TODAY IS AUG. 29, 2011 — DAY 211 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION

D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan has a message for all of those folks critical of his $300,000 settlement with D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr.: Take a chill pill. In a Post op-ed, Nathan writes there are “good reasons” why there’s no admissions of guilt in civil settlements, including this one: “If a plaintiff insisted that an admission be part of a settlement, suits would generally not be resolved short of full-scale litigation lasting years. This is particularly true in a situation, as here, where there is a specter of a criminal prosecution. ... It is not my office’s duty or responsibility to extract confessions from civil defendants, which may explain why our standard-issue office supplies do not include waterboards or torture racks. It is our duty to sue people who cheat the District or its residents and to seek appropriate recompense while leaving moral judgments or political conclusions to others, including D.C. constituents.” Nathan adds that the circumstances speak for themselves: “A thoughtful observer can deduce the significance of a settlement without the need for express confessions. Where a settlement is entered into early in the litigation, before any denials have been entered or any discovery taken, for virtually the full amount of the claim, a reasonable outside observer can fairly draw the conclusion that the defendant has recognized that a publicized trial would not inure to his benefit.” Translation: What innocent man accused of swindling little kids agrees to pay back $300,000 without a fight?

AFTER THE JUMP — HTJ pleads for due process by proxy — Suzanne Peck wants city officials to keep their mouths shut — Tommy Wells’ next move? — teens want jobs handed to them — Eleanor Holmes Norton has a run-in with a police cruiser

*** MAIN COURSE ***

WHY SETTLE — Chuck Thies adds additional context at the Georgetown Dish: “The prosecution of a criminal offense generally takes precedent over any related civil actions. If Nathan had not settled, the civil suit he was pursuing could have taken months to complete. ... If criminal charges were filed against Thomas before any civil proceedings reached their conclusion, it is quite possible that the District’s lawsuit would have to be postponed until the criminal complaint was resolved. That process, which is likely to last for many months, could result in an outcome whereby Thomas faces a prison sentence, hefty fines and bankruptcy from mounting legal bills. If that happened, the District would then be attempting to draw blood from a stone. A broke and possibly incarcerated Thomas is unlikely to have any means for paying back $300,000.”

INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY — Meanwhile, Thomas on Friday morning forwarded a message to Council members and staff from Brookland resident “brian.” It reads: “What moral compass does not point TO...fairplay? To due process? To presumption of innocence? To loving thy neighbor? To the golden rule/ do unto others…? Don’t moral compasses point AWAY from...rushing to judgments? Away from spreading rumor, innuendo and hearsay? Away from demonization of political opponents with the politics of personal destruction? Away from kicking someone when they’re down? ... Like any family, Ward 5 is respecting its native son. They are respecting his rights to due process and presumption of innocence.” The message was posted first at Loose Lips, where Alan Suderman adds this context: “The email is a good indication of what Thomas’ political strategy will be moving forward: to rally his supporters by reminding them of his pedigree and past good deeds, while casting himself as a victim of politically motivated opponents. The big question is how many of his supporters will be willing to look past the fact that Thomas has no answers when it comes to explaining why $300,000 in city funds were allegedly spent on the Audi, golf, and a meal at Hooters.” In the Examiner, Freeman Klopott calls the e-mail evidence that “Thomas is quietly running a public relations campaign that says he should presumed innocent” and that “Thomas might be following a model that helped Marion Barry repeatedly revive his political career after being convicted on a drug charge and being accused of tax violations.” You know how that script goes.

MUM’S THE WORD — Nikita Stewart’s Saturday scoop: “Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s administration is requiring dozens of staffers to sign nondisclosure agreements prohibiting them from revealing potential cost-saving and revenue-raising measures they discuss during a top-to-bottom performance review of city government this year.” That would be the “One City Performance Review” being led by Suzanne Peck. “Some employees, including agency directors, privately balked at signing the document, saying it contradicts Gray’s promise of a transparent government and infringes on whistleblower protections. The action by Peck, who is conducting the review pro bono, has generated tension in an administration that has tried to stay focused despite the distraction of current investigations into hiring decisions made earlier this year.” Mayoral counsel Brian Flowers says the NDAs weren’t his idea and he “prepared an addendum that would clarify that the nondisclosure agreements do not supersede employees’ rights to report ‘waste, fraud, abuse and criminal activity.’”

ABOUT THE ONE CITY PERFORMANCE REVIEW — “[Peck] is operating out of the city’s Judiciary Square building and has borrowed staff from several departments to conduct the review. In recent weeks, she has met with ‘clusters’ of staff representing different agencies. The employees in attendance received the nondisclosure agreements to sign, according to city officials.”

O HAI TOMMY! — Tommy Wells fronts today’s Style section thanks to a profile from the Post’s Vanessa Williams, who looks at the Ward 6er’s political future after his recent brushback: “The loss of the [public works and transportation] chairmanship was a big one for Wells, whose supporters cast him as the victim of a vindictive Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D). ... His colleagues, who supported Brown’s proposal to reconfigure several committees just before the council went on summer recess, say privately that no one stood up for Wells because he’s just not very well-liked in the council chambers. No, this is not the playground, but it is politics, and how one plays the game matters. Being the odd man out in any legislative body can be a liability when it comes time to count votes. Or, it could be an asset at this particular moment in D.C. politics, when the mayor’s office and at least three council members are being investigated for possible wrongdoing. ... Wells, who was reelected to his second four-year term last fall, will not say whether his falling out of favor with the council leadership will help his political stature. ‘The way the reorganization happened speaks for itself,’ he said. ... Brown is indignant at the allegation that he changed Wells’s committee assignment to punish him. ... ‘I purposely left Tommy Wells on the transportation committee because I know how important it is to him,’ Brown said. He also insists, ‘Tommy Wells and I are friends.’ For real? ‘Of course,’ Wells said. Then he added: ‘I can’t get bogged down worrying about who’s my friend and who’s not.’”

KIDS WANT JOBS — Gray held a youth town hall at THEARC Saturday. The discussion was about jobs, jobs, jobs, June Q. Wu reports for the Post: “Gray (D) took questions on issues ranging from traffic problems to neighborhood violence, but concerns about youth unemployment dominated the two-hour discussion. ... One handed Gray about 10 pages of signatures she collected from youths in her neighborhood who were looking for jobs. Another said she did not think there was enough extracurricular programming to keep students productive when school lets out. Gray listened to the grievances but stressed that every eligible youth who signed up for the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program was given a job. ... ‘The people who didn’t get jobs, I’m inclined to believe it’s their fault,’ Gray said. ‘They didn’t do anything to help themselves.’ Gray reiterated that his administration had publicized the program and that it began accepting applicants in February. ‘We must meet each other halfway, and I’m not prepared to accept that it’s our fault,’ he said. ‘As adults, we need to make kids be more responsible.’”

MED-MARI UPDATE — An update on medical marijuana from the Post’s Victor Zapana: “A year after the District legalized medical marijuana, nobody is legally growing or selling it. Patients once thought that they could be getting the drug by early 2011, but bureaucratic delays and the city’s caution in implementing its drug law have caused some would-be patients and entrepreneurs to fume. But things appear to be picking up. District regulators are forging ahead despite a recent Justice Department memo that has worried coordinators of medical-marijuana programs nationwide, and city officials said Tuesday that dozens of individuals and businesses will be allowed to apply for licenses to operate five dispensaries and 10 cultivation centers. City officials expect patients to have access to medicinal marijuana — which advocates say can relieve pain and stimulate the appetite — by May 2012.” Also: Tom Howell Jr. notes in the WaTimes that DOH is being “painstakingly careful” with medical marijuana applications.

TEACHERS ARE NOT THE ANSWER — Two charter school heavies — Donald L. Hense of Friendship Public Charter School and Ramona H. Edelin of the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools — come out against David Catania’s youth mental health bill/ They wrote in a Post op-ed: “[A]t a time when public funding for all D.C. public schools is being cut, this bill would require teachers to train and work as mental health professionals, requiring them to perform mental health screenings and assessments and to make referrals for services. ... But teachers should not be doing this work. Teachers in the city’s charter schools already work an extended school day, week and year, including before- and after-school and summer educational programs. In a school system that for so long has failed our children, the District’s charters need that time to get students to grade level and into college. This bill seriously underestimates the time and money required to train every D.C. teacher to act as a qualified and competent mental health professional.”

EHN FENDER-BENDER — Eleanor Holmes Norton had a run-in with a D.C. cop and his cruiser Sunday morning. The Post’s Donna St. George broke the story: “About 9:30 a.m., Norton was driving home [from Eastern Market] in her gray Ford Fusion hybrid, with the telltale license plate EHN1. ... She was traveling east down North Carolina Avenue SE, at what she recalls as a ‘leisurely’ pace. ... A Metropolitan Police Department vehicle, headed south on Eighth Street SE, hit the front end of her car, near the driver’s side wheel, she said. No one was hurt, police and the congresswoman said. The police officer involved was cordial and apologetic — as was she, Norton said. The officer told her that he regretted meeting her for the first time in such a way, she said. Norton said she did not hear any police sirens before the crash. But the officer told her that he had his sirens on, she said.”

*** SMALL PLATES ***

Ex-BZA chair Ruthanne Miller nominated to chair Alcohol Beverage Control Board (themail)

Brookings surveys the state of affordable housing in D.C. (DCFPI)

Taxi fuel surcharge extended till Nov. 17 (DCist, Examiner)

Lawyers who presented tax dispute “have been partially vindicated” by opinions, says Jonetta Rose Barras (Examiner)

Responding to Tony Randolph Hunter death, Phil Mendelson wants three-strikes law for people convicted of assault (Examiner)

For Old Post Office Pavilion, Donald Trump envisions “nearly 300 rooms, a large ballroom or conference room, a spa and a museum gallery dedicated to the building’s history leading into the building’s clock tower” (Capital Business)

Pics from Muriel Bowser’s campaign kickoff fundraiser (G’town Dish)

Compared with states, District’s substances abuse rates are highest. Let me repeat: COMPARED WITH STATES. (Examiner)

More graffiti-removal jobs for DPW these days (Post)

Federal judge orders Richard Nixon grand jury testimony unsealed (Crime Scene, Legal Times, NYT)

Cathy Lanier not always a fan of doors (City Desk)

14th Street Bridge lane closures almost over (WTOP)

Federal bench pick is a good guy, friends say (Legal Times)

No, it doesn’t matter that Ron Machen and Harry Thomas Jr. are members of the same frat (Examiner)

Rockville pharma company moves HQ to Foggy Bottom (WBJ)

Mere weeks until new Woodson HS, renovated Wilson HS and Janney ES open doors (WAMU-FM)

Southeast fire station vandalized (WJLA-TV)

”Will someone please tell former D.C. Schools chancellor Michelle Rhee that she has already told us, over and over again, how much her two daughters ‘suck’ at soccer and that she can stop disparaging their athletic abilities in public?” (Answer Sheet)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Ticket amnesty begins today — Gray attends Association of Boxing Commissions annual conference, 8:30 a.m. at Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Avenue NW; makes National Marathon announcement, 9:30 a.m. on JAWB steps; tapes AIDS Walk promotional video, noon at JAWB