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Excerpts: Reporters discuss D.C. poll

Post staff writers Bill Turque and Nikita Stewart took readers questions online earlier today regarding The Post's poll showing plummeting approval ratings for Washington Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, despite increasing satisfaction with city and school services. Excerpts follow.

DC 20009: While I'm generally pleased with Mayor Fenty's performance, I must admit his high-handedness, and at times what seems to be disregard for the law, can be irritating. For example, has Peter Nickles (who drives me nuts) ever moved to DC? I must say, based on his campaign, I expected him to be more approachable. But overall I think he has done a good job.

Nikita Stewart: Fenty campaigned on an inclusiveness that many residents say they cannot feel as mayor. They had high expectations after his unprecedented win in 2006. Nickles says he has an apartment in Penn Quarter.

Adams Morgan: Hello! I assume this chat also encompasses Michelle Rhee, since the two are so closely related. I had misgivings about bringing her in, and those have been borne out. On the other hand, she has made some progress, but at what seems to me a very high price.

I work for the Federal Government, where it is almost impossible to fire anyone, even for cause. This is not good. But, other than the 9 (out of 266) teachers who were fired for cause, she seems to have selected the others let go almost at random. She has admitted they include a number of caring, competent teachers. I took my kids out of DC public schools because of numerous bad experiences; and 2 teachers I consider to be completely incompetent, one of whom has a serious drinking problem, are still employed. This is not good, either; and I no longer have confidence in her ability to solve these problems.

Bill Turque: I think one thing the Chancellor is trying to do in negotiating a new contract with the teachers union is to get more latitude in dismissing teachers deemed to be ineffective. So far, though, she hasn't been able to close the deal.

Bethesda, MD: Wow -- the silly baseball tickets tiff (which I agree made Fenty look petty) had that big an impact on the poll? Let that be a lesson to politicians everywhere: you had better sweat the small stuff, or people will notice!

Nikita Stewart: The baseball ticket saga annoyed so many people. When I interviewed people who participated in our poll, everyone of them mentioned the ticket drama without prompting. Folks saw it as petty.

Washington, D.C.: How do you see these numbers affecting the 2010 election?

Nikita Stewart: There must be an opponent. Right now, Fenty is fighting himself: the fresh-faced populist of 2006 versus the honeymoon-is-over politician of 2010. But remember Fenty has money in the bank, and according to his supporters and critics, no one else is going to get out there and knock on doors like Fenty. I looked closer at our numbers, however, and compared them to his 2006 primary win. He has lost so much ground, in terms of approval, in wards 1, 4, 7 and 8. Ward 1 really surprised me since he received 61 percent of the vote in the primary there.

Michelle Rhee: Do you think there's a been a backlash against her in part because she's become such a high-profile national figure?

Bill Turque: I think there's clearly been a backlash, but not simply because she's bacome a national figure. I think it's how she's presented herself to national audiences that has caused a backlash: ie. the broomstick, comments about the quality of teachers,etc.

Read the full discussion transcript.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  February 1, 2010; 11:46 AM ET
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