Mayor Gray, Norton barred from addressing pro-DC budget autonomy rally

Well, for DC self-government advocates looking to make a splash at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, this week, today’s budget autonomy rally was a wash.

DC Mayor Vincent Gray and US House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton were barred from attending the rally after police shut down a section of downtown Charlotte in response to an Occupy Wall Street demonstration.

From the Washington City Paper:

A massive police shutdown outside the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., meant that Mayor Vince Gray and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton were unable to speak at a pro-D.C. budget autonomy rally today, according to D.C. Vote spokesman James Jones.

Gray and Norton were supposed to be the headlining speakers at today’s rally, which Jones says was held at a designated “free speech zone” near the convention. But those plans went awry after a small army of police responded to a couple dozen Occupy protestors who occupied an intersection nearby.

“It was locked down, totally locked down,” Jones says of the area around where the pro-D.C. rally took place. He says the police presence prevented would-be rallygoers, including the mayor and Norton, from getting to the rally in time. The mayor eventually showed up, Jones says, but apparently not in time to give a speech.

The budget autonomy rally that wasn’t was the second setback of the day for DC rights advocates. The Democratic Party rolled out its 2012 platform on Monday morning, and, as expected, it included no reference to DC statehood.

Mayor Gray will press on with the District’s case the rest of this week, but, if Monday was any indication, he has a tough slog ahead of him in Charlotte.

And now, the Commuter Tax! (again)

A consequence of DC’s unique status as the federal district is our inability to raise taxes ourselves without Congressional approval.

A 2003 Government Accountability Office study found that DC loses between $470 million to $1.1 billion annually in potential tax revenue because of the federal government’s presence in DC. Not only is the city unable to collect property taxes from federal buildings and embassies, some estimates say that only 28% of the federal employees whose offices are located within the District actually live in the city, depriving government coffers of much-needed tax revenue.

DC leaders have long argued that a commuter tax could help make up lost revenue. Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee that has legislative jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, said recently that after the election Congress should “start to think about how…how to deal with the only place that doesn’t have the ability to tax people who earn their income in that place.” Continue reading