D.C.’s Savior Complex: Loose Lips Daily
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In CASE YOU MISSED IT—"LaVar's Crazy Gender Studies," "Fifth Amendment Doesn't Apply To Feces-Flinging Inmate," "Lanier Denies Covering Up Fenty Abuse," "Shooting In Congress Heights," "Vincent Gray's Education Plan Takes Aim At Fenty Ribbon Cuttings"
Good morning. I'm wondering: Is Michelle Rhee dc.gov's Albert Haynesworth? Rhee had been heralded as the savior of DCPS and brought here with unprecedented power and control over the school system. Now, she's saying that if the city gets a new head coach (who may want to tweak the playbook), she may not stick around. Is this the kind of leader we want on our team?
Here's the first graph of Gray's education plan released yesterday: "Vince Gray will make our children’s education the number one priority of his administration. He will be an involved Mayor who takes all stakeholders seriously, who stands by his Schools Chancellor, and who works tirelessly for well-managed, smart reform." Does this sound like a guy who wants to dramatically alter the chancellor's job description? His plan calls for expanding reform to include pre-pre-school, wants that reform to be sustainable (if Rhee leaves what does that say about her reform agenda?), and wants everyone to get along and be transparent (Rhee may have a problem with that last agenda item). Edgy stuff.
Here's what Gray had to say on the chancellor position:
"Vince is committed to having a strong Chancellor who is fully empowered to implement community-driven reform. He will collaborate with the Chancellor to ensure that we keep and build on effective people and programs already in the system.
A Vince Gray administration will put an immediate end to management by ribbon cutting and sound bites, and give the Chancellor the support she needs to fulfill her promise to the students of the District of Columbia. As Mayor, Vince will give the DCPS Chancellor the tools and controls to manage his or her budget. He will continue to support the Chancellor in making hard choices with regard to staffing, hiring, and firing decisions to get bad teachers out of the classroom and keep good teachers in the classroom. He will work closely with the Chancellor and ensure all the resources of District government are brought to bear in supporting kids."
Gray's problem seems to be with Fenty's leadership. But Rhee, this week at least, more than hinted that she's out if residents kick out Jim Zorn, I mean Adrian Fenty. WaPo's Valerie Strauss thinks Rhee has made a mistake by trying to bigfoot her way into the election: "Never mind that she really doesn’t know how Gray will approach their relationship. What political candidates say during a campaign is not always what they do if they win and take office. Considerations change. What is more important, and of more concern, is that Rhee surely knows the importance of consistency in school leadership. She knows she was the seventh person to head the school system in a decade when she arrived in 2007, and that the constant turnover at the top was disastrous for the city’s schools. Rhee states frequently that her concern is only for D.C. schoolchildren. If that is so, it seems odd that she would be so quick to suggest that she might abandon them without giving a new mayor a chance to do what she considers the right thing. Her comments are hardly a great lesson for young people, who need more than ever to learn how to listen to other views and compromise. Would it not be a far better message for Rhee to tell D.C. schoolchildren that she is here to stay and fight to improve their schools?" More coverage on the Gray education plan via The Examiner, WaPo.
AFTER THE JUMP—Fenty vs. rumors day 2, Vince Gray compared to tofu, shake-up at Office of Risk Management, details revealed on Councilmember Phil Mendelson's DYRS bill, and much, much more!
VALENTINE'S DAY: The Examiner's Alan Suderman reports that the head of the troubled Office of Risk Management has resigned: "Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration has placed Kelly Valentine, the director of the District's embattled Office of Risk Management, on administrative leave. The Washington Examiner first reported last month that whistleblowers told the FBI that Valentine gave lucrative contracts to her friends. Contracts ranging from health insurance coverage and private investigations were handed off to companies with ties to Valentine, according to whistleblowers. Last month, Fenty and his attorney general, Peter Nickles, held a news conference where they announced that the District might have to pay $6 million to cover the life insurance premiums the city collected from hundreds of disabled employees over seven years but didn't pass along to the insurance companies. Nickles asked the city's inspector general to conduct an investigation into Risk Management. Besides the FBI and the inspector general, city Auditor Deborah Nichols and the finance office's integrity team have also begun probes. Valentine hasn't responded to repeated requests seeking comment. In addition to the multiple investigations, Risk Management has been besieged by multiple outside contractors demanding payments on outstanding debts."
METRO: WMATA and Virginia make peace. WaPo's Lisa Rein and Anita Kumar report: "Metro's board of directors signed off Thursday on an agreement with Virginia to provide $300 million to match federal funding for safety improvements, ending a month-long battle over the state's push to be represented on the board.The deal will allow the transit agency to sign an $886 million contract Friday for 428 new rail cars, a high-priority purchase that was in danger of falling through. The federal government has agreed to give Metro $1.5 billion for capital needs over 10 years as long as Virginia, Maryland and the District match the money. 'These cars are extremely important to the safety of our customers,' interim General Manager Richard Sarles said after the board drew up a contract with Virginia officials. Of the 428 cars, 128 will help Metro provide service on the Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport, and 300 will replace Metro's oldest rail cars. The administration of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) had threatened to withhold Virginia's share of the money unless the state gets two members on the Metro board. Four seats are held by elected officials from Fairfax and Arlington counties and Alexandria, and McDonnell wants to appoint two of them. Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton said Virginia wants more accountability from Metro in the aftermath of last year's fatal Red Line crash. Including its contribution to the matching funds, the state will contribute more to Metro than the Northern Virginia local governments, Connaughton said. But the state decided last week to pay without an agreement on the seats."
VOTE-BUYING: The District will be doing same-day voter registration this year. This could be a mess. Yesterday, the D.C. Council held a roundtable talk on preventing fraud. The Examiner's Emily Babay reports: "Starting with the Sept. 14 primary, people can register to vote at the polls on election day, which has spurred questions about the potential for bought or fraudulent votes. "Votes from same-day registrants will be cast as provisional ballots and subject to review, said Board of Elections and Ethics chief Rokey Suleman. He was among a group of officials from the agency speaking Thursday at a D.C. Council Government Operations and the Environment Committee public roundtable. Suleman said people must vote in the precinct in which they live, so poll workers should recognize voters who try to register outside their precinct. The BOEE plans to have five lawyers staffing a hot line to respond to fraud allegations. But that might not be enough, said Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh, who urged the BOEE officials to increase that number. 'Five seems a little thin to me,' Cheh said. Same-day registration is expected to cause some 'administrative difficulties' on election day, Suleman acknowledged."
VINCE GRAY=TOFU: WaPo's Mike DeBonis makes the case that Gray is tofu: "It's [Fenty's] chief rival, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), who is racking up endorsements from unions, business groups, ward organizations and others. He can't get the yard signs out fast enough. He's started raising money at an impressive clip. And pretty much all he's had to do is show up." But that Fenty is acting like King Fenty, oblivious of how badly he's campaigned: "He's now in full bloom of explaining to disaffected voters why they hate him so much and why they should vote for him again in spite of it. The Fenty entreaty goes something like this: 'People see a willingness to make tough decisions that we haven't seen in a long time in D.C.,' he said Wednesday night, talking to a group of gay and lesbian supporters about school reform. 'You could probably do this the safe and secure way, but it would probably take two or three decades. . . . We need it to happen fast.' When you step into the voting booth, he said, 'remember our commitment to taking on the tough issues.' Politics, unfortunately, is more complicated than ascribing mass disaffection to 'tough decisions.'" This is the must read piece of the week.
LANIER REFUTES FENTY RUMORS; WTOP's Mark Segraves asked MPD Chief Cathy Lanier about those pesky rumors concerning the mayor, domestic violence, and her role in covering it all up: "Lanier said she had been hearing the rumors for years. 'Actually, those rumors surfaced – I believe – as soon as he began running for mayor, and they've been around ever since,' Lanier said. 'Periodically, they will pop back up, but I can tell you without any question, nobody in the Metropolitan Police Department would cover that up. Certainly, I wouldn't cover that up as a district commander.'"
METRO MESS: City Fix DC blog has a great accounting of a Metro taskforce meeting in which residents vented their frustrations.
MANHOLE: Explosion in Southwest (NC8).
SHOOTING: Woman shot in Northeast (WUSA9).
DYRS REFORM: Here is a summary of Councilmember Phil Mendelson's DYRS reform bill in full. We'll probably crash Washington City Paper's site with this! Here it is:
"Bill 18-344 concerns the confidentiality of information about juveniles who are in the juvenile justice system. Major changes to the current law include:
1. Amends the DYRS establishment act to permit the MPD to access without court order certain records – such as surveillance tapes – in the possession of DYRS when needed for investigating a crime allegedly involving a youth in the custody of DYRS. This amendment addresses a conflict between Titles 2 & 16 of the D.C. Code – the latter permitting “law enforcement officers [access] when necessary for the discharge of their current official duties.” This conflict came into focus June 20th when MPD responded to a melee at New Beginnings but had to get a court order before being able to view video tapes of the melee.
2. Rewrites D.C. Code §§ 16-2331, 16-2332, and 16-2333 (regarding confidentiality) to improve clarity.
3. Provides that the following information shall be public information: A child’s name, the fact that he/she was arrested, the arrest charges, the charges filed in court, whether the child was found guilty (“involved”) and, if so, the charges for which he/she was found guilty, and the child’s initial disposition (i.e., probation or DYRS commitment).
Such information shall be public information only if the child has been found guilty of a crime of violence or certain dangerous crimes, or found guilty twice of certain other felonies, including UUV, stolen auto, or felony assault; or the individual has been found guilty of any felony or a misdemeanor assault within three years of the conclusion of his juvenile sentence.
The public availability of this information will enable the public to demand accountability of government agencies responsible for prosecuting or rehabilitating juveniles, and will pierce the veil of confidentiality behind which some chronic, violent juvenile offenders seem to thrive.
4. Requires the MPD to publish statistics twice yearly detailing by PSA the number of juveniles arrested, as well as the charge(s) and dates of arrest.
5. Authorizes an official of MPD, Court Social Services, or DYRS to disclose certain information – but not records – about a juvenile delinquent to a school official or mental health professional when, in the professional judgment of the official, disclosure of the information will assist in the protection, welfare, treatment, or rehabilitation of the juvenile.
6. Establishes an Abscondence Review Committee (5 members plus 2 ex officio) to examine what steps could have prevented juvenile abscondence where a homicide, assault with intent to kill, or assault with a deadly weapon (firearm) was committed by or to the juvenile.
7. Preserves the status quo in the current law regarding confidentiality by making explicit that, notwithstanding the public availability of certain information, a juvenile shall not be required to disclose, and shall have the right to refuse disclosure of, his or her juvenile delinquency information in an application for employment, education, or housing."
KOJO: Maryland gubernatorial candidate Bob Ehrlich and D.C. congressional hopeful Doug Sloan.
MAYOR'S SCHEDULE: No public events.
D.C. COUNCIL'S SCHEDULE: No public events.