This posting will be a different from what you have come to expect when reading about Mayor Gray. Most coverage of the mayor over the past year has focused on unsubstantiated accusations of bribery in his campaign, whether his former deputy chief-of-staff voted in Maryland, or if family members of his staff were given jobs. How much do we know about how the mayor's policymaking is actually impacting residents? In our never-ending thirst for gossip and sensationalism, we may have missed his accomplishments since taking office less than 10 months ago.
In months and months of reporting by the mainstream media on topics completely irrelevant to the daily lives of District residents, I have a novel idea. Suppose we actually discuss what Mayor Gray is actually doing to help residents? Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that the press should not cover issues of corruption or abuse of power, but I also believe that this type of reporting takes up a disproportionate amount of the news cycle, and I would like to bring things back in balance.
Since taking office, Mayor Gray, as promised in his campaign, has undertaken an ambitious effort to fix our city in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis. Unemployment in some parts of the District top 25 percent, while poverty and crime continue to be a burden on our residents. The District government has been less than effective in tackling many of these issues, and Mayor Gray has made a valiant attempt to make necessary changes.
On education, he has made it possible for children to receive a continuum of education from birth through 24 years of age. His focus on early childhood has been perhaps the most important advance our city has seen in decades. In order to prepare children to learn, they must begin during their formative years, and Mayor Gray recognizes that. He is also ensuring that children with disabilities can receive opportunity, as well, receiving a quality education with their peers in public schools. For too many years we have been isolating children by sending them to private schools at taxpayer expense. This practice has to end, and Mayor Gray is improving special education programs in our public schools to accommodate children with special needs.
Mayor Gray has also made great strides to tackle unemployment in The District. Not only has he rescued the Summer Youth Employment Program from the negligence it received in the prior administration, resulting in 14,000 summer jobs, but he is working to ensure that adults have access to more jobs, as well. Through school modernization programs and new economic development projects such as City Center and the new Marriott Marquis, work is available for District residents. Mayor Gray also launched the "Live Where You Work" program, which provides grants to businesses to encourage residents to purchase homes in the District near public transit hubs.
Mayor Gray has certainly delivered on the environment. His vision for the District's Sustainable Electric Utility is directing government funds to help residents weatherize their homes, install energy-efficient equipment, and make greater use of solar technologies. These initiatives will reduce per-capita energy consumption and the size of electric bills. The mayor is also implementing the Greener Neighborhoods initiative, finding ways to reduce wastewater runoff through providing subsidies for green roofing and other low-impact development.
One issue that impacts all of us is self-determination in the District. Because we aren't a state, we are forced to pay federal taxes without having any representation in Congress. Mayor Gray has taken this cause more seriously than any previous administration, and even went to jail fighting for the rights that we all deserve. We may never see statehood anytime soon, but Mayor Gray is bringing this cause to the attention of the American people in a way that has never been done before.
Finally, Mayor Gray has improved the District's fiscal stability and promoting our city as a place to invest. He has personally met with the three major credit rating agencies, worked to rebuild the reserve fund that had dwindled during the prior administration, introduced a balanced budget to the D.C. Council. Just recently District CFO, Natwar Gandhi, announced an additional $89 million in tax revenues this year creating a budget surplus.
In the world of politics, as elsewhere, nobody is perfect. We, and I include the media, have a tendency to hold politicians to standards that are nearly impossible to meet. Mistakes have been during Mayor Gray's administration, but mistakes are made during any administration. Voters should have the opportunity to judge their elected officials on their record and on their policies. If the media will not give Mayor Gray fair and balanced coverage, then I am more than happy to do it here on the Huffington Post.
Editor's Note: Adam Clampitt was appointed to the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors by Mayor Vincent Gray earlier this year.