TODAY IS MAY 19, 2011 — DAY 133 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
Three D.C. Public Schools classrooms have had their 2010 standardized test scores tossed, after an investigation found “proven instances of cheating.” Bill Turque also reports in the Post that “multiple school system and teachers’ union sources have said that at least two instructors were fired for inappropriate actions while administering tests. ... Improper actions could involve giving students advance looks at test questions, prompting students during tests or tampering with answer sheets after the tests are completed.” State Superintendent of Education Hosanna Mahaley said at Mayor Vincent Gray’s news briefing that the issues were not widespread, that “most of our teachers and students are playing by the rules.” But, Bill writes, “Whether Wednesday’s action will dispel questions about the reliability of the city’s test scores remains unclear,” and an Inspector General investigation prompted by USA Today’s probe of high erasure rates is ongoing. Also, the Examiner’s Lisa Gartner notes, school officials are looking into 14 potential security breaches with this year’s DC-CAS tests. And this: “Gray said the investigations do nothing to tarnish former Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who ‘did a great deal.’ ‘We’re not looking to continue or detract from her legacy,’ Gray said. ‘The results speak for themselves.’” Also WaTimes.
AFTER THE JUMP — Terry Bellamy’s the man at DDOT — ‘Mary Cheh Is Annoyed’ — medical examiner loses accreditation over old issue — is the District cursing members of Congress?
*** MAIN COURSE ***
BELLAMY STAYS AT DDOT — Five months and six candidates into his search for a new transportation director, Gray has settled on interim pick Terry Bellamy as the best man for the job. Ex-director Gabe Klein, whom Bellamy served under as his operations deputy, called the pick the “Right choice” and made this analogy: “I was the Michelle Rhee of transportation, and Terry balanced me out.” From Bellamy’s greeting message on the DDOT blog: “I want to assure our residents we will continue to lead and look for new and better ways to move people around the District. We will continue to expand our bicycle infrastructure and our trail network; continue to expand our wildly successful Capital Bikeshare system; continue to launch more initiatives including LED streetlights and green alleys that create green jobs; and continue to plan and construct the DC Streetcar system. Mayor Gray has made his commitment clear and I share his vision for the District’s transportation future.” Also named Wednesday: David Miramontes will be medical director for Fire and Emergency Medical Services; he’s currently of Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo. Also WTOP, Patch, Housing Complex. Examiner, D.C. Wire, Dr. Gridlock, WAMU-FM, WaTimes, DCist, GGW.
BEING MARY CHEH — They used to call the late William Donald Schaefer “Mayor Annoyed” when he ran Baltimore. In his Loose Lips column this week, Alan Suderman makes the case that Mary Cheh might well be called “Council Member Annoyed.” He writes: “Quite a few things annoy [Cheh] these days. Anonymous D.C. Council staffers telling reporters Cheh is ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’: annoying. ... The press saying she’s in the tank for Mayor Vince Gray: also annoying. ... Witnesses not answering subpoenas, and a long parade of Gray aides giving her committee [baloney] answers: really annoying.” Cue an examination of the political situation Cheh finds herself in: A key Gray supporter tasked with leading a tough inquiry into her man’s hiring practices. “Cheh, a former prosecutor who teaches constitutional law at George Washington University, seethes at any suggestion she hasn’t played it straight down the middle. ‘If you’re suggesting that I pulled punches with any of the witnesses, again, I would think you’re quite wrong,’ Cheh says. Having watched all 4,000 hours of the hearings, LL can tell you that Cheh’s got a point. While she may not have pressed as hard as [David Catania], Cheh was pretty tough. In fact, during last week’s testimony of Gray confidante Lorraine Green, Cheh seemed just about fed up. ... But her annoyance with Gray’s top aides doesn’t extend to the mayor. In Cheh’s view, Gray’s only sin was trusting [Judy Banks], Green, and [Gerri Mason Hall] to make hiring decisions. She still has no regrets about supporting Gray over Fenty. ‘Maybe [Gray’s] not going to be, you know, everything that one could hope, but I know that from experience that it was not sustainable for Fenty to stay as mayor,’ Cheh says.” Also: Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt explains that photo from Saturday.
MEDICAL EXAMINER LOSES ‘PRESTIGE’ — A national organization has pulled its accreditation from the D.C. medical examiner’s office after the city refused to heed its guideline that its top official be board-certified. Freeman Klopott broke the story in the Examiner, noting that the loss of accreditation “weaken[s] the prosecution of criminal cases in court and potentially keep[s] the agency from moving into the city’s $220 million forensics lab.” Tasked with following the story last night, I spoke to Phil Mendelson, who was less certain of the move’s ramifications: “In terms of prestige, it’s a step backwards,” he said. Mendelson said he was more upset at the National Association of Medical Examiners, who pulled the accreditation while acknowledging the agency’s progress, than at Chief Medical Examiner Marie Pierre-Louis, who can’t get certified even if she wanted to due to American Board of Pathology rules.
HOW GEORGE WAS WOOED — Michelle Rhee explains in a Huffington Post piece how former WTU President George Parker came to be a “senior fellow” at her StudentsFirst organization: “I recently shared my views on [school reform politics] with [Parker], and the conversation that followed was interesting. George said he thought the unions had to become more reform-minded. He said it was in their interest to embrace changes that would lead to better student outcomes, not just those that shore up teacher rights. He even said teachers and their unions have to do much more to weed out those among them who aren’t doing their jobs well. ‘Huh,’ I thought. ‘That doesn’t sound like the standard union line.’ As I thought about what George said, I still wasn’t convinced union leaders would shift their views, but I was intrigued. I wanted to hear more, and I thought the topic merited a dialogue. So, I asked George if he’d consider becoming a senior fellow at StudentsFirst for a year. I was very glad when he said yes. I hope our fellows will provide us with different viewpoints and challenge our thinking on issues related to education. I know George will do that.” The Examiner also reacts to these new “strange bedfellows”.
IT’S A CURSE! — Taking note of the swift downfall of Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Post editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao wonders if there’s a “curse” on anti-District congressional leaders. “Before the revelation of Ensign’s affair with a campaign aide and his elaborate (and possibly illegal) efforts to conceal it, there was Rep. Mark Souder, who left office last year when his affair with an aide was made public. ... Rep. Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham (R-Calif.) viewed the District as his own playground, arranging a $3 million federal appropriation to spruce up the Washington marina where he moored his yacht but insisting, as a quid pro quo, that individuals of his choosing get future occupancy leases. ... Then there’s former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) who played such a big role in riders restricting the city’s ability to spend its tax dollars. ... Another foe of D.C. was Ted Stevens, the late senator from Alaska who fought D.C. voting rights and budget autonomy. He was defeated for re-election while embroiled in a federal corruption trial. I’ll concede it is possible the District had nothing to do with the downfall of these men; rather it was their own deep character flaws that lead to do their undoing. In any event, it’s possible that virulent opposition to the District and its residents is something to look out for in a lawmaker.”
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Only 11 have stepped forward to enter the medical marijuana business (DCist)
Also receiving reimbursed MPD escorts of late: Bill Gates, Jay-Z (AP via Post)
Council files court paper to force Sulaimon Brown testimony (WTOP)
”DC Council: Don’t choose parking meters over people” (GGW)
Why we should be concerned about the slowly diminishing proportion of black D.C. cops (City Paper)
Gray says he knew nothing about Howard Brooks’s “win bonus” (WTOP)
Gray’s response to Allen Lew audit positively “Fenty-esque” (Housing Complex)
Mendelson defines a “Third World” supermarket (DCist)
Council, NCPC brush back Bolling base planning (Housing Complex)
Adding building height east of the river is complicated (GGW)
Skateboard commuting: illegal (City Paper)
Jack Evans doesn’t want to be mayor any more? Sure about that? (WaTimes)
Woo — public works! (D.C. Wire)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray does NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt, 10 a.m. on NewsChannel 8; meets with Baghdad Provincial Council, noon at JAWB; attends launch event for Groundwork Anacostia River, 2 p.m. at Dorothy Height/Benning Library, 3935 Benning Road NE; attends Covenant House gala, 6 p.m. at THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE; attends D.C. Building Industry Association annual dinner, 8:30 p.m. at Washington Hilton