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DeMorning DeBonis: Aug. 26, 2010


Take a break from the campaign back-and-forth for a moment and read Jonetta Rose Barras's City Paper cover story on Michelle Rhee's campaign to bring white parents back to the D.C. Public Schools, "a real-time experiment to see whether it's possible to integrate a school system by reaching out to a group that has traditionally rejected it as an option." Jonetta writes that Rhee has been on a "charm offensive" -- "having tea with new parents, drafting e-mails to school-hunting moms and dads, and otherwise recruiting folks who might previously have shunned DCPS. And the most conspicuous targets of that wooing are ... affluent, educated, and disproportionately white." Is it working? "Between 2007 and 2010, white enrollment in DCPS increased from 6 percent to 9 percent and Hispanic enrollment increased from 11 percent to 13 percent. During that same period, African American enrollment dropped from 80 percent to 76 percent, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. A lot of people might be uncomfortable with the experiment and its results. But the statistically complicated, politically toxic, and morally vexing question is: should they be?" Gotta read it!

AFTER THE JUMP -- Is Fenty's BOEE gambit a mark of desperation? -- Are open primaries a good idea? -- How does Jim Graham do it? -- The Fenty music video -- Current prefers Gray for mayor


A DESPERATE MAN? -- The Board of Elections and Ethics made quick work yesterday of disposing with Mayor Adrian Fenty's request to open this year's primaries to independent voters. Here's my big writeup, which notes that the Fenty campaign will not appeal but a private attorney might. But the question of the day is whether Fenty's move to open the primary is a sign of desperation. The Examiner's Freeman Klopott certainly thinks so, calling the move a "ploy" from a "campaign that some say is starting to look desperate." In his article, Chuck Thies makes a good point: "Fenty didn't try to change election laws because he wanted to include independent voters. He had 10 years, first on the council, then as mayor to do that." Bruce DePuyt has a thoughtful post quoting ex-Ward 7 council member Kevin Chavous: "You can't help but be struck by the fact that they must be concerned about the current stock of voters, the current state of the race. ... He has a sophisticated team and you know they've drilled down into the numbers, and internally they must view this race as too close for comfort." But Fenty adviser Terry Lynch tells him that Fenty is simply "aggressively going after every voter he thinks can help him." TBD called the decision a "relative smackdown" for Hizzoner. Also WTOP, WTTG-TV. Needless to say, Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff have some thoughts on the matter.

A SEPARATE QUESTION -- Should District primaries be open to voters of any party? The Post editorial board argues that yes they should. The BOEE decision to toss the Fenty gambit was "right on the law" but Fenty's "right on the merits." The board says it is "perplexing" that council members such as Mary Cheh "would reject such sensible proposals as those of council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) to allow independents to vote in the primary election of a political party if the party permitted or to change party affiliation on the day of an election. Ms. Cheh told us that she's not necessarily opposed but that those issues hadn't been fully studied when the law was changed. ... We hope that whoever is elected mayor -- Mr. Fenty or D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) -- puts the issue of these 72,400 unaffiliated voters among his first orders of business. Enfranchising as many people as possible is the right goal." Also: See Rick Rojas's Post piece on the demonstration of new voting machines.

HOW DOES GRAHAM DO IT? -- In this week's Loose Lips column, Alan Suderman asks and answers a key question for Ward 1 residents: Why, despite his chairmanship of the Metro board during the Red Line crash and the federal bribery sting that played out in his council office, is Jim Graham seemingly poised to breeze to reelection? "A common handicap among incumbent councilmembers over the last decade is that they got reputations for being complacent, in contrast to energetic-looking new competitors. In a city with few major ideological divisions, hard work -- or at least a reputation for hard work -- becomes the deciding factor. ... But for all of his troubles, Graham is someone you'd have a hard time casting as a slacker. He says he's worked 12-hour days 'everyday except Sunday' during his dozen years as a councilmember. ... Graham says [Charlene Drew Jarvis]' and [Kevin Chavous]' fate won't be his own. 'They fell into a trap, they fell into several traps,' he tells Loose Lips. 'First, they underestimated their opponents, which I have not done. Then, they were overconfident of their own chances, which I resist every single day.' " Alan also reports out Ted Loza's visit to an Adams Morgan businessman. Plus: Kwame Brown's 2005 permit problem.

VIDEO STAR -- Check it. "Don't Leave Us Fenty," the video:

Tim Craig notes at D.C. Wire: "The video includes children holding up four fingers (for four more years), various scenes of city neighborhoods, and lyrics by Wali, aka Big Wax. [Ron Moten] also makes several appearances in the four-minute video. ... When The Washington Post asked Moten who paid for the video, he replied, 'I've got friends to do that ... it don't cost much.' Moten added that Gray's commercial has mobilized his friends across the city to become more engaged in the campaign. 'Tell Vince Gray I said "thank you," ' Moten said. 'He's created a whole army.' " Forward to 3:07 to see Vince Gray's fence! Forward to 2:27 to see Moten doing his best to support the talent! And forward to 3:45 to hear some of his words of wisdom! Also: Someone make Weensey a sandwich! Dude needs to put on some weight.

CURRENT FOR VINCE -- Vince Gray wins the Current endorsement -- a big get, seeing as the community papers are distributed mainly in Wards 2 and 3. "Gray has stitched together consensus on what could have been a fractious council. Without his leadership, it's hard to imagine that legislators would have compiled such a record of groundbreaking legislation -- from allowing same-sex marriages despite the opposition of many cultural conservative African American ministers to setting new standards for healthy meals in the public schools. ... We have further problems with Mr. Fenty's record. The dark side of his focus on results is a seeming arrogance toward other elected officials and constituents, as well as efforts to justify cronyism as necessary in the name of efficiency. ... In the end, these distasteful elements of Mayor Fenty's record propel us to endorse Mr. Gray. In doing so, we have one caveat: We, like many others, hope Michelle Rhee remains as D.C. Public Schools chancellor. Throughout the campaign, Mr. Gray has been unwilling to say whether he would ask Ms. Rhee, an admittedly polarizing figure, to be a part of his administration. We hope that, if elected, he will make every effort to get her to stay so that the school system can avoid the chronic administrative turnover that has stalled past efforts at reform."

TRANSPARENCY, FENTY-STYLE -- Yesterday, Police Chief Cathy Lanier boasted in a TBD TV interview that hers is the "most transparent police department" in the nation, citing an FBI audit. The Examiner's Scott McCabe has some issues with that claim -- starting with the fact that MPD won't release the audit: "When asked to see the information that would back Lanier's claims, police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said Wednesday that it would be months before it was available. ... The department's history of withholding information and manipulating statistics to make crime numbers look better had been well documented."

A CONVERSATION WITH VINCE -- WAMU-FM's Patrick Madden sits down with Vincent Gray to talk cronyism, the race divide and his pledge to continue "assertive, aggressive" education reform. "A mayor had to convince people that this is a place for everybody," Gray said. "A leader has to be somebody who can convince the people that I'm here for all the people, that I'm gonna do what I can to continue to make this a diverse city."


Your questions about the Rhee-KJ wedding postponement, answered (Reliable Source)

The GLAA ratings are out: Graham, Phil Mendelson win perfect scores, and Gray tops Fenty (DeBonis)

Watch Tommy Wells and Kelvin Robinson debate on Kojo (WAMU-FM)

DCPS teacher on IMPACT: "It looks like the school system doesn't have a clue about what a good teacher looks like." (The Post)

See the Mendelson campaign's full know-your-Michael-Browns flyer (Loose Lips)

Fenty lit conflates DC-CAS and NAEP scores. Or something. Whatever -- test scores are up, right? (TBD Facts Machine)

Drug war FAIL: MPD sets up elaborate sting operation to collar pot buyers that USAO has no interest in prosecuting (City Desk)

GWU grapples with medical marijuana (Hatchet)

Judge unseals material with a "high probability of causing undue harassment and embarrassment" for the Robert Wone defendants (Blog of Legal Times)

"[T]he citizens of the District need to ask themselves: Does being liked matter more than getting the job done?" (emPower)

Radioactive junk at Walter Reed! (The Post)

That first Northwest One building may not be coming as soon as developers said (DCmud)

My god, Fenty's sitting down with City Paper. Talk about an act of desperation. (Loose Lips)

Why early education is important (Defeat Poverty D.C.)

It's hard bein' Michael Brown (TBD)

City crews scrub graffiti from Kelsey Gardens -- which is still not being redeveloped (TBD)

Should Union Station reno include a 1,300-square-foot hole in the floor? (TBD)

Like food trucks? Speak up or forever hold your peace. (Young & Hungry)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Ward 6 candidates forum, 7 p.m. at St. Augustine Episcopal Church

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 26, 2010; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Can Vince Gray compare his Rhee punt to Fenty's Ramsey punt?
Next: Out-of-town money funds mailer warning voters about out-of-town money


Holy fck. Fenty's flaming out. Everybody in the administration is made out to be liars, even the nogoodnik police chief, who needs to be put on trial for the Trinidad blockades.

Posted by: bs2004 | August 26, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Do you live in some bizzaro world? Under Fenty's leadership, DCPS has compiled achievements NEVER before seen in its history. Under Chief Lanier's leadership, DC's crime rate has dropped to levels not seen in nearly half a century. And you want to get rid of him and put her on trial? Its as if you want to live in an unresponsive, incompetent and dangerous community. Well, that's exactly what you're going to get, so I hope you enjoy it.

Posted by: asuka1 | August 27, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

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