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Posted at 11:06 AM ET, 01/12/2011

DeMorning DeBonis: Jan. 12, 2011

By Mike DeBonis


PREVIOUSLY -- Irv Nathan keeps mum on Team Thomas probe

Fast Company's Jeff Chu is back with a new interview with ex-schools chief Michelle Rhee. The last time the two spoke for the record, Rhee sparked a firestorm by boasting of firing "teachers ... who had had sex with children." Any explosive material here? Well, it turns out that Rhee had decided early on she would not be staying at DCPS after Mayor Adrian Fenty's primary defeat: "The day after [Fenty] lost his reelection bid last September, [Rhee] had an OMG moment. For three years, Fenty had constantly spent political capital defending Rhee as she fired hundreds of teachers and principals, closed schools and earned both education reformers' adoration and teachers' unions' wrath. He eventually paid with his job -- and she knew she'd soon pay with hers. What am I going to do? she thought." As for what her options were: "Suitors -- rumored to include Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie -- kept coming after her. She says one private-sector exec offered her well north of $1 million a year, 'and I literally wasn't going to have to do anything.' " More below.

AFTER THE JUMP -- Snow no big deal -- Hardy Middle School still a hot mess -- SCOTUS to conference on gay marriage challenge -- Lanier vs. the press -- Some transparency ideas for hizzoner


MORE RHEE -- Chu also describes how Rhee came up with the idea for her StudentsFirst organization in a Sacramento restaurant with fiance Kevin Johnson and his mother: "By dinner's end, they had the outline of an organization that would throw huge amounts of money behind the brand of reform that Rhee has long advocated. ... It would be set up not as a charity but as a political-advocacy and membership group, along the lines of AARP or the NRA, and it would rely on private donations and Rhee's star power." And Johnson gives his take on what Rhee needs to do better: "A key pillar of Students First's strategy is to build grassroots support, much as Barack Obama did during the 2008 presidential campaign -- with thousands of small donors and on-the-ground campaign workers. Johnson has pushed Rhee hard on this: 'They didn't do as good a job as they should have on community involvement in D.C.,' he says. 'Unless you have the grassroots folks who want it even more than the policy makers, it's never going to happen.' "

SNOW BUST -- Last night was supposed to be Mayor Vincent Gray's "first test as the commander in chief of the city's snow-removal effort," Tim Craig reported at D.C. Wire. However, the storm underwhelmed -- perhaps due to a DDOT "force field", Freeman Klopott notes in the Examiner -- but Gray held a snow-prep presser all the same. Meanwhile, Klopott reminds us that Mary Cheh is again pressing her bill to make not shoveling one's sidewalks a ticketable offense, while DDOT is pursuing nonstatutory means of achieving the same goal: guilting us into it. Kytja Weir notes at the Examiner that a new DDOT ad features a mom trying to push a stroller through a snow-clogged sidewalk. Perhaps that "will melt those cold, cold hearts? ... Expect to see the poster later this winter on bus shelters and on blogs and elsewhere." The campaign also gets kudos from GGW.

HARDY BACK IN THE NEWS -- In the post-Rhee DCPS, much attention has been paid to a handful of troubled schools, mostly Dunbar High School. Now attention is shifting back to good ol' Hardy Middle School, location of some of Rhee's most contentious battles. Both Bill Turque and Jonetta Rose Barras air the latest issues at the school. Bill writes at D.C. School Insider: "An 'emergency parent/teacher meeting' has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss what some parents describe as the deteriorating environment at the Georgetown school. ... The school has had a bumpy time under [Principal Dana Nerenberg], named last year by [Rhee] after she reassigned longtime principal Patrick Pope. Some parents say that tardiness, fights, scheduling snafus and disrespectful behavior toward staff have been on the rise since the beginning of the school year." Jonetta writes in her Examiner column: "Like many, I opposed Rhee's removal of Pope -- although I understood and supported her mission of reshaping Hardy to better serve the needs and demands of families in its surrounding Ward 2 neighborhood. But instead of improving the school, it appears DCPS officials have made a mess of things. ... 'Clearly Hardy is not the place it was last year,' [interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson] told me during a brief interview during which she confirmed there had been student fights and a 'small fire.' ... The simple solution at Hardy would be returning Pope. But Henderson told me that won't happen." More coverage from the Georgetown Dish.

SCOTUS TO PONDER D.C. GAY MARRIAGE -- The Supreme Court will conference Friday on Jackson v. Board of Elections and Ethics, aka the case challenging the fact that gay marriage was ruled ineligible for a ballot question in the District. Lou Chibbaro Jr. has the scoop in the Blade: "A court spokesperson said because a federal holiday, Martin Luther King Day, falls on Monday, the court is expected to release its decision on the Jackson case on Tuesday. ... If it accepts the case, it would become the first time the Supreme Court addresses a same-sex marriage-related issue. But the case would not address marriage itself or whether same-sex marriage is protected under the Constitution -- only the question of whether D.C. voters should be allowed to decide the issue through a ballot measure. Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU's D.C. area office, said it's possible that the court won't issue a decision on the Jackson case on Tuesday. 'If there's no order that day, that's also significant, meaning either that the justices were not able to decide in their first discussion, or that someone is writing a dissent from denial,' he said." The American Prospect's Adam Serwer reacts.

CHIEF COMPLAINTS -- Cathy Lanier's appearance yesterday on NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt offered a few sparks. For one, Lanier went after City Paper reporter Rend Smith, saying he "should be ashamed of himself" for relaying a Kris Baumann-provided narrative that 2nd Police District Cmdr. Matthew Klein was reassigned for blowing the whistle on the test cheating that got Assistant Chief Diane Groomes suspended. The problem with Lanier's media criticism: She was asked to comment on the story and refused. For his part, Klein tells the Current (via the Georgetown Dish) that he "asked Chief Lanier for a move." Also: Lanier again addressed the comments she made after the DC9 fiasco.

HOW TO BE TRANSPARENT -- The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute is pleased with Gray's transparency policy memo, but Jenny Reed has a few more specific suggestions for hizzoner: "Budget Briefings ... Gray should require DC agencies to hold budget briefings between the release of the Mayor's budget and the agency's budget oversight hearing before the Council"; "Performance and Caseload Data ... [Agencies should] inventory the data they collect on everything from outcomes to caseloads to data reported to the federal government, and publish it"; "Federal funds ... Agencies should put more information on federal grants on their websites, including what federal grants the agency is applying for and what federal grants the agency has received"; "Bring back CAPSTAT -- to the public ... It is unclear at this point if Mayor Gray is bringing CAPSTAT back. We hope he does and that he makes the sessions and reports public again."


Fired Park Police chief should get her job back, board rules (The Post, WTOP)

David Wilmot squeezes more money out of Wal-Mart (Loose Lips)

Sekou Biddle's first day (G'town Dish)

Rhee attends N.J. Gov. Chris Christie's State of the State address, gets a shout-out (Politico, the Star-Ledger)

City to tell losing bidders why exactly they're losers (WBJ)

Lanier: "I actually think respecting people's First Amendment rights is important" (TBD)

Muriel Bowser to recuperate from "routine" surgery through the month (the Examiner)

More on hizzoner's no-budget office makeover (The Post)

College students falling from windows: Two's a trend! (City Desk)

Feds join investigation into Hill woman's fire death (WTOP)

Georgetowners embrace public transit (GGW)

FEMA coughs up $2.5 million more for snow cleanup (The Post Now)

Brookland residents go to war against "McMansions" (We Love DC)

Half-constructed Wilson High is lookin' sharp (Housing Complex)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Gray speaks at Washington Rotary Club Luncheon, noon at University Club -- A "Farewell Salute to Neil Albert," 6:30 p.m. at the Shakespeare Theater's Harmon Center, 610 F St. NW.

By Mike DeBonis  | January 12, 2011; 11:06 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Irv Nathan keeps mum on Team Thomas probe
Next: The problem with the D.C. Democratic State Committee


Hey, just FYI, your web folks managed to lose the direct links to you and DC Wire from the Metro page again.

Posted by: janowicki | January 12, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Christie also gave Rhee, who sat next to his wife, a hug after his speech, before shaking hands of his colleagues.

Posted by: Perseus | January 12, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

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