We see ’em but pay ’em no mind
By Andy DelGiudice
It has been an illuminating couple of weeks in D.C. politics as it came to light that public servants used their positions to benefit their kids over the interests of the constituents they serve. A FOIA request revealed that the chummy relationship between Jack Evans, D.C.’s longest standing councilmember, and the CEO of a digital sign advertising company led to the offer of a paid internship to the councilmember’s son and the eventual introduction of emergency legislation designed to usurp regulatory actions against that company. A blatant example of a public official using their position to benefit themselves or a member of their family.
On Friday, it was revealed that the new chancellor of the D.C. Public School System, Antwan Wilson, circumvented the lottery placement program to move his daughter into a better school outside of their neighborhood, thereby breaking a rule he created in response to a similar scandal his predecessor enabled. Parents and residents are righteously outraged.
Why did the new chancellor think it was O.K. to do this and why did he think he would get away with it?
One similarity in both cases is a close proximity to Mayor Muriel Bowser. Evans, always known to be close to mayoral administrations, has been particularly loyal to her legislative agenda. Wilson was a hand picked successor to an entrenched and since discredited predecessor.
What’s most alarming to this author is the deafening lack of interest from my generation of transient D.C. citizens. The above situations are two examples of political and administrative leadership using their roles to directly benefit members of their families. The transgressions might be small potatoes to some, but they encapsulate a corrupt behavior that can chip away at an average citizen’s trust in government. Repeated damage, however large or small, to this fragile trust between constituents and their elected leaders takes place in a myriad of ways across the country and compounds the political crisis that embroils our nation.
So this outspoken generation that lives in the political capital should care. Maybe we’re too accustomed to parental boosts into that first internship, job or school to even blink an eye at Councilmember Evans?
Are we too inundated with a perpetual onslaught of other problems to make time for issues in our own backyard?
Is the information about these and similar acts not reaching us?
Or, are the vast majority of us simply not going to stay in the area long enough to put our kids through the D.C. Public School system, therefore negating the possibility of being screwed over by a public servant that is supposed to be looking out for us.
Our perennial lack of interest might be one of the reasons our leaders think they can get away with it. I would guess the D.C. pols think it’s a good thing that we don’t pay attention.