TODAY IS JUNE 17, 2011 — DAY 167 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
Shocker: Kaya Henderson will be confirmed as D.C. Public Schools chancellor. Nary a naysayer was to be heard on the D.C. Council dais as she “coasted” through her confirmation hearing, Bill Turque reports in The Washington Post. “Seven of the council’s 13 members — including some who were outspokenly critical of Henderson’s predecessor and mentor, Michelle A. Rhee — indicated they would vote to confirm Henderson next week.” And get this: “The council heard surprisingly conciliatory testimony from the president of the Washington Teachers’ Union, Nathan Saunders, an implacable foe of personnel policies imposed by Rhee and continued by Henderson.” Henderson, for her part, said it was full steam ahead on Rhee-era reform efforts to boost enrollment, fix special education and overhaul teacher evaluations. But she “promised to augment that record with other measures, such as a curriculum for teachers and a more robust community outreach effort to include parents in decision-making.” In the not-a-column today, I consider the new, lower temperature in the city school reform debate and wonder if it can last. The release of new teacher evaluation results this summer will tell the tale.
AFTER THE JUMP — More from the Henderson hearing — Is recent corruption tied to cash influx? — Lanier says “no magic number” for cops — Neil Stanley’s confirmation on ice
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE KAYA I — From Bill Turque: “The seven-hour hearing was a stark contrast to council chamber confrontations of previous years, when members bridled at Rhee’s sometimes-abrasive style. Henderson’s more personable demeanor has made a difference. ‘The council is going to confirm Ms. Henderson,’ said council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), a frequent critic of Rhee. Six others said explicitly that they would vote to confirm Henderson on Tuesday: Michael A. Brown (I-At-Large), Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-At Large), Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1). Saunders stopped short of endorsing Henderson, saying that he respected Gray’s right to select his schools leader. But Saunders also said he had started to develop a productive relationship with Henderson, one in which they have discussed how to create a less ‘stressed-out’ school system buffeted by the controversies of the Rhee years. ... However, he added that disagreements over the IMPACT teacher evaluation system remain significant.”
MORE KAYA 2 — From Examiner’s Lisa Gartner: “The council tossed Henderson some softball questions, such as Chairman Kwame Brown’s opener: ‘What is your vision for D.C. Public Schools?’ They also hit Henderson with tough thinkers, like who — between DCPS and the Washington Teachers’ Union — was the true advocate for students. And Henderson was peppered with a number of specific school queries from council members doing their homework for their wards back home. And if she’d consider putting chocolate milk back in the schools. But most lines of questioning were accompanied by assurances that the council member would vote to confirm Henderson.” Also WaTimes, WAMU-FM, WTTG-TV.
MONEY AND CORRUPTION — The Examiner’s Freeman Klopott does a step-back on the recent surfeit of scandal. With the help of former Council member Bill Lightfoot, he connects the allegations against Harry Thomas, Kwame Brown and others to a “rapid expansion of the District’s budget, easy access to campaign dollars and a taste for the high life.” Says Lightfoot: “The size of the city as an economic enterprise has nearly doubled [in the past decade]. There’s more money in the campaigns, and combine that with a sense of entitlement and the temptation is great.” Klopott also quotes former AG Peter Nickles worrying about the “adverse effect” of the scandals on city employees’ morale. The piece includes a sidebar on Barry-era corruption charges and a very handy chart of spending on city campaigns in recent years. “All of those dollars have made winning the power of elected office more valuable, and might have turned some officials down unethical paths,” Klopott writes. At DCist this morning, Martin Austermuhle adds his thoughts on that theory: “There’s certainly some truth to all of that, but I’d add two additional factors — the District’s ethics rules aren’t particularly good, and we’re seeing what’s left of the city’s political old guard trying to have its way before its pushed aside. The majority of the scandals happening now involve officials that have either been in politics for a long time or who have family that has been. ... A little fresh blood in D.C. politics is sorely needed, isn’t it?”
NO ‘MAGIC NUMBER’ FOR MPD — Police Chief Cathy Lanier testified against a Jack Evans-introduced bill to set the police department’s staffing level at 4,000 sworn officers. Andrea Noble reports in the Washington Times that she said that “policing requires the ability to adjust to the needs of the city. ‘I don’t think there is a magic number,’ Chief Lanier said. ‘I don’t feel comfortable locking in a number with legislation because I think we need to be flexible.’ However, she did recommend that the council look into the idea of creating a minimum staffing requirement for civilian personnel in the police department. The number of civilians has varied widely over the past several years, and establishing a base number could help to keep officers on the street by preventing the backfilling of positions by officers if civilian positions are cut, she said.” Lanier did not address Tuesday’s budget vote, which made it unlikely that more police will be added to the force next year.
STANLEY CONFIRMATION DELAYED — Jim Graham again delayed a committee vote on Neil Stanley’s confirmation as Youth Rehabilitation Services director. Tom Howell Jr. reports in the Washington Times that’s because HR officials are looking into whether Stanley “tailored a key job posting” to hired an acquaintance to run the New Beginnings center. “Mr. Graham has said the editing between January and a reposting in March appeared to make way for Capt. Steven Baynes, who had a successful U.S. Coast Guard career but no discernible experience in juvenile justice. Mr. Stanley testified that he knew Capt. Baynes ‘through friends’ and saw him as a qualified person to bring true leadership to the troubled facility. ... A memo circulated Thursday said, in part, ‘The investigation of the role, if any, of Acting Director Stanley is ongoing and is not complete’ and that ‘results are expected next week.’” If the Council is going to reject Stanley, it has to do so by its July 12 legislative meeting.
BROKEN RECORD — Harry Jaffe writes a “two-punch column”! First punch: Marion Barry is the “Godfather” of the “broken system” he so often decries. Second punch: The Council was foolish to move adding additional cops down the magic money priority list in favor of Medicaid. He writes: “Lanier testified Thursday morning before the Judiciary Committee that looming budget shortfalls will force her to cut special units, such as prostitution squads. ... We’re headed back to Barry’s town: struggling schools and free-ranging street walkers.” In other Jaffe news, he tells Borderstan that I am “captive of the soft-headed set that sees the sweet boy behind every carjacker and rapist” and that I will “grow out of it.”
CASHIER CASHIERED — Thursday’s big neighborhood uproar concerned the slur delivered to a gay couple last weekend by a Safeway cashier in Southwest. Tommy Wells took to Twitter, calling for action; Southwest ANC member Andy Litsky threatened to organize a boycott. That prompted Safeway to issue a three-sentence statement apologizing and saying that it is “reviewing the matter and will take appropriate corrective action.” That initial apology was “not enough,” said one of the men, Jason Morgan, to Metro Weekly, which broke the story. By the end of the day, the cashier had been fired. Also Advocate, DCist, City Paper.
TALK OF THE TOWN — Some scuttlebutt aired by the Georgetown Dish’s Beth Solomon: “Observers say Gray ‘is acting like he is still the Councilmember from Ward 7’ East of the River, not the Mayor. Sources register the following observations and complaints: Nobody is in the Mayor’s office to ‘get it done.’ So, a lot of matters are slipping through the cracks. The administration is just not functioning the way it should be because of this. The Mayor is doing constituent services which should be handled by a go-to person in his office.” Also: Evans raised $50,000 at Herb Miller’s house last night.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
House subcommittee approves city spending bill without amendment; “Something tells me it’s not going to be as quiet in full committee,” says Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) (D.C. Wire)
A chat with Alice Rivlin (Post)
A Brown Line for Metro? (G’town Metropolitan)
Tax sale list is out, and Doug Jemal remains all over it (WBJ)
Be a “Healthy D.C. Dad” (WUSA-TV)
Ex-deputy mayor could lead Bay Area transit agency (Bay Citizen)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray in Baltimore all day for U.S. Conference of Mayors meetings — D.C. Council hearing on “Retail Service Station Amendment Act of 2011” (B19-299), 11 a.m. in JAWB 412