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A year ago, LL predicted what would happen in and around the Wilson Building in 2015. Hopefully you didn’t put money on it.
On one hand, Muriel Bowser’s picks did sweep the April special elections, and the feds ended their investigation into Vince Gray’s 2010 mayoral campaign. The District had a showdown with Congress over marijuana legalization. LL’s prediction that pot-hating Maryland Rep. Andy Harris would be “unbearably smug”—maybe the easiest call LL has ever made—remained true.
Other predictions didn’t come true: The District, thankfully, didn’t win the 2024 Olympics. And the city still hasn’t decided on a memorial to mayor-for-life Marion Barry.
LL feels better about his 2016 predictions. Read on to find out what will happen next year:
- After FreshPAC’s November demise left Bowser’s Green Team slightly less omnipotent, expect more scrutiny next year of the mayor’s affiliates’ connections in both Ward 8 and development deals around Southwest.
- The rising murder rate—up 54 percent from 2014, as LL writes this—has been the biggest problem for Bowser’s new administration. After a year where Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier struggled to figure out what was behind the violent summer (and fall, and winter), the homicide uptick will be back next May.
- The D.C. Fire and EMS department will have its usual ambulance woes, despite new DCFEMS Chief Gregory Dean.
- The Washington Post editorial board, already restless with Bowser, will continue to drift away from her as she stops being the only option for supporting their main issue: Michelle Rhee-style school reform. Also on school reform, the charter-friendly Democrats for Education Reform-D.C. political action committee could be a force in next year’s elections, if it manages to raise some more money.
- Speaking of schools, expect more complaints from parents whose children’s schools still haven’t been renovated as hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on improvements elsewhere in the D.C. Public Schools system.
- The Wizards stadium deal will go well at the D.C. Council—until councilmembers squawk at the deal’s provision that the city cover any cost overruns. The Wizards themselves will have a dismal year, while LL’s Georgetown Hoyas will impress observers by not getting knocked out of March Madness until the second round. [Editor’s note: The views of LL, particularly with regards to basketball, do not necessarily reflect the views of Washington City Paper.]
- Gray, fresh off the end of the federal investigation into his 2010 campaign, will run for a Council seat. LL thinks that Gray will avoid joining the fractured field challenging At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange for his more prestigious citywide seat, opting instead to take on former protege Yvette Alexander in Ward 7. The reason is simple: Gray came in with just a third of the citywide vote in 2014, but nearly 60 percent of Ward 7’s vote.
Expect an east-of-the-river slugfest. Some wags wrongly tag Alexander as a pushover, but she’s happy to shiv an opponent—even the guy who helped get her the seat in the first place—when it comes to keeping her spot on the Council. Gray will win anyway.
- LL will get in a 2018 prediction here, too: Gray, unhappy with Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, will take Mendo on.
- Despite the December police sting against the Kush Gods edible marijuana operation, the District’s congressionally-imposed quasi-legalization will inspire more oddball entrepreneurs. Spiked gummy bears, anyone?
- In other election predictions, Orange will once again prevail over a busy field, beating out surprisingly well-funded smart growther David Garber (second) and former at-large hopeful and attorney general Karl Racine-affiliate Robert White (third).
Racine’s attempt to build a Council bloc will go better in Ward 8, where he’s backing Trayon White. After losing in 2015’s special election to Bowser-favorite LaRuby May by less than 200 votes, White (helped along with an endorsement from Barry’s son) will win by a lot more than 200 votes in 2016’s Democratic primary.
In November’s independent at-large race, Bowser will back an opponent to incumbent David Grosso. Grosso will win anyway.
- The deal Bowser and the Council cut to keep much of police body camera footage available under the Freedom of Information Act will work, at least until the first questionable police-involved shooting. Then expect the provision that leaves the release of some footage up to the mayor to become a lot more controversial.
- In her second year as D.C. auditor, former Councilmember Kathy Patterson will continue to stir up District contracting and development with her reports. Ditto Inspector General Daniel Lucas, who has moved his office past the usual banalities like investigations into handicap placard abuse.
- Despite opposition from activists and the General Services Administration, the District’s Public Service Commission will side with Bowser and approve Chicago-based power utility Exelon’s takeover of Pepco.
- Expect fewer local corruption headlines out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, just stung by the end of the Gray investigation. Besides, former U.S. Attorney Ron Machen took the crooks off the Council, right?
- Donald Trump’s Old Post Office hotel will open on schedule in 2016, bringing protests and some awkward ribbon cutting decisions for District pols.
- And finally, the prediction LL is most confident in: National Zoo panda cub Bei Bei will go on display in January, and be cute.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery