DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 24, 2010
TODAY IS NOV. 24, 2010 -- 39 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION
For weeks now, local policymakers have been telling residents to brace for budgetary "pain," to prepare to "share the pain." Now that Mayor Adrian Fenty has delivered his gap-closing suggestions, we have an idea of what pain actually is: Pain is $4.6 million in welfare cuts. Pain is a $1 increase in fees at the city's Metro garages. Pain is eschewing "Healthy Schools" to save $5 million. Pain is no more traffic cops after Nats games. Pain is no more scholarships for public school valedictorians. Pain is a $1.7 million cut in city assistance to legal aid groups. Pain is $450,000 less in grants for arts groups. Pain is $76,000 less in advisory neighborhood commission money. Pain is not filling 21 positions for D.C. Jail officers. Pain is losing $300,000 worth of newly planted trees. Pain is $700,000 less in city help for low-income folks who can't pay their gas or electric bills. And pain means city employees will be paying for a slightly higher portion of their health insurance. Nikita Stewart rounds up the highest-profile cuts, including a $4.7 million reduction to the summer jobs program and a delay to the Healthy School Act implementation. The question now: What kind of pain will Vince Gray countenance?
AFTER THE JUMP -- still more Team Thomas questions than answers -- Gray and govs seemingly agree on Metro governance reform push, but do they really? -- why Marion Barry suddenly backed welfare reform -- new lottery off to rocky start
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE FENTY BUDGET REAX -- A leader of the American Federation of Government Employees tells the Washington Times that it supports furloughs to save jobs. But Gray has previously indicated that he's skeptical of furloughs to solve a structural budget deficit. Jack Evans tells WTOP he wants to dock the pay of city employees by 10 percent to save $80 million -- but only employees who don't
work live in the city. Good luck with that. Jonetta Rose Barras attacks the banality of Gray's Monday budget speech: "Talk always has been cheap. In Washington it's lower than bargain basement prices." Also DCist, Examiner, WBJ, TBD.
TEAM THOMAS QUESTIONS PERSIST -- After a month of drama, Harry Thomas Jr. yesterday answered some questions about his Team Thomas nonprofit group -- revealing that he raised at least $200,000 for the group while a council member, using the money to pay for sports camps but also trips for himself. Still, key questions have been left unanswered, a certain Post reporter writes: "Thomas did not offer a detailed accounting of the group's donations or its expenditures. An attorney for Thomas, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., said the city's request did not require an itemized list. Another attorney, John Ray, said it would violate donors' rights to privacy to disclose their identities without approval. ... Among the unanswered questions is whether lobbyists or companies with interests in city government donated to the group. At the news conference, Thomas played a video produced by Comcast depicting a 2007 event at Langston Golf Course in Thomas's ward. Among the persons interviewed praising the event are executives of Comcast, which is granted a cable television franchise by the city. One is David W. Wilmot, who is registered to lobby city hall for Comcast and other companies. Thomas would not say Tuesday whether Comcast or Wilmot had given to Team Thomas." Peter Nickles, calling Tuesday's disclosures the "tip of the iceberg," said he will issue another subpoena today for detailed fund-raising and spending records. But will it be enforced before he leaves? The Post's editorial board calls on Thomas to come clean, calling it "unacceptable" that he offered no detailed records. Also Loose Lips.
METRO MUDDLE -- Gray, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) issued a statement yesterday agreeing that Metro governance "needs reform" and got surprisingly specific: "We support, in principle, the Task Force's longer-term recommendations for eliminating the role of alternate Board members and increasing the number of primary Board members from two to three for each Appointing Authority, extending the Chair's term length to more than one year, and exploring a more limited veto provision to more appropriately balance both system and local needs." The release also says that top transportation officials from the three jurisdictions will submit a plan to move forward in 45 days. But David Alpert reports this morning at GGW that the statement was apparently sent out by Gray's staff prematurely, with transition honcho Tom Downs taking the blame. Alpert's suggestion: "Governor O'Malley and Vince Gray should restrain themselves from letting McDonnell and the Board of Trade steamroller them into poor choices. They have an alternate report that actually came from riders through a more open and public process rather than the secretive one of the BOT/COG task force."
WHAT'S UP WITH MARION? -- What accounts for Marion Barry's "Nixon to China" conversion on welfare reform? Alan Suderman explores the issue in his Loose Lips column this week. First off, the Peter Nickles theory, which is a good one: "Marion is a guy who craves attention." Then there's the Tommy Wells theory, that this is a heartfelt position and Barry has "been kind of consistent on this." And then there's the "more cynical view," which is that he's "trying to lay the groundwork" to take the human services committee (or, less charitably, to "get access to a large chunk of the city's budget and rev his stalled political patronage machine back to life") or that he wants to oust DHS chief Clarence Carter to ease in his own favored appointee.
NEW LOTTERY DEBUTS -- The new Intralot-run D.C. Lottery debuted yesterday. How'd it go? WRC-TV's Tom Sherwood accentuates the positive, highlighting a new horse-racing-type game and a host of satisfied customers in Tenleytown. But the Washington Times' Jeffrey Anderson visited locations across town and concludes that the transition was pretty rocky: "After an unprecedented five-hour delay in commencing the lottery system -- about three hours of which put off payouts from winning numbers -- users on both sides of the bulletproof glass in D.C. convenience stores began the day with a host of complaints. The Washington Times visited six retailers at random in the four quadrants of the city and heard complaints including the design of the new betting slips, glitches in the touch-screen terminals and the slow responses of lottery officials and operators to calls for assistance."
TALKING TURKEY -- So Marion Barry wanted to hand out some turkeys yesterday. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough to pay Giant the full $26,000 he owed it for the Butterball shipment. So he put out a press release blaming the grocer for its "intractability" on the issue and "apologiz[ing] to the Ward 8 community for Giant's failure to provide timely support to the Community." Giant responded by graciously pledging to "delivering the remainder of the turkeys so that hundreds of families in Ward 8 can enjoy their Thanksgiving meals." Also from Nikita's story -- it seems that Harry Thomas isn't the only person around engaging in shadow fund-raising: "Barry declined to identify contributors to his turkey giveaway, which will be held at Union Temple Church on W Street SE. 'They do it because they want to give, not for publicity,' he said." Another tidbit: "According to council sources, Barry recently sent United Medical Center a letter asking it to give him $5,000 for the turkey giveaway, even though the hospital's financial struggles have been well-documented." That led, LL is told by council sources, to a dais shouting match yesterday between Barry and David Catania. Also DCist, TBD.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
City unemployment fell 0.1 percent in October; now at 9.7 percent (DOES press release)
Council makes it harder for new pawnshops to open (Housing Complex)
"What's Up With The Can Of Steel Reserve On Tommy Wells' Desk?" Well, it's a token of his nanny-statism. (DCist)
Founder of special-ed academy indicted for stealing $2.4 million in city funding (DOJ press release)
Dave McKenna: "How unfair are girls' sports programs in the D.C. Public Schools? So unfair that it's not even worth filing a federal complaint about 'em." (City Paper)
Gray tells Duponters he favors "voluntary agreements" with liquor licensees (G'town Dish)
How IHOP qualified as an independent business (Housing Complex)
New York Avenue Wal-Mart won't be particularly "urban." Then again, New York Avenue isn't particularly urban. (GGW)
Diane Groomes was known as a stickler for the rules (City Desk)
Assistant Chief Al Durham introduces himself (MPD-5D Internet group)
Lawyer claims Breathalyzer accuracy problems continue (Koehler Law)
Meet your Democratic State Committee at-large appointment candidates (YouTube)
Clark Ray won't be running for interim at-large appointment (Blade)
Cato Institute fellow loves Barry's welfare-reform stand (National Review)
So does this guy: "While I'm scrimping and struggling, the last thing I want to see is someone living like a king on public assistance. I'm not hard-hearted, but if you are a real man, you work." (Informer)
Council bond vote means Georgetown can start on a new science building (G'town Voice)
DCPS will decide today who plays in Turkey Bowl (Post)
Brian Betts' family wants feds to investigate murder as hate crime (Blade)
Rend Smith profiles Courtland Milloy (City Paper)
UDC wins "Golden Links" award from Board of Trade (Informer)
The best picture ever (Loose Lips)
*** ON THE MENU ***
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| November 24, 2010; 10:12 AM ET
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