Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Takoma Park city resolution calls for Bush’s impeachment

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In what Takoma Park activists called an obvious move for the socially conscious city, the City Council Monday night passed a symbolic resolution to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney in response to calls to action from residents.

The non-binding resolution, introduced by Councilman Reuben Snipper (Ward 5), accuses Bush and Cheney of trapping the country in an unjust war in Iraq, conspiring to violate citizens’ constitutional rights and abusing their executive power by spying on and lying to Americans.

Last-minute amendments by Councilman Terry Seamens (Ward 4) recommended that the city urge county and state delegates to pass similar resolutions.

‘‘We are powerful to the extent that we represent our community,” Mayor Kathy Porter said before the vote, adding that she was usually ‘‘a tough sell” on impeachment resolutions.

‘‘It is probably unfortunate that this administration has given me ample examples of illegal acts,” she said.

A crowd of about 75 responded to the unanimous vote with a standing ovation and round of applause. Some wore T-shirts or waved American flags and green lawn signs that said ‘‘Impeach Them.” Others held peaches (for impeachment) during their three minutes at the council podium or passed out flyers with contact information for U.S. Rep. Christopher Van Hollen Jr.’s (D-Dist. 8) office, the activists’ next target.

Takoma Park resident Hank Prensky shared the view of many at the meeting: A vote for impeachment was both ‘‘very Takoma Park” and necessary. The council agreed.

‘‘We’ve heard the arguments that it’s too late, that there are only 18 months to go. ... I just don’t buy it,” Councilman Doug Barry (Ward 6) said Monday.

Before the impeachment resolution vote, a group of Ethiopian residents noted that such resolutions can lead to change. Last July, the council passed a non-binding resolution in support of democratic freedoms in Ethiopia. On Friday, 38 political prisoners were released in the east African country.

Although even resolution sponsor Snipper recognized the resolution vote as symbolic, activists have been determined to prove that Takoma Park can be a part of nationwide change.

‘‘Sometimes even the fight can make a difference,” said Lisa Moscatiello, one of the first organizers of the Takoma Park movement in the city’s ‘‘impeachment headquarters,” the Savory Café, last week. ‘‘People can say that it’s just symbolic, but really, for us, we really want this to happen.”

The city has a history of non-binding resolutions where council members have voiced their approval of or concern for national issues. Often, the council is alerted to those issues by members’ constituents. Last October, Councilman Bruce Williams (Ward 3) introduced a resolution against battery-cage farming after a constituent came to him with concerns about abuses against egg-laying hens.

The difference with this resolution, activists said, was the company the city will now keep. More than 80 cities nationwide have adopted similar resolutions, according to Web site impeachpac.org, including 40 towns in Vermont.

Dan DeWalt, an impeachment movement organizer from South Newfane, the first town in Vermont to pass an impeachment resolution, said it was important for citizens to band together on the issue.

But a handful of residents think the city should be paying attention to issues closer to home.

‘‘This is absolutely the type of feel-good thing Takoma Park is known for,” said Alain Thery, who said that while he would love to see Bush and Cheney impeached, local governments should leave that task to federal officials. He would be in support of a citywide petition urging Van Hollen to voice his support of impeachment, he said, but the City Council should pay more attention to city matters.

‘‘It’s not the goodwill I object to, but it’s not the city’s business,” he said.

For Takoma Park’s pro-impeachment group, the city resolution is only a first step.

‘‘It made me feel so good to do something and not just complain about it,” Takoma Park resident Michelle Bailey said of joining the cause at the Savory Café Thursday. ‘‘We’re creating this momentum.”

To view the city’s impeachment resolution, visit www.takomaparkmd.gov. For more information on impeachment nationwide, visit http:⁄⁄takomaparkibc.wordpress.com⁄.

Sending a message

Notable non-binding resolutions passed by the City of Takoma Park:

Oct. 28, 2002 – Opposing the Patriot Act and violation of civil liberties

Oct. 28, 2002 – Opposing military action against Iraq

July 12, 2004 – Supporting same-sex marriage in state

July 24, 2006 – Supporting House Bill 5680, and Human Rights and Democratic Freedom in Ethiopia

Oct. 9, 2006 – Opposing the Confinement of Egg-Laying Hens in Battery Cages