Catania, Gray Face Off in Scheduling Thunderdome
When Councilmember David Catania announced his school reform bills earlier this month, Mayor Vince Gray's office cited a few problems—that Catania's proposals duplicated some of Gray's work, that the proposals threatened mayoral control of schools, and that the mayor's office didn't see the proposals ahead of time.
Why didn't the mayor get an early glimpse of Catania's ideas? Because in an email chain, Gray and Catania's offices weren't able to agree on how a meeting between them would unfold. Catania fielded a question about this on today's Kojo Nnamdi Show, so LL took another look at the emails, which Catania's staff posted online today—and yeah, they're pretty funny.
In the emails, Gray's and Catania's staffs go back and forth like antsy drug traffickers setting up a hand-off. Everything—location, date, and participants—is up for grabs. No email is too passive-aggressive.
May 13, 12:46 p.m.: Janene D. Jackson, Gray's director of legislative affairs, says Catania and Gray can meet on May 30. She expects it to be just Gray and Catania.
May 13, 5:15 p.m.: A problem appears: Catania chief of staff Ben Young says they need attorneys from the law firm Hogan Lovells, who worked on the bills. In fact, so many people will be there that they'll need a conference room on the third or fourth floor of the Wilson Building.
May 13, 5:55 p.m.: No way, says Jackson—we'll meet on the sixth floor in the mayor's conference room.
May 16, 3:14 p.m.: But Young doesn't want to meet in the mayor's conference room. "Let's do the Chairman's conference room on the 5th floor," Young writes.
May 17, 11:42 a.m.: Darin Allen, Gray's scheduler, isn't having it. The meeting will be in the mayor's conference room, "as this is the standard and well-established protocol for such meetings."
May 24, 10:44 a.m.: Six days from the meeting, trouble. Christopher Murphy, Gray's chief of staff, is worried about a "misunderstanding" over how many people are coming. Gray's willing to do a one-on-one meeting or with one staffer, but no more. "The mayor certainly would not feel the need to bring an entourage and I'm certain that Council Member Catania would feel the same way."
May 27, 10:31 p.m.: Catania does not feel the same way. Young writes back that the meeting can't happen without Hogan Lovells.
May 28, 5:27 p.m.: Murphy says Hogan Lovells staff can come—but if they do, Catania will be meeting with Deputy Mayor for Education Abigail Smith instead of the mayor. But if Catania will come alone or with one staffer, "We're certainly happy to accommodate."
May 29, 3:04 p.m.: Catania's already discussed the changes with Smith, Young writes. The meeting's called off.
There's a happy ending to this story. According to Young, Catania and Gray are finally meeting next Thursday to talk schools. One-on-one.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery