DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 26, 2010
IT IS NOV. 26, 2010 -- 37 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION
Take a short break out of your consumeristic frenzy today to read Tim Craig and Nikita Stewart's update on Mayor-Elect Vince Gray's slow-moving transition: "Less than six weeks before [Gray] assumes control of the District, he has yet to name a single agency head or indicate which members of the Fenty administration he plans to retain. Gray's slow-to-start transition is reigniting fears about his career-long cautious decision-making style and raising concerns that he won't be fully prepared to take over ... on Jan. 2. Numerous officials inside and outside the District government say that they are having difficulty obtaining information from a transition team bogged down by meetings and confusion about who is in charge." Yeesh, and all this as Gray has to focus on hammering out a $188 million budget gap closing plan. Even Marion Barry said he needs "to find out what is going on" and raises the fear that so many had ahead of Gray's election -- that he's plodder not a sprinter. Says Gray: "I think we're moving at our own pace. ... We're in this for four years. We want to make sure we get it right."
AFTER THE JUMP -- WTU votes counted Tuesday -- why not do nonpartisan races in D.C.? -- Woodson wins Turkey Bowl amid controversy -- UMC budget's a secret -- Fenty's a turkey -- Kwame's hiring
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE TRANSITION -- "At this point in 2006, Fenty had named a chief of staff, attorney general, city administrator, police chief and deputy mayor for education, as well as reappointed Natwar Gandhi as chief financial officer. Bill Lightfoot, who headed Fenty's transition team, said the early appointments were instrumental in allowing Fenty to push through school reform as soon as he entered office and to react to the kind of early crises that often test an administration. ... Attorney General Peter Nickles, who has been close to Fenty and his family for many years, said Gray's hesitancy has left him 'deeply concerned' over the direction of the District under Gray's leadership. ... Nickles said that the only contact he's had with Gray's team is a request from the transition staff for a meeting in the first week of December. 'There are issues with police, issues with fire, serious, outstanding issues that I need to tell them about,' said Nickles, who served as Fenty's chief adviser. 'If you wait to come in at Christmas, you will absolutely fall flat on your back.' ... Several agency leaders said that they had expected to get signals from Gray by Thanksgiving about who should plan on staying on past the inauguration and who should start packing up. 'To my knowledge, no one's heard anything,' one agency director said. ... [A]dvisers say that the large number of people consulting on the transition has made it difficult to manage. ... [Lorraine Green], a longtime friend of the mayor-elect, is the transition's go-to person, but she is busy with full-time duties as an executive at Amtrak. And [Reuben O. Charles II] has been struggling to quell ethical questions related to past business deals. Gray staffers and informal advisers describe the transition, which is housed in the District's Reeves Center office building on U Street NW, as a collection of three camps: longtime supporters, campaign workers and newcomers - each vying for the mayor-elect's attention."
WTU SHOWDOWN -- Votes in the Washington Teachers' Union runoff election will be counted Tuesday, and Bill Turque covers the battle royale between incumbent George Parker and hardline challenger Nathan Saunders. "Should Parker lose when mail ballots are counted on Tuesday, he would join Rhee and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty as the third major figure in the 2007-10 school reform movement to leave office this year. The contest's outcome could have serious implications for Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray and interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who have pledged to continue much of Rhee's agenda. A Saunders victory could open a new period of labor confrontation, on the heels of a contract that took 21/2 years and the services of a mediator to negotiate. The potential for new strife is compounded by the possibility of a new round of teacher layoffs as the city attempts to cope with its budget shortfall. 'I think there will be gridlock. Confrontation and gridlock,' Parker said." Saunders is pledging to exhaust all avenues to dismantle the IMPACT teacher evaluation system; Parker says it's not in the union's power to do that. Moreover, "You look at where the country is going, and we have to get in front of a document like IMPACT and make it a fair document." Says one blog wag: "The voters have done their part in DC by voting out Fenty/Rhee. Now it is the teachers' turn to finish the job."
LET'S GO NONPARTISAN -- Thought I'd stir some stuff up in the not-a-column this week and wonder out loud whether the city needs to move to completely nonpartisan elections: "In big cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago - yes, Chicago - some or all city offices are elected on a nonpartisan basis. No D's, no R's. ... The problem in the District is that parties add no value to our politics. It's not just that pretty much every officeholder is a Democrat. It's that party labels tell you nothing about officeholders in this city - not when one well-known Democrat is calling for "welfare reform" and most Republican candidates support gay marriage rights. ... And then you have the problem highlighted by this year's mayoral race: There is a class of city voters effectively prevented from voting on races in which they have an interest. ... Chatter before and after Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's Democratic primary defeat concerned opening the primaries to independent voters. Holding nonpartisan elections would address the primary problem and solve a few others, too."
WARRIORS WIN -- Congrats to the Woodson Warriors, who beat Dunbar 44-12 for a third consecutive Turkey Bowl win. The victory followed a week of wrangling over who Woodson would be playing -- Ballou, who won the semifinal game, or Dunbar, who challenged the outcome due to an ineligible Ballou player's participation. Dunbar won the appeal, Alan Goldenbach reports in the Post, and things got politically sensitive on Thursday. Said Gray, in attendance at the big event: "These games ought to be played on the field; hopefully we can get to that point in the future. ... I've got to work with our leaders and make sure all the rules are observed so everything can be decided between the goal lines." Added Harry Thomas Jr.: "It was a very unfortunate situation, but when the facts come out people will see it differently. ... It creates a lot of hard feelings and gets us talking about something other than the game. ... It takes away from what I think is the biggest game in the city for our kids." Meanwhile, "Woodson's players, for the most part, said they did not care who they played, though tight end-defensive end Darius Redman preferred playing Dunbar 'because they've been talking the most trash.'"
UMC BUDGET IS A SECRET -- WBJ's Ben Fischer reports that the board of the publicly-owned United Medical Center is keeping its budget discussions under wraps: "[I]f you want to explore the hospital's future, really dig into its finances or put it into the broader context of D.C.'s overall budget problems, then you're out of luck. ... Even though the newly created governing board, dominated by outgoing Mayor Adrian Fenty's appointees, has reviewed a 2011 budget proposal in two separate public board meetings, asking questions of hospital Chief Financial Officer Derrick Hollings, the proposal itself still hasn't seen the light of day. On Monday, hospital lawyer Edward Rich formally denied our Freedom of Information Act request filed Oct. 29, citing the law's exemptions for intra-agency or deliberative documents. He said the board is likely to approve the budget in 'early December' -- then it will be public." What Fischer has been told: "The hospital is projecting enough operational revenue to cover anticipated expenses of about $113 million, with enough left over to pay down old debts. ... But just because cash flow is positive (a not insignificant accomplishment), that doesn't mean everything's fine. The place still has many old debts, little cash in reserve and a still-developing capital budget. It'll be a while before the ship is completely turned around."
TALKING TURKEYS -- First on Bob McCartney's "Turkeys of the Year" list: "Adrian Fenty. C'mon, Mr. Mayor, would it have been so hard to visit a few churches? Meet with some union leaders? Find one or two African Americans for top Cabinet positions in a majority-black city? You know, be a regular politician. Perhaps the mayor couldn't spare the time from his triathlon training. But a bit more retail politicking - at least pretend to be engaged - could have ensured reelection. As a start, it might have kept D.C. Council Chairman Vince Gray, who beat Fenty, from entering the race." Still, "Biggest Turkey" honors go to Jack Johnson.
BARRY BILL BACKLASH -- Monica C. Bell and Jennifer Mezey of the Legal Aid Society write in an All Opinions Are Local piece that the "welfare reform" bill sponsored by Marion Barry and Yvette Alexander has been good at getting media attention, but lousy at actually solving the problem of chronic poverty: "Given that neither of the bill's co-sponsors wants the bill to pass, what has this legislation, and the conversation and coverage surrounding it, achieved? ... [M]edia coverage has reinforced prejudices and reignited ideas that make it difficult for families to escape poverty. None of this coverage has focused on the families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the barriers they face, measures that would actually move welfare recipients from joblessness and poverty into the workplace, and the challenge of doing so in the midst of an economic crisis that has left many people with more education and job skills out of work."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
A lament for Fenty's slash of Healthy Schools funding -- "For the Fenty administration to champion the Healthy Schools Act as a model for the nation, and then to cut funding for the act, they have done a grave disservice to the children of the District of Columbia," says advocate (Grist)
The family of Officer Paul Dittamo thanks Chief Cathy Lanier and 7D Commander Joel Maupin -- unthanked: Adrian Fenty or Vincent Gray (InsideNova)
Advocates want changes to bullying bill (TBD)
First responders get fed at the Four Seasons (Examiner)
Our underappreciated amenities (GGW)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Nada mucho -- enjoy your weekend!
| November 26, 2010; 11:36 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike, The District
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