One sentence in the April 12 Loose Lips column really irked me: “[Kurt] Vorndran [president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club] says that he checked with the city’s Board of Elections last week in an effort toward inclusiveness.”
It was not clear if Loose Lips was paraphrasing what Vorndran had said or just using a convenient and oft-used abbreviation for the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, its true and correct name.
But whatever the case, I found it odd and rather ironic that the media and political operatives have scrutinized the lack of ethics displayed by our public officials—especially Mayor Anthony A. Williams and his (former) staff—and yet are compelled to conveniently (or lazily) leave off the “and Ethics” portion of the board’s name.
Conversely, I was soothed when I read: “But [Federal City Council Chair Terence C.] Golden wasn’t headed to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to pick up nominating petitions to put himself on the ballot this fall,” in the April 26 Loose Lips column.
Truth be told, Elissa Silverman—LL—was not the first media personality in the District to commit this faux pas. Mark Plotkin, former political pundit on WAMU’s D.C. Politics Hour, was often guilty of making this very same mistake. Professional journalists and political analysts understand very well how important word choice and accuracy are when communicating with the public.
Since neither Silverman nor Plotkin is new to the local political scene, both should have known better. (May I make the suggestion that the full name of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics be used just once, and thereafter referred to simply as “the board” while speaking, and “the BoEE” when writing?)
But the problem may run even deeper than how the media references the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. Even the receptionist there answers the telephone by only saying “Good morning/afternoon, D.C. Board of Elections.” The board allegedly operates as an independent government agency in the District of Columbia. One would think that because our politicians, local government employees, and residents appointed to boards and commissions are being accused of being so ethically challenged these days, everyone involved in, reporting on, or paying attention to D.C. politics would see the necessity of highlighting the ethics, as well as the elections. After all, what’s in a name, right?