Editorial: Humility Tour Rings Hollow
August 23, 2010 | by G'town Saucer
Photo by RJSmithSunday'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.