Gray Talks Schools, Jobs With Obama
||Washington Examiner (DC)
||Thursday, December 2, 2010
D.C. Mayor-elect Vince Gray spent a lunch meeting with President Obama pushing for the White House's support on key elements of Gray's campaign platform, including improving early childhood education and creating jobs.
But the mayor-elect didn't leave the meeting with any specific promises. Instead, Gray marched out of the West Wing on Wednesday afternoon with what he described as Obama's support on finding ways to improve early childhood education in the District and building a home for a new Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Southeast. Gray also said the president "unequivocally supported" the District's right to "self-determination," although they did not specifically discuss statehood.
Gray described the meeting between the two, which was scheduled to be 45 minutes long, as "delightful."
Mayor Adrian Fenty had requested that Obama endorse him during the heated primary battle between Gray and Fenty. The endorsement never came, but political observers speculated that the president might endorse Fenty as a show of support for the education reforms of former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.
That's could be why Gray said, "first and foremost [he and Obama] talked about our respective commitment to improving public education in this city and across the nation," when he addressed the media immediately following the meeting. Gray said he focused on the importance of early childhood education, a key component of his campaign platform.
The mayor-elect said he hopes there "will be a lot of follow-up" and "many meetings in the aftermath." One of those meetings, he said, could include a presidential visit to the John A. Wilson Building. No sitting president has ever visited the District's city hall.
Ilir Zherka, executive director of D.C. Vote, said Gray's raising the District's voting rights with the president "makes me very encouraged. ... It shows that D.C.'s democratic rights are important to the mayor-elect."
But local political observer Chuck Thies wasn't impressed with Obama's reactions to Gray's request for District voting rights.
"When [Obama] had the opportunity to do something about it, he did nothing. And now that he can't do anything, he reiterates his support," Thies said. "That's politics at its worst. If his goal was getting disenfranchised people upset, well then he did it."
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/2010/12/gray-talks-schools-jobs-obama#ixzz16yHNVARS