DeMorning DeBonis: Aug. 17, 2010
TODAY IS AUGUST 17, 2010 -- 28 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY
We're four weeks out, and today brings lousy headlines for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. Leading the pack is Freeman Klopott's Examiner piece which follows Friday's City Paper item on Fenty administration efforts to find funding for the controversial Peaceoholics. Klopott reports that DYRS is "expected to soon give a $400,000 no-bid contract" to the group. "[F]ounder Ron Moten told The Examiner that DYRS is making up for the $400,000 in work Peaceoholics performed over two months last fall after the council canceled its contracts," he writes, adding that ousted chief Marc Schindler resisted sending more money to the group and that one of its former board members is now a top DYRS official. However, reality might not be so dramatic: The Post has made inquiries on the story, and DYRS is expected to issue a statement later today clarifying that any grant money will be competitively bid. Fenty will hope for happier headlines tomorrow, after he wins the endorsement of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, set to be bestowed this afternoon at the new Carmine's restaurant downtown.
AFTER THE JUMP -- still no rationale for why marathon's fees were waived -- 2,600 voters switch to Democrats to vote in primary -- Fenty continues ribbon-cutting/groundbreaking spree in Southwest -- 28 new principals in DCPS -- Michael Brown explains his lousy Metro attendance record
*** MAIN COURSE ***
IN FULL BLOOMBERG -- Alan Suderman lays out the context of the Bloomie nod: "Fenty has tried to style himself as D.C.'s version of MB, famously copying Bloomberg's idea of tearing down walls in the mayor's office to create a 'bullpen.' Fenty also brought D.C. schools under the mayor's authority, much like Bloomberg did in New York. The endorsement could help shore up one part of Fenty's base -- the good government-loving type of voters who admire the way Bloomberg has made his city's administration work better." TBD's Sarah Larimer explains why the endorsement matters: "Because Bloomberg is considered a reformer, no matter his ZIP code. The Fenty campaign -- which has recently seen signs of waning support -- is probably hoping the endorsement will shift more focus on the candidate's record of change, and in turn stir some momentum." Vincent Gray's campaign response: "We are happy to concede the Manhattan vote to him. ... We're going to keep focusing on the residents across all of DC's 8 wards."
WHY WAIVE? -- More bad Fenty press, courtesy of Paul Wagner at WTTG-TV, who follows up his reporting on special-event security costs waived by the city: "[T]he deeper we looked into the practice, the murkier it got," he reports. While the National Marathon has gotten more than $400,000 in breaks, "organizers of the most recent Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure had to pay for security. So did organizers of July's Boy Scout Parade as well as the Memorial Day Parade. ... Last week, after repeatedly asking, the Mayor's office sent us documents showing the existence of the fund the Mayor is talking about as well as the city code which says the Mayor has the authority to waive the fees. ... Still, no one has explained how the choices are made. Who pays? Who gets a free pass and why During the Anthony Williams' administration, former Police Chief Charles Ramsey said no fees were waived. Every event received an invoice."
PARTY CRASHERS -- Yesterday was the last day for registered city voters to change their party registration for the primary election, and about 2,600 voters have switched to the Democrats -- enabling them to choose between Fenty and Gray. "Preliminary numbers showed that 2,068 voters who declared 'no party,' often dubbed independent, and 308 Republicans changed their affiliation to Democrat from January through Monday morning, according to the Board of Elections and Ethics. Several hundred members of the Statehood Green and other parties changed their affiliations, too." And Tim Craig has more at D.C. Wire on Fenty's veto of ant-vote fraud legislation, which "would have enshrined in the local code the federal prohibitions against paying someone to vote or register to vote, or accepting payment to vote or register to vote." Fenty pocket-vetoed the legislation, which "effectively kills the bill unless the council wants to reconvene to pass another version of it." The Team Gray response: "We knew that [Fenty] had no problem bringing pay-to-play politics to the mayor's office. Now it appears he has no problem bringing it to the ballot box." The Fenty camp replies: "The number one goal is to make sure this election is fair and transparent, and adding murky language to our election laws just weeks from the primary is not the way to do it."
SOUTHWEST -- Yesterday morning saw the unveiling of Arena Stage's fabulous new digs on the Southwest waterfront. And Fenty, trying to show things are moving along with the $2 billion redevelopment of the Southwest waterfront, also hosted a ceremonial demolition of Hogate's restaurant on the waterfront -- never mind that the project's financing is far from final and that an actual groundbreaking is well in the future. WBJ's Michael Neibauer deemed it "best described as one part economic development announcement, one part campaign function." Also, the Nei-man notes the busy schedule Hizzoner will be keeping in the coming weeks: "The Fenty administration is slated, in the next four weeks, to cut the ribbon on Canal Park at 200 M St. SE, break ground on the City Market at O project in Shaw, launch the revitalization of the Howard Theatre, open the new Yes! Organic Market in Ward 8 and announce a master developer for the redevelopment of the Hill East waterfront." Mike Grass writes at City Paper about the politics of the ribbon-cutting: "Big city mayors love ribbon cuttings. For Fenty, they reinforce his campaign's getting-things-done messaging and provide a platform to attack Gray." The Post's Hamil Harris has video.
'WE'RE NOT ALL DICK CHENEY' -- Deborah Simmons covers the D.C. GOP's 2010 election strategy in the Washington Times: "For the DCGOP, the bottom line is: Don't fight every fight; fight the fights that matter. The battles that matter this election year include campaign irregularities, four ward races and a seat on the D.C. Board of Elections & Ethics. ... [Mital Gandhi's BOEE] rejection sparked criticism from Republicans hoping to unseat Democrats this fall, and while the party isn't fielding candidates in any citywide races or the school board race, they are focusing on a couple of ward races and on specific good-government issues. 'The residents need to know they have choices,' [Executive Director Paul Craney] said. 'We can go to a grocery store and pick one out of 50 cereal boxes. We want to make sure voters know they have choices, too.' ... The D.C. Republicans running in September are hardly cookie-cutter Republicans. ... The Republican candidates in the other ward races - Marc Morgan in Ward 1, Dave Hedgpeth in Ward 3 and Jim DeMartino in Ward 6 - support school reform, making D.C. a greener city, innovative economic development and targeted social services, and want to combat government waste. 'I'm anti-gun and pro-choice,' said [Ward 5 candidate Tim Day]. 'We're not all Dick Cheney.'"
NEW PRINCIPALS -- Less than a week till the first day of school, and Bill Turque confirms that 28 of 125 DCPS schools will have new principals this year. "This is Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's third full round of principal recruiting and hiring -- four if you count the 2007-08 school year, when she had barely two months to prepare. The churning has been considerable. By my count, Rhee has filled 91 school leadership openings since coming to town three years ago, some created by dismissals, others by resignations or retirements. Of the 91 principals new to their posts, 39 are no longer in those jobs. ... Rhee acknowledges that she doesn't have as many good principals as she would like. 'It's not ideal. I'd love to have a higher batting average,' Rhee said. 'We have had some who have been great and some who have not panned out.'"
NOT 'HOOKY' -- Michael Brown explains in a Post letter why he has a habit of missing Metro board meetings: "When I assumed public office in January 2009, I took on an aggressive workload, taking every opportunity possible to learn the inner workings of the D.C. Council. I serve on the committees on finance and revenue; aging and community affairs; human services; public service and consumer affairs; and housing and workforce development. I also chaired special committees on statehood and self-determination, and on taxicabs. And I serve on the Board of the Metropolitan Council of Governments. ... The regularly scheduled Metro board meetings and emergency meetings sometimes conflicted with my council committee meetings, placing me in the difficult position of choosing between attending hearings on pending legislation or going to Metro board meetings." Hmm. Somehow Jim Graham and the other regional legislators on the panel have figured it out.
MPD RETIREMENT CRISIS? -- Matt Zapotosky's Metro fronter on an expected spate of retirements at the Prince George's County police department includes this note: "In 2014 and 2015, [police union head Kris Baumann] said, nearly 900 officers will become eligible to retire, and managers seem to be ignoring that as a potential problem. 'When they become retirement eligible, it's just going to be a huge exodus, and I don't think we are prepared in any way shape or form for that,' Baumann said. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that because officers who joined the force before 1997 need to be 50 years old before they are eligible to retire, 'the anticipated retirements from the 1989-1990 hiring campaign will be more spread out than just a straight calculation of 25 years after hire.' She said that attrition has been low under her watch and that commanders 'track our staffing trends very closely, so it is also incorrect to say that we are unaware of, or not paying attention to, future staffing needs.'"
AGAINST ELEANOR -- It's "[t]ime for Norton to go," says delegate candidate Douglass Sloan in a Post letter responding to Eleanor Holmes Norton's Metro op-ed last month. "Ms. Norton's column gave the impression that she does not accept any of the blame for not delivering on voting rights. Recently 241 D.C. public school teachers were fired for poor performance after a year. Ms. Norton has been on the job for 20 years and has not delivered. It's time for D.C. voters to emulate our schools chancellor, Michelle A. Rhee, and hold Ms. Norton accountable for her failures."
FENTY ENCOUNTER -- A thought from voter and blogger Wayan Vota, who ran into Fenty in Grant Circle yesterday: "I took this opportunity to ask him about the Tree Fund raid his administration made in the current current budget. Interestingly, as I started to to question him, he took out his mobile phone and called Gabe Klein, DDOT Director, on what I think was Gabe's day off. And there I was talking to the head of DDOT on the mayor's Blackberry. ... But this experience has me wondering about Fenty's management style. ... I was looking for a moment of empathy, an emotional connection that made me feel he cared about my concern. I appreciated the direct connection to the head of DDOT, truly I do, but that wasn't exactly what I was looking for this morning. I would've been happier with a focused moment, a connection, and then a follow-up email or call by a staffer connecting me with the administration person who made the Tree Fund decision."
MPD DOUBLE STANDARD? -- Harry Jaffe wonders in his Examiner column why street cop Kevin McConnell was kept off the street while under investigation, while police brass are allowed to stay on the job: "The MPD took McConnell's badge and gun and rescinded his police powers. A cop to the core, he was publicly humiliated. He twisted in the wind for two years, until the MPD declared him fit to serve. ... Switch to the pending Pershing Park case. ... [F]ederal judges are investigating city lawyers and police officials for making evidence disappear that was crucial to the case. Magistrate Judge John Facciola has said these officials are under investigation and could face criminal prosecution. Are any of these officials, including two top police lawyers and an assistant chief, going to be iced like McConnell was until their cases are cleared? 'My view is they will continue to be active as police officers,' D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles tells me. 'There's no evidence I've found that indicates misconduct.' Fine -- but who appointed Nickles judge and jury?"
*** SMALL PLATES ***
If you're looking to make a bundle as a marijuana dispensary owner, it may not be so easy (City Desk)
Three things you should know about the city fund balance: It was unusually high, it remains high, and you keep reserves for a reason (D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute)
Petula Dvorak reports from inside N Street Village (Post)
Fox 5 covers the Michael D. Brown vs. Michael A. Brown confusion -- check Karen Gray Houston's dais theatrics! (WTTG-TV)
The semiotics of Jim Graham's bowtie (Loose Lips)
Republicans do, in fact, support school vouchers, Eleanor (TBD Facts Machine)
MPD launches cash-for-guns program (Crime Scene)
Fort Lincoln Costco development could break ground spring 2011 (DCmud)
Two DYRS wards briefly escape during transfer from New Beginnings (Examiner)
A new blog from the D.C. Jobs Council (Work in the City)
Cleatus E. Barnett, key Metro proponent, is dead at 83 (Post obit)
"What do delegates do in Congress?" (Congress.org)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Bloomberg endorses Fenty, 12:45 p.m. at Carmine's -- Fenty cuts ribbon on Stoddert Rec Center
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