DeMorning DeBonis: Oct. 5, 2010
TODAY IS OCT. 5, 2010 -- 28 DAYS UNTIL GENERAL ELECTION
The first of Vincent Gray's pre-general-election town hall meetings is tonight, in Ward 5. But the audience Gray needs to work harder to win over is the 80 percent of white voters who preferred incumbent Adrian Fenty in the primary. "[I]n a city long divided by class and geography," Tim Craig writes Monday, "Gray faces a challenge to his 'one city' vision for the District while trying to govern in a way that keeps his base happy. Gray's advisers recognize that two years ago President Obama campaigned with a message about unifying Americans, only to see the nation's political fault lines grow wider, and that Fenty won every precinct four years ago only to lose in the primary to Gray." And he has a plan: "Gray has begun attending lunch and dinner parties with small groups of Northwest residents, the first of which was Sunday night in Spring Valley. In advance of the Nov. 2 general election, the Gray campaign also plans to send out mailers, and perhaps air television ads, to try to improve his reputation in the white community." Still: Advisers "worry that their transition could get off to a rocky start if large numbers of residents support a third-party or write-in candidate." Says Gray: "The onus is on me to reach out at this stage, and that is exactly what I am trying to do."
AFTER THE JUMP -- DCPS enrollment rises for first time in years -- Fenty puts kibosh on spending -- council to vote on wildlife protection bill -- Norton fundraiser invite touts BB-gun banning -- how 'bout Iowa, Michelle?
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE FROM TIM -- "Some council members say Fenty voters will wait until Gray starts making appointments to top city jobs before forming an opinion on his administration. [Mary Cheh] is lobbying Gray to send a 'comforting' message to voters in Northwest immediately after the general election by stating that he will retain Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, whose popularity has been shown in polls. One of Gray's biggest challenges is what will happen to Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee. Polls show Rhee remains popular in Northwest, home to growing numbers of young white couples with children who appeared to overwhelmingly support Fenty. But many African Americans have an unfavorable view of Rhee. 'If Rhee stays, that is one thing, but if she goes, the voters who backed Fenty because of school reform are really going to want to have a strong opinion and voice on who becomes the next chancellor,' said political strategist Chuck Thies."
DCPS ENROLLMENT RISES -- In a press conference this morning, Fenty and Rhee are expected to announce that the enrollment of the D.C. Public Schools has risen for the first time, staunching decades of losses. Bill Turque and Daniel de Vise report in Tuesday's Post: "School leaders offered few specifics. But any gain over last year's 44,467-student count would represent a significant educational and symbolic breakthrough for the long-struggling system, which just last week endured the embarrassment of hearing from President Obama that it was not a suitable option for his daughters. School officials confirmed in a brief statement Monday that 73 of the system's 123 schools saw increases. Some schools in every ward show gains, based on an unaudited count of students that awaits an accountant's review. ... The reversal could represent a groundswell of parental support for Rhee and her reforms. Or it could simply reflect the sagging economy, a force that has driven families back to public schools from private campuses." Kwame Brown adds: "The challenge is going to be starting to make our middle schools better, so we can keep those families in D.C. schools." Also TBD.
FENTY HALTS SPENDING -- Still-Mayor Fenty takes tough steps to curb city spending in the face of a $175 million fiscal 2011 budget deficit. An executive order issued Monday "froze hiring and promotions in city government ... and restricted discretionary spending within the agencies" and also "bans most employee travel and training and limits the amount of money available to agency leaders to buy supplies" -- moves that could save $100 million, Tim Craig reports Monday. Fenty and Gray, Tim writes, are "expected to work closely in the coming weeks to see whether they can agree on a plan for bringing the budget into the black." The quote of the day, from Gray: "We have not only cut to the bone, we are down to the bone marrow." WBJ's Michael Neibauer also reports and posts the order. Also Examiner, WaTimes.
SAVE THE SQUIRRELS -- At Tuesday's D.C. Council meeting, legislators will take a preliminary vote on a Cheh-introduced "wildlife protection" bill that "would toughen requirements for wildlife control contractors to try to guarantee the use of humane and non-lethal force in the capture of nuisance and unwanted animals," Tim reports at D.C. Wire. More nitty gritty: "The bill outlaws the use of glue, leg hold and 'body-gripping' or body crushing traps or snares to catch nuisance animals such as raccoons or foxes. It also bans the use of poison to control pigeons and sparrows." You can still kill rats and mice however you like. But several council members, including Gray, "refused to answer questions from reporters about whether they will vote for the legislation. Council members appeared especially troubled by a provision in the bill requiring wildlife control operators to 'make every reasonable effort to preserve family units using humane eviction or displacement and reunion strategies.' Cheh said the intent of that provision of the bill is to make sure baby raccoon or foxes are not 'left out there to die' if their mothers are captured." WTOP's Mark Segraves is also all over this; as is WJLA-TV.
'BAN BB GUNS' -- The contribution categories on the invites to Bernard Demczuk's latest Ben's Chili Bowl fundraiser for Eleanor Holmes Norton are sure to get Jason Chaffetz & Co. riled: "$100: Ban BB guns; $250: Anti-AK 47s; $500: Melt down all handguns; $1,000: Study War No More; $1,500: Just say no to guns; $2,400: Just say yes to statehood." Notes Alan Suderman at the Loose Lips blog: "Norton, of course, is already getting bad-mouthed by conservatives as the target of an exposé by Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com; chances are this won't improve her image in GOP circles."
CALL HER HAWKEYE -- Would Rhee be open to public service to the state of Iowa? MSNBC reports that its former governor, Republican Terry Branstad, hopes so: "The Director of Education position is open in Iowa, right? ... I don't know if you've been watching on television, but this woman that's been the director of education in Washington, D.C., she's probably going to lose her job. But she's probably one of the most leading innovators there is. This is the kind of person that we need to get to run the Department of Education in the state of Iowa. I don't know if we can get her or not. I've heard that the mayor lost and because they laid off a lot of teachers because they did it on the basis of results, and they're trying to improve education. And I guess I'm willing to take a risk with somebody that's willing to make the tough decisions to improve education, because I want to see us back in the leadership position."
MORE WISHFUL THINKING -- Wall Street Journal opinionist William McGurn hears a "deafening roar" in "Barack Obama's silence on the future of school reform in the District of Columbia." First, he lets vouchers lapse; then he doesn't endorse Fenty. "Even now, when Ms. Rhee's fate -- and that of D.C. school reform -- hangs in the balance, Mr. Obama remains mute. This from the same president who shows no such shyness when interjecting himself into, say, a complaint about Boston police, a dispute over an Islamic Center in Manhattan, or the mass firing of teachers at a troubled high school in Central Falls, R.I. Why so reticent about an issue affecting the future of thousands of African-American children? ... Ever since Ms. Rhee's patron lost his primary, word is that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been working behind the scenes to ensure Ms. Rhee stays on as chancellor, or that she is replaced by someone with equal commitment to reform. The fact, however, is that whatever magic Mr. Duncan might perform 'behind the scenes' is no match for what his boss might do by speaking publicly."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Truthers, birthers -- now write-in-ers? (Loose Lips)
Rhee needs to Fandango next time (Reliable Source)
Larry Pretlow II would really like to be advisory neighborhood commissioner -- or more: "You're talking to a person who is going to go for Marion Barry's seat whenever it becomes available" (TBD)
Council members want Congress to move Capitol statue bill stat (AP via Examiner)
DPW wants VW Bus out of Palisades family's front yard (Fox News)
Norton, Cheh, Yvette Alexander and Muriel Bowser headline breast cancer fundraiser (press release)
Why DDOT needs to keep Capital Bikeshare stations where they are (All Opinions Are Local)
Some inane Web site ranked Near Southeast among the country's most dangerous neighborhoods, prompting several thorough debunkings (JDLand)
Jimmy Carter visits Habitat project in Ivy City (DCmud)
A library kiosk could be yours! (Housing Complex)
*** ON THE MENU ***
D.C. Council legislative meeting, 10 a.m. -- Vince Gray town hall No. 1, 6:30 p.m. at Community Academy Public Charter School, 1400 1st St. NW
| October 5, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike, The District
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