IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning, sweet readers! LL has been growing his own vegetables this summer, and finally tried one of his own jalapeños last night. Sweet lord, LL almost died, it was so hot. New conspiracy theory: the government is deliberately reducing the potency of mass-produced peppers to keep the populace dull and slow. News time.
Black Women Unswayed by Moten’s Songs:A new day, a new poll. This one, by Clarus Research Group, gives D.C. Council Chairman and mayoral hopeful Vincent Gray a slight lead over Mayor Adrian Fenty. Overall, Gray leads Fenty 39 to 36 among Democratic voters, and 41 to 36 among those voters who are “very likely” to actually go out and vote. The most interesting data is on race, which sums up what all of us political watchers pretty much already knew: white people love Fenty, black people love Gray.
AFTER THE JUMP: Media Scuffle; Going to the Wells; Bloomie…
Well, Someone is Definitely Confused: So the hottest story in local government yesterday was that Fenty’s administration may have tried to steer $400,000 to Peaceoholics, the embattled anti-youth violence non-profit co-founded by Fenty campaign strategist/spokesman/hell, why not just call him campaign manager, Ron Moten. City Paper‘s Rend Smith got the ball rolling Friday with this story asking whether the non-profit is broke and if Fenty’s trying to shore them up with a new grant. The Examiner‘s Freeman Klopott took it even further with this Tuesday story, saying the check was going to be cut within a week, and featuring Moten saying the payment was for work performed by Peaceoholics after the D.C. Council cancelled one of its contracts. Both stories feature anonymous sources and leave a lot of questions unanswered. Enter the Post, which comes in, look around, and takes a big dump on both publications. First, there’s Mike DeBonis‘ morning roundup, where he basically says Klopott’s story is untrue. “However, reality might not be so dramatic: The Post has made inquiries on the story, and DYRS is expected to issue a statement later today clarifying that any grant money will be competitively bid.” DeBonis and Tim Craig follow up with a blog post later in the day where they basically have Councilmember Tommy Wells throw both WCP and the Examiner under the bus.
“But in an interview with the Washington Post Tuesday, D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) said he’s received assurances from Robert Hildum, the interim director of DYRS, that the story is not true.’I have been assured by Rob Hildum that no check would be written for past work,’ said Wells, chairman of the Human Services Committee. ‘It is my understanding that anything that goes out will be competitively bid.'”
Nothing to see here folks, just a couple of scrappy newshounds getting their shit wrong. Except, maybe not. Smith followed up with this rebuttal:
“Wells says you missed some nuance. ‘I called Hildum, and he said that he would not authorize cutting a check,’ Wells tells City Paper. ‘That does not mean he wasn’t asked.’ What appears to have happened is a classic case of sunlight acting as the best disinfectant. Once City Paper and the Examiner reported on the attempts to funnel money to Peaceoholics, the money suddenly dried up. ‘Essentially, your story stopped them for now,’ says one city official, who had initially tipped City Paper off to the attempts to get money to the group (and therefore, wanted anonymity). If, in fact, there was no truth to City Paper’s original story, why didn’t Fenty’s office say so last week? Instead, after being prodded with several questions about the money, Fenty spokeswoman Mafara Hobson e-mailed over a statement saying, ‘The organization has provided work for both the Trust and DYRS, which would result in payment from both agencies.’ Which is, essentially, what the Examiner reported this morning as well. And, for that matter, exactly what the Post reported today wasn’t happening.”
The Post later updated their post at Wells’ request to make the same point Smith did: that just because Hildum said there won’t be a payment doesn’t mean the Fenty administration wasn’t trying. Hildum, come forward and speak! Let your voice be heard and tell us what’s really going on. See what confusion you wreak when you have Tommy Wells speak for you?
Smith spanks the Post pretty good, so LL won’t pile on, except to add this thought: It’s been one week since Banneker Ventures, the company at the heart of the council’s investigation into alleged corrupt city contracting practices, sued the city for breach of contract. The Post, which has owned much of the coverage of the investigation, hasn’t bothered to report that fact. WTF? Does that not break the news threshold, while this does?
Wells Isn’t This Interesting?:Speaking of Tommy Wells, DeBonis goes long on a profile of the sleepy Ward 6 race between the incumbent Wells and challenger Kelvin Robinson, Mayor Anthony Williams‘ former chief of staff. Robinson is knocking Wells for being too focused on bike lanes and taxing our plastic bags, rather than reducing crime. “More pointedly, Robinson said Wells’s advocacy of sweeping environmental and social legislation—including his signature accomplishment, a city-mandated 5-cent tax on disposable grocery bags—has come at the expense of bread-and-butter concerns such as reducing crime.” Once again, a candidate thinks that councilmembers ought to be putting on capes at night and flying around their wards punching out bad guys instead of actually legislating. Good grief.
Your Government, At Work:After Fox 5’s Paul Wagner broke the story that the Fenty administration is waiving hundreds of thousands of fees for a select group of events, like the National Marathon, the D.C. Council has promised to start looking into the practice, reports the Washington Times’ Deborah Simmons. “D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, chairman of the Public Safety and Judiciary Committee, said he will hold public hearings on the practice. D.C. Council member Jack Evans, who is chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee, said the city cannot afford such largesse. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said he weighs each event on a “case-by-case basis.” Maybe LL’s column detailing how the president of the group that organizes the marathon is on pace to see his pay package reach $200 million a year by 2030 had something to do with it (really, do the math!). Also, interesting that Evans is now against waiving fees for a group that he got a $500,000 earmark for 2008, the same year the group paid its CEO more than $400k.
Don’t Call me Strategist: TBD‘s Facts Machine has this interesting back and forth between Moten, the Post’s Nikita Stewart and Fenty spokesman Sean Madigan about what Moten’s role is in this election. “When asked if Moten is a campaign strategist, Fenty campaign spokesman Sean Madigan has a simple answer: ‘No.’ ‘Ron is a volunteer on the campaign and he’s been working hard on our behalf,’ Madigan said. ‘He’s reaching out to a lot of groups that haven’t been involved in the election process before.’ Nikita Stewart, who wrote the Post story along with Tim Craig, said Moten’s expanded role made the paper feel comfortable with the ‘chief strategist’ label. ‘Ron has been given more responsibilities, especially with the go-go effort, which has been a main thrust of Fenty’s campaign,’ she said, also citing Moten’s work as an organizer at the Ward 4 and Ward 8 Democratic straw polls. Stewart also said no one had taken issue with the label. ‘We’ve been needled about it, but we haven’t been asked for a correction,’ she said.” As for Moten, he has this: “‘If I was a professor and I looked at the work I was doing, I would say I was a strategist,’ he said. ‘So, I’m a strategist.'” Whatever Moten is, he’s definitely added spice to this race. Keep it up, Ron!
Jonetta highlights potential voting problems. [Examiner]
Kojo and Sherwood have Fenty and Gray all to themselves at noon!
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More pointedly, Robinson said Wells's advocacy of sweeping environmental and social legislation — including his signature accomplishment, a city-mandated 5-cent tax on disposable grocery bags — has come at the expense of bread-and-butter concerns such as reducing crime.