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The District’s restaurant scene has brought us dumpling shooters and ice cream sandwiches made out of cheese. Next on the menu: a councilmember? Yesterday, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington trade group threw its weight in the D.C. Council at-large race behind Logan Circle wine bar owner Khalid Pitts.
Pitts, who has staked his candidacy on making the District friendlier to small businesses, keeps it up in a press release about the endorsement, describing District businesses as “the backbone of our communities.”
An election victory for Pitts—-an unlikely prospect, according to a rival’s campaign poll that puts him at 1 percent—-would have the added benefit to the RAMW of putting a restaurateur on the Council. Pitts says he won’t give up management of his wine bar and a related market if he’s elected.
In other Pitts news, he’s not happy about a cameo he made in this week’s LL column on mayoral hopeful Carol Schwartz. He’s even sent out a press release about it!
Pitts appears briefly in the story asking Schwartz to take a picture with him. She refuses on the grounds that she won’t take pictures with other political candidates, worried about their potential use in campaign literature. Later, Schwartz told LL that it’s a policy that she came up with after then-Mayor Adrian Fenty posed with Schwartz rival Pat Mara way back in 2008.
LL thinks that says more about Schwartz’s conception of her popularity in the District and her concern for managing her image than anything else. Pitts, on the other hand, sees something else afoot in his one-sentence cameo in the Schwartz profile.
“The City Paper’s reporting crossed a clear line, implying either I wasn’t trustworthy or that Ms. Schwartz had discomfort simply being pictured with me,” Pitts says in his statement.
Pitts goes on to ask LL to retract the story and apologize.
“What is perhaps more troubling, and I think not lost on the City Paper‘s readers is that Ms. Schwartz is white and I am African-American,” Pitts says. “Their lack of objectivity and connotation of racial insensitivity here was clearly inappropriate.”
Pitts’ full release:
(WASHINGTON, D.C) – On Sept. 17, The Loose Lips section of the Washington City Paper reported,
“Schwartz’s cult of personality still has some pull years after she left office. Clusters of gay men, always a reliable Schwartz constituency despite her earlier waffling on same-sex marriage, approach and ask for stickers and hugs. One man introduces himself as Schwartz’s biggest fan. No one is more zealous about guarding her image than Schwartz herself. She refuses to take a picture with at-large Council candidate Khalid Pitts, wary of how he’ll use it.”
In response, Khalid Pitts releases the following statement:
“The City Paper’s reporting crossed a clear line, implying either I wasn’t trustworthy or that Ms. Schwartz had discomfort simply being pictured with me.
As a candidate for the DC Council, I spent Sunday afternoon campaigning at the Adams Morgan Street festival. I was joined by my wife and children at the event. I was with my one year old daughter when I saw Ms. Schwartz. I thanked her for signing my petition to get on the ballot and wished her good luck in her race, which she reciprocated, and asked if she’d be interested in taking a friendly photo. She respectfully declined, citing her desire to stay neutral in the race for Council. I take at face value what she said to me and why she said it. She wants to stay independent in the race for Council and is focused on her own race for Mayor.
The City Paper’s disparaging portrayal in light of these facts is disturbing and seemingly ill-intentioned to both of us. I was not contacted regarding this interaction. What is perhaps more troubling, and I think not lost on the City Paper’s readers is that Ms. Schwartz is white and I am African-American. Their lack of objectivity and connotation of racial insensitivity here was clearly inappropriate.
I request their editor, Mike Madden, or ombudsmen to review the matter, recant this story, and issue an official apology. Tragically over the last several months we have all learned how people of color are viewed and discussed in business and media, the optics of our visibility or invisibility, matters. The consequences of portrayals in the media and in the community are more important than political theater or scoring with snarky reporting. How we are viewed, all of us, has real effects on real lives. The Washington DC I believe in knows this. I am hoping the City Paper and Loose Lips will too someday.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery