themail.gif (3487 bytes)

August 18, 2010

The Cloudy Crystal Ball

Dear Forecasters:

The Clarus Research Group has released its latest telephone poll of voters’ preferences in the mayoral and council chairman races. See its shorter press release at and more complete details at What you take away from the poll results depends largely on the bias that you bring to them. The Washington Post spins them as “Poll finds Gray holds slim lead over Fenty,”, writing that, “The DC mayoral race is a near dead heat as candidates begin their final month of campaigning, according to a new independent poll, the Post’s Mike DeBonis reports. Vincent Gray holds a slim lead over incumbent Adrian Fenty, 39 percent to 36 percent, Clarus Research Group determined in a live telephone poll of 501 registered Democrats. Among poll respondents who identified themselves as ‘very likely’ to vote in the primary, Gray holds a slightly larger advantage — 41 to 36 percent. In both cases, the proportion of undecided voters is more than 20 percent. The poll has a 4.4 percent margin of error. ‘Gray now has the edge, but this race is far from over,’ said Clarus President Ron Faucheux in a release.”

On the other hand, the Gray campaign broadcast an E-mail from Mo Elleithee, a senior adviser to the campaign, that spun the results this way: “Today’s poll by Clarus Research Group shows what we’ve known all along — that this is, and will continue to be, a close race. The poll results, however, do contain some very encouraging news for the Gray campaign, and some very troubling news for Adrian Fenty. Among likely voters, Vince Gray holds a five-point lead over Fenty: 41 percent-36 percent. In a head-to-head match up, Gray leads Fenty by six points: 44 percent-38 percent. That six-point lead is up from four points in the November Clarus poll. Among likely voters in a head-to-head match up, Gray leads by eight points: 46 percent-38 percent. In every single vote scenario, Adrian Fenty receives less than 40 percent of the vote. Only 46 percent of District residents view Fenty favorably, while 42 percent view him unfavorably. By contrast, 55 percent of District residents view Gray favorably, while only 20 percent view him unfavorably. Similarly, less than half (49 percent) of District residents approve of the job Fenty is doing, while 41 percent disapprove. By contrast, the Gray-led DC council has a 62 percent approval rating, with only 22 percent disapproving.

“So what does this all mean? Simply put, the fundamental dynamics of this race have not changed since Vince Gray declared his candidacy in the spring. Despite his much ballyhooed fundraising advantage, and after spending millions of dollars on his campaign, Adrian Fenty has not been able to significantly alter his numbers.”

We’re getting close to the wire. How do you read the poll results? Do you think that 20 percent of voters are undecided? Are any readers of themail undecided? Convince the wavering, in this and other races. Read the shadows floating in the crystal ball, and explain their meaning to us.


In the last issue, I asked for any inside-the-campaign tips that readers may have. Here are two: the Fenty campaign has not done any polls on its own (to the reader’s knowledge), as I had speculated, but did hire a research organization to do a few focus groups. Second, Peter Hart and Associates do have a poll in the field (for whom?). C’mon, share what you know. Information is more valuable the more widely it’s shared.


Did anybody else notice how glum and distant Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Fenty were at Bloomberg’s endorsement event? They didn’t pat each other on the back or embrace each other; they didn’t even smile at each other. Neither one broke into a smile during the whole event. Body language spoke more loudly than words that day.

Gary Imhoff


Questions for Everyone about Fiscal Management
Denise Wiktor,

I wonder about Fenty’s attack ads on Gray for “financial mismanagement.” First, one is a little misleading in that it compares the entire DHS budget to the shortfall, appearing that Gray was responsible for a quarter of the shortfall. Second, Fenty himself was more recently admonished, in 2005, for mismanagement of a client’s estate. Do we want to go back that far? I am more concerned about Fenty’s constant overspending of his “balanced budget” and the council’s letting him get away with it, including taking fifty million from the Rainy Day Fund without council approval last summer. His budget included dipping into many special funds, again approved by all councilmembers, but I would hold the chairs of the committees overseeing that use responsible. Twelve FTE’s were paid from the disability compensation fund while I was there, which was directly contrary to the statute. I raised the issue, so a one-time exemption was drafted by the council to allow it. There are over one hundred sixty special funds. How many have been dipped into for purposes other than which they were created? What individual citizens will suffer as a result?

There was the Parks and Recs contracts, but there was also a one hundred fifty million dollar contract to one company through which all LSDBE’s have to go through to contract with the District for IT contracts. Instead of diversifying the contractors used, as it claimed it would, the same people are being used over and over again, and OCTO applied for many exemptions at the beginning of the contract to pay higher rates.

Finally, I don’t hear anyone, current councilmembers or the mayor, committing to stopping this earmark stuff. I want to hear someone say, especially those running for chair, that this earmarking will stop — and not just the temporary stop we have now. This didn’t happen in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, and I believe it has undermined the agencies overseen by the big earmarkers and by those members who could get to put them in for them so they could not be traced back.


New Yawka Endorses Fenty
Karl Jeremy,

Fenty has chalked up another endorsement. The highly prized backing of Michael Bloomberg has landed in Fenty’s lap. It’s well known that Bloomberg has been Fenty’s mentor, so why is it big news that the mayor of New York has shown his protege favor? Do residents of the District care if the mayor of New York endorses Adrian Fenty -- absolutely not! Would a New Yorker care if Adrian Fenty endorsed Michael Bloomberg? Most New Yorkers don’t know who Adrian Fenty is, but they may get to know him after the September primary, when he’ll be looking for a new job.


Use a Compass, Not a Weather Vane
Alvin Frost,

I ran for elective office, representing the DC Statehood Party, three times: 1) the mayoral primary in 1986, 2) the general election nonvoting DC Representative Candidate in 1988, and 3) the general election mayoral candidate in 1990. Although I did not become an elected DC official as a result of those three candidacies, I did learn quite lot about campaigning, and the vast difference between being a winning candidate and being a good elected official. Getting elected does not guarantee a successful administration, no matter how many votes are won.

In Washington, DC, and in most other American mayoral elections, the most important qualifiers seems to be: 1) the amount of money that is raised for your candidacy; 2) the number of people actively willing to volunteer on your behalf; 3) the number and perceived importance of your endorsements; 4) your personality and communicative skills; and 5) the quality of your experience, plans, and ideas if elected. I believe that this pyramid is inverted, and often times will result in elected officials who are more a reflection of their supporters and endorsers, and not automatically inclined or capable of working for the greater good of the city, and not necessarily for those who did not help to get them elected but for those who need good government and a great mayor even more.

My intent in writing a series about how I think that DC voters should consider and compare the various candidates for elected office in DC, in particular for mayor, is to try to offer the suggestion that by using specific factors for comparison between the different candidates, that it would be comparable to using a compass to help to determine where DC needs to go in the near future, and which candidate is best suited to get us to that destination, which is definitely not the “promised land” because promises made in the heat of a politically charged campaign are often not worth the breath used to shout them. Anything else would be comparable to using a weather vane to select a mayor, based upon the heat and turbulent winds of the moment, and not upon calm and reasoned reflection.

My intention is to offer a measurement tool, and not to tell you who to vote for. If you want to use different factors upon which to construct your tool to measure and compare the different candidates, then have at it, but if you are only going to use a few selected factors upon which to make your decision, then you are potentially selling your vote and your future short, but, more importantly, you will definitely be selling the future of Washington, DC, short, and we can ill afford shortsighted, biased, and prejudiced reasons for deciding to support and/or vote for one candidate for DC mayor as opposed to another. It would be as if the candidates were profiled, which would make your resulting vote comparable to a drive by shooting. The issues this year are much too complicated, the citizens and sectors of DC that are at-risk and in greatest need of focused, intelligent and committed leadership cannot afford shortsighted decisions in the Tuesday, September 14, primary. Vote carefully, and wisely.


Seven Keys to Mayoral Success
Veronica Cooper, Fort Worth, TX,

I read the article you posted by Alvin C. Frost [themail, August 15] and I thought, “This is a fascinating strategy for the mayor of DC.” It would be a great idea for the mayor to really pay attention to what is listed in this article and follow through on this plan. These are the most assuredly the “Keys to Mayoral Success in Washington, DC.”


Blind Sided
Jack McKay,

Guess you’re not a football fan. I wrote [themail, August 8], “The neighborhood was blindsided by bulldozers.” You changed this to, “The neighborhood was blind sided by bulldozers.” Nope, not right; “blindsided” is one word, not two. See, for example, the attached from the New York Times: “America was blindsided by Hurricane Katrina.” Yes, one word, the verb, “to blindside,” from football, referring to a quarterback being hit from behind.

I really appreciate your twice-weekly letter. But you tend to edit things that don’t need editing.

[The Online Etymology Dictionary dates “blind side,” as two words, back to 1600, and “blindside,” as one word, back to only 1968. Isn’t that just too recent a usage for us to accept as correct? Actually, I blame the blindsiding problem Jack cites on my spell-checker. I accept the rulings of the spell-checker unless I personally quarrel with them; for example, I’m in favor of “townhall” meetings, and don’t change them to “town hall” meetings. But I didn’t have any strong feelings about “blind sided” or “blindsided.” Jack has convinced me to eliminate the space in the future, or at least to accept writers’ preferences about whether to write it as one or two words. — Gary Imhoff]



Department of Parks and Recreation Events, August 21-22
John Stokes,

August 21, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Turkey Thicket Community Center, 1100 Michigan Avenue, NE. Dr. Hammonds’ Community Day and Boxing Show for all ages. Community Day Festival will honor the memory of the late Dr. Karl Hammonds for all his contributions to our youth and the community. This event will feature moon bounce, face painting, tennis demonstration and talent display activities for kids three through ten. There will also be a Boxing Competition starting at 3:00 p.m. This festival is free to the public. For more information, call Marshall Cunningham, Boxing Coordinator, at 207-5396.

August 21, 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., North Michigan Park Recreation Center, 1333 Emerson Street, NE. Back to School Rally for ages five through sixteen. Youth will come together in a fulfilled atmosphere to participate in various activities as well as be given a few school supplies and light refreshments. For more information, call Joe Clark, site manager, at 541-3526.

August 21, 12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Turkey Thicket Recreation Center, 1100 Michigan Avenue, NE. Hoop'n 4 Peace Back to School Go-Go Basketball Tournament for all ages. Turkey Thicket will host a Hoop'n 4 Peace Back to School Go-Go Basketball Tournament which will consist of the community being entertained by some of the most popular go-go bands in the DC area during a full court intense basketball tournament. For more information, call Jason Lewis, Recreation Specialist, at 576-9238.

August 21, 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Brentwood Recreation Center, 2311 14th Street, NE. Back to School Day for ages five through eighteen. Participants will have an opportunity to receive book bags, school supplies, uniforms and or vouchers, food, health screenings, games, and prizes. For more information, call Lorenzo Carter, site manager, at 576-6667.

August 21, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Brentwood Recreation Center, 2311 14th Street, NE. Trinidad Community Day Event for all ages. The community will come together with a parade, entertainment, fun activities, information tables, and refreshments to bring togetherness within the Trinidad community. For more information, call Anthony Higginbotham, site manager, at 727-1293.

August 21, 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., North Michigan Park Recreation Center, 1333 Emerson Street, NE. NMP Back to School Rally for ages five through sixteen. Youth will come together in a fulfilled atmosphere to participate in various activities as well as be given a few school supplies and light refreshments. For more information, call Joe Clark, Site Manager, at 541-3522.

August 22, 3:00 p.m., Watkins Field, Walter (Wookie) Redmond Men’s Fast Pitch All-Star Game for ages eighteen and up. This is the first ever All-Star game in honor of Walter (Wookie) Redmond, who was an outstanding pitcher in the DC Sunday Softball League during the early 1960-1990. For more information, call Luna Harrison at 316-4249.


DCCA — Dupont Circle Conservancy Fundraiser, August 25
Robin Diener,

An end-of-summer fundraiser for the Dupont Circle Conservancy will be held at the hyper-cool Policy Restaurant, which will lend its second floor lounge and deck for a last-days-of-summer sip and dip. There will be a complimentary hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, and a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Dupont Circle Conservancy. Dress code: August in DC — seersucker, flip flops, no water guns please. Stay for supper in the stylish first floor dining room if you fancy offerings like tandoori spiced scallops or red curried lentils with cauliflower dumplings. Policy Restaurant, 1904 14th Street, NW, 6:00-9:00 p.m.


themail@dcwatch is an E-mail discussion forum that is published every Wednesday and Sunday. To change the E-mail address for your subscription to themail, use the Update Profile/Email address link below in the E-mail edition. To unsubscribe, use the Safe Unsubscribe link in the E-mail edition. An archive of all past issues is available at

All postings should be submitted to, and should be about life, government, or politics in the District of Columbia in one way or another. All postings must be signed in order to be printed, and messages should be reasonably short — one or two brief paragraphs would be ideal — so that as many messages as possible can be put into each mailing.


Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)