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  • Vince Gray: Team Thomas Ain’t On Me
  • Good morning sweet readers! LL has a cold, meaning today’s roundup is brought to you by DayQuil and you’ll have to increase your reading speed by 50 percent for any it to make any sense. News time:

    Even Worse Than You Thought: The District’s budget gap for the next fiscal year may actually be closer to $600 million, instead of the $450 million number everyone’s been throwing around, reports WBJ’s Michael Neibauer. “Now agency chiefs are being told in private meetings with Gray’s budget team to prepare for a $600 million gap, for double-digit cuts to their budgets and for drastic changes to the District’s capital plan, sources say.” There’s not a full explanation of why there’s now an increase, but Neibauer’s sources say that part of the reason is because “several of the one-time fixes used to balance the budget will not carry over to the next fiscal year.” Question: are the budget wonks just now figuring that out? What to watch for: CFO Nat Gandhi‘s February revenue projection, which could make things better or a lot worse.

    AFTER THE JUMP: And Then There Were Two?; New Picks; Leave Us Alone…

    And Then There Were Two: The Examiner’s Freeman Klopott makes the curiously early claim that the April special election is down to two and has become “a battle over who can best claim the Michelle Rhee title of school reformer.” Current at-large member Sekou Biddle tells Freeman, “I am in the whole entirely with education reform.” But Republican Pat Mara says he’s way more Rhee-like than Biddle, who was endorsed last week by Gray. “By aligning himself with people who are not from the Rhee camp, I don’t see how Biddle can still be independent,” says Mara. Klopott reports that Vincent Orange “is now casting himself as David against Biddle’s Goliath.” Says Orange: “Clearly I’m the outsider … But we still need a strong independent voice on the council.”  You’ll notice that both Mara and Orange are trying to make the point that Biddle is not “independent.” Declaring the race a battle of two this far ahead of time—or declaring that it’s all going to come down to education—both seem like fairly strong statements to make in January about an April election. (See the previous item for why the budget, not education, might weigh on some voters’ minds.) It’s true that Biddle is, apparently, the Democratic establishment candidate, and Mara is the choice of the D.C. GOP. But still…

    The Leaders: Gray introduced the city to his three new appointments on Friday. Deputy mayor for planning and economic development nominee Victor Hoskins will “dramatically reshape the mission and structure” of his role, with a focus on job creation, says Gray. The new mayor “also also plans to reestablish quasi-public entities, like the disbanded Anacostia Waterfront Corp. and the National Capital Revitalization Corp, that can ‘make us more nimble’ in addressing development in specific areas—around St. Elizabeths and the Department of Homeland Security headquarters, for example,” report Neibauer. Former Mayor Adrian Fenty had disbanded those corps because he thought they weren’t nimble enough. CM Jack Evans agreed with Fenty. Gray also picked Phillip A. Lattimore III tohead the dysfunctional Office of Risk Management, and Jeffery Richardson to lead the Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Affairs.

    Rubber Stamps: In what’s likely to be the first of many columns with the same theme for a long while, Examiner columnist Jonetta Rose Barras today wonders “if a rubber stamp factory opened in the D.C. Council quarters in city hall.” Barras’ biggest beef is the fact that the council confirmed Tom Downs to the Metro board without public discussion.

    Leave Us Alone: The WaPo editorial board says the House Republicans’ effort to limit the District from using local funds to pay for abortion services is “a power grab of disturbing dimensions.” The board also wants the city to suck it up and pay for the high cost of the special election without trying anything new.

    Fix Hardy or Leave: The Georgetown Dish editorializes on the problems at Hardy Middle School, saying interim Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson isn’t doing a very good job of solving what ails the school. “So far, Henderson’s actions are highly reminiscent of Rhee’s communication gaffes with their heavy toll on credibility and public support”Of note: Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh weighs in on matter, saying the current set-up, in which principal Dana Nerenberg splits her time at Hardy and another school, isn’t “realistic.”

    Colby King says the “District government can no longer play the role of compassionate enabler” won’t be happy with the looming tax hikes there’s a transformation in how the city and society respond to “teen pregnancy; irresponsible and absentee fathers; and abusive, neglectful and welfare-dependent parents.”

    Michelle Rhee wants President Obama “call for a federal law that would require states to help parents ascertain whether their children are getting the high-quality instruction they need to prepare for college and the work force” in his SOTU address.

    Evans’ constituent services fund needs your help, or just your money.

    Cops charged with taking money to protect liquor store.

    Metro board to take off the interim label of GM Richard Sarles.

    The battle for Brookland.

    Bad credit? CM Jim Graham doesn’t want that to slow your job search.

    Jack Evans and At-Large candidate Pat Mara will be on Newstalk with Bruce DePuyt.

    Gray’s sked: Lunch with HHSSEC Kathleen Sebelius, 3 p.m. meeting with Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Democrat from Portland. Blumenauer, btw, is crazy about bikes, and wears a bike pin all the time. 10:30 a.m.: ribbon cutting at Tenley Library.