Initially, I planned to slam the move to decriminalize marijuana in the District. There isn't a drug in existence that doesn't have some kind of harmful side effect -- ask the pharmaceutical industry.

Then, I thought I might salute Mayor Vincent C. Gray for his decision to lease some empty D.C. Public Schools buildings to charters. But the idea of waiting for nonprofit groups to express interest isn't good enough. The mayor has to be more proactive. He may want to invite specific groups to blighted neighborhoods as part of an economic development strategy.

Halfway through that column, I got news that D.C. Superior Court Associate Judge Laura Cordero had dismissed the defamation lawsuit brought by former District employee Eric Payne against Natwar Gandhi. The basis for the decision is just wrong-headed. But more important, it could deny workers in the future protection against vicious, retaliatory actions of their employers. Upon reflection, I realized the topic required more space than could be provided by the column.

So, I switched direction, believing it might be better to explore District officials' knee-jerk reaction to abortion riders to its budgets. Folks like the mayor and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton become nearly hysterical when congressional representatives interfere with local affairs. I get the whole independent governance thing. But why is the notion of prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks -- except when the health of the mother is at risk -- such a bad idea? Should there be a discussion in the city before District elected officials pooh pooh Congress' effort?

Visions of pitchforks started dancing in my head. Better leave that one in the incomplete file.

So many things to discuss, so little time. Sadly, this is my last column for The Washington Examiner. The paper's owner announced weeks ago the end of the local edition effective June 14. I am stepping away a tad earlier.

For nearly seven years, I have written for The Examiner. Whatever measure of success I have had has been because of you, dear readers. You suggested topics; offered tips about internal government activities; sent emails encouraging my investigations; and provided general support. You reminded me regularly of the column's importance in helping to keep elected officials focused on what should matter most: serving the residents of this great city.

Producing those seven years of columns wasn't always easy -- just ask my editors, who received their share of complaints about me from whiny elected officials, who naturally didn't share my opinions. Still, the work offered deep satisfaction and big fun.

While I may be closing this door, I am fortunate that another has opened. My columns will appear online in another local venue beginning June 16.

Many of you have known me since I first began writing opinion columns in 1994; you have followed me from one publication to the next. Others of you are new friends and readers. As you faithfully clicked on The Examiner website or picked up the paper at one of those red boxes, I hope you will continue your support.

Our work together continues.

Jonetta Rose Barras can be reached at

Jonetta Rose Barras' column appears on Tuesday and Friday. She can be reached at