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Posted at 9:51 AM ET, 01/18/2011

DeMorning DeBonis: Jan. 18, 2011

By Mike DeBonis

TODAY IS JAN. 18, 2011 -- DAY 17 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION

PREVIOUSLY -- Is Michelle Rhee becoming a Republican darling?

Meet the new boss: House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has at last named the chair of the D.C. oversight subcommittee, Ben Pershing reports this morning at D.C. Wire. It's Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a freshman tea party favorite. There's good news and bad news in the announcement. The bad news is that Gowdy is a rock-ribbed conservative from the home state of infamous District overlord Rep. John L. McMillan (D). The good news is that Gowdy appears not to have gone on the record with any particular anti-District views, and he'll be chairing the Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives. As Ben points out: "Because health care is such a key part of the new majority's agenda -- particularly the effort to repeal President Obama's reform measure and replace it with something else -- Gowdy will likely devote a good deal of time as subcommittee chairman to that part of the panel's brief. But District officials and activists will be watching closely to see how he approaches local matters."

AFTER THE JUMP -- OCF fines Fenty write-in supporters -- Gray's appointment of Henderson is fait accompli, or is it? -- Gray questions IMPACT's effectiveness -- youth job training contracts suddenly canceled -- NYT editorial notes voting-rights setback -- D.C. United eyeing new city sites

*** MAIN COURSE ***

FENTY BACKERS FINED -- The Office of Campaign Finance on Friday proposed fining the organizers of the write-in campaign for Mayor Adrian Fenty $18,500 for illegally re-using signs from the official Fenty campaign. This, Tim Craig writes at D.C. Wire, "could be a crippling financial hit to a group of young adults who organized a write-in campaign through Facebook and other social media that drew thousands of votes. ... Josh Lopez, 26, who worked as Fenty's ward coordinator, spearheaded the effort. Operating on a shoestring budget, Lopez and other leaders of the Save DC Now committee used unused campaign signs, leaflets and stickers to try to get voters to write in Fenty instead of supporting [Vincent Gray]. But Dorothy Brizill, a community activist and blogger, and Brian Lederer, a lawyer for the Gray campaign, filed a complaint with the Office of Campaign Finance. They alleged that campaign finance laws forbid a political community from using materials paid for by another. ... Lopez, who is running for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council, called the $18,500 fine 'historic and unconscionable.' ... 'It's political intimidation,' said Lopez, who said he plans to appeal the ruling. ... In an interview, Brizill said she doubts [treasurer Junius Carter] or Lopez will be personally liable for the fine. But Brizill said she hopes the ruling 'sends a strong message' that activists and politicians should heed campaign finance regulations."

IN PRAISE OF 'INTENTIONALITY' -- Post columnist Bob McCartney wrote in his Sunday column that a recent conversation with Gray "allayed some of my concerns about his transition and debut. ... I thought he was off to a slow start. He doesn't yet have a permanent schools chancellor, and he hasn't appointed a deputy mayor for economic development. I thought his inaugural speech relied too much on the abstract "One City" theme from his campaign. Where were specifics to provide substance for his idealistic vision? I felt better after talking to him. Important tests are still in the future, especially regarding the budget, schools and dealing with Congress. Still, Gray struck me as someone who moves deliberately, yes, but has a clear sense of where he's going and how he wants to get there." And Bob reports, via "sources familiar with Gray's thinking," that he "intends" to nominate Kaya Henderson to be permanent schools chancellor -- after "moving strategically . . . to establish that Kaya Henderson is not a clone of Michelle Rhee," says a source. Also: DMPED pick should come this week, someone who "shared his strategy of creating individual entities - similar to the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. - for projects such as the ones at the Walter Reed and former St. Elizabeths hospital sites."

IMPACT'S IMPACT -- But just how fait accompli is Gray's permanent appointment of Henderson? Bill Turque identifies some philosophical daylight between the two at a Saturday education panel Gray attended, where he offered a "explicit criticism" of the IMPACT teacher rating system: "It's better than what we had, but it certainly hasn't arrived. ... [F]rankly I'm not convinced that we have figured out yet how, with an evaluation system that covers all teachers across the city, that you account for the social challenges that inevitably are to be addressed by a teacher at Stanton Elementary School in ways that are different from those at Horace Mann. ... So I guess I would say at this stage... it's a step in the right direction, but it's got a long way to go to be a fair evaluation of our teachers. And frankly any system that isn't sensitive to the differences in challenges of the kids in the schools only encourages teachers to teach in one part of the city and not in the other parts." Bill identifies this as a "direct challenge to the philosophical core of Rhee's vision: that really good teachers can reach kids no matter what their social or economic backgrounds."

MR. OVERSIGHT -- Meanwhile, in a Post op-ed, Council Chairman Kwame Brown attacks those who might doubt his educational focus or his commitment to oversight: "I plan to push forward with education reform even more aggressively than ever as the leader of D.C.'s legislative body. There can be no better way to stimulate our economy and ensure the future financial health of our city than by investing in the right programs and supports for our students. ... We have the right tools in place to become one of the top public education systems in the country. But seeing that those tools are used to produce the best results possible will require strong oversight. I intend to provide this oversight, along with my colleagues on the D.C. Council." He promises to focus on facilities spending, private operators, achievement gaps and vocational education.

CONTRACTS CANCELED SUDDENLY -- Friday, the Office of Contracting and Procurement cancelled contracts awarded to 10 providers of job training to city youth, citing "concerns surrounding the procurement process." The providers, I reported, were livid: "'It's such a mess. I'm so disgusted,' said Lori M. Kaplan, executive director of the Latin American Youth Center, which had been granted more than $625,000 in contracts to serve 100 youth. Kaplan said she'd be forced to lay off as many as 10 employees. ... The concerns began after a losing bidder appealed the December procurement, which led to 'a further review of the contract documentation,' said Brendon Miller, a spokesman for the Office of Contracting and Procurement. The city employee who handled the award process left her job in recent weeks, he said, and paperwork necessary to defend the awards could not be located. New contracts are set to be awarded by June, but "that's just too long," said an advocate.

NYT NOTICES -- A New York Times editorial laments, more than two weeks after the fact, the House's stripping of committee voting rights from the District. The move, the Gray Lady writes, "[has left] ... Eleanor Holmes Norton, and the city fathers questioning whether they are heading back to the 'plantation mentality' days when Congressional committees routinely undermined home rule. ... The District of Columbia's rallying cry for full Congressional powers -- 'Taxation Without Representation' -- is painfully apt. It is one we thought the self-proclaimed patriots galvanizing the House majority would instantly recognize. Apparently partisan politics, and the district's large number of registered Democrats, trumps principle every time."

UNITED WE SEARCH -- D.C. United hasn't given up on locating a new soccer stadium inside the District and "has discussed 'at least four' sites with city officials," Jonathan O'Connell reported Monday in Capital Business. "In an interview, [team president Kevin Payne] declined to name or comment on sites but a leading contender, according to city officials, is Buzzards Point in Southwest Washington, where developer Akridge owns nine acres southwest of the Nationals' ballpark. ... [Tommy Wells] said last week that he isn't sure how a stadium would be financed, particularly with the city facing an expected $400 million-plus budget shortfall next year, but that a stadium on Buzzards Point would enliven the neighborhood. ... Another area the team has looked at is the Capital City Market in Northeast Washington, a sprawling wholesale marketplace. Bruce Baschuk, chairman of developer the J Street Cos. and of the NoMa Business Improvement District, said he showed Payne the neighborhood as an alternative to Buzzards Point, though it would require major infrastructure changes."

WHY I LOVE WAL-MART -- Harry Thomas Jr. talks economic development with O'Connell -- including his thoughts on Wal-Mart: "I'm supporting it in what I believe is an overall plan that makes sense for the District of Columbia. I think I'm most supportive because I think it represents a total private investment of a corporation coming here. Here's an opportunity where we're taking no city dollars and trying to create industry. We also have the chance to change how Wal-Mart is viewed because it's in the nation's capital. ... You can look at how can you help Wal-Mart be a better help to small business development." Also: Wal-Mart may join with UDC to fund job training programs.

METRO CHANGES NOW -- A Post editorial calls on the Metro board of directors to make substantive changes to its governance soon -- as in next week: "An early sign of whether the 16-member multi-jurisdictional board will be a partner to change will come Jan. 27, when it meets for an organizational meeting. ... Past practice has been to rotate the chair among the three jurisdictions for one-year stints, which has encouraged parochialism and disjointed leadership. ... If the board is serious about ending business as usual, it would - at the very least - lengthen the term of office. Even better would be to consider Mortimer L. Downey, the former U.S. deputy transportation secretary who joined the board last year as the first representative of the federal government. A different approach would send a powerful message about the will for reform. Other common-sense changes, such as limiting the use of the jurisdictional veto or establishing rules that better define the role of board members, are also in order."

DEFENDING CFSA -- Child and Family Services Agency Director Roque Gerald takes to a Post op-ed to rebut criticism of how CFSA is doing business -- and to put in a good word for his new boss: "[W]e certainly acknowledge the legitimacy of many of these criticisms. But the critics and advocates do not agree on appropriate solutions, and even the most well-intended opinions do not confront the full range of issues affecting child welfare nationally, and especially locally, in all their complexity. ... [W]e know we must push for continued improvement, and Mayor Vincent Gray's vision of 'One City' provides an excellent framework for open discourse and development of lasting solutions that strengthen the local safety net." City Paper's Jason Cherkis challenges some of the residential placement stats that Gerald cites in his piece.

BARRY TO PUSH EX-OFFENDER PROTECTIONS -- Deborah Simmons of The Washington Times talks to Marion Barry about his new committee portfolio, which includes "issues related to senior citizens ... gays, ethnic minorities and women. He also will hold sway over civil rights and human rights issues, statehood affairs and the taxicab industry." Most controversially, Barry says he'll send to the full council a bill to amend the Human Rights Act to include ex-offenders as a protected class. He tells Simmons, "This committee lets me keep a citywide presence. It takes me back to my natural constituencies."

LOCKRIDGE ARRANGEMENTS -- The family of William Lockridge has announced funeral arrangements for the late politician and activist, to be held Thursday. A 10 a.m. viewing at Temple of Praise, 700 Southern Ave. SE, will be followed by a 11 a.m. memorial service and a noon "homegoing" service. A luncheon will follow at 3 p.m., at The Panorama Room, 1600 Morris Road SE. Slated speakers at the service include Gray, Brown, Barry, Norton, State Board of Education President Ted Trabue, and a eulogy from the Rev. Michael Bell, pastor of Allen Chapel AME. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to The William Lockridge Educational and Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 54012, Washington, D.C., 20032.


*** SMALL PLATES ***

Michael Brown paid his back taxes on Friday, meaning certain novel ideas won't be necessary (Post, Loose Lips)

Medical marijuana not quite legal yet (DCist, Hatchet)

D.C. resident Tony Parker is RNC's new treasurer (Facebook)

Ron Moten on council run: "I thought about it, but nah." (Loose Lips)

Stevie Wonder visits Ballou -- thanks to Moten -- pledges to raise $100,000 (WTTG-TV)

Gray kinda-sorta raises the prospect of lifting university enrollment caps (Hatchet, G'town Dish)

New MOCRS chief Paco Fimbres is the first Hispanic to hold the post (Washington Hispanic)

Sculpture once installed in front of MPD headquarters now sitting in Blue Plains (Post)

But at least there's a decaying bike sitting outside MPD HQ (TBD)

Obamas attended Sunday services at Metropolitan AME (Post)

New, less confusing street-sweeping signs! (Flickr)

Truck driver who killed cyclist sentenced for immigration violations (Crime Scene)

Gray's been making Ward 3 appearances, Freeman Klopott notes (Examiner)

D.C. Jail visitors to be fingerprinted, checked for warrants (Examiner)

DDOT has Streetcar web site and Twitter account up and running (via DCist)

Care for the developmentally disabled needs to expand (Post letter)

Your preliminary D.C. budget schedule (Susie Cambria)

MPD intel: PCP use low but rising (City Desk)

A conservative who doesn't buy in to the Rhee philosophy (Conservative Black Chick)

D.C. teacher of the year: Jon Rolle of Friendship PCS (Informer)

Ex-McKinley Tech teacher charged with stealing laptops, money (Examiner, D.C. Schools Insider)

TLC to shoot Chandra Levy movie (McClatchy)

Is Buzzards Point about to take off? (DCmud)

Georgia Avenue pawn shop still facing community opposition (WRC-TV)

D.C. Water's George Hawkins gave Chris Matthews quite an introduction last month (YouTube)

National Capital Planning Commission plans to be more open (GGW)

More on Bread for the City's fabulous new $6.8 million clinic (Capital Business)

Barry certainly was "colorful," wasn't he? (Appeal-Democrat)

Happy birthday to David Catania. He got a toy car. (@alansuderman)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Terry Lynch, Moten on NewsTalk, 10 a.m. on TBD -- Gray lunches with the Federal City Council; meets with H Street NE business owners and the mayor of Bucharest, Romania; attends Ward 7 ANC meeting -- D.C. Council meeting, 10 a.m. in chambers

By Mike DeBonis  | January 18, 2011; 9:51 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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Next: Patrick Mara to run for D.C. Council at-large seat

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