Editorial: Vote No on Top Cop Opp
The debate is not new. In 1998, a bill to hold a referendum on electing the city’s "top cop" was introduced in the D.C. Council, spearheaded by At-large Councilmember David Catania (I). In 2002, 82 percent of voters approved the change, but Congress failed to act.
Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh (D), who has frequently clashed with current Attorney General Peter Nickles (appointed by the Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) and confirmed by the Council), said taxpayers need an A.G. who is independent of the mayor.
"The attorney general should not be the attorney for the mayor, the mayor already has an attorney, it's called counselor to the mayor," Cheh said. "This will make it plain, which is already in the law but has not been followed in recent years, that the attorney general represents us, represents the people of the District of Columbia," she told The Washington Post's Tim Craig.
Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans (D) also has voted in favor of the measure, although he has concerns about the quality of candidates that could result.
Gertrude Stein said, "A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." The problem is, "independent" is a relative term. In a jurisdiction where Democrats dominate the landscape so completely that no other party as yet can manage more than a token victory every now and then, "independent" is likely to mean "Democrat" -- and thus inherently connected to the party machinery behind most successful electoral campaigns.
This is not the kind of "independence" voters should codify with a change to the Home Rule Charter. Unless and until the position of attorney general is defined as non-partisan -- or offers District voters a real choice of parties and platforms -- they should steer clear of this half-loaf of democracy.
The Georgetown Dish urges voters to reject Proposed Charter Amendment Measure IV, “The Elected Attorney General Charter Amendment.”