DeMorning DeBonis: Oct. 28, 2010
TODAY IS OCT. 28, 2010 -- FIVE DAYS UNTIL GENERAL ELECTION
The results are in from the Washington Teachers' Union elections, and it ain't over yet: No candidate won the required 50 percent of the vote, meaning incumbent George Parker will face his longtime foe Nathan Saunders in a winner-takes-all runoff. Bill Turque writes today that Saunders outpolled Parker, 334 to 313, but also-rans Elizabeth Davis and Christopher Bergfalk siphoned off enough votes to force another take. Reactions: "Saunders said Wednesday evening that the results reflect teachers' unhappiness with Parker. 'I'm looking forward to the next round in a runoff,' he said. That vote will take place by mail sometime in November, but ballots may not be tabulated until December. Parker said the turnout was the lowest the union had ever seen and reflected apathy more than any repudiation of his leadership. 'We've got to do a better job getting our message out and getting teachers inspired for the runoff,' Parker said." There are about 4,000 WTU members; fewer than 900 voted.
AFTER THE JUMP -- Brace yourself for ward redistricting -- Post editorial board raises more Team Thomas concerns -- Happy birthday to Kwame and Jack -- IDI workers organize -- Activists fight for tax increase
*** MAIN COURSE ***
GET READY FOR REDISTRICTING -- In the Loose Lips column this week, Alan Suderman tees up the post-census ward redistricting battle: "If history is any guide, then we're likely in store for plenty of hard-core politicking, community outrage, charges of racism, hurt feelings, and, eventually, lawsuits. In other words, lots of fun!" Suderman identifies the key interplay as being between Wards 6 and 8. To wit: Marion Barry apparently is eying an expansion of Ward 8 across the Anacostia River to Tommy Wells's Ward 6. This Barry calls an "excellent opportunity to become one city for real." His potential motivations: "There's some speculation in the Wilson Building that Barry wouldn't mind expanding his political influence over the Southwest Waterfront development, a $2 billion development that's well underway to transform the area into a glitzy urbanist dream that people actually visit. ... Wells gave LL a bunch of reasons why moving parts of Southwest to Ward 8 wouldn't be a good idea. ... [T]he basic message seemed to be: over my dead body. For his part, Barry says he's going to let only cold hard census data guide his thinking ('I'm a scientist,' he says). He bristles at any notion that politics could be a motivating factor ('Absolutely not, that's ridiculous,' he says) before adding that his political popularity is such that he could give any of his colleagues a run for their money, save for in Ward 3." Another issue to watch: "Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser faces a slight chance that her residence in Lamond-Riggs could move into Ward 5."
MORE 'TEAM THOMAS' QUESTIONS -- The Post's editorial board wants Harry Thomas Jr. to answer questions about his "Team Thomas" nonprofit, and soon. A piece today notes that Thomas has told media outlets that the group is essentially dormant. "How then," the board asks, "to account for donations actively being solicited as late as 2008?" The editorial cites donations, from developer Rhode Island Avenue Metro LLC and one from Capitol Paving of D.C. The latter check, for $2,600, was sent to Thomas aide Vicky Leonard-Chambers, who would not answer questions about the check allegedly sent to her care. "When we told Mr. Thomas that a Capitol Paving employee remembers being solicited by Ms. Leonard-Chambers, he said either it was a mistake or we were making it up. That employee, office manager Terry Woodfolk, said that the money went to print an annual publication and that they were glad to give because of the good work done by Mr. Thomas in Ward 5. Mr. Thomas previously told Post reporters that any monies raised went to 'programming to sponsor young people's activities.' If there is nothing untoward, Mr. Thomas should welcome the opportunity to reveal who has donated to Team Thomas and how it has spent its funds. He should do so before Tuesday's election."
BIRTHDAYS! -- Happy birthdays to Kwame Brown, 40 as of Oct. 13, and Jack Evans, who will be 57 on Halloween. Both celebrated last night, and Nikita Stewart attended the Brown birthday bash at Cuba Libre on H Street
NE NW, where Yvette Alexander "purred 'Happy Birthday,' giving her best impression of Marilyn Monroe," and David Catania "gave Brown a gift of a pair of boxing gloves to prepare him for the fight ahead." Other well-wishers: DDOT's Gabe Klein, DCRA's Linda Argo, Fenty confidant Chip Richardson and Vincent Orange, "who lost to Brown in the Democratic primary ... [but] has continued to draw attention to an investigation into Brown's campaign funds that is being conducted by the Office of Campaign Finance. Orange is also pursuing a special Democratic appointment to the at-large seat Brown is vacating." As for Jack, he had a bash at the Homer Building on 13th Street. Dorothy Brizill was there, and alleges in themail that "Evans used four large Department of Parks and Recreation buses to transport guests to his birthday party. ... When I stopped City Administrator Neil Albert on the sidewalk as he was leaving the party and pointed to the buses, he first tried to deny that they were District government vehicles. When I pointed out the District logos on the buses and the District government license plates on them, he said that he would look into the matter. Then he turned around and went back inside the party to speak to Evans." [UPDATE, 12:15 P.M.: Evans calls to say he had paid DPR for use of the buses.]
IDI WORKERS ORGANIZE -- Suderman reports via SEIU news release that the workers of Individual Development Inc. have voted to organize. Why does that matter? Because you might remember IDI from Peter Nickles's brief attempt to appoint a receiver to run the company, which runs group homes for the developmentally disabled and happens to be run by well-connected lobbyist and lawyer David Wilmot, who takes in big bucks from the outfit. Here's what SEIU says: "Wilmot continues to pay his staff poverty wages despite considerable public scrutiny for his excessive salary at IDI which totals over $265,000 a year and his second job as DC lobbyist for which he receives yet another six-figure salary. Wilmot sought to convince IDI employees not to form a union in a campaign of intimidation which included meetings with employees pleading for workers to give him another chance. SEIU Local 500 has filed an unfair labor practice charge against IDI for alleged illegal termination of an employee for union support." Political context from Suderman: "Wilmot is a political adviser to Almost Mayor Vince Gray. Gray has spent most of his adult career trying to improve the conditions of the developmentally disabled, and is also perceived as a strong friend to organized labor. So LL wonders what he thinks of IDI's past and current problems."
'MUTUAL' INTEREST -- In an e-mail interview with blogger Amanda Read, Michelle Rhee explained what exactly constituted the "mutual decision" she came to with Gray: "The mutual decision we came to was more about the fact that we decided to put the politics aside and make the decision we felt was right for the students in our school system. With all the speculation in the news about whether it was better for me to quit, or the chairman to fire me, it became clear that people were starting to get distracted. A long period of uncertainty wouldn't be good for either the children or the staff trying to do right by their students every day. We didn't go through in our discussion and list where we disagreed and agreed on every issue, as that's something we've learned over working together for the past three years. Our disagreements are also pretty well documented in DC Council hearings, etc., but what we definitely agree on is that we both want to do the right thing for kids and keep the momentum moving forward. This was the best way to do that."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, Save Our Safety Net, Jobs With Justice and union leaders launch a campaign to urge lawmakers to consider tax hikes along with service cuts (WBJ)
The Gray transition is registered as "DC One City Fund Inc." (themail)
Evans's ballpark fee bill not as nefarious as previously implicated (Examiner.com blog)
It appears that the new arts magnet school will be delayed a year -- at least (D.C. Schools Insider)
Superior Court judge upholds MPD whistleblower verdict, but lets Lanier off the hook (Crime Scene)
The DYRS ward found driving murdered AU prof's SUV is now officially a suspect in her murder (the Examiner)
Nickles outlines how proper foreclosure process should work (Housing Complex)
Another write-in candidate worthy of consideration: "The Holy Spirit" (Human Events)
Pentagon/Marine museum shootings raise concerns about Marine Corps Marathon safety (CNN)
Gay activists support elected AG (Metro Weekly)
Seriously: "FRINJ"? (Housing Complex)
Peggy Seats is still trying to get a Benjamin Banneker memorial built (Housing Complex)
DOH set to approve Johns Hopkins takeover of Sibley hospital (Post)
Nurses still at odds with Washington Hospital Center management (WAMU-FM)
Would giving ANCs more money improve their operations? Or just lead to further mischief? (Yglesias)
Dismissed Superior Court grand juror still fighting his dismissal nine years later (Legal Times)
Would GOP takeover of Congress mean revival of income-tax exemption? No, but it's nice to talk about. (All Opinions Are Local)
No surprise: Early voting lighter this time around (Afro)
How early voting actually leads to lower turnout (New York Times)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Committee on Human Services hearing on the DYRS "lead entities" initiative, JAWB 412 -- Eleanor Holmes Norton on NewsTalk, 4 p.m. on TBD