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A public roundtable on D.C. Public Schools construction contracts is now underway, called by D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, who has raised questions about the contracts to prepare facilities to receive students from closed schools next fall.

Is it another opportunity for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to play politics with the council? Sure looks that way.

While Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. gave his opening remarks, Gray informed Thomas that the mayor’s office informed him today that school facilities chief Allan Y. Lew would not be present, because he had come down with a case of laryngitis.

Said Thomas, “We have texts and e-mails. Maybe he can text his responses.”

Lew had come in for sharp questioning at a previous hearing late last month on a process some councilmembers saw as rushed and opaque. DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee is in attendance today and will be answering questions, though you can count on a lot of “Allan will have to get back to you on that”s, seeing as she has limited knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the contracts.