that they had no plans to implement a transfer tax if voters approved of self-government.

The village council also recently put a cap on the village tax levy, with no increase for five years, even if the bylaws are approved.

Matteson officials said plans include using self-government status to “diversify revenue streams” to become less dependent on property taxes as a source of revenue.

The village would eliminate, with the exception of commercial vehicles, vehicle vignette fees and also remove a 1% tax on food and beverages purchased from restaurants and other venues that have catering facilities.

Illinois communities with a population of at least 25,000 automatically receive self-governing authority, and some that are under that population have gone to voters to win self-governing powers.

Matteson’s population is 19,374, according to the 2020 census, up from just under 18,300 in 2010.

Along with a transfer tax, self-governing communities can enact a sales tax, and Matteson is considering such a tax to pay for infrastructure work, such as improving village streets.

According to the village, the self-governing authority would also allow it to use the tax revenue generated from its hotel/motel tax for general fund purposes.

Officials said a separate domestic tax could also be applied to goods shipped from an Amazon fulfillment center, which opened last fall.

At a town hall meeting on Thursday, where much of the discussion centered on the benefits of embracing self-reliance, Mayor Sheila Chalmers-Currin said voter approval “would take Matteson to the next level. “.

Financially and in terms of economic development, Matteson is succeeding, said village administrator Anthony Burton, but would benefit more from self-governing approval.

“We’re doing well and we can do better,” Burton said.

The home rule would also allow Matteson to enact tougher crime-free housing rules aimed at rental units, Police Chief Michael Jones said at the meeting.

“It gives us a bit more bite and responsibility,” he said.

Separately, Kirby District 140 is seeking voter approval to tap into cash reserves to build a new Fernway Park School just west of the existing school at 16600 88th Ave., Orland Park.

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The district said there would be no property tax impact on residents of the district, but voter approval is needed to tap the reserves for the project, which would see an 83,000 square foot school built. at an estimated cost of $34 million.

The district had last summer considered three options that included building from scratch or adding to the existing school and renovating the 42,000 square foot space.

Remodeling the existing building and adding 42,000 square feet cost $25.5 million, while the 25,000 square foot remodel and adding 65,000 square feet was estimated at $31 million, according to Superintendent Michael Byrne. Both of these options were deemed too disruptive to the functioning of the school.

With the new building, the district will consolidate early childhood programs at Fernway, centralizing services for preschoolers and freeing up classrooms at other elementary schools in the district, according to District 140.

If voters approve the plan, the district plans to start next year and have the new school ready for the 2024-25 school year.

The existing building will continue to be used during construction, but will eventually be demolished to make way for parking, a playground and green space, according to the district.

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Home rule

City Council embraces idea of ​​’bylaws’ that could change Clarksville government

CLARKSVILLE, TN (NOW CLARKSVILLE) — New legislation before City Council could trigger a referendum to reorganize the city of Clarksville under a “self-government” charter, and council members have questions. Questions such as, what is a self-governance charter?

The ordinance sponsored by council member Trisha Butler would add a referendum to the November ballot asking citizens if they would like Clarksville to have a self-government charter, something she has often expressed interest in.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise because I’ve been shouting this from my seat for the last year,” Butler said during Thursday’s meeting.

What are “house rules”?

In Tennessee, home rule allows a city to change its own charter — essentially the city’s constitution — by referendum. If Butler’s amendment is successful, home rule would be added to the November ballot.

Basically, under the Home Rule, citizens vote directly on charter amendments every two years. A common model involves the formation of a committee to draft amendments, which are then added to the ballot.

Clarksville currently has a “private deed” charter, which requires approval from the state legislature to change. A home rule charter would remove state government from the equation, returning the affairs of the city to the citizens.

“Essentially, we can change our charter at the city level after allowing Clarksville residents to vote on amendments to our charter,” Butler said at the meeting. “It basically says we can make the best decisions for Clarksville rather than the state legislature, specifically that people should get more of a voice in what we do here.

Local self-government also allows citizens to add amendments via a petition.

According to Butler, 17 cities in Tennessee have self-government charters, including Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis.

“Too Big to Be Wrong”

Several council members have expressed concerns about a referendum on the domestic regime.

Brian Zacharias told fellow council members he fears a self-governance charter could lead to politicizing the city charter by subjecting it to the campaign process, which is often dictated by the party that spends more that the other.

Furthermore, he suggested that the domestic regime is a complicated issue and voters may not have enough time to make an informed decision by November.

“I think the simplicity of the question, ‘Should Clarksville adopt home rule?’ belies the seriousness of the consequences of this decision. How many voters understand what this question really asks? How many people in this room understand what this question really asks?

“Before we put this on the ballot, I think the city owes some information to its residents,” Zacharias said. “It’s too big to be wrong. We need the highest turnout possible, and we need those voters to fully understand what they’re being asked to consider.

Councilwoman Stacey Streetman voiced her opposition to a Home Rule referendum, suggesting that the city’s current structure is working and doesn’t need fixing.

“Our government has worked efficiently and effectively since our incorporation. We’ve been a private deed charter for a long time,” Streetman said.

Vondell Richmond, Wanda Smith, Karen Reynolds and Joe Shakeenab expressed similar concerns, citing the need for more information.

“A lot of things are catastrophic”

Butler responded by suggesting that these concerns underestimate the average voter, and that while three months is enough time to decide which candidate to vote for, that’s enough time to learn more about autonomy.

“I’m really disappointed with the amount of mistrust I’m hearing for the voter, for the citizen. … The fact that things are getting politicized should not overwhelm the voice of the people,” Butler said.

Butler called some concerns “catastrophic,” but said she could see the benefit of postponing a referendum until the next presidential election, which still sees the highest turnout in Montgomery County, and that would be in November 2024.

Wallace Redd and Ambar Marquis joined Butler in expressing support for a self-government referendum.

City Council will vote at its meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. If passed, the measure will require a second vote at the next meeting currently scheduled for July 7.

Correction: A previous version of this article should have stated that the ordinance sponsored by council member Trisha Butler would add a referendum to the November ballot.

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