DeMorning DeBonis: Oct. 27, 2010
TODAY IS OCT. 27, 2010 -- SIX DAYS UNTIL GENERAL ELECTION
Vincent Gray, presumptive mayor-elect, has embarked on a crash program to convince private education advocates and funders that he's not the bogeyman they think he is, Bill Turque reports in today's Post. With the help of advisers Josh Kern and Reuben Charles, Gray has embarked on a dinner-party tour "to reassure the influential network of private foundations - which have poured an estimated $20 million into D.C public schools over the past four years - that [Gray] is serious about sustaining the reforms launched by outgoing Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee." So far, his efforts "have won him the benefit of the doubt from donors leery of his campaign's heavy support from teachers unions and other interests opposed to Rhee." Michael Lomax, chief executive of the United Negro College Fund, tells Bill, "My sense is that people are going to give him time to demonstrate that he is going to maintain the momentum and direction." Adds Walter Isaacson, the Aspen Institute head and a key Rhee booster, "I came way feeling better for the prospects of school reform." A less sanguine, anonymous account: "There was deep skepticism at the beginning of the meeting and abiding skepticism at the end, but some minds were opened."
AFTER THE JUMP -- Nickles puts heat on Thomas -- Jonetta says Team Thomas affair latest in dismal era for council -- Emily Durso exits Hotel Association, perhaps for Gray administration? -- DYRS ward caught behind wheel of murdered prof's SUV -- OCF looks at write-in-ers' signs
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE FROM BILL -- "Kern first reached out to Kathleen deLaski, the Walton Foundation's senior program officer for education, who had served on his school's board of trustees. They held a series of meetings with major donors, including Broad and CityBridge Foundation, headed by Katherine Bradley, a major Rhee supporter. Kern said their major concern was potential weakening of IMPACT, which evaluates teachers against a detailed series of benchmarks involving classroom practice and student achievement. ... Charles was alarmed by what he saw as a cartoonish view of Gray taking hold in some parts of the city as someone prepared to halt the Rhee-era reforms. He also wanted to temper what he called 'an arrogance in the fundraising community' and a failure to recognize that stakeholders from the communities most affected by their largess need to be at the table." At one get-together a few days after the primary, "Gray laid out his ideas for school improvement, which include a new emphasis on both early childhood and career and technical education. He also explained that his victory was not a repudiation of education reform but of a style of leadership that excluded critical parts of the community. The questioning was polite but pointed. Lomax asked if Gray had 'some sort of obligation to the union' because of its heavy financial support; Gray said he felt beholden to no one. ... Gray also told the group, according to Charles, that he was committed to a fair evaluation of teachers. 'Teachers who do not perform do not deserve to be teaching,' Gray said."
THOMAS THREATENED WITH SUBPOENA -- Peter Nickles steps up the heat on Harry Thomas Jr. and his supposedly dormant nonprofit. With the soon-to-be-ex AG still not in possession of promised information pertaining to the "Team Thomas" nonprofit, he's threatening a subpoena if Thomas doesn't cough up by Friday. Tim Craig writes at D.C. Wire: "Last week, Nickles sent Thomas a letter asking for financial and other information about the donors and leaders of Team Thomas, an organization the council member bills as a community nonprofit. Thomas responded by requesting that Nickles give him more time to produce the information. But Nickles said Tuesday afternoon that Thomas's time had run out. ... 'If the documents are in existence, any legitimate organization would produce them in 10 minutes,' Nickles said. 'If the documents are not in existence, it could be 10 years and he still wouldn't be able to produce them. ... Failure to respond is a serious indication there has to be trouble.'"
'ERA OF UNSCRUPULOUS BEHAVIOR' -- Meanwhile, Jonetta Rose Barras deems the Team Thomas affair only the latest incident in the D.C. Council's four-year "era of unscrupulous behavior." She writes in the Examiner: "Ward 1's Jim Graham allegedly covered up domestic violence perpetrated by his chief of staff and later used city fire department employees as waitstaff at his birthday and holiday parties. Ward 8's Marion Barry gave a contract to a paramour to ensure her affections. [Gray] used his official stationery to hustle money for political activities from a company whose license must be approved by his committee. At-large Councilman Kwame Brown was sued by credit card companies for failing to pay $50,000 and later was accused of misappropriating campaign funds; the Office of Campaign Finance is investigating him for the latter. ... That record makes it easy to understand why citizens are disillusioned with politics and government." Thanks to Thomas, she writes, Council Term 19 "will begin in January the same as this one is ending: with a dark cloud of unethical behavior hanging over it."
DURSO TO GRAYWORLD? -- Emily Durso, president of the Hotel Association of Washington for 20 years, will step down at November's end, "leading to speculation that she's headed for a job in the [Gray] administration," Nikita Stewart and Danielle Douglas report at D.C. Wire. Durso, who served as a city economic development official in the 1980s, "will serve on Gray's transition and inaugural teams as a volunteer. ... Durso is credited with leading the hotel association's involvement in establishing a hospitality charter school to prepare high school students for jobs in the industry and Destination D.C., as well as the construction of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. ... During Destination D.C.'s annual marketing outlook in August, Gray vowed to establish a public-private investment fund to support the city's tourism efforts. Some speculate what role Durso would play, if the presumptive mayor were to follow through on that promise." Asked about her interests, she said, "I want to serve on education but who knows, could be economic development."
ANOTHER DYRS WARD IN TROUBLE -- Deandrew Hamlin, the 18-year-old found driving the Jeep belonging to slain American University professor Sue Ann Marcum, was a ward of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, as reported by both Jeffrey Anderson and Matthew Cella of the Washington Times, and Emily Babay and Freeman Klopott of the Examiner. From Examiner: "Hamlin has been a ward of the District's Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services since March 2009, when he was convicted on destruction of property charges, sources with knowledge of his case told The Washington Examiner. It was not immediately clear whether Hamlin had absconded from juvenile detention, or had been placed in a residential facility as part of his rehabilitation. A DYRS spokesman declined to comment on Hamlin." Police have not directly linked Hamlin to the murder.
WHERE'D YOU GET THEM SIGNS? -- The Office of Campaign Finance is investigating complaints that Fenty write-in supporters are "illegally using Fenty 2010 yard signs." A closed hearing is set for today, Tim writes at D.C. Wire: "According to Democratic leaders, several green and white signs ... at early voting locations appear to have come from Fenty's unsuccessful primary campaign. In some cases, paper with the words 'write-in' has been posted on Fenty 2010 signs, Democratic leaders said. ... Supporters of [Gray] say that under campaign finance laws, the write-in group should have to purchase its own signs. ... It's unclear how the write-in campaign obtained the signs, but several activists who worked on Fenty's primary campaign head the write-in effort." The write-in-ers call the signs an "in-kind donation."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Is Jack Evans' bill a "retro-active bailout of select businesses" from the ballpark fee? (Examiner.com blog)
Candidates say the craziest things, in the BOEE voter guide (DCist)
Winter homeless plan gets OK (Post Now)
Larry Pretlow's quixotic, well-documented, "lively but at times confusing" ANC challenge rolls on (TBD)
Lack of disclaimers prompts FEC complaint against GOP delegate candidate Missy Smith (Amanda Hess/TBD)
High Heel Race deemed a "First Amendment event," not charged for police overtime (Examiner/Capital Land)
D.C. Water's Wendy the Waterdrop answers customer questions silently, fuzzily (DCist)
Documenting Rhee's "huge gains in Pre-K" (HuffPo)
The EagleBank Bowl is now the "Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman" (Post)
Nickles sues condo developer for "inadequate renovations," "shoddy workmanship" and "significant defects" (DCmud)
Gray: "Green jobs" for city vets (Examiner/Capital Land)
Slugs ticked at DDOT for moving pickup spot (WRC-TV)
Chandra Levy murder trial update: Her father, Robert Levy, takes stand (Post)
Black Squirrel v. DCRA reaches climax (TBD)
Scenes from the Arena State ribbon-cutting (Little Quadrant That Could)
It's a pain in the butt to have a block party (Park View D.C.)
*** ON THE MENU ***
"Smart meter" hearing 1 p.m. in JAWB 500 -- Gray Ward 6 town hall, 6:30 p.m. at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE
| October 27, 2010; 8:24 AM ET
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