TODAY IS JULY 13, 2011 — DAY 191 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
Was it “Lord of the Flies” at the John A. Wilson Building yesterday? Tim Craig, in his first JAWB dispatch since returning from Iraq, puts it this way: “D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown solidified his grip on the 13-member body Tuesday, booting a nemesis from his committee chairmanship while greatly expanding the influence of one of his chief allies and confidants, council member Mary M. Cheh. In a highly unusual midyear reshuffling of committee assignments, Brown (D) unnerved progressives and members of the business community when he removed council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) as chairman of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation after a 12 to 1 vote. ... As Brown tries to jump-start his agenda while fending off what he views as unfair media attacks on his character, he appears to be working to guarantee that he can count on a veto-proof majority. ‘He needed some realignment to get things done,’ said Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), a Brown ally.” If you’re looking for analysis, check out my late post about how the Wells demotion achieved Brown’s strategic objectives (at least in the medium term), and Alan Suderman looks at how Brown botched the execution. Greater Greater Washington engages in some self-reflection this morning, noting that the power move is a “reality check for urbanists and smart growth advocates.”
AFTER THE JUMP — Shakeup means Metro board shuffle — Post editorial tees off on Brown, Cheh et al. — bond tax delayed — no gun license for D.C. government
*** MAIN COURSE ***
MORE KING KWAME — In other repercussions, Wells was also forced off the Metro board, in favor of Muriel Bowser — “add[ing] more unpredictability to a body in which three-fourths of the members have been on the job less than a year” — a move also covered at Examiner, Dr. Gridlock and GGW. Also note that lobbyist Thomas J. Bulger was appointed yesterday as an alternate member to the board. Vincent Orange was handed a new Committee on Small and Local Business, but Kwame Brown kept the most important parts of the education and economic development portfolios under his direct oversight — DCPS and the deputy mayor for planning and economic development. More from WaTimes, Examiner, Loose Lips, DCist, WJLA-TV, TBD On Foot, G’town Dish.
BURN — Today’s scathing lead Post editorial: “[Wells] contributed to improving bus service in underserved parts of the city, gave the District new credibility as its representative to the Metro board and showed real spine in undertaking an investigation into use of city-owned vehicles. His reward — correction, make that his comeuppance — was to be summarily stripped of the chairmanship of the transportation committee by council colleagues too gutless to stand up to the petty politics of [Brown]. ... Brown keeps under his purview such powerful agencies as the public schools, the deputy mayor of planning and economic development and the city’s real estate and construction services agency. Given that Mr. Brown is under federal investigation for the possible mishandling of hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign funds, that prospect ought to alarm every District taxpayer, even if it doesn’t worry council members. ... Mr. Wells is hardworking, popular with his constituents and — unlike many of his council colleagues, including Mr. Brown — free of ethical taint. [Residents] should ask why it is that none of the council’s other members could summon the gumption to, at the very least, question the sense of this misguided decision.” Note that Cheh is referred to as an “enabling loyalist” of Brown’s.
KWAME SPEAKS — From a blast e-mail issued by Brown’s office last night: “I believe this reorganization will enable us to provide efficient, high quality services to residents and businesses in the District. ... These changes effectively consolidate areas of similar interest, prioritize job creation and workforce development, create a new committee focused on small businesses, and merge all matters related to the environment including transportation, into a single committee.”
BOND TAX DELAYED — Two other policy developments yesterday. First: The D.C. Council voted to delay the onset of the municipal bond tax until the 2012 tax year, drawing $13 million from the $22 million set aside for fund balance repayment over the objections of the CFO’s office. Freeman Klopott with background in the Examiner: “The muni bond measure was introduced by Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh, who said taxing the bondholders starting on Jan. 1, 2011, was unfair because they had purchased the bonds believing the interest they earned wouldn’t be taxed. Cheh said she planned to introduce a budget amendment to raise the income tax rate on the wealthy to offset the bonds tax, but decided not to because she didn’t have the votes. But sources involved in the vote counting said Cheh did have the votes. By not moving forward with the income tax rate increase, though, Cheh fell in line with [Brown], who earlier in the day announced a committee shake-up that had Cheh as the big winner.” Also WaTimes and DCist, where Martin Austermuhle notes that the council has a habit of making seat-of-the-pants taxation decisions.
D.C. STAYS OUT OF GUN BIZ — Second: Phil Mendelson decided to withdraw his emergency bill that would have the District facilitate firearms transactions after numerous colleagues objected and the Gray administration pledged to help find another solution to the problem. DMPED Victor Hoskins contacted the city’s sole private gun dealer, Charles Sykes, over the weekend and said he would help him locate a suitable space in the city; the police department is also looking at a temporary solution, potentially hosting Sykes as a stopgap. More at WaTimes and Examiner.
*** SMALL PLATES ***
D.C. CAS scores didn’t meet Race to the Top goals; feds, foundations don’t care (D.C. Schools Insider)
Jonetta Rose Barras: Better ways to raise money than Internet gambling (Examiner)
Tom Sherwood gives kudos to Togo West for being clear about corruption (WAMU-FM)
Gray, Bowser come out against Walter Reed bus barn (Housing Complex)
Former People’s Counsel Betty Noel nominated to Public Service Commission (@mjneibauer)
Protest arrestee goes to trial (WAMU-FM)
U.S. Education Department confirms D.C. cheating involvement (D.C. Schools Insider)
DDOT wrings infrastructure upgrades out of Wal-Mart developer (Housing Complex)
Examiner editorialist gets in on the ‘erase to the top’ meme (Examiner)
Michelle Rhee: DCPS technology sure was bad (WaTimes)
Local connections to GOP presidential campaigns (Legal Times)
Pat Buchanan namechecks Adrian Fenty (Union Leader)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray holds news conference, 10 a.m. in JAWB G-9 — Kwame Brown on NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt, 10 a.m. on NewsChannel 8