DeMorning DeBonis: Dec. 10, 2010
TODAY IS DEC. 10, 2010 -- 23 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION
NOTA BENE -- I'll be appearing on The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood, noon on WAMU-FM, 88.5 -- guests include Washington Teachers' Union President Nathan Saunders and Prince George's County council member Will Campos
Now that everyone's done watching the Marion Barry reality show -- which does, in fact, "look staged" -- eat your vegetables and read my not-a-column about how the D.C. parking tax has managed to remain at a relatively low 16 percent for 34 years in a city that loves to suck as much cash from commuters and tourists as possible: "[E]ven a modest hike has been anathema to perhaps the city's most potent lobbying force. What the National Rifle Association and the AARP is to federal Washington, the parking lobby has been to city hall. The sanctity of the commercial parking tax is the work of the late Leonard B. 'Bud' Doggett, who during his 60-plus years in Washington business built a reputation as a tough businessman and generous philanthropist. Through his willingness to gather and judiciously wield the political clout of the parking lot operators, he created a third-rail issue every bit as nettlesome as Social Security reform. ... But with hundreds of millions of dollars set to be cut from the District's 2012 budget - a process that will start as soon as [Mayor-elect Vincent Gray] takes office early next month - it might not be safe for long. [D.C. Council member Jim Graham] said he's had some 'very brief' discussions with parking folks recently about negotiating a hike. 'I haven't been told to buzz off or anything, but they haven't said yes,' he said."
AFTER THE JUMP -- Ben Cardin tries to plunk New Beginnings at Walter Reed -- Gray moves his council staff to mayoral staff -- Gray talks Team Thomas -- interim chancellor still interim
*** MAIN COURSE ***
SEE YA, NEW BEGINNINGS? -- Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) attempted yesterday to attach an amendment to the federal defense spending bill that would force D.C. to move the New Beginnings Youth Development Center, less than two years old, from the old District campus in Laurel to the Walter Reed site in Ward 4. WBJ's Michael Neibauer was first to report on the amendment, which "bars the Secretary of the Army from accepting or approving a redevelopment plan for Walter Reed that does not provide for the transfer." Here's more from the Post's Ben Pershing and Henri Cauvin: "Cardin made clear that he was tired of hearing from D.C. officials that there was no suitable location available for New Beginnings in the District. 'A juvenile detention center is an important responsibility of local government,' Cardin said. 'It should be a high priority. It shouldn't be a stepchild, and the District of Columbia should give it the priority it deserves.' But Cardin also said he was 'absolutely not' wedded to the idea that Walter Reed was the best or only option for the facility. As for New Beginnings' current location, Cardin said he feels 'very strongly that this land needs to be put to better use.'. ... Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), whose Human Services Committee oversees the city's juvenile justice system, chuckled when told of Cardin's proposed amendment. 'New Beginnings just got built and it's state of the art,' Wells said. 'It sounds like politics. It doesn't sound practical. That said, I like Ben Cardin.'" The debate now appears to be moot, with the defense bill held up by the "don't ask, don't tell" drama.
MORE GRAY PICKS -- Gray names more appointees, and Nikita Stewart had the names first: "Cynthia Brock-Smith, currently secretary of the council, will move to secretary of the District of Columbia; council budget director Eric Goulet and general counsel Brian K. Flowers will assume the equivalent positions in the Gray administration. Stephen Glaude, currently Gray's director of constituent services, will become director of the office of community affairs. Roxana Olivas, who also works in Gray's council office, will become director of the Office on Latino Affairs. Janene Jackson, currently senior vice president of government relations and public policy at the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, will be named Gray's liaison between the mayoral and council offices, the sources said." And Crystal Palmer, the longtime former director of the Office of Motion Picture and Television Development and wife of former Council member Harold Brazil, returns. The Washington Times' Deborah Simmons writes that Gray found himself "[d]efending the pace of his efforts to staff his incoming administration," given the relatively low level of the picks. "Saying he would not be rushed, Mr. Gray told reporters he is being a deliberate chief executive who wants to have the 'best possible people' to help him lead the city. ... 'I don't think anybody is hanging in the wind,' said Mr. Gray, who added that he had spoken with many of outgoing Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's top aides and encouraged them to continue serving the city." Also Patch.
GRAY ADDRESSES TEAM THOMAS -- At the news conference announcing the appointments, Gray was pressed on whether he would move forward with Peter Nickles' subpoena for records on Harry Thomas Jr.'s nonprofit. Alan Suderman collects his response, to an inquiry about whether the probe has been politically motivated: "I happen to have been in one involving a fence, I've never seen an attorney general involve himself in a fence, Alan, so one can speculate that perhaps it's politically motivated. And you may recall too that there was an investigation done that I was the only in four years to whom this law had been applied. So it's speculation of course, but it's informed speculation." Suderman says that "sounds like a yes." Nickles tells him that the comments "demean the office" of mayor.
YAY FOR LEW -- Harry Jaffe, as you might have guessed, has great kudos for Gray's pick of Allen Lew: "[W]hen incoming [Gray] named Lew as his city administrator, I thought: 'inspired move.' Brave, too. There are those in Gray's camp who would rather not keep any Fenty folks. Gray was smart to give the day-to-day running of his government over to Lew. Allen Lew is a tough guy. Ask any contractors who have sat across the table from him. His message was: Do the work or get off the job. Period. No backing and filling, unless you're working a back hoe. Do the work, do it well, or get off the job. He's fearless. He's been able to work in relative obscurity. He never sought media attention. He never hungered for a bigger, better job. ... [T]he spotlight will be shining on the relatively reclusive Mr. Lew. He will not be able to fire city workers the way he dismissed contractors. He's firmly in the public sector, ruled by unions. The best way for this Chinese American raised in Brooklyn to succeed in making the city function better would be to work closely with Mayor Gray, in the old-fashioned good cop-bad cop tag team. Lew plays the tough guy, Gray makes nice. People would sense Lew's stick but feel better after Gray's 'atta-boy.' Could be a winning team."
CHILD CARE MAKES A DIFFERENCE -- Post columnist Petula Dvorak fingers another costly cut to the city budget -- a $1.7 million slash in child-care subsidies: "For the District's single working moms, good child care is what makes their world possible. They can work, bills get paid, life proceeds. Take affordable day care away, and it all collapses like a cheap gingerbread house. Yet this is exactly what the D.C. Council is thinking of doing to help close a $188 million budget gap, whittling away at an already shrunken program that subsidizes care for about 12,000 children of working parents. The people who would suffer are those doing everything right. They are the last ones who should be targeted in a frenetic budget-cutting spree. ... It's a completely mixed message the city is sending, asking folks to stay employed or get a job in this horrendous market, while taking away the crucial tool that allows that to happen: affordable child care."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Would-be Love owner Dean Smothers has to prove to ABC Board that he didn't finance his purchase with what he owed the D.C. government in taxes (TBD)
Jack Evans: It's "when, not if" the Skins come back to D.C. (TBD)
Watch out, Marion Barry: Here comes Larry Pretlow! (Pretlow's Blog)
Problem with Metro escalator plan: "[W]e still do not know the actual cause of escalator and elevator downtime." (GGW)
KIPP turns liquor store into dental clinic (WAMU-FM)
Another online gambling story (WTTG-TV)
Those scary meat salesmen are back! (DCist)
What it's like to deliver a baby on 295 (Post)
*** ON THE MENU ***
The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood, noon on WAMU-FM, 88.5 -- guests include Washington Teachers' Union President Nathan Saunders and Prince George's County council member Will Campos
| December 10, 2010; 10:10 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike, The District
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