DeMorning DeBonis: June 21, 2010
TODAY IS JUNE 21, 2010 -- 85 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY
File this one under "when it rains, it pours": "A canvasser for the campaign of D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) was fired after being arrested Friday in connection with an alleged attempt to sell crack to an undercover police officer in Northwest," Nikita Stewart and Clarence Williams reported over the weekend. "Demetrius Eccles was arrested at Georgia Avenue and Piney Branch Road, according to a law enforcement source. No age or address was available. He began working this month for the campaign, but a campaign spokeswoman said he is 'no longer' on the staff. She said he was not on duty at the time of his arrest." Hiring good people, of course, is a challenge for any organization. But this incident shines a light on an uncomfortable fact: Four years ago, a volunteer-fueled Fenty effort didn't need to hire canvassers like this.
AFTER THE JUMP -- how new voters could affect DCision 2010 -- will Moten make the difference for Fenty? -- millions taken from benefits fund to balance 2009 budget -- Rhee on the campaign trail -- alleged 'riot' at New Beginnings
*** MAIN COURSE ***
NEW VOTERS -- The city electorate of 2006 is not the city electorate of 2010, and colleague Ann Marimow looks at how things have changed -- and it's not just more yuppies in condos: "To Fenty's camp, the fact that newcomers have chosen the District over, say, Bethesda or Ballston is directly related to the mayor's initiatives to improve schools and lower crime, said campaign strategist Tom Lindenfeld. 'We think we have a chance once they are exposed to the contrast in the race,' he said. ... [Vincent Gray]'s campaign is trying to capitalize on his background as a community organizer -- something he shares with Obama -- and founder of a nonprofit group. Traci Hughes, spokeswoman for the Gray campaign, also stressed his deliberative, inclusive decision-making style and said new voters want a candidate 'who really cares about the people living in the city.' In the hierarchy of sought-after voters, residents with habitual records of participation are especially prized. At the other end are those who typically cast ballots only in presidential elections. Then there are the newbies, who have yet to establish a voting pattern in the District. The get-out-the-vote challenge for both mayoral campaigns heading into the September primary is to persuade the newly registered -- without ignoring established voters -- that they have a personal stake in who is elected mayor."
MORE MO, MORE PROBLEMS? -- Ron Moten's role in the Fenty campaign is examined by Tim Craig: "[T]he community activist and self-described 'brawler' is emerging as an influential force in the race between Fenty and [Gray]. Frustrated by Gray's attacks on Fenty and concerned that a Gray victory would dry up funding for violence-prevention programs he credits with reducing homicides, Moten said he will use the sales skills he learned on the streets to put the mayor over the top in the September primary. ... Moten is gearing up to mobilize thousands on Fenty's behalf, confident he can drive up African American turnout enough to dilute Gray's expected advantage. Privately, some Fenty advisers said they are nervous that Moten's efforts could backfire, but the mayor said in an interview that he is 'honored' to have the support, calling him a 'friend' and a 'great Washingtonian.' ... Although Moten stepped down as chief operating officer of Peaceoholics in the fall, Gray questions whether his campaigning could endanger the group's tax-exempt status. ... 'Ron Moten is someone who started out running what I thought was a reputable nonprofit organization, and what he has done is draw his 501(c)(3) very much into politics.'"
BUDGET RAID -- The Fenty administration took $10 million from the employee benefits fund now thought to be missing millions in life insurance premiums, Bill Myers reports in Examiner. "Sources familiar with the investigations into the scandal told The Examiner that the Fenty administration took some $10 million from the workers' compensation fund to balance the fiscal 2009 budget. Then City Administrator Dan Tangherlini met with finance and Risk Management agency officials in early 2008 and discovered that the workers' comp money had continually 'rolled over' from previous years, the sources said. Tangherlini assumed that insurance claims were falling and that the city was safe in raiding the fund, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigations. ... Tangherlini has since become a top official in President Obama's Treasury Department. ... At the time, Fenty hailed Tangherlini's efforts. 'Our budget team, led by [Tangherlini], has done an excellent job of putting this plan together,' Fenty said in March 2008."
FENTY TV BLITZ COMING? -- Jonetta Rose Barras reacts in Examiner to Gray's string of straw-poll wins: "Fenty is fortunate. A straw poll isn't a real election. It doesn't necessarily come with any endorsement, promise of money, or even more volunteers. And ... the people voting in these election test runs are largely political diehards. Average citizens haven't yet connected. ... Truth be told, straw polls and endorsement meetings are merely an opportunity for each campaign to take the other's measure: How much effort does it take for Gray to win in Ward 3? Is Fenty mimicking Muhammad Ali's 'rope-a-dope,' or is his organization in disarray?" The buried lede: "Insiders told me [Fenty] soon may release television ads: 'A lot of voters have fixed opinions [about him]. The only way to change that is to come into their living rooms,' said a campaign source. ... But everyone knows money -- even lots of it -- doesn't spell victory any more than those straw polls."
RHEE ON THE HUSTINGS -- Thanks to the Hatch Act, it won't be Chancellor Michelle Rhee who knocks on your door as a Fenty canvasser; it'll be plain ol' Michelle, Bill Turque reports at D.C. Schools Insider, leading an item about her role in the Fenty campaign. "Exactly what plans the Fenty campaign has to deploy Rhee are unclear. ... She would undoubtedly be an asset--even if an untitled one--in areas of the city where her school reform efforts remain deeply popular. Rhee said in an interview that she has not had a detailed discussion with the mayor's campaign about her role, but that she expected there to be one. ... One Democratic operative close to Rhee said the campaign needs to be cautious about appearing to politicize her, and that too much overt politicking would tarnish her independent image. The other reality is that there are areas of the city, many of them east of the park, where she's just as unpopular as Fenty. 'This is one of these situations where the best thing she can do is be is be a good ambassador for reform and progress,' the operative said."
BLODDY WEEKEND -- A violent weekend in the District: "Six people were shot and one stabbed in the District within an hour late Friday night, authorities said. Two of the victims died from their wounds," the Post reported. "There was no indication of any connection among the three separate incidents." There is some small political connection: One of the victims was killed across the street from Fenty campaign headquarters on Georgia Avenue NW: "Investigators said early Saturday that the shooting apparently followed a go-go concert on Georgia Avenue at which fights broke out. ... The most seriously wounded was a young man [identified as 16-year-old Jamal Bell] who was shot in the head. He later died, authorities said. All three victims were described as teenagers." The concert, at the Nativity Youth Center, featured Backyard Band -- co-founded by Fenty endorser Anwan "Big G" Glover.
RIOT AT NEW BEGINNINGS? -- WUSA-TV reports a "disturbance" Sunday night at the city's Laurel, Md., home for youth offenders: "Sources tell 9 NEWS NOW that shortly after 7:20 pm Sunday, some or all of the 70 juveniles currently living in the facility refused to enter their electronically controlled bedroom units and engaged staffers in some type of altercation. The confrontation soon escalated into a 'riot situation' according to Tasha Williams, a spokesperson with the detention facility's police union. ... A shift supervisor who responded to the disturbance was assaulted, his jaw fractured and an electronic master key stolen by one or more of the juveniles according to sources. ... When response units from the Metropolitan Police Department and other local agencies responded to the incident, some of the detainees were found wandering through the facility at will while others were on the roof." No one escaped.
MONEY WELL SPENT -- United Medical Center's owners "continued paying big fees to its cadre of lobbyists last year even as millions of dollars in local and federal taxes went unpaid at the Southeast Washington hospital," Jim McElhatton reports at the Washington Times. Specialty Hospitals of America "paid at least $300,000 to the lobbying firm Carmen Group, according to local and federal lobbying disclosure reports. The expenditures came at a time when the finances of United Medical Center were becoming increasingly dire, public records show. ... The financial problems have D.C. officials considering auctioning off the hospital as early as next month, just a few years after it emerged from bankruptcy under previous owners. ... Executives at Specialty Hospitals say the money spent was well worth it. ... 'They had the contacts and the professional expertise to handle it in a much more expedited manner than we did at the time,' [an SHA executive] said of the lobbyists' hiring." McElhatton also dives into the hospital's general financial woes.
DON'T GIVE UP -- The Post's editorial board reacts to my piece on the new emphasis among local officials on statehood advocacy. "[I]t would be premature, and possibly foolhardy, to abandon the seven-year campaign for congressional representation. ... What's overlooked in that thinking is that while chances may be slim for voting rights, they are close to nonexistent for statehood. ... There is little nationwide support to confer statehood on a place many people see simply as a small city. ... The District's chances would be enhanced if everyone were working together. Local officials need to do more than bemoan how the gun lobby outfoxed Democratic leaders and voting rights lobbyists. [Fenty] started his inaugural speech with a pledge to fight for voting rights, but has he asked to meet with President Obama to press the city's case for protecting D.C.'s gun laws? Mr. Gray has talked about civil disobedience, but how many senators has he visited to make his case? Fighting for voting rights is hard. That isn't reason to give up."
ONE YEAR LATER -- Days before the anniversary of the Red Line catastrophe, the Post's Ann Scott Tyson speaks to the nine victims' survivors: "[T]hey live with an aching sense of loss that is as raw today as it was in the days after one train slammed into another near Fort Totten Station in Northeast Washington. Some refuse to ride Metro trains; they're worried about safety and plagued by horrific memories. Lawsuits over the crash, which also injured 80 people, are crawling through the courts, and the National Transportation Safety Board won't announce a formal cause of the accident until late July. As the months have passed, many family members grew bitter over what they see as the indifference of Metro, government officials and the public to their suffering." A particularly biting example: "Elizabeth W. Regan, the daughter of retired Maj. Gen. David F. Wherley Jr., 62, of Washington and his wife, Ann, 62, who were both killed in the crash, issued a written statement through a lawyer. 'I was orphaned by a preventable tragedy ... My parents' lives and those of several other people who died in the crash were cut drastically short by Metro's negligence.' Regan said she is angry and disappointed at Metro's 'last-minute' memorial service. "I have no interest in attending a publicity stunt,' she said."
ALSO -- "Is Metro any safer one year after deadly crash?" Kytja Weir asks in the Examiner. "The deadly wreck, the worst in the system's history, compounded years of warnings about the dangers of Metro's oldest rail cars collapsing upon impact and train near misses forecasting that its track safety system was failing to stop some trains from getting too close. But the crash did not end the safety problems. Instead, the transit agency saw a spate of other deaths, safety missteps, damning reports and other problems in the past year. Yet some observers say Metro is finally taking steps to become safer."
WHY STYLE MATTERS -- You heard what Kojo said, right? Gary Imhoff reacts in D.C. Watch's themail: "'Personality' isn't superficial; it is the essence of a person. It is the same thing as character; when we want to take it seriously, we call it character, and when we want to trivialize it, we call it personality. We try to predict how politicians will act in the future on the basis of how they have acted in the past -- on the basis of their personalities, their characters, of who they are at heart. Does the politician make friends or enemies; does he listen to the voters or ignore them; is he open or secretive; does he deal with all people equally or practice favoritism; is he honest or not? The pundits who claim that voters shouldn't judge between Fenty and Gray on the basis of their personalities have it exactly wrong. Personality, character, is exactly the right basis on which to cast a vote."
STRAW MAN -- That Wille Wilson endorsement is worth something: Clark Ray bested Phil Mendelson in Saturday's Ward 8 Democrats straw poll on the at-large council nomination. As he reports on his campaign Web site: "Ray, showing growing momentum, handily won the Ward 8 Democratic Straw Poll over longtime incumbent Phil Mendelson with a vote of 46 to 28. ... 'This campaign is all about change and bringing it to the streets in every part of town.'" Meanwhile, in the Blade, Lou Chibbaro Jr. has more on the reaction in the gay community to the Wilson endorsement.
TIGHTEN UP -- The city continues its crackdown on private special-ed providers, publishing new certification rules, the Turquester reports at D.C. Schools Insider: "The rules ... will require the schools to obtain a 'Certificate of Approval' (COA) from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education confirming that they comply with health and safety standards and are following each student's Individual Education Plan (IEP) -- the official document setting out the help that a child needs. It will also, for the first time, place limits on what the District will pay to private educators. ... The schools were issued COAs after the law was passed. But until recently, there has been little to no District monitoring. Teams from OSSE have now visited most of the schools and will begin to issue updated COAs after the regs go into effect. ... [W]hile deficiencies have been identified in some schools, so far only one -- SunRise Academy in Northwest D.C. -- has had its certificate pulled."
POWER LUNCH FTW -- A new dining option for the JAWB crowd: "Clyde's Restaurant Group plans to open a two-story, 35,000-square-foot restaurant in space currently occupied by a Borders bookstore in downtown D.C. next year, creating one of the city's biggest dining options and the 14th site in the Clyde's chain," Jonathan O'Connell reports in Capital Business. "Though plans are still in the works, [Clyde's EVP Tom Meyer] said the newest restaurant would offer sushi, a raw bar and, on the bottom level, live music. Overall it will be 'comfortable, good food, a menu with drinks,' he said. 'I don't think there's anything in D.C. that really covers all that.'"
*** SMALL PLATES ***
In commemoration of Father's Day, Jonice Gray Tucker tells us about dad. Potential Fenty attack therein: Gray wasted precious hours in his DHS days reviewing kids' homework! (Gray for Mayor)
More results from the Ward 3 Dems' straw poll. Note: "ANC Commissioner Doug Sloan surprised many by falling just short of winning the Committee's endorsement over incumbent Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Sloan won 65 percent of the vote. Norton won only 30 percent of the vote." (Ward3DC)
Eduwonk Andrew Rotherham responds to Randi Weingarten's response to Rhee's New York Daily News op-ed: "Weingarten should be taking a deserved victory lap right now because she moved her union in a way many doubted she could. This diminishes that." (Eduwonk)
The National Association of Social Workers held a mayoral forum Thursday. Gray, Leo Alexander, Ernest Johnson, and Sulaimon Brown attended; Fenty was a no-show. (Image and Likeness)
Cops will no longer remove female protesters from the Islamic Center of Washington (Examiner)
Mary Cheh is featured in story on health-inspection letter grads for restaurants (USA Today)
No flavored milk or sugary cereal at DCPS next year (a href="http://betterdcschoolfood.blogspot.com/2010/06/dc-schools-to-discontinue-flavored-milk.html">Slow Cook)
Robert Wone judge won't hear time-of-death testimony -- a setback to the defense (Post)
Council budget restored civil legal services funding (D.C. Bar)
PCSB threatens three schools -- Children's Studio, Academy for Learning through the Arts and Kamit Institute for Magnificent Achievers -- with closure (Examiner)
After uproar, parks department backs off plan to close the Takoma Aquatic Center this summer for renovations (D.C. Wire)
What's D.C.'s oldest bar? John Kelly's on it. (Post)
Tom Heath tallies up the economic impact of Stephen Strasburg, on the Nationals and beyond (Capital Business)
Beth Solomon takes the political temperature of Georgetown at a Volta Park concert: "[P]ols agree that D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray has momentum, while the campaign of Mayor Adrian Fenty continues to stumble." (G'town Dish)
In memoriam: Thomas V. Kelly, the mayor of Capitol Hill (Post)
How TCOs keep order on 14th Street (Post)
CSOSA begins campaign to promote ex-offender hiring (Capital Business)
"As a 42-year resident of Ward 8, I know all about the untenable situation facing this city's neediest residents. The central fact of this saga is that every mayor who succeeded Walter Washington failed miserably to revitalize this community. Moreover, the citizens of Ward 8 failed themselves by supporting the grossly ineffective Marion Barry (D) as their representative on the D.C. Council." (Post letter)
Relatives of drive-by shooting victims visit Capitol Hill, meet with Steny Hoyer (WTTG-TV)
More on the scholarships for 21 Ballou seniors, funded by a $600,000 anonymous donation (D.C. Schools Insider)
D.C. cops asks: "Are U in?" (WTTG-TV)
A GWU freshman's guide to D.C. politics (Hatchet)
First Washington triathlon was this weekend -- guess who raced. (WTOP)
Copycat crime wave? A la Fenty, Jenna Bush Hager has two bikes stolen from her Baltimore home (Reliable Source)
*** DESSERT ***
Sox sweep Nats, and Post beat man Adam Kilgore turns one lovely phrase to describe John Lannan's pitches Sunday: They "looked to White Sox batters like prehistoric eggs." (Post)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Council holds hearing on teacher contract -- Fenty breaks ground on Fort Stanton Rec Center.
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