City Desk

Loose Lips Daily: The Kids are Four to Five Points Less Alright Edition

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Good morning sweet readers! Did anyone manage to watch all 27 hours of the D.C. Council session yesterday? If you missed any, LL TiVo-ed it and is having a viewing party this weekend at the parking lot of RFK Stadium. (Just pretend you're at the old 'HFS-tival!) On with the news:

2+2=5?: The foundation of Mayor Adrian Fenty's re-election campaign is the progress made in D.C.'s schools, right? Duh. So yesterday's news that new standardized test scores show a four to five point drop for elementary school students probably wasn't exactly what Hizzoner wanted to hear. Both the Post's Bill Turque, and the Examiner's Leah Fabel said the results come at an "inopportune" time for Fenty (teacher, someone is copying my use of the word inopportune!) Turque: "The elementary-school decline also represents a blow for [Chancellor Michelle] Rhee, who has made test score growth an integral part of the cultural change in schools she has pursued since becoming chancellor in 2007. Handpicked principals have established academic 'war rooms' to chart the progress of each student, tailoring instruction to address weaknesses that emerge on interim tests. Through winter and spring, schools are fully mobilized to prepare for the April tests in grades 3 through 8 and in grade 10. Field trips are canceled, and classes spend more time on test preparation. Selected schools offer 'Saturday academies' to help students. And this year's scores for the first time will determine half of the annual evaluation of some D.C. teachers. Last week, Rhee confirmed that she intended to expand standardized testing to cover all grades." Fabel: "[Fenty] appeared somewhat perplexed when asked by a parent why his office doesn't do more to communicate the school system's results. 'I grew up in D.C. when people, all they did was talk and talk. I like to do,' he said. 'People can look around and see the progress.' Not that it was all bad news, scores for middle and high school students rose, and overall 'officials said the three-year record of double-digit growth in secondary schools' test scores — an average gain of 14 percentage points in the reading pass rate and 17 points in the math rate — surpasses the norm for big urban school districts.'" Freeman Klopott has more on what the "mixed bag" of test results mean for Fenty in the Examiner.

AFTER THE JUMP: Trolley cars and hospitals; Immunity!; Mendelson and Stein...

A Little Ditty, About Two Guys Running For Mayor: WaPo's Tim Craig and Nikita Stewart tag-team the current state of the mayoral race two months out and air some criticism of both campaigns. Here's the low down on Fenty: "But the campaign has at times appeared rudderless, and sources close to the campaign say Fenty has been reluctant to heed advice and slow to grasp that he faces a far different election than he did in 2006 (not a fresh-faced council member known for his constituent service, but an incumbent mayor defending his record). For instance, Fenty overruled campaign advisers who urged him to hold off on the TV ads until a more comprehensive strategy was put together, two sources close to the mayor said. And Fenty's style has hampered his ability to build and nurture an electoral coalition. Despite his business-friendly agenda, Fenty lost the D.C. Chamber of Commerce endorsement to Gray." And on Gray: "The more immediate concern of those who support Gray—known for relishing the details of governing—is that he is too slow to make some campaign decisions. A dozen advisers helped Gray develop the education plan he rolled out two weeks ago, for instance. Before it was released, however, Gray and his staff vetted it before nearly 100 government officials, teachers, school administrators, labor leaders, parents and other stake-holders, campaign sources said. Gray is using a similar formula in developing proposals on crime, economic development and job creation and fiscal responsibility." LL regularly consults with nearly 100 people when deciding what to have for lunch. The consensus today: bacon. Unless the polling comes back and suggests empanadas.

Council Roundup: WaPo's Ann Marimow catches us up with two issues. Trolley Cars: "The D.C. Council made way for the first leg of a 37-mile trolley system Tuesday, passing legislation to allow the use of overhead wires along Benning Road and H Street NE. The debate over the use of the electrical wires for streetcars has centered on whether the lines violate a long-standing ban intended to preserve the appearance of the federal city. The temporary legislation approved unanimously Tuesday specifically prohibits overhead wires around the National Mall and creates a public process for determining whether the wires can be used in other parts of the city." And the hospital: "With some reservations, the council also gave final approval Tuesday to the creation of a nonprofit to run United Medical Center, the city's only hospital east of the Anacostia River."

Loophole!: WAMU's Patrick Madden reports on a big old campaign finance loophole that allows corporations to give lots more than the $2k limit to their candidate. "Some of the names sound generic: Acme Atlantic Leasing Company LLC or Gotham Investors LLC. Others sound a little more specific: Round Hill Investors LLC or FGV Investors LLC. There are 11 companies in all. They all gave the $2,000 maximum to Mayor Adrian Fenty’s campaign and all are listed at the same address: the 8th floor at 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard in Rockville, Maryland. That turns out to be the headquarters for Lerner Enterprises, the area's largest real estate developer. Tax records show the resident agent for most of them is a vice president at the company." LL notes that the same practice has been going on for years in Maryland. Possibly involving some of the same companies!

File Under Gross: A MetroAccess driver has been accused of sexually assaulting a disabled rider while transporting her home from adult day care in at least the third sexual assault case involving the agency's paratransit service so far this year, according to the Examiner's resident sex assault expert, Kytja Weir.

Where does he keep his immunity idol?: Clinton LaSuere's lawsuit against Fenty, alleging he stiffed him on $5,000 in unpaid campaign work for Fenty's Ward 4 successor, Muriel Bowser, was denied yesterday, Keith Alexander of the Post reports. "At a hearing Tuesday, Judge Michael J. McCarthy did not rule on the merits of LeSueur's claim. Rather, in dismissing the case, he cited a District law that provides immunity for elected officials." LL would like to point out that he also has immunity. From chicken pox!

Gerty for Mendo: The city's gay activists vote to support At-Large Councilman Phil Mendelson over challenger Clark Ray, Mike DeBonis reports. "Incumbent Phil Mendelson offered a simple pitch: 'I delivered the marriage equality bill,' he said in his opening remarks, a statement that hinted at years of legislative efforts that laid the groundwork for last year's climactic marriage vote. Challenger Clark Ray, the former city parks and recreation director, has had to sell gay activists on a different proposition—I'd be just as good on the issues, and, hey, I'm also gay."

You Kids Driving Me Crazy: Jonetta Rose Barras says in the Examiner that the D.C. Council needs parental control.

"Chat with Ward One School Board Candidate, Patrick Mara" [Examiner]

Prison Guards for Gray [Post]

Pierre L'Enfant, Frederick Douglas Statues to the capitol? [Post]

Mayor's schedule: Ribbon cutting at United Medical Center's New Pediatric ER unit, 10:45

Council hearings: Breathalyzer problems, election reform

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