Last week I mentioned my change of heart on secession. Now I have to backtrack on another long-standing principle: my opposition to recalls.
Actually, I still think that recall elections are absurd and even anti-democratic. Attempting to cast out an elected politician halfway through his term because you disagree with his policies is worse than bad sportsmanship. The threat of recall could prevent leaders from making serious attempts at reform. No, you just have to suffer through the term and hope to vote the sonofagun out.
On the other hand, recall efforts to oust corrupt politicians who refuse to give up their office even in the face of growing evidence that they are borderline (or not even borderline) criminals: I’ve got no problem with that.
So I am all aboard the DC Recall movement to get rid of Mayor Vincent Gray. For those who have not been following this story (and I suppose that entails just about everyone outside of the metro DC area), this story provides a succinct rundown of why Gray needs to go.
Three of the 12 members of the city council on Wednesday called for Gray to resign after it was revealed that supporters ran a shadow campaign on his behalf during the 2010 Democratic primary race against then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, and did not properly report financial contributions.
Then on Thursday, The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis and Nikita Stewart reported that Gray knew about unreported expenditures as far back as January — before federal law enforcement officials raided the homes and offices of consultant Jeanne Clarke Harris and businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson, who is accused of spending $650,000 on the shadow campaign.
In addition, Harris pleaded guilty Tuesdayto spearheading the scheme and now faces three years in prison. She is the third person from Gray’s campaign to plead guilty.
We’ve known for a while that Gray was in trouble; now he’s fighting to keep his job.
By all means, please follow the links in the story if you have the time.
Gray is clinging to the argument that he had absolutely no knowledge of the shadow campaign. The mayor is also attacking those City Council members that are demanding his resignation.
Gray (D) appeared Friday morning on NewsChannel 8’s NewsTalk. HostBruce DePuyt asked Gray to respond to the resignation calls, which came Wednesday afternoon from David A. Catania (I-At Large), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4).
“I think it depends on which of the three you’re talking about,” Gray said.
Gray dismissed Catania’s critique as politically motivated: “Let’s be honest, David Catania is a Republican who became an independent. We forget that we have partisan politics in the District of Columbia. … He never supported me; he certainly didn’t support me in the election.”
Catania departed the GOP due to President Bush’s push for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage, so that gives you an idea of what kind of partisan hound he is. It’s true that Catania is the closest thing that comes to being a Republican on the City Council, but that simply shows how far left the Council has become.
That there are only three Council members seeking Gray’s ouster is an indictment of the rest of the Council. This was hammered home as I listened to at-large Council member Michael Brown spinning for Vincent Gray this morning on the radio. Instead of addressing the allegations, Brown decided to tapdance around the issue while waxing poetic about all the improvements the city has made. Not only was this beside the point, any credit for the city’s improvement must go to the previous two mayors, Anthony Williams and Adrian Fenty, who have been about the only elected officials in the city who have had any sense of fiscal sanity. Listening to Brown inarticulately ramble for ten minutes caused me to quip on twitter that perhaps it’s time end home-rule for the District. I was only half-kidding.
So if the City Council is unwilling to do its job, it might be up to the citizens of the nation’s capital to throw Gray out on his behind. Then again, this is the same city that re-elected Marion Barry after he had been busted for possession of crack cocaine. Perhaps Washington isn’t the same city it was two decades ago, and maybe they are willing to finally let go of their corrupt elected officials.
Hmmm. I wonder what City Council member Marion Barry thinks about that?