I am fed up with Loose Lips! I am sickened after reading Greg Rhett’s letter (The Mail, 8/28) in the City Paper about the scant and biased writing of Lips. Now I join in the assessment of Lips’ campaign reporting. As candidates we must be prepared to accept rejection from journalists as well as the voters. However, this rejection is palatable only if it is based on an honest reporting of what makes each of us think we are worthy of being elected. First, Lips (8/28) refers to my situation as one where the question is whether I “deserve promotion.” An election is different from asking for a job “promotion.”
Lips first wrote an article concerning my entry into the at-large D.C. Council race by falsely telling readers that I had neglected to study the Hatch Act, which prohibited me as a school board member from holding my position and running for a partisan office. I responded to his allegations by asking the United States Office of Special Counsel, which enforces the Hatch Act, to resolve his allegations. The office ruled in my favor, supporting my contention that the control board’s stripping the elected school board of its authority to set policy for the public schools made the Hatch Act inapplicable. The Washington City Paper never published that decision.
In the area of school reform, I submitted numerous documents concerning school safety, the lunch program, the academic plan, school closings, the hiring of a superintendent of schools, the policy to end social promotion, the three-week delay in opening, etc.; but the City Paper never presented my positions on these issues to the public, preferring instead to continue its boilerplate putdown of individuals who are serving on the school board.
Contrary to what Lips said, I can say with a straight face, notwithstanding my lack of authority in my elected position that:
1) I collaborated with the Cleveland Park Citizens Association in drafting a resolution to end social promotion in D.C. that was adopted by the trustees and is now the centerpiece of the D.C. school-reform movement.
2) I saved several public schools from being closed and altered the trustees’ school-closing plan by making academic performance a consideration and by requiring the trustees to hold public meetings in the wards where the schools are located.
3) I participated in the drafting of the first budget in several years that gave teachers a pay raise.
4) I defied the trustees’ veil of secrecy and led the debate and effort that ultimately opened the trustees up to public scrutiny.
5) I obtained legal counsel to represent the board in its charter-school litigation with Marcus Garvey and led the way to revoke its charter.
6) I played a major role in saving the Oyster School and in working with Ms. Holland and Mary Filardo in seeing the public-private partnership to fruition, resulting in a new school being built!
Lips’ fixation on his pals Bill Rice and Phil Mendelson, both at-large candidates, is comical. According to him, they are “running the most aggressive citywide campaigns” and deserve to be considered. Neither of them played a significant role during 1997 in the public schools, and there is a distinction to be made between putting up posters, sending out bulk mail, and attending forums, and actually being able to point the public toward recent concrete things you have done in the community that have helped people.
To be sure, Lips is taking the Washington City Paper into the realm of racism, as Mr. Rhett pointed out in his letter. I join in his assessment, since no black candidate has been presented with an objective background to your readers.
Candidate for D.C. Council, Ward 3