- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2014


Dear Mr. Mayor:

Quicker than the words “No Taxation Without Representation” can roll off the tongue, a new mayor will be sworn in to take your place in the nation’s capital.

Lots of residents are looking forward to that early day in January and made a point of telling you so on April Fools’ Day, when the Democratic primary was held.

I’m offering to you today an olive branch, one that I also hope you utilize to seal your legacy.

Political legacies are like epitaphs — if you don’t write them yourself, you have to cross your fingers that your enemies don’t.

Your political legacy is that you tried to do your best for children — as a dad, as a social and human services policymaker and caregiver, and, on occasion, as a lawmaker and mayor.

You want to include D.C. voting rights, and perhaps you can.

There’s not much time left.

There are 100 members of the Senate, 435 members of the House of Representatives, and six nonvoting delegates in the House, and you need an insightful one-on-one meeting with each and every single one if you want to prove a point and get their frank perspective.

The “Taxation Without Representation” license plates are a joke, and you know it.

The ticker outside city hall that counts federal tax dollars paid by residents is even funnier — a) because you don’t know the figure, and b) because you probably do what pedestrians and other motorists do day in and day out and just pass on by without noticing. (Except, unlike you, they don’t have the luxury of being chauffeured, courtesy of taxpayers.)

So here’s my suggestion: There still are 179 days left in the calendar year, plenty of time for you to schedule those one-on-on meetings. (On Christmas Day, I give everybody some slack.)

Now, to pull this off, you’d have to cut back on the little stuff, some ribbon cuttings, making brief remarks at some important events, and maybe even those biweekly press briefings. (Heck, even the president trusts and utilizes White House press people to speak on his behalf and get his own message to the citizenry. Try it, you might like it.)

In the one-on-one meetings, you stress why having voting representation in Congress is important for the District of Columbia and the nation.

As long as you keep saying, as you did again on Thursday, that “the nearly 650,000 people who live in the nation’s capital are still denied full democracy at home,” you can be perceived as a small-minded, small-town pol who just doesn’t get it.

If that’s what you want, fine.

I just thought the timing was right as we celebrate America’s 238th birthday and soon will honor the birth of the capital, thanks to the July 16, 1790, signing of the Residence Act.

I suspect that even after you leave office in January, you’ll still wholeheartedly support voting rights. But your request for a meeting won’t carry the same cachet.

You meet with heads of state, why not Republicans from the Bible Belt? Conservatives from Maryland and South Carolina? Democrats and independents who probably wouldn’t give you the time of day once you’re no longer the Honorable Vincent C. Gray, Mayor, District of Columbia? (Even though I know you have good taste in jewelry.)

Quickly, Mr. Mayor.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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