TODAY IS APRIL 27, 2011 — DAY 112 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
The D.C. Council is getting its juice back. Vincent Orange parlayed his name recognition and strong fundraising into a narrow win over Republican Patrick Mara in Tuesday’s special election. So what does it all mean? Here’s one thought, from the Post’s election story: “If Orange’s margin holds after final absentee and provisional ballots are counted in 10 days, his victory would be a setback for [D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown] and Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), who both endorsed Biddle, 39, but were unable to extensively campaign for him this spring as they tried to contain ethical controversies at City Hall. In an interview after declaring victory before 11 p.m., Orange said his win was a rejection of the city’s leadership. ‘Georgetown, downtown, Ward 7, Ward 8. They said: “You need to back off. We want Orange.”’” More parsing of the results later today on this blog and elsewhere. See more coverage in Washington Times, Examiner, WAMU-FM and Four/26 (bravo, Martin). Also, kudos to D. Kamili Anderson in Ward 4 and Trayon White in Ward 8, who appear to have won State Board of Education seats.
AFTER THE JUMP — RNC chair sweats D.C. election returns — Howard Brooks loves the fifth amendment — Tommy Wells tells Congress to shove it — Courtland praises Cora — police shoot and kill BB-gun-wielding teen
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE AT-LARGE — From the Post: “Mara, who conceded defeat about 11 p.m. Tuesday, thanked his supporters, saying, ‘We just came up a little bit short. Honestly, there were a lot of good candidates in the race, and take away one of these candidates, we probably could have pulled it off,’ Mara, a Ward 1 school board member, told The Washington Post. ‘At the end of the day, it appears [Sekou Biddle] took votes from me.’ Biddle, who noted that he was in the race before Mara, said: ‘I’m disappointed by the outcome. I’m certainly proud of the effort I, my campaign team and volunteers put in running an energetic first [council] campaign.’ Orange, 54, had little opposition in majority-black neighborhoods in Northeast and Southeast, where his support proved too much for Mara or Biddle to overcome. He performed surprisingly well in Ward 4, where many upper-income African Americans live and which is home territory to Biddle.”
LIVE FROM MARA HQ — Slate’s Dave Weigel notes that Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus made an appearance at Mara’s Meridian Pint almost-victory party: “Mara ported the national GOP message ‘we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem’ into the district, and pledged, as he’d done before, to be progressive on social issues. The Washington Post endorsed him, again. But it became clear early in the night that Mara was not going to win. In another era, more Democratic voters might have cast protest ballots for Mara. In 2011, they split their protest votes between him, temporary appointee Sekou Biddle, and
former councilman Bryan Weaver. ... D.C.’s heavily black wards cast almost no votes for Mara. To win, he needed to romp in the city’s northwest and northeast wards. But Bryan Weaver used to represent one of them, and Biddle campaigned hardest in two of them. Mara only won three of the city’s eight wards. When I spotted him shortly before 11 o’clock, he was already putting the election behind him. ‘We got the silver again,’ he shrugged. ‘Biddle took too many votes, and I was telling people, that might be a problem.’ ... Left unmentioned, and hard to calculate, was the effect that the congressional budget deal had on the vote. At the last minute, policy riders were stripped from the short-term budget, and in exchange, Republicans got policy riders they wanted in D.C. — an abortion funding ban, school vouchers. That unpopular mayor and city council president were arrested in a stunt protest. The young Republican Congress had alienated Washingtonians, even if the White House deserved half the blame for using the city as a chit.”
WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE? — More national perspective from Examiner’s David Freddoso: “I hope this puts things in perspective for a few of our local politicos when it comes to understanding the large astroturf movements that have polluted my neighborhood and others in the district with these ‘Don’t Tread on D.C.’ yard signs in the median of every road. ... If anyone was actually outraged by Congress, it wasn’t enough to make them tread over the astroturf to their polling place. More likely, they were outraged by Gray’s early hires and our local officials’ love of SUVs. Turnout was only 12 percent, and the two leading candidates — the only two who unequivocally oppose Mayor Gray’s proposed tax increase — have apparently received a combined majority of the vote.”
PLEADING THE FIFTH — Friday’s third hearing into Gray’s early hiring practices is looking to be a snoozer. Mary Cheh announced Tuesday that she’s not only been unable to serve a subpoena on Sulaimon Brown, but that key witness Howard Brooks and his son won’t be testifying, either. Nikita Stewart reports in the Post: “Brooks, the campaign consultant to Mayor Vincent C. Gray accused of giving payments to former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown, has told a D.C. Council committee through his attorney that he will not answer questions during a hearing scheduled for Friday, according to a council memo released Tuesday night. In the memo, [Cheh] told council members the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment will have to decide whether to go to Superior Court to try to compel the testimony of Brooks and his son, Peyton Brooks, who also has informed the committee he plans to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege. However, both would not be called to testify on Friday because it would lead to them embarrassing themselves before the media, the memo read.” Also Loose Lips.
MYOB, CONGRESS — Tommy Wells takes to The Hill’s congressional blog to explain why federal lawmakers should butt out of city affairs: “Whether one is passionately for or against a woman’s right to an abortion, the right to elect your own government to determine how your tax dollars are spent should not be in dispute. When the founding fathers crafted the U.S. Constitution, they established the District of Columbia for the purpose of protecting the federal government. ... These issues are local concerns and should be subject to local decision making by the elected representatives of those who are paying the bills. I chose to be arrested rather than quietly accept the deal where our rights were bargained away to the leader of the House of Representatives where I have no representation other than a non-voting delegate.”
THE SKINNY ON MPD ESCORTS — More from The Examiner’s Freeman Klopott on police escort policy: “The D.C. police department does have a policy for escorting celebrities and sports teams, contrary to statements by Chief Cathy Lanier in the wake of the controversy involving actor Charlie Sheen, according to a memo obtained by The Washington Examiner. An order issued by Special Operations Division Commander Hilton Burton on April 22 — three days after the Sheen episode — describes two types of police escorts: one for top elected officials and foreign dignitaries and another that covers all ‘non dignitary’ escorts. Police escorting dignitaries can use their lights and sirens and can ‘disregard’ posted traffic signs and signals. Escorts like the April 19 ride Sheen received or the April 23 shadow for the New York Rangers and the hockey team’s owners must follow all traffic rules, the order says. The same day that order was issued to police precincts, Lanier released a statement saying it was department policy to provide escorts only to the president, vice president, mayor and foreign dignitaries.” Meanwhile, the NYPD is under fire for giving P. Diddy a similar escort.
IN PRAISE OF CORA — On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, the Post’s Courtland Milloy celebrates Cora Masters Barry: “Back in the mid-’90s, before she had mellowed somewhat, Cora Barry famously lashed out at the city’s chief financial officer, Anthony Williams, over proposed budget cuts. The name she derisively yelled at him, ‘Bow Tie,’ stuck even as Williams went on to become a two-term bow-tie-wearing mayor. You’d think the two would have never spoken to one another after that episode. And yet, at Thursday’s gala, to be held inside the tennis center at 701 Mississippi Ave. SE, Anthony Williams will be honored as the center’s ‘champion partner of the decade.’ That’s Cora Barry: A hot temper leads to a warm embrace.”
POLICE SHOOTING — Metropolitan Police officers shot and killed a young man Tuesday afternoon in 2400 block of Elvans Road SE. He was armed, but police sources tell the Post that the weapon was a BB gun. “Police officials said the gun recovery unit had been sent to area because of problems there. While on patrol Tuesday, unit members encountered a male with a gun, the department said in a statement. ... Police sources said the gun unit officers saw the young man walking on Stanton Road near Elvans. Spotting a bulge in his waistband, they asked from their unmarked vehicle to talk to him. He began walking rapidly and then to run as the officers continued to try to get his attention, the sources said. He turned onto Elvans. As police pursued, in the vehicle and on foot, the young man reached into his waistband and pulled out what appeared to be a gun, the sources said. They said an officer fired twice.” WAMU-FM identifies the man, 18.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Former OCTO Director Bryan Sivak is Maryland’s first “chief innovation officer” (@GovernorOMalley)
Fishy fire truck report “sounds a little hollow now,” says Tom Sherwood (NBCWashington.com)
Another case for an independent ethics commission (GGW)
Part 2 of Jonetta Rose Barras’ attack on Inspector General Charles Willoughby (Examiner)
Latino group upset at Gray small business cuts (LEDC)
Metro parcels once earmarked for Banneker Ventures to be resold (GGW)
What the West End Library will look like (DCist)
HUD gives go-ahead for O Street Market financing (Roadside Development)
Yes to income tax hikes (DCFPI)
MPD cop pleads to burglary charge (WaTimes)
Rhee and Fenty a cautionary tale for Booker and Zuckerberg (NYDN)
Robert Cane celebrates 15 years of charter schools (Examiner)
Chevy Chasers rise up to save bus line (Patch)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray holds weekly news conference, 11 a.m.; appears at “Children’s National Advocacy Day” at Children’s Hospital, 12:30 p.m.; meets with HIV/AIDS Commission, 4:30 p.m. at JAWB; meets with Tivoli North Business Association, 7 p.m. at Thai Tanic, 3462 14th St. NW — D.C. Council holds second redistricting hearing, 10 a.m. in JAWB 500