DeMorning DeBonis: Aug. 6, 2010
TODAY IS AUGUST 6, 2010 -- 39 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY
Mea maxima culpa: Yesterday, for the first time in nearly 21 months I missed a daily roundup. I blame the Ward 4 Democrats, whose thoroughly entertaining straw poll and candidates forum kept me up well past my bedtime and inspired my editors to order me to drop DeMorning to crash on a What It All Means piece. So what does it all mean? Yes, reliable blocs of Adrian Fenty voters couldn't be bothered to show up and wait in line for an hour or more to cast ballots. But Vince Gray's big win still means trouble for the Big Green Machine and its list of 30,000-plus names: "[T]o fail a key test in a ward where he needs to rack up a 10-point margin or better is a poor omen for Fenty. And his organization advantage is shrinking: The Gray campaign won in part by dispatching an all-volunteer canvassing force 200 strong, which fanned out across the ward Saturday, collecting names and making calls. A list is nice. Votes are better."
AFTER THE JUMP -- more Ward 4 analysis -- Post ed board tsk-tsk degenerating campaign tone -- WTU elections are on -- Fenty, Gray to appear at Obama event -- Gray camp pulls web ad -- Graham wants $20 million tax abatement for Adams Morgan hotel
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE ON WARD 4 -- The forum has been widely covered, earning stories from WTTG-TV, WUSA-TV (whose Bruce Johnson co-moderated the forum), DCist, the Georgetown Dish, and themail (whose Dorothy Brizill also co-moderated). Even Tony Kornheiser spent five minutes of his at D.C. Wire, and Tim and Nikita Stewart team up for a second-day story on the straw poll and the Fenty camp's reaction: "Wednesday's straw poll, combined with five others he has lost and the less-than-friendly reception he has received from some voters while knocking on doors in the past few months, are indicative of Fenty's reversal. ... Observers say the straw poll results -- which reflect the votes of die-hard Democrats who live in the ward -- could push Fenty to go negative in an effort to broaden the electorate beyond the 100,000 voters who cast ballots in 2006. ... On Thursday, Fenty advisers said his campaign is prepared to release ads that would attack Gray's record, but they would not say when that might happen. ... As the campaign moves away from straw polls and into a broader electorate, Fenty's advisers say the mayor will prevail. 'Most regular people know nothing of [straw polls]. Most of our people said, "I can't get over there. I'll see you Sept. 14,"' said Ben Soto, a longtime Fenty friend and campaign treasurer. 'It's like a scrimmage. ... To win or lose means nothing.'" Freeman Klopott lays out the Fenty spin more explicitly in his Examiner analysis : "A high-ranking Fenty campaign member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely, noted that most of Wednesday night's voters were black. 'There are other demographics in Ward 4 that will show up on primary day,' the Fenty campaigner said."
'THIS IS ARMAGEDDON' -- Harry Jaffe's Examiner column casts the Ward 4 showdown as the Old Guard Strikes Back. "I have been covering political campaigns in the city behind the monuments since 1978, and I have never witnessed one where the personal animosity is so raw and where the stakes are so high. ... There was former Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly, screaming down Fenty in the forum. Linda Cropp, whom Fenty beat four years ago, was there with her esteemed husband, Dwight, who worked for Marion Barry back in the day. Front row in the church forum were the trio who helped elect Marion Barry in 1994: Cora Masters Barry, Rock Newman and Hizzoner Himself, wearing a Vince Gray sticker. Seems the old warriors have come out to knock the upstart off his pedestal. Old Washingtonians want their city back. They want the top jobs, the fat contracts, their seats at the table. Fenty versus Cropp was a skirmish; this is Armageddon. Adrian Fenty has done well at executing school reform and rebuilding rec centers and ball fields; but unless he changes course, he's about to get rolled by the Old Guard."
A quick wrap of yesterday's news:
-- Some of those 165 teachers fired by DCPS for poor performance might not have been fired after all (Post)
-- D.C. prepares to subsidize medical marijuana for poor residents (AP)
-- DOH puts the kibosh on backyard chickens (Post)
-- Taxicab Commission's Leon Swain is now chair of the United Medical Center board (WBJ)
-- Free health clinic attracts 2,000 (Post)
-- In praise of Rep. Jose Serrano's move toward District budget autonomy (Post editorial)
-- IG report finds DCPS paychecks went to non-DCPS employees (Loose Lips)
-- Mount Pleasant's burned-out Deauville Apartments will become the Monsignor Romero Apartments (NC8)
-- Top deputy to new DYRS head served on Peaceoholics board (Examiner)
SHAME ON YOU -- The Post editorial board tsk-tsks the mayoral candidates -- especially Gray -- for fomenting a "nasty tone" in the mayoral race that is "fast devolving into a nasty slugfest that dishonors both candidates and hurts the city." More: "Candidates are not responsible for all the actions of their supporters -- but they help set the tone. So it was disappointing that neither Mr. Gray nor Mr. Fenty admonished their supporters to stop interrupting, booing and engaging in other verbal strong-arming. Most of the invective has been directed at Mr. Fenty, and while his campaign surely has had its excesses, the truly disturbing behavior comes from Mr. Gray's supporters. ... [I]t's hard to reconcile such uncivil behavior with Mr. Gray's promise of 'one city' where everyone gets along. That the divide is increasingly breaking along racial lines is all the more troubling."
NO MORE SUMMER JOBS -- Today is the last day of the 2010 Summer Youth Employment Program. Elissa Silverman, writing at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute blog, has "A Few Lessons We Hope DC Leaders Have Learned" from this year's summer-jobs drama. Among them: "The budget for summer jobs needs to be realistic, based on agreed-upon assumptions of the duration of the program and the expected number of participants." And "The summer youth employment program should be right-sized to fit its purpose. That purpose should be providing a high-quality, meaningful summer work experience for participants." And don't pay for an over-budget summer jobs program by raiding homeless funding. Kathryn Baer has some very good questions and a very good wrapup of Monday's hearing on the program. And Deborah Simmons of the Washington Times says the program "should be under investigation" and that "Democrats have made a sham out of what could be a good thing if left in the hands of the private sector."
WTU ELECTIONS ARE ON -- There will be a Washington Teachers' Union election, and incumbent president George Parker will indeed appear on the ballot, Leah Fabel reports in Examiner: "The background is too convoluted to keep the attention of even the most devoted student of union bylaws, but suffice it to say that after living through a year of nearly 500 firings and a rollercoaster ride toward a final contract, Parker will indeed be allowed to run again for the office, even though he didn't file his intent by the April 30 deadline conveniently cited by his opponent (and sworn enemy), Vice President Nathan Saunders. Saunders received no small consolation prize in the debate, which was brought before AFT investigators in July. He'll have the salary reinstated that Parker suspended amid the union melee." WAMU-FM notes that teachers working as of June 30 will be eligible to vote. Ballots will be mailed in mid-September.
LETTER FROM THE CHANCELLOR -- Michelle Rhee personally addresses the controversy over the number of teachers fired in a letter to the Post: "DCPS released a number based on the total subject to termination through mid-August. ... Even though all the terminations had not yet occurred, we wanted to be transparent about the extent of changes in personnel that will occur before the beginning of the school year. The Washington Teachers' Union is focused on the number of teachers who were let go in July. These numbers will not match the final total, and the union has good reason to emphasize smaller numbers. DCPS's approach to managing human capital is a radically different one for a school system. But we are confident it will get us strong teachers. It's my job to make sure that happens, and I stand by these decisions."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Gray campaign pulls web ad after WRC-TV objects to use of Sherwood clip (DCist)
Appeals court upholds BOEE decision clearing Jack Evans for campaign ad featuring photo of Cathy Lanier (The Blog of Legal Times)
City's Latinos "are heavily represented in some of the lowest-paying jobs and have clustered in neighborhoods where rents and condominium conversions soared during the decade," says Urban Institute (Post)
Metro faregate and vending problems likely caused by software upgrade (Examiner)
Gray would like to see the UDC law school relocate to the Franklin School. As would the UDC law school. (Housing Complex)
City Paper's "Signspotter" waxes in praise of Tommy Wells's placards -- "most substantive sign of the season, only one around that could double as the cover of a campaign manifesto" (Loose Lips)
DDOT's Gabe Klein on whether he'd serve in a Gray administration: "If the mayor wants me here, then I'm here" (DCist)
Jason Cherkis gives his name to the Fenty campaign! (Loose Lips)
Some doubt about Michael A. Brown's All-Met status (Loose Lips)
Adrian and Michelle Fenty will be honorary co-chairs, with Barack and Michelle Obama, for the Arena Stage re-opening gala in November (AP via WTOP)
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