Posts about Vincent Orange
It looks like Vincent Orange has probably, but not definitely, eked out reelection over Sekou Biddle. A number of commenters are criticizing Greater Greater Washington's election articles this spring, especially our decision to endorse Peter Shapiro.
I believe that we did fall short in our coverage of this election. I proudly voted for Shapiro yesterday and continue to stand by that endorsement, because he outlined a clear progressive platform, while Sekou Biddle did not..
We did not err in our decision to tell you why most of the contributors had decided to vote for Shapiro. Rather, we didn't do enough to help you make up your own minds based on real issues.
Early in the election cycle, we wrote that our election coverage would focus on issues. There are many significant decisions facing the DC government, from how and whether to fund affordable housing, to what kind of transportation infrastructure to build, to where to put development and what kind, to how to improve education.
HogWash made an excellent point in the comments on today's breakfast links: you're not low-information voters. You don't need someone just to tell you for whom to vote without reason. What you need is more information to help you make up your minds. We ought to have delivered that, and we did not.
The candidates did not help. Even now, at the end of the campaign, there is very little information available about how the candidates stand on these issues. For example, I can't identify any issue, save campaign finance, where we know Biddle would reliably vote differently than Orange; even then, both candidates support some reasonable campaign finance reforms.
They both have said they support increasing funding for affordable housing but haven't done much to actually change that. Neither wants to make the tax structure more progressive. Neither supports traffic camera enforcement. Both support better education and Orange actually has more specific suggestions. The list goes on.
Shapiro, meanwhile, impressed us with his thoughtful and detailed ideas for economic development, workforce development, and more. On many areas of policy, including but not limited to transportation, he spoke from experience and a thoughtfully considered point of view.
After the mainstream newspaper endorsements came out and it was clear that the anti-Orange vote was coalescing around Biddle, we discussed whether to jump on the bandwagon, so to speak. For many, the decision not to do so came down to the simple fact that we could not identify a positive, policy-centered reason to be excited about Biddle.
Some editorial writers and residents seem to feel that DC's only real significant issues are whether a candidate is stealing, will keep spending low, and supports the current flavor of education reform. Otherwise, it seems, a candidate need not want to change a thing about the District's policy and can still earn a glowing endorsement.
We should expect more from our leaders. We need vision. The vision need not necessarily match ours on every single issue, but a candidate with vision is open to listening to persuasive arguments about why a particular policy is the best one. A candidate without it will simply take whatever stance gets headlines and pleases the latest group of angry constituents.
We should expect more from our pundits as well. Very little of the news coverage of this race tried to tease apart the candidates on any substantive issues. Most reporters and editorial writers seemingly filled out a 2-question scorecard: Might this candidate be a crook? And is he or she likely to win?
Using that yardstick on all elections is a recipe for very bland politics and a change-averse council. We need better. And we at Greater Greater Washington could have done more to shine a light on candidates' positions.
We don't want to make endorsements based on what will give us the most political influence. Our role is to inform all of you, the readers. The more you know, the better you can advocate for issues you care about or make up your minds for candidates.
We welcome your input on how we could best talk about political races in the future. The experience in this race will help us learn and shape future coverage. And, as always, consider becoming a contributor. We can't write about candidates' positions on issues if we don't know what those positions are. Candidates try not to take controversial stands in primaries, and unless someone can pin them down, there's no information to share.
Except for Peter Shapiro, the candidates for DC Council at-large either don't think pedestrian safety is a very pressing issue, think the only people who will vote tomorrow are drivers who'd rather speed than be safe, or both.
On Friday, the Democratic candidates for DC Council at-large appeared on the WAMU Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood. Sherwood asked about Mayor Gray's plan to increase the number of traffic enforcement cameras, including ones that will detect drivers running red lights or speeding through lights when they're green.
In their answers, all 4 candidates focused on the question of whether DC is or is not pursuing the program just to raise revenue. But only Peter Shapiro gave any time at all to the serious danger to pedestrians that comes from drivers speeding, turning right on red without stopping, blocking the box, and more.
Any revenue bump will not last long as drivers adjust to actually following laws. Plus, it's a red herring to cast doubt on the program just because it's coming up in a budget cycle. DC needs to spend money to get cameras. Therefore, the program has to be part of the budget. MPD has been trying to buy the cameras for over a year, and budget and procurement have long been the obstacle.
Below are the candidates' answers:
Sekou Biddle: Putting aside the fact that these cameras will certainly change Tom [Sherwood]'s driving habits, I'm not a fan of this idea because, frankly, it looks like we're taking what was initially designed to be a public safety tool and turning it into a revenue generator. We see in the budget the claim that we're not having tax and fee increases, but we're looking to generate more revenue through speed cameras, and then using those cameras to do both speed and red lights. This really is disconcerting, and we need to really think about what we're using them for.Shapiro is right that there's a lot of pandering here. During the debate, Vincent Orange repeated the phrase "livable, walkable," as he did at the Urban Neighborhood Alliance forum. It rings hollow from Orange, but it's nice that he has decided to play up the "livable, walkable" angle.
Vincent Orange: I do not support the idea. We've already raised in excess of $100 million through the speeding cameras and parking tickets and things of that like. I think that now it's become a revenue generator, and to say that we're going to cover the entire city with this apparatus is not a good idea in my view.
E. Gail Anderson Holness: I don't think it's a good idea. I think it's a waste of taxpayer money to use the funds to put those cameras in place ... I think there are other options to raise funds for the District of Columbia. I'm out there waving in the mornings and I see Maryland and Virginia tags coming into the District. There ought to be some kind of commuter tax.
You don't let the good suffer with the bad in this instance ... of course Tom, some of us go over the speed limit a little bit every now and again, and we're going to be subjected. But it's going through that green light piece is a major issue, so I'm not in favor of it all.
Peter Shapiro: I think there's a little bit of election-year pandering going on with this, because it's an important issue, and we've got some serious concerns with public safety in the city. Now the key is around balance, and so the red light cameras and even speed on green can be a very healthy thing. Now the idea of blanketing the whole city doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Kojo Nnamdi: Why not?
Shapiro: Because there are many many intersections where if we put this in place, then it's only about generating revenue. There are any number of anecdotes, you will hear people, I have my own experience with this, where it it feels like it's essentially a trap for folks. It's not making the community safer, so what you really have to do is make sure that we have a comprehensive plan, but that they're located in places where they actually will reduce speed in ways that keeps the community safe.
But "walkable" is part of "livable, walkable," and part of making a place walkable is making it safe to walk around. If Orange really believed in that, he might have mentioned in his answer that it's important to curb speeding and red light running.
Shapiro is right that we should only place cameras where they will improve safety, and it might be just fine to reduce the level of fines as DC increases the number of cameras. However, when Gray said he would "blanket" DC with cameras, he likely didn't mean one on every corner, but rather far more than we have today. Good for him.
All 4 candidates focused their answers around their complaints of the program. Perhaps they were all assuming that most people who listen to WAMU are driving. One day, hopefully soon, people running for office citywide will feel that if they pander, it's better to pander to residents who want safer neighborhoods than drivers who want to speed with impunity.
Meanwhile, if you are a Democratic voter in DC, vote for Peter Shapiro, whom we endorsed, in tomorrow's primary. It's not enough to just get a more ethical candidate if that candidate still won't take a stand on the important issues that actually affect policy. Ultimately, the reason to have a candidate who's not bought and sold by moneyed special interests is so they vote for better policies. Shapiro has demonstrated far more commitment to good policy than any other candidate in the race.
The DC Democratic primary for at-large councilmember will finally end a 17-month game of musical chairs between Sekou Biddle and Vincent Orange. When the tune stops on April 3, neither should take the seat. We endorse Peter Shapiro because we believe he is the best candidate.
While the Washington Post and Washington City Paper were both far too quick to dismiss Shapiro's work in Prince George's County, he knows firsthand how to work for and with a diverse, and often vulnerable, constituency, and he can accomplish this without the pandering the current councilmember is known for.
After serving for two years on the Town Council in Brentwood, Maryland, constituents elected Shapiro to the Prince George's County Council from 1998 to 2004, and he served as council chair for two years. He also sat on the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, where he was chair in 2003.
Shapiro worked with community stakeholders to bring a grassroots vision to fruition along Route 1, which has culminated in the Gateway Arts District. Despite the economic downturn, revitalization continues along the corridor, stopping dead in its tracks at the District's doorstep on Eastern Avenue.
Shapiro is ready and committed to bridge the gaps along DC's gateway corridors, starting with Georgia Avenue, and his record more than suggests that he is fully capable of doing so. Additionally, his involvement on local boards, including the Latin American Youth Center, the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, and the Washington Area Housing Partnership, exemplifies his longstanding commitment to community development.
As executive director of the College Park City-University Partnership, Shapiro was a constructive voice in critical town-gown disputes, where he was able to win support from both sides. The Prince George's County Council elects their chair, and their choice of Shapiro strongly demonstrates his ability to work collegially with other councilmembers to work toward common goals. This skill is missing in many members of the current DC Council.
The District is a part of a diverse metropolitan region. Its issues affect communities hyper-locally and also cut across jurisdictional lines. A councilmember with a proven ability to think and work regionally will only benefit District residents in the long-term.
Incumbent Vincent Orange's record, particularly with regard to economic development, stands in stark, disappointing contrast to Shapiro's. Orange has long viewed the city's urbanity as something holding us back. He has exploited it, particularly in Ward 5, by touting a brand of economic development best defined by poorly-designed big-box stores and clear-cutting, greenfield development. Meanwhile, revitalization and small business development along Rhode Island Avenue, New York Avenue, and Bladensburg Road has floundered.
At the recent candidate forum, Orange repeatedly uttered Tommy Wells' catchphrase "livable, walkable." If he truly has come to believe in strengthening urban spaces as a top priority, he has not demonstrated that with more than words, at least not yet. Whether he wins re-election or remains in public life in other ways, he will have opportunities to actually walk the walkable walk, and hope he will avail himself of these.
Biddle's experience with education is impressive, but in both the past and current campaigns he has not been able to articulate a clear vision for how having him on the council will change education for the better. Nor has he made a compelling argument for electing him in other ways beyond simply not being Vincent Orange.
We do hope Biddle will continue to advocate around education policy, where DC's discourse still focuses too much on "horse race" issues such as how education news affects a mayor's political fortunes rather than what will best help DC's kids succeed.
Meanwhile, your vote on April 3 ought not to turn on vote-splitting game theory. Instead, vote for the best candidate for the job. That candidate is Peter Shapiro.
This is the official endorsement of Greater Greater Washington, written by one or more contributors. Active contributors and editors voted on endorsements, and any endorsement reflects a strong majority or greater in favor of endorsing the candidate.
Pepco trucks recently invaded Glover Park to remove redundant utility poles that have been cluttering neighborhood streets for the past decade. Thanks to persistent community advocacy, these eyesores will soon disappear.
Around 2001, Pepco replaced its existing utility poles in Glover Park with new taller ones, as part of an effort to improve electrical reliability and increase pole capacity. Unfortunately, when the new poles went up, the old poles remained in place, often side by side, with the wires from other utility companies still attached.
Years later, it became clear that the double poles were here to stay.
With no automatic procedure in place for the city to push for removal of the old poles, it took a concerted, years-long effort by neighborhood residents to get them taken out.
In some cases, new poles and old poles were attached to each other with odd collections of metal cables and brackets. Residents wondered whether there was any rhyme or reason to the seemingly random metal supports. W Street NW even had the distinction of a triple pole cluttering a tree box.
According to meeting minutes, ANC3B first attempted to hold Pepco accountable to a specific removal timeline at a November 2004 meeting.
Commissioner [Christopher] Lively reported that Pepco has been in the area and has almost completed removed [sic] their lines off the old poles on to the new poles. Verizon, Comcast, and Starpower, however, have not removed their lines so the poles still cannot be removed. Commissioner Lively will write a letter on behalf of ANC 3B to OCTT [Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications] to bring the issue to their attention.Nearly a year later, at ANC3B's October 2005 meeting, Commissioner Melissa Lane brought up the issue again, to Pepco representative Roger Green. Green asked for a list of double pole locations in order to identify removal needs. The ANC complied and expected Pepco to deliver.
In June 2007, ANC3B invited Pepco to explain its plan to remove the double poles.
Pepco Regional Vice President, Vincent Orange, and Linda Jo Smith, Public Relations, reported on the status of the double utility poles that has been a problem throughout Glover Park for the past five years. Pepco replaced their poles but could not take all of them down because other service companies (Comsat, Verizon, etc.) and the district had their products on the original poles. Pepco is making a concerted effort to work with these other companies and get rid of the original poles. Ms. Smith committed to returning in September with a status report.As a concerned resident, I corresponded with Councilmember Mary Cheh and DDOT in 2008 and 2009. Cheh's Director of Constituent Services stated, "Trust me, we have asked and mentioned it, and reminded Pepco. We will keep doing all of the above until we get responses/action."
Likewise, DDOT's Customer Service Officer assured me, "You will be happy to know that we are working with Pepco and other agencies to resolve the double pole issue. You're right, it isn't happening overnight, but we're getting there."
A few back and forth tweets with the @PepcoConnect Twitter account in June 2011 didn't help either, even after I offered to provide an inventory of locations.
Finally the long drawn out issue turned around in October 2011, when I asked my ANC3B single member district commissioner Brian Cohen to intervene. Cohen worked with Tom Smith, Ward 3 Liaison, Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Engagement, who immediately contacted Pepco's Public Affairs Public Affairs Manager for the DC Region, Chris Taylor. Smith also pulled DDOT and the city's cable office back into the issue.
Taylor provided a 521-page document called NJUNS covering the entire Pepco service area. His email walk-through of the pole removal process may be very useful to other neighborhoods trying to resolve this same issue.
To tell you more about the list, NJUNS stands for National Joint Use Notification System. Several states nation wide use this system. The basis of the system is that all utilities in a specific geographic region voluntarily participate in a program to help track progress in removing double poles. As was indicated earlier, equipment must be removed in sequential order from top to bottom. Pepco normally initiates the process when we first remove wires and equipment. Generally, the order is as follows:Pepco, while now apparently willing to coordinate wire transfers, didn't know where the poles were located. NJUNS listed only three or four double poles for Glover Park, but there were a lot more. Cohen and I counted 41 during our block-by-block survey, and provided a list to Pepco in January 2012.
5. Pepco inspects to ensure pole is completely stripped
6. Contractor pulls the pole
The NJUNS sends an automated email each time a location is updated. If you look on the report, each page has various steps. At each step, NJUNS automatically sends an email to each utility notifying them of any action that is taken and needed next steps.
Behind the scenes, Pepco lit a fire under the other utilities. Only 2 months after identifying all the pole locations, temporary no parking signs went up and convoys of utility trucks scattered around Glover Park to begin removing the redundant poles.
Over half of the excess poles have been removed already, though ironically 3 new double poles were recently installed.
10 years later, a final resolution is in sight. It took a long time, but Glover Park's double poles are nearly gone. There is hope for other neighborhoods willing to put in the work to identify pole locations and repeatedly follow up with Pepco.
The Democratic at-large candidates for DC Council, incumbent Vincent Orange, and challengers Sekou Biddle, E. Gail Anderson Holness, and Peter Shapiro, talked about transportation, housing, land use and some social issues at last night's forum at the Black Cat on 14th Street.
Here is the full video from the event:
Small business: As in many forums, most candidates gave few specifics, and in most cases didn't sharply disagree with one another. For example, I asked all candidates to talk about a time they'd helped a local business directly. I asked this first of Vincent Orange, who often touts his work bringing Home Depot to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro area but when talking about small business, speaks much more in generalities.
Orange and the other candidates launched into generic, prepared statements about the value of small business. Sekou Biddle's answer, that he helps them most of all by patronizing them, was the most responsive. Orange was, however, able to name a lot of local businesses once pressed.
Affordable housing: Peter Shapiro had thoughtful recommendations for how to promote housing affordability, drawing on his experience with Arts District Hyattsville when he served in Prince George's County. Perhaps because of his experience as an elected official in the past, Shapiro gave more specifics about actions he has taken or policies he would implement on this and some other issues.
All candidates raised their hands when asked if they would restore the Housing Production Trust Fund; hopefully Orange, in this budget cycle, and whoever wins the race, in the future, follows through on that promise.
Ethics: Shapiro went the furthest on campaign finance reform, criticizing the current council for not taking stronger steps and arguing it should pursue a public financing system for elections. Biddle called for reforms to money order contributions, the source of the latest scandal.
Orange, as he has in the past, emphasized his advocacy for banning outside employment for councilmembers, but hasn't agreed to support limits on corporate contributions. He defended his decision not to cosponsor Mary Cheh's recent campaign finance bill as "self-serving," since Cheh holds other jobs as a law professor at GW and teaching bar review courses. (Tommy Wells, the one co-sponsor, does not have any outside employment).
Transportation: During a section on transportation, it came out that of the candidates, only Sekou Biddle is a member of Capital Bikeshare, and only he and Peter Shapiro subscribe to Zipcar. Biddle even pulled out his CaBi key, on his keychain, and his Zipcar membership card right on the stage.
I asked candidates about how we could help cyclists and drivers better understand each other's needs and concerns. Without being "gotcha" about it, I wanted to give Vincent Orange a chance to speak to what he had learned from the January 1st episode where he parked in the 15th Street bike lane, was called out on Twitter, and apologized. Orange said that he hadn't realized on which side of the white stanchions he should park, and that now he does.
Biddle proposed having driver education include information on how to deal with bicycle infrastructure and people riding bikes. This would only be a small start, since many DC drivers move in from other states, but it was a thoughtful response on the topic.
Biddle was also most able to talk about the role of buses in helping connect communities. I asked candidates to name a bus line that they feel works well in DC, partly to see how many could name a bus line at all. Orange gave an example of a bus line, the X2, but couldn't name it without help from a staffer who shouted it out unprompted.
Holness, marriage, and the Redskins: Dr. E. Gail Anderson Holness, generally considered a long-shot candidate, gave some reasons to appreciate her candidacy, but also some reasons for concern. As a resident of Ward 1, she lives in the most urban neighborhood among the candidates, and says she rides a bicycle and takes many forms of transit regularly. She was able to name many bus lines and talk about them in depth.
However, Holness was the only candidate of the four not to encourage Maryland residents to vote to keep the new same-sex marriage law. She also said on last week's WPFW debate that she supports giving land to the Redskins for a practice facility, on the theory that the master plan calls for recreational space.
The plan does ask for recreation space, but intended to serve local residents, not to be a fenced-off facility that only serves a professional team. I pushed on this issue, asking her why she would fulfill a neighborhood request in this way. She didn't have a good answer and seemed confused by the policy details.
The other candidates all reaffirmed their opposition to the practice facility. Orange said he would support bringing the actual team back and potentially using public funds, if it were part of a plan to create a "livable, walkable" community around the stadium as the District is doing at the ballpark.
"Livable, walkable" actually is a phrase Orange spoke at least 5 times over the course of the debate. It's a testament to the phrase Tommy Wells coined for his campaign slogan, and the policies behind it, that Orange has latched on. Hopefully this means he genuinely supports the principles of "livable, walkable" communities; either way, he clearly believes it's a growing political force.
Kwame's revenge: Speaking of Mr. "Livable, Walkable" Wells, the forum's most dramatic moment came near the end, when Orange suggested that Wells should have at least toned down his criticism of Kwame Brown's Lincoln Navigator scandal, to avoid losing his committee and his opportunity to advance his agenda. Shapiro quickly disagreed, arguing that Wells was right to speak up and that it shows the "dysfunction" in the current council that others did not come to his defense.
Did the forum help you make up your mind? What stuck out as most meaningful to you?
Campaign finance violations in DC have triggered numerous federal investigations and corrupted DC's political process, but the vast majority of sitting DC councilmembers still seem unwilling to risk cutting off their own sources of money to fix a serious problem.
Amendments from Tommy Wells (Ward 6) on last year's ethics bill to ban "bundling" and corporate contributions failed on a 12-1 vote. Yesterday, Mary Cheh (Ward 3) introduced a bill to tackle these issues, with Wells co-introducing, but no other councilmembers agreed to co-sponsor.
None of the sitting councilmembers up for reelection signed onto a pledge by at-large candidate David Grosso to increase transparency in donations, and only Wells and Cheh have expressed support for a ballot initiative to ban corporate contributions. Having 11 of 13 councilmembers disinterested in campaign finance reform is unacceptable.
Serious flaws create serious scandals
Some of the biggest flaws in DC campaign finance involve corporate contributions. Corporate entities are allowed to directly give money to candidates in DC, unlike under federal campaign finance law. Worse, many corporate entities have multiple subsidiaries, such as developers who create a separate LLC for each project, and are allowed to donate up to the maximum from each of them separately.
This is very common in DC campaigns. The fact that so many incumbents garner much of their campaign cash this way may be why not a single other councilmember voted for Wells' amendments to ban the practice.
That's not the only problem with campaign finance, though perhaps the biggest legal loophole. There are also ongoing federal investigations into the campaigns of Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown. Prosecutors are reportedly looking into whether the Gray campaign accepted numerous money orders that weren't really from separate individuals.
The District was reminded of those investigations in dramatic fashion this weekend when the FBI raided the offices of Jeffrey Thompson, who owns Chartered Health Plans, the District's largest contractor. He is also one of the most significant donors to district politicians.
Thompson and related entities have given more than $700,000 to various campaigns over the years, including massive sums to Gray, former mayor Adrian Fenty, and at-large councilmember Vincent Orange. The raids also targeted a public relations consultant to the Gray campaign.
Proposals seek to mend the system
Several reformists have emerged with concrete proposals to make campaign finance in the district more transparent and effective.
When Tommy Wells introduced his doomed campaign finance amendments to last year's ethics bill it seemed like his might be the lone voice for reform on the council. But today he joined Mary Cheh as the only cosponsor on her "Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2012."
According to a statement by Cheh's office, the bill would "prohibit pay-to-play, require disclosure of external fundraising activities, and... ban corporate contributions."
Meanwhile, the DC Committee to Restore Public Trust, led by activist and former council candidate Bryan Weaver and Ward 7 ANC commissioner Sylvia Brown, is pushing a ballot initiative that would ban direct corporate contributions to DC campaigns.
Organizers must collect over 22,000 signatures from registered DC voters to place the initiative on the November ballot. Volunteers plan to gather signatures at every polling place during the April 3 primary.
The initiative has garnered some high-profile backers. Councilmember Wells is providing organizational support and, while announcing her legislation, Councilmember Cheh said that she "wholeheartedly support the efforts of the District residents working on" the initiative. At-large candidates Peter Shapiro, Sekou Biddle, and David Grosso, as well as Ward 8 candidate Jacque Patterson, also have voiced support.
Several candidates running for DC Council in the April 3rd primary, May 5th special, and November 6th general elections are taking an additional step to show their commitment to campaign finance reform. Grosso, who is running for the independent at-large seat up for election in November and currently held by Councilmember Michael A. Brown, has proposed a "transparency challenge" to all council candidates.
The challenge asks candidates to proactively embrace campaign finance reform ideals by pledging to post information on their websites about the directors, managers, shareholders, and corporate structures of any companies that they receive donations from. Additionally, the challenge requires candidates to disclose the names of people who collect multiple donations for them as well as information on each individual donor.
So far, candidates Max Skolnik (Ward 4), Jacque Patterson (Ward 8), and Peter Shapiro (at-large) have pledged to join the challenge. Although, as of March 6, only Grosso has posted his information online. All participants are challenging sitting incumbents. So far, no incumbents have joined the challenge.
Incumbents fail to speak up or act
Unfortunately, aside from Mary Cheh and Tommy Wells, most members of the DC Council seemed unconcerned with campaign finance issues and unlikely to act on reform before the upcoming elections.
Muriel Bowser, primary author of last years ethics bill and chair of the council's Committee on Government Operations, stated that she intended to take action on campaign finance. However, she has since defended herself for accepting corporate donations and argued against banning corporate money outright, making it unlikely that she will support Cheh's bill.
It seems even more unlikely that a majority of councilmembers will act on any sort of campaign finance reform. Several have spoken out against reform. Notably, yesterday morning Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) joked about his dislike of Cheh's legislation.
The rest of the council should work with Cheh and Wells to craft a bill that will reform the campaign finance system while still allowing participation from all engaged parties. DC should ban corporate bundling and strengthen disclosure rules, to make it more apparent who is donating and ensure that corporations do not skirt contribution limits. Contractors and other corporations that do business with the city should face even further restricted in order to avoid obvious conflicts of interest.
DC's politicians have proven all too willing to take advantage of weak campaign finance regulations. But it seems as though the city is becoming sick of it. The DC council should step up, fight against this culture of corruption, and bring corporate influence over elections back from the stratosphere and down to the height of individual influence.
I'm moderating a forum with the at-large Democratic candidates for DC Council on Tuesday, March 13, organized by the Urban Neighborhood Alliance. What questions would you like them to answer?
The forum is at the Black Cat, 1811 14th Street, NW. Doors open at 6:30, and the forum will run from 7 to 8. All 4 candidates for the Democratic primary, Sekou Biddle, E. Gail Anderson Holness, Vincent Orange, and Peter Shapiro are attending.
The last go-around, at least several candidates made it difficult for voters to really pin down how they differed on important issues, and avoided taking stands on some of the tough controversies of the day. Knowing what the candidates believe is vital to making an informed decision, so I'm looking for questions that really probe into these key issues.
Please suggest your questions in the comments, and if you really like another one, submit a comment saying so. Please think about how a candidate might answer or how they might avoid answering a given item, and see if you can design your question to push them to give a good answer. I'll pick some of the best ones for the forum.
Plus, I hope you can attend the forum on Tuesday! It's free and open to the public. It's mostly standing room, with some limited seating for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. An informal reception afterward with complimentary appetizers and a cash bar will follow at the nearby Café Saint-Ex, 1847 14th Street, NW.
The forum is cosponsored by Borderstan, the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, the Dupont Circle Merchants and Professionals Association, Dupont Circle Village, Dupont Festival, Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, the Logan Circle Community Association, the Meridian Hill Association, and the U Street Neighborhood Association.
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