Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.

Lisa MacSpadden, Director of Public Affairs for NCPC, sent along this response to a recent article:

In your December 2 post, “How Can Obama Do More for DC?” you mentioned that the President, directly or indirectly, controls half of the 12 seats on the National Capital Planning Commission. You recommended that President Obama appoint a District resident to the Commission to ensure representation by someone who lives in Washington and therefore truly cares about the city.

You are correct that three of the seats are occupied by the heads of the largest federal landholding agencies, and that one is appointed from Virginia and one from Maryland as required by law. The law also requires that the third appointee serve at-large. This helps to ensure that those outside the National Capital Region are provided the opportunity to have a say in what transpires in a capital city that belongs to all Americans.

Your post did not mention that four of the Commission’s seats are held by District officials (the remaining two seats are held by representatives from the House and Senate). The mayor of the District of Columbia holds a seat, as does the chair of the Council of the District of Columbia. In addition, the mayor appoints two District residents to sit on the Commission. I think it would be fair to say the District is well represented given this equates to one-third of the federal Commission’s membership.

The District’s four representatives are steadfast supporters of District issues. Their participation, and that of the federal and congressional representatives, ensures a balance of local, federal, and national interests. Were the President to appoint a District resident, then the nation at large would lose its voice in planning for America’s capital. That would be unfortunate and at odds with the mission of NCPC.

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