DeMorning DeBonis: Dec. 9, 2010
TODAY IS DEC. 9, 2010 -- 24 DAYS UNTIL INAUGURATION
The big news yesterday concerned Mayor-elect Vincent Gray's personnel decisions -- more on those below. But they overshadowed a couple of big developments in the educational sphere, both reported by the Post's Bill Turque. First off, Friends of Bedford, the New York-based operator of Dunbar High School, has been officially fired. The move, made by interim DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson, "comes after a series of complaints from parents, teachers and other community members about safety, security and academics at the 750-student school in Northwest." The school's old principal is being reinstated, and FoB will continue to operate Coolidge High. Also: Henderson is pondering closing of two underenrolled elementary schools:
Shaed, in Ward 5, would attend Thomas Elementary, and River Terrace, in the namesake Ward 7 neighborhood, would move to the Langley School in Eckington. River Terrace students would move across Benning Road NE to Thomas Elementary, and Shaed students in Ward 5 merge into the Emery Education Campus a few block to the south. Meanwhile, a Montessori program would expand. And finally, Tom Sherwood is reporting on WRC-TV that Henderson might be named permanent chancellor today by Gray, who also plans to same several members of his council staff to similar positions in his mayoral office.
AFTER THE JUMP -- Allen Lew named city administrator -- reactions to Gabe Klein's ouster -- council committee speculation -- council eases budget cuts -- Chaffetz takes aim at online gambling plan
*** MAIN COURSE ***
ALLEN LEW IS C.A. -- For his city administrator, Vincent Gray goes with a well-known, well-compensated government personage: school construction chief Allen Y. Lew. His chief of staff is the less-known Gerri Mason Hall, who worked for Gray confidante Lorraine Green in the Sharon Pratt administration, the federal personnel office and at Amtrak. From Nikita Stewart's item on the appointments: "Over the past 15 years, Lew has overseen some of the city's largest public construction projects, including the $850 million Walter E. Washington Convention Center and $600 million-plus Nationals Park. 'It's not just his exceptional leadership over bricks and mortar. ... The position requires someone who is a visionary and a doer,' Gray said. 'And frankly, the city administrator has to have a constructive level of impatience about getting things done.' ... Lew is the highest-profile Fenty holdover so far. Lew, an architect with a master's degree from Columbia University ... solidified an image as a take-charge manager while chief executive of the convention center authority and then as chief executive of the Sports and Entertainment Commission. He and his staff are known for their no-nonsense approach to construction projects, holding contractors firm to deadlines and budgets." Michael Neibauer writes in WBJ: "Lew built D.C.'s convention center. He built Nationals Park. He refurbished D.C.'s public schools. He is known for running a tight ship, for getting projects done on time, and generally within budget. Now he will help build a new city government, or at least to run one." Alan Suderman notes at the Loose Lips blog that a certain veteran TV reporter already referred to Lew as the "the male Michelle Rhee." Also WTOP, Patch, Examiner, DCist, WaTimes. Also, if Hall wasn't aware of what public life would entail, here's a wake-up call: Loose Lips dug up an old speeding ticket. For some archival reading, I suggest this David Nakamura profile of Lew from the stadium days.
KLEIN OUT -- Lew's appointment dampened the outrage in some circles over the ouster of DDOT chief Gabe Klein, who took the step of holding a press conference to announce his departure. He tells WTTG-TV: "Some people say [the streetcar has] cost me my job and if it gets built, I'm fine with that." Housing Complex quotes the following: "My palms were sweating yesterday as I was walking around the Wilson Building. And it wasn't because I thought I was going to leave, it was because I thought they were going to ask me to stay, and I didn't know what my answer would be." Also: "People act like I sit around and draw bike lanes all day. ... But there are some divides in the city, and I think it's foolish to ignore them. I think they're based on geography, topography, I think we have some suburban neighborhoods, and some very dense urban neighborhoods. ... People talk about a racial divide. I have to tell you, I have so many friends and supporters in Wards 7 and 8. I'm much more aware of a age divide. And I'm not going to claim to know what it's about." More reports from Examiner, TBD, DCist, We Love DC. The GGW commenters weigh in here. There's already one plea for Klein to come to Chicago.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS! -- Dr. Gridlock offers a good assessment of Klein and his legacy: "[H]e'll wind up being remembered as a administrator who pushed the District toward the mainstream of urban transportation policy. There's nothing radical in the bike lanes program, or the streetcar program or the street-parking program, or the pedestrian safety program. What looked to us here like cutting-edge programs would seem like catch-up to people in other big cities. ... Because there was so much going on, it became fairly easy to find something not to like. And for those who found Klein's boss, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, to be arrogant, there were opportunities to see arrogance in some of the transportation programs. If you thought the bike-riding mayor cared mostly about making the city safe for triathletes, a favorite target would be the expansion of the bike lanes and the Capital Bikeshare system. If you thought Fenty cared mostly about making the city pleasant for young urbanites, a favorite target might be the central-city focus of the Circulator bus system and the placement of streetcar tracks. Everybody could find something not to like about the street-parking program. ... But Klein was energetic about pursuing those policies and completely bought into the overall goals of increasing mobility and encouraging community development. I predict that people will look back and think that was great." Here's the GGW take, delivered by Erik Weber: "Gray's decision to replace Klein is disappointing, no doubt, but should not come as much of a surprise. While the Committee of 100 and a host of entrenched Ward 3 residents may gloat that the transportation policies of the past few years are on the way out, it's more likely Gray made the decision out of discomfort with the process rather than the policy. ... Most disappointing in this whole saga was this morning's revelation that Gray and Klein have not spoken in 3 months. I'm baffled that the man who ran on a platform of 'One City' and touts himself a public servant who believes in the importance of hearing opposing viewpoints, listening to all the disparate voices, and making compromises, was unable to find time to discuss the direction of the city's transportation department with its current head."
OUSTED -- Here is a list of agency heads who will not be retained by Gray, confirmed by the transition: "Valerie Santos, deputy mayor for planning and economic development; Joseph P. Walsh, director of the Department of Employment Services; Linda K. Argo, director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs; Gloria Nauden, director of the Commission on Arts and the Humanities; and Kathy Hollinger, director of the Office of Motion Picture and Television Development." Also yesterday, the D.C. Housing Authority board voted to make interim executive director Adrienne Todman permanent. LL has OCTO chief Bryan Sivak's announcement e-mail.
IT'S COMMITTEE-GUESSING TIME! -- In this week's Loose Lips column, Suderman looks at the behind-the-scenes wrangling over D.C. Council committee assignments -- where, in the words of consultant/quotemeister Chuck Thies, incoming chairman Kwame Brown "risks a debacle." Brown, writes Suderman, "will take into consideration political ambitions, past deals he may have made, and the fickle temperaments of his colleagues as he seeks to start his new gig with as much consensus -- and as few enemies -- as possible. ... The marquee matchup is between Council members David Catania and Mary Cheh for the chairmanship of the yet-to-be formed education committee. ... It's no secret plenty of people at the Wilson Building wonder whether Brown will be a pushover when the council and the mayor's office come to loggerheads. Pick me, says Catania, and you show the world you're your own man. 'It's obvious that if Kwame were to select me instead of Mary that it would be a sign of greater independence,' says Catania. 'Vince obviously thinks he has greater leverage with Mary than me, and I don't blame Vince for wanting to have kid gloves.'" The sleeper battle, though, is whether Brown yanks transportation from Jim Graham and hands it to Tommy Wells. "Wells is a favorite of the smart-growth set. He attends almost every one of Graham's committee hearings, and made transportation central to his re-election campaign. ... But Graham's no pushover, and will likely play a strong defense. ... For his part, Wells tried to strike a diplomatic note: 'This is not Tommy Wells versus Jim Graham,' he says. 'This is what Kwame Brown thinks is best for the city.' If Wells really believes that, then God bless him. The final pick will probably be a lot more about what Brown thinks is best for him."
BUDGET AFTERMATH -- Reporters continue to sort through the aftermath of Tuesday's budget votes. Lou Chibbaro Jr. reports in the Blade that $427,000 in proposed cuts to AIDS programs were restored by the council. Same goes for the bulk of grandparent caregiver subsidies, reports Freeman Klopott in the Examiner: "Fenty proposed slashing the subsidy program by half, or nearly $2.7 million. But [Tommy Wells] was able to find $900,000 in the city's Child and Family Services Agency budget to reduce the cut to less than 25 percent instead of 50 percent. ... The bulk of the cash Wells found for the grandparent subsidy was in a calculation error in Fenty's proposal. Fenty's budget calculated $477,000 in savings from not filling vacant positions, but the calculation didn't include more than $500,000 that would be saved in the benefits provided for those positions." But the controversial proposal to enforce a "residency requirement" for homeless shelters is on track for passage, Tim Craig reports in the Post: "After Tuesday's action, several advocates for the homeless said that the proposed change would force homeless adults with young children into dormitory-style shelters. ... During Tuesday's debate, many council members said that they had no choice but to toughen entry requirements and standards. They said the city's network of shelters is often overwhelmed; officials estimated that over the summer about 10 percent of the families in need of emergency shelter came from outside the city. 'We cannot be the hotel for Virginia and Maryland residents,' Wells said."
CHAFFETZ NOT HOT ON GAMBLING -- Continued attention is being paid to changes to the District's lottery statute slipped into the Budget Support Act, which would authorize online poker and fantasy sports. The Washington Times' Jeffrey Anderson asks Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) what he thinks about all this: "Washington, D.C., should not be the mecca for gambling. You don't solve financial problems that way. ... I'm not sure how Congress will weigh in, but I will make sure my colleagues know about this, and I expect there will be a lot of resistance." He added: "It was slipped into a budget discussion in the middle of the night. That doesn't strike me as a good way to do business." Anderson's piece also questions whether it is truly possible to screen non-District-based users from an Internet system. The Post's Paul Schwartzman also gets on the story, quoting Michael Brown, the measure's sponsor: "We need every kind of revenue enhancement possible. ... We have to be more competitive. Everyone around us is doing stuff that is attracting our residents outside the city." A gambling analyst said of the revenue potential: "Within any market, there will be a decent subset looking to game online or to play online poker. ... Is it enough to generate meaningful tax dollars? I don't know."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Part 2 of Theresa Vargas' look at Project Empowerment, the city's most expensive rigorous training program (Post)
Cathy Lanier denies "private gym" allegations; still won't say what it cost (City Desk)
A very good site-by-site examination of the planned Wal-Marts (Urbanturf.com)
Former control-board chief Alice Rivlin tamps down control-board scare tactics (Housing Complex)
Phil Mendelson slams FEMS over firefighter's two-year paid leave (WTTG-TV)
D.C. Council's sunshine bill not so bad (All Opinions Are Local)
Columnist deems needle exchange "downright dangerous" (Examiner)
D.C. Republican leader Tony Parker seeking high party post (@daveweigel)
Judge orders animal-rights protesters to knock it off (City Paper)
Part of 9th Street Bridge set to reopen (WTOP)
Victim of hit-and-run bicyclist dies (Post)
Civil case concerning Robert Wone murder proceeds (Legal Times)
Yu Ying charter has eyes on Brookland building (Housing Complex)
The tally: eight water mains break in 24 hours (WUSA-TV)
Metro debuts express X-line bus (NBCWashington.com)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray to announce additional appointments today at 11 a.m., at Reeves Center
| December 9, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike, The District
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