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Good morning sweet readers! Is it just LL or is there a little bit more daylight today? News time:
The End of an Era: Almost Mayor Vince Gray‘s iron-fisted reign of terror as D.C. Council chairman came to an end yesterday as the council held the final full legislative meeting of the 18th session. The Post‘s Tim Craig, whose birthday was allegedly yesterday, sums up the Gray council era: “The just-concluded council session will be known as one in which members appeared to find legislative confidence in the aftermath of the financial control board. The council embraced an activist agenda and exerted more control over city government, increasing oversight of the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).” As a parting gift, the council gave Gray an iPad and promised to roll over and play dead when he becomes mayor. Some legislative accomplishments during Gray’s tenure: “the council legalized same-sex marriage and medical marijuana, rewrote gun-control laws, imposed a 5-cent tax on plastic bags to advance the cleanup of the Anacostia River, and adopted standards for healthier school lunches.” Some unpleasant moments: the censure of CM Marion Barry and the FBI raid of CM Jim Graham‘s office. Craig notes that with the city’s current financial woes, and Republican lawmakers set to take over the House, the “era of approving bold legislation has passed.” Of note: the council oversaw the District’s general fund increase by 22 percent to $6.7 million during the last four years. What’s that word? Ah yes, unsustainable.
As for yesterday’s legislative action, the council voted to approve residency requirements for homeless shelters after a ridiculous discussion involving baby Jesus, softened the cuts to long-term welfare recipients, extended rent control, approved on-line gambling, a tax break for the Adams Morgan Hotel, and a tax on online hotel bookers.
AFTER THE JUMP: Separation Pay Confusion; Brown for Biddle? Hildum Stays…
Sep Pay Scandal?: Still Mayor Adrian Fenty moved $495,000 out a job training program to cover the cost of “separation pay” for his employees who will be out in the cold next month, the Post reports. That’s just a sliver under the $500k threshold that would require council approval. CMs Kwame Brown and Michael Brown are displeased that Fenty would take money from a jobs training program and sent a letter to Hizzoner asking him to knock it off. M. Brown’s office also put out a press release that say Fenty was making “bonus payouts for political appointees on the backs of [the] District’s unemployed.” But LL received word from Team Fenty this morning that the money isn’t from a jobs training program, but from existing Department of Employment Services funds. No word on how those funds were originally earmarked to be spent. Also, there are no bonus payments being paid, says Fenty’s folks.
Brown for Biddle?: Kwame Brown’s feelings may still be a little raw from his primary race against former Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange (who, his political rival Jacque Patterson tweets, sang “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” at the karaoke fundraiser for Gray last night in Ward 8.) Orange wasn’t shy about bringing up Brown’s personal financial shortcomings in the race. It didn’t work, Brown still trounced him. So the question is, how far will Brown go in making sure the D.C. Democratic State Committee, who gets to pick his at-large seat replacement, doesn’t pick Orange? The answer, as of yesterday, is not very far. The Post’s Mike DeBonis reports that Brown begged off a question of whether he’s endorsing State Board of Education member Sekou Biddle, who appears to be one of Orange’s main competitors for the DCDSC’s pick. Brown said he’s not making an endorsement right now (the DCDSC is going to make their choice on Jan. 6). DeBonis reports that Brown and Biddle are good buds: “Their fathers grew up together in New Jersey, and Brown and Biddle attended Wilson Senior High School in the late ’80s. They now share a campaign adviser, Tom Lindenfeld, who also famously advised outgoing Mayor Adrian Fenty.“
Don’t Leave Us Hildum, Please Stay Four More Yeeears: The Examiner has the scoop that Gray has asked the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services’ interim director Robert Hildum to stick around, rather than leave last Friday like Hildum told his staff he was going to do. Gray says he asked Hildum to stay because DYRS would shut down without a director. He didn’t say how long Hildum might stay.
Jonetta laments that we’ll be going into the new year with a lot of unfinished investigations, including looks into Kwame Brown’s campaign finances, Harry Thomas Jr.‘s non-profits, and Adrian Fenty’s frat brothers.
Streetcar project gets federal grant.
North Carolina is the new Utah when it comes to voting rights.
On Newstalk with Bruce DePuyt: outgoing DDOT Director Gabe Klein
Council schedule:Parks committee will vote on whether to include “executive session testimony” in its parks contract investigation at 11 p.m.
Gray will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. to announce five more appointments, including key education posts.