From the looks of many local streets, Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp must have been awfully busy in the days leading up to her planned announcement to run for D.C. mayor. In upper Northwest, on Capitol Hill, in Adams Morgan and all along 16th Street NW, lampposts and telephone poles have been blanketed with stark black-and-white signs that say simply, "Think Cropp." (Or "Piensen Cropp," to attract Hispanic voters.)
But Cropp (D) said she had nothing to do with the well-timed campaign.
"They aren't mine," she said Tuesday, after greeting Louisiana evacuees outside the D.C. Armory.
"And I don't know who did it. Whoever they are, they're bright people. Intelligent. Thoughtful people who think," she said, laughing.
The signs are the work of the Think D.C. Political Action Committee, which filed papers with the Office of Campaign Finance on Aug. 19. Think D.C. is the brainchild of L. Maurice Daniel, a Ward 4 resident and national political consultant who most recently worked for the mayoral exploratory campaign of former D.C. Democratic Party chairman A. Scott Bolden.
With Bolden out of the hunt for mayor (he's mounting a Democratic primary challenge instead against at-large Council member Phil Mendelson), Daniel formed an independent organization that hopes to endorse candidates in local races and "spur the citizens of Washington, D.C., to give deep consideration about their leaders."
Daniel said he previously worked on the presidential campaigns of Al Gore and Richard Gephardt but has never before gotten involved in city politics. Although he has never met Cropp, he said, he decided to post hundreds of signs supporting her because he thinks she "has what it takes to be an effective leader."
"We're really at a crossroads in the city. I'm assuming the mayor's not going to run. So the city can go one way or another," Daniel said.
Of Cropp, he said: "She knows when to be a conciliator and when to drop the hammer. She has a good balance between economic development and compassion for the city. I think she has a deep reservoir of experience she can call on."
Sharing the Credit
He may have sharp elbows, but at least Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) gets things done.
While the mayor was in New Mexico at a League of Cities function and other Council members were enjoying the end of their recess or campaigning for office, Catania and his staff came up with the idea of reaching out to victims of Hurricane Katrina by bringing them to the District and housing them at the D.C. Armory.
As Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and most members of the D.C. Council lined up Tuesday outside the Armory to welcome the New Orleans evacuees (and take part in the press conference afterward), Catania was all smiles.
Catania, who enjoys good PR as much as any other pol, has tried to deflect attention from his role in the effort, understanding that sharing the political credit is the grease that keeps the wheels of government moving.
During the press conference, Catania turned to Williams and City Administrator Robert C. Bobb, saying the rescue effort "would not have been possible 10 years ago. We now have a government that can respond in a crisis and has served as an inspiration to other communities.''
Katrina Hits Home
For Bobb, working on relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina was more than a management task. It was personal. Bobb, after all, is Louisiana-born and -raised, and his parents were evacuated from their home in Four Corners, La., a hamlet in the southwestern part of the state.
While his family is safe and has returned home, the same can't be said for tens of thousands of his fellow Louisianans.
"It's sad to see so many people affected, especially low-income people who don't have the wherewithal," Bobb said at the D.C. Armory, where hundreds of evacuees are being sheltered. "The District of Columbia opened its arms to fellow Americans."
To 'the Trenches'
Eugene Dewitt Kinlow, the former president of the Ward 8 Democrats, has been named the outreach director of DC Vote, the organization announced last week.
In his new position, Kinlow will be responsible for managing more than 30 organizations that make up the DC Vote coalition and for recruiting additional individuals and groups. He also will serve as a liaison to local officials, said Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote.
"It's a perfect fit for me," Kinlow said. "This position allows me to be a tool to advance the cause of democracy in D.C. To me, it means I can work in the trenches for full representation in Congress."
Last year, Kinlow was a field coordinator for Florida Victory 2004. He previously had worked for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as a legal information specialist for 10 years.
Kinlow was president of the Ward 8 Democrats in December 2003 when the group was splintered after Mary Cuthbert, the group's first vice president, referred to a new member, who happened to be white, as "poor white trash."
At the time, Kinlow read aloud a statement at the organization's meeting disassociating the group from Cuthbert's comment.
In 2002, Kinlow ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council.
Kinlow, a native Washingtonian and graduate of the University of the District of Columbia, is the principal of Kinlow & Associates, a community relations company.
Staff writer Yolanda Woodlee contributed to this report.
Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp hasn't entered the mayoral race, but Think D.C. is already in her corner.