What's in his coffee?
The recent actions of council member and mayoral candidate Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5) have left some in city hall scratching their heads while others simply duck out of his way.
Just in the past week, Orange has sued his council chairman because she wouldn't allow him to hold a hearing on baseball, called a weekend committee hearing to consider a living wage bill only to cancel it at the last second and tried to make a rare legislative end run around his committee by taking the wage bill straight to the full council, only to withdraw it. Now Orange -- one of the biggest supporters of the baseball stadium deal last year -- is accusing the lords of the sport of fleecing District taxpayers. He has introduced bills that challenge the financing deal and would force a showdown with Major League Baseball over tax revenue.
His colleagues have a unanimous diagnosis: running-for-mayor-itis.
D.C. Council MIA?
It was 11:30 a.m. and Tuesday's 10 a.m. council meeting had yet to begin. The hundred or so audience members, which included a sizeable number of union and other activists, grew impatient.
The council members were in one of their closed-door "administrative meetings'' where nothing -- absolutely nothing -- of a political or policy nature is discussed (wink, wink). Apparently, the list of administrative matters was particularly long Tuesday.
Jamie Kendrick, executive director of the SEIU Maryland-DC State Council, got up in front of the empty council dais and implored the audience to let council members know they were impatient.
"We want the council!'' they began chanting.
"Do your jobs now!'' they yelled.
Phone calls were made.
"Open the door!''
Police officers were summoned.
"Hey, hey, ho, ho, backroom deals have got to go!'' the group chanted.
Council members wrapped up their administrative discussions and began their meeting one hour and 37 minutes after it was scheduled to begin.
No apologies were given.
Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) said she understood the audience's frustration, but said not everything can be done in public view. "We needed to deal with some administrative issues,'' she said.
'Big Apple' Is Taken ...
What's the official fruit of the District?
Chairman Linda W. Cropp wants to know.
She sponsored legislation Tuesday to work with local school children in a class exercise to come up with an official fruit of the District.
But she laid down some common-sense rules.
"No council members can be named as the fruit,'' Cropp said.
A Challenge at Lodge 1
While the council mulls fruit, the Fraternal Order of Police District of Columbia Lodge 1 is embroiled in the messy practice of democracy. For the first time in four years, someone is challenging longtime lodge president Louis P. Cannon.
Cannon is running for his seventh two-year term as head of the lodge, which has more than 10,000 members in 34 law enforcement agencies. His opponent is D.C. Police Sgt. Gregory I. Greene, who chairs the lodge's D.C. police labor committee.
The lodge is not a bargaining organization, but functions mainly as a social club with a bar and restaurant.
Greene said he wants to shake up the lodge's leadership and bring a fresh sense of purpose. He advocates purchasing a separate building to house the labor committees, as well as providing additional space for college courses, more training seminars and possibly a day-care center.
"The lodge has been a place where it's the good old boys," Greene said. "It needs fresh ideas."
Cannon counters that the lodge already offers training sessions and has looked into the possibility of providing day care. Cannon said he has improved the lodge's finances.
"Where was he with these ideas the past two years?" Cannon said. "I'm doing a good job. The membership tells me that."
The election is scheduled for Wednesday.
Graham Takes a Poll
D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) is conducting a poll of District residents to help him decide whether to run for council chairman.
Graham is mulling whether to join colleagues Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3) in a run for the Democratic nomination. Council member Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7) is also considering a run.
"I like this line of work,'' Graham said.
Graham has to choose between running for chairman or running for re-election. Unlike Gray and mayoral candidate Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4), Graham's Ward 1 term expires next year. If he decides to run for chairman and loses, he would have no council seat to fall back on.
"Running for chairman would require me betting the ranch,'' he said. "I need to consider this carefully.''
Mayoral Debate Set at UDC The first candidate forum of the 2006 mayor's race is scheduled to take place at the University of the District of Columbia on Wednesday. All five announced candidates are expected to attend the 90-minute event, which is being sponsored by the D.C. Bar.
Political commentators Mark Plotkin of WTOP radio, Jonetta Rose Barras of WAMU radio and Tom Sherwood of NBC4 are scheduled to ask questions; Post editorial writer Colby King has been booked as moderator.
The festivities begin at 6:30 p.m.
Staff writer Lori Montgomery contributed to this report.