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Good morning sweet readers! LL has nothing pithy to add this morning here, so let’s just get straight to the news, shall we?
For Whom the Poll Tolls: A new poll by Clarus Research Group confirms what anyone paying attention already knew: Voters aren’t happy with Mayor Vince Gray and Council Chairman Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown. Gray’s approval rating is a sad 31 percent, while Brown’s is even worse at 27 percent. The good news for Gray (other than being 4 percent more popular than Brown), says pollster Ron Faucheux, is that a full 30 percent of those polled hadn’t made up their mind on Gray’s performance. “The fact that nearly three out of ten voters do not yet have an opinion of Gray’s performance indicates that he has room to repair his image.” The amount of undecideds for Brown are similar. Like last year’s election, there’s a stark racial divide in the poll, with white voters being a lot harder on Gray and Brown than black voters, though even among black voters, Gray’s approval rating is only 42 percent. (The overall margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent, which means those crosstabs are best viewed as being approximate.) The poll found that 59 percent of voters polled don’t think Gray is appointing the right people to city jobs, and 54 percent don’t think he’s living up to high ethical standards. Also of interest, the poll found that Vincent Orange is still running strong in second place to “undecided” in the at-large race that’s only a little more than a month away. Orange scored a 28 percent, while the rest of the pack is stuck in the 6 percent to less than 1 percent range.
AFTER THE JUMP: Eyes on Thomas; He Said, He Said; Silly Congress …
Eyes on Thomas: Local Republicans file a complaint with the Office of Campaign Finance against Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. in October, saying he’s operating a slush fund. Five months later, OCF finally responds to GOP members, saying they’re investigating. Curious timing? Yes, ’tis curious, especially since Attorney General Irv Nathan is set to wrap up his investigation of the same alleged slush fund in the next month or two. But timing aside, it’s another day of bad news for D.C. politics. The Team Thomas saga (Team Thomas is the name of the alleged slush fund) never seemed to garner much interest, save for a few exceptions, last year when former Attorney General Peter Nickles was investigating. Thomas has denied wrongdoing and said he’s the victim of a political witch hunt. But it’s a whole new world since Team Thomas last made news. And it’ll be interesting to see how much scrutiny Thomas now gets in a post-Sulaimon and Navigatorgate D.C. Also, the Post reports that OCF is specifically looking into Thomas’ Audi SUV, “which was bought by a company affiliated with Thomas and then re-registered in Thomas’s name.”
Cars R Us: What is it with senior D.C. government officials and city-owned vehicles? Yet another department head, Department of Employment Services director Rochelle Webb, had a city-owned car ferrying her to and from her home for the first two months she was on the job. And by “her home,” LL means “the W Hotel on 15th Street NW,” which is where D.C. taxpayers were putting Webb up while she sought permanent lodging. Officials say that’s because it was the cheapest hotel available, but LL isn’t so sure. Stay tuned for more on this one. (Meanwhile, LL’s editor is jealously wondering just how many Starwood points you rack up for living in a W for two months.)
Nothing Better Than Triathlons and Booze: It appears there’s a case of he said, he said over at the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. The Examinerreports that Mital Gandhi resigned from the board because “Chairman Charles Brodsky asked him to support a change in city regulations that favored one of the city’s largest wholesale beverage companies because Brodsky believed he could gain favors from the firm.” Specifically, Gandhi says “Brodsky asked for his support in changing a city regulation on behalf of Washington Wholesale Liquor Company because the company was a ‘prospective sponsor’ for Brodsky’s Nation’s Triathlon and might ‘also support [Brodsky] in a future [D.C.] council bid.'” Brodsky, who is close to former Mayor Adrian Fenty, denies the allegations and tells WTOP that Gandhi is “ethically challenged.” Gandhi was blocked by the council last year from serving as a Republican member of the Board of Elections and Ethics. The Gray administration says it’s investigating Gandhi’s accusations.
Issa, You’re Premature: The WaPo editorial board weighs in on the House Oversight Committee’s decision to investigate l’affaire Sulaimon, saying the effort is premature “at best.” Let the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the District council do its work first, says the Post. But the heart of the problem, sayeth WaPo, is that the Gray administration gave the House a plum in its effort to “take the District of Columbia down a notch.” “What’s particularly disappointing about the situation is that it was D.C. officials themselves who provided the opening Congress needed to interfere.”
In Other News: Union leaders don’t like Gray’s choice to lead juvenile justice agency, and are also upset that mayor hasn’t met with them as they say he promised to do. NBC 4’s Tom Sherwood doesn’t like Gray’s budget survey, his plans to have community meetings on the budget, state of the District speeches in general, or the way the mayor fired his chief of staff. But Sherwood does like cherry blossoms and pothole filling efforts. Elected officials want to collect on unpaid debts owed the city, and the District will sue online travel companies. DCPS investigating whether allegations of grade doctoring by McKinley Tech principal. DCPS also looking to beef up security for standardized tests. Want a trash bin from the District? Tough. Money problems with holding special election. Your ANC borders are about to change. Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry addresses protesters looking for work on 11th street bridge reconstruction. Barry unhappy with Gray’s pick to lead office on aging.
Council sked: Confirmation hearings are this morning for DMPED’s Victor Hoskins, AG Irv Nathan, and DOES’ Rochelle Webb. Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh talks about subpoenas for Gray aides at 3 p.m.
Gray sked: Includes, presser on new health initiative, visit to D.C. General homeless shelter computer lab, meeting with “California Students” and appearance at Howard Law School.