David Catania, Media Critic
David Catania isn't the first councilmember to tangle with Washington Post editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao. He may be the first, though, to compare her to the title character in The Wizard of Oz.
For those who missed the movie or James Franco's 2013 prequel, Catania provided a recap at today's education committee hearing. The wizard—"a harmless, elderly illusionist," per Catania—was not as influential as he wanted people to believe. What he lacked in power, though, he made up for in bluster.
"Who is our wizard?" Catania asked from the dais. "Our wizard is Jo-Ann Armao, who, as I mentioned, is not a District resident."
If you thought Catania still had a chance to court one of the city's most influential voices on education, there it goes. Ahead of his hearing on why the Office of the State Superintendent of Education chose grading standards that presented math scores in a positive light, the editorial board, long an ally of the school system, slammed Catania for grandstanding.
The editorial inspired Catania to devote much of his opening remarks to more allusions—his situation, he said, reminded him of Stealers Wheel's 1972 hit "Stuck in the Middle With You" ("Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right"). He also said deceased Post publisher Katharine Graham would be saddened to see the state of her editorial board today.
But Catania saved most of his ire for Armao herself, who, as the councilmember delighted in pointing out, lives in Montgomery County. Catania referred to Armao as "the oracle of Sunnyside Street," a reference to Armao's home on Sunnyside Road in Silver Spring.
Armao wouldn't tell LL on whether she thinks her MoCo residency makes her less qualified to judge benchmarks for standardized tests (LL's take: It doesn't). Post ed board boss Fred Hiatt similarly declined to comment on whether his page is in the decline.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery