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January 12, 2014

Narrowing the Lead

Dear Leaders:

What should the mayoral candidates in the Democratic primary do? Take a good look at the numbers in the widely misinterpreted Washington Post poll, Among the candidates, Vincent Gray has a lead, but not the crushing lead that reports have promoted. For an incumbent mayor during a time when most people think the city is doing fairly well, it’s an embarrassingly small lead — only 24 percent of voters prefer him. In a crowded primary field, with no run-off election, it’s possible that Gray could win with just 24 percent of the vote, since no other candidate in the poll gets more than twelve percent. But a mayor who hasn’t earned the trust and respect of the people — only 32 percent of even Democratic voters think Gray is honest and trustworthy — can easily lose the race.

Gray can persuade more voters by answering probing questions openly and honestly, whether those questions come from voters, opposing candidates, or the public. But his strategy seems to be to evade rather than answer questions. Opposing candidates can’t force Gray to answer questions by speaking in generalities about ethics. They can corner Gray only by acting like prosecutors and by bringing out information that hasn’t yet been made public. As we learned during the investigation of Michael Brown, the US Attorney will not press an investigation of a politician or bring an indictment if it is likely to be perceived as interfering with an ongoing election. That leaves an open field now for anyone who wants to come forward with what he or she knows, or his or her campaign can find out, that proves the obvious truth that Gray has denied — that Gray was involved in and knowledgeable about his own 2010 mayoral campaign.

Finally, what some candidates can do, if they place the good of the city ahead of their own egos, is to drop out of the race now, narrow the field and narrow Gray’s already puny lead.


Paul Basken wrote [themail, January 8] that, “It [a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s table of traffic deaths] shows annual traffic deaths in this country in the range of about thirty thousand or more, with drivers usually representing a bit more than half of them. That means that, along with themselves, car drivers are killing well more than ten thousand other people each year in this country.” I wrote that Paul’s interpretation of that figure — “drivers are killing” — attributes the fault to automobile drivers in all accidents. Paul is outraged by my reading, accuses me of bias, and demands that I apologize to him for misrepresenting what he wrote. He goes on to say that “. . . there’s virtually no instances of bicyclists hitting and killing people. It happens on very rare occasion[s] — there was one case I recall in San Fran maybe a year or two ago where a bicyclist went racing down a hill and plowed into some pedestrians, killing one of them. But that’s an extremely rare event, and you and others have this illusion in your heads that somehow it’s rampant. That’s just totally ridiculous. By many, many multiples, the risk is the other direction, and anyone with two eyes and a brain knows that. And yet, for what I can only attribute to driver anger, you and others keep pretending the facts are somehow otherwise.” Paul is confusing two very different matters: on one hand, who is responsible for causing an accident between a car and a bicycle, and on the other hand who is more likely to get hurt in that accident. Yes, riding a bicycle is inherently more dangerous, but that’s a function of the weights of the vehicles and the safety measures built into them, not of the varying skills or safe driving practices of drivers or bicyclists.

Gary Imhoff


Gray’s “Apology”
Dorothy Brizill,

Last week Mayor Gray, for the first time, offered a public apology for what he called the “shortcomings” in his 2010 mayoral campaign. First, on Wednesday, January 8, in a lengthy televised interview with Channel 9/WUSA reporter Bruce Johnson,, Gray claimed that he “didn’t do anything” with regard to the illegal off-the-books shadow campaign in 2010. In the interview, he went on to state that, “at the same time, I want to apologize to people about the campaign. I can’t apologize for what other people did. But it was the Vince Gray campaign. I understand that.” On Saturday, at the official kickoff of his reelection campaign, Gray began his substantive remarks by saying, “But, before we talk about the future, I want to way something about the past. Everyone knows that our 2010 campaign had shortcomings. I have spoken with people in living rooms, backyards, barber shops, and on sidewalks. I have apologized to family, friends, and colleagues. I know that the 2010 campaign caused many people great pain. I know that our city suffered embarrassment. Today, I apologize to you for the pain that my campaign caused. I ask for your forgiveness. Although I cannot apologize for the misdeeds of others, the 2010 campaign was my campaign, and I am deeply sorry for the pain and embarrassment it caused. . . . It is time to turn the page. I know that some journalists and our opponents want you to focus on the past. I know that some reporters prefer a circus to a thoughtful discussion of issues. I know that they care about ratings and selling newspapers,”

The dictionary definition of “apology” is that it applies to an expression of regret for a mistake or wrong with an implied admission of guilt or fault.” Gray wants to express regret for actions by others without ever admitting his own guilt or fault. He refuses to discuss what he knew and when he knew it. His campaign manager, Chuck Thies, has attempted to villanize reporters for asking Gray questions about what he knew about his own campaign, and when he knew it. Thies claims that only the press, but not the public, has concerns regarding Gray’s 2010 campaign, and that the press is creating a “circus atmosphere” by asking questions

In the coming weeks of the campaign, candidate forums and meet and greets will provide an opportunity for voters and the US Attorney to test the sincerity of Gray’s public “apology” as well as to get long-awaited answers regarding 2010.


InTowner January Content Uploaded
Peter Wolff,

The January issue content can be viewed at, including the issue PDF in which will be found the primary news stories and museum exhibition reviews — plus all photos and other images. Not included in the PDF but linked directly from the home page is Stephen A. Hansen’s What Once Was feature — this month about what might be the future of the historic former Carnegie Library building on Mt. Vernon Square.

This month’s lead stories include the following: 1) “City Nearing Proposal Pick for Franklin School Adaptive Re-use”; 2) “Mt. Pleasant Preservation and Zoning Controversies Roil Community and ANC”; and 3) “Adams Morgan’s Kalorama Park Ruinous Water Run-off Problems Being Corrected; Neighbors Succeed in Coaxing Parks Department into Action.” Also to be found on the web site pages are the “Reservations Recommended” and “Food in the ’Hood” columns, along with the recent real estate sales feature (which is expected to be uploaded later in the day on the 15th).

Our editorial this month, titled “Restaurants Run Like Nightclubs Hurt Not Only Residents But Legitimate Restaurateurs,” focuses on the growing discontent with conditions along 18th Street on weekend nights in Adams Morgan, particularly as illustrated by the multiple stabbings on a recent night inside the ABC-licensed “District” restaurant. Your thoughts are welcome and can be sent by clicking the comment link at the bottom of the web page or by E-mail to letters [at] The next issue PDF will publish early in the morning of February 14 (the second Friday of the month as usual). For more information, either send an E-mail to newsroom[at] or call 234-1717.



Events at the Woman’s National Democratic Club, January 15, 23
Susana Baranano,

A wine tasting will be held at the Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, on Wednesday, January 15, at 6:00-8:00 p.m. Join WNDC for a tasting soiree with 100 percent organic wines and organic chocolates. Wine tasting followed by hors d’oeuvres and one complimentary drink of your favorite wine of choice following the reception. $20 for members; $25 for nonmembers. To RSVP, call 232-7363, fax 986-2791, or register online at

A panel discussion on the strategic importance of Ethiopia in Africa will be held at the Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, on Thursday, January 23, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. $10 for members; $15 for nonmembers. Learn about Ethiopia and its relationships with its surrounding countries, Egypt, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya. We will highlight internal political, social and economic issues, including how Ethiopians are uniting in a social justice movement. We will also discuss US-Ethiopia relationships, including Sister City agreements between Addis Adaba and Gondar and DC and Montgomery County. Panelists will be Naida Michel Saad, Retired Loan Officer and Project Manager, North Africa Development Programs; Obang Metho, Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia; Bruce Adams, Director, Office of Community Partnerships, Montgomery County; Pat Elwood, Director, Office of Protocol and International Affairs, DC; and Dr. Getachew Begashaw, Professor of Economics at W.R. Harper College, Chicago. To RSVP, call WNDC at 232-7363 or register by E-mail at


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