DeMorning DeBonis: Jan. 20, 2011
TODAY IS JAN. 20, 2011 -- DAY 19 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
PREVIOUSLY -- Gabe Klein takes a pass on D.C. Council run
The Post editorial board is looking for D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown to make good on his promises of ethical leadership, and isn't seeing it yet. Hence this scathing rebuke: "[T]alk of wanting to improve the ethics of the council rings a little hollow given the continued failure of council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) to be forthcoming about the questionable nonprofit he founded. Not only has his behavior been tolerated, but Mr. Brown gave Mr. Thomas a plum committee assignment. ... Surely the public has a stake in knowing who contributed to the pet project of the council member now playing a major role in directing the city's economic development?" Also: "There's no question that there are problems with the current mechanism for dealing with questionable conduct by officials. The Office of Campaign Finance ... had, for example, no problem with the use of council stationery by then-Chairman (and now mayor) Vincent C. Gray (D) to solicit funds for the state Democratic Party, but it lowered the boom on the young people who reused campaign material in last fall's write-in campaign for former mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). Even when officials are found wanting, there seems to be little real consequence. Damning information about contracts and earmarks arranged by council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) caused him to be censured by the council, but his loss of a committee chairmanship proved to be transitory at best." So, what are you going to do about it, Mr. Chairman?
AFTER THE JUMP -- meet Sekou Biddle -- introducing Prof. Fenty -- HSEMA looks to tap into private security cams -- Wal-Mart protestors put developer in crosshairs -- Norton still loves Joe Lieberman
*** MAIN COURSE ***
ANOTHER TEAM THOMAS DONOR -- While we're on the subject of Harry Thomas and his questionable nonprofit, have a look at today's Washington Times piece by Jeffrey Anderson, which raises questions about Thomas's connections to businessman Keith Forney, who owns a strip club looking to relocate within the ward. Forney appears to have given a small amount to Team Thomas and much more to Thomas's campaign and other city campaigns. And opponents of the strip club are wondering why Thomas hasn't been more vocal in opposing its relocation. Interesting kicker: "Team Thomas has long been a part of Mr. Thomas' fundraising apparatus, said a staffer with the council member's 2006 campaign who is familiar with the fundraising efforts. While [Thomas attorney Fred Cooke] called the assertion 'untrue,' the staffer told The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity -- because their work brings them into contact with the D.C. government -- that developers contributed to Team Thomas during the '06 campaign. 'If a developer didn't want to contribute to his campaign fund, they made the check out to Team Thomas,' the staffer said."
SPECIAL ELECTION UPDATE -- Yesterday's at-large tally: Patrick Mara in, Bryan Weaver in, Gabe Klein out. Vincent Orange says his run is moving "full speed ahead." Alan Suderman devotes the bulk of his Loose Lips column to a profile of interim D.C. Council member Sekou Biddle -- starting with a fab lede that answers a common question about Biddle's anatomy before moving on to a biographical sketch. But here's the meat: "[I]t's hard not to see Biddle as a more personable version of [Fenty]. Besides the obvious shared physical similarities (both are bald, young and athletic), they also seem to share a basic idea that leadership means setting simple and bold goals and getting the right people in place to fulfill those goals. ... But Biddle seems unlikely to mimic the antisocial qualities that cost Fenty so much goodwill and, in the end, his political career. Biddle's already nabbed the support of several key Gray allies, including campaign manager Lorraine Green, and he says he gets on well with the new mayor, despite supporting Fenty during last year's primary. ... Biddle's test won't be whether he can build bridges, but how fast." Also: WTOP collects a complete list of candidates, though Kelvin Robinson and Leo Alexander are no longer running. And cupcakes are delicious.
BIG BROTHER ALERT -- The city Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency has plans to add to its monitoring network thousands of security cameras belonging to Metro, the D.C. Housing Authority and private businesses, Freeman Klopott reports in Examiner. "[HSEMA] has already centralized the feeds from more than 4,500 cameras operated by the District's department of transportation and school system. Those feeds are watched around the clock by officials from those departments who sit together in homeland security's Joint All-Hazards Operation Center. By bringing feeds from thousands more cameras to the central watching room through links to cameras at businesses such as banks, corner stores and gas stations, the District is joining other big cities like London, New York and Baltimore that in recent years have turned to cameras to fight crime and terrorism. But critics worry the District's government might be going too far."
PROFESSOR FENTY -- In addition to his speaking and consulting gigs, Fenty will have a third job: college professor. Oberlin College, his alma mater, is taking him on as "a distinguished visiting professor of politics, a featured lecturer and a career adviser in the Department of African American Studies." Nikita Stewart reports at D.C. Wire: "In the fall, he will co-teach an introductory course on American politics with mentor and professor Paul Dawson. The news release described the class as focusing 'on the relationship between politics and public policy' and said Fenty is working on a case study of his administration focusing on education reform. ... According to the news release, Fenty isn't moving. He will continue to live in the District to 'manage a portfolio of consulting clients, participate in speaking engagements, and advocate for education reform and other urban policy initiatives.'" More coverage from the Chronicle-Telegram -- Lorain County, Ohio's leading news source!
SURVEYOR'S MARKS? -- Attention, Wal-Mart protesters: It probably isn't the best idea, given recent events, to distribute a flier bearing crosshairs over the Wal-Mart smiley-face logo advertising the protest of a developer at his private home. Klopott's Examiner blog post, which notes that the "group's Web site gives out Dick Knapp's address and asks protestors to gather outside his home at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night" and that "Wal-Mart Free D.C.'s slogan is 'No Wal-Mart, No Compromise,'" was picked up by Fox News, Glenn Beck, and one of Freeman's more politically inclined colleagues.
KWAME AND JIM -- The Afro's Dorothy Rowley covers how Kwame Brown has "moved quickly to put his brand on the District's governing body--and to emerge from under his predecessor's shadow." Says Brown flack Traci Hughes, "I can assure you that he is not simply going to be a rubber stamp for Mayor Gray." And behold Jim Graham making lemons into lemonade: "It wasn't so much that he removed me [from the Metro board]. ... I had indicated that I would continue serving but I also said that if [Brown] felt the need to appoint someone else, I would be completely supportive - and quite frankly it's been a relief [to leave the Metro board]." He also has kind words for Brown's dais dispatch: "Today's session was good because I was settling back thinking it would be an hour-and-half meeting, when it was actually over in 10 minutes. ... So although he's got a different style, it's clearly a very good one."
ELEANOR AND JOE -- At least one liberal lion still loves Joe Lieberman. Eleanor Holmes Norton yesterday issued a news release praising the retiring Connecticut senator for his stalwart support of District voting rights: "The people of the District of Columbia have no senator of their own, but they have had in Senator Joe Lieberman an unfailing champion of their rights. ... Senator Lieberman has been the lead sponsor of virtually every bill for our rights since I have been a Member of the House. As conditions allowed, he was always there for this city, first for statehood, then for seats in the House and Senate, and finally for the House vote. Beyond sponsorship, Joe Lieberman has been our chief advocate and strategist in the Senate." Ben Pershing notes at D.C. Wire that "Lieberman helped lead the fight for voting rights in the last Congress, when a measure granting the District a full House member actually passed the Senate with 61 votes before stalling in the House."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Hoping to maintain full 143-precinct special election, Mary Cheh tells BOEE to dig deep for cuts (Examiner)
Real horse-betting is illegal in D.C. But you can play fake cartoon ponies! (City Paper)
Gray's first weeks "relatively quiet" (Informer)
Metro sues insurer over Red Line crash (Business Insurance)
Hey developers: Get ready to put your parking lots in the back (GGW)
Hey ANCs: Best not to mention the word "moratorium" unless you're really, really serious (Housing Complex)
If you're at all curious about what a "voting center" is, read up (We Love DC)
United Medical Center hearing could get interesting (WBJ)
Sidwell Friends good at clearing sidewalks of ice; DCPS not so much (TBD)
Metro will replace Foggy Bottom escalators (Examiner)
The FEED Act is a good thing (DCFPI)
Tenley-Friendship Library will reopen Monday -- it's pretty cool! (Housing Complex)
No, Green Mountain Coffee, you can't take coffee on the Metro. Not even Green Mountain Coffee. (TBD)
D.C. Jail won't screen visitors for illegal-immigration status, so there's that (TBD)
UDC celebrates 160 years (Informer)
If you've ever read D.C. Urban Moms in horror, you've been waiting to read this story (City Paper)
Fenty public speaking a good idea, says Ron Moten (Afro)
Who's the D.C. Preservation League to be demanding historic preservation? (Housing Complex)
*** ON THE MENU ***
William Lockridge to be laid to rest, starting at 10 a.m. at Temple of Praise -- Gray addresses annual meetings of Cultural Tourism DC and Hotel Association, speaks at Lockridge funeral