Strange, the only things that stick out are two recent stories in the Washington Post...about local DC-Maryland hap'nins. Both involve black elected officials: golden boy Mayor Adrian Fenty in our Nation's Capital, and County Executive Isiah "Ike" Leggett--first African American elected to run one of the wealthiest (and interestingly most diverse) suburban entities in the U.S.: Montgomery County, Maryland. Of course by "wealthy" I mean per capita income, education, home value, blah blah. Ike is also a law professor at Howard University, whose dean is the Hon. Kurt L. Schmoke, former mayor of Baltimore. ("The Wire" comes to the academy).
Anyways, Ike inked a letter of intent with a group wishing to develop the last bit of rotting storefront in Downtown Silver Spring not occupied by some national chain restaurant or retailer fulla flair. They want to make it into a music hall showcasing cutting edge acts, from reggae to rock. 2000 seats. Originally, the legendary Birchmere would cross the Potomac and claim the space. That fell through. Now it's Live Nation: The Fillmore becomes my neighbor and guess what--I couldn't be happier, at least with the concept. Trouble is, Live Nation wants all these gimmees: the usual ones corporations demand from cash-strapped local governments and these governments usually cough them up. Yeah there's always some quid pro quo working in the other direction, some feather in the leader's cap,some goodies the leader can dangle. Got nothing to do with the Commonweal, or the project. Just self-aggrandizement. See, e.g., The Washington Nationals Stadium, infra. Live Nation's giveback in return for taxpayer spent on the venue is a whole bunch of cash that Ike gets to designate to community groups of his choosing. Hmmm. Now along comes the EQUALLY legendary 9:30 Club and says hey, we'll build this live music venue ourselves. FREE: No taxpayer cash. And we're local. No,says Ike. I mean, I made this deal with Live Nation; I want to direct the give-back goodies. And County Council, don't you dare put me through the same ringer the DC Council put former Mayor and douchebag in charge Anthony Williams! Don't you dare. This is good for Silver Spring! And Live Nation might even allow your kids (or your own fawning NIMBYs or community singers) up on stage with Jill Scott or Matchbox 20!
Adrian Fenty was one of the city's most vocal opponent of the Nationals' stadium deal. His issues ran the gamut, from the labor agreements to the cost to the pandering directed at a fanbase that couldn't care less about D.C. (e.g. Virginia suburb and exurb types, and law/lobbying firm buying up skyboxes to entertain Red Chinese and Saudi "businessmen"). Now, I'm not clear what Anthony Williams got as a the give-back for foisting this literal and allegorical white elephant on the city; because of his policies, not even he could afford to buy a home in the District. Then again, Fenty hasn't done much to reverse this, and the stadium's almost done. That's prologue. The real story is the aftermath of the murder of four black girls by their crazy ass mother in Southeast DC. The Post reported that Fenty fired a bunch of social workers over this. Nevermind that the real culpable party is the mom--a crackhead scumbag who shuffledthese kids about after popping them out. The community and family, not government, is our first line of defense in this. I don't think that's right wing, or anti-nanny state (I love nanny states...I could move to Denmark). No, it's common sense, just like advocating Depro Provera as the fix isn't Nazi. It's ony Goddamn thing that will work!!! But the Mayor goes and blames these folks, then apparently arrives to give the rest a peptalk and "we gotta do better" speech. He's heckled. He gets a tude. He's heckled more. This accompanied other sourball acts by other public employees. I'm betting that that folks who care enough to say, "hold up" are the ones who care about they work they do--not the usual dumb spooks sitting around collecting a check, or the bloated supervisor corps in social services and DC Public Schools. But hey, even they have a hedge--their most needy "customers" are ignorant, ghettofab, crazy, violent, so there's the catch-22. Even schools with gold gilded hallways and taught by MIT and Princeton profs would be jacked up given the populations they serve, and even the toughest yet most angelic social worker can't anticipate the evil, drug-addled mind of a pyschopath who's tubes should have been tied from jump (and the men who impregnated her needed to have their peckers twisted).
Yet the Mayor, ever stalwart and self-important, gets a tude after dumping on them.
Here's a dispatch from Martin...and I'll toss in Malcolm, too: IT AIN'T ABOUT YOU, IKE, ADRIAN. IT AIN'T ABOUT YOUR SPONSORS, BE THEY DEVELOPERS OR NIMBY TYPES OR LOUD MOUTH PASTORS OR GENTRIFYING YUPPIES OR BIG BOX STORES. IT'S ABOUT THE COMMOMWEAL. IT'S ABOUT GOVERNMENT, NOT MACHINE POLITICS OR SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. IT'S ABOUT THE PUBLIC GOOD. AND OFTEN IT'S ABOUT INSPIRING THE PUBLIC ITSELF TO LIVE AS CARING, GOOD CITIZENS AND NOT SELFISH ANIMALS. Sometimes that means NOT pandering to folk on the one hand, or alienating the conscientious soldiers you need to fight the war on the other. Yeah, something about these stories, coming as they did around this holiday, stuck in my craw. Maybe I can cough it up in time to cheer MLK and tell these brothers hey, you, too, can do better.