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DeMorning DeBonis: Oct. 12, 2010

TODAY IS OCT. 12, 2010 -- 21 DAYS UNTIL GENERAL ELECTION

PREVIOUSLY -- Gray campaign announces new town hall locations -- Peebles spent nearly $100,000 on primary election

A video intro for DMDB after a slow new Monday: Post editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao sat down Friday with mayor-in-waiting Vincent Gray to talk city finances, firing bad teachers and how this city is "tough on its mayors," as Jo-Ann puts it. Said Gray: "I think public life is hard, but I don't think there's any greater calling. And I know that this will be even more challenging as mayor. ... I've faced good times; I've faced bad times, and I'll no doubt have the same experience as mayor. But at the end of the day, I know I'm doing this for the right reasons, and this is to move the city forward."

AFTER THE JUMP -- Gray cagey about Fenty write-in -- Suzanne Peck's baggage -- Briggs to Bush think tank -- The politics of homeless shelters -- Pershing Park evidence hearings kick off today

*** MAIN COURSE ***

WRITE-IN WORRIES? -- Writing on the PostPartisan blog, Armao wonders why Gray is being so durn defensive about the Write Fenty In campaign: "Gray is a naturally cautious politician, and for all the new-found cordiality between him and the mayor over a smooth transition, I suspect there's still an element of mistrust between the two men. Fenty has disavowed the write-in, but he hasn't really told the organizers to knock it off, that he won't serve if somehow a miracle occurs and he is elected. If he really wanted to send a signal, he could have showed up at Gray's recent Ward 3 town hall to make clear the chairman has his support. Instead, there were supporters of the write-in campaign talking about their hopes that the mayor will come aboard if they get more support. So it's understandable that Gray is wary and -- unlike Fenty, who seemed oblivious to his vulnerability -- taking nothing for granted."

PECK IS BACK -- The potential for a second tour of city service for Gray confidant Suzanne Peck prompts the Examiner's Freeman Klopott to review her first stint, as chief technology officer under Tony Williams: "Peck took the reins at the Office of the Chief Technology Officer in 1999. She stayed on for eight years, transforming the city into an award-winning technological enterprise. In March 2007, she left her city job to take the equivalent job at the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, where she works today. Despite her achievements, when she left, a bribery and kickback scheme that lasted four years had taken hold. ... [It was] under Peck's leadership that a four-year bribery and kickback scheme took root and netted those involved, including the agency's chief of security, hundreds of thousands of dollars before the FBI busted it in the spring of 2009. When asked about the bribery-kickback scheme, [Gray campaign manager Adam Rubinson] said, 'There was never a situation where something like that could have happened when we were at OCTO.' He added, 'We were shocked when we learned about what happened in the last few years.' "

BRIGGS TO BUSH INSTITUTE -- The new job for former State Superintendent of Education Kerri Briggs, who quit suddenly last month, is revealed: She will be education reform director for the Bush Institute in Dallas -- as in George W. Bush, in whose education department she served. Bill Turque writes that the post "looks like a more comfortable fit for Briggs, who struggled to find her footing in a D.C. education landscape dominated by Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee." From a news release, reprinted by the Dallas Morning News, "Dr. Briggs brings a wealth of experience to The Bush Institute's rapidly expanding education initiatives. She has spent nearly 10 years leading reforms at the federal, state and local levels. 'Dr. Briggs has served on the front lines of education and is well known for her relentless focus on getting results,' said James K. Glassman, executive director of the Bush Institute. 'We are thrilled to add her caliber of expertise and skills to drive The Bush Institute's efforts in education.' During her tenure as state superintendent for the Washington, D.C., public school system, Dr. Briggs worked closely with widely respected education reformer chancellor Michelle Rhee and highly respected charter school leaders. As a member of the team that won a federal Race to the Top grant for the city, Dr. Briggs was instrumental in one of the nation's most visible education reform efforts."

"CUI BONO?" -- More Rhee pre-postmortem thoughts from Steve Peha at Dropout Nation: "Meanwhile Rhee clearly cultivated her own problems, seemingly at times with the intent not of serving children so much as serving herself. How do we know? Cui bono? Life got a little better for kids in D.C., but it's gonna get a lot better for Rhee in the very near future. ... I'm not a knee-jerk Rhee-basher. I think she's done some amazing things in DC and I've been a cautiously optimistic supporter of hers since she started. I have applauded her willingness to take risks and her ability to get things done in the face of entrenched special interests. I think her commitment to kids is real but I think her immaturity ultimately leads her to be more committed to herself than anyone or anything else. ... Ultimately, I believe Rhee cared about kids but had contempt for the people caring for them. ... No matter how talented or effective a leader is, not even results and charisma can make up for contempt. Folks just don't warm to being held in contempt even if you do educate their kids and make the trains run on time. Arrogance, by contrast, is actually tolerable, especially if one is right on a regular basis. Had Ms. Rhee dialed herself back a tad to mere arrogance, many things might have played out differently, especially for D.C.'s kids."

SHELTER POLITICS -- At her Housing Complex blog, Lydia DePillis writes how the Department of Human Services, scrambling to find beds for homeless families before hypothermia season, identified a suitable property on Spring Road in north Columbia Heights. But someone -- in the Fenty administration, in Muriel Bowser's camp, someone -- objected and the plan is dead. DePillis and Tommy Wells say there needs to be a way around the NIMBYism: "There really should be an objective and fair set of metrics for figuring this out. The District only has so many buildings suitable for housing the homeless, after all, and a community's preferences should only be one of a set of weights on the scale, which would include concentrations of homeless services in a given area as well as the expense of procuring others elsewhere. After all, homeless people have preferences, too."

SKED SCRUBBED -- The Gray campaign revised its town hall schedule, scrubbing the venue list of D.C. Public School facilities. Alan Suderman takes the occasion to summarize the town hall formula thusly: "Here's how they go down: The home ward councilmember will give a speech about how great Gray is. Gray will rehash his stump speech at an unnecessarily loud volume. People will pretend to ask questions, but they're really there to give their opinions on a variety of things. Gray will talk about anything that's vaguely connected to whatever 'question' was posed, dropping so many statistics and figures you'll think he memorizes city data for fun. There will be clapping. A Hardy Middle School student will bust Gray's chops on whether he'll reinstate the school's former popular principal. The end."

THE RACE IN WARD 1 -- Jonetta Rose Barras reminds us in the Examiner that "the election isn't over" and that Republican Marc Morgan is running against Jim Graham in Ward 1. "A 10-year resident in arguably the most diverse ward in the city, Morgan has been out knocking on doors and getting a good reception from residents, whom he said have expressed dissatisfaction with Graham. 'He keeps playing politics as a game to win elections. People are over that,' Morgan told me. 'They want a council member who represents them.' Graham is unfazed: 'I carried every precinct in the ward,' he said, adding that a lot of people appreciate his 30-year record of public service, which includes a stint as head of the Whitman Walker Clinic. Still, about 43 percent of Democrats voted against him. ... 'Let's not forget [the 57 percent],' said Graham. 'There are many ways to read election results.'"

*** SMALL PLATES ***

The federal-court-ordered inquest into Pershing Park evidence begins today (the Examiner, WTTG-TV)

Jack Evans says he's found $6 million to roll back parking meter rate hikes (WUSA-TV, TBD)

Readers weigh in on Rhee's future (The Post)

Rhee-Klein "manifesto" a "concise compilation of today's fads and gimmicks in education" (The Answer Sheet)

Signed Marion Barry pic, vintage 1982 -- yours for $10.49 (eBay)

Watch Adrian Fenty, Gabe Klein, Greg O'Dell and others get super-excited about the Giro D'Italia (YouTube)

Cathy Lanier tells Petworth residents that gang violence is to blame for spate of shootings, tells news media not to report specifics (WTTG-TV)

Doc says medical marijuana is bad for HIV/AIDS patients (NBCWashington.com)

More public restrooms, please (GGW)

MPD SUV invades "Transformers" shoot, gets T-boned by main character (NBCWashington.com)

ANCs' "voluntary agreements" not in fact so voluntary (TBD)

RIP Carla Cohen, co-doyenne of Politics & Prose (The Post)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Pershing Park testimony kicks off, 9:30 a.m. in Prettyman Room 6 -- D.C. Vote's "Champions of Democracy" dinner tonight at the Mayflower Hotel -- Gray's Ward 7 town hall, at Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church, 3000 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, 6:30 p.m.

By Mike DeBonis  | October 12, 2010; 10:53 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: Peebles spent nearly $100,000 on primary election
Next: Michelle Rhee and the perils of the national stage

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