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Vince Gray and streetcars: What do you think?

Vincent GraySorry to be slow on the posts this morning. That's because, besides the big blog here, I'm also doing a weekly analysis piece -- which my editor has taken to calling a "thing." Works for me.

Here's where you come in: It's your big chance to get your name in The Post. Add your great comments this afternoon, and when we put the paper together later today, we'll print the best ones next to my "thing" on page B2.

This week, I take a look at Council Chairman Vince Gray's budget reversal last week on the streetcar program.

My nut graf: "Gray highlighted for a swath of voters -- well-off, mostly white, living in gentrifying neighborhoods and inclined to vote -- every doubt they ever had about him. That he's not forward-thinking. That he's an old-school, backroom operator. That he's plodding and overly cautious. That his commitment to good government is mere lip service." But he may have saved (at least some) face in the end.

Have at it!

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 3, 2010; 2:48 PM ET
Categories:  DCision 2010 , The District , Vincent Gray  
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Good government is about process and involvment. Process so that action and response are known and consistent internal to gov't and external to the public. Involvement so that all interested stakeholders can chose to participate and there is an opportunity for consensus.

An example that some would cite is the Fenty administration's rapid installation of speed humps in neighborhoods around the city. If the community wants one, basically it is installed. Adjacent streets are impacted and worse yet, something that no one is talking about (at all) is that emergency response times have been slowed for fire, EMS and police. If a process was in place to bring those parties and the community to the table, instead of a "just do it" mentality, there would not be motorists honking horns or the DC FEMS grinding their teeth at night about response times. [or as someone observed...I'm happy the cars are doing 20 MPH on my street with the speed humps, but really pissed that my mother died of a heart attack before the EMS could get there.]

Posted by: shepDC | June 3, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Since when is it a bad thing for an elected official to respond to the concerns of informed constituents?

Posted by: chuckthies | June 3, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I've largely viewed this election as one that can be (over)simplified to one of "results versus process". While Fenty can claim a lot of solid results (and certainly tries to claim a lot that I don't necessarily think had anything to do with his administration - schools, crime, ahem, ahem), he's clearly an abrasive dude with little respect for process. And that can get you into trouble. Like when you overpay an unqualified friend to get Parks and Rec work done.

But you wanted to know about Gray - the process guy. I've been wary of him all along as well - the backroom, sleazy politician thing; and then he made (in my view) a stupid decision behind closed doors after making such a big deal about how open this year's budget was supposed to be - that was where he just got silly.

Well, that and he listened a little too closely to groups who would rather have a clear view of the sky as they watch a neighborhood lose out on a potentially huge economic boon.

In any case, as a reasonably well-off, white guy who's inclined to vote (in my long ago gentrified neighborhood) I don't know what to do; Fenty's never really had my trust, Gray certainly hasn't done anything to earn it either, and Alexander can't seem to get over the immigration thing. Can I have Mayor Williams back? Boring isn't bad, as far as I'm concerned...

Posted by: the_matt | June 3, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I will be clear with you.

I think this was one of those situation where the headline had more passion than than the issue, and a largely well connected but not interested in being well informed electorate had sway.

But I who live off H Street can come out ahead...

Why, I understand what Chairman Gray did.

The streetcar has a projection completion date of 2012, and this budget funding is to serve that completion date.

If Gray was not in an election year against a guy who is now known for playing dirty, he might have simple walked over to a podium and explain his position. But he decided let me give constituent service--and he put some funding back--still contingent on better planning.

Here is where I who live of H Street get the world promised to me. Mayor Fenty is now campaigning on this issue---although he has yet to stake an actually position on it. For him to do so--he has to:

Say yes the 2012 completion date is not only viable but very feasible.

We do have an energy source that will run on overhead wires in some parts but on batteries from H Street to Georgetown. If he tries to put overhead wiring on H Street he may now see the email campaign against him.

We do have agreements with Amtrak/Metro to connect the trolley.

We do have a plan in place to remove the trolley for repair and restore service should it break down. As of last May, they did not.

We have a commitment from the feds to pay for their portion. Again putting overhead wires in any place deemed historic will jeopardize their portion of the funding.

Now that he has outlined himself as being different to Chairman Gray---he owns the issue--lock, stock and barrel.

I am a big supporter but knowing all these issues were not address I could see how someone moved the funding to later. But Mayor Fenty is saying we fund it now---because we are ready. If any part of that proves to be untrue it could reverse the story.

Posted by: 411Tibby | June 6, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

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