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Good morning sweet readers! LL watched a great movie on instant Netflix last night called King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. It’s the story of two guys battling to be get the highest ever score on the old arcade Donkey Kong. But it’s really an allegory of the 2010 mayoral race with an arrogant incumbent being overthrown by a dweeby nice guy. News time:
Don’t You Love Her As She’s Walking Out The Door: The Post’s Bill Turque states the obvious today on the front page: Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is (likely) outta here. If her immature comments Wednesday night (“Yesterday’s election results were devastating, devastating,” Rhee said. “Not for me, because I’ll be fine, and not even for Fenty, because he’ll be fine, but devastating for the schoolchildren of Washington, D.C.”) aren’t enough to convince you she has no interest in staying, then think back to before the election, when she basically said, several times: “If Gray wins, I’m leaving.” LL can understand the good intentions of Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Mary Cheh, who floated an idea of getting Rhee locked in for the next two school years, but let’s end this charade and move on. Turque reports that Rhee and presumptive Mayor-elect Vincent Gray are set to meet next week. LL suggests Rhee bring along a resignation letter, hand it to Gray, and move on to whatever is next in her bright future while Gray consoles the “devastated” city school children. Looking ahead, Turque names names of possible replacements, including former CA Bob Bobb, former Cleveland schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former schools superintendent Deborah A. Gist, and Clifford Janey, who Rhee replaced. Turque notes there’s also the possibility that Gray could appoint an interim chancellor while conducting a national search, and Gray gets along with two Rhee deputies Kaya Henderson and Richard Nyankori. TBD also adds Jean-Claude Brizard, schools boss in Rochester; Rudy Crew, former school head in Miami; and former Ward 7 Councilmember Kevin Chavous to the list. And the Examiner looks at all the money that’s at risk if Gray were to ditch all the work Rhee’s done.
Update: As LL was about to finish this email, he got an email from Rhee’s staff (addressed to the editors of the Washington Post, thanks a lot) with a walkback attempt from Rhee:
“This week I used the word ‘devastating’ to describe the potential effects of the DC mayoral election. I want to be very clear: In using this word I was not criticizing Chairman Gray. I was describing the perception by some that this election had been a referendum on reform of DC schools itself. If the results were read as a repudiation of reform, that indeed would be devastating for the children, for the city and for children throughout the country who are so dependent on successful school reform efforts.”
Nice try, Michelle, but LL thinks you’ve already dug yourself a hole with Gray, who probably didn’t need much excuse to want to let you go anyway, after the tumultuous relationship you’ve had with the teachers’ union that backed him so strongly. (Still, it’s interesting to see the attempt made; if Rhee was really dead-set against sticking around next year, she probably wouldn’t have bothered.) Even if Rhee didn’t mean the “devastating” line the way it sounded, it’s inflammatory language like that that helped turn people against her in the first place.
The Post‘s Eugene Robinson also scolds Rhee: “Maybe it’s just me, but I’d think that someone who cared so desperately about the city’s students would do everything she could to try to ensure that the reforms she initiated would continue. She might look for a way to stay on with the new administration, learning to work under a new boss. If that were unrealistic—and, after what she said, I find it hard to imagine how Gray could ask her to stay—she might at least begin a constructive dialogue aimed at a smooth transition. But the way to start that conversation would be with words of congratulations. Instead, she took the peremptory Louis XV approach: ‘After me, the deluge.'”
AFTER THE JUMP: Fenty endorses; Eleanor Holmes Norton gets Breitbarted; Republican winner is…
Fenty Shows Heart: LL missed the Democratic party’s unity breakfast yesterday morning, but heard from several people there that Adrian Fenty gave a gracious, heartfelt speech praising Gray and pledging a smooth transition. Tim Craig quotes David Meadows, executive of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, saying Fenty said “As a resident, I look forward to having Vince Gray as my mayor.”
Also showing Rhee the proper way to behave was DDOT chief Gabe Klein, who told WBJ‘s Michael Neibauer that the city would be in “great hand” under either Fenty or Gray.
Eleanor, They Can Hear You: Andrew Breitbart’s Big Governmentwebsite has a recording of a shady shakedown call made by Eleanor Holmes Norton to an undisclosed lobbyist where Norton basically says, I’ve heard you’ve been giving money to my friends, but not me. It’s time to pay up. Here’s the call:
“This is, uh, Eleanor Norton, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Uh, I noticed that you have given to uh, other colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. I am a, um, Senior Member, a twenty year veteran and am Chair of the Sub-committee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management. I’m handling the largest economic development project in the United States now, the Homeland Security Compound of three buildings being built on the uh, old St. Elizabeth’s hospital site in the District of Columbia along with uh, fifteen other, uh, sites here for, that are part of the stimulus.
I was, frankly, uh, uh, surprised to see that we don’t have a record, so far as I can tell, of your having given to me despite my uh, long and deep uh, work. In fact, it’s been my major work, uh, on the committee and sub-committee it’s been essentially in your sector.
I am, I’m simply candidly calling to ask for a contribution. As the senior member of the um, committee and a sub-committee chair, we have (chuckles) obligations to raise, uh funds. And, I think it must have been me who hasn’t, frankly, uh, done my homework to ask for a contribution earlier. So I’m trying to make up for it by asking for one now, when we particularly, uh, need, uh contributions, particularly those of us who have the seniority and chairmanships and are in a position to raise the funds.”