Loose Lips Daily: Ward Woes for Go-Go Mayor
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"Defense Continues to Squeeze Expert on Wone Evidence," "City Bringing in AmericaSpeaks to Crowdsource Plans for Walter Reed," "Indecent Exposure Near Eliot Junior High School," "R.I.P. Go-go Pioneer Little Benny: Chuck Brown & Others Reminisce."
Ahoy, ahoy Washington! Happy Tuesday to you. Wondering who your substitute Loose Lips is? A quick refresher from Friday. Hopefully, you had a lovely Memorial Day weekend. Let’s get to it, shall we?
WARD WOES: Wouldn't it be nice if we all had some good ward-by-ward polling on the mayor’s race? Instead of having some hard data readily available, your substitute Loose Lips and most everyone else in town has to gauge support by looking at the number of campaign signs and assess the mood of key constituencies. And while you never want to count out the man who swept all eight wards four years ago, Mayor Adrian Fenty seems to be having some trouble connecting with voters in Ward 6! At least with those likely voters who showed up to the Ward 6 Democratic Legacy Dinner & Awards at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest last week.
A spy at the Thursday dinner reports to your substitute LL: "He's the mayor of a major city and nobody wanted to talk to him. … And when he approached people, it looked very awkward. People felt uncomfortable talking to him. I've never seen anything like it." The mayor, apparently, left after 10 minutes. Awkward! Mind you, the week before at Peter Bug Day in Ward 6, the mayor was "greeted with rounds of Boos and a few cheers," WTOP’s Mark Segraves reported.
All this fits into the general theme that Hizzoner's in trouble. Because he is. So sayeth Washington Post columnist Colby King. As your substitute LL can attest from this Memorial Day weekend, the chattering classes were chattering about Colby's Saturday column and about how everso nice that WaPo Magazine First Person Singular profile of Vincent Gray was. It’s like the D.C. Council chairman’s very own “Profiles in Courage,” except much shorter. But that’s perfect for the magazine’s compact format these days!
But back to Colby and political calculus: Adrian’s facing trouble on his home turf, Ward 4. And that’s not a good sign.
Anecdotal, but telling: A neighbor and early Fenty supporter refuses to put up a yard sign this time. Another neighbor, a friend for 50 years and a member of Fenty's fraternity — as am I — is a first-time volunteer in a political campaign … to defeat Fenty. There's a lot of that swirling around, and it represents a sea change in attitude toward a mayor who carried every precinct in the city four years ago.
Colby’s column echoes Robert McCartney's assessment from May 20 where the scribe counted Fenty and Gray signs around Ward 4. Wouldn't it be nice if you could win an election based only on the number of deployed campaign signs?!?! Maybe that's Vincent Orange's strategy for to win the race for D.C. Council chairman? More on him in a bit …
AFTER THE JUMP—Mayor Fenty’s Big G go-go endorsement! Don Peebles' Siamese fighting fish strategy! More budget! More streetcars! Jim Graham’s gift to early-at-em soccer nuts! Oh, I’m so jacked up on espresso and early morning sunshine I can't stop using exclamation points! There's so much more!
TRACKING HIZZONER VIA TWEETS! There's already a fake Adrian Fenty Twitter feed. But look here! Might there be a legitimate slow drip of Twitter dispatches from Hizzoner’s re-election campaign? "DC is moving forward faster than ever to being a true world class city. With your support we'll continue to take on our greatest challenges head on." Sounds like the mayor. Confirmation is in progress.
As of this morning, @Fenty_ReElect was following only four Twitter feeds: the verified account for President Obama and feeds for the White House, the White House's Open Government Initiative and U.S. House floor updates. (Maybe the mayor is closely watching Congress, just in case a D.C. voting rights bill is introduced again?) As of 8 a.m., yours truly was one of @Fenty_ReElect's two followers, along with some "evil" Russian gamer.
The power of Twitter also informs us that on Sunday, the mayor was going door to door on at 6th and K streets NE (that's via Lydia DePillis from Housing Complex), the 600 block of 3rd Street NE and, apparently, the house of someone’s grandma!
A GO-GO ENDORSEMENT: Oh what's this? Ralph Anwan Glover a.k.a. Big G of Backyard Band go-go fame, WKYS’ "Ghetto Prince Show" and HBO's "The Wire" endorsing the mayor? What’s reaction like in the ever-important Twitterverse? Some fellow named Mr. Malibu Bobby—love the name!—declares: "Now that’s street cred." Others were naturally curious with the mayor’s "gogo themed election." LL wonders how that might play with Ward 3 voters!
A somber backgrounder: In August 2007, the mayor and Big G appeared together at a crime scene news conference on Girard Street NW in Columbia Heights that hit home particularly hard for Glover. His brother, Tayan Glover had been shot and killed in a rash of violence on a particularly troubled block. WaPo wrote at the time:
Ralph Glover said yesterday that he has been shot 13 times; he once wore those shootings as a badge of honor. But as his celebrity has risen — from playing buckets on the streets, to fronting for the Back Yard go-go band, to the HBO series — he has repeatedly been called on by city leaders to be a cause for change. For three years, he has been a close associate of Fenty's, appearing with him frequently to oppose violence.
Glover's relationship with city officials these days has improved considerably since the days of 1997, when a D.C. police officer was shot and killed outside a Backyard show at the old Ibex club at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW in Ward 4 sparking a go-go crackdown across the city. As Mark Jennings of CP wrote at the time, "Mayor Marion Barry, D.C. councilmembers, and community activists have hailed the go-go crackdown as an overdue effort to restore order to a musical nook of the city that had gotten out of control."
BLACK PRIDE POLITICS: As Fenty’s been courting the go-go vote, other campaigns have been fostering other constituencies. D.C. Black Pride held its annual gathering over the weekend. The big attention had been on how Wale backed out amid accusations of homophobia, but ended up performing as an unpaid guest. But no such controversy involving D.C. politicos. According to Metro Weekly, the campaigns of Vince Gray, Harry Thomas Jr., Kwame Brown were represented.
ANOTHER ENDORSEMENT FOR GRAY: On the heels of D.C. police and fire union endorsements for Vincent Gray last week came the thumbs up for Gray from the District of Columbia Nurses Association, Tim Craig at D.C. Wire reported Friday.
DON’T COUNT OUT DON JUST YET? Bruce DePuyt of News Channel 8 is floating an interesting theory about developer Don Peebles, the man who has been slowly torturing the city for months by not making up his mind on a mayoral run. DePuyt tweets:
If anyone still cares: Wise man speculates that Don Peebles' new strategy is bypass the primary and run in Nov. if Fenty beats Gray et al.
It's totally like that scene on SPECTRE's secret yacht in "From Russia With Love" with Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Rosa Klebb and the Siamese fighting fish! Who is this "wise man" DePuyt’s been talking to? Blofeld?
ORANGE ALERT: In case you missed WAMU’s "Politics Hour" on Friday, Vincent Orange, the former Ward 5 council member and D.C. Council chairman hopeful, was a guest of Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood and declared that "[w]e have a major leadership void in the District of Columbia and I am the person to fill that void. I will bring leadership, maturity and accountability to a situation that I believe is really getting out of control."
Although he was careful in his comments about campaign rival Kwame Brown, Orange did skewer an idea by Harry Thomas Jr. talked up during last week’s budget drama, a commuter tax on D.C. government workers who live in the suburbs. But he didn’t cite the current Ward 5 council member by name:
As chairman of the council, I clearly would not have entertained a commuter tax discussion. To say you’re gonna get $105 million when you know we’re prohibited from having a commuter tax. We’re playing games and we don’t need to play games with the lives of the citizens of the District of Columbia.
Orange noted that when you have a 19-year council veteran and fiscal wonk like Ward 2’s Jack Evans not voting for the budget, the city’s in bad shape. We’re headed in the direction of a financial control board, after all! "We need to have an accountant on the council to deal with what’s transpiring now." In more ways than one …
BUDGET POST-MORTEM: WBJ's Michael Neibauer looked at the political battle over new fees. They're political poison in an election year! Vince Gray, who wants Mayor Fenty's job, and Kwame Brown, who wants Gray’s job, both wanted nothing to do with Fenty’s proposed package of new fees for business licenses, permits and other such revenue generators. Although the council refused to adopt the mayor’s new fees and hikes in fines, they’re going to go into effect anyway because the mayor can make it so. Word about that came on Friday, along with a sternly phrased mayoral rulemaking: “The delay by the Council of the District of Columbia to review and approve the Fiscal Year 2010 Balanced Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 has created the potential of an unbalanced budget.”
The Examiner’s Jonetta Rose Barras also picks apart last week's budget drama and declares that the D.C. Council chairman is no angel:
Interestingly, while Gray and his cohorts had decried Fenty's spending from the city's savings account — reducing it from $1.5 billion to less than $800 million — they took no action to restore those funds. Instead, like a character of out a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, they huddled in the corner over an imaginary commuter tax, believing their incantations could make it a reality.
Hmmm, maybe we all should reread "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" to fully comprehend the magical realism of the commuter tax. Also at The Examiner, Harry Jaffe says that last week's streetcar budgetary drama shows how Gray "prefers to serve yuppies rather than the city's more needy folk."
Former LL Mike DeBonis, now over at WaPo, makes note of another middle-of-the-night budget deal that has largely gone unnoticed and has nothing to do with streetcars! Instead, it deals with a piece of District-controlled real estate in Ward 8 being transferred to the University of the District of Columbia for use as a community college campus. With the deal involving Patricia R. Harris Education Center on Livingston Road SE, DeBonis notes that Chairman Gray "included the transfer hours before Wednesday's initial vote on the fiscal 2011 budget at the behest of council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8)."
JIM GRAHAM’S GIFT TO EARLY-AT-EM SOCCER NUTS: More D.C. Council action from Mike Neibauer: "District soccer fans would be allowed to hit the bars and hoist a pint to their favorite team as early as 7 a.m. throughout the month-long World Cup if the D.C. Council backs emergency legislation proposed by Jim Graham." That vote should be coming today.
A STREETCAR WIRE COMPROMISE? Also in council action at the Wilson Building today: Expect Ward 6's Tommy Wells to introduce a bill that would exclude H Street NE and Benning Road from the 120-year old ban that prohibits overhead wires inside the original L’Enfant city. That would remove one of the big regulatory obstacles that’s been a major drag on the long road to returning streetcars to D.C. streets. According to Greater Greater Washington, a noted historic preservation attorney says that the District’s Home Rule charter allows the D.C. Council to modify the wire ban.
ABE POLLIN’S GHOST FOR MAYOR! U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and former U.S. Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia co-wrote an op-ed in appreciation of the late Abe Pollin:
Not long ago, in the mid-1990s, the District was on the brink of financial collapse. The city couldn't make payroll. Families were fleeing to the suburbs for better schools, better jobs, better quality of life. We in Congress did what we could to help the nation's capital get back on its feet.
But in large part, the rebirth of Washington can be attributed and traced to the remarkable efforts of one man: Abe Pollin.
That’s a pretty nice endorsement. But your substitute LL still misses the now-defunct Fun Street. R.I.P. Mr. Pollin and Fun Street. All hail Abe Pollin Way!
BRIEFLY: A proposed contract between 4,000 D.C. public school teachers and the District is expected to be ratified, WaPo's Bill Turque reports: "The package would boost the average salary for a D.C. educator from $67,000 to about $81,000, elevating it to near the top of the pay scale for public school teachers in the Washington region, according to a union survey." George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers' Union, tells Turque he's optimistic that the contract will be OK'd, but also expects some teachers to use the vote "as an opportunity to smack" Chancellor Michelle Rhee.
D.C. Fire/EMS Chief Dennis Rubin wants a ban on all consumer fireworks in the District, WTOP reports.
In Monday’s edition of DC Watch’s themail, Karl Jeremy says that David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington and all those pesky tweeters are in control of the D.C. budget and not D.C. Council members! DCist senior editor Martin Austermuhle tweets: "Ugh. DC Watch's themail has become a sounding board for stodgy old-timers. There. I said it." Indeed you did, Martin ...
WaPo's Matt Schudel reports that Victor Selman, chief operating officer of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, died May 22 at the age of 64. Selman, a veteran of the D.C. government since 1983, "was an economic development specialist with the Office of Business and Economic Development before the agency became part of the Department of Housing and Community Development." He served four months as DCHD's interim director under Mayor Fenty.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY: Committee of the Whole (Meeting), Additional Committee Meeting, 10 a.m. Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500
Thirty-Seventh Legislative Meeting (Meeting), 11 a.m.; Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500
MAYOR’S SCHEDULE: No public events scheduled.
Have a good day. Send me tips. I'll be back tomorrow!