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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Protest Over Budget Cuts To Be Held This Morning“
Good morning. Let’s get to it!
GRAY’S CAMPAIGN STRATEGY: It’s already being scrutinized by local politicos. Some don’t like Gray’s message, WaPo’s Tim Craig reports: “The D.C. Council chairman’s campaign kickoff speech April 24 was loaded with terms such as ‘cronyism’ and “pay to play” as he criticized Fenty’s mayoral record and designated himself the candidate to ‘restore a public trust in city hall.’ The strategists and observers, however, say Gray’s assault on Fenty’s integrity could backfire because Gray has had to answer questions about his ethics, and his staff has only recently begun to vet his background.” But isn’t Fenty’s record the reason Gray is running in the first place?
WE CAN BE HEROES: Yesterday morning at the Wilson Building, we got a shocking sight: people actually protesting something. The Fair Budget Coalition, along with Save Our Safety Net, organized a rally to protest Mayor Adrian Fenty’s proposed budget which includes key cuts to social services. The activists are pushing for a tax increase on the city’s millionaires. The organizers have a significant number of councilmembers not only seemingly on board but actively participating in their efforts—-Councilmembers Graham, Wells, Thomas, and Brown donned red capes for the rally. Why? DCIST explains: “The coalition is working to put pressure on the District government to make sure that the city’s “safety net” programs — things like food stamps, affordable housing, health, nutrition and job training programs — don’t end up on the chopping block in next year’s extremely tight budget. Local pols who get behind the idea are being dubbed ‘Safety Net Heroes.'” If Graham’s a superhero, what do we call him? Pander Man? Zing! Save Our Safety Net has pictures and text. Looks like they got a solid, diverse turnout. Meanwhile, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute reports that the city’s health clinics are at risk of shutting down due to the proposed budget cuts.
AFTER THE JUMP—-More Betts fallout, Barry vs. Nickles, street cars, Lotto Contract(!) red line reality check, and much, much more!
CZECH MATE: Who doesn’t love these very expensive street cars? Yesterday, D.C. Officials showed off the cars that will surely make commuting down H Street, etc. so much more enjoyable—-especially after consuming a Taylor Gourmet sub. Our own Housing Complex was there: “Like a group of proud parents and grandparents, city officials this morning introduced the public to one of the new Czech-built streetcars—the newest in a ‘family’ of transit options—that will in a couple of years be trundling down H street and beyond. ‘I am assured that the streetcar behind me is the most fantastic streetcar in the entire world,’ said Mayor Adrian Fenty, who had rolled up in a convertible Smartcar.” Councilmembers Jack Evans and Jim Graham were also on hand among other notables. But don’t expect the street cars to be rolling any time soon. The Examiner has more details. More coverage via WTOP, WUSA9.
NICKLES VS. BARRY: AG Nickles is demanding Councilmember Barry apologize for allegedly calling out a Fenty official for having a majority white staff. [Full Disclosure: Barry has repeatedly disparaged Washington City Paper for the same reasons; we did not demand that the councilmember apologize for his critique]. Nickles? He sent a letter to Barry. The letter ended up at WaPo: “Attorney General Peter Nickles is demanding that Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) apologize to a top Fenty administration for accusing her of having racist hiring practices. In a letter sent to Barry last night, Nickles said the council member verbally attacked Julie Hudman, the director of the Department of Health Care Finance, at an oversight hearing on Monday. Barry accused Hudman of ‘apartheid-style action’ and said she ran an ‘all-white department,’ according to Nickles. ‘Your data was inaccurate, but you continued to make accusations about the racial and ethnic makeup of the employees at the Department and implied intentional racist and illegal conduct on the part of Dr. Hudman and the leadership team,’ Nickles wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Post.”
WAPO EDITORIAL BOARD TAKES UP LOTTO CONTRACT: Full Disclosure: Anything to do with the lotto contract is/was the domain of our beloved, former LL. This substitute LL finds the whole thing incredibly dull. Maybe he should have been paying attention in the last few weeks. The board writes: “Eric W. Payne has brought a federal lawsuit against the District, contending that he was wrongly terminated by Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi. Mr. Payne was directly in charge of the procurement process that in 2008 recommended switching the lottery from the politically connected firm that had run it for nearly 25 years. The recommendation to award the $120 million contract to a joint venture between multinational gaming operator Intralot and a local start-up company was rejected, with no reason given. Three weeks after that decision, Mr. Payne was terminated for what he characterized as his efforts to resist and report political pressure. Mr. Payne alleges he was subject to repeated pressure to rescind his recommendation or modify it so as to drop local partners who were seen as allies of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). Instead, there was interest in retaining the longtime lottery operator, who had ties to several D.C. Council members, including council Chairman Vincent C. Gray. The contract was later, successfully rebid; Intralot was again the winner, but this time without any local partner. A spokesperson for Mr. Gandhi called the complaint by Mr. Payne “baseless.” Mr. Gandhi did repeatedly urge approval of Mr. Payne’s lottery recommendations. Nonetheless, it’s hard to square the confidence that Mr. Gandhi evinced in Mr. Payne’s handling of the lottery process with his demotion and subsequent firing for undisclosed reasons.”
BRIAN BETTS FALLOUT: WaPo’s Henri Cauvin checks in with another piece on the Betts murder-DYRS connection. Both Mendo and Wells express concern that the juvenile justice system is a mess: “D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chairman of the Human Services Committee, said the panel, which oversees DYRS, will hold a hearing this month to discuss juveniles who abscond. ‘We need to know and be confident that the government is retrieving them and getting them back into custody as fast as humanly possible,’ he said, adding that he thinks the council should not rush to change the law. ‘I want to be sure that we don’t react in a way that makes us less safe because of political heat of the moment.'” Scary stat: “As of this week, almost 80 youths, or about 8 percent of the D.C. juvenile system’s population, were unaccounted for.”
METRO WOES: The Examiner reports that a Metrobus driver has been fired after hitting a pedestrian last month: The driver, whose name was not released, was put on paid administrative leave during the investigation into the crash, but was found to have failed ‘to follow standard operating procedures,’ said Metro spokesman Reggie Woodruff. And last night, a teenager was shot on a Metrobus along the 1700 Block of Minnesota Avenue, WTOP reports. The teen sustained wounds to the wrist and right side. More via DCIST. Robert McCartney calls Maryland a deadbeat for what it’s doing to Metro.
The Red Line needs a reality check. WTOP’s Adam Tuss reports: “Metro’s oldest and busiest line is not running on a schedule that matches ‘reality.’ That frank assessment came from interim General Manager Richard Sarles, during a wide-ranging roundtable interview with reporters Tuesday. ‘The schedule doesn’t fit with reality, which affects the reliability,’ said Sarles. Metro officials said Tuesday that the schedule for Metro’s Red Line hasn’t been adjusted since 2004. Since that time, ridership has grown and the New York Avenue station has been added to the line. Those conditions mean longer waits at some stations because more people are boarding, and trains are not keeping pace with a schedule that is six years old. ‘There should have been some adjustments made,’ said Sarles. ‘On commuter railroads, you (usually) adjust schedules two or three times a year to reflect what the current needs are.'”
GUN BILL: D.C. Councilmembers and victim’s families rallied on the Hill yesterday against D.C. Gun Bill.
NEW DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT: Fenty has hired Christophe Tulou, a former Delaware cabinet secretary overseeing environmental issues, to run D.C.’s dept. Just in time to help with the mayor’s summer jobs program! We hope Mr. Tulou likes working with kids.
CIRCUS SNEAK PEEK: Performers from the UniverSoul Circus showed up at the Barry Farm rec center to offer residents a free preview yesterday.
LAWSUIT OF THE WEEK: Woman sues producers of Real World D.C.
7:10 am Fenty on Fox
Location: Fox News
8:00 am Remarks Ribbon Cutting for Opening of New Safeway
Location: 1855 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
11:00 am Remarks Personnel Announcement
Location: TBD [presumably not the Headquarters of TBD.com]
[Break for mystery lunch/workout—-just a guess].
3:15 pm Remarks
Green Asphalt Plant Ribbon Cutting
Location: 1115 W Street, NE
D.C. COUNCIL SCHEDULE: 10 a.m. more budget hearings. This time the hearings concern the elderly, economic development and community affairs.