Drafters of the D.C. statehood constitution Thursday night selected "New Columbia" as the name for the proposed new state.
In a series of votes, convention delegates rejected several other possibilities, including "Potomac," "Columbia," "Capital State" and "Anacostia," which came in second in the voting.
Several delegates from neighborhoods in or near the section of Far Southeast Washington known generally as Anacostia pushed for that traditional Indian name, but lost by 18 to 11 in a final ballot to "New Columbia."
Still other suggested names, such as "Rock Creek," "Douglass" after 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass and "Utopia" were dropped earlier in the convention.
The vote on the name came late Thursday night as delegates moved into the final stages of writing their 100- to 125-page constitution after nearly 90 days of intense and often stormy debate.
Earlier in the evening, the convention beat back a last-ditch attempt to eliminate a bill of rights branded by some delegates as too unorthodox for city voters or Congress to accept.
"It may be the albatross that will bring down the constitution," declared at-large delegate David Clarke, who cited provisions in the bill that would allow disclosure of the names of police informants, permit suspects to have lawyers with them when they appear before grand juries, and guarantee the right to a tax-supported job for all city residents.
Clarke, a member of the D.C. City Council from Ward 1, first urged convention delegates to replace the language in their bill with wording similar to the Bill of Rights in the U. S. Constitution. When that failed, he asked that they set aside the controversial bill until after statehood is achieved and then write a new one.
After a series of impassioned speeches by opponents to the move, Clarke's motion was defeated on a voice vote.
"What we're doing . . . reflects our historical experiences," said Ward 8 delegate Absalom Jordan Jr., picking up the theme of several other delegates.
"If the people want to turn the constitution down, at least give them a chance to do it and not have somebody come in here and tell us they don't want it," argued Ward 6 delegate Charlotte Holmes.
With adoption of the 24-part bill of rights, the convention completed second reading on almost all parts of the proposed constitution.
Tired and rapidly running out of money, the delegates intensified their work this week, streamlining debate, suspending procedural rules and meeting one night until 3 a.m., after convention officers warned they might not get the constitution finished on time.
The document must undergo editing by the convention's style and drafting committee today and then a third reading and formal signing by the delegates on Saturday, the last day of the 90-day session.
Convention treasurer Theresa Jones said the $150,000 appropriation for the convention is dwindling fast. "We're down to the wire," she said. "When it's all over, we'll be $100 one side or the other" of an empty account.
Major items have included convention recording and transcript costs, daily $30 stipends for delegates and paper -- "reams and reams of paper; you wouldn't believe the amount of paper this convention has generated," Jones said.
While hundreds of amendments accompanied by hours of often angry and bitter debate characterized the first readings of the constitution's sections, the second readings have generally moved swiftly with few substantive changes. The convention did decide on two largely cosmetic amendments: naming the unicameral state legislature the "House of Delegates," and designating the person who would succeed the governor as the "lieutenant governor," instead of "secretary of state."
In another development, the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. wrote convention president Charles I. Cassell, protesting adoption of a constitutional provision authorizing the new state's legislature to "acquire, own or operate" private utilities.
This provision "clearly infringes the legislative discretion and prerogatives of the legislature," said the letter signed by C&P division staff manager Charles E. Morgan. He said convention delegates should also consider the "potential loss of tax revenues to the District of Columbia were it to seriously contemplate getting into the utility business."
Proponents of the utilities provision say that a state's right to acquire private land by eminent domain is a well-established doctrine and is specified in several state constitutions.