Gray Seeks to Jump Start Agenda

Barrington M. Salmon | 6/15/2011, 9:32 p.m.
In the aftermath of the Sulaimon Brown debacle last week, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D)...
Vincent C. Gray (D)

And the Office of Campaign Finance has charged D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown's re-election committee with campaign finance violations for failing to report contributions totaling more than $102,000. The Re-election Committee is also accused of failing to report 53 expenditures in the amount of $169,431.00 and failing to verify more than $174,000 in expenses.

The complaint was filed with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics and the charges are violations of the D.C. Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act. The board will hear the complaint to determine its worth.

Brown, 40, made news headlines after being sworn-in as D.C. Council Chairman and refusing to drive a pedestrian Chevy Tahoe. Instead, he ordered two fully-loaded SUVs despite the District of Columbia's woeful financial status. Publicity surrounding his actions led him to relinquish a fully-loaded black-on-black Lincoln Navigator.

Fair or not, some consider Gray's failure to properly address the rash of problems embroiling council members at the outset demonstrates a lack of leadership.

At this juncture, however, McCoy said, the administration is looking forward not backwards. The mayor's priorities continue to be to provide the District's children with a quality education, to ensure that residents have jobs that provide them with a sustainable lifestyle, harnessing economic development to fuel the city's growth and a reasonable expectation of being safe.

"Early on I took full responsibility for personnel missteps and took corrective actions to get beyond the distractions in order to focus on my top priorities," Gray said.

"The mayor continues to create and fine-tune programs to increase job creation," McCoy said.

For example, Gray recently mandated a First-Source agreement which requires businesses receiving District funding to ensure that 51 percent of new hires are District residents. Also, the Pilot Project Workforce Incentive program provides inducements to construction companies, contractors and sub-contractors renovating District schools when they hire District residents.

Last Friday, June 10, Gray kicked off the One City Summer Fund. Throughout the summer, dozens of faith-based groups, the Metropolitan Police Department, the University of the District of Columbia, libraries and a range of institutions and individuals will be hosting camps, summer reading programs and related educational and athletic activities for the city's young people.

Legislatively, McCoy said, Mayor Gray has enjoyed some notable success and Gray added that "the city is doing better on virtually every important index measuring quality of life."

The mayor recently made available treatment on demand for people living with HIV/AIDS, appointed a mayoral commission on AIDS, launched a comprehensive living well initiative for District residents, and budgeted $77 million for public education.

"The budget continues to support the core services for those most in need," McCoy said.

While the proposal to hike the tax rate of the city's wealthy was rejected by the council, it agreed to raise the parking garage tax from 12 to 18 percent; increased the tax on cigarettes at the wholesale level to raise $1.1 million; and bumped up the alcohol tax from nine to 10 percent to bring an additional $2.9 million to city coffers.

When asked if the mayor had squandered public goodwill, McCoy was emphatic.

"Yes, there have been distractions, missteps, things we wished hadn't happened. But the mayor is running the government and moving the city forward. He's working hard to restore public confidence."