Loose Lips Daily: We Can Report Too! Edition
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning sweet readers! It's Thursday, which means it's column day. This week, LL looks at the looming battle over redistricting the city's eight wards. The star of the show could be Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, who tells LL that he sees redistricting as a tool to bridge the economic and racial divisions in the city. "For his part, Barry says he’s going to let only cold hard census data guide his thinking (“I’m a scientist,” he says). He bristles at any notion that politics could be a motivating factor (“Absolutely not, that’s ridiculous,” he says) before adding that his political popularity is such that he could give any of his colleagues a run for their money, save for in Ward 3." News time:
Release the Hounds: The Washington Post's editorial page flexes its investigative muscle this morning by delving a bit deeper into Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.'s non-profit, which his Republican challenger has described as a city-funded slush fund. Attorney General Peter Nickles is investigating the non-profit, called "Team Thomas," but Thomas says he's done nothing wrong and the non-profit has been dormant since he joining the council in 2007. Is that so? The Post asks:
"How, then, to account for donations actively being solicited as late as 2008? There was a May 2008 news release from Mr. Thomas's office touting a golf tournament to benefit the group. And we have learned of at least two donations Team Thomas received in 2008. According to sources, there was a Jan. 8, 2008, contribution from Rhode Island Avenue Metro LLC, developer of a project near the Rhode Island Metro station in Ward 5, to Team Thomas for $2,000; and a $2,600 contribution on Jan. 29, 2008, from Capitol Paving of D.C. Inc., a Ward 5 business. A spokeswoman for the development group confirmed the donation; she said she didn't know how it came about, only that there was a belief that Team Thomas did good work in the community.
The check from Capitol Paving, employees there confirmed to us, was marked 'C/O Vicky Leonard-Chambers, Office of CM Thomas Room 107.' 'CM' would be 'council member'; Room 107 refers to an office in the District Building; Victoria Leonard-Chambers is Mr. Thomas's director of policy and strategic communication. When we asked how she was involved with Team Thomas, she said, 'I'm not interested in speaking with you.' When we told Mr. Thomas that a Capitol Paving employee remembers being solicited by Ms. Leonard-Chambers, he said either it was a mistake or we were making it up. That employee, office manager Terry Woodfolk, said that the money went to print an annual publication and that they were glad to give because of the good work done by Mr. Thomas in Ward 5. Mr. Thomas previously told Post reporters that any money raised went to 'programming to sponsor young people's activities.' If there is nothing untoward, Mr. Thomas should welcome the opportunity to reveal who has donated to Team Thomas and how it has spent its funds. He should do so before Tuesday's election."
Nice work by the Posties, but isn't it a little bit weird for the editorial side to be doing so much heavy lifting? Now we have an unidentified author (Jo-Ann Armao?) citing unidentified sources (Peter Nickles?) in an article attacking an elected official who the editorial page clearly doesn't like—somebody call the ombudsman!
AFTER THE JUMP: Runoff in teachers' union vote; Kwame is now over the hill; Washington City Paper's guide to this weekend's rallies
Everyone Attached to The Teachers Contract is Cursed: We'll have to wait a little longer to find out who the next prez of the Washington Teachers Union is, as a runoff election is needed reports Bill Turque. "Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker, who negotiated a contract with Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee that triggered significant changes in how teachers are managed and paid, finished second in balloting for a third term Wednesday to his former running mate turned vocal critic. Parker, president of the union since 2005, was edged out by General Vice President Nathan Saunders, 334 to 313, in a contest in which only 881 mail-in ballots were cast by the 4,200-member union. Saunders fell short, however, of the 51 percent majority required to win outright."
Kwame Turns 4-0: Almost Council Chairman Kwame Brown fêted his 40th b-day in style last night at Cuba Libre with many of the city's political bigwigs, reports the Post. "Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) purred 'Happy Birthday,' giving her best impression of Marilyn Monroe. 'Happy birthday, Mr. Council Chairman,' she sang to laughter and applause. Council member David A. Catania (I-At large), who is seeking re-election Tuesday, gave Brown a gift of a pair of boxing gloves to prepare him for the fight ahead." Also there, yep, Vincent Orange. The watchdogs at D.C. Watch add this: "Meanwhile, Kwame Brown and his campaign have not been forthcoming about how he will fund his transition and inauguration. Brown has asked Gregory McCarthy, vice president of Government and Municipal Affairs for the Washington Nations baseball team, to chair his transition committee."
Dorothy Brizill has some dirt on another councilmember's b-day bash: "With the District fiscally in the red for $175 million, you would think that someone like Jack Evans, Chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, would be especially prudent about spending District funds. It was, therefore, especially troubling that Evans used four large Department of Parks and Recreation buses to transport guests to his birthday party Wednesday evening at the Homer Building on 13th Street. When I stopped City Administrator Neil Albert on the sidewalk as he was leaving the party and pointed to the buses, he first tried to deny that they were District government vehicles. When I pointed out the District logos on the buses and the District government license plates on them, he said that he would look into the matter. Then he turned around and went back inside the party to speak to Evans."
UPDATE: Evans tells LL that Brizill's report is wrong. Evans said the buses were to transport seniors, and he paid the $968 dollar fee, not taxpayers.
Have hard-to-please ironic friends in town for the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally? City Paper has got you covered.
Nurses at Washington Hospital Center are still unhappy over pay.
Benjamin Banneker not likely to get his props anytime soon.
Gentrification not a sure thing around Metro stations.
Republican Ward 1 Candidate Marc Morgan says the Republican Party needs to reach out more to gay and black residents.
D.C. Statehood Green Party candidate Lino Stracuzzi says primary vote was flawed.
Another drug bust at same Gtown dorm.
Eleanor Holmes Norton will be on Newstalk with Bruce DePuyt.
Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee will spend part of her second-to-last day on the job on a panel led by NBC News' David Gregory discussing "College Completion." (Not to be confused with the panel she'll be on next week called "Collage Completion.") 12:15 p.m., Washington Hilton
Council: Roundtable at noon on DYRS