DeMorning DeBonis: March 9, 2011
TODAY IS MARCH 9, 2011 -- DAY 66 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
PREVIOUSLY -- Fenty backs Gov. Scott Walker in Wisc. union fight
Reporters continue to stroll down Mayor Vincent Gray's garden path with Sulaimon Brown. In today's Post, Tim Craig, Nikita Stewart and I look at the man alleged to have made payoffs to Brown, campaign consultant Howard Brooks -- and how he's continued to press the D.C. government for more than $10 million in payments he says is owed to his now-defunct radiology firm for work done at Greater Southeast Community Hospital. Gray, as council chairman, intervened on his behalf to get the bill paid, while other hospital creditors were also hurting. Fun fact: Not only is Brooks' son now in a $110,000-a-year city job, but his neighbor, who also worked on the campaign, has a $125,000-a-year Employment Services post. Freeman Klopott also looks at Brooks in the Examiner, noting that another radiology firm he owed went bankrupt and that he is related by marriage to lottery mogul Leonard Manning. In other news, Nikita reports at D.C. Wire that Brown met with staffers from Rep. Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who "reached out to Brown to learn what process the city is using to investigate and whether he has any concerns." And Jack Evans has postponed a confirmation hearing for Lorraine Green, who was nominated to a spot on the Sports and Convention Authority board. "It's being postponed indefinitely until the matter gets resolved one way or the other," Evans said. "It definitely will not be next week." Meanwhile, Mark Plotkin reports at WTOP that because Inspector General Charles Willoughby had interviewed Brown for a job in January, he is recusing himself from any probe -- Deputy IG Blanche Bruce will investigate the claim. And WUSA-TV's Bruce Johnson asks Gray about Brown's allegation that poll workers were paid during the primary election to hold returns, eliciting an appropriately incredulous response.
AFTER THE JUMP -- Kaya Henderson gets the nod; Post editorial board cheers -- three 4D cops busted in sting -- Sessoms grilled by council -- city marriages double in year after same-sex legalization
*** MAIN COURSE ***
KAYA'S TURN -- Kaya Henderson will be announced as the new permanent chancellor of the D.C. Public Schools today, at Gray's weekly Wilson Building news conference. But Gray tipped his hand during a luncheon at the Metropolitan Club yesterday, the Examiner reports, telling attendees "he believed in continuity in finding a new leader, and that every time you bring in a new leader you slow an organization down." Added a "government official" who attended the luncheon, "There was nothing informal about it." Gray wouldn't tell reporters waiting outside for him the same thing, though: "[T]hey asked me about the chancellor and I indicated - in fact the question was really about a national search and I talked about continuity and the importance about continuity and the fact that I've had a chance to work with the chancellor now for three or four months and she's somebody who I have great admiration for." In other school news: WAMU's Kavitha Cardoza looks at where the cuts will be felt in DCPS -- in high school student-teacher ratios.
IN PRAISE OF KAYA -- The Post editorial board lauds Henderson's ascension to the permanent job: "In tapping Ms. Henderson ... Mr. Gray showed his commitment to continuing the education reforms started by his predecessor. ... Ms. Henderson's appointment will bring much-needed stabilization to the system. Many lower-ranking officials recruited by Ms. Rhee and attracted by the prospect of serious reform will feel comfortable staying on. Ms. Henderson also will be able to recruit strong new colleagues as needed and maintain the private financial support that Ms. Rhee managed to attract." The editorial also defends the process: "Some believe [Gray] should have cast a broader net, but the mayor sensibly argued that there is no better way to see whether someone is suited to a job than watching her perform. Ms. Henderson has a different style than the woman she replaces, and there will be a learning curve in moving from deputy to taking charge. But it bodes well that she has managed, over the past five months, to win over both critics and fans of Ms. Rhee. Her appointment, with the mayor's implicit support for continued reform, is a hopeful moment for the city's schools."
BAD COPS -- An internal affairs sting collars three Fourth District cops for purchasing purportedly stolen goods, Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced yesterday. More from Paul Duggan in the Post: "The officers arrested Tuesday were identified as Guillermo Ortiz, Silvestre Bonilla and Dioni Fernandez. The men, who have been on the force for seven to nine years, were placed on leave. ... Lanier would not discuss details of the investigation that led to the latest arrests or why the men were targeted. But some specifics probably will become public Wednesday when the three officers make their initial appearances in D.C. Superior Court. She said the department has conducted an increased number of undercover 'integrity checks' on officers in recent months, and she suggested that the four officers did not pass theirs, resulting in the internal affairs investigations. ... Asked whether more arrests could be forthcoming, she said, 'We feel pretty confident that we have who we need to have, and we don't believe there will be additional individuals.'" WUSA-TV wonders how many prosecutions might have to be dropped because of the officers' involvement in the investigations or arrests. Also WTTG-TV.
SESSOMS GRILLED -- UDC President Allen Sessoms and board chairman Joseph Askew appeared before the D.C. Council yesterday for his yearly oversight hearing . Natch, Sessoms was pressed on his recent travel expenses. Some trustees, Daniel de Vise reports in the Post, might ask Sessoms to "repay some of the money he spent on first-class airfare," as council members "chided" the prez during an "occasionally heated" hearing. Said Askew: "If it is found that the president has flown first-class, unless he has the authorization to do as such, then the board will have to consider whether the president will have to reimburse the institution for flying first-class." Sessoms again mentioned circulation problems as a rationale for his top-class travel, but Yvette Alexander wasn't buying it: "There is bulkhead seating in the coach area. There is business class. ... That is not a valid excuse for me." Other topics of discussion: "the unusually high, 43-to-1, student-to-faculty ratio at the new Community College of the District of Columbia and on the $187,000-a-year salary paid to the coach of UDC's Division II basketball team." And the kicker: "Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) .. agreed with Sessoms on the virtues of flying first-class. He told the president, 'I'm not going to travel to California on coach.'" More from Examiner, WRC-TV, and, of course, WTTG-TV's Tisha Thompson.
MARRIAGE BOOM -- Today is the first anniversary of the first same-sex marriages performed in the District of Columbia. Carol Morello reports in the Post on the staggering statistics: "At least as many same-sex couples as heterosexual couples - and possibly more - appear to have applied for marriage licenses since gay marriage was legalized in the city last March. The total number of applications more than doubled since the first same-sex couples lined up to get their licenses, from about 3,100 in the previous year to 6,600 during the past 12 months, said Leah H. Gurowitz, spokeswoman for D.C. Superior Court, which issues the licenses. Though the court does not differentiate between same-sex and opposite-sex couples in its record-keeping, in previous years the number of applications varied by only 100 or less. So virtually all the increase is due to same-sex couples, Gurowitz said." The figures include license applicants from both inside the city and elsewhere.
FENTY STANDS WITH WALKER -- In case you missed it: Former Mayor Adrian Fenty expressed solidarity yesterday with union-busting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). Key line: "Most governors and mayors would love to be able to manage their team without the interference of collective bargaining. ... I think it's a new day. I think a lot of these collective bargaining agreements are completely outdated." Talking Points Memo's Evan McMorris-Santoro asked Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.), who is leading House Democrats on union issues, about the comments. Response: "Maybe that's why he's the former mayor. ... I would not [agree with that] and the voters evidently didn't either." Also covered at DCist, Daily Caller.
SPARE THE OUTRAGE -- Writing at Greater Greater Washington, David Alpert warns against "scandal outrage" leading to bad policy decisions, particularly when it pertains to government salaries: "A great department head can save millions of dollars by managing projects better, hiring more capable staff, and avoiding costly mistakes. In the private sector, a good leader can make very good money. We should rightly condemn paying anyone six-figure salaries if that person isn't qualified to do a job, but we also shouldn't hesitate to pay six figures to someone who'll pay for his or her own salary several times over. Likewise, there seems to be a growing groundswell to have Council members cut their own pay following revelations that they're more highly paid than most city legislators. ... [T]he fact is that we want good legislators. ... There's some actual harm that comes from having an ill-advised car or hiring someone inappropriately. There's far more in the loss of confidence in our institutions that can result, and the hasty decisions leaders might make when they're more concerned with looking good in the political columns."
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Allen Lew ordered agencies to remove Fenty's name from signs (GGW)
Jonetta Rose Barras speaks in parables (Examiner)
"Improve the Circulator, but raise the fare" (GGW)
The National Mall Circulator route is "pretty much the dog of the system" (TBD)
In "life-safety issue," emergency water pipes in some Metro tunnels aren't up to snuff (Examiner)
E-mail indicates that Gray knew of convictions before Cherita Whiting was hired at DPR (WaTimes)
Central office staff, salaries grew under Michelle Rhee, analysis shows (TPREE)
"Weird things" delay school budgets a few more days (D.C. Schools Insider)
Human Services employees will pay for tickets on director's Crown Vic (Examiner)
A chat with DDOE's Christophe Tulou (Housing Complex)
New AIDS czar Gregory Pappas explains how the city will get back on track (WTOP)
Tommy Wells wants us to "rediscover the bus" (news release)
Wisconsin Avenue Giant case is before the D.C. Court of Appeals (DCmud)
New Contract Appeals Board pick was Fenty contributor (WBJ)
Is CFSA ignoring child abuse in Ward 3 -- particularly child with rare disease being left untreated? (Examiner)
Rhee and U.S. Chamber of Commerce: together at last (The Hill)
Assistant fire chief wins award for "implementing change and innovation" (FEMS release)
Whoa: Target and Bloomie's in Georgetown Park Mall? (Current via Dish)
"[T]he news from the District Building these days takes me back to the bad times I thought were long gone" (Post letter)
Sulaimon Brown not happy with TBD's coverage (TBD)
Murder means Marbury Plaza might not be rebounding as hoped (Housing Complex)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray holds weekly news conference, 10 a.m. in JAWB press room; meets with D.C. Association for the Education of Young Children, 7:30 p.m. at Sumner School -- Council oversight hearing on Office of the Tenant Advocate, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Board of Architecture and Interior Design, Board of Barber and Cosmetology and Board of Professional Engineering; 10 a.m. in JAWB 412; on Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 10 a.m. in JAWB 500 -- confirmation hearing for Board of Zoning Adjustment nominees Nicole Sorg and Lloyd J. Jordan, 3 p.m. in JAWB 123 -- Kwame Brown appears on NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt, 10 a.m. on NewsChannel 8.