No one should overlook the self-inflicted wounds and mistakes D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s administration is making and has made. But it is frustrating to see some media outlets focus on them and not give equal prominence to reporting the good work being done.
For the first time in years there is a focus on job creation and training; on meeting the needs of the LGBT community, including job training for the transgender community; and enhancing the fight against hate crimes. Schools will test our children on what they learn in health education classes; there is a renewed and strengthened fight against HIV/AIDS; a balanced budget and an effort showing some early successes in working with the Congress on budget autonomy for the District. The city recently won a federal award for its use of clean energy and the mayor received kudos for his handling of the homeland security issues during the 9/11 remembrances and other recent emergencies. The Police Academy has opened for the first time in years with a new class of recruits being trained. These are just a few of the positive things happening in this administration.
The public deserves balanced reporting. I would never suggest that our local papers become flaks for the District, but fairness is called for. It may be human nature but columnists, and I am one, often find it more satisfying to rant and complain than to compliment. There is just something about the self-righteous feeling you get when you can point out someone else’s flaws.
If you read only the Washington Post editorial page, and the columnists and editorials in the D.C. Examiner, you would think that the city is falling apart and the Gray administration’s mistakes never happened before in the history of government. Mistakes must be corrected and avoided in the future but not one of them had an immediate negative impact on the lives of the people in the District.
Reading the Post editorial page, you get the feeling that 90 percent of the editorials on the Gray administration are written by the same person who is still upset that their candidate didn’t win the election. Their multiple endorsements of the previous mayor and unrequited love for Michelle Rhee still seem a reason to savage the person who won. A recent news story, improperly placed as an editorial, just corroborates that feeling.
The editorial board should read previous Mayor Adrian Fenty’s recent interview in the Black Voices section of the Huffington Post, in which he stated he has “no regrets” and wouldn’t do anything differently; where he reaffirms his support for the anti-union, anti-teacher, pro-wealthy politics and policies of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. I found it sad reading and would have thought that losing the confidence of the people and consequently the mayor’s office after one term, even with a $5 million campaign bankroll, would be cause for at least one or two regrets.
The hard feelings that seem to have been generated within the Post editorial board when the public didn’t take its advice on whom to elect as mayor still appear to linger. They show through when pictures of the mayor and Sulaimon Brown accompany an editorial written about Council member Harry Thomas, Jr. They are apparent in the recent editorial, which was really a news story, titled “In the weeds.” This would have been good investigative journalism had it been in the news section and been fully vetted before it appeared. Following the appearance of the editorial, the Post’s excellent reporters, Mike DeBonis and Tim Craig, are doing just that. I spoke with an individual who works for the editorial board and suggested the editorial writer should have done this as a news story but was told there is a clear line between the news staff and editorial staff. It seems in their zeal to attack the Gray administration the editorial board disregarded that rule.
The Gray administration must get its act together and begin to run a tight ship. The addition of Chris Murphy as chief of staff should help. City contracts should be clean and if we pay more for something because it is given to a local firm with local hires there should be a clear explanation of that and a description of the benefits to the city when the contract is awarded.
Put an end to cronyism and clean up the government, but let’s not let anyone believe that this administration isn’t doing many good things that will make life better for the people of the District.