As a member of the Steering Committee of the D.C. Statehood Green Party, as well as a named plaintiff in the “Party Animals” lawsuit, I’d like to respond to Tom Scocca’s generally excellent article “Asses for the Masses” (5/17) and clarify a few facts for the proverbial record.
When the “Party Animals” project was first announced publicly, back in December, the D.C. Statehood Green Party issued a press release and contacted the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities within 24 hours, requesting that it drop the political party mascots. We asked that it choose a nonpartisan mascot that more accurately reflected the city of Washington, D.C., such as the panda, the eagle, or the ubiquitous Norwegian rat. As reported in the Washington Post on Dec. 20, the commission basically told us to get lost.
We then attended the public arts forum in early January and renewed our request for the commission to select a nonpartisan symbol. The commission responded that the donkey and elephant sculptures had been ordered more than five months earlier and were scheduled to be delivered any day. (Readers of Loose Lips should be quite familiar with the tactic of Mayor Williams’ administration to avoid any public input on pet projects that use huge chunks of taxpayer money until the contract is already signed and it’s too late for the public to meaningfully respond.)
In short order, it became obvious that a lawsuit demanding that “Party Animals” be scrapped would result only in the destruction of artwork of 200 artists and waste $600,000 in public funds. Refusing to allow the commission (and Mayor Williams) the fait accompli, we finally chose to sue to have our mascot included in the project. The case law clearly favored our position, but, as Scocca insightfully reported, Judge Kennedy’s decision to toss the case says more about his prejudices than about its merits. However, given how slow the appeals process has become in this country, we couldn’t see the point of appealing if our rights are vindicated years after the Party Animals have come and gone.
In one respect, I couldn’t agree with Scocca more: D.C. would be a far richer city if it had handed out $1,200 grants to 200 artists to make any art they wished, rather than be forced to promote two political parties that have never given a damn about D.C. residents.
D.C. Statehood Green Party