With the mayor’s race heading into the pre-primary home stretch, incumbent Adrian Fenty is rushing to cut as many ribbons as he can. This morning, Fenty will help reopen Ward 3’s Stoddert Elementary School, which has been completely renovated and expanded with two new wings. D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, a figure who has loomed large in the mayor’s battle with main rival Vincent Gray, is scheduled to be on hand as well.
If a public schools ribbon cutting isn’t picture-perfect enough for news cameras, a high-profile endorsement of Fenty by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg should allow our Hizzoner to dominate the Tuesday local news cycle.
The Bloomberg event, scheduled for 12:45 p.m., will be at Carmine’s, a brand new New York restaurant import on 7th Street NW in Penn Quarter. Fenty already went to Carmine’s pasta-cutting ceremony earlier this month! It certainly can’t hurt to make a return visit to a buzzworthy new restaurant known for “big portions” and “low prices.” (What’s not to love?)
But wait, there’s more. In an event described as “one part economic development announcement, one part campaign function” by the Washington Business Journal’s Michael Neibauer, Fenty climbed on a construction excavator yesterday and helped kick off the demolition of Hogate’s restaurant on the Southwest Waterfront. Per Niebauer:
The Fenty administration is slated, in the next four weeks, to cut the ribbon on Canal Park at 200 M St. SE, break ground on the CityMarket at O project in Shaw, launch the revitalization of the Howard Theatre, open the new Yes! Organic Market in Ward 8 and announce a master developer for the redevelopment of the Hill East waterfront.
There is one big construction project where the mayor will be denied a pre-primary ribbon cutting: the reopening of the Georgetown Public Library. Following fires at the historic library and Eastern Market on April 30, 2007—separate events, but happening the same terrible day—Fenty boldly declared the two would be rebuilt. The library is scheduled to reopen in October. Eastern Market reopened last year.
Big city mayors love ribbon cuttings. For Fenty, they reinforce his campaign’s getting-things-done messaging and provide a platform to attack Gray. “What I think Chairman Gray’s idea of getting something done is talking about it,” Fenty said during a WPFW-FM radio debate in July. “The only thing he ever did for Deanwood Recreation Center is talk about. The only thing he did for Kenilworth was talk about it. We’re the ones who did everything from putting the money in the budget to doing the design to building it. Chairman Gray talking about something isn’t the same thing as building it.” (Hmmm—Boss Shepherd, “the Mayor BlackBerry of his time,” liked to build things, too.)
While Gray, as D.C. Council chairman, doesn’t usually get to be front and center at such ribbon-cutting events, he’ll get a chance to square off against the mayor directly during a WAMU-FM radio debate tomorrow. Maybe someone will ask if Fenty and Gray if D.C. taxpayers can afford all these shiny things. Kojo?