Category Archives: Vincent Gray

Mayoral Forum Wednesday excludes Libertarians

Apparently DC Votes opposes same day voter registration!

You may have seen this flyer for a mayoral forum tomorrow around town listing me as a participant. I am actually excluded from the forum.

Someone showed it to me Monday night — yesterday —  and I started searching my email for an invitation to a forum for Wednesday October 1 and couldn’t find one.

It turns out the invite was buried in an email with a candidate questionnaire.  I’ve been answering candidate questionnaires all month — from the League of Women Voters, from the DC Youth Alliance, etc. — and I’d glanced at this one and put it off because it was longer and more involved than the others.  The subject line of the September 12 email is “Strengthening Our Local Democracy Candidate Questionnaire” — no mention of an event.  You have to open the email and see the mention of an event in the prologue text, not in the attached questionnaire (which is what I immediately went to).

I sent DC Votes my answers on the morning of September 30th, along with a statement that I regretted the misunderstanding.  I pointed out to them that they were unique in combining a questionnaire and an event invitation in the same email — and not mentioning the event invite in the subject line. They maintain it would be “unfair” to allow anyone in who didn’t reply by September 26th.  After closely questioning a slightly evasive Kimberly Perry on the phone, who first insisted everyone else understood it was an event invitation (and that I was uniquely oblivious), it looks like Muriel Bowser may have replied and is at any rate skipping their event, and Green Party candidate Faith Crannich never replied, so she too may not have realized there was an event.

The two essential questions for this forum are:

1) Does DC Vote oppose same week voter registration?

2) Will the coffee be strong enough if only Schwartz and Catania are there, and don’t contrast their approaches to statehood but devolve into a personal squabble?

I am not sure I am going to find out.  I suppose they won’t actually have tons of security, as American University does, to keep out the uninvited candidates.  But I don’t know if it is worth it to go sit in a room with the same two dozen activists/local political junkies, who show up at every event.

Below are my answers.  Ms. Perry opined that it would be unfair to provide my answers to the public since I would have had a chance to read Schwartz’s or Catania’s answers posted sometime this week on the DC Vote website (I actually went on their website last night to find out about the date and time of the mystery event my supporters were telling me about, and didn’t see any such answers from other candidates.  It’s amusing that she thinks a Libertarian answer would resemble theirs.) She thinks it is more democratic to exclude a candidate and their answers to her questions from her website and her forum because she didn’t get them 5 days ahead of her event than it is to include a candidate when she gets the answers a day ahead of time.

If you are donating to this group perhaps you should find an alternative.  This approach may be why we don’t have Statehood.  Maybe Congress people aren’t opening their emails because they don’t mention the real subject in the subject line.

If only I had corporate PAC money so I could have staff to schedule events and read my sea of email, including those with uninformative subject lines.  My apologies if you attend the event expecting to see me.

Hey Muriel — wanna have coffee tomorrow morning at Corner Bakery?  My treat!  I guess we will be forgoing the 30 DC activists who go to almost every campaign event.

******************************************************************************

  1. How might you coordinate with DC’s Delegate to Congress and together maximize the city’s productive relationships with the Washington regional congressional delegation to advance the agenda for greater autonomy and representation?

I think in general you need to bypass politicians and appeal directly to their voters and their interests.  In the case of Washington area representatives we would need to present a case that greater DC autonomy would allow DC to be a greater contributor of economic growth for the entire region, making the pie grow as opposed to competing for a slice of a pie not growing.  Somewhere in that project I’d like to commission a study of how allowing DC to get rid of the height limit on buildings would bring more jobs to the area, by allowing more units, both residential and commercial, to be built in the District.

  1. What strategies would you employ to stop riders from being placed on DC appropriation bills?

I think riders are placed on all bills in Congress so it is a much more general problem.  If DC had Senators and Representatives its political class would simply be participating in riders, earmarks etc. that affect it and other states.  Until DC is a state it has little power.  There are strategies it does not seem to have used much, including boycotting purchases from Congressional Districts whose representatives have attached such riders or in other ways been inimical to DC.

  1. If elected mayor and invited to the White House, what would be the top three issues you would raise? Related to this, what plans do you have to reach out to the White House after taking office?

This would depend in part on who is in the White House.  The three issues I would focus on with all federal officials are: (1) how DC needs Statehood, and before that more autonomy, to deal with its own criminal justice issues, so that it could wind down the war on drugs, something I think most DC residents favor; (2) allowing DC residents in federal prisons to be relocated to prisons closer to DC so that their family members could visit them, including potentially having a federal prison in DC; and (3) allowing DC more control of its own economic life, with an end to the height limit, and the transfer of unused federal property to the private economy.

  1. How might you amend DC’s Home Rule charter, within the legal guidelines outlined by Congress, to gain any greater autonomy for our local government?

In general I favor weening DC from the federal payment and instead allowing it to borrow money as freely as any other state.  DC has an influx of highly paid residents who ultimately derive their incomes from federal government employment and related activities like lobbying.  It can instead tax them if it needs money, and they can vote out DC politicians if they think the taxes and spending are unwise.

  1. What types of executive actions could the DC government take to assert greater autonomy without changing the law or asking for approval from Congress?  

DC’s political class is not highly regarded by DC residents and even less so by residents of neighboring states and other states whose Congressional representatives vote about DC matters. Rather than have our political class perpetually bleat about Statehood, which may be widely viewed as a self-interested cause, where they would like new monies and powers in their new roles as Governors or Senators of a new state, I favor a perpetual referendum (or initiative) in every election where the actual opinion of DC voters is measured about whether they would like Statehood, the status quo, or some other arrangement (including exemption from federal taxation as in Puerto Rico).

  1. While organizations like ours are fostering local, national and international partnerships all the time to advance democracy, from your perspective, who are our most strategic allies in the fight for autonomy and representation that we haven’t reached out to yet?

I think rather than doing the same things over and over one should identify new and maverick political factions and find a way of engaging them on the issues.  For example, Senators Rand Paul and Cory Booker have started cooperating on interesting criminal justice reforms (that would incidentally be great for District residents impacted by the criminal justice system).  We should formulate agendas they could be enticed to support.
  1. What specific things would residents of DC see coming out of your mayor’s office that would make it clear that advancing democracy for DC is a high priority?

First do no harm.  The DC government seems to have happily overturned term limits initiatives passed by the voters, and kept campaign finance reform initiatives with thousands of signatures off the ballot, in year past.  This makes it look like Statehood would not be about democracy for DC voters, but making a state for the DC political class where “home rule” would not be greater autonomy, but the political class ruling your home.

  1. The District government ended up divided over the local Budget Autonomy Act. This law was unanimously supported by the council, signed by the Mayor and overwhelmingly approved by voters.  As Mayor, what would you do to make sure DC presents a unified front on initiatives designed to give greater autonomy to the people of the District?

I don’t know that DC voters are or need to be unified on issues or that a mayor should spin to make it look like they are.  All states of course are heavily regulated by the federal government, which witholds federal funds unless they go along with federal policies.  DC simply has this worse than anyone else.


DC could forgoe the federal payment, since he who pays the piper calls the tune.  If that is not feasible DC could seek out state governments suing the federal government on a variety of issues to preserve state and local autonomy, and join them as a plaintiff; and then ask for cooperation on our autonomy in return.  Perhaps this could be part of the mission of the new Attorney General’s office.

  1. In 2001, Congress mandated through the Appropriations Act that the District establish two reserves that could be described as “rainy day” funds.  Although these reserves are funded with local dollars, Congress set very strict rules on when funds could be used and how they would have to be repaid.  What would you do, if anything, to seek greater or full local autonomy over these reserves?

In general I don’t think politicians can be trusted with money, and any such fund will be tapped to buy votes and reward donors.  I would suggest that we alter the city charter to take away control of such funds from Congress, by instead substituting that they can only be spent on projects identified by voters by initiative (and not including by the city council through referendums).

  1. Recently, a federal district judge from New York held that the city’s ban on the carrying of firearms outside the home is unconstitutional. How do you think the city should respond to this ruling?

I think the DC political class should resist its temptation to spend DC taxpayers money in court fighting to see how far they can go in minimizing the Bill of Rights.  Giving the DC political class “autonomy” from the Constitution and Bill of Rights does nothing for the autonomy of DC residents.  Every neighborhood list serve I read talks about intruders in yards, cars, back porches.  Some categories of crime, including rape, have risen in recent years, even if homicide rates have dropped.  Law abiding citizens should be allowed to have a gun at home in DC just as they are in many states.  Even the White House seems to be having a problem with intruders this year, and the police are not always there in time to prevent it.

  1. DC’s charter school board recently sued the city challenging the authority of the Council to alter the student funding formula established by Congress. What would you do as mayor to contest Congressional interference in matters like schools that that are clearly state and local functions?

I favor autonomy for DC residents, not the DC political class.  So I favor equal funding for charter schools,  In part this might allow enough charter schools to be started that the 22,000 students waiting for a space in one could enroll.  It would also save DC taxpayers money being wasted in court by the DC government defunding its unequal and discriminatory funding of students based on where they choose to learn.  Since cahrter schools and traditional public schools have different racial demographics — charter schools are more African American, with Ward 3 having no charter schools – this inequity has a racial inflection.


Congress and the federal Department of Education interfere in local schools in all states and I do in general oppose that.

Libertarians included in neighborhood and smaller debates, but censored from two largest


One local area libertarian pointed out to me 6th and I synagogue is having this forum and did not invite me.  


I am being invited to all the smaller forums (Capitol Hill Arts Center, DC Statehood group, National Capital Area ACLU, DC Youth Alliance) but not this one and the only big one, the WAMU/NPR forum.  I am asking you to help me by writing a letter to Debra Linick at dlinick@jcouncil.org and ask that I be included.  I have contacted her and so has the fellow who first pointed this out to me.

I will also work on finding a contact for the WAMU on air debate, moderated by Kojo Namdi.

Thank you.

Whether I am included or not I and any other libertarians who can will be at the event to flyer the audience.


Libertarian mayoral candidate Bruce Majors at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop forum.
(Independent candidate Carol Schwartz and Green Party candidate faith seated.)












———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Subject: You missed a candidate in your mayoral forum invites
To: Bruce Majors <majors.bruce@gmail.com>

Hi Bruce,
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington is the organization coordinating the candidate forum. Sixth & I is hosting the event, but we are not determining who is actually participating. I would reach out to Debra Linick (dlinick@jcouncil.org) to inquire about being included.
Thanks,
Hannah

Hannah O—–, Communications Manager
Sixth & I – 600 I Street, NW – Washington, DC 20001
Direct: 202.266.4864 | Fax: 202.408.5124 | Web: www.sixthandi.org 
Follow us on Twitter @sixthandi
Join our community Facebook.com/sixthandi
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D.C. Democratic Party contradictions – what I learned at the Mayoral forums

I’ve attended three mayoral forums so far, the DC for Democracy and the Board of Trade Democrats only forums as an audience member, and the ACLU forum as a candidate.

One funny thing about the forums is that if the group has money most candidates show up, and if it doesn’t only half the candidates do.  Mayor Gray skipped the ACLU, Andy Shallal skipped the ACLU and the Board of Trade (someone told me he had a family emergency),  Muriel Bowser skipped the ACLU and DC for Democracy, Jack Evans skipped DC for Democracy, Carlos Allen skipped the Board of Trade, where there was a seat and name card waiting for him, but I think he may not have known he was invited.

Upcoming forums that include me are the March 10 DC Statehood Committee forum at Martin Luther King library and the neighborhood forum for Takoma Park, DC and surrounding neighborhoods.

Here are the five contradictions I’ve noticed repeated by most of the Democrats:

DC Democratic Party contradiction 1 – Virginia and Maryland suburbanites come to DC and take our good jobs, and we can’t tax their incomes – so we are going to use DC taxpayer dollars to subsidize their metro fares so they can get here easier.

DC Democratic Party contradiction 2 (Tommy Wells edition) – we want urban planning where DC is a walkable city and everyone can walk within 5 minutes to school or work, AND we want more tax dollars spent on metro so employers can all relocate to Georgetown while workers are segregated in Anacostia, with the taxpayer footing the transportation bill.

DC Democratic Party contradiction 3 – We want to make DC tax rates on commercial property, business income, etc etc competitive with Virginia to keep jobs here, AND we can’t name a single program or agency we would cut or eliminate.

DC Democratic Party contradiction 4 (everybody but Tommy Wells edition) – we want to decriminalize pot, in part to end the huge racial disparity in arrests (8 times as likely for black pot users – weirdly twice the national average disparity of 3.7 times as likely!), but we want to keep it a crime or have a high fine for smoking on the street or in public, as black youth are more likely to do than whites.

DC Democratic Party contradiction 5 – the number of homeless living on the streets in DC is rising rapidly, with hypothermia for the homeless, nuisance and crime for everyone else, and hygiene issues for both, AND our Democratic solution to this is to build more and nicer taxpayer funded housing for homeless people who come to DC, without collaboration with Maryland or Virginia, so we can import all the homeless from Richmond to Baltimore and beyond.

Republican Party caucus attacks D.C. Libertarian mayoral candidate Majors for … wanting to cut defense budget….?

I actually pledge, if elected Mayor of D.C., NOT to remove any of the D.C. government military bases from Japan or Germany. So the Republican Security Council has nothing to fear! – Libertarian mayoral candidate Bruce Majors


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Post by Republican Security Council.

Bruce Majors is the Libertarian Party candidate for Mayor of Washington, DC. He describes himself as part of the “Ron Paul Revolution,” and is an anti-war activist. He is well to the left of Obama and Pelosi on defense, foreign policy and war on terror issues. 

Majors has many conservative friends but is often detrimental to the cause. His focus last year was on the Libertarian gubernatorial nominee in Virginia, and once again, the third party vote snatched victory from a Republican. 

Bruce’s hero, Ron Paul, endorsed GOP nominee Ken Cuccinelli, but that made no difference to him. Libertarian candidates have also cost the GOP five U.S. Senate seats (MN, OR, MT, IN and WA). Of the 10 candidates running for Mayor, Majors is the only avowed homosexual.


He completely supports gay marriage and has worked against candidates who back the Defense of Marriage Act. It would be difficult to challenge his leadership on gay issues. 


The surprise is that he has received the lowest rating possible from the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance (GLAA). It has nothing to do with gay issues, but GLAA does not like him because Majors opposes increased government spending and taxation. 


The organization said Majors and “his party’s ideological distrust of government is at odds with policies and reforms favored by GLAA. Consequently, many of his responses were interpreted as non-responsive or negative.” 


This is not a unique response. It has happened to other gay Republicans, and to conservative black and Hispanic candidates. The liberal agenda comes first with many of these national organizations.

Libertarian candidates forum schedule

Libertarians have, as usual, been excluded from a number of forums with increasingly legalistic and more complicated rationalizations, now that we have permanent ballot access and a primary with 7 ballot qualified candidates on the April primary ballot.

In the past gatekeepers and censors protecting DC’s one party monopoly would just say “no one allowed unless they are already on the ballot by April or are in a recognized party.”

This year one Georgetown mayoral forum at Dumbarton Oaks moderated by Current newspapers publisher Davis Kennedy was held with so little advance notice in early January that Libertarians didn’t even really have time to complain about the false advertising – that it was actually a partisan Democrats’ only forum, heavy with Democrats who were polling at 1% and skipped by some of the major Democratic candidates.

Then a coalition of groups led by DC for Democracy held a forum at the 6th and I synagogue (video previously posted here below). The DC4Ders claimed when asked if Libertarians were invited that only candidates in primaries that were contested would be invited. But they were caught in a fib – they in fact only invited Democrats, and two Green Party candidates who were challenging each other in a Green Party primary showed up and claimed a right to speak. And once again the DC4Ders forum was attended by the incumbent mayor and a bunch of Democrats polling at 1% or 2%. Major challengers Jack Evans and Muriel Bowser skipped it.

Similarly the allegedly non-partisan or bi-partisan Kennedy Political Union at American University is holding a mayoral forum in February, and spending the AU corporate dollar advertising it to surrounding neighborhoods. But they only invited Democrats; it’s a partisan forum for the Democratic primary falsely advertised as a mayoral candidates forum. When I contacted them to ask if other parties would be invited, AU public relations director Andrew Huff said “only ballot qualified candidates are invited, so I guess it is in that sense a Democratic forum.”. When I pointed out that I AM a ballot qualified candidate on the April primary ballot he wrote back “oh, I guess it is just for Democrats” and agreed to advertise it more truthfully in the future. One wonders if once again major Democratic candidates will just skip the KPU forum, mainly before students who are not DC voters, but enjoy the advertising money AU spends publicizing their names in advertising to surrounding neighborhoods – a nice gift to grateful incumbents?

Libertarians will be in a growing number of forums in February and March including:

Pranav Badhwar, Ward 6 city council debate, February 20, Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, 201 4th Street SE, 7 pm

Bruce Majors, Takoma Park/Brightwood/Shepherd Park neighborhood forum by Neighbors Inc. in February and before the ACLU in March (check back for locations and dates).

Some "ballot qualified" candidates are more equal that others…

Mr. Huff responded later saying they would now advertise their Mayoral Forum as a Democrats Only Mayoral Forum.

Of course, of the 8 Democrats who are “ballot qualified” some are polling in the 1-2% region far below the 6-7% DC area Libertarian candidates have been earning the past two years in actual elections.

At least we are on a first name basis!

————————————————————————————————————————-


Good morning, Bruce.

KPU forwarded me your email, as my office has been assisting them in planning the upcoming DC Mayoral debate on campus.

The 2/12 debate is open to all candidates who qualified for the April 1 ballot, of which there are now 8. In a sense, I suppose that this makes it a Democratic primary debate.

Hope this helps.

Thanks,

Andrew

Andrew Huff | Director of Community Relations
The American University | Washington, DC 20016
p: 202.885.2167 | f: 202.885.3278

From: “Chandler D. Thornton”
To: Andrew Huff ,
Date: 01/18/2014 04:12 PM
Subject: Fwd: New contact form received

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Bruce Majors, Libertarian for Mayo”
Date: January 18, 2014 at 3:43:16 PM EST
To: kpu@ausg.org
To: kpu@ausg.org
Subject: New contact form received

You have received a new contact form message.
Name : Bruce Majors, Libertarian for Mayor
Email : Majors.bruce@gmail.com
Message : Is the February forum a mayoral candidates forum or. Democratic primary mayoral candidates forum?

It is being advertised as the former.

Thanks for any clarification.

*****************************************************
Here is my response:

I am on the April ballot.

The Libertarians have a primary on the ballot on April 1.

The DC Libertarian Party has had permanent ballot status since 2012, when I ran for Congress and received 17,000 votes.

Our Ward 6 Libertarian candidate is participating in the Ward 6 candidate forum February 20.

I would ask that if your candidate forum is open only to Democrats you advertise it as a forum for Democratic candidates, not for candidates or for ballot qualified candidates, since I (and others) are both of the latter.

Else I will have to point out when people ask me about it that your advertising is fraudulent, even if out of ignorance.

Thank you.

——————————————————————————————————————So American Unversity is excluding me, so far, from it’s mayoral forum, which it has been advertising as a “mayoral forum” not a “Democratic Party forum.”. Their PR person said it is only open to ballot qualified candidates. When I pointed out I am ballot qualified, on the April primary ballot, he responded that “oops, it is just for Democrats.”. He promised that in the thousands of dollars worth of advertising theyare spending in the Current newspapers they will now try to label them as a Democratic candidates forum. Two interesting facts: 1) several of the 8 Democrats are at 1 or 2% in the polls, far below the 6% I got in an actual election in DC in 2012 or the 7% Sarvis got last year in VA and 2) the 8 candidates AU is spending thousands promoting in ads for this forum include the incumbent mayor and at least three incumbent city council members running for mayor – and AU gets a variety of benefits from the DC government.

Does DC need a whistleblower shield law?

Mayor Gray has fired the DC health exchange employee who has criticized this failing program, and Jack Evans (whose first campaign I did volunteer work for in the Jurassic Age, when I was a twenty something), says this was a mistake.  They are both wrong; Evans doesn’t go nearly far enough.

DC attacks on whistleblowers and critics is nothing new. Seema Bhat was fired by the DC water authority when she reported very high lead levels ten years ago. And how many people could have told us about corruption and embezzlement by DC officials much earlier than we learned, but were afraid they would be fired from the jobs that pay their rent and feed their kids?

DC needs a whistleblower shield law that makes it impossible to fire a whistleblower unless and until your prove, in some extremely public forum with extremely transparent procedures, that they were maliciously lying or grossly incompetent.

I think I and a number of other Libertarian candidates in DC will be proposing that between now and the next election.

Washington City Paper reports:

For a guy who could ended up running against Vince Gray, mayoral hopeful Jack Evans has had trouble finding anything bad to say about the incumbent. Thanks to local righty talker WMAL, though, Evans has finally found something to disagree with the mayor about.

In an appearance yesterday on WMAL’s Morning on the Mall, Evans says Gray’s administration was wrong to fire D.C. insurance commissioner William White for not getting approval for a press release critical of President Barack Obama. “I think that was a big mistake on the mayor’s part,” Evans says.


In an Evans administration, White would’ve received a punishment short of dismissal.  “My understanding is that the mayor and his people were annoyed that Mr. White criticized the president without prior approval from the mayor,” Evans says. “And that may have been a mistake on Mr. White’s part, but I don’t believe it was a firing offense. That was more of a reprimand offense.”
These WMAL candidate interviews, incidentally, have become one of the best parts of the early mayoral campaign. Witness, later in the interview, Evans trying to gently explain to the host that he doesn’t support building giant parking garages in downtown. In October, Tommy Wells had to defend his marijuana decriminalization bill against hosts’ concerns that it would let federal workers smoke pot all the time.
Why candidates in a Democratic primary think they have to reach out to WMAL’s dittohead audience remains a mystery to LL, but it’s refreshing to see the candidates exposed to some old-fashioned exurban conservatism.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery