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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning sweet readers! Did you hear that the namesake of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Leonard Skinner, died? Fun fact: Skinner was Burt Reynold‘s fraternity brother at Florida State. News time:
Nickles Under Investigation: Leading the charge on a slow news day are a pair of stories reporting that Attorney General Peter Nickles is being investigated by the D.C. Bar Association for alleged conflict-of-interest violations. At issue is whether Nickles has violated that old rule prohibiting lawyers from representing both sides of a case, specifically the “Jerry M.” class-action case dealing with city’s treatment of juvenile offenders. Take it away, Examiner’s Freeman Klopott: “When Nickles switched from suing the city to a position in which he was required to defend the city, he made promises that he wouldn’t put himself in a situation in which his interests would conflict. But on Monday, Councilman Phil Mendelson confirmed to The Washington Examiner that Nickles has been referred to the bar for breaking the association’s rules against attorneys who switch sides in a case. “The referral to bar counsel is serious,” Mendelson said. “Nickles needs to come forward and explain what’s going on.” The bar was made aware of the potential conflict in July, when D.C. Lawyers for Youth sent the bar a letter detailing Nickles’ alleged conflict of interest breaches. Daniel Okonkwo, who heads the group, confirmed the bar association’s investigation. Sources also told The Examiner that D.C. Superior Court Judge Herbert Dixon, who oversees the Jerry M. case, has asked the bar to investigate the attorney general.” The Post‘s Mike DeBonis reports that his anonymous sources tell him that Dixon has “communicated” with the bar, but isn’t sure if that constitutes a referral. Nickles says the complaint by Okonkwo’s group is suspect, and he doesn’t know anything about a complaint by Dixon.
AFTER THE JUMP: Hug It Out, Vince and Michelle; Union Tax Break Pulled; OPRAH!…
Hug It Out: The Post’s editorial page encourages Vincent Gray and Michelle Rhee to act like grown ups and decide a course of action that’s best for the children. “Mr. Gray and Ms. Rhee need to have a frank conversation, and they alone must decide what happens next. If they decide they can’t work together, they should cooperate in ensuring the least disruption to the system at this critical time. … Ms. Rhee has poured her all into school reform and, if she ends up leaving, needs to be careful to leave the system as well positioned as possible to make further gains. We would hope, for example, that she would encourage the talented people she has recruited to stay and continue their work. That might be more doable in light of Mr. Gray’s assurance that he wants his chancellor—whoever he or she is—to be an agent for further change.”
Oprah’s On: Speaking of Rhee, did you see her on Oprah? The show was filmed fours days before the election, but just aired yesterday. (It’s not hard to imagine the Green Team wishing it had aired earlier). LL didn’t catch it, but the Post‘s Bill Turque did. “Oprah Winfrey gave Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee a heroine’s welcome Monday when she appeared as part of a promotional push for Waiting for Superman, the documentary that includes an account of her early struggles in the District. Winfrey introduced Rhee to an adoring studio audience as the woman who ‘singlehandedly turned the D.C. public school system upside down, ‘firing “over 1,000 teachers and principals’—a number I’d never heard before. ‘This is a warrior woman! This is a warrior woman!’ Oprah declared.” Bill Turque, how dare you imply that Oprah’s facts are wrong. If Oprah says Rhee fired over 1,000 teachers and principals, then Rhee fired over 1,000 teachers and principals, got it? Turque also has the temerity to treat Rhee like a James Frey:
“A couple of factual points fell victim to friendly fire from Rhee the warrior woman. In a discussion of how to deal with ineffective teachers, she minimized the significance of professional development, saying that it was not fair to ask parents to put their children in the classrooms of educators who might be better in a year or two. ‘There is no way I would put up with that [as a parent],’ Rhee said. Yet that is precisely what’s she’s done with more than 700 D.C. teachers judged ‘minimally effective’ on last year’s IMPACT evaluation. They’ll be given a year to improve or face dismissal. Her write-off of professional development also overlooks the commitment the District made in its federal ‘Race to the Top’ application. Part of the $75 million grant from the Department of Education is contingent on D.C. establishing”a wide and deep array of rigorous professional development opportunities” for teachers. Perhaps even more puzzling was Rhee’s answer when Oprah asked about the difficulty in firing teachers. ‘You have to meet literally a criminal standard,” she said, which is true when pursuing cases of sexual misconduct or corporal punishment. But firing teachers for poor performance—next to impossible in DCPS for years—is now an option through IMPACT if their scores are low. The system led to the dismissal of 126 teachers this summer.’
One other interesting note: O’s website calls Rhee an “education activist” instead of, you know, D.C. schools chancellor.
No Tax Break For U: Worried, like the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute is, that the Starbucks at Union Station was going to get a cushy tax break it doesn’t deserve? Fear not, at least for now, as Gray has pulled a proposed tax break for Union Station businesses off of today’s legislative agenda. WBJ‘s Michael Neibauer is on the case: “While Gray, the victor in last week’s Democratic mayoral primary, declined to address his specific concerns, there are two issues that perhaps weigh heavily on his thinking. First, the District faces a 2011 revenue shortfall that could approach $100 million, and the chairman often spoke of fiscal responsibility during the campaign. To come out of the primary and immediately pass a $34 million tax break would be seen by some—the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, for example—as fiscally irresponsible. And second, the Union Station Redevelopment Corp. is represented by lobbyist extraordinaire David Wilmot. Wilmot and Gray are close friends. After hammering Mayor Adrian Fenty for “cronyism” throughout the campaign, it might look unseemly for Gray to support a tax break that benefits a buddy. That’s not to say the bill won’t reemerge later. The legislation, Jack Evans said, “is on hold at the moment.”
Bittersweet Bikes: TBD’s Dave Jamison captures the mood nicely of yesterday’s launch of the Capital Bikeshare program, where Mayor Adrian Fenty and DDOT head Gabe Klein were on hand. “After his remarks, Fenty was asked whether he thinks progressive infrastructure projects like Capital Bikeshare will move forward with the same enthusiasm under a Gray administration. ‘I not only hope they do, I really believe they will,’ he said. ‘The Democratic nominee has been around the city long enough to know how much momentum there is.’ Asked whether Gray would be wise, as some have said, to hang on to Fenty’s more popular cabinet members on the planning side—Klein and planning director Harriet Tregoning specifically—Fenty demurred. ‘I’m going to stop short of giving any advice to my successor,’ he said. ‘He was chosen by the voters to make decisions and the city has confidence in him to make the right ones.’ Eventually, it was time to stop talking and start riding. Fenty snapped on his helmet, hopped on one of the shiny, fire-engine-red bicycles, and led a congregation of cyclists out of Tingey Plaza on an inaugural ride. As he made his way out of the park he was reminded to ride slowly, the better for a photo op. But once he hit the road he apparently couldn’t resist. He cruised up First Street SE at a quick clip, leaving the photographers behind. ‘You’re going too fast!’ someone shouted at the mayor, but he was already out of sight.” LL thinks there’s enough metaphors in there to last a while. Can you find them all?
Gray and the Council: Klopott has a second piece on Gray’s “unprecedented position of power” as the D.C. Council chairman and mayor-in-waiting, or put to LL another way by a Wilson building staffer, Gray has a lot of juice right now. But fear not: “Said at-large Councilman David Catania: ‘I don’t think Vince Gray will engage in any unruly power grabs.'” The Post’s Ann Marimow has more: “Even though the election is officially over, the lingering tensions between the council and the Fenty administration persist. The council Tuesday will try to override two bills the mayor rejected during the recess period in a “pocket veto.” The first would make it a crime to pay someone to vote or to register to vote. Allegations of vote-buying dogged the campaigns of Fenty and Gray in the waning days of the election, something both camps denied. The second bill would allow trustees of the University of the District of Columbia to operate with reduced membership, because of the high number of vacancies on the panel. For months, the mayor and the council have been unable to agree on Fenty’s appointments, leaving 10 openings on the 15-member board. Gray said he considers the nominees put forward by the mayor “unqualified,” in part because they would not bring “influence or affluence” to the position.”
What Fenty’s Loss Means for Obama, Take 25: The New York Times’ Bob Herbert compares President Obama’s problems at the polls with Fenty’s loss, saying both men neglect black voters at their peril. “The idea that we had moved into some kind of postracial era was always a ridiculous notion. Attitudes have undoubtedly changed for the better over the past half-century, and young people as a whole are less hung up on race than their elders. But race is still a very big deal in the United States, which is precisely why black leaders like Mr. Fenty and Mr. Obama try so hard to behave as though they are governing in some sort of pristine civic environment in which the very idea of race has been erased. These allegedly postracial politicians can end up being so worried about losing the support of whites that they distance themselves from their own African-American base. This is a no-win situation—for the politicians and for the blacks who put their hopes and faith in them.”
Them’s Fighting Words: The Georgetown Dish has the story of Jeff Jones successfully got his opponent, Michael Savage, thrown off the ballot for the 2E03 ANC race. Savage, who apparently turned in 25 signatures from registered voters around the city instead of just from the 2E03 area, is pissed. “‘I think that’s a bulls**t move to do what [Jones] did. I’m not the kind of guy that would do something like that,’ said Savage. ‘I think it would be better if people had a choice.’
The Bag Tax is working, so sayeth the first three grafs of this Wall Street Journal story.
The Times‘ Deborah Simmons says parents want the office of the ombudsman back. [Times]
WTOP’s Adam Tuss gets the scoop that San Francisco’s Nathaniel P. Ford is in the running for Metro’s top job. [WTOP]
Prof. Ron Walters’s funeral held [NBC4]
D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Executive Director Rokey Suleman is in the hot seat with Bruce DePuyt on Newstalk.
D.C. Council legislative meeting kicks off at 10 a.m. at Wilson building.