DeMorning DeBonis: Aug. 16, 2010
TODAY IS AUGUST 16, 2010 -- 29 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY
We're starved for poll numbers, and Alan Suderman has a few over at the Loose Lips blog -- albeit without much detail. "Bud's PAC," the amalgam of parking and business interests once led by the late Bud Doggett, reportedly polled more than 1,000 residents, finding Vincent Gray with 42 percent support, Adrian Fenty with 34 percent and Leo Alexander with 2 percent. The provenance of the poll also raises questions about Gray's business bona fides, and Jonathan O'Connell fills in that picture in today's Capital Business. The piece describes how Fenty alienated former Destination D.C. head Bill Hanbury, who found little administration support for his group's tourism and convention efforts. "Now president and chief executive of the United Way of the National Capital Area, Hanbury is leading a small pool of other economic development and workforce leaders who -- feeling scorned by the current mayor -- consider [Gray] to be a worthy steward of the city's economy." While Fenty's cozied up to development interests, Hizzoner's been "criticized for focusing too heavily on real estate projects at the expense of other industries -- like tourism -- that might lead to jobs accessible to the city's unemployed residents," O'Connell writes. Says Hanbury: "In the 7½ years I ran Destination D.C., we invited the mayor at least 20 times to events, and he only came once."
AFTER THE JUMP -- Is the Fenty administration looking for cash to pay Peaceoholics? -- Colby King says answers on parks contracts are needed sooner rather than later -- Gray explains what he wants to see in a chancellor -- Fenty claims on Gray "only kind of true" -- The Rhee/KJ wedding registry
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE O'CONNELL -- "What would economic development look like under Mayor Vincent Gray? Industry leaders such as Richard Bradley, executive director of the Downtown DC Business Improvement District -- whom Gray also now counts as an adviser -- have been pushing for a focus on industries that will fuel job growth. The chairman said he intends to extend his support for job training. He has backed the new community college within the University of the District of Columbia, which is rapidly assembling new campus locations. He has also proposed major reforms of the program requiring city contractors and development partners to hire D.C. residents, and has picked up Fenty's former jobs director, Summer Spencer, for advice in that area. ... Developer Charles C. 'Sandy' Wilkes, a longtime friend, said Gray 'has spent his life reflecting on and thinking strategically about economic development.' Hanbury is often rumored to be the candidate's choice for deputy mayor, though Gray said he hasn't made a pick yet. 'This is what I told him,' Hanbury said. 'I have a job at the United Way and I'm not looking for a job. But I believe in what you're doing.' "
PEACEOHOLICS NEEDS CASH? -- Peaceoholics is "broke," City Paper's Rend Smith reports at City Desk, citing "two city officials," and the Fenty administration is "trying, quietly, to find some $400,000 to pay them ... in the budgets of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and the D.C. Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation. What's a little unclear from talking to city officials is whether the money supposedly involved is money the organization is already owed, or whether it would be new cash to stave off a financial crisis at the group. ... Fenty spokeswoman Mafara Hobson says there's nothing unusual going on; the administration is merely looking to make sure Peaceoholics get paid for their services. 'The organization has provided work for both the Trust and DYRS, which would result in payment from both agencies,' she e-mailed City Paper. ... [Co-founder Ron Moten] said there was no question Peaceoholics needed money - and that the group is owed some payments from the District. ... 'I don't know anything about it, but I know we need funds,' he said. 'I know that people have been trying to stop Peaceaholics from getting funding by any means necessary.'" Guess who he's referring to.
MORE PEACEOHOLICS NEWS - Also, the Examiner's Freeman Klopott reports: "Vince Gray returned home Thursday night to find four copies of the Peaceoholics' The Otherside Magazine stuck into his storm door in the shape of an 'X,' the mayoral hopeful and D.C. Council chairman told the Washington Examiner on Friday. ... The threatening display of magazines and Moten's antics, along with a history of receiving millions of city dollars through no-bid contracts, has Gray ready to slam the door in Peaceoholics' face if he gets elected. 'Peaceoholics has politicized the organization in ways that are detrimental to the kids and detrimental to the organization,' Gray said during a meeting with the Examiner's editorial board Friday. 'I think, frankly, having spent a lot of my life in the nonprofit sector, it's pretty ill advised. Eventually, whoever you're supporting is gone and then what do you do about those who come behind that person who may be offended?'" And TBD has still more entries in the Quotable Ron Moten, such as "No one called Martha Stewart an ex-offender, so I won't let anyone call me that," and "If they attack Jesus, they're going to attack me."
WE NEED ANSWERS -- Colby King says city voters deserve answers about Fenty's parks contracting before they go to the polls: "[B]y the time [attorney Robert Trout]'s findings are published, the only thing left for some voters could be a large dose of buyer's remorse. It didn't have to turn out this way," but because the council "stumbled and bumbled" through its investigation and because the targets have stonewalled at most every opportunity, it has. Meanwhile, Colby writes, "[v]oters are being bombarded with accusations that, if true, ought to have consequences at the polls. 'What happened with these contracts,' D.C. Council chairman and mayoral contender Vincent Gray charged at a mayoral debate in Ward 3, is 'one of the worst examples of cronyism I have ever seen in the District of Columbia.' ... Would you vote for Fenty if that turned out to be true? ... Suppose that the allegations by Gray are unfounded; is he participating in a political witch hunt? What would you think of him then? Shouldn't voters have answers to those questions before Sept. 14? Yes. But, this year it's buy now, learn later."
GRAY ON TEACHERS -- In an interview with the Examiner editorial board, Vince Gray shares more thoughts on firing bad teachers: "People should be held accountable. Teachers that are ineffective should go." But Gray, Klopott writes for the paper, "questioned the use of the Impact evaluation tests [Michelle Rhee] relied upon when she fired the city's teachers. 'People need to be held accountable but it should be based on a fair evaluation,' Gray said. 'There's a lot of controversy around the Impact evaluation at this point as far as whether it's a fair process.' " Gray did say what he wants in a new chancellor: "a commitment to education reform"; "a self-starter who is autonomous"; and "someone who knows the dynamics of the city." Also: "Gray also hit on one point in which he strongly differs from [Fenty]. Unlike the mayor, Gray said he doesn't support school vouchers because he believes money should not go to religious organizations."
'ONLY KIND OF TRUE' -- The TBD "Facts Machine" evaluates the claims made against Gray in the Fenty negative ads: "Was Gray really so cruel as to deny funding to poor, homeless children, as the ad insinuates? Yes, but no. Gray did turn down federal funds, but only because the District didn't think it could continue to afford to meet the requirements to get them. ... Under federal rules at the time, the city would have had to provide shelter to all eligible homeless families. Even with the millions in federal aid, the city was still turning away about 30 families each night, and couldn't keep up with the federal rules. The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless sued D.C.'s government for failing to follow the rules, and Gray turned down the federal funds to make the lawsuit go away. That's a crucial bit of context. It doesn't make Gray look much better -- he still comes off as a heartless bureaucrat -- but it shows how the decision to turn down the federal funds was linked to the general fiscal mess the city was in during the 1990s." The Machine's verdict: "Only Kind of True." Also: Marion Barry's summer jobs programs weren't paragons of efficiency and good management, much as he'd like you to think.
A BETTER SUMMER JOBS PROGRAM -- Martha Ross of the Brookings Greater Washington Research Program lays out in a Post op-ed what a "manageable and predictable" Summer Youth Employment Program would look like. "That means targeting enrollment for a specific number of young people, making quality -- not size -- the most important benchmark and putting improved management and financial systems in place. ... The summer jobs program has worthy goals, and its management has improved under Joe Walsh, director of the Department of Employment Services (DES). But its operation is divorced from budgetary reality and is more driven by size than quality concerns. The reprogramming and the extension request compromise the integrity of the budgeting process. They ignore the spending priorities agreed upon in a public process. And they put public officials and stakeholders in a bind: a budget debate that pits homeless services against youth has taken a wrong turn. The city can do better."
INTOWNER PICKS GRAY -- The InTowner endorses Vince Gray for mayor, arguing a process-oriented mayor is what the city needs: "In our view, the current mayor has too often displayed a total disregard of 'process' by, for example, openly defying the will of the legislature, our city council -- for procedures enacted into law intended to ensure that statutory mandates are properly carried out by the Executive Branch. Among other transgressions that come to mind is his penchant for steering contracts to friends while figuring out ways to circumvent the statutory requirement that contracts of $1 million or more must first be approved by the Council. There has been too much of this sort of thing. The Mayor's excuse always seems to be that his shortcuts guarantee that things get done, projects get built -- full speed ahead and damn the consequences (to paraphrase a famous line). The problem with that approach to overseeing a complex governmental machine and other finagling with funds is that by so doing the mayor has been thumbing his nose at our elected legislators who are responsible for enacting the city's budget. ... We are strongly endorsing Vincent Gray because, among other things, he believes in 'process' and collegiality; we are confident that his stated intention of working closely with the council and engaging all parties in setting priorities will be a hallmark of his mayoral tenure. We need to re-set the tone and to have a leader who believes in eschewing the adversarial approach to governing. Vincent Gray is that kind of leader, one who respects all groups and individuals and who is by nature a consensus builder."
'GUTTER' POLITICS? -- Jonetta Rose Barras says both leading mayoral candidates are to blame for a campaign that's "in the gutter," she writes in her Examiner column. "Rather than having a mature conversation about the future, the duo and the Democratic State Committee have flaunted meaningless straw polls and held unfocused, sometimes shrill discussions." Fenty, she says, is strangely focusing on Gray's early '90s service as human services director rather than look at his stewardship of the D.C. Council. And Gray is dwelling on the parks contracts as evidence of cronyism and corruption when, like with the fishy fire truck, an investigation is likely to turn up no criminal wrongdoing, she writes. "Folks who know the details of the recreation contract investigation have said the same conclusion likely will be reached on that deal as well." Might as well call off the investigation then!
HOW TO GET STATEHOOD -- Post columnist Bob McCartney wonders whether Gray's willingness to get arrested for D.C. statehood means anything: "Gray's call to the barricades is partly a campaign maneuver to show that he's more passionate about the issue than Fenty, but I'm mostly with him on it anyway. Voting rights are the keystone in the arch of democracy. Nonviolent, nondestructive civil disobedience is justified on their behalf. No breaking windows, throwing stones or resisting arrest, but it's okay to peaceably occupy a sidewalk, street or office. Also, it's clear that dramatic steps are needed to raise public awareness in the District and nationwide about the problem. A prolonged campaign of civil disobedience could help, as such acts did in the historic campaigns to end apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow in the South. ... Still, I've got one reservation about Gray's position. He says the immediate goal should be full statehood. ... I'm fine with pushing for statehood, even quickly, but on one condition: Explain how we're going to pay for it, because it would cost a lot."
FUN WITH MASKING TAPE -- Bill Turque gathers some interesting tidbits from a speech Michelle Rhee delivered to new DCPS teachers last week. They concern her much-discussed stint as a young teacher in Baltimore in the early '90s: "Rhee had poor class management skills, she said, recalling that her class 'was very well known in the school because you could hear them traveling anywhere because they were so out of control.' On one particularly rowdy day, she said she decided to place little pieces of masking tape on their lips for the trip to the school cafeteria for lunch. ... Rhee said it worked well until they actually arrived at the cafeteria. ... 'I realized I had not told the kids to lick their lips beforehand. ... The skin is coming off their lips and they're bleeding. Thirty-five kids were crying.' Rhee said in an e-mail Friday that the students' mouths weren't covered. 'I was trying to express how difficult the first year of teaching can be with some humor. My hope is that our new teachers will bring great creativity and passion to their craft while also learning from my own challenges.' Still, it's difficult to imagine a DCPS instructor, first-year or tenth-year, surviving the masking tape stunt without suspension at a minimum."
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS -- Part of the Blackman-Jones class action over the city's services for special education students will be dismissed soon, but "the most substantive portion" of the 13-year-old lawsuit remains unresolved, Leah Fabel reports in the Examiner. "Last week, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles announced that the Blackman portion of the case, demanding timely hearings for aggrieved parents, likely will be dismissed in court by September 2010, in agreement with the plaintiffs. No agreement has been reached on the meatier 'Jones' portion of the case, concerning the delivery of adequate special education services in response to the complaints, lawyers said. ... Regarding 'Jones,' ... Nickles predicted a resolution in the next six months. [Plaintiffs' lawyer Ira Burnim] was less optimistic, saying the six-month goal is 'very uncertain.' "
WTU NOT ONLY IMPACT-HATING UNION -- Non-teachers rallied Friday against IMPACT -- interesting, says Turque at D.C. Schools Insider, because the evaluation system "holds all the adults in a school building accountable to some extent for student achievement. That doesn't sit well with members of Local 2921 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), who say that nearly 100 members -- school paraprofessionals and clerical staff -- lost their jobs this summer after scoring poorly on IMPACT. Non-teaching personnel have five percent of their evaluations based on so-called 'schoolwide value added,' or test score growth among all eligible students in a given school. Union members, who rallied in front of DCPS central offices Friday morning, say that is unreasonable." Also WRC-TV.
SKYLAND REDEVELOPMENT INCHING ALONG -- The Skyland Town Center development in Ward 7 is inching slowly toward a groundbreaking, Derek Kravitz reports today in The Post. The zoning commission gave a key approval last month, but eminent domain litigation remains unresolved. So, "after eight years of delays and legal issues, when Skyland Town Center will open -- and whether retailers will fill it -- is anyone's guess. ... Construction has been tentatively scheduled to start in 2012, with a potential opening in 2014. 'We feel as comfortable today as we've ever felt,' said Gary D. Rappaport, whose McLean-based Rappaport Cos. is the lead developer on the mixed-use Skyland project. 'If the District could gain control of the land, we'd start construction today. The market is changing every day. It's getting better every day; 2011 could be a great year to really move it forward.' "
GAY MARRIAGE RALLIES -- Metro Weekly covers yesterday's dueling gay marriage rallies -- one hosted by the gay-marriage-hostile National Organization for Marriage, the other locally organized: "Although D.C. council members David Catania (I-At Large) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) spoke to the crowd about the success of the District's same-sex marriage legislation, it was Arkansas's Will Phillips - the elementary school student who made headlines by refusing to pledge allegiance to a country that discriminates against gay people -- who won over the crowd, telling NOM that change is coming with his generation. ... Delano Hunter, challenging Council member Harry 'Tommy' Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), attended the NOM rally." Lou Chibbaro Jr. has more from the NOM rally.
THE RHEE REGISTRY -- You know you wanted it, and Sacramento's Fox 40 has it: Items from the Rhee/KJ wedding registry! "Johnson and Rhee have registered for their wedding at Macy's Department Store. The registry includes cookware, luggage, bedding items and more. On the registry are many high-priced items including a $175 Nambe salad bowl. The most expensive gift on the registry is a rolling suitcase made by Tumi. It costs $995. ... The cheapest item is a wash cloth for $6.99. There are 45 items to choose from and so far only 7 have been fulfilled."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Today is the last day you can change your party affiliation (D.C. Wire)
Fenty vetoes "Corrupt Election Practices" emergency bill (themail)
The story behind Mary Cuthbert's casual deployment of the N-word (TBD)
Eleanor Holmes Norton is "grieved and saddened" by Charlie Rangel's ethical troubles. But: "The kinds of things he's accused of, normally you wouldn't resign about. In fact, they have said he should accept a reprimand." (WTOP)
Kwame Brown did not, in fact, make a campaign stop at a gay strip club this weekend (D.C. Wire)
More on the energy-audit billing dispute (The Post)
Fenty and Gray go toe-to-toe on their records (WTOP)
Among the region's local courts, D.C.'s electronic docketing is surprisingly cutting edge (WBJ)
Harry Thomas wants federal aid for Bloomingdale flooding (a href="http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/dc/bloomingdale-residents-seek-federal-aid-after-flooding-081310">WTTG-TV)
Poll shows greater awareness of charter schools among electorate, says charter school advocate Robert Cane (the Examiner)
Why did the Salahis get a police escort to the White House? (The Post)
In praise of Teach for America's "cultishness" (ABCDE)
DCPS workers knock on doors of new pre-K and kindergarten students (D.C. Schools Insider)
Deal means Abdo's Brookland development could be breaking ground next year (Capital Business)
Ahead of All Hands on Deck, arrests made in two recent murders (WTOP)
Famed "R.C. Cola" woman is now box-head lady shilling for Leo Alexander! (DCist)
Fox 5 highlights attack ads (WTTG-TV)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Fenty, Norton to celebrate Arena Stage 60th anniversary
August 16, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
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