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D.C. Council summer recess? Not Quite Yet!

For those who can't get enough of Jim Graham, Vincent C. Gray and Marion Barry, you're in luck.

The D.C. Council will hold a special session on Thursday, delaying its summer recess, which was to begin today.

The decision to hold the Thursday meeting came late Tuesday night, as the clock ticked toward midnight, and the 13-members were debating emergency legislation to dispose of a city-owned property known as the Gales School. The property, located in prime downtown real estate only steps from the U.S. Capitol at 65 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., needed to be declared surplus and disposed of so the mayor could sell it to the Central Union Mission.

The mission, loyal Washington Post readers will recall, tried to move to Georgia Avenue NW after selling its valuable and iconic location on 14th Street, but the NIMBY forces of Columbia Heights and Petworth fought back successfully, aided by Ward 1 council member Jim Graham.

David Treadwell, executive director of the mission, told this Washington Post reporter that Graham was instrumental in helping coordinate the sale of Gales. Here's the deal Graham helped concoct: The city would swap the Gales property in exchange for the mission's property on Georgia Avenue.

But even as Graham extolled the benefits of the deal at 11:15 p.m., and Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas Jr. leaned back in his chair with his eyes closed, several colleagues started to question facts and figures in the deal.

For starters, why was the city giving away a property worth almost $9 million, when it was getting only a $3 million property in return?

And then there was a mysterious document attached to the fiscal impact statement, which said that along with the Gales deal, the Franklin shelter, at 13th and K Streets NW, would close in October.

The frantic debate also exposed the hazards of voting on complicated development deals on an emergency basis.

Even Carol Schwartz, who famously summers in Rehoboth, decided that a little more time was needed to iron out the details. Her questioning of the deal prompted Gray to table the measure until Thursday.

By Elissa Silverman  |  July 16, 2008; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council  
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Why is the sale of District real estate (public school) an "emergency"? What is the "urgency" UNLESS it is being rushed through in hopes of hiding shady details such as what exists here. I am sure we will see a flustered Graham play dumb in the face of pointed questions on this attachment to the Fiscal Impact statement.

This Council does to much legislating on an "Emergency" basis. They regularly abuse this tool. It does provide them to do some things without the approval of the Hill, who continues to have Soverign authority and can undo even matters approved on an "emergency" basis, like the recent gun regustration requirements, but again, it is a tool that should be used sparingly.

Careful, contemplated debate and discussion, no matter how long it takes, is always a safer manner to run government.

Posted by: Concernedaboutdc | July 16, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

The city was supposed to renovate and reopen the Gales School as a homeless shelter by late 2005. Why didn't/doesn't that happen?

Why are Mr. Graham, Mr. Evans, and Mr. Fenty trying to pass off the closure of the Franklin Shelter THIS October with no alternative services in place as a good thing?

Why are they trying to pass off the combination of Central Union Mission and the Gales School, rather than both re-opening, as a good thing?

Sounds to me like Mr. Evans, who is up for reelection this year, doesn't give a damn about the homeless community, or low-income people. He's destroying this city and must be voted out.

Don't vote Jack '08.

Posted by: Evans Must Go! | July 16, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Sounds to me like Cary Silverman's campaign manager is commenting on articles that have nothing to do with him or Mr. Evans. Ironic, I suppose... Silverman et alia like to blame things on Jack that have nothing to do with him just like Cary likes to take credit for things he himself didn't do.

Posted by: Silverman Blows | July 16, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm the above commenter, and can assure you that I am indeed not Cary Silverman's campaign manager, nor a supporter of Cary Silverman.

Mr. Evans does, anyway, have everything to do with this as he (and Jim Graham) introduced the emergency legislation at issue in the article. Check your facts.

Posted by: Evans Must Go! | July 16, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

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