Fenty, L.A. Leader Discuss School Takeover

Adrian M. Fenty and Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa chat about big-city issues.
Adrian M. Fenty and Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa chat about big-city issues. (By David Nakamura -- The Washington Post)
By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 26, 2006

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25 -- D.C. Democratic mayoral nominee Adrian M. Fenty continued his barnstorming tour of major cities Wednesday to gather ideas for a likely administration, meeting with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa to kick off a three-day California visit.

In a discussion that lasted almost an hour, Villaraigosa (D) shared with Fenty his experiences in his own school takeover effort, which culminated recently in his gaining increased authority over Los Angeles public schools, the second-largest system in the country.

Fenty, who has said he is leaning toward bidding for direct control of D.C. public schools, has sought advice from big-city mayors, including New York's Michael R. Bloomberg (R) two weeks ago.

"We both share a passion for children and want world-class school systems," Villaraigosa said after the meeting in his City Hall office. "We both believe that mayors need to be involved in transforming our schools."

Fenty said the conversation went well beyond schools.

"We talked about everything from leadership, homeland security and schools to how to deal with crises in big news situations," Fenty said. "It was a hands-on learning experience."

After spending Wednesday here, Fenty was scheduled to travel north to San Francisco on Thursday to listen to Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) deliver the State of the City address. He plans to return to Washington on Friday.

Since winning the Democratic primary in September, Fenty has also visited Baltimore, New York and Chicago.

Dan Tangherlini, Metro's interim general manager who has agreed to become the District's city administrator in a Fenty administration, and four aides accompanied Fenty here. Fenty said he is gathering ideas to prepare for the transition after the Nov. 7 general election, which he is expected to win easily in a city where three-fourths of registered voters are Democrats.

"There are only five or 10 people in the country who can tell you how the five or 10 best big-city mayors make decisions," Fenty said on the plane to California, "and those are the five or 10 big-city mayors themselves. To hear directly from them is invaluable for me."

A more calculable benefit is the series of fundraisers the Fenty campaign is staging in each city he visits. Wednesday night, he was invited to an event in his honor hosted by Charles King, who attended law school with Fenty and now works as a talent agent at the William Morris Agency.

As of the most recent filing deadline Oct. 10, Fenty had $462,000 in his campaign account. That has grown since then and dwarfs the meager receipts of his opponents, Republican David Kranich and the Statehood Green Party's Chris Otten. Fenty said he needs money to pay campaign workers and staff polling centers for the general election. If he has leftover money, some of it could go to a constituent services fund, he said.

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