- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty took the podium two weeks ago in the press room of the John A. Wilson Building looking a little bit tired.

The 36-year-old mayor, who will mark his 100th day in office today, had returned from an unsuccessful attempt to lobby the White House to support D.C. voting rights in Congress.

Add that to the fact that he had run a marathon the weekend before and spent many a night listening to residents complaints at community forums and most people would give the citys youngest mayor a break if he had been a bit disheartened, maybe even admitted defeat.

But the mayor stayed on message.

“Its up to us to make the case, and we will make the case,” Mr. Fenty said, making an improbable prediction that he could sway the president of the United States.

His supporters say his optimism is unbridled, his detractors call it unrealistic, and it has earned him both effusive praise and the harshest of criticisms since he swept all 142 voting precincts in Septembers primary election and was publicly sworn into office Jan. 3.

The Fenty administration says it has accomplished most of the goals listed in the mayors 100-day plan, a mixture of specific and vague proposals from publishing a new map of the citys taxi zones to proposing solutions to resolve the shortage of spaces for families in homeless shelters.

“I think Mayor Fenty has gotten off to a very strong start,” said Alice Rivlin, former chairman of the citys financial control board and former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton. “Hehas exhibited enormous energy and focus has made very high-quality appointments that show he is serious about running the city in a businesslike way.”

However, critics say Mr. Fenty has broken vital promises and bitten off more than he can chew.

His first budget plan proposes overhauling the citys troubled procurement methods without additional funding, and depending on different semantic definitions, the mayor has been accused of trying to raise taxes by increasing the Districts 911 phone fee.

Some groups are concerned Mr. Fenty also has flip-flopped on saving the Whitehurst Freeway and reneged on a campaign promise to separate the fire and EMS departments.

Then there was the bit of a bungled response to a snowstorm in February, and nominations to the school board and zoning commission that have encountered opposition.

“I think there have been some missteps, and quite a lot of progress,” said D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat who has strongly opposed several of Mr. Fentys initiatives. “Its a mixture of the benefit of a honeymoon and the time it takes to get over the learning curve.”

The energy of the administration is best exhibited when the mayor pops up at a crime or fire scene or takes the helm of a snowplow or street sweeper.

Plus, aside from an overnight family trip to New York City, Mr. Fenty has spent most of his first 100 days within the Districts borders, or at least within the boundaries of the greater D.C. area.

He does run those marathons, after all.

“Hes done very well. Im very impressed with the energy and enthusiasm and the successes,” said longtime D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat. “Hes certainly given the people in the city cause for hope for reform efforts.”

The most divisive aspect of Mr. Fentys agenda so far is the one he has staked the success of his term upon: a takeover of the Districts struggling public-school system.

His proposal to remove the Board of Education as the governing authority over public schools and place the system in the mayors hands has been met with support from most city officials and a groundswell of dissent from some residents that resulted in a protest outside Mr. Fentys Northwest home last month.

One council candidate running to fill Mr. Fentys vacated Ward 4 seat has filed a failed court request to delay the takeover.

There are rumors of similar challenges on the horizon, spurred by what some say is the mayors subversion of D.C. democracy by not bringing the takeover to a vote.

“Youre elected to hear the concerns of the residents,” said Cherita Whiting, chairman of the Ward 4 Education Council. “I think hes taken the public out of public schools.”

But the council last week voted 9-2 to approve Mr. Fentys plan on first reading, setting the stage for the mayor to steer the system by the next school year and offering him a chance to deliver the improvements he has promised.

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