December 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm EST | by Peter Rosenstein
Vince Gray leaves us a stellar city
Vince Gray, Muriel Bowser, politics, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

Politics isn’t for the faint of heart. There are often hurt feelings after elections, both those of the candidate and their supporters. But good politicians understand their egos matter less than what is done for the people they want to serve. The goal must always be a good and effective government that serves to protect its citizens, educate its children, and provide help for those who cannot speak for themselves and those our system may have failed in the past.

My support for Vince Gray in the Democratic primary was based on friendship and government doing a good job in those areas. While it was sad when he lost I felt 100 percent comfortable in supporting Muriel Bowser in the general election. Those of us who participate, the voters, make those decisions with every election.

My support for Bowser, a friend and a savvy and intelligent woman, thus far has proven right. She has recognized the good things that Vince Gray is leaving her and stepped up to the plate working with him to ensure that his legacy will include a new soccer stadium. She did it in a way that was honest and kept her commitment to those who elected her. She has made excellent appointments starting with Rashad Young as City Administrator. She followed that up naming Brenda Donald as Deputy Mayor for Human Services, Jennifer Niles as Deputy Mayor for Education and Polly Donaldson as Director of Housing and Community Development.  She is surrounding herself with quality individuals like Beverly Perry as senior adviser and Michael Czin as communications director. She convinced John Falcicchio to become her chief of staff. He follows one of the best people ever to occupy that job, Christopher Murphy, chief of staff to Mayor Gray.

So on Jan. 2 when Gray’s term ends and Muriel Bowser takes the oath of office, she will be ready. Some wonder what kind of city she will inherit. From nearly every perspective the District of Columbia is a better place to live, work and play because Vince Gray was mayor.

The city’s finances are stable with a rainy day fund of more than $1.7 billion. We have bond ratings of AA — the best they have ever been, meaning lower borrowing costs. Bowser is keeping Chancellor Kaya Henderson, appointed by Gray, because she has done such a good job and the new mayor is committed to seeing that reform moves forward and student test scores continue to rise in every ward. She has reappointed Cathy Lanier as chief of police. Lanier has proven again and again that she is a leader and can work across all eight wards. Consequently she is the public official who gets the highest positive ratings from residents across the city. The delivery of services to our youth and seniors is being handled more efficiently than ever and thousands more are getting good healthcare for the first time ever.

Gray has worked 20 hours a day for the people of the District. He was out around the city more than any previous mayor visiting with constituents in all eight wards. He kept a schedule that would be tough for a man half his age. Watching him with constituents it was clear he gained energy from those contacts. He is what sometimes these days is too rare, a politician who really cares about the people he serves.

Vince Gray worked to make our city better for the LGBT community in many ways and did so not only because he knew intellectually it was right but because that is where his heart is. He ensured healthcare for transgender individuals; he fought against hate crimes and stood with the community at vigils when someone was hurt; he performed the first same-sex marriage at City Hall. His administration took on the fight against HIV/AIDS and we are seeing fewer new cases and those who are identified are getting immediate care.

As Bowser takes over, she is being handed a city in the best shape it has ever been in. She will make her mark by seeing it continue to grow and working to ensure those who benefitted the least from the renaissance of the city will now be able to fully participate. She will work to ensure that everyone, no matter the circumstance of their birth, has the tools they need to succeed.

3 Comments
  • Vincent Gray reached the zenith of his political power at a time when DC voters' tolerance for breaches of ethics and the public's trust was falling, like a rock, to zero.
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    It turns out both of those developments have been pretty good for DC residents and stakeholders.
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    Notwithstanding the failures of his first campaign for mayor, Vincent Gray clearly resolved to do better. After a few missteps, the Gray Administration demonstrated very solid management skills — with few ongoing exceptions.
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    Gray's skills, in turn, created new facts of progress for DC that will stand the test of time.
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    On balance, I think history will note those facts well. Indeed, history will be far kinder to Vincent Gray than DC voters' very shaken moral compass could ever be.
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    Happy holidays, to you and yours, Mayor Gray. Thank you for your service.
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    brian
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  • — Bowser is keeping Chancellor Kaya Henderson, appointed by Gray, because she has done such a good job and the new mayor is committed to seeing that reform moves forward and student test scores continue to rise in every ward.
    — She has reappointed Cathy Lanier as chief of police. Lanier has proven again and again that she is a leader and can work across all eight wards.
    –Blade/ Peter
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    **After a few missteps, the Gray Administration demonstrated very solid management skills — with few ongoing exceptions.**
    –brian
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    Peter is an unabashed cheerleader for both Gray and Bowser, so I don't expect to view anything but positive grades in any report card by Peter on either mayor. But I have to say that Peter's description of Lanier and Henderson here does taste a bit tepid.
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    JFK and John Adams remind us through the ages that (1) life is unfair, and (2) facts are stubborn things.
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    I've already applauded, here and elsewhere, the beneficial facts on behalf of DC's LGBTQs, Mayor Vincent Gray unquestionably accomplished, notwithstanding his personal adversities. They are indeed, stubborn facts which will stand as testament to gray's leadership — many for generations of LGBTs to come.
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    However, as to those "ongoing exceptions" I mentioned– which have already been passed on, de facto, to the Bowser Administration– the anti-LGBT management of Cathy Lanier and Kaya Henderson reveal new, disturbing facts.
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    For very many LGBTQ people, two of the most important executive departments of any city's mayor are those departments responsible for unbiased public safety and unbiased public education.
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    Even before her term has begun, Muriel Bowser scores a big goose egg on protecting LGBTQ students, LGBTQ youth, LGBT families and LGBT District employees.
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    Worse still, Muriel Bowser's picks for Chief of Police and DCPS Chancellor of Schools are encouraging anti-LGBT prejudice, homophobia and transphobia within their respective departments– even now. And it is shameful.
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    Cathy Lanier has had it in for MPD's award-winning Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU, 'glue') and its substation at Dupont Circle for just about as long as she's been police chief — nearly 8 years. Repeatedly, over that time, despite the objections of a number of DC political leaders, Lanier has tried to destroy GLLU's core unit of experienced officers — using a death-by-a-thousand-cuts strategy.
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    Even a few weeks before last November's general election, Lanier must have been feeling very confident of a Bowser victory and her promised reappointment as chief.
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    At that time, Lanier's HQ began a super secret demotion of GLLU's 'parent" division, MPD's Special Liaison Division. The SLD's captain was replaced with a lieutenant (lower ranking)– which sends a strong signal throughout MPD's roughly 4,000-member sworn force of the Chief's ongoing contempt for SLD, and by historical inference, SLD's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit.
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    Last week the Blade reported a bizarre story regarding GLLU's Dupont office that has Lanier's secretive pick for SLD apparently threatening to move GLLU's Dupont office 3-1/2 miles away to Petworth — with no easy access to Metro a quarter mile away. More death-by-a-thousand-cuts.
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    Are we hearing the not-so-subtle anti-LGBT message regarding public safety and hate crimes pursuit from the Bowser Admin yet?
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    In addition on today's front page of WaPo, we can read more about Bowser's and Kaya Henderson's ongoing retaliatory assault on openly gay DCPS principal Pete Cahall at Wilson High.
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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/wilson-high-school-principal-who-came-out-as-gay-last-year-resigns-immediately/2014/12/23/4bfa341a-8af5-11e4-9e8d-0c687bc18da4_story.html
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    If anti-LGBT bigots within the Bowser Administration wanted to send a warning message– furthering hate, bullying and anti-LGBT employment discrimination, there was no better way to do that than to triple-down on a very public firing of DCPS HS principal who wore a Catania T-shirt at the Capital Pride Parade just 6 months ago. And that's what has occurred just in the past few weeks.
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    Many know from experience, without need of any after-the-fact reports, that Bowser's and Henderson's apparent retaliatory school workplace assault on Pete Cahall will be seen by bullies and homophobes as contempt for open and out LGBTQs.
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    Accordingly, Bowsers and Henderson's actions against Cahall will likely make life much tougher for LGBTQ DCPS school kids and those perceived to be LGBTQ. Kids of LGBT parents can expect increased chances of harassment and bullying too.
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    We try to assure tormented LGBTQ kids, that about their lives, "it gets better." But in this season of peace, hope and goodwill — that appears not to be the case so far within Muriel Bowser's new administration.
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  • Going back to MPD and Chief Lanier…
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    Peter, did you know that Chief Lanier does not permit MPD-GLLU, nor its Special Liaison Division, to have true, interactive websites and listservs like MPD's 7 other district listservs have?
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    How can MPD-GLLU have real community outreach and interaction with DC's LGBT residents and businesses when it is not permitted to have interactive online communications? The chief's media control and secrecy is what third world countries like North Korea do. Isn't it?
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    Shouldn't Mayor Bowser and our new Council investigate why that anti-LGBT communications discrimination exists at MPD?
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