D.C. Mayor's Office Live: Vincent C. Gray discusses the budget, shutdown and more

Apr 08, 2011

In the debut episode of D.C. Mayor's Office Live, Vincent C. Gray will answer your questions on the District budget, the potential federal shutdown's effect on Washington and much more.

You can submit a question above or -- even better -- go to The Buzz blog to post questions and vote on other readers' questions. Mayor Gray will answer the most popular question (plus many more, of course).

Greetings from D.C. Mayor's Office Live!

Welcome to my first online chat with the residents of the District of Columbia. I look forward to an interesting conversation.

Mayor Gray


Mr. Mayor: In your Mayorial campaign you cited the need for "One City". In your Budget proposal you recommend a tax hike for income earners making more than $200K. If you want "One City" why didn't you propose a tax hike for all city residents or across the board?

This budget calls for shared sacrifices from residents and businesses across the city. Currently the top income tax bracket starts at $40,000 at 8.5% which is not progressive taxation. Many of the cuts that have been made in this budget impact lower and middle income residents in the District. The goal was to ensure that we've presented a fair budget that spreads the solution across the board.

- Mayor Gray: The Post obtained text messages from you to Sulaimon Brown that stated: "we did not renege on any commitments to you. You know and we know what agreements had been reached. And none has been breached."  You know. He knows. But we don't. What "agreement" was reached? And if you agreed to arrange job interviews for Mr. Brown, what were his qualifications that led you to believe he should work in a highly-paid position for your administration and the District's citizens? (Note: This question was the most popular in user voting)

As I have stated, the only agreement was for an interview. His resume indicated that he had qualifications and experience as an auditor for the position he was assigned. Also, there was an article in the  Washington Post in 2006 that stated that he was an auditor and that he worked on the Fenty campaign.

The district's web site state's trash collection would be suspended and resume a week after the shutdown. Why the week delay to resume collection? A large trahs pile up would be very unhealthy.

This is a great example of why the District should not be included in the shutdown. We have  funds to pay for trash collection but we are prevented by the Congress from spending them because these services have been determined to be nonessential. We are continuing to work on the trash collection problem.

Will the Cherry Blossom parade still happen if there's a shutdown??

It is my understanding that the parade will still be conducted but the route will be revised in the event of the shutdown.

(Post story: Cherry Blossom Parade would go on despite shutdown, organizers say)

If DCPS can stay open, why can't UDC? Closing campus at the end of the semester will really hurt students, who are in the midst of final exams and making preparations for graduation.

We believe that all of our educational institutions should be open. However, the direction from the Federal government dictates that DCPS and public charter schools should not be closed because some of our children receive their only meals of the day at school. This would obviously be an extreme and unjust disruption to our students at UDC. It is yet another example why the District of Columbia should not be included in the shutdown. We are not an agency of the Federal government.

If the government shuts down Monday, could you cancel the furough day for DC employees from Friday?

We are examining how the previously scheduled furlough days may be impacted by the Federal shutdown.

Mayor Gray, why did you only inform your employees of the impact of the federal government shutdown on Wednesday of this week? Don't your employees deserve the right to prepare their families for the potential devastating financial impact of not being paid for an unknown period of time? The federal government has been preparing for this for over a month, yet one day before the shutdown there's been little communication, instruction or information about how to inform constituents or key information about benefits, pay, etc. Your power point that was sent to staff said your team has been working with OBM for the past month - unacceptable that we didn't know until this week!

We steadfastly believe that the District of Columbia Government should not be included in this shutdown and we have been fighting to have the entire city exempted. About 60% of our employees will be exempted and discussions have continued throughout the week with the Federal government to determine who those employees will be. Discussions have been taking place with the Federal government for over a month, however, the Federal government just issued today guidance on details of how the shutdown effects employees during this lapse in authority to spend our money.

Mayor Gray, there are many unemployed District residents who are seeking jobs. We know that the District needs to grow its tax base and one way to do so would be to encourage the employment of DC residents within DC. What are you going to do to promote the employment of DC residents?

We've expanded adult job training programs and are enforcing the law that requires the hiring of District residents on contracts funded by the DC Government and we are providing additional incentives for the hiring of District residents. 

Also, The Community College of the District of Columbia is expanding its job training programs for adults throughout the city.

Plain and Simple, I'm a DC United Fan and I'm very upset that we are the only team without a soccer Specific stadium. The former Mayor over promised on a stadium and then reneged. Council Persons have made bittersweet comments about a stadium for United since the beginning but have you and your administration seen the impacted of DC United on the community and all the work it does? Can you please take this seriously and try to work something out before the team is forced to move and we lose Jobs?

We certainly appreciate the presence of a soccer team in the city. We hope that a solution can be found in order for DC United to remain in the city. However, we have to be mindful of the economy, the many demands on the city and the high cost of a new stadium.

Federal (OPM) guidance on whether employees are eligible for unemployment says it depends on the state (or DC) laws and that employees should check with the relevant local government. So my question is, are furloughed federal employees that live in DC eligible for unemployment compensation?


It's clear that you're opposed in principle to the shutdown affecting DC government. In the past you have suggested that civil disobedience might be an option you would consider as a response to Congressional interference in home rule. What's your latest thinking about how DC government should respond in this case? What do you plan to say or do in the days to come?

I am opposed to a shutdown including the DC Government. We are not a Federal agency! The cost of our services is borne by the taxpayers of the District of Columbia. I will continue to speak out against this injustice and I hope that the residents of our city will feel just as outraged as I am.

Are DC Government employees that are also DC residents eligible for unemployment compensation in the case of a shut down?


Wll non-essential employees receive back pay? I have yet to get clarification on this issue. If you can't say definitively now, when will you be able to do so?

Unfortunately, even though this is our own taxpayer dollars, that decision does not rest with the District of Columbia Government. It is inappropriately in the hands of the United States Congress.

Are there any plans to raise building heights to capture a larger tax base and to take advantage of more mixed use and transit oriented development?

In the aftermath of a recent conversation, we checked to determine if the height standards could be changed anywhere in the city. We confirmed that the Federal government would have to change the height standards. However, we will continue to explore ways of making these changes where appropriate.

This was a great conversation. I appreciate the opportunity to hear from our residents and I look forward to chatting with you again soon.

Got to run; thanks for all your questions.

Mayor Gray

In This Chat
Vincent C. Gray
Vincent C. Gray was elected the sixth mayor of Washington, D.C., in November 2010. A District native, Gray served as city councilman from Ward 7 starting in 2004, and was elected city council chairman in 2006.
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