Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Un-Natural State: Taxation Without Representation in Washington, DC": short and feature versions

On Tuesday, April 21, 2009 Filmfest DC is showing the full-length 65 minute video “Un-Natural State: Taxation Without Representation in Washington, D.C.”, directed by Kirk R. Mangeis, and sponsored by DCVote.

Monday I tried to buy the advance tickets on line and found it already sold out (or at least not available from tickets.com). But I found a nine-minute short version here and many other videos on YouTube, which in sum would approximate what is in the “feature”. I could not find a DVD for sale of the "feature".

[Note from FilmfestDC Tuesday on Advance sales: "Advance tickets are sold out? Don't worry... Except for tonight's screening of The Necessities of Life , tickets for all of this evening's films can be purchased at the theater starting one hour before the first screening of the day (cash or check sales only)." Filmfest current link is here. Director Kirk Mangels and Producer Brad Mendelsohn are scheduled to appear at Landmark E Street April 21. For same day sales Tickets.com gives a phone number of (800) 955-5566 but I found it led to a wait!]

[Note: Filmfest has scheduled another screening for Saturday April 25 at 2:45 PM at Regal. Check their site for tickets!]

The short is offered for download into Real Player or Quicktime (instead of being played from a server). It has some low resolution images (in a 14 meg file) and it downloads into a temporary folder; nevertheless, Mozy will back it up.

But I found the main short on YouTube offered with embedding, here.

Some of the other (short) YouTube videos (from or related to DCVote) include these items:

(1) Erica Spell sings the National Anthem

(2) Veterans Rally for DC Vote

(3) Demand the Vote

(4) Cesar Chavez Charter School protests

(5) Tea Party

(6) Dr. Bill show, animated

(7) Ben Byrd a teacher in Washington DC

(8) Maryland resident Edward Matthews

(9) Nell Schafer

(10) Two Rivers Charter School: Voices of a Nation (nine minutes of song and dance from an elementary school)

(11) Katie Couric on the DC Voting Rights Act

(12) CSpan covering a protest march

(13) Lehrer News Hour

Most school kids are taught now that the District of Columbia has only a non-voting delegate representative in Congress (the House), Eleanor Holmes Norton, who appears on the video, but no formal vote. The title of the film refers to the "artificial" political status of the District. Six other nations have constitutions based on the US but allow the residents of their capital cities to vote fully (the countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Venezuela).

I grew up in Arlington, VA (created from the original 100 mile square by retrocession shortly before the War Between the States, in 1847) and became aware of the lack of home rule for Washington as I grew up. In 1961 it gained the right to a presidential elector with the 23rd Amendment. In 1973, it was given “partial” home rule and a city council, with link here. Congress can override what the city does, and often does attach matters governing the District to riders on other bills. Congress can interfere with attempts to recognize gay marriage, and with gun control laws (which were recently overturned in their original form by the Supreme Court). Eleanor Holmes Norton, on the video, says “different strokes for different folks” doesn’t apply for the District.

DC area residents are used to District of Columbia license plates that read "taxation without representation" (try Imagechef)

The lack of home rule was thought to be related to remnants of segregation and racism (since the District was over two-thirds African American). It also has a partisan basis: representatives (or hypothetical Senators) for the District (as if it were a state) would almost certainly be Democrats. The lack of home rule and racial tensions may have contributed to the 1968 riots, but furthermore may have eroded the City (compared to the affluent suburbs) in many other ways: the major league baseball teams (whether the Senators in Griffith Stadium or the expansion team created in 1961) were lackadaisically managed losers and left the City after the 1971 season (with the Expos bringing baseball back in 2005). When I grew up, people offered all kinds of "rationalizations" for denying home rule, like "they choose to live there."

The District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009 is H.R. 157 and was introduced by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (govtrack reference. The Senate Version is S. 160 and was introduced by Joseph Lieberman (I-CT).

There is also a pre-festival review of this film by Jule Banville in the Washington City Paper, here.

I saw the complete film at the second showing Saturday. It opens by showing the southern tip of the original federal territory, now in Virginia on the edge of the Potomac. There's lots of interesting footage, like a steam train in the 1940s heading toward Union Station. There are interesting shots of the City's "Curling" team, and a hot air balloon sequence.

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