Meeting in Review: February 12, 2014
Words of inspiration were delivered by Russ Savage, who pointed out winter is a time of waiting and anticipation. He concluded with a wish that our dreams may burst forth like the blooms in spring.
- Abayomi Jones, Guest of Abe Helal
- Stacey Lincoln, guest of Councilmember Vincent Orange
- Josh Browsn, Guest of Councilmember Jack Evans
- Corey Goldstone, guest of Councilmember Jack Evans
- Ron Magnus, Guest of Councilmember Vincent Orange
- William Xanten, Guest of Isabelle Ardelean
- James Butler, guest of Dr. Sam Hancock
- Jean Maurice, guest of Dr. Sam Hancock
- Jean Coulter, Guest of Dr. Sam Hancock
- Ruth Chervil, Guest of Dr. Sam Hancock
- Terri Freeman, past speaker and guest of Glen O’Gilvie
- Bob Gregorio, Prospect club member
- Nnamdi Anomnachi, guest of Donnie Shaw
- Doll Gordon, guest of Donnie Shaw
- Michael Anderson, guest of Donnie Shaw
- Diego Grajales, guest of Memo Grajales
- Anne Renshaw, guest of Monica Boner
- Christin Carey, guest of Abe Helal
The following visiting Rotarians were at our meeting this week:
- Rotarian Sany Cotterman from Belleair, Florida
- Rotarian Kathleen Archer, from Santa Rosa, CA presented her club's banner and a bottle of California wine to President Shaun.
Acting Sergeant at Arms John Jackson announced the birthdays for the week:
Jack Jackson - Feb 09
Jack was sponsored by Bill Simons when he joined in 1995. His classification is Broadcast Media: HR Management.
Buz Gorman - Feb 10
Buz joined our club in 2012. Fun Fact: His dad was a member of our club as well. His classification is Associations: State Banking Regulators and he was sponsored by Abe Helal.
Cal French - Feb 11
Past President (1993-94) Cal was sponsored by Ed Gleazer when he joined our club in 1980. His classification is Clergy: Community of Christ Pastor Emeritus. He was also a member of the Des Moines, Iowa club (1968-1978) and the Lexington, Massachusetts club (1965-1968).
Russ Savage - Feb 13
Russ joined our club in 2005, and was sponsored by Norm Coe. His classification is Clergy: Unitarian
To streamline the meeting and give maximum time to the speakers, there were no announcements.
Moderator Davis Kennedy introduced the DC mayoral election debate which was intended to be between the five candidates having 7% or more support in a Washington Post poll. The candidates are running in the Democratic Party primary election scheduled for April 1. There is no Republican candidate for mayor. Candidate Muriel Bowser called to say she was running late and arrived 20 minutes into the 48 minute debate. Incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray, who last spoke with Davis two days before, did not show up.
Each of the four candidates was given a specific period to answer each of the moderator's questions, ranging from one to two minutes. Haleh Vaziri was the diligent timekeeper.
The gist of the candidates' comments and answers (not verbatim quotes):
Jack Evans (Ward 2): I've been in DC since 1978 and served 23 years on the DC Council. When I first came on the Council in 1991 we were where Detroit is today. I was part of the team with Mayor Williams and others who helped turn this around. Today DC is the envy of others. Along the way we built Verizon Center, the Convention Center, and Nationals Ballpark to create jobs.
The Convention Center package, which I developed, has a requirement for the hotel to hire 600 from the unemployed in DC. We had 2,000 applicants and are getting them training now for when the hotel opens in May.
Vince Orange and I were the ones who met with Wal-Mart to get them to come here. I voted for the Large Retailer Accountability Act that would have required big box retailers like Wal-Mart to pay a higher minimum wage; it did not pass. But the important thing is we raised the minimum wage in DC across the board. Maryland did the same, so that is not a factor in competition for jobs with them. Virginia did not raise their minimum wage.
Education, public safety, affordable housing, and job creation will be the four themes of my administration. As a single dad, raising triplets, I know how important it is to get kids into school between ages 2 and 6. They also need after-school supervision and assistance. My commitment is to have schools with good principals, teachers, and curriculum, a safe environment, and parental involvement. We have only 80,000 students and spend nearly $2 billion. We have the resources; we just need the right leadership in the mayor's office.
One thing to understand about the ethics issue is that the three council members who had to resign did that not because of the Ethics Board, but because they broke the law. One lied on a mortgage application; one stole funds from children; and one just stole by taking bribes. And it is also illegal to have a shadow campaign, as is being investigated with Mayor Gray. I was at SEC's enforcement division for six years. I can tell you disclosure and enforcement are essential.
The Office of Planning recommended the reduction of required new parking spots when constructing new offices or new apartments. The theory was it would require people to use public transportation more. The reality is people will bring in more cars and not have any place to put them, and constituents don't want that. I opposed the change. Another planning issue is liberalizing building height restrictions and I oppose changing them.
I can bring the leadership, knowledge, and experience needed to be mayor. I can improve education, public safety (would keep Cathy Lanier as police chief), and affordable housing, so those who lived and contributed here during the hard times can do so in the good times. I can continue to attract good paying jobs.
Muriel Bowser (Ward 4): I apologize for being late. Even though I'm a candidate, I also have many commitments as a current councilmember and it is hard to get to everything.
We began our campaign last March; feeling we need a new start. How are we going to build schools that serve everyone and provide graduates with a high school diploma that means something, deal with our affordable housing crisis, have the infrastructure to serve the 200,000 new residents expected by 2040, and ensure students who go to college here or away, can come back here and get jobs that pay good middle-class incomes? We need to replicate what we have at excellent Alice Deal Middle School throughout the city. We are gaining the confidence of parents in elementary schools, but they are bailing from middle school, not confident that those schools provide a good bridge to high schools.
I was the council member who pulled together various bills into a new ethics program, with clear requirements and disciplines. Some think it is still not enough, but in the short time the independent Board of Government Ethics has existed, three council members have been disciplined. More than that, we sent an ethics message throughout the government of DC.
Tommy Wells talks about ethics, but he refused to call for Vincent Gray's resignation until he was on the campaign trail. We need to talk about ethics when it is tough. When I knew about the shadow campaign, and the U.S. Attorney made that allegation, and I realized how distracted the Mayor was from performing his duties, I stood up. The issue Wells talk about that we voted to change in the ethics law involved defining constituent services, not weakening ethics.
I represent 75,000 people, and I make sure the DC agencies do what they are supposed to, and I do that with transparency.
We spent a lot of time looking at zoning and concluded we need a zoning rewrite. Zoning laws have not been changed in 50 years. After five years of discussion, we came down to four issues. We can't have one policy that fits all. If you are sitting on top of a Metro station, a limit on new parking spaces makes sense, but if you are in an area where there is no Metro station or good access to a bus route, it does not. We can reduce the new construction parking spot minimum, but only in specific areas.
In seven years I've focused on a clear and simple agenda: expanding school options, making sure everybody in held accountable and citizens are served. We need to attract the best and brightest into government, but that is harder with the current leadership. I will continue to work so middle class residents who built this city can stay in the city.
Vincent B. Orange (At Large): I am running to bring a more balanced approach; to bring good paying jobs; to use housing trust funds to provide more affordable housing; and to invest in education from preschool on.
We are told DC will have 100,000 new jobs by January 2018. We have 30,000 currently unemployed and have an opportunity to train them now for those future jobs. I have introduced a Job Training Act, Job Czar Act, and Unemployment Profile Act. The last would let us track the skills of the unemployed, both to identify areas for improvement and to match with jobs.
I championed the 2006 increase in DC's minimum wage, a law that had built into it future increases. Adrian Fenty followed the law, but Vincent Gray did not, at least not until some increases had been missed and I brought pressure.
I am an attorney and CPA with many degrees, and key to that was an early scholarship. I know 3 and 4-year-olds need to be trained for kindergarten. And 3rd-graders going into the 4th grade need to be able to read, write, and do basic math, so they can be independent. If you can't read by 4th grade, when the curriculum turns to "read to learn," you can't learn and are at great risk of entering the criminal justice system. I oppose the cuts in athletic programs at UDC. What about the 147 kids on athletic scholarships there? They aren't good enough to play ball at places like Duke, so how are they going to afford college?
The ten ethics bills pulled together by Muriel, which we all passed, included four I put forth. I also think there should be a ban on council members having outside employment, or at the very least, require them to show the hours worked for those entities which pay them so well.
I agree with Jack Evans on not changing the current new-construction parking requirements. My constituents point out that bike lanes and spaces reserved for small rental cars have used up their neighborhood parking. I saw recently, at least 37% of DC households in DC do not own a car, so people feel they can get around without cars, but we still need new parking spaces.
I came into DC government when we were at rock bottom, with a $518 million deficit, a control board, a mayor stripped of almost all authority. We created initiatives that led to removal of the control board, a mayor with powers, a shift from junk bond status to AAA status. I planted seeds for economic development. I was the one to get Home Depot to bring jobs here. I planted the seeds for school reform with McKinley Tech, which just won an award from President Obama.
Tommy Wells (Ward 6): I am running to end the culture of corruption in DC. I am the only candidate here who has not taken money from Jeffrey Thompson. I want to see better leadership; we have problems in education and a fire chief who does not know what equipment he has.
We need to make new investments in our youth, taking money from job training programs that don't match with jobs, and use some of DC's #100 million surplus. I want to give every child an opportunity for an after-school job who wants one. DC's drop-out rate from high school is 40%, and is even worse in some parts of the city. Part of the work of all city departments should be to train them. I introduced a bill to reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The reason is a criminal drug charge, even for a small amount of marijuana, ruins opportunities for many jobs. And this seems to have been disproportionately enforced. I can't imagine in a city with six universities the only marijuana users are Black Americans.
I opposed the Large Retailer Accountability Act (the "Wal-Mart" bill), because we should not target specific businesses or more broadly appear we are not business friendly. What we did instead was raise the minimum wage across the board in DC [to a level lower than the "Wal-Mart Bill"] and index it to the Urban Cost of Living Index. We passed it over Vincent Gray's objections; he and Muriel had instead proposed we "study it."
Under Mayor Gray the academic disparity between whites and blacks has grown. In my Ward 6 we have a waiting list for people to get into our schools. Some say that's because Ward 6 has become gentrified, but the ward has more public housing than any other ward in the city. We need better middle schools and not just rely on Alice Deal Middle School with its 1,200 students. We need schools that fit the neighborhoods they are in.
The greatest hypocrisy in the current council is passing ethics legislation and then, as Muriel just did, voting to weaken it because it affected a colleague. And the council just voted down what the public wants, per a 70% vote in a referendum: an independently elected attorney general. I'm not taking any money from PAC's, corporations, or others who expect to get something in return. I want to be responsible only to the citizens of DC.
The car parking issue has to be managed as a regulatory issue, not a zoning one. We need to be a lot smarter. To allow reductions in required parking spots, we need better public transportation; the Red Line, for example, is unreliable.
We just found out that Michael Brown was also funded by a shadow campaign financed by Jeffrey Thompson. Vince Gray is waiting to find out what happens to him because of a shadow campaign by Jeffrey Thompson. Every single elected official here but me took money from Jeffrey Thompson, whose business just collapsed because he got caught. It cost you $40 million. It matters. Our mayor is distracted. We did not prepare enough homeless shelters for the need, and are failing in other areas. I will change that direction.
The tree certificate was read and presented for the candidates. Monica Boner brought forth the lottery hopper. The small pot ($66) was won by Clara Montanez, who was described as having been a reluctant buyer. The large pot continues to grow.
Isabelle Ardelean and Stu Shalloway ran the hospitality table. Buz Gorman was the greeter.
The meeting adjourned at 1:30 PM.