Rants, Raves, Recriminations and Clowns

DC Mayor Vincent Gray, whose reactions to recent allegations by Sulaimon Brown and other scandals surrounding his name, is strangely muffled and muted
DC Mayor Vincent Gray, whose reactions to recent allegations by Sulaimon Brown and other scandals surrounding his name, is strangely muffled and muted

People of grace and the graceless: We have nothing but admiration for the Japanese people, especially those who suffered directly from the earthquake and the tsunami. No lootings, stoic bearing, grace under pressure. A nice word, too, for the media reporters who stayed and covered this disaster amid the obvious dangers, as well as those covering the tumultuous and continuing events in the Middle East and North Africa. They too placed themselves at risk and worked in dangerous conditions, and some of them paid the price.

Not so for the home front television newsies who keep thinking that all news is about us. How else to explain the amount of time allotted to a local mother and her son who were in Tokyo at the time of the quake, were scared by the swaying buildings, were ripped off at the airport and had to drive from all the way home from Chicago. No disrespect to the people interviewed, but doesn’t that seem a mite less than devastating when compared to the losses suffered by the victims of the disaster? Get a grip or get a gripe.

The scandal at City Hall…don’t get me started. Have you noticed that the wheels of government seem to be grinding like teeth? Now that Mayor Vincent Gray has hired a high profile lawyer and basically dumped his chief of staff—shortly before she was supposed to testify before the city council on hiring matters—things have not gotten better. They’ve just gotten quieter, except for Sulaimon Brown’s occasional forays on local television.

Brown appeared for a Fox TV News interview last week in which he again accused the mayor of being a crook. “The public needs to know that their mayor is a crook,” he said, more than once. Asked about his own status, he said he could not answer that question, or other questions about proof of his charges that he was paid by Gray aides and promised a job for going after Fenty at candidate forums.

He’s kept his concern about what the public needs to know to himself for quite some time, precisely to the time he was ousted from the $100,000 plus job he did end up getting.

Gray’s reactions to all this, and the furor that his hiring of friends and the children of friends at over-the-limit salaries remain strangely muffled and muted, to friends and foes alike.

In the meantime, there’s a growing power vacuum in city government and on the city council. Chairman Kwame Brown, with his own troubles, is becoming less of a factor in the dealings of the council by all accounts. And we hope Mayor Gray isn’t listening to Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry, who’s an expert on matters like these. According to a Washington Post columnist, he’s arguing that Gray is a victim of Fenty supporters on the council and that hiring friends and their children is no big deal. Maybe in Mayor Daley’s day it wasn’t, but it should be for a candidate who ran as a man whose integrity was above reproach.

Barry’s done this kind of thing before when he’s been under fire, or gotten caught on tape. It’s an old Barry game: we call it divide and con.

What it isn’t, and what Mayor Gray shouldn’t let it become, is a barrier to his most effective campaign slogan which is fast becoming an impossible dream: One City.

Now the city is faced with the possibility of investigation by the house oversight committee, which is licking its chops.

This isn’t one of those tempests in a teapot you can ride out. We’d still like to hear some straight, heartfelt and mindful talk from Mayor Gray. A lot of people who supported him based on his apparent merits are sorely disappointed. Among them appears to be Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh, who, at considerable political cost, supported his candidacy when her constituents were markedly against it.

Where is all this union bashing and anti-collective bargaining coming from? The governor of Wisconsin seems to have touched off both a concerted effort on the part of local governments to punish, debilitate or get rid of public employee unions, which has caused unions (what’s left of them) to rise up. So far the governor insists that he’s a deficit cutter, not a union buster, but he has not shown how busting public employee unions cut the deficit.

But hey, the GOP did manage to pass legislation to cut off funding for Public Broadcasting. Only a trillion and change to go. Way to go, tough guys.

Drawn by the slogan pachyderms and clowns, we ran up to the hill the other day thinking it was a meeting of GOP regulars and their Tea Party additions. Turns out it really was a parade of elephants and clowns. But I repeat myself.

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Mon, 1 Sep 2014 09:39:55 -0400

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