“Mayor” Vincent Gray has repeatedly said he will not make any personnel decisions until after he is formally elected next month, but he has crossed one name off the list already.
Discussing the next D.C. schools chief with the Washington Post’s Bill Turque, Gray said, “It won’t be Cliff Janey.”
Janey, of course, ran D.C.’s schools before Michelle Rhee, and currently runs the Newark, N.J., school system. He was recently told his contract will not be renewed, and a top contender to replace him in the Brick City is… Michelle Rhee.
Turque writes that for some fans of Rhee and Mayor Adrian Fenty, “Janey embodies both a literal and symbolic step back, the kind they fear will come with a Gray administration.” But Gray told Turque that if he does replace Rhee, “his preference would be for new blood, not a heavily traveled schools leader who has been around ‘for 35 years.’”
Gray also “expressed bewilderment” over Rhee’s much-discussed “shell-shocked demeanor in front of the cameras after their Sept. 23 meeting. He described the 90-minute session as ‘a very good conversation’ with substance and smiles that went smoothly until it came time to meet reporters.” Gray said Rhee “didn’t want to face the media,” and only “adopted a sour face” when he told her she needed to do so.
In other Gray Administration news, the Washington Examiner’s Freeman Klopott reports that Suzanne Peck, “who ran D.C.’s scandal-plagued technology office,” is “on Gray’s shortlist to be the next city administrator.” While during her eight years at the Office of the Chief Technology Officer she transformed the city “into an award-winning technological enterprise,” Klopott says Peck “left a bribery and kickback scheme that lasted four years.” While not confirming the rumored appointment, Gray campaign manager Adam Rubinson said Peck “was a change agent in the Williams Administration and took the city’s information technology from worst to first.”
Gray has also released the schedule for his remaining six town hall meetings. The Post says locations were moved following “criticism that the campaign was breaking District law that prohibits the use of public resources for partisan political activities” -- though the Ward 1 event is still scheduled for a charter school.
The videos of the first two events are available online, but Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman wants to save you the trouble. “Here’s how they go down,” he writes. “The home ward councilmember will give a speech about how great Gray is. Gray will rehash his stump speech at an unnecessarily loud volume. People will pretend to ask questions, but they’re really there to give their opinions on a variety of things. Gray will talk about anything that’s vaguely connected to whatever ‘question’ was posed, dropping so many statistics and figures you’ll think he memorizes city data for fun. There will be clapping. A Hardy Middle School student will bust Gray’s chops on whether he’ll reinstate the school’s former popular principal. The end.”
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* The Write In Fenty campaign, not officially backed by the mayor, is making a plea for contributions on the eve of its first finance report to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. “Since the very first day, our Write In Fenty grassroots momentum has been recognized by voters across the city and by the local press,” the group boasts -- and asks for contributions of up to $5,000.
* The Post’s Mike DeBonis reports that “big-time developer” Don Peebles, who spent months playing Hamlet on whether to run for mayor, gave more than $43,000, and loaned an additional $55,000, to the “Coalition for a Better District of Columbia,” which bought nearly $100,000 worth of direct mailings during the campaign. DeBonis says it is “not clear what the mailings paid for, but during his months of publicly exploring a mayoral bid, Peebles was highly critical” of Fenty.
* In her Examiner column, Jonetta Rose Barras, following the lead of the Post, points out that there are Republicans on the ballot in several D.C. races this fall. Barras focuses mainly on Ward 1’s Marc Morgan, who is giving incumbent Jim Graham some “strong opposition.” In the September primary, 43 percent of the Democratic vote went to Graham’s two rivals, but Graham “is unfazed: ‘I carried every precinct in the ward,’ he said.” But Morgan said that Graham “keeps playing politics as a game to win elections. People are over that. They want a council member who represents them.” Morgan said this year’s D.C. GOP ticket is made up of “progressive, moderate-minded Republicans,” and says one-party control hurts the city.
* The InTowner endorses At-Large Councilmember David Catania for a fourth term, saying Catania “has remained true to everything positive we saw in him as far back as when we were the first newspaper to endorse him” in a 1997 special election. City Paper reports Catania also got a shout-out from Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese at the gay rights group’s big dinner last weekend.
* The ANC 8C03 race keeps getting weirder. The contest got some citywide attention when 10-term incumbent Mary Cuthbert used a racial slur against 21-year-old challenger Larry Pretlow II. But Pretlow’s campaign has been an odd one, with infighting between the candidate and his former campaign manager that included hacking of Pretlow’s Twitter account and the creation of a blog that smeared the candidate.
During that mess, a message went out under Pretlow’s name saying he was quitting the race. It wasn’t true. But late Saturday, he did briefly quit for real, e-mailing prominent Ward 8 Democrats a testy, all-caps message saying he would give up. But by Monday, he was back on the campaign trail.
* Congress Heights on the Rise looks at the Fiscal Year 2009 Annual Report on Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, which includes $8,100 for office rent for ANC 8C, “an expense that the DC Auditor calls ‘an uneconomical waste’. To date residents and commissioners of ANC 8C have no idea who the landlord for the office is and requests to Chairperson Cuthbert for a copy of the lease have gone unanswered.”
* In Maryland, Bob Ehrlich and Gov. Martin O’Malley met in what the Post calls “an often-testy debate” Monday, “trading accusations about each other’s records on taxes, university tuition, race and the education of poor children, among other issues.” O’Malley “sought to frame the debate as one about ‘whether we move forward to better days or whether we slip back,’” while Ehrlich said “‘we can do better,’ citing higher unemployment and tax increases as part of the past four years.” The Examiner says O’Malley refused to make an “irresponsible blanket pledge” not to raise taxes. The candidates debate again Thursday at the Washington Post building -- which, of course, is not actually in Maryland.
* The Examiner reports that Prince William County “has issued an open call for name suggestions” for a new elementary school.
* The Examiner also reports that “after months of delays, Metro officials are on the verge of cutting the price of SmarTrip fare cards in half -- from $5 to $2.50 -- and will not eliminate cardholders’ ability to exit the system with a negative balance.”
* At Greater Greater Washington, Malcolm Kenton makes the case for public bathrooms.
* Restonian deconstructs “this month’s fancy video from the Reston Association,” which makes Reston seem like the town from “Weeds.”
* Washington Business Journal notes that though the Nats “finished the 2010 season with one of the worst records in baseball,” they “lead the Major Leagues in one category: most improved television ratings,” with viewership more than twice that of the 2009 season. Meanwhile, Nationals Enquirer laments the march of the inevitable Phillies, “because the thought of having no choice but to root for the Yankees at some point in the near future is almost too much to take.”
* The Post’s second “America’s Next Great Pundit Contest” is up and running. I didn’t make the cut. Again.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC