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DeMorning DeBonis: Aug. 12, 2010


Being communicative -- nay, being nice -- is, Mayor Adrian Fenty said yesterday, "absolutely something I've got to work harder on in my next term." Two pertinent questions are prompted by that statement, which was made in a one-on-one debate with Vincent Gray on TBD TV yesterday. First: Will he get that second term? Second: If he does, "Can Fenty Change His Personality?" -- as WRC-TV's Tom Sherwood puts it. The man's personality flaws have been manifest for some time; like a convict who repents before sentencing, why believe his vows now, in the heat of a campaign that thus far gone poorly for him? Still, hear his plea: "I've got to do a better job of letting people know that I have heard them and that their opinions have been considered. So I absolutely will use it to change how we do things going forward. I have to." Gray is skeptical, telling Sherwood he has "serious reservations" on whether such an attitude adjustment is possible. Freeman Klopott suggests in Examiner that the change of heart was calculated, quoting a "Fenty staffer" saying it was "the result of internal discussions and the realization that Fenty needed to take 'responsibility for things people were irritated with.'"

AFTER THE JUMP -- Fenty delivers negative ads -- inside the campaign finance reports -- training a new teacher -- Coburn holds up transit oversight bill -- Rhee reveals color of bridesmaid dresses -- goodbye Bill Myers


TBD DEBATE -- For more on the debate, consult my full rundown of the proceedings. TBD, natch, also has an expert write-up, as does DCist. TBD's "Facts Machine" rated a few of the claims made; Fenty and Gray pretty much stuck to the truth, the Machine determined: Fenty earned two "Honest Abe" ratings and Gray won a "Mostly on Point."

THE CASH, THE ADS -- You don't raise all that money to not spend it, right? Fenty unveils his anti-Gray negative ads -- to my knowledge, the first such TV ads aired in a D.C. mayoral race -- a day after revealing that he'd spent more than $1 million on ads to date. Ann Marimow and Nikita Stewart write up the commercial-cash confluence: "Fenty is poised to expand his ad campaign strategy Thursday to focus on Gray, after campaign finance reports showed that his chief rival had narrowed the fundraising gap in the past two months. Fenty, known for aggressive fundraising, is on pace to make the Sept. 14 Democratic mayoral primary one of the most expensive in city history. With $4.7 million as of Tuesday, the mayor will probably end the campaign having raised more than twice the $2.4 million he collected for his 2006 primary bid. Gray has raised about $1.3 million, quashing doubts about his ability to amass a war chest large enough to compete with the mayor. In the past two months, Gray outpaced the mayor in fundraising by more than 2 to 1, collecting about $708,000 to Fenty's $308,000. But Gray remains at a disadvantage in trying to counteract the mayor's advertising." Watch the Fenty ads and listen to the Gray radio retort. The Gray response, courtesy of adviser Mo Elleithee: "Maybe if [Fenty] spent less time on attack ads, and more time producing a plan or vision for the future -- which he has yet to do -- his campaign wouldn't be struggling." WAMU-FM's Patrick Madden goes ahead and declares it the "most expensive campaign in District history."

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO -- From Nikita and Ann's story: "Both campaigns are gearing up for a get-out-the-vote effort that will be complicated by the city's new laws on early voting and same-day registration. A canvassing and knock-and-drag-to-the-polls operation that took place on one day in the past will now stretch over two weeks, starting Aug. 30. With new laws and expected hiccups at the Board of the Elections and Ethics, both campaigns are poised for challenges. The Fenty campaign has hired Perkins Coie, former law firm of wife Michelle Cross Fenty, according to a campaign finance filing that showed two payments to the firm totaling about $18,000. 'The campaign, in an abundance of caution, hired a Democratic-leaning election law firm specialist to give advice and protect voter participation, given the change in D.C. law,' said Bill Lightfoot, Fenty's campaign chairman."

OTHER RACES -- Ann breaks down the figures in the chairman's race: "Kwame Brown collected more than four times as much money in the last two months as former council member Vincent Orange. Brown raised nearly $257,000, and has $181,000 in the bank for the final month before the Sept. 14 primary. Orange's fundraising pace slowed considerably from the last reporting period in June, with the former two-term Ward 5 council member raising $58,000. He has $64,300 on hand, according to the Aug. 10 filing. Brown's haul suggests that his fundraising was not hampered by reports last month of his personal financial troubles." Look to Michael Neibauer at WBJ for the state of the Ward 1 race: "Ward 1 council candidate Bryan Weaver, certainly boosted by his virtually-viral YouTube campaign, is proving an adept fund raiser. He raised $20,063 in two months -- including $100 from Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells and $250 from former Council member Kathy Patterson -- and has $29,953 cash on hand. Jeff Smith, also in the Ward 1 race, collected $23,763 and has $51,262 on hand. Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham's report was not online as of Wednesday morning, well past the filing deadline, but he's known to have out-raised his challengers many times over." Also Klopott in Examiner.

IN METRO WEEKLY -- The gay weekly looks at the mayoral race with three articles penned by Will O'Bryan -- an overview, plus lenghthy pieces on Fenty's supporters and Gray's supporters. This reporter can identify with the feelings of activist Bob Summersgill, quoted in the overview: "Neither is a bad choice. I'll eventually pick one."

NEW TEACHER PROJECT -- New D.C. Public Schools teachers began their orientation this week, and the Post's Bill Turque was there. "Whether they fully realize it, the newcomers are walking into one of the most closely watched and politically charged education-reform efforts in the country. In all likelihood, they will be observed, assessed, poked and prodded more intensively than their peers in other urban school systems. ... Wednesday was a day of introduction and indoctrination, a sea of catch phrases and shorthand, from the vaguely Orwellian motto on their official tote bags ('Progression Through Induction') to a pitch from the Washington Teachers' Union ('Teacher Effectiveness Is Union Business!' said one flier). It was also a taste of the challenges that lie ahead and a first look at the tensions and schisms that define life for many D.C. teachers. The bruising contract fight and last month's teacher firings resonated as union President George Parker took the podium. 'What does a union do? Just fight with the chancellor, right?' Parker said in telling the teachers that it does a bit more than that." Gotta read it!

TRANSIT BILL IS COBURNED -- Post columnist Bob McCartney shames the man standing in the way of federal transit oversight: "U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, whose state doesn't have a subway, is using one of those notorious Senate 'holds' to block a bill with strong bipartisan support that would give the Federal Transit Administration powers that might have prevented last year's fatal Red Line crash. His action threatens passage of common-sense legislation backed even by agencies and companies in the industry it would regulate, including Metro. Coburn objects to creating a new government program with added spending, but the money is a pittance compared to the need: $66 million over three years, which would represent a whopping one dollar out of every 500 in the FTA's budget. ... The silver lining in the Red Line tragedy has been the jump in public attention to the need to help Metro and other mass-transit systems. The Senate bill is a direct result. It shouldn't be killed by one senator's knee-jerk opposition." Meanwhile, the NTSB has delivered its final safety recommendations related to the Red Line collision.

DUNN DEAL -- Michelle Rhee, in a Q&A organized by the Young Education Professionals and hosted by WAMU-FM's Kavitha Cardoza, explained why she hired Anita Dunn to help her sell her reforms. Turque writes: "Former White House press secretary Mike McCurry, Bill Clinton campaign manager James Carville and Gore campaign chairman Donna Brazile were among those she said she spoke with. But it was [Dunn], President Obama's former communications director, who made the most favorable impression, Rhee said, because of how relatively little she suggested in the way of changes to her often unvarnished public pronouncements. She said that while the others proposed major fixes, Dunn called for 'tweaks.' ... Dunn has brought some new depth and sophistication to DCPS' outreach to the public and the press, but it's hardly been seamless. Confusion, fuzzy math and muddled facts still seem to accompany many big Rhee initiatives." Also: The Georgetown Dish notes that, on the whole, Rhee would be prefer not to be in Sacramento. D.C., she said, "has a level of energy and excitement" that the California capital does not. Also revealed: Her bridesmaids' dresses will be the color of "stone."

WHAT HAPPENED TO TYLER? -- In a year when DCPS test scores dropped, the Turquester finds one school where scores really dropped. That's Tyler Elementary in Capitol Hill, where "reading and math scores on the DC CAS saw double-digit boosts in 2009 under young first-year principal Terry Dade. ... But Dade was gone before the end of this last school year; he took a job in the Fairfax County school system to be closer to home. And Tyler's test scores cratered. Reading proficiency dropped from 54 percent to 13 percent; math slid from 49 to 19. ... It's not clear what impact, if any, Dade's departure had on the test scores. But Tyler's recent history shows that churning at the top can wreak havoc on scores." DCPS is looking for answers.

THE RABBI OF POT -- The fabulous Chris Shott profiles rabbi and would-be marijuana entrepreneur Jeffrey Kahn in City Paper: "The rabbi and his wife, Stephanie Kahn, 55, are competing to establish the District's first city-sanctioned medical-marijuana operation. Call it Kosher Kush. It's the culmination of a sort of mid-life crisis for the couple: After packing up their prior lives and making a pilgrimage to Israel, the store represents their unlikely next step--a mom 'n' pop pot shop. 'We wanted to do something different,' says Stephanie Kahn, a nurse who made her career in hospital administration, 'but still within the framework of trying to help people.' ... So far, the Kahns are the first and only ones to go public with any specific D.C. [medical marijuana] plans. And if their idea is already a divisive topic in the city's leafy Takoma neighborhood, it's also a subject of great interest farther afield, where marijuana advocates and potential competitors see the couple as the proverbial canary in the coal mine--if that coal mine were outfitted with grow lights, hydroponics and a security apparatus to rival that of a Swiss bank."

FAREWELL, BILLY -- Bill Myers's last day at the Washington Examiner will be Friday, Alan Suderman reports. The gadfly newsman leaves the city beat strong, with twinned profiles of the mayoral candidates. Us here at the "other paper" will miss the guy. Many city employees, particularly in the communications realm, will not.


Murder at 17th and Euclid (TBD)

Gray staffer collecting Fenty-firing stories was getting paid (Examiner)

Ward 1 Republican courts the gay Latino vote (D.C. Wire)

New Hampshire Avenue near U Street NW gets contraflow bike lanes (GGW, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV)

The Gray campaign wasn't pranked. It was "spoofed." And it's all still a mystery. (WUSA-TV, Loose Lips)

Targets of city marijuana arrests are overwhelmingly black; "It's all about where the cops go fishing," says prof (City Paper)

Could a curfew curtail Metro brawling? (Washington Times)

Authorities are "flatly denying" that rape evidence is missing (WTTG-TV)

Kathy Patterson is backing Weaver in Ward 1 (Loose Lips)

Maya Angelou would like to tell you all about the city's new voting laws (YouTube)

KIMA is kaput (Post)

CYITC wins $8 million in funding from the Wallace Foundation (press release)

City violated federal education law before 2007, judge rules (Capital Land)

The case for covering the city's reservoirs (GGW)

Dentists love Nate Bennett-Fleming (WAMU-FM)

Police shutter go-go club after stabbing (City Desk)

D.C. will get $7.7 million in federal aid for jobless homeowners (Capital Land)

Saints be praised: Fuego/Frio is back (TBD)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Yours truly discusses the mayoral race on NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt, TBD TV, 10 a.m.

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 12, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
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The 'mea culpa' on the part of Fenty is a little bit stunning. One cannot simply change their personality. He had been casting himself as a "take charge" administrator.

It is one or the other. Now he is basically saying he is going to act like Vince Gray - the man his surrogates say is plodding and won't be able to make decisions atop the Executive branch.

Which is it?

Posted by: LukasWP | August 12, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse


If Fenty was a 70 year old man that had been in office for 30 years then I would say that he couldn't change.

But that isn't the case. Fenty was a 36 year old when he got elected. He has three small children. That will bring about change. In his case, I think he went thru a change of life over the last five years or so.

Do you remembr what it was like to grow as a professional? As a man. That doesn't happen any faster just because you are in a big spotlight.

Look at Tiger Woods. His problem have alot to do with the death of his father and the spoils or success. Kwame Brown's finances. Bad decisions of a young man. Prince the musican. Talents but a selfish and angry young man. Now Speaks tearfully about regets. Young men go thru these changes. Fenty is a young man. And, this election is a hard way to grow up.

His flaws are chornicaled in national newspapers. He hears it everyday everywhere he goes. He is mobbed and threatend by angry constituants. That will change any human being that is still developing.

Adrian just needs to relax and (i hate that i am saying this) smell the flower a bit.

I used to know Adrian pretty well. I think he is a lovely person that cares very deeply. He is the farthest thing from a sleazy politican. But, he is also a very strong willed and intensly focused person. Has a short temper which subsides just as quickly. That settles down with age.

His Biggest challenge is that he is introverted...which is highly unusual for a politician. Not unsusal for a marathon runner though.

That is why he says that he needs to "commuicate" better. He needs to tell people that he heard them and respects their opinion. He does listen and does respond. He is built that way. That is why he was so great for ward 4. He just doesn't talk very much. That is why so much of williams work continued when he got there.

Anyway, I am proud of Adrian for stepping up. Remember, Bill Clinto lost his first re-election for Governor of Arkansas. He went through a mental grown spurt and became one of the greatest US presidents. Fenty is going to win. But, he is going to make sure that no one drags his name, family, friends, and supporters thru an ordeal like this.

This has been very very painful for all parties involved.

Fenty was a talented young man. He is now a more humble and experienced man. I commend him.

Posted by: politicalrealist | August 12, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse


Can we get an update on the Gray campaign worker that was asking for stories about fired DC employees?

Gray said that he had nothing to do with the campaign. I just heard it was confirmed that it was a paid campaign worker that wrote the request (thought Gray didn't have those).

I am betting that the request had something to do with that race-baiting production Gray just released. The one suggestsing that Fenty is the reason people are out of work. Acting as if the DC economy exist in a vacuum and Fenty choose for Blacks to be out of work. And, that he choose for whites to be better off. Like Fenty is Jim Crow reincarnated.

Poverty pimps!

Posted by: politicalrealist | August 12, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse


Are you drunk from the Fenty koolaid?

Like Fenty is Jim Crow reincarnated. Well.

Posted by: bnew100 | August 12, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

@politicalrealist...when you look around DC and drive or ride public transportation begin to monitor the license plates, see the folk strolling at lunch break and watch those prospering in the District you can draw but one conclusion. Mr. Fenty is disproportionately displacing "black women and men" from jobs and replacing them with young white, Virginia and Maryland residents, thus removing the tax base from Washington DC and solidifying the security of outlying jurisdictions of the suburbs.

Contrary to what you would like to believe, blacks are educated, intelligent and worthy of securing and maintaining employment in the City that they call home, you remember, the city that we never abondoned even when those in the Capitol were slandering us in the press. The city that we love, the city that we supported and struggled to get to the place that it is right now and now we are being pushed to the counties.

The District has residents in all of our Wards who "deserve" to be able to find employment BEFORE someone from a county outside of DC.

I am sick and damn tired of the new Washingtonian trying to paint ALL DC residents as uneducated, undereducated, lazy and unworthy of the jobs that are being steered to and stolen by those outside of DC. Mr. Fenty is displacing black women over the age of 40 at such an alarming rate that it borders on racism and age discrimination.

Mr. Fenty has caused homelessness needlessly, to abolish a job and displace a worker and then less than two weeks later the job is opened up again, given a different title (SAME DUTIES) and a $20,000.00 increase and then given to a young person from the suburds is CRIMINAL.

Posted by: lacairaine | August 12, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I hope we don't get into race baiting in this campaign. The reality is that the unemployed in this City are mostly African American and Latino; they are also many of the poorest residents of the District.

So when Adrian Fenty doesn't deal with the issues of workforce development, expanding literacy programs, building a community college or ensuring the safety net he is impacting Latino and African Americans. I don’t think its racist rather a lack of willingness on the Fenty Administration to follow through on his campaign promises.

People say Fenty has changed. But he has always had a short temper and a short attention span on issues. It was just not as noticeable when he was a Councilmember as he had little real responsibility. Now that he does I think he finds it more difficult.

He says he is not an expert in Education, Transportation, Economic Development etc. and that is why he hires good managers. But then apparently he doesn't even read the reports they give him so he can learn about what they do. Fenty is proud to drive himself around town. I find that telling as most of the good political leaders have drivers because they spend that time reading reports and immersing themselves in the business of government. Fenty doesn't do that. He skipped the education debate, a debate on health care and one on HIV/AIDS because he doesn't really know enough about the issues to participate.

Yesterday he promised to change his personality and how he deals with people. Adrian Fenty is 40. At 40 people don't change their basic personalities. In fact most people say personality traits after 40 simply get more pronounced.

I am not supporting Adrian Fenty for a 2nd term because he either lied to people when he said he cared about them or he just doesn't know how to deal with them. Either way that isn't what we need in a Mayor. Fenty promised transparency in government, what we got was a secretive administration. We got a throw-back to the Barry years of cronyism, and budgets balanced with gimmicks. Money taken from specific funds and used instead to balance the general budget. Fenty seems able to only focus on one thing at a time. I agree that Education Reform is crucial but a Mayor must be able to walk and chew gum at the same time and this Mayor has proven that he simply can't. We need to credit Anthony Williams with many of the projects that Fenty is cutting the ribbons for and Clifford Janey for increasing standards and curriculum in the schools. There is enough credit to go around and Fenty and Rhee have done some good things but neither is the magic pill for the future.

I hope Rhee stays with Vincent Gray as Mayor but that will test her commitment to the children and we will see how strong that is.

As to another vote for Fenty, I hope many will heed the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me. I for one won’t take the chance to be fooled twice which is why I will cast a vote for Vincent Gray.

Posted by: peterdc | August 12, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Wow just wow! Those poll numbers must be horrible.
Gestapo Fenty sounded so automated and contrived …..”Look I gotta do a better job…I have to”

Well if we are going to use his standards of speed and efficiently then FENTY FAILS. It took you nearly four years to “learn“as you said that you need to listen to people. This is basic Kindergarten stuff people.

The Sherwood clip of Fenty worries me b/c he never talks about being inclusive. He says that he has to let people know that he “HEARS” them and “CONSIDEREDS” this opinion. This comment was very dismissive of being inclusive and working with those with differing views. But, what else is new with Gestapo

Posted by: thelildiva4u | August 12, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

@peterdc...very well put!

Posted by: thelildiva4u | August 12, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

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