…Otherwise, we might not be in this wonderful city today.
I, like many others, forget that our nation’s capitol was not always in Washington D.C. In the early stages of our country, our federal government was housed in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783 underscored the Federal government’s need to have a “neutral” territory that could offer protections for itself. Members of the Continental Army—who were stationed in Philadelphia—demanded payment for the services they provided during the Revolutionary War. One June 20, around 400 soldiers stormed the State House. As a result of this event, Congress left headquarters in Philadelphia and formed a federal district. It took two acts from Congress to formally institute Washington D.C. as a federal jurisdiction. Virginia and Maryland ceded land, and in return, their war payments were covered.
Washington D.C. is unique in the fact that it is not recognized or given representation as a state. There is a localized, municipal government that consists of a mayor and the Council. The Council has 13 members, 8 coming from the different neighborhoods throughout the D.C. area, and four at large members. The chair of the council is also elected at large. The U.S. government has full authority of Washington D.C. (this right is granted to them in Article I of the Constitution). Although individuals reside within D.C., they do not have the same representation at the Federal level. The district votes for a Representative “at-large” who does not have the ability to vote. There is no representation within the Senate. This is why residents have adopted the unofficial motto—which can be found on license plates—“taxation without representation.”
Public transportation is one of the largest issues that the Mayor and Council have to face in Washington D.C., since it is expected that there will be a 32% increase in the use of the system by the year 2030. As my boss says, “the local government is plagued with corruption.” Since 2006, the city has been debating the expansion of the streetcar system. Currently, it runs along H Street from Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue. At this time, there is no charge for individuals to use the streetcar.
At a budget meeting in June, Chairman Phil Mendelson struck the funds for the expansion, stating that this project is “a novelty.” He stated that the government is unable to build this system within a reasonable budget. He would like to see the funds directed towards another project to reduce traffic congestion. Council member Vincent Gray disagrees. He believes that a streetcar system assists with revitalizing neighborhoods and encourages economic development in areas that are struggling. Unfortunately, Gray is outnumbered when it comes to the debate. Council members Evans and Cheh want to place that money into improving the existing infrastructure that city heavily relies on.
The purpose of the streetcar was to address the areas that the metro or busses could not effectively service. Before spending the money, Mendelson wants to the existing streetcar track to prove effective—which, in his opinion, has not done so. The Mayor and Gray were somewhat successful in gaining some funding after the budget hearing. The amount they earned was not enough to expand, but to maintain.
To me, that sounds like a great compromise. But the Mayor and Gray will not end the fight. Gray has a stake in the game because when he was mayor he rolled out the plans for this streetcar.
This week, I learned how difficult it is to network in a room of people where you know absolutely no one. Normally, I would rely on a colleague that I already knew to introduce me to new faces. Networking is truly a skill, and it takes time to perfect talking to complete strangers, with no form of an introduction. Suzette and I had the opportunity to attend an event that was put on by Politico, Google, and the Tory Burch Foundation. The networking event was focused on getting women into political office. All of the women in the room were highly accomplished individuals, and the environment was a bit intimidating. I finally had to get over my awkwardness. It ended up working very well.
I am happy to report that I did journal a few days this week. Making progress.