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June 25, 2010

Rosenstein's ego-laden filibuster against Fenty

Rosenstein In a 5,100-word piece that circulated in embargoed form for two days before being published on the Blade website, activist Peter Rosenstein explains why he does not support the re-election of Mayor Adrian Fenty:

This decision wasn’t made lightly. Having known Adrian Fenty and his family for a number of years and having worked with him when he was a Council member to bring together experts on issues to help him develop position papers made it a difficult decision. I have gotten to know his wife Michelle, his children and his parents and have spent holidays with them at the home of mutual friends and have the deepest respect for them. This decision isn’t made with any personal animosity but rather for political reasons.

Either Fenty changed when he became mayor or many of us badly misread him when he was a candidate. He now appears to be someone who doesn’t really care about people — an autocrat, unwilling to deal with any criticism or discussion of differences of opinion. Staff who disagree with him are fired, while others outside the administration who don’t agree don’t get their calls returned. The mayor continues to speak in campaign sound bites when he should be confronting complicated issues in depth....

I helped to craft Fenty’s platform. I had the assistance of many people across the District who passionately felt that we needed change. I think we got change and in some areas it was really great. But in others, candidate Fenty appears to have uttered the words people wanted to hear but didn’t really take them to heart. Candidate Fenty promised to keep the full core of the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit intact, Mayor Fenty didn’t....

Candidate Fenty promised support for marriage equality but Mayor Fenty never spoke up for it. He didn’t testify for it or allow his director of the Office of GLBT Affairs to do so. ... He did sign a veto-proof bill and held a signing ceremony to be in on the celebration.

Candidate Fenty promised to fight against hate crimes. Mayor Fenty never even managed to get the words hate crimes out of his mouth. He refused to meet with the community at-large even though these crimes have been increasing. Candidate Fenty promised to hold a GLBT Economic Summit. Mayor Fenty refused to make this an event of the mayor’s office and has never found time to attend one. Candidate Fenty promised to take the message of fighting HIV/AIDS to the community, including the faith community. Mayor Fenty has never spoken to a faith-based group about HIV/AIDS.

That's just a small sample. This is too long, too one-sided, and too much about Peter Rosenstein. Much of the criticism is legitimate (indeed, it echoes issues GLAA has raised (see http://www.tinyurl.com/glaa2010), but it gets too personal. There is some legitimacy to Fenty’s point that results matter more than style; thus the extended critique of his style is not terribly important.

Too many voters in 2006 focused excessively on personality and atmospherics. It should be clear enough by now that Fenty, while a skilled campaigner, in no way deserved to win every precinct as he did. Let’s learn from experience and not behave this year like a jilted lover. We are choosing a mayor, not a boyfriend or dinner-party guest.

There is plenty to criticize in the Office of the Attorney General (to cite an example), but Peter Nickles and his staff have done superb work in defending the marriage equality bill before the Board of Elections and in court. Mayor Fenty gets credit for that.

We don’t need ego trips and polemics, we need honest, fair evaluations. This mayoral election is essentially between two allies of the LGBT community. We should be able to evaluate their relative strengths and weaknesses without needing a machete to cut through dense thickets of slanted campaign flackery.

Update: This was picked up by Amanda Hess at The Sexist blog.

Update 2: Bob Summersgill posted these comments below Rosenstein's article:

Peter uses “I” 67 times. He uses “Fenty” 58 times.

The unrelenting negativism isn’t appealing. Peter cost Adrian Fenty the Gertrude Stein Club endorsement 4 years ago when his attack on Linda Cropp was seen as so unfair and so uncivil as to cause numerous people to vote for her and against Peter and his candidate.

Peter and Lane Hudson have moved me to support Mayor Fenty in their all-negative all-the-time attacks on Mayor Fenty by making me think of the great things that the Mayor has done.

The vigorous defense of our right to marry by the Mayor’s Attorney General has been wonderful. Four times before the Board of Elections and Ethics, and 7 times in court have resulted in an unbroken string of wins. Harry Jackson has failed at every turn. One example is at http://www.glaa.org/archive/2009/nickles2boeeoninitiative1005.pdf

This solid defense of our rights and our laws is worthy of high praise and another term in office.

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