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Posted at 11:52 AM ET, 01/14/2011

DeMorning DeBonis: Jan. 14, 2011

By Mike DeBonis


D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At Large), a prime advocate for raising income taxes on wealthy residents, is having some issues with his own tax burden. As Tim Craig and I report in today's paper: "Brown and his wife have failed to pay the property taxes on a Chevy Chase home assessed at $1.4 million, according to public records. Brown, who earns more than $300,000 a year, owes the District $14,263 for property taxes, the records show. The tax debt, an amount Brown disputes, is part of a financial record that raises questions about whether Brown is keeping up with his bills. Since he bought his house in 1996, banks or mortgage lenders have issued five notices of foreclosure sale, according to records." None of the sales went through, and Brown said that he was completely unaware of any problems. And do note: "Despite the controversy, Brown said he will not let questions about his personal finances or taxes get in the way of pushing ahead with his proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy to try to prevent deep cuts to social service programs. 'I will continue to be the chief advocate,' he said. 'One thing has nothing to do with the other.' "

AFTER THE JUMP -- Gray discloses transition/inauguration donors -- Fenty joins Philly-based consulting firm -- Pondering new names for Pennsylvania Avenue -- More at-large hopefuls -- Could Sarles be named permanent Metro GM?


BIG MONEY -- Mayor Vincent Gray has detailed his inauguration and transition expenses, having raised $670,000 for bills that stretch beyond $800,000. Nikita Stewart writes: "[T]he biggest donors -- contributing $25,000 each -- included Calvin Cafritz Investments, developer Franklin Haney Jr., real estate company CoStar, electric utility Pepco and Howard University. Other contributors included philanthropist Katherine Bradley, who was co-chairman of the education committee on Gray's transition team; Georgetown University; the Safeway supermarket chain; and Gerald Lang, husband of Barbara Lang, who is the D.C. Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive. ... The donations totaled $669,860, and the Gray transition team director, Reuben O. Charles, said the fundraising efforts will continue for up to 30 days." On the other side of the ledger: "One of the biggest expenses for Gray's ball was intended to correct a major complaint about Fenty's ball: the lack of carpet. ... Carpeting strategic areas of the 473,000-square-foot space cost more than $100,000, Charles said." (Tweet comment: "would you pay $100,000+ to avoid criticism that the floor at your party was too hard?") Loose Lips has the full donor list posted.

AT THE KIDDIE TABLE -- Gray hosted his first breakfast meeting with council members this morning on the Wilson Building's sixth floor. It was heavy on breakfast, light on meeting: "There's no agenda today," Gray told Nikita. "This is just a meal." Also note: "What might be described as a kiddie table was used by City Administrator Allen Y. Lew, spokeswoman Linda Wharton-Boyd and chief of staff Gerri Mason Hall."

FENTY'S NEW GIG -- Former Mayor Adrian Fenty has his official new gig: He joins Philadelphia-based accounting and consulting firm Heffler, Radetich & Saitta to "further develop and enhance the firm's preeminent position in class action litigation support services, as well as health care industry consulting and forensic accounting services." Huh. Nikita writes at D.C. Wire: "The release did not indicate that Fenty would relocate from the nation's capital to the City of Brotherly Love. Fenty said the day after the primary that he would remain in the District. ... Fenty was recruited by principal Jerry L. Johnson, who joined the firm in 2009. Johnson was named among the Top 40 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America by Black Enterprise magazine. Like Fenty, Johnson is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. The firm cited Fenty's work shepherding school reform, the legalization of same-sex marriage, the reduction of crime and the expansion of affordable housing and health coverage for the uninsured."

TAKIN' TO THE STREETS -- Michael Brown held a roundtable yesterday evening to discuss renaming a few blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue (including the block in front of the Wilson Building) to something voting-rights oriented. Freeman Klopott covered the proceedings for the Examiner: "On the list of names ... 'Give D.C. Statehood Avenue,' 'Statehood for D.C. Avenue,' 'D.C. Demands Statehood Avenue,' 'D.C. Statehood Now Avenue,' 'D.C. Demands Full Democracy Avenue' and 'Give D.C. Full Democracy Avenue.' On the list of names for gateway signs (all start with 'Welcome to Washington'): 'unrepresented in Congress for 200 years,' 'denied full democracy for over 200 years and counting,' 'the nation's capital and the country's last colony,' 'where over 600,000 residents are denied full democracy each day,'" and so forth. None exactly roll off the tongue. The AP's Jessica Gresko also covers the renaming proposal; "I think it represents government to a lot of people. ... It's still our city street," Brown tells her. At City Paper, Michael Schaffer reminds us that politically motivated thoroughfare-renaming has a long history. (Ho Chi Minh Sarani, anyone?) And Lydia DePillis suggests some other potential uses of public space to promote the statehood cause. For instance: "On directional signs downtown that tell people where things are, include an arrow pointing to 'Federal Oppressors' at the Capitol building."

SPECIAL ELECTION UPDATE -- More potential candidates for an at-large D.C. Council seat: There's Mary Eva Candon, the longtime Democratic party insider from Ward 2, who tells Tim that she is "seriously considering" running as a "fiscal conservative." Problem is, her name recognition is not high, and she is an active lobbyist for Altria, parent of Philip Morris. Candon doesn't see the latter as a factor: "Mainly what we do these days is minimize the sale of tobacco products to minors, and maintaining all laws around the selling of tobacco products. ... It's not a controversial issue anymore that I am aware of." More intriguing is news that Gabe Klein, ex-DDOT director, is pondering a run. He told me he could "neither confirm nor deny." He added: "A lot of people that I respect have expressed that they would like me to run for the open seat. ... I am weighing lots of different opportunities and am not sure what my next step will be at this time." Tim notes that Klein, who does have some name recognition, "could become the candidate who could most easily tap into the broad base of supporters that Fenty built up in the District over the past four years."

SPECIAL-ED TRANSPORT PROBLEMS -- The plaintiff's lawyers in the special-ed transportation class action, Petties v. District, write to The Post to report that the progress reported by the Fenty administration has disappeared: "It is true that until June 2010, the District was on the road to improving transportation services and exiting court supervision. But over the past six months, the school system's ability to get children to school on time has fallen to unacceptable levels, and a successful transition is in serious jeopardy. ... Making matters worse, the District recently cut the transportation budget by $4 million, making it more difficult to resume on-time service."

SARLES STAYS ON? -- Could temporary GM Richard Sarles become Metro's permanent chief executive? Ann Scott Tyson notes in The Post that "the reserved and deliberate former New Jersey Transit chief is earning mostly high marks from Metro board members and top safety investigators for making headway on safety issues and other problems facing the transit agency" and has "emerged as an executive with enough skill and vision to continue running the agency, if necessary."


New-look Metro board has first meeting; station naming rights pondered, birthing epic hashtag #dcmetronames (Dr. Gridlock, the Examiner, GGW, Twitter)

Kaya Henderson hears pleas to keep River Terrace Elementary open (D.C. Schools Insider)

Court monitor in Evans case raises concerns about IDI group homes (Loose Lips)

Should Arne Duncan play favorites? (Answer Sheet)

On Wal-Mart, do the planning right (WBJ)

William Lockridge was "no pushover," Deborah Simmons writes (WaTimes)

No more "Saturday Scholars" (D.C. Schools Insider)

Harry Jaffe: D.C. needs to do a better job collecting Medicaid payments (the Examiner)

DCGOP still wants a seat on the Board of Elections and Ethics (WaTimes)

Fenty's No. 2 GLBT liaison could get Gray job (Blade)

Ward 3/2D airs crime concerns (WTTG-TV)

Today in Michelle Rhee news: Tim Pawlenty calls her "superwoman"; Palm Beach says no thank you (MSNBC, Palm Beach Post)

The struggle to open family court (Afro)

Grocer drops DCUSA lease (DCist)

Southerners think city should clear sidewalks of snow (the Examiner)

Klingle Road moves closer to no longer being a road (GGW)

The Dish's Mary Cheh slobberfest continues (G'town Dish)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Gray appears at BET Honors, 7 p.m. at Arena State, and at Washington Hebrew Congregation Shabbat service, 8 p.m.

By Mike DeBonis  | January 14, 2011; 11:52 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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Next: Is Michelle Rhee becoming a Republican darling?


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