DeMorning DeBonis: June 28, 2010
TODAY IS JUNE 28, 2010 -- 78 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY
Where's the beef? That's the key question about DCision 2010 prompted by Tim Craig's Sunday B1 piece covering Adrian Fenty's and Vincent Gray's performances on the campaign stump. "Gray and Fenty have been locked in a contest centered on personalities and records, sparring over Gray's tenure as the director of Human Services in the 1990s and whether Fenty deserves credit for improved student test scores, a drop in homicides and improvements in neighborhood amenities, such as recreation centers. But neither Gray, the council chairman, nor Fenty, the mayor, have rolled out any policies or initiatives they would pursue during the next four years." The campaign trail this weekend led to the Saturday Caribbean Parade, where, Nikita Stewart reports, "Fenty had a major contingency and a traditional Caribbean Carnival float, complete with attractive women and loud music." Gray, meanwhile, represented with a fire truck. And Sunday saw the "Go-Go 4 Fenty" kickoff, where Anwan "Big G" Glover, he of Backyard Band and The Wire, delivered this endorsement: "I done played on glass and rocks. This is the only mayor that rebuilt fields so children can play."
AFTER THE JUMP -- What's taking Gray so long to roll put his platform? -- Post editorial looks at Gray's DHS record -- Colby slaps Fenty for keeping cops away from DYRS hearing -- Deanwood Rec Center is open -- Richmond guy wants to hold up streetcar funding.
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE FROM TIM -- "Officials with both campaigns said they are refining their messages to offer more specifics in coming weeks. But political strategists said Fenty and Gray face different obstacles as they seek to develop a message and persona that would offer more insight about how they would govern to an already agitated electorate. Gray, who remains relatively unknown to the broader electorate, needs to distinguish himself from Fenty on the issues while crafting a narrative that threads a thicket of competing interests to avoid divisions between voters in different parts of the city, some say. Fenty, who has been fighting perceptions that he is distant and arrogant, might have to acknowledge concerns about his personality, perhaps even make a public mea culpa, and then do a better job of explaining his governing style, observers said." And note: "[A]s Gray begins reaching out to a wider audience, the clock is ticking for him to define himself before the well-financed Fenty does it for him."
CLASSIC VINCE? -- "For weeks, Gray has promised that he will soon be rolling out a detailed plan for public education that would explain how he would pay for his initiatives. The campaign has developed schools, jobs and public safety policy teams to develop proposals, but aides say the process has been slowed by Gray's careful vetting of the ideas. 'He spends a lot of time talking to people who are experts in these fields to try to flush out some of the details,' said Mo Elleithee, a senior Gray strategist. 'He's out there every day talking about what he wants to accomplish as mayor, and the detailed plans are going to be rolled out in the coming weeks.'"
THE GRAY RECORD -- The Post's editorial board weighs in on Gray's record as human-services director in the early 1990s in a lengthy Sunday piece: "Mr. Gray moved to bring order and stability to the sprawling department, imposing a new organization, ordering reforms and recruiting a new management team. He is credited for an open and accessible style, and he worked extraordinarily hard. But a year into his tenure, there was criticism that too much time was spent on process and not enough on results; it's a charge that persisted throughout his tenure. ... Overall, the early '90s proved to be a period in which the city was either unable or unwilling to administer its own social programs. From juvenile justice to foster care to treatment of the mentally ill, the city was in a free fall that the [Sharon Pratt] administration proved inept at stopping or even slowing. ... The question for voters will be how to interpret this record. Did Mr. Gray, as supporters say, perform as competently as possible in an impossible situation and advance ideas that were adopted in later reforms? Or should he be judged as part of an administration that failed to arrest the slide of a government on its way to congressional takeover? That's a fair debate. But it's hard to take issue with an assessment of his record as one of heartfelt labor, minimal progress and major setbacks."
COP OUT -- Colby King takes aim at Fenty for playing politics with a June 14 council hearing on juvenile absconders. Committee chair Tommy Wells "wanted to know if D.C. police, charged with apprehending juvenile escapees, 'had sufficient resources to make abscondance a priority, and how quickly they could be expected to find and take a youth into custody.' Unfortunately, Wells said, the mayor blocked D.C. police from participating in the meeting. ... The mayor's action, he said, "really defies belief." Pouring salt on the wound, Fenty spokeswoman Mafara Hobson told The Post that since the roundtable was convened by the council's human services committee, the administration decided it should be represented only by a human services official, in this case, Marc Schindler, interim DYRS director and former DYRS director Vincent Schiraldi's handpicked deputy. Preposterous. Schindler is no cop. The D.C. police should have been heard, not muzzled. ... The police no-show may have been prompted by Fenty's desire to keep the focus on his own agenda. ... D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles told me that early next week the administration will release a report on DYRS-related homicides and improvements needed in the city's juvenile justice system. Nickles wouldn't share details, but he declared, 'Changes are needed.' We'll see."
DEANWOOD RIBBON-CUTTING -- The sprawling new Deanwood Recreation Center (plus pool, library, turf athletic field, etc.) opened Friday in Ward 7, with Fenty and Gray both in attendance to score campaign points. "'We have spent a lot of our time talking about the things that we have done the last 3 1/2 years, and this is just one example,' Fenty said as he walked through the crowded facility, with many people wearing either his green campaign buttons or Gray's blue ones. 'We have another recreation center being built in Kenilworth and four more being built in Ward 8, sit-down restaurants and grocery stores. I barely have time to talk about all of the things that we are doing ... obviously if somebody challenges me and said we have not been able to do things, then we are going to point out the differences.' As Fenty talked on one side of the pool, Gray offered his perspective from the other. 'This is exceedingly important for the people of Ward 7," Gray said. 'When I became the Ward 7 council member, we began working on this, and now, five years later, we have been able to get this down. This is a facility not only for Ward 7 ... it will be the envy of the entire city.'" At WRC-TV, Tom Sherwood also covers the opening.
RICHMOND GUY HOLDS UP D.C. STREETCARS -- Another streetcar-related frustration: The Richmond-based chair of the National Capital Planning Commission wrote to federal officials on Friday asking them to hold back $25 million in funds until the overhead-wire issue is settled. Jonathan O'Connell reports in the Post: "L. Preston Bryant Jr., a former Virginia secretary of natural resources who President Obama appointed last year to chair the commission, has been negotiating with [Wells] and D.C. Department of Transportation officials to ensure that a 1889 federal law banning overhead wires in parts of the city not be violated. But in a letter Friday to Peter M. Rogoff, head of the Federal Transit Administration, Bryant said a legal opinion prepared for the commission indicates that Congress has the power to repeal the ban and that the FTA ought to withhold federal funds for the streetcar system until 'I am able to communicate with you regarding a successful resolution of the issues.' Bryant ... said in an interview that the commission has generally expressed support for a streetcar system. But he said that without a resolution of the overhead wires issue, he needed to make the commission's position known before the FTA makes a decision on the city's application for funding." As David Alpert puts it at Greater Greater Washington: "Has June been proclaimed Richmond Republican Power Grab Over Washington Month and nobody told me?"
NO REFUND POLICY -- The Examiner's Alan Suderman picks up the story of Marion Barry drug supplier Hassan Mohammadi's recent contributions to city political campaigns, including Fenty's. (Perhaps you remember when a certain other reporter broke the story in March.) Suderman adds that Fenty still hasn't returned $6,000 in cash related to Mohammadi. "Dorothy Brizill, founder of the local government watchdog D.C. Watch, said it's puzzling that the Fenty campaign wouldn't return Mohammadi's funds given his past reputation. 'You give money in essence for access and influence -- what access and influence is he seeking from the Fenty administration?' Brizill said, adding that Fenty is 'not that desperate for $6,000 when he's got that much money in the bank.'"
NO TREES FOR YOU -- Casey Trees executive director laments the city's decision to raid $539K from the "tree fund" to cover general fund shortfalls. "The loss of $539,000 equates to about 2,000 replacement trees," Mark Buscaino writes in a letter to Post editors. "Fenty and many D.C. Council members have touted their 'green' goals, promising green jobs, green neighborhoods and a fishable, swimmable Anacostia River. Mr. Fenty also set an ambitious and attainable tree canopy goal to cover 40 percent of the city, for which he deserves credit. With this budget action, however, we must ask whether these promises are serious initiatives backed by sustained funding, or empty promises. I urge the mayor and council to restore the Tree Fund money and plant the 2,000 trees that residents and those who paid fees into the fund are owed. "
CDC RESPONDS -- Thomas Frieden, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control, writes in a Post op-ed that there's "still more to do" on lead in D.C.'s drinking water -- in the process, deflecting criticism that the CDC published data suggesting that kids weren't affected by high waterborne lead levels when in fact they were. "Our focus must now be on how best to protect people from lead poisoning. I have met with D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and have pledged to work with her, Chairman Brad Miller (D-N.C.) of the House Science Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, other members of Congress, and District officials to eliminate lead poisoning here and across the country. As Norton emphasized at a recent congressional hearing, a high priority is to increase the percentage of eligible children in the District who are being screened. Lead exposure can cause harm even at low levels, and we must be aggressive in our prevention efforts. A single lead-poisoned child is one too many."
TAXING INCOME AT THE SOURCE -- The case for a commuter tax, in a Post op-ed from D.C. resident Chuck Ludlam: "Taxes on the income of nonresidents are ubiquitous in the United States. Every state with an income tax imposes one. Nearly every city with income taxes impose them. Scores of countries impose these taxes. Notably, Maryland imposes a tax on D.C. residents who earn income in Maryland. Maryland even imposes a surcharge on the income earned in Maryland by nonresidents. Maryland's 23 counties and the city of Baltimore tax nonresident income. So does Virginia. It is grossly unfair that they can impose a tax on us, but we can't impose a tax on them." And here's a new idea: "One way to make a nonresident income tax more palatable to Maryland and Virginia would be to dedicate some of the tax to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority."
BE NICE TO THE BLOGGERS -- On Friday, the Gray campaign sent city bloggers an invitation to a sit-down with the candidate with the following caveat: "[T]his isn't an opportunity for activism. We'll expect the same level of decorum and professionalism exhibited by full-time journalists so that everyone who has a question gets the opportunity to have it answered. Assuming this one goes well and is productive, we'll have a few more availabilities exclusive to bloggers before Primary Day." Said bloggers did not react well to the tone of that entreaty. "The fact that the campaign felt this sort of disclaimer was necessary shows a lack of understanding of what exactly we as bloggers do," wrote Dave Stroup at We Love DC. Added Geoffrey "IMGoph" Hatchard at the District Curmudgeon, "extending a welcoming hand while using the back of it to slap someone across the face is insulting." The Gray camp quickly apologized.
KEY QUESTION -- DCWatch's Gary Imhoff has a question for the candidates: "Who are the four or five people who are in your political inner circle? Whom do you speak with regularly who influences your decision making? Whose advice do you seek out and take? Mayor Fenty isn't close to most of his top cabinet appointees, and doesn't work with them; certainly he doesn't take advice from them. I can name four people who are closely associated with Mayor Fenty publicly, and only one of them helps him politically, even marginally: Consigliore Peter Nickles; Chancellor Michelle Rhee; Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brother Sinclair Skinner; and Ron Moten, self-described 'brawler' and Fenty-described 'great Washingtonian.' On the other hand, I can't name anybody whom I think is a close political advisor or mentor for Chairman Gray, although I'm sure there must be someone. If I think the people who influence Fenty are all bad influences, is it better or worse that I don't have any idea who influences Gray?"
RIGHT ON -- A Leo Alexander campaign PSA, courtesy of the Washington Times' Deborah Simmons: "Unlike Mr. Gray and Mr. Fenty, Mr. Alexander occasionally sounds more like a conservative than either of the establishment candidates. Mr. Alexander, who announced his candidacy in September, stands apart by opposing illegal immigration and same-sex marriage. He also parses an entire chapter of the conservative handbook by sounding the alarm on the breakdown of the family."
BITTER MUCH? -- Ousted parks-and-rec director Ximena Hartsock endorses Clark Ray's at-large council run: "Clark had the courage to stand with me when others wouldn't. That is why I am proud to stand with him in his race for Council. This election will be about choices. My friends, please give Clark the consideration that I wasn't afforded."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Someone makes Adrian Fenty wait for once, rather than vice versa (Post)
The Marion Barry reality show -- tentatively "Boss for Life" -- gets closer to reality (Facebook)
Is Tommy Wells getting a "free ride" to re-election? Jonetta Rose Barras thinks so. (Examiner)
Jay Mathews explains why more D.C. kids should be in summer school (Post)
Kwame Brown: "I don't think I'm running on being the fiscal savior of the District of Columbia." (G'town Dish).
Laid-off DCPS teacher becomes blackjack dealer (Post).
"Our Addiction to Illegal Immigrants" by Leo Alexander (Americans for Legal Immigration)
Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper is very nice to take back a long-overdue book from an NPR producer (All Things Considered)
Everything you need to know about Metro fare hikes (Dr. Gridlock)
New director of FBI's Washington Field Office: "I want to give you as much as I can so that you understand what it is that we do." (AP via WJLA-TV)
Fellow gay activist dismisses Peter Rosenstein op-ed as "ego-laden" (GLAA Forum)
DDOT lifts evening time limits on parking meters (Examiner)
Capital Gains needs a cash infusion (D.C. Schools Insider)
Get to know Stronghold (Post)
Is the Post engaged in an unholy conspiracy to prop up Michelle Rhee and somehow bump up the profits of corporate cousin Kaplan Inc.? This fellow thinks so! (An Urban Teacher's Education)
New food cart rules "allow cart operators to expand their business to multiple carts. The size restrictions governing carts' the appearance have been eased as well. The regulations also specify vending zones throughout the city and further clarify vendors' assigned locations." (WBJ)
Disapproval resolutions threaten Hill East deal (WBJ)
Hispanic kids are fastest-improving DCPS student group (Examiner)
Sick leave rules are now final (Susie's Budget and Policy Corner)
Handy map of legal fireworks vendors (DCist)
Statehood is the way to go, ACLU intern says (Post letter)
Blogger Dave Stroup debuts a weekly campaign news roundup (We Love DC)
Former police chief Ike Fulwood explains how his parents made him who he is (Post)
Former deputy mayor John Koskinen remembers his high school football days (The Daily Independent)
*** ON THE MENU ***
First day of Summer Youth Employment Program -- Adrian Fenty and Vince Gray square off in education-only debate, 7 p.m. at Navy Memorial Visitors' Center
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