“Mayor” Vincent Gray took his road show to Ward 1 Tuesday night, addressing a town hall meeting in a ward he lost by a 21-point margin in September. The auditorium at Carlos Rosario International Charter School only seats 450 -- smaller than Gray’s other venues -- and crowd control and fire hazards were concerns as many more than that number crammed into the room.
Gray got there about half an hour late, and in the meantime, Councilmember Jim Graham warmed up the crowd with a partisan pitch, shouting, “There are no write-ins in this room. Not one.” (Since there are still a fair number of Fenty signs on lawns around the ward, he could be wrong about that.)
Gray could afford to be more magnanimous, and once again opened with a pitch to unity and a promise that education reform will continue. A vocal contingent of parents and students began a chant calling for the city to rebuild Georgia Avenue’s Bruce-Monroe Elementary School. Gray said he’s working on it.
The rest of the event mostly followed the script of the four earlier forums. Gray talked up statehood, to predictable applause, and said more District employees should actually live in D.C. He also called for more stringent oversight of the troubled Student Youth Employment Program. One awkward moment came when a high school student asked about bullying of LGBT youth. Gray first suggested they man up, saying, “Step to ‘em,” before recovering and saying diversity training is needed.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* The Write Fenty In campaign is starting to resemble the Japanese holdout soldiers who fought on for 30 years after the war. In its latest communiqué, the group defiantly says, “If you had any doubt, Mayor Adrian Fenty made it perfectly clear, he would not ask the Write-In Campaign Leaders to STOP! … We will continue our demand that EVERYONE, Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Independents and all others, have an opportunity to vote by Writing-In-Adrian Fenty! It’s the Voting Rights Issue of our time!”
Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman has a recording of a mysterious pro-write-in robocall, which begins with a self-described registered Republican saying he’s calling with a “code red alert.” The call then rehashes familiar fears that Gray will bring back the bad old days, and that unions forced him to get rid of Michelle Rhee. The Write Fenty In campaign says it’s not behind these calls, so no, we don’t know who ordered the code red.
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics does not tally write-in votes unless there are enough of them to possibly swing the election -- we don’t know who the 248 write-in votes in the Democratic mayoral primary were for, for example -- so it’s safe to assume that the Write Fenty In campaign will claim all mayoral write-ins on Nov. 2 were for Fenty, even if they were actually for Marion Barry or Alex Ovechkin.
* Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity will be a great event ... for me to poop on! (Oh wait, that’s Conan, not Stewart.) Anyway, WTOP reports Comedy Central organizers “are having a hard time finding port-o-potties” for the event, since the Marine Corps Marathon has reserved about 800 of them for the same weekend. Comedy Central is pleading with the marathon staff to share the privies, but the Marines, being Marines, are holding firm. (In related news, City Paper’s Lydia DePillis wonders “how National Park Service spokesman Bill Line still has a job” after his angry exchanges with reporters about the port-a-potties and other issues.)
* The AP reports emergency legislation before the D.C. Council would shorten the wait time for some city special elections, which means the election to fill At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown’s seat could take place in March. Likely candidates include ex-mayoral candidate Leo Alexander, ex-Councilmember Vincent Orange, current Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., and ex-Council candidate Clark Ray. Maybe a couple of Michael Browns will also run, just for kicks.
* In Maryland, Bob Ehrlich, perhaps forgetting that Maryland was one of the six states Ronald Reagan lost in 1980, borrows a line from Reagan’s campaign that year in his latest campaign ad: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Ehrlich says, “Four years ago, unemployment in Maryland was under 4 percent. Today, it’s nearly doubled and nearly a quarter million Marylanders are looking for work.” The ad conveniently overlooks the fact that the national unemployment rate in 2006 was just 4.6 percent, compared to 9.2 percent today.
Meanwhile, the AP reports former Republican congressman Wayne Gilchrest “is crossing party lines” to endorse Democrat Martin O’Malley for re-election. This is not the first time Gilchrest, a moderate, has backed a Democrat: After the nine-term representative lost his 2008 primary to a conservative, he endorsed Democrat Frank Kratovil for Congress.
* In Virginia, the Washington Post reports Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation Chairwoman Jamie Radtke says she could run for office at some point in the future.
* The Washington Examiner reports D.C. youths convicted of a violent crime “will now have basic criminal information released to the public if Mayor Adrian Fenty signs into a law a bill unanimously passed by the council.”
* Greater Greater Washington says D.C. voters should take the time to learn about the candidates in Advisory Neighborhood Commission races, more than 80 of which are contested this year. Congress Heights on the Rise says the ANC system is in serious need of reform.
* DDOT “released a fairly large report on Tuesday about D.C.’s Streetcar Plan,” Prince of Petworth writes. “There is not a whole lot of mention beyond H St, NE, Benning Road, and the Anacostia Lines.”
* WTOP reports Montgomery County Public Schools have “received $250,000 in college scholarships as a finalist for the 2010 Broad Prize.”
* The Post reports Archbishop Donald Wuerl has been awarded the red hat by Pope Benedict XVI.
* The Georgetown Dish has the latest on the swanky neighborhood’s war on pizza.
* Unsuck D.C. Metro has some shots of great Metro-themed Halloween costumes from years past.
* The AP reports on a Dulles Airport drug-smuggler who’s been watching too many early “Lost” episodes.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC