An Oklahoma woman who identified herself as "Donna" called in to C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" program Friday griping about a three-day family vacation to the District and the many things that "appalled" her family, including the license plates.
Donna told Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., that she saw alcoholics, people sleeping on the streets and that her family "couldn't find a park bench to sit on" because of the large homeless population.
"The world comes to Washington, D.C., and we were embarrassed, just totally embarrassed, at what liberalism has done to Washington, D.C., and it’s only a very small place — it should be put back into the hands of Congress to manage," Donna said. She concluded that "liberalism is just devastating our capital," before being cut short by the host. Norton, a lawyer and civil rights activist in her 12th term representing the District, had a long list of positives about her hometown to rebuff the caller's claims. She was invited on the C-SPAN morning program to talk about a surge of anti-Home Rule riders related to guns and marijuana, from members of Congress who share the belief that Capitol Hill should manage D.C.'s affairs.
Norton said D.C.'s homelessness epidemic was similar to that of other populous cities, such as New York, and reminded Donna that "under the law, you can’t simply sweep the streets of homeless people."
Although she remained cool and collected, the often fiery congresswoman said she almost resented part of the call, when Donna complained about seeing a "hoard of hundreds of black people" in line outside the city's courthouse awaiting trial.
"You don't know what they're waiting for in the courts," Norton said.
Her reply included the well-rehearsed talking points often raised in arguments for giving D.C. greater autonomy from Congress.
Norton boasted that D.C. is a highly informed city, with more college-educated residents than any other metro area in the nation, plus financial prosperity and an influx of new growth. Earlier this year, the District government reported a "rainy day" fund of nearly $1.5 billion.
"I wonder if your state has anything like that," Norton challenged, dinging Donna for comparing D.C. to Detroit.
In the end, Norton invited Donna back for another visit, saying she was sorry the Oklahoma woman didn't get to see "a greater part of the District of Columbia."
"We invite you back, and extend you every hospitality," she said.