City Paper is not for tourists
Tomorrow’s the monthly D.C. Council legislative meeting. This morning, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray held his usual preview press conference. Here’s what’s on tap:
- The biggest deal tomorrow is going to be what happens with the final reading on the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act, which has attracted the intense scrutiny of the business community. After LL queried Gray on possible amendments, At-Large Councilmember and bill sponsor Carol Schwartz stepped to the mike to announce that she would be submitting a substitute bill, which she had drafted with her staff over the weekend. (LL’s voice mail vouches for that: He arrived this morning to find a message from Schwartz left on Sunday returning a Friday call. “Hope you’re having a good weekend,” she said. “Better than mine!”) Schwartz declined to make the new text available this morning, but she did allude at the press conference that it was intended to allay the concerns of the business community. LL is presently trying to get his hands on a copy of the bill to see if Barbara Lang‘s “Big Five” made it in.
- Also on the agenda: Some sort of honorary recognition for councilmember-turned-developer H.R. Crawford; the Transit Operator Protection and Enhanced Penalty Amendment Act, which would make it just as illegal to assault a bus driver or other transit employee as it is to attack a cabbie; the Electronic Mail Record Clarification Amendment Act, which determines for once and for all that city e-mails won’t be needlessly discarded; and Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry‘s School Closing Fairness and Accountability Emergency Act, which would force the mayor to jump through all sorts of hoops before he could close a school.
- Gray gave his usual update on the Council’s investigation into the OTR scam—-usual, in the sense that no real findings were announced, only that the probe in ongoing. This time, however, he did trot out Wilmer Hale lawyer William McLucas, who is leading the investigation on a pro bono basis. He said absolutely nothing of substance.
- Reporters tried to get Gray to go all fire-and-brimstone on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty regarding his decision to issue administrative rules on D.C. employee buyouts ahead of possible council legislation. Gray wasn’t playing, saying only “there was an expectation” that this was meant to be handled through legislation. Schwartz was a bit more fiery, expressing reservations about extending the buyouts to fire or police department employees.
- LL had a chance to press At-Large Councilmember David A. Catania on the appointment of a new health department chief, Dr. Pierre Vigilance. Things look good for Doc V: Catania called him a “very thoughtful man” with a lot in common with himself. “He didn’t seem to be enamored of the pharmaceutical industry, and he likes tobacco taxes,” he said. “He’s two-for-two in my parochial world.” Catania says he hopes to hold confirmation hearings right around the time of Vigilance’s April start.
- Gray, a legendary prep sports booster, took some a minute to promote tomorrow’s city title basketball game at Verizon Center: Woodson vs. Bishop McNamara in the consolation game; Roosevelt vs. Gonzaga in the championship!
- The presser was moved up a half-hour from its usual 10 a.m. start today. LL originally thought Gray might have had an appointment to make in the morning, but that wasn’t the reason. For one thing (as is not uncommon at these functions), the conference started a good 15 minutes late. For another, it soon became clear the early start time must have been to budget extra time for Gray’s latest endeavor: The Council’s first “Capacity Building Strategic Plan,” titled a “Shared Vision for High Performance.” LL, being buzzword averse, tuned out after reading this sentence: “…the Council must be considerate of maintaining the financial stability of our city and consistent with that theme, make policy choices that will continue to allow our financial picture to be positive and our vision for bridging the evident disparities to be strategic, fluid and results-oriented.” Gray went on, however, to conduct a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation on the report, basically reading off the outline in the report. Vince needs to spend some time with Edward Tufte!