TODAY IS MAY 11, 2011 — DAY 126 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
Persistence is a virtue, it turns out: Vincent Orange is a D.C. Council member once again. At his swearing-in Tuesday in a packed D.C. Council chamber, the former two-term member from Ward 5 credited “divine intervention” for his return to legislative power. Tom Howell Jr. has more in the Washington Times, including this message to supporters: “Thanks for the resurrection.” Also, Orange told me that he hammered out his differences with Council chairman Kwame Brown in a meeting last week that included a “cleansing process.” In any case they’re on the same page opposing the small income tax rate hike in Mayor Vincent Gray’s budget proposal. In addition to nixing the rate hike, Brown said yesterday that he’s looking to restore funding for shelters for homeless families and domestic violence victims, add more police officers and restore teaching positions cut at School Without Walls and Shepherd Elementary. Where he’s going to find the money remains unclear, though Brown said he’s asked CFO Natwar Gandhi to examine Gray’s shift of city jobs from capital to operating spending. Keeping some jobs on the capital side would potentially free up millions.
AFTER THE JUMP — DCPS, WTU differ on excessing impacts — Gray, Brown called to testify on budget before House oversight committee — what will the council hearings into Gray’s hiring find? — federal judge smacks city lawyers
*** MAIN COURSE ***
NOT FIRED YET — DCPS pushed back yesterday at the notion that the 660 teachers who were excessed Friday have been effectively fired. The school system, for one, clarified that 745 teachers and other employees got excessing notices, but DCPS “human capital” director Jason Kamras tells the Post’s Bill Turque “that the elimination of the jobs did not constitute layoffs” and that a “high percentage” of teachers would find jobs at other DCPS schools. Union leaders, faced with an excessing process that is no longer seniority-based, are not nearly so sanguine. “If you’re old and white, old and black, old and anything, you are at risk,” said one activist. Washington Teachers’ Union President Nathan Saunders tells the Washington Times that there is a “high probability” that “hundreds” will end up without jobs. Oh, and Mr. Mayor? You’re on notice, Saunders says: “’How Vince Gray uses the teacher’s contract is going to be an indication of his character. ... We are watching closely. We are not defenseless, and we will not be taken advantage of.” Also Examiner, WAMU-FM.
SIT AND DELIVER — Gray, Brown and other city leaders have been called to testify Thursday morning before a House subcommittee on the District’s budget. Happens every year, right? Not exactly: While city leaders regularly testify before a House appropriations subcommittee when presenting the city budget, this will be before the House oversight panel chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to discuss “Ensuring Fiscal Sustainability” and preventing the return of the control board. A committee spokesman tells the AP: “The return of the control board is something that nobody wants to see happen and does not benefit anybody, so it’s always a concern.” But Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton is already calling the hearing an affront and “unprecedented in recent history.” Martin Austermuhle observes at DCist: “Seeing as how congressional Republicans have tidied up the federal budget and put the country back on sound fiscal footing, it seems like they’re more than happy to lend their services to the District’s own local budget.”
ALL THESE HEARINGS FOR WHAT? — The D.C. Council’s public inquiry into Gray’s hiring will move toward a close Friday, when Gray campaign and transition chair Lorraine Green is set to appear for questioning. The hearing, Jeffrey Anderson writes in The Washington Times, “could shed a bright light on the inner workings of his administration’s postelection hiring spree, but promises — like four previous sessions — to turn the panel’s oversight exercise into a political dead end. Given signs that key witnesses are refusing to comply with subpoenas issued by Committee Chairwoman Mary Cheh, observers say District residents should brace themselves for a hearing — if not a final committee report — of little consequence. Lost in the rhetoric of nepotism and public integrity that has emanated from Ms. Cheh’s committee hearings is a trail of conflicting testimony and unanswered, if not unasked, questions.” Still unclear is whether the council will enforce subpoenas almost certain to be flouted by Sulaimon Brown and Cherita Whiting.
JUDGESLAPPED — District lawyers got a smackdown in federal court Monday from Chief District Judge Royce Lamberth, who was not pleased at all by the city’s late production of documents in a special-ed class action. Zoe Tillman covers for Legal Times: “The case -- brought over the city’s alleged failure to make preschool special education programs accessible -- was scheduled for trial on April 6. When the parties arrived, however, plaintiffs’ counsel informed Lamberth that the city’s attorneys were continuing to ‘dump’ thousands of e-mails and planned to continue releasing them even after the trial was over. Comparing the city’s behavior to ‘a standup comic who delivers the punch-lines of his jokes first’ or ‘a plane with landing gear that deploys just after touchdown,’ Lamberth wrote that ‘a discovery violation of this exotic magnitude is literally unheard of in this Court.’ ... When Lamberth pressed the city’s attorneys for an explanation, he wrote, they responded that new searches had continued to yield thousands of e-mails, and that the city was too understaffed to review all of them before the case went to trial.” The story was picked up by Forbes.com.
IN PRAISE OF RON MOTEN — Courtland Milloy pens a admiring column about Ron Moten for today’s Post, starting with a scene at a candlelight vigil for a murder victim: “You’d think Moten’s stern words at a memorial service would have displeased the mourners. But the longer he spoke, the larger the gathering became, swelling to more than 200 and pressing closer to hear him. Moten’s unvarnished style has proved less effective in his bid to restore city funding, which was recently cut off amid allegations that millions of dollars allocated to his conflict resolution group had been misspent or was unaccounted for. ... On the other hand, a D.C. audit of Peaceoholics has dragged on and, so far, no report has been issued substantiating the allegations ... No doubt Moten has something of a hustlers’ streak and rubs many people the wrong way. But if he sometimes has difficulty transitioning from a streetwise persona to a more suite-wise sophisticate, at least part of the problem could be a result of the vast distance between the worlds he’s seeking to bridge.” And bridge them he does. Moten attended Orange’s swearing-in Tuesday and said he was still considering a run against Yvette Alexander.
NO NEW TAXES — Yesterday in the Examiner, Harry Jaffe argued for “soaking” downtown developers to balance the budget. Today in the Examiner, Jonetta Rose Barras has a different perspective — any tax hikes on the city’s business community “would kill that proverbial goose and its golden eggs” and using that revenue to help the poor is “a false dichotomy that ignores the city’s fiscal reality.” That reality, Jonetta argues, is that the “city’s woes derive from the executive’s failure to set priorities and legislature’s puny political will.” And Kwame Brown’s promise to nix Gray’s proposed income tax rate hike “doesn’t go far enough. ... If the legislature wants to demonstrate a new day of fiscal accountability, it should decline to impose any tax increases. It should force the executive to manage the bureaucracy based on existing revenues. That is, after all, what Gray claimed he promised folks on Wall Street he would do.” (Actually, the city’s Wall Street promise was to balance spending with current-year revenue and not dip into reserves or use one-time gimmicks.)
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Two years after the famous failed Fenty meeting, Maya Angelou to be honored by Gray (Post)
Bar Counsel reportedly investigating OAG attorney over breathalyzer mess (WTTG-TV)
No federal money for Union Station overhaul (Housing Complex)
Family of D.C. woman buried in landfill tries to find closure without a body (AP via WTOP)
DCFPI poll shows white residents more supportive of tax hikes than black residents (Loose Lips)
The statehood movement might need a “widely visible symbol,” but this isn’t it (GGW)
Frank Wolf’s MWAA power move (Examiner)
Leadership shuffle at Metro (Examiner)
2,500 books go missing from Wilson HS library (D.C. Schools Insider)
All intercity buses to Union Station? (Washingtonian)
Redistricting update: Jim Graham tells Near Southeast that Ward 8 shift is “not in play” (JDLand)
Nia PCS students try to keep their school open (WJLA-TV)
What Michelle Rhee said inside while protesters were outside (American Independent)
Fox News spends eight minutes discussing Wal-Mart opponents’ unrealistic demands (FNN)
More about the performance ticket tax (TBD)
Metro debuts cool new hybrid buses (Dr. Gridlock)
”Hottest (Former) Mayor In America Fights For Washington, DC, Schools” (Glittarazzi)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray holds weekly news conference, 10 a.m. in JAWB G-9; meets with Israeli ambassador, 11:30 a.m. at JAWB — D.C. Council budget markups, all in JAWB 500: Committee on Public Works and Transportation, 10 a.m.; Committee on Economic Development, 12 p.m.; Committee on the Judiciary, 2 p.m.; Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation, 3 p.m.; Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, 4 p.m.