Vincent Gray’s Background Check: Loose Lips Daily
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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."
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.
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