Housing Complex

Gray: D.C. Will Be the Greatest City on Earth, and Then Some

Speaking today at the Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership's annual development showcase, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor Hoskins delivered his usual refrain about how no one loves the District more than his boss, Mayor Vince Gray.

Judging from Gray's speech on the same stage, I'd say he's probably right. According to Gray, D.C. is destined to be the greatest city on earth, and then some.

Gray began his address to the crowd of developers and city officials by touting the recent drop in the city's unemployment rate, which he described as "the most precipitous drop anywhere in the United States." The next step, he says, is to bring the District's rate under the national rate, currently at 7.9 percent, which he says has never happened before.

"Can you imagine the day, if we do this right, when we can say there's no one in the District of Columbia who doesn't have the opportunity to get a job?" he asked. "That would be unprecedented, ladies and gentleman, in the United States of America."

From there, the rhetoric only got loftier. "Let's continue to make us the greatest city in America, in the world," he shouted at the close of his speech, maxing out the PA system, "and the day will come when we're not only the greatest city but the greatest state!"

It was up to former Mayor Anthony Williams, delivering the keynote address in his signature bowtie, to tone things down with his wry wit.

He began by praising the mayor and contrasting him with his predecessor, Adrian Fenty.

"I didn't have any real relationship with my immediate successor," Williams said. "That's a long story."

With Gray, on the other hand, Williams said he's had regular contact. "No one understands more about connecting the social logic of our city and the economic logic of our city than Mayor Gray," he said.

Williams then launched into an extended, extemporaneous 20-minute metaphor about the X2 bus, which he regularly rides from his H Street NE home. In the course of his metaphor, he managed to criticize another of the speakers, NoMa Business Improvement President Robin-Eve Jasper, for the lack of diversity in her renderings of the neighborhood's coming projects; praise "socialist countries in Europe" for their public-private partnerships; and put in a plug for the mayor's so-far-stalled proposal for a tax break for D.C. angel investors.

Finally, he concluded the parable: "Only in a city could you get on a bus like this"—he rattled off a bunch of X2 rider archetypes, including yuppies, doctors, lawyers, working mothers, and, of course, a former mayor who allows poor kids to believe that they, too, can someday be mayor—"and stop off at the Hay-Adams."

Amen, I guess.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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