DeMorning DeBonis: Dec. 16, 2010
TODAY IS DEC. 16, 2010 -- 17 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION
PREVIOUSLY -- Robert Hildum to leave D.C. juvenile justice department
Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray will unveil his public-safety appointments later today, and WRC-TV and WJLA-TV are reporting that Police Chief Cathy Lanier will, as expected, stay in her post and that Kenneth Ellerbe, a former interim D.C. chief now heading the Sarasota, Fla., department, will take over Fire and Emergency Medical Services. His name's been in the news before, as former WUSA-TV reporter Dave Statter notes on his blog: "Last year at this time news surfaced of an unusual arrangement made during the administration of Chief Dennis Rubin that allowed Ellerbe to take the Florida chief's job while being on leave without pay as a deputy chief in the District of Columbia. The arrangement would have let Ellerbe receive enhanced retirement benefits by staying employed in DC until his 50th birthday last April. ... After the details of the arrangement surfaced, it was rescinded and Ellerbe officially resigned from the D.C. Fire & EMS Department on January 15 of this year." Gray will also name his attorney general and deputy mayor for public safety and justice today as well.
AFTER THE JUMP -- Feds collar firefighter on fraud charges -- Hildum takes a bow -- Harry Thomas responds to Post editorial -- Meet Lorraine Green, Gray's best buddy -- An argument for raising the roofs -- Marion Barry leaves keys in his car; guess what happens next
*** MAIN COURSE ***
BREAKING -- Mark Segraves reports at WTOP: "A local firefighter has been arrested and charged with a scam that involved CPR training. WTOP was first to report that D.C. firefighter Natalie Overton Williams has been on paid administrative leave for more than two years while being investigated. On Wednesday, Williams was arrested and charged with first degree felony fraud. Williams will make her first court appearance on Thursday. Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, confirms Williams turned herself in to authorities on Wednesday. Documents obtained by WTOP show Williams was being investigated for using D.C. Fire Department letterhead to invoice companies for CPR training."
HILDUM OUT -- Robert Hildum, interim head of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, announced yesterday that he will return Friday to the Office of the attorney general after being told by the Gray transition to reapply for the job he'd had for five months. The Post's Henri Cauvin has the context: "The news of Hildum's departure caps a difficult year for the agency and underscores the challenges the next mayor will face in fashioning policy amid the unpredictable politics of juvenile justice. ... A string of high-profile crimes, beginning with a deadly drive-by shooting in March on South Capitol Street, thrust those shortcomings into the spotlight just as Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) was entering the homestretch of his reelection run. Suddenly, every homicide involving a young victim or perpetrator became fodder for critics of the agency, even when, in some of the cases, it played little or no role in their supervision. Ultimately, the agency became a liability for the mayor, who, as a council member and as mayor, had supported the reforms undertaken over the past several years." Henri reports that Barry Holman,"who was a senior official under Hildum's ousted predecessor, Marc A. Schindler," will replace Hildum as interim director. From Hildum's farewell note: "We all know how difficult a year this has been for the agency and its staff. The challenges were stress-filled as we had to manage through several tragic cases involving our youth, and now we face another leadership transition. Throughout it all, I've learned a lot from you and have appreciated your willingness to continue to perform your job at a high level -- yet under difficult circumstances." The Examiner's Freeman Klopott with more on the why: "What Hildum did was start building a law-and-order approach to the agency's handling of the city's juvenile delinquents. ... That plan quickly backfired. The city's new 60-bed youth prison in Laurel was already overcrowded when Hildum took over DYRS and the ratio of youth-to-beds only worsened. The youth advocates who supported Hildum's predecessors gained political footing and they now see Hildum's leaving as a sign that Gray will embrace their vision. ... But Gray will also have to find a way to fix an agency that has been marred by unstable leadership over the past year." Freeman also reports that if Hildum is hoping to hang on to his new old job he'd better think again. Also: On his way out, Hildum calls the fellow who leaked a private e-mail to City Paper a "coward." Coverage also from WaTimes, DCist.
THOMAS STRIKES BACK -- Harry Thomas Jr. takes issue with The Post's Monday editorial on Team Thomas, calling it part of an "unrelenting and inappropriate venture into investigative journalism" by the board. "The insinuation of a quid pro quo between Rhode Island Avenue Metro LLC's January 2008 donation to Team Thomas and the passage of legislation in December 2008 is ludicrous. The genesis of Rhode Island Station, a mixed-use project near the Rhode Island-Brentwood Metro, occurred well before my tenure on the D.C. Council. ... The December 2008 and November 2010 legislation to which the editorial refers were introduced in collaboration with the executive and have enabled the project to remain viable. ... The legislation has enabled the project to pass muster on Wall Street and I did not personally benefit from the funds Rhode Island Metro LLC contributed to Team Thomas. The true winners are the residents of Ward 5 who will soon have greater retail shopping opportunities near their homes." Also: The D.C. GOP dropped a dime on Team Thomas with the IRS. And they tweeted the following: "Harry Thomas' op-ed in the WaPo but fails to disclose Team Thomas donors/expenses. Team Thomas needs to be WiKi leaked."
MEET LORRAINE -- Lorraine Green, the mayor-elect's closest political and personal confidante, is profiled in Alan Suderman's Loose Lips column this week: "A self-described local politics junkie who watches D.C. Council hearing reruns after work Green's got a hefty résumé. She ran the city's Office of Personnel during the first half of Sharon Pratt's mayoral administration before being lured to a similar gig in the Clinton administration. ... Gray's former campaign manager Adam Rubinson describes Green as a trusted adviser during the campaign who made sure those working for Gray 'stayed inside their swim lanes.' Her most important role in Gray's victory, though, may have been setting up a meeting between Gray and another of her longtime friends, developer Don Peebles. Peebles seemed to want to beat Still Mayor Adrian Fenty out of pure spite and made plenty of noise about entering the race. Green says she didn't want to see her two friends split the vote so she got them together to talk about who was going to challenge Fenty and who was going to sit out. ... LL presumed that as Gray's closest friend Green would have a slew of mildly embarrassing anecdotes about the next mayor to share. But LL presumed wrong -- miserably wrong. The only dirt Green dished in an hour-long conversation: Gray a noted movie lover never returned a DVD copy of Crash she lent him. Don't blame LL though. ... The core of their friendship is work."
RAISE THE ROOFS -- Lydia DePillis has the City Paper cover this week with a lengthy argument for nixing the city's building height limitations: "Over the years, the notion of Washington as a vertically abbreviated city has moved from legislative edict to local custom to holy writ. Question the Height Act at your peril. That's still true today, even as practical considerations provide a strong case for overhauling the law. D.C. recently surpassed New York City to become the nation's most expensive commercial office market. There's not enough affordable housing for city employees to live in the District with their families. The federal government and its attendant industries have been expanding locally faster than any time since World War II, and high-rises are mushrooming in places outside the District like Rosslyn and Bethesda to accommodate it. Every high-rise in the suburbs means District tax dollars lost. ... The District desperately needs more capacity. The way to build it intelligently is to let the market and the city decide where tall buildings might or might not prove valuable. The idea of buildings puncturing D.C.'s squat skyline might seem unsettling at first -- especially to those who absorb the terrifying rhetoric from the District's preservationists. But even as scrapping the law would involve some tricky maneuvering around the District's relationship with Congress, abandoning the Height Act and letting zoning rule would be worth it."
PROBABLY WANT TO TAKE THE KEYS WITH YOU -- Marion Barry had his car stolen last week. The Post's Clarence Williams reports: "Barry's silver 2002 Jaguar was taken Saturday morning near the Patricia R. Harris education center in the 4600 block of Livingston Road SE sometime between 10:45 and 11:15 a.m., police said. An authority said that the keys had been left in the ignition. Officers recovered the vehicle Tuesday afternoon in the 4000 block of Third Street SE, said Cmdr. Joel Maupin, head of the 7th District. And Barry has his car back." Also TBD, Examiner.com.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Another credit-card issuer sues Kwame Brown (Loose Lips)
Dunbar shakeup "exposes some of the mindlessness driving school reformers today," says Valerie Strauss in rebuke to Michelle Rhee (Answer Sheet)
An analysis of new census survey estimates that Ward 1 is shrinking -- and I don't buy it (GGW)
Hotel-tax proposal has trade group calling it a "jobs destroyer" (WBJ)
MPD Assistant Chief Alfred Durham might be making too much money (the Examiner)
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute analyzes tax break for Adams Morgan hotel project (The District's Dime)
Tommy Wells explains why he wants to raise taxes: "Our city is hitting a recession we're gonna need some money we're gonna cut some of our amenities but we don't have to cut them all and we're gonna need some more money from you." (DCist)
Michael Brown says tax hikes are comin' (TBD/NewsTalk)
More lawyers question ABC chair's conflict of interest (Georgetown Dish)
Wal-Mart, pro and con (Informer)
Metro's short of bus drivers and will be for some time (The Post)
Why it's taken so damn long to develop the McMillan sand filtration plant (Housing Complex)
Chris Matthews to Rhee: "[S]tay away from the right wing!" (NewsBusters)
Rhee on Cathie Black: "I think what I showed is that you don't necessarily have to have been a superintendent before." (New York Post)
Running down the D.C. Democratic State Committee at-large appointee contenders (Informer)
D.C. homebuyer tax credit lives (NBCWashington.com)
What the budget gap-closing did to LGBT priorities (Metro Weekly)
DC9 still not open (TBD)
If you haven't played with this already you should (New York Times)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Candidates forum for Democratic State Committee at-large Council appointment 7 p.m. in Old Council Chamber One Judiciary Square 441 Fourth St. NW -- Gray to unveil public safety appointees, 1:30 p.m. at Reeves Center
| December 16, 2010; 11:58 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike, The District
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