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Marie Johns and the Sound of a Pinpricked Balloon

Marie Johns was, for a time, what passed for the exciting alternative in the D.C. mayoral campaign. The former phone company executive started out her race for mayor as a captive of corporate rhetoric, a political neophyte whose every utterance was a painful journey into the bland vocabulary and contorted sentences of the business management world.

But Johns learned quickly, and in a matter of weeks, she was making her way around the city with a fresh collection of stories about Washingtonians she had met and about the fears and anxieties she'd discovered in a city torn apart by race, class and the whirlwinds of change.

She was always haunted by the spectre of Sharon Pratt Dixon/Kelly, the former mayor who also presented herself as a real world executive who would come into office and teach the bureaucrats a thing or two about how to manage. The comparison was wholly unfair, Johns protested, with some merit.

But as Johns failed to raise money or break through the media notion that this is a two-way contest between Adrian Fenty and Linda Cropp, the outsider's campaign has begun to sputter. Loudly. Her finance chairman has fled the reservation, signing up with Fenty. And Johns' 8 percent showing in the last Washington Post poll seemed a death knell to many in her own campaign.

But Johns carries on, and yesterday she visited us at the Post for lunch. I came out of the session feeling that the candidate is deflating before our eyes. Which is too bad, because she is smart, dedicated and wants to conduct a campaign of ideas and issues. Johns says that her only hope now is to win the endorsement of this newspaper. I have no idea when that endorsement will be published or who the editorial board will choose to support; we in the news department have no contact with the editorialists on such matters and we like to keep it that way.

But I'll eat my ballot if the Post endorses Johns. Not because she's not the editorial page's kind of candidate. But because the perception that this is a two-way race is not a concoction of journalists, but an accurate reflection of what all polls--both by candidates and by news organizations--show, and a reflection as well of the sounds and sights on the streets of the city.

Why didn't Johns catch on? She says many of the right things, she has a natural appeal across racial and class lines, and as a neophyte, she recalls the original appeal of Tony Williams. But unlike Williams, Johns really has no intimate experience with the city government; remember, though Williams was the classic anti-politician, he had done a bang-up job as the District's chief financial officer. He knew the city bureaucracy inside and out.

Johns, like so many candidates all around the city, focuses much of her campaign on education. If the schools stay lousy, the city has no chance, she says quite bluntly. But her proposed solutions sound too much like what we've heard year after year: More help for dysfunctional and uninvolved parents, more technical education, use the recreation centers and libraries to assist the schools. Ok, nice ideas, good ideas. But would they stand a chance ot making a real change in what happens in the classrooms? No.

And Johns doesn't go the extra step: She doesn't talk about a mayoral takeover of the school system, such as has happened in New York, Chicago and some other big cities that finally had it with chronically underachieving schools. She doesn't dare to talk in any detail about clearing out deadwood and incompetent teachers. She seems, in the end, too safe.

"We need a culture change in the government," Johns told us, and that sounds great, but the only proposals that followed were about telling workers that they need to meet higher expectations. Not exactly wielding the broom.

Several of us tried to get Johns to take sides between Cropp and Fenty, but she wasn't biting. She smacked Fenty around a bit: "He's one heck of a campaigner and that's what he does.... But being mayor is more than that. It's more than getting a Supercan delivered." Ouch.

And she gave equal time to dismissing Cropp. Johns made a point of mentioning that Cropp was president of the D.C. school board back in the 80s, a role that Cropp glosses over in her appearances and on her website. And Johns hits Cropp for having legislative rather than executive experience.

But when I asked which of the two she would support were she not running herself, Johns said, "I can't answer that." Why not? "I know too much."

Sadly, Johns looks outward when asked to explain her failure to connect with voters. Why hasn't your campaign caught fire? "Because I haven't had more articles in The Washington Post," she said. Oh, please.

And then, in a voice more tired than inspired, she talked about being "very proud" of her "solid eight percent of support against two very well-known candidates."

So, is it over? Johns said she still thinks she can win if the Post endorses her. And then she added: "If I can't make the case effectively to the voters, so be it."

And what happens to the city if the next mayor doesn't fix the schools and take the steps she proposes to take?

"We will continue to have crime emergencies, a widening gap in health care, and unrealized talent" going to waste because the city's schools serve young people so poorly, Johns said. "We will become a city of the very wealthy, and the very poor and very little in between."

That's a truth we already see too plainly every day.

By Marc Fisher |  August 22, 2006; 7:54 AM ET
Previous: Macaca, Charlie, Don Rickles and George Allen | Next: Stealing from Children: When Schools See Only Test Scores

Comments

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If Johns were to catch fire, it would likely only strengthen Fenty. In the eyes of voters, I think the only thing missing from her impersonation of Sharon Pratt-K-D is the sweep of a broom. Cropp represents the past as well, including all that has gone wrong with DC schools. That really leaves Adrian as the candidate of vision, of a future.

If the Post were to endorse Johns (they won't -- they'll go for Cropp for sure), that would truly seal the deal for Fenty. Regardless, I Fenty's in the driver's seat.

Posted by: N.E. | August 22, 2006 9:30 AM

Hopefully the Post will endorse whomever it perceives is the best candidate -- that is what an endorsement is supposed to indicate.

There is no comparison between Kelly and Johns. Kelly ran a division within a company, Johns ran a company. You want to comapre her to someone, compare her to Fenty favorite Bloomberg.

The notion that a Johns endorsement "seals it" for Fenty is an absurd one. But if Fenty does prevail, he's one-term and done. There is no substance there. Adrian is for Adrian and Adrian only. They hype will fade and the truth will be revealed.

For all the crap Cropp is getting for "going negative," she is also sticking to many facts about his record. Hopefully people will wise up.

Posted by: GK | August 22, 2006 9:55 AM

Its so funny to listen to Cropp supporters like GK above me.

Posted by: moving forward | August 22, 2006 10:06 AM

you are WAY off, "moving forward." I am a Johns man through and through. I've worked in politics for 15 years and have never had more confidence in the mind, heart, and character of a candidate.

Don't know who I would support between Fenty and Cropp. Frankly, I don't trust either one further than I can thrown them.

So your laugh is way off-base.

Posted by: GK | August 22, 2006 10:32 AM

DC VOTERS: ENOUGH ALREADY --- GET REAL!!

Wake-up DC voters --- Marie Johns had potential, despite a nagging misperception and comparison to a previous mayor --- that some voters and media continue to drag on for no truly logical reason. Nevertheless, Dems, Greens, Indies, Repubs and assorted others --- predictably, you're about to elect another Mayor Mistake.

Once again this election year, we are staring in the face of another opportunity to do what's right versus following the hype. We have the choice to continue with the same old scenario, or we can step outside this self-constructed box that continues to restrict our best chances for a District of Columbia that works for everyone --- in 2006 and beyond.

Somehow one of those rare exceptions grew out of the rubble and stench of status quo DC politics --- a true exception that's been staring us right in the face because, in fact, he is one of us. This reflection, shadow, dark horse --- this candidate --- appears as the combination of all our frustrations, fears, hopes, struggles and clear-minded thinking for what we want our city to be, but are strangely afraid to elect.

I am no one special or smarter, other than the fact that I have lived, voted and raised a family in DC for the last 34 years. This is why it is no great difficulty in introducing everyone and anyone to someone I truly consider very special --- and it's a damn shame I can't vote for him in the Primary because I'm an Independent. But, I can and will in November. If you are someone who cares about where we are, have been, and how we're living in the District --- my best-informed assessment of a candidate that really matters is DC mayoral candidate Dennis Moore. Politically speaking, he's a 'keeper' --- and really smart too, as well as dead-on correct about the real issues!

This may be one of the most dangerous times to judge a candidate by their party, our blind partisan prejudices, fear-filled perceptions --- or worse, elect a mayor and council members based on campaign hype. If this is your only chance to know him, considering the usual attention and excessive hype over the so-called "front runner" candidates for mayor, I hope you use it to check this exceptional mayoral candidate out --- including his determination as a write-in candidate against the great odds. That tells me he's not just trying to get elected.

The more words I say here, the less you will have time to read about what I am thankful to have discovered. Just visit him at his information-packed web page ( http://www.mooreforpeople.com/html/dennis_moore_for_dc_mayor.html ), and you will know for certain we no longer have to settle for the same, less or worse anymore. There's even a 1-hour radio interview clip in case you never get to hear the true substance of his passion and plans through other DC media.

No doubt, from all the phony and predictable "front runner" media hype, you have checked-out the Democrats too. Substantively, what's different and better will be all too obvious. Most DC media, except the Post and examiner, have ignored him. But, after one visit to his website, your smarter self may not let you forget him.

As quoted from his web site, "DC does not mean Dumb Citizens." But maybe it does mean Disgusted Citizens. There is absolutely no doubt, as a District educator and parent, Dennis Moore has made me an optimistic believer (and engaged voter) again in the future of life and living in the District of Columbia.

If you're properly registered before the September 12th Primary, and the November 7th general election, writing-in or voting-in M-O-O-R-E will make you feel much better than having settled for the usual suspects --- or L-E-S-S.

Posted by: Eastern Market Momma | August 22, 2006 10:34 AM

Mr. Fisher's dismissal of Marie Johns is way too premature. I was at the Johns-Fenty debate a couple of weeks ago and Johns had three times the supporters there than Fenty did -- and he picked the location. DC Mayor polls are notoriously unreliable -- the 1994 election is a good example. I just hope the Post -- whichever candidate it endorses -- does not base its decision on opinion polls or how much money a candidate has raised.

Posted by: Richard Myers | August 22, 2006 10:42 AM

Like her website says, Johns can win if people vote for her! She is clearly the most qualified candidate and most people have said they are voting for either Fenty or Cropp not because they believe in either of them, but because they want to vote against one of them. Huh? That's certainly not the way to get the best candidate into office. Check out Johns.

Posted by: JM | August 22, 2006 10:46 AM

Anyone who suggests there's no substance to Fenty hasn't worked with him. It's a sham charge. In my book, substance means getting things done, and that's what Fenty does above all else. I'm biased for sure, but I've seen him in action and that's what led me to be a convinced supporter. I suspect that's why his support is as strong as it is among the voters against a far better known candidate.

Posted by: NW | August 22, 2006 10:58 AM

What I find disappointing in this assessment of the mayoral race is the driving notion that no matter how impressive the candidate that the Post shouldn't waste its endorsement and the voters shouldn't waste their vote on a candidate who isn't going to win. As another writer noted above, if you vote for Johns she will win.

This election is a critical one for the District. Williams has been an important transitional mayor putting the city on positive ground and now we have to decide the direction that we want our city to move in. This campaign should be about more than just a popularity contest.

Having attended a number of campaign events and meet and greets with the goal of getting a better sense of who the mayoral candidates are, I can say that to meet Marie Johns is to be impressed with her. She has energy and vision. Two qualities I think are essential for the District's next mayor.

Not only do we have a lot of choices in the year's mayoral race, we have some good ones too. I hope that voters will take the time to take a hard look at the candidates and their agendas rather than trying to determine how not to waste their vote.

Posted by: HC | August 22, 2006 11:14 AM

First of all, these long, rambling Dennis Moore rants are tiresome. Moore won't crack 2%, and brings nothing to the table.

I believe Johns is far and away the best candidate. Fenty may have been a good council member, but he was a poor lawyer (as his record shows), and has no management experience. A vote for Linda Cropp is a vote for old DC and cronyism. She had her chance, fumbled with the school system, and came dangerously close to sabotaging the baseball deal. Enough.

Posted by: Rudy and Blitz | August 22, 2006 11:27 AM

Marie Johns has guts. That's why she should be the next mayor. While the Marc Fisher's of the world are calling the race before it's over I have seen her in action -- in people's homes, at their doors, and at the first one on one debate of the campaign. You can almost see the light bulbs going off. People get it and get Marie.

It's one thing to critique Marie's performance in the air conditioned Post boardroom. It's far more important to see what these people have done when they had the chance. Fenty, as a young lawyer while presumably hoping to make a name for himself, accepted the responsbility of protecting the assets of one 85 year old man. He botched it so badly he was admonished by the DC Bar and paid the man's estate $15,000. If Fenty can't take care of one frail and needy elderly man, why should anyone reasonably believe he can take care of 600,000 Washingtonians? Linda Cropp is surely a fine person who cares for her city but hasn't her hand been at the tiller for too long with far too little to show for it? On the other hand, Marie Johns successfully ran a big, complicated, and very public business, has contributed to our community for more than twenty years, and has the personal strength, vision, and competence to put this city of the road to being the great city it can and should be.

As Marie likes to say, if you vote for this woman, she will win.

Posted by: Weegee | August 22, 2006 11:29 AM

Unfortunately for those of us who actually THINK...some in the DC news media get their fix and fascination from Fenty...or as my near voting age teen daughter says: Phony is as phony does. If it's not abundantly clear that this guy is a dunderhead masquerading as a competent and capable candidate...then we deserve to go to urban hell in this political hand basket we're riding. He's knocked on my door too...but knocking on a thousand doors is not a substitute for responsible leadership, functional knowledge, effective governing, and professional integrity (as in his Skinner corruption issue). As for Cropp, stick a finger in the air and figure out which way she will blow with any political wind that serves her special or personal interests. If all politics are local, then this may be the first year I vote for a Republican mayor (perhaps this Moore candidate suggested above)...or some other outside the box option that doesn't insult my intelligence...or the value of my vote.

Posted by: Keepitreal | August 22, 2006 11:47 AM

Keepitreal, you obviously haven't seen Fenty work, whether for his constitutuents or on the Council. He is a master of accomplishment. I find it a joke that people dismiss him as simply a good campaigner. You don't get there without substance. You don't raise as much and have $300K more in the bank than an 18 year pol and sitting Council Chair without skills. You don't have people put out your yard signs by the thousands throughout the city without earned devotion.

Fenty's out front because he's earned it, through skilled leadership, hard work, and sustained achievement. He'll be a terrific mayor because he holds people accountable and has a vision for a greater future in the schools and streets.

Posted by: Lucas | August 22, 2006 1:00 PM

Cheers and thanks to Valerie for putting up with all of us and inspiring summer conversation. Filling in for others is not the world's most appreciated job. Remember how we used to treat our substitute teachers??

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 1:09 PM

I always liked Linda Cropp because she was nice. She always had a smile and a positive attitude even in tough times. I need to reevaluate now that she's being so nasty toward Fenty. It will be interesting to see if converting her most positive asset into a negative tool will help or hurt her campaign. I'm sick of negative campaigning in general so I'm easily turned off by the Rove style attacks. On Johns, isn't the City suing her former employer for huge amounts of money over telecom issues? If so, how would she deal with that potential conflict of interest? Has she discussed that?

Posted by: cropp johns thoughts | August 22, 2006 1:16 PM

Lucas,

What exactly has Fenty "accomplished"? Voting against the crime emergency bill without proposing an alternative, being cited by the bar for incompetence with regard to managing an elderly man's estate, and attempting to torpedo the baseball deal without proposing an alternative. Is that accomplishment? I think not.

Posted by: Rudy and Blitz | August 22, 2006 1:26 PM

Fenty is a vacuous, glad-handing ward-healer. He's shown no leadership on the council. And votes "no" like a pouting child. Witness his demagoguery of the baseball issue. Not once did he come up with a different funding source and he was too shortsighted to see what a baseball stadium would do to develop a part of the city and broaden the city's tax base. On the Crime Emergency Bill he didn't bother to talk to his fellow council members to get them to see things his way but was content to lazily vote no. And he had neither the insight nor the guts to propose an alternative. And let's not forget his good friend Sinclair Skinner. That Fenty has refused to disassociate himself from this hatemongering, racist homophobe is appalling. One can safely assume that Fenty's beliefs are not much different from Skinner's...that is if Fenty has any real beliefs.

Posted by: Logan | August 22, 2006 1:53 PM

Logan, you took all of the words right out of my mouth. Well said! Hear, hear!!!

Posted by: Glover Park | August 22, 2006 1:57 PM

Mr. Fisher and the Post are far too dismissive of arguments that the media is controlling this race. His "Oh, please" comment is a classic example of trying to insult Marie Johns in order to deflect attention from the fact that Marie Johns is right. It's not that I think the Post is conspiring to fix the election, I just think they are just lazy with their reporting (and sloppy in their writing - Fisher's column is a disaster).

Posted by: I | August 22, 2006 2:03 PM

Johns should have been active in DC politics in a much more visible way earlier. Her brand was weak going into this election cycle. At this point, the most relevant thing about her is whom she'll endorse. No wonder Marc Fisher and The Post asked this question.

Cropp is a well-known quantity. By all accounts she's nice. Her MO is as a quiet parliamentarian. She has participated in this city's recent successes and its many failures reaching way back to the Walter Washington era, spanning the Barry and Kelly eras, and into the now-in-twilight Williams era. She's a top-shelf old-school insider who, on a personal level, has not inspired people to either love or hate her. Is that good or bad? It depends on where you sit. A telling point to me is that the municipal employees union has endorsed Linda.

Fenty (my candidate) has been in DC office for ~6 years to John's 0 (Zero) and Cropp's ~30. During that time he's worked tirelessly on constituent service, he's proposed and advocated for widely appreciated new approaches and ideas, such as the restaurant smoking ban, the School Modernization Act, etc. Lacking council tenure, he's not had access to hot-button oversight committees, but he did good and very necessary work at Health and Human Services. At times, he has played PR games to advance his cause- some deride him for that- but he's been very effective in advancing a well-appreciated agenda. He has promised not to (yet again) raise taxes and will carry forward the Williams legacy of fiscal responsibility. He's shown the vision, the drive, and the focus to reform our institutionalized patronage-system government, and to improve city services. He's inspired more people both in raw numbers and in a broader demographic than any other candidate. Of anyone in the contest, he alone has demonstrated the ability to more our city forward, as he would say, to a brighter future.

Posted by: Dupont | August 22, 2006 2:12 PM

Logan, thanks for that breath of fresh air on the Fenty matter. People wake up. And I'm also not crazy for Cropp. She is the past!! It's a sad situation. But, unfortunately, I think Fenty will win because he's tapped into that Chavous mold, he looks good and black poor man outrage. Doesn't do a dam thing for the city, but he's nice and he looks good.

Posted by: Undecided | August 22, 2006 2:21 PM

Logan wrote "...Not once did he come up with a different funding source and he was too shortsighted to see what a baseball stadium would do to develop a part of the city and broaden the city's tax base."

Gary of DC Watch had a nice post yesterday which questioned how DC pols would hide baseball stadium the cost over-runs, which realistically are expected to be in the neighborhood of $300 million. You're upset because Fenty voted "No" rather than reaching out to his rich developer friends (like anyone did that...), or imposing a 1 Billion stadium cost on DC businesses and residents?

By the way, as a (small) part of this stadium cost, everyone's cable bill- whether they care for baseball or not- will now rise by something like $4/month. However you feel about baseball, whatever you think of this particular SW redevelopment proposal, at least Fenty (and a few others) have been honest and principled about it, rather than hiding behind buried taxes or fig-leaf spending caps.

Posted by: none | August 22, 2006 2:53 PM

My mistake: The Nationals Baseball cable tax is only $2/month, not $4. So this one's a nickle, and not a dime. ;)

Posted by: none | August 22, 2006 3:20 PM

Dear None -

I'm not upset that Fenty voted no. I'm upset that Fenty lacked the vision or the understanding to see what a baseball stadium could do for that part of the city in particular and for the city as a whole. If he disagreed with the city footing the whole cost of the stadium that's fine, but he should have shown the leadership and inclination to try and get a better deal. Instead he chose to demagogue and grandstand rather than show the leadership needed in a mayor.

Posted by: Logan | August 22, 2006 3:43 PM

As ever, the Fenty supporters are spreading bogus information:

Only Comcast customers will see an increase in their cable bills. Why? Because the Nats will finally be on TV and they have expenses and a budget to meet. Butbwhat that also means is that the Nats' fan base will expand, generating more revenue for the team, and thus for the city. All points that Fenty et al seem to forget or ignore.

As for Fenty being honest or, dare I say, INFORMED about the stadium, I say: HA! Fenty made a spectacle of complaining that money was going to the stadium and not schools.

FACT: The DC schools are well-funded, to wit they have all kinds of excess space that is going unused. It's administration and management that5 is the problem.

FACT: The stadium tax was anew tax focused only on businesses with revenue in excess of $4 million. It would not divert any existing money.

FACT: Fenty was pissed off that the team selling price was too high and wanted a piece of it. In other words, he opposed the team all along and still wanted to dip his beak in matters that did not concern him: the sale of something between two private entities, neither of which were him.

Cropp may not be the best, but she's a damn sight better than Adrian race-baiter-I-won't-fire-Sinclair-because-I-agree-with-his-race-baiting Fenty.

Posted by: Glover Park | August 22, 2006 4:04 PM

ANYONE who thinks the competition is over because the Post made phone calls to 1,000 registered DC voters is an INSULT and slap in the face! The election has not happened. If you can guarantee a victory before the election, I am suspicious of FRAUD! Consider an alternative, someone who is not a politician, rather a public servant who has the experience and skills to make a difference in the Wilson Building. Consider Marie C. Johns!!!

Posted by: LRB | August 22, 2006 4:07 PM

Down with Linda Cropp!

Posted by: ugh! | August 22, 2006 4:16 PM

You have to admire the Johns people for their passion. Misdirected though it may be, it is still a passion.

Posted by: Passion | August 22, 2006 4:19 PM

Can anyone address the DC v. Verizon litigation and whether this would present a conflict of interest for Ms. Johns (was she involved on a corporate level in the issues involved in the litigation or was she effectively screened away or not during her tenure??) and whether she has spoken on this issue? I'm really curious? Perhaps I'm wrong about the extent of the litigation against Verizon on telecom issues? Anyone know for sure. I heard it from DC government employees.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 4:41 PM

Glover:

Fact: Between the two most common cable companies, Comcast and RCN, which do most subscribers have? I've got Comcast, because Starpower/RCN has never been responsive to small buildings in my neighborhood. I'd wager Comcast subscribers are the vast majority of all DC cable subscribers.

Fact: Fenty made hay over the issue of priorities, framed as education v entertainment. Many appreciate that, and so it's worked well for him. It resonates with people like myself: I've got a young child to care for and educate, and I've no love of footing the bill for others, especially businesses of people who are already very well off, or the leisure of folks who want to enjoy a spectator sport. Of course your priorities may differ.

Fact: Money is fungible. If taxes on businesses rise, those businesses will pass that additional cost to the consumer. It's the sort of basic economics that everyone understands. Heck, my property taxes have gone up, so I raised the rent on my eng bsmt apt. Duh.

Fact: If Fenty truly tried to skim off the baseball deal, those documents, rather than a few old-news court cases, should be the basis of Cropp's attacks. In any event, we've all read enough about the deal and the development rights to know whose pockets are being lined by this.

Fact: The latest poll has Fenty up by 18 points w/a me of 4.5. Worse for you, Fenty wins every demographic category. In fact, in Cropp's strongest demographic (ages 65+), she still loses by 9 points. These numbers demonstrate that, rather than race baiting and relying on a core of support, Fenty has reached out successfully to the broadest range of voters of any candidate.

Supposition: Your angry response to my post stems from your dawning recognition that what I've written above is, in aggregate, true.

Posted by: None | August 22, 2006 4:52 PM

Not a bad analysis None. I think you're slightly wrong about the WUSA poll though. That poll has Fenty up by 21% (48% vs. 27%) over Cropp with a 4.5% m/e.

I don't know whether the WUSA poll is accurate -- I suspect it's off a bit. Nonetheless, as you note, the sure thing is that Cropp and her supporters are looking awfully desparate right now.

Posted by: NW | August 22, 2006 5:24 PM

Re: the WUSA Poll. Did you see the pie chart graphic depicting the relative positions of the candidates on Channel 9's website? Pretty incredible:

http://wusa9.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=51445

(near the bottom of the page)

Posted by: Shaw | August 22, 2006 5:29 PM

Logan:
The essentials of the deal were cast in stone before it ever went to council. Any attempt to change those essentials brought threats of legal action by MLB. The "demagoguery and grandstanding" that was done on this issue was done by the majority council and brought us the spending cap, which is far more PR than substance. It's preposterous to lay responsibility for the mechanics of the deal, which involved Williams and Evans and a few other back room players, at the feet of those few in the council who stood in principled opposition.

Posted by: Dupont | August 22, 2006 5:30 PM

Dupont's observation is true. Fenty didn't demagogue on the stadium. The Council fought it out on the late details and Fenty was quiet -- it wasn't his fight. Fenty did continually fight for alternatives, though, including his plan for overhauling school buildings: his initiative that did pass, albeit with a different eventual funding mechanism. A billion $$ for schools, not for millionaires. It seems he has his priorities straight.

Note: The money in Fenty's schools bill was to go primarily to school building renovation. Anyone familiar with the physical state of DC's schools should feel a sense of shame as to what they've become, as well as thanks to Fenty for staking out a bold position that was first mocked by Cropp, then later embraced by her when the politics became obvious and it was passed easily by the full Council.

Posted by: Lucas | August 22, 2006 5:46 PM

"DC Democrat", you've got to be kidding. You think Fenty is polling so high because of coverage? It's called hard work.

You sound like a sore loser.

Posted by: NW | August 22, 2006 5:54 PM

Marie Johns is correct that the Post's unabalanced coverage of the race has had a dramatic effect.

Reporters Silverman, Montgomery and Pierre might as well be on the Fenty payroll. They seem to make his answers for him in every article.

Ask him some hard questions for a change!!!

Posted by: DC Democrat | August 22, 2006 5:55 PM

"DC Dem" I can respond to your posts before you even think of them! (see above).

It pays to pick a winner.

Posted by: NW | August 22, 2006 6:04 PM

It is interesting to note that None "responds" to my points by subtly shifting the points I very plainly made so that his pathetic explanations seem to bear fruit. Typical bait and switch Fenty crony.

You display a fundamental misunderstanding of the strucutre of the stadium deal and tax so it is pointless for me to try an explain it to you as you are plainly resistant to the benefits a baseball team so obviously provide the city.

I never in any way shape or form said that Fenty was on the take for the sale of the team. Rather, he inserted himself by complaining about how much MLB would make on the sale and that they should kick more money into the stadium. A fair point, but when he made it, several weeks too late. The city had agreed to build a stadium and, thankfully kept its promise.

Fenty tried to renege on the promise. To that end, I fear what he will do to this City.

Posted by: Glover Park | August 22, 2006 6:41 PM

Fenty was consistent on the stadium from Day 1. He was against it consistently. He did not reneg (an odd argument, since it was Cropp who inserted herself into the process "late"). Instead, he dedicated his time and efforts toward the school renovations initiative unds to school building renovation, which ultimately passed.

This is about priorities. Fenty was focused on schools. Cropp was focused on development. Those interests are reflected in campaign finance reports for the respective candidates.

Go ahead and vote your priorities, fine. But don't criticize Fenty for having different but entirely logical ones.

Posted by: NW | August 22, 2006 7:47 PM

How I ended up where I am:
1. Linda Cropp: On the National Capital Medical Center (NCMC) she had 4 radically different positions in 29 days.
On June 14, 2005 in front of 70 Ward 6 residents at a meet and greet on 6th Street SE she announced her opposition to an expensive 250 bed hospital. She favored a smaller 110-120 bed hospital paid for by Howard as originally proposed.
On July 7, 2005 in front of 300 plus Ward 7 residents at Kelly Miller School she announced that she could not commit to the 250 bed hospital because she lacked information on the proposal.
On July 9, 2005 she once again announced her opposition to any 250 hospital before a group of Ward 6 residents.
On July 13, 2005 at a Council hearing on NCMC (one day after the draft proposal was made public) she announced at the hearing her complete and total support for the 250 bed NCMC costing between $400-$500 million.
Now that the Mayor created a Task Force in 2006 which recommended against the NCMC in favor of a number of health clinics and a level 1 trauma center at Greater Southeast, she has avoided a position because as she says, she hasn't yet read the report.
Sorry Cropp supporters, but just like the new stadium: one issue but so many different positions. Leadership is not forever sitting on a fence or forever jumping on and off the fence.
2. Marie Johns: Again on the NCMC. It is projected that the NCMC would run millions in deficits after 3 years in operation. When asked at a meet and greet how as a member of the Howard Board of Trustees which had just endorsed the proposal in November 2005, how she would fund the deficits as Mayor. Her response was that she had a plan and that plan was to go to Congress and obtain additional funding. Those of us who were here for Sharon Pratt remember her going to Congress for additional funds. She got the money, spent it and then went back to Congress for more money. Congress told her to go away. Then came the deficits, Barry's return in 1994 and the control board.
Sorry Johns' supporters but I voted for one Sharon Pratt, but that answer from Johns reminds me too much of the road this city already traveled down once before.
3. Adrian Fenty: Consistent in his position on NCMC--opposed to the 250 bed hospital and Medical Center from July 2005. Supported a much smaller hospital or a free standing Inova Medical complex which is recommended in the recent Medical Task Force report to the Mayor. I also do not have a problem with a Councilmember who has as a claim to fame constituent services. City services and their delivery are important.
4. The other two candidates: non-factors in my decision.
The bottom line is that on one major issue such as the NCMC I have seen enough from the three major candidates that I am willing to trust this city's next four years to Adrian Fenty.

Posted by: Ward 6 Voter | August 22, 2006 7:49 PM

I support Fenty too. Here's how I ended up where I am.

Every time I e-mailed the council on an issue, Fenty responded and laid out his position. That was far more than my own councilmember (Patterson), who was awful on that score and who I'm glad to see go as a result (I don't think she's going to win the Chair either). Responsiveness to the people it a large part of what good government is about.

When some colleagues and I had an interest in an issue (a civil rights measure) we floated it among councilmembers and Fenty picked right up on it. It had negative tax implications and had to go through another members' committee, but Fenty pushed it in that committee and then before the council as a whole. His leadership got a bill through in months and DC's better off for it. He showed initiative, vision, and leadership. It was impressive.

I've seen Fenty's "get things done/no excuses" approach to constituent services and good government, and it is impressive as well. His energy is boundless. His vision is positive and clear. He's honest and straightforward. He believes in results and accountability, and I think he'll be a terrific mayor.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 8:37 PM

Glover:
Actually, I didn't shift the argument even one nanometer, much less "bait and switch" it. You wrote that Fenty wanted to "dip his beak" in the stadium deal. I responded that someone who accuses a person of attempted graft should be prepared to back up that accusation.

It's accepted that people have personal biases, but your statement approaches liable, and that is unacceptable.

By the way, Glover, I'm on no one's payroll. I don't even know Fenty personally. I have met him (I've met many other council members) on multiple occasions, and I've watched DC government very, very, closely for some time now. You're simply wrong to call me anyone's "crony". Don't worry, I don't take personally. You seem to make a habit of maligning people you disagree with.

Posted by: None | August 22, 2006 9:54 PM

Of the three viable choices for DC mayor, none inspire me to anything much beyond obligatory lever-pulling on Sept. 12. None of them are obvious leadership material at first blush. However, since I must choose from this year's less than ripe crop of candidates, I say that Marie Johns offers the best hope for a fairly fruitful four years.

She is really the only one who has experience running something akin to the District government. In heading Verizon,she has run a major corporation. Moreover, her life experience seems to have provided her the insight, humility and confidence to tie all the disparate parts of this city together. I feel that she is someone who could inspire the same respect in far Southeast as in upper Northwest. She may not be as familiar with how city government works as I would like, but I think she can hold steady during the learning curve. I don't make any comparison to Sharon Kelly when I think of Marie.

BUT I do doubt that she can win. Not enough folks seem to believe in her.

So...by default we probably WILL have a two-person race--between Cropp and Fenty. When I perform the leadership ability equation on those two---Fenty comes out the winner. While Cropp may have "been around" she hasn't "been ahead." Over her thirty-plus years in public office, she has not distinguished herself at all. No wonder why she is trailing in the polls behind someone with only about a quarter as much time in the public eye. Cropp has shown moments of leadership, no doubt. Her desire to keep DC General open was one of them. Her position on the financing of the baseball stadium was another. Although I'm convinced that, while she may have had good intentions at the outset, she quickly realized that this was her catapult to greater attention. Yes, Cropp supporters, I agree. She has grown in the job as DC Council chair. But for someone who has been in public office for so long, she has no strong distinction. She is not the "elder statesman" she now wants to paint herself to be.

I think Cropp feels as though she deserves to be mayor and does not want to see young Fenty take her "turn" away from her. Her campaign style inspires me not to trust her so much as to feel sorry for the desperation that she displays. She is not running as the confident, qualified candidate she wants us to think she is.

Fenty, who has hardly put in much time in the ranks, has shown more moments of leadership in his 6 years of the Council. He seems to listen and to understand. He responds. He takes action! Fenty takes a position for keeps. He shows courage and confidence. Cropp tries to be on all sides of issues and finds it "painful" to make a decision. Looking at recent headlines tells me that she will watch and wait and say whatever she feels she needs to say to get elected. Let me think: "consensus builder" or "decision-maker". In a mayor, give me the decision-maker who has looked at all the sides and made an emphatic, strong, FINAL decision. That appears to be Fenty more than Cropp.

Although she has "experience" in staying power, she doesn't sound or act like a leader and I think the nation's capital deserves much better. If voters chose Marie Johns despite their doubts that she can win....perhaps she can win.

But, if it's between the other two, then "green" Fenty appears ready to go with gusto!

Posted by: Watching and Waiting in Ward | August 22, 2006 10:37 PM

As someone who is a good cook, I don't know if Marc will prefer his ballot grilled, fried or sauteed. Whichever way, I do look forward to him eating it, along with his words!

Posted by: The Candidate | August 23, 2006 12:18 AM

This debate over Fenty and Cropp is beginning to sound like two derelicts arguing over eating a rotten apple or a rotting one. I for one will not fall into the trap of voting for the lesser of two evils. I will honor the importance of my vote by electing someone other than these two. My vote is for someone who can stand the test of integrity and intelligence when it comes to serving the greater good. Who that may be is still hard to determine. Maybe it's time to take a closer look at the back runners who are not so favored by mainscream DC news media. The baseball stadium funding scam, crumbling public schools, the return of random violent crime, assorted taxation scams, plus the displacement of D.C.'s working and middle class are what Cropp and Fenty both fail in leadership on. Whatever backbone or initiative they had disappered the day they took their oath of office. But, now they want to run the whole city?! If either one of them is elected I will seriously make plans to move across D.C.'s northern Virginia border.

Posted by: Straight No Chaser | August 23, 2006 12:49 AM

Well "straight no chaser": its time to start checking the real estate section for northern Virginia in Sunday's Post. They say its a buyers market so you'll luck out after September 12.

Posted by: Bye Bye | August 23, 2006 2:11 AM

None:
Perhaps my use of the phrase "dip his beak" was inarticulate, but all I asserted was that he wanted to get involved in the sale, not that he stood to profit from it. Clearly you missed my point.

Equally clear is your failure to substantively respond in any way to any of my points. How typical of a Fenty supporter.

Posted by: Glover Park | August 23, 2006 11:02 AM

Glover:

You allow you may have been "inarticulate", and so leave me to necessarily respond that I cannot be faulted for "missing" a point you've failed to make.

If you want to ignore the (many) other points that I made in response to your post(s) and only focus on Fenty's interest in the stadium deal/team sale, I'll note that it is not possible to separate the two- they were then and continue to be inextricably linked. Baseball is obviously not a paragon of the open free market- it is a cartel.

Posted by: None | August 23, 2006 11:26 AM

PLEASE!! STOP THIS FRONT RUNNER MADNESS!!
Adrian Fenty and Linda Cropp? Our best and brightest? Yet, we expect Capitol Hill to take us seriously? Or visitors and new residents to stop chuckling about D.C. voters and elections.
Wake-up people! This little plantation drama has become real old and corny. Hopefully, before November 7 we will have someone willing and capable of freeing D.C. from political and mental slavery.
Otherwise I'm writing in another choice.

Posted by: Brooklander | August 23, 2006 12:10 PM

The various back and forths are truly amusing to me, especially since why someone votes for a particular person is so subjective. The bottomline is that if ones resume dictated who should be mayor, Marie Johns wins; if ones civic service record determined the winner, again Marie Johns wins (Cropp and Fenty should not get kudos for doing what there are REQUIRED to do as elected officials). Notwithstanding and unfortunately, winners in politics most often boil down to ones popularity. If Cropp and Fenty were regular citizens and could not use their current position as an advantage in the mayoral race, they both would not even be considered as viable candidates. With that, the press and many voters deem them as "frontrunners" simply because there are defacto incumbents. This is the unfortunate way of politics -- money and popularity usually win. In the end, if Cropp or Fenty wins, those who truly need "good government" will suffer because if Cropp or Fenty truly cared about the issues they tout during political seasons, they would have done something sooner! Cropp has had 30+ years and Fenty has had 6+ years. As most voters who will vote on September 12th will survive either candidate, I hope when you finally make your decision, you really ask yourself who would be the best candidate for those who need good government most. Vote September 12th!

Posted by: Opinions and A**holes | August 23, 2006 12:19 PM

First: As to Marie Johns. Her management skills are touted by her supporters. But from what I understand she was not the head of Verizon, but the head of Verizon, D.C., which was a lobby branch of the national company and consisted of 7 employees. And I see nothing in her resume that show she has a grasp on the details of the D.C. government. She has presented only the barest of outlines as to what she would do in the areas of education, crime, and housing.

Second: this election is about governing the most important city in the world. It is about compromise, negotiations, working with others, having legislation pass through the Council, obtaining action from Congress that benefits the city, joining with the Governors of Va. and Md. on multi jurisdictional issues. I see very little in Adrian Fenty's background that suggests that he can handle the management of the city or have a good working relationship with the council, federal government, and neighboring governments. On the contrary, as the Monday Wash. Post article reported Fenty lacks the respect from other council members that is so crucial to governing in the District. The article characterized him as basically a loner. My impression from council staff members with whom I have talked, Fenty lacks the ability to read through and analyze complex material. He is good at constituency services and on quick stops at houses. But nothing in his record shows he can sit for hours at a desk interpreting the reams of material that crosses a mayor's desk. He may want to become mayor, but his background and qualifications do not support that desire. He is more of a quick fix person and has not shown the ability to resolve complex issues.

All of a sudden consensus is a dirty word, working with others looks bad, getting legislation passed is not a plus. But without the ability to work with others through compromise and consensus nothing will happen for 4 years.

I would rather have Linda Cropp who has shown she can get things done be our next mayor than experiment with a person who introduced and carried through very little legislation and who does not have a record of working well with others.

Posted by: N | August 23, 2006 12:50 PM

How anyone can even consider voting for Fenty in leiu of the Sinclair Skinner scandal is beyond me.

Posted by: Manny | August 23, 2006 1:20 PM

"H". Get over it.

I'm going to vote for Fenty because he'll be a great mayor. Simple as that.

Posted by: LeDroit Park | August 23, 2006 1:55 PM

Ledroit Park,
Are you calling me "H"? What exactly is that supposed to mean?

Fenty will be the biggest mistake since Barry.

Posted by: Manny | August 23, 2006 2:03 PM

N, within large companies there is generally a lobbying arm that handles state/local and/or federal gov't relations. As President/CEO of Verizon, DC Marie was in charge of Verizon's DC operations, including its government relations, regulatory, and financial issues. I suggest you check out http://www22.verizon.com/about/community/dc/about_dc/our_team.html to read up on Verizon DC's operations in the District.

Marie continues to be my candidate of choice for DC mayor and the DC voters are coming to this conclusion as well.

Posted by: sylvia.brown | August 23, 2006 3:07 PM

This mayoral election has become circus-like. All it needs is a bear driving around the ring in a little car. I am sick of those people in the legislative offices of the Wilson Building. I will take Marie Johns over anybody else running, including my Ward4 councilmember Adrian Fenty. Unfortunately, he might win. If that happens, it won't take long for people to recognize that his effectiveness as a team player and his temperment is limited to helping those who who he wants to help, and not all who he represents.

Posted by: OutWithTheOld | August 23, 2006 3:55 PM

OWTO, you're obviously not very familiar with Fenty. I don't know how you could possibly compare him to Barry in any manner. He will be a terrific, effective leader as Mayor. I'm very excited by the possibility and the chance to see our city improve on so many levels.

Posted by: SW | August 23, 2006 4:14 PM

I am VERY familar with Fenty which I why I don't intend to vote for him. I voted for him when he initially ran for council, but he lost my support the second time around. And where did I compare him with Barry? Where?

Posted by: OutWithTheOld | August 23, 2006 4:37 PM

First of all I will not join the debate of you is the best candidate and would be the best mayor of Washington DC. That is undebateable. At my first mayoral forum, my 20 years of experience in local, state, and federal campaigns and politics kicked in and I knew immediately that the best person for the job is Marie Johns and that is on any argument that anyone want to make. Now we are going elect our next mayor and that is so so serious. If Marie is not elected it will be a critical mistake that we as the residents of DC would have made and we will have to live with it. I would hope we don't cut ourselves short. Why should we take the stance that Cropp be elected by the reasoning that she deserves as a promotion - - that is not what an elected office is about. And if we elect Adrian Fenty - - as my grandmother used to say - - You had better believe in a God because you are going to need one. I'm actually commenting to respond to Marc Fisher. This rendering is irresponsible and is the closest to evidence of someone being in a twlight zone that I have ever witnessed. Further, it is insulting to the intelligence of the constiuents of our great city. I am grateful that there is karma--that is where I find my peace in reading this blog

Posted by: dd | August 23, 2006 4:42 PM

None:

As ever, you opt to parse my statements rather than substantively responding.

My use of the phrase "dip his beak" was inarticulate in my original post. But it doesn't change the fact that Fenty tried to push his way into the sale of the baseball team when it didn't concern him in the slightest. It was class warefare in its most disgusting form, initiated by Fenty.

You say that the business tax will be passed on to consumers. So, in other words, you are looking into a crystal ball and seeing events that haven't really happened yet. We can debate back and forth over this tax, but it doesn't change the fact that Fenty's criticism of the stadium deal, however valid, was fundamentally misplaced. His specific criticism was that more money needed to go to schools, but there was never any money that was going to be diverted from schools into the stadium. Additionally, Fenty never offered any kind of substantive or reasonable compromise on the stadium deal. Is that the kind of leadership we need in this city?

Fenty's actions followed a similar path on the crime bill. A no vote and a lack of a substantive alternative.

His refusal to address the Sinclair Skinner issue is equally troubling and certainly lends credence to those who think Fenty is the second coming of Marion Barry. As a thirty-plus year resident of the city, I remeber the race-baiting of the Barry years and have no desire to see it return with Skinner. Fenty's failure to deal appropriately with this issue is yet another example of his lack of leadership.

Finally, there's Fenty's record as a lawyer and the poor man whose estate he ignored. Yes, he has taken responsibility for his mistakes. But at NO time has he ever promised the residents of this city that he will not make the same mistakes with the multi-billion dollar DC budget.

So what are we left with? A long history of callous disregard for ALL of the citizens of this City at the expense of catering to the very worst demons of racial politics.

Posted by: Glover Park | August 23, 2006 5:09 PM

Reading all this makes me realize why I only visit these blogs from time to time. Glover Park, your vehemence is beyond all reason. You're breathing your own fumes too much. You may disagree with Fenty and decide not to vote for him, but you are simply waaaaay off on the strength of his character and his resoluteness as a strong political leader in this city. You're also way out of the mainstream.

Then again, your attack post is very consistent with Ms. Crop's current, desperate campaign strategy.

Posted by: Ward 3 | August 23, 2006 5:44 PM

Of course Fenty should respond to questions about Sinclair Skinner just as Linda Cropp should answer questions about the role former Barry cronies will have in her administration in the event she wins.
The following article written by Duncan Spencer for "The Hill" newspaper on May 24, 2006 identifies the various Barry folk from the past who are returning to power via the Cropp campaign.


CROPP OF YAWNS
Tony's dull decision

Need more proof that Mayor Tony Williams (D) is bored out of his skull?

Item: His mayoral-race endorsement of the city's tedious, unimaginative, business-as-usual City Council chairwoman, Linda Cropp (D). Sadly, it was inevitable that Cropp, who operates out of sight and behind closed doors, and whose only great attribute is patient ambition, should get Williams' nod.

Mrs. Cropp, a failure on the school board, hack as a City Council member, fumbler and backtracker as chairwoman, taker of all sides of a position, will usher in the new post-Williams era under a cloud of euphemisms, clichés and old Marion Barry cronies.

There seems little chance that voters will revolt against Cropp, even though she is as different from Williams as chalk to cheese. Without a crisis to awaken voters, her closest challenger, Adrian Fenty (D-Ward 4), is seriously damaged and the other candidates will split the anti-Cropp vote.

Cropp has quite naturally surrounded herself with political relics of the dysfunctional Barry era. In fact she's married to one of them, Dwight Cropp, a senior Barry adviser, a man who has defended Barry for turning City Hall into a job bank.

Dwight Cropp left politics to become a professor at George Washington University in 1989, the year before Barry was arrested and charged in the infamous crack cocaine sting. Barry associates' names include Elijah Rogers, Marshall Brown and Max Berry, and, according to veteran reporter Harry Jaffe, even Ivanhoe Donaldson, Barry crony and Barry's top strategist in his first mayoral campaign, a man who went to jail for embezzling city funds, is indirectly involved, working for Cropp pollster Diane Feldman.

These connections don't prove that Cropp is another Barry; it's generational. Barry and Cropp arrived in D.C. the same year (1965) both served on the school board, both came up through the City Council. The institutional memory and the mind-set are parallel. But don't look for Barry's charm or his in-your-face attitude toward Congress.

The primary is now hers to lose. The most voters can hope for is that she will be a faithful trustee of the Williams trust fund -- an inheritor, not a creator. The danger is that the cronies are smiling, ready and waiting to revive the bad old days of Barry, and soon may well have free access to 1 Judiciary Square.
-------------------------------------------


Posted by: A Return to the Past | August 23, 2006 5:47 PM

IF YOU NEED TO MAKE AN INTELLIGENT DECISION
about who the next mayor should be, take the advice an earlier blogger as I did. It turns out, despite my initial resistance, Dennis Moore (a REPUBLICAN!! OH MY!!) makes more sense without pretense than any of what I've been hearing from others.
Taking the time to read beyond the heap of noise about the other candidates here, YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED at how he addresses the real issues.
As much as I hate to admit it, we may be overdue for a MAYOR WHO IS TOUGH WITH NO FLUFF and SMART FROM THE START. Someone who just gets the job done!! Going over to the dark side may bring more light. At least check him out:
http://www.mooreforpeople.com/html/dennis_moore_for_dc_mayor.html

Posted by: OpenMindedRetiree | August 23, 2006 6:27 PM

Okay OpenMindedRetiree . . . I checked out the website . . . now what?
Yes! Dennis Moore is a credible candidate.
Although I'm a Republican too . . . that's no guarantee of my vote . . . but I'm not going to give a de facto nod to the Democrats either . . . then again Moore makes better sense that what I seen so far . . . my husband (the Independent) says voting for him is a no brainer . . . I'm smarter that he is . . . but I have yet to find a credible reason to disagree . . . where has the media been on this guy anyway?

Posted by: Suzee | August 23, 2006 7:43 PM

Dennis Moore IS a credible D.C. mayoral candidate and welcome fresh air from the front runner stench.
I've found more on Google and Google News about Dennis Moore than what's in most of DC lame news media.
Why has he been so off the radar?
Something smells bad about this lack of coverage. Maybe I need to rethink why I'm voting for front runner Fenty.
Competence still trumps media hype for my vote.

Posted by: Truth Seeker | August 28, 2006 10:37 PM

Fight the Hype:
The real story is both Fenty's and Cropp's leadership still has not changed D.C.'s low educational achievement, unaffordable housing, expanding homelessness, rising HIV-AIDS infections, more random violent crime, increasing joblessness, middle-class displacement and an expanding population of poverty-locked D.C. citizens.
http://www.mooreforpeople.com/html/dennis_moore_for_dc_mayor.html

Posted by: Forgotten Washingtonian | August 30, 2006 11:54 AM

I'm sick of seeing the endless stream of glossy, full-color, expensively produced attack literature cluttering my mailbox.

I'm sick of Linda Crapp.

She's touting the fact that she was an educator -- yet, she's been on the Council since Moses, and our schools still suck, big time. She voted for the baseball stadium -- a boondoggle. She's in bed with development interests.

Her husband works for George Washington University ("the university that ate Foggy Bottom") and for years has been involved in that institution's disgusting takeover of that neighborhood -- resulting in outrageous rent ceilings and impossibly high rents for lots of moderate-income people and elderly and disabled people on fixed incomes.

An outrage and a travesty.

Fenty is young, yes. But the man's old enough to be President of the United States. He's certainly old enough to be mayor of D.C. He's made some gaffs -- who hasn't -- but he's also come down on the right side of several very important issues: rent control and affordable housing, the baseball stadium and school modernization among them. His vote on the crime bill was risky, but principled. And he repeatedly has said what he thinks needs to be done to stem crime in the city.

And Fenty sees the need for an independent planning authority for the District -- which is hugely important when one considers the shotgun, corporate brown-nosing, bend-over-and-take-anything-they-give-you approach taken by the present mayor, that has resulted in all kinds of fiascos: the closing of D.C. General, the horrible stadium "deal", the Tenley Town tower, the positioning of St. Coletta's (a private school) on the the very best site of the entire parcel of land known as Reservation 13 (http://www.voiceofthehill.com/Discus/messages/4/541.html?1143751560). This single institution got nearly five and-a-quarter acres of the most strategically situated land in the city. And instead of standing up to the demands of a very narrow special interest cabal, Williams wimped out, caved in and completely gave away the store. And he discussed it with no one. Not even his own Office of Planning could swallow their criticism on that scandalous and utterly indefensible giveaway. And God only knows what incipient fiascos are lurking in various neighborhoods as a result of his drive for the establishment of "public-private partnerships" to develop city-owned land.

And I'm sick of this inane talk of purported campaign "race-baiting," which is complete and utter bull. Fenty is half-white himself, after all. If you must criticize the man, do so, but don't insult our intelligence with such unmitigated crap. To Fenty's credit, he hasn't dignified such charges -- themselves designed to stoke the fears and anti-black animus and/or insecurities of already disproportionately priviledged whites in a majority-black city -- with a direct response.

Johns is a great person. No one disputes that. She's intelligent, competent, principled, compassionate. But she's served on the NCRC board and on the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and, I fear, may have a top-down mentality when it comes to planning issues of the kind that repeatedly has gotten this city in trouble, that regards city planning not only organizationally (the Office of Planning is under Economic Development in the city government), but functionally subordinate to development, and primarily as a matter of dollars and cents. The current mayor, after all, has never met a developer with deep pockets he didn't like. And while Johns clearly has compassion for the city's poor and disadvantaged, the city needs to be protected INSTITUTIONALLY from the likes of those who would sell the city out from under its residents, obliterating swaths of affordable housing and destroying the character, the very nature, of established, thriving neighborhoods in favor of chain stores, million-dollar-plus condominiums and schlocky, garrish distortions of existing edifices.

We need an independent planning authority -- and Johns doesn't see it. She thinks the status quo in that regard is just fine. Linda Crapp hedges on the issue and has said something akin to, "Well, maybe we could have a planning body that reports to the Council" -- essentially, a planning authority without authority, without autonomy, without teeth.

Forget it.

I'm supporting Fenty. To hell with the scare-tactic spectres of massive fiscal disarray resulting in the need for another control board, forget the city's whites being somehow victimized, discriminated against or marginalized (a suggestion which is absurd on its face). And whatever anyone says about him, Fenty couldn't possibly be anywhere NEAR deleterious for the city as the incumbent Williams, who is little more than a number cruncher with a propensity for caving in to moneyed interests and congressional pressure like some gutless, spineless lapdog, but who has no compunction about arrogantly rebuffing the reasoned judgments of District citizens and professional organizations who seek to remonstrate with him over his ill-advised policy decisions (like the closing of D.C. General, which he later admitted was a mistake).

Truth is, in politics you never really know what you're going to get. You consider the options and you vote, hoping the candidate will do what he or she has promised to do. All politics is a (reasoned) risk.

Yep. It's a Crapp shoot.

And I'm gambling on Fenty.

Posted by: deeceevoice | September 3, 2006 2:58 AM

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