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Civic leadership in D.C.

This week, the D.C. Federation of Citizens’ Associations, Inc. held its annual holiday luncheon at the historic DACOR Bacon House near The White House. The luncheon was rescheduled from an earlier date due to weather closing the federal government.

The DCFed was organized in 1910 and incorporated in 1940. The DCFed is composed of neighborhood civic and citizen associations from throughout the District of Columbia, though mostly on the West end of the District. The DCFed should not be confused with the historically African-American D.C. Federation of Civic Associations, Inc., which was formed in 1921. (For full disclosure, I am a former president of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations.)

The luncheon guest speaker was Ms. Jonetta Rose Barras, columnist with The Washington Post. Ms. Barras has a long history observing District politics and is not shy about commenting on the inner-workings or what is not working across the District.

While Ms. Barras and I do not always agree on District public policy issues and District politics, we do share a commitment to a strong public policy debate and good District government which is transparent.

When it was announced Ms. Barras would be the luncheon’s guest speaker addressing the District’s upcoming mayoral elections, I knew what to expect and she came full throttle.

Ms. Barras was strong in her denunciation of the leadership of the District government, particularly D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. Ms. Barras, appearing to cast herself as the surrogate U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, a federal jury, and district court judge indicted, convicted, and sentenced Mayor Gray.

However, I do not believe Ms. Barras anticipated the responses from the luncheon guests. None of the questions and comments (including mine) posed to her expressed support for her luncheon statements attacking Mayor Gray.

The clear consensus of those gathered was a dislike for The Washington Post’s news coverage of the District. One guest termed its news coverage as nonstop “bashing” of the District. Another guest was outraged The Washington Post covered past Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday events outside the District, rather than local District MLK, Jr. commemorative events.

Another case in point, although not raised during the Q&A is The Washington Post published a story about veterans possibly losing some retirement benefits. However, the writer interviewed a retired military veteran "from his home is Tampa", rather than quoting a veteran from his home in the District.

The leadership of The Washington Post is too detached from the people of the District by income and geography. They are also too distant from "the every man and woman" of the City and arrogant in editorials which "bash" the District.

Under the current leadership of The Washington Post, rather than seeking to inform readers and the public, local news coverage has been polarizing, divisive, and has marginalized certain District population sectors. What are you going to do about changing the editorial tone of your newspaper Mr. Bezos?

It is clear The Washington Post editorial command under publisher Ms. Katharine Weymouth and editorial writer Ms. Jo-Ann Armao do not support Mayor Gray. It is also evident both Ms. Weymouth and Ms. Armao do not engage extensively with residents across the District and have minimal respect for the intelligence of the people of the District of Columbia they don't encounter at the water cooler or downtown. And it obvious, Ms. Armao will not find too many District residents to talk to about District politics in Montgomery County, MD.

E-mail contact information: rbrannum@robertbrannum.com

Twitter: @robert158