Debating Rhee: Loose Lips Daily
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Good afternoon. Hope you are enjoying your lunch and avoiding this heat. Michelle Rhee's suggestion last week that she may not stick around if Vincent Gray beats her boss has provoked a lot of debate. The WaPo editorial board thinks much of this election should focus on Rhee: "EVEN AS D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee suggested she might not be able to continue her work if Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) is voted out of office, she insisted the race is not about her. The key, she said, is 'the two gentlemen who are running and what their kind of stances are about education reform.' She is both right and wrong. Clearly, voters must decide whether, on the all-important issue of education, Mr. Fenty or D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) is the better choice. That decision, though, is inextricably linked to a judgment about Ms. Rhee....Mr. Gray rightly argues that reform doesn't depend upon one person. But the past three years have shown two men with a very different sense of urgency about reform. Voters who believe the D.C. schools have turned an irreversible corner may opt for Mr. Gray's slower, consensus-building style. Those who believe Ms. Rhee has made epic progress in positioning the schools for change but think there is still work to be done, will have reason to give Mr. Fenty their vote."
Meanwhile, WaPo's Jay Mathews thinks Rhee made a mistake in stepping into the political arena; and that Gray needs to realize how important Rhee actually is to school reform: "Suggesting she might leave if D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray beats Fenty, as she has in recent days, is turning her back, at least in part, on those children. Rhee has vowed to focus on the problems of students, not adults. Until now she had been true to her word. That has led many adults whose advice she has ignored and prerogatives she has overridden to wish she would go find some other school district to save. Saying she would leave if Gray is elected is good news to those people. It is bad for the principals she has appointed, the teachers who share her commitment to raising achievement and the parents who are beginning to see the teamwork, creativity and persistence in regular city public schools that they have found in many charter schools. In Gray's plan 'for ensuring a quality education for all children,' released last week, he has not committed himself to keeping Rhee. That is smart politically. He does not want to alienate her supporters or detractors. I like his plan. It is full of good intentions and reminders of how he supported mayoral control of the schools and the hiring of Rhee, although she is to my mind the most unconventional and stress-inducing administrator ever put in charge of an important American school district. But there is something lacking in Gray's plan that indicates either he doesn't care, or doesn't understand, how important his decision about Rhee will be. He gives no hint of what a disaster for public education it would be to lose this chancellor."
This substitute LL thinks all this Rhee talk is good for Fenty. But would like to hear Fenty talk about the difficult decisions he made to reform the schools–like closing 20-some schools, the teacher firings, etc. Still, plenty of room for debate in the comments.
AFTER THE JUMP—Metro mess, Riddick Bowe's sad life in Fort Washington, Wal-Mart might be coming to D.C., Jim Graham leads in Ward One Council race, and much, much more!
BIGGEST BOX: WaPo's Jonathan O'Connell reports that Wal-Mart is inching closer to dominating our lives: "Fresh off a deal with the City of Chicago that will allow Wal-Mart Stores to open more than a dozen locations there, the mega-retailer is closing in on an agreement to open its first store in D.C. Wal-Mart is negotiating to open a store on New York Avenue NE near the intersection of Bladensburg Road, on a parcel owned by a family in the taxicab business, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The chain, which has expressed interest in opening a store in the city for years as part of its expansion into major urban markets, has not yet signed a lease but is expected to by this fall, the sources said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by the companies to discuss the details. Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., agreed to a deal with the Chicago City Council on June 30 that gives it the green light to open its second store there by 2012 and two dozen or more stores in the city in coming years. Spokesman Steven Restivo said the agreement exhibits the company's interest in building outlets in urban areas. 'Wal-Mart does not have any new projects to announce in the [the District], but we continue to evaluate opportunities that would allow us to create jobs and provide affordable groceries to D.C. residents,' he said."
METRO MESS: 100 Metro cars have pulled over door problems. WaPo's Ann Scott Tyson and Martin Weil report: "Metro officials averted a potential nightmare before July Fourth crowds arrived in Washington when they discovered that the doors on dozens of rail cars could — under the right circumstances — open while in movement, according to the agency's operations chief. Simulations determined that an electrical short on the 4000 series cars could cause the door motor to energize and run "until it opens the door all the way" and then force the train to brake, operations chief Dave Kubicek said. The agency announced just before midnight Saturday that it was removing all 100 of the 4000 series rail cars from service as a safety precaution to check and repair the doors. Kubicek said 60 or 70 of the cars have been deployed each day, so Metro will have to run fewer eight-car trains and more six-car trains while attempting to maintain its current rail schedule. We could be short some cars,' he said. 'On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we might not see all the equipment we should see.'"
Meanwhile, a man was killed after being struck by an Orange line train over the weekend.
ECONOMY DOWN, RENTS UP: The Examiner's David Sherfinski reports rents are up in the D.C. area: "The cost of renting an apartment in the Washington area climbed 3.6 percent in the last year — greater than the rate of inflation — according to a report from a real estate consulting firm. Homes lingering on the market and renters with well-paying jobs contributed to people moving into high-end apartments at one of the strongest rates in the nation, the report said. And as demand rises, so, too, do prices. The area's average rent was about $1,600. From a development perspective, the 3.6 percent increase is 'definitely a good thing,' said Grant Montgomery, vice president of Delta Associates, which released the report. Older, less pricey apartments are also filling up, an early indicator that job growth has resumed but that renters are adjusting to a "new normal" in the down economy, the report said. With the local economy still in a nascent recovery, people are more value-conscious, Montgomery said.... The rent increase outpaced the inflation rate of 2.2 percent in the 12-month period ending in April. And renting in the area is certainly no bargain; rent in the District averaged more than $2,137." Then again...this story has like one source—the VP behind the study. Would have liked to have heard from others in the social services community, DHS, etc. on the impact of higher rents.
WARD ONE RACE: According to a Jim Graham campaign press release, the Ward One councilmember has a more than healthy lead over his opponents Bryan Weaver and Jeff Smith, and Adrian Fenty is besting Vincent Gray in the ward:
"D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham’s reelection is supported by 68 percent of likely Democratic voters, according to a recent poll. Graham’s two opponents, both in single-digits, split 15 percent of the vote. 17 percent are undecided.
In addition to his very strong reelection position, 77 percent view Graham favorably and 71 percent rate his job performance as excellent/good.
"More than anything, these poll numbers tell me that our accomplishments over the past 12 years are making a big difference," Graham said. “We all know there’s more to be done, but we are on the right path and have the support of people from across the ward.”
Graham’s strong reelection, favorability and job approval numbers extend across the cultural diversity and neighborhoods of Ward One.
In the race for Mayor the leading candidates are running neck-and-neck. 43 percent of likely Democratic voters support Adrian Fenty and 37 percent support Vince Gray. 18 percent are undecided. Leo Alexander received 2 percent.
The poll of 300 likely Democratic Primary voters residing in Ward One was conducted June 28 through July 1, 2010 by the well-regarded Lake Research Partners, a national public opinion and political strategy research firm founded by Celinda Lake in 1995. http://www.lakeresearch.com/."
JULY 4 TRAGEDY: Man killed during July 4 holiday prep. NC8 reports: "A man helping neighbors set up for a community party in the 3000 block of Nelson Place in Southeast D.C. was gunned down. Now, police are searching for the shooting suspects while neighbors are mourning the murder of a friend. On Nelson Place in Southeast, 66-year-old retired D.C. Protective Services officer John Pernell was the "mayor" of the block. He would fix a kid's bike, take you to the grocery store, and advise and mentor both young and old. The father of three and grandfather of two never said no when someone was in need. 'They just don't know what they did when they killed him. They took our angel away,' said Wanda McMillion."
D.C. WATER: The Examiner's Freeman Klopott reports that D.C. Water is dealing with some folks posing as D.C. Water employees: "D.C. Water is warning its customers to be on the lookout for scammers who pose as utility workers to gain access to customers' homes and then burglarize them. The scammers give an excuse to get inside the home and then take items while the resident is distracted or case the house and come back later, officials said." More coverage via NC8.
SOBERRIDE: WTOP via The AP reports that nearly 400 people used the SoberRide service on July 4: "The SoberRide program operated by the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program provided 389 rides between 10 p.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday. That's a 17 percent increase over the last July Fourth."
ROOF FIRE: Displaces 18 residents in NW (NC8).
HEAT-RELATED: Pepco is dealing with power outages today. WUSA9 reports: "Some Pepco customers may have a hard time finding relief from the sweltering heat thanks to power outages in the area Tuesday morning. Bob Hainey, spokesperson for Pepco, says workers have located approximately 300 feet of bad secondary cable located underground in the 700 block of 12th Street in Northeast. Hainey says Pepco crews are pulling out the cable now and plan to install new cable in order to restore power to residential customers by noon. According to Hainey, approximately 3 dozen customers affected."
KEEP COOL: Here's info on local cooling centers.
RIDDICK BOWE: Now teaches at LA Boxing Gyms.
MAYOR'S SCHEDULE: No public events.
D.C. COUNCIL'S SCHEDULE: Parks and Rec roundtable, Housing Finance Board confirmation hearing, DDOE Christophe Tulou confirmation, and health hearing this afternoon.