Last Thursday the Center for American Progress (CAP) celebrated their 10th anniversary with a day-long conference and an evening reception. The guest of honor at the reception, held in the beautiful Mellon Auditorium, was former Secretary of State and potential 2016 presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
If one goes to the CAP website you can read the following statement about the organization’s beliefs. “As progressives, we believe America is a land of boundless opportunity, where people can better themselves, their children, their families, and their communities through education, hard work, and the freedom to climb the ladder of economic mobility. We believe an open and effective government can champion the common good over narrow self-interest, harness the strength of our diversity, and secure the rights and safety of its people. And we believe our nation must always be a beacon of hope and strength to the rest of the world. Progressives are idealistic enough to believe change is possible and practical enough to make it happen.”
In today’s world of the Tea Party, in-fighting, and grudge match politics, this is only something we can hope to strive for in our political system. CAP was founded ten years ago to bring a progressive think-tank into being to counter groups like the Heritage Foundation who were doing the research and planning for the conservative movement. Many were afraid that the money couldn’t be raised to fund such an organization for the long-term. Today CAP has proven not only that it can attract the funding but that they can make a real difference in public policy. They focus on the full range of issues including healthcare, women’s rights, LGBT rights, foreign affairs, the economy, civil liberties and energy and the environment to name just a few. They bring in experts both as staff and consultants to do the research necessary to develop sound public policy, at least viewed as sound from a progressive point of view.
All day Thursday at a series of session’s attendees heard from everyone from Secretary of State John Kerry to former Vice President Al Gore. Then at the reception Neera Tanden, president of CAP, introduced Hillary who began speaking by congratulating CAP on their 10th anniversary and thanking those at the event for their longtime support of the organization. She spoke of being at the beginning of CAP when John Podesta, their first President, began the work of making it into an organization that would be effective and sustainable for the long run. She then said that CAP’s work had only begun and that the next ten years will see even more need for an organization like CAP to bring progressive values to the forefront of public discussion because in today’s world the political rhetoric of the other side often seems to come from “an evidence free zone”.
Judging by the crowd at the reception and the tremendous response to Hillary, both CAP and Hillary will be around for a long time to come.
Since the current City Council has determined to keep the 2014 primary on April Fool’s Day the field entering the Mayor’s race will almost of necessity be made up of people with some existing name recognition. It is nearly impossible for someone new to campaign effectively in the middle of the winter. Currently there are four announced candidates including Councilmembers’ Bowser, Evans, and Wells and attorney/diplomat Reta Lewis. But the betting is that the field isn’t complete yet.
The date everyone is watching is November 8th when candidates can pick up their petitions and we will know whether or not Mayor Gray is going to run for a second term. Current thinking is that the odds are 50/50 on that. If he runs that may complete the field. If he doesn’t there are a number of others who have been talking about entering the race. They include two individuals who made their initial impact in D.C. in the Anthony Williams’ administration. Robert Bobb whose name has been floated as a potential candidate was City Administrator and the other is Eric Price who was Deputy Mayor for Economic Development from 1999 to 2004. Both these men are talented and would make good candidates. Bobb is the more well-known having also run and been elected as school board president prior to the schools being taken over by the Mayor. But Price also has a stellar resume.
Price’s background is broad and his resume reflects his work and interest in housing, economic development, education, and healthcare along with his broad knowledge of District government. He is currently Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust and for many years served on the Casey Trees Endowment Fund of which he is currently President. He is also on the board of both the DC Preparatory Academy and the Washington Hospital Center. For five years Price was Senior Vice President of Abdo Development.
The primary is only five and a half months away so soon we should begin to think about who we want to lead our city for the next four years. Voters will have many decisions to make. One thing we know is that the District is doing better than it ever has before and we need someone who will continue to grow the District while at the same time being cognizant of the tremendous divide between the haves and have-nots in our city. We need someone who understands economic development and how it impacts every ward in the city and can spur the creation of good living-wage jobs. We will want a candidate who is personally ethical and will have no qualms about speaking out to ensure that the entire government functions in an ethical way.
I know I will be looking for someone who is supportive of union workers while at the same time being creative and constructive as contracts come up for renewal. The District is at a crucial point in our growth and we need to maintain the forward momentum. Current residents and the 1100 people a month that are moving into the District want to see our schools improve; our services continue to be delivered effectively and on-time; and the vibrancy of our cultural institutions, restaurants and nightlife which we now have come to accept as an integral and crucial part of DC, continue to thrive. We want someone who will make DC more business friendly and cultivate small businesses which are the biggest job creators.
As is the case for most of the people of the District I have not yet decided who I will vote for and am waiting to see who else will enter the race before I make that decision.
I support the President and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in their effort to stand up against the outrageousness of the Republican party. I agree that there should be no negotiation before Speaker Boehner (R-OH) drops the gun from the head of the American people and opens the government. It appears that Boehner is being held hostage by the right-wing of his own party and in turn thinks it's OK to hold the rest of us hostage. He is wrong and has lost any respect rational people may have once had for him.
That being said it is time for the Senate to agree to pass and the president to say he will sign a bill exempting the D.C. budget from this mess. D.C. is being treated like another federal agency and that has to stop. We are 632,000 people strong and must be allowed to spend our own tax money as every other city and state in the nation is allowed to do.
On Wednesday morning the D.C. mayor's office sent out a press release stating:
Mayor Gray sent a letter to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) requesting an immediate meeting with them to discuss ways to alleviate the serious consequences of a federal shutdown for the District due to the capital city's lack of budget autonomy. The District, unlike every other state, county and city in the country, is prohibited from using its own locally-raised Fiscal Year 2014 funds to pay for operations during a federal shutdown. While the District has been able to continue operations by drawing on contingency funds, those will soon be exhausted. Meanwhile, the District's unique inability to spend federal pass-through funds that other states are able to use during a shutdown is causing significant problems (such as delaying payments owed to Medicaid providers, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and, shortly, the District's public charter schools).
Last week the D.C. MPD came to the aid of the Secret Service and Capitol Hill police when a woman driving a car in a wild chase from the White House to the Capitol appeared to be threatening the president and the Congress. It is time both realized that the MPD was not only needed but is actually handling the investigation of the case. The MPD is paid for with city taxpayers' money. In addition congresspersons, many of whom live in the District, are having their trash picked up, their streets policed, and all their other municipal services maintained only because the District is using its reserve funds to do so.
The time is now to act to allow D.C. to spend its own budgeted money not just its reserve funds which will be soon exhausted. The president received 93 percent of the votes in the District for his reelection. He received the District's 3 electoral votes. Now is the time for him to recognize that he must respect the people that live here and the District's independence and agree to sign a bill that will exempt the District from this mess.
Today House Oversight Committee Chair Darrel Issa (R-CA) will join the mayor and D.C.'s non-voting Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton to demand that this happen. The president must speak out and agree to sign a bill allowing the District to spend its own money during this shutdown. The time for him to act on this is now!
This article was first published in The Huffington Post.