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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 11/17/2010

DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 17, 2010

By Mike DeBonis


Late last night, D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) decided to do some social-media reporting, which started when he declared on Twitter that "Walmart's coming to DC." Allow this reporter to re-intermediate the story a bit: In recent days, a group of Walmart representatives visited John A. Wilson Building offices to gauge the level of support for a broad roll-out of smaller, "urban format" stores, with four to six grocery-focused outlets in the works in various parts of the city. The corporation has hired a couple of familiar faces to ease the process, including Venable attorney Claude Bailey and PR maven Ann Walker Marchant, and is apparently willing to pay wages on par with union workers at the city's major grocery chains. But where will the stores be? In Ward 5, the Schaffer brothers site at New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE -- the object of speculation earlier this year -- is still the odds-on favorite, though a site near Fort Totten is also in the mix. In Ward 7, execs are eying the Capitol Gateway development at the city's eastern corner. In Ward 4, the Curtis Chevrolet site, recently the site of Adrian Fenty's re-election headquarters, is a possibility. And in Ward 6, a site in or near the massive Northwest One is under consideration. What's next? It could move fast: Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) said this morning that he has asked Walmart reps to conduct a telephone poll of ward residents on their reactions to their plans. Once the poll is complete, Thomas said he will begin a tour of community groups as soon as next week to begin to build support. An announcement from the company is likely before then.

AFTER THE JUMP -- council staffers getting anxious on budget delays -- Gray will get to restart Stevens bid process -- Norton wants to keep her symbolic committee vote -- Jonetta wants a federal audit of OCFO


WHERE'S THE BUDGET? -- Is Fenty slow-walking his budget gap-closing proposal? Freeman Klopott reports at the Examiner's Capital Land blog that there's Wilson Building grumbling that the mayoral plan still hasn't been sent to the council. "[Mayor -Elect Vincent Gray] said last week that he was scheduled to meet with Fenty officials to discuss the meeting, but The Examiner has learned the meeting did not take place. One source said Fenty is expected to send down his proposal by the end of this week. Throughout his tenure, Fenty was known for sending budget proposals down at the last minute, leaving the council and the Chief Financial Office with little time to analyze the spending. Gray and Council Chairman-elect Kwame Brown have said they have been meeting with the CFO to discuss the budget changes they'd like to make once they have the mayor's budget in-hand." This reporter's hearing it's coming Friday. [UPDATE. 11:55 A.M.: Fenty's office disputes Klopott's reporting, saying that City Administrator/transition coordinator Neil Albert met with Gray on Friday. A draft budget plan was sent to OCFO last week.]

BACK TO YOU, VINCE -- The Stevens Elementary redevelopment process will be starting from scratch, the Fenty administration announced yesterday. Jonathan O'Connell reports in the Post: "Fenty had chosen Equity Residential to build apartments on the property, but the plan gained little traction with residents, prompting the mayor to cancel negotiations with Equity on Oct. 28 and ask six of nine developers that originally made proposals to submit final offers. But shortly afterward, the neighborhood's Advisory Neighborhood Commission passed a resolution asking the city to halt the process. Fenty spokesman Sean Madigan said that after consulting with [Gray's staff], Fenty decided to 'hand this one off to the next administration.'" More from Michael Neibauer in WBJ: "Madigan said Gray may offer a 'fresh perspective' for a development opportunity that has little consensus in the community." Bad news for Don Peebles, who had the favorite bid of community groups; good news for charter schools, who will get a fresh shot at the property under a more charter-friendly mayor.

I WANT MY MEANINGLESS VOTE -- Eleanor Holmes Norton begs speaker-to-be John Boehner in a press release to let her keep her committee vote in the new Congress. Ben Pershing writes at D.C. Wire: "Norton isn't allowed full voting rights on the House floor, but she is allowed to vote in the Committee of the Whole -- a legislative term that describes when the full House chamber essentially becomes a committee for the purposes of considering legislation. ... Norton has been allowed to vote on those amendments, though not on final passage of the measures, while Democrats have been in the majority. But Republicans did not allow her that privilege during their reign from 1995-2007. ... 'The opportunity to vote in committees, now including the Committee of the Whole, is significant to the American citizens who live in the nation's capital and pay full federal taxes annually to support our federal government,' Norton said in a news release. ... So what will the GOP do? According to Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, 'No decision has been made on that issue at this time.'" Do note: Under the current rule, if there's ever a one-vote margin, they retake the vote without Norton.

AUDIT GANDHI -- In the local version of the "audit the Fed" meme, Jonetta Rose Barras argues in her Examiner column that the federal Government Accountability Office should come to look over Natwar Gandhi's shoulder. "Some may think me crazy calling for Congress's investigative arm to stick its nose in local affairs. But the GAO may be the only entity capable of offering an honest and thorough examination of the city's finances while evaluating [Gandhi] and his team. 'We need fresh eyes to come in and look at these numbers [at DCPS] because, frankly, this doesn't make sense,' said at-large D.C. Councilman David Catania, noting there has been overspending at schools for many years. He was one of several current and past government officials who agreed a GAO audit is needed. ... [W]hile Gandhi is supposed to be that unimpeachable fiscal sheriff, more often than not he has been missing in action. It's hard to understand how finance officials didn't realize until the end of the fiscal year that the DCPS might have an $11.5 million deficit. ... If this kind of madness is occurring in DCPS, a closely tracked agency, what is happening in other operations that have not received media and political scrutiny?"

BARRY FOR WELFARE REFORM -- "Like Nixon going to China," Marion Barry announces he'd like to become a "national advocate" for welfare reform, saying that he's "uniquely qualified to speak out about how the system is failing poor residents and taxpayers," Tim Craig writes at D.C. Wire. "Barry, a former mayor with a reputation for being a fierce proponent of government spending, said his proposal is a first step in a broader fight to get more welfare recipients into the workforce. Instead of 'kicking people off the rolls,' Barry said his proposal was designed to bolster job-training and employment services within the Department of Human Services, which administers the city's TANF program. Barry said he will also be pushing a series of proposals to try to 'get the private sector to live up to their responsibility' to hire city residents." Problem with becoming a "national advocate" for welfare reform: The rest of the country has already done welfare reform. WUSA's Bruce Johnson also puts Barry on camera.


Will Ron Moten and Vince Gray hug it out at go-go awards? (TBD)

DCDSC appointee hopefuls now include Dorothy Douglas, Calvin Gurley, Myla Moss, Stephen A. Slaughter, Saul Solorzano and Dotti Love Wade (Loose Lips)

Bill to shorten special-election wait passes House on voice vote; Senate prospects unclear (DCist)

Verizon wants to kill the white pages (Post)

Kaya Henderson a no-show at "office hours" event; parents ticked (WAMU-FM)

Controversial lawyer Montgomery Blair Sibley wants to go into the marijuana biz (DCist)

Charter school's students get free iPads (WBJ)

The only time you're likely to see Eleanor on a Megabus (TBD On Foot)

Chandra Levy murder case goes to jurors; defense says prosecutors have "tunnel vision" (Post, WTTG-TV)

Why Vincent Orange is full of it (GGW)

Electric car charging station opens at Reeves Center (Dr. Gridlock, WRC-TV)

Phil Mendelson wants to ban "synthetic marijuana," aka K2 (City Desk)

DMPED looks at scrapping post-riot Shaw redevelopment guidelines (Housing Complex)

Valerie Strauss says Michelle Rhee-to-Florida rumors "may be all pie in the sky. But it may not be, too." (Answer Sheet)

"What Will Happen to Reform with Rhee, Klein Out?" (HuffPo)

Rhee benefiting in Florida's eyes from Marion Barry's darkest hour (

Rhee at vanguard of capitalist overhaul of public education? (Guardian)

Get your application in to replace Ricardo Urbina on the federal bench (Legal Times)

Medical-marijuana advocates still not totally happy with D.C. regulatory regime (Americans for Safe Access)

Fenty not taking full advantage of his lameduckitude (Housing Complex)

Gray transition "quiet" (Capital Land)

Quotemeister Chuck Thies rebrands himself (Pecksniffiana, @ChuckThies)

Fenty may have lost, but he's still hot (Glittarazzi)

*** ON THE MENU ***

ABC Board considers this morning whether to allow DC9 to reopen -- D.C. Council streetcar hearing, 2 p.m. in JAWB 120 (small room -- get there early)

By Mike DeBonis  | November 17, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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Next: Marion Barry begins stint as 'national advocate' for welfare reform on Fox Business


In Ward 4, the Curtis Chevrolet site, recently the site of Adrian Fenty's re-election headquarters, is a possibility.


YES, please! The only grocery store in that area--the Safeway at Georgia and Piney Branch Road--is a joke. A lot of people in that area would LOVE another option.

Posted by: emcglaughlin | November 17, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

In Ward 4, the Curtis Chevrolet site, recently the site of Adrian Fenty's re-election headquarters, is a possibility.


YES, please! The only grocery store in that area--the Safeway at Georgia and Piney Branch Road--is a joke. A lot of people in that area would LOVE another option.

Posted by: emcglaughlin | November 17, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Ward 4 won't get one given Bowsers support for Fenty. We're in for a long drought in that ward, even if Bowser gets tossed in the next election. Quality of life and peoples livlihoods run a distant second to petty political squabbles in the DC council.

Posted by: plugugly7 | November 17, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Keep that redneck establishment outside the city limits please!

Posted by: johng1 | November 17, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Stick it right in Ward 3, Cheh land. I'd pay to hear all the whining from these precious representitives of "the people".

Posted by: Trout1 | November 17, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Ugh, please no. Much rather Target, or even nothing over Walmart.

Posted by: SmeeAndMe | November 17, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Why can't we have a Wegman's at the Curtis Chevy site? Lets think big, better, and about really improving the city. Just say no to Walmart. By the way, does anyone else see the real reason Walmart wants the NJ Ave site is to be so close to the Capitol. They'll probably design an ad campaign around it and won't really care whether it's profitable.

Posted by: blankspace | November 19, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

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