- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2002

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp wants local tour companies to stop ignoring the historical significance of city hall during their trips through downtown.
Mrs. Cropp, at-large Democrat, has sent letters to several tour companies, including Tourmobile, Old Town Trolley and Grayline Sightseeing, requesting that they include the John A. Wilson Building in their tour narratives.
"The Wilson building is an historic structure and serves as the seat of local government for the nearly 600,000 American citizens who reside in the nation's capital," Mrs. Cropp said in her letter.
The Wilson Building, located at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, was built and dedicated in 1908 as the "District Building" to serve as the headquarters for the three presidential appointees who ran the city for Congress before the inception of home rule in 1973.
The building was renamed for the city's fourth council chairman shortly after his death in 1993.
The Wilson Building was closed for renovations in 1992. The council and the mayor moved back into its offices last year.
"Mrs. Cropp feels especially close to the issue because she was the council member who fought and worked very hard to get the city government moved back into the building," said her spokesman, Mark F. Johnson.
Mrs. Cropp's request for tour companies to include the Wilson Building may have another effect informing visitors of the city's "Colonial" status.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams, council members and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city's nonvoting member of Congress, have pressed their decades-old effort for full voting representation in the last two years with renewed vigor.
The new focus is to bring national attention to the issue creating the "taxation without representation" license plates and raising the issue at national events like the International Conference of Mayors in the hopes that residents of states will write their congressional representatives to protest the District's status.
Some companies already mention the significance of city hall to tourists.
David Cohen, general manager for the Old Town Trolley, said his guides are obligated to mention the building's purpose in the city.
"It's a part of our standard tour narration and it is obligatory for our drivers to mention the building," Mr. Cohen said.
He said he has heard some drivers on tours discuss Andrew "Boss" Sheperd governor of the territory of the District from 1873 to 1878 and former chairman of the board of public works and the history of the government.
But Mr. Cohen said it is common practice for tour companies to be neutral on local and national political issues.
"We can't be put in a position of advocacy, but I would be hard-pressed to find someone who would speak against it," Mr. Cohen said of his customers' and employees' positions on full voting rights.
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee passed the D.C. voting rights bill out of committee this month in a 9-0 vote. None of the Republican committee members attended.
Committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, introduced the bill this summer.

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