TODAY IS JULY 12, 2011 — DAY 190 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
The D.C. Council’s final meeting before its summer recess got a lot more interesting this morning, with news broken by Greater Greater Washington that Chairman Kwame R. Brown’s committee shuffle is a lot more sweeping than anticipated — or perhaps necessary. Brown’s problem was how to reshuffle council members’s oversight responsibilities with embattled Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) stepping down from the economic development committee. But that doesn’t necessarily explain why he suggested that Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) give up his public works and transportation committee, handing it to Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), while Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) gets the most of the government operations committee Cheh had. Wells ends up with parks and recreation, and nothing in that shuffle seems to involve a major part of the economic development portfolio. (Cheh indicates in an interview that Brown intends to keep oversight of the deputy mayor for planning and economic development.) Instead, Brown now has the makings of an epic political firestorm, on par with then-Chairman Vincent C. Gray’s decision last year to pull streetcar funding from the city budget hours before a final vote. GGW is already spinning the news in that direction, calling Brown’s decision bald political payback for Wells’s thorough investigation of how Brown ended up with his luxury SUVs. That may not be the real story, but at this point, it’s as good an explanation as any.
AFTER THE JUMP — Long day ahead today — “iGaming” delayed until fall — Public Service Commission digs into Pepco
*** MAIN COURSE ***
LONG DAY AHEAD — Today is going to be a long one — about 30 agenda pages. Several contentious debates have been avoided, starting with the confirmation of Neil Stanley as head of DYRS. Faced with a procedural objection by Wells, Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) agreed not to send his committee’s disapproval to the full council, meaning a default approval for Stanley. (Post, WaTimes, Examiner, WAMU-FM). A divisive bill that would place new regulations on the gasoline industry will not appear on the agenda as originally anticipated (DeBonis). Also, Mayor Gray last night pulled approval of a controversial security contract from the council agenda, promising to rebid the contracts currently held by U.S. Security Associates (WaTimes). A bill that recommends capping the pay of Police Chief Cathy Lanier and DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson is expected to pass without much discussion (Post, Examiner, Loose Lips.) But you can expect a robust debate about Phil Mendelson’s proposal to allow the city to serve as a gun dealer — a bill which Kwame Brown has agreed to back, but which Gray is opposing (Post, WTTG-TV, WUSA-TV).
ATTENTION NIMBYS — The city will see Internet gambling no sooner than October, the Post’s Michael Laris reports at D.C. Wire: “In response to council concerns, D.C. Lottery officials released plans Monday for a citywide listening tour, with stops in each ward and opportunities for residents, community associations and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions to weigh in. All commercial locations where officials propose to allow people to access the city’s planned gambling site, igamingdc.com, will be posted 60 days before any decision is made, according to the rules. Lottery Executive Director Buddy Roogow said ‘any facility, commercial or public in nature,’ including possible WiFi access points at government buildings, will have the same public review period.”
PSC CRACKS DOWN — The Post’s ace Pepco reporter, Joe Stephens, looks at what the Public Service Commission is doing to ride herd on the unpopular utility: “District regulators have tightened performance standards for Pepco, threatening to fine the beleaguered power company unless it improves reliability within two years and matches the performance of the nation’s most dependable power providers within a decade. In a related move, Pepco on Friday applied for a 5.3 percent rate increase that would cost a typical District residential customer $5 a month and provide the company with an additional $42 million a year. Under the new performance measures, Pepco must reduce the frequency of outages by 9 percent each year, beginning in 2013. It must reduce the length of outages by 3.4 percent annually. ‘Pepco has to improve — or else,’ said Betty Ann Kane, chair of the D.C. Public Service Commission. ‘We want absolute standards.’”
JAFFE FOR ACCOUNTABILITY — Harry Jaffe phones one in to the Examiner, once again noting that being a D.C. Council member is a good-paying job with sweet perks. “I’m not saying that many council members are not worth our contribution to their well-being and productivity; I’m not suggesting they move to lesser digs or take a pay cut or reduce staff. But I do think we taxpayers deserve a better sense of what we are getting for our bucks. In my continuing quest for transparency, I suggest council members produce: A daily schedule so we can track their good works. Mayor Vince Gray publishes one; why not the council? Full financial disclosure statements for all outside work. As it stands, they are required to report income only from firms doing business with the city, at their discretion. It’s time to adopt the standards of federal appointees, who must report all clients or employers who have paid them more than $5,000 in a year. Complete local and federal tax filings. If it’s good for presidents and governors, why not our council members? If they won’t establish such rules, I’m beginning to think Congress might have to encourage them.” Also, Harry, what is “Friendship Plaza”?
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Marion Barry wants a ban on new apartment buildings in Ward 8; no, it’s not going to happen (Housing Complex)
David Alpert gives big ups to HPRB for preserving density at Hine site (GGW)
Trenchant insight here: “District’s online gambling is all about the money.” And it thought it was about the children ... (Examiner)
Irv Nathan to chief judge: We’re not messing with you, promise. (Legal Times)
D.C. arts grants get overhauled (Arts Desk)
Water your trees! (Dr. Gridlock)
Scott Bolden does his best for Albert Haynesworth (Post)
Obama nominates three to Superior Court: Danya A. Dayson of O’Toole, Rothwell, Nassau & Steinbach; public defender Peter A. Krauthamer, current magistrate John F. McCabe Jr. (White House release)
Anyone going to write an article thanking the city for the beautiful new streets and sidewalks on H Street? (Examiner)
Should Walter Reed site host a bus garage? (WTOP)
What Woodley Park McMansions look like (Housing Complex)
*** ON THE MENU ***
D.C. Council legislative meeting, 10 a.m. in JAWB 500 — Gray appears at Planters Grove Park opening, 8:30 a.m. at 50th Street and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE; appears on “Ask the Mayor” on WTOP radio