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DeMorning DeBonis: Sept. 1, 2010

TODAY IS SEPT. 1, 2010 -- 13 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY

The most anticipated event of the campaign season is upon us! The Washington Post debate between Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray is today! At noon! At the Newseum! I can't stop using exclamation points! Okay, I'll settle down: Tickets to the event are long gone, but you can watch live and follow me as I liveblog the proceedings. And at 1:30 p.m., please join me for a live chat about the debate and the mayor's race. Tim Craig and Nikita Stewart set things up on A1 today: "Facing bleak poll results and rising pessimism about his chances of reelection, [Fenty] plans to rebuff advice that he try to win over only key groups of potential supporters and instead will use a strategy that worked for him in 2006: wooing voters across the city. ... At the debate, Fenty plans to reach out to undecided voters by talking about his experiences as a public schools student and explore his human side by speaking about himself as a father. He also aims to challenge Gray's ethics and honesty, his advisers said. For his part, Gray will continue to hammer away at the mayor as he has since he launched his campaign, arguing that he will bring 'mature, seasoned, broad leadership to the city.'"

AFTER THE JUMP -- media gets wise to the Michaels Brown -- OCF opens inquiry into Kwame Brown campaign finance irregularities -- is Gray a FOIA hypocrite? -- PBS, NYT look at IMPACT -- Janey out in Newark; could he be coming back?

*** MAIN COURSE ***

MORE -- "Increasingly alarmed over the direction of the campaign, some of Fenty's friends and supporters have in recent days urged him to shift his strategy, perhaps embracing an approach that redoubles efforts to generate more enthusiasm among his base of support, in the white community and more affluent areas of the city. ... Many Fenty supporters are holding out hope that he has enough time to rebound if he sharpens his appeal. 'There is a lot of positive things about his record that can be brought to bear in a little more focused way,' said Max Brown, a Fenty supporter who managed former mayor Anthony Williams's 1998 campaign. 'The young people, who traditionally haven't turned out in big numbers -- the mayor has to make sure those folks turn out and are receptive to his message.' Yet, Fenty said Tuesday that he intends to focus on a citywide campaign to win support in all neighborhoods, not just from specific voters in specific neighborhoods. 'I've never run a campaign like that,' Fenty said. 'Every vote is the same. ... They all add up.'"

WHAT'S IN A NAME? -- After shocking Post poll numbers, the Michael Brown name confusion story is now a media phenomenon. The Examiner's Freeman Klopott WTOP and WUSA-TV pick up the story. City Paper's Alan Suderman has six unorthodox ways Mendo might save his skin, including: "Get a giant tattoo of Michael D. Brown on your back. Start walking around shirtless." And Klopott also notes at Capital Land that Gray wisely used the controversy to his own advantage by holding a presser with Michael A. and Mendelson.

KWAME'S CAMPAIGN DEBTS -- Pushed by Vincent Orange's sagging chairman campaign, the Office of Campaign Finance opens an investigation preliminary inquiry into Kwame Brown's finance reports from his previous campaigns. Ann Marimow reports in the Post that OCF "sought information about why [Brown] was raising money for and making payments from a 2008 account this spring, two years after the election, and why a separate account he controls from his 2004 campaign owed money to the Internal Revenue Service. Reports filed in July for the 2008 account show Brown fundraising and making payments in 2010 for expenses related to printing, consultants, an office alarm system and a credit-card machine. Rules require candidates to close out debt-free accounts six months after an election and to contribute any surplus to nonprofit groups or political parties. ... 'There's something amiss here,' said Orange, who left the council in 2006 after two terms to run for mayor. 'Where is the money?' Brown downplayed Orange's assertions, saying: 'Mr. Orange has tried to be Mr. Super CPA and tried to find something that doesn't look right. This issue is a nonissue.' He called the move 'just desperate, to try to get some traction with voters.'" Well, someone could use a Super CPA here. Also WRC-TV and WTTG-TV

FECKLESS FOIA -- The Washington Times' Jeffrey Anderson nails Gray for a seeming instance of transparency hypocrisy. While criticizing the Fenty administration's FOIA response performance, Gray has received a request for his personal schedule from Anderson. "For more than three months Mr. Gray's office and the council's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officer failed to fulfill a written request submitted by The Washington Times seeking just that information. ... On June 24 -- more than 15 business days from the date of the request -- [Gray] was quoted in news reports as saying the current response time of 15 business days is 'sufficient.' ... On Monday, The Times once again requested that Mr. Gray's office and the council secretary's office comply with the city's public information law. His office replied that ... the information 'will be available for pickup on Wednesday.'" Says Peter Nickles: "If the mayor failed to respond, as apparently the chairman has, we would be killed by the council and the press."

PONDERING FENTY'S FAILINGS -- "Why the disconnect between D.C.'s progress and Mayor Fenty's fortunes?" the Post's editorial board asks. They credit "the smart race Mr. Gray has run, even with fewer resources." But what Fenty has accomplished, they argue, "has not occurred under any previous mayor" -- not even Tony Williams. "Given this record, and the appreciation of it by a majority of D.C. voters, it's amazing that Mr. Fenty managed to squander so much of the public goodwill that was reflected in his sweep of every D.C. precinct four years ago. How this happened is no secret. Like many D.C. residents, we have long wondered why he would let things like silly fights with the D.C. Council, unnecessary government secrecy or shutting out community voices jeopardize the good work being done by his administration, and we have said so. The question for voters is whether those flaws are serious enough to justify gambling with the city's continuing progress." At today's debate, "We hope they move beyond questions of style and on to an examination of their records -- and, even more, of what each promises to do in the next four years. Who has the clearer set of priorities? Are promises of new programs backed by credible explanations of where the money will come from?"

A LAST LOOK FROM PBS -- The NewsHour's John Merrow finishes up three years of reporting on the D.C. Public Schools with a look at IMPACT. One special ed teacher likes it: "[E]very day, I had to make sure that my objective was clear, that my kids knew it, not just the days I got observed. And I think that made my classroom a little bit more consistent, and they learned a little bit more this year than last year. My only issue is that it's marketed as a growth tool for teachers. And there wasn't as much resources to help that growth as I would have liked to see." But another teacher had a big problem: "A principal at the middle school that I was working at this last year came up with a fictitious evaluation date, a fictitious conference date, and entered in fraudulent scores for me. ... A phantom evaluation." And Michelle Rhee addresses the "fear factor" among teachers and principals: "I think that, if there is fear, it's amongst the people who are saying, 'Oh, gosh, I have gotten away with not doing such a good job for a long time, and now I can't do that anymore.' And those people should be feeling that way."

DEVELOPMENTS AFIELD -- Former DCPS Superintendent Clifford Janey was sent packing from his job in Newark, Bill Turque reports at D.C. Schools Insider. "The timing of Janey's dismissal is potentially significant for District schools. [Gray] has not committed to keeping Rhee. Rhee has all but said that she would not be willing to stay in a Gray administration. Gray has often spoken favorably of Janey, most recently at a March community forum where Janey was guest speaker. 'What a first-class professional. What a first-class human being,' Gray said. ... The [Newark Star-Ledger] said Janey was informed last night that his three-year contract, which pays $280,000 annually, would not be renewed. The pact has a year to run, but it is not clear whether he will complete the remainder of his term."


*** SMALL PLATES ***

Turque dives into the Post's DCPS-related poll numbers: "Michelle Rhee has polarized not just the local and national education communities, but also the city's Democratic primary electorate." Bill also talks to parents, one of which says: "If Fenty doesn't get four more years, I have to move out to the suburbs and commute." (Post)

Post pollsters discover that Michael D. Brown's support by ward correlates closely with Michael A. Brown's 2008 general election performance (Behind the Numbers)

The Gray Lady covers the "value added" teacher evaluation controversy, using Michelle Rhee's July teacher firings as Exhibit A. Also: What had been 226 DCPS teachers fired is now down to "about 25"? (New York Times)

"Fenty Finally Listens" (Examiner cartoon)

Associated Press covers mayoral race, calls it "unusually nasty" (AP via Google)

Jonetta Rose Barras finds a Ward 7 resident who's voting for Fenty, takes a stab at defending the parks contracts (Examiner)

Ron Moten dismisses Peaceoholics probe as "all political" (WaTimes)

Three giants of the Superior Court bench -- Kaye Christian, Brook Hedge, and Judith Retchin -- will retire by year's end, "setting off a race among District lawyers and magistrate judges hoping to fill the slots" (Post, Blog of Legal Times)

The Greater Greater Washington endorsements: Tommy Wells and Mary Cheh are "no-brainers"; Mendelson takes a little bit more brain, but wins a nod nonetheless (GGW)

Former Ward 2 council candidate, Mount Vernon Square activist Cary Silverman wants another term for Fenty (The Other 35 Percent)

Specialty Hospitals of America is suing to get United Medical Center back from the city, "arguing that the D.C. government never had the legal authority to foreclose on the property and that [Fenty] and others made several missteps in the days leading up to the July takeover." And Gray weighs in: "I certainly hope this is not another example of this administration rushing to take action at the expense of District taxpayers." (WBJ)

The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs issues report on DCPS citing "real and substantial" progress but "a long way to go" (Blog of Legal Times, WTTG-TV)

National teachers union comes out for Gray in radio ads (DeBonis)

Georgetown researcher finds little difference among wards in response times to city service requests (DeBonis, NBCWashington.com)

D.C. GOP wants an OCF investigation into tagless Gray print ads (TBD)

MPD is no longer participating in Secure Communities -- for now (UncoverTheTruth.org)

Outspoken Wilson High teacher is fighting transfer to Phelps due to "significant educational philosophy differences with the [Wilson] administration" (D.C. Schools Insider)

Some DCPS mythbusting: Did you know that "none of the 100 worst schools in the country are in the District"? Huzzah! (We Love DC)

Hamil Harris covers the opening of Ward 7's Yes! Organic (Post)

A call for a "second" D.C. political party (Associated Content)

Gray responds to another batch of tweets -- covering such subjects as a stadium for D.C. United, Peaceoholics funding and his support for Mendelson (Gray campaign)

Sen. Harry Reid voted for the gun amendment on voting right legislation to please the NRA. The NRA still isn't endorsing him. (Loose Lips)

What you need to know about early voting (TBD)

Gallery Place owners install high-frequency noisemaker to drive away kids (Post, WRC-TV)

D.C. Water workers want answer on methanol spill (WAMU-FM)

Gray and Fenty will debate 9 a.m. Friday on Fox 5 (WTTG-TV)

Behold the "Gray wagon." (Loose Lips)

Vince is single, ladies. (Reliable Source)


*** ON THE MENU ***

The Washington Post debate, noon at the Newseum -- Brown and Orange face off on NewsTalk, 10 a.m. on TBD -- Ward 6 council candidate forum, 7:30 p.m. at Christ Our Shepherd Church, 801 North Carolina Avenue SE -- groundbreaking on the O Street Market, finally -- Gage-Eckington Park groundbreaking, too

By Mike DeBonis  |  September 1, 2010; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  
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Next: Live Tweeting from the Post's mayoral debate

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