DCBigPappa's Blog

Politics & Pop Culture from a homocon.

Category Archives: Ward 1

Columbia Heights Day Festival

This afternoon was the Columbia Heights Day Festival in Ward 1 along the football field Harriet Tubman Elementary School. For its sixth year, I was really surprised at not only the low turnout, but also the number of empty booths and tables.

Perhaps it is because two years ago they moved the date from the spring to the fall, and then last year, there was that whole thing with the hurricane. Details.

None the less, there were face paintings, farm animals, musicians, and of course, politicians in attendance. The first booth I found was that of my good friend Pat Mara, School Board Member for Ward 1.

Then I wandered over to Mary Brooks Beatty’s tent. She is running for DC Council, At-Large.

I was able to hang out with my new friend Alex Gallo and catch up on his campaign for ANC. I also saw Councilmember Jim Graham (it is his ward) and Councilmember Muriel Bowser (she will be running for Mayor soon). At least Ms. Bowser was polite and shook my hand when I introduced myself to her. Why was Graham following her around like a little puppy?

Lastly, I was introduced for the first time to Mary Lord, who’s running for the At-Large School Board seat. Hmmmm, I don’t know about her.

Hopefully, the festival can get its act together for next year in time to have an outstanding festival the way 17th Street has done in three years it’s been in existence.


MOVA Reopening This Weekend

Adult Education in DC

If there is one thing that should have been learned over the last twenty or so years, is that throwing money at a problem often exacerbates the very problem one is seeking to solve.  This has been the case with the DC Public School System for a very long time.  At one point, Washington, DC was spending more dollars per student then any other jurisdiction in the country.  And we had nothing to show for it.

For decades, the same problems were prevalent.  There were decaying buildings where students were supposed to learn.  The management systems was dysfunctional, to say the least.  And most important, the test scores were abysmal.  Graduation rates were down and drops outs rates were high.  That is a contributing factor to the twelve percent population decrease in the District between 1960 and 2000.

No matter which side of the recent mayoral debate you came down on, it is widely agreed upon that outgoing Mayor Adrian Fenty was wise to take over the DC schools and appoint Michelle Rhee as Chancellor of DC Public Schools.  Before Rhee took the helms, there were six superintendents in the past decade alone.  Before her appointment, there was no real accountability.  There was only a circular firing squad.  The city had a Mayor, a Council, a Superintendent and a School Board all pointing the finger of blame at one another.

Four years later, things are looking up.  Four years later, even though Fenty lost his reelection bid, and Rhee has now resigned, DC students have a fighting chance.

As part of DC Public Education Reform in 2007, the State Board of Education was established.  This past November, several new members were elected to the recently recreated school board.  One of them is Patrick Mara in Ward 1.

Though he has lived in DC for many years, Patrick Mara is a recent newcomer to the local political scene.  Many may recall two years ago, Mr. Mara ran against and defeat long time Councilwoman Carol Schwartz in the Republican primary.  Though he lost in the general election for the At-Large seat on the City Council, he didn’t give up.  He thought of how he could best serve his adoptive city.

Mr. Mara has served as a mentor at the Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Shaw and with the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund Program.  He has tutored DCPS special education students through Project Northstar and is an officer for a non-profit organization focused on promoting global awareness, literacy and meaningful citizenship in DC Public Schools.

On top of these accomplishments, Mr. Mara, while straight, is a very good friend to our community.  He was an early supporter of bringing marriage equality to the District.

As our community begins to adopt and have children of their own, the quality of the schools in our neighborhood will become a very deciding factor as to where we buy.

While it is uncertain what leadership the new mayor and a new chancellor will bring to DC schools, Patrick Mara’s leadership will be refreshing and innovative.

Patrick Mara will be sworn in as State Board of Education Member, Ward 1 on Sunday, January 2nd at 1:00pm at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Gay Republicans Prove Winning is a Two-Party Fight

NOTE: This piece is currently running as an op-ed at the Washington Blade.

The witching hour is upon us. I’m not talking about Halloween, but the event that occurs just 48 hours later — Election Day.  With mere days to go, the ever expanding political map has nearly 100 Democrat-held seats in play, with the Republican Party poised to retake the House of Representatives, according to most pundits and prognosticators.

To my LGBT family, sorry to say this, but “I told you so!” While some groups have said that we need to be patient with this White House and this Congress, time is quickly running out.

To my Republican brothers & sisters, it is time to start talking about what we stand for!  It is no longer okay to only be “AGAINST” everything.

Weeks ago, Dr. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics forecasted that the House would flip to the GOP after November 2.   He went even further by saying that the Senate could see a 50-50 split.  It is important to note that Dr. Sabato, well respected on both sides of the political aisle, has called more than 98% of the contests correctly over the decade-long life of his Crystal Ball.

Back in January  I asked, “What is there to show for the progress of the LGBT movement under Democratic control?”  I fear the answer to this question today is the same as it was nine months ago.  Not much.

While many within our community continue to blindly mock and ridicule gay Republicans as being self-loathing, among other hollow insults, they simultaneously refuse to see that strength through diversity means just that – diversity in everything, including political thought.

This diversity in thought led conservative icon Ted Olsen to craft a conservative constitutional argument in the Prop 8 case in California.  And most recently, it is the Log Cabin Republicans, who six years ago during the Bush Administration brought a suit against the military that two weeks ago halted all discharges worldwide under DADT.  It is Republicans who are winning the argument for equal rights for gays and lesbians.

And while it is very true that the GOP has a dismal record on LGBT issues, Republican leaders are engaging gays and lesbians on issues where we at least have common ground.  No, I’m not talking about a pundit speaking at a party in New York City this summer.  I’m talking about elected GOP officials speaking directly to gay Republicans.

Last month, the chairmen of the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee spoke at the National Dinner for the Log Cabin Republicans.  They did so against the request of several conservative groups asking them to withdraw.

No, their records on traditional LGBT issues aren’t stellar in the least.  However, they are engaging us on issues where we can come together.  While DOMA, ENDA, and DADT are at the forefront of our movement, there are other issues that we can and should talk about, such as immigration reform and taxes, just to name two.

Nationally, the outcome of this mid-term election will produce many things.  It will produce heartache, malaise, and distrust.  But I also hope it will produce a sense of working with both political parties.  This can be done by helping to elect more gay and gay-friendly Republican candidates.  There are more than a dozen endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans.  Locally, all four Republican city council candidates are gay-friendly.  And two of them, Marc Morgan (Ward 1) and Tim Day (Ward 5) are gay Republicans.

Even before the holy war attacks on marriage equality during the Bush years, there weren’t many groups willing to work with the GOP on our issues.  I hope the last two years of total Democratic control will show these groups that they cannot afford to make that same mistake again.  We need to engage both parties, and change hearts and minds one person at a time.  If we don’t, we’ll get another Democratic Speaker under a Democratic President telling us “NOT NOW!”

ICYMI: Great WaPo Editorial

In case you missed it, yesterday, there was a great editorial in the Washington Post about the Republican candidates for City Council.

Republicans add provide choices on the Nov. 2 D.C. ballot

RESIDENTS of the District know better than anyone the indignity of being denied choice in government. It’s important, then, that voters not give short shrift to next month’s general election. There are still significant offices to be decided, and the local Republican Party, for the first time in recent memory, is competing with an interesting slate of candidates.

We are not yet prepared to endorse individual candidates. But it’s important to call attention to the fact that, as critical as the September party primaries were in this Democratic-dominated city, voters do themselves and the District a disservice by not weighing all the alternatives available to them on Nov. 2. Single-party rule is never healthy, and GOP officials deserve credit for this year’s imaginative efforts to build a stronger party.

While not fielding candidates for the citywide races of mayor, D.C. Council chairman or at-large council seats, the local GOP recruited candidates to run in all four city wards on this year’s ballot. The group – Marc Morgan in Ward 1, David Hedgepeth in Ward 3, Timothy Day in Ward 5 and Jim DeMartino in Ward 6 – present themselves as urban Republicans: conservative on fiscal issues and progressive on social issues such as gay rights. [more]

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