Loose Lips

The Undecided: Grilling Gray Edition

August 30: A Visit from Gray

Today’s Event: Mayoral frontrunner Vincent Gray meets Washington City Paper's staff. I walked away from the hour-long meeting wondering: So why should this guy be elected mayor? The guy clearly knows the issues and can speak in depth. But there was little sense of what specific things he'd do differently. Which is why I can't help but focusing on comparatively minor stuff:  Gray stands by Peaceoholics getting into the group-home business, he believes Charter Schools deserve more power, and he sticks by his love of Sex and the City—a love that includes the horrible first film.

Influence: Slight. Gray's proposed tweaks to Child and Family Services Agency (more emphasis on families i.e. kinship care  over group homes), and DOES (more emphasis on adult job training) make sense. And it's hard to imagine Fenty making those adjustments, let along thinking of them. Indeed, our Gray conversation felt far more substantial than our Fenty meeting. But all the same, the guy comes off as trying to avoid taking a stand on issues that might piss people off.

Net impact: Back to Neutral.

But: When we ask Gray about a checks and balances, he makes some specific promises: He says if elected he'd bring back the weekly press conference and make agency heads testify before the D.C. Council. Those positions won't anger any constituency, but they will be something we can hold him to. And they're more than Fenty did.

  • John

    Have to ask again. What happened to that hard hitting, bulldog like investigation and follow up on "buttdialgate"? The whole promise that the Gray campaign wouldn't just be allowed to drop an unsupported allegation to the press cycle and get away with it?

    Crickets chirping on that one.

  • Elissa

    I'd like to hear the Undecided's thoughts on the Post poll.

  • TrustButVerify

    Federal Law: Section 451 of the Home Rule Act. Has the federal law been broken?

  • downtown rez

    The immediacy of the lies and insinuations pales before the promise of actual good government. After all, it's far more important that agency heads "testify before council". For whatever that promise might be worth a year, or two, or three...

  • John

    Rez: True, true. I mean..."research"..."phone calls"..."investigation"..."follow up"? What was I thinking? I mean, that crap is for comedians at 11pm on Comedy Central. Not gutsy modern journalists.

    After all, look how many important journalistic careers were launched retyping blast faxes from the RNC about Al Gore in 2000? Who am I to question that?

  • Mr. Bigglesworth

    Wait, what? Gray is cool with Peaceoholics? Please elaborate, this item deserves a story of its own.


    1) Stop giving love to Barry. He's a Grade A D-Bag, a crook, and the primary reason for DC's woes, especially those East of the River.

    2) Stop indicating that you will hire back "all the teachers" and "all the parks employees" who were let go by Fenty's administration. There are probably a few exceptions to the rule, but overall, we all know that most of the DCPS and DPR employees should have been fired decades ago. They are a blight on the city and robbing our kids of a real future. Go ahead and ID the exceptions (including those who are still employed by the city and shouldn't be) and fix those mistakes.

    3) Get away from Annapolis. Loyalty is great, but if someone is disloyal to his/her country/state/county/city/neighborhood by virtue of inappropriate lobbying and corrupt contracting, it is time to cut off contact.

    4) Stop acting like you will keep Rhee. She won't stay, and the people who will vote for you don't want her around. No one who wants to keep Rhee is going to vote for you, so stop sidestepping the issue.

    5) The word is TRANSPARENCY, not "process." We are all sick of the "the process" because the process is what empowered everyone from HR bureaucrats to DCRA analysts to stall projects, ignore over-qualified job applicants in favor of unqualified and unproductive friends, etc. We love TRANSPARENCY and this is the word that has most of your well-educated voters abandoning Fenty. These folks were schooled in an American democracy that keeps things above board, and we are foaming at the mouth to see it realized at home. Fenty is a crook, we all know it, and for all the shiny new things, it is hard to be pleased with them in the same way it is hard to be pleased with a blood diamond.

  • SEis4ME

    And why are these looney's still asking about an investigation into some silliness over a hacked (or not) phone line? To most of us, it's a nonissue. The same kind of kind of nonissue that leads us not to ask why Fenty appeared at a Press Conference starring criminal extraordinaire, Ron Moten, and "Big G." Now of course, we could ask why the mayor supported "G's" release of his handgun charge. This is after he had been shot about nine times. But, how really relevant is Fenty's support of these former criminals and accusation that Gray is responsible. In honest, it's not that important at all.

  • SEis4ME

    Mr. Biggles,

    1) Like it or not, every politician then and now will give love to Barry so that they can gain his support east of the river. That's politics. Considering the criminal elements Fenty surrounds himself with, Barry would fit right in.

    2) Can you post the link to Gray's statement indicating that he will hire all the teachers and park employees back? It's a very dumb thing for him to say, if he said it.

    3) What is the DCCouncil Chair doing in Annapolis? That seems odd.

    4) Despite what has been covered, there are quite a few who are indifferent to Rhee staying, many are Gray supporters who will still vote for him if he decided to keep her - which he wont and that makes me superdelighted.

    5) It's both transparency and process. They go hand in hand. People are upset about Skinnergate because of how and why they were awarded.

  • efavorite

    SEis4me - Gray has not made the statement about teachers and park employees that Mr. Bigglesworth claimed, in quotes, no less, as if the remarks have been attributed. I have heard this sentiment before, however, from a WaPo blogger with the moniker “millerroberta.” Here’s what millerroberta said on a recent Debonis column:

    “Don't worry, if elected he will save them. [Gray] will rehire all the teachers and principals that Rhee fired and they will never have to be afraid of losing their jobs as long as he is Mayor.”

    Sounds like millerroberta and Mr. Bigglesworth are trying to strike fear in the hearts of undecided voters.

  • Mr. Bigglesworth

    I am not trying to strike fear. I am just a voter who has given up on Fenty despite being less than impressed by Gray (Cherkis' overall point in this post being the main reason).

    I did not intend to attribute the quotes to Gray, but used the marks to reflect the general impression that Gray has done nothing to alter (apologies if misleading; I was writing at work). As efavorite notes, the mainstream media, as well as many blogs (including those who support Gray and/or DCPS teachers and WTU) are aflutter. I was in attendance at several events where Gray did nothing to distance himself from these impressions, and actually fueled the flames. Several times, he has called into question the firings, which frankly make perfect sense in 9 out of 10 cases. Politics is about finesse, and there is ample evidence (to my dismay) that Gray has finessed the impression that the WTU should be respected (it shouldn't) and that these DC employees were let go inexplicably (they weren't).

    "Annapolis" refers to his lobbyist friend from GWU who has a checkered past.

    IT IS NOT TRANSPARENCY AND PROCESS. The process is a joke. There is WAY TOO MUCH RED TAPE in this city and the bureaucracy is so thick it actually makes things opaque when they should simple and easy to observe and evaluate.

  • efavorite

    Mr. Bigglesworth - thanks for the clarifications.

  • Bill

    John and Rez, what about the lie to which Fenty lent his name, face and voice, i.e., WKYS's "firing" of Big G at the behest of Gray? WKYS's manager said on air today that Big G hasn't been fired and that Gray had no communications with the station about the host/musician/actor.


  • SEis4ME

    TO be honest, I don't know what Cherkins' purpose in writing this article because it offers very little to the reader on both sides. I'm hoping for something more though provoking in the soon to be released follow up to both interviews. Particularly, Cherkins feelings that Gray didn't provide enough details on what he would do differently. Well dude, you interviewed him and if ended up Sarah Palin'n you (I'll answer the questions I wanna answer) than that's on you.

    Gray has called into question the firings. It's a hot political issue. I'm not sure how that translates into him supporting all of them being rehired. Who would call for such an action? At some point, the voter has to be responsible for separating fact from fiction. I have not seen nor heard anyone of relative importance declare that Gray wants to hire back all the teachers. The words of us measely commenters are irrelevant.

    As someone who knows several teachers who belong to unions, I blv that the unions SHOULD be respected. I refuse to buy into the argument that people who make 40k, raising (literally most times) our kids with suspect institutional support shouldn't have union representatives. Yes, there are things that they can and should do differently. However, to continue to blast unions when lobbyists make gazillion dollars each year working AGAINST us is laughable. Heck, we have lobbyists for the NRA working against DC's statehood.

    So you want transparency to show that the process is a joke? Ok great, and in the meantime, the process is still a joke but at least it'll be transparent? That's odd logic.

  • efavorite

    I just found this link on the vince Gray website that answers questions put to him by voters:

    I haven't listened to most of them yet myself, but wanted to make people aware of them.

  • Jason’s answering service

    I regret the delayed response. Jason is out having drinks at some hipster bar with Martin Astermuhl of DCist. Both are having a great time while waiting for Neil Richardson to get around to calling.
    Check back after the primary.