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A Wounded City Gets All the Symbolism It Could Ask For Mayor Gray, D.C. Councilmembers Arrested! Biddle Dumps Brown Team Gray and The Post What Should We Ask D.C. Council Candidates? Read: Final Report on SUVgate
Good morning sweet readers! Remember, tonight LL and previous LLs are co-hosting a candidate forum/debate at the Black Cat along with NBC4’s Tom Sherwood and WPFW’s DC Politics show’s Chuck Thies. If you ever dreamed of trying to get a politician to buy you a drink in exchange for your vote, this could be your chance. It starts at 7 p.m. pronto.
Vince Gray, Returned Citizen: Mayor Vince Gray, Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown, At-Large Councilmembers Michael Brown and Sekou Biddle, Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells and Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander were all part of the fightin’ 41 for 51 who got arrested yesterday at the Capitol for protesting Congress’ latest budget deal that includes a provision that would restrict the District from using its own funds to pay for low-income women to have abortions. “All we want is to be able to spend our own money,” said Gray. For their troubles, Gray and the rest of the council got to spend several hours in custody of the U.S. Capitol Police. From the Post: “Gray and others seized on a report in The Washington Post that in the heat of negotiations on the spending bill, [President Barack] Obama said to [House Speaker John] Boehner, ‘John, I will give you D.C. abortion.’ The concession by Obama came partly in exchange for Boehner agreeing to drop a GOP-authored provision ending federal funding for Planned Parenthood. ‘Is D.C. the president’s to give?’ DC Vote head Ilir Zherka asked the crowd Monday. ‘No!’ they yelled back. Bowser said the women of the District were ‘under attack.’ ‘I’ve got to tell you I’m disappointed in my president,” Bowser said, and then addressed Obama: ‘If you don’t choose us, we won’t choose you.'” Worth noting: In Bowser’s office there’s a big picture of the councilmember standing next to Obama. Gray and the others arrested weren’t released until well into the night. Questions to ponder this morning: Will the rest of the nation care about the arrest after today? And has Gray found a way to push past his recent troubles?
AFTER THE JUMP: Abortion Bill: 62 grand; Mad as Heck; Fenty’s Money…
Facts and Figures: The Post notes: “Wayne Turnage, D.C. Department of Health Care Finance director, said the city has been billed for 117 elective abortions, totaling about $62,000. But, he said, that figure includes abortions billed by two of the three managed-care organizations that have contracts with the city. The third, he said, has yet to submit billings for the period since abortions became covered.” The New York Times points out that “the sound and fury of last week’s budget debate came down to a dollar figure that some members of Congress could have covered by writing a personal check.” The Gray Lady then goes on to quote Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton saying that the District was thrown under the proverbial bus. Speaking of EHN, a couple of people have been wondering why she wasn’t at yesterday’s protest. Her office put out a statement at 1:19 a.m. yesterday saying that Norton “decided not to attend Monday’s rally so that members of Congress could see that it was entirely a ‘people’s rally,’ not an action that had or needed her leadership. She said that it was critical for Congress to see the faces of D.C. residents, and not her, when Congress invades the city’s self-governing rights.”
Mad as Heck: There’s a pair of strongly worded opinion pieces this morning. First up, the WaPo editorial board: “It was pretty clear during the tense budget negotiations that nearly closed the federal government that there is a lot Democrats and Republicans don’t agree about. What unites the two sides, though, is their utter disregard — if not contempt — for those who make their home in the District of Columbia. That President Obama personally dealt away the District’s autonomy in order to get a budget deal is pretty much all anyone needs to know to understand why there’s been so little progress in getting voting and other rights for the District. With friends like that, who needs enemies? … It’s infuriating that Republicans who invoke the sanctity of democracy and local control when it’s convenient forget those values when it comes to the District. It’s disappointing that Democratic leaders who profess to support the District—most prominently, Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.)—view the city’s right to self-government as a principle that can be bargained away for the best price. Their unwillingness to defend the rights of D.C. residents can only encourage more Republican attacks on home rule.” Next up is the Examiner‘s Harry Jaffe: “To Barack Obama, the District is merely a backdrop for speeches; for first lady Michelle Obama, we provide a stage for veggie gardens and farmers markets. But when it came to hard-core politics and money, neither the Obamas nor the Democrats in Congress have much interest in our rights—as taxpayers or American citizens. We are only pawns in their game.”
In Other News: Former Mayor Adrian Fenty still trying to figure out what to do with the $440,000 left over from his campaign. Federal Metro funding spared. UDC audit on President Allen Sessoms travel finds problems. Sekou Biddle fires Marshall Brown over comments. D.C. Housing Authority has about $10,000 in unpaid tickets.
Gray sked: Appearance at 14th Annual Urban Land Institute Washington Real Estate Trends Conference at noon. Meeting with Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye at 3:30 p.m.
Council sked: Hearings on ex-offenders, mental health, and SUVs.