City Paper is not for tourists
It is surprising that Jonetta Rose Barras’ otherwise thorough and detailed account of Washington’s problems in governance (“The Home Rule Charter: Rewrite the Damn Thing,” 5/10) would omit any discussion of the city’s retrocession to Maryland. She is quite right in saying that Washington doesn’t need one more charter revision to make the city more governable. It would be very difficult, in fact, to revise the charter to effectively sort out city from state functions. The best way to do that—and to make Washington absolutely equal with every other city in the nation—is to make it part of an existing state. Of course, that will not happen until Congress addresses and pays for the past financial burdens it has saddled the District with. And public opinion still is woefully uninformed about the retrocession option. As more accounts like Barras’ focus on the city’s structural problems and not just on the personalities of its leading politicians, retrocession should receive more attention. I’m only sorry that this strong piece of reporting did not contribute to that process.
Professor of American Civilization
George Washington University