Greater Greater Washington

What is Muriel Bowser for?

Muriel Bowser kicked off her campaign this weekend, and as usual for a campaign kickoff, had a lot of inspirational-sounding phrases but few specifics of what she would do as mayor. As residents start to evaluate her, they need to ask for clarity about her views.


Photo by Wayan Vota on Flickr.

These are especially important questions for Bowser, because she has not taken clear stances on many issues while on the Council. That's an approach that can pay off strategically, since you avoid angering any constituency, but voters and reporters need to insist on specifics.

Here are a few questions reporters could ask:

Will Bowser affirm Mayor Gray's sustainability plan? If not, what would she change?

Bowser said in her speech, "We settled into managing the status quo, riding the success of our past instead of shaping the landscape of our future."

I'd like to see DC move faster on many things, but Mayor Gray just put out a very strong plan that shapes the landscape of our future in some extremely critical ways. Will she maintain the same goals and targets from the sustainability plan, change, or abandon them?

We could ask the same about other good plans, like the economic development strategy. A lot of planning has happened, and while Bowser derided "task forces" (many of which, indeed, often lead to little), there has been some really good planning in the last few years. Would she implement or scrap these plans?

What isn't the District doing today that it should be?

Bowser said that, because of scandals, DC has lost "our focus, our momentum, our need to think big and act swiftly." She said, "We need a change." That's what every candidate says. The logical follow-up needs to be, what change?

Being ethical is an absolute necessity, but it's only a foundation. What big thinking should DC swiftly act upon? How would a DC after a 4-year or 8-year Bowser mayoralty look different than it does today or would under a Gray or Wells mayoralty?

How should we manage growth?

Bowser told the Washington Post that how to "manage growth" would be a centerpiece of her campaign:

You'll find that a lot of people who have lived here for a long timewhite and blackfeel like that the growth is pushing them out or causing prices to go up, the senior citizens to get hurt. How do we manage it to the point that D.C. is welcoming to people who have lived here for five decades or people who have lived here for five months?
That's all true. I look forward to seeing Bowser's ideas for helping the District grow without displacing existing residents. A lot of people believe that the most important thing to do to avoid displacing residents is to add more housing, but Bowser is only okay with accessory dwellings in basements and not in carriage houses, for instance.

Thus far, in most of her statements on the council, she's shown a bias toward managing the growth by not wanting to have a whole lot change from the way things are today. Most of the time when I've interacted with her on a piece of legislation, she's "concerned" about a particular type of change because some of her constituents are "concerned."

Bowser doesn't want to make people shovel their sidewalks, didn't want bus parking in her ward but doesn't want any buses cut, and so on. Is everything fine the way it is? If so, what is the "urgency" she mentioned? Urgency to do what?

A big test of a leader is not what they will do when all residents are clamoring for actioneveryone wants the trash picked up on time or potholes filled, for instancebut when residents are divided, or the loudest voices oppose a change that might be best for the city as a whole. That's where you need to know a leader's values and beliefs.

Mike DeBonis and Nikita Stewart wrote that "Bowser is open to attacks that her résumé and legislative record are thin compared with those of her potential council challengers." Personally, I'm not as concerned about her résumé or record per se. I'm interested to hear, however, what she really believes and would do as mayor. So far, she hasn't made that clear, and we need to know in order to form opinions.

What other questions would you like asked to better understand Bowser's positions?

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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Bowser has also interceded in her ward against the implementation of sidewalks on streets where none exist. There is a long list of micro-issues with Bowser that are too extensive for a blog post like this. However, it does add up to the big question mark as to what she would change and how she would change it, as David has noted.

At the moment, I would continue to support the current mayor as a known and generally positive quantity, despite campaign and other issue as compared to what Ms. Bowser might bring to the table.

by Andrew on Mar 25, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

I hope she is against dangling prepositions.

by Jeff on Mar 25, 2013 3:03 pm • linkreport

Andrew -- Our current mayor who maybe didn't even have a clue of all the lawless campaigning and corrup spending going on all around him? The guy who has done little or nothing to improve conditions in DC during his time "filling the chair" and attempting to avoid indictment in federal court? The guy who had top advisors in his campaign indicted and under federal investigation. You mean that guy?

by Tom M on Mar 25, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

What is Bowser's education improvement plan? How will she address the balance/imbalance between regularly DCPS and publically-subsidized charter schools in so many neighborhoods? Will she name one issue for each circumstance where she will be taking on opposition from: Washington Teachers' Union, public employees union, the LGBTQ community, the Historic Preservationists/"Smart" Growth fanatics???

by Tom M on Mar 25, 2013 3:12 pm • linkreport

Just in terms of what readers of this blog generally support, yes, I would. He has retained Harriet Tregoning and supports the Zoning rewrite. His appointments have been generally strong. He continues to fund and support the streetcar system, the bicycle systems and the circultor. The overarching budget situation is relatively strong.

Is there work to be done? Absolutely. However, Ms. Bowser's platitudes towards "change" and the quote David cited give me a lot of pause, based on what I know of her, her background and the choices she has made while in office. To wit, other than the very watered down ethics legislation, what has she accomplished in office?

by Andrew on Mar 25, 2013 3:15 pm • linkreport

Jeff: What else should we end our questions with?

by Gray on Mar 25, 2013 3:36 pm • linkreport

The current mayor has been doing a very good job. In terms of GGW/DA's endorsement of him, I think if you go back and read it he has largely fulfilled that wish.

In terms of the ongoing investigaton, much smoke, little fire.

That being said, DC has a tendancy to eat their mayor, and I think that would be true here. Step down, Mr. Mayor, and go out with the dignity that you brought.

The questions here are all good, and need to be asked.

by charlie on Mar 25, 2013 3:38 pm • linkreport

I'd like to know if she's going to support quality employment in her rush to develop the city.

Low-wage jobs require workers to live far from where they work, work extra jobs, and depend on the city for healthcare and (in the long run) affordable housing subsidies. And they leave them less time to devote to their families and their communities. They widen the wealth gap. So I think even if a development is dense and walkable, if the jobs it creates provide poverty-level wages, the development isn't really sustainable.

by George on Mar 25, 2013 3:54 pm • linkreport

@George - Any suggestions on how that happens? I'm more familiar w/ N. Virginia, but honestly, what can the mayor's office due to "support quality employment"? And what is the mark of "quality employment"?

by Chris on Mar 25, 2013 4:11 pm • linkreport

I sent MB emails on two occasions expressing my support for a bill and asked for her position on the other. No response to either. For me, that is the best indicator of how responsive she will be as mayor.

by Sherman Circle on Mar 25, 2013 4:18 pm • linkreport

Absent an actual indictment, Bowser, Evans and Wells will have a hard time crafting an attractive campaign message that will resonate will DC voters.

What they will have to do is run against what happened 4 years prior..not during the past 4 years. That fact, coupled w/the sometimes difficult task of running against an incumbent will make it very challenging for anyone to actually beat the Mayor.

"We need ethical leaders" is a great campaign slogan/attack. But can you run an entire campaign based on that...especially when everything else in the city is mostly on the up and up..continuing the trend began under Williams?

And in Bowser's case, what votes will she get? She won't get Wells' nor Evans' support nor will she make any such significant dent in Gray's. So what's left? Disgruntled former Fenty voters? Heck, you can even tell from the comments here that the tides have turned in Gay's favor. In earlier times, the GGW ire (save DAl) against Gray was visceral. Now, barely a peep.

by HogWash on Mar 25, 2013 4:24 pm • linkreport

@Sherman Circle

I have e-mailed three times requesting CaBi stations closer to my home just north of Sherman Circle. Have also been met with silence. Speaks volumes about her. I voted for her this past year, but just have no clue what she has actually accomplished. She seems to run just to maintain the status quo, and certainly favors "long-term residents" as it may be.

Regarding Gray, I would vote for Gray over Bowser in a heartbeat. She just seems like an empty suit who says the right things to get elected, but has little interest in actually getting anything accomplished. Ward 4 will do very well to pick someone else next time around.

by Kyle-W on Mar 25, 2013 4:28 pm • linkreport

I also think any potential questions to Bowser can be summed up by DAl's own: "What isn't the District doing today that it should be?" and "How would a DC after a 4-year or 8-year Bowser mayoralty look different than it does today or would under a Gray or Wells mayoralty?"

These essentially are the questions that should be asked for any challenger. You're either running to maintain the status quo..or change it. It's the same problem Hillary Clinton will face. Outside of gender, what does a Hillary Clinton presidency offer the country that's different than Obama's. Will she run to continue what he's done...or change it. If the former, what makes her the best choice.

by HogWash on Mar 25, 2013 4:49 pm • linkreport

@ Chris -

I think the Mayor can do a lot on this actually. On the legislative side, s/he can support things like the Large Retailer Accountability Act ("Walmart living wage"). A person could definitely take exception to how that bill targets large retailers, but the crux of that kind of policy is to make it at least somewhat feasible for people who work at Walmart to survive and raise kids on their salary in DC. Of course, she'll have a chance to demonstrate her position on that very soon.

Currently the Washington Interfaith Network is pushing DC Water to develop a green jobs pipeline, so that DC residents in soft-skills programs can link to hard-skills training and ultimately get access to green infrastructure jobs in DC's massive Clean Rivers Project to upgrade stormwater management. Linking "workforce development" to actual hard skills training that leads to jobs is one of the huge gaps in DC's workforce programs. She could lend support to that initiative.

She could support reasonable legislation that levels the playing field when it comes to allowing workers to fairly choose union representation. The election process as it currently exists is extremely unfavorable to unions, because it's easy for employers to break the law and get away with it, for example by firing people for union activity. This is not theoretical--this is standard practice. So, for example, she could support PLAs for construction and labor peace for development projects where the city has a business interest in the project.

On the executive side, she could enforce the existing labor peace law. She could vastly improve management of the Office of Employment Services by getting the staff to enforce living wage and wage theft laws. She could encourage DOES to more comprehensively link workforce development to hard-skills development that leads to actual jobs.

Generally, when planning for sustainability, she could include not only walkability, density, mixed-use, green buildings, transit-oriented development, and affordable housing--all of which are great and essential--but also job quality. If quality employment becomes a planning focus, we will see improvements there as we have with those other indicators of urban sustainability.

by George on Mar 25, 2013 5:21 pm • linkreport

Oh I only answered half your question. I think quality employment means things like:

1. living wages
2. decent benefits (heathcare, ideally some kind of retirement)
3. dignity and fairness, like not being pressured to work overtime without pay or work through lunch
4. job security, like protection against arbitrary firing

by George on Mar 25, 2013 5:51 pm • linkreport

One of MB's initiative was legislation requiring that ANCs be notified of pending applications for demolition. I pointed out to her that the real issue is that there are no remedies in DC law--other than designation as a historic property--to prevent demolition. I said that notice wouldn't mean anything when ANCs have no remedies at their disposal to do anything about what they are to be notified about. Nothing in the legislation changed.

My take on her candidacy (and I've forecasted this for awhile) is that the Growth Machine wants the "predictability" of a clean Mayor. She fits the bill. She's articulate, she's tall, she's attractive, she's Black. She's electable.

But she's not ever come across to me as standing for something, especially for urbanity. E.g., I can't see her taking a stand such as coming out in favor of a better project than rowhouses at the Takoma Metro. She supports positive initiatives by residents, but she's likely to support residents opposed to otherwise good things just as equally.

And certainly after the Walmart debacle, she hasn't stepped up and proposed big box review legislation that deals with the real issues that such projects pose with regard to impact on communities and businesses (rather than the wage questions that are in the legislation before city council). I mean, c'mon, is there any political district in the country other than Ward 4 that will have two Walmart stores that are each at least 100,000 s.f. in size?

by Richard Layman on Mar 25, 2013 6:17 pm • linkreport

@George,

2. decent benefits (heathcare, ideally some kind of retirement)
3. dignity and fairness, like not being pressured to work overtime without pay or work through lunch
4. job security, like protection against arbitrary firing

Sounds great! I've got a decent white-collar gig, but aside from an expensive health plan and a decent wage, none of the other protections. Where do I sign up?

Oh, and how do we prevent this from becoming the "MD Residents' Full Employment Act of 2014"? Traditionally such policies have ended up with a bloated DC payroll consisting of incredibly surly MD residents working at your local DMV. (As Marion Barry bragged earlier on twitter, he essentially created the middle-class in PG County during the 80s & 90s.) Great for MD; not so great for DC.

by oboe on Mar 25, 2013 6:49 pm • linkreport

@ George - To attract "high quality employment" you need business-friendly policies plus an educated workforce (see Northern Virginia). It's as simple as that. Asinine "living wage" bills that basically target one employer are more about liberal activist types feeling better about themselves.

by Jermaine on Mar 25, 2013 7:04 pm • linkreport

@ oboe

I think that's a great point about professional workers. More often then not, they are expected to be able to take care of themselves because of their social position and wages, but it's really an important issue. And many professionals aren't given the chance to join a union.

I think the issue is all the more urgent for working class people though, who often have even fewer employment choices, and may not have any choices that will put enough food on the table and pay the rent.

As to your question about making sure DC residents get the jobs--which speaks to accountability on workforce development more broadly--the answer is very carefully. Many candidates and politicians, including both Gray and Bowser, have talked about "connecting the dots," but it's a very involved policy undertaking. In my opinion that's worth doing if they can do it well.

A much simpler step is to encourage high standards for the jobs in the city that are already here--like through minimum wages, living wages, wage left law enforcement, and when possible allowing workers a fair process to choose a union.

by George on Mar 25, 2013 7:25 pm • linkreport

* "wage theft law enforcement" oops Freudian slip maybe

by George on Mar 25, 2013 7:29 pm • linkreport

She's a hack. Has never led anything.

by Rich on Mar 25, 2013 7:44 pm • linkreport

What will Muriel do to help patch the sieve that is DYRS? What will Muriel do to strengthen sentences against violent criminals in the District instead of allowing violent offenders to get off with a slap on the wrist? Most importantly, what will Muriel do to improve pedestrian safety in the District? Will she increase the number of speed cameras in the city (especially at important pedestrian areas like bus stops)?

My guess is she'll do none of the above. She'll pamper juvenile offenders, she'll be toothless with sentences and she'll be in favor of more cameras but won't be wise enough to put them in places that will improve pedestrian safety.

20011
Ward 4 voter

by 20011 on Mar 25, 2013 9:12 pm • linkreport

Traditionally such policies have ended up with a bloated DC payroll consisting of incredibly surly MD residents working at your local DMV. (As Marion Barry bragged earlier on twitter, he essentially created the middle-class in PG County during the 80s & 90s.) Great for MD; not so great for DC.

I've said before how discussions about PG often involve negative connotations. This particular, "DC gov't worker now PG resident" meme is an example of such. So here's the thing, where is the study done backing up this assertion that the large numbers of black DC residents, who initially made up PG's middle class, were "Marion Barry's" DC gov't workers?

Despite any of your best intentions in constantly repeating this line, it comes across as suggesting that these people didn't "deserve" their jobs and were only "given" to them by Marion Barry. I'm sincerely open to hearing another explanation as to why the creation of PG's middle class is always linked to the "gift" from Marion Barry.

BTW, if DC gov't was the largest employer of DC's black residents..what about whites? Federal gov't?

by HogWash on Mar 25, 2013 9:30 pm • linkreport

Although I won't vote for Wells, I can at least have an intelligent discussion w/someone about what he has done and I likely wouldn't recognize him if he sat next to me. I WOULD likely recognize Bowser but can't quickly rattle off anything she has done beyond the ethics reform package. Yes, ethics is a very valid point on which to campaign but most people want their city ran well. You can't be a one-stop show. Romney thought he could win running against a bad economy. Well, he lost. Lost because Americans didn't begin and end making their decision on just the economy.

What bills has she proposed/sponsored that would've taken the city in a more progressive direction? She, like Gray, will have to effectively demonstrate what she HAS done...not just what she will do if elected.

Fenty had a lot of promise and a large presence. Absent both of those, I just don't see how Bowser makes the much needed connections. How could she possibly convince Wards 5, 7, and 8 that they should support her over Gray? OTOH, Fenty trounced Cropp in 1-8. See my point? It's not simply race. She has no natural base.

by HogWash on Mar 25, 2013 9:46 pm • linkreport

I saw a tweet that GGW didn't attend the announcement. If that's true, how did you cover this event? Also, interesting that Mr. Alpert is already locked in with Wells when Bowser is the only one with real transportation experience.

by Tom on Mar 25, 2013 11:22 pm • linkreport

I'd like to hear her views on the city's quality of life and how she proposes to improve it. Specifically, what will she do to speed up the street car plan. There's a whole lot of suspicion in the older African American sections of the city that they are been pushed out that ought to be addressed much more forthrightly because nothing could be further from the truth. I like her and think she could be great, but what I've seen so far makes me a little worried a out how much she sticks her finger in the wind vs. how much our city could benefit from some real leadership.

by Thayer-d on Mar 26, 2013 4:25 am • linkreport

HogWash -- don't you think that Fenty trounced Linda Cropp because he was "new" and people thought "the old way" of doing things, which Linda Cropp represented, wasn't working? It wasn't because Fenty had done so much, although he was very visible in the Ward. People respected his energy.

I guess that would be the same positioning for MB, that "the old way" of doing things is not good because it appears to be aligned with corruption.

But you are right that by comparison, she doesn't have a lot to show. It's not like she can take credit for Silver Spring's revitalization, she was a coordinator, and the planning and project development that happened there all was done before and at other levels.

by Richard Layman on Mar 26, 2013 5:51 am • linkreport

The questions here are all good, and need to be asked.

No. This is a wrong meme of the US/DC press. Questions do not need to be asked. They need to be answered. It is not the job of the press to ask questions. It is the job of the press to get answers. Answers, not evasive quotes, by the way.

by Jasper on Mar 26, 2013 7:08 am • linkreport

I think she is a pretty interesting candidate. @RL point about energy and ethics can turn people to her. If the business interests get behind her, she becomes a very strong candidate.

Another point to her favor is that unlike Tommy Wells, she has not fallen in line behind the zoning change. There are a lot of older residents that are completely opposed to this, and are reliable voters, and are looking for a candidate.

You do not have to "stand" for something to be electable; sometimes the voters are looking for someone that is just reasonable and thoughtful. She fits this bill.

by goldfish on Mar 26, 2013 9:06 am • linkreport

Hogwash - And in Bowser's case, what votes will she get? She won't get Wells' nor Evans' support nor will she make any such significant dent in Gray's. So what's left? Disgruntled former Fenty voters? Heck, you can even tell from the comments here that the tides have turned in Gay's favor. In earlier times, the GGW ire (save DAl) against Gray was visceral. Now, barely a peep.

This is so spot on! Well put. Not sure who she takes votes from. Living in Petworth, my neighbors love Gray, and are ambivalent about Bowser. She gets few votes in W1-3 and W6. The rest she splits with Gray. Not sure how she makes the numbers work. Also, I was a Gray basher, but I think he has done a tremendous job, and have enjoyed seeing it.

Hogwash - It's the same problem Hillary Clinton will face. Outside of gender, what does a Hillary Clinton presidency offer the country that's different than Obama's. Will she run to continue what he's done...or change it. If the former, what makes her the best choice.

There are a TON of people in this country, that despite the rhetoric, feel that Obama has done a tremendous job. Will he wind up on Mt. Rushmore... No. Is he a mile better than GW... YES. If Hillary runs, she faces no issues whatsoever, she wins in a landslide imo.

by Kyle-W on Mar 26, 2013 9:40 am • linkreport

I've said before how discussions about PG often involve negative connotations. This particular, "DC gov't worker now PG resident" meme is an example of such. So here's the thing, where is the study done backing up this assertion that the large numbers of black DC residents, who initially made up PG's middle class, were "Marion Barry's" DC gov't workers?

Despite any of your best intentions in constantly repeating this line, it comes across as suggesting that these people didn't "deserve" their jobs and were only "given" to them by Marion Barry. I'm sincerely open to hearing another explanation as to why the creation of PG's middle class is always linked to the "gift" from Marion Barry.

No, it comes across as people realizing that this is a HUGE transfer of wealth from DC to Maryland. People would prefer that DC government workers live/pay taxes/spend money in DC, as opposed to doing all of those things outside of the city. It only "suggests" what you say it does because that is how you read it. I read it wildly differently.

by Kyle-W on Mar 26, 2013 9:45 am • linkreport

don't you think that Fenty trounced Linda Cropp because he was "new" and people thought "the old way" of doing things, which Linda Cropp represented, wasn't working?

Yes, that was part of the "promise" of a Fenty candidacy. As I recall, he didn't do much to distinguish himself wrt a "new" way of doing things beyond fixing the schools. In fact, I definitely remembering him staking his reelection on school reform. Since both are long-time residents, I believe Fenty's "youth" aided in the perception that he would be new and fresh face with new ideas...whether he offered much new or not.

I guess that would be the same positioning for MB, that "the old way" of doing things is not good because it appears to be aligned with corruption.

Yes, except that she can't effectively make that argument. It goes back to what I said, she can't make an effective argument that Gray represents an "old way" of doing things outside of what happened before Gray was elected. Again, people are concerned about ethics. But I think most people consider "how the city is managed" as the best gauge for that rather than "how a politician won." It's somewhat important but easily forgotten.

She could possibly win against a candidate w/a poor or marginal track record of managing the city. Fenty was able to capitalize on the "old way of doing things" fear card against Cropp. It failed against Gray. How does it become possible for a woman w/no natural base? Anti-Gray sentiment isn't enough...and for those whose panties are still in bunches, why would they vote for Bowser instead of Wells?

Neither Fenty nor Cropp decided to mount much of a campaign against Williams. They ran against each other arguing that one was the steady hand and the other had lots of promise (in an Obama kind of way). Bowswer has to pretty much run against a steady yet progressive hand.

by HogWash on Mar 26, 2013 10:00 am • linkreport

Hogwash -- the other thing, thinking back to the Fenty election, was the sentiment that it was about time for a born and bred Washingtonian to get a shot at running the city.

Now I wasn't a Fenty supporter all that much once he got into his Mayoralty, although he hired some decent people. So my take was just because you're DC born and bred doesn't mean you'll be any good.

Thayer-D's and others points, including this post overall, about what is MB for are key. Is the untainted machine candidate a better positioning than the tainted machine candidate (Gray)?

Is it enough to get elected? Maybe not if Gray runs again, but it is enough if Gray doesn't run. I don't think the current demographics favor a white candidate winning the Mayor's race, unless the person has super-credentials.

Maybe David Clarke could have won, but these days are there potential candidates that have that same level of connection to the city's civil rights history etc., which I think is what's required to significantly win black votes for a white mayoral candidate.

The reality is that Fenty hadn't done all that much as a ward councilmember, other than the ban on singles. But he was out there, very visible, and did great constituent service.

by Richard Layman on Mar 26, 2013 10:05 am • linkreport

Also, interesting that Mr. Alpert is already locked in with Wells when Bowser is the only one with real transportation experience.

Did I miss this endorsement? I'm not convinced Wells will get DAl's vote in the first place.

No, it comes across as people realizing that this is a HUGE transfer of wealth from DC to Maryland.

Again, do you have facts to back up the claim that PG's large black middle class is largely comprised of former DC gov't workers? That's the assumption to which I responded. Also, we always read what we want into things. You believe referencing former PG's middle class as "surly" former DC residents and that the term alone carries no negative connotation. I disagree and have expressed reasons why.

by HogWash on Mar 26, 2013 10:16 am • linkreport

Muriel Bowser is a strong candidate with REAl regional Gov. and Transportation experience needed to lead and governs a BIG city. She has the BIG vision that we need in a Mayor at this Pivitol juncture in our city. We need a Mayor who can reconize the needs of the reisdents that have been here for 50 years and those that have been here for 5 years or even 5 minutes. I will support, vote 4, campiagn for, and spread her message to others!!!!

by Jackson on Mar 26, 2013 10:22 am • linkreport

Fenty, like Obama, has a lot of unique personal appeal (biracial, native, very smart) but not much else, which is one big reason people soured on him so quickly. The idea of Adrian Fenty wasn't as good as the reality.

He did an amazing job of wearing out shoe leather. I don't see MB ever doing that, or for that matter Tommy Wells. That is what put him over the top with Cropp. He then proceeded NOT to listen to people as soon as he became mayor.

I suspect turnout for the large seat will be critical. This is actually a very historical election coming up, and if Anita Bonds loses I'd say DC has a good shot of having a white mayor in the future.

by charlie on Mar 26, 2013 10:25 am • linkreport

@RL, I'm not totally sure if "native Washingtonian" had much play back then. Coming from the south, I had assumed that most city officials were already native Washingtonians so I didn't follow that part of the equation as much as I do (and understand) now.

I agree that most being "bred" in a city doesn't mean you'll be an effective manager. We've seen countless examples around the country wrt that. But I also totally get how being a native becomes an attractive quality for other native/long-time residents and even an effective campaign strategy.

I believe the best time for a white mayor might be if Gray actually doesn't run. The answer to that question might be realized by whether Gray throws his weight behind Bowser or Wells. You also must remember that people have long memories. It doesn't take much to remind people (those who might be her natural base) how Bowser supported the man who ripped this city apart. Wells did too but the memory of those w/in his base are much shorter.

by HogWash on Mar 26, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

I've said before how discussions about PG often involve negative connotations. This particular, "DC gov't worker now PG resident" meme is an example of such. So here's the thing, where is the study done backing up this assertion that the large numbers of black DC residents, who initially made up PG's middle class, were "Marion Barry's" DC gov't workers?

First, let's establish that 60% of DC employees live outside of DC.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/3/bills-look-at-ways-to-increase-city-residency-of-d/

Second, Marion Barry instituted a policy of massively increasing the city payroll in his second term:

Barry’s second term was much more troublesome than his first. Though Washington experienced a massive real estate boom that helped alleviate the city’s fiscal problems for a time,[4] government spending skyrocketed; the administration managed to post a fifth straight budget surplus,[36] but the next year struggled with a $110 million deficit.[40] Much of the disparity was caused by Barry's policy of combatting unemployment by creating government jobs; The city government’s payrolls swelled so greatly that by 1986 nobody in the administration knew exactly how many employees it had. (Jaffe, Harry S.; Tom Sherwood (1994). Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, D.C. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-76846-8.)

Finally, there's a long pattern of DC residents getting stable, middle-class jobs and following "the American Dream" of moving out to the suburbs the second they can afford it. This is reflected in the massive emigration of DC residents to PG county over the 80s and 90s.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray had one idea for breaking the decided homogeneity in Metro’s workforce: Hire more D.C. residents. Indeed, the good-old-boys network that comprises Metro’s 10,000 field workers is dominated by men from Prince George’s County, with only 14 percent of Metro workers living in the city. Including executives, 15 percent live in Virginia.
“There’s a story behind that,” Mr. Downs said. “At one point, 70 percent lived in the District. A bus driver can make $70,000 and that’s middle class, and like a lot of middle-class people they want to move to the suburbs. The same people are still working for Metro, they just moved to Prince George’s.”

(http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/27/even-with-big-salaries-metro-cant-fill-its-jobs/?page=all)

Finally, you have Barry himself on the matter:

http://www.twylah.com/DCAbloob/tweets/305408176612839424

As far as:

Despite any of your best intentions in constantly repeating this line, it comes across as suggesting that these people didn't "deserve" their jobs and were only "given" to them by Marion Barry. I'm sincerely open to hearing another explanation as to why the creation of PG's middle class is always linked to the "gift" from Marion Barry.

This seems to be pure projection on your part. Barry may have grossly over-inflated the public sector in order to launch a lot of poor folks into the middle-class, and intentionally crippled the city's finances in doing so, but whether those jobs were unnecessary or not, a lot of people were helped by them, and they did the jobs to the best of their ability.

To quote "Unforgiven": "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."

by oboe on Mar 26, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

I know that she is for illegally parking her SUV in the way of bus stops. That's all I know.

by Novanglus on Mar 26, 2013 10:38 am • linkreport

@Hogwash

I am not going to get into the part about whether they are "surly" or not, because it is irrelevant. The argument is that many DC government positions went to DC residents who moved to PG county, or to PG county residents in general. I don't need a study to tell me this is true. You can call it anecdotal if you like, but for the purposes of blog comments, it is certainly true.

Have there been studies substantiating this? I doubt it. I do know that Bowser tweeted out that something like 50% of the government workers live in Maryland, and knowing that there are a TON of holdovers from the Barry era still in DC government, is all the evidence I need that lots of Barry hires live in PG county. I am not even certain what you are arguing...

by Kyle-W on Mar 26, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

The DC government has no business telling its workers where to live.

by goldfish on Mar 26, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

@Jackson

Muriel Bowser is a strong candidate

That's debatable

with REAl regional Gov. and Transportation experience needed to lead and governs a BIG city.

We are having a hard time coming up with her "real" experience. Most here would argue she has done little to nothing and has little relevant experience actually accomplishing ANYTHING. Care to elaborate?

She has the BIG vision that we need in a Mayor at this Pivitol juncture in our city.

No she doesn't. She wants to maintain the status quo for "long-term residents" and maintain affordable housing, all while limiting the amount of new housing, which is absurd and doesn't even make sense.

We need a Mayor who can reconize the needs of the reisdents that have been here for 50 years and those that have been here for 5 years or even 5 minutes.

I agree. To argue that Muriel Bowser is this person is seriously misguided though. At no point has she had my interests as a new Petworth resident in mind.

I will support, vote 4, campiagn for, and spread her message to others!!!!

That's your perogative.

by Kyle-W on Mar 26, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

wrt the PG jobs thing, the 1992 cover story on PG County in the NY Times Sunday Magazine, featuring Jack and Leslie Johnson in the cover photograph sums up the issue. Sure we'd need a multiyear zip code analysis of the residence of the job holder within DC Government, but it'd show a definite relationship. There's a reason that for a long time, PG County was referred to as "Ward 9."

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/12/magazine/l-the-new-black-suburbs-121092.html

by Richard Layman on Mar 26, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

wrt Jackson's comment, that's what's always surprised me about MB. She's been on the WMATA board, been/is a high level officer within MWCOG, and you'd never know it wrt expressed positions on smart growth, urbanism, and transportation issues, either within the ward or the city. (Then again Phil Mendelson has some of the same issues. He's been involved with MWCOG for a long time, although he is strong on preservation issues.)

by Richard Layman on Mar 26, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

Again, do you have facts to back up the claim that PG's large black middle class is largely comprised of former DC gov't workers?

You've got it muddled up. PG's large black middle class is not comprised of former DC government workers. But most current (and former) DC government workers live in PG.

Again, for a long time DC had a policy of maintaining a massively overbloated bureaucracy as part of its anti-poverty strategy. Having eaten the cost of training these folks, and the ongoing cost of paying their salaries and benefits then watching them move to the suburbs, that's great for PG and MD--not so great for DC.

Just another example of the massive, unrecapturable subsidy the city pays to the suburbs.

by oboe on Mar 26, 2013 10:55 am • linkreport

I know that she simultaneously claimed to be a big supporter of biking infrastructure (IIRC b/c of support for the Met Branch Trail and for a bike lane on Blagden Ave leading to RCP) while being actively against the trail in Klingle Valley, at one hearing saying a trail there, "would not connect to anything", claiming it would be separeted from the network, an isolated trail. I had the pleasure to point out in fact it connects directly with the RCP trail on the eastern end and the designated and marked 'bike route' on Woodley Rd on the western end, thus filling a important gap in the network. Not sure how a "big supporter" of biking infrastructure could have missed that.

by Tina on Mar 26, 2013 10:56 am • linkreport

First, let's establish that 60% of DC employees live outside of DC.

Shouldn't the first thing we establish be numbers from PG during the 80-90's, the period in which PG's middle class became largely black? That's quite different from assuming that Marion Barry is responsible for the current near-60% who might live outside the city.

Second, Marion Barry instituted a policy of massively increasing the city payroll in his second term:

Possibly. But how exactly does that explain your apparent fear that DC (almost 20 years later) will become a haven for "surly" DC gov't workers from or whom might move to PG? Has any mayor since Barry supported such?

Barry may have grossly over-inflated the public sector in order to launch a lot of poor folks into the middle-class

Admittedly, it's pretty sad that DC was the only source of employment for its poor black residents. I just wonder where did the educated/white collar black residents worked. And what makes it worse is that DC might be the only city in the country who's gov't created the black middle class.

by HogWash on Mar 26, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

Barry may have grossly over-inflated the public sector in order to launch a lot of poor folks into the middle-class

You're correct. I should clarify that my original response was based on the the negative connotations often attached to DC gov't workers/PG County residents. In this instance, you called them "surly" people who populated DC gov't rolls and later moved to PG.

Again, for a long time DC had a policy of maintaining a massively overbloated bureaucracy as part of its anti-poverty strategy.

That might be true. But what does that have to do w/what you often expressed here? Where is the rationale for your current fear? Had Williams, Fenty or Gray given any indication they were interested in overbloating the rolls?

by HogWash on Mar 26, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

Had Williams, Fenty or Gray given any indication they were interested in overbloating the rolls?

I was responding to @George's interesting post above. My point was just that previous attempts to artificially create jobs with long-term pensions and strong protections against firing have had the unintended consequence of large subsidies from DC to its suburbs.

BTW, if DC gov't was the largest employer of DC's black residents..what about whites? Federal gov't?

There are a huge number of black and white residents of MD, VA, and DC employed by the federal government. But that money is a transfer payment from the US Treasury to MD, VA, and DC. Not a net transfer from DC to MD or VA.

by oboe on Mar 26, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

What makes all of this really hard is that Vince Gray has been a terrific mayor and has led the city with intellectual rigor, budget mastery, economic development know-how, maturity and vision.

by Catfish on Mar 26, 2013 12:05 pm • linkreport

And what makes it worse is that DC might be the only city in the country who's gov't created the black middle class.

Can't say I disagree. But bankrupting the city in a vain attempt to rectify shortfalls in national social policy is neither "fair" nor sustainable.

by oboe on Mar 26, 2013 12:10 pm • linkreport

Wish you would do an article like this on Mara. I'm perplexed to see so many people normally would vote blue saying they support him, for no policy position that I can determine.

by Washingtonian on Mar 26, 2013 12:40 pm • linkreport

My point was just that previous attempts to artificially create jobs with long-term pensions and strong protections against firing have had the unintended consequence of large subsidies from DC to its suburbs.

Well that's odd because that's not a point George raised at all. He didn't advocate for long-term pensions and strong protections against firings. So what relevance does it have wrt where we are today? Essentially, you're using a "remember when" argument about something you know that will never, ever happen again. It's a straw man which, as i suggested, usually involves negative connotations.

There are a huge number of black and white residents of MD, VA, and DC employed by the federal government.

Ok thanks. I knew that much. I only wondered about where white residents worked during the time DC gov't workforce was largely populated by black poor residents. I'm thinking 80's-90's, the period you referred to.

But bankrupting the city in a vain attempt to rectify shortfalls in national social policy is neither "fair" nor sustainable.

And that's what you believe George advocated? Wow.

by HogWash on Mar 26, 2013 12:46 pm • linkreport

Well that's odd because that's not a point George raised at all. He didn't advocate for long-term pensions and strong protections against firings.

Since it's obviously been a long time, I'll quote George here.

2. decent benefits (heathcare, ideally some kind of retirement)
3. dignity and fairness, like not being pressured to work overtime without pay or work through lunch
4. job security, like protection against arbitrary firing

And that's what you believe George advocated? Wow.

No, not George. That was in response to your "what makes it worse is that DC might be the only city in the country who's gov't created the black middle class."

It's awful that US social policy is what it is. DC cannot singlehandly make up for that deficit. Particuarly when the benefits mostly accrue to the suburbs.

I don't think anyone advocated a massive subsidy from DC to MD in the 80s and 90s. Unintended consequences are often unintended.

by oboe on Mar 26, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

@oboe

"First, let's establish that 60% of DC employees live outside of DC."

You have no source that says that the above 60% all live in Prince Georges County and, thus, your position lacks evidentiary support, like most anecdotal claims.

by Washingtonian on Mar 26, 2013 1:31 pm • linkreport

You have no source that says that the above 60% all live in Prince Georges County and, thus, your position lacks evidentiary support, like most anecdotal claims.

Why on Earth would my claim depend on all 60% of non-resident DC employes living in PG County? The more relevant question is, how many long-term DC employees who don't live in the District were DC residents when hired? With policies like "First Source" that number is likely very, very high.

by oboe on Mar 26, 2013 1:46 pm • linkreport

@Washingtonian

Thats the beauty of commenting on a blog, when the exact study you need doesn't exist, assumptions are reasonable. It is WILDLY reasonable to assume that a very large amount of DC government employees live in PG county (which is cheaper than Montgomery, Fairfax etc, so much more affordable on a government salary) not to mention the demographics of the demographics of the DC government, and the demographics of PG county as a whole. We are talking about the black middle class in PG county right? If you can't make the connection, I can't help you any further.

This has gone so far off topic it is ridiculous. I have corrected the original statement, and now it is an incontrovertible truth.

Oh, and how do we prevent this from becoming the "MD Residents' Full Employment Act of 2014"? Traditionally such policies have ended up with a bloated DC payroll consisting of incredibly surly MD residents working at your local DMV. (As Marion Barry bragged earlier on twitter, he essentially created the middle-class in PG County during the 80s & 90s.) Great for MD; not so great for DC.

by Kyle-W on Mar 26, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

You have no source that says that the above 60% all live in Prince Georges County and, thus, your position lacks evidentiary support, like most anecdotal claims.

You have to take that up w/Oboe, who introduced that idea. I questioned the numbers.

Why on Earth would my claim depend on all 60% of non-resident DC employes living in PG County?

Hmmm, maybe because your original assertion is that most of PG's black middle class who came of age during the 80-90's were a surly group of poor DC's gov't workers who then took their goods and moved to PG County.

The more relevant question is, how many long-term DC employees who don't live in the District were DC residents when hired?

That is a relevant question..separate and apart from your previous assertion. *See above*

by HogWash on Mar 26, 2013 3:01 pm • linkreport

I have corrected the original statement, and now it is an incontrovertible truth.

Right, it's like making the incontrovertible truth that Republicans were the party of inclusion and democrats were largely racists w/o taking into account the span of time/where we are today. From a historical perspective, were democrats less progressive than republicans? Sure. Were many blacks republicans? Sure.

by HogWash on Mar 26, 2013 3:05 pm • linkreport

@Hogwash

It is nothing of the sort. That is a miserable comparison. You should throw in slavery and Christopher Columbus bringing disease to the Americas to make it even more irrelevant.

Hmmm, maybe because your original assertion is that most of PG's black middle class who came of age during the 80-90's were a surly group of poor DC's gov't workers who then took their goods and moved to PG County.

No it wasn't. His "original assertion" was that these policies led to *many* PG residents getting good jobs and living in PG.

by Kyle-W on Mar 26, 2013 3:15 pm • linkreport

It is nothing of the sort. That is a miserable comparison. You should throw in slavery and Christopher Columbus bringing disease to the Americas to make it even more irrelevant.

I thought it was actually true that Columbus brought disease to the Americas.

His "original assertion" was that these policies led to *many* PG residents getting good jobs and living in PG.

Uhmm..yeah. And policies that haven't been realized in over 20 years. Yet, the "fear" apparently exists.

by HogWash on Mar 26, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

your original assertion is that most of PG's black middle class who came of age during the 80-90's were a surly group of poor DC's gov't workers who then took their goods and moved to PG County.

Ok, you made this same logical error up-thread, so at the risk of belaboring the point...

My original point was (and remains) that a very large number of DC employees were once DC residents. Now a sizable majority of them are residents of the suburbs. (A sizable majority of *that* group of DC workers live in PG County--which is largely irrelevant).

What this doesn't mean is that "most of PG's black middle class" are DC employees, or ex-employees, or that all men are Socrates.

What it does mean is that most DC government employees "took their goods" and moved to the suburbs. And that most of them moved to PG County.

by oboe on Mar 26, 2013 3:56 pm • linkreport

What this doesn't mean is that "most of PG's black middle class" are DC employees, or ex-employees, or that all men are Socrates.

I'm not sure who continued to make that point. I did, however, respond to your belief that the PG's black middle class during the 80-90's were largely comprised of black, formerly poor, surly, DC residents. If apologize if things got beyond that crucial point...the point I thought represented the negativity associated w/such discussions.

by HogWash on Mar 26, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

@Oboe

If we can avoid using the word "Surly" the next time this subject comes up, I think we can avoid this moving forward :)

by Kyle-W on Mar 26, 2013 4:25 pm • linkreport

In the interest of comity, I apologize for characterizing DC DMV employees as "surly." I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact, and was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future.

by oboe on Mar 26, 2013 4:27 pm • linkreport

@Oboe..Thanks for the acknowledgement! Much appreciated!!!

by HogWash on Mar 26, 2013 5:14 pm • linkreport

Knowing the way she has conducted herself in the Council, she's for everything and nothing at the same time. She watches for the wind and tacks whichever way is most politically advantageous.

But hey, she has GREEN SIGNS! That's.... something.

by randomduck on Mar 26, 2013 6:10 pm • linkreport

Just the Facts…on the other side of Georgia Avenue and Rock Creek Park.

Muriel’s lack of concerns:
1) Allowed Takoma’s 50 year old musical institute -D.C. Youth Orchestra to be stolen by Ward 6 Tommy Wells and given to the Capitol Hill Cluster School Group. She did not put up a fight…just rolled on her back.

2) Black Woman to Black Woman.
Muriel Bowser did not give public gratitude to the Coolidge Football Coach (Ms. Natalie Randolph) and her team of boy players for the good news that the Coolidge Varsity Football Team had won the Oshiomogho Atogwe I Am Foundation Academic Challenge for highest team average GPA.
Our Black young boys have nothing from the Ward 4 Councilwoman to highlight this winning day in high school.

3) Two Black Women Council members on the City Council. Only Ward 7 Yvette Alexander called Mayor Adrian Fenty to the carpet when he disrespected and twice snubbed our honorable Elder and giant of a woman Dr. Dorothy Height and Maya Angelo when they wanted to save Ms. Cora Master Barry’s Youth Tennis Program in Ward 7. Muriel Bowser did not speak up for this great Black Woman who was awarded the Citizens Award by several U.S. Presidents.

Not Lafayette or Shepherd Schools but the other school in Ward 4.
4) Muriel did nothing when Coolidge H.S. lost its 2013 renovation funding to Dunbar and Ballou high schools.

5) Refuses to put a “Blue Top” over the roof-less Coolidge H.S. Planetarium and now water damage is all over the interior ground level in the structure. I’m member of Coolidge Beautification Group.

6) Allowed WalMart to stock/build two stores within less of a half of a mile of each other. 2 Walmarts in Ward 4…crazy.

7)The only bill that Ms.Bowser has authored was "The Mosquito Bill".

Muriel lacks Compassion
Currently, Muriel doesn’t care about Metro Treatment of D.C. Residents.
Washington Post, Friday, February 1, 2013, “Officials apologize for Metro Incident” Green Line riders describe panic, confusion on trains

Hundreds of Metro riders ended up stuck underground in Southeast Washington Green line; dozens stranded passengers opted to climb out of the trains and into the tunnels.

No action from Metro Authority Area meeting three weeks ago and Bowser (who took Jim Graham place on the Metro Board) did not seek refunds for customers or create a “Customer Courtesy Program” to offer customers discounts or free future metro rides for these mishaps..

Calvin H. Gurley

by Calvin H. Gurley on Mar 26, 2013 9:35 pm • linkreport

Muriel is a disappointment.

Her ethics bill created a duplicative commission that shows no indication of accomplishing anything that the other officials tasked with government oversight have previously failed to accomplish. Where will they succeed where the IG and OAG have failed?

And why didn't that bill or any other bill she's put forward address campaign finance and pay to play? It seems like she had a golden opportunity to address (or even talk about) those issues and ... nothing.

What's she going to do about education? What's she doing about education? What's she done about education? What specifically is her position on anything having to do with education in the District?

What's her position on local tax rates given the years of surplus we've had?

If her complaint about Gray is that the speed of progress is too slow; what is she specifically going to do to speed up progress and how will that impact gentrification?

It seems more like she's running for class president than Mayor of DC.

by wrd4 on Mar 26, 2013 10:54 pm • linkreport

The fact that people have a hard time connecting her time on the council to any accomplishments speaks to the flaws in her candidacy. This will be the worst showing of a mayoral candidate in recent time.

by HogWash on Mar 27, 2013 9:48 am • linkreport

Calvin Gurley- you just want to be Ward 4 Councimlember! so please stop with the ridiculouness!

by Jack Malloy on Mar 27, 2013 9:56 am • linkreport

@Jack Malloy

Regardless of Mr. Gurley's intentions, do you have any comment about Ms. Bowser's record? I would think that would be a more productive contribution to this discussion.

by Andrew on Mar 27, 2013 10:05 am • linkreport

Does Bowser still serve as the Council's representative on the WMATA Board? How effective has she been in this respect?

by Chad on Mar 27, 2013 10:25 am • linkreport

Bowser does nothing for the people. Look at a photo of the DC City Council - these folks look like they are from southern Arkansas or some place. It is a collection of church mouse, do nothings who do nothing. all day. Similar to a police dash-cam camera, citizens should demand Bowser and the other do-nothings to wear cameras on their chests - so we can watch them literally say and do nothing of tangible benefit all day. Useless. She stands for nothing. To be Mayor for what purpose? Just for the sake of it! Did you know that you can't even buy a book in Bowser's Ward? You must drive to Silver Spring MD. for

by MikeMike on Mar 30, 2013 3:05 am • linkreport

I'm one of the many successful young professionals (hill staff, lawyers, diplomats, etc) of all races who are buying up homes all over Ward 4 right now. You would think she'd at least pretend to be attentive to this relatively new constituency, but nope.. Not even close. I've emailed Ms Bowser twice about legislation and she never bothered to respond to those inquiries. I also endured a terrible incident with my temporary tenant and the MPD completly f@cked up the investigation. Bowser is on the committee with jurisdiction over MPD yet her office did little to hold the department accountable for completing a real investigation and responding to my complaints. Moreover, her office would only respond to my requests for assistance after my friend who knows her constituent services director nudged him to respond. However I have yet to secure a meeting. Ms. Bowser should remember that while not all of her constituents have ties to walmart or carry AARP cards, some of us have long memories and deep networks that can be mobilized in full force in opposition to her mediocre candidacy.

by Genie in Brightwood on Jul 11, 2013 1:31 am • linkreport

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