IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning sweet readers! Happy Friday, these pics of Niagara Falls when the Army Corps of Engineers de-watered the falls are pretty cool. News time:
You Are Now Safe: Almost Mayor Vince Gray unveiled his almost public safety picks yesterday. Unless something crazy happens, Gray’s police chief will be Cathy Lanier, his fire chief will be Kenneth Ellerbe, his attorney general will be Irv Nathan, and his deputy mayor for public safety will be Paul Quander Jr. A quick rundown: 1) The police and fire unions are upset, saying they feel like Gray totally ignored them in making the decision. Money quote from Ray Sneed, fire union boss, in the Post: “The only thing we asked for is a seat at the table, and if we can’t get that, even during the transition stage, I guess it’s unrealistic to think we are going to get that during the governing process.” Sounds like the unions’ message to Vince is: “unbreak my heart.” 2) Ellerbe has a couple of clouds over him. One over his non-departure of DCFD when we went to go be a fire chief in Florida, and another is a scoop that WTOP’s Mark Segravesbroke yesterday about his receiving a Homestead Tax Credit reserved for District residents on his Alabama Avenue home even after moving to Florida. Reports Segraves: Ellerbe was “not aware he was responsible for changing his status, and thought it was the responsibility of his accountant.” LL knows that sounds bad, but in Ellerbe’s defense, he genuinely sounded like he had no earthly idea what the Homestead Tax Credit was at yesterday’s news conference. CM Phil Mendelson, who heads the council’s public safety committee (for now?) said that he’s well aware of Ellerbe’s issues and is satisfied there’s nothing that would keep Ellerbe from being confirmed by the council. (In related news: Dennis Rubin bids adieu to NBC4) 3) The Post reports that some of Gray’s advisers were caught off guard by the Nathan pick, saying they expected a minority with more local experience. But Nathan’s fans say he’s a great guy who will do a fantastic job and Gray’s a smart man for picking him. LL’s piece on Nathan includes a statement from his old boss, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. (Hint: she likes him.) Gray is announcing some more picks today at noon.
AFTER THE JUMP: Post v. HTJ, Round 4ish; Kwame’s Replacement Party; Media Matters…
Frio Headline: The Post editorial board needs to hire a snappy headline writer. Their latest effort: “More unanswered questions regarding a D.C. councilmember” is pretty lame. A better one would have been: “Just who paid for Ward 5 CM Harry Thomas Jr.‘s Audi?” That’s the question raised by the piece, which reports that Attorney General Peter Nickles‘ investigation of Thomas’ youth sports non-profit, Team Thomas, has expanded to include Thomas’ for-profit “HLT Team Thomas/SwingAway LLC” which also goes by “HLT Development.” The for-profit had its corporate registration revoked in 2007, but was listed as the owner of Thomas’s Audi SUV in 2008. The question is: did Councilmember Thomas raise money from corporations doing business with the council for Team Thomas, take that money, route it through his for-profit, and buy himself a nice ride? Thomas’ attorney Fred Cooke Jr. wouldn’t answer specific questions from the Post, but did repeat that Thomas has never personally benefited from anything to do with Team Thomas. Cooke also said it would be wrong for anyone to assume that Thomas has done anything wrong. Good point. Now just tell us who donated the $200k to Team Thomas, and how that money was spent.
Pick Me!:The eight Democrats vying to win the love of the Democratic State Committee and be picked to fill the vacant at-large council seat met last night for a candidate forum. (Update: only seven showed up) Lest he miss the birth of his child while attending a debate, LL watched from the comfort of home (many thanks to Franklin Garcia for setting up the livestream). If you missed it, you can read the various accounts of the forum on Twitter. NBC4’s P.J. Orvetti has a round-up too: “As for the others, contender Calvin Gurley compared hiring those who live outside D.C. to ‘genocide,’ candidate Stan Mayes was frank in admitting he does not know how to fix the District’s troubled youth rehabilitation department, and Dorothy Douglas pointed out that she is the only female candidate. Saul Solorzano was the only debate participant to promise not to run in the April special election.” Twitter reports that uber-Fenty fan Josh Lopez plans on running in the open-to-all special election, which now has an official date: April 26. LL thought Sekou Biddle seemed the least crazy of all the candidates, but Vincent Orange seemed more like the political pro. Orange cribbed much of Gray’s old talking points and smartly kissed some DCDSC ass. “We have proven the critics wrong! … The democratic process works,” he said. Last thing: the bag tax is apparently not very popular among DCDSC members. CM Tommy Wells reacts.
Great article by DeBonis on the peril of quick fixes in education.
The Power of the Press: WTOP and FOX5’s reports of D.C. firefighter Natalie Overton Williams, who has been collecting her regular paycheck for a couple of years while being suspended for alleged fraud, paid off yesterday when the firefighter was finally charged. Still no word on why it took so long. Fox5 has an anonymous source who says high-level officials knew about the alleged fraud but let it go unchecked.
“You Won’t Feel Marriott,” but Marriott May Feel You: The luxury Adams Morgan Hotel is a go, or at least got ANC approval last night for a whopping $46 million tax deal from the city. LL hopes that some of that money filters down to him somehow, since he’ll have to move offices. Housing Complex had an amusing recap. TBD was also there.
Gray transition team offering therapy for D.C. teachers.
Protesters go to developer’s home to voice their dislike of planned Walmart store in Ward 4. CM Muriel Bowser calls them out for not actually shopping in area where store would go.
D.C. Council staff had their holiday party yesterday. Reports coming in that it was a cash bar and Dawn Slonneger, Gray’s council chief of staff, was not there.
CM Michael Brown will host a roundtable on job creation today at 10 a.m.