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With Mayor Vince Gray expected to receive the Large Retailer Accountability Act for a signature or veto by the end of the week, supporters of the bill rallied last night at Ward 7’s Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church. Gray says he hasn’t made up his mind on the bill yet, although statements from Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins and threats from Walmart to pull out of proposed stores in the mayor’s home Ward 7 point toward a veto.
Gray didn’t attend the rally, but that didn’t stop several speakers from addressing the mayor directly. Arguing that the decision to sign the bill is “black and white,” a labor organizer lead the crowd in a “No Gray area!” chant while holding up a picture of Gray.
“How will history record his use of this pen?” said At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, waving a pen.
Following Orange, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson defended his decision to hold up the transfer of the bill from the Council to the mayor for 48 days (and counting). “That’s 48 days of pressure on the mayor,” Mendelson says.
Rev. Graylan Hagler asked the mayor why he was letting a “little bitty cracker corporation from Arkansas” push the District around. Then, closing the rally, Hagler asked audience members to come to the church’s altar for an altar call, where they promised to lobby Gray over the bill.
Photo by Will Sommer