The not-a-column this week is about the Washington Interfaith Network, a 15-year-old coalition that started out as mostly Christian churches but which has expanded to encompass congregations of other faiths as well as labor and community groups. They are diverse, well-organized and when they speak, politicians listen.
At least, they listen for a while. In my piece I describe how WIN is better at extracting promises from pols than holding them to those commitments.
On Monday, they held their latest “action,” their biggest yet, which also served as a relaunch of sorts. For more on the event, read Hamil Harris’s Root DC post, which gets at the new tack that WIN says it’s taking. Not only are they pledging to do a better job holding politicians accountable for their promises, they’re promising to get tough with business interests — particularly developers receiving or seeking city subsidies — and holding them accountable, too.
That made for some great theater Monday night, as speaker after speaker decried the corporate interests that occupy a prominent presence in city politics while D.C. Council members sat up front listening. One speaker, the Rev. Christine Wiley of Covenant Baptist Church, asked for more scrutiny of city-assisted development deals, naming the Madame Tussauds, Mandarin Oriental and O Street Market projects — all while the architect of those deals, Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), sat right there in front.
He, along with four other members, later committed to fund WIN’s priorities, including putting money-back guarantees on new city subsidies and spending $44 million on jobs and affordable housing.