D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray apparently finally got around to reading Amanda Ripley‘s Time magazine cover story on Michelle Rhee that ran last month. And he didn’t like what he read. He posted a letter Friday to Time editors expressing “outrage” at a line in Ripley’s story.

The line reads, “Rhee’s ferocity has alienated many people—-even those who support her ideas and could be helpful to her. This summer the chair of the Washington city council called dealing with Rhee a ‘nightmare.'”

One of Gray’s staffers asked Ripley—-a former City Paper staff writer—-about where she got the quote, and she pointed to, ahem, one of LL’s blog posts, about a council hearing this summer, in which Gray was quoted saying, “This started off as a partnership, and an enthusiastic partnership, to reform District of Columbia Public Schools,” he said. “There’s been more than a few days where it’s been a nightmare.”

Gray responds that the “nightmare was meant to refer to the whole of the executive educational apparatus—-mayor, deputy mayor, state superintendent, facilities chief, and chancellor. “For your reporter to turn the broad characterization into a personal reference to Ms. Rhee is unconscionable,” he writes. “Moreover, at no time did the reporter reach out to me or my communications staff to clarify or confirm the initial excerpt.”

Gray concluded: “I was indeed surprised that a reporter from a well-respected national publication would take this low road. In the future, I hope that Ms. Ripley or any other writer at Time Magazine, would follow a higher standard of journalism and afford me and my colleagues on the Council opportunities to speak on the record for ourselves.”

Yikes. Here’s the full letter (emphasis his):

Dear Editor:

I write to express my outrage over a disturbing reference attributed to me in a November 26, 2008 cover story about Michelle Rhee, the Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). I was drawn to read the article because I am the Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia, the legislative body charged with overseeing the major reform underway in our public schools.

As the legislative branch of the city’s government, the D.C. Council has two functions: to introduce and consider laws, and to conduct oversight. When the Council voted almost two years ago to support the mayoral takeover of DCPS, our roles substantially widened in the area of education and school reform, along with the mayor’s broader authority. Of course, the Council has stepped up to vigorously handle the additional responsibilities of school reform as the 13 elected representatives of the almost 600,000 residents of the nation’s capital.

In the article in question, Time writer Amanda Ripley wrote: Rhee’s ferocity has alienated many people—even those who support her ideas and could be helpful to her. This summer the chair of the Washington city council called dealing with Rhee a “nightmare.”

At first glance, I was taken aback by the use of “nightmare” to describe my dealings with a single official. I would not use such language in reference to a single person. In fact, when my office inquired about the reference, Ms. Ripley’s response left me even more disturbed, and convinced that the writer took unfair journalistic license to sensationalize her story.

In an email response to one of my staff members, Ms. Ripley cited an excerpt from a July 11, 2008 article from a local newspaper blog (Washington City Paper) as the partial basis for her “nightmare” assessment The excerpt read: “D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray is currently in the midst of slamming, hard, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and his education deputies­—-DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee, Deputy Mayor Victor Reinoso, and school facilities chief Allen Y. Lew­—-for bigfooting the legislature. Gray, in some of his strongest anti-Fenty statements to date, called Fenty et al.’s behavior ‘unconscionable’ from the council dais. ‘This started off as a partnership, and an enthusiastic partnership, to reform District of Columbia Public Schools,’ he said. “There’s been more than a few days where it’s been a nightmare.

For your reporter to turn the broad characterization into a personal reference to Ms. Rhee is unconscionable. Moreover, at no time did the reporter reach out to me or my communications staff to clarify or confirm the initial excerpt.

There are numerous leaders involved in education reform in the District of Columbia including the Deputy Mayor for Education, the State Superintendent for Education, the Chancellor of the D.C. Public Schools, the Director of the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization and the Ombudsman. All of the people occupying these positions were appointed by the current Mayor as part of his reform efforts and are involved with the D.C. Public Schools. Therefore, how could your reporter reasonably have concluded that my comment was directed at Michelle Rhee when there are many people involved? And, in reality, it was not directed at her but the process that often had unfolded.

I was indeed surprised that a reporter from a well-respected national publication would take this low road. In the future, I hope that Ms. Ripley or any other writer at Time Magazine, would follow a higher standard of journalism and afford me and my colleagues on the Council opportunities to speak on the record for ourselves.

Even as there are differences of opinion among officials in the executive and legislative branches of the District of Columbia government, each of us deserves to be treated with journalistic integrity and fairness as we work together to carry out the important tasks of making our schools the best possible places of learning for our children.

Vincent C. Gray, Chairman, Council of the District of Columbia