- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 24, 2011

If you want to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on D.C. vouchers, don’t listen to the liberals, who are so desperate to contradict conservatives and true proponents of school choice that lying has become their very convenient truth.

And if you think I’m fibbing, watch washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2011/apr/19/video-left-wing-dc-activist-twt-drop-dead/. It’s a video of an anti-voucher activist perpetuating the falsehood that the D.C. electorate once voted down a voucher proposal.

Excuse me, but that’s a big fat lie.

What D.C. voters did reject was a tuition tax-credit plan in 1981.

Truth is, 89 percent of voters defeated a ballot measure that would have allowed taxpayers to reduce their D.C. income tax liability by as much as $1,200 for educational donations made on behalf of their own or others’ children attending private schools.

Teachers and labor unions heralded their victory as a major defeat of both the concept and the terms of the school-choice movement, which had growing support during the Reagan administration and on Capitol Hill.

Another opponent was then-Mayor Marion Barry, who said the overwhelming margin sent a strong message to conservatives that “nobody ought to mess with our public schools.”

Funny how times - and politicians - have changed.

These days Mr. Barry, still a Democrat but now a D.C. Council member, is on the other side of the street with council Chairman Kwame R. Brown and several other lawmakers who support the federally funded D.C. voucher program, putting themselves at odds with Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who say Congress ought not mess with schools because voters already have decided the issue.

Liberals have rewritten the script on the 1981 vote.

Instead of telling the truth, they tell tales 30 years later.

So check out the video and see for yourself how not all reporters are giving Mr. Gray, Mrs. Norton, activist Rick Rosendall and other vocal voucher opponents an undeserved free ride.

Hit the polls: On Tuesday, D.C. voters will cast ballots in a citywide election for the at-large seat vacated by Mr. Brown, who won the 2010 chairmans race. Also surely on voters’ minds will be the various scandals swirling around city hall and renewed cries for statehood.

“Special elections like this one are often beneficial for candidates from outside the ruling party,” D.C. Statehood Green Party spokesman Scott McLarty told me Friday. “David Catania first got elected in a special election as a Republican. It shows that the D.C. Statehood Green candidate, Alan Page, has a fighting chance. We call the Statehood Green Party the District’s ‘second party’ now, because our local candidates perform better, collectively, than Republicans on Election Day.”

He also said the campaign spending scandals register a six on a scale of 1 to 10, “but that doesn’t always translate into a change of voting patterns.”

“It might result in a lot of D.C. residents not bothering to vote on Tuesday, in which case the election will be won by whoever can motivate enough supporters to get to the polls,” Mr. McLarty said.

Historically, special elections arent what you would call voter magnets.

A September 1993 special election generated a turnout of 25.7 percent, but a June 2000 vote brought out a low of 5.5 percent.

The 1997 special election for at-large council member, which Mr. Catania won, drew 7.5 percent of registered voters.

While we can hardly put a price tag on freedom, city officials have given an estimated tally on the cost of Tuesdays special election, which also includes two school board races.

It is costing taxpayers more than $828,000 to elect three people.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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