However, let’s not shortchange those green alleys. They will last far longer, and ultimately make more of an impact on the lives of residents whose homes adjoin them, than this scandal or any political questions over who is mayor and for how long.
All Washingtonians, especially those who might be reading local news more closely this week than at other times, should not forget an important point: No matter who is in office or how they got there, the mark they will ultimately leave on the city is in the way they conduct the actual business of government, from bus service to public schools to employment training and far more.
This scandal is heartbreaking and inexcusable, but it isn’t taking the District back to 1995 and the Financial Control Board. The city’s budget is as solid as ever, and in fact Gray’s budget staff has adamantly pushed to rebuild the city’s rainy-day fund as the economy recovers.
The One City One Hire program has made progress in helping the District’s unemployed and less-skilled residents find jobs. Workforce development has begun targeting critical sectors much more intelligently than in the past.
Education reform has not stalled, and numerous traditional neighborhood and public charter schools had oversubscribed lotteries this year, though there’s a long road yet to travel to ensure quality education for all children.
The streetcar project, first proposed by Mayor Marion Barry and brought to the fore by Mayor Adrian Fenty, has found a champion in this administration, which has devoted more money to it than any before. Pedestrian and bike safety and infrastructure keep growing.
The city is churning along as usual. The economy is recovering, and there’s really no sign that the scandal has had any effect on employment, the real estate market or any of the fundamentals of the District’s economy.
What if Gray resigns, though? D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson would become interim mayor until a special election, likely in November. Would a whirlwind special-election campaign allow residents to find the mayor who best represents their vision for the future? Certainly a special election would push candidates to raise large amounts of money very fast, with who knows what consequences. Would the winner share most residents’ values or just those of big-money donors? Those donors, it turns out, were the problem with the Gray campaign.