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DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 5, 2010

By Mike DeBonis

TODAY IS NOV. 5, 2010 -- 58 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION

PREVIOUSLY -- Police union supporters vexed by Gray funeral no-show

How, if you are Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray, do you turn a week of celebration into something much more troublesome? First, you hold a victory party in a nightclub owned by a bankrupt tax scofflaw. Then you put in charge of your transition operations a mystery man with tax issues of his own. And then you don't show up at the funeral of the first city cop to die in the line of duty in three years, during which you are instead spotted having lunch with the council chairman-elect. The last story had legs Thursday, picked up by We Love DC, DCist, Loose Lips, Examiner, WTOP, WUSA-TV and TBD. Gray explained that his staff was never made aware of the funeral's scheduling, but there's a thread of insufficient attention to detail running through all of his embarrassments this week. His team had better get on the ball -- you take over a $7 billion, 35,000-employee enterprise in 58 days.

AFTER THE JUMP -- remembering Paul Dittamo -- Allen Sessoms takes a victory lap -- Jason Chaffetz might not be District subcommittee chair after all -- date sent for DCDSC at-large council pick

*** MAIN COURSE ***

REMEMBERING OFFICER PAUL DITTAMO -- Paul Duggan covers the funeral for the Post: "He joined the D.C. force 'because that is where he thought he could do the most good and serve the people best.' 'Paul did not need this job,' D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier told the mourners in a halting voice. 'The job needed him. And for that, we're grateful.' Dittamo was assigned to the department's most dangerous precinct, the 7th District, or 7D, covering far Southeast. About 1 a.m. Saturday, Lanier said, Dittamo and his partner were rushing to help other officers who needed backup as they struggled to subdue a suspect who was under the influence of the violence-inducing hallucinogen PCP. 'Every officer knows, when it's PCP, you hurry,' Lanier said after the funeral. ... Police Cmdr. Joel R. Maupin, the top officer in 7D, said at the church, 'While Paul was only with us for a short time, boy, did he make an impression.' He said that at the hospital after the crash, 'one of the supervisors said, "The police academy and the recruiting branch really got it right this time." Paul was a great police officer.'"

SUPER SESSOMS -- Dan de Vise, the Post's higher ed reporter, profiles UDC President Allen Sessoms and explains how he stands to benefit from the election of Gray, an outspoken UDC supporter: "The ouster of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty at the polls in September spelled the end for Rhee, his handpicked schools chancellor. For Sessoms and UDC, it is more like a new beginning. [Gray] will enter the executive office as UDC's champion in chief. He pays regular visits to the university, holds frequent strategy sessions with Sessoms and made the institution's success a central theme of his campaign. ... With only sporadic help from city government, Sessoms has quietly wrought the most sweeping changes in UDC's 33-year history. He successfully split the foundering school into two pieces, a community college with open admissions and a four-year university with higher tuition and entry standards. Enrollment and tuition revenue are up. ... In an interview this week, the District's deputy mayor for education, Victor Reinoso, likened the president's accomplishments to those of Rhee, who attained national stature for closing schools and moving against low-performing principals and teachers. 'I think Dr. Sessoms has been refreshing leadership for the university and exhibited similar drive and focus in advancing the university's interests,' Reinoso said. 'When someone delivers, you give him props.'" Dan recounts the many university-related tensions with Fenty, but "[b]oth Gray and Sessoms predict a more harmonious relationship between the university and the legislative and executive branches of city government, all of them aligned for the first time since Sessoms's arrival."

OLD GUARDED -- David Alpert at GGW defends the Gray transition team against charges aired in the Examiner that some are Barry cronies -- particularly Tom Downs and Cell Bernardino. Alpert points out that Downs in particular has a long and distinguished career out of the city's employ: "Despite the Examiner's spin, it doesn't look like the Gray transition is a return to the Marion Barry crowd. It does primarily comprise people who did the most for DC during the 1980s and 1990s, including the widely acclaimed Alice Rivlin, head of the Financial Control Board in the late 90s. This group has a great wealth of experience, but will need to avoid the common temptation to think about all DC's problems in the same framework as we did 20 years ago." Incidentally, here is what the far-from-pro-Barry Post editorial board wrote in 1987 when Downs left to helm the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority: "Mr. Downs served the city and its mayor long and well -- longer, in fact, than any other city administrator and with unquestioned integrity. Though no one who has held this job could pretend to be totally apolitical in running the day-to-day operations or in serving as foil, point person, drill sergeant and stage manager for the mayor, Mr. Downs did his best to stay out of the limelight and to concentrate on issues of public administration. And with the memorable exception of a big snow-snarl earlier this year that left the downtown paralyzed and left him exasperated and uncharacteristically snippy, Mr. Downs endured his five years of long hours with gusto and good humor."

NO CHAFFETZ FOR YOU -- Seems as though Jason Chaffetz might not be the city's next congressional overseer after all, the Post's Joe Davidson writes: "Chaffetz could be in a key role to shepherd through or derail legislation affecting federal employees. His status as the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on the federal workforce, the U.S. Postal Service and the District of Columbia puts him first in line to chair the panel. ... There is word on Capitol Hill, however, that he may take over another subcommittee next year, in what will be his second term."


*** SMALL PLATES ***

City Democrats will choose an interim at-large council member on Jan. 6 (@charlesallendc)

Yes, there are many people who would like to repeal the Height Act. No, Congress isn't one of them. (New York Times)

Why are city purchase orders surging if there's a budget deficit? "$1.01 billion in purchase orders issued the first 34 days of FY 2011 vs. $465 million during the same period in FY 2010," to be exact. (WBJ)

Alan Suderman identifies another Fenty campaign worker hired onto the bullpen staff (Loose Lips)

Hey, Rep. Travis Childers lost! Remember him? (DCist)

Tom Nida, charter school banker/overseer extraordinaire, says city charters' combined balance sheet is "one of adequate liquidity, with moderate leverage, and good capitalization" (D.C. Schools Insider)

Fenty and Michelle Rhee sure love the Park Hyatt (Examiner)

How 'bout Florida, Michelle? (Red County)

In case you were wondering: "What happens next in ANC races with no candidate on the ballot" (TBD)

Streetcar hearing set for Nov. 17 (Streetcars 4 DC)

Two approaches to city TANF reform (Poverty & Policy)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Peter Nickles on the Politics Hour, 12 p.m. on WAMU-FM -- Fenty on "Real Time with Bill Maher," 10 p.m. on HBO

By Mike DeBonis  | November 5, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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Next: DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 8, 2010

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