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DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 8, 2010

By Mike DeBonis


A happy 68th birthday to Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray, and here's his present: A Post Metro front story from Tim Craig about how he isn't going to get (and hasn't yet gotten) much of a honeymoon from his supporters: "Not since Marion Barry won a third term after a bruising primary and general election contest in 1994, observers say, has an incoming mayor of the District faced so many immediate challenges that could further divide the city's electorate. Gray ... now must decide whether to raise taxes, how to manage the new city-owned hospital and what level of social services the city can afford. In less affluent parts of the city, Gray's supporters are counting on him to make good on campaign promises by tackling chronic unemployment. Everyone is looking for a signal about how he plans to govern a city divided along racial and class lines." That's not to mention the demands from the taxi drivers and from parents of DCPS students and from the smart-growthers -- all this in the face of a budget shortfall that is now estimated to total $500 million over Gray's four-year term. Says Jack Evans: "He can't give the impression he is letting things slip." Happy birthday! (Same to Phil Mendelson, who turns 58 today.)

AFTER THE JUMP -- What can Gray do about jobs? -- Fenty promotes his edu-martyrdom on HBO -- Evans argues against tax hikes -- are residency requirements for the homeless a good idea? -- DC9 case attorneys attack Lanier -- Peebles gets a second shot at Stevens


GRAY AND JOBS -- What can a mayor do about jobs? Nikita Stewart looked at the issue in Sunday's paper, saying that Gray is "inheriting a city with double-digit unemployment, sagging revenue and crushing debt," which "will undercut any job-creation initiative at the Department of Employment Services, which critics say is a directionless, mismanaged agency that operates perennially over-budget programs lacking long-term strategies to decrease the jobless rate. ... Advocates for the unemployed say DOES needs an overhaul and the kind of aggressive attention that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty gave to public education -- a step Gray appears poised to take but that observers say could prove eminently more difficult. 'The District is a place where everyone expects something to happen instantaneously,' said Gregg Irish, the director of DOES under Mayor Anthony A. Williams who now runs the Workforce Investment Board in Los Angeles. 'You can't do it in four years. If I were Vince, I'd come up with an eight-year plan.' And summer jobs are not the trick, Irish said. 'Summer programs are like instant coffee,' Irish said. 'You've got to brew something else up.'" It's a big mess; just read the story.

THE MAN AND THE MYTH -- Fenty appeared on Friday's episode of "Real Time With Bill Maher" on HBO -- alongside Rep. Darrell Issa, global wise man Fareed Zakaria and comedian Dana Gould. I wasn't able to catch it, but Nikita recounts the proceedings at D.C. Wire: "Fenty continued his reinvention tour ... getting praise from Maher and his panel for charging ahead with education reform at the expense of his political career. Fenty told Maher and guests that 'maybe people weren't ready for change that fast.' Fenty blamed his loss on his school takeover and the economy, lumping his situation with the national elections that pushed Democrats out of office. 'This is an election where incumbents had to be wary,' Fenty said. ... Fenty's appearance, which had no mentions of local concerns about parking meter rates or contracts to fraternity brothers or a missed meeting with civil rights icons, continues to place the outgoing mayor in a position to take a national platform on school reform." Valerie Strauss, at the Answer Sheet blog, writes that the appearance was another piece of a "myth-making" effort from Fenty, who "has been busy writing his own political epitaph so that it sounds just the way he wants it." Here's a short video clip, where Fenty indulges in some media commentary.

READ HIS LIPS -- Evans writes a Post op-ed arguing that the city "can't tax its way to a balanced budget." He begins with an interesting frame: "On Tuesday, voters spoke nationwide, and the message was clear. Many Americans believe their government is spending too much money, going too far into debt and taxing too much. We in the District need to heed that message, especially with the arrival of a Republican-controlled House of Representatives ready to flex its muscles. ... Because our rates in commercial property tax, personal and corporate income tax, and sales tax are already the highest in the region, and in some cases the nation, it is difficult to ask our residents and businesses to pay more, particularly in these tough economic times and in light of the message of Tuesday's election. Raising taxes might help to close the shortfall now, but it will also put us at a greater competitive disadvantage with Maryland and Virginia in the future. ... We cannot afford to jeopardize all the progress we have made with our bond ratings and investment climate. Now is the time to right-size spending, no matter how painful the decisions might be. Postponing this downsizing by using tax increases and one-time fixes will only lead to larger deficits." Patch reacts, wants to know more specifics on cuts.

LONGER SCHOOL DAY? -- On the heels of a Mary Cheh extension proposal, Bill Turque looks at whether a longer school day makes sense for the city's public schools, given its success in some charter schools: "Longer school days are expensive and complicated to execute, requiring buy-in from teachers, parents, after-school programs and child-care providers. And the evidence that extended schedules actually improve academic performance is mixed at best. But new support for a school calendar that breaks the traditional 6 1/2-hour, 180-day mold may force the District to give the idea more serious consideration. President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have called for longer days and shorter summer breaks. And school districts across the country are experimenting with extended days, especially as a way to help low-income students." The problems: "[T]o bring a KIPP-size school day to D.C. public schools would cost an additional $42 million a year" and WTU President George Parker is "cool to the idea, saying that it would cut into time that teachers need to plan and collaborate."

HARDER TO BE HOMELESS -- Ahead of a hearing today, Paul Schwartzman digs into Tommy Wells' proposal to place residency requirements on city homeless shelters: "As the economy has floundered and the unemployment rate has soared, a growing number of homeless families from outside the District have migrated into the city in search of shelter, burdening an already strained social services network. Over the summer, D.C. officials say, 10 percent of the families most in need of shelter came from outside the city. Since 2008, officials say, the number of homeless families migrating into the District has tripled. But the city is pushing back against the influx. Citing a looming budget deficit, officials are proposing that on winter's coldest nights, the city should provide shelter first to families who can demonstrate their D.C. ties with proof of a legal address in the past two years or with a record of having received public assistance from the city. ... 'We cannot be the housing alternative of last resort for the entire East Coast,' said [Wells], the legislation's sponsor and host of a public hearing Monday on the bill. 'My intention is to prioritize space for D.C. residents.' ... But advocates for the homeless say a residency requirement is inappropriate for the nation's capital, a symbolic home to all Americans." Also WAMU-FM.

DON'T GET OBAMA'D -- Colby King writes in his Saturday column that Gray had better watch out lest he have an "Obama experience that should not be repeated, i.e., allowing the giddy atmosphere of victory and inauguration hoopla to overshadow an Election Day reality." What is that reality? "He can feel great about having captured nearly 74 percent of the citywide vote for mayor. But it would be a mistake for him to take office in January unmindful of the fact that in wards 1, 2, 3 and 6, which he lost to Mayor Adrian Fenty in September's Democratic primary, at least one-third of the voters chose to write in someone else's name for mayor in Tuesday's general election. ... Message to Gray: Those 28,000 citywide voters who wrote in another candidate's name aren't going away. And like the 2008 McCain voters, anti-Gray voters aren't going to lose interest in the city's direction." Some of Colby's advice: "Stray no farther from the District than one day's car drive. ... Family excluded, don't allow anyone or any interest group to have a leg up with you, including Reuben Charles, your transition director. ... Remain true to your principles and accessible to the people who hired you. ... Don't waver on school reform, government ethics or personal accountability."

AIMING AT LANIER -- After prosecutors dropped charges Friday in the DC9 murder of Ali Ahmed Mohammed, lawyers for the accused bar employees took a shot at Police Chief Cathy Lanier. Maria Glod and Mary Pat Flaherty report in the Post: "Attorneys for two of them lashed out at Lanier, saying she acted rashly and irresponsibly. ... 'Chief Lanier and the Metropolitan Police Department were wrong and did not conduct a full investigation before improperly jumping to incorrect conclusions,' said Danny Onorato, attorney for former DC9 manager Evan Preller. 'They then trumpeted those incorrect conclusions to the press, and that is wrong.' Steven J. McCool, who represents William Spieler, 46, a club co-owner, said, 'Cathy Lanier at best acted irresponsibly in standing before television cameras and blaming my client for Mr. Mohammed's death.' Lanier declined to comment on the criticism."

PEEBLES BACK IN STEVENS MIX -- The Stevens School saga rolls on, as the Fenty administration ditches a deal to redevelop the property into apartments after "finding little neighborhood support for the idea," Jonathan O'Connell reported Friday. The selection of the Equity Residential bid "immediately prompted concerns among West End residents that the apartments would cater to college students rather than long-term residents. ... 'Over the past year we had been unable to generate any community support for their proposal, so we wanted to try a different approach,' said Jose Sousa, a spokesman for the Fenty administration. Sousa said the city formally ended negotiations with Equity on Oct. 28. ... The city has asked six of the developers that originally made proposals to submit final offers. R. Donahue Peebles, a D.C. native who built the Royal Palm Hotel in Miami, had proposed a luxury hotel operated by Morgans Hotel Group of New York. Peebles, who decided not to challenge Fenty for mayor, says he is still interested in Stevens. 'We're excited now to present our ideas again to the community and to fine-tune them,' he said." Gray will get to pick.

NIX THE MEDDLING, GOP -- The Post editorial board wants "no more meddling" from congressional Republicans: "Many city officials are expecting some Republicans to use the District to score political points on controversial social issues or as a laboratory for pet programs. The concern is well-founded in history, but D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is right to warn against snap judgments. ... An early indicator of how the District will fare will be seen in whether the Republican leadership decides to be churlish and rescind Ms. Norton's vote in the committee of the whole. [Gray] is smart to reach out to Republicans and remind them of the city's record, now well entrenched, of governing itself responsibly. But it's also good he's having lunch with President Obama on Dec. 1 so that he can ask him not to hesitate to wield his veto pen to protect the rights of D.C. residents." AP's Jessica Gresko details the many ways that the Republicans could meddle.

STILL WAITING ON HTJ -- Also from the board: An update on "Team Thomas," Harry Thomas Jr.'s shadowy nonprofit, including February 2008 solicitations from a Thomas aide for the nonprofit in order to pay for an annual report to residents. "Why was Team Thomas soliciting undisclosed contributions to publish a report extolling his work on the council? Mr. Thomas, who has denied any wrongdoing, did not return our phone calls asking about this. His attorney, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., called back but did not provide an answer. ... There is nothing wrong with council members updating their constituents with reports. But if public funds are used, council members legally must meet strict requirements on content and when they can mail the material. If campaign contributions or constituent service funds are used, members must regularly disclose donations and expenditures and stay within contribution limits. It's not clear how Mr. Thomas's apparent use of Team Thomas to bankroll his annual report dovetails with these requirements."


John Boehner "is likely to make reviving the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program a priority in the next Congress" (The Corner, h/t @pecksniffiana)

DDOT raises issues with Jim Abdo's vast Brookland project (WBJ)

Big winner of Election Year 2010: The George Washington University (GW Today)

Federal judge Reggie Walton limits Metro's Red Line crash liability (Post)

AU town-gown tensions lead to spate of challenged ballots at Precinct 9 (The Eagle)

D.C. General still a "social services dumping ground"? (The Hill Is Home)

Peter Nickles defends his tenure, says elected AG is "crazy idea" (WAMU-FM)

Gray frat brother wants a job (Loose Lips)

What Barack Obama could learn from Adrian Fenty (Informer)

Peggy Cooper Cafritz's home insurer also suing D.C. Water (Courthouse News)

DCPS security guards negotiate raise (Examiner)

"Bones" presents shockingly one-dimensional image of Anacostia -- "seedy, prostitution, lots of gangs, bad activity" (And Now, Anacostia)

Betty Ann Kane explains "net energy metering" (All Opinions Are Local)

A Gray Lady chat with ex-D.C. CTO Vivek Kundra (New York Times)

About those license plate scanners (City Desk)

DOOT rolls out 1,000-plus new solar parking meters (Dr. Gridlock)

In 2012, aborted fetuses will be coming to a television near you (TBD)

The opinion leaders of Charleston, S.C., deliver a pro-Rhee editorial: "Rhee is gone, but she and Washington's schoolchildren may still come out the winners in the epic battle to reform D.C.'s appalling public schools." (Post and Courier)

Fun fact: "Eleanor Holmes Norton got more votes (109,577) than any Alaska Senate candidate ("write-in" 81,876, Joe Miller 68,288)" (@EduGlaze)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Kwame Brown announces transition team, 11 a.m. in JAWB 412 -- council hearing on TANF reforms and homeless residency requirements, 11:30 in JAWB 500

By Mike DeBonis  | November 8, 2010; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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Next: Biddle, Patterson, Orange, Robinson pursue at-large D.C. Council seat

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