Capital Citizen with Clinton Yates (Mar. 10)

Mar 10, 2014

Local columnist Clinton Yates takes your questions about politics, pop culture, people and whatever else you like from D.C.

Well, hello Monday. The news fairy has brought us a rather big story today, so we'll discuss that among anything else you all want to bring up. To get you back to speed, Jeffrey Thompson has been accused of funding a shadow campaign for Mayor Vincent Gray back in 2010, among other misdeeds. He's due in court at 1:30 today.

Make sure to check out The Post's coverage of the story

Hey Clinton love the chats. In a recent column by your Post colleague Petula Dvorak published February 20th, she commented about Vincent Gray's controversial proposal to change city laws regarding the "right to shelter" on nights when the temperature drops below freezing in order to keep people from entering shelters because of the stark increase of homeless families and the lack of available housing/shelters. Coming off what was one of the coldest winters in decades for the District, do you see this proposal as a potentially damaging issue for the mayor in his bid for re-election?

Here's the Petula Dvorak column the reader is referring to.

As for the the policy itself, I agree with Petula 100%. The callous nature of that plan makes no sense to me and just seems like such a bad way to try to solve a problem, which is why the mayor eventually backed off from it.

As for the the campaign? No. Unfortunately, homelessness is not nearly important enough of a topic to sway an election, especially not when there are other stories like that of Jeffrey Thompson to grab voters' attention.

Mind you, I'm not saying that one is more important than the other, but the shelter situation is still viewed as a niche one in D.C., which is sad.

Hi Clinton, I'm relatively involved in understanding the candidates platforms and issue history for the upcoming mayoral election. However, I'm seeing that it is not very important to many of my friends or the majority of people in my community - I felt the same way the last election as well. How do I go about engaging others is useful citizenship dialogue? It seems most of my conversations end in shrugs, and folks saying the DC mayor is always corrupt so why bother. -Signed, Jake in DC

This is sort of the million dollar question in the District. The people who are interested in politics on the local level are so invested that it becomes a very singular world, and others who aren't as interested seem to be almost completely apathetic. It's a tough bridge to gap.

How to change it? I'd say by being the change yourself. Hey, if you vote and you care, maybe your friends will see what you get out of it and consider doing the same. But political apathy is not something that's unique to the District, necessarily. 

So, Jeffrey Thompson: Man Of The Year?

Ha, very funny. But there is an argument that if there were such an award and it were given out based on impact, either positive or negative, Thompson would have a shot to win it.

Some of the details of these charges are fascinating. It feels like, in a certain way, he's hand his hand in a little bit of everything for some time. The last mayor's race might be the biggest, sexiest story so to speak, but it's certainly not the only one. 

If you've never read my former colleague Nikita Stewart's piece on the man dubbed 'The Governor,' you should check it out.

Does this really change anything? Thompson's name has been in the news for months, and polls recently still show Gray as ahead in the Democratic primary race.

Personally, it doesn't change much. But for a typical voter, this could easily be the straw that pushes them away from Gray at the polls. It's one thing to be under the dark cloud of suspicion, but it's quite another when the man said to have created that suspicion is actually standing in front of a judge.

To be clear, Vincent Gray is not charged with a crime. The question becomes about whether or not residents consider it problematic that he either knew about this secret fund and lied about it, or that he didn't know when he should have.

For the other candidates though, different situation. If I'm running against the Mayor, I wouldn't stop saying Jeffrey Thompson's name until election day. There are still quite a few forums to come in the next 3 weeks, and I can expect to be hearing a lot about today's developments for all them.

Is there any way to positively spin this if you're in Gray's camp? After all, technically as of now, he hasn't done anything wrong, no?

Well, within minutes of the charges being released, Gray's team had an email out that ended with this interesting note.

"Mayor Gray called for this investigation. Mayor Gray has always said he did not break any laws," Chuck Thies, Gray's campaign manager said. 

To me, that sounds like the Mayor is somehow trying to take credit for the fact that Jeffrey Thompson is in court at all. That logic is extremely quizzical considering that Gray is the one who allegedly gained from Thompson's efforts.

It's really hard to believe that Gray was either so clueless, or so busy and now is so offended by the notion of his links to Thompson that he's now looking at himself as some kind of a hero in this scenario. What a mess.

These guys are expanding all over the place. Do you plan on attending any of the new locations and do you think they'll do well?

Yeah, these guys really are growing at a rapid clip. First the airports, then Arlington. What's even more amazing is to think that for so many years, decades, there really only was one location. 

I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to get to an airport or to Virginia to eat Ben's considering I actually live in D.C., but if/when their H Street location gets up and moving, I think that will actually become their most popular location.

DC United looked terrible in their season opener. Is this going to be another awful year for them?

Short answer? Yes.

Long answer? Hell yes.

Alright folks, we're going to cut things off a little early because it's the Monday after DST, which means that understandably, people are dragging a bit. Get some coffee and stay alert at the wheel. See you next week!

In This Chat
Clinton Yates
Clinton Yates is a D.C. native and an online columnist. He was born at GWU hospital the week before Ronald Reagan ended up there for the wrong reasons. When he's not covering the city, pop culture or listening to music, he watches sports. A lot of them.
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