TODAY IS SEPT. 2, 2010 -- 12 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY
Happenings in Silver Spring may have stolen the news cycle away from the mayoral candidates, but not here at DeBonis: We begin with yesterday's epic Washington Post/WAMU-FM/WRC-TV debate at the Newseum. In the definitive wrap-up, Tim Craig and Ann Marimow write that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty "acknowledged on Wednesday for the first time that he may lose the job that voters in every precinct in the city chose him for in 2006," quoting from his closing statement: "If you do not find it in your hearts to forgive me and give me a second chance, I will have no one to blame but myself." But the show was stolen by his wife, Michelle, who made a rare appearance and even rarer public comments: "This is his city, and these are his people. ... It's so painful to hear that people think he's arrogant. As his wife, I'm here to tell you it's absolutely not true." The article has a full recap of the debate; yours truly liveblogged and did an extensive post-debate chat. The takeway: "Now everyone, including Fenty, accepts that Gray is the front-runner," Bob McCartney writes in his column, adding that Gray "achieved his pre-debate objective to be statesmanlike and 'look mayoral' " while Fenty "often looked either petulant or apologetic."
AFTER THE JUMP -- Post editorial board makes council picks -- Inside Peaceoholics' city funding -- Michael D. Brown does in fact look like Peter Griffin -- Cheh endorses Gray
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE DEBATE -- The Examiner's Freeman Klopott writes that Fenty "moved ... to break down the wall of arrogance his critics say he has built up over the past four years." He adds: "Despite his need to bridge the racial divide, Fenty didn't use the word 'race' until nearly 20 minutes into the hour-long debate when he was asked if it hurts that black voters don't like him. 'Anybody who says they don't want someone of their own race and background to like them, you've gotta think about and yes, of course, it hurts,' he said." The legendary Hamil Harris elicited and proceeded to videotape Michelle Fenty's emotional pleas; Alan Suderman grabbed another. Martin Austermuhle liveblogged at DCist; livetweets from @alansuderman, @slarimer, @fklopott. Bill Turque fact-checked some of the education-related claims. Martin's wrap-up thoughts: "While Fenty delivered a strong closing statement in which he admitted to his personal failings, its delivery with less than two weeks left in the campaign may not be enough to close a gap that has grown to as large as 17 points. Then again, every election has its one moment, and this may have been it. Michelle Fenty's emotional defense of her husband could be enough to balance off her husband's aloofness, one of the traits that so quickly lost him popular support over the last four years." The Washington Times' Deborah Simmons covers some "hourlong faceoff at the Newseum in downtown Washington" that may or may not have been sponsored by the daily paper in this town that wasn't recently sold for $1. Also WTTG-TV And, hey, look: Pictures!
POST PICKS -- The Post editorial board issues its D.C. Council endorsements. Jim Graham and Tommy Wells get enthusiastic nods for reelection; the bigger surprises are downticket. There is no endorsement in the at-large race; of Phil Mendelson, they write that "his record doesn't justify another term" and that his "contributions ... are outweighed by what we see as a timidity, even a pandering, in his governing." And Clark Ray? He "has run an energetic campaign built on his roots in the community, but disappointingly he has not made a good case for his candidacy. On a variety of issues -- from school reform to public safety -- he tries to be all things to all people." And in Ward 5, the board opts for Delano Hunter, saying incumbent Harry Thomas Jr. "pretty much defined his role as trying to stop anything -- no matter how sensible -- sought by the mayor" and is hence a "major disappointment." Hunter, the board writes, "has an intimate knowledge of the needs of the ward and has smart ideas on how to tackle issues such as truancy and joblessness," adding: "Mr. Hunter is not a supporter of marriage equality, but he is not the homophobe his critics make him out to be, but rather someone who thinks there is a way to provide equality for gays while respecting the beliefs of religious groups."
FENTY AND PEACEOHOLICS -- City Paper's Rend Smith and Jason Cherkis do a fabulous deep dive on Peaceoholics' city funding: "[A] review of contracts and tax documents detailing money Peaceoholics has gotten from the District during Fenty's administration, as well as interviews with former Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services staffers, suggests the group may not be delivering the sustained results Fenty usually demands. Money made its way to Peaceoholics outside the usual channels, and without meaningful government oversight or detailed explanations of what services the District wants. Add in the very public ways the group's co-founder, Ron Moten, has boosted Fenty's re-election campaign, and the situation looks downright strange. ... A source familiar with dealings within DYRS says the grant was part of a larger plan: Fenty wanted Peaceoholics to receive $900,000 for the year: "$500,000 from JGA, and $400,000 from DYRS." Last month, Washington City Paper reported Fenty was pushing DYRS and the D.C. Children & Youth Investment Corporation to find the other $400,000. Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, who chairs the committee that oversees DYRS, says the administration dropped the effort once it became public. ... Top DYRS officials -- including then-Director Vinny Schiraldi -- resisted handing Peaceoholics easy money. During one meeting, former staffers say [Attorney General Peter Nickles] ordered Schiraldi to give Peaceoholics a no-bid contract, saying the order came from Fenty. It had to be done. '[DYRS staffers] thought they were full of [crap], that they were just political puffers -- that they were getting a grant not because of their work, but because they were loud,' one former agency employee says. 'They were wired to the Fenty administration.' (Nickles says the conversation 'never happened' that way, and he 'never advocated for a no-bid contract' for Peaceoholics.)"
WHAT'S IN A NAME, PART 17 -- The Post's David Montgomery tackles the Michael Brown name confusion in a Metro fronter: "This can only be good for the 'Michael Brown' brand, which took such a beating five years ago, when Michael D. 'Brownie' Brown didn't do such a heckuva job dealing with Hurricane Katrina. Now the District's entire political establishment quakes in awe at the mesmerizing power of the run-of-the-mill moniker. To hear city pols tell it, all you have to do is put 'Michael Brown' on the ballot, and voters will stampede to elect that candidate. 'It's a little flattering,' said Michael A. Brown, an at-large member of the D.C. Council, who is not up for reelection this year."
" 'I've always run under the name of Michael Brown. I just don't know any other way to do it,' said Michael D. Brown, who is being accused of misusing the might of his own name." Also, bless Sandra Seegars, the Congress Heights activist and Mendelson supporter who says this of Michael D.: "I like him. He's friendly. He looks like the cartoon 'Family Guy.' " Also: Photo gallery!
WHAT HAPPENS TO KWAME'S SEAT? -- In Loose Lips this week, Suderman looks at the fracas likely to ensue should Kwame Brown win election as council chairman: "[I]f Brown wins, the 82 members of the D.C. Democratic State Committee will pick a replacement. That replacement will enjoy being an incumbent for about four months until a special election can be held where anyone can run, regardless of party. In these types of contests, where turnout and interest is low, it doesn't take much to win. ... Get strong enough support from one or two groups, and boom! You've got one of the best paying part-time jobs in the country. And, oh, yeah, also a vote on the council." Names mentioned: Jacque Patterson, Clark Ray, Vincent Orange, Leo Alexander, Deborah Royster, Adam Clampitt, Harry Thomas Jr., and ... Michael A. Brown? "He says 'a lot of folks' have approached him and asked him to consider switching back to the Democratic Party. Brown says he can't get a clear answer on whether he can switch his party affiliation and be done with it, or whether switching parties would require that he run in a special election, something he doesn't want to do." Also: More on the Greater Washington Sports Alliance.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Fenty wins endorsement of Washington Hispanic newspaper (D.C. Wire)
Gray's fundraising pounds past $1.5 million goal, campaign sources say (D.C. Wire)
Lydia DePillis profiles GGW's David Alpert and the increasing influential urbanist class (City Paper)
Peter Rosenstein endorses Gray ... again (All Opinions Are Local)
"Can the LGBT vote rescue Mendelson?" Includes this scenario: If Mendo loses on Sept. 14, would he seek Kwame's vacated at-large seat? (Blade)
No kidding: "Michelle Rhee a Dividing Factor in D.C. Mayoral Contest" (Education Week)
Parsing Eleanor Holmes Norton's supremely terrible signs (Loose Lips)
Federal judge stops national teachers union interference in WTU election (D.C. Schools Insider)
Shadow Rep. Mike Panetta gets some nice press (Politico)
Rhee pens chapter in "Waiting for Superman": The Book (Capital Land)
Mike Neibauer covers the O Street Market groundbreaking (WBJ)
Marion Barry vs. Jim Graham in disapproval resolution standoff! (TBD)
Voter card misprint affects 7,500 (NBCWashington.com)
More than you probably want to know about the Takoma ANC's battles over medical marijuana (City Desk)
Why DDOT needs to make slug lines work (All Opinions Are Local)
Study: Half of taxi drivers won't pick up a blind person with guide dog (Post)
The fake bus driver pleads guilty (Crime Scene)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Fenty breaks ground on Howard Theatre redevelopment -- Gray and Cheh to campaign in Ward 3