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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)

-- Gray rolls out jobs plan (Post, Examiner, WBJ, DCist, Housing Complex)

-- 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)

Jim Graham is seeking a 15-year, $21 million tax abatement for a boutique hotel in Adams Morgan (WBJ, Housing Complex)

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)

More on the Marc Barnes bankruptcy; Love is likely to be sold to Dean Smothers, owner of The Scene (Capital Business, City Desk)

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)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Draft medical marijuana rules published in D.C. Register -- Fenty and Gray to appear with Obama at Takoma's Gelberg Signs for job creation event

By Mike DeBonis  |  August 6, 2010; 11:35 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
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Comments

"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. They want the top jobs, the fat contracts, their seats at the table. 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." That paragraph should send shutters down the spine of anyone who lived through the bad old days. It indicates the sort of company Grey has been keeping for the last 20 years, and the sort of company he's likely to keep if he's elected (a show of force like that doesn't come cheap). Debonis, as a transplant you only know the effective, responsive government of the Williams-Fenty era. You have no idea how dysfunctional this city once was. Its time you decided what's more important: a warm and fuzzy personality, or schools that are more than just warehouses for incompetence and failure.

Posted by: asuka1 | August 6, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Mike:

If you were transplanted, the city of Washington is seemingly not rejecting you like so many local political organs with toxins that would make BP cringe.

Vince Gray is not part of the Old Guard as has been suggested by others. Those who seek to tar him by suggesting he has such tight relationships with this Old Guard might want to Google Sinclair Skinner, Ron Moten or even DC AG Peter Nickels; as these are the sort of "New Guard" gangster political cronies that would embarrass the Soprano family.

The real problems of DC’s public schools are NOT being addressed by mayor Fenty, or his Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Generally speaking, the amount of direct experience a DC resident has of Rhee's reform efforts, or of respected education research and scholarship, is directly proportional to how much they detest the Mayor and his DCPS Chancellor.

As a Ward 3 Gray supporter (affluent, white and well educated), who has children in the best schools that DCPS has to offer, I have had a front row seat to a system of educational apartheid that is unequaled in the nation. DCPS has the worst achievement gap between whites and minorities, and also between economic classes. And, the investment that DCPS has made in Wards 2 & 3 facilities modernization has been outrageously disproportionate to those made in poorer neighborhoods.

The national standardized test (NAEP) ranks DC as the top state in the nation when comparing the achievement of white 4th graders. But by 8th grade there are so whites in the DCPS system that their numbers are considered statistically insignificant.

I first met Vince Gray just six months ago to talk about our views for improving DC's schools. I have since learned that many influential educators (many who were involved in drafting candidate Fenty's education platform four years ago) are now part of Chairman Gray's education team. They are motivated by a common belief that we must make a greater effort to put our children's interest ahead of politics.

I am confident that Vince Gray will improve the quality of education throughout our city. He is committed to engaging the most respected and progressive advocates of education reform; and he will involve each neighborhood community in an efficient democratic process to make DC a true model for the nation.

Vince Gray understands the fundamental problems that affect urban school systems and that popular quick-fix remedies often undermine the potential of “sustainable” policies that address real needs.

Posted by: AGAAIA | August 6, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Should have read "... so few whites ..."

Posted by: AGAAIA | August 6, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

@AGAAIA,

No one is "tarring" Mr. Gray - he has chosen to align himself with the likes of Barry and Kelly all on his own.

Regarding the issue of education, Gray has been a part of DC government for 20 years. That's 20 years he COULD have been advocating for the children of DC's school system. While Mr. Gray has been collecting "many influential educators" for his "educational team" (whatever that is), Mayor Fenty has been making the tough and courageous choices necessary to transform DCPS. While Gray have paid lip service to reforming DCPS, no other politician has had the guts to actually do it besides the Mayor. While the Mayor's commitment to school reform is clear, after 20 years, Mr. Gray's is yet to be seen. You may be confident in Mr. Gray's ability, but he has shown no proclivity that would support that confidence.

As for your suggestion that Wards 2 and 3 have benefitted disproportionately, its patently false, as reported by this very paper. But you're not interested in facts, are you? No, devision is what you seek; after all, you're "affluent, white, and well-educated!" As if that tidbit of information were germane to this debate in any way other than to add to the cynicism of an increasingly nasty election cycle.

Posted by: asuka1 | August 6, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

asuka1 Gray has been in the District government for 20 yrs. Please stop with the fear tactics.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | August 6, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

@thelildiva4u

My point exactly - what has he accomplished in those 20 years? Asking that isn't a "fear tactic", its a legitimate question that hasn't been answered. He's had 20 years to make a meaningful impact on this community, and he hasn't. Meanwhile, in under 4 years, Mayor Fenty has brought undeniably positive improvement to some of the city's most paralyzed bureaucracies.

Posted by: asuka1 | August 6, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Asuka1 aka Ron Moten please go sit in the corner and take a time out.

Posted by: KappaNupe | August 6, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Two points.

1. Mayor Fenty courted Marion Barry like a starstruck groupie during his Ward 4 councilmember days. He then actively used Barry in his campaign for mayor; and continued to have breakfast with him for months into this first (and last) term as mayor.

2. The comment by KappaNupe above is appropriate, as you seem to think you can belittle other posters, and accuse them of seeking devision because they describe themselves as being who they are; which was intended to show that those who support Gray are not just a bunch of Old Guard black Washington leaders that may have taken nepotism and affirmative action too far, but certainly not outdone by our "New Guard" mayor. Fenty runs with the most heinous type of political operatives, and to quote the Washington Post on any education issue is also almost as precarious. I stand by everything I said, and I have serious questions about whether you actually believe anything you have written other than this being an "increasingly nasty election cycle."

Posted by: AGAAIA | August 7, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

@AGAAIA, Your comment "...educational apartheid that is unequal in the nation". What a powerful statement. I agree with you. Rhee/Fenty/WaPo/Kaplan are the ones that have no concerned for DCPS students, for them it's about the money. The Obama administration is looking into the for-profit universities, such as Kaplan. It seems that these for-profit organizations (TFA Rhee's firm) has been targeting people who are really unqualified to finish these types of school, but are left with huge student loans. Many of these students can not find a job after they graduate,and can not pay back the loans. This is the new teacher recruitment scam for our students, cheap labor, no real committment to education.

Posted by: fivetogo | August 7, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

@AGAAIA

So you have no evidence to support your claim that Fenty's efforts have favored wards 2 and 3, and make the statement without providing any verifiable proof what so ever. Meanwhile, a major newspaper prints a researched story positively dripping with evidence contrary to your claim, and the best you can muster is an ad homonym that disparages that paper, all the while using its website - which you clearly frequent - to spread unsubstantiated lies.

Exactly what I'd expect from a Gray supporter - baseless accusations lacking any verifiable claims. Keep driving that wedge - "One City" and all that, right?

Posted by: asuka1 | August 7, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

asuka1

No one in the Fenty camp should talk about divisiveness. The term "guard" is code for black leaders. You and the Post think that you can inject "Barry" and the voters will run the other way. You are hoping to sway perhaps "white" voters with your tactics and you may be successful in a very small way. However as AGAAIA indicated many are smart enough and care about DC enough not to fall for this Tea Party scam.

I have many friends in Ward 3 who are white and feel the same as AGAAIA. It is sad to think that folks like you have been in hiding waiting for the chance to let the world know what you really think about your fellow DC residents.

Finally, it appears that you believe everything the Post put it print. That is very telling.

I await your attack because you have nothing else to do.

Posted by: bnew100 | August 7, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Here you go asuka1...

Please visit this web address:

http://www.21csf.org/csf-home/DocUploads/DataShop/DS_274.pdf

The following is a response from Mary Filardo, Director of the 21st Century School Fund to the June 6, 2010 article on the front page of the Washington Post, entitled “Spreading D.C.’s money around, Recent data on projects indicate Fenty doesn’t favor particular wards”

----------------

The quality of the physical school environment makes a difference to students and teachers—their health, focus, and curriculum—and thankfully the District government is investing in much needed public school building projects throughout the city. However, the taxpayers of the District will be paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually to repay the billions in bonds that finance these projects, so it is important that this use of these public funds is covered by the Washington Post. But “Spreading D.C.’s money around, Recent data on projects indicate Fenty doesn’t favor particular wards” is not telling an accurate story.

In her Sunday, June 6, 2010 article Nikita Stewart says “…some critics of Fenty (D) have long branded the mayor as favoring white neighborhoods at the expense of black communities. But a Washington Post analysis of city data on school construction, parks and recreation projects, and funding for new libraries and schools over the past three years shows that the reality is more complex.”

It was so complex the reporter got it wrong for schools, the lion’s share of the capital spending.

The DCPS school construction spending of the City since 2007 has favored Wards 2 and 3 far more than the rest of the city. The average spending on DCPS public schools in Ward 2 was $152 a square foot and in Ward 3 it was $118 a square foot. Not so in the other wards. The next highest spending was for Ward 5 DCPS schools at $74 a square foot, followed by Ward 6 at $62 a square foot, Ward 8 at $54 a square foot, Ward 1 at $52 a square foot, Ward 7 at $40 a square foot and Ward 4 at $37 a square foot.

Funding per building square feet gives the best characterization of the quality of the physical teaching and learning conditions. However, funding per student also gives a measure of equity and fairness. This is where it is more complex.

When looking at school construction funding per student, DCPS schools in Ward 3, rather than being the second highest falls to the fourth highest in spending per student. Ward 2 DCPS schools still top the list due to major modernization projects at School Without Walls HS, Hardy MS, Hyde/Addison and Thomson elementary schools. Ward 4 DCPS schools were again dead last. Another factor contributing to the inequity: Ward 7 and 8 had 34% of all of the DCPS students—14,388 students in the 08-09 school year, while Wards 2 and 3 enrolled only 19%—8,199 students.

Posted by: AGAAIA | August 7, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

(continued from post above)

There is good data and valid experience to support concerns about equity and how the District is making decisions about school construction projects and funding. Maybe it is not so complicated after all. Communities without social capital lose out on public investment when there is poor planning and no intentional public policy for equity.

Read Nikita Stewart’s Washington Post article, “Spreading D.C.’s money around, Recent data on projects indicate Fenty doesn’t favor particular wards”

Mary Filardo
Executive Director, 21st Century School Fund

---------------

And since you have questioned my motives and qualifications, I am a registered architect in DC who has contributed to many schools in this city. I even have children in two DCPS schools, in Ward 2 (Key ES) and Ward 3 (Hardy MS) that have had very substantial additions and renovations completed recently. These projects are completed, while DCPS has put many planned school modernizations in minority neighborhoods on hold due to budget problems.

I have a strong suspicion that you are a planted voice in this blog from the Fenty campaign. And if so, are you are paid by the number of talking points you can check off some crib sheet they gave you; and further, how much SPINACH do they throw down for the props?

Posted by: AGAAIA | August 8, 2010 12:07 AM | Report abuse

@AGAAIA

"Here you go?" That link undermines your point.

Total spending per ward:

Ward 1$ 79,239,210
Ward 2$ 121,541,671
Ward 3$ 88,460,735
Ward 4$ 61,104,282
Ward 5$ 156,635,514
Ward 6$ 92,695,119
Ward 7$ 77,846,772
Ward 8$ 133,554,219

First place goes to Ward 5, second to Ward 8, and third to Ward 2.

Not happy with that? Ok, lets use the funding per student metric, the metric which your link states "also gives a measure of equity and fairness."

Ward 1:$15,151
Ward 2$35,938
Ward 3:$18,364
Ward 4:$9,931
Ward 5:$29,267
Ward 6$18,787
Ward 7:$12,921
Ward 8$15,970

First place goes to Ward 2, second place to Ward 5, and third to Ward 6.

As for that final metric (you know, the only one that supports your premise), that's a bit "complex", isn't it? Wards 2 and 3 are home to less DCPS square footage than most Wards, so of course the per square foot numbers will be higher.

The only possible way to interpret those stats in a manner which supports your claim is to believe that Wards 2 and 3 should come dead last in every measurement. A rational read of those numbers, however, disproves your claim. Unless you've got some other statistics that you'd like to play games with, you should retract your accusation and all the ugly, cynical, race-bating it attempts to engender.

But I doubt you'll do that, so why not simply list the stand-out accomplishments of Mr. Gray's 20 year career in the DC government, besides running one of the most inept, incompetent
iterations of the DCDHS this city has ever seen. If that's the type of executive leadership we can expect from him, we're all going to be in a lot of trouble if he wins.

As for me being a "plant", I bet YOU'RE a plant! See? I can make silly accusations, too.

@bnew100

"The term 'guard' is code for black leaders?" Is Fenty NOT black? "Tea Party scam?" Really? What desperate, irrational comments.

Posted by: asuka1 | August 8, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

You have no idea what you are writing about, and the data supports fully what I said... so YES... NOW I AM SURE YOU ARE A PLANT. BECAUSE YOU ARRIVE AT CONCLUSIONS JUST LIKE THE MAYOR, AND YOU ARE JUST AS INCONSISTENT. JUST LIKE SCHOOL REFORM UNDER THIS AUTOCRAT, YOU MAKE LOUD PROCLAMATIONS AND CLAIMS OF SUCCESS, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE THE NUTS.

BYE BYE... (and you know that means September 14th!)

Posted by: AGAAIA | August 8, 2010 4:27 AM | Report abuse

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