Is a meal for a special occasion worth hundreds of dollars?
A former Democrat with a national profile is recreating himself as a Republican in Virginia. District politicos are jockeying for position in anticipation of the next mayoral election. And Marylanders are bracing for the grand opening of the state’s largest slots facility. Join our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Jack Evans D.C. Council member (D-Ward 2); Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue
- William Campos Member, Prince George's County Council, D-District 2
- Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
Politics Hour Extra
Politics Hour Video
Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans talked about the possibility of a future mayoral campaign. Evans lost a D.C. mayoral bid in 1998. “I have made no secret that I would love to be mayor of the District of Columbia, and if that opportunity ever presents itself to run for it I would definitely take it,” Evans said.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers, and he apparently has begun to have some kind of weird environmental out-of-body experiences. Here's what he tweeted this past week. You know how we report that animals in the forest start shaking and running before we know of an earthquake? I feel like that.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWhat -- the other person in the studio is supposed to be our guest who is not supposed to be introduced till later but who horns in on every conversation right from the very beginning, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans. Let's not welcome him yet. Just let's talk about...
MR. TOM SHERWOODNo.
NNAMDI...what's going on with you.
SHERWOODWell, I feel like the animal in the forest who is feeling the ground shake or that the odd wind blowing or something that, in the politics of this city, we're on the cusp of something, and people just went crazy with Twitter. And maybe I should apologize for having tweeted that because some people had said, well, how much wine had you been drinking?
SHERWOODI only have had one glass of wine, so that wasn't it. But I do think people -- every reporter in town knows that with the fast pace of those two people from the Gray campaign who pled guilty to felonies and when the U.S. attorney who says that the Gray campaign deceived the voters that we're nowhere near the end of this scandal. And I just feel like we're ready for another earthquake moment.
NNAMDIWell, here's what most human beings say. We wait for the other shoe to drop.
SHERWOODYeah. But this is a centipede.
SHERWOODWe've got so many shoes dropping that there will be shoes dropping for a month, so we're not going to have one more shoe dropping.
SHERWOODWe've got several shoes.
NNAMDIYou had to go to an out-of-body experience to describe...
SHERWOODWell, I was trying to be, you know, I'm trying to, you know -- and unlike your program, I'm trying to entertain people with my column.
NNAMDIHave you ever known Tom to be spiritual, Jack Evans? He seems to be...
MR. JACK EVANSNo, I have not.
SHERWOODI'm very spiritual.
NNAMDIHe seems to be developing some kind of (unintelligible).
SHERWOODI'm a Seventh-Day Agnostic, but I'm very spiritual.
NNAMDIHe seems to be very spiritual here. Councilmember Chairman Kwame Brown has raised a question about the fact that Loose Lips and City Paper reported that the council chairman's wife, Marcia Brown, is being sued for allegedly not paying more than $15,000 in credit card debt. She's being sued by American Express. The council chairman says that is out of bounds. It's not fair. It's a private -- it's a family matter. I think he raises a legitimate question, but I think there is an answer for that question.
NNAMDIAnd that is whether or not family members of public or elected officials are open territory for the media. There seems to be a kind of consensus in the media that for non-adult children that's out of bounds. You do not try to aggressively cover the lives of the non-adult children of public figures. But when it comes to spouses, it seems that that's open territory. You know that if you happen to be married to a public official, whatever you do can reflect on his or her tenure.
SHERWOODYes. I -- no one is here talking about Kwame Brown's children or anything like that, although remember the issue when Mayor Fenty was mayor about where his kids would be going to school. He felt that we had intruded on that, but they did go to an out-of-boundary school. In this case, the chairman, I believe -- as a reporter, I believe the chairman is wrong. The chairman -- in 2010, when he was running for chairman, I actually reported that he and his wife were being sued for $50,000 in unpaid credit card bills from five different credit card companies.
SHERWOODAnd it was a major concern for people who were deciding whether he should be chairman or not. The fact that the chairman has ongoing financial issues in his family could affect the way he acts in public. I don't know if it will or won't, but it could. And so, therefore, it's legitimate news if his wife is in court -- it was a court document. It wasn't like a rumor or something like that. It wasn't the earthquake matter. It was a fact that she's being sued for not paying a credit card bill. That affects his life. That affects how he works. And so, therefore, it's news.
NNAMDIYou don't have any spiritual feelings about that, do you?
SHERWOODI would say pay your bills.
SHERWOODAnd then there won't be any news if you pay your bills.
NNAMDIAs we mentioned, our guest is a member of the D.C. Council. He's a Democrat from Ward 2 who chairs the council's Committee on Finance and Revenue. Jack Evans, thank you for joining us.
EVANSWell, thanks for having me. Always a pleasure to be here.
NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments for Jack Evans, call us at 800-433-8850. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also go to our website, kojoshow.org, and join the conversation there. You can send a tweet, it is my understanding, to #politicshour. And if that's not correct, I'll be corrected very shortly. But, Jack Evans, let's cut right to the chase. You've made no secret in the past of aspirations for citywide office.
NNAMDIThose aspirations were hinted at again this weekend when The Washington Post reported that you and others are angling to run for mayor in 2014, maybe even earlier, depending on what happens. The Post reporter you have met with, former city administrators Michael Rogers and Elijah Rogers -- are you meeting only with people named Rogers?
NNAMDIWhat have you been trying to learn from people -- where's Roy?
NNAMDIWhat have you been trying to learn...
NNAMDI...from people in these conversations, and why have chosen this moment to have those conversations?
EVANSWell, I want to say, first off, thanks for having me...
EVANS...and, secondly, as far as anyone running for mayor, we have a mayor. We have a chair. And until or unless something happens between now and whenever, all of us have jobs to do. I'm the Ward 2 councilmember actually running for re-election in November for the Ward 2 council seat.
SHERWOODWho's your opponent in that race?
EVANSI do not have opponent.
SHERWOODOK, thank you.
EVANSSo -- but we are all politicians, political animals, and are always very interested in what's happening in the city. So I've known Michael Rogers 20-some years and Elijah Rogers probably even longer. And so I routinely have breakfast with a number of people around the city just to keep my fingers on the pulse of what's happening. And so that's what I was doing in those conversations. And Michael and Elijah, you know, are very well-respected individuals who really do know a lot about what's happening in the city.
SHERWOODThere's expectation that, given the prosecutor, the U.S. Atty. Ronald Machin's look into Kwame Brown finances and Mayor Gray's campaign finances in separate cases that either or both race seats could be open in the worst case for them. As you look ahead for potential political change, are you thinking that you might run for mayor if Mayor Gray were to step down or not run again? Or would you run for chairman maybe if Kwame Brown, for any reason, had to step down?
EVANSWell, as I said, again, I'm, at the moment, running for the Ward 2 council seat. Speculating ahead if any opportunities were to present themselves as either chair or mayor in the future, I would definitely take a hard look at it. It's no secret I ran for mayor in 1998. I've considered running for mayor and chairman in intervening years. Always a factor for me were my three children who are now older now, and, frankly, my life is different than it was, say, four or five years ago when (unintelligible).
SHERWOODBut you would -- as mayor or as chairman, you'd have to give up an outside job, which is fairly lucrative. You would have to -- you would -- you're considered one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful councilmember 'cause you've run the Finance and Revenue Committee. That's a lot to give up.
EVANSYeah. And those are all factors, Tom, that, you know, what I'm doing right now I enjoy immensely, being a Ward 2 councilmember, what I do in my outside interests, and it would be a different change. But having said that, you know, I, again, have made no secret that I would love to be mayor of the District of Columbia. And if that opportunity ever presents itself to run for it, I would definitely take it.
NNAMDIWe're talking with Jack Evans. He's a member of the D.C. Council, a Democrat who represents Ward 2 and chairs the council's Committee on Finance and Revenue. If you have questions or comments for him, you can call us at 800-433-8850. If you're going to tweet about "The Politics Hour," use "The Politics Hour" hashtag. You can also go to our website, kojoshow.org. Join the conversation there.
NNAMDIYou've represented Ward 2 for two decades. You've chaired the Finance Committee for a long time. People know you as a Ward 2 guy, a budget guy. They might not know as much about your broader vision for the entire city on issues like education, public health, crime. What do you feel people will need to know about you in areas like that?
EVANSWell, I think one of the few things I have, that many other people don't have, is a long record. As you mentioned, I've been in the council 21 years. I have served in many different capacities in the council as the pro tem, as the finance chair. I've chaired a variety of committees over the years. I've served as chairman of the board of Metro, chairman of the board of the council of governments. In those time periods, you get to do a lot. And I think what people would want to know about me is what is my record in Ward 2 and citywide on education, for instance.
EVANSPeople would probably not remember that I authored the -- along with Councilmember Fenty, Fiscal Modernization Act. I didn't introduce it but was the person who actually came with the funding that has really resulted in our schools being modernized, was the chief person on the council supporting the school takeover, actually advocated a mayor takeover of the school system when I ran for mayor in 1998. And so I have long record in education that probably people in the city would not know -- same on the health care issues.
EVANSYeah, exactly, same on the health care issues. I've always worked closely with Councilmember Catania on health issues, was on the committee for a while dealing with Greater Southeast and was working closely with Mayor Williams when we closed D.C. General and (unintelligible).
SHERWOODAnd the baseball stadium. Those are all the positive things where you've been involved in.
NNAMDIDo you expect him to bring up the negative things?
SHERWOODWell, that's (unintelligible).
SHERWOODActually, that's why I was jumping in.
NNAMDIThat's for us to do.
EVANSWell, and it's also important -- you mentioned the baseball stadium. It's also important to know that -- and I don't say that I solely am responsible for these things. But you needed a leader to build a convention center, to build the Verizon Center, to build the baseball stadium, to put bids in the downtown area that really resulted in the economic revitalization of this city. And those are positives and negatives.
EVANSThere will be people in this city who will hate me till the day they die 'cause we built a baseball stadium and will campaign against me at every level. But you needed leaders to take a stand. It was unpopular at the time that resulted in the ultimate benefit to the city.
SHERWOODGenerally speaking, when you have the kind of corruption or the taint of corruption at the top, people will say, let's have someone new. In 1998, when you considered running for mayor...
SHERWOOD...Tony Williams came out of the left field and got elected mayor. There's a feeling -- many people say, it's unique to politics. We need someone who hasn't been there, who hasn't been there 20 years, someone who's untarnished who can come in and give fresh eyes to a new perspective, all those clichés about...
SHERWOOD...we want somebody who hasn't been there. It's the only industry we do that because, you know, we don't say we'll get rid of those journalists, get new journalists...
SHERWOOD...get rid of that radio host and get a new host.
EVANSGet me the doctor who just graduated.
SHERWOODBut in politics, is the feeling is get rid of the -- throw-the-bums-out-type stuff.
SHERWOOD...and we need fresh eyes. I mean, and The Post wrote a story about who might run, and they didn't really have a -- everybody who's thinking about running is somebody who's in office.
EVANSYeah, people who've been around. And I think there are some -- there has been a little bit of a mantra shift both nationwide and locally that people with experience are not necessarily all that bad, that maybe...
EVANS…they're not having someone who has done things, has a track record. I always use the example of Wall Street, which everyone just glazes over. But once every year, we go to Wall Street and sit across the table from the three bond rating agencies. And who do you want...
SHERWOODCan you name the three agencies? (unintelligible).
EVANS(unintelligible). Who do you want sitting there when your finances are at stake?
SHERWOODWell -- or play mayor. Would you -- one of the big issues for Mayor Gray beyond the troubles he's got is that he's got to decide whether he wants to ask Nat Gandhi to stay another five years as the independent chief financial officer.
SHERWOODThere's some suggesting that the mayor doesn't want it to be independent anymore. A, do you want an independent chief financial officer? B, do you still want Gandhi to stay?
EVANSAnd the answer to both questions would be yes. I think having, again, been here 21 years, I've seen a situation where we did not have an independent CFO. I saw it in the case of Mayor Kelly, in the case of Mayor Barry, and neither worked at all. Nat Gandhi, for all his shortcomings -- and he has made some mistakes -- I think, has really represented our city well.
EVANSAnd, again, whether you're dealing with Wall Street or Congress, Nat Gandhi has a stellar reputation in those areas, which have an enormous impact on our city. And so, at this stage in the game, I believe reappointing him makes a lot of sense, and keeping him independent of all of the outside political influence (unintelligible)...
SHERWOODSome people would like a nationwide search to consider people, in addition to Mr. Gandhi. And then others say, well, that would say to Mr. Gandhi that's a lack of confidence in you.
SHERWOODBut you say...
NNAMDISome people being Bill Lightfoot and Marie Drissel.
SHERWOODYeah, I was going to say.
EVANSWell, and I disagree with both of them. And I read their expose, which is, again, a rehash of the Harriette Walters' incident and things of that nature. Tom, you and Kojo, you've been here a long time. When we bring in people from the outside with stellar reputations, what happens? They fail here, leave and go somewhere else and succeed. There are example after example after example.
EVANSThis is a city where you really have to have to have local people who know what they're doing. And that's why I would support having Nat Gandhi stay on, and I would challenge Bill and Marie to debate that issue any day of the week.
NNAMDIGentlemen, please put your headphones on. We're about to go to the telephones. We will start with Eric, who is in Washington, D.C. Eric, go ahead, please. Your question or comment for Jack Evans.
ERICThank you, Kojo.
ERICBasically, you know, we're talking about Councilmember Evans' track record here. You know, Natwar Gandhi qualified the value of the West End Parcels. This is three public properties: a fire station, a library and a police station down on 21st and L at about $30 million. Yet, you help broker deal with your buddies over there at East Bank developers, multinational developers for a deal where we only get $20 million worth of credit to back into those properties to rebuild a firehouse and a library.
ERICI mean, this is a sort of a public property giveaway that we've seen in your track record. And, you know, I won't hate you for building a baseball stadium. But why didn't we get the team with it? I mean, for a cool billion dollars, we could've gotten the team, which is where the revenue is generated. Jack, your track record (unintelligible).
NNAMDIWell, I don't want to go to the baseball stadium yet. Let's start with the first issue at 21st and L and the development that you discussed. Jack Evans.
SHERWOODAnd the general feeling there is, so you can specifically answer him, is that being the downtown councilmember representing the core of downtown, that you are too friendly with developers.
EVANSAnd I'll respond to that question and the gentleman on the phone's question. I have represented downtown for 21 years. And when I took over as the representative of downtown, downtown didn't exist. And we have rebuilt downtown into the most exciting downtown in America, which is producing -- our tax revenues have literally doubled, $3 billion in excess revenue now from the property sales and incomes taxes produced from a living downtown, not just an office building crystal city downtown.
EVANSSo I think every effort we put into there has paid back enormously, which then goes to finance the schools and our human services clusters. So I take no criticism on what we've done in the downtown area and the projects we put together. Same with the West End, we have a library that is falling down. We have a vacant lot, and we have fire station in dire need of repair.
EVANSWe entered into a public-private partnership with Anthony Lanier's group and, I believe, have a tremendously exciting project that's coming out of it. And the numbers that we worked were the numbers that we felt were the -- necessary to get the project built.
SHERWOODI mean, he -- but he says Gandhi -- 30, and now 20.
NNAMDIHe said $30 million from Gandhi's estimate, but you got a deal of a 20.
EVANSUnfortunately, I have to look at the specifics of it 'cause I don't know exactly what's he's talking about with the 30 and 20, so I'd have to go look at it. But my best guess is that that's the deal we worked to make the numbers work, to get the project built.
SHERWOODFor the region, for all the people in town, of course, we could talk for an hour about this, but Reservation 13 on Capitol Hill where you would like the Redskins to bring their training facility, and ultimately with the goal being to build a brand new Redskins stadium...
SHERWOOD...on the footprint of RFK. What is the status of that? It looks like the mayor is rebidding that property.
EVANSWell, actually, it went out for a bid a while back. We ended up with two finalists on the southern two-thirds of the Reservation 13 property. It would not be area where – if we were to get a training facility, the training facility would be located. And my last conversations with the economic development people was they were evaluating the two and asking for the best and final bids from the two finalists on that property.
SHERWOODBut you're still for having the Redskins' training facility come to part of that land?
EVANSYes, I am. I still support it on the northern part.
NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call. On to Oscar in Northwest Washington. Oscar, go ahead, please.
OSCARYes. Good afternoon. My quick question is, as a resident of Ward 2, I'm concerned about one thing. We had just gone through that whole debacle with ethnics, and I -- Jack, I don't think it you ever fully explained JACPAC. And the second thing that I want you to explain to me is your connection with special interests 'cause if you run for mayor, would you be renounce accepting large donations?
OSCARBecause you've been on the council so long, so most people know you, would you refuse accepting large donations and just make maybe target donations of just $100 so that residents and the voters would not think that you are a tool of special interest and just pick developers.
EVANSOn the second question, no. I think we have campaign finance laws and campaign finance limits that make total sense for our city. For the ward council race, it's $500. The chairman, I believe, is $1,500 and the mayor is $2,000. And I think it's very hard to raise money in this environment, and I think you need money to run campaigns, and so, no. I think the laws we operate under are great as they are.
SHERWOODShould we have -- shouldn't we have better disclosure? I always look at those campaign finance forms. And you just -- they're haphazardly filled out. It has an obscure name. We don't -- it's really not enough information. We ought to have more information of who's giving money. Then we can judge who's getting what.
EVANSAnd I agree with that, Tom. See, disclosure is at the heart of everything I believe in. I disclose everything I do. I tell you where I get the money, how much money I get, then you as a voter make a decision as to whether you want to vote for me. I think the Office of Campaign Finance needs to do a better job of when the forms are filed, going back to the candidate and saying, these are incomplete. You need to fill these out correctly.
SHERWOODThe law only requires you make -- to ask a person for the information. If he or she doesn't give it, then there's no reason to ask for him a second time.
SHERWOODIt's really -- it's really weak. But what about the overall ethics? We've had this -- as I call a mattress of ethics problems hanging over the city. Where do you stand on that with the, you know, you deal with the mayor who's under investigation now has clamed up. You deal with the chairman who's under investigation and won't discuss what's going on with him. How does the city get out from under this where -- it's -- people will say it's like the Barry days of the year in 1980s? It's very suffocating.
EVANSWell, I think the difference between then and now is that the city itself, putting aside the troubles that some of the politicians are in, is running great. We have a number of really good agency heads. Services are being delivered. Our finances are in as good a shape as they've ever been in. And so if anything, the city itself is doing well.
EVANSAnd we were just out in Las Vegas for the shopping center convention, and we had more interest in stores and individuals being -- wanting to come to Washington that I've ever seen. And these were stores that two or three years ago didn't want to come here. The one that jump out at me was Costco who's opened up a store now wants to open a second and third store.
SHERWOODDo they ask you on the side, though, about ethics?
SHERWOODDid they say?
EVANSNever came up, I have to say. I think people who are interested in business are interested in business. And so the other part of your question is all of us. And I've seen my -- even my colleagues make these comments, which is like this to get over with. So we would encourage the U.S. attorney to move as quickly as he can and come to a decision and move forward for that.
NNAMDIThere are people trying to organize a ballot initiative to limit the influence of corporate money on local campaigns. At one point, Mayor Gray said that by May 15, he would have his own legislation on that issue. He has not come forward with it. But do you support that initiative?
EVANSNo. No, I think it's a terrible idea, Kojo. And I'll tell you why. You -- nationally and locally, no one has ever been able to limit money coming into campaigns. It just comes in a different form. On the national level, when they limited corporate donations, super PACs were the end result. And now you have less knowledge of who's contributing than you had before. I go back to my premise, disclosures at the basis of all campaign financing.
EVANSIf I'm honest and I disclose to you where I'm getting my money, you can then make a decision whether you want to vote for me. You limit corporate donations. You eliminate them in local elections. You will have PACs that now don't exist that will then contribute. People are not going to not participate in the process.
SHERWOODBut -- would it send a message that you don't like -- that we, citizens, don't like corporate rule of campaigns? And then if a corporation has not to contribute directly but then go to a PAC, then it would have to be disclosed in the PAC too, what would be wrong with that? That would -- they would have to band together. Like, the Board of Trade has a pact.
SHERWOODAnd its members collect money, and they put it out. You know, the Board of Trade is giving money.
SHERWOODBut what's wrong?
EVANSBut you could do it that way, too. I mean, again, there are many ways of doing it...
SHERWOODYou're not going to stop the flow.
EVANS...but you're not going to stop the flow.
SHERWOODYou're just going to change the accounting for it.
EVANSExactly, which is what -- which is why...
NNAMDISpeaking of PACs, one part of Oscar's question had to do with JACPAC. Oscar, what is your specific question with regard to JACPAC? Oscar, are you still there? I thought Oscar was still there.
SHERWOODI don't think JACPAC exists anymore.
EVANSNo. JACPAC has been gone...
NNAMDIIt does not. I know that.
EVANS…for eight or nine years now. It was...
NNAMDIBut is likely to come up if there's a Maryland campaign.
EVANSWell, I would just say, it was a political action committee that raised funds and that we closed down, and there was some question about whether the funds were being used in a proper fashion. It was determined after a long audit investigation that there was no wrongdoing involved at all. And we closed it down.
NNAMDIOn to Bill in Adams Morgan. Bill, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BILLYeah, I think that the answer to all of this -- I mean, Mr. Evans just gave the answer. Twenty years representing Ward 2 is just too long. In '94, we voted for term limits, and these people had the hubris to go and just overturn the law. Sixty three percent of District residents voted for term limits. All of these people are so infringed, they have no concern other than their -- continuing to run in office.
NNAMDISo you are in favor of term limits, and you would like to know if Jack Evans is in favor of term limits?
EVANSBut -- well, but let me...
BILLOf course, Mr. Evans is not in favor of term limits. He just -- he wants a lifetime job.
EVANSBut let me respond to your question. Why is 20 years too long given the progress that's been made? Just -- let's focus on Ward 2 and not the city. Look at the difference between Ward 2 in 1991 and the way it is today. And why would you say that 20 years is too long when the experience -- well, let's just me finish. Just let me finish. The experience I brought in those 20 years enabled us to build what we have today, whereas if I were gone in 1998, all of the -- everything that's happened since then may not have happened.
NNAMDIWhat do you say to that, Bill?
BILLYou're an egomaniac. You created...
NNAMDIBill, Bill, what do you say in -- Bill, what do you say in response to the specific point that Jack Evans has made about the level of development in Ward 2 today compared to 20 years ago? What do you think about that?
BILLIn the downtown of the capital of the world, it would be developed whether Mr. Evans was here, there or anywhere. I mean, give me a break. The guy is an egomaniac.
EVANSWell, I happen to disagree with you on that that things would've happened anyway. All I can say when people say that is there were two roads to take, the road when I was here or when I wasn't. When I was here, this is what happened, and we can't determine what would have happened had I not been here. And so...
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. Tom.
SHERWOODWell, you see the irritation of this. Now, having represented the ward -- I know we ask you sometimes -- what is your tie to the rest of the city? If, say, in far Ward 7, middle-class residential community, how often do they see Jack Evans, or in upper Ward 5 in Brookland, Catholic University? As you know, I've said this to you many times.
SHERWOODThe criticism of you is that you know the city's finances, and you know your ward very well, and you know the politics of the city. But you haven't really done the kind of knocking on the doors, going to the community meeting things that people say you ought to do if you were preparing to run.
EVANSAnd I think that's an observation people have made. And the answer to that is I haven't been preparing to run for a chair or a mayor in the last five years or whatever. I've been running, you know, for Ward 2 and doing the things that are important for the city. So it could be a valid criticism that people don't see me in other wards but...
NNAMDIBut what has been your own personal experience having been around for 20 years? Does citywide name recognition expand because of the length of time you've been doing and the kinds of projects you've been involved in? Have you found that you are much better known when you go to Ward 7 or Ward 8 or Ward 6 than you were, oh, 10 years ago?
EVANSThe answer to that question is yes and no. I think I'm better well known today than I was 10 years ago or 20 years ago, but I'm still not that well known. I think all of us in these jobs think we're much better known than we are. And I think if you were to -- go out into another ward other than Ward 2, my name recognition would not be nearly as high.
SHERWOODIs the city ready for a white mayor? A lot of voters in the past have said, even some white voters, well, you know, African-Americans are majority. We really -- they've been held down. We held back. We ought to not really have a white mayor, but are we ready for a white mayor now?
EVANSWell, I think that would be yet to be determined, Tom. I think -- I hope everyone in the city, when there's a next mayor's race or whatever, will look for the best candidate. And I think, nationwide, we've seen many changes in that attitude. And I think in the District, you probably will see that as well.
NNAMDIHere is Chris in Northeast Washington. Chris, your turn.
CHRISMr. Evans, I wanted to know your philosophy on the development of the RFK stadium site either as a practice facility for the Washington NFL franchise or as possibly a community recreational ball field and park facility. Thank you, and I'll listen to your answer off the air.
NNAMDIThanks for your call, Chris.
EVANSRight now, the way the law reads, the -- that side out there is federal land that is leased to the District of Columbia. And the law is very clear particularly where the RFK stadium sits, that the only thing that can be built there is a stadium. It was written back in the '50s and '60s when they were constructing that stadium. My position, though, would be, if it's at all possible, to have the Redskins relocate back into Washington D.C. to build a new stadium not financed by the city, to be held a new stadium currently where RFK sits and then to have the other accoutrements be there.
EVANSThe practice facility, I believe, you'd need a hotel. There was talk of a Hall of Fame, things of that nature. But that only takes up the RFK site itself, RFK stadium, and a little bit Reservation 13, about one-third of Reservation 13. The rest should be then developed into a neighborhood community along the lines of the Baltimore Harbor where you have -- there are two stadiums. Then you have all the neighborhood where people can go to after the games.
SHERWOODBut what about a park for the people who live there, the people who want to have their children run on -- play on field? Can you have a community of shops, restaurants, to have a community feel and not -- not Baltimore Harbor, in fact, which a lot of people don't like, but something that will be accessible to the people who live out there as opposed to just...
EVANSOh, I think you can. Yeah.
SHERWOODI can just see the tourist buses coming now.
EVANSYeah. No, I think you absolutely can have all of that developed out there, and I think that there's plenty of room to make it happen.
SHERWOODAnd this Kingman Island is 50 acres, for those who don't know this. Just opposite of the Anacostia River, the middle is Kingman Island -- 50 acres. Is that going to be just an environmental land...
SHERWOOD...or is it going to be undeveloped forever?
EVANSThat would be my position. Yeah. And I remember on the council voting to make that the way it is now when there was a proposal. If you remember by some counter, count this to build over a theme park or something there, and we voted to keep it as a undeveloped island.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones, here is Sandra in Southeast Washington.
NNAMDINot that we know your last name. Go ahead, Sandra. You're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SANDRAMy concern and question is, how did you vote on the Constituent Services Fund? Did you vote to get rid of it or to keep it? 'Cause some council members need it for the wards. And that was -- lets us know how you feel about the rest of the city and their problems.
EVANSI voted to keep it, and I would have kept it at the $80,000 level and would not have cut it back to the $40,000 level. I believe that the constituent service fund is very important for council members, particularly ward council members. We used to raise the 40, we used to raise the 80, and we spent all of it. And a large portion of it -- even though everyone who studies it says the opposite, a large portion of it went to residents not only in Ward 2 but throughout the city (unintelligible).
NNAMDIHow do you feel it should be regulated? How do you feel the Constituent Services Fund, since you approved of them at a level of $80,000, since you also approved of transparency, what would be your feeling about how they should be regulated? Exactly what should those funds be permissible to be used for?
EVANSWell, I think they should be used at the discretion of the councilmember as they have been in the past. And again, disclosure is the key. If you disclose how you spend your money, and then people can look at it and criticize or support what you have done. But what they have been -- traditionally been is a fund that the councilmember uses for his or her purposes. And keep in mind our laws are very different than other jurisdictions where in another jurisdiction, if a candidate runs for office and wins, he or she can keep their campaign funds indefinitely.
EVANSThis District of Columbia, I believe, is one of the few jurisdictions in America where you don't have that situation, where you have to close your campaign and get rid of your money, which is why the Constituent Services Funds came into being in the first place back in '70s when the (word?) government was formed.
SHERWOODThe mayor got very mad at the WTOP reporter Mark Segraves 'cause he reported that the mayor gets all these tickets to the stadium in the Verizon Center, and a lot were used by his children, the Mayor's children. Shouldn't we just have more disclosure on who gets all these freebies? So we just know that if the mayor gets 24 tickets -- and you can't just say constituents or Marine Corps soldier. We ought to know who they are so that we've got a sense of how this -- these free tickets are distributed.
EVANSSure. Sure. I would not be opposed to that at all. When the tickets are given to council members and the mayor that they need to keep a list. We actually do that with our constituent fund, a list of individuals who get the tickets or organizations, and then disclose them, and that would work fine.
SHERWOODIt's -- this little irritant whether someone thinks you're an egomaniac or...
EVANSRight. Right. Right.
SHERWOODBut whether it's tickets or the scandals, the U.S. attorney, it just seems like we're just slogging there as good as the city is doing economically.
SHERWOODThat people are just weary and -- even the people who afford the disclosure the initiative 70 of, you know, there -- they said the citizens need to do something. It just seems like we're really in a bad spot.
EVANSI think it's feeding. One thing is feeding on another thing that is leading to the malaise, so to speak, that you're discussing. And again, hopefully, when these investigations get behind us, that will improve the atmosphere going forward. But I think people have to remember, what is it they're actually looking for? And that, having been here 20 years, I was here, as the gentleman mentioned, when we had term limits and took them off. I was here when we had election cycles, so you could only raise $50 from any donor.
EVANSAnd that year, I raised $3,000 for a campaign, and it was that so ridiculous that we repealed it. And so you're trying to get a handle. I think the system we have in place in the District of Columbia, by and large, works fine. And it works fine as the results of people who have violated that system have been identified, have been caught and have been punished.
SHERWOODDo you want the mayor to speak about his situation? He's a leader of the city. Two of his campaign aids have gone, have plead guilty to felonies. Should he speak, regardless of what his lawyer says?
EVANSWell, I think the mayor at this stage is taking the advice of his lawyer. And I think that's...
NNAMDIWhy will you ask a lawyer that question?
EVANSThat's what I think he ought to do.
SHERWOODWell, Bill Lightfoot is a lawyer. He was here last week, and he said the mayor should speak as the leader of the city, not into the legalities of whatever may or may not happen.
NNAMDIGood response. Jack Evans is a member of the D.C. council. He's a Democrat from Ward 2 who chairs the council's committee on finance and revenue. We've been talking about how he would sell himself, so to speak, if he were involved in a city-wide race, not that he's considering running in a city-wide race right now. That, however, is...
SHERWOODWho would be your toughest opponent?
EVANSWell, again, we have to see how this all shakes out. And like the mayor said, when -- let's play it all out and see what happens.
NNAMDICould you bring in the next guest please? He's stalling again. It's time for him to be out of here.
SHERWOODWell, we could have a special election for council chairman and/or mayor.
NNAMDIDon't tell him to stall. That's true. This could happen and that means it would be in a much near future than we're thinking about it at this point.
EVANSThen we got a whole of people around here and vote from there...
SHERWOODThat's true. It could be 10 people...
EVANSJust like a debate.
SHERWOOD...running for mayor or council chairman. How many votes would you need?
NNAMDII hate to say this, but hit the road, Jack.
SHERWOODYou have to get up, and you have to take your briefcase...
EVANSI thought I was here for the whole hour. Where am I going to go?
SHERWOODIf you leave your briefcase, I'll go through it and see if there's anything you need.
NNAMDIYou keep having this problem over and over again. Jack Evans, always a pleasure. Thank you.
EVANSI'm available next week.
NNAMDIThank you so much for joining us. Tom Sherwood, let's move to...
NNAMDI...Virginia for a second because you used to cover Virginia politics. And you know how quirky Virginia politics can be. How quirky is it that former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, who is a well-known Democrat, has been meeting with the state's Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli, who is a well-known Republican who is running for governor? And yet, Governor Wilder and Atty. Gen. Cuccinelli have been meeting. What do you see -- what do you think about that?
SHERWOODFor someone -- I covered Gov. Wilder. I covered his presidential race in New Hampshire. Gov. Wilder is -- the one thing you can say about him is -- predict about him is he's not predictable.
SHERWOODI can see him wanting to sit down and understand Ken Cuccinelli and want to know -- he has a very interesting personality, Gov. Wilder does. He doesn't want to be pigeon holed. He doesn't want to be thought of as a knee-jerk person who will just do something because everyone else does it. I think he's a refreshing voice in Virginia. He just drives Democrats crazy 'cause he cuddles up to Republicans and won't endorse the candidates from various office. I think Doug Wilder is a unique politician in this country.
NNAMDIHe follows his own council, doesn't he? Keeps his own council...
NNAMDI...and follows it.
SHERWOODYes, he does. And, you know, he can be exasperating, irritating, and he's great news copy.
NNAMDIWell, Prince George's County in the state of Maryland as you say, not Prince George's County, but the state of Maryland is about to open one of the biggest slot machine facilities in the entire country next week in Anne Arundel County. The executive in Prince George's County says that county need a casino of its own or it won't be able to pursue badly needed project. Joining us in studio now is William Campos. He is a member of the Prince George's County council. He's a Democrat. William Campos, good to see you again. Thank you for joining us.
MR. WILLIAM CAMPOSIt's good to see you, Kojo. Thank you for having me.
NNAMDIWell, have I just said, the county executive says he needs these slots, this gambling to be able to pursue badly needed products is likely -- projects is likely to come up in a special session with the general assembly this summer. How do you feel about the potential for slots coming to nearby National Harbor?
CAMPOSWell, let me say this. There's a big difference for what is being proposed to National Harbor as opposed to just having slots, what people are calling them slots barns. So it's -- I'm not sure if Anne Arundel County's a full-blown casino. I think it just might be a slots entity.
CAMPOSBut what is being proposed for National Harbor is a full entertainment component with a casino and slots part too as well. But it would be essentially -- well, what I want people to have an idea of -- let's say the next Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, if it ever happens, imagine having the potential to actually going to National Harbor and seeing it in that type of venue.
CAMPOSThat's what's being talked about. It is not just a slots facility. It is a full entertainment facility at National Harbor, which is an entertainment area in Prince George's County. So if you ask me, I think...
CAMPOSIn my opinion, I think it would be great. I would love to have something like that. It's not just a slots facility. And if it does bring not only revenue entertainment into the county, how is bad necessarily? I mean, we would be elevating the National Harbor to on even higher level than already is, and it's not even fully complete yet.
NNAMDI800-433-8850. How do feel about gambling coming to National Harbor? 800-433-8850. You can send email at email@example.com, or you can use The Politics Hour hashtag to send us a tweet. Tom Sherwood.
SHERWOODThe Anne Arundel facility is going to have the classic slot machines, and it's going to have electronic table games, poker and those things. There won't be live tables so -- but, you know, this has, you know, ever since the first -- I think Bill Peterson was the developer of National Harbor. Ever since he first announced he was going to build this, I've said on this program and other programs and written that there's going to be a casino, a major place on the East Coast.
SHERWOODIf you have a casino there, you'll have to build -- have a lot more boats coming across the river from Alexandria. I mean, you really are in a prime spot for -- to steal or to compete, well, let me say this.
SHERWOODTo compete for convention...
NNAMDIOh, I like the first one first.
SHERWOODWell, that's the way people in the city see it. But to compete with the city, Marriot Corporation has just announced that it's moving into a deal to run the Gaylord Hotels, including the one at National Harbor. Marriott runs, like, 15 hotels in Las Vegas, although it doesn't own any gambling facilities itself. It's the largest hotel operator. It's endorsed this area. I mean, you have a lot of upside to this. What happened to the ministers who said, we don't want gambling in the state of Maryland? Are they -- they're just toast?
CAMPOSNo, no, no, not at all. And it's really -- when you go out there into the community, you go out into -- and do your own personal polls, whether it's at a town hall meeting, whether it's a -- on the radio, for example -- and we've -- I've done this myself -- it really comes down to almost 50/50 split of people that want this type of venue -- either slots or casinos or gambling in general -- and people that don't.
CAMPOSAnd you're right. There are a large -- there's a large community within the religious community, large amounts of people that do not want this -- any type of gambling whatsoever. And what I want people to understand, what you just talked about, is this -- we're talking about a $1 billion entity possibly coming to Prince George's County. And I don't want to use the word steal. I want to -- we are all part of the D.C. Metro region.
CAMPOSI go to D.C. all the time or entertainment, whether it's the Verizon Center to watch the Caps or to restaurants, what have you. So we are all part of this. We can all benefit from one another. And in my opinion, I think people need to see the benefits that could potentially be coming. And at the same time, I mean, we are talking about major revenues coming into the county in a time, you know, you're seeing...
NNAMDII guess -- I'm inferring from that that you support Senate President Mike Miller's argument that if gambling does not come, Prince George's County will not be able to afford the new teaching hospital plan there.
CAMPOSLet me say this. This is something that has been thrown into the mix in the last couple of months. Prior to that, if you had told me that there was a casino coming to Prince George's County, I wouldn't have believed you. If there was gambling, I couldn't have thought that there was any type of gambling whatsoever coming to Prince George's County.
CAMPOSBut this, all of a sudden, came up a couple of months ago and talked about, you know, talked about this big multimillion -- close to a $1 billion entity. But, yes, we are suffering from a deficit. We have close to $100 million just about every year that we have to try to figure out how to balance.
CAMPOSBut I wouldn't say if this wasn't this type of component, if it was just gambling, if it was -- I'm sorry, if it was just slots, the way that it had been proposed before, then I would have to say, no. I still disagree. I don't think necessarily we need just slots at a, you know, at a venue, at a -- like a slot bar or at a racetrack.
NNAMDIBut since we're talking about a major entertainment...
CAMPOSWe're talking about -- exactly.
NNAMDI...a destination at National Harbor. You agree with it, but apparently you don't feel that this whole hospital issue should be brought into it at all?
CAMPOSThere was a -- the agreement that was made between Prince George's County and the state years ago had nothing to do with gambling and the hospital. And so the reason I'm saying -- of course, we need all the money that we can get for every single thing that we do in Prince George's County and including the hospital. But I'm saying no because I want the hospital to be separate from anything that potentially could be coming from revenues as far as gambling or this type of entertainment center is concerned.
CAMPOSThere was an agreement from the state and the county to work together to try to make sure that our hospital system was up and running and was doing well, and that should be completely separate to what anything that may be coming from in the future because of...
NNAMDIOur guest is William Campos. He's a member of the Prince George's County Council. He's a Democrat. If you have questions or comments for him, call us at 800-433-8850 or send a tweet to #tech -- #politicshour.
SHERWOODHere's -- the Anne Arundel facility, which is just electronic games only, is 45 minutes away. It's right there on the Baltimore Beltway, right next to the Thurgood Marshall Airport, Baltimore. It seems to me that if you open a full-fledged casino in Prince George's County, you're going to gut that place, that the business -- there will be -- yes, people will go play some of the slots and electronic games.
SHERWOODBut if people want to go to a casino, they're going to get into their cars, and they're going to drive to Prince George's County. What do you do to the people who bid for and got the facility in Anne Arundel County?
CAMPOSLook, in my opinion -- I don't gamble, for one. So I'm only going to assume what it is that I -- you know, from what it is that I've seen and I've heard. In my opinion, I think there's definitely enough spacing, enough for everybody, both in Anne Arundel County and in Prince George's County. I have no idea why people play slots. I truly don't. But there's hundreds and hundreds of people that play them every day, and they travel either to West Virginia, to Delaware, to other parts of the Tri-State area to play slots.
CAMPOSI have no idea why, but they do. And I'm assuming, since we do have that type of market, people going out all over the place, if you have another casino in Prince George's County and you have the slots over at Anne Arundel Mills, that people will still go to -- depending where it is that they want to -- whether they want to travel down -- further south or they want to travel further north, or if they're coming from Baltimore and wanted to stay in the area, I'm assuming there's going to be -- it's like having two different types of restaurants.
CAMPOSYou're going to go to the one that you're going to -- you prefer, and I think there's going to be enough clientele for either one of them. I don't see necessarily hurting them tragically and drastically that they're talking about. Will people prefer one over the other in certain instances? I'm sure they are, but I think there's still enough for everybody. Now I'm not advocating for slots everywhere or I'm advocating -- I'm just telling you just from what...
SHERWOODWhat about ethics in your county? You've had -- you had a terrible situation with Jack Johnson and the county, an ongoing -- the probes in that county. Gambling is not the most pristine business in the world, that there's a lot of money that sloshes around. Why should anyone feel comfortable that Prince George's County can be ethically strong enough to withstand the kind of temptations and appeals that would come with a gambling casino?
CAMPOSLook, everything that happened with Jack Johnson in the previous administration is sad. It really is, but it is in the past. This is a new administration.
SHERWOODCorruption is in the past in Prince George's County?
CAMPOSNo, no, I'm not saying corruption. I mean, clearly, we hope the corruption is in the past for any government entity in the D.C. Metro region. OK. But obviously, we had a black eye. We got a couple of black eyes in the last couple of years. But we are starting anew. We have a new administration. We have a majority new county council. And, in my opinion, I mean, I think the difference is between night and day from the previous administration. And it's one of the...
SHERWOODPay-to-play is a history?
CAMPOSIt should always be in the past.
SHERWOODYou hope it is.
CAMPOSI'm hoping it is. I mean…
NNAMDIVoters in Maryland are going to get the final say this fall on the state's DREAM Act law, which offers tuition benefits to undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children. What do you expect as opposed to what do you hope will happen when the DREAM Act is put up for referendum?
CAMPOSWhat do I expect? That's a great question because that is another huge issue that seems to be dividing this whole entire state, the state of Maryland. And as of right now, I don't know what the numbers are looking like the way that I've explained to you as far as gambling is concerned, where I can see it mostly at 50-50, 45-55 depending on the day. I see this as very -- also split. I just don't know which side, to be honest with you, is leading more than the other. So I couldn't tell you.
CAMPOSI think it's sad that it's going to referendum, personally, my personal opinion. I am an immigrant into this country. I have been educated here. I was a legal resident. I am not a resident, of course, but I know that -- in my opinion, I don't see why it is that it's so controversial trying to just give somebody the chance to educate themselves and essentially get to a level where, you know, we want people to be. What is wrong with an educated society? I mean, I don't see -- there's a...
SHERWOODThe theory is that if you provide children of illegal immigrants with these, essentially the benefits of citizenship, including education, is that you will encourage more illegal immigration.
CAMPOSYou know, I...
SHERWOODThat's the way it's -- in the least passionate way, it's been explained to me why you would oppose it.
CAMPOSI don't see -- if you were to allow the children of illegal immigrants the in-state tuition, just to be able to pay in-state tuition -- first of all, Latinos, let's say, to start with, I'm Latino. I'm an immigrant. The largest -- I'm sorry -- immigrant population in the state of Maryland is Latino. Let's say you, all of a sudden, have in-state tuition. Let's say the referendum goes through and it's allowed from that point on.
CAMPOSI don't see Latinos rushing all of a sudden all -- at the major schools in the D.C. metro region or in Maryland, in this case, and people being left out. Latinos are some of the -- as far as the numbers are concerned, have the highest numbers of not enrolling in school. This is not necessarily, you know, going to flood the gates...
SHERWOODIs it racial? Do you think there's a racial concern about it?
CAMPOSI don't think necessarily it's a racial concern. It's just an education concern. People just assume that -- I don't know what it is people would think to be honest with you. In my opinion, how can we go wrong with educating somebody that wants to be educated? Historically in this country, it's been tough. It's been tough for minorities to gain their education, and I think this is just the new wave. And it's tough. I mean, I appreciate where people are coming from. I always -- I like to see the different arguments...
SHERWOODWell, some people would like to send the parent and the children back to their country of origin.
CAMPOSI understand that, but, I mean, look, if you have a child that came here through no fault of their own, let's say, when he was four or five, has grown up as an American, does -- may or may not speak the language, whether it's Spanish or whatever it is that they come from -- whatever language that it is of the country that they come from and they've grown up as an American, have studied everything up until senior year in high school and perhaps may even be the valedictorian, which is one of the things that we saw over in Florida, what are you going to do -- where are you going to send them to?
NNAMDIGot to move to another issue. The county is in the middle of a heated debate right now about whether development should be allowed to proceed that would include a Whole Foods grocery store. What's the latest update on this debate, and what, issues in your view, need to be resolved?
CAMPOSAll right. Well this one's a little sensitive...
SHERWOODIn 20 seconds.
NNAMDIWell, we got a little more.
CAMPOSThis is a little sensitive because it is an open case. And I do sit on the district council, the body that will be voting on this eventually whether...
NNAMDIWhich is the same body as the county council. They just become the district council when whenever they're discussing development issues.
CAMPOSFor zoning, exactly.
CAMPOSExactly. So I can ell you what the major components are, but I can't tell you, you know, anything else basically...
SHERWOODWhat are the sticking points between people?
CAMPOSThe sticking point, well, you have three major jurisdictions, Riverdale Park, University Park and College Park. Two out of those three major jurisdictions where the development will be literally in the middle of is -- are in favor or it. One is not. The same arguments that you hear whenever there's anything big being prepared as to any jurisdiction regardless whether it's D.C., Virginia, what have you, you see this on the news all the time.
CAMPOSWhether it's going to increase the traffic, whether it's going to cut down significant amount of trees, whether it's even needed, something along those lines (unintelligible) all those things are the major issues right now. And so, right now, we're trying to figure out, you know, we had to balance out what the community is saying, what the jurisdictions, particularly the ones that, you know, the two that are in favor -- two are in favor, one is not...
NNAMDIWhen can we expect a resolution?
CAMPOSWow, that's a good question.
CAMPOSThat's a good question. Definitely this year. I would definitely see something happening. Something has to happen this year as far as this case is concerned.
NNAMDIWe're almost out of time. William Campos is a member of the Prince George's County Council. You can call this the continuing education of William Campos, Tom Sherwood. I'd like you to explain to him -- he said twice, he has no idea why people play slots. Please tell him why people play slots.
SHERWOODA chance of getting money.
SHERWOODThat's why they rob banks. That's where the money is. But very quickly, would you let the Redskins buy their way out of the Redskins stadium deal for a few hundred million dollars?
CAMPOSOh, that's a -- would I (unintelligible) ?
SHERWOODYou have 10 seconds.
CAMPOSIf I had a chance, I want to keep the Redskins where they are.
NNAMDIWell, we should have you and Jack Evans get together outside in the hallway and duke it out like Pacquiao and Mayweather. William Campos, thank you for joining us.
NNAMDITom Sherwood, always a pleasure.
SHERWOODAll right. Happy weekend.
NNAMDIThank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
Most Recent Shows
Fairfax County residents will vote on whether to adopt a four percent meal tax ballot measure on November's ballot. We explore why the ballot question has become such a hot-button issue in the county.
As the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, graphic artist Emory Douglas created striking visual images for the movement's publications and posters.
Six weeks before election day, Kojo checks in on where Virginia's voters stand.