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DeMorning DeBonis: Nov. 9, 2010

By Mike DeBonis

TODAY IS NOV. 9, 2010 -- 54 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION

PREVIOUSLY -- Biddle, Mayes, Orange, Patterson, Robinson pursue at-large D.C. Council seat

D.C. Council Chairman-to-Be Kwame Brown unveiled his transition team yesterday in a John A. Wilson Building news conference. Why do we need a "transition team" for a guy who will be moving his office all of 25 yards? Ann Marimow explains at D.C. Wire that Brown "will use his eight-week transition period to conduct a top-to-bottom review of council operations" aimed at "improv[ing] the way the council does business" and making sure that government is "open and responsive to residents." In charge of that will be Gregory McCarthy, the former high-level aide to Anthony Williams who is now a VP for the Washington Nationals. McCarthy told the Examiner that his charge is "to think big and look outside the box and to be aggressive." The big question that Brown was not prepared to answer: He announced he was ready to raise as much as $150,000 in private funds for the transition, but he didn't offer much when asked how he'd spend it, aside from a web site, office space and travel he said he probably wouldn't need to make. Then, Patrick Madden reports at WAMU-FM, Brown after the presser "faced his first real test" when protesters from the Ethiopian community rallied outside the Wilson Building demanding answers on the death of a nightclub patron. More below on how it went.

AFTER THE JUMP -- apply for a Gray administration job -- Gray meets with Gandhi to map budget course -- Jonetta comes out against tax hikes -- Fenty appointees told to deliver resignations -- Betts killer pleads to felony charge

*** MAIN COURSE ***

SEEN WALKING THE JAWB HALLS YESTERDAY -- Statehood advocates, gathering support for a council resolution supporting the introduction of a statehood bill into Congress. Also: Former council member Betty Ann Kane, gathered support for her confirmation to continue as chair of the Public Service Commission; Dorothy Brizill went around trying to foil her re-confirmation today.

APPLY FOR A JOB -- The Gray transition unveils its web site. Most importantly: "If you want to be considered for a position with a DC Board or Commission, or an appointed position with the Gray Administration, please submit your resume to employment@graytransition2010.org and specify the role of interest in the subject line."

MONEY MESS -- WUSA-TV's Bruce Johnson warns the city to "get ready for the pain," noting that Gray "was meeting behind closed doors late Monday" with Natwar Gandhi "to come up with options as they wrestled with a budget deficit that could reach a half billion dollars before Gray's first term is out." Council staffers are waiting for Still-Mayor Adrian Fenty to send down his proposed cuts, but are expecting Gray to push a much broader package of cuts and tax increases before he assumes the mayoralty. David Alpert argues at Greater Greater Washington for an expanded public role in the process: "DC should create a 'menu' of possible fixes that exceed the gap and let residents choose among them, like WMATA did for the FY2011 budget. ... The budget staff are already scouring the budgets of DC agencies for opportunities to make cuts, and studying possibilities for more revenue. They surely already have a plethora of ideas which go beyond the $175 million gap. Instead of then prioritizing that list, taking the top items, and publishing that proposals, they can postpone the last step. Publish a larger list, equaling $300-350 million, and ask residents to weigh in on trade-offs." Thing is, Gray might be looking to push a full $350 million in cuts before he gets in the mayoral hot seat.

EARTH TO VINCE -- Jonetta Rose Barras warns Gray to move with care in her Examiner column: "Before he talks tax hikes, Gray has to reduce spending, cutting programs and streamlining agencies. Failing to take such action could signal he lacks toughness. Contrary to popular belief, the city's poor and working class aren't the only ones suffering. Middle- and upper-income citizens have seen dramatic drops in the return on their investments. The values of other assets also have declined. In other words, the economy has been an equal-opportunity destroyer. Few people can afford tax increases." Meanwhile, she reports, Fenty write-in supporters have "formed Progress for DC ... to scrutinize the new mayor's policies and politics." Jonetta also takes aim at Reuben Charles' continued role in the Gray camp: "The mayor-elect's failure to cut the cord between himself and Charles won't help connect him to disaffected voters, especially those who consider him a 21st-century version of [Marion Barry]. Surely Gray knows once perceptions solidify, they almost never change."

SEE YA -- Fenty political appointees have been handed their walking papers, Michael Neibauer reports in WBJ: "In the last couple days, District government employees in executive and excepted service were told, via the Department of Human Resources, how to resign from their jobs. It's traditional that one mayor's appointees and top hires resign ahead of the next mayor's arrival. But this news makes it so, well, real, that Mayor Adrian Fenty's brief reign is quickly coming to an end. ... The human resource documents, essentially walking papers, direct certain employees to submit resignation letters, at the request of the mayor, effective Dec. 31. They describe, said one recipient, what happens if the resignation is accepted, when the last check goes out, how long insurance benefits remain in place, options for continued medical coverage and what happens if the employee accepts a new government job after Jan. 1."

TROUBLE IN THE HILL -- Harry Jaffe's Examiner column looks at the future of the District's federal relations: "The facts are that advocates for greater D.C. autonomy from the federal government are not going to get much from this White House. More funds for education and bike lanes, perhaps, but zero on the dream of getting a vote on the House floor for our currently neutered delegate. Facts are that the District will be so back on its heels when Republicans take over the House in January that we will be lucky to keep Home Rule, limited as it may be. ... What we are likely to get from Congress is meddling like we haven't seen since the days Sen. Jesse Helms put antiabortion riders for D.C. into every bill that crossed his desk. ... Gray and other local politicians play to the masses by advocating statehood, but is the District prepared to lobby against congressional intervention? Rather than running up statehood rhetoric, Gray might want to hire a lobbyist and make friends on Capitol Hill." Jaffe says the city might have a friend in Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), the moderate chair of the D.C. appropriations subcommittee. Moderate?

BETTS MURDERER PLEADS OUT -- The investigation into the murder of Shaw Middle School Principal Brian Betts nears an end, with a guilty plea from 18-year-old Alante Saunders. The investigation "opened a window into Betts's private life," Dan Morse reports from Montgomery County: "Hours before he was killed, [Betts] made plans with a stranger he met on a sex chat line: The front door of his Silver Spring home would be unlocked, the man was to let himself in and Betts would be waiting. ... Saunders found Betts in the bedroom, but his intention all along had been to rob the man. Something went wrong and Saunders shot Betts, causing injuries to his heart, lungs and spine. In a case that generated much media attention because of Betts's work, it all came down to a robbery gone bad. ... Betts built a sterling reputation as an educator, first in Montgomery County and then in the District. He was the principal at Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson and was seen as a leader of education reform. ... No records surfaced that suggested he had improper relationships with students, according to sources in the case." Freeman Klopott notes in the Examiner that Betts' murder spurred changes to the city's juvenile justice system.

ABOUT THAT PROTEST -- Dozens protested the decision to drop charges in the death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed outside the DC9 nightclub, rallying yesterday outside the U.S. Attorney's Office before heading to the John A. Wilson Building, blocking a lane of Pennsylvania Avenue NW in the process. Keith Alexander covers for the Post: "Mohammed's mother, Sashie Bule, carried a sign that bore her son's picture and the words, 'We want justice now.' Bule said her son 'deserved justice.' ... Nunu Waco, Mohammed's cousin, said her family was 'appalled' by the decision by prosecutors to drop the charges. 'Our family deserves better. American citizens deserve better,' she said. When the charges were dropped, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said in a statement that his office needed more information, including a final conclusion by the medical examiner, before moving forward. He said the investigation would continue. ... Chanting 'We want justice, we want answers,' the crowd spilled onto Pennsylvania Avenue, forcing police to close the eastbound lane briefly. Several protesters entered the building and demanded that elected officials come outside and speak. 'No matter who you are, no matter where you live, when someone loses their life, that's a problem,' [Kwame Brown] told the crowd." The protesters earned coverage from WTTG-TV, WUSA-TV, WRC-TV. Here's video of Brown addressing the protesters. Jim Graham released a statement: "How do we go from a second degree murder charge, to aggravated assault, to no charges at all? I think this raises far more questions than it answers."


*** SMALL PLATES ***

Homeless cuts could reach $25 million. Tommy Wells asks where it can be found; DHS chief Clarence Carter replies: "I do not have the answer to that one today, I do not have the answer." (WAMU-FM)

DCPS has fallen way behind on special-ed evaluations (D.C. Schools Insider)

Metro management kept escalator warnings from board (Post, Unsuck DC Metro)

One teen killed, another injured in Trinidad shooting. The deceased has been identified as Joseph Sharp, 17, a Spingarn High School student. (WTTG-TV)

Man killed in South Capitol Street hit-and-run (Post)

DDOT looks at where Circulator should go next (GGW)

Why Metro isn't to blame for rally crowding -- for instance: "Comedy Central, whose parent Viacom, Inc. raked in $4 billion in profits last year, despite the invaluable press, publicity and viewership from the event, wasn't willing to shell out $30,000 to pay for extra service." (GGW)

Michelle Rhee and Jeb Bush, together at Harvard (Answer Sheet)

Bob Spagnoletti's transition role hailed as Gray's "first gay appointment" (Blade)

Secret Service still not doing much with downtown Webster School (DCmud)

Chandra Levy trial resumes tomorrow! (Sacramento Bee)

More on McMillan (Housing Complex)

Committing a string of burglaries while wearing a GPS ankle bracelet is indeed pretty dumb (All Life Is Local)

New York real estate moguls bullish on D.C. market (NY Observer h/t Housing Complex)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Committee of the Whole and 50th Legislative Meeting, 10 a.m. in council chambers

By Mike DeBonis  | November 9, 2010; 12:14 PM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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