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Whose game was Jonetta Rose Barras playing in last week’s City Paper (“Kevin Can Wait,” 8/28)? It didn’t walk or talk like journalism or even balanced opinion. A day after her partisan political diatribe hit the street, Barras endorsed my opponent in her column in the Washington Times. This is over the top. Such a coordinated attack by two major newspapers is unprecedented.
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Ms. Barras is an astute observer of political life in D.C. and knows the role of the major media and opinion makers in shaping our political choices. I’m confident that voters will recognize that the piece is Barras’ effort at kingmaking. This is not about returning the choice to D.C. voters, but about controlling who should be the next “emperor” of Washington. I am not running to be emperor. I am running to represent our neighborhoods and the many constituencies who do not have access to the boardrooms and editorial boards.
What and how Ms. Barras writes would be fair game if her column were viewed as campaign literature. However, many of her accusations are neither fair nor accurate. Two that particularly concern me are:
First, Dave Clarke and I worked well together, and I had the greatest respect for him. He usually supported my legislative agenda, and I usually supported his. While he and I differed on occasion, I do not assign him blame for not having hearings on my enterprise strip legislation.
Second, I wasn’t blaming former Chief Financial Officer Tony Williams for the $62 million deficit in the schools budget; rather, I was applying basic standards of accountability. Williams had complete authority to hire and fire, and ability to pay high salaries to attract the best and the brightest. Instead, his staff put together weak budgets with little detail and left enormous sums “unprogrammed.” He explains that his superiors told him to stay out of the business of the D.C. public schools, but the job description emphatically and urgently included the struggling public school system. His inattention has hurt our school reform.
I am confident that citizens across this city want more honest and respectful dialogue about our choices and our future. This dialogue is the heart of my campaign. We cannot leave it to the bean counters and the pundits to tell us what we should be thinking.
Finally, democracy flourishes because citizens participate in the process, vote and select their representatives. On Sept. 15, District residents will decide who can best represent all of the people. Fortunately, that person will not be anointed, appointed, or designated.
Democratic candidate for mayor