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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Gandhi to Walters: ‘Keep Up the Good Work’

Morning all. Oprah Winfrey is looking for D.C. digs, the New York Post reports, and she has her eye on a $50M Georgetown manse. Hey, Oprah? Any chance you’d instead consider a $50M donation to the District of Columbia general fund?

WaPo has it: The District faces a new $127M budget gap on top of the $131M gap already dealt with, according to CFO Natwar Gandhi‘s latest numbers, which were announced to the mayor and council last night. “The latest shortfall represents 2.5 percent of the city’s $5 billion budget of local funds for fiscal year 2009, which started Oct. 1. Gandhi has said that such a gap is manageable….According to government sources familiar with the briefing, Gandhi said the adjusted numbers take into account the brunt of the stock market crash on Wall Street.”

ONE CAN HOPE—-“Gandhi told Fenty and Gray that the city might have tens of millions of dollars left from the fiscal 2008 budget that could help close the gap.” Won’t know, though, until the CAFR is done, six weeks from now.

PAGING ALL CITY OFFICIALS—-Time to drop that at-least-we’re-doing-better-than-our-neighbors talking point: “The District now faces budget pressures similar to those in neighboring Maryland and Virginia, where state officials are wrestling with steep shortfalls.” Looking at you, Nat and Vince and Jack and Adrian…

Months before getting caught in the greatest embezzlement scheme is District history, Harriette Walters kissed Gandhi’s ass in an e-mail, WaPo’s Dan Keating and David Nakamura report. Gandhi’s reply: “Keep up the good work.”

Harry Jaffe sticks an elbow in Eleanor Holmes Norton‘s side for calling for the ouster of Tom Nida from the charter board. “I fear Ms. Norton may be acting on impulse. Worse, she was moved to call for Nida’s ouster based only on an article in the other daily newspaper.” Better, he says, that Peter Nickles sort through all of this. “Whether Tom Nida has benefited from his position is a good question, but neither the press nor Eleanor Holmes Norton has answered it. Nickles will.”

In Examiner story following up police subpoena scoop, Bill Myers burns Nickles in his lede: “Nickles on Thursday tried to tamp down the controversy over the police department’s newly granted subpoena power. He was less than successful….”To me, it’s no big deal,” Nickles said….Nickles’ comments fly in the face of an agreement made between the city and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, according to sources familiar with those discussions.” Myers lines up an nice list of folks pissed off by this thing, including former U.S. Attorney and quotemaven Joe diGenova.

Things are looking up for the Child and Family Services Agency, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty tells the world. “The city’s social workers reduced the backlog of abuse and neglect cases from an overwhelming 1,750 this summer to 92 as of yesterday,” WaPo’s Petula Dvorak reports. “CFSA has also hired 40 social workers, moved 70 social workers into community-based offices, upgraded its hotline and contracted with an agency to find adoptive homes for 25 children ready for a new family.” GRUMBLES—-“Despite a quick slash of the backlog, ‘there is no evidence of improvement in the lives of children and families in the District,’ said [UDC law prof] Matthew Fraidin.”

WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood covers Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Says Barbara Lang: “Business is pretty tough right now.” For one, Margery Goldberg is closing her Zenith Gallery on 7th Street NW.

Marc Fisher pens a final paean to Roy Pearson and the pants he won’t be getting $54M for.

In the Blade, Lou Chibbaro Jr. files story on last week’s town-hall meeting on gay marriage in D.C. The story: “[N]o consensus emerged on the timing of a marriage bill.”

LAST WORDS ON SW WATERFRONT?—-Biz Journal does piece on final passage of legislation: “For two years, Monty Hoffman saw his Southwest waterfront plans battered by aggrieved landowners, politicians and newspaper headlines. But Hoffman and his development team always had the support of residents, and that showed when a land deal for the $1.5 billion project finally came up for a vote Dec. 16.” Same publication also editorializes on the matter: “We can’t help but wonder why the agreement to transfer 16 acres to the development team couldn’t have been passed in September, July or even May, for that matter….The only person who appears to have shown any leadership in this effort is Council Chairman Vincent Gray, who called [Kwame Brown] and [Neil Albert] to his office to reach a deal. In the end, not much was changed from the original plan.”

Oh, and Cary Silverman calls the deal, which “includes leasing 16 acres of the most valuable property the District owns to developer PN Hoffman for the sum of $1 per year for 99 years,” the “ultimate rent control.”

More from WaPo on the Mika Brzezinski “mugging.” And Reliable Source gets in on it! And Radar! And International Business Times! And HuffPo!

LL neglected to mention this yesterday, but Ted and Mark Lerner run away with the 2008 Unsportsman of the Year Award, as awarded by WCP’s Dave McKenna. “The decisive moment came in October, with the announcement…that they’d be paying the $3.5 million they owed the city in back rent on taxpayer-funded Nationals Park—but only in exchange for $4 million more in taxpayer-funded concessions.”

Candi Peterson writes up Tuesday’s WTU delegate assembly meeting, where 90-day termination plans for teachers were discussed.

Eligibility battle rages over star H.D. Woodson basketball player Jeniece Johnson.

GAWD THEY’RE CUTE—-Mayor’s office finally releases pic of newly expanded Fenty fam, per promise, to WRC-TV

…but are they cuter than the Obamas???


HAR HAR—-WaPo headline: “No. 1 Priority: Porta-Potties on Mall.” Lena H. Sun and Nikita Stewart report that officials are hoping to contract for 5,000 port-o-johns, meaning, “If officials ordered the portable restrooms based on how many people they expect that day, then figure on crowds of 500,000 to 1.5 million people. That’s a wide range based on whose toilet-to-bladder recommendation is used.” Lots of restrooms will be open in muesums, elsewhere, because “There are people who just won’t go in a porta-potty.” And “VIPs in the secure area around the Capitol will have the luxury of flush toilets in 10 to 15 portable trailers.”

NC8: “[A] new dot-com has come to town to arrange accomodations for inaugural goers who are avoiding Craigslist prices. San Francisco resident Brian Chesky has set up a Web site, CrashTheInauguration.com. He said he has 450 D.C. renters and noted people are willing to pay $200 a night to rent an entire home and less for just part of it.”

WaTimes’ Gary Emerling has a nice little story about how 4,000 out-of-town cops will help—-or not help—-come inauguration time. “‘The additional officers will only be deputized by the U.S. Marshals [Service] to support specifically designated National Security Special Events on January 20th,’ said a Dec. 2 e-mail between staffers in Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s office and for the D.C. Council’s public safety committee, which extended the last call. ‘These include the inauguration, the parade, and the official inaugural balls.'” Everything else, in other words, is all MPD.

THANK GOD—-Folks near the inaugural stage at the Capitol will be subject to a full security screening, but not the folks farther down on the Mall, reports WUSA-TV.

Eleanor wants $30M for District’s inaugural expenses rather than $15M, Mary Beth Sheridan reports in WaPo. “The city can recoup many of its inaugural expenses above the initial $15 million in federal funds, but must go through a lengthy process, she said. Norton is seeking to have the funds provided more quickly.” Also Roll Call.

Leah Fabel at Examiner has a rundown of the big names appearing at inaug festivities: Aretha Franklin, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, poet Elizabeth Alexander, Rick Warren, and the Rev. Joseph Lowery. She also reports on how planners are “scrambling to sort out the details.”

Churches are getting in on the inaugural ball action, WaPo’s Avis Thomas-Lester reports. “The Sanctuary at Kingdom Square in Capital Heights will hold a Christian ball on Jan. 20 to celebrate the inauguration of Obama, a minister there said. On Jan. 18, Believers for Change, a group of Seventh-day Adventists and other Christians, is holding an alcohol-free, black-tie ball at the Camelot conference center on the grounds of Evangel Cathedral in Upper Marlboro.” And more Christian balls to come!

Red Cross needs help with their inaug efforts, Biz Journal reports: “The American Red Cross of the National Capital Area is preparing for Inauguration Day with 60,000 units of blood, up to 500 volunteers and 52 aid stations — but still needs more money, volunteers and blood.”

The Root: “What Will Happen to D.C.’s Homeless During the Inauguration?”

Are you a non-emergency federal employee? Do you work in D.C., Alexandria, Falls Church, or in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Arlington, or Fairfax counties? Then, congrats, you get Jan. 20 off.

More on Jan. 20 Metro fee changes, from WaPo and from Examiner.


Four MoCo banks robbed by dude wearing an MPD BDU. (That’s a Metropolitan Police Department Battle Dress Uniform, chump.) WRC-TV has pix!

AP has story on Banita Jacks mental-health report. Status hearing set for this morning.

Escalade crashes into school bus at 28th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE yesterday afternoon. Four injured—-three adults, one child.

Blade has more on the Durval Martins murder, as does WTTG-TV. Check this New Gay post, too. ALSO—-rundown of last week’s hate crime hearings.

WTOP’s Mark Segraves: Trinidad to get crime cameras, paid for with private funds.

Food banks and other nonprofits get some extra donations as businesses and other organizations cut down on their holiday cheer, William Wan reports in WaPo.

Biz Journal reports that 1,500 are being laid off from various federal jobs, but that figure is a bit misleading.

More on Whitman-Walker cuts and layoffs from Blade and from Biz Journal.

NOMA DEVELOPMENT—-Urban Institute looking at Tishman Speyer’s 1100 First St. NE office condo; “Buddha Bar” coming to 445 Mass Ave. NW.

Howard Theatre gets $350K federal grant.

Biz Journal wants you to meet the new president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce. It’s the publisher of Biz Journal!

Blogger: “Has anyone every gotten more press for doing less than Chancellor Rhee of the DC Schools?”

RAILFAN MINUTE—-New trains from D.C. to Richmond, Lynchburg, Va.?

GET MOM TO SMITHSONIAN—-First lady gowns are back!

More on the St. Gabriel’s bells, from PoP.

WTOP runs a fruitcake through a wood chipper. Yup.

DEEP THROAT IS DEAD—-Mark Felt passes at 95.


TODAY ON THE POLITICS HOUR WITH KOJO NNAMDI—-Tom Sherwood, WRC-TV; Marc Fisher, WaPo Metro columnist; Jack Johnson, Prince George’s County Executive; Vincent Gray, D.C. Council chairman; noon on WAMU, 88.5 FM.

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation roundtable on Department of Parks and Recreation personnel practices, JAWB 500.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-9:15 a.m.: remarks, MPD All Hands on Deck announcement, Joseph H. Cole Recreation Center, 1200 Morse St. NE; 11:15 a.m.: remarks, EagleBank Bowl press availability, J.W. Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Salon G.