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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning sweet readers! Tweet of the day award goes to Chuck Thies, who gives the numbers on Mayor Vince Gray‘s State of the District speech: State of the District speech = 8,117 words. Obama’s 2011 State of the Union = 7,029 words; Obama’s speech on Libya last night = 3,386.
State Of The Sulaimon: LL wonders whether there were any conversations between Gray and his friend Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh about the fact that her hearing on the Gray administration’s hiring practices was on the same day as the mayor’s State of the District extravaganza. Talk about awkward timing. The good news for Gray is that the most interesting witnesses in the various scandals (including confidant Lorraine Green, former Chief of Staff Gerri Mason Hall, and former special assistant Sulaimon Brown) regarding Gray’s hires won’t be called to testify until a future hearing. Still, yesterday’s pow-wow provided plenty of news fodder. The lede is that Hall “made several attempts” to find Brown a city job before placing him at the Department of Health Care Finance, the Post reports. Hall, “whom Gray fired earlier this month, continued to be cast as the ‘fall guy’ Monday for early mistakes made by the Gray administration,” says the Examiner, which is totally spot on. Other tidbits from the hearing, at least according to various testimony: Brown thought he was the key ingredient in Gray’s primary victory and was fired for harassing a female intern with unwanted advances (he denies this). And Hall not only hired her son to a city job, but set his salary too. The Post also notes that Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry was Gray’s “sole” defender during the hearing. (Barry also cussed out Councilmember David Catania and disparaged the media, in particular Washington City Paper and LL, whom he called “Crazy Lips.”)
AFTER THE JUMP: Speech Time; Rhee Reacts; Happy 50th, 23rd amendment…
Speech, Speech, Speech: Crazy Lips counted two ambulances, a mobile emergency command RV, more than a dozen cops, busloads of seniors, a handful of at-large candidates, plenty of sleeping audience members, a throng of Americorps volunteers who had been strongly encouraged to attend, one Peaceaholic, one “Ms. Washington D.C.” and lots and lots of city employees at the mayor’s State of the District speech last night. As already noted, the mayor’s speech was Tolstoyan in length. LL was a little surprised he didn’t start individually naming all of the District’s residents and give an update on what the their current state is: “Joe Brown, of Petworth, says he’s doing okay.” For a less snarky view, read the Post, which reports that “Gray (D) used his remarks to shift the public conversation over his administration’s troubles to the District’s longtime tale of two cities, exacerbated last week by new U.S. Census numbers that show the black population has dwindled to barely 50 percent in the once predominantly African American city. In a 22-page speech, Gray opened his address by boasting about the District’s growth to 600,000 residents and rankings as ‘happiest city,’ ‘fastest-growing retail market’ and ‘most socially networked city in America.’ ‘The truth is that the growth in our city has been a miracle for some and a mirage for others,’ Gray said. ‘For those left behind, the picture I have just painted of the city’s successes is not a self-portrait, but something closer to a foreign landscape. You can gaze at it admiringly, but it doesn’t look anything like your neck of the woods.'” (The Post also, though, larded up its speech story with a recap of the political scandals that Gray’s dealing with—even though the jump from the story on the Cheh hearing was on the same page inside the B section!) The Examiner‘s take: “Gray sought to inspire his black majority base by describing the city’s deep racial and class divide and his plan to bring the city together mostly through a focus on job creation.” Several media outlets noted that Gray didn’t talk about his administration’s problems during his speech.
Rhee Fires Back: LL always gets annoyed when he sees public officials refuse to comment to a news organization that’s doing a story on them, then bash said news organization after the story runs. So LL is a little annoyed that former Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee wouldn’t comment to USA Today as they were doing an investigation into whether some teachers were cheating on standardized tests during her watch—and then bashed the story after it comes out. Here’s what Rhee said of USA Today‘s work: ‘It isn’t surprising,’ Rhee said in a statement Monday, ‘that the enemies of school reform once again are trying to argue that the Earth is flat and that there is no way test scores could have improved … unless someone cheated.’ USA TODAY’s investigation into test scores ‘is an insult to the dedicated teachers and schoolchildren who worked hard to improve their academic achievement levels,’ Rhee said.” Enemies of school reform? LL thought USA Today was just the paper people read at airports. Meanwhile, USA Today reported that the Board of Education will hold a hearing next week on testing irregularities and Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson tells WUSA9 (owned, like the paper, by Gannett) that there was no cheating.
Gray sked: 6 p.m., the Indus Entrepreneurs Meet-and-Greet Session; 7 p.m. Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center Ribbon Cutting
Council sked: Roundtable on education at 10 a.m.; Fire Chief confirmation at 2 p.m.