Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: Jerkstore Edition

As much local politics as humanly possible. Send your tips, releases, stories, events, etc. to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. And get LL Daily sent straight to your inbox every morning!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Good morning, sweet readers! Well, it was bound to happen. LL's first cover story drops today. Its non-provocative hed: "Is Adrian Fenty a Jerk?" LL is sure the true believers on both sides will probably go nuts, but LL hopes his more even-keeled readers will accept the story in the spirit it was given: a clear-eyed-as-possible look at how Fenty's personality might cost him a re-election that should really be a cakewalk. Amazing quote from Hizzonner: “What people are saying is, they have quarrels with Adrian Fenty the mayor,” he says. “No one is really commenting on me personally, they don’t know me personally.” LL would like to thank his awesome editors for making the piece approximately one hundred million times better than it would have been without them. Anyway, do yourself a favor and go find a dead tree edition of this week's paper. The cover picture by Darrow Montgomery alone is worth the price (What?! We give this away for free? What kind of business model is that?!). News time:

The State of the Scores: The Post's Bill Turque shows the education-related gains made under Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee are more like a delicate baby chick rather than the screaming bald eagle that Fenty unleashes on the campaign trail. "In their view, the numbers more than justify the decision to give Fenty (D) direct control of the long-troubled schools in 2007. Test scores and graduation rates are up. Enrollment is stable after years of decline, even with the continued robust growth of the city's independent public charter schools. Thousands of students will begin classes Monday on renovated campuses. Families with special-needs children get faster responses when they seek help.

But underlying the numbers are caveats and complexities usually lost in the sound-bite staccato of a political campaign. Drill deeper, and the Fenty-Rhee record of improvement is discernible but more modest—even fragile. The data show how far the city remains from the goal the mayor set three years ago: to make the District's public schools the highest-performing urban system in the country. Even those who admire the energy Fenty and Rhee have brought to D.C. education say they have hurt their cause by overstating their success.

'It's not just that it's fragile. It comes close in my mind to selling the public a bill of goods,' said Mary Lord, the Ward 2 representative on the D.C. State Board of Education. She has not taken a public stance on the mayoral race." This is a serious challenge for Fenty, if the narrative takes hold; Rhee, and the school reform initiatives she's embarked on (with Fenty cheering loudly), are his main talking point west of Rock Creek Park, where he needs to do well to beat Vincent Gray next month.

AFTER THE JUMP: All-Met mystery; Leo rocks education forum; Fenty ads...

0 Points, 0 Rebounds, 0 Assists: LL challenges you not to laugh or at least smirk when reading this fable of Councilmember Michael A. Brown's tortured journey to try and convince City Paper's Dave McKenna that Brown was a standout high school basketball player. "I called Brown back after digging out clips from the Post archives, and went over the All-Met teams player by player. No Michael or Mike Brown was named First Team All-Met in 1983, I told him. Or the Second Team. Or Third Team. Sorry. 'What about honorable mentions?' Brown asked. So I read the names of all 16 honorable mention honorees, too. No Michael or Mike Brown from Mackin. Sorry. I had the Post’s all-league teams for the season, too, so I read Brown the names of the players who made first and second team Metro Conference, Mackin’s conference. No Michael or Mike Brown. Sorry. But Brown wasn’t giving up. 'What about 1984?' he asked me after the ’83 teams were exhausted. I thought that was odd, since he had told me earlier he graduated from Mackin in 1983. But, what the heck. He’s a nice guy, and this seemed really important to him. So I went over all the ’84 names: First, second, third team All-Mets. Honorable Mentions. All-League squads. Still no Michael or Mike Brown. Sorry." It then gets weirder from there.

Polls, Radio, Ads: Here's a recap of what happened in the 2010 mayoral race yesterday. At 8:30 a.m. a new poll came out showing D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray with a slim lead over Fenty (it's bigger when they are just head-to-head, is Leo Alexander going to play spoiler?!). Freeman Klopott at the Examiner looked at the racial divide in the poll and just goes ahead and says it: "Mayor Adrian Fenty is the white candidate and D.C. Council Chairman Vince Gray is the black candidate."

Over at the Washington Times, Matthew Cella says the polls "suggest that Mr. Fenty's imposing campaign war chest—which observers once thought might intimidate would-be challengers—has had little effect on a race in which Mr. Gray has collected an array of endorsements, including those of the police and fire unions and the D.C. Chamber of Commerce."

Shortly after the poll came out, Team Fenty released their latest TV ad, which everyone seems to agree is wayyy better than their previous efforts. "He returns to the scene of his first TV ad, from 2006—the stoop of his childhood home in Mount Pleasant. And he hits a note that he debuted last week: I'm gonna change!" Mike DeBonis writes, and asks "But is it too little too late?" Certainly, the Gray camp thinks so. Here's strategist Mo Elleithee: "Apologies are nice. Everyone loves a politician who apologizes. But apologies only work if they're believable, and his isn't."

Then at noon, both candidates appeared  on the Kojo Nnamdi show with Kojo and NBC4's Tom Sherwood. Gray said the racial divide in the polls is "regrettable," but as Jonathan O'Connell at the Post tweeted, there wasn't much discussion about race beyond that. If you're looking for evidence that Fenty's pledge to be a better listener are all hot air, then the Post's Nikita Stewart has some ammo for you: "Hours after Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's campaign unveiled a new television ad where he promises to listen and do better, his calm was ruffled in a debate against chief opponent Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi show. 'You cut me off,' Fenty told guest commentator Tom Sherwood as Fenty was answering a question about listening." Pretty funny.

At night, the candidates squared off at a mayoral forum on education. LL needed a break from listening to the same people saying the same things over and over again, but WCP's Lydia DePillis sent an email to LL saying that Alexander had a hot night, accusing both Fenty and Gray of being "Manchurian candidates" for the Washington Post. LL readers will remember, of course, that City Paper has a financial incentive to see Alexander win.

Poverty and school reform [DCFPI]

Funny that the Post sent a photographer out to get the picture of the fake bus driver. Too bad he didn't wear a Metro uniform to court. [Post]

Be careful out there [WUSA9]

  • DDBB

    "Families with special-needs children get faster responses when they seek help."

    The phone may be answered or the e-mail acknowledged, but do we actually get the help? That’s the question that needs to be answered. My answer to that would be NO -- Unless you consider someone telling you that he or she can’t answer a question, and then ignoring you after that point as receiving help. These types of statements being made by DCPS need to be substantiated. DCPS credibility continues to be questionable!!

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