Editorial: Humility Tour Rings Hollow

Photo by RJSmith
"Being heard" at a Ward 8 straw poll
"Being heard" at a Ward 8 straw poll
Sunday's Washington Post led with a top-of-the-fold piece headlined, "Fenty's New Approach: Humility," describing, at length, a last-minute effort by Mayor Adrian Fenty to make amends with disaffected voters as election day draws near.

Fenty "has been checking off a long list," calling community leaders who are upset with his administration. "An Advisory Neighborhood Commission member in Brightwood. A deacon at a Takoma church. A community activist in Chevy Chase," according to Post reporter Nikita Stewart.

"We were so focused on getting results," Fenty told Stewart, "we . . . didn't take into account people's feelings and their desire to be heard and listened to. There's a lot of people who right now may be on the fence or thinking about voting against me who we've probably done a lot [for] in their community. But because we've just been focused on doing it rather than doing it with them, they don't feel as good about it as I would have thought just by delivering the results."

The Mayor's last-minute "humility tour" rings hollow at best. Who is he kidding? How many times has the Mayor publicly "accepted full responsibility" for making mistakes and trampling the public, only to repeat it?

Ironically, the Mayor's conversion to contrition displays the same arrogance that got him into trouble in the first place. While "being heard" and "people's feelings" add up to something in the world of marriage counseling and self-help books, they are only the means -- not the end -- in democratic government.

"Being heard" doesn't amount to much if you end up bulldozed.

Bulldozed is what residents were when the city made a backroom deal to effectively privatize the fields known as Jelleff Boys & Girls Club in Burleith -- just after the facilities became taxpayer-owned.

Bulldozed were the parents of Hardy Middle School, who desperately sought to retain a beloved principal, Patrick Pope, until he was brutishly ripped out by the roots against all logic and the strongest possible community desire.

All city residents continue to suffer the slings and arrows of teradactyls like D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. They operate as despots, not leaders of a democracy.

Meanwhile, city residents have found ways to "be heard" -- by one another. Democrats in Ward 8 voted overwhelmingly Saturday to endorse Gray in the mayoral primary, with about 80 percent of voters backing the challenger over Fenty. The scale of the victory surprised political veterans. It's a pattern that has been repeated in many Wards, particularly among the city's middle-class, working-class and poor residents.

But three weeks remain before election day. There's still time to discuss the serious financial and fiscal issues facing the city, rightly raised by Councilmember Jack Evans. There is still time to discuss whether Michelle Rhee and Peter Nickles should continue in a second Fenty administration, along with advisers like Ron Moten and Sinclair Skinner, should voters decide to offer a second term.

There's also more time for attack ads softened by a high-profile humility campaign. Our kleenex box is ready for when the tears start to flow.


0 Comments For This Article


Mr. Fenty, we trusted you before and here is what we got:

-After 10 years of increasing school test scores, scores declined last year

-Only 15 schools in the District of Columbia this year met the annual goals of No Child Left Behind, down from 54 in 2009

-Public Relations stunts around teacher firings and overtstating results

-Crime- specifically robbery, thefts, sexual assaults are up for 3 years!

-Your police department lost DNA crime evidence in more than 200 cases

-DC now has the highest city-wide unemployment in it’s history (30% in some areas)

-You awarded your fraternity brothers $82 MILLION in illegal contracts that they were unqualified for. Your frat buddy Sinclair Skinner got a engineering contract. His qualification was being a failed dry cleaner.

-You JUST vetoed a bill passed by 10 Councilmembers that made it illegal for a candidate to pay someone for their vote

-You arrived into office with a huge budget surplus that he has turned into a large deficit. You depleted our Rainy Day Funds so he could open $400k dog parks and heat his favorite swimming pool.

-Over the last few years, you dipped into the city's rainy day fund to the tune of $840 million, bringing the balance in the savings account down from $1.5 billion in 2007 to just over $650 million for 2011.

-You risk the city’s bond rating

-You leave the country (to Jamiaca and Dubai) without telling anyone or leaving any one as custodian of the DC government

-You have your police escorts close down roads so he and his friends can bike on them.

-You are unwilling to hear any different opinion and anyone that doesn’t agree with you.

-You don’t consult with the community on ANYTHING.

-You have not held ONE news conference since becoming Mayor. Not one.

-You miss community meetings and simply say you “couldn’t make it happen”

-You refuses to hand over any government records- has worst record of responding to Freedom of Information Act requests

-You are simply unable to play well with others- another example is when you refused to give City Council tickets to Nationals game

-You led a sketchy donation of firetrucks to the Dominican Republic

All I'm going to say is that we gave you a chance. For nearly 4 years. And you failed. Your only supporters are people you have paid or are in danger of losing their jobs: Nickles, Rhee, and Moten. You are in over your head and we need someone new that is competent, can deliver, and includes citizens in his decision-making process.

I am going to vote for VINCE GRAY because WE CAN HAVE INCLUSIVE, TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT THAT GETS RESULTS. It doesn't have to be a choice between listening/thinking and getting results. We can have someone do BOTH.

Let's let Vince Gray lead the city in a way that brings us progress and things are done the right way! Without cronyism or corruption.