City Desk

Vincent Gray: Here’s How You Defend Sharon Pratt Connection


City Paper’s Unsolicited Political Advice of the Week

The candidate: Vincent Gray, mayoral hopeful

The challenge: Your opponent is trying to tie you to the early 1990s, one of the most ignominious periods in modern D.C. history, when you served in the failed administration of Mayor Sharon Pratt. Expect this to be a recurring theme his attacks. In an interview with City Desk, your spokesperson Traci Hughes assures that you will "lay out point-by-point how Mayor Fenty is presenting falsehoods in an effort to win reelection."

But that just might not be good enough. So here we present some suggested talking points:

-The biographical solution: “Early ‘90s? At my age, I’m more about the early ‘60s!”

-Turn the critique into a compliment: “So my former boss lost the Redskins. Big deal! Thanks to us, D.C. doesn’t have to call itself the home to Daniel Snyder!”

-Accuse the accuser: “I’m early ‘90s? Hey, Fenty is the guy who’s always doing the Running Man!”

-Go wonky: “It seems to me that the early ‘90s were known for a mayor who let the budget get out of control. Look in the mirror, Adrian!”

-If things really get desperate: If you really are good friends with your former patron, surely you can pick up the phone and ask Pratt to do you one little favor: Endorse Fenty!

*Michael Schaffer contributed to this blog post.

*photo courtesy of People Magazine.

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  • Reggie

    Redneck whites in DC? Who would have guest? Don't be fooled educated whites have the same redneck feelings as their parent's and grandparents! White trash policies still abound!

  • downtown rez

    -The biographical solution: “Early ‘90s? At my age, I’m more about the early ‘60s!”,
    LOL, but the 'stash and glasses are so '70's!

  • Proballdc

    Didn't Pratt-Kelly (THE MAYOR)get fired by the people for running the city's budget into the ground. I think that is exactly how this should work.

  • Rick Mangus

    'Proballdc', you

  • Rick Mangus

    CONTINUE; 'Proballdc', you are right, she lied about the city's finances, then we were stuck for four years with Marion 'crackatowa' Barry!

  • Proballdc

    @Rick Mangus: According to the CFO and Chairman of the Council Finance Committee, we are running dangerously close to the same financial environment we were in when the Federal Government stepped in and installed the Financial Control Board. As I recall, Mayor Anthony Williams handed Fenty a 1 billion dollar surplus and a healthy reserve. Recession or not, there is no reason the city should be in such dire straits had the executive exercised sound fiscal DISCRETION. Again I say, as Pratt-Kelly was held accountable, so, too, should Fenty, and in the same way.

  • Grumpy

    3 lasting images of Sharon Pratt-Dixon-Kelly

    Forming hands and saying 'It is time to clean HOUSE'

    Paying for a makeup artist with public funds

    Losing the Skins on her watch

    And the way it was told to me by a former campaign worker, it was not the then Mayor who insulted Jack Kent Cooke; it was Cooke who either commented on or placed his hand on her backside and she angrily told him 'as long as I'm Mayor, you'll NEVER have a stadium in THIS CITY'

    I cannot recall a single achievement during her tenure

  • hymesb

    How can you responsibly compare Fenty and Kelly?

    Fenty took office at the beginning of the worse financial downturn in American since the great depression. Every city in the country faces the same issue. Pick a city name from a hat and it is broke. What was he supposed to do to stop that?

    On the other hand, Gray's sponsors,Pratt-Kelly and Barry, were just plain f'ing up. They were managing the city in the roaring 90's when the economy was great. What is their excuse? Apathy? Busy making PG county residents millionaires?

  • Jeff

    Rather than snarky blog posts, I'd like City Paper to reclaim some of its journalistic ethos and present an in-depth review of Gray's career. What was his tenure in the Pratt administration really like? I really don't know who to vote for, and so far CP hasn't published a thing to help me decide.

  • Truth Hurts

    hymesb is right. But he omitted the fact that one city Gray and the city council appropriate the $ the city spends. If DC's having fiscal problems, Gray is at least as responsible as Fenty.

    Gray's ties to Pratt-Kelly and Barry along with his disgraceful mismanagement of HHS speak volumes.

    The choice comes down to this: Do we keep a mayor who makes things happen (yet is perceived as aloof) or do we choose a replacement who runs a subliminal race-baiting one city campaign (yet has dismal ties to DC's failed past)? Electing Gray would be a huge blunder.


    I attended the Mayoral debate at the Field School on Foxhall Road, NW in Ward 3 Thursday night. D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray was late getting there. King Fenty showed up with a dark brown tan looking like a black man for a change. King Fenty saw me, but he ignored me, because I no longer support him. I saw Kwame Brown at the end of the forum. Douglas Sloan a 4B ANC Commissioner was there attempting to get signatures on his petition to run against Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton.

    There were about 250 people in attendance. I recognized Mark Seagraves, a reporter from WTOP, political analysis Mark Polkin, Dorothy Brizill of D.C. Watch. Mayoral candidate Leo Alexander spoke rather well, but he attacked Vincent Gray about his fence problems. I thought this personal attack by Leo Alexander against Vincent Gray was unnecessary. King Fenty seem to be mad at the world with a serious look on his face. King Fenty had an entourage of campaign workers in green Fenty shirts and caps. I have to give King Fenty credit, he's well organized. Leo Alexander had many supporters there as did D.C. Chairman Vincent Gray. I were surprised to see several blacks there besides myself. I wondered to myself, are all these blacks in attendance D.C. voters like myself? I realized, there were several cab drivers there in support of Leo Alexander. I wonder if these cab drivers lived in D.C. and are registered voters in D.C.? Also, I saw a former colleague there who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland and cannot vote in the District of Columbia.

    In closing, Fenty did seem to be on the personal attack against Vincent Gray, because King Fenty is scared. There were several white voters there that appeared not to be Fenty supporters. I do know, this campaign is turning into a freak show. I haven't endorsed any candidate, but I do know, I will not be voting for King Fenty. I truly was impressed with Leo Alexander and his platform. Leo's courage to discuss the negative impact of illegal immigration on black D.C. citizens in employment impressed me. Fenty, Gray and the entire D.C. Council has made D.C. a sanctuary city for illegal aliens. Myself and other Ward 4 residents made an attempt to discuss with King Fenty during his tenture as the Ward 4 Councilmember about illegal immigration, MS-13 gangs, overcrowding in Ward 4 apartment buildings, but he ignored us, because King Fenty wanted to give illegal aliens the right to vote in the District when he was the Ward 4 Councilmember. The legislation died in former D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange committee. In the end, I might write in my name or Fog Horn Leg Horn's name for mayor.

  • Five To Go

    When I saw the picture of the woman in the middle, I thought it was the Golden Girl that just passed, not Sharon-Pratt-Kelly. She is not aging gracefully.


    Five To Go, most light skin or whites don't age gracefully. They look old in their 40's sometimes. Look at Vincent Gray and he dies his hair jet black. The man look like the Frankenstein monster in the face. Fenty is 39 years old and he look's old and ugly. I don't know what Fenty's wife saw in him, because there's nothing attractive about King Fenty. He look's like that Turtle that use to be in the cartoons when I was a child.


    Correction: I meant to say Vincent Gray dyes his hair, not dies his hair. LOL

    I am sleepy and I'm going to bed. Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Steve Harvey, Bernie Mac, George Clooney all dyes their hair. These men are in their late forties and fifties. What men at this age still have their natural hair color? LOL

  • Grumpy

    Steve Harvey is bald and Bernie Mac is this a post from 2 years ago?

    Sleepy posting is almost as bad as drunk texting


    I see why they called you Grumpy. Not only are you grumpy, you are an asshole too.

  • hmmm

    maybe his is an illegal.....or one of the people that "dyes" their hair.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Expect a piece on Gray soon.

  • Carpetbagger

    Sharon Pratt-Kelly didn't lose the Redskins for DC. She saved DC from the sweetheart deal that Dan Snyder got in Largo...because Jack Kent Cooke (in his old age) got confused about the era in which we live. It was not OK for him to slap her ass, like she was a mulatto slave on his plantation.

    Unfortunately, a few people got it in their heads that there was room for the sweetheart deal that the Nats got for the stadium that displaced a neighborhood near by the Navy Yard.

    Is the City Desk supposed to for op-eds or is it supposed to be news? I know that you had something better to do with your time than this bullsh!t.

  • downtown rez

    that displaced a neighborhood near by the Navy Yard.
    I feel the general tone and direction of your comments, but can you name one actual resident of that area who was displaced? I thought it was pretty much all warehouses and nightclubs- and those owners sold out for a boatload of FU $$$.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    hymesb- are you kidding me? Fenty took office at the apex of the greatest economic boom this City has ever seen and rode it into the ground. This crisis you speak of began in the summer of 2008 when the entire country took a nose dive. Fenty had a huge reserve, $1.4 billion to help him out. Where is that fund today, less than $500 million. A billion gone since he's been in office.

  • D

    Black on Black the racism on this thread is unconscionable.

  • Vincent Gray Looks Like Vincent Price

    I think the black on black crime in DC that results in senseless deaths is a bigger problem, D. Intra-racial prejudice is the least of our problems because it doesn't kill people.

  • Grumpy

    WARD4NDC, you need folks to agree with you. You're needy. That's okay for a young child (read: toddler) but for a supposedly grown ass adult, it's kinda sad.

    Fact is, you are no authority on politics or light skinned Black people or very little else. You're just another person giving an opinion, which you're entitled to do, no matter how wrong it is.

    You act like a jilted lover; Fenty make you a promise then renege on you?

  • MA

    Are we better off today than we were four years ago? YES.

    I think we all know that V. Gray's candidacy is being supported by those who don't want "whites" and "change" in the city. You fix the schools, the roads, the recreation centers and the libraires and they still hate you. Now, I can understand that older residents and some of the poorer residents feel left behind. But things are getting better for them as well, so it is a matter of poor perception.

    The fact of the matter is that the African-American population was in the majority for so long, they believed it would always be so. But the sad fact is that the African-American population with money chose to move out to Maryland for the most part. The city was left with a very small tax base and a very uneducated workforce living in substandard neighborhoods.

    We do need to make sure that long time residents and the working people can still afford to live here. But we also need to continue to upgrade the city's services and that can only be done by bringing in wealthier residents who can pay the taxes necessary to grow the city. Yes, it is called "gentrification" and yes it does leave some feeling left behind. V. Gray is not the answer for this city. And really, ask yourselves would Gray want to change all that much? What the hell is he running on anyway?

    Fenty may deserve a little slap to the face from residents. He needs to be reminded that he works for us and he needs to be accountable and less arrogant. And while he continues to "gentrify" the city he must work harder to show how he has actually helped all Wards (he has) and that he is committed to making DC more affordable for working people (he hasn't).

  • Grumpy

    Carpetbagger, how was DC saved exactly?

    The Squire buying up 300 plus acres of dairy farm in PG is not the issue. The issue is not being able to workout a deal that kept the Skins in DC, to rebuild on the RFK footprint for stadium access via Metro and to work it out where it was favorable for all parties. That's BUSINESS, not personal. She could have kneed him in his old nutz as personal payback and still have made a good business decision for the city.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    MA- everything you speak of isn't Fenty's doing. That's what he inherited from Williams. All of the development that happened in the City began or was planned before Fenty came into power. The parks and recs stuff I'll agree with, but it's only because he was funneling almost $100 million to his Frat bro Karim. All of the "diversity" and gentrification happening in the City now is a result of things beyond and in spite of Fenty. I'm all for a more diverse City with incomes and peoples of all races. I know that Gray is playing the race card but who else is going to pander to- the yuppies in upper NW?

  • D

    Dude, rationalizing Gray's behavior is immoral.

  • D

    Arrogant is a racist code word for "Uppity." Every time someone calls Fenty "Arrogant" you know what they are really saying.

  • Truth Hurts

    Cherkis, if you want provable facts for your upcoming piece on one city Gray, you know where to find me.

  • Grumpy

    So in other words, 'Uppity' means 'That negro needs to learn his place'. It also touches on the lightskinned 'you think you better than everybody else' nonsense that permeates our community.

    My question is: what place is that, exactly?

    I pose that to those who feel that way.

    I mean, he is the Mayor, he was elected to do a job, serve his constituency to the best of his ability, etc. His 'niceness', while appealing, is not necessary to do his job effectively.

  • MA

    Pointing out arrogance in a politician is not necessarily about race. If somebody is being arrogant, they deserve to be called out about it. If you are looking at it through the prism of race, then you have a problem.

    Don't be foolish when you speak about race. The very people who find Fenty arrogant and aloof are from the black community.

  • MA

    If you view Gray's website there is little information about what he is going to do. So far, Gray is simply the anti-Fenty candidate.

    What is he going to do? I guess he will run against parks, rec centers, jobs, street cars, schools and the reduction in crime.

    I have one suggestion for all DC Pols and that is look at the license plates in this city. Many of the jobs in the city are being taken by people who live in Maryland and Virginia. We want those people to live in the city and pay taxes and we cannot do that unless we improve the city living options. And those that don't want to live here, they can begin to pay a commuter tax.

  • Wassup

    Sharon Pratt Dixon Kelly always conducted herself with dignity and class even though she could be a bit "uppity". I was a vocal supporter of Ms. Dixon and then a vocal detractor but through the lens of time my appraisal has changed. I like Sharon and have respect for her dignity because given the structure of the government and the insurmountable problems of her era failure was inevitable.

    Sharon was elected on a reform platform and was immediately met with an organized effort on the part of the black ministers to preserve the status quo - the Barry model of governemnt as jobs provider. She failed and soon retreated to her bunker but eventually that was the job that Dave Clarke, the Control Board and Tony Williams were forced to take on.

    To compare then and now is not productive. The earlier collapse was the result of years of detritus washing forward avoided or ignored and finally overwhelming the system, taking John Wilson, etc. as its victims. This is different, they see it coming, they are creating it consciously - it is unbelievable to me that only Jack Evans had ther cajones to vote "NO" on this budget, but of course Jack is the only one was was part of cleaning the mess up the last time.

    We cannot afford poseurs to be put in charge. I am no big fan of Adrian at this moment but Gray represents no substantive progressive change, he is a ditherer. It would not be worth the cost of reprintingthe stationery.

    Jeff Smith running in Ward 1 is a totally a self-entitled poseur. His candidacy should not be taken seriously. That being said, it is essential that the Jim Graham corruption machine be dismantled, Graham is likely to face indictment and the city can no longer afford his antics. Ward 1 voters should bite the bullet and support Bryan Weaver.

    Kwame as Chair? Pulleeze! Vincent Orange has more then two brain cells firing simultaneously and he shows up ready to work. Kwame is a nice guy but in a position of power he would be dangerous - remember George Bush.

  • Gigi

    Wow, some of these comments are way off base. Understand why because they come mostly from “arm-chair posters.” For those “snatching straws” out of the sky, hoping it will stick”, here’s a little of DC history: Before limited home rule, the city was run by 3 commissioners appointed by the President. They did whatever they wanted. When given “limited Home Rule”, DC started with a severe deficit because Congress took control of the pension funds for judges (remember, DC Superior Court judges are still federally appointed), teachers, correction officers, etc. DC govt started w/over a 10 million deficit which was huge in those days. Another congressionally inflicted handicap. At that time, the States contribute only 20-30% funding to add to federal funding for projects, services, etc. Since DC agencies were both local & state level, DC had to contribute 60-70% towards the same projects or funding streams. In spite of receiving a federal payment which was only a drop in the bucket, without the revenue base; the inability to tax huge non-profit facilities and some for-profit businesses (the Wharf); and to tax income at its source; etc, DC still had budget problems. This didn’t change until the 1997 President’s Plan (Clinton Administration) to reorganize DC govt. City/state level functions were separated, feds took over some of the responsibilities (ex. Prison system), but the federal payment was removed, which continued the financial struggles. The wealth & excess of the 90s did not hit DC, but did help the surrounding states, counties.

    When first elected mayor, Marion Barry opened the doors to DC govt jobs in hopes that would stabilize the DC economy & tax base. What happened? These “blessed ones” who previously were limited for the most part to low paying jobs and discrimination in federal, DC govt & private industry, decided they were too good to stay in DC and moved to PG County. Note-once you crossed into MD from E. Capitol St onto Central Ave, you hit a one lane road. Some parts were dirt. Thus, the birth of Ward 9 and the continued struggle w/DC’s economy and revenue base.

    Sharon Dixon was elected in 1990. Marion had stated there was one set of numbers as to the expenses & budget. Mayor Sharon requested an audit, and found out we were operating at a larger deficit. Sharon was the one responsible for starting the evolution to bring DC govt into the start of the early stages of the information age. Some of you can’t even visualize a govt the operated using index cards for the most part for data/record mgmt. Except for a few stand alone computers, that how the govt operated. Now you may understand the problems knowing what was going on, causes of mis-mgmt (including incompetent mgrs & employees who didn’t want to give up their cushy jobs), and theft (remember Harriet Walters? She started in 1987), easy to eliminate index card paper trail).

    Humongous task, especially w/the majority employees resisting because they would have to work. Serious problems for all the new agency directors as to how to re-organize huge agencies and address the court cases & orders from the Barry Administration. Dixon/Kelly administration introduced computer technology and wide spread training to start the development of electronic data mgmt systems, new phone systems (police had rotary dial phones), etc. Case in point, story goes during her first snowstorm, Mayor Sharon & directors went to DPW to see how Mgrs/employees prepare & response during a snowstorm. They were shocked to see that staff waited to hear the weather reports on the radio & B/W TV to decide how to respond. No contact w/NOAA, National Weather Service. Sharon then built the first Emergency Response Center under the DC Emergency Mgmt Agency (EMA). There were state-of-the-arts monitors able to see various parts of the city, communications systems to be in contact w/federal and DC law enforcement and other related agencies. EMA also started training workshops/courses for residents to learn about, preparations and how to assist in emergency situations.

    The Dept of Human Services (DHS) was a total mess. In addition to the regular TANF svcs, disability svcs, intelligently-disabled svcs (then called MRDDA), homelessness, health related, HIV/AIDS programs; a whole lot of other programs, along with the multiplying law suits started under the previous administration, were all under the same DHS umbrella. Same index card system used, and there was the welfare & other fraud, couldn’t figure out the expenses compared to the budget. Add the mgrs and employees who didn’t want to work, intimidating employees who did want to work. This was not going to magically change overnight, so the process started. Then there was the court order to release many of the St. Elizabeth’s residents into group homes in the community, and the community had no say so in the matter. It was Vince & Sharon that developed the Memorandum of Understanding to create the Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness to organize the delivery of services under a non-profit organization. Sharon also created the Mayor’s Office on Youth Initiatives for the same purpose of identifying, providing technical assistance to DC community based organizations, for a more organized, holistic (yes this word was being used then) approach to providing wrap around svcs in the wards. Grants that never existed before were awarded to some of these programs.

    Another thing Sharon did that no other mayor has done to date was to meet w/the ANCs on a regular basis. At times, it was to provide background and seek our opinions on legislation she was going to introduce, before she sent to the Council or right after. She also wanted to know what was going on in the communities and how the govt could provide assistance in our efforts.

    The problems Sharon faced w/ANCs & the community was caused by those employees, special assistants she had around her who many times didn’t tell her the truth about what was going on, or wanted to present themselves as the one you would have to go through. Sharon was also responsible for the 90s movement for Statehood. This civil-disobedience weekly movement could be considered a success for it brought about the first House vote on Statehood (Nov.1993).

    When Marion was re-elected to Mayor, the “Contract with America” congressional group was in control under Newt Gingrich. This group was on a mission to control DC. DC was placed on quarterly spending allotments. If we went over budget, tough! The 16 day snowstorm of January 1995 took its toll. We ran out of money quick. Then Gingrich order DC to first fuel the truck Congress had contracted w/to remove snow from only the federal enclave. DC police, fire and govt vehicles were placed on a rationed scheduled. Though requested, no federal funds were provided to purchase modern equipment or other DC govt needs.

    Then came the welcomed federal takeover of the DC School Board, for DCPS which was totally out of control, not providing the support to educate the students, the outdated books, none to limited technology in the schools, alleged 3 sets of financial mgmt books, awarding huge emergency sole source contracts to alleged cronies and favored companies. Next was the unwelcomed Control Board, which temporarily replaced the Mayor & DC Council. They also awarded these types of contracts to companies who allegedly spent millions on providing some services, creating reports based on information they obtained for free from community meetings, available documents, federal reports, etc, with no requirement to hire trained, skilled, knowledgeable DC residents.

    Williams was appointed CFO, and then the residents recruited him to run for mayor. Williams had the support of the federal govt, sent out a nationwide appeal for people to move to DC, started the economic development phase to increase DC’s tax base, started/continued various phase for “Legacy”, etc. Though he was responsible for bringing baseball back to DC, tried to get the Olympics, Williams left us with a huge surplus. Its gone now. The Mayor submits the budget to the Council, balanced or not. The tough job is on the Council to work the final budget, having to make the tough decisions, which should not be their burden to bare and take responsibility for in the end. the budget should not be a political issue.

    The racial comments and profanity has no place in this discussion for it reflects poorly as to who/what DC really is about. True, there has always been a class system in “plantation DC”, the last colony, which worked to the advantage of the overseers. But we know today what that was about. No matter your race, nationality, economic status, we are all in the same situation, paying more taxes into the federal system than 5 states, yet we are the only nation’s capital in the world that does not have a voice/vote in their congressional body. Also, those who moved here from other states, lost our status as citizens of the United States, downgraded to residents of the United States without a vote, and less rights. There are others born here who never had the right. That should be one of our primary issues and focus, along with keeping our elected & appointed officials honest, public servants working on our behalf.

  • JJ

    I'm trying to find a video of Sharon Pratt Kelly's acceptance speech for mayor. It was either after the primary or the election itself. I seem to remember it being in a room with a crowd of reporters and supporters. This was one of my all-time favorite speeches and I'm not even a Democrat! Can anyone help??