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Posted at 09:43 AM ET, 06/06/2011

DeMorning DeBonis: June 6, 2011

TODAY IS JUNE 6, 2011 — DAY 156 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION

ALERT — Mayor Vincent C. Gray will be holding a Washington Post live chat at 1 p.m. Send in your questions now!

Quite a day lined up for District political junkies: At 11 a.m., Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan is set to release the long-awaited finding of his probe into Harry Thomas Jr.’s fundraising. Then, sometime after 1 p.m., the D.C. Council will hear from Sulaimon Brown, the quixotic former mayoral candidate who single-handedly derailed Gray’s mayoralty with his accusations of campaign payoffs. Nikita Stewart reported Sunday that there is new evidence supporting the payoff allegations: Three entries on Brown’s campaign finance reports have connections to Howard Brooks, who allegedly delivered Brown his payments. And Brown has provided copies of money orders backing up those connections. “The Post found the following apparent links: a $225 donation from Brooks’s son, Peyton; $100 from Litonya Livingston, who said she is Peyton’s girlfriend; and $335 from Aundrea Naylor, a cousin to Howard Brooks’s wife. Livingston, of Silver Spring, denied the contribution, adding that she did not know why her name and address were listed on Brown’s campaign records. ‘I have nothing to do with this,’ she said in an interview Friday. Naylor has called her apparent contribution to Brown’s campaign ‘bogus’ and said she did not know how her name appeared in his report.” Expect those connections and others to be thoroughly reviewed during today’s testimony. More Sulaimon previews from Nikita, WAMU-FM, WaTimes, WTTG-TV, WTOP, and DCist. And here’s a handy chart!

AFTER THE JUMP — Michael Brown’s gambling ties — D.C. cop charged in horrific murders — Kwame Brown still answering Kwamemobile questions — Colby King digs back into DYRS — where’s the oversight on tax allegations? — Wal-Mart inks National Harbor deal

*** MAIN COURSE ***

’GAMBLING MAN’ — The Post editorial board devotes a Sunday lead, three-drop-cap piece to Michael Brown’s “unsettling” role in slipping language permitting online poker into budget legislation last year, while at the same time working for Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, a law and lobbying firm with a robust practice representing gambling interests. “Mr. Brown said his pursuit of online gaming — which he has portrayed as a solution to the District’s pressing budget needs — was appropriate because no client represented by his firm had business before the city that would have been affected. Lost in that argument is the possible value to Mr. Brown’s then-employer or its clients of the nation’s capital becoming the first local government to permit online gaming, potentially a highly profitable industry. ... If some now follow the District’s lead, new markets could open for Edwards Angell clients, which according to the firm’s Web site include ‘public and private companies that provide gaming equipment, software and/or services; casino owners; lenders to gaming facility developers; and companies and individuals involved in gaming-related investigations and disputes.’” While there is no direct evidence of a direct benefit to Brown or his firm for pushing the poker provision, adding to the smoke clouding the matter is (a) its surreptition; (b) Brown’s refusal to explain what he did to earn his $240,000 salary at Edwards Angell; and (c) a dispute between Brown and the firm over whether it was made aware of the online poker provision. Brown left Edwards Angell earlier this year. The board writes that the Council should “return to [the online-poker] issue with a seriousness that was absent the first time around. We believe the appropriate officials also should examine the propriety of Mr. Brown’s actions in this case.”

COP CHARGED WITH MURDERS — What D.C. cop Richmond Phillips stands accused of is horrifying, the Post’s Matt Zapotosky reports: “Phillips, a married D.C. police officer, met in a Prince George’s County park on Monday with Wynetta Wright to talk about her year-old daughter. Phillips was due in court the next day for a hearing that would begin to determine whether he was the baby girl’s father and, if so, how much he’d have to pay to support her. The meeting ended horribly, police said. Phillips, 39, allegedly pulled out a gun and killed the 20-year-old Wright with a bullet to the head. He then left her body in the park, drove her car up a hill away from the scene and abandoned the baby in the car, according to law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case. When an officer found the car Thursday, after the scorching midweek heat, the baby was dead. As police awaited autopsy results Friday, they said she might have died from the extreme heat in the car. ... Phillips, a vice officer who joined the D.C. police force in 2003, was arrested by Prince George’s police Friday and charged with first-degree murder. ... Phillips was assigned to the vice unit in the D.C. police 1st District station. ... He worked in plain clothes on short-term investigations, making undercover drug buys and performing other anti-vice tasks, police said.” Also the Gazette, which has this statement from Police Chief Cathy Lanier: “This is a horrific crime, and our deepest sympathies go out to the Wright family. As we have seen all too often, domestic violence has its impact on the most innocent victims.”

KWAME ’SPLAINS HIMSELF — Let’s survey how Kwame Brown has responded to the latest revelations about his various luxury SUVs. He asked me: “How did we get back to this SUV story?” He added: “At the end of the day, I take full responsibility for everything.” He explained to the Washington Times what “full responsibility” means: “I’m not throwing a staff member under the bus, no one under the bus.” Of the e-mail indicating that he asked for a vehicle “comparable to” Gray’s Navigator, he told Mark Segraves, “It’s an e-mail basically saying that he said that he said that she said that I said something.” And he tells the Examiner’s Lisa Gartner that he needed a black interior because his kids “like to munch in the car” while riding between home in Hillcrest and school in Cleveland Park. His spokeswoman added: “Yes, all of the chairman’s vehicles have had dark interiors because little people can be quite messy!” Meanwhile, the Post editorial board is heartened that at least two DPW employees — Michael Biggs and Greg Harrelson — were queasy enough about the SUV shenanigans to register their disgust in private e-mails, “showing a discernment sadly lacking in their higher-ups.”

‘VINNY SCHIRALDI-LITE’ — After a significant hiatus, Colby King returns to the subject of DYRS and the New Beginnings Youth Center in his Saturday Post column. The themes will ring familiar: “Welcome to DYRS, where striking a guard might get you confined to your dorm room, where the locks don’t work, for a couple of days at most. You might also be asked to write a note of apology.” He has kind words for Jim Graham, who “has brought much-needed assertive oversight of DYRS as chairman of the council’s Committee on Human Services, after years of mellow stewardship by his predecessor, Tommy Wells .” He is not quite so complimentary toward the man Gray has picked to lead DYRS: “Neil Stanley, who was then-director Vincent Schiraldi’s pick to serve as general counsel two years ago, is off to a bad start. Administrators, including two deputy superintendents, have lodged complaints against him alleging a hostile work environment. ... At DYRS, treatment and placement decisions as well as public safety are of paramount importance. The fear is that with Neil Stanley, DYRS is getting Vinny Schiraldi-Lite. Pity the city.”

REDISTRICTING RUMBLINGS — Jack Evans said the following about redistricting on Friday’s Politics Hour: “I’m not sure what changes we’re going to make. ... We’re looking at many of the suggestions that have been made and very well may make some changes...it’s not the final plan yet.” DCist also notes: “Of course, when asked about Ward 6 specifically — where most of the anger over the plan is centralized — Evans said that he didn’t want to ‘give anybody hope.’” That said, this reporter (like @tomsherwood) is hearing rumblings that there could significant changes to the plan.

WHERE’S THE OVERSIGHT? — Jonetta Rose Barras notes in her Examiner column that the potential non-collections of may millions in deed recordation taxes “hasn’t distressed Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown or finance committee head Jack Evans. Despite the city’s fiscal woes, they haven’t demonstrated any Willie Sutton-esque determination to go get the money. Mayoral spokeswoman Linda Wharton Boyd said Gray ‘has directed the attorney general to work with the CFO to find a constructive solution’ to the problem. Brown said he is ‘very concerned’ but is ‘waiting for the CFO’s response.’ Ditto from Evans, who said he has been more focused on the budget and redrawing boundary lines for the city’s wards. He said he would decide what to do after [Natwar Gandhi]’s report. ‘If it warrants, I will hold a [public] hearing,’ continued Evans, whose committee oversees the CFO. ‘But I don’t see that happening before the summer recess.’ Three cheers for the District’s fiscal stewards.”

COUNCIL MEMBERS’ KIDS — Examiner’s Gartner revisits the perennial question of where our politicians are sending their kids to school. Phil Mendelson still stands alone in sending his daughter to a neighborhood public school. Kwame Brown’s kids attend an out-of-boundary public school; Harry Thomas has one kid in a charter school, another in a parochial school. And Jack Evans, Michael Brown and Vincent Orange have their kids in various private schools. Second best explanation is from Brown: “His children’s neighborhood school is Stanton Elementary, but, ‘My wife was just not into that discussion,’ Brown told The Washington Examiner. He declined to elaborate.” Best explanation is from Thomas: “[H]is younger son does not attend their neighborhood school, Springarn — where 16 and 12 percent are proficient in reading and math, respectively — because his son wants to play college baseball. ‘He’s one of six pitchers in his school in a rotation, so he doesn’t get burnt out,’ Thomas said. ‘If I send him to a school like Springarn and he’s a baseball kid, he’s pitching half the game.’”

CIRCULATOR TO CROSS THE RIVER — Examiner’s Kytja Weir covers the pending expansion of Circulator bus service east of the Anacostia River: “The extension would arrive as the city is looking to pull back on a discount program for Metrobus, giving residents of Anacostia and other neighborhoods east of the river an inexpensive, alternative transportation option. City officials say the timing of the two proposals is not related. ... Kwame Brown, now D.C. Council chairman, had proposed extending the popular bus service across the river in January 2010. At the time, city officials were laying the groundwork for the buses instead to cross over the Potomac River, extending from Dupont Circle through Georgetown and into Rosslyn. His proposal for an east-of-the-river line was shot down, but he pledged to keep pushing for a line as the Rosslyn one moved forward. Now the city is holding a public hearing Monday on doing just that, and hopes to have another hearing later this summer before starting the line on Oct. 1.”

WAL-MART TO NATIONAL HARBOR — Wal-Mart has inked a deal to open a store in Oxon Hill, about a mile from National Harbor, Capital Business’ Jonathan O’Connell reported Friday. That, by the way, is less than two miles from the District line and a mere five-minute jaunt down Indian Head Highway. So consider Wal-Mart’s bargaining position with Gray and D.C. Council members somewhat improved: Don’t want to put our stores in the District? Fine, we’ll put ‘em right over the border, and let your residents spend their tax dollars in Maryland.

*** SMALL PLATES ***

Police and fire chiefs make good money! (Examiner)

Temple Hills man killed Friday evening in McKinley Tech parking lot; arrest made Saturday (Crime Scene)

Brentwood Shopping Center, home of Home Depot and Giant, is for sale — could it see a transit-oriented overhaul? (Capital Business)

Redrawing the Metro map (Post)

Deborah Simmons: Not a fan of Catania youth mental health bill, which “mistakenly assumes that all children are broken and that only government can fix them” (WaTimes)

More on St. E’s funding drama (Examiner)

The heat’s on Pepco (WTOP)

How the District is counting on residents to help take care of street trees (Post)

Murder case that appeared open-and-shut ends in mistrial (Post)

Even accounting for cost of living, our region is rich, if not Des Moines rich (Atlantic)

DHCF might seek return of Medicaid “DSH” funds from Children’s hospital (WBJ)

The D.C. Preservation League celebrates its 40th anniversary (Post)

Domestic violence judges read appeals ruling different than prosecutors (Legal Times)

Why the council’s funding restorations didn’t go far enough (Poverty and Policy)

No, Sarah Palin did not get an MPD escort (City Desk)

Watch Gray’s Blade town hall (Blade)

Michelle Rhee now officially based in Sacramento (Sacramento Bee)

Top DNC communications official goes to Rhee group, battling notion that StudentsFirst is too close to GOP (Politico)

Brian Jordan still in running for Cincinnati chief job (Enquirer)

Peter O’Malley, Prince George’s power broker who negotiated the downtown arena deal for Abe Pollin, is dead at 72 (Post)

Wilson wins another DCIAA baseball title (Post)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Gray host online chat, 1 p.m. at washingtonpost.com; attends Visitors’ Services Center awards reception, 6 p.m. at Covington & Burling, 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; dines with Italian ambassador, Villa Firenze, 2800 Albemarle St. NW — D.C. Council hearing on various street and alley closings, 10 a.m. in JAWB 500; on “Uniform Commercial Code Revision Act of 2011” (B19-136) and “Uniform Commercial Code Article 9 Amendments Act of 2011” (B19-222), noon in JAWB 500; on executive personnel practices, 1 p.m. in JAWB 412 — Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan makes announcement regarding “Team Thomas” investigation, 11 a.m. at One Judiciary Square, Old Council Chambers

By  |  09:43 AM ET, 06/06/2011

 
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