Loose Lips, in his 8/22 column, gives readers the impression that Washingtonians have divided themselves into two camps over the D.C. takeover. One side welcomes it, believing (against the control board’s performance hitherto) that D.C. will improve now that Mayor Barry has been stripped of power. The other side resists the takeover, out of loyalty to Barry.
There’s a third point of view, agreeing that the takeover is an assault on the democratic rights of D.C. citizens by the control board, Congress, and President Clinton, but insisting that Mayor Barry himself and the D.C. Council bear much responsibility, through their ineptitude, cronyism, corruption, and the Democratic machine’s collusion with the Board of Trade and rapacious outside-D.C. corporations against the interests of D.C. residents.
So what if Mayor Barry boasts in public that he antagonizes “the white power establishment”? The establishment doesn’t fret if trash isn’t collected or recycled or schools crumble, or even if Barry calls it “white power,” as long as development proceeds unimpeded, whatever the cost to D.C.
The Post says that anger over the control board is an example of black paranoia about “the Plan,” but Republicans in Congress have made their intentions clear. Newt Gingrich and Jack Kemp want the District to be a “laboratory experiment” for Republican policies. Even if we see a few potholes filled next week, in the long haul we can expect privatization and reduction of services, repressive control of poor communities, the death penalty, more tax breaks for non-D.C. firms, and construction of arenas, freeways, theme parks, etc., which enrich investors but wreck neighborhoods. The Revitalization Act deprives citizens of the means to oppose these agendas.
Mayor Barry is comfortable with many of these proposals. That’s why he supports that new convention center site in Shaw. He sides with suburbanites who want the hotel business but not the congestion, displacement, pollution, and financial cost. Whether the control board maintains “taxation without representation” for the next generation or restores Barry and the current D.C. Council to power, money will fly out of the District. But Barry will draw votes in 1998 because he bucks the white power establishment.
Free D.C.!from the control board, from Congress, and from Democratic Party Business As Usual. See you all at the Capitol on Sept. 3.