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Posted at 11:21 AM ET, 02/ 1/2011

DeMorning DeBonis: Feb. 1, 2011

By Mike DeBonis

TODAY IS FEB. 1, 2011 -- DAY 31 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION

Traffic cameras aren't going anywhere, folks: The Post's Ashley Halsey reports today on a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that concludes that red-light cameras work -- and they work in the District better than in other cities. At camera-equipped D.C. intersections, fatalities "dropped by 26 percent over a five-year period, slightly more than the average decline in 13 other camera-equipped cities." This, of course, undercuts the popular claim that cameras do nothing except pad city coffers, which they do -- Ashley reports that the District "made almost $7.2 million on 85,678 red-light tickets from June 2009 through May." The study doesn't rate the effectiveness of speeding cameras, but "almost anyone who regularly drives District streets will attest to the fact that drivers slow in places where they know speed cameras are located and are more likely to stop on yellow at intersections with red-light cameras." And Police Chief Cathy Lanier makes a good case for cameras of all types: "Those automated enforcement programs can take the place of 100 officers. In order to have the same effect with police officers, I'd have to divert them from crime-fighting."

AFTER THE JUMP -- Dems bicker about DCDSC support for Biddle -- Fenty left more than $430,000 in constituent service account -- primary set to move to July -- Norton warns on anti-D.C. riders on funding resolution

*** MAIN COURSE ***

DEMOCRATIC INFIGHTING -- The Democrats running for at-large D.C. Council member whose names aren't Sekou Biddle are complaining about a recent announcement for a Biddle event sent by the D.C. Democratic State Committee to its members. Tim Craig reports at D.C. Wire: "In a terse response to party leaders, Jacque Patterson questioned the 'integrity' of the state committee. ... 'How do we build this party if we are willingly to allow this special election to be taken over by special interest individuals who aren't necessarily supporting the best candidate, but building personal political power?' In another e-mail sent to party officials Friday, Ward 1 activist Bryan Weaver said there is an 'appearance of collusion' between the state committee and Biddle. ... Anita Bonds, the party chairwoman, said in an interview the email announcing the Biddle event was sent as a favor to the candidate and shouldn't be viewed as an endorsement. Bonds said any Democratic candidate can request to use the party's e-mail list. ... Patterson, however, accused party leaders of trying to force him out of the race before the voters have their say. He said he has been fielding calls from 'prominent local Democrats' urging him to drop out, although he declined to identify them." Also see DCist on the subject, and more on the alleged arm-twisting at Loose Lips.

FENTY LEFT $436K IN THE BANK -- Adrian Fenty left the mayor's office with more than $436,000 left in his constituent services fund, Michael Neibauer reports at WBJ. What to do with it all? "D.C. law requires that surplus citizen-service funds be used to 'retire the debts of the program, or shall be donated to an organization operating in the District of Columbia as a not-for-profit organization' before the account is terminated. That's a potential windfall for struggling D.C. nonprofits. And Fenty has carte blanche to pick his favorites, though it's hard to believe he wouldn't donate to something education-related -- it was his legacy, after all." Here's another thought -- what was Fenty doing with that much money in his account? For a guy who was regularly and roundly criticized for not being in touch with his constituents, spending down that cash might have helped his political standing a bit. So much for leaving it all on the field of battle.

JULY PRIMARY? -- The city's September primary is about to be one step closer to extinction. Today Mary Cheh is set to introduce a bill that would move the local primary to July, Freeman Klopott reports at the Examiner. The move has been forced by federal law intended to give military and overseas voters sufficient time to cast absentee ballots. The exact date could well change after a committee hearing and markup.

THE FIGHT BACK -- Eleanor Holmes Norton issued a news release yesterday announcing that she is "taking preliminary steps for the distinct possibility that Republicans may try to use the upcoming Continuing Resolution to begin to re-impose one or more of the anti-home-rule attachments that Norton got removed during the past four years" -- on issues such as abortion, gay marriage, needle exchange and medical marijuana. This was accompanied by a release from Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the House appropriations subcomittee overseeing the District budget, making similar warnings and calling on the House GOP to "lay off DC" -- which in turn put DCist's Martin Austermuhle into some kind of rapture. Said Serrano: ""In their ill-advised fight against health care reform, Republicans have talked non-stop about the right of citizens not to have undue impositions from the federal government. They would do well to keep faith with that belief when it comes to their treatment of the citizens of the District of Columbia." Also WAMU-FM.

MEDICAID MONEY -- Harry Jaffe delivers another Examiner column on lousy Medicaid billing: "Having covered D.C. for some 25 years, I can say with confidence that the inability to collect Medicaid funds is neck and neck with the public school system's miserable record of educating our children for scandalous government dysfunction. There's no news in either realm, just a familiar throwing up of hands and a collective: 'Not my problem.' Every top elected and public official shares blame and responsibility for the Medicaid mess. Chief Financial Office Natwar Gandhi has added up the cost of Medicaid write-offs and circulated it among the city council. His total came to $347.4 million over the past decade or so. ... [W]hat about rewarding city workers who actually collect Medicaid funds? It's worth a try since nothing else has worked."


*** SMALL PLATES ***

Just to reiterate: The control board IS NOT COMING BACK! (DCFPI)

Committee of 100 on city streetcar planning: Good job, for the most part (Housing Complex)

Josh Lopez raises $6,000 -- a third of it from Omar Karim and Banneker Ventures (Loose Lips)

Will at-large vote split 1998-style? (Examiner)

Mayor Vincent Gray visits site of Bloomingdale murder; response has some questioning racial motives (TBD)

Cheh, Biddle join regional honchos in bulldogging Pepco (Examiner, Capital Land)

Teresa Chambers again leads the U.S. Park Police (Examiner)

Should this girl have been arrested? (City Desk)

MPD won't release report on sexual assaults (City Desk)

Editorial: First Source reform doesn;t go far enough (District Chronicles)

Beware GU students: You can now be arrested for making "unreasonably loud noise" at night (G'town Dish)

New memorial honors Metro workers killed in the line of duty (Post)

Live chat with Bryan Weaver today at 1 p.m. (GGW)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Council legislative meeting, 10 a.m. -- Gray addresses film summit, attends firefighter's memorial service, drops in on Department of Health Care Finance, visits Palisades Citizens Association

By Mike DeBonis  | February 1, 2011; 11:21 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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