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Posted at 10:51 AM ET, 11/23/2010

DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 23, 2010

By Mike DeBonis

TODAY IS NOV. 23, 2010 -- 40 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION

Professor Vincent Gray, holder of the D.C. Council chair in fiscal rectitude, delivered a lengthy discourse on the "state of the District budget" yesterday. The quick version: It's bad -- a $188 million gap in the current fiscal year, which started Oct. 1; $345 million in the next. But aside from a call to freeze some capital spending, Gray offered no specifics -- and we continue to wait on Mayor Adrian Fenty's gap-closing proposal. Gray did, however, lay further political groundwork for a significant tax hike: "I will not ask District residents to pay one single dollar in tax increases without first assuring them that we have scrubbed the budget and found every last dollar in savings." Tom Sherwood notes that Gray -- attempting to seem mayoral? -- declined to answer questions after his speech. WaTimes notes that public safety and schools cuts are likely. And it's so bad that WUSA-TV's Bruce Johnson deploys an exclamation point: "DC's Budget Deficit Climbs!" Also Examiner, WBJ, DCist.

AFTER THE JUMP -- Guandique found guilty; big win for Machen -- more on Groomes suspension; community leaders speak out in support -- Catania wants ed committee -- first day for new lottery -- last day for Thomas' document delays

*** MAIN COURSE ***

BIG WIN -- A stunning victory for U.S Attorney Ron Machen and his prosecutors: Ingmar Guandique is convicted of the murder of Chandra Levy. Keith Alexander and Henri Cauvin write in the Post lede-all: "The Levy case was challenging from the start. There was no forensic evidence linking Guandique to the crime scene in Rock Creek Park, no murder weapon, no eyewitness and no definitive ruling from the medical examiner on what killed Levy. Numerous mistakes by police and forensic scientists further hampered the investigation. But prosecutors offered a compelling theory of how Levy died nine years ago. They presented believable testimony from a former cellmate of Guandique's who said Guandique confessed to the attack and the gripping stories of two women who were attacked by Guandique in Rock Creek Park about the same time as Levy went missing in 2001. Jurors said that was enough to reach a guilty verdict. 'I don't know that it was particularly difficult,' said juror Linda Norton, an interior designer. ... After the verdict was announced, Susan Levy and the lead prosecutor locked in a warm embrace outside the courtroom. 'Thank you,' Susan Levy said to Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines. '. . . That was a miracle.' 'Miracles happen,' Haines replied."

GROOMES REACTION -- The fabulous Allison Klein is back on the cops beat at the Post and, with the fabulous Clarence Williams, has more on the exam that Assistant Chief Diane Groomes is said to have helped fellow officers cheat on: "Police officials declined to offer more details, but council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) said Groomes is alleged to have given out answers to a time-consuming, open-book exam that tested top commanders on homeland security and other intelligence issues. Many commanders had not met the Nov. 5 deadline to take the test, and Groomes allegedly tried to help several of them complete the requirement quickly by giving them the answers. She is not accused of cheating when she took the test. ... The situation could put [Chief Cathy Lanier] in a difficult position. Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the labor committee of Lodge 1 of the Fraternal Order of Police, said it is a reflection of the department's leadership. 'What everybody in the community should be asking is, are we as professional as we should be?' Baumann said. 'I think this raises some serious questions about the management of this police department.' ... Baumann also questions why Groomes is the only official placed on leave, and why, if others received help from her, they have not been sanctioned as well." Meanwhile, grassroots support for Groomes bubbles up from advisory neighborhood commissioners and council members.

MR. ED -- David Catania is the first D.C. Council member to public lay claim to a committee chair, telling Tim Craig at D.C. Wire that he'd love to head up a newly reconstituted education committee. "Catania, the second-ranking council member in seniority, said he has already begun considering how he would run the committee that has oversight over the city's 50,000-student school system. ... 'If the last four years tell us anything, education is an overwhelmingly important subject matter, and it's difficult for the chairman of the council to run the institution and chair the most significant subject matter in the city,' Catania said. 'It's overwhelming, and we should go back to having a separate committee.' ... As a chairman, Catania is known as aggressive in oversight. At times, he's been accused of trying to micromanage the Health Department, but his supporters note he's been able to implement numerous reforms within the agency. If Catania doesn't get to chair a newly-formed Education Committee, he said, he would want to continue to chair the Health Committee. [Chairman-Elect Kwame Brown] says he hasn't decided on chairmanships yet. 'I haven't talked through anything.'"

GIVE THANKS -- Harry Jaffe, in his Examiner column, lists things that city politicos can give thanks for. Some highlights: "Adrian Fenty: Having lost his re-election bid, the mayor can give thanks for so many things. Where to begin? He can ride his bike and train for his next triathlon without pesky reporters like WTOP radio's Mark Segraves on his tail. ... Peter Nickles: The attorney general can give up his apartment in D.C., along with the charade that he's a District resident. ... Allen Lew: The chief of school modernization and maintenance, with its $2 billion fund, loves his job, has done well for the District and its students and is likely to write his own ticket with his pal, Vince Gray. ... Michelle Rhee: Like her patron and former boss Adrian Fenty, she is free of those pesky local reporters who didn't see the world according to her view. The national press has always been more kind."


*** SMALL PLATES ***

Harry Thomas Jr. says he'll be turning over those nonprofit documents today: "Thomas said the records would show donations the group received, expenses and events hosted by the nonprofit. 'That's all that's in it,' Thomas said." (D.C. Wire)

Kaya Henderson sits down with Jim Vance: "I feel like it didn't take DCPS 15 minutes to sink and so it's not going to take 15 minutes to fix it. ... If we don't do it well, then kids die." (WRC-TV)

Intralot takes over lottery today; outgoing firm GTECH bellyaches about five-hour transition delay (WaTimes)

Fenty is mentioned in New York Times bike-lane-backlash story (NYT via Dr. Gridlock)

Gray wants vote on three UMC board appointees: "Chris Gardiner, president of GKA PC, a downtown accounting and consulting firm; Clifford Barnes, a health care lawyer at Epstein, Becker and Green PC, and Barbara Hatcher, CEO of the Hatcher-DuBois-Odrick Group, a public health consulting firm." (WBJ)

On Franklin School: "Downtown needs a school more than a boutique hotel" (GGW, Examiner)

Interesting: "The District of Columbia is the rare jurisdiction where crimes based on sexual orientation dominate hate crime stats." (TBD)

Gray tells alma mater it "now enjoys an absolutely exceptional relationship with the government of the District of Columbia" (GWU Today)

Man dies in 16th Street NW house fire; woman dies in Park View blaze (WTOP, Post Now)

Rhee rumors hit Atlanta (WABE-FM)

A proposed route for a Ward 7 Circulator (GGW)

Nannie Helen Burroughs overhaul begins (TBD)

"Wage theft" complaints on the rise, say advocates (Housing Complex)

OMG! Zoning debate! In Georgetown! (GGW)

Ballou vs. Dunbar in pre-Turkey Bowl hearing showdown! (Post)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Committee of the Whole and 51st legislative meeting, 10 a.m. in council chambers -- Thomas unveils documents at noon in JAWB offices

By Mike DeBonis  | November 23, 2010; 10:51 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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