DeMorning DeBonis: Feb. 15, 2011
TODAY IS FEB. 15, 2011 -- DAY 45 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
Mayor Vincent C. Gray, at the last minute, has backed off a legislative showdown over the fate of United Medical Center. Nikita Stewart reports at D.C. Wire that three Adrian Fenty-appointed UMC board members have agreed to step down in order to be replaced by Gray's picks, removing the need for a board-packing plan. But tensions over the hospital's direction will likely continue -- albeit without a entertaining dais performance today from David Catania. Interesting tidbit from Nikita's item: "Catania ... is expected to quickly move Gray's nominations to fill vacancies on the board and Gray will be allowed to designate a new chairman, according to a source in the Gray administration." Does this mean some sort of detente has been reached? Color me skeptical. For a grand overview of the conflict, find good rundowns from Freeman Klopott at Examiner and Ben Fischer at WBJ. And after the jump, see how local opinion makers are split on the issue.
AFTER THE JUMP -- Children of top Gray aides get city jobs -- Wm. C. Smith wants $8 million tax break to lure Whole Foods -- mostly good news for D.C. in Obama budget -- Marion Barry eyes reverse sexism in DOES
*** MAIN COURSE ***
PRO-GRAY -- The Post editorial board supports Gray in taking a more assertive role: "Mr. Gray's bid to pack the board with his own appointees is a tad unsettling; there's no evidence the current board has anything but the hospital's best interests at heart; indeed, even the critical Mr. Gandhi has acknowledged the signs of improvement. Equally unsettling, though, is the grip that Mr. Catania - to whom former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) deferred many decisions - seems to hold over the hospital's direction. He has been an important and passionate champion for the hospital, but he also played a major role in the disastrous recruitment of the hospital's previous owner. Mr. Gray is right to want to establish his leadership on this issue. He told us he plans to retain an independent health-care consultant to advise the city about the hospital's strengths and weaknesses and to help develop a strategy and timetable for the hospital's sale. It's an eminently sensible idea and one that, we hope, would include possible regional solutions to providing safety-net health care."
PRO-CATANIA -- Harry Jaffe is a Catania partisan, writing in his Examiner column that "Gray and the council seem headed for a fire sale to local businessman George Chopivsky. This is questionable at best and potentially disastrous." Here's his one-year exit plan: "Since NIH, Howard, Washington Hospital and Children's have a physical and financial stake in UMC, let them form a consortium and take over the hospital wall to wall, perhaps under Medstar, the regional hospital king. Failing that, bring in a Wall Street investment banking firm to execute a sale to the best candidate. In both cases, professionals would hold sway over the politicians. Otherwise, the poor folks lose -- again."
ALL IN THE FAMILY -- WAMU-FM's Patrick Madden with the scoop: "[T]he daughter of Gray Campaign Chair Lorraine Green and the son of Gray's chief of staff, Gerri Mason Hall, were hired last month to work for the District government. Green's daughter, Leslie, works in the mayor's office as a senior communications manager. Hall's son, Nicholas, has been hired as a writer/editor in the Department of Parks and Recreation. ... D.C. is governed by federal nepotism rules, and there is no evidence any laws were broken. The mayor's office says while Gray was not personally responsible for the hirings, he stands by them. The statement adds these young people 'were interviewed and selected because of what they can offer' and calls them 'the next generation of leaders.'"
HOW MUCH FOR A WHOLE FOODS? -- Jonathan O'Connell and myself report on what promises to be a hot-button issue for a city government struggling to close a huge budget hole: William C. Smith & Co. is ready to bring a Whole Foods Market to the Nationals Park area, just across the Southeast Freeway from Capitol Hill. But the developer says it needs an $8 million tax break to do it. "Chris Smith, chief executive of William C. Smith, said opening a Whole Foods in Southeast would likely draw other restaurants and shops, much as the Logan Circle neighborhood enjoyed after the chain opened a store at 1440 P St. NW in 2001. ... 'We're hopeful that Whole Foods, similar to what it meant to P Street in Northwest, will do the same thing down here, creating sort of a nexus between Capitol Hill and Capitol Riverfront,' Smith said. ... Without the tax break, he said, he would either wait to develop the site or build a smaller apartment building with little or no retail." Also complicating the matter: The CFO's study showing that Ward 6 already gets more economic development aid than any other ward.
FEDERAL BUDGET IMPLICATIONS -- President Obama's 2012 budget proposal is out, and it "protects many District programs from the federal budget ax," Tim Craig reports in the Post, but city officials are still worried about Republican attempts to cut funding for courts, schools, Metro and more. The Obama plan "urges Congress to steer more federal resources to move the Department of Homeland Security to the campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital in Ward 8, allocate additional funds to fight HIV/AIDS and create a $5 million fund for local nonprofit arts organizations" and also continues the Tuition Assistance Grant program and Metro capital funding aid. Given the Republican proposals, the new plan "sets the stage for a grueling debate this year on Capitol Hill about the amount and types of support the cash-strapped federal government should be offering the District government and its residents." Also: Republicans want the needle exchange rider is back. WBJ's Jeff Clabaugh reports that while the Obama administration is maintaining funding for the Department of Homeland Security consolidation at St. Elizabeths, it is proposing to delay the relocation of FEMA to the east campus.
THERE GOES MARION -- This week in ridiculous Marion Barry dais commentary, via Tim Craig: "At a confirmation hearing for Rochelle Webb, Barry (D-Ward 8) said he was 'shocked' to learn that the acting director had yet to name a man to any of the 'eight or nine' highest-ranking positions in her office. 'When you hire going forward, there must be some qualified men you can put in key positions in the agency,' Barry said he told Webb during the Housing and Workforce Development committee hearing. ... In an interview, Barry said he isn't backing down from his belief that that both men and women should make up the agency's leadership team. 'I sure did say that and don't apologize for it,' Barry said. 'When there are no men on the labor council, what does that say to the community? That there are no qualified men to hold any of those positions?'" Muriel Bowser tweeted in reply: "CM Barry insists that new DOES director hire a man as part of her executive team. Excuse me? I don't remember any fuss w/ all male leadrship." Alan Suderman runs down the full dais banter at Loose Lips.
PATTERSON ON THE ISSUES -- Some highlights from Jacque Patterson's GGW chat yesterday. His priorities: "Budget Deficit, continuing Education Reform, and Job Readiness." On the Fenty legacy: "I think former Mayor Fenty and Michelle Rhee did a great job of right sizing our facilities and IMPACT, they didn't do well in engaging the communities that were impacted." On his political accomplishments: "As an ANC for 8 years, I worked with the Williams C. Smith Co. to bring THEARC, the Giant grocery store, and a federal credit union to an area that didn't have one grocery store in the Ward, few recreational facilities, and was being victimized by check cashing joints." On his job at the Federal City Council: "My role at the Federal City Council is as a managing director of projects that are driven by elected officials. I specialize in Economic Development, Libraries, Public Safety, and Government Operations. ... I'm currently working on an ecomomic development project that would like to redevelop 10th Street SW in the L'Enfant community into the country's first Eco-District." On streetcars: "I would push for the streetcar project to continue East of the River. ... [T]he project will go a long ways in the revitalization of downtown Anacostia. And I can't wait to ride a streetcar down MLK Ave."
ARBITRARY ARBITRATION? -- The Examiner's is the latest editorial board to weigh in against an arbitrator's ruling reinstating some fired teachers: "[Michelle Rhee]'s failure to follow the exact protocol is regrettable, but the people who will be most affected by the 'remedy' are innocent D.C. school children who again will be stuck with these bottom-of-the-barrel classroom instructors until they decide to retire on a cushy pension courtesy of District taxpayers. Their reinstatement also sends a chilling message to current Chancellor Kaya Henderson, just in case she had any immediate plans to follow Rhee's lead. There are similar loopholes in the IMPACT evaluation process her predecessor negotiated with the union. The educational future for D.C. families is unfortunately starting to look like it was in the pre-Rhee days, with children trapped in public schools with incompetent but well-paid teachers who cannot be fired for all practical purposes simply because they are union members."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Brookings: D.C. will no longer be majority black in 2014 (Post)
In advance of budget cuts, principals are briefed on how to properly "excess" teachers (D.C. Schools Insider)
Business owners push back hard against late-night Metro cuts (Examiner)
DOH wondering why few girls are getting mandated HPV vaccine (WAMU-FM)
Ted Loza gave small amounts to Gray, Kwame Brown campaigns (Loose Lips)
Mary Cheh's spending the week in Guantanamo Bay (Examiner)
"The Michelle Rhee You Don't Know" (HuffPo)
Superior Court security officers give photographer a hard time (DCist)
In defense of the jurisdictional veto (Dr. Gridlock)
The problem with teacher "tenure" (Quick and the Ed)
What GOP funding cuts would do to Metro (WTOP)
Gray, CMs fete 24-year-old author (G'town Dish)
Ground to be broken on Virginia Avenue SE building, to be home for OCTO and CFSA (DCmud)
Fixing L'Enfant Plaza (Examiner)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray breaks ground on Southeast facility rehab, holds weekly news conference, attends VPOTUS black history month reception, Sigma Tau Delta legal fraternity meeting and literacy fundraiser -- fourth legislative meeting of the D.C. Council, 10 a.m. in JAWB 500
| February 15, 2011; 11:04 AM ET
Categories: Morning Mike, The District
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