Loose Lips Daily: Meet the New Boss Edition
Hello, sweet readers, and welcome to the first Loose Lips Daily of the Alan Suderman era. LL is eager to drag you along with him through the wonderful world of D.C. politics, and trusts you'll soon enough be asking yourself, "DeBonis who?"
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
- D.C. Council rants, Peter Nickles swims
- Air conditioning still a problem at D.C. General homeless shelter
- Building industry throwing down for unopposed Mary Cheh
How about that Paul the Octopus oracle, who correctly predicted eight out of eight World Cup games, including Spain becoming champs yesterday. LL has an idea: Let's pass the hat and pay for Paul to predict the winner of this year's mayoral race so the rest of us can relax until September? No? Okay, let's get to it then.
Trouble on the Home Front: The Post's Nikita Stewart takes the pulse of Mayor Adrian Fenty's home turf, Ward 4, and finds discontentment a'bloomin'. Stewarts talks to Ethel Delaney Lee, the "matriarch of modern Ward 4 politics," who has thrown her support behind D.C. Councilman Vince Gray, after feeling ignored by Fenty. "The cellphone that I had for him, someone always answered for him," said Delaney Lee, 84, of North Portal Estates. "I wrote a letter... I never heard a word. Now, the mayor says he never received the letter and says he wishes he had." Money grafs: "Nowhere does Fenty have more to lose than in Ward 4. Conventional wisdom and political tarot readers have wards 5, 7 and 8 potentially in Gray's column. Fenty would win wards 1, 2 and 3. They would split Ward 6. That clears they way for the mayor's former epicenter of popularity to become the battleground in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary." ... "The ward's word-of-mouth work helped Fenty become mayor almost four years ago. This time, it's hurting him. Former Fenty supporters who back Gray recount personal insults and lament laid-off or transferred city employees. The mayor's supporters apologize for their candidate."
AFTER THE JUMP:Vincent Gray fundraiser in Georgetown; Nickles fights back; school's in!
Show Me the Money: A Post editorial gives Gray a slight tap on the hiney for having an education platform that is so ambitious "that it is hard to discern what are his priorities and, more significant, how he would pay for them." The Posties give credit to Gray for his focus on charter schools but take him to task for past meddling and unilateral actions as council chairman. "Most disappointing is the absence of any detail on what his proposals would cost or how—other than a vague promise of savings in special education—he would pay for them. It's easy to promise comprehensive pre-natal-to-toddler programs for families with special-needs children, more resources for charter schools or a doubling of school guidance counselors. Coming up with money, particularly in these tough fiscal times, is an entirely different matter."
Shut Your Hole and Know Your Role: The Examiner's Jonetta Rose Barras takes the D.C. Council to task for their meddlesome ways, affirming Nickles' assessment that they act like "mini-mayors." Barras singles out At-Large Councilman Michael Brown for proposing legislation that would mandate field trips for public school students. "Rather than just gripe about the problem, I offer this cure for the mini-mayor-micromanaging syndrome: less time in the John A. Wilson Building. After all, the job of council member is, by law, part-time—except for the chairman. Many legislatures hold clearly defined legislative sessions—sometimes spanning just 90 or 120 days. The city could follow suit. If there was an emergency, the chairman could call a special meeting." LL doesn’t need an octopus to predict the odds of that happening.
Anger Makes the Money Flow: The Georgetown Dish's Molly Redden covered Gray's Georgetown fundraiser Friday. Redden's take: Even among many of the avid Gray supporters at the ornate reception hall of the City Tavern Club, there were bitter feelings about Fenty that were as strong as the feelings for the man of the hour. There can't be any doubt any more—this election seems more and more like a referendum on Fenty's (un)likableness. Admirable as he may be for his "maturity" and "character"—words many used to describe him—Gray, it seems, scores extra points simply because he isn't his despised opponent.
'Cause I Say So: Nickles has fired back against the complaint Robert Vinson Brannum filed against schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Refresher from The Examiner's Leah Fabel: "The complaint was filed with the city's Office of Campaign Finance in June by Robert Vinson Brannum, a reliable Rhee antagonist and president of the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations. It charges that Rhee violated city law and standards of conduct when she "solicited or accepted private funding to support certain provisions of" the school system's contract, passed in late June by the D.C. Council. The $1.4 billion contract, which is partially funded by nearly $65 million in private donations from four foundations, grants teachers a 22 percent salary raise through 2012, retroactive to 2007. It also lays the foundation for teachers to be paid large bonuses depending on their successes in the classroom. The Office of Campaign Finance deemed Brannum's complaint worrisome enough to open an investigation in early June." Nickles called the complaint "baseless." Bill Turque reports that Rhee told the District's Office of Campaign Finance on Friday that she gained nothing financially from the private foundations that are underwriting part of the new teachers contract, nor did she have anything to do with a provision allowing donors to reconsider their support if DCPS leadership changed hands.
School's In: The Post's Stephanie Lee checks in with the District's new community college. The Community College of the District of Columbia, which split from UDC, has seen its enrollment jump from 960 in the fall to 2,335. Lee reports that the CCDC's growth is part of a national trend. "CCDC is starting as two-year colleges are enjoying a kind of renaissance. In the Washington region in the 2009-10 academic year, community college enrollment increased by 12,000 students, or 10 percent. Students are signing up in record numbers nationwide, though budget cuts make it impossible to accommodate them all."
Can Somebody Tell Me What the Crime is Here?: "The 19-year-old man suspected of impersonating a Metro driver and crashing a Route B2 bus carrying five adults and a baby before fleeing the scene initially drove so well that passenger Thomasena Thompson still thought he was a real Metro driver Sunday evening. "If he wasn't a driver for real," Thompson said, "he's been watching somebody for a real long time." William Jackson, the suspect, was polite and knew the bus's exact route, Thompson said. He stopped at Washington Hospital Center and even left the bus idling for her as she ran to it from the McDonald's she had stopped at after transferring from the X2 Friday afternoon." [Post]
It's Getting Hot in Here: The Examiner's Freeman Klopott reports that Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh has introduced emergency legislation "that would prevent power and gas companies from shutting off residents' utilities during extreme heat."
We Bought a Hospital: "The city now owns United Medical Center, the only hospital serving residents east of the Anacostia River, after bidding $20 million for the beleaguered facility at a five-minute foreclosure auction Friday that drew no other bidders." [Post] And Fenty named five to the hospital's board. [WBJ]
I'm Going to Disneyland! WBJ's Michael Neibauer finds that "rarely do D.C. staffers miss an opportunity to travel well."
Spare a Dime?: D.C. Wire reports that the fiscal note on a law making it a crime "for city employees to engage in politicking or electioneering while on duty or dressed in a city uniform or driving a taxpayer funded vehicle" would cost upwards of $100,000 in fiscal year 2011. CFO Natwar Gandhi said the city can't afford the price tag.
D.C. Council Schedule: 2 p.m. roundtable to discuss Peaceoholics' construction project at 1300 Congress St. SE