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Why We Support Ward 2’s Jack Evans; His Strong Defense of Metro’s Needs Applauded

Just as it was four years ago when we endorsed Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans for re-election, once again he faces no opposition in the Democratic Party primary election to be held early next month. Nevertheless, we still feel compelled to urge Ward 2 voters to cast their ballots for Jack Evans — particularly this time now that he is serving as the Metro board’s chairman — so as to send a powerful message especially to those District of Columbia haters in Congress who are intent on bringing down our elected leaders so that they can haul out the old canard about us (and you know what we mean even if we are “PC” here) being incapable of governing ourselves.

Those who have missed out on the recent circus of a hearing conducted by Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) of his subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee should know that he treated Evans rudely, as heard by those attending as well as those listening to the evening news and others who read the April 13th account published in the on-line Washington Free Beacon. Evans had just concluded a well-stated, sober assessment of Metro’s need for the federal government to join with DC, Maryland and Virginia in contributing annually to the operating funds budget. Mica’s response was to blast out with this sugar plum:

“I’m telling you I am not going to bail you out. I am not going to support bailing out the District of Columbia.” (Italics mine.)

Notice he was essentially blaming the DC government (which, of course, doesn’t actually run Metro); no mention of threats to Maryland and Virginia. Naturally not; out there are vast numbers of potential Republican votes for Trump so no need to antagonize or insult them — but us here, well, it’s obvious.

Jack Evans had presented Metro’s case very professionally and with detailed specifics and reminded Mica that back in the early 1970s when the Congress authorized the building of the system and established what early on became obvious was a very disjointed arrangement for management and financing (and with no requirement for a stream of dedicated revenue as is the norm with every other big city transit systems), probably the primary factor in getting Congress on board was the recognition that the system would be of enormous value to ensuring the efficient access of federal workers, vast numbers who lived in Maryland and Virginia, to their work stations in the city.

By the end of the previous decade it had become apparent that the roads and streets were so clogged with traffic that federal workers were having great difficulty coming and going and that this was highly undesireable with respect to the work of the government’s departments and agencies.

The point that Evans so accurately stated was that the feds had skin in the game — our words — and that joining with the three jurisdictions in providing annual payments for operations (separate from capital costs which are covered through federal transit programs available to all transit systems) was essential. He further reminded Mica that 50 percent of Metro’s passengers are federal employees. Mica was not swayed; in fact, seemed to us that he couldn’t care less.

What especially impressed us the most with the way Evans represented us federal (as if any member of Congress should have to be reminded) taxpayers, was how he refused to be cowed by bully boy Mica; he stuck to his guns and was not hesitant to tell Mica when statements or inferences he was mouthing were simply wrong.

Through it all, Evans was never rude, but he was firm. He never made excuses for the many past years of incompetent management & lack of proper financial control or for the inattentiveness of prior boards. Instead, he properly focused on the here and now with a dynamic and savvy new General Manager and a board that now has 11 new members out of 16. We are certain that his presentation and responses to nasty questioning were well received by many members of that subcommittee, both Republican and Democrat.

And it is this kind of advocate we need to ensure will continue fighting on our behalf. There is no doubt that with Evans being the Council’s senior member and, especially, its long-serving and respected finance committee chairman gives him a stature with the feds — both in Congress and at the Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration that no one else has at the present time.

And, so, if for no other reason — though as we wrote four years ago there are many excellent reasons — we need Jack evans to continue as a member of the DC City Council given his unique status and role in that body.