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Posted at 11:26 AM ET, 12/30/2010

DeMorning DeBonis: Dec. 30, 2010

By Mike DeBonis

TODAY IS DEC. 30, 2010 -- THREE DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION

Being mayor is more than a little bit about managing expectations. In Ward 8, Tim Craig reports, residents' expectations of Mayor-elect Vincent Gray are high. Take it from bombastic ANC'er Mary Cuthbert: "We want to see it be the same like everywhere else they built up. ... And we don't need no bicycle lanes." Instead, she'd like to see "a store where you can buy some pantyhose and a shower curtain, and we want to see people go to work." (You mean, like a Wal-Mart?) Writes Tim: "For generations, residents say, they have heard promises from politicians that life would get better east of the Anacostia River. This time, they say, they will give Gray only so much time, perhaps a year or two, to prove he can deliver on campaign promises that include lowering the city's unemployment rate. ... Gray vows he will be an advocate for Ward 8, but he's unsure whether he can live up to residents' expectations. With the city facing a $440 million budget shortfall next year, Gray said that 'it's going to be tough' for him to remain popular. ... 'We are going to do the best we can,' Gray said. 'You want people to be enthusiastic and optimistic, but you have to manage expectations because a lot of it is connecting with reality.' "

AFTER THE JUMP -- Gray says unions have a "seat at the table" even if they don't know it -- Dorothy Brizill kicked out of inaugural ticket distribution -- HUD audit questions $10 million in DHCD spending -- Watch the F-bombs in federal courtrooms

*** MAIN COURSE ***

GRAY ON NEWSTALK -- Gray appeared yesterday morning on TBD's NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt. Not a whole lot of fireworks, but Gray did respond to police union leader Kristopher Baumann and his suggestion that the union did not have a "seat at the table" for the decision to reappoint Cathy Lanier as police chief. Said Gray: "The media covered ably and amply the fact that Chief Lanier was somebody who was under serious consideration. I made it clear that Chief Lanier was under serous consideration. ... Kris Baumann in particular, had an opportunity to express his views, and he's expressed them without reservation. And I certainly heard those concerns that he expressed. To suggest that they were not heard or he was not heard and that those concerns were not factored into a final decision is just not accurate. ... I'm not sure what a seat at the table is. I think to be able to be heard, which he was, to be able to have a chance to have input that is meaningfully considered, is a seat at the table." Also: Gray said he will ask his attorney general to render an opinion on whether it's appropriate for the D.C. Democratic State Committee to hold its meetings and events in government buildings. And, sorry D.C. United fans, there will be no city money subsidizing a soccer stadium any time soon.

INAUGURAL TICKETS GONE -- Tickets to Gray's inaugural ball sold out before noon yesterday. Watchdog Dorothy Brizill was there for the distribution, and she writes in themail that she did not like what she saw, including "poor planning and an arrogant staff." The line moved slowly, she said, because two volunteers were required to check IDs and take addresses of each attendee. And then there was this: "When I went to a corner of the room and began to take photographs and notes, an individual from the transition team, Greg Meeropol, approached me and demanded to know who I was and what I was doing. ... I was told that I could not stand in the corner, from which I had a good view of the waiting lines and ticket processors. With Meeropol egging on the Convention Center security staffers, I was then told to leave the room or that I would be escorted out of the building. The Gray transition's self-importance, arrogance, and eagerness to wield petty power over citizens lined up and kept waiting unnecessarily and over the press reporting on it reminded me strongly of the early days of the [Adrian Fenty] administration and how Fenty staffers handled his inauguration."

QUESTIONS ABOUT DHCD SPENDING -- A HUD audit released last week questions the city's use of affordable housing grant funds, prompting the Department of Housing and Community Development to return $1.6 million. Debbie Cenziper and I report in today's Post: "The audit identified nearly $1.7 million in costs that [DHCD] had improperly charged to the federal government, $6.5 million in expenses that could not be justified to the auditors' satisfaction and $1.9 million in funds that went unspent or were poorly spent. A city official said in response that the audit raised several issues, particularly poor grant documentation, that had been identified and are being addressed. 'We knew that there were issues when I first started. There were things in the relationship with HUD that had to be worked on,' said Leila Finucane Edmonds, DHCD's outgoing director. 'We have moved the department to a very different place.' The $1.6 million, which will be returned to HUD's revolving account for the District, will be able to be spent on other projects in the city, Edmonds said, and she added that she was 'fairly optimistic' that her agency will be able to document much of the other spending challenged in the audit."

GABE'S GOODBYE -- Gabe Klein bids farewell on the DDOT blog: "When we work to create a vibrant, livable, healthy and safe city focused on residents well-being, we go back to some aspects of a Washington D.C. with 200k more residents that many of us have just read about, or seen pictures of, but never lived in. Whether it's the Streetcar, the prevalence of walking and biking, or the vibrant downtown core ... It's all coming back. With more residents, we have a broader tax base to provide better services for all of us. Better schools, transportation, less debt. So what does all of this mean? It means that the work done by thousands in DC over the last 12 years is paying off, and we are one of the cities that is now benefiting from this movement, and many cities that did not aggressively reinvent themselves are stagnating."

SHALLOW POOL -- Ward 2 activist Joel Lawson, writing at GGW, wraps up the pre-appointment Democratic State Committee debate this month: "For the most part, the candidates for the temporary appointment do not appear to know what they'll do in that seat, for this city, in these challenging days. That's the cold but unavoidable summary of a recent evening spent with the leading candidates for the DCDSC appointment. ... Bruce DePuyt of TBD valiantly attempted to tease out their views on grappling with endemic unemployment, education reform, juvenile crime, the threat of a meddlesome GOP House, the threat of a rattling piggy bank, and every other malady of governance known well to District residents. With the exception of Sekou Biddle, a member of DC's Board of Education, the candidates presenting themselves simply stated their repeated beliefs that serious issue X or Y 'should be looked at,' 'needed to be addressed,' 'must be discussed,' and more."

MIND YOUR MANNERS -- Best watch your mouth in the courtroom, the D.C. Circuit has ruled. Mike Scarcella writes at The Blog of Legal Times that the appeals court "refused to void a man's contempt conviction for blurting out an expletive in an apparent momentary expression of displeasure with the court. The appeals said the outburst -- the defendant uttered "[F-bomb], y'all" in open court -- is enough to sustain a contempt conviction. The comment was directed at Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. of Washington's federal trial court. ... The appellate panel -- judges Karen LeCraft Henderson, Douglas Ginsburg and Brett Kavanaugh -- today rejected the argument that obstruction of justice cannot occur after a court proceeding has concluded. 'Misbehavior in the courtroom, at any time, carries the potential to obstruct justice,' Henderson wrote in the six-page opinion." The story was picked up by ABA Journal.


*** SMALL PLATES ***

Small fire delays Moultrie courthouse opening today (The Crime Scene)

Muriel Bowser walks a Wal-Mart tightrope (Housing Complex, Yglesias)

D.C. named one of 16 "Cities Facing Bankruptcy If They Don't Make Deep Cuts In 2011" -- the author says Tommy Wells's tax hike "seems reasonable" (Business Insider)

Metro hands execs iPads as bonuses; union goes nuts (the Examiner)

The year in real estate (DCmud)

Budget cuts means H Street shuttle ends Saturday (DCist)

Jack Evans previews the fiscal year ahead (Patch)

Love those big-mouthed, hypocritical New York pols (DCist)

Is climate change costing politicians their jobs? (the Atlantic)

Mount Pleasant to get "Temporium" (Arts Desk)

More debate over the Adams Morgan hotel tax abatement (D.C. Wire, NBCWashington.com)

Michelle Rhee's "mantra of putting the needs of students before the needs of grown-ups is too polarizing. ... [W]hile her action-oriented leadership may have its benefits, it doesn't leave much room for those who may have a different (but potentially valid) perspective towards what's best for their children." (GGW)

Godspeed, Fridge: Maryland runs away with Military Bowl (The Post)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Pretty quiet till Sunday!

By Mike DeBonis  | December 30, 2010; 11:26 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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