Mayor Gray plans a resurrection

Mayor Gray plans a resurrection

By: Jonetta Rose Barras | 01/17/12 8:05 PM

"The opportunity to do this … just doesn’t get any better," Mayor Vincent C. Gray recently told me during an interview examining his feelings about holding office and his plans for 2012.

Gray’s looking through fabulous rose-colored glasses.

After all, U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. is investigating allegations by ever-mercurial Sulaimon Brown that he was promised a job and given cash by Gray’s 2010 campaign to trash the incumbent during the Democratic primary. A group of residents has started a recall, citing Gray’s ineffective leadership — an assertion made by many.

"I don’t see what he has done, other than talk a lot," said Tony De Pass, a Ward 1 civic leader. "I’m judging him on performance; I’m not even thinking about the Sulaimon Brown [scandal]."

A December 2011 Clarus Research Group poll found a whopping 53 percent of folks surveyed disapproved of the mayor’s performance. Ron Faucheux, the group’s president, called Gray’s first year a "political disaster."

Amazingly, Gray turned some supporters into unabashed enemies: "I don’t trust him and I don’t know anyone else who supported him who trusts him," said Kristopher Baumann, head of the Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed Gray in 2010. "For the good of the city, the sooner he’s gone I think the better off we will be."

Gray acknowledged his first-year mistakes. He seemed determined not to be imprisoned by them. And he pledged fidelity to his agenda: fiscal stability, jobs/economic development, education and public safety.

"They are inextricably tied together," he said, noting that without education reform the unemployment picture can’t improve. "They are the pieces that, if done right, will substantially improve the quality of life in the city and substantially improve opportunity."

Gray promised to instigate more competition between charter and traditional schools to better serve residents and to expand the "One City – One Hire" program, which he claimed produced 1,400 jobs in 2011. He said his administration also aided in the creation of 17,000 private-sector jobs; but more can be done. He said he will turn to technology, calling it "the next huge front for development."

Last week, his administration announced a $100,000 grant to, a venture capital company expected to "relocate its headquarters from Sterling, Va. to the District and open a technology-startup accelerator.

"We hope’s accelerator will help diversify our economy, nurture our entrepreneurial culture, spur innovation and create jobs," he said, calling it "the first of several initiatives intended to grow the District’s technology-innovation ecosystem."

But, if, as expected, federal charges are brought against anyone who worked in Gray’s 2010 campaign, that could stall his administration’s efforts and fuel the recall. That means 2012 could repeat 2011’s miseries.

Hoping to blunt that outcome, Gray has scheduled for February a citywide "citizen summit." Former Mayor Anthony A. Williams popularized and effectively used those gatherings. They stapled together executive and residents; protected the administration’s agenda; and gave the mayor political cover — all in an environment of hugs and kisses.

Only problem: Gray is no Tony Williams.

Jonetta Rose Barras’ column appears on Monday and Wednesday. She can be reached at jonetta.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Kevin Wrege, Esq.

Founder & President

Pulse Issues & Advocacy LLC

Office: 202-625-1787

Mobile: 202-253-4929

4410 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150

Washington, DC 20016


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