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Posted at 10:01 AM ET, 01/21/2011

DeMorning DeBonis: Jan. 21, 2011

By Mike DeBonis


Make no mistake, Hizzoner is all in: Mayor Vincent Gray made more than an appearance last night at a Sekou Biddle fundraiser on H Street NE -- he vowed to do everything in his power to get him elected in the April 26 special election for the vacant at-large council seat. "He is absolutely the right person for the job," Gray told the high-powered crowd, which included his confidant Lorraine Green, fundraiser Doug Patton and son Carlos, along with a smattering of businessmen, lobbyists and grassroots supporters. Gray pledged to "work extremely hard" for Biddle to prevent a repeat of the 1997 special election where feckless Democrat Arrington Dixon lost the seat to then-Republican David Catania. "We cannot have him lose. That's not even an option at this stage," Gray said. He added: "It's not just one city, we want one council member, too." Tim Craig has more on the endorsement at D.C. Wire. At Loose Lips, Alan Suderman wonders if Biddle's new supporters will make it easier for opponents to tag him as just another insider -- never mind that Biddle was a no-name to this crowd just months ago.

AFTER THE JUMP -- New DMPED was in Bob Ehrlich's cabinet; Stein Club president gets LGBT czar nod -- how independent is IMPACT's independent evaluator? -- Rhee to Sacramento -- Gray estimates FY12 budget gap as nearing $500 million -- House GOPsters propose cutting $200+ million in federal D.C. budget support


MORE APPOINTMENTS -- Gray is set to name his deputy mayor for planning and economic development, an LGBT affairs head, and a new risk management director this morning, but some names are already out. Nikita Stewart and Jonathan O'Connell report in the Post that Victor L. Hoskins, who led Maryland's Department of Housing and Community Development under Gov. Bob Ehrlich (yes, a Republican), will be the new DMPED: "The search for a planning and economic development chief may have been complicated because of uncertainty about how the job will change under Gray. He said repeatedly during his mayoral election campaign that he would like to expand the deputy mayor's role beyond management of real estate projects to include workforce development responsibilities. As a result, a number of local leaders with expertise in real estate, planning and job training were considered candidates or expressed interest in the job, including Emily Durso, former president of the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C.; Ellen McCarthy, director of planning under Mayor Anthony Williams; and Milton Bailey, former director of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development." Meanwhile, Yusuf Najafi reports at Metro Weekly that Jeffrey Richardson, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, will get the LGBT nod. The pick gets praise from gay activist (and big-time Gray supporter) Peter Rosenstein: "[H]e knows the people in the city, he's got a great personality, he's able to deal with everybody and I think he would make a great liaison to the mayor as head of that office." Richardson also has been active in the D.C. Democratic State Committee, emerging as a leader in the insurgent faction of the group. He recently left his job as a grant manager for the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp.

GAUGING IMPACT'S IMPACT -- The "independent evaluator" of the IMPACT teacher evaluation system will be none other than Roland Fryer, the Harvard University economics professor who brought the Capital Gains pay-for-good-grades program to DCPS. Fryer is a mutual pick of DCPS and the Washington Teachers' Union, but Bill Turque reports on his blog that it's an interesting pick: "Fryer seems like a peculiar choice. He's clearly a rising star--one of the youngest Harvard profs to win tenure--but much of his published work involves the achievement gap and race-based economic and social issues. ... The other issue is EdLab's 'partners,' or financial backers. They include at least two of the private foundations providing some of the tens of millions for the performance pay bonuses that are a central element of IMPACT. They include the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation the John and Laura Arnold Family Fund. They might like IMPACT just the way it is." Turns out old WTU President George Parker signed off on Fryer, and new prez Nathan Saunders isn't happy, telling Bill that the pick is "absolutely not a dead issue."

RHEE TO SAC-TOWN -- Michelle Rhee will soon be taking her talents -- and StudentsFirst, her new school-reform organization -- to Sacramento. Still-fiance Kevin Johnson, incidentally the mayor of the River City, broke the news yesterday in his State of the City speech. Per the Sacramento Business Journal, which reports that StudentsFirst will have a $200 million operating budget: "She said that while many big city mayors had come a courting, the mayor of Sacramento had made the most aggressive overtures," Johnson said. "I'm not ashamed to admit that I pulled out all the stops and we snagged her." More from the Sacramento Bee.

GRAY ON ARTS -- While Michelle Obama and Wal-Mart were hanging out across town at THEARC, Gray addressed the city arts crowd at the Cultural Tourism DC annual meeting. City Paper's Jonathan Fischer was in the house: "Gray laid out something of a grand vision for the arts: 'I want people in London, I want people in Paris, I want people in the world-class cities to say, "You know what? They've got it going on in Washington, D.C.,"' Gray said. One thing he didn't lay out: How the city will pay for that vision. ... Speaking at the National Museum of Natural History, Gray described the arts as an 'economic engine' of the city, and said that the District should aspire to be a cultural center. ... But the tone quickly took a sobering turn. 'We have some very serious challenges facing us and that is the best euphemism I can find,' Gray said, characterizing the city's budgetary woes -- a $500 million deficit projected for the next fiscal year, he said -- as 'horrendous.' My take: Don't expect the District to contribute $30 million to another Arena Stage any time soon. Or perhaps to less costly projects, as well. 'Not everything takes money,' he later said." Also TBD.

GOP LOOKS TO CUT -- A federal spending proposal from a group of conservative congressional Republicans would cut $210 million per year in "general assistance" to the District budget, plus $150 million in annual payments to Metro. Suderman writes at Loose Lips: "The curious thing about that description is that the District doesn't get any 'general assistance' from Uncle Sam. Instead, federal money finds its way to the District through specific federal programs, like Medicaid. ... [T]he reason proposals like this should cause some alarm here is pretty simple: Which member of Congress (who can actually vote) is going to advocate against cuts that only affect the District? .. [L]awmakers sympathetic to the District may have their hands full playing defense against other proposed cuts to put up much of a fight on every front." It's unclear how deeply the House leadership will embrace the proposal, from the Republican Study Committee. Coverage from DCist, and Examiner, which examines the potential impact on Metro.

LET KAYA BE -- Harry Jaffe makes the case in his Examiner column for letting Kaya Henderson do her thing at DCPS: "Henderson, now the acting chancellor, has a job that's much harder than Rhee's. It's easy to start reform; Henderson has to finish it. And she can, I believe, if the politicians will allow her to complete the task. Can they resist meddling? ... Kaya Henderson has no interest in showing up on the cover of Time or Newsweek. But she does want the freedom to attack some basic problems. For instance, D.C. still has no common curriculum. That's right; doesn't exist. She might have to close more schools. She still has to fight a rear guard action against the union. She will have to fire teachers, jettison principals, displease parents. City Council Chairman Kwame Brown says he supports school reform. Most of the council members are in Kaya's camp. Gray should make Henderson the chancellor; then he and the rest of the pols should leave the battlefield and let her finish the war Rhee started -- if they have the guts."

DAVID V. MARION -- Expect to see a lot more of this in the coming year: Marion Barry clashed with David Catania at a Council health committee hearing Wednesday. Suderman has the blow by blow: "Ostensibly, the [hearing] was about Catania's bill that would require the head of the District's HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and Tuberculosis Administration (or HAHSTA) be elevated to a cabinet-level position for the next two years. But the real debate was whether the council ought to be telling the mayor how to organize city government. ... Barry says the city no longer needs a meddling council sticking its nose in the mayor's business. That's because the no-account former Mayor Adrian Fenty, who Barry said was the 'most unaccountable mayor' he'd ever seen, is no longer in power. 'This is a new day in the District of Columbia,' says Barry. 'The day is over, Mr. Catania, when you're going to tell the mayor what to do.' ... Catania responded that it's not the council's role 'to simply blow kisses' Gray's way, but to engage the executive branch in a thoughtful conversation. Catania then let on that he's feeling a bit ignored by Gray's transition team and his new administration, who'd hadn't reached out to Catania or extended the 'simple courtesies' councilmembers expect when new appointments are being made and announced. 'It is a little worrying to me, to be honest,' Catania said."


Gray: "William Lockridge had the courage of his convictions" (D.C. Wire)

WTU establishes "William Lockridge Scholarship" for students at east-of-the-river high schools (Examiner)

A troubling murder in Bloomingdale has Harry Thomas Jr. speaking out on need to "extend" policing (WTTG-TV, WRC-TV)

More Patrick Mara coverage (Blade, Examiner/Local Opinion Zone)

About 25 show up to picket Wal-Mart developer's house (Examiner)

Students, residents speak out on Georgetown U. campus plan (Dish, The Hoya, Patch)

Justice Elena Kagan reports for Superior Court jury duty, goes house hunting in Logan Circle (Crime Scene, Above the Law)

Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) will be ranking member of House D.C. oversight panel (D.C. Wire)

Catania won't schedule hearing on restaurant health inspection letter grades (@brucejohnson9, DCist)

More on potential soccer stadium sites (GGW)

Here's a picture of Don Peebles and Vincent Orange hanging out at the George Town Club (Dish)

Dominant Dunbar football coach Craig Jefferies steps down (Post)

Tenley Library to be stroller-friendly (TBD)

Transit police union wants Chief Michael Taborn out (Examiner)

Buy yourself some property tax liens (WBJ)

DOH hosts bedbug summit, media goes wild (TBD, WUSA-TV, Examiner, WRC-TV, CNN, Capitol News Service)

My, aren't we rude (WTOP)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Gray attends Obama reception for U.S. Conference of Mayors; announces DMPED, risk management and LGBT picks; has lunch with Lindsay Czarniak

By Mike DeBonis  | January 21, 2011; 10:01 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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