DeMorning DeBonis: Dec. 3, 2010
TODAY IS DEC. 3, 2010 -- 30 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION
Chief Cathy Lanier told WTOP yesterday that she wants to keep running the Metropolitan Police Department. "I'm a career employee here, I love the city and I love what I do," she said. You'd love your job, too, if you made as much as Lanier does: "Documents obtained by WTOP and information from Lanier's Thursday interview confirm she makes significantly more than most other D.C. employees, including her boss. ... [A D.C. Council adjustment] brings the chief's annual salary to $225,813.87 in 2010, according to a D.C. Police Department document. Were she to retire this year, her annual pension would be more than $11,000 more per year than if the city had adjusted her pay scale in 2008. This is more than the annual pay for the mayor of $200,000, all members of the council and the D.C. chief financial officer." Cue outrage from police union leader Kristopher Baumann: "After Chief Lanier proposed seven years of no raises for working police officers, we now find out that she has quietly arranged for a 30 percent increase in her compensation along with unheard of retirement provisions. ... That should tell the public everything they need to know about Chief Lanier and this administration." WTTG-TV also covers.
AFTER THE JUMP -- Michelle Rhee gets a new job, sorta -- Lead issue not widespread -- Team Thomas court date set for Dec. 8 -- Budget deliberations begin Monday -- Catania "interested" in elected AG post -- Things Obama can do for the city besides voting rights
*** MAIN COURSE ***
RHEE'S NEW JOB -- Michelle Rhee has a job. Sort of. Incoming Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) named D.C.'s former schools chancellor to his transition team yesterday. Nick Anderson notes in The Post: "The statement from Scott's office described Rhee as a nationally 'recognized education reformer' who will 'help him find innovative ways to create a new education system for a new economy.' The statement did not make clear what Rhee's responsibilities will be, beyond advising the governor-elect on innovations, cost-saving opportunities, success stories from other states and other potential education improvements. It also did not say whether she will move to Florida to help Scott, or how long her duties will last. Rhee was listed ahead of 17 others on Scott's education transition team." Rhee said in an e-mail last night that she "has no plans to move to Florida" and will serve as an unpaid adviser. Also The Note, St. Petersburg Times, Orlando Sentinel ('something of a rock star in the world of education reform'), DCist.
LEAD FEARS EASED -- In the wake of yesterday's Post story on a new CDC lead report, leaders moved to play down the current risk to city residents. Tim Craig and Ann Marimow write today: "The risk of lead exposure in the District's water supply is 'fairly minimal,' according to the co-author of a report on previous contamination in the city. And the head of the city's water authority said Thursday that 'the vast majority' of homes are safe. Thomas Sinks, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he thinks there has been 'proper corrosion control' by D.C. Water officials over the past four years. George S. Hawkins, general manager of the water authority, said recent monitoring shows lead levels in city water meet standards set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. 'The system is getting better. Things are improving,' he said. 'There is no crisis.' Hawkins stopped short of giving blanket assurances that the water in every home is lead-free, and he reiterated that households with pregnant women and children should have their water tested if they doubt its safety."
TEAM THOMAS -- Latest round in Team Thomas: Attorney General Peter Nickles yesterday petitioned the Superior Court to enforce his subpoena against Harry Thomas Jr.; a court date is set for Dec. 8, Alan Suderman reports at Loose Lips. Do also note: "Nickles also tacked on a request that Thomas cover court costs and attorney fees in addition to answering the subpoena. Asked how much that might be, Nickles said that a reasonable rate for this time would be about $450 to $500 an hour. Asked how many hours he and Bennett Rushkoff, the chief of the public advocacy section of the A.G.'s office, have spent working on the Team Thomas case, Nickles says: 'quite a few.'" Nikita Stewart adds at D.C. Wire: "Though Thomas turned over some records in response to an earlier subpoena, Nickles now wants more detailed information of the fundraising. 'It's important that this be completed under my tenure,' Nickles said. 'This is a serious issue of public trust.' " Nickles appeared on TBD this morning, where he hinted that "at least part of the money was used for purposes that Team Thomas was not intended to do."
BUDGET -- The Examiner's Freeman Klopott runs down how the budget gap-closing will be hashed out before Tuesday: "[Adrian Fenty]'s budget proposals are serving as the focal point for private, one-on-one meetings [Vincent Gray] is holding with council members as the mayor-elect serves out the final weeks in his role as council chairman. At least six members met with Gray on Thursday and others are scheduled to meet with him on Friday. Sources said much of each meeting is spent discussing the programs council members want to save, where they would make cuts and whether they support a tax increase. Gray reportedly says little of his own plans. The council is expected to gather Monday for a public meeting in which members are likely to hammer out the details of a tax increase. In the end, though, it will be Gray and his staff who develop the final plan, and that may not be in councilmembers' hands until early Tuesday morning."
ELECTED AG -- The Georgetown Dish somehow finds a way to write 1,800 words about an attorney general election that's four years off. The juicy bits: David Catania says he "would definitely consider it," which the Dish then takes to mean he's definitely running. Jack Evans says: "I have absolutely zero interest. I can give you a Shermanesque statement that if drafted I would not serve, so there. Zero. None." And Mark Plotkin names three people who should run who definitely won't: Evans, Bill Clinton and attorney Robert Bennett. And then you have Evans, Plotkin and Nickles reacting to a potential Catania candidacy: "David is a qualified person, but David is a politician, so he runs for things," says Evans. "David is very smart and he certainly will be very ambitious," says Nickles. And Plotkin calls him a "crass publicity hound."
PAY TO PLAY? -- Harry Jaffe, in his Examiner column, sees hints of "pay for play" in Gray's transition finance report. "It used to be that developers and investors who wanted to do business with the city had to abide by some rules. They were limited to $2,000 in contributions to a candidate. Of course they often bundled their donations. They would donate $2K in the names of their wives and cousins and grandkids and employees. Maybe they could scrape together $20,000. If they wanted to skirt the law, the could drop off bags of cash or take politicians or bureaucrats on fancy golfing trips and such. But Gray and incoming council Chairman Kwame Brown brushed aside the rules governing how much fat cats could give to them. In the name of fiscal prudence, in an era of tight budgets, Gray said any business could give as much as $50,000 to help him form a government and party. Brown said: me, too." Of course, Adrian Fenty did the same when raising funds for his inauguration. But bottom line, says Jaffe: "If [Franklin L. Haney Co.], [Calvin Cafritz] and Foulger-Pratt get development deals, we will know that pay to play works well in D.C."
WHAT OBAMA CAN DO -- A day after The Lunch, David Alpert offers at GGW a list of things President Obama could do for D.C. right now. They include: "Appoint a high-level DC point person. ... There is no one person in the White House in charge of working with the DC government. Obama should appoint such a person at a high enough level to give him or her the power to really coordinate the DC-related work of the cabinet departments and push them to make changes when necessary and when they fit with the President's vision." ... "Restrain excessive fortress design at federal facilities. ... Require all new or renovated federal facilities in urban areas to contain publicly-accessible retail or food spaces, and avoid a bunker mentality unless it really, truly is necessary." ... "Make St. Elizabeth's a good neighbor. ... [T]here are many ways DHS can also encourage employees to interact with the surrounding community, foster nearby restaurants that are also open to the public, and take transit, streetcar, bike or walk to the complex." ... "Give DC control over local neighborhood parks. ... The President could instruct the Park Service to work out a way to turn day to day maintenance and policy of the small parks over to DC while maintaining ownership of the land." Here's another reaction to the Obama lunch, from Post cartoonist Tom Toles:
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Four U.S. District Court nominees are caught in Senate logjam (D.C. Wire)
Evans demands "immediate" action on Capitol statues bill. You're welcome, Plotkin. (Patch)
"Can job training work?" GGW)
Tax break for Adams Morgan hotel development appears dead (WBJ)
What Vince Gray can do to reach out to the gay community (Blade)
The Scene, owned by Dean Smothers, is shuttered for $92,000 tax liability (Examiner)
Zoning Commission to take up air-rights projects over Center Leg, Union Station yards (WBJ)
"The D.C. Housing Market Is Back" (Housing Complex)
Another Kaya Henderson interview (WTTG-TV)
Where will the Marines go? (Housing Complex)
Fenty gap-closing would end taxpayer support for Main Street programs (WBJ)
Fenty plan includes cuts to MPD reimbursable details (Georgetown Voice)
Panelists, including The Post's Jonathan O'Connell, talk about our 'divided city' (YouTube)
If you have cadavers to sell, please contact the Board of Funeral Directors (WBJ)
Congrats to Chuck Brown on his first Grammy nomination (TBD)
*** ON THE MENU ***
A super fun weekend