D.C. Shadow Representative Mike Panetta thinks it’s time for the statehood movement to step up to the plate.
Panetta wants the District to replace the "Taxation Without Representation" message on its license plates with the phrase "The 51st State." He says the current plates are "about 10 years old at this point, and I think they’ve lost their effectiveness. More importantly, they are out of line with what we really deserve -- full statehood."
DCist’s Martin Austermuhle writes that those plates were first issued in 2000, and more than a million had been distributed by 2006. President Bill Clinton, a lukewarm D.C. rights supporter, had the plates on his official limo, but President George W. Bush had them removed in 2001.
Many representation advocates had hoped President Barack Obama would restore the plates, but he has yet to do so. WTOP’s Mark Plotkin took Obama to task for this failure, and others on D.C. issues, in an April Washington Post op-ed.
Panetta and other advocates for D.C. statehood or representation have long recognized that symbolic measures are important, especially since the city draws tens of thousands of visitors each year who are unaware of the District’s plight. A poll taken in 2005 showed that 78 percent of Americans believed D.C. residents had full representation in Congress. When told they did not, 82 percent said that they should.
In other Pseudostate of Columbia news, D.C. is getting its very own "state fair." The event will be held in tandem with Columbia Heights Day at Tubman Elementary School Aug. 28. Its creators say that while D.C. "is home to gardeners, cooks, bakers, photographers, [and] artists," but there is no "state fair to celebrate the home-grown talents of the District." They hope to change that.
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