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Posted at 11:27 AM ET, 07/06/2011

DeMorning DeBonis: July 6, 2011

TODAY IS JULY 6, 2011 — DAY 184 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION

PREVIOUSLY — Catania calls hearing on Chartered Health settlement

Think you’ve heard enough ideas recently about how to clean up the ethical morass that is District government? Now comes Tom Lindenfeld — campaign strategist to Adrian Fenty, Tony Williams, Kwame Brown and others — with a Post op-ed containing a few ideas of his own. “Pay-to-play schemes, embezzlement and all manner of insider dealing plague other cities and states,” he writes. “But where many states have taken dramatic and effective measures to tackle corruption, the District has done very little.” To kill corruption dead, Lindenfeld suggests trying the following: Ban campaign contributions from city contractors. Ban contributions from registered lobbyists. More transparency for independent expenditure funds. End constituent service funds. No more gifts, including free legal advice, for elected officials. No more nonprofit groups for politicos. Better open meetings laws. Stronger procurement rules. “It does not matter whom you supported or who wins an election,” he writes. “Without a bedrock of strictly enforced ethical standards, any effort to end cronyism will fail. Mayor Vincent Gray should make good on his campaign promises and act now to close the barn door on greed and insider dealing.”

AFTER THE JUMP — Feds’ crackdown could imperil medical marijuana — Man accused of assaulting summer jobs participant has record — Kwame Brown tries to find money for bond tax — Reforming the ABC Board — Trey Gowdy’s benign neglect

*** MAIN COURSE ***

LOOK OUT BELOW — In the Washington Times, Tom Howell Jr. does an update on the city’s medical marijuana program — including a look at how the feds might end this party before it even gets started: “Federal prosecutors have ‘basically looked the other way’ in states that legalized medical marijuana, but a letter sent from the Department of Justice to U.S. attorneys across the country on Wednesday has signaled that law enforcement is not acquiescing to those who cultivate or sell marijuana, according to a D.C. government source familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly about it. The U.S. Attorney for the District has not issued any such warnings so far, and is ‘studying the issue to see what input we can provide on the subject,’ said Bill Miller, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ron Machen.” For more on the DOJ letters, check out Mike Riggs’s Reason posting from last week.

ACCUSED ASSAULTER HAS RECORD — The Post’s Isaac Arnsdorf with the scoop: “The D.C. government employee who was charged last week with sexually abusing a young woman in the city’s summer jobs program was released from prison a few years ago after serving two decades for armed robbery and assault. Thomas D. Nelson, 54, was convicted in 1988 of armed robbery, assault on a police officer, carrying a pistol without a license and assault with a dangerous weapon, according to court records. Nelson also had several earlier convictions for larceny and possessing and selling drugs. He was sentenced to 60 years but paroled in 2008, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.” Says Michael Brown, “The whole issue is just frankly outrageous and unacceptable, and there will be an investigation. ... Whatever safeguards were in place have to clearly be reexamined.”

BOND TAX REDUX — Kwame Brown tells the Examiner’s Freeman Klopott that he’s “working hard to get the money” to restore the out-of-state muni bond tax exemption as a part of the fiscal 2011 supplemental budget deliberations. “Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans is working with Brown to find the cash. ‘If we can’t find it, then I won’t be able to support the budget,’ Evans said. Brown and Evans said they haven’t identified the source of the money yet. The council is scheduled to vote on the budget July 12.” Finding the money is one thing; perhaps Brown and Evans should also spend some time finding additional votes.

THE INTRALOT CODE — In her Examiner column, Jonetta Rose Barras puts the city’s current Internet gambling in the conspiratorial context of the long-running lottery contract award saga: “Most council members and District residents didn’t know then that [Michael Brown]’s employer represented gaming industry interests. They didn’t know about the Internet gaming clause in Intralot’s contract. And they didn’t know about the secret dealings of Brown, Gray and [Natwar Gandhi], including the deliberate decision not to hold hearings, which surely would have ended their pro-gambling project. Gandhi announced after last week’s hearing that he would delay temporarily installation of gambling parlors at selected sites, until a community input process has been developed. That’s not good enough. The council should repeal the law immediately. There are too many unanswered questions about unreported relationships and the appearance of backroom deals. The city doesn’t need another scandal. But, don’t you smell one on the way?”

ABC, 123 — While we’re talking about reforming the Taxicab Commission and the city government writ large, why not talk about an overhaul of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board? Activist and former member Laurie Collins has some ideas at the Georgetown Dish to make the board more efficient and more responsive to community concerns: “The politically appointed ABC Board may need to be abolished in its present form and [the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration] removed from the board’s supervision, so that liquor licensing and arbitration of disputes can occur in a fair, equitable and timely manner. ABRA needs to operate independently of politically appointed board members. It needs a director who answers only to the Mayor. And it needs a professional arbitration board that meets on a full time basis. It should be the board’s function to adjudicate cases only. It should be the ABRA director’s function to run the regulatory agency without interference from a board, to issue licenses, and only refer cases to the board that require arbitration.”

TREY’S WAY — Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and his attitude toward District affairs get a close look from the New Republic’s Kara Brandeisky: “Gowdy has been a surprising [House Oversight subcommittee] chair not because of what he’s done, but because of what he’s chosen not to do. Given the opportunity — and constitutional authority — to meddle, he’s been remarkably hands-off. He has said he does not plan to add any amendments to this year’s D.C. municipal budget. For activists who had predicted a return to the reign of terror like that which took place under GOP control during the 1990s, when funding for programs related to needle exchange and medical marijuana was nixed, Gowdy’s restraint has been a welcome surprise. ... [Gowdy] framed it as a matter of simply listening to his constituency. ‘I was on the campaign trail for 18 months,’ he told me. ‘I never got a question about the District of Columbia in South Carolina. I didn’t come up here with a mandate. [Eleanor Holmes Norton] doesn’t go out of her way to tell us what to do in South Carolina. I’m not searching for ways to tell the District of Columbia what to do.’ ” He adds: “I was not elected the mayor of the District of Columbia. ... I’m unelectable in the District of Columbia.”

*** SMALL PLATES ***

Tomorrow: Kwame’s day before the Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE, the Examiner)

Today: Hate crimes hearing (The Post)

OIG audit of Allen Lew’s OPEFM echoes D.C. Auditor findings (WBJ)

Five states have more federal money in their budgets than D.C. (GGW)

Council tries to put the screws to Pepco (WAMU-FM)

Hey, look: NYC got a Wal-Mart donation, too (NYT)

Airports Authority feeling pressure over Dulles rail PLA (The Post)

“Grey Gardens” in Wesley Heights? (The Post)

A Maryland Republican’s argument for D.C. statehood (Cross Purposes)

Joe Mamo seeking zoning extension as he tries to secure financing for Bloomingdale development (Housing Complex)

Faced with few applications, District considers expanding “HomeSaver” foreclosure prevention program (The Post)

The battle over the William E. Doar Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts appears to be over (the Examiner)

Why can’t D.C. be more like Charlottesville? (GGW)

“LaPret” joins the D.C. political hiphop game (Loose Lips)

Council staffers need to come up with better walking team names (Loose Lips)

Help out Matt, Ned, Mark and the rest of Tune Inn crew, July 15 at American Legion Post 8 (WRC-TV, Friends of Tune Inn)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Gray holds weekly news briefing, 10 a.m. in JAWB G-9 — D.C. Council hearings on “Hate Crimes in the District of Columbia and Police Response to Reports of Hate Crimes” and “The Metropolitan Police Department’s 2011 Police Boundary Realignment Plan,” 10 a.m. in JAWB 500

By  |  11:27 AM ET, 07/06/2011

 
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