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Barras: Earth to Gray

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Local,DC,Jonetta Rose Barras

Are you kidding me?!

Facing an ever-expanding federal investigation into illegal activities of his 2010 campaign, including a $653,800 off-the-books "shadow" operation and the apparent unauthorized acquisition and use of public housing residents' private information, Mayor Vincent C. Gray decided what was "exceedingly important" to him this week was to unveil his "One City Action Plan."

Somebody -- anybody -- help him. Gray has drifted into the stratosphere while humming the words to "The Way We Were": "Memories, may be beautiful and yet/What's too painful to remember/We simply choose to forget."

"This is a comprehensive, measurable, transparent strategy for the District of Columbia to be all it can be," Gray said. "This is a game changer."

He undoubtedly hopes his One City Action Plan will serve as a powerful elixir, transporting the public to a happier time while rewriting these facts: Three D.C. Council members and several organizations in the city have called for his resignation. A recent poll found, among other things, 45 percent of residents surveyed believe the city is headed in the wrong direction.

But if Gray's intention with the release of his plan was to repair his tattered image or alter the perception of many residents that he is not honest and trustworthy and his administration is unethical, he failed miserably.

The actions outlined are responsibilities routinely expected of government. Further, the plan is redundant -- a rehashed amalgam of goals and strategies previously advertised by Gray or members of his administration. In other words, the One City Action Plan is neither new nor ingenious.

Consider for example, Gray's overarching aspirations: growing and diversifying the city's economy; educating and preparing a workforce to participate in that economy; and improving the overall quality of life for citizens. Those ambitions were articulated during the administrations of both Mayors Anthony A. Williams and Adrian M. Fenty; in many instances, there were positive and measurable outcomes.

Further, a ticker tape parade can't be called because Gray, among other things, has indicated he intends to continue the modernization of school buildings and playgrounds. He'd be crazy to discontinue that popular infrastructure program begun under Fenty.

He probably can claim some credit for reducing the city's jobless rate from 11 percent to 9.1 percent. But, truth be told, unemployment has declined steadily. As the region continues to recover from the recession, more private sector companies have begun hiring, and temporary jobs, like those in the construction industry, also have become available.

Unsurprisingly, during the nearly two-hour presentation of his plan, Gray never addressed the issue of exceeding importance to many citizens: Did he know about the corrupt behavior to which key staff of his 2010 campaign have pleaded guilty? Even if he didn't know, does he believe he is responsible or accountable?

Instead, he was satisfied being "Mr. One City." He has plastered that slogan on everything he has touched: One City Citizens Summit, One City, One Hire, One City Action Plan.

Here's one he forgot: One City Tarnished by Gray's 2010 campaign.

Jonetta Rose Barras can be reached at jonetta@jonettarosebarras.com.

Jonetta Rose Barras' column appears on Tuesday and Friday. She can be reached at jonetta@jonettarosebarras.com.

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