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Loose Lips Daily: “Shaken,” Not Stirred, Edition

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  • D.C. Republicans Prefer Democrats—And Sarah Palin
  • Waiting for Superman
  • Watch: Vince, Michelle, and The Uncomfortable News Conference
  • Good morning Washington. Suderman’s off today, so here I am trying to digest the big meaning of Thursday’s big Vincent Gray-Michelle Rhee summit at the Wilson Building. We didn’t really learn anything! Gray, the presumptive next mayor of the District of Columbia, kept it all vague, saying he and the schools chancellor had a “philosophical discussion” about education reform. So she's not fired, at least not yet. The local D.C. press corps did its best to read the tea leaves. Michelle was clutching her handbag awfully tight, right? She was standing off the side and didn’t say much of anything! She was close to tears, The Washington Post originally reported, then retracted. (No, instead, she looked “shaken.”) Here’s how Tim Craig and Bill Turque framed it for today’s print edition:

    Perhaps most striking was how the news conference's two principal players carried themselves as they stepped in front of the cameras. While Gray, apparently relaxed, strode directly to the bank of microphones, Rhee looked grim and subdued as she withdrew to a far corner, deferring virtually all comment to Gray. As Gray continued to speak, she slipped back into the corridor fronting his fifth-floor office and rushed to the elevators. She was pursued by reporters but would not answer questions.

    So what did they talk about? Sex and the City 2? Building a robust birth-24 after-school D.C. hand-dancing program to give the kids some good clean fun?

    Turque tweeted during the Big Summit: “Rhee in with Gray for 20 min so far. Exceeds McChrystal's final mtg w/Obama.”

    Here’s a photo gallery of Rhee not really saying anything! Why was Robin Givhan not there to definitively interpret the meaning of Rhee's fashion choice for the most important meeting of the minds since Anwar Sadat met Menachem Begin at Camp David in 1978? Does Rhee's strident outfit say: I look at the world as being only black and white. Or, does the overall fashion package suggest: Screw you Vince, I have plenty of suitors who appreciate my preeminence, like Cory in Newark … ? For the record, Rhee says it’s foolish to read into The New York Times mentioning her name as someone who could be the next schools chancellor in Newark, N.J. A Turque tweet says: “Rhee says this evening that there is nothing to NYT story mentioning that her name in play for Newark superintendency.” Hey, but it can’t hurt your stature to be name-dropped in The Times!

    AFTER THE JUMP: Plotkin's pissed at Obama's diss! Gray won't be giving ponies to GW students. The Pershing Park case is settled. Vince Orange does want a council seat. And so much more!

    An Obama-less Courtesy Call: Although President Obama has not yet called to congratulate Gray on his victory in the Democratic primary, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder did pay Gray a 20-minute visit on Thursday to talk public safety and voting rights. Holder, by the way, voted for Gray over Fenty, Mark Segraves reports. In fact, The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis crunched some elections data and noted that Holder’s support for Gray was out of step with the vast majority of his Spring Valley neighbors in Precinct 9. Says DeBonis: "That makes him one of 72 Gray voters in P9, which was the most pro-Fenty precinct in the city—84.9%"

    While President Obama frequents D.C. restaurants much more than his predecessor, is the commander in chief showing District residents the respect they deserve? Mark Plotkin, in a Washington Post opinion piece, says no, asking why the president has yet to give a courtesy call to D.C.’s presumptive new mayor:

    This president has shown no gratitude to the D.C. residents who overwhelmingly voted for him. Obama carried every D.C. precinct in the 2008 Democratic primary. That November, he won the presidency with an astounding 93 percent of the D.C. vote. Every precinct of our city voted for him again. Still, Obama goes out of his way to ignore us. By refusing to do the minimum of political courtesies, he insults not only the likely next mayor of Washington but all residents of our nation's capital.

    Jeez, from the sound of that last sentence, it seems that Obama is taking his local political cues from Adrian Fenty!

    More Fenty Post-Mortems: If you haven’t already gotten your fill of Where Fenty Faltered thinkpieces, the Post’s Karen Tumulty and Perry Bacon Jr. deliver another one. This one dissects the meaning of Fenty’s loss and what it means for other black big-city mayors. Didn’t The Root, also owned by the Post, just write that piece?

    Think of the Children: Meanwhile, in D.C. Council chambers, Robert Hildum, the interim director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, was at a hearing about his troubled agency. He told The Examiner that he’s waiting for the presumptive new mayor to figure out what he wants to do with the agency and that he just want to do “what’s best for the kids.” Per Freeman Klopott:

    Whatever choice the incoming mayor makes, I’ll do what’s best for the kids in the agency…I’ll keep working and doing the things I’ve been doing at the agency.

    Wait and see ...

    So, VO? Former Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange, who lost the Democratic nomination for D.C. Council chairman to At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown, is clearly interested in the looming council vacancy when Brown presumably becomes chairman after the November general election. As D.C. Wire reports, Orange said earlier this summer that he wasn’t interested in the vacancy, but now, he’s written a letter to the Democratic state committee that he’s interested in being appointed. District Curmudgeon’s Geoff Hatchard probed Orange and got the former councilmember—or the person who controls his campaign Twitter account—to elaborate in under 140 characters: “I believe I can help the city/Council make some difficult decisions. When I made that statement I was running for Chair.”

    Eleanor Explains: D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton is still addressing her Breitbarting last week, complete with a telephone recording of her making a fundraising call to a lobbyist, a call that some have called a shake-down. WUSA digs in:

    "Who were you talking to," 9NewsNow inquired. "I don't know. They didn't give me the courtesy but it was certainly not someone I knew. "That's why I had to identify myself. I was talking from a list that is provided. You can get this list from the D-Triple-C ( The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) and you look down the list and see who has given to you and who hasn't ..." she said. "How many calls do you make in a situation like that?" "I don't know I wish I knew, too many...I have no idea how many calls," she said.

    Preparing for Winter: The Department of Human Services promises it will do a better job in how it houses homeless families this winter, the Post reports. But the former D.C. General Hospital will continue to be used as a shelter, despite its troubled history (much of it documented by our own Jason Cherkis).

    Pershing Park Settlement: A federal judge approved an $8.25 million financial settlement in the case of the mass arrests at Pershing Park in 2002 by the Metropolitan Police Department. Spencer S. Hsu reports in the Post:

    Together with a $13.7 million approved in April for another 700 people arrested by D.C. police using similar tactics in April 2000, the $22 million paid by the D.C. government is the largest protest settlement ever paid out by a municipal government in the United States, according to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, which brought the cases.

    One must wonder how $22 million could be used to assist homeless families …

    Safety Grilling: Metro’s interim chief was up on Capitol Hill testifying about how the agency is dealing with its post-Red Line crash safety obligations.

    Federal Help-Us-Out Funds: The District is getting $2.3 million in funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for snow-removal costs for the December and February snowstorms last winter.

    Don’t Get Your Hopes Up: Even though Gray went to George Washington University, it doesn’t mean that he’ll suddenly be showering his alma mater with gifts. Sorry kids, you aren’t getting a pony.

    Parking Battle: Bloggers David Alpert and Tom Bridge discuss parking on TBD. Long story short: It’s a great time to be discussing the topic. Discuss!

    • The Cat’s Pj

      It is becoming very apparent she took the Newark job already. I would love to be proven wrong but it appears so. And if she goes there–that means she was offered it a while ago and accepted it then.

      She has to play this close to the vest–and awkard for Gray he does too. Because if I was tipped off (and I am nobody) that Janey was outed to make way for her–than he has probably known for some time too. This is a very strange and uncomfortable dance to say the least–and it is strange and uncomfortable on primetime.

    • Sojourner Truthteller

      Dept of Edu reviewer comments from the first RTTT round of funding:

      "the panel says a closer look the data "show mixed results and continuing and sizeable achievement gaps." The District earned 21.6 out of 30 points in this area. Officials raise the question of whether the gains reflect an initial shock of reform that will fade over time, or something more permanent:

      "The number of points awarded to this section is due to the concern that the quick gains may be the result of the newly imposed expectations rather than proven instructional practices that will need to be sustained over time. The District would need to analyze the achievement data and explore the connections between the data and the sustainable actions that have contributed to sudden academic gains to determine if the projected goals are fully attainable."

      Finally, the District's application took a hit for its tone and approach in the section entitled "Great Teachers and Leaders." Overall, it garnered 111.8 of a possible 138 points. Reviewers took exception to the District's assertion that a Race to the Top grant would be a vindication in light of the political resistance to some of Rhee's personnel moves, and would position DC "to ensure that its cutting edge human capital work can be accelerated and become a national model for innovative human capital."

      Reviewers questioned whether the District was more interested in showcasing its "speed in achieving results and to become a national model" or in committing to the "detail and attention needed to build the capacity of staff to become great teachers and leaders."


      Posted by: thelildiva4u

    • Southeast Resident

      Mr. Orange just wants to get back in the spotlight with a DC government job at all cost, including pandering. He thinks more about himself than DC residents. I believe that the Democratic State Committee should forget about most of the angling pretenders (e.g., Mr. Orange, L. Alexander, C. Ray, M. D. Brown, J. Patterson) and take this opportunity to add greater diversity to the Council by appointing either another female, or a Hispanic or Oriental to the vacant seat. Orange had his chance. He was to busy focusing on his unsuccessful climbs to Mayor and Council Chair to worry about being just a regular Councilmember! Putting him in there again would not change his ultimate agenda. He already said that he did not want to be a Councilmember, adding that had he, he would have remained one. So Mr. Orange don't come back begging now, since you lost, yet again! Plus he did not speak to the job that he sought on the campaign trail for Council Chair. When not digging up dirt on soon to be Chairman Brown, he was passing out a plan almost exclusively with functions, like enforcement, which are the job of the Mayor. These things were part of why he was defeated, particularly the part about not articulating much about the job that he was seeking. He outfoxed himself, since it let voters know what his real aspirations are -- to be Mayor. So, Mr. Orange, like you didn't need Council, Council doesn't need you now!

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