DeAfternoon DeBonis: Jan. 5, 2010
TODAY IS JAN. 5, 2010 -- DAY 4 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
Thursday! Thursday! Thursday! The week's biggest political theatrics will take place tomorrow evening at Democratic National Headquarters, where city Democrats will pick an interim at-large D.C. Council member. Tim Craig and I look at the dynamics of the closely contested appointment in today's paper: "Former D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. had expected to win broad support in the 80-odd-member D.C. Democratic State Committee, in which he has been active since leaving office in 2007. But elected officials are rallying instead behind a State Board of Education member, Sekou Biddle. ... The D.C. Council that Orange left in 2007 has changed dramatically, leaving him with few alliances among elected officials, and a scorched-earth campaign in which Orange tried to capitalize on Brown's personal financial troubles might also have cost him support." Now backing Biddle, in addition to old buddy Kwame Brown: Yvette Alexander, Marion Barry, Muriel Bowser, Mary Cheh, and Harry Thomas Jr. Biddle says he's "coming on strong" but Orange is confident of victory: "I've got the football, and I'm about to score the touchdown. They're trying to do whatever they can to make me fumble, and that's not going to happen."
AFTER THE JUMP -- Gray makes his first visit to Capitol Hill, brings the fire and brimstone -- DYRS exec ponders yoga for troubled kids -- a good review for Kwame's speech -- Baltimore United?
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE ON AT-LARGE ANTICS -- "Biddle, a former schoolteacher, is running on an education-focused platform, but his long friendship with Brown might be as crucial to his political hopes. The two politicians' fathers grew up together in Lakewood, N.J., before moving to the District, where they raised their sons. The two attended Wilson High School together in the late 1980s. In making his endorsement, Brown said that it's time for some fresh talent on the council and noted that then-council Chairman Gray hand-selected Alexander as his successor as a Ward 7 council member. And after former mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) was elected in 2006, he played a major role in helping Muriel Bowser win his former Ward 4 council seat. But Brown's involvement comes with risks. If Orange wins in April, observers say, Brown could be weakened politically as he tries to keep control over the council. Orange, who most recently worked as an executive for Pepco, is playing up his experience as a former council member, particularly on fiscal issues, as lawmakers face a gaping budget hole. If elected, Orange said, he'll be able 'to hit the ground running' by focusing on economic development, housing and city services." Meanwhile, non-DCDSC contestants are waiting in the wings for the April 26 special election, including Dems Jacque Patterson and Josh Lopez and Republican Patrick Mara. And blogger Dave Stroup is mounting a campaign to draft Ward 1 activist Bryan Weaver to run, via a Change.org petition, an act.ly petition and a Tumblr account.
VINCE HITS THE HILL -- Vincent Gray made his first trip to Capitol Hill as mayor Tuesday, to share his displeasure with new House Speaker John Boehner's decision to nix Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton's symbolic vote in the Committee of the Whole. Ben Pershing covered for the Post: "At a pep rally Tuesday morning in the high-ceilinged marble foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building, Gray (D) gave a fiery speech to an assembly of D.C. officials and activists, imploring them to fight 'to preserve what little democracy we have.' Calling the impending Republican move an 'absolutely outrageous insult,' Gray asked for '600,000 warriors on the Hill' to fight for the cause of D.C. voting rights. Speaking to reporters later, Gray compared District residents' fight to the American Revolution and said D.C. must be willing to escalate the battle. Asked whether he would be willing to get arrested for the cause of voting rights, Gray said, 'I'm willing to do whatever it takes.'" Some activists met with a Boehner staffer, DCist notes, but the answer's the same: Votes only for states. WAMU-FM's Patrick Madden shot video and files a report. Also Examiner, WUSA-TV, WaTimes, DCist, AP, National Journal, New York Times.
YOGA FOR JAILED KIDS? -- A Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services official asked his staff in an e-mail whether someone could teach delinquent youth yoga or tai chi, Freeman Klopott in Examiner. "Late last month, [interim deputy director Barry Holman] e-mailed the agency's staff to see if they have 'hidden talents that might be tapped to further our work with the young people in our care.' In the e-mail obtained by The Washington Examiner, Holman said his primary interest was in finding among the staff an instructor certified in yoga, tai-chi, or another 'mind-body connection discipline.'" And in case you forgot why this might be interpreted as somewhat frivolous: "The agency is coming off a controversial year during which more than a dozen of its wards were charged with murder and at least a half-dozen were killed. A heavy focus on rehabilitation programs for city youths was blamed by critics for the soaring violence." So far, DYRS seems to be light on "mind-body connection" specialists.
GOOD ON KWAME -- Jonetta Rose Barras writes in her Examiner column that the "surprising winner for the best inaugural speech was D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown. His remarks had the right dosage of information and inspiration. 'In this era of double-speak, empty rhetoric and grand promises that cannot be kept, I pledge to speak to you with candor, clarity and frank honesty concerning issues that we face,' Brown said, after being sworn in. If he keeps only that pledge, he could transform the way business is done in the city. ... Dealing with the overall financial crisis in the city, including a projected $440 million budget gap for fiscal 2012 may serve as the first test of Brown's promise to push forward with education reform, his pledge of candor, and bird-dogging the executive." She also gives Brown kudos for tamping down tax-raising talk.
YESTERDAY IN MARY CHEH BILL INTRODUCTIONS -- Another stab, with Tommy Wells, at making not shoveling one's sidewalk a ticketable offense -- winning coverage at TBD, GGW and WUSA-TV, NBCWashington.com. Cheh also, as Klopott reports in the Examiner, proposes that the city open a "central collections unit" -- a group "inside the City Administrator's Office tasked with collecting debt owed to various city agencies." Or, as DCist calls them, bounty hunters." The bill "empowers the unit to eventually file lawsuits if scofflaws don't pay up," helping Cheh put some teeth behind a recent Kwame Brown talking point. Very "pro tem" of her.
BIG CHANGE FOR DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED -- The Post's Henri Cauvin covers a proposed big change to the way the D.C. government handles its developmentally disabled citizens. Where Superior Court judges currently have an "intimate and extraordinary role ... born of the city's failings decades ago in caring for those with mental retardation," council legislation may soon end the court's role. "First introduced more than a year ago, the Developmental Disabilities Reform Act emerged from months of debate among advocates and officials, who were united on the need for a new law but divided on what the statute - and the system - should look like in the 21st century. It is a bill of particular interest and importance to the new mayor" -- a longtime advocate for the developmentally disabled himself. But not all advocates are signed on to the change, which "envisions a District-funded network of advocates who would help people navigate the system and, if necessary, file grievances on their behalf."
UNITED OUT? -- Is D.C. United about to decamp for Baltimore? The Post's Soccer Insider, Steve Goff, has the skinny: "While the club continues to explore stadium opportunities in Washington, United is taking a hard look at the Maryland Stadium Authority's economic feasibility study concerning a mixed-use waterfront project in the Westport area near Interstate 95 and Camden Yards in Baltimore. 'Our name is D.C. United, but we're not playing [tactical] games here,' team president Kevin Payne told the Insider. 'Baltimore has dealt with us in good faith and it's a very good opportunity. It's a good location. The developer has also dealt with us in very good faith. We believe Baltimore can get something done. It's a real opportunity.' Payne said he hopes to meet with [Gray] this month to discuss a possible project in Washington, United's home since its inception in 1996. There are no talks with any jurisdictions in the Maryland suburbs or Northern Virginia, Payne added."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Tom Downs is Gray's pick for WMATA board member (TBD)
District needs "special commission ... to bring together key stakeholders in a review of practices that can lead to" wrongful convictions (Post editorial)
New Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe vows to fight overtime abuse (WTTG-TV)
Phil Mendelson wants crime lab separated from MPD (WAMU-FM)
D.C. Water and Virginia Tech's Marc Edwards to evaluate federal lead-in-water regulations (press release)
Proposal to include commercial development on west St. Elizabeth's campus nixed by council (Examiner)
Tom Sherwood: CMs' inaugural speeches were "way too long" (NBCWashington.com)
Could a CM Vincent Orange be overseeing Pepco? Maybe, maybe not. (Housing Complex)
In response to burglaries, MPD ups patrols in 2nd District (WaTimes)
Why search policy is "a prime example of why many people think the governance of the transit authority needs an overhaul" (Dr. Gridlock)
Norton on Rachel Maddow, talking GOP oversight (RealClearPolitics)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Nada mucho, unless you're a Democratic State Committee member
| January 5, 2011; 1:56 PM ET
Categories: Morning Mike, The District
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