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Mayor Vince Gray isn’t happy about the state of D.C. home rule, and he wants a national megaphone to complain about it.
On Tuesday, a press release from Gray’s office blared that the mayor would host a conference call “with national editorial boards on (the) Congressional budget process and D.C. autonomy.” Alas, City Paper didn’t participate—the mayor’s office provided the exclusive call-in digits only to hand-picked editorial boards, and our invitation got lost in the mail.
No hard feelings, your honor. At least you were able to bend the ears of the most prominent taste-makers in the country toward sympathy for D.C.’s disenfranchised plight.
Or were you?
The list of invitees, provided by the mayor’s office, reveals a conspicuous lack of invitations to actual national papers beyond the New York Times, who declined to take part. Instead, the list is made up of regional papers, albeit ones around the nation, like the Hartford Courant, Seattle Times, and the Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J.
Ilir Zherka, executive director of D.C. Vote—whose organization has been working with the mayor’s office and the Center for Reproductive Rights to coordinate the outreach—says the effort targeted papers in the home towns of national politicians who control D.C.’s ability to spend its local tax dollars. That explains the lone invitation to the powerful editorial page editor of Indiana’s Journal Gazette. (It’s in Fort Wayne, but you knew that.)
“Our collective goal was to reach publications in states represented by some of the members on the House Appropriations Committee,” he writes.
But it was all for naught: The mayor’s office reports, in response to questions from City Paper, that despite the targeted appeals, the only two papers to participate in the call were… the Washington Post and the Washington Afro. (A handful of others “expressed interest,” but didn’t participate, like the Sacramento Bee, New York Daily News, and New York Times.)
So much for reaching members of Congress with actual voting power!
Update: Gray’s office e-mails to deny they had anything to do with the outreach effort: “This was a DC Vote and Center for Reproductive Rights that staged this event,” a Gray spokesperson says. “They compiled the list and they made the calls. The mayor was invited to participate.”
In other words, don’t blame us, blame DC Vote and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Then again, Gray’s office was the one who sent out the press release, titled “Mayor Vincent C. Gray to Host Briefing With National Editorial Boards on Congressional Budget Process and D.C. Autonomy.” Apparently the mayor can be a host and an invited guest all at once.
The complete list of which papers the mayor’s office reached out to is below:
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Photo by Lydia DePillis