Campus Notebook: Mini-Lobbyists

Posted June 16, 2008 at 6:30pm

Senators who oppose giving the District a full House seat can expect to get lectured Wednesday by 20 ninth-graders, courtesy of D.C. Public Schools.

[IMGCAP(1)]The students hail from the César Chávez Public Charter Schools and have already scheduled meetings with the staffs of Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who both oppose a bill to give Washington, D.C., a House seat.

DC Vote, the main advocacy group pushing D.C. voting rights, has been lobbying Hagel and Baucus to vote for the bill, which easily passed the House in 2007. It stalled in the Senate, getting only 57 of the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster.

The students chose voting rights as the subject they wanted to study in

Capstone, a two-week intensive program at the end of the school year. They so far have made a YouTube video about the issue and are working with Students for DC Vote, according to a press release. On Wednesday, they will carry homemade signs and pass out fliers.

“We have made huge strides in working with DC Public Schools and college campuses across the nation to spread the message of DC’s denial of democracy,” Nell Schaffer, DC Vote outreach associate, wrote in a press release. “Students have shown they are ready to take action when it comes to demanding a vote in Congress.”

Spreading Paperwork. Stop by Georgetown University, and you can search through endless piles of documents that the federal government produces every year.

It’s one of about 1,250 libraries and research universities throughout the nation that offer such accessibility through an agreement with the Government Printing Office. And the GPO gets some of its ideas on how to distribute it all through the Depository Library Council, a 15-member board that advises Public Printer Robert Tapella.

Tapella recently announced that the board is getting five new members who will serve for three-year terms starting in October. David Cismowski, Carlene Engstrom, Sarah Holterhoff, Justin Otto and Suzanne Sears are all librarians, hailing from all over the country.

They will help oversee the Federal Depository Library Program, which has been spreading federal documents throughout libraries for 140 years. One of the biggest issues they face promises to be the new Federal Digital System, commonly called FDsys.

That system will allow government agencies and branches to submit printing and publishing requests electronically, as well as offer more digital access to government documents.

It’s one of the GPO’s main projects and a big component of the agency’s efforts to transition from a traditional printing plant to a digital organization. The system is expected to be released in late 2008.

Fire Power. A fire at Capitol Hill Suites early Sunday morning caused a number of businesses on the 200 and 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast to lose telephone and cable service.

The D.C. Fire Department was dispatched at 6:20 a.m. in response to a report of smoke coming from a parking garage at the hotel, which is located at C Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, fire department spokesman Alan Etter wrote in an e-mail.

Firefighters put out the blaze in 20 minutes, but the flames damaged some power lines that carry phone and cable signals to the businesses.

The amount of damage is still being determined, but Etter said it was extensive.

By Monday afternoon, the Trover Shop, Starbucks, and Firehook Bakery and Coffee House still had not regained phone service, although Etter said most telephone and cable service had been restored elsewhere.

The Hawk ’n’ Dove Restaurant lost television and radio signal Sunday morning, but service was back by the evening.

A representative for Capitol Hill Suites declined to comment.

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