Greater Greater Washington

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Should urbanists be nervous about Vince Gray? Part 1

Especially since the streetcar funding debacle, many urbanists have viewed Vincent Gray's candidacy for Mayor with some trepidation.


Photo by KCIvey on Flickr.

Certainly Adrian Fenty has his problems, but at the same time he's pushed hard for streetcars, bike lanes, and more housing (though not always affordable housing), and turned over planning and transportation to two excellent leaders. Plus, he's made education reform a priority. Would a Mayor Gray spoil that?

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Gray to discuss these issues, and also had a few conversations with his campaign manager, Adam Rubinson. Gray was able to address many of my concerns, though other questions remain. I may or may not make an endorsement in the Mayor's race, but many of you wouldn't simply vote based on my say-so alone in any case. Instead, I want to share with you what I learn as I consider whom to pick in this high-profile contest.

First, here are some questions that were on my mind before starting to speak to Gray and his people. Edited to add, since some have asked: These are not in priority order. Rather, I started with some issues where many readers here had been exposed to Gray, and worked around to other issues.

  1. What really happened with the streetcar funding?
  2. Gray says he supports streetcars. Does he "support streetcars" like the Committee of 100 and Phil Mendelson support streetcars (only if they have absolutely no impact on any views, anyone's parking, slow down any drivers, or annoy a single person), or does he really, actually support them?
  3. Gray has talked about wanting more planning. If he's Mayor, would Gray maintain the momentum toward projects like the streetcar and simply add some more public communication and/or creation of planning documents, or would the planning slow down the process?
  4. Would Gray have handled bike lanes differently? Would fewer have gone in because there would have had to be a longer and slower planning process? Or would stakeholders have been able to participate more in the design of lanes like the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lane?
  5. Would Gray have handled sidewalks differently? Would he have intervened in DDOT's decisions in cases like the sidewalks in North Portal Estates, where Fenty overruled DDOT for political reasons?
  6. Gray is from a fairly car-dependent part of Ward 7. Fenty is from a fairly car-dependent part of Ward 4. Both probably have neighbors whose reaction to bike lanes is to oppose anything that interferes with car flow. Is that Gray's view?
  7. Would Gray keep Harriet Tregoning? Or promote her? What about Gabe Klein?
  8. How supportive is Gray of Smart Growth? Would he push to add housing opportunities and retail around Metro stations? Would he stand firm despite opposition from the perennial opponents of such measures?
  9. Many groups and individuals who traditionally spend most of their effort opposing growth and change rather than supporting a certain vision for growth and change are supporting Gray. Will that support make him obligated to stop projects they don't like?
  10. Under Mayor Fenty, DMPED often pushes to get development projects done quickly, but often at the expense of getting a good project that will work with the long-term needs of DC. How would Gray balance the need to get development done with the fact that, once done, projects will be around for 50 years or more?
  11. Mayor Fenty is widely criticized for the way he makes appointments to board and commissions, selecting fellow triathletes and/or developers for zoning positions, for example. How would Gray approach appointments?
  12. Would OCTO under Gray keep getting small yet tangible projects completed which add value for people, like Where's My Bus and the open source feed of Circulator positions, which OCTO achieved with minimal time and resources?
  13. No discussion is complete without education. Many younger residents of DC feel that regardless of tone or appearances of impropriety, the Mayor's number one job is to improve the schools in time for their young children or future, unborn children to be able to get a good education in public schools. Would Gray put any of that momentum in jeopardy?
  14. If Gray becomes Mayor, what is his vision for how the District would be different in 20 years?
Are there other questions on your mind? What do you think about Gray in these areas? Next, I'll describe the answers I received as well as what I believe thus far would happen under a Gray administration.
David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. 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 loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Great list. The mainstream news sites will do a fine job of covering schools and whatnot, but it will be up to niche sites like GGW to get the scoop on streetcars, Klein and Tregonning. You're right to focus on those questions.

by BeyondDC on Jul 20, 2010 2:56 pm • linkreport

Streetcars were the highest priority questions? Really? Not the city's budget mess? Not affordable housing? Not jobs? But streetcars?

Has urbanism been reduced to a retro fad?

by Fritz on Jul 20, 2010 2:59 pm • linkreport

I think the quesions people bring up about whether Vince Gray would keep Harriet Tregoning, Gabe Klein, and Michelle Rhee are a bit odd. If you're satisfied with Fenty's progress on attracting new residents (and tax revenue) to the District, satisfied with streetcars, bike lanes, and parking reform, and satisfied with progress on improving K-12 education and moderinzing schools, why not just vote to re-elect Fenty?

by Ben on Jul 20, 2010 3:15 pm • linkreport

Fritz, I would think that the issues you mention are of high importance, but this is a niche blog, and as such covers the niche topics.

That said, I think most of the people who participate here are interested because the quality of life associated with our built environment, our transportation systems and our ecological environment are interrelated to the overall desirability of the city and region for residents and businesses, without which, none of this would really matter.

by William on Jul 20, 2010 3:16 pm • linkreport

Yesterday there was discussion about neither Vince Orange nor Kwame Brown being a satisfactory choice for DC Council Chair. I would suggest a write-in campaign for David Hedgepeth, who is currently running against Mary Cheh for City Council in Ward 3. Mr. Hedgepeth sounds like he'd be a sincere, dedicated City Council member who'd work hard to listen to residents and address their concerns.

Mary Cheh, however, has done a pretty decent job and will likely be easily re-elected. David Hedgepeth would be a candidate DC residents could be proud to vote for this November.

by Ben on Jul 20, 2010 3:20 pm • linkreport

While I am sure Mr. Hedgepath is a decent individual, I do not think one can jump right in to being Council Chair. Certainly he could consider running for Kwame Brown's open seat, should Mr. Brown prevail over Mr. Orange.

by William on Jul 20, 2010 3:39 pm • linkreport

"If you're satisfied with Fenty's progress on attracting new residents (and tax revenue) to the District, satisfied with streetcars, bike lanes, and parking reform, and satisfied with progress on improving K-12 education and moderinzing schools, why not just vote to re-elect Fenty?"

This is exactly the question that I'm asking myself. It seems to me that the best knock on Fenty is that he gives money/contracts to cronies who may not be the best qualified for the job. But yet, things get done, and the changes have really upset entrenched Distirct interests that are used to getting their way (teachers union, etc). Some inefficiency is going to occur no matter who's in power, and based on what I've seen in the last 19 years, what's happening with Fenty is small potatoes based on what went on in the days of the control board and forward--basically, till Williams. Stories of cronyism make for great copy, but they're a pittance in terms of the government's overall efficacy. In contrast, special interest control of the council is far, far worse.

What policy failures have occurred on Fenty's watch? There aren't many. Take the lack of affordable housing, but blame for lack of progress falls as much or more on the council. If you look at the district charter, the powers of that office are quite limited. And an increase in housing costs naturally flows from improvement in the city as more people feel safe living there. Honestly, if this town had a good public school system, it would be one of the best places to live in the country. It's becoming increasingly diverse, it has pretty good public transportation for the moment, and it's eminently livable (no skyscrapers).

Vincent Gray doesn't really have a campaign other than Fenty's knocks. He's been around through all of the less happy days, and is a hardworking politician. That's kind of both his upside and (fatal) downside, it seems to me.

That said, I don't live in one of the wards in which people are unhappy with him so I'm writing from ignorance as to a lot of this. So what is the case for Gray?

by rumpole on Jul 20, 2010 3:41 pm • linkreport

@rumpole ... It's important to be able to see through the time lags inherent to a new proposal being proposed and its being successfully implemented. Most of the things which Fenty is claiming credit for got proposed, planned, and put into effect PRIOR to Fenty becoming Mayor. The one are that is honestly his, is education ... having brought in Rhee. But even THAT victory is probably equally attributable to Williams given that it was Williams that opened up the Board of Education to mayorial appointees ... which in turn made it possible for a mayor (which by that time was Fenty) to be able to appoint a Michele Rhee. Likewise, to get Fenty credit for an idea that has been proposed but not yet proven successful can be equally a mistake. For example, just saying we are going to have streetcars doesn't give us streetcars. As we've seen thus far, the complete lack of planning has resulted in the Council having to steal from Peter to pay Paul just to try to get this poorly planned 1st stage off the ground. The poor implementation may actually end up setting back this effort more than if 'nothing' had been done. Similarly, we're seeing other problems with implementation such as zoning regs that don't match up with the Comprehensive Plan. (How can you have an over all direction to move in, when you don't bother to follow the blue print that you and all your stakeholders agreed upon?)

I don't know if Gray will be better. But so far, I can't say I'm seeing anything of good and lasting value coming out of Fenty that actually started with Fenty ... other than some very good 'hype'. And while 'hype' is good to get everyone excited about a new endevour, at the end of the day you need good planning and good management to carry out. Need I remind everyone about the bike lanes?

by Lance on Jul 20, 2010 3:58 pm • linkreport

@Lance I think you fail to see the fundamental paradigm shift that Fenty's administration represents. Yes, people before him may have *talked* about the changes he is making, but he is the one that got them done. As for no long-term plans being generated during his administration, that's because he's getting things done now, moving the needle, and driving forward.

Fenty is not without faults -- many of them have been stated above. And his appointees are not without fault. But, from education to transportation to the police a single running theme is ACTION. They're a "get things done" group of leaders. In a city known for being mired in process and weighed down by bureaucracy, it has been refreshing to have a leader who is not afraid to run a hard path to a bold vision. It makes for a lot of enemies, but it also makes for a lot of good change. We should let him keep going.

by Yoav on Jul 20, 2010 4:25 pm • linkreport

@Yoav, but he is the one that got them done.

Can you give me some examples of things that he 'got done' that weren't either 'already getting done' before he stepped into the picture OR are getting done ... but not to the point where we can say they're a success? For example, 'development' was already occuring before he stepped on the scene. And it was probably occuring at a faster and better speed than it is now (because of the economy). Another example, the streetcars and bikelanes are thus far anything but 'successful' ... so those couldn't be cited by you ... unless you think something is successful just for 'being' ... Which I doubt to be the case ... I'd be interested 'cause I really don't know who to vote for either. I don't think we're getting good choices to choose from.

by Lance on Jul 20, 2010 4:39 pm • linkreport

Tony Williams just endorsed Fenty.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dc/2010/07/williams_supports_fenty_and_gr.html#comments

by John on Jul 20, 2010 4:47 pm • linkreport

>so those couldn't be cited by you ... unless you think something is successful just for 'being'

If you're going to require a post-construction incubation period before we can call something "successful", then it's impossible for any mayor to accomplish anything "successful" in a single term.

by BeyondDC on Jul 20, 2010 4:47 pm • linkreport

Fenty has provided fairly good reasons not to vote for him: high handed management, firings of competent people, cronyism with developers, etc. Gray has yet to provide a reason to vote for him. he seemed like a ditherer on streetcars. Michele Rhee doesn't like him but he hasn't really come out against her. He's unwilling to standup to to clergy (ditto fenty, this time).

I voted for fenty despite his lack of experience and political record, because Linda Cropp was an obvious hack and throback who'd never really stood-up for anything except maybe statehood. Fenty's style and some of the substance leave a lot to be desired, but hasn't been horrible and he's not a hack in the Barry era sense. In other words, he doesn't concern me in the way that Cropp did, but Gray has yet to provide a clear positive alternative.

A fenty re-election may empoer him to become a really spectacular hack, even more high handed than before, but until Gray defines himself, I don't have any compelling reason to believe he'd be any better.

by Rich on Jul 20, 2010 6:06 pm • linkreport

Lance - "As we've seen thus far, the complete lack of planning has resulted in the Council having to steal from Peter to pay Paul just to try to get this poorly planned 1st stage off the ground."

Lance, DDOT put forth a fully funded streetcar plan as you well know. After the streetcar was zeroed out in the middle of the night, and all of the money was dispersed to various special interests around the city, there was public outcry. Then since the money was already promoised to other special projects, the council decided to borrow money to restore the program versus making tough choices and recalling the favors.

Don't pretend ignorance. This is public knowledge. Fenty found transportation moneys and wanted to use them for transportation, and they got stolen for pet projects.

by dontedc on Jul 20, 2010 6:24 pm • linkreport

@dontedc, Fenty found transportation moneys and wanted to use them for transportation, and they got stolen for pet projects.

Where on earth did you ever hear this? David had a post a while back about how funds intended for things such as schools and fire houses were going to be re-directed to pay for this first phase. Don't believe me? Look back through this blog. (Granted you're correct that in the end they had to borrow the money ... meaning that you and I will be paying it back via higher taxes both due directly to this expense, but also in the way of higher borrowing costs on all the city's other expenses ... because this borrowing caused us to go over the limit we'd promised Wall Street we'd adhere to. But again, this too is 'stealing from Peter to pay Paul' ... )

by Lance on Jul 20, 2010 6:31 pm • linkreport

@Lance I don't believe you. Please provide proof that Fenty cut education or fire houses in the budget in order to fund streetcars.

In fact, Fenty funded the streetcars, increased the education budget, and increased the budget for Fire/EMS. Gray is the one who cut streetcars, and then decided to borrow the money to fund them after there was an outcry.

by jcm on Jul 20, 2010 8:34 pm • linkreport

Not the city's budget mess? Not affordable housing? Not jobs?

The city's budget is actually better than in most municipalities in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, there's *tons* of affordable housing in DC, and while the unemployment rate in DC itself is high, it's because, due to historical factors, we have an inordinately high number of unemployable residents.

When folks talk about "employment" in DC, you're essentially talking about subsidized make-work. Sorry, but that's not going to contribute to strengthening the city..

by oboe on Jul 20, 2010 8:50 pm • linkreport

>> "No discussion is complete without education. Many younger residents of DC feel that regardless of tone or appearances of impropriety, the Mayor's number one job is to improve the schools in time for their young children or future, unborn children to be able to get a good education in public schools. Would Gray put any of that momentum in jeopardy?"

I have no doubt that Gray can put forth talk & spin that he's going to build on the momentum of Rhee's school improvement. The Gray ideas for education appear to involve universal preschool and beefing post-HS education. These programs sound humanitarian but will costs BOATLOADS of cash. The kind of cash that will make this streetcar money look like peanuts. I've yet to hear where that money is coming from. Personally I like the Fenty/Rhee approach of shaking up the apple cart (teachers union) rather than Gray approach of expanding the services and bureaucracy of education.

Gray has been working in the city for a long time. What has he accomplished? I can think of many things Evans, Graham and Wells have done. I can think of nothing visible that Gray has done. He seems to be a bureaucrat who wants to delay and defer things for more studies. Even the bio he puts on his own campaign site reads like he's barely accomplished anything: "Since becoming Chairman, Gray has led efforts to improve the CouncilÂ’s operations and transparency, and presided over the CouncilÂ’s deliberations on public education reform."

by Jason on Jul 20, 2010 9:14 pm • linkreport

Out of curiousity, what has Wells accomplished? (And please don't cite the bag tax.)

by Lance on Jul 20, 2010 9:43 pm • linkreport

I can't wait for Part 2!

by Lance on Jul 20, 2010 9:44 pm • linkreport

Paradigm shift? Hard path to bold vision? You have got to be kidding me. This is what a bunch of bike paths and a trolley car do for you? This guy is corrupt. He has the arrogance of Barry, the corruption of Barry - hell the only thing he is missing is the cocaine and hookers. Go ahead and turn the city over to him a second time. If you think there was arrogance and a disregard for the law in the first term then the second should be a astonishing. This guy is a parasite - he comes in where things are already in place, feeds off of them and then makes claims of his own success. In that regard he is like every other politician. I hear people talk about going backwards, of old-school DC. HE is old school DC. He's just dressed it up in sheep's clothing and has everyone thinking they hear bleats.

by DCCitizen on Jul 20, 2010 9:50 pm • linkreport

If Gray agrees to keep many of Fenty's wise picks for cabinet positions- Klein, Cooper, Rhee, et al - I'd support him in a heartbeat. Otherwise, he represents the devil I don't know, and he is politics as usual (ie promote your patronage buddies over people who have shown themselves to be a competent and progressive breath of fresh air).

It's easy to be an opposition candidate, and just "oppose things" that are unpopular with part of the electorate. It's much harder to offer real, substantive solutions to the problems you see.

If he cleans house, will he go out and hire the best from around the country, or continue the traditional DC/PG patronage?

by SG on Jul 20, 2010 11:35 pm • linkreport

What (if anything) would he change in how DC enforces the rights of pedestrians?

by Eileen on Jul 21, 2010 12:42 am • linkreport

Out of curiousity, what has Wells accomplished? (And please don't cite the bag tax.)

The second and third things that come to mind in the way of Wells' accomplishments are the performance parking programs for the ballpark area and Eastern Market. He'd also get a big share of the credit for the law authorizing overhead wires for streetcars on H Street NE, if it passes Congressional review (and if the streetcar gets built -- between L. Preston Bryant and the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, it's become the municipal equivalent of Dawn in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer").

And why shouldn't the bag tax count? An accomplishment is an accomplishment even if you don't like it. I believe George W. Bush accomplished a lot as president; the fact that the word "unfortunately" can be appended to that phrase doesn't change that.

by cminus on Jul 21, 2010 9:38 am • linkreport

On question 14, I would like to know what is Fenty's vision for the District in 20 years (not knowing that, it is hard to compare them).

Gray has legitimate accomplishments - expanding the number of pre-K slots, putting a moratorium on earmarks, passing a plethera of legislation, and demonstrating a stronger interest in generating employment (restoring budget funds for employment training that Fenty cut, whereas Fenty has not enforced provisions requiring the hiring of DC residents).
Fenty too has brought about necessary changes via education reform, juvenile justice reform, transportation investments. While I don't think Gray intends to reverse those reforms, if he has a different trajectory (eg new appointments, funding priorities), it could certaintly weaken them.

by Tmichaels on Jul 21, 2010 9:49 am • linkreport

If Wells spent a fraction of the time trying to deal with DYRS as he does coming up with feel-good measures like his bag tax or advocating the renovation of Eastern Market (now there's a gutsy political move), the city would be far better off.

Tax 'N Spend Tommy is a nice guy. But he's been absolutely awful at oversight of his committee's agencies: DYRS, CFSA, DHS, etc. And people have died as a result.

by Fritz on Jul 21, 2010 9:54 am • linkreport

"...and transportation to two excellent leaders."

NO... One excellent nationally-recognized leader and one child in a grownups job.

by Contrarian on Jul 21, 2010 10:25 am • linkreport

I'm a bit unclear about the paradigm shift and improvement that folks are claiming Fenty has brought to city government. The government is still extraordinarily inefficient and hasn't become less so under this administration.

I voted for Adrian last time, but my vote is still up in the air. Fenty literally doesn't know anything about policy in this city. Listen to him speak. He can't answer a direct policy question! It's embarrassing that after four years he can't put together a coherent argument for keeping him on. I'd like to say that I will vote for him, but it's becoming clear that he has had less influence over what has happened in this city than he claims. But I'm still ambivalent about Gray.

That said, Fenty has chosen a few good department heads, whom Gray would be crazy not to keep if he was elected.

As for "changes" to the built environment, these are the same changes that are happening in virtually every major city. They're not being invented here and really aren't being implemented very well.

I'm still ambivalent about this streetcar plan, which has clearly not been well thought out. I'd love to see this line built, but the fact that they didn't settle major issues of wiring before putting it to a funding vote is troublesome.

It's still not clear how this fits into a regional transport strategy. Like it or not, this region is still car dependent, and while we might like to make it more difficult for people to drive, it doesn't mean that they won't. There is a serious lack of political and social strategy behind these changes, which is quite troublesome. We can sit here on this blog and agree on how much we dislike cars, but it won't get people using different forms of transportation.

by Sam on Jul 21, 2010 10:32 am • linkreport

Questions on education are too thin. Need to be more specific. Gray has touted his plans for early childhood education and higher education specifically UDC. I am not expert in those areas and I don't know how to evaluate his plans, but I know there are people who are excited about this and think Fenty has ignored early ed and higher ed.

I want to know:
1. What role will Mayor Gray's Deputy Mayor for education play?

2. What role will he seek for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)?

3. What is his strategy for attracting federal education dollars to the district?

4. What criteria will he use for selecting a chancellor of DCPS?

5. What role will he play in supporting the district's large and growing public charter school sector?

6. Specifically, as Mayor will Mr. Gray's administration grant right of first offer on the city's unused school buildings (Grimke, Franklin, Gale, Harrison) to charter schools?

Non-education questions:

7. Is it more important for DC's revenue base to attract/retain businesses or income-earning families?

8. Is Mr. Gray satisfied with Natwar Gandhi's performance as CFO?

9. What city services are not being adequately provided by the Fenty administration and how will a Gray administration fix those problems?

10. Is Mr. Gray satisfied with Police Chief Lanier's performance and what changes would occur in law enforcement in the city if he's elected?

by Ward 1 Guy on Jul 21, 2010 10:35 am • linkreport

Tax 'N Spend Tommy is a nice guy.

The early 80s called; they want their simplistic political slogan back.

Anyway, Wells has done great work in fighting with DCDOT to undo some of worst excesses of the commuter-centric traffic control on Captitol Hill and elsewhere in the city. Constitution Ave in NE is no longer a high-speed freeway in the mornings, you can actually get to Lincoln Park without being run down by MD commuters doing 20 mph over the speed limit, and he fought tooth and nail to get stop signs installed at critical intersections on Constitution and Independence.

Not only that, but he's got the most responsive constituent services operation I've ever dealt with.

by oboe on Jul 21, 2010 10:38 am • linkreport

A couple of comments in all this.

There's a lot of conclusory allegations that Fenty is corrupt, with no facts to back them up.

There's a reason that Gray is being quiet about Rhee. If he comes out against her (which the Union would love), he loses the election. Period. She might keep her job, but she'd be fighting the mayor and the union.

I agree with policy-he is a dope. But he has put good people in place. Again, that's not a reason to dump him necessarily. NIckles was a good pick as well.

by rumpole on Jul 21, 2010 11:34 am • linkreport

rumpole, I agree that there isn't a lot of proof that Fenty is corrupt, but he sure as hell has done some things to make himself look that way. The whole Parks and Rec thing is really not good. Maybe not technically illegal, but certainly very similar to the way that Barry used to operate. Nothing quite touches the mayor, but there are plenty of people around him with dirty hands.

As for Nickles, I have to disagree with you. If Fenty is reelected, he should seriously think twice about keeping him on. I had heard before he became AG that he was very competent. But if you've seen stories about or actually heard him in court, he really is quite bad and relies on arrogance and brashness to get his way through hearings. Further, I really don't think the guy lives in DC. Having an apartment here isn't good enough.

But agree that it might not be time to dump Fenty yet. Not convinced that Gray would do better.

by Sam on Jul 21, 2010 11:47 am • linkreport

David: Your litmus tests make it appear that you think public officials and citizen advocates should support streetcars unconditionally and without concern for how the system will be financed,  governed,  operated and maintained or comply with various federal/local environmental and preservation laws — all questions the city has not answered.  Good civic solutions are best served with substantive study and debate, not by generalities and simplistic characterizations.

What are your ideas about how the capital and operating costs for the system should be financed, and how realistic are those ideas re. taxes on private businesses, borrowing by the city and the federal share over the long haul? What do you think is the best governance structure? The best resolution of the connection at Union Station and the complexities of that solution? The best approach to union labor? These are serious issues for which no one has answers, and they need serious answers. Your substantive thoughts -- and those of your readers -- could contribute to achieving a streetcar system more rapidly.

Meg Maguire
Chair, Transportation Subcommittee
Committee of 100 on the Federal City

by Meg Maguire on Jul 21, 2010 11:49 am • linkreport

Meg Maguire - Why has the Committee of 100 (which claims it is not opposed to streetcars per se, so there is no reason to debate whether streetcars per se are affordable etc.) not answered the above questions about alternate propulsion questions before taking a position in opposition to overhead wires?

by tt on Jul 21, 2010 2:30 pm • linkreport

Meg,

I'm curious about the "preservation" issue. Exactly how do the presnet "Ye olde Colonial Yukon SUV's" clogging up the roads function in that context?

by John on Jul 21, 2010 2:33 pm • linkreport

@tt

But she did: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaporware

by William on Jul 21, 2010 2:36 pm • linkreport

@John, Since when are streetcars a 'preservation issue'? Read the title of her subcommittee again ... NOT 'Historic Preservation' but ... 'Transportation'. Please don't tell me you really thought the Committee of 100 was only about preservation?

by Lance on Jul 21, 2010 3:10 pm • linkreport

Good point, Lance. I'll fix his question. It should read:

Meg, I'm curious about the Committee of 100's stance on transportation. Why doesn't the Committee attack the city's unnecessary, inefficient, and aesthetically ugly over-reliance on automobiles as vigorously as it attacks other issues?

by BeyondDC on Jul 21, 2010 6:27 pm • linkreport

Lance: Gee, didn't realize that "Ye Olde Colonial Yukons" didn't qualify as transportation.

Well, actually I did, but "Ye Olde Colonial Small Penis Compensators" seemed so trite.

From their site...

"Mission

The Committee of 100 advocates responsible planning and land use in Washington, D.C. Our work is guided by the values inherited from the L'Enfant Plan and McMillan Commission, which give Washington its historic distinction and natural beauty, while responding to the special challenges of 21st century development. We pursue these goals through public education, research and civic action, and we celebrate the city's unique role as both the home of the District's citizens and the capital of our nation."

So...uh. Wires are a violation of the aesthetic of L'Enfant...honking huge SUVs are right in line in Meg's opinion, apparently.

by John on Jul 21, 2010 6:46 pm • linkreport

@oboe, @fritz, @cminus, QLance,
Out of curiousity, what has Wells accomplished? (And please don't cite the bag tax.)

He claims on his campaign website Tommy has partnered with DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee to drive middle school improvements and reinvent Eastern High School, which translated, means (1.) he abdicated any role in developing a Ward 6 plan for middle schools, leaving it to Ward 6 elementary school parents to do all the work and negotiate the middle school plan with DCPS, (2.) he closed Eastern High School and closed Hine Jr. High, and the former will sit vacant another school year, and the latter will sit vacant for at least 3 years, maybe more, at the behest of his developer pals, at a time when his own website identifies middle school needs in a Ward undergoing a baby boom as a high priority (it sure would be easier to develop a middle school plan if it included using part of the Hine site redevelopment for, uh, a middle school!) and (3.) he did nothing when sorely needed school rebuilding money went to Wards west of the river while successful schools in Ward 6 are told there is no money left to fix Ward 6 schools.

He handed the Old Naval Hospital over to campaign contributors and helped them snatch $8 million in DC taxpayer (and Federal taxpayer money) to fix the building they've been given, despite the fact these developers have raised almost none of the money they promised to raise for programming in the so-called community center despite have 3 years to do so.

He voted against the law that requires somebody (the Council) to review any decision to hand over public property to private developers, and abstained from voting on a law passed without opposition that will ban vote-buying.

He promoted a silly plan to spend $40 million, $60 million, who knows how many millions to put a park for kids to play in in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue SE, then when parents laughed that "idea" out of several well-attended forums, backed away from the Town Squares. The same parents who are now told by Wells that there's no money to rebuild crumbling-but-successful schools in the Ward were there when Tommy was promoting the silly Town Square scheme.

Tommy has done a lot, for certain people in Ward 6. Tommy is for good government, and me, too. Make it real good, Tommy--where's mine?

Oh, and the bag tax? Mary Cheh's idea.

by Trulee Pist on Jul 22, 2010 3:48 am • linkreport

Oh, I forgot. He directed the removal of benches in the triangle park opposite the Eastern Market Metro...twice! Tommy Wells stands for official vandalism in our parks.

by Trulee Pist on Jul 22, 2010 3:55 am • linkreport

@BeyondDC Meg, I'm curious about the Committee of 100's stance on transportation. Why doesn't the Committee attack the city's unnecessary, inefficient, and aesthetically ugly over-reliance on automobiles as vigorously as it attacks other issues?

I guess you don't know that the Committee of 100 played a vital part in stopping the freeways that were planned for DC? As for what's here now being 'unnecessary, inefficient, and aesthetically ugly', you have a right to your opinion but I don't see where any of that is true. For example, 'inefficient'? I can't think of a more efficient means of getting individuals from one place to any other place at any time than the personal automobile. Try getting a bus to bring you home to say Fredericksburg at 1 in the morning ...

by Lance on Jul 22, 2010 9:57 am • linkreport

Personally, I think GGW gives far too much attention to the Committee of 100. They are just a self-appointed group of rich people who think they have the right to dictate city governance to the rest of us.

GGW has probably given C100 the most publicity they have received since the 70s. I'm not clear on why, since the only thing they represent is the interests of a few rich property owners in a small number of upscale neighborhoods.

It's nice that they found highways to be unpleasant a few decades back, but that doesn't make the group any less undemocratic.

by Phil on Jul 22, 2010 11:07 am • linkreport

@Trulee Pist:

(1.) he abdicated any role in developing a Ward 6 plan for middle schools, leaving it to Ward 6 elementary school parents to do all the work and negotiate the middle school plan with DCPS

Good. Because those are the parents who will make or break Ward 6 middle schools in the next 5-10 years, they *should* be among the primary negotiators.

(2.) He closed Eastern High School and closed Hine Jr. High, and the former will sit vacant another school year, and the latter will sit vacant for at least 3 years, maybe more, at the behest of his developer pals, at a time when his own website identifies middle school needs in a Ward undergoing a baby boom as a high priority

Wow. So Wells single-handedly closed Eastern *and* Hine, eh? I had always assumed there would need to be some kind of buy--in from the Mayor and the rest of the Council. Not only that, but you understand when you say Ward 6 is "undergoing a baby boom" it means it'll be at least another decade before that wave impacts enrollment, right? Or do children attend middle school when they're 4 nowadays?

by oboe on Jul 22, 2010 4:08 pm • linkreport

Boy, I wonder why those benches were removed. Does Wells just hate sitting that much, or do you think maybe neighbors requested they be removed because drunken wankers were puking, pissing, and vomiting there 24/7?

by oboe on Jul 22, 2010 4:11 pm • linkreport


I think that he will do just fine. Look sir, Mr. Fentley did one thing wrong far as I am concern and that is he forgot that this is not only a middle class city. You see there is still people in the city that has certain types of issue that needs attention . He lost the passion to help those people who trusted him do the right thing. I once saw this movie and one of the actors said something that open my eyes. I quote " He said that the community is made out of people not five dollar mugs ". So if you ask me, I say that he will do fine. Its not so much about change. All the people want is to be treated fair.Change going come reguardless all we have to do is make sure we keep up with it.

by Larry on Aug 30, 2010 6:14 pm • linkreport

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