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It Starts With Accountability

February 28, 2011

During a time of economic turmoil and a proposed $600M budget deficit, symbols matter. And whether it is an overpriced lease for a fully-loaded SUV, the questionable hiring of and salaries for city staff, or free tickets, the disconnect here is more than symbolic. Our District leaders have become distracted from the serious businesses of government and their commitment to improving the lives of our residents.

Our Council and Mayor need to stop and focus on the tough decisions that come with managing our city’s budget — lowering operating costs and increasing revenue — instead of wasting our time and money apologizing for the clearly unjustifiable spending practices inside the John A. Wilson Building.

Every dollar the city has should be going to improve the lives of citizens — and our District officials should be ensuring that things like our children’s education come fully loaded, not our government vehicles.

In the coming days, I will outline my plans to make the city government more accountable and more open, but for now here is a preview of my pledge to you as your At-Large Councilmember:

Council Salary
According to several published reports, our city councilmembers make more than elected officials in all other major U.S. cities but one. They make more than most county or state legislators in the country as well. Public service is the kind of work we should do not to get rich, but to make a difference. As long as D.C. has a budget deficit, I am willing to take a $25,000 cut in salary and will work to have all members of the Council make the same sacrifice. The money saved, $325,000, will go directly into the city’s safety net. If city employees are furloughed, I will take a furlough day as well.

Part-time vs. Full-time
Public service requires not only personal sacrifice, whether it is time away from our families, or reduction in income, but also accountability to those we serve. Current law allows our councilmembers to have secondary, outside jobs with no provision requiring them to recuse themselves should a conflict of interest arise. As your councilmember I will commit to making my service to you my full-time job and will seek to amend our current legislation so others are required to do so as well.

Campaign Finance
A councilmember’s accountability begins before even being elected. Our campaign finance laws must be completely overhauled starting with limitations on corporate contributions. No corporation, using its subsidiaries, should be able to donate more than the maximum. Our current system allows candidates to “bundle” money from multiple LLCs totaling thousands of dollars. During my campaign, I commit to taking no more than $1,000 from any one corporation, regardless of the number of subsidiaries.

For more information on my thoughts on accountability, please visit the issues section of my website.

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