To move forward, it's time to move past Fenty vs. Gray
Last year's mayoral race was a contentious one, and created many bad feelings on both sides. Even now, each time an issue comes up that even tangentially relates to Mayor Gray that's negative, a cadre of Fenty supporters gleefully post comments basically saying, "told you so."
In particular, many of the comments pertain to my personal endorsement for Gray. There are clearly some people who want me to repudiate that decision, and declare that I was wrong,
that Fenty was perfect, Gray 100% rotten to the core, that Gray has had his mind made up all along to oppose bike infastructure, or transit, or school reform, or better taxi service.
Nothing is that simple. I've definitely been disappointed by some of what's happened, especially the hiring scandals. But Gray's record on our issues has been generally good, though not perfect. Neither was Fenty's.
Don't forget that Fenty was supportive of progressive transportation until a campaign donor asked him to kill a planned sidewalk, and then suddenly he wasn't. Or all the development projects that went to poorly qualified developers, or his outright refusal to implement inclusionary zoning. Or Peter Nickles.
The Gray administration made a significant funding commitment to streetcars, and Gray has announced his desire to make DC a platinum-level bicycle-friendly city. On the other hand, he didn't keep Gabe Klein (but elevated his deputy) and his support for cycle tracks is tenuous.
A few comments aside, though, we still don't know if the decision to put L and M street cycle tracks on hold came from Gray, or Bellamy, or someone else. There are even people in the bicycle program at DDOT who aren't very enthusiastic about cycle tracks and are reluctant to move them ahead absent strong support from above.
Or, perhaps they'll move it with strong support from the public. Tommy Wells' chief of staff Charles Allen said they've gotten 1,054 emails supporting the cycle tracks. He's already supportive, but DDOT and the Mayor's office are getting the same emails.
When we got funding restored for streetcars, it wasn't because a bunch of people reacted to the news by saying that they wished we'd elected Kathy Patterson instead; they flooded Gray's office and got the policy reversed.
Before the election, I wrote,
I'm sure I will disagree with some of his decisions. But I disagree with a lot of what Fenty does. If, and when, Gray does something I think is wrong, I'll say so. I'll push him to be the best possible Mayor, to hire A+ people just like some of Fenty's appointments, but without some of the C- people Fenty also has in the mix.Gray has unfortunately not brought in as many A+ people as I'd hoped, or as many as Fenty did, though he also has fewer C- people. He perhaps has more in the B range than would be ideal.
Ironically, perhaps I think I've become more reluctant to "say so" when Gray has done something wrong because of the childish commenters. Hmm, perhaps they are really Gray supporters trying to dissuade any criticism of the mayor's actions.
Mary Cheh has also been taking a lot of heat for her support for Gray. That seems to have pushed her to become a sort of cross between Tom Smith and Jack Evans, standing up against residents having to endure the foulness of people between the ages of 18 and 22 living in their community and defending the rights of those people who make over $200,000 to avoid sharing anything with people who are losing access to housing and even basic food.
Meanwhile, we've made progress in policy. In the endorsement post, I also wrote,
[Gray] does want to roll back meter hours, though, but I believe after he learns more about parking he'd agree we should only roll them back in some areas and not others.In the last budget, we didn't hear a peep about this from the administration. Bellamy doesn't want to do it. Jack Evans and Muriel Bowser (Fenty supporters, by the way) were the main ones carrying water for that particular bad idea.
Many transportation subjects aren't among the few issues the mayor cares most about and has the strongest opinions about. He's open to suggestions and influence from his staff and from various groups of residents. We need to remind him that many people strongly support the cycle tracks, or whatever other policy we're discussing, and that it's also the right policy. We can do that more effectively if it's not overshadowed by whining about Adrian Fenty's loss.
No mayor is perfect. Maybe in the future we can elect someone that's better than both Fenty and Gray. We also could definitely have mayors who are far worse than either. We can keep dwelling on the past, or we can fight for a better DC. I'm going to keep my eye on the ball and hope you will too.
Addendum: If you believe that Gray is irrevocably opposed to what we believe and was just lying about it to get elected, then it's understandable that you might not think there's any point in lobbying him. Instead, all we can do is gripe about how it's too bad he was elected. But I don't believe that. Instead, he's open to a lot of things, but not always surrounded by people who push them. That means he needs to hear it from residents, and hear it often.
- Out: "cycletrack." In: "protected bikeway."
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