Who Was That Council Member?
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Moments before the D.C. Council approved spending $7 million to hire 100 new police officers, council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) lamented that a beefed up Metropolitan Police Department came at the expense of the rent supplement program, an affordable-housing initiative that he has championed.
"We get to the end of the budget process and we pit one disadvantaged group against another disadvantaged group when all the big decisions have been made," said Graham, complaining from the dais.
The decision to put money toward police was made only the day before, after one council member harangued his 12 colleagues for not thinking about public safety at a critical time: election season. In fact, council Chairman Linda W. Cropp's new open-door policy at the council's breakfast sessions -- until a month ago, they had been closed to the public -- gave a new insight into just how that budget decision was made.
So who was the council member who pitted cops against affordable housing?
As deliberations over the budget came to a close, Graham told his colleagues he worried that his ward's No. 1 priority -- public safety -- hadn't been adequately addressed.
Cropp issued Graham a challenge: If police was Ward 1's top issue, then he should find money from one of his lower priorities. In the end, money was shifted from rent supplement to the police department.
Graham's electioneering was not subtle: "If you're coming to Ward 1 during this next campaign season to tell the people of Ward 1 that you don't need more police -- that the answers are somewhere else -- I wish you good luck," he said. "I know what their reaction is going to be. They're going to say you've taken leave of your senses."
His comments seemed directed at one colleague in particular: Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3), who offered an amendment to put the money back toward the rent-supplement program, as well as toward the parks and recreation department.
"The voters are a lot smarter than we think they are," she said, right before her amendment failed, 12-1.
Web Site Comes Down
The creator of a Web site that criticized Sinclair Skinner , a key campaign aide to mayoral candidate Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4), has pulled the site after receiving a warning from Skinner's attorney.
"It has come to our attention that statements made by you, including those on the website DUMPSKINNER.COM, have damaged the reputation and character of Mr. Skinner," stated a May 8 letter from Washington lawyer Jeffery A. Whitney . "As owner and operator of the website, we insist that you immediately cease operation of the website and remove all defamatory content regarding Mr. Skinner."