Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ward 3 Dems for Conroy

I received a 4 page letter (return address did not indicate the sender, but was simply from Morrison Street, NW). I had actually thrown it away and had to retrieve it when a friend emailed me and asked if I had received a long-winded letter of support from the "Ward 3 Democrats for Conroy".

It is filled with most of the same stuff present on various Ward 3 Yahoo Groups, such as:

They claim that "Professor Cheh has not shown that she has the community experience or willingness to learn or listen that are basic requirements of representing Ward 3". That is interesting because Mary Cheh has knocked on hundreds, if not thousands of doors during the campaign. She has attended scores of community forums, meet and greets, etc. and listened to thousands of Ward 3 voices.

They make the claim that electing Mary Cheh will result in higher density development for all of the Ward 3 corridors, with no regard for overtaxed roads and schools or the impact on the struggling EMS, fire and police services. Actually, Cheh entered the race because of the outrage over the tragic death of a colleague of her husband, which was preventable had a competent police and EMS response happened in Washington DC. This is actually a top priority of Mary Cheh, yet this group is solely focused on the development angle, without any regard to the bigger priorities in Cheh's platform.

They make the claim that Theresa Conroy is beholden to no one but the voters. I am not sure who they claim Mary Cheh is beholden to. As noted earlier on a local Yahoo Group, Mary Cheh raised the most money of any of the Ward 3 candidates from within the Ward. Her money came primarily from individual donors from all corners of the Ward. To suggest that she is not beholden to the scores of supporters who donated time and money to her campaign is an insult. Further, who is Theresa Conroy beholden to? In the summer, her website and campaign brochures included the following passage:

...carefully examine development proposals whether in the Connecticut Avenue corridor, on Wisconsin Avenue, or elsewhere in Ward 3. Allow reasonable development (smart growth) that incorporates off street parking and contributes to the tax base, while ensuring that our existing residential neighborhoods remain peaceful and quiet with green areas for recreation...

Who is this group fooling when Theresa Conroy, the republican candidate, does contortions of epic proportions in changing her position on development in the ward to suit the whims of this group? This is the most outrageous effort I have seen in 35 years of DC politics, particularly when her original platform was identical to Cheh's.

This group also raises the issue of the Comprehensive Plan, and Conroys willingness to flush years of effort and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars down the commode in tossing or delaying the proposed comprehensive plan. I am not sure what this group thinks they will gain by delaying the adoption of the plan, but if Tersh Boasberg, the chair of the DC Historic Preservation Review Board thinks the plan is ok, then it is good enough for me.

They also beat the dead horse of the connection between GWU and Mary Cheh. That has been addressed on countless occasions, including in a letter to the NW Current by Stephen Tractenberg. She is teaching at most, one class per semester, and the fact she has tenure mitigates any hold that the institution would have over her employment status (she led an intensive deposition of GW during her pro-bono service to the City Council. The concept of having to recuse herself is silly. After all, Linda Cropp never had to recuse herself from Council proceedings where GWU is concerned, and her husband is the Vice President of the university.

In short, the Ward 3 Democrats for Conroy try to rehash the same tired arguments against Mary Cheh, but offer little positive for the pro-life, anti-human rights republican candidate, Theresa Conroy, who offers nary more than a safe haven for those who feel chilled by the prospects of a Councilperson Cheh. Has it occurred to these people that the broader Ward 3 community feels chilled by the antics that the ANCs and Community Associations have foisted on the rest of us who want better retail and a new approach to issues in the Ward?

With respect to the signers of the document, it is generally the regular cast of "no development" Ward 3 activists. I note 4 people on the list:

Lars Hydle is a republican

Disclosure: I am a Republican, but there is no Republican candidate for this position in the general election

So I am not sure why he is even signing or supporting this letter.

Alma Gates, Bruce Beckner and Deborah Jane Lindeman are all ANC Commissioners. All three are being challenged in the general election. I hope each of their seats becomes a proxy on this issue. I would note also that Bruce Beckner was the leading torch bearer against the NCRC preschool, and even led the fight against new sidewalks in Cleveland Park, in an effort to fight the pre-school (of which he lives next door). The tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of wasted DC taxpayer money caused by Mr. Beckner (via delays he instigated in the project) should send a red flag to anyone considering supporting him or Conroy on November 7th. This was not good use of taxpayer dollars or community time. If the kind of activism embodied by these three commissioners is indicative of a Conroy Council tenure, then it is very telling.


Theresa Conroy said...

I want to comment on what you characterize as a “dead horse” issue—Mary Cheh’s intention to remain a tenured GW professor if she is elected to the D.C. Council.

You mention that Linda Cropp never had to recuse herself from Council proceedings even though her husband is employed by GW. The D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, however, did consider the issue in a June, 2006, legal opinion, which is available on its web site. I am not aware of Mary Cheh seeking, or receiving, a similar opinion about her potential conflict.

In a Northwest Current article I raised the point that because Mary Cheh would be an employee of GW, and because GW is engaged in business for profit, under D.C. law she would legally have to decline to serve on any Council committee with jurisdiction over matters in which GW has financial interest. I don’t believe that point was raised during the primary, probably because people assume that GW is not engaged in business for profit (the standard that applies in order for the conflict of interest law to apply to a Council member who is also an employee). In fact, however, GW has acknowledged in publicly-available tax filings that it engages in business for profit, in addition to its extensive tax-exempt activities.

Linda Cropp is not subject to the same standard as Mary Cheh would be, because Linda Cropp’s connection to GW is only through her husband, who is the GW employee. There is a reasonable public policy reason why Linda Cropp should be treated differently than Mary Cheh. D.C. law recognizes that a Council member’s spouse should be able to earn a living without causing a conflict issue for the member. But when the Council member draws a salary from the government and also a salary from another employer, a higher conflict of interest standard can apply.

Also, the Lars S. Hydle you mention in your posting is not a Republican.

DC Poster said...

Ms. Conroy,

Thank you for taking the time to read the comments and respond. I think my broader point was that in a field of nine candidates, voters were able to decide if this was significant enough of an issue to negate Ms. Cheh's bid for the Ward 3 seat. Clearly the magnitude of her Primary victory was enough to parse through whether this was an important issue to voters.

With respect to Lars Hydle, there are multiple posts across DC Watch (the mail), and neighborhood Yahoo Groups where he makes the claim that he is a republican. Further a Google search shows several donations to republican causes and candidates.

Nothing wrong with being a republican, but don't sign a letter purportedly by democrats. If there is more than 1 Lars Hydle who lives in Washington DC, then I apologize for the error.