DeMorning DeBonis: April 25, 2011

TODAY IS APRIL 25, 2011 — DAY 110 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION

Less than 22 hours remain until polls open for the special election to elect an at-large D.C. Council member and two State Board of Education members. Tim Craig wraps up the final weekend of campaigning atop today’s Post Metro section: “The candidates largely agree on many major issues, meaning the race will probably hinge on what sort of message voters want to send to a council and mayor dealing with recent scandals and a looming budget debate that could pit the city’s wealthiest residents against some of its poorest. ... Depending on the winner, the election could create either a majority-white or -black council. It could give the council its first Hispanic member, should [Joshua Lopez] take the seat. The election also could determine whether embattled Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) will have six allies on the 13-member council. The most dramatic result would be if [Patrick Mara] is victorious in a city where three out of four voters are registered Democrats.” Adds sitting member David Catania: “The voters are going to tell us in this special election which direction they want the city to go.” In the Examiner, Freeman Klopott notes that the winner stands to be the decisive vote on whether Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s proposed income tax hike remains in the fiscal 2012 budget.

ALSO — Tune in to NewsChannel 8 at 10 a.m. as I talk about the race with host Bruce DePuyt and WTOP’s Mark Segraves.

AFTER THE JUMP — more at-large coverage — latest early-voting and absentee numbers — Sheen escort was a mistake, Lanier says — a closer look at poker proposal needed? — IG needs to step it up, says Jonetta — Supercans are back

*** MAIN COURSE ***

THE V.O. SHOW — More from Tim: “There are signs Mara has momentum, but [Vincent Orange] remains better known and has prepared a well-funded get-out-the-vote effort. ‘They are going to empty out the senior buildings all day long,’ said Sean Metcalf, an adviser to Orange.” (Biddle has two 15-passenger union buses helping him out, Alan Suderman notes at Loose Lips.) Another part of V.O.’s outreach are fliers like this, handed out exclusively in Ward 8: “We are in serious jeopardy of losing our city to the Republicans and reductions of services in our community. Protect What We Have...Do Not Sit Home on Election Day. The Republicans could care less about us.” Also from that missive: “He walks like us. He talks like us. He has a record of working for us.” Tim writes at D.C. Wire: “Orange handed a copy of of the flier to a Washington Post reporter who was shadowing him for part of the day. But when the reporter asked whether it would be appropriate for a white candidate to hand out a similar message to white audiences, Orange quickly noted his campaign did not pay for the flier.” Former council member Sandy Allen took credit: “I’m really concerned about us selecting our own elected officials. ... [T]he current council member who is seated was not selected by the people.”

MORE AT-LARGE — In a Washington Times roundup, Tom Howell Jr. makes note of V.O.’s repeated attempts to return to public office: “Mr. Orange has been absent from D.C. politics since a failed 2006 mayoral bid and his unsuccessful attempt last year to become council chairman, but he wasn’t about to disappear.” The Georgetown Dish also spends some time hanging with Mara, Biddle and Bryan Weaver on the final weekend: “Weaver, going door-to-door in Mt. Pleasant in his home base in Ward 1, talked about ethics reform as he handed out a new piece of literature to sympathetic voters. The money side shows the a black SUV with the license plate that reads ‘LOADED’ running over city problems, such as the deficit, education reform, the HIV/AIDS rate and unemployment.” The Dish also publishes a guest Joshua Lopez endorsement. WAMU-FM’s Patrick Madden also runs down the race, with help from observer and consultant Chuck Thies. If you’re still undecided on the at-large race, perhaps listening to Friday’s WTOP debate will help.

EARLY VOTING — In a Post local op-ed, Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld explained why he sued the Board of Elections and Ethics over the scheduling of the election for the eighth and final day of Passover: “As a father, I look forward to taking my children to watch me vote. Never take for granted, I explain to them, the great privilege and responsibility of being able to cast a ballot. ... I am encouraged to continue our suit to make sure that the city never again schedules an election on a major religious holiday. Judge [Emmet Sullivan] himself said that, ‘This will never happen again.’ That’s exactly right — because we will work hard to make sure of it.” Sullivan also compelled the BOEE to allow early voting on Sunday to accommodate observant Jews, and Herzfeld took a bus of his congregants from Ohem Sholom synagogue and others down to BOEE HQ yesterday. According to board figures, 146 (including yours truly) voted in-person on Easter Sunday; about 1,400 have already voted overall. Another 3,900 absentee ballots have been mailed. You can also vote in person at BOEE headquarters today until 4:45 p.m.

POKER MYSTERIES — The Post editorial board wants more scrutiny of the online-poker provision slipped into the FY11 gap closing legislation last year. “Only now are the District’s plans getting notice, the result of the attention focused on the city’s budget by the recent negotiations to avert a federal shutdown. ‘Not sure’ is what [sponsor Michael Brown] told us when we asked why the normal route of getting legislation approved wasn’t followed. Vincent C. Gray, council chairman at the time and now mayor, approved its inclusion in the supplemental budget. ‘Innovative’ is how Mr. Gray recently described to Post reporters a plan that is projected to generate $13.1 million in revenue for the city between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2014. ... [W]here the District leaped, other states have hesitated because of social policy concerns inherent in any expansion of gambling, as well as worries about passing legal muster. ... Other issues need to be addressed. Will neighborhoods have a say in the location of planned hot spots? What minimum age will define an adult able to gamble? Does this expansion of gambling have implications for law enforcement? Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), chairman of the finance and revenue committee, acknowledged to us there should have been a fuller airing of the plan, so we are pleased he plans to hold — better late than never — a public roundtable.”

YOUTH OUTSOURCING QUESTIONED — After last week’s escape, South Carolinians are questioning why dangerous D.C. youth are being housed at a minimally secure residential treatment facility, Charleston’s Post and Courier reports. “No real security is required at the children and adolescent treatment center where four teens with a history of criminal violence scaled the fence and ran away Wednesday. And the center’s staff made no timely effort to alert police or residents in surrounding neighborhoods. Police were still waiting Friday for a photograph to be supplied of the teen who remained on the loose. Among other concerns raised by the escape from the Palmetto Behavioral Health treatment center in Summerville are whether: Older juvenile criminal offenders should be treated at an in-patient/out-patient center treating children. A 19-year-old offender should have been treated at a children-and-adolescent center. More regulation is needed over a health care industry that operates in some aspects without any direct state oversight.” Says one state legislator: “Why in the world are we taking violent sexual predators from out of state? That’s farcical.” Meanwhile, the Washington Times reports that the two young men shot Thursday near U Street NW were DYRS wards, as was Michael Chamberlin, 17, who was murdered Friday in Prince George’s County. Treyvon Cortez Carey, the New Beginnings escapee, and Delonte Parker, a South Carolina escapee, have not been found.

PROCEDURE WAS NOT FOLLOWED’ — Police Chief Cathy Lanier tells WTOP that “proper procedure was not followed” in allowing the Charlie Sheen escort. “If allegations the officers were speeding, running lights, using emergency equipment are true, they’ve got a problem,” she said. More in an MPD statement: “It is not our practice to utilize emergency equipment for non-emergency situations. Members of the MPD generally do not operate in another jurisdiction without the assistance of a partner agency. It appears our protocols surrounding the approval of reimbursable details were not followed in this instance. Additionally, our written policy states that Police vehicles shall be used for escort duty only for the purpose of providing security for the President and Vice President of the United States and such visiting heads of state or their representative who may require extra-ordinary protective measures because of the political conditions which exist at that time, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia. There is a provision that allows for requests to be reviewed on a case by case basis, but the submission must go through the chain of command and be approved by an Assistant Chief.” More from WUSA-TV, Radar.

MAN UP, CHUCK — Jonetta Rose Barras puts the heat on Inspector General Charles Willoughby in her Examiner column, accusing his office of being lazy and feckless. “Willoughby has failed to investigate many complaints, often choosing to refer them for consideration to the same agencies accused of violating local laws, rules and regulations. In 2010, the IG received 610 complaints, according to documents obtained by The Washington Examiner under the Freedom of Information Act. Willoughby referred 308 of them back to agency directors; in 198 of those cases, he didn’t even require managers to provide any follow-up report. Willoughby’s process of allowing possible offenders to investigate themselves is troublesome and could have a chilling effect: Employees understandably could interpret the system as favoring agency directors and lose confidence in reporting waste, fraud or abuse. Residents, realizing the IG’s deep-sixing proclivities, could see the process as totally meaningless. They might be right.” Jonetta says Willoughby should have done more to investigate the Latino food market in an Adams Morgan park.

SUPERCANS ROLLING AGAIN — Supercans and smaller trash and recycling bins are once again available from the Department of Public Works, but you’ll have pay more for them. The smaller trash and recycling bins, once free, are now $45 a pop. Supercans are $62.50, as they were before, but there is no longer a senior discount and new households don’t get free cans. More in Examiner, WTOP, and TBD

*** SMALL PLATES ***

Obamas do their Easter worshipping at Shiloh Baptist (Post/44)

Kwame explains the budget (Loose Lips)

Lanier now paid $230,743 (City Desk)

Bikeshare growth featured Sunday B1 (Post)

Redistricting the Greater Greater Washington way (GGW)

How safe is Blue Plains sewage sludge? (Post)

Eleanor Holmes Norton: “We cannot allow this Congress to support home rule except when it doesn’t.” (Post)

”Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee” empowered to add dispensaries, amount dispensed (DCist)

Gray’s TANF curbs stand to harm children (DCFPI)

He appears to be saving Emergency Rental Assistance from the ax, though (Poverty Policy)

Charter schools need principals, bad (Post)

Deborah Simmons says liberals lie about vouchers (WaTimes)

Evans wants to nix overtime exception for car-wash workers (WaTimes)

D.C. 911 will soon accept texts (Post)

More fighting about scale of Hine redevelopment (City Paper)

Robert A.M. Stern to design Third Church of Christ, Scientist replacement (Capital Business)

Potholepalooza ends, with fewer potholes filled than in previous years (DCist)

The case against BASIS charter application (Examiner.com)

U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce loves Wal-Mart (Capital Business)

In case you were wondering about the D.C. Public Library’s porn-viewing policy (DCist)

Solar energy advocates petition council for help (WAMU-FM)

DCUSA to get a Modell’s, DSW and Panera (Post)

Betcha didn’t know this: Development slowed down during the recession (Examiner)

Norton hosts “access to capital” fair tomorrow (WBJ)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Gray holds first budget town hall, 7 p.m. at Savoy ES, 2400 Shannon Place SE — D.C. Council redistricting hearing, 6 p.m. in JAWB 500

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.
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