Yesterday morning, despite the drizzle and grey of January, Vincent Gray raised his right hand at 11:58am to swear an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and to be the Mayor of the District of Columbia. He became the sixth person to do so since Home Rule was re-established in 1975.
In the speech that followed, Gray was largely positive about the people that make up the District, but generally vague about the future of his administration. Beyond some firebrand’s words about representation, the speech was largely devoid of content except to play to the continued theme that Gray has revolved around since his September primary victory: that DC, despite all of its numerous divisions, could become One City under the leadership of the Mayor.
Raising the Seal 2 by tbridge
The speech was the last of seven for the morning, with each of the re-elected half of the council touting their own priorities from healthcare to crime, was the least interesting of the bunch. The Vegetarian Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) without question had the most interesting, wherein she threw metaphorical red meat before the crowd with regard to voting rights, saying at one point, “If you don’t give [the vote] to us, give us our money back.” She also cited the current state of the District as in flux, and that the economy had forced some very difficult decisions upon the council, but said that “in many religious traditions, it is a sin to despair. We have an obligation to hope and give hope to others.”
Her speech, which you can watch online (thanks to the Councilwoman’s office), was the sort of speech I had hoped to hear from our new Mayor; it was full of verve and life and fire, instead of full of largely empty platitudes. The Mayor’s speech wasn’t nearly as effectively delivered as his new Chairman’s speech. Kwame Brown used his moment in the spotlight to highlight some of his procedural goals for the council under his direction: establish an ethics committee, revamp legislative services to make DC Government more transparent during the lawmaking process, and handle a budget that is full of holes. You can read the chair’s speech courtesy of his website.
The Mayor, the Chairman and the re-elected council inherit a difficult future, and one full of difficult decisions. Chief among them will be the state of the budget, a subject that weighs heavy on all who consider the $400M+ deficit between the revenue forecasts and the expenditure targets. They recognize what lies in front of them, some more than others, and they have the unenviable position of having to hand down decisions based on the situation. Before taking up that mantle, though, it was time for one last party. The Inaugural Ball, which saw more than 10,000 tickets given out, filled the ballroom at the Convention Center, and saw Chuck Brown on stage, as well as Raheem DeVaugh, Style Band and the Yvonne Johnson trio.
The party itself is a bit contentious. During the post-swearing-in press conference, the costs of the event was not yet revealed (our sources have the cost just under a million for the whole day) nor were the donations calculated and revealed.
Our Max Cook was there last night as DC was decked out to the nines to celebrate the quadrennial miracle of elections. Here are some of his photos: