Michelle Rhee is going national.
Politico’s Mike Allen reports this morning that in a pre-taped segment to air on Oprah Winfrey’s show today, Rhee will announce that she “is taking her brassy education-reform ideas national by starting an advocacy group that will draw on the natural grassroots power of teachers, parents and pupils. Rhee will be meeting with teachers to seek input, as well as parents and pupils.” The former D.C. schools chief is on the cover of the new Newsweek, and is also launching a new website today.
Back in D.C., the Washington Examiner reports Rhee’s interim successor Kaya Henderson, who has already committed to staying on through the end of the school year, now says she could keep the job longer. Henderson told the Examiner that Mayor-elect Vincent Gray “has said he's interested in me” staying longer. Henderson “acknowledged that Gray was in a tough spot when Rhee left at October's end, and whether ‘I was his real pick’ for chancellor remains to be seen. She views the next seven months as ‘a trial period,’ in which she and Gray will see whether they can work harmoniously to reform schools.’”
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* “Tito the Builder,” the Art Garfunkel to Joe the Plumber’s Paul Simon of the last days of the McCain presidential campaign, may run for office in Virginia. The Manassas News and Register reports Tito Munoz could seek a seat on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. Munoz, a naturalized immigrant from Colombia who runs a Woodbridge construction firm, said, “I see a lot of politicians doing some work. I see some folks making results bigger than life in politics. I believe that I could do a better job than some of them. That’s why I’m thinking of running.”
* Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman reports Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh will introduce emergency legislation Tuesday “that would prohibit separation pay for former campaign workers of Still Mayor Adrian Fenty who nabbed city jobs just before or even after a city-wide hiring freeze was imposed.” The legislation “would limit the political appointees, known as excepted service employees, who can receive separation pay to those who've worked for the city for 180 days or more at the time they leave city employment. That means no $6,000 bonuses for Fenty campaign workers who were only on the job for three months.” The Examiner says that though Cheh “was often an outspoken Fenty opponent and she endorsed Gray in the primary,” the “resolution introducing the bill, which was drafted by Cheh's staff, says the bill is about finances.”
* The Washington Post reports D.C. Housing and Community Development Director Leila Finucane Edmonds will leave her job at the end of the Fenty Administration.
* DCist has an illuminating chart of homicides in the District by mayoral administration: “The homicide rate skyrocketed as the crack epidemic hit the area in the late 1980s but has been on a somewhat steady decline since the mid-90s.” While Adrian Fenty “will likely oversee the city's lowest number of homicides” since home rule began, “another look at the numbers shows that Fenty's performance might not be as unprecedented as some media outlets would have you believe.”
* Even Gov. Bob McDonnell has his limits when it comes to privatization. The Examiner reports that while McDonnell “has made no secret of his desire to get Virginia out of the booze business,” the “state-run lottery might be a different story. Fred Malek, the chairman of his government reform commission, recently broached the idea of privatizing the Virginia Lottery, which provided $430 million in proceeds for state schools in the last fiscal year.” But McDonnell seems uncertain: “The test is this: If you can get better quality and save money in the private sector, you ought to do it. If you can't, you ought to keep it in the government, and so that's really our test -- we haven't looked seriously at the lottery yet, other states have, and so it's just one more thing we're evaluating along the way.”
The Loudoun Times reports McDonnell is also “handing out a one-time bonus to state employees, but says they should not expect a permanent raise. State employees will receive a 3 percent bonus next week, their first pay boost of any kind in three years.” But the governor has also said the wage freeze will continue.
* The huge field for leadership of the Maryland Republican Party is contracting. The Post reports ex-legislator Carmen Amedori, Tea Party activist Andrew Langer, and this year’s U.S. Senate nominee Eric Wargotz have all quit the race. This leaves at least four candidates including Bob Ehrlich running mate Mary Kane and state Sen. Alex Mooney, who was defeated for re-election this year.
* The Examiner reports once-and-possibly-future Virginia gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran was elected chairman of the state’s Democratic Party Saturday. The Post reports Democrats “are waging uphill battles to win a pair of Republican-leaning legislative seats next month. Moran said he will then begin working to recruit Democrats for all 140 legislative seats on the ballots next year.” He said, “We need to return to our winning ways.”
* The Maryland Daily Record is glad to see Juvenile Services Secretary Donald DeVore and Environment Secretary Shari Wilson leaving state government: “Both are well-meaning individuals who applied themselves diligently yet fell short of expectations and in doing so, lost the support of key clients and constituencies.” Meanwhile, the Gazette reports that while several of Gov. Martin O'Malley's Cabinet members are leaving, “business and economic development chief Christian S. Johansson says he has no such intentions.”
* Anti-gay marriage, pro-abstinence D.C. activist Richard Urban, who finished last in the race for At-Large Council this year, says he has decided against forming “a God-centered political party” -- for now, anyway.
* We Love D.C. notes that Maryland and Virginia came in midway on GQ’s ranking of the nation’s worst states. Maryland, right at 25, is deemed “a McDLT of misery: You’ve got Wire-style urban blight on the eastern shore, and Deliverance-style Appalachian poverty in the west, partitioned by styrofoam suburbia.” Virginia, at 23, is “making history… up! This former capital of the Confederacy recently distributed elementary school textbooks claiming that thousands of black soldiers fought for Johnny Reb.” The nation’s worst state: Arizona.
* Unsuck D.C. Metro wonders, what’s the point of posting the Metro Transit Police phone number in prominent places throughout the system “if no one is there to answer calls?”
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC