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Posted at 9:47 AM ET, 02/25/2011

DeMorning DeBonis: Feb. 25, 2011

By Mike DeBonis

TODAY IS FEB. 25, 2011 -- DAY 55 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION

PREVIOUSLY -- Read Sulaimon Brown's resume -- is he qualified for $110K job?

Thanks, Montgomery County -- because I was reporting a thoughtful column on your budget issues and your public employees, I missed one of the wildest days in recent John A. Wilson Building history. Luckily for all of us, plenty of reporters were there to cover the all of the Sulaimon Brown-precipitated drama. I'll recap my recap: Brown was a minor mayoral candidate who was a nonfactor in last September's Democratic primary, but he made some waves on the campaign trail by reliably bashing Adrian Fenty and lauding victor Vincent C. Gray. The Post's Nikita Stewart reported Sunday that Brown was given a $110,000 appointment in the Department of Health Care Finance. That led to puzzled outrage from political observers and reporters, who asked Gray Wednesday to defend the hire -- which he did -- even as Washington City Paper raised questions about Brown's background, which includes a misdemeanor arrest and the issuance of a protective order. Thursday morning, Brown was fired by DHCF Director-designate Wayne Turnage, as first reported by City Paper. Reporters, seeking answers on the firing, staked out Gray at the Wilson Building. Gray gave an afternoon press briefing there, which was crashed by a tearful Brown, who defended himself. In the Post, Nikita and Tim Craig call the affair a
"bizarre continuation of a media firestorm that has swept up the mayor this week" and write that it "raised questions about the vetting process used by Gray's transition team." For much, much more, check WUSA-TV, WRC-TV, Examiner, Loose Lips, and TBD. Or, courtesy of DCist, follow it all by Twitter.

AFTER THE JUMP -- Government owned SUVs are illegal -- FOP boss wants Congress to take over police department -- after needle exchange is gone -- Kwame Brown: 'Bama of the Year'?

*** MAIN COURSE ***

ILLEGAL RIDES -- Another twist in the Kwamemobile saga (and beyond): Alan Suderman notes at Loose Lips this morning that it appears to be illegal for the city to be buying or leasing SUVs in the first place: "The council passed the 'Government Sport Utility Vehicle Purchasing Amendment Act of 2002' in, well, 2002. ... As you can see from the text, it's pretty clear legislation: 'Except for security, emergency, rescue or armored vehicles, all passenger automobiles ... purchased or leased by the District government shall have an Environmental Protection Agency estimated miles per gallon average of not less than 22 miles per gallon, and shall not be a sports utility vehicle.' (Lincoln, by the way, says on its website that Navigators get 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.) ... But it looks as if this law has been ignored for a long time -- long before [Kwame Brown] got his Navigators.

BAUMANN SUGGESTS FEDERAL COPS TAKEOVER -- The week's events, plus the prospect of severe budget cuts, have police union leader Kristopher Baumann calling for a federal takeover of the Metropolitan Police -- or so he tells Harry Jaffe in his Examiner column: "Tell me Jay Leno's writers are not salivating over this stuff. Tell me congressmen like Utah's Jason Chaffetz aren't preparing legislation to increase Congress' power over our fair city. Chances for a federal control board never looked so good. That would be fine, in the eyes of [Baumann], certainly when it comes to public safety. 'Why do we need to wait until there is a crisis and crime is rampant again,' Baumann asks. 'What we need is a federal agency to oversee the police department. The police chief would answer to Congress.' I am not buying what Baumann is selling, yet. There is nothing more essential to an independent government and its residents than controlling the way it is policed. Baumann has taken an extreme position that will not endear him to the political class. But Baumann isn't looking for love. 'Rank and file officers have been talking about this for years,' he says. 'They are worried the department is about to fall apart. Police officials agree, in private.'"

MORE RECRIMINATIONS -- The Washington Times editorial board, prompted by Michael Brown's move to put a ceremonial voting-rights-related name of all things, also wants a congressional kibosh on the city: "Mr. Brown ignores the rich history of our capital city so he can tack on 'ceremonial signs' carrying his slogan-of-the-day. To say the least, it would be ridiculous to have tourists from around the world looking up from their maps to accidentally find themselves on 'Free DC Avenue.' ... The capital city has placed the motto 'taxation without representation' on its license plates and gone out of its way to ramp up publicly funded activism on behalf of increasing the relative influence of the Democratic Party in Congress. It's obvious the District has too much taxpayer money on its hands. Congress should adjust the D.C. subsidy accordingly."

STILL MORE RECRIMINATIONS -- Conservative pundit Armstrong Williams calls for a muscular D.C. Tea Party in a blog post for The Hill: "[W]hy do these politicians feel they can flaunt and fiddle with the trappings of office and use their public positions for personal gain? Is this town stuck in the Dark Ages when it comes to transparency and stewardship of the public coffers? It's time for a Tea Party movement to form in the District, and I'm not referring to the kind that leans right and votes conservative. We'll never see that in my lifetime. No, we need a movement that is willing to stand up and wag a finger in the faces of the Kwame Browns who claim to 'take full responsibility' and then walk away without justifying such a statement. One which asks why a city that's $400 million in debt should even THINK about paying for a lease that's over $1,900 a month when its residents struggle to make that in two months. One that's tailor-made for this type of political corruption."

AFTER NEEDLE EXCHANGE -- Post columnist Petula Dvorak looks at what the end of needle exchange will mean to the city: "They are a tough sell for sympathy, the addicts. One couple rolls up in a primer-gray hooptie. She's got toothpick legs, one improbably skinnier than the other. Her skeletal frame is swimming in a child's Bugs Bunny denim jacket. He's scary skinny, too, with withered teeth sticking out of white gums and a mean streak. 'How can they do this? I thought this was supposed to stop the AIDS. What, they want more people to get the AIDS?' he snarls at the folks who tell him the brown paper bag they're giving him is the last batch of free needles he'll get. The needle exchange program is dead. Because of a drop in private donations, city budget delays and other financial woes, it will close Feb. 25. The man goes on: 'I've been coming here for, I dunno, about 10 years. What am I gonna do now?' ... What are we going to do now? We are the nation's HIV/AIDS capital. Our infection rate has skyrocketed to 3 percent. That's worse than some of the West African countries that have declared it an epidemic."

IN THE SENATE -- Ben Pershing writes in the Post about spending bill prospects in the Senate, in the wake of Republican-passed cuts in the House: "In the District, the federal government's funding for the city would take an $80 million hit, and D.C. would face the same restrictions on needle-exchange programs and abortions that were in place the last time Republicans controlled Congress. If House Republicans insist on the restrictions, it's not clear how hard Senate Democrats will be willing to fight against them. After the House vote, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said she was 'rounding up Senate allies who, along with the Obama administration, are committed to preserving D.C.'s home-rule rights and dignity as a local jurisdiction.'"


*** SMALL PLATES ***

No Lady Gaga for Jim Graham (D.C. Wire)

David Catania wants AG to investigate whether HIV funds were used to fund strip club (Washington Times)

Norton submits bill to keep District government open in case of federal shutdown (AP via WTOP)

Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty laments Fenty loss (The Hill)

Questions that need to be asked before handing Whole Foods a tax break (DCFPI)

A little man-on-the-street reaction to the Kwamemobiles -- including Leo Alexander: "Kwame Brown will definitely be a contender for 'Bama of the Year!'" (Afro)

Still more Kwamemobile reax (All Opinions Are Local)

Lanier wants The Scene closed (City Desk)

Q&A with Max Brown (WBJ)

Read the new Metro board chair's vision (news release)

Metro could limit use of student passes (Examiner)

Florida congressman to speak at D.C. GOP gala (D.C. Wire)

More coverage of the "Social Safeway" debate (D.C. Wire)

Meet the Donatellis (WBJ)

What the at-large council candidates think of the GU campus plan (The Hoya)

Get your bumper stickers (DCist, Zazzle)


*** ON THE MENU ***

Norton's annual tax fair is Saturday at the Washington Convention Center, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- Gray kicks off AIDS conference preparations -- Confirmation hearing for State Superintendent of Education Hosanna Mahaley, 10 a.m. in JAWB 412; hearing for Department of Health Care Finance Director Wayne Turnage, 2 p.m. in JAWB 120

By Mike DeBonis  | February 25, 2011; 9:47 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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