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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning, sweet readers! LL had some computer problems this morning and had an hour’s worth of unsaved LL Daily work disappear. So this one will be a bit short. Sorry. News time:
Get a Real Job: Mayor Adrian Fenty‘s plan to extend the summer jobs program by seven working days has failed, meaning swarms of angry teenagers will soon be unleashed in your neighborhoods to destroy and pillage. Or they might just hang out at the pool. LL was surprised by the council’s 9-2 vote against taking federal funding for needy families and using it for the summer jobs program; just last week LL was predicting that the council would bash Fenty around a little over the numerous failings of the summer jobs program before extending it. But LL, as is his way, was wrong. “The rejection will allow about $4 million to be directed elsewhere, but at the cost of an extra $200 in the pockets of each of the city’s 20,000-strong youth work force, weeks before the start of the school year. The council’s 9-2 vote came one day after hand-wringing and jaw-dropping over revelations of more than $7 million in overspending on the program, which employs youth for District jobs from tree planting to making copies to completing credits toward graduation. ‘The council’s action today was a response to the mayor’s continuing gross mismanagement of the [program],’ said Council Chairman Vince Gray, a mayoral candidate who used the moment for a bit of electioneering,” reports the Examiner’s Leah Fabel. The Post’s Nikita Stewart has more: “Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who is running for reelection, called it ‘political theater’ and said he expected the administration to characterize the council’s vote as one against youths. But he said his colleagues had to stick with the budget. ‘He’s coming here to try to get bailed out of fiscal irresponsibility,’ Mendelson said of the mayor. … Some council members focused on the mayor’s budget record—which they say has been distinguished by cost overruns—and specifically the mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. In 2008, the program ran more than $30 million over budget for a cost of $55 million. In May, the council approved the mayor’s summer jobs program at $22.7 million, but the cost for the six-week program is now estimated at $29.8 million. Fenty had already shifted stimulus money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to make up the difference but requested the $4.3 million in additional funds for the extension.” The Post‘s headline reads: “D.C. Council rejects moving funds to extend under-budgeted summer jobs program.” While Stewart’s lede says: “The D.C. Council soundly rejected a plan Tuesday by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to extend this year’s overbudgeted summer jobs program for seven days by diverting $4.3 million from a federal anti-poverty program.” Funny how both are right. So how did Hizzonner react to having one of his under/overbudget signature initiatives shot down while being cudgeled for being fiscally irresponsible? Curiously enough, the mayor’s office could not be reached for comment by Stewart. LL is no expert in the dark arts of PR, but it seems that when a local story starts smelling so rotten that conservative bombthrower Michelle Malkin notices, it might be time for a little damage control. And the Examiner‘s Freeman Klopott gets all blunt about the political ramifications: “But this year, when the council-approved cash ran low, the Fenty administration pulled dollars from stimulus funds meant for the District’s homeless. They sit in a group that’s easier to brush aside than the parents of laboring teens; the homeless don’t vote. Now that they know about the cash shifting, D.C.’s voters can ponder which is the priority: helping the hungry homeless or spreading millions of dollars out across a few underemployed teens.”
AFTER THE JUMP: Graham-o-Rama; Gray ads; more Gray ads…
Grahamstanding: The Post’s Paul Schwartzman profiles Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, who seems to be doing fine politically even after his chief of staff Ted Loza was indicted on charges of taking bribes. Schwartzman spends much of the piece airing grievances from Graham’s opponents, Jeff Smith and Bryan Weaver, that Graham is too cozy with developers, and has this exhange with a former bar owner: “Martin Corboy, a former owner of the Adams Mill Bar & Grill, recalled Graham walking into his establishment in 2002, gaping at the throng and saying, ‘I can’t believe what great business you’re doing and you’ve never given money to my campaign.’ ‘In my mind, it meant that if I’m smart here, I should give money to his campaign,’ Corboy said. Corboy said he gathered $200 in $10 bills and brought them to Graham, and a donation of that amount is listed in the council member’s 2002 campaign report. This year, Corboy is supporting Weaver. In his e-mail, Graham denied that the incident ever happened: ‘It is not true, I would never have accepted $200 in cash in this manner from anyone.'” That’s not very flattering; let’s see what his supporters say: “That boosterism and brio can turn Graham foes into supporters. When the nonprofit Central Union Mission upset Petworth residents by seeking to open a homeless shelter in their neighborhood, David Treadwell, the mission’s director, said Graham pointed a finger at him and said, ‘I’ll do everything short of illegal to stop you from coming to this neighborhood.’ Once the rhetoric cooled, Graham lobbied city government for an alternative location. ‘I went from feeling like ‘I got a tiger by the tail’ to ‘He understands us, and he’s trying to find a solution,” Treadwell said.” Also of note: Graham acted kind of bratty towards Schwartzman: “Despite his apparent cushion, Graham zealously guards his image. He declined to be interviewed for this article, but kept close tabs on the reporting—telephoning and sending e-mails to Washington Post editors to complain that a reporter’s questions to others suggested a negative bias. He eventually agreed to answer written questions.” The Post‘s Jonathan O’Connell reports via Twitter that he spotted Graham in the Post‘s lobby at 12:15 p.m. What was he doing there? He obviously wasn’t there for an interview with Schwartzman.
Character, Integrity, Attack Ads: The Vince Gray campaign released a pretty tacky YouTube ad video press release yesterday, where they take a video of Fenty being disarmingly candid with a disgruntled voter and cut it in such a way to make him look bad. In the video, which was taken without permission (according to a little bird who told LL) from a report by NBC 4’s Tom Sherwood, Fenty is confronted by a woman over housing and jobs who says the mayor turned his back on her. To which Fenty replies, “I didn’t do the job I’m supposed to.” The video stops the clip there and bashes Fenty for a number of things, including high unemployement rates in Ward 7 and Ward 8, the $82 million in city contracts that allegedly went to “unqualified fraternity brothers,” and the mismanaged summer jobs program. The Gray video then plays the clip of Fenty saying, “I didn’t do the job I’m supposed to” two more times before telling voters that Gray will do the job he’s supposed to. What LL found tacky was that Gray’s people take Fenty’s quote out of context. The full quote is: “I didn’t do the job I’m supposed to, and I don’t know how you’re going to vote, but I’m not concerned about it. Even if you don’t vote against—for me, I want to help you.” Kudos to Fenty for saying he made mistakes and promising to do better. Now, whether he said that because he meant it, or because Sherwood’s cameraman was a few feet away, that’s up to you to decide. But a wag of the finger to the Gray campaign for a cheap shot.
Speaking of Ads: City Paper‘s Michael E. Grass has this report on Gray’s first paid ad. It’s a one-minute spot that will be played on “urban radio stations.” Both the Post‘s Tim Craig and the Examiner‘s Klopott go inside baseball on media strategy. Says Klopott: “But where Fenty’s advertisements are targeted via cable television at specific audiences, the Gray advertisement meant for a larger audience comes off as generic, some observers said. ‘It’s not persuasive and it’s not going to reach through the clutter,’ said Scott Perreault, who runs an advertising company that’s made commercials for political campaigns nationwide and is not involved in any D.C. mayoral campaign. ‘The Midwestern, middle-of-the-road voice is not going to play well on an R&B station.’ A radio advertisement may also represent a poor spending strategy, Perreault said. The cost of producing one radio advertisement is likely about the same as one Fenty television advertisement, anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000, he said. The cost of buying radio space, however, is higher and there can be less bang for the buck.” Says Craig: “Short of cash and unable to pay for television ads, the Gray campaign is using web videos and radio ads to counteract the commercials Fenty is airing on broadcast and cable television. Gray’s free-media strategy—yes, D.C. Wire took the bait, this time—could be crucial in trying to overcome Fenty’s 10 to 1 cash-on-hand advantage. But Gray’s ad, which is also making the rounds on various neighborhood listservs, may awaken a sleeping giant. So far, Fenty’s television ads have focused on the mayor’s record and ignored Gray. Gray’s video, however, could be viewed as the opening salvo in the negative ad wars. And Fenty doesn’t need to rely on D.C. Wire and other media outlets to broadcast his commercials.” Klopott also takes a dig at Craig for writing about the YouTube spot: “The Post’s D.C. Wire blog became a key distributor Tuesday of a Web-only advertisement produced by D.C. Council Chairman Vince Gray’s campaign for mayor that knocks Fenty using an excerpt from an NBC 4 story.” Whoa, “key distributor?” We’re talking about a campaign ad, not kilos of Pablo Escobar‘s finest, Freeman.Get That Rat’s Nest Off Your Head: Sherwood also has a fun piece up about Gray’s recent makeover that includes getting rid of his “rat’s nest” haircut (Sherwood’s words, not LL’s), new suits, and new glasses. The phrase rat’s nest reminds LL of this.
Jonetta on Kwame’s debt [Examiner]
Councilmember Michael Brown on Newstalk.