“Optimism without data is really just an emotion.”

—City Administrator Dan Tangherlini, Feb. 19

All of Fenty’s interpersonal difficulties found a great salve in the person of Tangherlini, the mayor’s behind-the-scenes dynamo. The bearded budget-and-policy whiz, a veteran of top management jobs at the city transportation department and Metro, spun the cogs of District government at RPMs they’d never seen. His team of young bright-eyed analysts, armed with spreadsheets, budget books, and CapStats, pushed agencies to fulfill Fenty’s do-it-now style of governance. LL never saw it better than when he was allowed to sit in with budget whiz Will Singer and Tangherlini for a short while as they prepped the 2010 budget with agency officials. When one agency head expressed some less-than-well-founded confidence that revenues might increase, Tangherlini uttered the bon mot above. Not so long after managing the presidential inauguration miracle, Tango took a job—and a hefty pay cut—at the Obama treasury department.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

More from LL’s Quotes of 2009