DeMorning DeBonis: June 14, 2010
TODAY IS JUNE 14, 2010 -- 92 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY
Mayor Adrian Fenty is getting booed -- a lot. But does it matter? On today's A1, Nikita Stewart looks at the "chorus heard 'round some parts of the District," hurled toward Hizzoner at graduations, funerals, and candidate forums: "It's a far cry from the summer of 2006, when drivers honked excitedly whenever they saw him campaigning for mayor. Then, residents were as tickled to see the young candidate come to their doors as if a celebrity had dropped by with a sweepstakes prize. ... Supporters say that the criticism and boos are unfair, particularly because city services get high marks, students' test scores are rising, and new libraries, schools and recreation centers have opened citywide." One supporter tells Nikita, "This is not the Miss America contest. He is not Mr. Congeniality." And Fenty calls it "part of being in elected office," which it certainly is. But the boos being are accompanied by other setbacks on the campaign trail: At Saturday's D.C. Democratic State Committee straw poll, Vincent Gray wiped the floor with Fenty, 703 to 190.
AFTER THE JUMP -- gay activists gear up for election season -- OTR glitch leads to thousands of faulty tax bills -- Fenty and Gray match up on fiscal responsibility -- Rhee tells New York City to shape up -- thieves lift Hizzoner's bikes
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE STRAW POLL -- "The victory at the D.C. Democratic State Convention was a major boost for the Gray campaign, which faltered at the Ward 8 Democrats' straw poll when Peaceoholics co-founder Ron Moten organized youths to vote for Fenty. Though Gray was ultimately declared the winner after provisional ballots could not be declared valid, the Fenty campaign showed that it was prepared and organized in a ward where Gray is heavily favored in polls. On Saturday at Howard University School of Law, Gray volunteers blanketed the area with his blue signs in the morning. When Fenty supporters arrived in the afternoon, they had to scurry to create an equal presence with signs and stickers. Fenty was clearly outmatched and was booed, as well as cheered by supporters, during a forum for mayoral candidates. ... In other straw polls held Saturday, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton also had a landslide victory of 732 to 171 against Doug Sloan. At-Large Council member Kwame R. Brown handily beat former council member Vincent B. Orange 585 to 329 in the race to replace Gray as chairman. Incumbent Council member Phil Mendelson (At Large) kept challenger Clark Ray at bay with a 512 to 243 victory. Incumbent council members Tommy Wells (Ward 6), Jim Graham (Ward 1) and Harry Thomas (Ward 5) all came out on top against their competitors."
COURTING THE GAY VOTE -- Fenty won a warmer reception at the Capital Pride parade Saturday evening, where his entourage of more than 50 supporters included none other than schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee -- her highest-profile campaign appearance to date. She explained she wanted to encourage same-sex parents to enroll their kids in the city's public schools. On the occasion of the first Pride in a D.C. with legal same-sex marriage, Tim Craig looks at how "gay activists in the District are regrouping to try to remain a potent political force by proving they can still influence the outcome of city elections even as they gain more rights." They stand to have a key role in the mayoral contest: "In what's expected to be a tight mayoral contest, whoever succeeds in locking in the support of the gay and lesbian community may have the advantage on primary day. Because Fenty and Gray have similar positions on gay and lesbian issues, it could boil down to personalities." That, of course, would not bode well for Fenty, who has "sparred" with gay activists on several issues. And his problem with gay voters citywide is reflected in the LGBT vote: "Earl Fowlkes, who helps organize the annual Washington Black Gay Pride event, said Fenty has refused to attend, even though Barry and former mayors Anthony A. Williams and Sharon Pratt had attended when they were in the office. 'We live in a city that is very progressive, and we'd like to think we had a mayor who supports us,' said Fowlkes. ... In response, Fenty said he 'can't make all the functions.'"
NOT AGAIN -- An Office of Tax and Revenue software glitch is blamed for incorrect income tax bills sent to thousands of District residents last week. The error "resulted in residents not being properly credited for their personal income tax withholdings for 2009," Derek Kravitz wrote in Saturday's Post. "Adding insult to injury, tax collectors at the [OTR] call center said late Friday that their computers had been down for much of the day. ... Residents who received the bills this week, many of which asked for payment by June 20, were not sympathetic. A 3,400-member e-mail group for residents in Washington's Chevy Chase neighborhood was aflutter Friday, demanding answers from D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), who promised she would check on the problem."
BANK ON IT -- Nikita wrapped up the mayoral fundraising reports in Saturday's paper: Gray's $561,000 in collections "outpaced Fenty's three-month haul of $475,000," though it falls well short of his $4.2 million total. Still: "The most recent campaign finance filings gave a big boost to the chairman's supporters and prompted the mayor's backers to play down Gray's feat. Ben Soto, Fenty's campaign treasurer, noted that the mayor raised $2 million in his first filing period in early 2009. He also said the campaign had already tapped contributors for the maximum $2,000, so a leveling-off was expected. ... The mayor's report also revealed that his sign-wavers and canvassers are part of a paid staff of at least 45 people. ... The campaign wanted well-versed representatives to knock on doors for Fenty, Soto said. 'It's important to have people who understand the issues and can answer questions,' he said. Asked why some workers appeared to be teens or young adults, Soto said young people have more flexible hours with summer vacation."
MONEY TALKS -- The Post's editorial board, in a lengthy Sunday piece, looks at whether Gray or Fenty can claim to be the more fiscally sound candidate. The summary: "Overall, the District's current financial health is a result of the work of both men. Mr. Fenty got the big issues right in choosing [Natwar Gandhi as CFO] and controlling government spending; he also laid down the right spending priorities and then stuck with them. Mr. Gray's careful probing provided an important backstop, and at critical times he insisted on fiscal discipline. Looking ahead, Mr. Fenty has renewed his promise not to raise taxes; a spokesman for Mr. Gray said that tax hikes are not in his plans but it would be irresponsible to make an ironclad promise."
BE LIKE ME, NYC -- Writing in Mort Zuckerman's New York Daily News, Rhee exports her brand of school reform to the Big Apple, urging Chancellor Joel Klein and the city teacher union to come to terms on a contract: "Despite some real improvements achieved over the past few years, New York continues to operate under a contract that is much more focused on arcane rules, seniority and job protections than about how to promote better learning outcomes for kids. ... The D.C. contract includes many provisions that were once considered 'sacred cows,' but as it turns out, were wholly embraced by our teachers. ... In exchange for these reforms, teachers are receiving unprecedented levels of support, resources, professional development, voice in decision-making and pay." Her recommendations include closing the infamous "rubber rooms," ending seniority as the only factor in layoffs, paying for individual teacher performance, and get this: "Use Randi Weingarten. ... [S]he is very much able to see the direction the nation is heading in and the fact that unions need to be a part of the solution." My colleague Bill Turque summarizes the piece thusly: "Rhee to NYC: Just be like me." Not all New York teachers are welcoming the advice.
ON THE OTHER HAND -- A dissenting view of Rhee-form, via letter to Post editors: "The long hours spent on student assessments and the enormous pressure being imposed by [Rhee]'s central office are simply unbearable for some teachers, especially those with small children at home. And other veteran teachers may not have the skills or motivation to adapt, so they will be pressured to leave -- which is clearly Ms. Rhee's strategy. Why? Because DCPS, like other school systems, has consistently failed to provide teachers such as my wife, who is leaving the system at the end of the school year, with the resources and authority to do their jobs."
BIKE-SNATCHERS -- A couple of rogues absconded with a pair of Hizzoner's mountain bikes, right under the noses of the cops patrolling the mayoral homestead in Crestwood. Bill Myers has the scoop in the Examiner: "The thieves, described only as three dark-complected 'black males' in police records marked 'not for public distribution,' left two of their own, shoddier bikes at the scene. ... It's not clear if Fenty was at home when the thefts occurred. His wife, Michelle Fenty, apparently was: The police reports describe her surveying the garage moments after the thefts. ... At least one officer is now facing discipline on neglect charges from Police Chief Cathy Lanier. The officers' union leader, Kris Baumann, is livid. He said Fenty and Lanier have forbidden officers to patrol the Fenty property and are now looking for scapegoats. 'When you micromanage the police, they can't be the police,' Baumann said." On the bright side: Hey, they didn't get the Colnago.
JUVIES -- "Can D.C. end its juvenile justice farce?" asks Colby King in his Saturday op-ed column. He recounts the deaths of two DYRA-supervised youths, publicized in the Examiner and little else. "You are in the dark about those things because they make the city look bad, especially DYRS and its champion, Mayor Adrian Fenty. ... Asked by the Examiner if the DYRS anti-detention, community-based approach is still working, AG Peter Nickles -- more the mayor's consigliere than the city's attorney general -- said, 'I don't think it has failed.' Thank goodness Nickles, Fenty and DYRS don't have the last word on public safety and the rehabilitation of young offenders." Colby goes on to rip Tommy Wells, give Kelvin Robinson some press, and laud a probe of the juvenile justice system launched by David Catania -- who, he writes, "knows what Fenty seems not to have learned: What's needed is targeted mental health intervention and professional therapeutic treatment -- the kind that troubled middle-class youths get -- and increased accountability for parents and guardians."
GROUP HOMES -- Post colleague Henri Cauvin looks at the concentration of community-based treatment facilities located in city neighborhoods, an issue that's particularly fraught with politics in Ward 4, where residents complain there are too many group homes for the developmentally disabled, mentally ill and troubled youth. "Of the 113 group homes serving people with developmental disabilities, 47 of them, or more than 40 percent, are in Ward 4. ... [W]ards 5, 7 and 8 each have more than 60 group homes. Ward 3, the city's wealthiest area, has two." The big picture: "The long-simmering concerns in Ward 4 reflect the challenges that confront the District decades after deinstitutionalization began to transform the way the city cares not only for the developmentally disabled but also for the mentally ill and for children who are abused, neglected or delinquent. From the shrinking of St. Elizabeths, the city's public psychiatric hospital, to the shuttering of Oak Hill, the city's former juvenile detention center, the District has been moving to community-based services for all but the most acute, vulnerable or dangerous people in its care."
PAST IS PROLOGUE -- Jonetta Rose Barras didn't see much forward-looking at last week's Ward 3 Dems mayoral forum. "Ward 3 residents, who went to St. Columba Episcopal Church in Tenleytown expecting to hear the politicos' plans for District, surely were disappointed. They may have thought they had tuned into the history channel. The future couldn't be found. Questions from former Councilwoman Kathy Patterson and a panel of informed residents provided ample opportunity for the two to present plans for the next four years. Yet the two major candidates repeatedly returned to the past: Gray pounded Fenty about his budget proposals; Fenty went all 1990s. ... The past may be an indicator of the future, but it isn't the sole barometer of competence or potential success. Still, Gray and Fenty are mired in it."
JOBS IN WARD 8 -- On Sunday A1, the Post's Dana Hedgpeth looked at unemployment in Ward 8 through the eyes of Angie Walker, 46, and finds a problem that defies political solutions. "Walker ... and many of her neighbors lack the beefy résumés with technical skills and college degrees that snag jobs in a slowly recovering economy. Often they're hobbled by poor transportation, lack of reliable day care, brushes with the law, substance abuse and isolation from the world of internships and job referrals -- problems that won't be fixed by classes in résumé writing or 9-to-5 dressing. 'Any chink in the system can make it hard for them to achieve,' said Ed Lazere, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. ... 'You can't fix the whole world overnight," said Joseph Walsh, director of the District's Department of Employment Services. 'We're trying every day to help people.'"
MALL MESS -- Big scoopage from Jonathan O'Connell in today's Capital Business: "The two-man duel over ownership of the Shops at Georgetown Park may be turning into a full-on melee. Developer Anthony Lanier, who contends he was illegally excluded from a deal to purchase the property by his former partner, Western Development, is teaming with JBG to bid on the mall now that it is facing possible foreclosure. JBG, based in Chevy Chase, could provide Lanier's EastBanc with the cash needed to purchase a $70 million note on the property that Western defaulted on in March." Neither Lanier or Western's Herb Miller had comment.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
David Alpert explains to Kwame Brown why the Board of Trade is a special interest just like any other (All Opinions Are Local)
The Post's editorial board isn't happy that bad bus drivers are being put back on the job (Post editorial)
I fact-check Gray and Fenty's juvenile-justice claims (DeBonis)
Some Fenty administration workers donate to Gray (WBJ)
MPD tech chief fired: "Travis Hudnall was escorted from police headquarters Friday and Lanier issued a bulletin warning her officers not to let him into any police building, law enforcement sources told The Examiner. It marks a swift collapse of a relationship between Lanier and her technology czar, brought in part by a rift with the mayor's own tech leaders." (Examiner)
Dr. Gridlock takes up the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes (Post)
Fenty eats cheeseburger! (Georgetown Dish)
Don Peebles loves him some V.O. (WBJ)
Lanier explains changes to gay policing (Edge)
Falls Churcher: Local politicos are "too narrow-minded" to grab voting rights (Post letter)
In defense of the Hurt Home's impending condo-ization (Georgetiwn Metropolitan)
Firefighter convicted of assaulting patient high on PCP (NC8)
Fee waivers for parades, races cost taxpayers $600K (Examiner)
"D.C. statehood boosters live in a state of delusion." (WRC-TV)
Council recognizes slain intern with ceremonial resolution (AP)
"How unpopular is Mayor Fenty?" (D2 Route)
Dupont Circle soccer-watch goes gangbusters (WTOP)
Things are about to get crazy on the 14th Street Bridge (Post)
Farewell, Little Benny (Post)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Council holds 10 a.m. press briefing -- human services committee talks juvenile justice
June 14, 2010; 9:32 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike , The District
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