IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning, readers. New-papa LL is off aggregation duty for one more day. When he returns, expect a newly mature, parental attitude, full of wise, knowing, father-knows-best advice for the wayward rugrats that are our city’s politcians. Either that, or prepare for a sleepless, stressed out LL to administer some journalistic corporal punishment. LL’s editor, filling in today, is betting on option two. Let’s get to it:
Large and In Charge: The biggest news in city politics is the next election, even though only 80 Democratic Party insiders will get to vote in it. Regular schnooks like LL’s editor won’t get to go to the polls until April, but under a quirky legal provision, officials from the political party of a departed at-large member—in this case, Kwame Brown, who quit to become Council chairman—get to pick an interim replacement. Given that the interim status enables pols to raise the money that will be crucial to winning a citywide vote, the competition is fierce.
The takeaway from today’s Post account of the maneuvering is that while former Council member Vincent Orange has deep ties with voting members of Democratic State Committee, comparative newcomer Sekou Biddle has won late-breaking endorsements from a half-dozen Council members, not to mention from Mayor Vince Gray‘s closest advisor. Both leading candidates manage to mangle athletic analogies—Orange using football, Biddle opting for racing. LL’s editor thinks lobbying, not sports, are a better way of understanding what’s afoot: Who do you think has more influence over an electorate of party hacks? Elected officials with real power, or an ex-elected official who can offer chumminess? It’ll depend on how much lobbying those elected officials do, and on whether the committee members conclude that Orange might realistically get a chance to offer more than his years of friendship. All the same, Tim Craig and Mike DeBonis‘ assertion that new chairman Brown had “risked his political reputation” by backing Biddle seems a bit much. Over at NBC’s DMV Daily, P.J. Orvetti says flat-out that Biddle would win a one-on-one contest, but thinks enough votes might go to other candidates to give Orange a plurality.
And/but, as Politico‘s Mike Allen might write… The city’s myopic little twits are trying to rally behind an effort to draft former Ward 1 Council candidate and ANC commissioner Bryan Weaver to run in the citywide election, no matter who emerges from the back-room negotiations with the gig. Former DCist contributor Dave Stroup is behind the campaign, which he launched last night with an e-mail blast that was the second-most earnest thing anyone at City Paper had read in a while: “I am by no means a D.C. politics insider or a seasoned politico. I will openly admit that I have no idea what I am doing. I am learning as I go. This much is clear, I am calling on Bryan Weaver to run in the special election for the at-large seat.” The most earnest thing? The website Stroup has set up for the campaign. “He’s been on the ground, out there, working with kids and tackling the hard problems. He’s attended far too many funerals and trials. He knows what it is like out there. Most of all, though, he cares… People across this city are waiting and hoping for someone to help move us all forward. There is a growing movement of people from all wards, to put away the politics as usual and stand together to make things better. To do better by everyone.” So far, no public word from Weaver on any of this. Stroup notes that he can’t raise any money for the effort yet, because without a declared candidate or officially organized committee to draft one, there’s no legal way to support Weaver. (Which may be why he’s using Tumblr to power it all.)
AFTER THE JUMP: Voting rights… Centralized debts… Fenty gets a new job!
City to Feds: Drop Dead!: The Times, the Examiner and WAMU all offer stories on Gray’s appearance at a Capitol Hill rally protesting the new GOP Congress’ denial of Commitee of the Whole votes to Eleanor Holmes Norton and fellow non-voting Congressional delegates. The Post consigns the event to a news-in-brief item, and LL’s editor thinks he knows why: The rote protest of a procedural slight seems unlikely to make any actual difference, and doesn’t get at the real places—civil rights, social policy, budget issues—where Congress and the District will likely face off. (LL, were he not on leave, would probably also note his reporting on the utter lack of preparation by Gray et al for a GOP Congress). All the same, reporters try to lend some drama to the event, with the Examiner‘s Freeman Klopott describing Gray as having “led a charge” up Capitol Hill, and WAMU’s Patrick Madden hazarding a description of what the taciturn Gray looks like when he’s impassioned: “With one hand gripping the podium and the other waving forcefully in the air, Gray didn’t hold back.” Watch out, Republicans!
Agency Antics: Also in the Examiner, Klopott reports that a bill sponsored by Ward 3’s Mary Cheh would centralize debt collection for all D.C. agencies into a single office. LL’s editor hopes very much that it will be called the Office of the Repo Man. And the conservative-leaning tabloid’s copy editors do a doozy on yet another Klopott piece, which runs under the headline “D.C. wants to teach delinquents yoga, tai-chi.” Actually, an official at the embattled Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services just sent around an email asking whether anyone on staff could teach such courses and wondering whether the city should hire someone from outside to do them in the name of offering diverse programming. The piece is solid, outlining the tensions between punitive and theraputic approaches to kids in the criminal-justice system. Only the headline looks absurd.
And In Other News: The Post and the Examiner both have stories about the bloody start to the new year. The Post’s focuses on Prince George’s County, while the Examiner’s also details some District slayings.
Other job news: ex-Mayor Adrian Fenty has signed on with a speaker’s bureau whose other clients include Danny Glover and Christopher Hitchens. He’ll deliver speeches on education reform, and will generally cement the somewhat dubious narrative that has him losing last September’s primary solely as a result of his sweeping efforts to change DCPS. Note to Fenty: When they’re paying you, you have to show up on time… Gray has tapped former Amtrak boss Tom Downs to serve as a D.C. representative on Metro’s board. Back in the day, Downs served in Marion Barry‘s cabinet… And speaking of back in the day: According to Fishbowl, Vernon Loeb is about to become the Post‘s new Metro editor. Loeb, who LL’s editor briefly worked with at the Philadelphia Inquirer, was once the Post‘s beat reporter on Barry’s fourth term.
Council schedule: Nada.
Mayor’s schedule: Either the dc.gov website (which gives an error page for the mayor’s schedule) is broken, or Gray has no public schedule—or possibly both! What a country.