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I am bone-tired of journalists trying to do our thinking for us and treating our elections only as referenda among the elite opinion makers. We had a chance of having an election this year with some honest discussion about the choices facing this city. Instead, we are getting another series of horse races and beauty contests, with commentators keeping score of who has big ears or pretty eyes, who has more money and the most articulate supporters.

Jonetta Rose Barras (“Kevin Can Wait,” 8/28) treats the mayoral election as though there had been no campaign and no discussion about issues. For her, the decision was made some time ago, not later than the initial forums last June at which some supporters were rowdy and waved their signs too vigorously. She appears to prefer the company of accountants and the decorum of tea parties.

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For her, anybody with a history of trying to work constructively in a broken system cannot have a vision or a future. Kevin Chavous is accused of being “diligent, outspoken, and full of ideas” and “reasonable, calm, and deferential” when the occasion calls for it but of also being “ferocious” when necessary. He also is guilty of having supported bills he did not initiate and of relying on task forces when it was not clear what action should be taken. Shocking! If he were truly a leader he should have authorized millions of dollars for consultant studies and delegated our decisions to the experts.

If the City Paper wants to criticize political leaders for not moving more decisively to challenge the decisions of Gen. Becton and his team, or the unresponsive and secretive emergency board of trustees, perhaps it should begin be reviewing its own reporting and editorial judgments during that period. If the City Paper thinks Jim Ford was dismissed because he would “outshine” the chair, perhaps it should do some in-depth reporting on how Ford worked with Congress and others to plot the takeover of the schools and the mandate to create charter schools. If Chavous is to be criticized for having accepted misleading financial reports and education budgets, shouldn’t the former chief financial officer be criticized for knowing the figures were wrong but not doing anything until only Draconian cuts could close the deficit?

There is not space here to go point by point through the distortions and misrepresentations, but two points should be stated, as Barras likes to say, “for the record”: First, there are very detailed position papers available. Voters should know where candidates stand on the education budget and school closings, the University of the District of Columbia, labor policy, neighborhood commercial development, subsidies for the convention center and other downtown development, support for the aged, strategies for including all parts of our diverse community, and many other issues. The City Paper could help get this information out, by acting as a newspaper.

Second, for the record, Jonetta Rose Barras participated in the early meetings to draft Williams and has now publicly endorsed him. This does not disqualify her from having an opinion, but it would help if the readers knew this. Perhaps if her views were known we would understand when she refers to vociferous supporters as “thugs” and “hooligans” but only when they are for a candidate not her own.

Mount Pleasant

via the Internet