There’s no getting around it. The next couple years are going to be a difficult time to get a DC voting rights bill through Congress. Most advocates readily concede the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives brings to a close a period once thought to be pretty close to perfect. Now the city may be forced to play defense, out of concern the new GOP majority will seek to reverse the progress the city has made on controversial issues such as needle exchange, medical marijuana and marriage equality.
Today on NewsTalk, voting rights advocates Mike Panetta and Pat Mara talked about the future of the voting rights movement. As you’ll hear in this clip, Mara, a Republican community activist from Ward 1, thinks the city needs to get serious in its efforts to woo GOP lawmakers, while Panetta, one of the city’s unpaid “shadow” representatives, believes DC leaders must find a way to get members of Congress off the Hill and into DC’s neighborhoods.
In addition, Mara disclosed that he’s had conversations with representatives of DC Vote about potentially joining the organization’s Board of Directors early next year.
We also talked today with DC Councilman Harry “Tommy” Thomas, Jr. (D-Ward 5), about the panel’s efforts to curb bullying. As you’ll hear when NewsTalk re-airs today at 4pm & 6pm, Thomas believes there is much we can do to reduce bullying, and to punish it when it does occur. He said efforts must extend beyond the schoolyard, to rec centers, pools and other places where youth gather.
We also talked about the painful budget cuts the Council is considering to close a projected $188 million shortfall, and whether an increase in the income and/or parking tax may be necessary.
In addition, I asked about Attorney General Peter Nickles pursuit of information about “Team Thomas”, a non-profit that teaches swing sports – baseball, softball, golf and tennis – to inner-city youth. In a letter to Thomas’s attorney, Fred Cooke, Nickles says “Team Thomas has unlawfully solicited charitable donations without a license and has never been qualified by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.” Thomas vigorously defended his non-profit, saying he’s provided all the information the attorney general has requested, and accusing Nickles of abusing of post and carrying out a vendetta against him.
Part two of that conversation is here:
Friday at 10am: DC Attorney General Peter Nickles and former Ambassador Jim Rosapepe