City Desk

Smith, Weaver Gang Up On Graham at Ward 1 Council Debate

D.C. Council hopeful Jeff Smith last night immediately went on the attack during a debate between the candidates for the Ward 1 council seat, hosted by the Kalorama Citizens Association at Goodwill Baptist Church, accusing incumbent Councilmember Jim Graham of sabotaging Smith's campaign efforts by tearing down street signs.

Graham denied the allegation. "If you have a video of any of my staff taking down signs, bring it forward," Graham told Smith last night.

Smith further accused Graham of employing city contractors to hang up his own signs around town. Graham said there's no impropriety. He's paying the contractors to do campaign work outside of their public duties.

Fellow Ward 1 candidate Bryan Weaver, meanwhile, emphasized the "power of we." At least until the subject of the playground at Oyster-Adams Bilingual School came up.

"If you can bounce up and down on that rubber, think of me, " said Graham, apparently referring to a piece of playground equipment at the school. Weaver's voice went up as he stated that the new playground was great, but that the neighborhood boundaries of the well-performing public school need to be redrawn: "It's a Woodley Park school, it's not an Adams Morgan school," said Weaver.

Graham opened by rattling off some of his Ward 1 accomplishments, including getting rid of the scores of undesirables who once hung out at 17th and Euclid NW. "Now there's a police camera there," he said.

"I'm running for re-election on that record," said Graham.

Smith concedes that Graham has accomplished some good things during his long tenure as council member, but it's time for him to go. "Eight years would have been plenty, 16 years is too much," Smith said.

When candidates were asked about funding for the arts by debate moderator Davis Kennedy of the Current newspapers, Smith took the opportunity, as he would many times that night, to point out some of Graham's many shortcomings. Smith said that Graham's version of funding the arts involved giving out earmarks to his favorite non-profits. Smith also charged that the incumbent has given out more earmarks than anyone else on the council, excluding Marion Barry.

Graham countered that he stood by his earmarks: "They spend the money responsibly," he said of the organizations he's funded.

Weaver didn't join in the scuffle but stated that non-competitive earmarks were a problem.

However, he later took a swing at Graham for his relationship with developers, pointing out that after Graham had helped get $8.5 million in tax abatement for Donatelli Development Inc., the company contributed $5,000 to his reelection fund.

Graham challenged the accuracy of that remark, and then brought up how he'd championed development in Ward 1 without getting rid of its low income residents:"We have not torn up the fabric of our diversity," he said.

As the night wore on, Smith and Weaver continued to bring up various Graham controversies. But it was the moderator who brought up the biggest one of all: Ted Loza. Asked whether the incumbent would ever rehire his former chief of staff, now up on bribery charges, Graham simply stated: "Let Ted Loza have his day in court.".

In his closing remarks, Graham attempted to portray himself as a unifier. "Where we have worked together is where we have worked our best," he said. In their closing remarks, both Smith and Weaver took parting shots at the incumbent. Weaver  pulled a line from the movie Wedding Crashers: "I'm not saying marry me. I'm saying just don't marry him."

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  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    How childish!, Bo Whoo!, "you tore down my campaign signs!". With ALL the problems this city has and this was the highlight of a candidate's forum, then residence of Ward 1 you are truly in trouble!

  • Taye

    Obviously Mangus you have never run a campaign and experienced the cost of campaign signs and much, much more......

  • Jhamianiquia Jenkins

    Ah no how dey fell. When Ah useta braid huhr awl da chix in Burry Farm was jelluss and dey taked awl mah sines down frum da likkah stow.

  • WARD4DC

    Jim Graham need to be locked up in a cell with his butt buddy Ted Loza.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    'Taye' there are issues in this city BIGGER than campaign signs! By the way I worked for Carol Schwart's bid for mayor in the 1990's and was deputy press secretary for George H W Bush in 1988!

  • Taye

    Great! Mangus, then you should understand the value and respect for others campaign resources.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    'Taye', If I was in the audiance I would of stood up and demanded that the issues of this city be addressed instead of immature finger pointing like children on the playground during recess! What this tells me that NONE of these clowns challenging Graham, (The Queen of All Media) are worth a shit!

  • downtown rez

    RM-
    If you've worked in any even marginally notable capacity in national or local government than you must know that governmant can, as any people can, concern themselves with and prioritize more than one issue at a time.
    And, yeah, campaign tampering is a big deal. You are a lying dishonest ass, or ignorant, if you act otherwise.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    'downtown rez' I am reminded of that old saying, "Bigger Fish to Fry"!

  • No Relation to Angry Al

    Grahamstander got off easy. Didn't anybody recall his conscription of firefighters to cater one of his fundraisers? That speaks poorly of Graham's opponents' memories and research capabilities. Otherwise,"Rick Mangus," Republican at Large, doth protest too much.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    This city need a few Republicans in power, RUN CAROL RUN!

  • downtown rez

    LOL This city has few Republicans in power, and that's the way people seem to like it.

  • WARD4DC

    As I see it Rick, both the Democrats and Republicans aren't worth "SHIT". At the moment I am a Democrat, but I am switching to become an Independent. I am not a liberal or a conservative and I am fed up with the shit the D.C. Council is shoveling down our throats. The D.C. Council supports illegal immigration and Miss mean hateful Catania is drafting legislation to give illegal aliens free healthcare in the District. This is going to attract illgal aliens from across the country to move into liberal West Hollywood D.C. This is madness. Fuck all the losers running for Council and for the mayor's position. They all are liberal left wing nuts.

  • Ward1Watcher

    The central campaign issue Jeff Smith brought up was not about Graham tearing down Smith's campaign signs. It was about the fact that Graham hired Dulles-based city roads contractor M.C. Dean to hang up Graham's signs on the very city street lights M.C. Dean is employed to install and maintain, as a result of Graham's political patronage. See http://bit.ly/b9C8ZR.

    THAT, my dear Magnus, suggests impropriety or the appearance thereof, whether Graham has paid for the service in full or received up to a $500 donation in kind from M.C. Dean. And indeed, Dean's own statements to Mike De Bonis suggest much, much more...

  • downtown rez

    Ward4-
    I can respect your desire to switch from D to I, but for you as a DC resident to do that would completely remove what influence you have over our system. This is because you would have no vote in the D primary, where 99.9% of what matters is decided.
    So switch to I if you want, but just realize you will be giving up what influence you have.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    I was just up in Columbia Hgts. and the only signs I saw was Graham's (The Queen Of All Media). The only other signs was from that fucking road construction which has been going on for EVER! If there ever was a issue to bring up, that should be one!!!!!!

  • downtown rez

    RM-
    The 14th St construction will be done by the end of June.
    Just FYI.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    'downtown rez', right!, when hell freezes over and then just maybe!

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