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Welcome to the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the Vince Gray era! Alas, it’s also the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the Dean Suderman era, which means LL is still off work on new daddy duty, leaving the work of putting together LL Daily to his less skilled editors. The real LL should be back in the next couple days. Meantime, let’s get to it:
What Can Brown Do for Brown?: LL’s editor hereby predicts that over the next four years, we’ll see at least one story a month along the lines of Tim Craig’s piece on B1 of today’s Post. The gist: New D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown really, really wants people to know he differs from his celebrated predecessor, from his youthful image, and from all those unsourced insider quotes questioning his chops. The first such story is always the best, though. Craig leads with details of a $13,000 office renovation that groups Brown’s office and those of the Council’s policy staff into a space that “runs nearly the length of the Pennsylvania Avenue building.” To Wilson Building insiders, Craig writes, the move “has come to symbolize Brown’s efforts to stand out of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s shadow and exert his control by sending a message to skeptics who doubt his leadership abilities.”
Hmmm. Enlarging one’s real estate holdings amidst government cutbacks seems like poor political positioning, but the piece details other, newsier moves: Elevating ally Mary Cheh to the largely ceremonial post of chairman pro tempore over Jack Evans, engineering Jim Graham‘s removal from the Metro board, and endorsing Sekou Biddle in the race to fill Brown’s old at-large post. “Brown has moved quickly to put his stamp on the council,” Craig writes. Some questions LL’s editor wishes he knew the answers to: What fallout can the new chairman expect from Evans, whose demotion is described as a “stinging setback?” Is there any contradiction between Brown’s promise of an ethics-obsessed Council and the story’s prediction that Harry Thomas Jr.—whose ethics have lately been under fire from the Post‘s own editorial board—will see his clout rise? And when Brown promises a new Council focus on technology, what exactly does that mean?
Meanwhile, over at the Examiner, Harry Jaffe apparently didn’t get the Brown’s-his-own-man memo. In a column headlined “Will Mayor Gray also run the city council,” Jaffe quotes an unnamed “veteran D.C. politician” saying that “the council could be in danger of becoming a rubber stamp for the mayor.”
AFTER THE JUMP… DCPS news, amnesty for scofflaws, and Vincent Orange picks up support!
Reading, ‘Riting, and Recruiting: There’s biggish news out of DCPS, via the Post: James Sandman, the onetime D.C. power lawyer tapped three years ago by Michelle Rhee to serve as the school system’s general counsel, is leaving to take the top job at the Legal Services Corp. Postie Ed O’Keefe plays it as simply a good career move, and not a result of Rhee’s departure: Sandman calls the new gig “the best job in American law.” He also notes that the change had nothing to to with Gray’s ascent, saying he was contacted about the position before the November election. That smells a little fishy to LL’s editor: By the November election, it was clear that Gray was going to win, and Rhee was going to leave. If the conversations had been going on before September’s primary, that might prove something. The piece says Sandman is the second recent high-level departure of a top appointee, though last month’s report on the exit of logistics boss Anthony Tata mentions a few other post-Rhee exits. Either way, LL’s editor can’t help but notice that both Sandman and Tata came from backgrounds that didn’t involve education bureaucracy. One more and it’s a trend!
All the same, it’s a good news cycle for the school system. News geeks may be obsessed with the fate of Rhee’s appointees, but the Post gives much bigger play to the system’s “remarkable effort” to spruce up a new home for the fire-stricken Takoma Educational Center. The front of the Metro section featured a photo of the system’s chief of staff hugging a youngster, a PR win no matter how many central-office lawyers happen to have called it quits.
Free Parking vs. Free Peeing: In transit news today, it’s a win for cars. To wit: The Examiner‘s Freeman Klopott reports that city parking scofflaws owe $300 million to the District, prompting talk of an amnesty program. On Metro, meanwhile, his colleague Kytja Weir reports on an inspector general’s finding that transit employees regularly urinated on side tracks because they didn’t have long enough breaks. And WTOP, among others, quotes riders at an advisory board hearing sounding off about the transit agency’s new bag-check policy. So, just to be clear: For drivers, it’s possible free parking; for riders, pee-soaked tracks and random security sweeps. LL’s editor plans to taking the car to work today.
Elsewhere in D.C. Politics and Government: District officials are protesting GOP plans to strip D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of her vote in the Committee of the Whole… Pro tem defenestration notwithstanding, Evans will join with colleague Michael Brown to run the Council’s redistricting process. He tells Klopott that this census, which showed population growth, may not require the wrenching boundary changes that caused so much political fighting a decade ago… Kelvin Robinson, the former chief of staff to Mayor Anthony Williams who ran an unsuccessful, smart growth-baiting campaign against Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells last fall, is dropping out of the race for Kwame Brown’s vacated at-large seat. He’ll endorse Vincent Orange… DDOT offical Terry Bellamy will take over as interim boss of the agency, replacing departed wonk hero (and hero wonk?) Gabe Klein.
And finally, speaking of symbolism in government real estate: The new D.C. attorney general, Irvin Nathan, will move his offices out of the Wilson Building. His influential, controversial predecssor Peter Nickles, by contrast, worked just a few yards from Mayor Adrian Fenty. “Nickles’s physical proximity to Fenty came to symbolize what critics saw as an overly close relationship between the city’s top legal officer and its chief executive,” explains Mike DeBonis. Despite the likely wishes of folks like Harry Thomas Jr., Nathan isn’t going as far away as, say, Great Fall. He’ll move to One Judiciary Square.
Council schedule: First legislative meeting of the year (hooray!), 10 a.m., Wilson Building
Mayor’s schedule: Appears at protest to keep Norton’s vote on the Committee of the Whole House, 9:30 a.m., Rayburn House Office Building