Saturday, November 30, 2013

Still Life With Robin: Joe Grano

Photo from We The Italians website
by Peggy Robin

In Tom Sherwood’s column in this week’s Northwest Current, there’s a sad note about the passing last week of longtime DC activist Joe Grano (see

I’ll miss Joe. I first met him back in the early ‘80s; he was one of the tireless leaders in the multi-year fight to try to save historic Rhodes Tavern (see Wikipedia'_Tavern). Anytime I went to any DC political event -- and back in those days, as an ANC Commissioner, I was always going to something or other -- I was sure to run into Joe. He came to everything, armed with his petition to save Rhodes Tavern. Long after the cause was lost and the building fell to the wrecking ball (the fatal day was September 10, 1984), Joe kept up the fight to make sure Rhodes Tavern would be remembered. Now there’s a plaque where the building once stood - a small victory that Joe helped to bring about on June 7, 1999. 

For too many years I had little contact with Joe, but a year or so ago, he discovered the listserv, and we reconnected. Joe realized that the listserv was a good way to promote another good cause that had long animated his spirit: DC voting rights. As one of the spearheads of the “No Taxation Without Representation” petition, Joe championed the idea that DC residents should not have to pay federal income tax as long as we lack real voting representation in the House and the Senate. And he was happy to support the listserv through becoming a listserv sponsor of a series of political ads with that message. In case you don’t recall them, here are the first two in the series:

While Joe’s dream of DC voting rights would not be realized in his lifetime, he was able to help bring about another outcome that was dear to him: As a proud Italian American, Joe wanted to make Rome and Washington “sister cities” --and was something that could be achieved...happily, without the opposition of various moneyed interests.

You can learn more about Joe and a few of his other causes and campaigns on “We The Italians,”

I’ll close with a nod of agreement to Tom Sherwood’s closing thought:  “Joe was one of the good guys.”


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv,, and on All Life Is Local,, on Saturdays.

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