Maryland Senator Ben Cardin joins us to talk about the youth movement against gun violence, Russian sanctions, and more. D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh shares her thoughts on relief for high water bills and news that D.C. Public Schools is taking over an all girls charter school.
Federal investigators appear to be accelerating their investigation into the D.C. Mayor’s administration. Virginia’s state and local candidates race for the finish line. And Maryland politicos cry foul as a redistricting plan is rushed through Annapolis. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
- Donna Edwards Member, U.S. House of Representatives (D-MD, 4th Congressional District)
Rep. Donna Edwards discusses her feelings on Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s redistricting plan, which affects her area. “It’s a sad day when Democrats are drawing a map that, I believe, dilutes minority representation in Montgomery County,” Edwards said:
Redrawing Maryland’s 4th Congressional District
This week, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation redrawing the state’s eight congressional districts. The new map prompted outcries from the Republican Party of Maryland and some Democrats delegation.
Donna Edwards represents the 4th Congressional District, a “majority-minority” district encompassing parts of Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. Under the new boundaries, the district’s contours will change significantly. The new district will include a smaller percentage of African American voters.
The map below shows the percentage of African American residents over the age of 18 (broken down by voting precinct). The current boundaries of the 4th District are drawn in blue. The new boundaries are drawn in red.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Later in the broadcast, we will be looking at the federal probe of the mayoral race in D.C. and whether it's overshadowing other important developments, like the mayor's fiery speech on voting rights at the King Memorial, the resignation of the executive director of the Board of Elections, what's going on at the Frank Reeves Municipal Center at 14th and U Streets, Northwest, and I guess just as importantly, what is not going on there.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWe won't be having guests when we come to that segment, so your emails, your tweets and your phone calls are what we'll be looking for. But first, Tom Sherwood. He is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Hi, Tom.
MR. TOM SHERWOODHello. I've never been part of a crew before. The only thing I have is...
SHERWOODThe only thing I have is a crew t-shirt.
NNAMDIYou're a crew leader now.
SHERWOODAnd I have a TV crew. Larry Ballard's (sp?) here and, you know, taking pictures.
NNAMDIYou're a leader of "The Politics Hour" crew. You're the one who keeps this boat racing.
SHERWOODI don't have to get a tattoo, do I?
NNAMDIYes, actually, you do.
SHERWOODI'm not sure -- it would have to be a fake one.
NNAMDIIt depends on where we will have the Tom Sherwood tattoo placed.
SHERWOODAnd what will it say.
NNAMDIAnd this is the day on which he usually makes his contribution. We'll probably get to that later.
SHERWOODWell, I have it right here.
SHERWOOD...in a yellow envelope because that's the color of the envelope that was sent to me. I think it means you're late.
NNAMDIYeah. Well, you're not too late.
SHERWOODIt looks like a bill.
NNAMDIYou're not too late. You are in the procrastination zone, but you're not too late as yet. Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland signed into law yesterday a plan to carve out new voting districts in Maryland. It is a plan that was described by The Washington Post as, quoting here, "a partisan plan designed to pick up another House seat for Democrats by anchoring most of the state's eight congressional districts in suburban Washington, where minority populations are surging."
NNAMDIIt's also a plan that our first guest has fought tooth and nail to prevent from happening. She is Donna Edwards, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She is a Democrat from Maryland. Congresswoman Edwards, good to see you again.
REP. DONNA EDWARDSThanks. It's great to be here. You know, Kojo, my mother and I are both part of your crew.
EDWARDSSo it's good to be here.
NNAMDI...an intergenerational crew. We go from generation to generation. Thank you very much for being a part of the crew and a member of the station. You have been fighting Gov. O'Malley's new redistricting plan tooth and nail. Why?
EDWARDSWell, when I first saw the plan, it struck me as very problematic. You know, Montgomery County right here outside the Washington -- in the Washington suburbs is now a majority-minority county. Currently, the 4th Congressional District that I represent is partially in Montgomery County, which allows part of the minority population to elect a representative of their choice. Under the governor's map, the three congressional districts that have been drawn into Montgomery County now ensure that the majority-minority population has really no opportunity for minority representation in any of those three congressional districts.
NNAMDIAnd if I can be allowed to interrupt...
EDWARDSI think it's problematic.
NNAMDI...if you can go to kojoshow.org, you will see both the old and new configuration of the districts in Maryland. The old, you'll see outlined in blue. The new, you'll see outlined in red. And you'll be able to make the comparison yourself at our website, kojoshow.org. But I interrupted you.
EDWARDSThat's all right. I mean, I'm -- I tried to make this case to the governor when the map was first revealed to me, and it's gone through the legislative process now. The governor has signed the map into law, but I think it's a sad day when Democrats are drawing a map that really, I believe, dilutes minority representation in Montgomery County. And, you know, I would like for us to have done it a different way to preserve some opportunity for minority representation in that county.
EDWARDSEven though I share the view as a Democrat that we had the capacity to create an opportunity for another Democratic seat in the Congress, and I'm very strongly supportive of that. I just don't think he had to do it by diluting minority representation.
NNAMDIIf you'd like to join the conversation with Congresswoman Edwards, call us at 800-433-8850, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For those who are not clear, where is your new district going to be?
EDWARDSSo I describe my new district as representing a set of earmuffs or earphones. One wide part of the district is located in Prince George's County, expanding the part of Prince George's County that I now represent in the county, my home county. And then, there's a strip that goes sort of up a highway and connects to Anne Arundel County. And the other side of the earmuff or the earphone is Anne Arundel County in the district. And in between that in Prince George's County is the 5th Congressional District represented by my colleague Steny Hoyer.
SHERWOODWhen you wrote your statement, you said that this -- that you fought the process, that you -- or you fought the efforts of the process, but that it's now run its course. I was surprised that you're still continuing to kind of attack it rather than to embrace the Anne Arundel people who are now in your – I guess you're doing both, is that what you're trying to do?
EDWARDSWell, I always shared the view that I would end up representing some of Anne Arundel County. I actually don't have a problem representing Prince George's or Anne Arundel County or any other county that's drawn. I do think it's important, however, for us to point out what the flaws are, and there are flaws. And I respect the process the legislature has convened. The governor has signed this map into law, and I plan to represent Prince George's and Anne Arundel County.
SHERWOODWell, I want to ask about the congressman who lost the most in this redistricting. First, I want to ask about Anne Arundel. Is this part -- what part of the county is it -- is this where the Anne Arundel Mills is or where -- it's where the slot machines are going to be? What part is it?
EDWARDSNot entirely. I mean, the district actually doesn't include, for example, Fort Meade, which is a little closer, but does include areas around that go almost to Annapolis and part of the district if you were to go out Highway 214, Central Ave. And I'm getting to know the district. I've actually spent some time in that part of the new congressional district because my son used to go camping in that part of the district.
SHERWOODNow, you have not -- oh, good. You have not liked the part that you objected to, but do you believe the congressman -- that Republican Congressman Bartlett was treated fairly in this redistricting?
EDWARDSWell, I think it raises a really interesting question. I always believed that you could fairly draw a new district that would be competitive for Democrats because the migration of population in Frederick County that's in western Maryland and also northern Montgomery County is where we're seeing, you know, tremendous population growth and migration. And so I was always convinced that you could draw a congressional district to the north where there would be competition for a Democrat. It might not be as severely drawn as this map is, so that the representation is about 53 percent of the district, but you might be able to get 49, 50 percent, which would be a competitive Democratic district.
SHERWOODGoing forward, would you -- well, first of all, the committee that drew this map is the governor's committee that included Thomas Mike Miller, the president of the Senate, and House Speaker Michael Busch and Jeanne Hitchcock, who is a mayor's appointment secretary. So out of the five people, they were pretty clear they would do what -- well, I started to say what the governor wants, but I don't think the guys in the assembly would appreciate that. Do you, like, see going forward your supporting any legal challenge to the redistricting?
NNAMDIFor those who may not be aware of it, Maryland Republican leaders and the Fannie Lou Hamer Political Action Committee have called on the Justice Department to investigate whether Gov. O'Malley and Democrats racially gerrymandered Maryland's congressional map for their party's gain. Have you signed onto that?
EDWARDSI have not. Let me just be clear. I mean, the issues that are being raised are issues that I actually raised privately with the governor on the Monday before he released his map, because I wanted to make sure that the governor had an opportunity to correct for some of these issues that I know that I see. And I think, you know, I don't share...
NNAMDIYou proposed an alternative map.
EDWARDSI did. I tried to use the governor's existing map to propose an alternative that respected minority interests. I don't even think that map, frankly, was, you know, was perfect, but I do think that, you know, we're at a stage now -- I mean, I'm a, you know, really strong solid Democrat. I'm on the Democratic congressional campaign committee. Our job is to regain the United States House of Representatives. And I plan to do that. And I think it's just unfortunate that we've come to this point where we actually open ourselves up to challenges to the map. I don't think that we had to be here.
NNAMDIBut you're not necessarily supporting the challenge.
SHERWOOD...just to be clear, you're not joining the challenges or you might join them. Where are you?
EDWARDSNo, no, no, I'm not. I mean, I've made that clear from the very beginning. I mean, I think that we have in our state a legislative process, which I do respect and I tried to weigh in with the, you know, with the governor and was never -- I did.
NNAMDIYou fought for 12 rounds. The bell has rung, and so you stepped back to your corner.
EDWARDSI did and -- but what I do is I still continue to advocate for the interest of minority communities in our state. We have a growing minority population. Maryland is a 45 percent minority state right now. It is likely that over this next decade it will be a majority-minority state. And I think that our representation really has to begin to reflect that. And I know that there's an interest in some in just kind of holding on to those, you know, strings and throes of power. But just because we can do it doesn't necessarily mean it's the right thing to do.
NNAMDILet's discuss that philosophical question for just one second because it seems that on the one hand, what the party mainstream leadership is saying to you, look, we have a presidential election coming up. Look, we have a state in which we can get more Democratic districts than we do now. Donna Edwards, don't mess this up in what we see as a smaller parochial interest here. Sure, we are interested in having more accurate minority reflection on our delegation.
NNAMDIBut the big picture here is that we got a state in which we are able to establish greater control, have more influence in the presidential race, and maybe in upcoming congressional elections if we can put the Democrats back in office, then Elijah Cummings will have a more senior role, and that'll be all the better for minorities 'cause you, too, will have a more senior role.
EDWARDSYou know, those are great political interests and concerns, and I respect that and I share that, part of that view. I actually happen to believe as a Democrat and as a strong Democrat that we actually could have both respected the interest of minority communities and our political considerations. I don't think it was one or the other, and I think it's just unfortunate that that is the way it appears.
EDWARDSAnd, you know, at some point or other, there will be a majority-minority population in the state of Maryland probably within this next decade. Our representation at every level has to begin to reflect that, and my fear frankly in drawing these congressional districts as they are is that that will have ripple effect when it comes to drawing the state legislative districts.
NNAMDIWell, are you saying some would argue who support the proposal that minorities can still not get elected in districts are -- that are either majority or significantly white?
EDWARDSWell, let me just share with you part of what's happened. The 8th Congressional District currently represented by Mr. Van Hollen is a majority-minority district as it sits today. Under the new map in which we will run in 2012, it is now a 66 percent majority white district as opposed to a majority-minority district. Now, I am not saying that across this country, including as evidenced by our president, that people who represent minority populations can't run and win in those districts.
EDWARDSI do think that it makes it more complicated for people to elect a representative of their choice when these districts are so narrowly circumscribed to preclude that kind of representation in a majority in that -- whether it's a congressional district or a state legislative district.
SHERWOODIn Steny Hoyer's district -- he's one of the most powerful Democrats in the Congress -- what happened in his district?
EDWARDSWell, it's interesting 'cause in Prince George's County we actually experienced a growth of African-American and Hispanic population, and yet, in both Steny Hoyer's district and my district, the 4th and 5th, which both comprise Prince George's County, we actually lost slightly African-American voting age population in that -- in the county. I don't totally understand that.
EDWARDSI think it's up to Senate president Miller and Mr. Bush and our governor to explain that to us, while there still is a possibility, obviously, that at some point or other in the future in Mr. Hoyer's district, an African-American or a Hispanic can run in that district and win. You know, to me, there was no reason necessarily to reduce the minority population when there was population growth in Prince George's and Charles County.
SHERWOODAnd those could be elements of any legal challenge.
EDWARDSI don't, you know, I don't know. I mean, I have never been of the view that we should extend these processes into court. I am of the view, however, that it's important to respect minority interest and that you cannot, I mean, our government was found on the view that the majority doesn't always rule and win. I mean, that's the reason that we have provisions, you know, throughout our system that allow for minority voices to be heard, and this should be no different.
SHERWOODYou have good relationships, I think, with Gov. O'Malley. Have you spoken to him since this passed? Or on, of course, you said on Monday I think you talked about it. But have you spoken to him since it's passed? And has he just told you this is kind of the raw politics that they were dealing with? What was his explanation?
EDWARDSI have not spoken to the governor since this passed and was signed into law yesterday. I did speak with the governor beforehand and tried to make the case to them about a different way that they could think about doing this map that respected interest.
SHERWOODAnd what did he say to you?
EDWARDSI don't -- I just -- I think that they believe, they truly believe that they've satisfied minority interest in this map. I just don't happen to share that belief.
NNAMDIAnd Maryland is not one of the states being monitored under the provisions of the Voting Rights Acts. However, given that the Justice Department has been appealed to, it is entirely possible that the head of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, who just happens to be from Maryland, is likely to take a look at this.
EDWARDSI don't know. I mean, I haven't been in communication with the Department of Justice in that respect. What I will say is that all across this country, we see Republican legislatures try to pack so many minorities that they actually foreclose Democratic and other representation in their states. We see Republican governors doing that thing.
EDWARDSI just had hoped that in Maryland that we would not see Democrats doing some of those same things, and I think it's just a really unfortunate circumstance. And we're all -- I'm gonna, you know, we're all big people and we're gonna move forward here because our interest is in representing the interest of Marylanders who want jobs and opportunity for the future, and I'm gonna continue to make that case. I do think that it was important to point out what the flaws are and to try to encourage our leadership to look at this differently.
NNAMDITom Perez, who's head of the Civil Rights Department of the Justice Department, is a Marylander. And we need to go to the telephones, so please don your headphones. Here is Marianne (PH) in Derwood, Md. Marianne, hold on a second while Tom Sherwood gets his headphone untangled. But go ahead, Marianne, please.
MARIANNEHi. First of all, I wanna say that I am in Donna Edwards' district and I love being represented by you. I just adore it. Your votes go exactly with mine on -- 100 percent. And I got an email to call up the other state legislators and ask them to support your map instead of the proposed map. And I called up Sam Arora's office first and I was told that -- they said, are you aware that under Donna Edward's map, I would no longer be in her district? And that kind of stopped me dead in my tracks.
MARIANNEAnd then she went on. I said, well, if we're in a new district, would it be democratic? And she said yes. And I want your views on that and to know if that's true. (unintelligible)
EDWARDSWell, thank you very much, and I appreciate your saying that you like my representation of the fourth congressional district of Derwood, Md. I really value that and I'm humbled by that. I tried to -- when I tried to communicate with the governor, I basically took the map that they drew and tried to figure out a way in which we could try to respect minority interests and still hold to the texture of the map that was already drawn by the governor, which had already drawn out Derwood and Clarksburg at the northern and western part of the fourth congressional district.
EDWARDSAnd so as a result, I just ended up really drawing the precincts that are still in the fourth district in Silver Spring. Ideally, if I had been able to start from scratch, frankly, it would have been a different ball game, and so I think that that's unfortunate. I was actually trying to get the governor to think about doing an entirely different map that continued to respect these -- those interests, and that's not what happened.
EDWARDSAnd we thought -- a number of us got together and thought, well, let's try to use the governor's map as a basis and see what it is that we can do that would continue to represent some of these interests. And so we did end up with an imperfect map, quite frankly, even at the end, even as I was promoting it.
EDWARDSBut let me just say to the people of Clarksburg and Derwood, it has been a privilege and honor to represent you in Congress, and I'll continue doing that through 2012, even as we begin to prepare for another election because there are deep needs in that -- those areas of our county that are more rural than some other areas that have different interests, that are not just the interests that are shared by the immediate Metropolitan Washington suburbs. And it's important to have a representative who understands that.
NNAMDITom, we're down to three minutes left with the congresswoman.
SHERWOODVery quickly, do you feel like you were -- you're fairly popular, I think, in the state and among the Democrats. Do you feel like you were personally, in some way, targeted, or do you just happen to be collateral damage in that it just played out to this, the best way to get the Democratics larger state goal was to mess with yours? Do you feel like you were targeted?
EDWARDSI don't know.
SHERWOODOh, I haven't heard any personal animosities here.
EDWARDSI don't wanna draw any conclusions about why this was done. What I will say is that the base that was represented in Montgomery County actually -- even from when I ran in 2006 and lost in that election challenging Mr. Wynn, that that was a very strong base of support for me in Montgomery County. I think they are clearly people who recognize that. I think you'll have to ask those folks who drew it, what their intent was.
EDWARDSWhat I will say is the more important factor here is whether the majority-minority population of Montgomery County will get the kind of representation that they deserve, that respects their minority interest in our state.
NNAMDIWhen he was asked about the new voting boundaries, the majority leader of the Maryland House of Delegates, Montgomery County's Kumar Barve, told the Washington Post the county is past race as an issue. How do you see it?
EDWARDSWell, I think that what -- evidenced both in our counties, Prince George's and Montgomery County and across this country is that, you know, we've come a long way. Montgomery County is a very diverse county that's very welcoming of lots of minority groups. But I don't think anyone, even in the 21st century, even in 2011, would say that we are past race as an issue and especially if you're one of those minority groups.
SHERWOODPeople said that when President Obama was elected, well, we're -- we can forget about all the hundreds of years of racial issues because we got a president who's black.
EDWARDSI think that's very naive.
SHERWOODWell, it's worse than naive.
NNAMDIHere's Dave in Maryland. Dave, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
DAVEYeah, hi. I'm just a little puzzled by what I'm hearing. I hear a lot about the minorities that are -- the minorities are not getting a chance for representation. I think what's happening to Roscoe Bartlett is a crime. I mean, he's had 10 terms of representing western Maryland, which is very distinct and different from suburban D.C. and Montgomery County...
NNAMDII know we're running out of time. Very quickly, Dave, is your question specifically whether Donna Edwards thinks this is fair to Roscoe Bartlett?
DAVERight. I mean…
NNAMDIOK, then she will answer that.
EDWARDSWell, I have to tell you, I mean, I come from the good government school. I mean, these are issues I've worked on long before I came into Congress. And it does -- whether gerrymandering happens because of Republicans or Democrats is really disturbing. We have an inherently political process when we decide these lines, and I understand that. But it's also important, I think, to respect the interest, the community interest, the communal interest of people when we draw these lines.
EDWARDSAnd I think that we could have drawn even that new sixth district so that it would be competitive, but also still had respect for the good people in western Maryland as well as the people in northern Montgomery County.
NNAMDIDonna Edwards is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She's a Democrat from Maryland. Thank you for joining us.
NNAMDIWe've got to take a short break. When we come back, we will be discussing more on The Politics Hour. So if you'd like to comment on this issue, you can stay on the line. We'd be happy to hear your comments. Later on the broadcast, we'll be talking about the federal probe of the mayoral race in D.C., whether it's overshadowing other important developments. We'll be talking about the resignation of the executive director of the Board of Elections in D.C., and what's going on or not going on at the Frank Reeves Municipal Center. Then you can call us 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to the Politics Hour, starring Tom Sherwood. He's our resident analyst, an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. There is no real guest for the rest of the show, so feel free to call with your concerns or comments having to do with politics in the area. 800-433-8850. Tom, I'll start with the federal probe of the mayoral race in D.C. An article, lead article in last Sunday's newspaper, Bruce Johnson of Channel 9 reporting this week that mystery man Howard Brooks...
SHERWOODBruce Johnson and Tom Sherwood of Channel 4 reported the same day that same information you're about to read.
NNAMDIBruce Johnson reporting after Tom Sherwood this week (laugh) that mystery man Howard Brooks has been cooperating with federal authorities and has worn a wire for them. The Washington Times also breaking out with the story yesterday on this issue. Is this distracting us from other events? One gets the impression that something is about to happen.
SHERWOODWell, that's what a lot of people thought. The Washington Post story on Sunday was a compilation of where we are after the last six months or so. It didn't have -- it had some details, but didn't -- no...
NNAMDINo really new information.
SHERWOODNo. Well, its new information but nothing necessarily that people thought maybe deserved the top front page story on -- I mean, it also came on the day the King Memorial...
NNAMDIWhich is why we...
SHERWOOD...was dedicated. And Mayor Gray wouldn't say it publicly, but he and his staff were very upset that The Post ran that story on the day that Gray was welcoming the world to Washington. But I do think, across the board, talking to lawyers and public safety-type people, law enforcement people, other reporters, people are feeling that there's a quickening pace here. That something is about to happen. You know, we had U.S. Atty. Ronald Machen on...
NNAMDIRon Machen, yeah.
SHERWOOD...a couple of weeks ago and he said he recognized the sense of urgency people had, that he was gonna do all the detail work. Well, we're being told the detail work is pretty detailed, and that the people ought to be nervous...
NNAMDIAnd he gave us...
SHERWOOD...the Mayor, Kwame Brown and Councilmember Tommy Thomas.
NNAMDIHe gave us the impression that there were quite a lot of people working on these investigations, and that could be one of the reasons why people seem to think that something is likely to happen soon. The pace certainly seems to be quickening on revelations or new stories about these investigations. But you mentioned that Mayor Gray and his staff were upset about The Post leading with that story.
NNAMDIHis fiery speech on voting rights at the King Memorial on that Saturday, while it was noted and while it really challenged President Obama and the Congress, President Obama wasn't actually there when he made that speech.
SHERWOODNo, no, he wasn't. A lot of people I think were surprised that they -- the thousands who came and expecting President Obama to get on the stage -- I was there working a rare weekend day. But President Obama only appeared on the jumbotrons to the crowds 'cause he was actually in -- within the walls of the monument itself, on the grounds of the monument itself.
SHERWOODAnd actually that worked out better because the Secret Service did not have to wand and go through a lot of security things for the tens of thousands of people there, but the President wasn't standing next to Gray. And I was thinking that Gray got arrested six months ago up on Capitol Hill, maybe he should have refused to leave the stage or something at the King Memorial and in honor of Dr. King, been arrested at the King Memorial, acting out. But this Post story did put a wet blanket on...
NNAMDIYou make these suggestions after the event.
SHERWOODWell, you know, I'm a reporter. I can't give guidance.
NNAMDIBefore the event.
SHERWOODIt's like they put up those Martin Luther King street signs under the 14th Street Bridge on Main Avenue. No one sees them. And because the park service wouldn't let them put them up. I said, why don't you take them down and put them up on the street, Independence Avenue, right next to the King Memorial and let the park service arrest you.
NNAMDIDo you believe that the probe of the mayor and other members, other elected officials in D.C. are overshadowing important events? Call us, 800-433-8850. Or send your email to email@example.com. One of those events is that the executive director...
SHERWOODCan I say one, excuse me, may I interrupt you?
NNAMDIPlease do. Yeah.
SHERWOODIn the mayor's defense, the Washington Business Journal, Michael Newbauer (sic) -- Neibauer, not Newbauer. Neibauer...
SHERWOOD...wrote a nice story, kind of compiling all the successes that the mayor has done just a week ago about the business economic climate, that the business people in town think the city is still moving forward, that a lot of good things are going on. So that's probably the most positive story that the mayor has had the entire year.
NNAMDII was going to mention that the executive director of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, Paul Stenbjorn, I'm not sure that's how his name is pronounced, has...
SHERWOODI think Stenbjorn.
SHERWOODIt's like Swedish or something.
NNAMDIStenbjorn is resigning from his position, that according to the DCist website. His departure comes only months after the sudden departure of his predecessor Rokey Suleman who resigned in July. What's going on?
NNAMDIOf course, I should say that Mr. Stenbjorn said he accepted a position in the private sector. He's gonna be replaced by Clifford Tatum, a consultant who was a final candidate for the position that was eventually given to Rokey Suleman.
SHERWOODAnd he's coming up from Atlanta. Well, Paul Stenbjorn had not planned to be there long in any event. He was a caretaker person when Rokey Suleman left. The staff turmoil, the mayor's failure to -- he's appointed, nominated two of the three people to run the Board of Elections and Ethics. But, you know, his lead person, Bob Mallet, Robert Mallet, distinguished former city administrator, didn't meet the residency rules any longer, and so he couldn't be the chairman of the Board of Elections and Ethics.
SHERWOODThere's been no proposal since then. The nominations for these two board members, Stephen Danzansky and -- I never say her first name correctly -- Devarieste Curry...
NNAMDIDon't look at me.
SHERWOODI know. There's too many vowels. (laugh) Anyway, they are going to be up for council confirmation in early November. That'll be good. You'll have two new board members. We won't have a chairman at that point. So there's a lot of staffing turmoil even as the campaigns for the April primaries are getting underway. There's a lot of work to be done.
NNAMDIAnd Mayor Gray announced this week that the District of Columbia would not be cooperating with the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, ICE, in determining whether the residents are here legally. Again, something that not -- didn't get a great deal of publicity that some people would say are being overshadowed by all this news about investigations and possible corruption.
SHERWOODIt wasn't a -- well, it wasn't a new policy. I mean, pretty much back into the '80s with Mayor Marion Barry at the time and through Tony Williams and Adrian Fenty, they have all said, look, we're not gonna be an arm of the immigration service, custom service, that if, in fact, someone is arrested and they have a record of crime, then they will check the immigration status.
SHERWOODBut if someone has just simply stopped for a traffic violation or some other thing, they're not going to engage in the sifting through the community as the immigration service would like them to do under secure communities.
NNAMDIAnd speaking of someone being stopped for a traffic or other violation, the Washington D.C. Council this week introduced and passed legislation, at Mayor Gray's request, that people will no longer be incarcerated for having a license plate that has expired and has been expired for over 30 days. Seems to me last week, that a certain individual, who shall remain nameless in this room, seemed to be in support of locking these people up.
SHERWOODI'm in -- I think I'm support of the law. And this was not done so much -- it was technically done at the behest of Mayor Gray who asked the council chairman to introduce it. Well, the fact of the matter is, as John Wilson used to say...
NNAMDII love John Wilson.
SHERWOODThe fact of the matter is that this was Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia's bill. He should have written it and put it in because he's the one who wrote the letter and got everybody in a tizzy. And we don't, you know, once again, it's the Virginians telling us what to do. I wish Sen. Webb would pay attention to the commuter tax and how Virginia gets --
NNAMDIWrite another letter.
SHERWOOD...hundreds of millions of dollars a year in taxes that could go to the District. So if Sen. Webb wants to pay attention to District politics, then I suggest he pay attention to that. And so he wrote a letter complaining that how some Virginians were being arrested and handcuffed and put into jail because they didn't have proper vehicle registration. And the chief said -- told me this week, she said, look, we can do without this.
SHERWOODBut she said, but I want the people to know this is not some casual thing for you to drive around without a license properly registered because if it's more than 30 days, we can still impound your car.
NNAMDISpeaking of the chief, I saw a police officer driving a police car from district four this morning speaking on a cell phone up to his ear in the car. Should I have called that in?
NNAMDIYou know, the chief has asked that the officers not do that, but I think the law exempts the police department.
NNAMDISee? I knew that Tom Sherwood would have the details of the law.
SHERWOODThe chief has asked them not to do it because of -- for obvious reasons. But, you know, another radio station in town does a lot of talk on it. It has done a survey on what people have seen, and they've seen people like -- one person was eating a plate of spaghetti, which is hard enough to eat if you're sitting at a table, much less if you're driving your vehicle.
NNAMDIDriving -- a police officer driving...
SHERWOODWell, not a police officer. Just people in general.
NNAMDIOh, OK. Yeah. OK.
SHERWOODThey would never -- police officers would never eat and drive.
NNAMDIThat is an amazing speed. What is going on at the Frank Reeves Municipal Center at 14th and U Streets in Northwest? Or better yet, for me, what is not going on there? Loose Lips Alan Suderman reporting this week that a part of the building seems to be unoccupied.
NNAMDIFor some sense of history here, it should be understood that when that building was conceived and erected during the administration of Marion Barry, it was conceived as being one of the pieces of U Street that would begin to generate more foot traffic on U Street by having District employees going there. And the combination of that and Metro are largely attributed for the revival of U Street as we know it today.
NNAMDIBut now that it has served its purpose in revival, it looks as if the Reeves Municipal Center, at least certain parts of it, are no longer useful to elected officials and members of the administration in D.C. I'm not gonna talk about what Loose Lips wrote about what's going on in one room in the building. Suffice it to...
SHERWOODAnd the garage.
NNAMDIAnd the garage. Suffice it, it had to do with two people doing something. (laugh)
SHERWOODNot so much what they were doing, but they were silly enough and maybe foolish enough and maybe stupid enough to talk about it on their government email accounts.
SHERWOODBut, anyway, it's not...
NNAMDIThey were interacting. (laugh)
SHERWOODYou know, love blooms wherever. But the fact is the Reeves Center, which was built and named after a Howard University law professor who died (unintelligible)...
NNAMDIFrank D. Reeves.
SHERWOOD...is a pretty cool building. It had problems with its first build. They had to reinforce one part of it with some -- but, you know, it -- the city is busy spreading departments out. Department of Transportation, you know, has moved out. It's moved to -- over on south, east and near the baseball stadium. And a lot of agencies have moved out. Others have not moved in. The building is almost 20 years old. It needs some renovation work. I mean, it's older than 20 years, right?
SHERWOODThat's right. Boy, time is really flying.
SHERWOODAnyway, it needs some renovation work itself. And it don't -- it helped boost U Street. It certainly changed the tenor of that street 'cause all those thousands of employees need places to eat, you know, things like that. But, you know, U Street has developed, in many ways, in spite of having a big government agency there.
NNAMDIAnd U Street is now so busy, and that's why I'm suggesting U Street is now so busy on its own, so to speak.
SHERWOODYeah. Yeah. Some organization named it as one of the top 10 streets in the country or something like that.
NNAMDIAnd because it is so busy on its own, one gets the impression that the Frank Reeves Municipal Center, and you say it's over 20 years old. But the Frank Reeves Municipal Center is now not so important in the eyes of government officials.
SHERWOODWell, the Office of Campaign Finance and Ethics is there. That's pretty important.
NNAMDIIt sure is.
SHERWOODAnd there's some other officers there that are -- you know, it could be that the building has served its purpose. And the garage is used at night for people to park off the street. That's a good thing. I think the city owns the building, so it doesn't necessarily wanna give it up too easily. But it is a prime development spot if the city wanted to sell it.
NNAMDIWard 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander is going to have quite a few Democratic challengers in next year's election. Now it looks as if she's going to have a Republican challenger, the first Republican who has declared himself a candidate for any race in the District of Columbia, as far as I understand. But when you knew him, you may have known him as a Democrat or something else -- Ron Moten.
SHERWOODWell, you know, Ron Moten -- you know, I noticed, you know, Mark Segraves from WTOP and some other place noted that Ron Moten certainly is dressing much nicer today. Maybe he's trying to look like a stereotypical Republican.
NNAMDICo-founder of Peaceoholics, yes.
SHERWOODAnd he's -- you know, he said he was gonna challenge Yvette Alexander. Now he says he's gonna run as a Republican. So I wanted -- I really meant to have time today to check the voting registration statistics on how many Republicans are registered in Ward 7. I'm sure there are some, but I don't know how many. But this does something for him.
NNAMDIRon Moten says, I've been a conservative the whole time. Who knew?
NNAMDI(laugh) And I'm afraid...
SHERWOODLet me just point out that if he were running as a Democrat, he would have to run in the April primary.
NNAMDIWhich involves about seven or eight people, right?
SHERWOODYes. And also it means you have to run very quickly because...
NNAMDIAnd he also has more time to raise money if he's running as a Republican.
SHERWOODIf you wait -- if you run as a Republican or as an independent, you can run in November. You can have a field closer to you, just you and the incumbent, and you have more time to raise money.
NNAMDITom Sherwood, he's our resident analyst. He's an NBC4 reporter, a columnist for The Current Newspapers and a member of WAMU 88.5. Tom...
SHERWOODAnd maybe a tattooed member if I get a $5,000 donation.
NNAMDIIf we get that $5,000 contribution. We are working on it. We have decided that we will decide where the tattoo goes, right, Tom?
SHERWOODNo, I will match the tattoo that my son has...
NNAMDIYou -- oh, very good. It's on the shoulder.
SHERWOOD...which is on the shoulder.
NNAMDIOh, that would be very good. We've got -- oh, by the way...
SHERWOODI'll probably drink some alcohol.
NNAMDI...we've come to the end of the broadcast. Tom Sherwood, always a pleasure. And thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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