Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fenty Versus Gray: How to Decide

The World's Most Remote Pay Phone
Located in Antatctica (c) Bill Adler
I'm torn between Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray for mayor.  Neither is close to perfect, and both have large flaws as far as I'm concerned.  And with my ear to the ground as the publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv (9,800+ readers), I know I'm not alone:  A lot of people are uncertain about whom to vote for in the primary and how to decide.

So I've come up with a simple metric.  (I love the word "metric" by the way.  It blows the pants off of "paradigm".)  I'm going to vote for whomever robocalls me less often at home.

That's right.  The candidate with fewer automated phone calls that interrupt me at dinner, summon me from the shower, or take me away from a spirited game of Monopoly with my kids gets my vote.

And I think that there's a certain reasonableness to this.  Although Congress exempted political candidates from the do-not-call list, that doesn't mean that politicians have to use computers to make their calls.  Robocalls show a disdain for consumer rights; they diss the voters.  It's one thing to have staff or volunteers call voters and engage them in conversation -- that's a good, time-honored practice because it lets voters ask questions and give feedback.  It's an entirely different for a machine to pitch the same script to thousands of individuals.

There's a connection between a candidate's support of consumer rights and his or her willingness to deploy robocallers.  You can't claim to be a proponent of consumer rights while violating an important consumer rights precept. 

Please, Mr. Fenty and Mr. Gray:  If you want to call me, use a human being.


  1. Where are the substantive reasons for either candidate? I am for Fenty, strongly. He has made real progress, and we should stay the course. I was a fan (and, full disclosure, law school classmate and friend) of our former mayor, Anthony Williams, and yet he did not manage half of the visible, neighborhood-friendly reforms that Fenty and Rhee have accomplished. Being smart and well intentioned isn't enough. We should stick with the results-getting Fenty-Rhee team. The DCPS, which one or more of our family's kids have attended for the past 9 or so years, has really turned around during Fenty's term. We have better physical plants (gorgeous, even) all across the city, better principals (John Eaton's new principal Gartrell is amazing; Dr. Kim at Deal is lauded by hundreds of parents), fixed leaks, books on time, special ed. getting its act together, etc. Yes, there are issues in terms of dislocations, employees unhappy, systems in flux. But education is the future, and we need a brighter one for all of DC's children. Why start a different administration with all the learning curve and start-up mistakes that we have just been through, when this team has done and is planning to do so much good? --Nina Pillard

  2. As a former Fenty supporter, my concern and curiosity is his close relationship with Ron Moten. Having witnessed Mr. Moten's comments at several forums and after hearing of his reputation, I cannot fathom why Mr. Fenty would acquiesce so much authority for his campaign to this gentlemen. Of course, rumors abound, but there must be a skeleton of sorts in Fenty's closet that he seemingly needs the assistance of such a formidable ally to aid him. What could Moten possibly hold over Fenty? That is the question for me. --Anna Geroldo

  3. Yes, I'm troubled by both Ronald Moten and Sinclair Skinner in Fenty's camp. On the other hand, I'm equally troubled that Marion Barry is in Gray's camp. If that doesn't signal a return to the bad old days, what does? I'd vote for "none of the above" (e.g. a minor contender for Mayor) but then I do think it's of great consequence who leads the city, and I don't want to throw my vote away. It's getting down to the wire and I still don't know what to do...

  4. Marion Barry was in Fenty's camp in '06. Did that mean you supported Linda Cropp?

    I think deploying the "Barry is voting for Gray" gambit is a little bit of code for "Gray's gonna turn the city over to people east of the river and give them all patronage jobs. If we white folks want to stay welcome in DC we need to stick with Fenty."