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DeMorning DeBonis: Aug. 10, 2010


Last night's Ward 8 community forum, like so many this reporter has witnessed in the past three months, wasn't especially notable for the incisive questions posed or the answers the candidates gave. But in terms of spectacle, this one was sui generis. There was the woman who strolled to the front of the St. Elizabeths auditorium to bark -- literally, bark -- at the candidates. There was Ron Moten and his cadre of teens wearing T-shirts blaming Vince Gray for the early demise of the summer jobs program. There was Sulaimon Brown leveling increasingly nasty personal attacks against Adrian Fenty -- leading Hizzoner to stand up and ask for civility in a quivering voice. And there was 86-year-old Faith Dane, making her seventh run for the mayoralty, spouting off bon mot after bon mot. A crowd favorite: "If you want drug free society, you need free drugs." Check my tweets for more, and check back here later today.

AFTER THE JUMP -- dueling profiles of Fenty, Gray in Examiner -- more questions about Metro brawl -- far fewer public schools make AYP -- city disability services get court overseer -- CareFirst reserves probe delayed, again


MYERS ON FENTY -- So that's what Bill Myers has been up to: Paired profiles of Fenty and Gray run in today's Examiner. From the Fenty piece: "Four years later ... the same single-mindedness that made Fenty the city's mayor could make him the city's ex-mayor. Even longtime loyalists are frustrated that Fenty himself has become an issue in the campaign, as well as an obstacle to his own success. ... Friends point to inexplicable and seemingly peevish behavior of their candidate -- not showing up at a debate on education at the last minute, jetting off on secret trips, telling reporters not to tread on his 'mens rea' in the middle of a snow debacle -- and wonder whether Fenty is as committed to his re-election as they are. 'We could have walked to this re-election,' one longtime friend said. For friends and supporters, Fenty's bent on healing a long crippled city and the controversies surrounding him are the mere squeaks of an old guard trying to distract voters with trifles."

MYERS ON GRAY -- From the Gray piece: "In his late middle age, Gray has emerged from relative obscurity and could be the District's next mayor. He is in this position partly because Mayor Adrian Fenty has alienated vast swaths of the city with what critics say is an abrasive, imperious style. Gray, on the other hand, speaks in a near-monotone and focuses -- sometimes obsessively so -- on the nuts and bolts of legislation and policy. His council meetings sometimes run into the wee hours. But friends and supporters say there is a strategic depth to Gray that is often obscured by the personalities in the mayoral race. ... Gray's task is to persuade younger voters that he is committed to reform. In essence, he's trying to convince the young, wealthy families who have moved to the District but haven't committed to raising their families there that they can have a city that works without the continual conflicts that surround the Fenty administration. 'In a democracy, it's important to know what people think and what people feel and then you make a decision,' Gray said. 'Now, after all that discussion, is everyone going to be happy? Of course not. But at least people will have an opportunity to feel like they've been involved in how the city moves forward.'"

METRO MELEE -- Friday-night Metro brawl has police and politicos wringing their hands about Chinatown policing, Metro safety, and juvenile justice, among other topics. On the cops end, Chief Cathy Lanier says that "D.C. police are already out in force in the Chinatown area and won't increase patrols unless Metro asks for more support," according to today's Post Metro front story. She says: "Anything Metro wants, we're going to give them, because they are always there for us when we need them." Metro Board Chair Peter Benjamin, meanwhile, says that "[e]veryone with Metro did what they were supposed to do" and that "Metro is incredibly safe." Count on Harry Jaffe to blame a justice system gone awry: "Video cameras recorded brawling among as many as 70 teenagers. Evidence for arrests, you might think? Not in the peaceable kingdom of Washington, D.C., where all teenagers are angels. Authorities arrested and charged two 16-year-olds and one kid who's 18. The rest are free to roam and wrestle anew. ... As a society, we are comfortable with drunk tanks, where we can stow the inebriated. Perhaps it's time to establish teen tanks, so we can confine misbehaving kids. Then kids without evil intent and families seeking a safe night out do not have to fear for their safety." Also WTTG-TV and WAMU-FM, which focuses on Tommy Wells' call for a tighter curfew. Police are still in search of witnesses, WTOP reports.

FAR FROM ADEQUATE -- As expected, the number of D.C. Public Schools making "adequate yearly progress" under No Child Left Behind dropped precipitously with this year's testing -- from 54 to 15. Leah Fabel does the numbers in Examiner. "The steep decline came as the standards to be met by the federal legislation rose slightly, on track to reach the national goal of 100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014. ... Eight DCPS elementary schools made the benchmark, down from 29 in 2009 and 38 in 2008. Two of them -- Mamie D. Lee and Sharpe -- serve only special needs students. Of the remaining six, Mann, Key and Stoddert elementary schools are in Ward 3, Kenilworth is in Ward 7, and Ludlow-Tayor is in Ward 6. Scott Montgomery was folded into Ward 6's Walker Jones Educational Campus in June. Two senior high schools joined them -- School Without Walls and Benjamin Banneker. Both institutions are unique in the District for selecting their students based on test scores and application process. Four public charter elementary schools made AYP: Achievement Prep, D.C. Prep, Mary Mcleod Bethune Day Academy and St. Coletta for special needs students. William E. Doar Jr. High School was the only charter senior high to meet the standards." City Desk notes that Sousa Middle School, home of star principal Dwan Jordan, improved only slightly.

DDS GETS OVERSEER -- In a serious concession by Attorney General Peter Nickles, an "independent administrator" will run the Department on Disability Services, Henri Cauvin reports in the Post. "Nickles had resisted such a move, saying it was tantamount to a court takeover and that it would prolong the 34-year-old lawsuit at a time when the Fenty administration was aggressively seeking to end the case and other long-running class actions. But after a ruling earlier this year rejecting the District's contention that the federal court was compelled to end the case, the city agreed to mediation with lawyers representing the disabled plaintiffs in the case known as Evans v. Fenty. Negotiations with the court's special master followed and those involved in the case eventually settled on a choice for an independent compliance administrator and to a host of revisions to the reform plan." The administrator will be Kathy Sawyer, who "led the District's developmental disabilities agency in the final months of the administration of Anthony A. Williams and in the first few months under [Fenty]" before taking a job in Alabama.

BOARD VS. BOARD -- The Metro board met in public with the National Transportation Safety Board on Monday for the first time since last year's Red Line crash. WMATA board chair Peter Benjamin, while pledging to implement its recommendations, "also questioned the NTSB's findings that Metro suffered a 'systemic breakdown of safety management' and a 'lack of effective oversight,' noting that Metro's board is often criticized for micromanaging," Derek Kravitz reports in the Post. Said former Metro board chair Jim Graham, "I think this board needs to be accountable, and I want to be accountable as a member of this board. ... You say to yourself, 'What could I have done differently?' ... What could you have done about this circuitry test? I conclude that I don't know what I could have done." Replied NTSB chair Debbie Hersman: "The right question to ask is not what you could have done, but what are you going to do?" Also Examiner.

ANOTHER DELAY ON CAREFIRST PROBE -- For a third time, city insurance regulators have delayed an assessment of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield's reserve levels, Ben Fischer reports at WBJ. "In a 26-page report, Gennet Purcell, commissioner of the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, said she cannot make a determination without knowing more about how March's far-reaching federal health care reform legislation will impact CareFirst's finances. ... According to the order, Purcell re-opened the case file until Sept. 30, and won't make a final ruling until after then. By Sept. 3, CareFirst must provide detailed information and justification for costs associated with complying with the new law." Some health care advocates say the reserve levels are too high and would like the insurer to spend more on community health needs. Do note: "The reserves have grown nearly 11 percent since early 2009 when the D.C. Council enacted the law paving the way for Purcell's review."

GOOD PRESS -- Shadow rep hopeful Nate Bennett-Fleming is profiled by Deborah Simmons of the Washington Times. "The limits of home rule are a mere fact of life for this 25-year-old, whose candidacy for the 'shadow' House seat is popular in all eight wards of the 68.3-square-mile city. If he wins, Mr. Bennett-Fleming's job would be to lobby for statehood without the benefit of salary. A student of political science who wants to become a professor of law, he is mounting a campaign that reflects the shadows of D.C. politics. ... Mr. Bennett-Fleming spent much of his youth in other shadows, including that of Cedar Hill, the historic home of abolitionist and statesman Frederick Douglass in Anacostia, where, by the time young Nate was an adolescent, it had become a neighborhood devoured by crime and drugs. But he did not fall victim to those violent environs."

'IS CHANGE POSSIBLE?' -- Michelle Rhee speaks to the Center for American Progress: "I mean, certainly there are lots of people who support our efforts, but my major takeaway is that change is extraordinarily hard and that it's extraordinarily hard in a sort of municipal governance structure where you - you know, you've got politics that ar playing into this. You know, lots of people say to me, well, it seems like public education should not be political. But it is, I think, the most political sphere that you can potentially be in. And the amount of change that we've seen in this city and the amount of progress that we've made in the city - I think it's interesting this is, you know, 'Is Change Possible?' I absolutely think it's possible."


More on medical marijuana regs (

The folks who developed the IMPACT "value-added" model explain it (Mathematica Policy Research)

Gray campaign solicits fired Fenty employees (Loose Lips, DeBonis, Capital Land)

HOPE for D.C. unemployment? (Post)

Clark Ray would like you to know he isn't running against THAT Michael Brown (We Love DC)

AFT boss Randi Weingarten wants to know why DCPS can't figure out how many teachers it's firing (All Opinions Are Local)

Politicos love Dog Days (Borderstan)

Micro-loans for storm-battered Eastern Market vendors (Capital Land)

Replace the Shuttle-Bug with a Circulator (GGW)

DCPS Beautification Day is set for Aug. 21 (GWU)

How to improve street trees (GGW)

Simmons talks mayoral race (WTTG-TV)

Vote Rhee (Loose Lips)

*** ON THE MENU ***

"An evening with Michelle Rhee" at Garnet-Patterson Middle School, 7 p.m., RSVP required -- Ward 6 candidates forum, 7:30 p.m., Capitol Park Tower, 301 G St. SW

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 10, 2010; 10:37 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Rest assured, your medical marijuana will be pure
Next: Mayoral race gets personal at Ward 8 forum


Everyone needs to take a long, hard look at the relationship between the Mayor and Peaceoholics. Aren't non-profits supposed to be outside of politics?

Posted by: LukasWP | August 10, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Health care (transformation) is one of the best issues this current administration has done thus far. With this change individuals will have the opportunity to seek professional and quality health care services. Who would want to return to the days of the horse and buggy, b/w tv sets, manual typewriters, pac man, you get the point? That's about how old the health care system was in the USA. Each day the news is filled with social tragedies in which lives are taken at the hands of known acquaintences and/or family members. Our society is stricken with the institutions of white collar crime permeating throughout this great nation and greed which tends to strike at the very fabric of our country. If you are looking for affordable health insurance check out . I hope everyone will soon recognize and use the resources made by this transformation to seek professional medical attention as the need arises rather than turning to illegal and criminal activities to resolve their issues.

Posted by: caryblair | August 10, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I will be glad when the mayoral race is over. It has turned into a circus will King Fenty and his side kick Ron Moten as the clowns.

Posted by: Ward4DC | August 10, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse


I will be glad when the mayoral race is over. It has turned into a circus with King Fenty and his side kick Ron Moten as the clowns.

Posted by: Ward4DC | August 10, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

The Mayor's voice was "quivering"? NBC4 was there and played the tape. No quiver, just understandable indignation for a nasty, uncalled for, and completely baseless accusation. Debonis, quit getting creative and at least try to keep your bias in check.

Posted by: asuka1 | August 10, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

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