Loose Lips Daily: Endorsement Edition
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning sweet readers! LL suffered from first-smartphone-itis this weekend after his new iPhone arrived Friday. Did you know there is an app that lets you listen to police scanners around the world? LL spent the whole weekend listening to police chatter in Toowoomba, Australia. What did you do? News time:
Man, A Lot of People Hate the Post: The Washington Post editorial board let loose its mayoral endorsement this Sunday (well, actually, it went online Friday), with an enthusiastic nod toward Mayor Adrian Fenty's re-election bid. Fenty, the board said, "swept into office four years ago vowing to take on the District's most daunting problems. The city had made progress during the eight-year mayorship of Anthony A. Williams (D), but the public schools were still the worst in the nation, crime remained high and government struggled to deliver basic services. Mr. Fenty attacked these challenges with his trademark energy and an almost intimidating single-mindedness. He has delivered: The District of Columbia today is a better place to live and work than it was four years ago. It is for that reason that we enthusiastically endorse Mr. Fenty in the Democratic primary for mayor. He should have another four years to entrench the progress he has made." Meanwhile, Fenty's main challenger, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, is running a campaign that "seems driven more by animus toward Mr. Fenty, and his style of governing, than by any agenda of his own. Instead of a substantive program, he offers the pledge of 'one city.' Visitors to his Web site are invited to check back later for his plans in areas such as public safety. On the city's most pressing issue—reform of the troubled schools—Mr. Gray is alarmingly vague. He promises a cradle-to-college approach to schooling but offers little hint where the money would come from; he refuses to say whether he would try to retain Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, though he spent much of his tenure as chairman criticizing her." The editorial came out unusually early, as the Post's Mike DeBonis (who wants everyone to remember that he and the other reporters had nothing to do with the editorial) notes. "I did some cursory research, looking back at 20 years of Post endorsements for high-level executive positions—the presidency, the Maryland and Virginia governorships and the District mayoralty. This appears to be the earliest Post endorsement since Parris Glendening was the board's pick for Maryland governor in 1994. That endorsement came Sept. 11 for a Nov. 8 general election—ahead of even that year's Maryland primary." LL asked Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor, about the timing, but hasn't yet gotten a response. A surprising level of vitriol was aimed at the Post for this editorial. Check out this online forum editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao hosted, in which commenters pound on the Post. "What is to debate with the editors? You have been in the tank for Fenty and Michelle Rhee for months. I have observed that if there are any news articles critical of them, the Post runs an editorial defendung them within 48 hours. You've lost all sense of objectivity," was one of the more genteel comments. The Georgetown Dish also piles on: "Perhaps the Post feels that to be influential for Fenty, it can no longer stand above the battle and wait to deliver a considered judgment based on all the facts that come out in a campaign. Instead, it has decided to speak loudly, early and—perhaps—often, in order to have its way. For the next editorial, it can always use bold type and caps." And, finally, here's what LL had to say: "As for the writing, LL enjoys his editorials on the dry side—haughty, aloof, deliberative, and detached in an Economist kind of way that makes you feel that the editorial writer is clearly your intellectual superior. This editorial doesn’t fit that mold. Instead of the 'Voice of God' moniker past Post editorials have earned, this one comes across as the ' Voice of the True Believer.'"
AFTER THE JUMP: Busted!; Your Vote Counts?; WaPo Piles on..
As If Gray Wasn't Sour Enough on Sunday's Post: Tim Craig reports on all the potential shit-eating Mayor Gray would have to do when first elected because of the wide array of groups supporting his candidacy. "Gray's wide-ranging and potentially expensive policy positions have helped him amass a coalition most politicians would envy. He has received endorsements from the AFL-CIO, public employees unions, the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, the D.C. Tenants Advocacy Coalition, the D.C. Realtors Association, nurses, social workers, and gay and Hispanic Democratic groups. Observers say the coalition is crucial to Gray, whose war chest, at last report, was about one-tenth the $3 million amassed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. The broad support could translate into financial backing and volunteer workers, and it could bolster Gray's standing as an establishment candidate. For the most part, supporters say Gray hasn't made specific promises, although they are drawn to his reputation for collaboration and want to be closer to the levers of power. But with the city government likely to face continuing budget shortfalls, if he is elected, Gray can expect to be tested quickly on how well he can say no. ...Council member Marion Barry (Ward 8), a former four-term mayor who has a long-standing relationship with Gray, said he had better 'be prepared' for an influx of demands because ' the American way is to the victor goes the spoils.' 'The unions are going to come. All the advocacy groups are going to come. I'm going to come,' Barry said. 'I have a self-interest in this race. We want major development east of the Anacostia River. People want jobs, training programs. And he's just going to have to be prepared for that.' ... Gray supporters said his performance as council chairman proves that he has the ability to make tough decisions and continue the changes started by Williams and Fenty. Gray, they noted, led the council effort last year to censure Barry and strip him of his committee chairmanship after allegations that Barry had misused city resources. Despite intense pressure from nonprofit groups, Gray also eliminated council earmarks last year. And budget hawks said Gray has generally shown more restraint then Fenty when balancing the budget. 'When the time comes, he will say no,' said council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3)."
Metro Board Members Busted: The Examiner's Kytja Weir finds the payoff for sitting through all those boring Metro board meetings for the last 18 months. Turns out some board members aren't actually going to the meetings. "Six of Metro's 14 directors have missed at least one of every five meetings, according to The Examiner's analysis of Metro board minutes and observations over 18 months. D.C. Councilman Michael Brown had the worst record, for example, missing 66 percent of 79 committee and board meetings since he was appointed last year. The poor attendance has come as Metro has been searching for leadership amid its most challenging year. The National Transportation Safety Board slammed the board just last week, saying a lack of direction was a critical factor in safety lapses that cost lives last year. ... The minutes themselves are generous. D.C. City Administrator Neil Albert showed up for a 9 a.m. finance committee meeting on May 13 at 10:29 a.m. He was counted as present. The minutes show he has missed 29 percent of the meetings, the fourth worst record overall and the worst of any director with a full vote. 'Whenever I am not here there's probably a good reason that involves the work of the city,' he said. He said he misses many meetings partly because he serves on the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, which meets the same day. He doesn't think it's too much to do both, though. 'The district has representation,' said Albert, who said he coordinates with two other D.C. directors to make sure the city has its two votes covered. Yet on May 27, only one D.C. representative voted on the crucial $2.18 billion budget that included major fare increases. D.C. Councilman Jim Graham said he voted for the fare increases, even though he opposed them a month later, to save the measure from a veto as rules require each measure to have support from every jurisdiction. 'All in all I would prefer to vote no on this,' he said at the meeting. 'If I were to vote no today, it would throw a wrench into the works.'" Weir goes on to note that when Brown does show up for meetings, he rarely speaks and often "steps outside to make cell phone calls." "When asked about his poor attendance, Brown said he has improved in the past few months. Indeed, his record improved from missing two-thirds of all meetings in 18 months to missing half of them, skipping 16 of 32 meetings in the first half of this year, board records show. His record remains among the worst. Brown said he adds value in his role, as he often discusses Metro in the community and stays informed through e-mails and other methods. 'My attendance hasn't been great but my engagement has always been there,' Brown said. 'Engagement can't just be measured by attendance.'" LL predicts that Metro's board members are going to be pretty happy when Weir has her impending baby and no one is there to keep tabs on them.
If You Can't Trust Your Shadowy Overlords, Who Can You Trust: DeBonis has a public service announcement reminding us of the futility of voting. "In one fell swoop, D.C. voters will find themselves on the cutting edge of national election trends. After a series of problems with the 2008 city elections led lawmakers to overhaul voting equipment, standards and procedures, the way D.C. residents vote is changing dramatically. Voters are now allowed to vote early without excuse, either in person or by mail; they can register to vote as late as Election Day; and they will use new equipment to cast their ballots. The D.C. Council directive has had officials, many of them overseeing their first city election, scrambling to buy new equipment, formulate new procedures and train hundreds of poll workers. The scope of the changes and the quick timetable for implementation have some observers concerned. 'They've got good people, but the city council, quite frankly, has loaded too much on them,' said Doug Lewis, executive director of the National Association of Election Officials. 'You've put in infinite points of failure. It's just too much all at once.'" Not to worry, says the BOEE, we've got it covered. This story reminded LL of this video from the Onion.
Fix It: Today promises some D.C. Council Fenty-bashing over the summer jobs program. The mayor wants to extend the program a week and half, but there are questions about program's funding—including the use of federal funds designated as temporary aid for needy families. Just in time with a solution is Martha Ross with a guest blog at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute. Says Ross on Fenty's plan to extend the program: "This is fiscally irresponsible, and it’s not the right way to run a high-quality youth employment program. D.C.’s program is simply too big, and the city’s difficulty in managing the oversized program is a disservice to kids and all of us. Sometimes the summer jobs program teaches young people valuable skills and provides useful experience, but sometimes it teaches young people that they can get paid for doing nothing. And by overspending its budget, the Fenty administration is taking money away from other important programs that help families stay afloat. (Not that a smaller-sized summer jobs program is a panacea: Smaller programs from previous years have also had mixed results.)"
It's Like Rain, On Your Wedding Day: The Examiner's tough-looking crime reporter, Scott McCabe, has this gem about a brawl erupting at the Wilson Building during a ceremony to recognize good behavior. "Mayor Adrian Fenty had just finished handing out the honors to the Department of Youth and Rehabilitation Services' most successfully rehabilitated offenders when three of the girls got into an argument, according to law enforcement sources and police records. "One of the girls got a glazed look in her eyes, and it was on," said one witness who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. Chairs and fists started flying, witnesses said. Administration officials and security quickly moved in to stop the Thursday night fray, but the melee continued for several minutes, witnesses said. Police backup and D.C. fire and rescue workers were called to the Wilson Building to help quell the violence and take care of an injured person. ... Johnnie Walker, past president of the local branch of the American Federation of Government Employees, said the mayor got a firsthand look at what his caseworkers are confronted with daily. 'It's ironic for this to actually happen in the District's city hall and for all these juvenile justice experts to lose control over these girls,' Walker said. 'It's really telling.' As if DYRS needed any other headaches. LL would like to challenge the agency to go one week without being in the news. What's even more troubling, from LL's perspective, is this report from WJLA: "ABC 7 News reporter Brad Bell got a quick look at a bashed-in wall before a security guard detained him, then escorted him from the Wilson Building." That is seriously messed up for a reporter to be detained and escorted out of City Hall (unless of course, it's Bill Myers).
Ray of a Chance?: The Washington Times' Deborah Simmons has a profile of At-Large Council candidate Clark Ray, the former D.C. Parks and Recreation head. Simmons writes that Ray has big-name Democratic friends, a father who was a racist pipe-fitter, and likes catfish. Curiously absent, any mention or discussion of Ray's abrupt dismissal from the Fenty administration.
Rhee Who?: The Post's Colbert I. King argues that the city's fiscal health, and not Michelle Rhee ought to be the focal point of this mayoral campaign. Good luck with that one.
Fewer D.C. businesses going bankrupt [WBJ]
Larger meaning? The link that LL uses to check the mayor's schedule is not working. It appears that every link at dc.gov/mayor isn't working.
Council schedule: Roundtable on summer jobs at 10 a.m., full vote at 2 p.m.