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Back To The Early ’90s: Loose Lips Daily

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: "Travis Childers For D.C. Council? Stick To Mississippi, Activists Say," "D.C.'s Guardian Angels Are Broke," "Jaffe Tried To Kill Police Complaints Office With Errors," "Defense: Here's How You Scale An 'Impossible' Fence," "With NCPC Ruling, Gray Takes Aim At Fenty's Jock Base," "Roberto Donna Pleads Guilty To Felony Embezzlement"

Howdy. WaPo flooded the zone yesterday with thinky takeaways from Wednesday's mayoral forum in which Mayor Adrian Fenty tapped away at his BlackBerry, answered his critics who say he doesn't do enough on affordable housing, and vigorously fought Vincent Gray over the proposed elected AG position. Tim Craig, reporting in D.C. Wire, noted that Fenty came out against the D.C. Council-endorsed elected AG position: "Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) said Wednesday night that he has concerns about creating an elected attorney general position because, he said, it would force the city to hire two sets of attorneys – one for the mayor and the government and another for the public– at a significant cost to taxpayers. On Wednesday, the D.C. Council authorized a referendum for the November ballot asking voters if they want the attorney general to be elected. Some council members are pushing for the change because they fear appointed attorney generals in general – and Attorney General Peter Nickles specifically – have been too cozy with the mayors that appoint them. Key Quote: "You are essentially creating two different sets of attorney generals," Fenty said. "Ones that are elected and then we will have to have a whole separate budget for ones that are appointed." LL thought the attorney general represented the city's interests—not the mayor's interests. Hmmm.

Gray then cornered Fenty after the debate. Craig has the awesome details:

"Gray noted that the office of the Chief Financial Officer stated an elected attorney general would not result in more costs for taxpayers. In Virginia, for example, the attorney general's office represents the governor during lawsuits.

After Fenty gave his statement on the issue, the mayoral candidates forum ended. Gray immediately walked up to Fenty and appeared whisper off-mic, 'It's not true.' Fenty responded with a grin, 'Alright, have a good a night.' In an interview later, Gray said he didn't tell Fenty that he wasn't truthful. 'My statement to him was why don't you go research that Mr. Mayor and check the fiscal impact statement,' Gray said."

Check the fiscal impact statement. Is this the campaign zinger we'll remember?

AFTER THE JUMP: A review of last night's mayoral debate, Metro checks its vital signs, a tragedy in Northeast, the Potomac River is a draw for immigrant communities, Barry stars in another controversy, and much, much more!

THURSDAY'S MAYORAL DEBATE: WaPo's Tim Craig dissects last night's debate. Fenty outlined what will surely be his talking points throughout the campaign. The mayor attacked Gray on two fronts: 1) He emphasized Gray's connection to the Sharon Pratt administration, and 2) suggested that a vote for Gray is a vote for Michelle Rhee's resignation. Craig reports: "In a side of the mayor that few have seen before in public, Fenty warned Gray cannot be trusted to oversee schools, crime or the budget because the council chairman was part of former mayor Sharon Pratt's administration in the early 1990s. 'I don't know what city you are looking at, but to me, this is a city where management is getting things done,' Fenty said at a candidates forum in Northwest. 'It certainly is not the city of the early 1990s when the homicide rate was at 500 people or the schools were plummeting down, and we were the worst in everything and no one in the executive branch or the legislative branch did anything about it...This is a city that is getting things done and I think its time we continue it for another four years.'.... Gray, who was hampered by a moderator who kept to a strict two-minute time limit for candidate responses to questions, appeared unprepared for Fenty's attack on his record as the director of human services during the Pratt administration. Gray instead spoke extensively about his record as council chairman while warning that overspending by the Fenty administration risks the city's financial future. Gray also accused Fenty of engaging in "one of the worst examples of cronyism" when he awarded city contracts to several of his fraternity brothers. 'The first thing I would do (as mayor) is bring fiscal discipline back to the District of Columbia,' said Gray, noting the mayor has relied heavily on the city's reserve funds to balance recent budgets. 'Unless we restore fiscal order back to the District of Columbia, we are not going to be able to do anything.'" More coverage via DCist.

LANIER ON IMMIGRATION: On WTOP's Ask the Chief program, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says she supported the Secure Communities program: "The new immigration law in Arizona is having a ripple effect across the country, and the debate over how authorities report the immigration status of suspects has now come to the D.C. area. Police departments across the country are joining a program called 'Secure Communities,' where the fingerprints of everyone arrested are shared with immigration officials. Speaking on WTOP's Ask the Chief program on Thursday, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says Secure Communities is a good program. 'Secure Communities is so very different than what happened in Arizona,' Lanier says. 'This is not civil immigration enforcement.' Under the program, when a suspect is arrested – whether they are convicted or not – police will take their fingerprints and put them into the FBI database. Secure Communities allows Immigration and Custom Enforcement's database to link with the FBI database in order to identify level one criminals – those involved in homicides, sexual assaults and more serious felony offenses." More coverage via AP.

METRO'S VITAL SIGNS: The Examiner's Kytja Weir reviews the first report or "vital signs" issued by interim General Manager Richard Sarles: "The 23-page report outlines key areas such as on-time performance, customer and employee injury rates, elevator system reliability and the system's crime rate. The agency has tracked such data in the past but it has been buried in sporadic reports to board of directors' committees instead of as a single monthly report. The report shows that on-time performance for Metrobus hit 73.8 percent in April, meaning one of four buses showed up "late:" More than two minutes earlier than scheduled or seven minutes later. Metrorail was on time 90.3 percent of the time, below the 95 percent target. The Blue Line had the worst record with 88.9 percent on-time service."

STREETCARS: So what are the political consequences of Gray's apparent flip-flop on streetcars? WaPo's Mike DeBonis reports out the timeline of events—from Gray cutting funding at 2 a.m. to restoring funding for the project some 12 hours later—and gets react from the Council Chairman and streetcar activists. The surprise: Gray comes out of this looking not-so-terrible: "The good news: Gray actually came out of this pretty well. Leaders on both sides of the issue say the mayoral wannabe managed not to completely squander their goodwill. Meg Maguire, a leader on streetcar issues for the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, which has opposed overhead wires in certain historic areas, says she's pleased that Gray's compromise included a requirement for more comprehensive planning. 'It seems to be moving in a direction that is going to end up with a reasonable set of policies," she said.'" This substitute LL thinks that he was way too harsh on Gray over this issue.

But WBJ Michael Neibauer points out in his own streetcar piece: "The last-minute restoration of $47 million in streetcar funding that D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray had slashed from next year’s budget will end up depleting by one-third the debt service capacity available for other, yet-to-be-financed projects in the city. The District is limited by a statutory 12 percent debt cap, meaning its annual debt service payments must not exceed 12 percent of its general fund expenses. Having borrowed billions of dollars for all manner of projects, the government is right up against the cap today and will come even closer in each of the next five years. Before it adopted the budget, the city was expected to be about $14.5 million under the debt cap in 2014 — the last year of the five-year budget plan. Then came the May 26 legislative session, during which the council agreed to borrow $47 million for streetcars to replace the money Gray had removed hours earlier. That decision depleted the available below-cap money by $4 million a year, leaving virtually no wiggle room for other projects going forward."

BARRY NONSENSE: Marion Barry + accusation of political favors= LL's bread and butter. D.C. Wire reports on the latest Barry-related controversy this time coming from the Council Chairman race: Former council member Vincent Orange this week accused his rival, council member Kwame Brown (D-At Large), of trading a prominent committee chairmanship for an endorsement. Orange said late Thursday that he'd heard rumors for weeks that Brown had promised Barry the Economic Development Committee post in exchange for his endorsement, an assertion Brown called 'absolutely ludicrous.' Orange approached Barry Tuesday night at an event in Ward 5, and the two have different accounts of what happened next. Orange said he 'put it to him point blank,' asking Barry about the committee chairman's spot and expressing disappointment that Barry was supporting Brown. In response, he says Barry told him, 'it's about self-preservation.' A Barry confidant told the Wire that the former mayor had personally shared word of the alleged deal and that it was common knowledge around the Wilson building. But Barry had a different account of his encounter with Orange. He said the topic never came up. 'I'm pissed at Vincent Orange for mischaracterizing the conversation,' Barry said."

DVORAK POETRY CORNER: WaPo columnist Petula Dvorak wades into the apparent mother-daughter drowning in the Potomac during Memorial Day weekend to wax poetic about the summer: "When it gets hot and dog's-breath humid, we are drawn to the water's edge. For some, that means the cold, chlorine water and soundtrack of screams, splashes and the lifeguard's frantic whistle at the pool. Or it's the salty air of the ocean beach, gulls caw-cawing, the skin on your back and shoulders tight from the sunburn after a day of building sand castles and chasing crabs. But when you're broke and you've worked all week and you get just one day to cool off, summer usually means the muddy, grassy riverside. Swimming holes. Foam coolers. Bug repellent." Key graph: "And for about 15 years, the National Park Service and Maryland rescuers saw a trend that sent them plunging into the lethal waters again and again on rescue missions. It was consistently a recent immigrant, usually Latino or Vietnamese. In 2005, the National Park Service put up signs in Vietnamese and Spanish all over the Potomac Gorge area, on the Maryland and Virginia sides of the river. They warned of the current, the undertow, the rocky bottom. And for five years, the deaths stopped. Until last year, when six people drowned." WaPo reports that two as-yet identified bodies have been pulled from the Potomac.

TRAGEDY IN NORTHEAST: WUSA9 reports: "A four-year-old boy chased his basketball onto the the 1600 block of Montello Avenue,NE Thursday evening, was struck by a car, and killed. Police have not publicly identified the child. Neighbors say the incident happened at about seven o'clock near the intersection of Raum Street. 'We do have the driver at this time and indications do not reveal any foul play, or any charges against the driver,' said Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes of the Metropolitan Police Department. 'I saw that car cruising up the street but he want going fast,' said neighbor Joe Robinson. 'He was nice, he was a nice little, boy you know. Whatever his mother tell him to do he would do...He always was happy when i saw him. He would run up to me and hug me, you know, and say "Hi" all the time,' said neighbor Arnetta Moses."

SPELLING BEE CONTROVERSY: Wow, even the Spelling Bee draws a protest (NC8)

NEW YORK AVENUE: The water main break has been repaired.

MOCO SCHOOLS: Students get to learn about substantial layoffs.

ROBERT WONE: A review of Day 12 at the conspiracy trial.

WEEKEND MUST-READ: Vanity Fair's profile of Sally Quinn.

KOJO: His guests: Metro board chairman Peter Benjamin and Congressman Gerry Connolly.

MAYOR'S SCHEDULE: Fenty has no public events today.


10:30 a.m.
Committee on Finance and Revenue (Hearing)
B18-749, the "King Towers Residential Housing Real Property Tax Exemption Act of 2010"
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

11:30 a.m.
Committee on Finance and Revenue and Economic Development (Hearing)
B 18-806, the "Center Leg Freeway (Interstate 395) PILOT and Air Rights Disposition Act of 2010"
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

Committee on Economic Development (Hearing)
B 18-0800; PR 18-0888; PR 18-0889
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

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  • hymesb

    Boy you love Vincent Gray,

    Lost the subtle phrases like

    "Gray, who was hampered by a moderator who kept to a strict two-minute time limit for candidate responses to questions"

    It was the moderators fault he can't answer questions.

    And this Gem qouted from Mr. Debonis "Gray comes out of this looking not-so-terrible: "The good news: Gray actually came out of this pretty well. Leaders on both sides of the issue say the mayoral wannabe managed not to completely squander their goodwill. "

    I love the conclusion. The certainty with which this is brushed off.

    No, my friends, this could be viewed as demonstrating that Mr. Gray is a wishy washy politician that will bend to political pressure quickly. His, "staffing error" excuse falls flat. Add that to admitting that he will not attempt to raise taxes on wealthy "because" he is campaiging. Thereafter, refusing to vote on proposed fee increases "because" he is in an election. Throw in the ineffectiveness of his management in the ineffective Pratt-Kelly Admin.

    From what I can see Mr. Gray is relying on his ability to provoke Black people's fear , uncertainty, doubt; and at times, all out hostility towards Fenty by characterizing him as an Uncle Tom.

  • Sean

    I'm not understanding the mayor's argument. In the Federal Gov't the White House General Counsel position and the US Attorney General position are held by two different people with no problem.

  • Jason Cherkis

    I'm not endorsing Gray. I merely quoted from Tim Craig's WaPo piece. Your beef seems to be with his characterization with the debate.

  • LC

    I saw Mayor Fenty SCROLL down his Blackberry, maybe for notes. What's wrong with that? In fact, I find it a brilliant source of information and more people should be using their blackberry, IPADS, etc., to keep their speeches, notes, etc., instead of killing our trees to make more paper.

  • S.E.

    "No, my friends, this could be viewed as demonstrating that Mr. Gray is a wishy washy politician that will bend to political pressure quickly."

    Kind of reminds you of Fenty's flip flop on the baseball stadium.

  • John

    Yeah, like Gray's (he ran a campaign against) and Kwame's (he ran a campaign against).

  • Indeed

    Is it normal for a person who is in the middle of a debate have a staff member hand them an answer? Was the person who handed it to him a government employee or an employee of his campaign?

  • proballdc

    The Council led by Vincent Gray has been more transparent than it has EVER been. And Adrian Fenty set on this very Council, prior to Gray, from 2000-2006. Adrian Fenty prefers to operate in the shadows outside of public scrutiny. His apologetic 'subjects' suggest that that is just the way a Master has to conduct business to get things done when the opposite is true.

  • Jason Cherkis

    What if a presidential candidate consulted with their BlackBerry during a debate? They would get hammered.

  • LC

    @JC yes, what if, but that's not what we're talking about.

  • Rob

    Someone was probably texting the answers to Fenty...sort of like cheating on an exam.

  • Proballdc

    @LC: That is EXACTLY what we are talking about. I know as a loyal subject of your Master Fenty, you feel that you must defend any factual criticism of his competence and ability to effectively communicate. But face it, the man just aint that bright.

    EXECUTIVES, are expected to be able to speak concisely and clearly about the accomplishments that they have worked to achieve on the spot. It's that simple. Major accomplishments only come after major planning and deliberation so recalling them shouldn't be a stretch. Unless, the long nights and deliberations occurred during another EXECUTIVES tenure (i.e. Mayor Anthony Williams).

    Speaking of Anthony Williams, he never EVER used a blackberry or cue cards when speaking to the people. He may have been a bit dull, but he had an excellent command of the English language and even had regularly scheduled weekly press conferences where he put himself before the wolves (that would be reporters). For that matter, I can't think of a single Mayor of this city that ever has. Not even Marion Barry.

    If you expect so little of the Chief Executive of this city, then, maybe it is not Fenty that has the problem.

  • hymesb

    The fact that he checked his Blackberry is a small issue. It would have been a bigger issue if he had no answers.

  • Proballdc

    @hymesb: Well, I disagree, if on the other end of that blackberry was a government bureaucrat providing the answers to the questions for him. That would be AGAINST THE LAW...A clear violation of the federal Hatch Act which bars the use of public time, personnel, and equipment for the purposes of campaigning. Now that is something that the press could utilize FOIA to find out. Just who WAS the Mayor consulting with? Inquiry minds want to know.

    Of course, those silly little federal and local laws are of no concern to King Fenty and his loyal peasant subjects.

  • Rick Mangus

    Vincent Gray looks like he could be a spoksman and model for the funeral industry

  • Proballdc

    Adrian Fenty looks like he could be the newest member of the teenage mutant ninja turtles.

  • LC

    @Proballdc yes I do agree that Execs are expected to be able to speak concisely and clearly about the accomplishments on the spot. And I do agree that people should not violate the Hatch Act.

    But my interpretation of what Fenty was doing (which I believe was checking his notes via Blackberry), was no better than the rest of them with all their pieces of paper and/or note cards in front of them going through trying to remember their points and positions on whatever question was being asked of them.

    In fact, Councilmembers depend on staff behind them, next to them, and tons of paper in front of them while they are on the dias holding hearings of their own committees.

    That's why I don't think it's such a big deal either.

  • ESPN

    Lol @proballdc...
    Good one. Rick yours was good too so dont get upset... Good thing we arent voting for either of them because of their looks... but based on their history. You Fenty supporters seem to want to blame Vince for all of the 90's based on him being an agency head during a time when the city was "given" little to no money to support itself.

    That's like if Lanier or Rhee TWENTY YEARS from now ran for mayor and they were blamed for the 50 million that was stolen from the tax office.?!?!?!?!
    Wouldn't make since then and it doesnt make sence now.

    So lets look at what Vince did as agency head... how much of a budget was he given to do it and what did his boss demand of him as such... IF you must keep bringing up that ONE job of his.

    Now let's look at Fenty and how much money HE gave each agency and how HE told them to spend it.....

    Uhhh, boys and girls can you say BANKRUPT? Because that is where our city will be AGAIN if we continue to let Fenty be the head honcho.

    YES Vince bows to public pressure which at least means he will be working FOR THE CITIZENS instead of what we have now... a mayor who thinks the citizens work for him!

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  • downtown rez

    What's wrong with drawing on a rainy day fund in response to the worst economic crisis since the 30's?
    I think it would be irresponsible not to have done this.
    If my salary was cut, I wouldn't let my family go without food or cloths rather than dipping into my savings account.

  • IMGoph

    why not say that the child was killed in trinidad, jason, instead of the nebulous "northeast"? that's the kind of weak cop-out that the wapo and the TV channels use. i thought the city paper was more down-to-the-ground and could actually identify some of the city's neighborhoods...