Freeman Klopott of the Washington Examiner writes that D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray “is already stepping into the role of the city’s chief executive.” Gray “has taken the reins in the face of financial crisis as Mayor Adrian Fenty fades into the background of his lame-duck term.” Klopott says that while “it’s the mayor’s job to introduce budget measures to the council,” Fenty “appears to be punting to Gray,” and he “has been silent on the budget shortfall, despite repeated attempts for comment.”
Whether Fenty is sulking or just trying to be respectful of his likely successor and the verdict of the voters -- observers say it’s more of the latter, with Fenty being uncharacteristically cordial -- it’s clear his mind is no longer on the job of mayor. Yet still, the “Write In Fenty” movement continues.
Supporters were on the scene at the Crafty Bastards Arts and Crafts Fair in Adams Morgan this weekend, and someone is even paying for a citywide telephone poll about a Fenty write-in campaign. Those contacted say the survey calls lasted about 10 minutes and were quite detailed. The question is: Who’s paying for the poll -- the cost of which is likely in the five figures -- and why?
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* With a $175 million deficit to fix, D.C. Councilmembers Michael Brown and Jim Graham “plan to roll out new versions of previous proposals to increase income taxes for residents in the highest tax brackets,” the Examiner reports. Graham plans to reintroduce a tax hike bill that failed on a 7-5 vote in May, which would boost taxes on those earning $1 million or more per year. Brown wants a two-tiered hike on those earning $250,000 or more, and then $1 million or more.
Brown is not up for re-election this year, but Graham is. Though Graham won the Democratic primary in Ward 1 by a comfortable margin, he faces a libertarian-minded black Republican challenger, Marc Morgan, in November. Though Graham is favored to win, a tax hike could create an issue for Morgan.
Gray voted against the Graham bill in May, and the presumptive mayor-elect says he is not considering tax hikes yet. In her Examiner column, Jonetta Rose Barras says Gray should “target tax abatements and exemptions, even if it means fighting with the feds and his soon-to-be-former colleagues.”
* Author Judith Warner weighs in on “Michelle Rhee’s Revolution” in the New York Times Magazine, saying “the test-scores-driven, tenure-busting, results-rewarding sort of reform” she championed was defeated not just in D.C., but in other primaries across the U.S. in September. Parsing post-election commentary on D.C.’s “local blogs,” Warner says, “A theme became clear: people -- even people who seemed destined to most benefit from the work of a committed reformer like Rhee -- don’t like to get the message that their communities are on the wrong track.” The Washington Post defends Rhee against charges of racism in an editorial.
* Even though she has expressed concerns about Dana Nerenberg having to split her time as principal between Hardy Middle School and Hyde-Addison Elementary, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh says ousted Hardy principal Patrick Pope should not be reinstated. Students and parents have called for Pope’s return, but Cheh told the Georgetown Dish, “We need to have a fresh step forward. Going back would send the wrong signal.”
* DCist’s Dave Stroup talks with Ward 6 Councilmember and all-around nice guy Tommy Wells, who is the Council’s most prodigious Twitter user. Wells said, “I first learned about Twitter through my niece who followed politicians as part of her internship duties at ABC News. I thought it was an easy way to communicate with the media. I started out Tweeting from closed Council meetings hoping news organizations would follow me.” He says his interest “grew when I found I could keep up with what was happening in the city in real time by following local reporters and neighborhood bloggers.”
* “If war is what Wargotz wants, war is what he'll get.” That tongue-twister comes from Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who, true to form, is running fast and hard as if she were an underdog, not a prohibitive favorite. The Post says Mikulski leads her GOP opponent, Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Eric Wargotz by 32 points among likely voters, and more than four out of five voters do not even know enough about Wargotz to express an opinion about him. Though some Democratic incumbents who were thought to be shoo-ins are facing tighter-than-expected races this year, it would take an overwhelming GOP tsunami for Wargotz to win this race.
* Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks says that even though the Tea Party backed his Republican primary opponent, Bob Ehrlich will need the movement’s backing if he wants to close the gap against Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Rodricks says Ehrlich can probably only win if he “garners the support of all the various Maryland groups associated with the tea party and they come out in force on Nov. 2, while many Democrats, confident of Mr. O’Malley’s victory, take the day off.”
Meanwhile, the Post has the less-than-shocking news that Democrat O’Malley needs black voters to turn out in order to be re-elected. The Sun also looks at how the two candidates differ on transportation issues. And Ehrlich’s running mate Mary Kane pulled out of a debate to be held 3 1/2 miles from her own house, Maryland Politics Watch reports. She instead attended a “Red Mass,” a special service held by some Roman Catholic churches for political leaders and judges.
* The Examiner says the federal government has rejected Montgomery County’s “plan to convert three high schools with predominantly poor, minority populations into magnet schools.” While the county won’t be getting the $3.3 million it requested, Fairfax County is anticipating a $21 million infusion from the feds, and, WTOP reports, “teachers are pressing the School Board to give them a raise instead of hiring new teachers” with the money.
* The Examiner takes a look at inverse white flight, as whites “are leaving the Maryland suburbs, while more are moving into D.C. and Northern Virginia’s close-in communities.” The “concentration of whites in D.C. rose to 39 percent in 2009 from 31 percent nine years earlier, for an increase of 56,000 people.”
* ARLnow says Democratic Del. Adam Ebbin may seek the 30th District Senate seat in Virginia next year if incumbent Patsy Ticer retires as many expect.
* The GW Hatchet says a student-run coffee cart on H Street will be unable to reopen due to failure to obtain the proper city permits.
* The Georgetown Metropolitan observes that a project development sign outside the Hurt Home on R Street has been defaced to read, “Adrian Fenty, Ex-Mayor, Creating Economic Opportunities for fraternity brothers.”
* It’s nothing new for Unsuck D.C. Metro to report on a rider’s complaint against Metro. What is surprising is when the rider actually wins. After all, these are the folks who didn’t seem to care about a platform fire.
* Borf has a free art show at a Capitol Hill gallery. TBD’s Maura Judkis says it’s awful.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC