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Loose Lips Daily: Obama Said What? Edition

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  • Good morning sweet readers! Good news out of Maryland yesterday, where a judge dropped absurd charges of illegal wiretapping against a motorcyclist who recorded a traffic stop on his helmet camera, posted it to YouTube, and wound up having police raid his house at 6:45 a.m., being arrested and facing felony charges. The fact that so many law enforcement officials believe that it's illegal to film cops while they are acting in their official capacity is pretty frightening. News time:

    Money Pit: Yesterday's big news was that the District is facing a projected $175 million budget shortfall. The main culprits: lower than expected tourist spending and capital gains revenues. CFO Natwar Gandhi delivered the grim news to a handful of councilmembers, Almost Mayor Vincent Gray, and Mayor Adrian Fenty. All eyes will be on Gray to see how he manages the news. Will he raise taxes on the wealthy, as some councilmembers have proposed? Or will he cut into the budgets of city departments, whose employees are represented by the unions that supported his candidacy? Gray didn't say one way or another, but seemed to rule out employee furloughs in this article by the Post's Nikita Stewart and Tim Craig. The Posties also note that solving this budget gap may also be a test for Almost D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, who said he hasn't decided on whether he'd support tax increases. Finance Chairman Jack Evans is making it clear that the only real solution is to make cuts. D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute's Elissa Silverman says revenue increases "need to be part of the discussion and solution." Not happy with Gandhi's projections, natch, is his nemesis, Councilmember David Catania. Catania says Gandhi botched projections on how much the new city-owned United Medical Center is going to cost and how much Obamacare is going to save the city. "I don't understand how we can have spending pressures exist before the fiscal year has begun," Catania tells the Examiner's Ben Giles. "I'm not suggesting we don't have a budget problem, but I think we need to know the full scope of the problem before we go public." The Examiner's Harry Jaffe compares Gandhi to Superman and says Gray ought to make sure the "adult in the room" sticks around.

    AFTER THE JUMP: Reax to Obama's Take on DCPS;  Boat People's Future; Voting Totals ...

    Well, That's True: The president made some news yesterday by saying he thinks the $60,000 a year he's paying in private school tuition for his two daughters is worth it. Obama actually said, "I'll be blunt with you: The answer is no, right now," when asked on the Today Show if he thinks his daughters could get the same kind of education at a public school that they are getting at Sidwell Friends. Kind of no-brainer, right? Isn't that the whole point of paying all that extra money? Obama also added that there are some "terrific individual schools" in DCPS, but as a whole, the schools system is "struggling." Seems reasonable, right? Well, let's all go nuts anyway. The Examiner's front page screams: Obama Disses D.C. Schools. The Post has front page story by Nick Anderson and Bill Turque which quotes Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee as saying Obama's comments were a "fair assessment." "We have indeed seen good progress over the last few years, but we still have a long way to go before we can say we're providing all children with an excellent education." A Post reporter went to the Francis-Stevens Education Campus near the White House to get comments from parents picking up their kids. The 'rents didn't seem to care. Not so in Bruce Johnson's report on WUSA9, where some parents didn't appreciate the prez's comments. NBC4's Tom Sherwood gets reaction from Gray and Washington Teachers Union president George Parker, who both said the president should know that D.C. has some great public schools, which, as it happens, is exactly what the president said. The Times also devoted a lot of ink to Obama's comments in this story by Deborah Simmons, which has a quote from D.C. State Board of Education member Mary Lord about Secretary of Education Arne "I don't do politics" Duncan: "Memo to Secretary Duncan: If you would like to move to the District of Columbia, pay taxes and vote, you're welcome... otherwise, butt out of our local politics and certainly do not make or perpetuate the impression that 'Race to the Top' is all about Michelle Rhee." An interesting thing to say to the guy who probably had a pretty big say in who received RTTT funding.

    Boat People Got No Reason to Live: The Post's Derek Kravitz reports that the future of D.C.'s 150 or so "boat people" who live in the Southwest at Gangplank Marina are facing a "murky" future as developers plan a $1.5 billion transformation of the waterfront to include hotels, apartments and new shops. Developer Monty Hoffman says it's "unclear how the public marina will be incorporated into the development, but his team is looking at examples in other cities, such as Boston, New York and Seattle." LL thinks the idea of living on a boat sounds cool, and wants to know how much those houseboats cost.

    Now Go Back and Double Check: The final vote tallies are in at the Board of Elections and Ethics, and hardly anything changed. The Post's Mike DeBonis reports that the addition of 9,000 more absentee and same-day registration ballots only changed the gap between Fenty and Gray by one-tenth of a percentage point. DeBonis also notes that a plan to allow absentee voters to vote via encrypted e-mail (is there an app for that?) has some people worried about the security of such a plan.

    TBD's Sarah Larimer rightly notes that when public officials tell start talking about "the children" they're full of "total malarkey."

    Gilbert Arenas won't smile [AP]

    Judge set to rule on possible discipline for MPD Chief Cathy Lanier, who a jury found violated the city's whistleblower protection laws [Fox5]

    Investor's Business Daily's take on Rhee

    Council Schedule: Don't miss the sure-to-be-exhilarating Council of the Whole's 1 p.m. work on the "Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act 2010" and the economic development committee's 2 p.m. round table on the old naval hospital.

    Mayor's Schedule: No public events again today. C'mon mayor, those ribbons aren't going to cut themselves!

    • DCexpat

      My guess is the folks upset about Obama's comments are folks who've spent all their lives in DC and thus consider our schools "normal".

    • efavorite

      Thanks for the link to the Investor’s Business daily piece on Rhee. I couldn’t comment there, so I will here.

      Here is additional information for the naïve reader, with evidence to back it up:

      The author, Ben Boychuk, represents The Heartland Institute Center for School Reform, which is anti-union and aims to weaken public education. Its mission is “to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies.
      http://www.heartland.org/schoolreform-news.org/profileresults.html?profile=9B1D98727001E6461A5F2A122FC9B19D&directory=AC11ADAD8BFCB4B88E45B5966C4EDBCB

      Presumptive mayor Vincent Gray has said repeatedly, before and after the election, that he supports school reform. He has developed a plan for the schools.
      http://www.vincegrayformayor.com/education

      Gray voted for mayoral control during the previous administration when then councilman Adrian Fenty (now the outgoing mayor) voted against it. Fenty did not run on school reform, introducing it unilaterally, along with Rhee, after he became mayor.

      Fenty raised about 4 times as much money as Gray and had 3 million dollars in the bank before Gray even announced that he was running this past March. Many DC residents, fed up with Fenty for various reasons, were urging Gray to run because he was the highly respected and effective Chairman of the City Council. Fenty disregarded polls showing voter discontent, lost his own ward (which he had represented as a councilmember) and at the last minute, cancelled a sold-out education debate with Gray sponsored by young DC educators, because he “couldn’t make it work.”
      http://voices.washingtonpost.com/local-breaking-news/dc/fenty-backs-out-of-debate-with.html

      Rhee made it very clear during the campaign that she felt she could not work with anyone but Fenty
      http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcschools/2010/07/rhee_grays_disdain_no_secret.html
      and she appeared with Fenty at campaign stops and went door-to-door on his behalf. After the election, she told a national audience that she felt the election results would be “devastating” for DC school children.
      http://www.politico.com/playbook/0910/playbook1175.html
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/16/AR2010091607081.html

      It was Rhee herself, not the union, (despite a $100,000 media consultant hired to rehabilitate her image) who presented herself “top-down and imperious.”
      http://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcschools/2010/03/katherine_bradley_funding_dunn.html

      She and Fenty share those traits, which led to their deserved demise.

    • efavorite

      Thanks for the link to the Investor’s Business daily piece on Rhee. I couldn’t comment there, so I will here. This is is additional information for the naïve reader. There is evidence to back it up, but the links will not post here. Most LL readers are already familiar with the facts, which can easily be googled.

      The author, Ben Boychuk, represents The Heartland Institute Center for School Reform, which is anti-union and aims to weaken public education. Its mission is “to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies.

      Presumptive mayor Vincent Gray has said repeatedly, before and after the election, that he supports school reform. He has developed a plan for the schools which can be found on his website.

      Gray voted for mayoral control during the previous administration when then councilman Adrian Fenty (now the outgoing mayor) voted against it. Fenty did not run on school reform, introducing it unilaterally, along with Rhee, after he became mayor.

      Fenty raised about 4 times as much money as Gray and had 3 million dollars in the bank before Gray even announced that he was running this past March. Many DC residents, fed up with Fenty for various reasons, were urging Gray to run because he was the highly respected and effective Chairman of the City Council. Fenty disregarded polls showing voter discontent, lost his own ward (which he had represented as a councilmember) and at the last minute, cancelled a sold-out education debate with Gray sponsored by young DC educators, because he “couldn’t make it work.”

      Rhee made it very clear during the campaign that she felt she could not work with anyone but Fenty and she appeared with Fenty at campaign stops and went door-to-door on his behalf. After the election, she told a national audience that she felt the election results would be “devastating” for DC school children.

      It was Rhee herself, not the union, (and despite a $100,000 media consultant hired to rehabilitate her image) who presented herself “top-down and imperious.”

      She and Fenty share those traits, which led to their deserved demise.

    • DCexpat

      efavorite, how could the Heartland Institute weaken public education in DC any more than it already is? Is there something beyond "dead last"? Just curious...

      The problem is we can't just wipe out the existing system and start over. You're not going to see success with a staff full of known failures.

    • Southeast Resident

      I hope Jonetta reads the IBD article. What it shows is that no matter how much you tell an lie, as she does in proclaiming the successes of Rhee and Fenty, it will never become true. As to the corporate patrons trying to bribe DC into keep Rhee for $65 million, save it, unless you want to shift that money to the campaigns of Republicans opposing DC voting rights. With they kind of cash, we would not be disenfranchised for long. Gray might even keep Rhee for that. As to the $100,000 media consultant that was hired to rehab Rhee's image, is this part of the reason why the DCPS overspent its budget for $25 million. Hey if Rhee wants to reform she needs to fire the staffers that can't count right. This will either cause taxes to go up, or cutting back on what Fenty has earmarked to pay his frat brothers.

    • Southeast Resident

      Obama made a choice to send his kids to private schools both in DC and Chicago because he has got it like that in terms of wealth. This may have been an elitest statement but it would have been fair and true. So it just isn't DCPS, it is all public schools. At least he realizes that at the $30,000 instead of the $10,000 to $15,000 per kid price point, you have a better chance of getting what you are paying for. Yeah, when you pay a teacher double at Sidwell Friends, that teacher really better deliver. What is missing here is his adding to his interview the responsibility that the child bears in it. There have been a lot of rotten eggs hatched as a result of private education too.

    • efavorite

      DCexpat - the aim of the heartland institute is to privatize education. They don't want to improve public education, they want to end it. For more information, go to their website.

    • abyssgazer

      I think Obama is being a bit disingenuous. I doubt he would send his daughters to any public school regardless of the quality. Few members of the elite do that. They can afford to send their children to exclusive private schools, so they do.

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    • http://www.jtrotman.com Jason Trotman

      The simple fact is that DC schools are not up to par yet. It will take time and continued reform measures. DC school system cannot handle the security logistics required to keep Obama's children safe.

    • Really?

      Look he didn't send the girls to a public school in chi-town so why would he switch up. I'm sure if any DCPS parent had $30k to pay for private school they would.

    • S.E.

      "The simple fact is that DC schools are not up to par yet. It will take time and continued reform measures. DC school system cannot handle the security logistics required to keep Obama’s children safe"

      Didn't Jimmy Carter send his daughter to a DC public school at 21ST & L Sts. N.W.?

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