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DeMorning DeBonis: Sept. 29, 2010


Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) went about the task of defining his mayoral legacy as a brave, damn-the-torpedoes education reformer yesterday, appearing at an NBC-sponsored education forum hosted by Tom Brokaw in New York. Remember when, early in the summer, Fenty's campaign rhetoric was all about the "tough decisions" he'd made because they were the "right thing to do"? Then, when he saw his tanking poll numbers, he pledged to slow down and communicate better? Well, now, he's back to the tough-decisions shtick: "We didn't know it was going to be politically costly," Fenty said. "These are tough decisions, but we have got to do them; otherwise, this achievement gap is never going to be closed." He added: "The greatest worry is that we're just not moving fast enough. If I could do anything over, I'd have moved even faster, to be honest with you. ... At the end of the day, politicians are going to have to make tough decisions and risk their political future because it's the right thing to do."

AFTER THE JUMP -- Tragic day in Ward 1 -- Lanier indicates she'd be willing to stay -- The impacts not measured by IMPACT -- Child poverty on the rise


TRAGEDY IN WARD 1 -- Shortly after noon yesterday, 21-year-old Jamal Coates of Adams Morgan was gunned down outside a friend's funeral near 13th and U streets NW. The shooting led to an auto collision two blocks away. For a complete rundown, see Paul Duggan and Mary Pat Flaherty's Post article on the shooting, which appears to be related to neighborhood crew beefing in Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. Another 21-year-old, Brandon Miller, was arrested Tuesday night; Fenty made it back from New York in time to announce the arrest this morning. Also see coverage from WTOP, the Examiner, TBD and DCist. This morning, a blaze in a Mount Pleasant high-rise apartment house killed one -- a 38-year-old man who leaped from the building. Eleven others are hospitalized, three in critical condition.

CHIEF WANTS TO STAY -- Police Chief Cathy Lanier appeared on TBD's NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt this morning. Besides fielding questions on the U Street shooting, she addressed her political future. Per a TBD recap, the chief said: "I've been here 20 years and love what I do. The decision is in [Vincent Gray]'s hands, so we'll have to see. I'm just focused on what I do. ... Gray is a very personable guy, and we've had a good relationship. That's not something I need to worry about." Bruce asked whether she's concerned about pressure from the police union. Her response: "I'm too busy to worry about political speculation. ... My goal is to stay as long as I'm doing a good job and love what I do." If asked by Gray to work with FOP honcho Kris Baumann, she said: "Of course I'll try. I have good relationships with most of the officers in the department."

WHAT IMPACT DOESN'T MEASURE -- Courtland Milloy is back with another talker, about what he considers the limited utility of the IMPACT teacher evaluation system. "When it comes to those old-school teachers I've met through the years, could this new system have accurately gauged the artistry that they used to turn many a student's life around? ... The extent to which teachers serve as surrogate parents for students has never been fully appreciated. And part of the reason is that teachers don't boast about it; some of them will never list such work on a 'pay for performance' eligibility form." Courtland profiles two teachers who reach kids through the intangibles not measured on the IMPACT "teach-o-meter" -- "Data points could not be established for measuring lives saved, second chances given and hopes restored."

ED REFORM AS CIVIL RIGHTS -- Jonetta Rose Barras on the flipside of the debate: "[A]nnouncing [Michelle Rhee]'s status shouldn't be delayed. The future of thousands of children is at stake. ... Gray has talked about the high rate of unemployment in predominantly African-American Wards 7 and 8. There's a direct correlation between that situation and the failure to make tough decisions guaranteeing black students receive the education they need to advance in society. Abolitionist Harriet Tubman used to put a pistol to the heads of slaves who, in the middle of their escapes to freedom, became frightened by the unknown future, choosing instead to return to their old lives. Residents who want real education reform must be just as blunt. They must prevent elected officials from stepping back in time by making timid choices. ... They should demand from Gray the answer to this question: If not Rhee, then who?"

DEFENDING DCPS -- Linda Feldmann, in a Christian Science Monitor report, responds to President Obama's DCPS comments with a defense of her kids' school: "I took the tour at Sidwell once, while my kids were still at John Eaton Elementary, and looked longingly at the beautiful facilities and listened to the speeches about small class size, rigorous courses, and emphasis on community service. But in all honesty, I didn't see something that was so much better that it was worth robbing a bank and paying whatever it cost back then. All along, my modus operandi was, I'll keep my kids in D.C. public schools until it stops working. For my kids, it never stopped working. I know that school choices are highly individual and that no one knows their own kids better than the parents -- and that most parents will do what's best for their kids, when they can."

ALSO -- Courtland talks to NPR's Morning Edition about his columns on Adrian Fenty and the black vote. "He vowed to work to do something about [the city's economic divide]. What accompanied the change in character -- and it was a stunning change, it happened almost overnight, he went from being a really nice guy to a kind of mean guy, arrogant guy, when it came to dealing with black people. ... He was dismissive of African Americans and more accommodating to white people."

A TIME TO CUT -- The Post's editorial board calls for "tough" budget trims to close the $175 million budget shortfall. "[T]he decisions that were put off by Mr. Fenty as he ran for reelection -- and enabled by Mr. Gray and the council -- can no longer be delayed. ... Mr. Fenty might be tempted to punt the hard decisions to the council, but he's uniquely positioned to offer guidance on where cuts can be made. Not only should he know where the government fat is, but his lame-duck status affords him the luxury of making recommendations without regard to political consequences. Clearly, though, the buck falls to Mr. Gray in his dual role as chairman of the council and presumptive next mayor. How does he balance the expectations of his supporters against the realities of the city treasury? Will he opt to downsize government or, as some are suggesting, push to raise taxes?"

CHILD POVERTY RISES -- New census figures, as reported by Carol Morello and Dan Keating: "Three out of 10 children in the nation's capital were living in poverty last year, with the number of poor African American children rising at a breathtaking rate. ... Among black children in the city, childhood poverty shot up to 43 percent, from 36 percent in 2008 and 31 percent in 2007. That was a much sharper increase than the two percentage-point jump, to 36 percent, among poor black children nationwide last year. ... Last year, there were more than 30,000 black children living in poverty in the city, almost 7,000 more than two years before, according to Census Bureau data. In contrast, the poverty rate for Hispanic children increased only two percentage points in the same period, to 13 percent, and the rate for white children increased one percentage point, to 3 percent."


The Vince Gray town halls are scheduled (DeBonis)

Keep that budget gap-closing balanced! (D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute)

IG finds that OCTO contractor overcharged city by $3.1 million (the Examiner)

Shaw affordable-housing protesters/homeless folks ordered off city parcel (TBD)

Is a Kevin Chavous op-ed a sign of Gray education reforms to come? (Class Struggle)

Will Gray go to bat for vouchers? (

Philly's Michael Nutter on Fenty comparison: "Philadelphia is very different than Washington, D.C. and Washington, D.C. is very different than Philadelphia." (The Grio)

More on the teacher who impregnated a DCPS student (D.C. Schools Insider)

Hey Obama -- shoulda sent your kids to Bancroft! (All Opinions Are Local)

A conservative perspective: "Fenty, a black mayor, was fired from his job because he hired the best people possible for the jobs in his administration and many of them happened not to be black."(Red State)

Very good piece on overcrowding at DYRS facilities (AFRO)

Judge's sanction in LaShawn class action: Have a meeting (D.C. Wire, Children's Rights)

FOP not the only ones having little luck with a Peaceoholics-related FOIA request (Loose Lips)

The most comprehensive Comprehensive Plan post you'll read today (DCist)

Kriston Capps does a masterful job of telling the history of Kingman and Heritage Islands, which, incidentally, are now in the hands of the District government (

A pie-in-the-sky tenant wish list for permanent rent control law (Housing Complex)

"We got a transgender woman in the female halfway house, finally" (Metro Weekly)

No more Gallery Place mosquito? (GGW)

$5 million in HUD money headed this way (District Chronicles)

DDOT picks streetcar contractors -- one, surprise, is from ... Portland (WBJ)

If you're in Houston next week, you can hear UDC President Allen Sessoms talk about "The Physics and Science Policy Implications of the Reduction of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Arsenal" (press release)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Council takes up Randall School deal -- Gray at Q&A Cafe, 1 p.m. at G'town Ritz

By Mike DeBonis  | September 29, 2010; 12:18 PM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Gray campaign announces town hall meetings
Next: Could Adrian Fenty have won as an independent?


I just don't believe that DC needs another stolen property sting in the depths of recession, like Lanier delivered in 2009.

People are out of work everywhere and the child poverty rate is increasing. To this, the police began offering top dollar to anyone who brought them stolen property. They actually created a demand for stolen property that did not otherwise exist. Then they held a big bust for the television crews and displayed all the stuff they collected.

If they want to run a sting, try selling stolen property to estbablished businesses at top-dollar rates. An established business that will buy stolen property at only a 10-15% discount is truly criminal.

Of course, it's just as likely that the undercover cops will be chased off the property and then the owners will complain vociferously to the police. But that's what undercover work is all about sometimes.

It's not just about acting like a wealthy gangster and corrupting people who are down on their luck, although that truly is more fun than real police work.

Posted by: blasmaic | September 29, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

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