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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning and a belated happy New Year, dear readers! Your usual guide to the vagaries of District politics, Alan Suderman, is still home trying to teach his new baby Dean Suderman what an Advisory Neighborhood Commission is, so you’re stuck with me (managing editor Mike Madden) for today’s edition of Loose Lips Daily. There’s only one big story for anyone who pays attention to the Wilson Building today, and if you can’t guess what it is, chances are, you’re not reading this dispatch. But just in case, let’s get to it…
Mayor Vince Gray: The “Almost” that we at Washington City Paper have been slapping before “Mayor” in Vince Gray‘s title since September officially came off yesterday, as he became the sixth person sworn in as elected mayor since Home Rule in 1975. (And the first D.C. Council chairman ever to move to the executive job.) A full day of ceremonies and festivities, beginning with prayer and ending with Chuck Brown, marked the occasion. “Whether we live in Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, or Southwest; whether we are black, white, yellow, or brown; whether we get around by car, bus, train, foot, or bike; this is one city—our city,” Gray said in his inaugural address. (If that line isn’t the one most quoted in various D.C. news reports today, we’ll go buy a fedora, slap a press card in it, and then eat it.) The new mayor stuck to the broad “one city” theme that served him well in the campaign; Gray said the District would have to “come together” to “bring a collaborative and holistic approach to education reform,” put more people back to work, and improve neighborhood safety. In the Washington Times, Deborah Simmons notes that Gray and new D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown both struck a “new tone for camaraderie” that had not, to put it gently, been the leitmotif of D.C. politics over the last few years. Freeman Klopott in the Examiner made the same point. Gray’s speech also called explicitly for D.C. statehood, though with about 4 gazillion Republicans to be sworn in to Congress on Wednesday, we wouldn’t advise Gray to stake his re-election campaign on delivering that. Presidents quoted by name in the inaugural address: 4 (Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama). Neighborhoods or geographic features shouted out by name: 16 (Dupont Circle, Randle Circle, McLean Gardens, Naylor Gardens, Chinatown, Tenleytown, Friendship Heights, Columbia Heights, Lincoln Heights, Congress Heights, Fort Lincoln, Lincoln Park, Forest Hills, Hillcrest, Fairfax Village, Colonial Village). Other cities mentioned: 4 (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami).
AFTER THE JUMP… More—much, much more—on the inauguration!
The financial situation facing the new mayor and Council is, in a word, abysmal. Gray alluded to shared sacrifice in his speech, but saved the big news—that tax increases are “pretty close to the table, maybe close to the tabletop” to close a $440 million budget deficit—for a meeting with reporters. Not that that’s actually surprising; a deficit that large can’t really be made up simply by cutting here and trimming there.
The Post‘s Ann Marimow notes that one of Gray’s first moves upon taking office was to reopen the Wilson Building suite that his predecessor, former Mayor Adrian Fenty, had abandoned for a Michael Bloomberg-style bullpen: “The space was so underused that when Gray walked in for the first time three weeks ago, he encountered dead plants and, in the coat closet, a jacket inscribed with the name of another former mayor, Anthony A. Williams (D).” (And to think Williams endorsed Fenty in the primary even though he was holding one of Williams’ jackets hostage!) We think we speak for everyone who’s been reading the New York Times over the last few weeks when we say we hope that means Gray will also break from Bloomberg’s snow removal tactics.
Obama didn’t attend the inauguration, since he was off in Hawaii, but the White House sent an emissary, Director of Intergovernmental Relations David Agnew, who delivered a message that Mark Plotkin most assuredly did not approve—insofar as it made no mention at all of voting rights, taxation, representation, or anything else like that.
Atheists and humanists protested Gray’s prayer service before the swearing-in, since it was very God-heavy.
We skipped the inaugural ball last night, mostly because we’re still traumatized from the cold and the complicated logistics of getting around the city on Jan. 20, 2009, but the Godfather of G0-Go and his recent collaborator, Raheem DeVaughn, played at the Convention Center for several thousand revelers. Apparently, though, the music was only available to VIPs.
Additional Inaugural Matters: Also sworn in yesterday were, as noted above, the new council chairman, Kwame Brown, and a handful of re-elected D.C. Council members—Ward 1’s Jim Graham, Ward 3’s Mary Cheh, Ward 5’s Harry Thomas Jr., and Ward 6’s Tommy Wells, as well as Phil Mendelson and David Catania, who remain at large. (Get it?) A slew of ANC commissioners also took office. Congratulations to all of you; we’ll be watching.
Murder Count: The District recorded a record low number of homicides in 2010, but 2011 got off to a bad start yesterday, with a shooting in Petworth that killed one teenager and left another wounded, and another shooting in Congress Heights that injured four. Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier rushed off to the Petworth crime scene from Gray’s swearing-in.
In other news…
Federal agencies are renting millions more square feet of office space than they really need.
Metro says you’ll be able to swipe your credit card at turnstiles—eventually.
D.C. Council: Organizational meeting, 10 a.m., Wilson Building.
Gray: No public events. (Hey, just like that other guy!)