[from October 2002 issue]


We've had lots to say about the incumbent mayor this past four years, and most has been negative, so it will probably not surprise our readers that we are not on his bandwagon. There is no need for us, therefore, to reiterate all the reasons why we believe he ought to scout around for a new job--maybe in the nonprofit sector; he'd be a fine foundation president.

What we hope for is a mayor who can relate to our neighborhoods and its people, who feels comfortable with them and they with . . . of course, we mean none other than . . . Carol Schwartz! Not only is she a genuine "people person," to use a shopworn label, but she's an incredibly savvy person who understands the fine points of municipal governance and appreciates the myriad competing interests that only a culturally diverse city like ours forces its leadership to continually confront. With her many years of public service, as a member of the school board and as a member of the city council, she understands those challenges and has, in our opinion, the skill, perseverance, and depth of knowledge to make her an outstanding mayor for this city.

Carol Schwartz is hardly the lightweight implied by the City Paper in its October 4 "Loose Lips" column, in which, below the heading, "What the Hell," a substantial portion of the commentary's intro is devoted to implications of air-headedness (a-la "I Love Lucy") and irrelevant emphasis on what she was wearing at her announcement press conference. We thought this sort of sexist patronizing went out with the "Good Ole Boys" when they finally left DC years ago. Contrary to this view of Mrs. Schwartz, she is a person of supreme substance and critical understanding of matters of public policy.

And, on top of everything--maybe, for this city, given past experience with politicians it would be just "icing on the cake," but we believe essential--she is a person of high ethical standards without the slightest inclination to even allow for actions by herself or her subordinates that might given even an appearance of conflict of interest. What a refreshing thought for DC!

There is also one other matter of grave importance: Mrs. Schwartz hasn't a racist bone in her body. Unlike other politicians we have suffered with in this city, she would never, ever play the "race card" for the purpose of making political points with one group or another. My, how wonderful that kind of leadership would be!

But an outstanding mayor in the mold of Carol Schwartz, if we are smart enough to vote her in, will need--and appreciate--an intelligent and knowledgeable legislature with which to work in partnership. In the past few years, we have been fortunate that our city council has attracted a number of truly outstanding legislators, such as Ward 2's Jack Evans, Ward 1's Jim Graham, Ward 3's Kathy Patterson, at-large members Phil Mendelson and David Catania. With the exception of Evans, the aforementioned are up for re-election, and we urge that they receive the votes of our readers.

Of this group, we single out one for special mention the need to re-elect. We are of this view especially because of a particularly important contribution made toward creating for the citizens a complete system of justice that will be under our total control and not under the control of the U.S. Attorney General. We refer to at-large Councilmember David Catania who is most responsible for what will appear on the ballot as "Advisory Referendum A."

We urge our readers not to assume that this is some mere governmental irrelevancy appearing on the ballot simply as a technicality of governance. On the contrary, it is critical, and if the voters approve, then we will be way on the road to achieving what we have never had: a locally selected by the voters District Attorney like every other locality in the country. Only here, the D.A. will be more like a state Attorney General. And we need that desperately. We need a prosecutor's office that will cover the entire range of law enforcement, not just run-of-the-mill crimes. We need an office that will give attention to municipal corruption, nonprofit institutions and their proper charitable responsibilities, consumer protection, and lots more. We have virtually none of those issues assigned for in-depth attention under the present system; the U.S. Attorney's Office is just too focused on its traditional federal responsibilities (which are particularly complex in the nation's capital).

Bottom line: Vote a resounding "Yes!" on this otherwise bland-sounding Referendum will be critical for our collective well-being.

Finally, we need to address the issue of the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. Each of the city's over 300 of them will have all their respective Single Member District members up for election. Our readers know that these ANCs have a substantial impact on our lives as residents and the lives of neighborhood businesses and institutions, not because they are necessarily outstanding players in the overall scheme of our city's governance, but largely thanks to a court decision of many years ago that affirmed their special status under the Home Rule Charter and interpreted the "great weight" provision in their statutory mandate as meaning that agencies were required to take them seriously--for better or worse.

Accordingly, this means that voters must give serious consideration to whom they will elect, re-elect, or even toss out. There are too many ANCs harboring commissioners who act illegally, who engage in shakedowns, who are irrational, and more. Those commissioners tarnish the reputations of the thoughtful and rational and honest citizens who have been elected to these unpaid posts. But the bad apples also provide ammunition to a growing number of citizens who are beginning to articulate the view that the ANCs are so bad that the system ought to be scrapped, frequently pointing to those commissioners who have stolen funds or been convicted of other crimes or who race-bait, denounce Jews, gays, Asians and threaten individuals who don't bow to them. We won't name 'em, but they and their neighbors know of whom we speak. We say, get rid of them this year or be accountable yourselves!