WASHINGTON — District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray was one of 18 mayors who met with President Barack Obama on Tuesday afternoon to discuss strategies to reduce youth violence — the first meeting between the president and the leader of Washington’s local government since before Gray took office.
The mayors also met with Attorney General Eric Holder at the White House in an event that was not announced beforehand. The group included Cory Booker of Newark, N.J.; Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, Calif.; Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans; and Michael Nutter of Philadelphia.
Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Gray, said the Democratic mayor shared details about the city’s summer programs that keep at-risk youth out of trouble, including the summer jobs program, which has been expanded under Gray, and an initiative under which city agencies coordinate and promote their youth-oriented programming.
Obama has never appeared in public with Gray. Their only previous meeting came in December 2010, when Gray was mayor-elect and the two men had lunch at the White House. In March 2011, federal prosecutors launched an investigation of Gray’s 2010 campaign that is still ongoing. Four campaign aides have pleaded guilty to felonies, some of which were related to $650,000 in illegal funds that were poured into the campaign by a city businessman.
While the Obama administration has supported greater autonomy for the district, the president has been quiet on the issue. After his re-election, he agreed to start using city license plates on his official vehicles that include the phrase “Taxation Without Representation,” a reference to the district’s lack of voting representation in Congress.
“There’s really no relationship, no ongoing relationship between the White House and the district government,” said Mark Plotkin, a district statehood activist and political commentator.
Ribeiro said the city’s partnership with the federal government is strong.
“You may not see a press conference, but we are constantly working with our partners at the federal level,” he said.
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