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Posted at 11:08 AM ET, 12/23/2010

DeMorning DeBonis: Dec. 23, 2010

By Mike DeBonis

TODAY IS DEC. 23, 2010 -- 11 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION

PREVIOUSLY -- Scott Kubly, DDOT streetcar maven, exploring D.C. Council run -- Michael A. Brown ponders entry to D.C. Council special election as Democrat

What's perhaps most notable about Chairman-elect Kwame Brown's committee assignments is how little they've changed. Not only are four D.C. Council members largely keeping the committee assignments they've held for two years or more, but Brown kept the 12-way division of the city government largely the same. Marion Barry gets a committee back, albeit the unprestigious Community Affairs and Aging panel, giving him an opportunity to boast to The Post's Tim Craig: "Politically, I am stronger now than ever before. ... I am not only a survivor; I am a success." Jim Graham -- that "champion of human services" -- indeed gets that thankless committee, one from which he'll be able to ride herd on the city's juvenile justice and child welfare agencies (and, yes, the alcoholic-beverage portfolio). Tommy Wells's livable-walkable dreams come true, with Brown handing him the transportation portfolio and possibly the council's seat on the Metro board. And Harry Thomas Jr. wins the economic development sweepstakes, giving the recently embattled Ward 5 member a key role in overseeing big development deals for the next two years. That move allowed Brown to give Muriel Bowser a symbolic demotion to Parks, Recreation and Libraries -- and give Yvette Alexander an upgrade to Bowser's old Public Services and Consumer Affairs committee. She still wants booze oversight, though. Merry Christmas!

AFTER THE JUMP -- Gray picks outsiders for his education team, employment chief -- No COW vote for Norton -- Can we swap votes with N.C.? -- Hildum out for real this time -- Diane Groomes is back in blue -- Gray's main squeeze

*** MAIN COURSE ***

COMMITTEE REACTION -- From Tim's story: "Thomas said he will use the chairmanship to 'do some good things' for Ward 5 and the city. Some council members said privately that they were surprised by Brown's choice, citing uncertainty about the direction of the investigation into Team Thomas. But Jim Abdo, a developer who has worked with Thomas on projects in Northeast Washington, praised Thomas's work ethic and managerial skills. 'It's an outstanding choice. ... He's extremely knowledgeable,' Abdo said. 'He understands business, understands economic development and understands the catalytic effect that projects can have.' ... There had been speculation that Brown was poised to remove Graham as the council designate on the high-profile Metro transit authority board. In a statement issued Wednesday, Wells said he would be the new Metro board member. But minutes later, Brown issued a statement that said he was not ready to announce his decision on that position. Graham declined to comment on the Metro appointment, but he said he's 'fine' with the assignment overseeing human services. 'I have had a great interest in youth violence and homelessness,' said Graham, a former head of the Whitman-Walker Clinic. 'I came to this council from human services, and I am ready for the huge challenges we are going to have.' " GGW has a full accounting of the assignments. Also DCist, Loose Lips, Examiner, WBJ. The GGW crowd is, needless to say, very pleased with Wells's new assignment. Gay activists are less pleased with Barry's new assignment, overseeing LGBT affairs.

GRAY'S OUTSIDER EDU-PICKS -- Meet Vincent Gray's new top education picks; somewhat surprisingly, neither are named Josh Kern or Laura Slover. Your new deputy mayor for education will be De'Shawn A. Wright, "a 35-year-old chief policy adviser to Newark Mayor Cory Booker and a founding partner of a charter school fund." Hosanna Mahaley will be state superintendent of education; she "was chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan when he headed Chicago public schools." Nikita Stewart and Ann Marimow write in The Post that the appointment breaks Gray's "streak" of appointing Fenty holdovers and other well-known quantities to his Cabinet. That goes as well for his Employment Services pick, Rochelle Webb, who is "president of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies and an administrator for the Arizona Department of Economic Security." Ann and Nikita write: "The appointments could signal a strengthening of both the deputy mayor and superintendent roles. At a news conference Wednesday at the Reeves Center, [Kaya Henderson], Wright and Mahaley, joined by Allen Sessoms, president of the University of Columbia, appeared to be a team -- a reflection of Gray's plan to expand the city government's involvement in public education from birth through age 24. Wright and Mahaley also have pro-charter school backgrounds." Not yet commented upon, but submitted for your consideration: A year ago, the District's top edu-echelon consisted of an Asian woman, a Latino man and a white woman. Soon it will be three African-Americans -- good politics for a school system whose teachers, students and parents are largely black? City Paper's Alan Suderman notes that Wright and Mahaley "have Rhee-like resumes: Classroom experience before diving deep into the education-industrial complex. ... From the sound of it at today's news conference, the transition team had a big role in picking Wright and Mahaley, while the Washington Teachers Union had little or no say. Remember after the election all that chatter about Gray being in the unions' pockets and Rhee's reform efforts going out the window? Yeah -- it's not happening." WUSA-TV's Bruce Johnson finds it stunning that Henderson was not named permanent chancellor, as he has repeatedly reported. Also the Examiner and WRC-TV.

NO VOTE FOR YOU -- Surprise, surprise: Almost-Speaker John Boehner is not letting Eleanor Holmes Norton keep her symbolic vote in the House's Committee of the Whole. Ben Pershing reports at D.C. Wire that the privilege "has allowed Norton to cast votes on amendments to tax and spending bills, though technically her vote could be considered symbolic since it does not count if it is the deciding one on an issue. Republicans took away that right when they controlled the House from 1995-2007, and Norton had hoped they would not do so again. ... House Republicans released a summary Wednesday of their proposed changes to House rules, and the summary includes the line, 'Delegates and resident commissioners (those not representing states) will not be able to vote in the committee of the whole.' In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Norton said that upon learning of the planned rules change, she had tried unsuccessfully to reach Boehner by phone and would also seek a meeting with him to discuss the issue." City Paper gets this explanation from Boehner's office: "It's our view, and that of the Constitution, that only members of the House are eligible to vote in the House. In every meaningful way, the committee of the whole is the same as the full House, and therefore voting should be reserved for members."

END OF THE DEAL -- The new census, as expected, has essentially killed the rationale behind the D.C. House Voting Rights Act -- the compromise legislation that would have swapped a House vote for the District for an extra House vote for heavily Republican and previously underrepresented Utah. Rebecca Blatt reports at WAMU-FM: "Ilir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote, says in many ways it was an ideal partnership. 'The politics lined up, the numbers lined up, Utah was actively trying to get a fourth seat,' Zherka says. But as a result of the 2010 Census, Utah will pick up that vote anyway, and North Carolina is the next state in line to get another seat. Zherka says that may complicate things. 'North Carolina is a different state. It's got a Democratic governor, Republican legislature, mixed Congressional Delegation so it could be an opportunity for bipartisanship,' he says. But at this point, Zherka says it's unclear whether the North Carolina delegation would be open to a partnership and whether Congress would support a deal that was not necessarily vote-neutral. Zherka also says with Republican members threatening to challenge some D.C. laws, he may spend the next two years playing more defense than offense."

ANOTHER DYRS CHANGE -- So Robert Hildum isn't back at the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services after all. Rather, D.C. gov vet Neil Stanley will take over the embattled agency on an interim basis; formerly a high-level official at DDOE, DCRA and elsewhere, he is currently the agency's general counsel. Jason Cherkis reports at City Paper: "Stanley is considered a moderating force, according to a source familiar with his work. He's committed to the progressive legacy left from Vinny Schiraldi's tenure and yet is sensitive to law enforcement issues. ... Under Hildum, the agency was mired in an internal debate. 'I think the rifts between the staff that liked to be correctional officers and the ones that wanted progressive reforms widened,' says [Daniel Okonkwo of D.C. Lawyers for Youth]. '(Hildum) was never a champion of the agency reform.' It's now Stanley's job to repair those rifts." Note that Stanley's résumé puts him in good stead with the Gray hiring philosophy.

MAIN SQUEEZE -- I'll just paste this Reliable Source item in its entirety: "Vincent Gray and Linda Mercado Greene ... (who worked as chief of staff for Marion Barry) were very flirty at Tuesday's DC council meeting. WUSA's Bruce Johnson, who apparently talked to Greene, coyly tweeted that a 'woman with initials LG' confirmed she and the mayor-elect were an item. When we asked about his love life back in August, Gray told us there was no special lady: 'I date, but have not found a woman I am ready to marry.' But sparks reportedly flew between Gray, 68, and the age-appropriate Greene (she's in her late 50's) at his primary night victory party; he didn't return our call for comment."

GROOMES IS BACK -- A month after being implicated in a testing scandal, Assistant Chief Diane Groomes is back in her old job at the Metropolitan Police Department. Theola Labbe-DeBose reports in The Post: "Lanier said her decision came after an internal investigation concluded that Groomes did not 'compromise' the test. Rather, the internal probe found that the exam was an open-book test. 'No official obtained or shared the answer key,' Lanier said. But Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the labor committee of Lodge 1 of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents lower-ranking officers on the 4,000-member force, questioned why Lanier took action against Groomes in the first place. 'Well, they knew it was an open-book exam before they put out a press release destroying Chief Groomes's reputation,' Baumann said. 'If this is how careless they're going to be about allegations and investigations, then I hope that the new Mayor-elect [Vincent] Gray will take a careful look at the decisions being made by Chief Lanier.' When reached last night, Groomes said in an e-mail, 'Thank you to all those on my staff ... citizens ... community groups ... [police department] members (both sworn and civilian) for all of their support and prayers. I look forward to continuing the job that I love doing. ... Happy holidays to all.' "


*** SMALL PLATES ***

DPW workers still don't feel safe in the wake of yard shooting (TBD)

Anthony Tata, DCPS COO, is candidate for top schools job in Wake County, N.C. (News & Observer)

Severance money isn't coming from job training cash, says Fenty administration (WaTimes)

Takoma Education Center heavily damaged by fire; students will not be able to return after holiday break (WTOP)

Gabe Klein bids farewell (TBD NewsTalk)

Congrats to Beryl Howell and Robert Wilkins, newest members of the District's federal bench (Legal Times)

ANCs still hate development (Housing Complex)

Hey Fenty: Release those CapStat reports, already! (GGW)

Harriet Tregoning, HTJ appear in NPR Wal-Mart story (All Things Considered)

Snubbing ANC, DCRA okays Georgia Avenue pawnshop (Housing Complex)

Council acts on one of three appointees to United Medical Center board (WBJ)

Speak now on these D.C. Court of Appeals applicants or forever hold your peace (Legal Times)

Feds give $1 million grant for streetcar planning (WUSA-TV)

Council Term 18 -- in DCist posts! (DCist)

D.C. Water says it'll test for hexavalent chromium (The Post)

Stinky burger joint lives! (Going Out Gurus)

Adorable. (Loose Lips)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Gray delivers toys to city's needy -- no DMDB Friday

By Mike DeBonis  | December 23, 2010; 11:08 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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Next: Nickles pushes to extend United Medical Center CEO's contract

Comments

What was your point in "submitting for consideration" the differences in the racial backgrounds of the education "shot-callers" in DC, DeBonis? (Please don't reply, as this question is purely rhetorical.) It is now obvious why you were Fenty's de facto campaign chair (i.e., mostly caucasian cabinet). In the future, please leave your racist remarks in your closet.

BTW, have you visited your neighborhood back at home lately? Changed a lot, hasn't it? (Yes, I'm from NWI, too.)

Posted by: BitterJill | December 24, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

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