[from September 2000 issue]


Being a politician in most big cities is an almost impossible job, and being a holder of elective office in this city is virtually a lunatic calling, what with armies of constituents comprised of political junkies, frustrated "talking heads" and other ass orted pundits-in-waiting. Probably the only ones who really benefit from this crazy scene are local newspaper publishers who are blessed with much fodder for reporting and for keeping readers in a constant state of wonderment.

So it is that not even a bright and energetic council member as Jack Evans has proven himself to be during his tenure can come near to satisfying all the folks all the time. Complicating his efforts is that Ward 2 is home to communities of residents of wi dely differing needs, backgrounds, and expectations. We believe that Evans has done a yeoman job of balancing disparate interests while at the same time trying to be responsive to individual neighborhoods' special needs.

Having said this, we do not mean to suggest that we have always agreed with each and every position that Evans has taken. He knows that we would have preferred to see the Convention Center located elsewhere and we are on record with our views; but we also recognize that the die had been cast long before Evans could have engineered any reasonably doable alternative. Sometimes things have to move forward for the greater good.

(The observation just noted, however, should not be construed as an endorsement for a baseball stadium east of the MCI Center, and we have stated our views on that issue also. But our views in opposition to placing a stadium in the undeveloped area south of K Street are not based on any perceived adverse affect to the Shaw neighborhood, which does not extend below M Street; our objections are based on concerns regarding the commercial and mixed-use possibilities for the northern end of downtown's commerci al areas.)

Contrary to what some people say, we do not believe that Evans has not been a friend of the neighborhoods; in fact, he has been quite responsive with regard to all the nitty-gritty stuff that the average resident cares about and has worked hard to come up with sensible solutions. His parking task force initiative comes immediately to mind, as does his record on helping neighborhoods solve trash and rat problems and deal with the myriad failures of DPW and other agencies. Overall, he has a strong record on "quality of life" issues, including some pretty tough stances on ABC license-related policies, some of which this newspaper is not in full agreement with.

To say that Jack Evans is not for the neighborhoods is not in our view a valid criticism.

Aside from all the issues alluded to above, there is one overriding and absolutely controlling reason why at this very point in time Jack Evans needs to be re-elected--the last time, by the way, that he will be permitted to stand for city council election thanks to the term limit restriction.

That reason can be stated in one word: Finance. It can be explained by two words: Control Board.

Evans has now served almost two years as chairman of the Committee on Finance. He has done a brilliant job, which we predicted he would do given his background and profession. And, as finance chairman he has forged productive alliances with other members, such as Republicans David Catania and Carol Schwartz. His genius in this position has been that he understands that matters of tax policy, budgeting, and fiscal oversight are neither partisan nor narrow neighborhood focused, but are city-wide and require understanding the broad picture and operating in the largest arena. Because of this he has been the best financial oversight politician ever to head that committee, bar none in our opinion (and we have experienced them all from the beginning of home rule ).

Quite frankly, if Jack Evans had not been in the position to guide oversight of the city's re-emergence out of the fiscal wilderness we believe we would still be in a mess. Too many times he has caught the mayor up short on schemes that were of questionab le fiscal soundness; too often the former chief financial officer, if left to his own devices, would have mucked things up. Evans has caught these problems before they brought us down.

That brings us to those two words, Control Board. It's going out of business in a few weeks and the Congress will not extend its life. Once again the city will be on its own. That means that the council's finance committee will have final exclusive fiscal oversight responsibility. The buck will stop at Evans and his colleagues. All the more reason that for these next few, very critical initial years of having control returned to us by the Congress that the person who will lead the way on our behalf will b e the absolutely best. At this point in time there is nobody else who can assure us taxpayers of the kind of financial oversight we will need to ensure that the bureaucrats don't get us into another fiscal mess.

Therefore, if for no other reason, for the good of the entire District of Columbia, we owe it to our fellow DC residents of all wards to return Jack Evans to the city council for a final four years.