Loose Lips Daily: Robocalls and Yard Sign Theft Edition
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning, sweet readers! Goodbye, summer, you sure were hot. News time:
Hey, Don't Steal My Robocall: What a crazy news weekend. First, did you get that phone call telling you how dirty and shameful Councilmember Jim Graham is? Well, you should move to Ward 1, where plenty of people received anonymous robocalls that call Graham immoral and cite this paper's expose of Graham's close relationship with his former chief of staff, Ted Loza, which included Graham paying $3,200 for one of Loza's love interests to have an abortion. TBD has audio of the call, along with the denials from Graham's opponents, Jeff Smith and Bryan Weaver, that they had anything to do with the calls.
Then there's this story from the Post's Mike DeBonis about former ANC commissioner Kathy Henderson being videotaped removing Harry Thomas Jr. and Kwame Brown campaign signs at the Capital City Diner and replacing them with a Fenty sign. Henderson said she wasn't stealing the signs, but was only doing what the diner's owner, Matt Ashburn, asked her to do. She says she's being set up and the video wrongly gives the impression that she's a thief. Not so, says Ashburn, who says he never gave Henderson permission to switch the signs. Somebody's lying; LL will leave it up to you to judge who. Here's the original blog post at Frozen Tropics with the still frame pictures.
AFTER THE JUMP: Gray and Cronyism; Mayoral Race; Don't Leave Us Fenty...
Gray and Cronyism: The Washington Times' Jeffery Anderson reports that Vincent Gray's close friends, whose influence will rise if Gray wins, come with some baggage that includes "mixed track records involving poor government service and questionable business deals." The list includes former Marion Barry-era DHS chief Vernon Hawkins, Barry lawyer David Wilmot, and former Councilmember H.R. Crawford.
Race to the Mayoral Mansion Your Own House 2010: Be sure and watch WUSA9's Bruce Johnson, who scored the exclusive in-home interview with Adrian and Michelle Fenty. Michelle says it's "heartbreaking" that so many of D.C.'s citizens have such a low opinion of her husband.
There was also plenty of happenings in the mayoral race this weekend. Saturday marked the first day of early voting in four satellite stations around town. On Saturday morning, Schools Chancellor private citizen Michelle Rhee helped Adrian Fenty rally his base in Ward 3 by addressing Fenty supporters. From the Post's Nikita Stewart: "She shared a personal story, saying her older daughter met a transfer student from the private Maret School at Alice Deal Middle School. She said the student's mother 'was tired of paying $30,000 a year. ... She hoped this one [school] had gotten fixed,' Rhee said. 'What I want to be very, very clear about is that the work is not done yet. The only way we are going to continue the progress we've seen is to re-elect this man here.'" Stewart reports Fenty allies, Ron Moten and Omar Karim, spent the weekend trying to rustle up support for the mayor.
Mark Segraves at WTOP reports that Fenty and Gray supporters nearly came to blows outside the Turkey Thicket rec center in NE. Both candidates have called for calm. Gray also wants cops at the voting stations.
Meanwhile, TBD's Bruce DePuyt followed Gray around Eastern Market and reports on the style difference between the fast-moving Fenty and the slow-moving Vincent Gray. "In the closing stretch of the campaign Gray is quite visibly the anti-Fenty. He faces the person he's speaking with fully. His eyes engage theirs. His body comes to a full stop and he becomes The Listener. And only after he's taken the measure of the man or woman ... does he offer a response." The Post's Tim Craig was also at Eastern Market, and also notes the difference between Fenty's grip-and-grin and avoid small talk style with Gray's habit of falling into 10 minute conversations with voters. DePuyt also spent time with Fenty on Friday when he won over a gathering of senior citizens. "'I can't imagine someone who's seen you and heard you not voting for you,' another man said. 'You're getting such bad press,' a woman admirer lamented. 'I know. We'll overcome,' the mayor replied."
In today's paper, the Post's Bill Turque looks at Rhee's claim that education reform will stop if Gray is elected and she leaves. Some fear that if Rhee goes, the gains public schools will be reversed, parents will lose confidence in the system, and private donations to help reform schools will dry up. On the other hand, some of the reform efforts pre-date Rhee and are now established, the school construction boon isn't going to be undone without her, and there's more data available to help a possible Rhee successor make more informed decisions. The bottom line is that if Rhee leaves, we won't be to really tell if she's been a success or failure: "Sam Chaltain, former national director of the Forum for Education and Democracy, an education advocacy organization, has issues with Rhee's faith in test score data and her failure to mobilize a more collective commitment to reform. Still, he said, her departure at this point would be a loss. 'None of us will ever have an opportunity to really evaluate whether her ideas about reform were effective,' he said, 'because they are just a snapshot.'"
Post columnist Courtland Milloy says Rhee may not have violated the letter of the Hatch Act, which prohibits city employees from using their positions to try and sway voters, but violated its spirit. "Being too clever by half—that's at the crux of Rhee's unpopularity among many black voters. A recent Washington Post poll found that 54 percent of blacks said they would not vote for Fenty in the coming Democratic primary because he put her in the job." And columnist Colby King, who has a far more favorable opinion of Rhee than Milloy, also said Rhee should have stuck to the sidelines. "With Rhee’s move to campaign in the D.C. Democratic primary, I fear that Washington will be her first and last stop as a schools chief, at least in urban America. No other big-city school district is going to touch her. A school administrator who openly engages in partisan politics, regardless of the merits of the candidate, is viewed as trouble waiting to happen."
Don't Leave Us Fenty: Fenty snagged the Washington Examiner endorsement today, which the free tabloid ran on its front page. The paper scolds voters for judging candidates on style over substance and tries to set the record straight: "So it’s time to look at the candidates with clear eyes, putting aside the false, rumor-driven notion that one black candidate is friendlier to African-Americans than the other black candidate, and that progress is something that benefits only a few wards in the District. All residents benefit from a safe and well-run city." Most of the editorial is a rehashing of Fenty talking points with absolutely no mention of any of the great dirt dug up on the Fenty administration by former Examiner reporters Michael Neibauer and Bill Myers. The editorial also chides Gray for raising the specter of a city that builds 'dog parks' for yuppies at the expense of playgrounds for black children. He offered this explanation for Fenty supposedly favoring the white parts of town: 'Politically, I think he sees his base as over there, and he wants to maintain his base.' He added, 'That is not to suggest anyone’s a racist,' which struck us as a good way of putting that image into people’s minds." The Post also has another pro-Fenty editorial, saying the mayor's emphasis on fixing the city's crummy public schools is the best way to improve unemployment across the river.
Who Will Raise Your Taxes: WBJ's Michael Neibauer looks at what really matters in this election: who is more likely to raise your taxes. The short answers: Gray. Fenty will raise every fee known to man instead of taxes.
Saving Phil: Harry Jaffe has the scoop in the Examiner that Bud's PAC, the political action committee of the late parking mogul Bud Doggett, is running ads to help alert voters that Michael D. Brown is not the same guy as Michael A. Brown. (In case you missed it: Phil Mendelson is about to lose his seat to a relative unknown because many voters don't know the difference between the unknown D. Brown and the Councilmember A. Brown.) "The ads for Mendelson were scheduled to begin Monday and carry through to the Sept. 14 primary. They feature at-large Council Member Michael A. Brown saying: 'I am not on the ballot.' He then holds up a photo of the guy who is running: Michael D. Brown, D.C.'s shadow senator. Michael Arrington Brown, the sitting council member on TV is black; Michael Donald Brown is white. ... Bud Doggett would be pleased if the TV spots work. He adored his home town of Washington, D.C. He founded and financed Heroes Inc., the charity that cares for families of fallen cops and firemen. He played wise man and pillar for decades. Phil Mendelson is no hero, but the city sure would be better off with him than with the shadow guy, as Bud knows."
D.C. Watch's Gary Imhoff has the scoop that Attorney General Peter Nickles is clamping down on what information is provided to City Auditor Deborah Nichols as she investigates Moten's Peaceoholics at the request of Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander. Imhoff says Nickles is deliberately trying to slow down Nichols' work. On September 2, Nickles sent her a letter saying that he was taking charge of responses from all agencies and would review them for any “potential privilege issues that may be implicated.” Fenty, Nickles, Moten, and others involved in the Fenty 2010 campaign obviously don’t want any auditor’s report to be issued before the primary election is over, and Nickles is intervening to prevent the departments and agencies from providing the auditor with the information that she needs to complete her report speedily. Undoubtedly, Nickles will then complain that the council is dragging out its investigation unnecessarily. Umm, something seems strangely familiar to LL.
Jonetta calls Gray a hypocrite on fiscal conservatism [Examiner]
TBD fact checks Gray's claim that he's as infallible as the Pope [TBD]
The Post poops on Fenty's chances [Post]