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Posted at 10:04 AM ET, 11/30/2010

DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 30, 2010

By Mike DeBonis

TODAY IS NOV. 30, 2010 -- 33 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION

Just about now, the first of the 160-plus witnesses are in the John A. Wilson Building preparing to tell Mayor-elect Vincent Gray and the D.C. Council how they should go about cutting (or, more likely, not cutting) the city budget. Nikita Stewart previews the hearing, which is likely to last into the wee hours, at D.C. Wire. Here's some more fiscal reportage to ponder: In the Examiner, Freeman Klopott highlights that the city's borrowing is flush up against the self-imposed 12 percent debt cap and D.C. is "quickly approaching the point where it will no longer be able to afford to build new roads, overhaul school buildings and make other capital expenditures." Why not just raise the debt cap? Because "the bond agencies were very happy when we made the cap and they'll be equally unhappy if we change it," says fiscal maven Jack Evans. A Greater Greater Washington writer suggests D.C. do as Delaware does and jettison the sales tax, replacing the revenue with a higher income tax. Which sounds great until you realize that it essentially shifts several hundred million dollars worth of revenue paid by non-city residents onto city residents. And the Examiner's editorial board chips in with a rare local piece, calling on council members to "focus on the big picture" in the face of today's entreaties: "A city that has to resort to payment extensions to meet its basic debt obligations has no business spending additional money on a streetcar system, a city-financed hotel, a new soccer stadium or any of the myriad 'economic development' ideas that depend on
other people's money for their success."

AFTER THE JUMP -- Council ready to pass strict anti-bullying law -- charters want closed schools, but Gray thus far unwilling -- Peaceoholics robbed -- Robin-Eve Jasper out? -- Rhee does Colbert -- Jemal still owes city lots of tax money

*** MAIN COURSE ***

BULLIES ARE BAD -- The D.C. Council is down on bullying, Tim Craig reports in the Post, hosting a hearing on a pair of bills containing "some of the nation's strictest regulations against bullying in city schools or public buildings in an effort to curtail behaviors they say can at times terrorize youths." Gray took four hours out of his transition/budget-preparation schedule to chair the hearing, saying that D.C. "use [anti-gay bullying] incidents as teachable moments and take action." The bills are sponsored by Michael A. Brown and Harry Thomas Jr. and would "require the city public and charter schools, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the District of Columbia Public Library, and the University of the District of Columbia to develop policies and sanctions against 'harassment, intimidation or bullying' on their grounds. The proposals, which are still being finalized but appear to have broad support on the 13-member body, mandate that officials conduct thorough and 'prompt' investigations into allegations of bullying. They also call for the creation of a detailed reporting system to document episodes of threatening behavior." Charter schools are balking at the mandate. More coverage from WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.

CHARTERS EYE SHUTTERED SCHOOLS -- Speaking of charters, Deborah Simmons does a good piece in the Washington Times on how charter schools are newly hopeful they'll get a shot at occupying vacant city property. The Fenty administration all but shut charters out from surplussed schools, and now charter advocates are skeptical that Gray will be much better: "As part of the D.C. Comprehensive Plan Act, the city's land-use road map, Mr. Gray succeeded last week in getting an amendment passed that would grant charter schools the 'right of first refusal' to public school facilities. But there's a catch. ... [B]oth the current law and the new measure stipulate that the right applies only after the facilities are no longer needed by the D.C. government. Therein lies the rub with charter-school advocates, who want the right of first refusal to kick in when the school closes, not, as the current and proposed law both say, when the D.C. government decides it doesn't want to use the buildings for any purpose - educational or otherwise. The new measure keeps charter schools at the back of the line and, the advocates say, even gives anti-charters forces within the city government an incentive to find other uses for school buildings."

WHAT THE MYOPIC LITTLE TWITS FORGET -- Natalie Hopkinson pens a thoughtful piece at the Root on the nature of D.C.'s racial divide, prompted by Rend Smith's City Paper profile of Courtland Milloy: "In the fanfare over the 'new D.C.' and drooling over retail, it's almost as if poor people and their grievances have been put on mute. That was the problem with Fenty and some of his more strident 'creative class' supporters; many of them went about their business as though the poor were invisible or, worse, already gone. In a city like D.C., these tensions cannot be waved away as mostly socioeconomic. The city's sizable black middle class could have rescued Fenty's campaign, but it didn't. I don't like it either, but racial polarization is just a fact. That doesn't mean this is the way it will always be. But getting past the polarization does require some brutally honest people to bridge the worlds. Milloy has done this by leaning on decades of institutional memory and contacts, old-school shoe-leather reporting, and a clear and passionate voice."

PEACEOHOLICS ROBBED -- A burglar's preyed upon the Martin Luther King Avenue commercial strip in Ward 8, Bruce Johnson reports at WUSA-TV, and the controversial nonprofit is among the victims: "The [Peaceoholics] headquarters was ransacked, with computers, audio and video equipment stolen. The office safe was discovered in a back alley with its cash, checks and personnel files stolen. ... The offices of the Informer Newspaper, two blocks away were also broken into-a computer stolen- Thanksgiving night. A few doors away, the Amen computer training school was burglarized. Computers, video equiptment and a web camera were stolen."


*** SMALL PLATES ***

Robin-Eve Jasper will leave DRES, "little birds" say (Housing Complex)

Michelle Rhee appears on The Colbert Report on Wednesday (Comedy Central)

Doug Jemal still owes $1.56 million in property taxes -- you could have a lien on the Uline Arena for a song! (WBJ)

D.C. Vote's plea: House vote deal is NOT dead! (City Desk)

Has Sarah Palin laid the groundwork for a pro-District voting rights stand? (Loose Lips)

In wake of student rape, DCPS ups Dunbar High security (WTOP, TBD)

Jack Evans says FedEx Field is "fast becoming the worst stadium in professional football" (WTOP)

What to do about taxi regulations? (Housing Complex)

Vince Gray is so passive-aggressive! (Capital Land/Examiner)

National Capital Planning Commission "very open to compromise" on streetcar wires, says Gabe Klein (GGW)

Save Our Safety Net: High-earners tax could raise $65 million (Poverty and Policy)

District details Chesapeake "pollution diet" -- mainly improvements at Blue Plains (Post)

"Veteran D.C. political activist" says DCDSC support for Vincent Orange is "soft" (NBCWashington.com)

On the "obvious cultural blind spots" of Michelle Rhee and Arlene Ackerman (Philadelphia Public School Notebook)

Superintendent switch in D.C., N.Y., Chicago "raises questions about both the future of the reforms in these cities and about the success of mayoral control" (Christian Science Monitor)

UDC Law helps DCPS students end their suspensions (Post)

"Where are D.C.'s dental dams?" indeed (TBD/Amanda Hess)

GAO audit yet another argument for vouchers? (The Foundry/Heritage Institute)

Be grateful, Gary Imhoff: More bikes means fewer cars for you do deal with (TBD/On Foot)

Betcha didn't know: NoMa has no parks due to "flawed upzoning" (GGW)

How Fenty budget cuts would affect you, dear pedestrian (TBD/On Foot)

Skype'd same-sex marriage didn't pass Superior Court muster (Dallas Observer)

DPR didn't do background checks on child care employees (WaTimes)

Eleanor wants to save the azaleas (Prince of Petworth)

Body of teenage girl found in Columbia Heights dumpster (Post)

Woman, 29, punched in face by young toughs outside Jenkins Row Harris Teeter (WTTG-TV)

Pot-growing CBS reporter gets probation (City Desk)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Budget hearing all flippin' day in council chambers -- hearing on Board of Elections and Ethics general election performance, 10 a.m. in JAWB 412 -- Gray to make first transition finance report

By Mike DeBonis  | November 30, 2010; 10:04 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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Next: Robin-Eve Jasper will leave D.C. Department of Real Estate Services

Comments

Oh, those idealistic, childlike hipsters over at GGW who live in a rainbow colored reality where spending billions of dollars on uneeded tranportation toys, and forcing everyone to move into the city from those horrible "burbs", come up with the lamest ideas. The rest of us live in a world where things cost money and the bills have to be paid.

I read the article linked here and he spends pages of space, then admits he really doesn't know the specifics to cruch the numbers. And, essentially, as stated above, it transfers hundreds of millions of dollars of budget burden now contributed by outside DC residents, onto District residents.

As the youngsters say, "Epic Fail".

Posted by: Nosh1 | November 30, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

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