TODAY IS MAY 13, 2011 — DAY 128 OF THE GRAY ADMINISTRATION
Lorraine A. Green is now testifying before a D.C. Council committee; follow along on Channel 13 and Twitter. Green started her testimony with a broadside against those on the D.C. Council who leaked e-mails she sent during her time on Vincent Gray’s mayoral transition. More details from that trove of e-mails continued to emerge yesterday. Nikita Stewart notes in today’s Post that they “reveal conversations that touched on an applicant’s weight and another’s language abilities — among other candid exchanges.” Also, Green & Co. “often placed priority on prospective employees who had helped raise cash for Gray’s campaign, had ‘political capital’ or were otherwise well connected,” Freeman Klopott writes in the Examiner. Alan Suderman notes at Loose Lips that the Gray transition “ordered a full background check of Gray’s girlfriend,” Linda Greene, which “underscores the fact that someone working for Gray — though it’s still not entirely clear exactly who — was wayyy out to lunch on these kind of thorny issues back in the early days when the administration was making its personnel decisions.” Klopott has more on Greene, including seeming confirmation from Gray that they had a personal relationship: “I do not talk to her about government business and she has not asked me to do anything related to government business,” he wrote in an e-mail.
AFTER THE JUMP — Why the investigation matters — Council keeps hashing out budget — Issa says he’s willing to work on budget autonomy
*** MAIN COURSE ***
CLICK — Today’s Tom Toles cartoon.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS — From my not-a-column: “For a legislative body hammering out a $10.8 billion budget, the process has used valuable member and staff time. It has gone on longer than members anticipated — much like the probe of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s parks contracting, which took more than a year. ‘What’s the point?’ That’s what attorney A. Scott Bolden wants to know. He has represented targets of both probes, and he’s critical of the legislators’ recent investigative jones. ‘I think the council should take a break in investigating until they learn how to investigate,’ Bolden told my colleague Nikita Stewart this week. ... In this town, for better or worse, the D.C. Council is as good as we get right now. ... [David Catania] said: ‘It’s meritorious to have this investigation if for no other reason than to have the public see other public officials condemn what happened. Had we done nothing, it would appear as if the council condoned what are clear violations of the law with respect to personnel. We do not.’ ... [T]he benefits may transcend a few personnel changes, Catania said. ‘This may well be a blessing for the Gray administration,’ he said in his city hall office. ‘Entitlement permeates this particular crowd of people around the mayor. And there would have been perp walks out of this building.’ ”
BUDGET BRASS TACKS — The D.C. Council’s fiscal 2012 budget markups concluded yesterday, but the budget remains very much inchoate. D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown has scheduled a meeting of council members for Monday morning, which will be televised on Channel 13. With Jack Evans recommending nixing most tax increases, Jim Graham recommending against human service cuts and Phil Mendelson recommending $10 million more in cops funding, the big picture issues will be hashed out therein. Lydia DePillis runs through some of the committee budget reports at Housing Complex. Freeman Klopott notes in the Examiner that Evans is trying to roll back a parking meter rate hike that dates back to the Fenty administration, costing more than $5 million. “I can’t go into a restaurant without the owner coming out to complain about the cost of the parking meters,” he said. (GGW has the counterargument, natch.) Arts executives are complaining about Gray’s proposal to charge sales tax of theater tickets for the first time, Mark Jenkins reports in the Post. The Washington Times’ Tom Howell Jr. consults experts on Gray’s tax-raising proposals. And Examiner editorial says that “Gray’s tax-hike budget should be DOA. ... [I]f Gray, Brown and the D.C. Council are incapable of trimming even 5 percent from a bloated budget that’s increased 65 percent in eight years without raising taxes or abandoning the homeless, the city is obviously in need of outside intervention, again.”
GOOD DAY ON THE HILL — Gray and Brown’s trip up to Capitol Hill on Thursday turned out to be unexpectedly productive, with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chair of the House Oversight Committee, saying that he would work on budget autonomy issues with the city. Ben Pershing reports in The Post: “[T]hough the voucher program and a few other conflicts came up Thursday, the hearing mostly centered on fiscal policy. There was no mention of any recent city scandals. ... ‘I’m reasonably confident that no, we cannot accept budget autonomy fully,’ Issa said. ‘But I am going to be offering an alternative that … provides a mechanism for a separate vote, separate consideration of District funds.’ Under Issa’s plan, Congress would approve what he called a ‘contingent budget’ for the District that only covers locally raised tax funds. Then, later in the year, the House and Senate would pass federal appropriations for the District as usual. ‘I think by bifurcating them … we can do it early on in every Congress and do it separate from a sometimes-difficult [federal] budget process,’ Issa said.” Martin Austermuhle writes at DCist: “Of course, much like the 1973 congressional act that gave the District Home Rule, Issa’s offering is an act of compromise. While the city would have more control and flexibility in how it spends its own money, Congress would have the final say — and still get to attach riders to city spending measures like those prohibiting the District from spending local funds on abortions or needle-exchange programs.” Also WAMU-FM, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WaTimes, Loose Lips.
ALSO — Post editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao smacks Issa around for complaining about having “taxation without representation” because he doesn’t get a homestead exemption on his District home.
WHITHER UNITED? — On the front page of today’s Post, Steven Goff and Jonathan O’Connell look at D.C. United’s quest to escape the aging, raccoon-infested RFK Stadium: “Despite unparalleled success on the field — a record four MLS Cup titles and the distinction as the only Washington team from the five most popular pro leagues to win a championship in the past 20 years — United has repeatedly failed in efforts to build a new stadium. Consequently, the team remains lodged at RFK Stadium, a soulful but obsolete 50-year-old facility rich with memories and, at times, wildlife. United has endured power outages, a crumbling infrastructure, scheduling conflicts with baseball and football games, antiquated bathrooms and concessions, and the absence of luxury suites. ‘We have a lot more good memories than bad memories in this building,’ United President Kevin Payne said, ‘but its time has come and gone, and it’s time to move on.’ Three years after United first believed it had a deal for a new stadium in the District, its long-term future remains unclear. The team has made several attempts at finding a new place to settle in the Washington area, but each has ended in frustration, prompting United to consider other options. Backed by the Maryland Stadium Authority, Baltimore has reached out to United with an early-stage proposal to build a facility near the city’s baseball and football venues. Said Payne: ‘Our name is D.C. United and we don’t take that lightly, but the Baltimore opportunity is a real one and we have to take it seriously.’ ”
*** SMALL PLATES ***
Wale: “This is where they love you / then they hate you / go and ask Fenty” (YouTube)
Eleanor Holmes Norton to Obama: “I thanked the president for his strong support of the District dating back to his years in the Senate, but I had to express my deep disappointment on the two riders placed on the District.” (Post Now)
Kwame Brown recommends a separate Community College of the District of Columbia (College Inc.)
Joyce Chiang killing solved? (The Post)
GU lawyers lay into planning office (Patch)
OTR computer system gamed by Harriette Walters will finally be replaced (WBJ)
Harry Jaffe gets hip to bikes (the Examiner)
Bikeshare’s great, but needs more helmets (WTTG-TV)
Prepare for “pushy” bike lanes and stuff (Housing Complex)
Fewer inpatient admissions at D.C. hospitals (WBJ)
Twenty wheelchair-accessible taxis roll out (the Examiner)
Sidwell sued over sex (The Post)
Cop pleads guilty to stolen property charge (WJLA)
UDC Hill reception attracts more than 20 members of Congress (Informer)
Why academic rigor helps urban students (Class Struggle)
Another powdery letter appears at DCPS school (WTOP)
*** ON THE MENU ***
Gray appears at East of the River Family Strengthening Collaborative annual workshop, 9:45 a.m. at Washington Seniors Wellness Center, 3001 Alabama Ave. SE; attends reception “Honoring Latinos in Mayor’s Cabinet,” 6:15 p.m. at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, 1100 Harvard St. NW — D.C. Council hearing on Executive Personnel Practices, 10 a.m. in JAWB 500