We’re about a week away from a threatened government shutdown. Should Congress not get their act together, and force a shutdown of the Federal Government, because DC is not a state, the District local government is facing the possibility of a shutdown that would put a third of the local city government workforce on furlough without pay, and drastically affect services for residents of the District. That means trash pickup would be curtailed, licensing and permitting would stop, and you won’t even be able to get your driver’s license renewed.
Fortunately, however, the DC City Council (spearheaded this morning by David Grosso) are considering an option that may declare all DC City workers as “essential personnel” allowed to work during a shutdown. In addition, Chairman Mendelson believes he has the votes to do something the DC Government hasn’t done before: tell Congress to take their dictat concerning the closure of the local government, shine it up real nice, turn it sideways, and shove it up their candy ass.
Now, if they did just that, Attorney General Irv Nathan has warned the Council that they may be subject to federal charges under the law, each facing 2 years in jail for violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which basically says that if you’re authorizing expenditures not approved by Congress, you’re wasting the peoples’ money.
Here’s the thing: If there is one place where it is absolutely crystal clear that DC deserves measures of local autonomy over itself, it’s right here and right now. And I’ll say this much: if Attorney General Holder wants to arrest the Council for continuing to provide needed city services while Congress has its little partisan squabbles, then he’ll have to put me in jail before he gets to the rest of the Council and the Mayor. Add in the very high potential for jury nullification in the event he brings any charges, and the DC City Council should tell Congress where to put their indignation while we try to go on with our lives.
A shutdown of the Federal Government would have disastrous effects on the regional economy, which is why I’m rooting against it, but if the opportunity for DC to demonstrate civil disobedience arises – especially in a form that every American would understand and appreciate – this is an opportunity to get arrested in a way that would actually make the country take notice of the District’s unique plight, instead of some show arrests that won’t mean a damn thing. And there’s no way in hell any jury of District residents would convict.
Go get ‘em, Mr. Mayor and Councilmembers.