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Good morning sweet readers! Washington City Paper‘s senior staff is currently on a boat somewhere near Annapolis. If that boat sinks, LL will be named supreme leader of the paper. That’s called dibs. News time:
You Say Slush Fund, I Say Youth Services: The DCGOP says Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. is operating a shady “slush fund” that’s received city money and no one really knows where the money has been spent. “Tim Day, an accountant who is challenging Thomas in the Nov. 2 general election, said the incumbent has been raising money for his Team Thomas/SwingAway LLC program for years but has not been disclosing who his donors are or where the money goes. ‘This is a fake organization,’ Day said. ‘If he has truly received money and donations and has given it back to his community, he should be more than willing to provide documentation.’ Thomas says that’s bull, and he’ll be providing the documents soon to prove it. The Post has those and other details.
AFTER THE JUMP: More on Kaya, Gray Wants A Say in Development Deals; Ward 2 Hates Pizza …
More on Kaya: The Post‘s education reporter, Bill Turque, gives a more lengthy introduction to Michelle Rhee‘s replacement, Kaya Henderson. Tidbits: G-town grad, a “very spiritual person,” Ward 5 homeowner. But Henderson was a bit vague Thursday on what exactly she would do differently while driving the agenda of the woman she called ‘my friend, partner, mentor.’ What’s clear is that the message Gray wants to send is really Henderson herself: a gracious but resolute African-American woman with deep roots in both the education reform movement and the District. In other words, Rhee without Rhee. … But anyone who doubts the closeness of the two education leaders need only have watched them standing behind Gray at Wednesday’s announcement, whispering and laughing like middle school girlfriends as he spoke to a hotel conference room packed with reporters.” WTOP’s Mark Segraves has a must-read interview. Also, Jaffe is optimistic.
Dude, Don’t You Leave Me With an Unusable Warehouse: The Washington Business Journal‘s Michael Neibauer reports that Gray wants a say in any development decisions the city makes during the rest of the year so that he doesn’t get saddled with some expensive last-minute boondoggle like Still Mayor Adrian Fenty did. “Mayor Adrian Fenty and his development team are sitting on a series of solicitations they have yet to award to developers. Among them are projects expected to transform city neighborhoods, from an underground enclave below Dupont Circle to a 67-acre plot along the Anacostia River. … “In the final days of former Mayor Anthony Williams’ last term, his administration signed a 20-year, $6.5 million annual lease on an empty warehouse near Nationals Park—the proposed new home for the Metropolitan Police Department. Six months later, citing the high cost of renovations, Fenty killed the MPD move to 225 Virginia Ave. SE. But that decision left D.C. with a massive warehouse it couldn’t unload and a lease it couldn’t escape. As the District spent two-plus years and upward of $17 million in rent deciding what to do with the vacant building—ultimately choosing to buy it for $80 million, renovate it and move three agencies into it—city officials often echoed the same refrain: Fenty inherited a bad deal.” Fenty spokesman Sean Madigan says the mayor’s office isn’t going to sit on its hands, but will work with Gray.
Sherwood Calls Out Fenty: NBC 4’s Tom Sherwood calls Fenty “obtuse” for not coming out and saying that he opposes the write-in campaign that’s being waged by Fenty die-hards. “But Fenty, so far, has declined requests from Gray to state publicly that he is opposed to the write-in. Mayor Fenty also declined to attend the Ward 3 town hall meeting Gray held last week. So why won’t the mayor speak up? Well, once again, the mayor is marching to his own drummer and isn’t considering, or is purposely ignoring, the civil political steps he should naturally take. It’s the kind of obtuse behavior—there’s that word again—that cost him re-election.” In other write-in news, Gray has wisely rejected a challenge from Josh Lopez, former four-day city employee and Fenty campaigner, to debate.
First, They Came for the Burger Joint: The first question at Gray’s Ward 2 town hall last night was what the almost mayor was going to do about a noisy pizza place! Take it away, G’Town Saucer: “Georgetowner Anne Wittke opened the question period with a challenge for Gray and Ward 2 councilmember Jack Evans to permanently close Philly Pizza. Whittle noted that the Potomac Street takeout had again obtained an operating license and intended to reopen despite the actions of top D.C. officials to shut it down for trash, noise, zoning and other violations. Gray responded that he will demand transparency from his agencies and that they will work with neighbors or there will be “one more person on the unemployment lines and that person will be the director.” Evans, following the town hall, told The Georgetown Dish that “I’m going to put them [Philly Pizza] out of business. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but it’s going to happen.” Damn, Jack, that sounds gansta. MPD: If Philly Pizza burns down under “mysterious circumstances,” LL thinks he has a suspect.
Also last night, Gray angrily shot down rumors his own side has been giving to the Post that Rhee abruptly quit. “Let me make something perfectly clear,” remarks Gray, “Chancellor Rhee did not abruptly quit. That is absolutely fallacious. Nor did I ask chancellor Rhee to leave her position,” so quotes WAMU.
Just Saying: Remember how Fenty and Rhee are always saying that their biggest mistakes have been failures to communicate? Well, LL had a good chuckle when he read this piece on President Obama’s downward slide by The New York Times‘ Peter Baker. “The first refuge of any politician in trouble is that it’s a communication problem, not a policy problem. If only I explained what I was doing better, the people would be more supportive. Which roughly translates to If only you people paid attention, you wouldn’t be kicking me upside the head. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, laughed at the ever-ready assumption that all problems stem from poor communication. “I haven’t been at a policy-problem meeting in 20 months,” he noted.
Former Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles Ramsey didn’t do anything wrong when 400 people were arrested and hogtied for no reason and the evidence for that case disappeared, says former Police Chief Charles Ramsey.
D.C. firefighters are suing, claiming racial discrimination.
The Washington Times‘ Deborah Simmons makes the case that education reform is a team effort.