DeMorning DeBonis: Aug. 3, 2010
TODAY IS AUGUST 3, 2010 -- 42 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY
What does it mean that Vince Gray was the sole District resident targeted for enforcement of the city fence-height restriction during Mayor Adrian Fenty's tenure, as Ann Marimow reports today? Gray, of course, says the fact only confirms that his seven-month fence episode has been nothing but "political harassment" from the Fenty administration. Attorney General Peter Nickles calls it "an indication of how egregious it was and how slow they were to file -- not that there was politics involved." It was a bunch of "independent bureaucrats" who cited Gray and issued fines, Nickles says, adding that "he monitored the process to ensure that the chairman's case was handled like any other." Now what "other" cases are we talking about exactly?
AFTER THE JUMP -- Gray debuts radio ads -- OCF slaps Barry on wrist -- New York Times covers mayoral race -- council again lays into Fenty over summer jobs -- location of Rhee wedding revealed!
*** MAIN COURSE ***
BREAKING -- Gray debuts 60-second radio ads on "urban" stations. From the script: "Only one candidate for mayor has a plan to bring D.C.'s communities -- east and west of the River -- together, to create 'one city': Vince Gray. ... Vince Gray will unite our city, bring jobs to the District and make our streets safer. On September 14th, vote for character, integrity and leadership."
SLAP ON THE WRIST -- The Office of Campaign Finance burnishes its reputation for doing next to nothing to police politicos, admonishing Marion Barry for his contracting and earmarking practices revealed last summer, but clearing him of any violation of city law. Here's what they did do, Nikita Stewart reports today: "Cecily E. Collier-Montgomery, director of the campaign finance office, reprimanded Barry ... after the office found that he did not follow the city's regulations for employee conduct. She wrote that Barry 'failed to disclose his personal and financial relationship with Donna Watts-Brighthaupt. Disclosure of the relationship would have resulted in the transparency of the transaction and removed any cloud from the contract process.'" Barry, predictably, called the non-punishment a "vindication" and decried Robert S. Bennett's thoroughgoing investigative report. Said Barry in a statement, "Mr. Bennett was the judge, jury and the executor [sic]. His attitude was guilty until proven innocent. The OCFs attitude was the American way, innocent until proven guilty." (Hmm -- didn't know Bennett did probate work.) As Wonkette puts it, "EX-GIRLFRIEND ALMOST GETS MARION BARRY IN A LOT OF TROUBLE AGAIN." Also Examiner.
SCENE -- From Nikita: "Barry, who was being followed by a cameraman filming footage for a reality show pilot, was jovial, exchanging niceties with reporters before he began the low-key news conference -- a contrast to the circus atmosphere that surrounded him in March when his colleagues voted unanimously to administer the unprecedented punishment of removing him from his committee and censuring him after what became known as 'the Bennett report.' ... Barry publicly accused council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) of being behind the scrutiny into his office. He shied away from speaking about Catania at Monday's news conference, saying only that Catania was the one of the first council member to use earmarks, in 2005. 'One main lesson I learned is that the enemy, no matter who that may be, whether it be the media, whether it be jealously, never sleeps, never sleeps,' Barry said. 'They are always there, 24/7. ... I have to be vigilant all the time.'"
BARRY ENDORSEMENT? -- In other news: Barry says "he hasn't decided whether, or when, he will endorse a candidate in the mayoral election," Tim Craig reports at D.C. Wire. Barry won't be endorsing Fenty again, obviously, but there are questions about a Gray endorsement, given that "their relationship has been strained since the chairman pushed earlier this year to censure Barry" and that Gray, "already facing questions about whether he's too connected to the previous era of city government," might not welcome the plug. Bottom line: "Barry said he planned to play an active role in this year's campaign. But he noted in 2006 he waited until two weeks before the election before he publicly announced his support for Fenty. 'I'm in no hurry,' Barry said."
SUMMER JOBS SPENDING -- Council members slammed the Fenty administration's management of the Summer Youth Employment Program at an emergency hearing Monday, Mike Laris reports today. What was budgeted to be a $22.7 million, six-week program is on track to be a $34.2 million, seven-week-plus program. D.C. Auditor Deborah Nichols testified to "a pattern of 'reckless disregard' for funding limits put on the program" which poses "a threat to other vital District programs and the District's fiscal stability in these austere economic times." The picture is rather clear: Fenty had no intention of holding to the council's spending limits, which were imposed last summer in no small part as a brushback to mayoral authority. Employment Services director Joe Walsh "acknowledged that administration officials were eager to find additional money for the program," which they proceeded to take from stimulus funding. What is not clear is whether that's the same money that Fenty promised to use to shore up emergency housing for the homeless. The council will consider a one-week extension to the program this morning. Also WUSA-TV, WAMU-FM and the Examiner, which publishes the quote of the day, from Mary Cheh: "To borrow a phrase from my daughter, this blows."
GRAY LADY ON FENTY-GRAY -- The mayoral race gets a full New York Times feature from reporter Yeganeh June Torbati. Her lede: "At times it seems like the mayoral race here between the two front-runners -- Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who is seeking a second term, and Vincent C. Gray, the City Council chairman -- is boiling down to a personality contest. It is not because there are no important issues at stake as the two men battle for the Democratic nomination. ... To some degree, it is a surprise to supporters on each side that Mr. Fenty, who has a big advantage in fund-raising and name recognition, appears at all vulnerable, given his reputation among Democrats in Washington as a successful reformer. Yet critics and even some supporters say that after a charmed first two years in office, Mr. Fenty grew aloof, canceling appearances, minimizing personal contact with residents and failing to adequately explain controversial new policies, including Ms. Rhee's overhaul of the school system." The piece describes the battles over Michelle Rhee, cronyism, jobs, and more -- quoting Catania, Lawrence Guyot, Franklin Garcia, Harry Thomas Jr., and Jim Graham, who says Fenty has "obviously upset people, over issues that I bet in hindsight he would say didn't matter that much."
RHEE WEDDING SCOOP -- The Sacramento Bee reveals the location of the Michelle Rhee-Kevin Johnson wedding: "Sacramento's wedding of the year will be held at the estate of mega-developer and longtime Johnson supporter Angelo K. Tsakopoulos. The big day is also known: It's planned for Sept. 4, the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. According to a glamorous invitation package that began arriving in mailboxes last week, the festive day for Johnson and fiancée Michelle Rhee will begin with a 4 p.m. ceremony at St. John's Lutheran Church on L Street in midtown. From there, guests are invited to 'an evening of dining and dancing held in honor of the newlyweds' at Tsakopoulos' Arden Oaks mansion, the site of a 2008 Johnson fundraiser." Johnson now has to answer for why he's having his wedding "at the home of one of the region's most politically connected developers" -- and why he misspelled Tsakopoulos' name on the invitations.
SOCIAL STUDIES -- DCist's Martin Austermuhle rates the social-media firepower of the various city campaigns: Clark Ray wins "Best Use of Facebook"; Tommy Wells wins "Best Use of Twitter"; Bryan Weaver wins "Best YouTube Clip"; Mike Panetta gets "Best Website"; and the grand prize for "Best Overall New Media Strategy" goes to ... Vince Gray. Writes Martin: "Faced with a better-funded incumbent and limited time to make a big splash, Gray's campaign moved quickly to jump into new media and social networking to attract support. They hired a dedicated New Media Director, established all the requisite social networking accounts, and have scheduled three sit-downs with Gray and local bloggers. Though Gray is one of the oldest candidates out there, his campaign has a decidedly younger feel than Fenty's, which, for all it's youthful energy, seems to have assumed that a $4 million bankroll and a bunch of TV ads is enough to win you an election. Fenty may end up being right; but Gray has been showing that money may count for less and less as online engagement and creative e-campaigning make their way into more and more local campaigns."
WELCOME BACK, TOM -- WRC-TV's Tom Sherwood is back from Florida and ready to take a took at the mayoral election six weeks out. At the Shaw library ribbon-cutting, Fenty responds to his endorsement by the Post editorial board, telling Sherwood that the editorial board is "the biggest independent group in the entire city who just wants the city to work well is the Washington Post editorial board." Says Gray, "We've done some polling, and we're happy with where we are at this stage ... These are the kind of situations that go right down to the last minute." The Channel 4 cameras catch one woman confronting Fenty over jobs and housing issues. His response to her: "Even if you don't vote for me, I want to help you."
ON THE HILL -- Harry Jaffe looks at the state of District-federal relations in a less-than-focused Examiner column: "Up on Capital Hill [sic], time is running down on D.C. ... [I]t's increasingly possible that the House could change from blue to red in the fall elections." But then he goes on to explain why that doesn't matter: "Being a Democratic city, the nation's capital should fare best when the Dems control the legislative and executive branches. Right? Wrong. Not during Bill Clinton's first term when Congress was Democratic. Not now, when Barack Obama is in the White House. At the risk of joining the whiners who wish Obama were other than he is, I am amazed the president has not lifted a finger to advance D.C.'s agenda on Capitol Hill. ... Obama's go-to staffer on District affairs? Not sure he's taken the time to pick one."
DEFENDING IMPACT -- American Enterprise Institute "policy maven" Rick Hess, writing at Education Week, moves to thoroughly debunk the IMPACT critique leveled by Columbia University's Aaron Pallas at the Answer Sheet blog. His summary: "If Pallas was flagging real problems with the design or implementation of IMPACT, that would be a useful contribution. But for him to wildly mischaracterize a careful attempt to engineer a thoughtful evaluation system is nothing short of scurrilous. As for Professor Pallas, he wants it both ways. He wants the credibility afforded an academic expert without having to uphold academic norms of research, reason, or evidence. If he had contacted DCPS and was ignored or stonewalled, that'd be one thing. But Pallas didn't even try. Make a choice, pal. If you want the perks and the podium that come with being an academic, then act the part." Yikes.
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING -- Here is the Socialist Worker's perspective on the DCPS teacher firings: "The recent firings in DCPS need to be seen for what they are: an attack not only on teachers, but on public sector unionism and working and poor people in D.C. If Rhee has her way, D.C. will re-segregate its school system and create a series of elite charter schools. ... The need for an alliance of teachers, parents and students in D.C. to resist Rhee's agenda is more urgent than ever."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Due to signage glitch, Metro delays fare hike one day, costing $60,000 (Post)
New in non-scientific polling: Post Web site users heavily favor Vince Gray (Post User Polls)
Washington Hospital Center nurses will strike, for one day (Examiner)
Why Bruce Bereano matters to Vince Gray (Loose Lips)
The interview you've all been waiting for: one-on-one with the Leo Alexander box-head lady (YouTube)
Verizon bills Georgetown resident nearly $2 million to fix hazardous utility pole; anonymous blogger DEMANDS Jack Evans get involved (G'town Dish)
A note to Phil Mendelson: Don't diss the Dish! (Ibid.)
Two vendors -- Revolution Foods and D.C. Central Kitchen -- chosen for DCPS healthy-food pilot (Post)
Pile-driving for 11th Street Bridge project is complete (WTOP)
Tracking the great migration of District agencies (Housing Complex)
Why it's important for Metro board members to show up at meetings (GGW)
I-395 air-rights deal means the Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum must be moved, quite literally (Post)
District eyes small lots of federal land (DCmud)
Water main break affects 2,000 Georgetown customers (WJLA-TV)
Jason Cherkis publicly mulls his mayoral vote! (Loose Lips)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Fenty breaks ground on another dog park, this one in Ward 4 -- council takes up emergency summer jobs extension -- tonight is the National Night Out; Vince Gray is scheduled to attend events in every police district
August 3, 2010; 9:56 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike , The District
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