Darrell Issa Investigates Eisenhower Memorial Competition, Calls for Delaying Design Approval
Congressman Darrell Issa, chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, has begun investigating the “competition” that selected Frank Gehry to design the Eisenhower Memorial.
In a letter to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, he requested a copy of all architecture designs submitted in the “competition,” and a detailed description of the “competition” process, including a breakdown of all votes. In the letter to the National Capital Planning Commission, of which he is an ex officio member, Representative Issa requested that any vote on the Eisenhower Memorial be postponed at least 120 days.
Mr. Rocco C. Siciliano
Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission
1629 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
Dear Chairman Siciliano:
Our nation’s capital is home to dozens of monuments, memorials, and other symbols of remembrance where countless Americans and overseas visitors come to reflect on the past and look toward a brighter future. These structures have a profound impact, and their importance cannot be overstated.
In revisiting the historical and lasting significance of President Eisenhower, I am reminded of a 2007 speech given by French President Nicolas Sarkozy before a joint session of Congress in which his words speak both to the power of the man and the magnitude of memorials:
“Fathers took their sons to see the vast cemeteries where, under thousands of white crosses so far from home, thousands of young American soldiers lay who had fallen not to defend their own freedom but the freedom of all others, not to defend their own families, their own homeland, but to defend humanity as whole…Before they landed, Eisenhower told them: ‘The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.’
President Eisenhower is an inspiration for American citizens and people the world over; I applaud your efforts to ensuring there is a fitting tribute to his legacy. It has come to my attention, however, that there are serious concerns with the current memorial design — including objections from Eisenhower family members. While this is not the first memorial to receive criticism from the relatives of the individual(s) honored, I believe that it is important that the views of relatives be taken seriously. I therefore request the below information no later than March 16, 2012.
1. A copy of all architectural designs concerning this memorial submitted to the Commission;
2. A detailed description of the process leading to acceptance of the Frank Gehry submission, including a breakdown of any and all votes taken pertaining to any submission.
In addition, I request that the Commission take all reasonable steps to preserve all documents related to the Gehry design.
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal investigative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pursuant to House Rule X, the committee has authority to investigate “any matter” at “any time.” This broad jurisdiction includes oversight of the municipal affairs of the District of Columbia in general.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please contact James Robertson at (202) 225-5074.
cc: Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Mr. Preston Bryant, Jr.ChairmanNational Capital Planning Commission401 9th Street, NWWashington, DC 20004Dear Mr. Chairman:Our Nation’s capital is home to dozens of monuments, memorials, and other symbols of remembrance where countless Americans and overseas visitors come to reflect on the past and look toward a brighter future. These structures have a profound impact, and their importance cannot be overstated. It is my understanding that the April 5, 2012, NCPC meeting agenda may include a schedule vote on approval of the Gehry design for the Eisenhower Memorial.It has come to my attention, however, that there are serious concerns with the current design, including objections voiced by Eisenhower family members. While this is not the first memorial to receive criticism from the relatives of the individual(s) honored, I believe my fellow Americans would agree with me that it is important for the views of relatives to receive serious consideration as this public-private partnership to honor the legacy of President Eisenhower moves forward. I therefore write in my capacity as an ex officio member of the Commission and respectively request postponement for a period of at least 120 days of any vote concerning the “Gehry” design as proposed by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. This would allow NCPC Commissioners more time to better understand the complexities of an issue that, up until now, were hidden from public view.Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please contact James Robertson at (202) 225-5074.Sincerely,Darrell IssaChairmancc: Members of the National Capital Planning Commission