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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning sweet readers! Good news out of Maryland yesterday, where a judge dropped absurd charges of illegal wiretapping against a motorcyclist who recorded a traffic stop on his helmet camera, posted it to YouTube, and wound up having police raid his house at 6:45 a.m., being arrested and facing felony charges. The fact that so many law enforcement officials believe that it’s illegal to film cops while they are acting in their official capacity is pretty frightening. News time:
Money Pit:Yesterday’s big news was that the District is facing a projected $175 million budget shortfall. The main culprits: lower than expected tourist spending and capital gains revenues. CFO Natwar Gandhi delivered the grim news to a handful of councilmembers, Almost Mayor Vincent Gray, and Mayor Adrian Fenty. All eyes will be on Gray to see how he manages the news. Will he raise taxes on the wealthy, as some councilmembers have proposed? Or will he cut into the budgets of city departments, whose employees are represented by the unions that supported his candidacy? Gray didn’t say one way or another, but seemed to rule out employee furloughs in this article by the Post‘s Nikita Stewart and Tim Craig. The Posties also note that solving this budget gap may also be a test for Almost D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown, who said he hasn’t decided on whether he’d support tax increases. Finance Chairman Jack Evans is making it clear that the only real solution is to make cuts. D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute’s Elissa Silverman says revenue increases “need to be part of the discussion and solution.” Not happy with Gandhi’s projections, natch, is his nemesis, Councilmember David Catania. Catania says Gandhi botched projections on how much the new city-owned United Medical Center is going to cost and how much Obamacare is going to save the city. “I don’t understand how we can have spending pressures exist before the fiscal year has begun,” Catania tells the Examiner‘s Ben Giles. “I’m not suggesting we don’t have a budget problem, but I think we need to know the full scope of the problem before we go public.” The Examiner’s Harry Jaffe compares Gandhi to Superman and says Gray ought to make sure the “adult in the room” sticks around.
AFTER THE JUMP: Reax to Obama’s Take on DCPS; Boat People’s Future; Voting Totals …
Well, That’s True: The president made some news yesterday by saying he thinks the $60,000 a year he’s paying in private school tuition for his two daughters is worth it. Obama actually said, “I’ll be blunt with you: The answer is no, right now,” when asked on the Today Show if he thinks his daughters could get the same kind of education at a public school that they are getting at Sidwell Friends. Kind of no-brainer, right? Isn’t that the whole point of paying all that extra money? Obama also added that there are some “terrific individual schools” in DCPS, but as a whole, the schools system is “struggling.” Seems reasonable, right? Well, let’s all go nuts anyway. The Examiner‘s front page screams: Obama Disses D.C. Schools. The Post has front page story by Nick Anderson and Bill Turque which quotes Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee as saying Obama’s comments were a “fair assessment.” “We have indeed seen good progress over the last few years, but we still have a long way to go before we can say we’re providing all children with an excellent education.” A Post reporter went to the Francis-Stevens Education Campus near the White House to get comments from parents picking up their kids. The ‘rents didn’t seem to care. Not so in Bruce Johnson’s report on WUSA9, where some parents didn’t appreciate the prez’s comments. NBC4’s Tom Sherwood gets reaction from Gray and Washington Teachers Union president George Parker, who both said the president should know that D.C. has some great public schools, which, as it happens, is exactly what the president said. The Times also devoted a lot of ink to Obama’s comments in this story by Deborah Simmons, which has a quote from D.C. State Board of Education member Mary Lord about Secretary of Education Arne “I don’t do politics” Duncan: “Memo to Secretary Duncan: If you would like to move to the District of Columbia, pay taxes and vote, you’re welcome… otherwise, butt out of our local politics and certainly do not make or perpetuate the impression that ‘Race to the Top’ is all about Michelle Rhee.” An interesting thing to say to the guy who probably had a pretty big say in who received RTTT funding.
Boat People Got No Reason to Live: The Post‘s Derek Kravitz reports that the future of D.C.’s 150 or so “boat people” who live in the Southwest at Gangplank Marina are facing a “murky” future as developers plan a $1.5 billion transformation of the waterfront to include hotels, apartments and new shops. Developer Monty Hoffman says it’s “unclear how the public marina will be incorporated into the development, but his team is looking at examples in other cities, such as Boston, New York and Seattle.” LL thinks the idea of living on a boat sounds cool, and wants to know how much those houseboats cost.
Now Go Back and Double Check: The final vote tallies are in at the Board of Elections and Ethics, and hardly anything changed. The Post‘s Mike DeBonis reports that the addition of 9,000 more absentee and same-day registration ballots only changed the gap between Fenty and Gray by one-tenth of a percentage point. DeBonis also notes that a plan to allow absentee voters to vote via encrypted e-mail (is there an app for that?) has some people worried about the security of such a plan.
TBD’s Sarah Larimer rightly notes that when public officials tell start talking about “the children” they’re full of “total malarkey.”
Gilbert Arenas won’t smile [AP]
Judge set to rule on possible discipline for MPD Chief Cathy Lanier, who a jury found violated the city’s whistleblower protection laws [Fox5]
Investor’s Business Daily‘s take on Rhee
Council Schedule: Don’t miss the sure-to-be-exhilarating Council of the Whole’s 1 p.m. work on the “Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act 2010” and the economic development committee’s 2 p.m. round table on the old naval hospital.
Mayor’s Schedule: No public events again today. C’mon mayor, those ribbons aren’t going to cut themselves!