Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mayor Fenty, Please Come Back

DC politics are in a freefall.
Mayor Gray is clueless.
DC Council Chair Kwame Brown even more so.
Adrian Fenty, please come back.

Now that is out of the way, lets dive in to the discussion at hand.  I was a supporter of Mayor Fenty and I thought for all his faults, he did a lot of really good things for DC.  I loved Michelle Rhee, while controversial, the city's school system showed results.  In essence, they got shit done.  After Vincent Gray was elected this past November, I had no real opinion .. until he started hiring people that served under Mayor Barry, worse yet, at a major premium.  Strike 1.

Soon after taking over as Mayor, he then began hiring teachers that were let go by Rhee.  Strike 2

In the dust up over Councilman Brown (we will get to that in a bit) we find that unlike his predecessor who eschewed  a security detail and an official car and instead drove himself around town in a cool SMART car saving the taxpayers much needed cash, Mayor Gray has now gone on to lease a Lincoln Navigator costing the city almost $2000 a month !  Not to mention he brought back a security detail which rides around in a leased Lincoln Town Car.  Strike 3

So while Adrian Fenty worked hard to streamline the local government, Mayor Gray has decided to go the opposite route with a city that is facing a $400 million budget shortfall.  Will giving up a car solve that ?  Absolutely not, rather it is a bad sign that he makes poor decisions, not what you want in a mayor.

On to Council Chairman Brown.  He was recently found to not only be leasing one top of the line Lincoln Navigator (costing the city $1769 a month) but another one ($1900 a month) because the first one accepted by the city on behalf of Brown, was rejected by the Chairman because the interior was stone color, not black as he requested .... not to mention the fact that the second one came with a $1500 premium because it had to be driven to DC from a dealer in Kansas City.  So what is Chairman Brown's response ... not much. Of course his office released a statement where he apologized and stated that the vehicles would be returned, and that he
look forward to continuing to focus on education reform, getting our people back to work and getting the District's economy back on track.
What it does not mention is the fact that even though the cars may be returned, the city will still be on the hook for almost $4000 in monthly lease costs.  Worse yet, he says that he will  reimburse for "his share" of the time he used the vehicles.  Are you kidding me ?  The only reason the city has these outrageous expenditures is because of him !!  He should be forced to pay for the entire years lease on both vehicles whether he drives them or not, period, end of story.

So as you can see, our local DC government can not be in worse hands.  The old adage that the grass is not always greener on the other side is not always true.  Fenty might not have been perfect, he definitely had his flaws, but i would much rather see his SMART car parked in front of city hall instead of a fleet of overpriced Navigators.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt is Far From Free

Like many over the last couple of weeks, I have been keeping one eye on the events that were transpiring in Egypt. A country that has been under a "President" for the last thirty years whose feelings and frustrations over the policies had finally boiled over. It was amazing to see in a sort of time lapse that eventually led to the ouster, or coup as I would more appropriately call it of President Mubarak.

Over the last day or so, as I started to think about it a little more in depth, mostly due to the chatter on Twitter and Facebook about it, it strikes me that it is not all that different than other events in history. Many times populations have protested and eventually over ran the government that was in place. France, Russia .. the list goes on. A different scenario, but how do you think Hasni Mubarak came to power .. on the heels of an assassination.

While it is true the people took to the streets and demonstrated for the freedoms and rights that deserve, I feel in the end they will have gotten few of the things they expect. They want free elections, but what they got was a "transfer" of power to a military council. This is not to say those elections and reforms are not on the horizon, but would it not have been more practical to allow the current regime to govern while reforms and changes are implemented? What the people of Egypt got was initially a transfer of power to the newly appointed Vice President, who was the former head of the Intelligence regime and I would assume a figure many people relate to the problem not the solution, and then a country ruled by a military council. We did not even see Mubarak make the final announcement himself essence, a military coup.

I am not here to say that the Egyptians are not on the path to a new and prosperous democracy which affords them all the rights and freedoms they deserve, but I am saying that lets not be so naive that these are certainties. As I said yesterday on Facebook, these power vacuums do not always lead to great new freedoms and/or leaders. Most times they do not.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

$28,000 For Comcast Cable

Last night we headed down to the new neighborhood restaurant, Mandu in City Vista, to try out the new space.  It is very nice, food was great, priced right, good service, etc.

But thats not what this post is about.  As we were waiting for the rest of our party to arrive we sat at the bar and grabbed a quick drink.  We started chatting with Doug, a think the manager, and the bartender about how things were going.  The topic somehow turned to a television when another bar patron asked if they were going to get one.  Doug answered that indeed he did plan on it, but currently was having issues with getting a Comcast line.  He told us that the estimate given to him by Comcast to set up the service was for $28k !!! Yes you are reading that right .....  He said that he was told that a line was needing to be run from a local "sub station" ... never mind the fact that the establishment is on the first floor of a HUGE condo and apartment building, whose tentants I am sure have Comcast cable .... so there is no way for anyone to believe that cable does not exist in the very building Mandu resides.

We were utterly amazed at such a ludicrous business dealing, and it goes to show the lengths to which big business is not only out to screw the consumer, but small businesses as well.  We always hear that small businesses are the backbone of our economy, yet are placed in such idiotic circumstances which simply make doing business and competing in the marketplace nearly impossible.

So we want to start a Twitter and Facebook campaign to fight this BS !! So head over and Like the Cable for Mandu DC Facebook page and tag all twitter updates about this with #cable4mandu and lets get a good local DC business the proper service it deserves.