DeMorning DeBonis: Dec. 28, 2010
TODAY IS DEC. 28, 2010 -- FIVE DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION
All eyes are now on Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray, but over the holiday weekend, Nikita Stewart took a last look at Mayor Adrian Fenty and what his four-year term meant to the city: "In some areas, Fenty outperformed his predecessors, including two-term mayor Anthony A. Williams, whom many credit with pulling the District back from the brink of financial collapse. Fenty is credited with driving the transformation of several neighborhoods, securing mayoral control of schools and ousting perceived critics of reform. ... Others see the departing mayor as a polarizing figure, a cocktail of ruthless hypocrisy (he turned his back on some neighborhoods and wasn't transparent, some thought), misguided loyalty (he awarded million-dollar contracts to fraternity brothers and unconditionally backed former schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee) and her imperious leadership. ... It's too soon to gauge how Fenty will rank among 21st century mayors, but he has often urged those who would judge him to look beyond his brash -- at times, autocratic -- governing style and examine the results." To do so, Nikita looks at how the H Street NE corridor changed under the Fenty administration. Also: Post Metro staffers (including yours truly) examine the Fenty record on population, education, spending, quality of life, health, economic development and public safety.
AFTER THE JUMP -- Fenty speaks, to Jonetta -- DCPS COO to head North Carolina school district -- More laments for voting rights setbacks -- Robert Bobb makes a splash in Motown - Council guts open-meetings bill
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE FROM NIKITA'S STORY -- "Give it time, said [Ben Soto], Fenty's campaign treasurer. He compared Fenty to Alexander Robey Shepherd, who headed the city's public works in the 1870s and served as governor for two years. During his tenure, horse-drawn streetcars became the city's first public transportation system, sidewalks were constructed, roads were paved and sewer and gas lines were laid. But he left his post amid accusations of cronyism -- and the nickname 'Boss Shepherd.' ... 'At the time, he was a dictator,' Soto said. 'Now, they look at him as someone who sophisticated the city.' "
FENTY SPEAKS -- Fenty would not discuss his tenure and legacy with The Post. But he did sit down with the admiring Jonetta Rose Barras, who recounts the conversation in her Examiner column. Says Hizzoner: "You can criticize me on many things. But you can't criticize me on results." He added: "Opponents say they didn't like how aggressive and how impatient we were. [But] if I had the chance to do it again, I wouldn't change anything about that. ... I can't stand government that purposefully builds in extra time. So many times people say they want you to consult with more people. But the main people who are pushing that are those opposed to what you are doing. They want to put it on the back burner." More: "I made up my mind that as long as I was in it, I was going to make decisions not for political reasons but for what was best for the people of the District. ... In many ways that led to my political demise." Says Jonetta: "Truth be told, the government was transformed and District residents were better served because of Fenty's aggressiveness and unrelenting drive. ... Fenty may have lost his battle for second term. But I suspect history will record that he actually won the war."
POPULATION IS DESTINY -- The Post editorial board identifies the city's recent population growth -- first targeted by Williams -- as "part of his legacy and testament to the accomplishments of his administration. ... Mr. Williams helped usher in an era of fiscal competence and improved city services. New housing helped lure residents, many of whom were single professionals. Mr. Fenty took office knowing these improvements needed to be sustained and expanded. He understood that the hard work of making neighborhoods safer and fixing schools couldn't be put off if the city ever hoped to hold onto, much less attract, people who would want to raise families here." The editorial also has complimentary words for Gray: "His appointments thus far -- based on competency, not connections, and made with efficiency and little drama -- have put him on the right track" for continuing progress.
THE STATE OF VOTING RIGHTS -- A lament of John Boehner's decision not to give Eleanor Holmes Norton a vote in the House's Committee of the Whole from Harry Jaffe, who writes in his Examiner column that Republicans "saw a city that is bluer than the ocean on a sunny day and said: Merry Christmas to us and no vote for you! ... [A]s a matter of political power in a democratic society, we District residents get screwed. Under the Constitution, we are a federal district under the control of Congress and the White House. We have limited local self-government by a mayor and city council. Congress has ultimate say. That's why a loss of voting rights is such a punch in the gut." And The Post editorial board calls the status quo of D.C. voting rights "infuriating. ... 601,723 U.S. citizens will be called upon to honor every obligation of citizenship -- obeying laws, paying taxes, making themselves available for military service -- without any say in the making of their laws. Republican leaders who seem satisfied with this arrangement should explain their conception of democracy." They renew calls for a vote-swap compromise, this time with North Carolina.
DCPS' TATA TO N.C. -- Anthony Tata, the former Army general who has been the D.C. public schools' chief operating officer since 2009, is the new superintendent of Wake County, N.C., schools. Bill Turque reports in The Post that the move comes "[d]espite assurances from former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee that the senior management team she assembled during her 3 1/2-year tenure would remain intact until at least the end of the school year." Moreover, Tata "joins several other key school officials just below the senior level who have left in recent weeks, including the chief of teacher professional development and the director of the office in charge of secondary school improvement." Tata tells Bill in an e-mail: 'It is my understanding that Chancellor Rhee made Chairman Gray aware of this possibility. ... Likewise I kept interim Chancellor [Kaya Henderson] aware of ongoing interviews and discussions with the Wake County search team as they occurred.' More at D.C. Schools Insider.
WILL BOBB BE BACK? -- The Post's Nick Anderson profiles former D.C. school board president Robert Bobb, 21 months into his stint as emergency financial manager of the Detroit schools. While Henderson "seems to be the top contender for the permanent [D.C. chancellor] appointment," Nick writes, "Bobb has built an intriguing record. ... With his aggressive, no-nonsense style, he has restored order to a system in worse shape than Washington's. His tenure here is expected to end in June, about the same time Henderson's interim deal expires. 'We have to see how that process unfolds,' Bobb said. ... [In Detroit,] Bobb has closed 59 schools, jettisoned much of the central office staff, overhauled the principal corps and sold off idle assets. He has expanded Advanced Placement offerings, more than doubled reading and math lesson time for younger students, obtained contract concessions from the teachers union, launched a $500 million school rebuilding campaign (with voter approval) and upended a culture of inertia and waste." His D.C. past has become an issue: "School board President Anthony Adams said he told Bobb: 'You of all people should understand how important an elected board is to getting community support. What happened to you in D.C. is what you're doing to us in Detroit.' " And have you heard this before? "In education circles, 'adults' has become a dirty word. The sharpest attack possible on a school official is to say he or she cares more about adults than children."
MEETINGS NOT SO OPEN -- A Post editorial slaps the D.C. Council for its new open-meetings bill -- one that exempts council committees and advisory neighborhood commissions: "No doubt the D.C. Council is patting itself on the back for voting to overhaul the District's outmoded open-meetings law. It should do so, because no one else is likely to be offering congratulations. So flawed is its bill that local organizations dedicated to open government that had worked with the council on the reforms ended up opposing the measure." The editorial takes particular aim at the law's provision that only a government office can force compliance with the law -- not a court of law. "It was this provision that caused the press association, along with the D.C. Open Government Coalition, to oppose a bill it had long sought. Another opponent was the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. None of that mattered to council members, who professed support for open government but proved unwilling to make it a reality."
CLASS ACTION VICTORY -- The Blackman part of the Blackman-Jones class action appears to be resolved, Lisa Gartner reports in the Examiner -- handing Attorney General Peter Nickles a major accomplishment on his last week on the job: "The 13-year-old lawsuit, referred to as the Blackman-Jones case, dove into the District's failure to evaluate students for special education needs within 60 days of a request and provide services to students within 45 days of the evaluation as federal law mandates. But after the plaintiffs conducted an independent review this fall, all parties agreed that students were getting screened and placed quickly. 'A couple years ago, the city was absolutely nowhere,' [Nickles] said, adding that he had expected the Blackman portion of the case to be dropped several months ago. 'I'm just satisfied that before we leave -- which is very soon -- I'm glad we got the plaintiffs to exit the case.' "
*** SMALL PLATES ***
David Wilmot defends IDI (Loose Lips)
Gray, Michael Brown spotted dining with Redskins GM Bruce Allen (WaTimes)
IG review leads to cancellation of $500,000-a-year inventory contract (WBJ)
New Shaw library a highlight of year's best architecture (WSJ)
What will Gray do with the Franklin School? (the Examiner)
Shadow Rep. Mike Panetta: "Obama needs to lose the D.C. primary" (NBCWashington.com)
Undocumented workers are entitled to same protections as legal employees, D.C. Court of Appeals rules (Housing Complex)
The challenges Gray's edu-team will be facing: data quality, charter equity and Nathan Saunders (GGW)
Youth advocates like interim DYRS chief Neil Stanley (the Examiner)
More on the two-year UDC bachelor's degree (The Post)
Are the D.C. Council and CFSA aiming to "pit one group of poor children against another"? (All Opinions Are Local)
The council's revised TANF plan still has issues (Poverty & Policy)
Peter Rosenstein is thus far pleased with the Gray administration's picks (Blade)
Government executives can make decent money (the Examiner)
DDOT to roll out new LED street lights (news release)
Suspected Spring Valley burglars were DYRS wards (WaTimes)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Peter Nickles talks about his tenure, 10 a.m. on NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt, TBD TV -- get your tickets to the Gray inaugural ball, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Room 145
| December 28, 2010; 11:25 AM ET
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