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DeMorning DeBonis: Aug. 4, 2010

TODAY IS AUGUST 4, 2010 -- 41 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY

Council members yesterday "soundly rejected" Mayor Adrian Fenty's request to extend the summer jobs program by a week and $4.3 million, framing the once-again-overspent Fenty jobs effort as "fiscal irresponsibility" that threatened housing for as many as 250 homeless families. Only Muriel Bowser and Harry Thomas Jr. voted to extend the program; Marion Barry and Jim Graham were not present. Nikita Stewart reports in today's Post: "Bowser said she did not see the distinction between taking [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] money from the budget of the Department of Human Services to give to employment of youths in the Department of Employment Services. ... But council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chairman of the Committee on Human Services, said the city's homeless program suffered significant cuts last year, jeopardizing shelter and permanent housing for homeless families." Also see Leah Fabel's Examiner report, which notes that at a hearing, "[a]t least one summer jobs participant felt OK about the trade-off. ... 'The necessity of the homeless families and youth to receive housing and services trumps my necessity to get paid for seven more days,' he said." Here's my take on the political ramifications: "I expected, as Fenty probably did, that the council would cave when faced with the prospect of essentially taking $200 out of the pockets of some 18,000 city kids who have parents who might vote six weeks before an election. ... Fenty regularly boasts on the campaign trail about making 'tough decisions.' But Gray sure made a tough decision today."

AFTER THE JUMP -- Mital Gandhi's BOEE nomination goes down in flames -- Jim Graham profiled by Paul Schwartzman -- Gray ad sees weakness in Fenty's humility -- Marc Barnes declares bankruptcy -- Vince gets a makeover

*** MAIN COURSE ***

DOWN HE GOES -- In other news, the council voted 7 to 4 to reject Mital Gandhi's nomination to the Board of Elections and Ethics. Writes Tim Craig at D.C. Wire: "In recent days, the D.C. Republican Committee and three GOP candidates running for council this year have been stepping up the pressure on the council to confirm Gandhi. Failing to do so, they argued, was disenfranchising the city's 29,000 registered Republicans. But council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), chairwoman of the committee that has oversight over the elections process, urged her colleagues Tuesday to formally reject Gandhi because of concerns about his experience." Voting in favor were Bowser, David Catania, Jack Evans and Tommy Wells. After the vote, Gandhi issued a release: "I believe some Councilmembers have put their own interests ahead of the integrity of the electoral process, and by doing so, have shown not only me, but the voters of the District of Columbia, that playing politics is more important than the integrity of the elections. ... This was clearly a 'Gray for Mayor' vote on the Council rather than a 'qualifications of the nominee' vote." This, I argue, proved that the council made the right decision.

BESTS -- Jim Graham, facing spirited challengers as he seeks a fourth term on the D.C. Council, is profiled by The Post's Paul Schwartzman: "In a city of often drab bureaucrats, Graham is an outsize persona, handshaking and schmoozing his way through ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings, spitting out e-mails containing announcements and crime updates, each bearing his signature sign off, 'Bests, Jim.' Yet Graham, who before his election in 1998 ran the Whitman-Walker Clinic, serving AIDS patients and Washington's gay community, is far more than a retail pol. His reach runs the gamut of Washington life: oversight of liquor regulations; access to millions in taxpayer funds to hand out to community groups; a seat on the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority. ... Yet this campaign for reelection is unlike two Graham won by overwhelming margins. The main reason is the shadow cast by his former chief of staff, Ted G. Loza, who was indicted last fall on charges of accepting $1,500 in bribes to push legislation that would help some powerful players in the city's taxi business. Graham was not charged in the indictment, but he found his name thrust to the center of an embarrassing scandal. To supporters, Graham is a fierce defender of the city's most densely populated and diverse ward. ... But his opponents in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, Bryan Weaver, an Adams Morgan community leader, and Jeff Smith, a former D.C. school board member, portray Graham as a political boss overly cozy with the real estate industry, whose contributions account for a large portion of his campaign war chest." City Paper's Jason Cherkis notes this graf: "Despite his apparent cushion, Graham zealously guards his image. He declined to be interviewed for this article, but kept close tabs on the reporting -- telephoning and sending numerous e-mails to Washington Post editors to complain that a reporter's questions to others suggested a negative bias. He eventually agreed to answer written questions." Also: Do check the photo gallery.

FREE ADVERTISING -- The Gray campaign puts together a 60-second Web ad, using footage from WRC-TV's report from the Shaw Library groundbreaking showing an angry mother confronting Fenty. Tim recaps the video: "'You were vigilant. You were supporting us. You were helping us. And then you turned your back on us,' the woman told the mayor in Shaw. Fenty responded, 'I didn't do the job I'm supposed to.' The Gray campaign video concludes, 'That's right Mr. Mayor, You Didn't.' But Gray's Web ad omits Fenty's full response to the woman. After saying he didn't do the job he was supposed to, Fenty told the woman, 'even if you don't vote for me, I want to help you.' " In other words, what you have there is Gray exploiting the humility that Fenty supposedly never shows. Gray got a free-media bounce not only from D.C. Wire, but DCist and the digs into Gray's radio ad, concluding that Gray "isn't getting the word out as well" as Fenty. "[W]here Fenty's advertisements are targeted via cable television at specific audiences, the Gray advertisement meant for a larger audience comes off as generic, some observers said. 'It's not persuasive and it's not going to reach through the clutter,' said Scott Perreault, who runs an advertising company that's made commercials for political campaigns nationwide and is not involved in any D.C. mayoral campaign. 'The Midwestern, middle-of-the-road voice is not going to play well on an R&B station.'"

'MONEY MAN' -- Jonetta Rose Barras digs into Kwame Brown's personal finances in her Examiner column: "It's true that the media, including this columnist, haven't given the issue continued coverage ... others believe it deserves. But one-third of the country is experiencing financial problems, whether it's related to home foreclosures or credit cards. A bunch of folks live in glass houses and are reluctant to throw stones. ... Chuck Thies, a consultant on District politics, isn't surprised people still are talking about this issue more than a month after the news broke. 'If the city were not experiencing serious financial challenges, it might not be as important. ... Kwame has learned how to be a good politician,' Thies said. 'I don't think Kwame has convinced people he's learned to be a solid public official.' "

LOOKIN' SHARP -- Vince Gray had a weekend makeover, Tom Sherwood reports at WRC-TV. "Over the weekend, Gray, who is running for the Democratic nomination for mayor, traded his tangled hairstyle for a cleaner coif and upgraded his eyeglasses, opting, at his son's request, for a hipper pair. Add these changes to the sharper suits he's been wearing for about a month and you've got a much less rumpled opponent for incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty. 'It's very hard during these campaigns to go get your haircut and whatnot on a regular basis, so I decided I was going to take a few hours this weekend,' Gray said. 'And my son insisted that I change my glasses, so I finally acquiesced to his request.'" Even Fenty backer Jack Evans says Gray is "looking pretty sharp." Sherwood also notes some changes on the other side of the mayoral race, writing in his Notebook that he's "seeing a friendlier Fenty on the campaign trail. That means his advisers are getting to him about how he comes across in public. The mayor at recent campaign stops has been more like the smiling candidate who ran four years ago. The fear for many, though, is that should he win reelection, Fenty will revert to his dismissive ways."

CLUB RED -- Marc Barnes, the club owner and political fundraiser, has filed for bankruptcy. As I wrote yesterday: "This is news that will land with a thud among local political campaigns this election season. Barnes, a very effective political donor and fundraiser, cut a wide swath among local politicos. Besides writing personal checks to candidates (often alongside wife Anne), he's long made his venues available for political fundraisers, parties and other events." The bankruptcy filing is being portrayed as a procedural prelude to the sale of his Love nightclub; an ABC hearing is set for this morning on the license transfer. Also see coverage from the Wall Street Journal, DC Fab and WBJ.

NICE IMPALA -Office of Unified Communications director Janice Quintana has been slapped by the inspector general's office for improperly driving a city car, WTTG-TV's Tisha Thompson reports: "We've caught [Quintana] driving to and from work in a government-owned Chevy Impala. Now, a new D.C. Inspector General's report says Quintana has been breaking the law by driving that car. According to the report -- Quintana had a traffic accident after, 'stopping at a shopping mall on the way home.' In the report, Quintana says she's allowed to drive the city car -- equipped with 'emergency lights and sirens' -- because she is 'an essential emergency district employee' on call '24 hours a day seven days a week.' According to the Inspector General, 'Under District law, the director is not permitted to use a District vehicle for commuting, much less for personal use.'"

BIG MONEY -- "Who is Angelo Tsakopoulos?" asks Bill Turque, back from vacay and back in action at D.C. Schools Insider. The host of the Michelle Rhee-Kevin Johnson wedding reception "is about as big as it gets" in California politics, he writes: "Tsakopoulos, 74, is the patriarch of a real estate development empire in northern and central California and a huge source of cash for Democratic politicians, including [Johnson]. According to the Sacramento Bee, Tsakopoulos hosted a fundraiser for Johnson's 2008 campaign and helped underwrite the mayor's swearing-in ceremony. He also was an early member of the board of St. Hope, the nonprofit that runs Johnson's charter schools (Rhee was also a member). ... Angelo Tsakopoulos' name appears on a 1997 list of Democratic deep pockets who spent a night in the White House Lincoln bedroom, courtesy of President Bill Clinton."

MURDERS SHOWN IN COURT -- Surveillance video showing the brutal murders of father and son shop owners Ming-Kun Chih and Li-Jen Chih is shown in a Moultrie courtroom in a preliminary hearing for Christian Taylor, 25. The Post's Keith Alexander was there: "Despite repeated warnings from prosecutors about the graphic content in the video, several members of the Chih family sat in the courtroom as the video played. Overcome with anger and grief, one of Ming-Kun Chih's adult sons began bucking in his chair. He was restrained by marshals and a victim's advocate from the prosecutor's office and was helped out of the courtroom. A relative of Taylor's sat quietly on the other side of the courtroom with tears running down her face. ... Despite urging from his attorney, Elizabeth Mullin of the District's Public Defender Service, Taylor refused to look at the screens. Instead, he fixed his gaze forward." Also: "Immediately after the hearing, one of Taylor's relatives got into an altercation with members of the victim's family. Marshals escorted the Chih family out of the courthouse."


*** SMALL PLATES ***

I finally get around to covering the city tax amnesty program (Post)

Adrian Fenty is not the only major public official to get an early Post endorsement (Post editorial)

DCPS students to get "individualized fitness plans" (WAMU-FM)

Inspector General's office to have much easier access to Ben's Chili Bowl (press release)

Press conference announcing Department of Homeland Security ads features Cathy Lanier, Eleanor Holmes Norton with Secretary Janet Napolitano (Crime Scene)

D.C. federal judge Reggie Walton talks drug sentencing guidelines with Gwen Ifill (NewsHour)

Jackie Bensen picks up the summer-jobs payday robbery story (WRC-TV)

A handy list of your Statehood Green party candidates (GreenPartyWatch.org)

Michelle Malkin gets wise to the D.C. summer jobs program (MichelleMalkin.com)

Arrest made in October drive-by in Clay Terrace (AP via NC8)

Asian tiger mosquitoes plague Palisades block! (The Daily Gripe)

Gray's yard signs are "a timid effort from a man who's supposedly running an insurgency" (Loose Lips)

Gay Games will likely not be moved to D.C. (Blade)

Federal court to hear plaintiffs in Franklin Shelter case (Housing Complex)

Attention ANC challengers: The Advoc8te wants to give you a hand (Congress Heights on the Rise)

Next week: "An Evening with Michelle Rhee." You're invited. (Susie's Budget and Policy Corner)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Gray releases jobs/economic development plan -- Fenty and Gray square off in Ward 4 forum and straw poll, 7 p.m. at St. George's Antiochan Orthodox Church

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 4, 2010; 11:16 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: With summer jobs vote, Gray stands up for fiscal rectitude
Next: Rushern Baker, like Fenty, gets early Post endorsement

Comments

RE the Janice Quintana situation:

Not at all a surprise that yet another high-ranking Fenty official (Director of OUC) is caught breaking the law, essentially stealing DC government services for her own use. That kind of behavior, unfortunately, seems to be SOP among Emperor Adrian's ruling clique.

But you left out the most telling fact: As per the WTTG piece and the IG's report, Ms. Quintana was caught driving her DC Government car for personal use when she got into a traffic accident, according to her own admission "while stopping at a shopping mall on her way home from work". Location? Arlington, VA. Yet another Fenty Senior Executive Service official who's not really living in DC as the law requires...?

Posted by: nan_lynn | August 4, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Now, RE the Vince Gray ad campaign:

Per your report, Scott Perreault, who runs a political advertising company, is criticizing a new Gray commercial because it is too "generic", sniping in particular that "The Midwestern, middle-of-the-road voice is not going to play well on an R&B station."

Wow. I guess the message to the Gray campaign is supposed to be "Get a cultured white voice for speaking to certain parts of town, and a ghetto black voice for other parts... and a middle-class but still obviously black voice for others, and a really gay voice for yet others... (etc.)" FWIW, I find that really offensive. And I doubt that I'm the only one.

Kudos to Vince Gray for not hiring this Perreault clown as his ad manager!

Posted by: nan_lynn | August 4, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

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