You can’t be serious!

I can’t decide whether the author of “See the Amazing Mayor Williams Jump Through Hoops!” (5/13) is being serious or tongue-in-cheek. Does he really think that a mayor who “regularly caves to Congress and the White House” is what D.C. residents need?

I have to hope that the author (and assistant editor), Mike DeBonis, is being sarcastic when he uses HOPE VI housing conversions as an example of what D.C. has gained by Williams’ go-along-to-get-along technique. HOPE VI is most notable for permanently displacing the very low-income residents it was supposedly created to house. The latest news, that the Bush Pentagon wants to close the Walter Reed Army Medical Center— which will result in the loss of hundreds of jobs and related money and prestige for the city—doesn’t sound like a compassionate-conservative nod to the mayor to me.

But whether DeBonis is being cute or not…there’s no doubt that he needs to take D.C. Local Activist History 101 before writing another article on the struggle for full democracy and statehood. D.C.’s whip-lashing ex-overseer Sen. Lauch Faircloth didn’t just fade away—he lost re-election to the Senate after over 200 activists loaded 13 buses and traveled to North Carolina to campaign for his successful opponent: former vice-presidential candidate John Edwards. And the fact that the D.C. local budget has been released from Congress nearly on time in the last two years is the result of constant lobbying, collection of over 1,000 signatures, protest, educational forums, and yearly arrests in the hallowed halls of Congress by members of the Stand Up! for Democracy in DC Coalition and the D.C. Statehood Green Party. D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has repeatedly acknowledged the direct impact of this sustained citizen activism on freeing that $5 billion budget from Congress’ grip with fewer add-ons.

As for Williams’ denying the need to be a mayor who will stand up for D.C. residents’ basic citizenship rights: He has been promising for over five years to raise $1 million to help such organizations fight for full democracy. He has also been promising almost as long to follow in Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly’s much maligned footsteps and get arrested for D.C. democracy. Maybe even Williams knows that, to paraphrase whom the author may think is another demagogue, Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing [much] without a demand. It never has and it never will.”

Stand Up! for Democracy in DC Coalition

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