TODAY IS AUG. 4, 2011 — DAY 214 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
PREVIOUSLY — How to expand local prosecutions in D.C.?
With a surprise pocket veto, Mayor Vincent C. Gray nixed the D.C. Council’s attempt to delay the longstanding income-tax exemption for municipal bond proceeds. In so doing, he showed who really wears the pants in the John A. Wilson Building: Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, who has strongly promoted the notion that bond raters could downgrade the District’s debt should city fathers not rebuild the city’s bank account. The council’s move, introduced by Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) used about half of about $28 million originally intended to bulk up the municipal coffers, which had Gray convinced would constitute of breach of their promises to Wall Street. That’s about two-tenths of a percent of the local funds budget. Chairman Kwame Brown has a different view, saying in a statement that he “strongly disagree[s] with Mayor Gray’s assertion that this relatively minor Council action would be a precipitating factor in a future bond downgrade.” Cheh called the veto “baffling” and “inexplicable” and lashed out at colleague Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) for dashing the original bond tax buyback plan on the dais. So what now? As the Examiner notes, Gray wrote the Council saying he “continue[s] to believe that increasing the top tax rate on higher income earners to 8.9 percent is a far more equitable tax policy.” Also WBJ, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV, WaTimes, WAMU-FM.
AFTER THE JUMP — OCF probe doesn’t find much in Yvette Alexander’s finances — Ward 5 after Harry Thomas Jr. — the wiles of Emmanuel Bailey
*** MAIN COURSE ***
NOT MUCH TO SEE HERE — The Office of Campaign Finance’s roto-rooting of Yvette Alexander’s constituent service fund didn’t turn up a whole lot. Did she trade below-market rents for her ward office for development favors for ex-Council member H.R. Crawford? Not much evidence to suggest that, the report found: There was a legitimate basis for the rent cut, and the Crawford-benefitting legislation didn’t really benefit Crawford. And questions about account expenditures, amplified by a number of Washington Times stories, seem to be much ado about nothing, the stock-in-trade of ward politicking — meals for community meetings, ads in event programs, and the like. But she did get dinged for failing to report 19 expenditures worth $4,700 and for funding a $300 political robocall, though she seems to have a good excuse: “She said the robo-calls were made to invite constituents to a Ward 7 Appreciation Day. ‘It was a community day for the kids,’ Alexander said. ‘Food, entertainment, and it was really nice.’” Ward 7 resident Geraldine Washington, who filed the complaint, tells WaTimes she’s “not satisfied.” Read the full report. Also Loose Lips, DCist, AP.
AFTER HTJ — In Loose Lips this week, Alan Suderman envisions a Ward 5 without Harry Thomas Jr. leading it: “The current U.S. attorney, tight-lipped Ron Machen, hasn’t given any clues as to whether he’ll go after Thomas. ... But that hasn’t kept many people in Ward 5 from writing their councilmember’s political future off and planning for an as yet-undetermined future race. ‘It’s just a matter of time,’ says Debbie Smith-Steiner, a former ANC commissioner who ran unsuccessfully against Thomas in 2006, who says she’s actively trying to recruit candidates to run in a special election. ‘The ward needs a cleansing.’” Under city law, a recall effort could start in less than five months, and the jockeying for position is underway: “One Ward 5 political source ... says past Thomas supporters who are interested in replacing him are using surrogates to try and line up support on their behalf for a future run. These supporters are treading carefully, the source says, because they’re afraid of angering Thomas and his close friend, Mayor Vince Gray. ... Some potential candidates LL heard come up several times, but who declined to comment, didn’t return multiple calls for comment, or couldn’t be reached, include Ward 5 school board member Mark Jones, former D.C. Council candidates Frank Wilds and Kenyan McDuffie, and Ward 5 Democratic Party Chairwoman Angel Alston.” Ex-candidate Delano Hunter says outright he’d run again.
LOTTO E-MAILS — Interested in more details from the now three-year-old lottery contract battle? WaTimes’ Jeffrey Anderson has you covered today, with e-mails showing that Emmanuel Bailey, now part of the current lottery team, approached the man who won the original lottery bid, Warren Williams Jr., about joining his team as a way to mitigate political pressures. “Forces don’t want you guys in the lead decision making role,” Bailey told Williams, insinuating that said “forces” were happy to have Bailey in a lead role. Among his pitches to Williams: That their “Nupe” — aka mutual fraternity brother Adrian Fenty — could end up good by agreeing to bring Bailey on. Upshot? Bailey’s a savvy operator who worked every angle he could to get a piece of the city’s most lucrative contract.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Being Mary Cheh (G’town Dish)
Kathy Wone settles lawsuit, speaks out: “I am moving on. I want to spend the next 40 years of my life focusing on good. ... They can rot from the inside out from all the secrets they chose to keep.” (Post)
Nat Gandhi talks about playing Gandhi: “I am bald! But I’m not as skinny as he is. I should fast for 21 days as he did, and live in jail.” (Reliable Source)
Superstar principal Dwan Jordon leaves Sousa MS to lead Prince George’s high school (D.C. Schools Insider)
Hey 2010/2011 candidates: Take down your campaign signs! Called out by name: Anthony Muhammad, Mark Jones, Kenyan McDuffie and Clark Ray (WaTimes)
How Walter Reed will be redeveloped (Housing Complex)
”[W]hile the retailing of real weapons appears imminent, the sale of toy guns looks to be on the way out.” (City Paper)
Burger shop reopens; law firm deals (Legal Times)
DOES employee pleads guilty to sexual abuse charge (WaTimes)
Biodiesel plant eyes D.C. parcel (Housing Complex)
ACLU will argue against Dan Snyder’s anti-SLAPP opposition (Erik Wemple)
Convention Center hotel project is among nation’s largest (WSJ)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray launches “Safe Surrender” program, 9:30 a.m. at H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Ave. NW