DeMorning DeBonis: Dec. 1, 2010
TODAY IS DEC. 1, 2010 -- 32 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION
Mayor-elect Vincent Gray gets 45 minutes of face time with President Obama later today, and Tim Craig explains in a Post preview that it "will mark what many believe will be the incoming mayor's best opportunity to make his case about what he and the residents of the District expect from the president." Gray says he will use the West Wing lunch "to establish a relationship that will have substantive, enduring, value for the city." But what everyone wants to know is what's he gonna ask for. Is it a voting-rights gesture? More money? Or, as D.C. Vote wants, a "pledge to veto any bill that includes language that would undo local laws, such as the city's support for same-sex marriage, medical marijuana and needle exchange"? Gray, however, "said the meeting's goal is to make a new friend. 'I want to have the kind of relationship where we can have a free exchange,'" Gray said. 'I would want this to be episodic.'" And he'd like his new buddy to stop by the Wilson Building sometime.
AFTER THE JUMP -- council gets set to hike income taxes -- Nathan Saunders is your new WTU president -- Jonetta says who should stay and who should go -- the D.C. General 'dumping ground' -- RIP Mary Ann Luby
*** MAIN COURSE ***
BUDGET BLOWOUT -- At 12:16 or 12:17 a.m. this morning, depending on which tweet you believe, the D.C. Council wrapped up its 14-plus hour hearing on the pending budget-gap-closing plan. The entreaties from the service providers and nonprofit groups and arts collectives and others came as expected; most came, as Gray has asked, with suggestions of ways to compensate for the funding they're asking to restore. The most common suggestion, Nikita Stewart reports in the Post was "a 1 percent hike in income taxes for those earning more than $200,000. No council member has introduced legislation seeking the increase, but the possibility alone triggered intense debate" -- primarily between David Catania and the social-service advocates who showed up to ask for it. Catania, however, isn't against an income-tax hike -- just against focusing it on high-earners. He supports a modest across-the-board hike. Lydia DePillis collects "David Catania's greatest hits." Harry Jaffe writes an Examiner column that argues against tax hikes and for spending cuts -- before arguing for a hike in police funding. The Examiner's Barbara Hollingsworth argues against the "foolishness" of cutting grandparent subsidies. Also budget stories from WTTG-TV, WaTimes and We Love DC. If you missed your Twitter fix, you can review the #gapclosing hashtag.
SAUNDERS WINS -- George Parker will relinquish the presidency of the Washington Teachers' Union this afternoon after losing a run-off vote to his longtime foe Nathan Saunders, 556 to 480. Bill Turque reports in the Post: "Parker's run-off loss to General Vice President Nathan Saunders, his most vociferous union critic, could trigger a new period of labor unrest in the D.C. public school system. ... Parker joins Rhee and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) as the third major figure to effectively be forced from office by political fallout from the 2007-2010 school-reform movement. 'Clearly the votes speak for themselves. That's a reality I accept,' said Parker, 60, who has served as union president since early 2005. ... 'I think any union president that is pushing and getting in front of reform, you take a risk, and I took a risk,' Parker said. 'I don't feel bad about any of the decisions because I think ultimately to improve education in this country, union presidents are going to have to get in front of reform.' ... Saunders, who narrowly defeated Parker in a first round of balloting last month but failed to win a 51 percent majority, said D.C. teachers sent a firm message. 'The teachers are very clear about what they want,' Saunders said. 'Clearly this is a race about job security and about IMPACT.'"
IN AND OUT -- In her Examiner column, Jonetta Rose Barras casts her votes for which Fenty officials should stay and which Fenty officials should go. "[T]he reason for Gray's glacial transition could be that ... he has come to realize the young pol constructed a fairly decent management team. ... So, why switch out Department of Motor Vehicles Director Lucinda Babers, who has made marked improvements, nearly silencing decades of complaints about long lines and poor service? City Administrator Neil Albert, Health Department Director Dr. Pierre Vigilance, procurement chief David Gragan, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Director Linda Argo, public works' Bill Howland and Planning Director Harriet Tregoning have done great jobs. Why kick them to the curb?" Same goes for Police Chief Cathy Lanier and DDOT's Gabe Klein, she writes. "Sure, there are a few Fenty managers who should be shown the door immediately. For example, Valerie Santos, deputy mayor for economic development and planning, is high on my list. Department of Employment Services Director Joseph P. Walsh Jr. may be a good guy, but the agency hasn't improved much."
'DUMPING GROUND' -- A great piece from the Post's Nathan Rott about how the D.C. General campus remains a "dumping ground" for social service functions no other neighborhood will countenance. "Nearly a decade after the hospital closed, people with nowhere else to go still end up on the 67-acre campus of what was once the city's only full-service public hospital. Today D.C. General - located near the Anacostia River between Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and Congressional Cemetery - is 'a dumping ground for services that other people don't want,' said D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Within the complex's rusted fences are the city's jail, its correctional treatment facility and a halfway house; the medical examiner's office and the morgue; a warehouse and a boiler plant; methadone, STD, detox and tuberculosis clinics; an emergency psychiatric treatment center; and a 100-bed women's shelter and the District's largest shelter for homeless families, which holds up to 135 families and 100 single men in the coldest months. Last winter, the city's unwanted snow was hauled to the campus parking lots and dumped in massive mounds." Neighbors, meanwhile, wait on a redevelopment that is slow to come.
DOWN WITH 'DATA CRAZINESS' -- Bill Turque highlights this Kaya Henderson quote, from an interview she gave to WAMU-FM's Kavitha Cardoza: "I think we've gotten something wrong. Previously there was no measure of student achievement. We just sent kids to school and hoped for the best. And then the standards and accountability movement came along and said what doesn't get measured doesn't get done, so we have to test. And I think testing is incredibly important. But I also think that we have to help people understand that tests are a benchmark, not the goal. The goal is to educate children. And I think the swing of the pendulum from absolutely no accountability to what I might call data craziness is starting to hurt. ... I feel like we have to make people understand that test scores are not the only thing happening in our classrooms." Henderson also addressed why she might not be jazzed about being chancellor for good: "I have always said that I am a great number two and have not been interested in a number one position primarily because I like to keep my head down and do the work and don't have to deal with the politics, the media, the externalities. And I have to really think about what that change of role means for me."
THAT'S POLITICS -- Robert Maranto and Patrick J. Wolf, education researchers at the University of Arkansas, pen an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer exploring the perils of public administration through a couple of familiar personages: "Police Chief Cathy Lanier cut the murder rate only to face becoming part of the unemployment rate. (Her future under a new mayor remains unclear.) ... Lanier's sister in public service, schools Chancellor Rhee, had even more success in an even tougher job. ... Unfortunately, Rhee's reforms ran afoul of politically powerful groups, most notably the Washington Teachers' Union. Rhee had the guts to identify and fire ineffective teachers, which the union could not abide. Just days after Mayor Adrian Fenty lost his reelection bid to a union-backed candidate, Rhee was sent packing. No doubt Rhee's successor will take the lesson to heart: Teaching the children matters less than pleasing the union. When we look at how politicians and the public treat outstanding public servants, it's not hard to see why many feel the private sector works better."
REST IN PEACE -- Mary Ann Luby, perhaps the city's most devoted advocate for the needs of the homeless over the past decades, died Monday at 70 after a short battle with cancer. Rott writes her Post obituary: "A former teacher and social worker, Sister Mary Ann was the first director of the privately run Rachael's Women's Center and for the last 15 years had been an outreach worker for the nonprofit Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. ... John Steinbruck, former pastor of Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, called Sister Mary Ann 'a founding part, an indispensable part, of the movement to bring justice to the homeless in the early '80s.' That movement focused on providing people not just a meal and a bed for the night but the resources to escape homelessness, and it influenced national policy. ... Throughout the 1990s, Sister Mary Ann helped shape the city's strategies for sheltering people who were homeless during the winter months, emphasizing the needs of families in particular. ... She helped spearhead the opening of a shelter in the old Franklin School at 13th and K streets Northwest in 2003 - a so-called 'low-barrier' shelter that housed hundreds of homeless people. She fought later efforts by the city to close the shelter and turn it over to developers." Luby's colleague at the Legal Clinic, Patty Mullahy Fugere, remembers her: "At every turn, she has challenged us to be faithful to the people whom we serve."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
BOEE ponders increasing number of early-voting sites (Capital Land/Examiner)
Fired city cops file $10M lawsuit against Lanier, Nickles demanding reinstatement (Legal Times)
Good Tom Sherwood piece: DDOT quietly ended on-street parking on upper 16th Street NW, and neighbors are ticked (WRC-TV)
D.C. Vote is "offering a top prize of $1,500 for the person who comes up with the most creative way to protest the District's ongoing second-class status" (DCist)
Pit bull puppy stolen from D.C. animal shelter (WRC-TV)
DC9 case raises question: When can bouncers use force? (TBD)
A proposal for making liquor licensing more fair -- i.e., less subject to the whim of ANCs and NIMBY residents (GGW)
Superior Court Judge Marisa Demeo among the OUT 100 (Down With Tyranny)
Russia gets hip to "Rubber Revolution" (RT)
In defense of FedEx Field (DCist)
Anthony Lanier expounds on being a Georgetown landlord (Patch)
Libraries are closed on Friday! (TBD)
It's World AIDS Day -- make like Eleanor Holmes Norton and get tested (NBCWashington.com)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray lunches with POTUS, 12:45 to 1:30 p.m. at the White House -- Michelle Rhee guests on The Colbert Report, 11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central
| December 1, 2010; 10:55 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike, The District
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