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This Is DeBonis

Local politics, that's where the action is.

I figured that out early on, growing up in Northwest Indiana -- the gritty political culture of which can rightly take its place among those of North Jersey, Louisiana and Providence, R.I., for its, um, liveliness (as judged by the activities of federal law enforcement).

I've lived in the District now for just about 10 years -- four years in college (no, those don't really count) plus six years as a reporter and editor at Washington City Paper, including the last two-and-a-half writing the venerable Loose Lips column on city political shenanigans.

That's been long enough for things to get plenty lively 'round these parts: a council member arrested on a stalking charge, a District agency targeted in a federal corruption probe, a city-hall aide handcuffed for low-stakes bribery, and one epic embezzlement scandal. But it also has been long enough for me to fall in love with the ebb and flow of everyday politicking here -- the folkways and feuds, the substance and spin, the process and personalities.

You'll read about all of that here. But I'm also here to make sure that accountability is more than a campaign buzzword, to make sure your public officials -- not just in D.C., but in Maryland, and Virginia, too -- are honest, forthright and transparent in doing the people's business. I'll try to make note of what they've said and what they've done, and whether those things match up. When things go wrong, as they always do, I'll keep an eye on how your government works -- or doesn't -- to keep your trust.

I'll be doing all that on this blog, of course, but you can also follow me on Twitter and get longer takes on current events. We'll have those up on on Thursday and print them -- along with your reactions -- in Friday's Metro section. And fans of my previous aggregation efforts will be pleased to learn that I'll be doing a morning roundup of D.C. political news right here.

With a crackerjack mayoral race this summer and a competitive chairman's race to boot, there stands to be plenty of D.C. dealings to wade into. But my horizons have expanded. Maryland has a marvelous gubernatorial rematch on tap, plus a juicy county executive race in Prince George's and much more. As for Virginia ... well, that Cuccinelli guy sure seems to be in the news a lot.

As I get started, I'll be leaning hard on my fabulous colleagues and the many other reporters and bloggers holding local officials to account, picking up their scraps where I can. But mostly, I need help from you. If your mayor or council member or state legislator or county executive or dogcatcher isn't doing you right, please let me know and/or post a comment, and I'll do my best to check it out.

We'll try to keep things from getting too serious around here. My nonpolitical interests extend to Hoyas basketball, White Sox baseball and any foodstuff that oozes orange grease. I live in Ward 1, work in Ward 2 and do my drinking in Ward 6. I get unusually excited by maps, trains and sprawling industrial operations. In the great drivers-vs.-bikers debate, you'll never pin me down: I ride a beat-up old road bike around town whenever possible, but I also own a beat-up old Ford Taurus.

One outstanding issue to address: Whose idea was it to call it this thing DeBonis? What kind of egomaniac am I?

It was my editors' idea. But, of course, I didn't say no.

Here's a well-worn family story, by way of explanation: When my father was born, my Italian-immigrant steelworker grandfather, hewing to custom, had the idea that he would name the young boy after the maternal grandfather -- in this case, one Pasquale Fabiani. My grandmother, wiser than her husband, knew 'Pasquale DeBonis' wouldn't play too well on the playgrounds of '50s-era Gary, Ind. So she suggested the only other given name my grandfather could possibly countenance for his offspring: His own. Thus, my father became Anthony DeBonis Jr.

Moral of the story: When someone suggests putting your name on something, that's an offer you can't refuse.

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 2, 2010; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  About DeBonis  
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