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Vincent Gray’s Background Check: Loose Lips Daily

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"Bryan Weaver Snags Latino Caucus Endorsement," "Adrian Fenty Is Bustin' Loose"

Good Morning. LL has tons of mayoral campaign items. But first, WaPo's editorial board drops a masterful editorial on Vincent Gray's tenure as DHS Director under then-Mayor Sharon Pratt. It's a must read for anyone who a) Didn't live in the District in the bad old early '90s; and b) feels like they need a straight-forward, clear-eyed assessment of what Gray accomplished or didn't accomplish when he ran a big city agency. WaPo writes:

"Mr. Gray's campaign provided us with an eight-page document detailing his accomplishments at the department. He expanded early childhood programs, developing a plan to immunize children and reduce infant deaths. Outreach and education efforts initiated by Mr. Gray helped to lower infant mortality from a rate of 20 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 16.1 in 1995. (The rate was 13.1 in 2007, the most recent year with confirmed data.) He helped engineer a partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for a new approach to helping the homeless. He was unafraid of advocating for needed but controversial programs to combat AIDS such as condom distribution in schools and clean needle exchanges. Likewise, he refused to let racial politics derail the appointment of able Health Commissioner Mohammad N. Akhter, opposed by some because he wasn't black or from the District.

Nonetheless, the campaign document provides an incomplete, if not distorted, picture. It boasts about his closing the Cedar Knoll youth facility without mentioning that Congress forced the shutdown. It claims credit for a decision to place nurses in D.C. public schools, which came only after the city was held in contempt for failing to do so. Mr. Gray closed the city's notorious Forest Haven mental asylum, but that accomplishment would be tarnished by subsequent abuses that occurred in the community settings that replaced it. Overall, the early '90s proved to be a period in which the city was either unable or unwilling to administer its own social programs. From juvenile justice to foster care to treatment of the mentally ill, the city was in a free fall that the Dixon (and, after her marriage, Kelly) administration proved inept at stopping or even slowing."

There's so much more. Just click on the link. LL will just quote WaPo's final line: "It's hard to take issue with an assessment of his record as one of heartfelt labor, minimal progress and major setbacks."

OK. Now that the history lesson is over with, can we get on to the real issues? What would a Gray administration set as priorities for the next four years? What would another Fenty term look like? Would Peter Nickles still be playing Fenty's Dick Cheney? WaPo's Tim Craig reports that both candidates seem content on rehashing and litigating the past; neither candidate has so far been willing to offer detailed proposals on how they intend to deal with the bloated budget, the tax burden on the middle class, or the still-not-so-great school system. In other words, where are those four-color pamphlets with the bullet-point plans to make our streets safer and our kids book smart? Craig reports: "Officials with both campaigns said they are refining their messages to offer more specifics in coming weeks. But political strategists said Fenty and Gray face different obstacles as they seek to develop a message and persona that would offer more insight about how they would govern to an already agitated electorate. Gray, who remains relatively unknown to the broader electorate, needs to distinguish himself from Fenty on the issues while crafting a narrative that threads a thicket of competing interests to avoid divisions between voters in different parts of the city, some say. Fenty, who has been fighting perceptions that he is distant and arrogant, might have to acknowledge concerns about his personality, perhaps even make a public mea culpa, and then do a better job of explaining his governing style, observers said. And because many think Fenty benefited from policies and projects that originated with former mayor Anthony A. Williams, some observers said he needs to convince voters that he has a plan for leading a city expected to face tough spending choices."

AFTER THE JUMP—Barry's old drug connection donates thousands to Fenty campaign, Fenty vs. Gray: the Battle of the Go-Go Bands, Metro screws up fare hike, new AIDS cases decline, and much, much more!

NEW D.C. AIDS CASES IN DECLINE: WUSA9 via the AP reports the encouraging news: "HIV testing is up and new AIDS cases are down in Washington D.C. That's according to a new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The HIV/AIDS rate in the nation's capital is nearly 10 times the national rate. But the report shows that the number of newly diagnosed AIDS cases decreased from 164 cases per 100,000 people in 2004 to 107 in 2008."

BARRY DRUG BUDDY TURNS FENTY CONTRIBUTOR: The Examiner's Alan Suderman reports that Fenty may want to shake his own embarrassing tie to the early '90s: "A restaurateur who testified 20 years ago that he supplied then-Mayor Marion Barry with cocaine, a Caribbean hotel room for his girlfriend, and money in return for political access is tied to $6,000 given to Mayor Adrian Fenty's re-election campaign.Hassan Mohammadi, his wife, Yasaman Rowhani, and his Delaware-based restaurant each gave the Fenty campaign $2,000 on March 9, campaign records show. So far, Fenty has declined to say whether he will give back the money. Mohammadi testified in 1990 that he provided Barry with cocaine more than 30 times, according to published accounts of the former mayor's trial that followed an FBI sting operation at a D.C. hotel. Once, Mohammadi testified, he brought cocaine to Barry at the mayor's office in the District Building. Mohammadi also testified that that he paid for a hotel room for Barry's girlfriend on a drug-fueled trip to the Bahamas and supplied the current Ward 8 councilman with thousands of dollars in chips for a casino. The value of the chips was not paid back. 'I covered wherever I could,' Mohammadi testified in regards to Barry's drug use, according to published accounts. 'I was a true friend for Mr. Mayor; I was always there for Mr. Mayor.'"

THE '80S ARE ALSO BACK: Both major mayoral candidates are finding themselves battling over which go-go bands and musicians will support them. WaPo's Nikita Stewart has a breakdown—with the edge maybe going to Gray since Chuck Brown attended a fundraiser for the challenger. Anyway, Fenty held a go-go show this weekend. Stewart reports: "The price of admission is a voter registration form. No one under 18 is allowed without a parent. And a team of security clad in black is checking bags. After registering, guests get a green fentyreelect.com wristband. Fenty friends Sinclair Skinner, Keith Lomax and Ron Moten, all involved in controversies over the past year, are in attendance. And the basketball court is filling up with people ready to hear Subtle Thoughts, Junkyard Band and EU featuring Sugar Bear."

HISPANIC STUDENTS BEAT PEERS IN TESTING: The Examiner's Leah Fabel reports: "Among eighth-graders, Hispanic students' math scores jumped by 15 points between 2007 and 2009 on the math portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Black students saw gains of about 4 percentage points, and other racial groups were too small to be recorded accurately. Among fourth-graders, Hispanic students saw seven-point math gains since 2007, and 21 points since 2003. Their black peers saw gains of about 3 points since 2007, and 10 points since 2003. DCPS was among the only districts in the nation to see statistically significant gains among both racial groups. The NAEP, also called the Nation's Report Card, is given every two years and is the only identical measure used in districts throughout the United States. In districts like DCPS, the test is used as a measure of how well reform-minded superintendents like Michelle Rhee are succeeding. Reading scores among all racial groups saw little change between 2007 and 2009, but substantial progress since 2003, according to NAEP data. Again, Hispanic students sped ahead of their peers, gaining 19 points since 2003 while black students gained about 11 points."

METER RELIEF: You won't have to keep feeding the meter after dark on some District streets, WaPo's Nikita Stewart reports: "Just in time for the summer campaign season, the District has lifted new parking meter rules that required motorists to feed meters while trying to enjoying a night on the town. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who proposed requiring the fees to generate revenue, has heard complaints on the campaign trail. He said in an earlier interview that he would revisit the issue. On Friday, the D.C. Department of Transportation announced that many commercial areas would no longer require feeding the meters from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m."

JONETTA ROSE BARRAS: Spotlights the Ward 6 Council race between incumbent Tommy Wells and challenger Kelvin Robinson: "Residents I spoke with had mixed reactions to both candidates. One person had never heard of either — although Wells has been in office for three years. Ronald Drake, citing his encounter with the incumbent over an issue involving representation of special education students, called Wells a 'wimp and a wannabe' and accused Wells of seeing himself as 'part of the establishment and the bureaucracy,' not as a representative of the people and their needs. Adam Clampitt, who knows both candidates, disagreed. He said Wells has been 'great on the issues' and 'very responsive to citizens.' Truth be told, none of this may matter. Residents and media have focused mostly on the mayoral race — although there also are competitive and interesting contests in Wards 1, 5 and, yes, 6. 'This is a really hard environment for anyone running down ticket,' Wells said. That makes it tough for Wells but even tougher for Robinson, who, like other challengers in the council races, is unlikely likely to receive much attention."

COLBY KING: Writes about Nardyne Jefferies, whose 16-year-old daughter was killed in the March 30 drive-by, as she launches a quest for answers re: DYRS.

JAY MATHEWS: Thinks more kids should enroll in summer school: "Summer learning loss has been shown to be a likely cause of low achievement in cities such as Washington. Karl L. Alexander of Johns Hopkins University found that by ninth grade, accumulated learning loss for low-income children accounted for two-thirds of the achievement gap between them and higher-income children who had summer learning opportunities, such as trips to the library and museums."

METRO MESS: A software problem caused a delay in the new fare hikes for some. WaPo's Lisa Rein reports: "A software glitch on the first day of Metro's higher fares allowed riders using paper fare cards at 34 stations to enter for the old fare Sunday. Metro technicians discovered the problem early in the morning, said Reggie Woodruff, a Metro spokesman. The last fare gate was fixed by 2 p.m., when all stations were charging the higher fare. SmarTrip cards were charged the correct fare throughout the day. Woodruff said it was unclear why the software, recently added to fare gates in the 34 stations to upgrade the transit agency's fare collection system, failed to charge the higher amount. 'We anticipated that there might be glitches,' he said. 'With all the programming we did for so many stations, it was bound to happen.'" More fare hike coverage via WTOP, DCist.

MERCHANT OUTREACH: NC8 reports that Fenty and D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier hit NE with a little outreach: "DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and Police Chief Cathy Lanier say it's time for the violence to stop. They visited a store on 5th St., NE, Friday, where a father and son were killed by thieves Wednesday afternoon. Customers came from all around today expressing sadness and outrage over the murders of Ming-Kun Chih, 59, and his son, Li-Jen Chih, 32....Mayor Fenty and Chief Lanier went door to door among merchants trying to assure them that police will do more. And they.both emphasized the importance of surveillance cameras inside businesses. In a similar shooting of a father and son in another Northeast store last week, police arrested two men, one Wednesday and the other Thursday. In that crime, the son, Prabjhot Singh, was killed. Police have announced that the team that investigated that shooting will now be assigned to investigate the double murder of the Chihs."

FENTY BOOED: Again.

WEEKEND CRIME: Three people are killed this weekend in the District, reports NBC4.

PROF. MARTIN GINSBURG: Supreme Court Justice's husband passes away, reports NC8. More coverage via WaPo.

PEDESTRIAN STRUCK BY CAB ON MALL: The injuries are serious, reports NC8. More coverage via DCist.

OUTSIDE: It's still hot. More coverage via WTOP.

MAYOR'S SCHEDULE: No public events today.

D.C. COUNCIL'S SCHEDULE:

1 p.m. Committee on Housing and Workforce Development (Hearing)
B18-0734 the "Subsidized Nonprofit Rental Unit Tax Exemption Amendment Act of 2010"
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 412

2 p.m. Public Works and Transportation (Round Table)
PR18-999, the "Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Capital Funding Agreement Emergency Approval Resolution of 2010"
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

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  • Tom

    Cherkis, maybe you can help me with this line

    "Gray, who remains relatively unknown to the broader electorate,"

    I've seen this a couple of times now but I never understand it. How is he unknown to the electorate if he too was elected city-wide in 2006 and is the chair of the Council of the District of Columbia?

  • Jason Cherkis

    I'm not sure how he's unknown. Unless, residents are just really, really apathetic about Wilson Building politics.

  • Gordon

    Why do you say unknown candidate? Currently holds citywide elected chairman's position, won every straw poll those far, and the most endorsements. Reading other folk's columns?

  • Truth Hurts

    "Heartfelt labor, minimal progress, and major setbacks" is what the city would likely see if Gray were mayor.

  • Manor

    Funny how WaPo swipes at Pratt/Kelly as their endorsement was the primary reason she was elected.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Truth Hurts: So what do you think a second Fenty term would be?

  • downtown rez

    @TH- awesomeness circa 2007. I'd forgotten all about this.
    http://dcist.com/2007/06/28/council_chairma.php
    Read down for several eye witness accounts.

  • S.E.

    "@TH- awesomeness circa 2007. I'd forgotten all about this.
    http://dcist.com/2007/06/28/council_chairma.php
    Read down for several eye witness accounts."

    And this shows what?

  • Truth Hurts

    tried to answer you, Jason, but about half of my comments go into awaiting moderation purgatory these days.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Sorry about that TH. I'll check with tech.

  • downtown rez

    @S.E.
    Oh, I don't know...
    Arrogance? A casual disregard for the law, or at least he feels that the law is something applied to others?
    See: Lack of construction permits and getting one of the largest contractors in DC to do work on his own property, and not paying for it until reporters start asking around.

  • S.E.

    "Oh, I don't know...
    Arrogance? A casual disregard for the law, or at least he feels that the law is something applied to others?"

    Sounds a like Fenty.........

  • downtown rez

    So some say.
    And yet the article is about Gray.

  • AdrianBent-Me

    Rez- one article says this about Gray yet there has been dozens written that describe Fenty in this exact manner.

  • Brahmin

    It is hard to take the Washington Post seriously when they print emails sent to them by Fenty.

    I think that should be brought into question.

  • Pingback: Vincent Gray’s Background Check: Loose Lips Daily

  • hymesb

    Jason,

    I love how you skirted past the editorials conclusion.

    That Vincent Gray's Managerial history sucks. Minimal progress...major set-backs.

    And, love the BMW Vince! What is that? About 80 Grand? Much phatter than Barry's whip. And its killing a smart car.

    Making that money...huh? Or, you just don't pay for anything. I see you pimp, it ain't what you cop; its what you keep. Between free repairs, free fences on public property (until you got busted), scoffed parking tickets, free meals, free baseball tickets. Kicks on the Lottery contract after you retire. Your people got private sector jobs. Your Social security check and senior citizen discount. Your paid....homie.

  • Truth Hurts

    Was it hard to take WAPO seriously 4 years ago when it endorsed Gray over Patterson for council chair(the dumbest endorsement in WAPO's history)? Or is it hard to take WAPO seriously only when they criticize Gray?

    @ Jason, in answer to your question about what 4 more years of Fenty as mayor would look like, I think it'll probably be marked by continued substantial progress along with a few setbacks and occassional boneheaded moves. Also an impatient "make it happen" style of governance rather than "let's deliberate" forever.

  • S.E.

    Unbelievable

  • AdrianBent-Me

    TH- "substantial progress" from Fenty- more dog parks? Frat buddies getting hundreds of millions of dollars to renovate parks.

    "make it happen" style of governance is Fenty's way of avoiding oversight into his shady dealings. It's not to the benefit of anyone in the City except Fenty and his friends. You think overpaying for these projects that Fenty takes credit for is progressive? Come on, seriously?

    I for one prefer someone who at least attempts to deliberate rather than someone who waits for no one.

  • Truth Hurts

    ABM: Let's face it. You simply can't stand Fenty and I simply can't stand Gray. I don't think you're cheerleading for Gray so much as criticizing Fenty. The same holds true for me, just in reverse. My comment on another four years of Fenty was only in direct response to Cherkis' request. And yes, I was serious.

    Re frat brothers, take a look at Gray's frat bro: Bruce Bereano, a felon who's scheme was unlawfully funneling money to politicians he lobbied in Maryland. Gray continues to rake in dough from Bereano although Bereano's been disbarred in Md and DC. Just google Bruce Bereano and Vince Gray.

  • Renee L. Bowser

    I looked at the executive summary of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for DC. I went to the federal gov. website and examined the scores from the 2009 NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA). Mathematics scores were higher in DC at grade 4 in the comparison of DC students to public school students in other large cities. But a break down of the scores into Black, Hispanic, White, and Students eligible for school lunch (i.e., poor) showed that only the scores of White students went up, Hispanic student scores were flat, Black student scores went down, and those of students who are eligible for school lunch went down. Looking at these statistics, I'm always amazed about how much credit Michelle Rhee gets when a close look as the statistics really show that she does not merit all the praise heaped on her.

  • Carpetbagger

    @Renee:
    It looks like not a whole hell of a lot has changed since I ran, not walked, to Arlington County. When I come back, I'm gonna work like hell to make sure that none of my children become part of that downward trend for Black children in DC schools.

  • downtown rez

    @TH
    @ Jason, in answer to your question about what 4 more years of Fenty as mayor would look like, I think it'll probably be marked by continued substantial progress along with a few setbacks and occasional boneheaded moves. Also an impatient "make it happen" style of governance rather than "let's deliberate" forever.
    Perfect. You are exactly right. The practical choice before us is to move eagerly forward, or reluctantly forward.
    Because let's be clear- DC is an international destination and an international financial marketplace. Like it or not, forward we will go, and the local government cannot change that. But will our government boldly meet challenges head-on, or will it act parochial, hide its head in the sand, and dishonestly play to regressives by throwing insincere tantrums? That's a real question we face.

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