New Year Brings Fresh Insight into Council Action of the Past

Five months later, the hard work of physically scanning six years’ worth of records is complete, and as promised, these regulations and resolutions are now finally available to the general public.

This period in the District’s history represented an important transition from decades of government by presidentially-appointed Commissioners to our current Home Rule system. During this phase, the District was governed by a presidentially-appointed mayor and nine-member Council. In the end, however, the same local push for increased Home Rule and national struggle for civil rights that brought to a close the Commissioner system triggered an end to its replacement, the appointed Mayor and Council model, just six years later.

Although initially nominated to their pre-Home Rule roles by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, a number of  luminaries who would go on to make their mark during the Home Rule period got their local political start during this transitional period. They included Walter Washington, Sterling Tucker, Walter Fauntroy, Polly Shackleton, and Jerry Moore.

The appointed Council did not have the same extent of authority that its elected successor gained under Home Rule. However, with the limited powers it was granted, the appointed Council did pass several hundred measures that are of both legal and historical importance. Although the appointed Council’s days came to an end when the Home Rule era dawned, the legislation enacted by this body (unless superseded by subsequent measures) remains in effect as DC law.

Among the measures enacted by the appointed Council:

Transportation: Three Sisters Bridge and North Central Freeway decisions. Metrobus and Metrorail funding. DC’s Metro Stations names and designs. Bicycle regulations and accessible sidewalks
Human Services: Closed Junior Village, the District’s shameful orphanage. Ended demeaning welfare rules
Police Department: Landmark use of deadly force rules. Integration of force and patrol practices
Consumer Protection: Banned deceptive practices
Environmental Polices: Enacted strong air and water pollution controls
Gun Control: Mandated gun registration
Insurance: Ratemaking and Policy Holder Protection

We are grateful to Councilmember David Grosso and his staff for first conceiving of this project.  We are equally indebted to the National Archives for their understanding, cooperation and diligence in bringing this agreement to fruition.