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Gray campaign ISO fired Fenty employees

Is there a more ready-made group of Vincent Gray supporters than the cohort of District employees fired by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty -- whether for budget reasons, plain ol' poor performance or no reason at all?

The Gray camp certainly has recognized that fact -- there's about 2,000 such former workers, by the campaign's own tally. In terms of votes, you can subtract a good chunk who live outside D.C. but add in the friends and family in each fired worker's orbit.

This past weekend, a Gray campaign staffer moved to exploit the fired-employee demographic, sending out an "URGENT REQUEST" looking for folks "involuntarily terminated by the Fenty Administration."

"We would like you to please share your story with the Vince Gray for Mayor Campaign," read the e-mail, also obtained by City Paper's Alan Suderman.

As Post columnist Colbert King quite masterfully described on Saturday, Fenty has deeply alienated city employees, in no small part by cutting jobs:

Fenty -- like [former mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly] -- is seeking reelection without the support of those who have traditionally played important roles in the city's political life: government workers and their unions, families, friends and churches. He's struggling to regain the support of longtime middle-class and working-class residents who feel they have been relegated to second place by an administration that caters to, and is under the influence of, that old race and class bugaboo: "others."

But overtly pursuing the fired-employee demo carries deep political hazards for Gray. There is no shortage of voters who consider the city government a haven for the underqualified, unaccountable and feckless. They cheer on any executive willing to trim the city bureucracy -- and Fenty often boasts about how he's held the line on spending.

The Gray campaign maintains that it isn't trying to build an army of laid-off employees to sic on Fenty.

The e-mail came from an official account and was signed by the "Vince Gray Field Operations Office" on Georgia Avenue NW, but Gray campaign spokeswoman Traci Hughes says it was the "unauthorized" work of an "overly zealous" campaign staffer in search of "unique perspectives or unique stories" about how the Fenty administration sent them packing.

"It's not something that we intend to pursue," Hughes says. "We're more interested in having people channel their energy in more productive ways."

Here's the full e-mail:

From: Jerry Brown
Date: August 7, 2010 12:41:12 PM EDT

The Vince Gray for Mayor Campaign has an URGENT REQUEST For:

Are you or do you know any DC resident formerly employed by the DC Government that was involuntarily terminated by the Fenty Administration? We would like you to please share your story with the Vince Gray for Mayor Campaign.

Please contact Keith Childs @ 202-345-3935 or No later than Sunday August 8th 4:00pm

Early voting starts on August 30th and ends on September 14th we need EVERYONE to GET OUT and VOTE to ELECT Vince Gray Mayor! Avoid the lines and crowds, VOTE EARLY!!

Thank You!

Vince Gray Field Operations Office
4300 Georgia Avenue, NW.
Phone: 202-291-2692

Office Hours:
Mon-Fri 9am-9pm
Sat-Sun 10am- 6pm

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 9, 2010; 12:39 PM ET
Categories:  DCision 2010 , The District , Vincent Gray  
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I know many former and current employees who will need no encouraging to vote against Fenty.

Gray has the backing of most city employees from the police department to his own office.

Posted by: bnew100 | August 9, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

correction--to Fenty's office.

Posted by: bnew100 | August 9, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

the gray campaign should have plenty of people to pick from.

Posted by: mjvdc | August 9, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Too bad for Gray 70% of 'em don't live here and can't vote.

Posted by: janowicki | August 9, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Debonis', a note of correction, the terminations that you speak of in the District government were, per Fenty, done in response to "budget pressures" not "poor performance". To use the personnel mechanism of Reduction In Force (RIF) to terminate employees for performance reasons would be a violation of District law. The reason being that it deprives the employee of any due process rights and allows managers to make reductions without consideration of performance.

That said, Adrian Fenty has, during the campaign, made a great ta-do about firing "poor performers" in the District government. How would he know this if he used the RIF process, which he did, that doesn't qualify itself based on performance ratings?

This is why the District has had to reinstate so many terminated employees, it was done for political theater. An official process designed for budget pressures was misused to terminate older employees, competent and experienced employees, and those who were too ambitious and were willing to challenge ideas that wouldn't pass legal muster.

Not all employees terminated were "poor performers", in fact, there is no way we can know who, in that group of 2000 really were. It was not a factor in the decisions.

While it is true that many District employees live outside of the city, many of them live in the city and have friends and family that live here. Many were born and raised in the District with lifelong ties here. For those that were quite competent and have suffered from the unjustified personnel actions of this administration, the bitterness runs deep and is far-reaching. These decisions have decimated many families in that they cut the wages of the primary bread winner. The terminations were sudden and without cause.

Like it or hate it, they are going to have political ramifications. Not all of the employees will pick up and campaign for Vincent Gray. They, their families and friends, will simply show up to the polls and vote against Fenty.

It really doesn't matter to me the populations of people who vote against Fenty and for what reason (and there are plenty to go around). I believe he regularly flirts with ethical and legal impropriety. Any vote against Fenty, in my humble opinion, is a vote to bring back the forward moving, ethical, transparent progress started by Mayor Anthony Williams.

Fenty has pitted citizens one against the other, with the help of the Washington Post, along the lines of race. It is time overdue to reverse that trend.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | August 10, 2010 7:00 AM | Report abuse


Please read concernedaboutdc post carefully.

Also read the following from the article

The Gray camp certainly has recognized that fact -- there's about 2,000 such former workers, by the campaign's own tally. In terms of votes, you can subtract a good chunk who live outside D.C. but add in the friends and family in each fired worker's orbit.

I have a good friend who will be traveling soon but told me that she plans to return before Sept. 14 to vote against Fenty. Her family members have lost jobs due to "budget cuts".

So keep on thinking that 70% of those fired will have no impact on this election. You may be very surprised on 9/15.

Posted by: bnew100 | August 10, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Add to those "involuntarily terminated" those who have chosen to resign/retire/quit - because they could not in good conscience continue to work for such an unethical Administration, and those who continue to serve the DC Government - under duress and hoping with all their hearts that they will be working under new Mayor come January. And their families and friends. The numbers start to get up there....

Posted by: nan_lynn | August 11, 2010 1:02 AM | Report abuse

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