DMV Daily: Has Fenty "Checked Out"?

Columnist says mayor seems glad to go

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    NEWSLETTERS

    WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 16: Washington DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty speaks during the unveiling ceremony for the 9 new U.S. President wax figures at Madame Tussauds on February 16, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Rubenstein Communications, Inc.)

    Has the mayor, like Elvis, left the building?

    In his Washington Examiner column, Harry Jaffe writes, “With about 10 weeks to go in his term as mayor, Adrian Fenty seems to have checked out. I’m not suggesting he has quit governing. Perhaps he has just stopped spinning. Aides say they saw it coming and the young mayor has found peace.”

    Jaffe write that while over the summer we witnessed “a clenched jaw and that trademark vein bulging in his shiny head,” the post-primary Fenty comes with “eyes calm” and “smile sincere.”

    One adviser told Jaffe, “It’s as if the old Adrian is back.” That “old Adrian,” Jaffe says, “is the engaging young candidate” of 2006 who later “morphed into the imperious and secretive dude with the fake smile and the my-way-or-highway approach to leadership.”

    Jaffe says those close to Fenty say the mayor lost his enthusiasm for the job and was ground down by constant criticism. Jaffe concludes that those “attached to electing him on a write-in ballot” should perhaps realize that Fenty “has checked out.”

    Elsewhere in the DMV:

    * In politics, it’s a sure sign you’re a serious contender when the media starts digging into your past. So perhaps Ward 3 Republican D.C. Council candidate David Hedgepeth should take heart. The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis reports Hedgepeth, who is running a strong challenge to Democratic incumbent Mary Cheh, owed the IRS $12,608.13 as of April 2009.

    Hedgepeth told DeBonis, “I’ve had some financial difficulty. A lot of people have had financial difficulty lately.” Though the tax bills date back to before the current recession, Hedgepeth said he and his wife had worked out a payment plan, but fell behind when the economy turned sour. DeBonis says the matter “is of some embarrassment to the D.C. Republican Committee,” which has made a big deal of the financial woes of Democrats Kwame Brown and Marion Barry. But Hedgepeth remains upbeat. He said more voters are taking time to talk with him during his canvassing rounds. “That hasn’t always happened,” he said. “They’re happy they have a real choice in this election.”

    * The campaign of Missy Reilly Smith, the Republican nominee in the race against Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, is being run by anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue. Smith, who is running without the backing of the D.C. Republican Committee, has gotten some attention for airing television ads showing images of aborted fetuses that are so graphic that YouTube refuses to carry them. In a news release, the Smith campaign says her ads are running during local newscasts, as well as unlikely shows like “TMZ” and “The Office.” Smith has also bought ad time during airings of “Everybody Hates Chris,” with, she says, the aim of “getting votes from the African American community, which has been decimated by the ‘black genocide’ of abortion.”

    * Independent At-Large Council candidate Richard Urban tells me he “will win this election” because incumbent David Catania “is out of touch with the values of the majority of D.C. voters.” Those values, according to Urban: “that marriage is between a man and a woman only, that we should have the right to vote on this definition, and that youth should be empowered to say no to sex before marriage and no to drugs and alcohol.” Urban accuses Catania of failing “to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS” by focusing on “promoting acceptance of various sexual lifestyles and practices, rather than what is best for youth and all D.C. residents.”

    * “Mayor” Vincent Gray hits Ward 4 tonight for a town hall meeting at People’s Congregational Church. Former rival Leo Alexander, who is mulling a run for D.C. Council, plans to attend with supporters.

    * The Hill Is Home says Ward 6 School Board candidate Melissa Rohan pulled out of a planned candidate forum several hours before the event, then reconsidered and agreed to participate. The event took place on the same day that the Washington Post endorsed Rohan’s rival, Monica Warren-Jones.

    * “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” was a Democratic anthem in 1992, but nearly two decades later, Republican Bob Ehrlich won’t stop thinking about January. The Post reports Ehrlich “pledged Monday to use his first day back in office to take quick action on several priorities, including cutting the state sales tax and halting plans for a costly light-rail line in the Washington suburbs” -- even though polls show it’s not likely Ehrlich will have such a first day back on the job. The Examiner says Ehrlich is also vowing to join 20 other states in seeking to exempt Maryland from the new federal healthcare law.

    * The Washington Blade says Equality Maryland endorsed Gov. Martin O’Malley for re-election Sunday, with the gay rights group’s executive director saying Ehrlich “did not even believe that same-sex couples should be able to visit each other in the hospital.” Addressing the group, O’Malley warned against overconfidence. “Do not believe these polls,” he said. They are only accurate, he continued, if all of his supporters actually turn out to vote.

    * Maryland Politics Watch breaks down television ad buys in the Maryland gubernatorial race.

    * The Post makes its endorsements in Montgomery County Council races: Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin, Nancy Floreen, Nancy Navarro, Hans Reimer, Craig Rice, and Robin Uncapher -- all Democrats except for Republican Uncapher. The paper also backs School Board candidates Shirley Brandman, Judy Docca, Mike Durso, and Patricia O’Neill.

    * The Post reports the Obama Administration’s “delay in naming two new federal members to Metro’s board of directors has raised concerns that the transit agency lacks the benefit of added oversight” as it tries to find a new general manager and deal with huge safety upgrades. Meanwhile, the creator of “How To Use an Escalator in D.C.” has now introduced “How To Use Metro.”

    * Washington Business Journal reports that there was only one bid “to redevelop the District-owned Bruce Monroe Elementary School site in the 3000 block of Georgia Avenue NW.” The proceeds of the sale are intended to be “reinvested in the modernization of Bruce Monroe Elementary at Park View, where students of the shuttered Bruce Monroe school now attend.”  The school closing has been an issue at Gray's town hall events.

    * Noticed From Northwest pens “A Love Letter to D.C.,” where despite “the endless networking circuit” and the nastiness of the political arena, “the overwhelming desire to do good is everywhere.”

    * D.C. residential street sweeping ends for the year on Friday, so feel free to park wherever you want.

    * The D.C. Drag Queen Race, an annual Dupont Circle tradition, takes place tonight after dark

    Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC