D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy, said yesterday there are "crippling" and "wholly unworkable provisions" in the proposed D.C. statehood constitution, but urged voters to approve it on Nov. 2 and then let Congress revise it.
Fauntroy said if the document was approved by voters, it could then be sent to Congress where he would lead an effort to make major revisions in it. If it was amended on the Hill, the constitution would be resubmitted to the voters. If the voters reject the document, the constitutional convention would be reconvened to consider redrafting it.
"A general failure of the current draft is that it puts much into the constitution which really should be left to legislative consideration," Fauntroy said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "We cannot cure the problems of the world, as we perceive them, through our constitution."
Fauntroy said that as senior Democrat on the House District Committee, he would control the reworking of the constitution in Congress.
Charles I. Cassell, president of the statehood convention, said at the press conference yesterday that he welcomed Fauntroy's participation. "I've heard him say nothing that would gut this."
But Samuel Robinson, a Ward 5 delegate to the convention, and others took issue with Fauntroy at the press conference. "I oppose the principle of involving Congress in writing the constitution," said Robinson. "The delegates were elected by the people and if they fail, the constitution is to be redirected to another convention, redrafted and rewritten."
Fauntroy did not specifically address the question of why Congress rather than the convention should handle revisions. He said that his advice to the convention last spring to consult with Congress and draft a more traditional document went "largely unheeded."
Fauntroy criticized a provision that he said "gives every person, presumably residing in the District, the right to a job or a minimum income."
Cassell released yesterday a list of groups that have endorsed the document, including the D.C. Democratic State Committee, the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, Americans for Democratic Action, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and the Gay Activist Alliance.