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Good morning, Michael A. Brown! Aren’t you looking well today?

Nikita Stewart has it first: D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray endorses Michael A. Brown for the non-(declared)-Democratic at-large council seat, spurning incumbent Carol Schwartz. He joins Harry Thomas Jr. and Marion Barry (per LL’s reporting) in the Brown camp. Linda Cropp never woulda done this! (And not just because she and Carol are BFF.)

So who’s standing by Carol? In the Schwartz camp, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, are Mary Cheh, Phil Mendelson, and Jim Graham. Might be a good time to throw a press conference, honey. [UPDATE, 11:38 A.M.: Cheh clarifies that since she’s been put in charge of a special committee on the elections process, she’s not supporting any candidate: “I told Carol I can’t do anything as such because I have to head the special committee. I can’t be seen to have any interest in the outcome. That’s my situation, and I’m sticking to it.” Mendelson, too, has not made an official endorsement.]

Also—-seen at High Heel Race: Drag Carol. If you got pics, send ’em!

It’s local politics day at the Washington Times! Michael A. Brown and Jack Evans pick up endorsements from the WaTi editorial board. “We’ll be very candid: The ‘independent’ Mr. Brown refers to in his moniker includes the words ‘of the mayor’ – and that is sorely needed on the council….For the first two years of the Fenty administration, the council’s prostrate position to the mayor’s spend-now, spend-more, spend-quickly agenda for public schools, coupled with his ask-no-questions political style, has been difficult to watch.”

And the paper also runs an honest-to-God local politics story: “D.C. Council candidate Patrick Mara knew he faced a tough challenge in defeating Carol A. Schwartz for an at-large seat on the city’s 13-member council. But he never expected to have to defeat her twice,” Michael Drost writes.

[LATE ADD: Harry Jaffe in the Examiner: “Word deep inside the smoke-filled rooms (OK, latte-laden coffee shops), where political trash talk goes down like an iced double mocha frappe no foam, is that Mayor Adrian Fenty favors Mara….I have not spoken to Fenty on the matter, but I know that he pondered such an endorsement over the weekend….If you support Fenty, vote Mara. Fenty will.”]

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty says, Screw the council, I can cut my own budget! Slashes $52 million by executive order, bypassing Gray, Michael Neibauer reports in the Examiner.

Gray responds in press release: “I welcome the continued flow of information from the Executive as the Council considers legislation to address the $131 million revenue shortfall. In general, the Council and the Mayor agree on the necessity to take steps to reduce and/or delay new program spending, vacant positions, and other funding, while softening the impact on essential services for residents as much as possible. The Mayor’s targeted spending freeze is a common and useful tool for state and local officials to use in preserving current programs and services, while determining the financial viability of new initiatives included in the FY 09 budget.”

David Catania steals Fenty’s fiscal-responsibility thunder by killing his baby: The health committee chair proposes delaying his meticulously crafted Healthy DC insurance plan. “‘Each of us have to be prepared to go to our most cherished constituencies and say, “We all must share in the sacrifice to protect the larger family,'” Catania said,” reports David Nakamura. Of course, Nat Gandhi cares not for your fiscal responsibility! “You cannot budget wisely on a week-to-week basis by reading the Dow Jones averages,” CFO spokesperson David Umansky tells Nak. Also: AP story; NewsChannel 8 story; Channel 4 story.

“Ballpark District” slow to develop, reports Tim Lemke in the Times: “After a full season of baseball at Nationals Park, financing for many projects…has become difficult to obtain, and those buildings already under construction are likely to open without tenants.”

Preservation types want planning office director Harriet Tregoning off the Third Church of Christ Scientist case, the Post‘s Paul Schwartzman reports. “The preservationists contend that [Tregoning] cannot rule impartially because her boss, Deputy Mayor Neil Albert, has already backed demolition….For more than a decade, a little-known administrative law judge has served in the role of mayor’s agent on such matters. But in recent weeks, Fenty has taken the unusual step of assigning Tregoning to rule on the church’s appeal.” GGW details yesterday’s proceedings on the matter; the case has been continued to Nov. 25.

Two murdered: Wilson HS senior Franklin Fantroy, 17, “killed Monday night…in what D.C. police said was an apparent robbery attempt…about 8:30 p.m. in the 4900 block of 11th Street NE”; and Hyattsville resident Louis A. Beamon, 37, “at 7:53 p.m. at 11th and Harvard streets NW….Beamon, of the 5300 block of Quincy Street, was a former football player at Cardozo High School.” Jason Cherkis reports from the Beamon scene. More from Channel 4.

Post‘s Bill Turque runs down yesterday’s DCPS budget reform hearing. “What we’re asking you to do is revive the system we had before. We had public hearings and a certain level of budget detail,” he quotes Mary Levy, D.C.’s best wonk, telling the council.

Marc Fisher is looking for Election Day upsets. (None of them are in the District. One of them is Schwartz over M. Brown.)

From WTOP: “Metro shells out $74 million for OT.” Less than last year, but still bad!

Bootleggers beware! “A Baltimore man has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for using a video camera to record two movies at the Gallery Place theater last year….Investigators from the Motion Picture Association of America say they busted the Baltimore man at the Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14 theater last November. Logan had smuggled a high-definition video camera in to the the movie “Enchanted”, and had taped about 50 minutes of the film,” NewsChannel 8 reports.

Halloween costume idea, from education blogger Alexander Russo: “Scary Michelle Rhee: She only wears black. She’ll close your school. She’ll fire her own children’s principal. She doesn’t care about your stupid feelings. Comes with a cape and mask.”

More Rhee as SecEd scuttlebutt, from Marc Ambinder.

Patrick Mara wants your help with TLDs!

DEBATES!—-The at-large candidates gather twice today. First, at 12:30 p.m. this afternoon at Pepco HQ, 9th and G Streets NW. Thanks, V.O.! Then at 6:30 p.m., the gang will be at the True Reformer Building, 1200 U St. NW, for a forum sponsored by local activist outfits—-the Coalition to Save Our Neighborhood Schools, DC Jobs with Justice, DC Library Renaissance Project, Empower DC, Fair Budget Coalition, and Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. WPFW-FM’s Gloria Minott to moderate.

Can’t wait till then for your at-large council fix? Check this video from Saturday’s HIV/AIDS forum:

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations hearing on PR 17-1068, Contract No. DCRK-2008-C-0042 with Sedgwick Claims Mgmt Svcs, Inc. Approval, JAWB 500; 11 a.m.: Committee on Finance and Revenue hearing on Bills 17-675, 17-774, 17-783, 17-856, 17-859, 17-947, and 17-968, JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and the Environment hearing on Comprehensive Stormwater Management Enhancement Amendment Act of 2008, JAWB 412.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 am, announcement of “details of a unique public-private partnership between Forest City Washington, the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District and the District of Columbia to build and maintain a 5.5 acre world-class waterfront park at The Yards located along the Anacostia River between Nationals Park and the Washington Navy Yard,” at northwest corner of 4th and Tingey Streets SE.

OTHER PRESS RELEASES YOU DON’T REALLY WANT TO READ—-“Councilmember Wells Creates Ward 6 Juvenile Crime Task Force“; “WASHINGTON LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND URBAN AFFAIRS RELEASES REPORT REGARDING THE EXPLOITATION OF D.C.’S DAY LABORERS”; “Join DC Vote on Veterans Day 2008, November 11“; “Norton Office Reveals Unusually High Rate of Bills Signed Into Law”