- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2001

D.C. Mayor Tony Williams has a lot of folks out there angry, so angry there are two petitions circulating for his recall. The circulation period for one petition ends April 18, while the other will continue making the rounds until Sept. 4. The mayor has followed legal protocol and answered both. The two petitions are quite similar in that both complain about his administration undermining this or trying to close that. One even accuses Mr. Williams of failing the city with "blatant cowardice." Meanwhile, school officials accuse him of underfunding their wishes because he did not rubber stamp their 2002 budget request, and critics of many stripes accuse the mayor of trying to close the citys public hospital. For the record, the mayors 2002 budget leaves the school budget request short about $58 million, and Mr. Williams has made no such declaration to close the hospital at least not on any document the media has gotten their hands on. Furthermore, none of the proposals being reviewed by the control board recommends closing D.C. General Hospital. Why no one who has the publics trust, including the 13 members of the D.C. Council, has yet to douse the hot rhetorical flames and flat out say that, however, is the heart of the mayors problem.
There is the probability that Tony Williams is the subject of two recalls because he is not a "popular" mayor, and because he is not a "popular" mayor, several council members who could help him salvage the hospital mess have not. Instead, they are getting more thrills watching him sweat the issue than they get watching themselves during telecasts of council proceedings on Channel 13. But, hey, thats the narcissistic nature of politics.
Nonetheless, Tony Williams is in trouble because he is not "popular" irrespective of the facts that he won 66 percent of the vote in the 1998 mayoral election, appointed, promoted and supported familiar faces and programs, and today enjoys consistent support from the faith, nonprofit and business communities, as well as Congress.
Still it is easy to understand why Tony Williams is not popular. Some people dont understand him and cant feel him. But hes a fairly easy read. He is not old school, and he is neither warm nor fuzzy. He doesnt pitch costly contracts to his cronies because he doesnt have any cronies. He doesnt schmooze at bars and or shake a leg late at night because he doesnt do late nights; that is, he doesnt hang out. Then again, he doesnt do highbrow either because hes no snob. He doesnt espouse civil rights rhetoric because unlike many of his critics, hes not from the South; he wasnt a Freedom Rider from Mississippi and so he didnt come up from those ranks. He wasnt raised as a sharecroppers son. In fact, he isnt Southern at all. He was reared on the left coast L.A.
Can you imagine how many D.C. folks cant relate to any of that? Folks say Tony Williams aint black enough, he aint this enough and he aint that enough. D.C. folks have more complaints about Tony Williams than K Street has lawyers.
Makes you wonder what his critics do want. Do they want a mayor who could care less, who will sign a pieces of legislation every now and then, pay a few bills and call it a day until next election?
Hasnt the District been there and done that? Isnt that why in a field against six other very popular Democrats in the primary he won 50 percent of the votes? Isnt that why his tallies outstripped the hugely popular Carol Schwartz 2-to-1?
Moreover, the mayor would not be in this D.C. General Hospital bind if the council and the previous mayors had straightened things out four or five years ago. Besides, the control board should have read the political games for what they were and not have waited so doggone long.
Nonetheless, Tony Williams not those other parties is in the hot seat during his penultimate year in office. Hes in the hot seat because the mayoral contest in 1998 had little to do with popularity and everything to do with policies, and his won fair and square. And, no, Tony Williams does not have to apologize for that. If he apologizes for being who he is The Boss before he knows it, hell start apologizing for wearing bow ties, too. Then the city will really be in a bind.
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