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FENT

When it comes to managing a tragedy, Rudy Giuliani set the gold standard for American mayors with his masterful handling of the September 11 attacks on New York City.

Flocked by cameras, Rudy rolled up his sleeves and demonstrated poise and strength that the city was able to rally around. The Big Apple recovered beautifully, and Giuliani exploded in popularity, becoming a national personality overnight. No doubt, mayors from major cities across the nation watched enviously as Giuliani vied for the Republican presidential nomination in ’08.

So not surprisingly, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty attempted to handle the METRO disaster Giuliani-style. According to the Washington Post, Fenty decided to crown himself METRO spokesman during the disaster by funneling information about the crash through his office.

METRO officials, and other top city employees were not permitted to speak to the media. The result was a disorganized press conference where Fenty incorrectly informed the press that only 7 people had died in the crash, even though METRO and public safety personnel had confirmed nine deaths.

Candace Smith, a spokeswoman for METRO, alluded to Fenty’s domineering handling of the tragedy when she told the Post, “The spirit of cooperation is not what we would like it to be.”

Adrian Fenty is no Rudolph Giuliani, and the METRO accident was no September 11. There are no heroes here, only victims. So on a purely tactical level, it didn’t make sense for Fenty to try to monopolize information about the accident. Effective leaderership, in this case, would have meant Fenty allowing METRO and other city officials do their jobs.

Oh, and Adrian Fenty, please get this into your head: most of America knows you only as the guy behind Barack Obama in the Ben’s Chili Bowl picture.

obama-smokingEarlier this month, we talked about how the Nick Naylors of the world needed to work their magic in defense of the tobacco industry to prevent a new bout of aggressive anti-smoking legislation from hitting the President’s desk.

Well, Nick Naylor failed.

Surrounded by lawmakers and special guests in the Rose Garden today, President Obama signed the “strongest anti-smoking measure ever” into law, according to the Associated Press.

Apparently, the irony of the moment wasn’t lost on Obama, a chain smoker since his teen years. According to AP, he alluded to his own struggle to quit cigarettes as he signed the bill into law.

UPDATE: According to the LATEST reports, two red line trains collided. In a press conference moments ago, DC Mayor Adrien Fenty announced that four have officially been confirmed as dead, making the accident the deadliest in Metro history. ###

156724If you’ve been following the news at all today, you know that a red line train and a green line train collided near the Fort Totten metro stop.

Sometimes it takes a disaster like this to mind us that life is short, and can change so quickly and without warning. For me, it’s particularly sobering, as I easily could have been on that train. I was riding the metro’s yellow line during the time of the collision, and was less than a mile or two away from ground zero.

Say a prayer for the victims and their families. They need all the support they can get.

As DNC Chairman, Governor Tim Kaine has been jet setting around the country the past five months, promoting Democratic candidates in a slew of national and state elections. But with the Commonwealth facing record budget deficits, and a spiking unemployment rate, he’s come under fire recently for, well, not being around.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the Republican Party of Virginia “requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) records of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s out-of-state travels and state expenditures related to his work as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.”

Kaine spokeswoman Lynda Tran told the Times-Dispatch that this FOIA request will be handled no differently than other similar requests.

“We’ll look at them and see whether the Freedom of Information Act applies to the requests,” she said. “And if it does, we will provide the records that are required.”

For Virginia Republicans, who have endured losses in the last two gubernatorial elections, the move reflects a revamped tactical approach to politics in the state. The impending showdown between Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell promises to receive national attention, and holds important significance for Republicans who are hungry to regain momentum.

Republican Pat Mullins told the Times-Dispatch that Kaine is fiddling while Virginia is burning.

“He’s more concerned with his role as chairman of the DNC,” Mullins said. “Instead of addressing the huge budget deficit, he’s in Kansas City.”

The Kansas City Star didn’t help Kaine’s cause when it reported this past Tuesday that “Kaine … will return to the KC area Friday … Kaine is a former Virginia governor.” The Star quickly corrected its error, but Kaine’s opponents have attempted to take advantage of any stigma that remains with this video:

329893_617173155Apparently, Alicia Hughes ran for city council in Alexandria without being a resident of Alexandria, OR the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Only problem is, she won.

The Alexandria Gazette Packet reports today:

“With less than two weeks before [Alicia Hughes] is sworn into office…three Democratic campaign contributors filed a complaint with city officials charging that Hughes was not a properly registered voter in the city of Alexandria at the time she filed for candidacy on March 3.

Registrar Tom Parkins has scheduled a June 25 hearing to consider Hughes’ eligibility to vote in Alexandria. To become a registered voter in Virginia, applicants need to be a resident of the commonwealth, not claiming residency in another state.

The three individuals bringing the complaint plan to present evidence that Hughes received a homestead exemption on a house she owns in Baltimore…”

If Ms. Hughes truly is a resident of Maryland, this could be Alexandria’s biggest “what were you thinking?!?” moment of the year. Seriously, it’s this simple: if your drivers license says “Maryland”, you can’t run for political office in “Virginia”.

Please stay tuned for tomorrow’s blooper: “Alexandria mayor attempts to annex Anacostia and name the resulting territory ‘Barack Obama'”.

SosaMcGwire_thumb_1Howard Bryant (somebody was really excited about this year’s NBA finals matchup) wrote an opinion piece for ESPN today, addressing the breaking news that Sammy Sosa, of 66 HR and corked-bat fame, consumed steroids as a player.

The column begins by highlighting the lies that sports stars have told us over the years, and then bemoans how betrayed we, as fans, must (or should) feel.

Then this happens:

“Think about the times you’ve been brazenly lied to, right to your face, by people who used their “integrity” to fool you,” he writes.

“Bill Clinton said, ‘I never had sexual relations with that woman.’ Even for a relatively common transgression, a country felt betrayed, never mind how it felt being misled into a disastrous war by straight-faced untruths from his successor.”

Really Mr. Dwight-Kobe? Why wouldn’t you stay with the topic you know something about – sports – for your examples? Why taint what could have been a decent article, with self-indulgent, ideological, political half-commentary?

To begin with, I don’t really understand the point about Bush. But it’s certainly unfair to say that the former president told some “straight-faced” lie about WMD’s in Iraq (I’m guessing that’s what Bryant is referring to. The allusion is so ambiguous, it’s unhelpful). Bush was reiterating intelligence reports that worldwide intelligence community was buying into at the time. Of course he bears the responsibility for leading us into Iraq, as well as bungling the first couple years of the effort.

Was Bush over-eager? Yes. Should he have slowed things down? Maybe. But did he tell a “straight faced lie”, on par with Sosa’s lies, or AFraud’s lies, or even Clinton’s famous lie? Absolutely not.

And there’s certainly not societal consensus on the issue, like our columnist would have us assume.

When celebrities, bands, athletes, or reality stars share their “enlightened” opinions about politics, I always end up wanting to choke either myself or them. Whichever ends the pain the quickest.

This may seem extreme, but its really not. You see, these folks are paid millions to entertain, not to enlighten. They are the modern-day versions of the medieval court-jester, and a clown loses his charm the second he takes himself seriously.

I don’t need Sheryl Crow telling me how much toilet paper to use, or Kim Kardashian’s thoughts on gay marriage. And I don’t want a sports writer’s commentary on politics. Entertain. That’s what I want from you. That’s what you are paid to do.

Picture courtesy of www.ffwhite.com

Picture courtesy of http://www.ffwhite.com

Back in 2005, Congressman William Jefferson‘s (D-LA) home in Northeast DC was raided by federal agents, who found $90,000 of cash in the freezer, in “$10,000 increments wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed inside frozen-food containers.”

A federal grand jury indicted Jefferson in ’07, and the trial’s opening arguments were heard today in Alexandria.

According to the Blog of LegalTimes, of the 16 counts the now ex-Congressman faces, the greatest speculation has focused on charges that he planned to give the vice president of Nigeria a $100,000 bribe in return for the vice president’s supporting a business deal in his country.”

Jefferson’s legal defense claims that FBl agents “wrote the script” and “directed the action” to set up their client, drawing him unwillingly into their trap of corruption and scandal.

dollars-obamaBarack Obama emailed me yesterday, telling me that Creigh Deeds is a “dedicated public servant” in the mold of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. He also asked for some of my money.

I thought what we had was special, but given the 200+ articles a google-news-search coughed up today about the email, I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one to get it.

(I SWEAR I made eye contact with him at the inauguration. He was staring so intently at me through my TV.)

The email reminded me that Obama’s fundraising star-power is unparalleled in today’s politics. He put on a clinic in the 2008 elections, building a multilateral fundraising base that leaned heavily on new technologies to promote the Obama brand.

Democratic enthusiasm has worn down a bit in the wake of Obama’s historic run. But does an extremely popular president have the ability to give Deeds the edge in what’s predicted to be a tight race?

Deeds lost to McDonnell in the 2005 race for State Attorney General. By 360 votes.

Whether or not Obama can get Deeds the 360 votes is the million dollar question, literally.

But if Deeds can convince Obama to continue lending support, the newly-minted Democratic candidate for VA Governor will make things difficult for his Republican opponent.

(Stay thirsty my friends)

The Telegraph Road Interchange

The Telegraph Road Interchange

Keeping with the theme of transit, new ramps opened this morning to facilitate smoother traffic between the Beltway’s Thru Lanes and Alexandria’s Eisenhower Valley, according to the Washington Post.

One ramp is for drivers coming from the Inner Loop Thru Lanes to Mill Road/Eisenhower Avenue. Another ramp will take traffic the opposite way, from Mill Road/Eisenhower Avenue to the Outer Loop Thru Lanes.

The ramps are about midway between the interchanges of Route 1 and Telegraph Road. The Post reports that it “should provide relief for drivers who had been using those two interchanges to connect with Eisenhower Valley, now a busy area, thanks to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a U.S. District Court and new housing and commercial development.”

The ramp opening is the latest development in the Wilson Bridge Project, which is currently focused on the Telegraph Road interchange.