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DeMorning DeBonis: June 29, 2010


"I'm delighted to be here," Vincent Gray said last night. "I'm not delighted to be here alone." That's pretty much how the other 100 or so folks who showed up to what had been billed as the "Great Education Debate" felt after Mayor Adrian Fenty didn't show for a extended one-on-one devoted to his signature issue. Instead, what we got was a soliloquy, which Nikita Stewart and Bill Turque ably recount on B1 today. This attendee watched as Gray expressed support for charter schools, opposition to vouchers, and the importance of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, all while rattling off special-ed statistics and perfecting his non-answer on whether or not he'd retain Michelle Rhee as schools chief. ("The issue for me is that this shouldn't swing on one person," he said -- just like the Obama strategy on Afghanistan!) Also see reports from WAMU-FM and the Examiner, and my tweets. The outstanding question: Where was Hizzoner? His campaign and office aren't saying. If you saw Adrian Fenty between 7 and 9 p.m. last night, please drop me a line.

AFTER THE JUMP -- Mendo moves to open juvenile justice records -- no change in revenue projections -- summer jobs off to usual rough start -- DCPS wants more tests -- Wone verdict today.


COLBY'S TAKE -- Post columnist Colby King, originally set to moderate, did not attend the one-man show. But he did make his feelings known in a blog post: "We had shaped the discussion to put on the table all topics related to education reform, from turnaround strategies to teacher effectiveness, special education and early childhood education. ... The Fenty campaign said it pulled out of the debate because it 'couldn't make it work.' My initial reaction was to think that perhaps my role had something to do with it. I've written several columns that have been critical of his administration's stewardship of the juvenile justice system. Perhaps, I thought, Fenty might feel that I would not treat him fairly. That would not have been the case -- I like him personally. But I told the event organizers that I would gladly bow out if the Fenty campaign preferred another moderator. ... Had he attended, he would have found that the questions I intended to pose to him and Gray were hardly of the variety to make either candidate look bad. ... The whole idea was to help voters gain a better understanding of the thinking of both candidates on education, an issue foremost in the minds of many voters, especially parents. Fenty, for reasons he will have to explain, denied voters that opportunity."

FIXING JUVENILE JUSTICE -- At last: An actual proposal for opening the black box that is the juvenile justice system in the District. Phil Mendelson is proposing a "two strikes and you're out" rule, Henri Cauvin reports today. "It would be a radical shift for a juvenile justice system grounded in rehabilitation, and it comes as [Fenty], Mendelson and others city leaders face election-year criticism over their handling of juvenile crime. Under Mendelson's proposal, after a juvenile is found involved in a second serious offense, the case -- and all of the juvenile's previous arrests in the District -- would become public. ... Critics say that such information will not make communities any safer and will hurt juveniles the system is supposed to be helping. 'It's essentially adultifying the system,' [Joseph B. Tulman, director of the juvenile justice clinic at the University of the District of Columbia] said." Attorney General Peter Nickles, meanwhile, says that his review of juvenile justice protocols is nearing release, Alan Suderman reports in the Examiner.

REVENUE HOLDS STEADY -- That sound you heard in the John A. Wilson Building Monday afternoon was a massive sigh following the news from CFO Natwar Gandhi that revenue projections for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 have not changed. Michael Neibauer writes in WBJ: "This is good news. Not 'windfall' good, but good nevertheless." Harry Jaffe writes in the Examiner that, according to Gandhi, the city real estate market is well on the road to recovery, and that's good news for pols: "D.C. politicians will not have to make more cuts to pet programs in the midst of the current campaign season. Both [Fenty and Gray], can continue to make promises about future programs and forgo the unpleasantness of cutting the budget further. Herein lies the problem. Having resorted to 'funny money' tactics to balance the budget thus far -- as in shifting funds rather than making cuts, mortgaging the future with debt, and drawing down reserve funds -- the city's politicians can continue to skate without facing facts that revenues, even if they rise, will not support the big government they have built." Cue dire Jack Evans quote.

CODE-SWITCHING -- Nikita with more at D.C. Wire from Sunday's Fenty go-go event: "Fenty appeared to take relating to the crowd a step further than just the music Sunday. The 39-year-old mayor, who once told a reporter where to place the commas in a sentence, used bad grammar when he spoke about his love of go-go music. When he introduced performers, he said, 'We got ... we got ... ' At one point, Fenty said, 'Hey, but look, a lot of these folk I grew up with. I know Big G since we was little from Uptown Mo., same thing.'" They teach you to talk like that at Oberlin?

HOMELESS IN THE SUMMER -- Extreme heat is just as dangerous as extreme cold, but Petula Dvorak reports that the District's homeless shelters don't recognize that fact. Take what happened to Brigette Roberts this weekend: "[T]hings got horrible Saturday night, at a time when lots of bad stuff goes down, and she learned there is little comfort for a homeless family at that hour in the nation's capital. All Roberts and her sweaty, tear-streaked-face family got when they showed up at one of the city's emergency shelters for families this past weekend was a cigarette, a bottle of water and a pair of used baby shoes. The security guard at the shuttered D.C. General Hospital that now functions as a shelter for families said the facility couldn't take Roberts, her pregnant daughter and her chubby, drooling 9-month-old grandson, Anthony. 'You need your referral faxed over,' he said. The office that does this is open only during the week. 'But sir, I've got my grandbaby. And he's sick. We don't have anywhere to go. We were just put out tonight,' Roberts pleaded. 'I'm sorry. It's not hypothermia season. If we were in hypothermia, I'd have to let you in,' he said. He tried to be nice about it. But rules are rules."

SUMMER JOBS IS BACK -- The first day of summer jobs had its usual "rocky start" yesterday, Stephanie Lee reports in the Post today. "Of the 21,000 youths enrolled, about 700 were attempting to transfer from one workplace to another for reasons related to health, safety or site issues. They took their paperwork and headed to a makeshift office in Gallaudet's gym, many riding city-provided buses from the Department of Employment Service's office on H Street NE. Joseph P. Walsh, department director, did not respond to requests for comment." WTTG-TV's Karen Gray Houston reported on "a myriad of problems, including long lines and issues with assignments." WTTG also reports that police are investigating two incidents involving summer-jobs participants. Also WUSA-TV.

BAD ZONING NOM? -- Greater Greater Washington takes aim at one of Fenty's developer nominees to the zoning commission. Greg Selfridge "lacks the experience and policy depth for this extremely important board," David Alpert writes. "This makes me wonder whether Fenty has much of a vision for the city. He's aggressively pushed streetcars and bike lanes and added housing opportunities, but how much of that is just the good counsel of Harriet Tregoning and Gabe Klein? When he overrides them, it often seems to be for the worse, like on sidewalks or bike lanes. Mayor [Anthony Williams] talked about a goal of bringing in 100,000 new residents to DC. That's the right path to grow our tax base and our retail offerings and make DC a better place to live. Now Fenty has nominated someone to the Zoning Commission who seems instinctively uncomfortable with the urbanism Fenty's been advancing just because the guy asked to be nominated to something."

MORE TESTS FOR DCPS -- D.C. public school students soon could be taking even more tests, Turque reports at D.C. Schools Insider, noting a new contract solicitation: "DCPS is expected to release a request for proposals this week to push what many teachers and parents already regard as a test-happy culture to a new level. An e-mail to principals last week from the office of interim chief academic officer Michael Moody said the expanded testing coverage would include English language arts and math in kindergarten through second grade, math 'pretesting' in third grade, social studies and science in grades 6 through 8, and core subjects in high school. ... Rhee has often said that test data is not the only measure of teacher effectiveness. But she wants the additional data to expand the reach of its new IMPACT teacher evaluation system."

BAD NIGHT -- William J. Witkowski, a veteran D.C. police detective, "was charged with simple assault and refusing to take a sobriety test after an argument early Saturday in Columbia Heights in which he allegedly pushed one man and slammed another against a car," Mary Pat Flaherty reports today. "The off-duty detective also drove from the scene about 3:20 a.m. in his truck after being told by a uniformed officer to remain parked, the report says. As a result of the arrest, [Witkowski], 46, a 19-year department veteran, was placed on noncontact status. ... In addition to being charged with two counts of assault, Witkowski received a citation for refusing a test for possibly driving under the influence."

PARKING POLITICS -- Discussion at the Missionary Baptist Ministers Conference meeting yesterday turned to a perennial issue: parking tickets. Ann Marimow writes at D.C. Wire: "Much of the pastors' ire was directed at the [Fenty administration], which the congregations contend has been more aggressive about issuing tickets to those who double-park during services. When the talk turned particularly tough, one of the group's leaders insisted that the pastors have a sympathetic ear in the mayor's office. 'Be nice!' one pastor called out, gesturing toward a woman dressed in a pink blazer who sat with them in the sanctuary of Trinidad Baptist Church on Benning Road. The woman was Blondine Hughes, a Fenty volunteer who worked in the mayor's satellite office when he was a Ward 4 council member. Hughes said she regularly stops by the group's meetings to keep up with the issues of the day. Hughes collected a half-dozen parking tickets from the pastors Monday afternoon and said she planned to hand them over to the mayor."


Could D.C. become a world insurance capital? (Housing Complex)

Linda Mercado Greene takes a bow from the Vincent Orange campaign (City Desk)

DDOT's Gabe Klein is now president of the Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials -- "tension between modes is unnecessary"! (d.ish)

"How will Washington DC end homelessness?" (Washington Grantmakers Daily)

How three nonprofits are dealing with the end of earmarks (WBJ)

Census Bureau survey of per-pupil students spending finds the District to be No. 3 on state-by-state basis, behind New York and New Jersey (Capital Land)

DDOT experiments with high-tech parking systems (Post, GGW, WJLA-TV)

Fire Chief Dennis Rubin would like to see the District ban fireworks (WAMU-FM)

Washington Hospital Center nurses reject contract, move closer to strike (Post)

Former DCPS special-ed teacher will lead Archdiocese schools (Post)

*** DESSERT ***

Marion Barry sings one of his faves: "They Call It Stormy Monday" (YouTube)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Robert Wone conspiracy trial verdict comes at 11 a.m. -- Fenty marks Michelle Rhee's three-year anniversary -- council legislative meeting agenda includes teacher contract approval, streetcar wires bill

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 29, 2010; 10:52 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
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Next: Mayoral candidates put on their dancing shoes


Dear DeBonis,

I am going to comment here but I am going to also write you a letter. Get it through your thick skull that Fenty is not very liked in the District of Columbia--so a majority of voters have written him off.

You guys are obsessed with the man. Because I was hoping to read an analyst of what Gray did say. This would have been an opportunity to do some reporting. You guys are always late to the party because people don't really speak to reporters and your usually too close to the elected officials you write about.

People want to know about Vince Gray--who he is, what he stands for, why he came out with such force of support, some just want to know what he looks like.

Vince Gray could easily and handily win the vote he has. But for the others the choice is to vote for him or not to vote at all. They are not voting for Fenty and I doubt they could support Leo Alexander.

Why do you do a little more reporting than being the lunch room gossip.

Posted by: Fatmanny | June 29, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"I was hoping to read an analyst of what Gray did say."

Dear Fatmanny, get it through your fat, thick skull that another reporter did an "analysis" not "analyst" of Gray's discussion Monday night in another article. I know with your low IQ and short attention span, you weren't willing to dig any further for actual coverage of the event.

DeBonis does a fine job and no, Gray could not "easily and handily" win with the vote he has. You need to remember: poor blacks don't vote.

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | June 29, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

@MACCHAMPS04, neither do poor Whites. As usual the race card is used to diagree with another person, of another race. Fatmanny could be a white person. Grow Up!

Posted by: fivetogo | June 29, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

maccchamps04 leads me to believe Fenty has the White racist vote locked up.

Posted by: PepperDr | June 29, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

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