Saturday, April 05, 2014

Justice isn't worth waiting for - it's worth fighting for.

The relatively new Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, said in a recent interview that we mustn't be TOO hasty to respect the rights and spirituality of our LGBT brothers and sisters, because when we do, we risk putting African Christians in danger. That's an interesting suggestion I admit I haven't thought about much before - indeed, sometimes the sacrifices required by our actions are not our own. It's important to consider all perspectives and walks of life, so this is a valid point I should reflect upon more.

But the ABC may also need to do some more reflecting himself on a different valid point, and that is that when we DON'T stand up for the rights and spirituality of our LGBT brothers and sisters, then THEY can be similarly abused - especially in Africa

I respect what the ABC saw in South Sudan. It's not an experience I have had. Had he coupled this discussion with condemnation of Uganda's new anti-gay law, I would be somewhat less uncomfortable. 

I am proud to be a member of an Anglican province, the Episcopal Church in the United States, that doesn't wait for justice or love. Reader, I don't know who you are, but I know that Jesus loves you. That means I do too. Every single one of us already has God's grace, so what else matters? Just the love and justice that flow from that truth.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

My take on last night's D.C. election results

Last night's election results were a small step forward for D.C. - good, but not great. The crooked mayor is gone, but his replacement is mediocre at best. There were huge gains in Ward 1, though, and nothing went in reverse with Ward 6 electing another great councilmember. A small net positive overall.

I'm very proud of D.C. for kicking Mayor Gray out. We have no one to blame but ourselves when we re-elect crooks, and D.C. did the right thing by picking the anti-Gray. Unfortunately, the wrong candidate emerged as the anti-Gray. I do not believe Muriel Bowser will be a good mayor. There doesn't seem to be a lot of depth in her interviews or courage in her career. Though not corrupt like Gray, she only supported ethics reform after it was extremely watered down and accepted money from the same shady donors. She's an improvement, but not a big one.

The best news is in Ward 1, where we saw HUGE change. The ethically-challenged Councilmember Jim Graham was defeated. I thought this would happen, but by one point, not 17!!! Best of all, the winner, Brianne Nadeau, isn't just an anti-Graham. She knows the neighborhood, is committed to a progressive vision, and expands the Council's reformer bloc. I'm very excited by Ward 1 - that was a huge boost for the city.

The positive status quo was kept in Ward 6, my neighborhood, with Charles Allen replacing Tommy Wells on the Council. This is wonderful news and I'm very excited - Charles will make a GREAT councilmember. But, Tommy was outstanding, so when talking about reform and progress, this is holding ground, or I'd lead off with it. Still exciting though.

Unfortunately, the negative status quo was kept for the at-large seat with Anita Bonds being re-elected, but that was expected. And while it's disappointing, it's also the status quo, meaning at least it's not a step backwards.

So overall, a small step forward in a big race, a huge step forward in a small race, and status quo both good and bad elsewhere. But I am excited by the prospect of an expanding Grosso/McDuffie/Allen/Nadeau reform voting bloc on the Council.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

#DCision14: Who I'm Voting For

If you haven't heard yet -- today, Tuesday, April 1, is Election Day in D.C. This is our chance to clean up our city.

Nobody else will do it if we don't.

While I'm growing more and more cynical about national politics, I remain committed to our community. We live, work, and play here -- so this city's health and future are entirely up to us. If you're a registered Democrat or not yet a registered D.C. voter (you can register same day!), then I hope you'll turn out to vote for reform -- and above all, I just hope you'll vote. Some of the biggest change happens at the local level.

Depending on your ward, I encourage you to vote for:
Please let me tell you why, and then look up your polling place here.

Tommy Wells for Mayor

It's imperative that we vote out Mayor Gray. Although there are seven other candidates for mayor, there's only one whom I believe would do a good job, and that's Tommy Wells. He has more than earned my vote, and I hope yours.

Tommy is stellar when it comes to ethics, something we desperately need right now. He's walking the walk by not taking any corporate contributions, is the only councilmember running who didn't take any money from Jeffrey Thompson (the crook behind the mayor's illegal shadow campaign), and has a long track record of introducing solid ethics reforms. He attends my church and everyone there who's known him for years loves him.

But he's much more than just an honest guy. As a Councilmember, Tommy successfully passed decrim legislation and the bag tax, as Chair of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary is pressing Police Chief Lanier on sexual harassment issues and the Fire Department on their bad equipment and ambulance response times, and improved bus service as transportation committee chair (until then-Council Chair now-convict Kwame Brown took away that chair in revenge for an ethics investigation).

His website features a vast array of detailed policy proposals to reorganize the city government. He has the endorsements of the National Organization of Women as well as both the police & fire unions, and in his previous career was a socialworker east of the river and a DC School Board member - so you know he's got the experience for ALL the issues.

You may have heard that this has become a two-person race. That's not true. Muriel Bowser does have the best shot at beating Gray, but I don't believe she'll make a good mayor -- and Wells isn't out yet. He's in a strong third place, and if every Bowser voter who prefers Wells but prioritizes beating Gray actually voted for Wells (and several have told me they ended up doing so in early voting), he could win.

This is still a close election where you can vote for your values, and my values tell me to vote for Tommy Wells.

Brianne Nadeau for Council, Ward 1

Brianne is running against 16-year incumbent Jim Graham. Graham has done a lot of good for the city, particularly the LGBT community, but there are just too many ethics questions to re-elect him again -- and Brianne would make a great Councilmember. The race is neck-and-neck, so turnout matters!

As Greater Greater Washington put it,
In this election, voters do not simply have a choice between Graham and not-Graham; they have the opportunity to select a very worthy councilmember for all of Ward 1...

Nadeau has been working to improve her neighborhood for many years, including a stint on the U Street Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B and then in the Ward 1 Democrats. She has advocated for smart growth and progressive policies such as reforming parking, adding new housing to welcome more neighbors, and providing affordable housing for less affluent residents... 
Brianne has picked up endorsements from Democracy for America, Jews United For Justice, Emily's List, the Washington Post, and even Councilmembers Wells and Grosso, reformers who still have to work with her opponent. Plus numerous good friends I trust are going all-in for her. She'll make a great Councilmember.

Kenyan McDuffie for Council, Ward 5

In Ward 5, still-new Council member Kenyan McDuffie is another strong choice for reform, but he doesn't have strong opposition, so I'm not going to go into great detail. You can read Greater Greater Washington's endorsement here.

Charles Allen for Council, Ward 6

I live in Ward 6 and have been active with Charles's race, and will cast an enthusiastic ballot for him today.

For years, Charles has been Tommy Wells's Council Chief of Staff, and is now running to replace him on the Council. He shares Tommy's commitment to ethics and integrity during a time of corruption -- as well as the credit for many of Tommy's legislative accomplishments. Talk to him about any local issue and you'll find that he knows them all, backwards and forwards.

Charles is basing his campaign around better middle schools, better housing for senior citizens, and growing small businesses. He's also the only candidate who's not taking any corporate donations, so we know that both his ethics and his commitment to the grassroots are for real. Greater Greater Washington's endorsement summed up perfectly why I support Charles -- as well as why I don't support his opponent this year.

Tommy won't be on the Council come January - it's up or out. That's why it's important that reformers keep this seat by electing Charles, who will do an excellent job in his own right.

Nate Bennett-Fleming for Council At Large

The incumbent, Anita Bonds, has been relatively ineffectual as a Councilmember, has ties to dubious developers, and is part of the old Marion Barry machine. Cleaning up city politics means voting in a new At-Large member to the Council.

John Settles has raised a lot of cash and performed impressively in debates, and Nate Bennett-Fleming has name recognition from his tireless stint as Shadow Rep and has an impressive list of endorsements (including Democracy for America, the Sierra Club, Jews United for Justice, the Washington Post, and more). Either candidate would be better than Bonds, but we should coalesce around one, and Bennett-Fleming seems to have the momentum.


I will also be voting for "The Rent is Too Darn High" slate for the DC Democratic State Committee Offices, but only because almost all of the locally active folks I trust are doing the same. The slate does include former Councilmember Sekou Biddle, whom I have supported for Council in the past. I can't really give you a good reason to support the slate other than that; just passing the information along.

Remember -- reform is up to us, because there's no one else. No matter how long you're planning on staying, this is our home for now, so let's do our part to make it a great place to live and work. You can register to vote same day if you're not registered already -- find your ward and look up your polling place here (it may have changed since the last election!).

Be sure to think through your plan to vote - when are you going to the polls? How will you get there? Can you bring a friend? It sounds cheesy, but if we don't think through these details, it can be 8 p.m. and the polls are closed just like that! I'll be walking to Stuart Hobson Middle School before work at 9:15 a.m.

See you at the polls!