Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: A Team of Elders Edition

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • Gray Transition Director Owes $236,000 in Back Taxes
  • Good morning sweet readers! Another Thursday, another free copy of City Paper awaits—unless somebody already stole all the papers from the bin. LL's column this week catches up with superlobbyist David Wilmot's troubled group home provider for the developmentally disabled and finds, gasp, more troubles. Short version: $241,000 in new fines, a labor complaint, an unwanted union and an inspector general's report that raises questions about whether Wilmot's nonprofit is in line with city regs. You may read it here, if you are so inclined. News time:

    Reuben's Debt: Almost Mayor Vince Gray held his first press conference yesterday after winning the general election to introduce his hand dancing club transition team. But we before we get to who made the cut, the juicy news of the day was that Reuben Charles, who will manage the day-to-day operations of the transition, owes $236,000 in back taxes in Illinois. On top of what LL has already reported, that brings Charles' unpaid debt to nearly $600k. Charles says the Illinois debt is related to a company he sat on the board of, and is not personal debt. Brian Bolter of Fox 5 sat down with Gray and asked him about Charles. Gray emphasized that Charles has not been offered a job in his administration (the scuttlebutt has been that Charles would be Gray's chief of staff) and said his camp has started making inquires of its own into Charles's background. "We want to look at all the issues that are involved in this and we'll make some decisions about whether he'll be with us or not," Gray said.

    AFTER THE JUMP: A Team of Elders; GOP a minor party? Thomas on At-Large Run ...

    A Team of Elders: Gray's transition team has some pretty impressive résumés, but, man, there seemed like a lot of gray hairs on the 16-member group. Maybe they can tell us where the Holy Grail is. The Post used Gray's least favorite descriptor in its story, saying the choices he made reflect the "deliberative leadership style" Gray has, as opposed to the hard-charging Still Mayor Adrian Fenty. "Gray's picks for his transition appeared to reflect the priorities for his administration: the budget, economic development and jobs ... Leading the transition team to tackle Gray's plans to expand school reform to pre-kindergarten, vocational education and higher education will be Michael Lomax, president and chief executive of the United Negro College Fund, and Katherine Bradley, the president and co-founder of CityBridge Foundation, a nonprofit that has pushed universal pre-K. ...  As announced previously, former mayor Anthony A. Williams and economist Alice M. Rivlin, both credited with digging the city out of its fiscal crisis in the 1990s, will advise Gray on the city's budget. Meanwhile, former George Washington University president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and Barbara Lang, president and chief executive of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, will tackle economic development and have been asked to find ways to address the city's record unemployment immediately.

    Other transition team members include Maria Gomez, head of Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care; Chinatown activist Alexander Chi; and former attorney general Robert J. Spagnoletti, who was Gray's personal attorney in a dispute with city about a fence he installed at his Hillcrest home without a permit.

    Barry Ties: Freeman Klopott at the Examiner has more on transition team members Thomas Downs, and Cellerino Bernardino, who both worked for Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry's administration. Barry hired Downs—who will co-chair Gray's infrastructure and transportation committee—in 1981 to be transportation chief. Downs rose quickly and became Barry's chief lieutenant in 1983 after being credited for making the Transportation Department one of the city's best agencies. While serving as Barry's city administrator, Downs frequently played the role of spokesman for the mayor's troubled administration. In January 1987, it was Downs who defended the city's cleanup of a brutal snowstorm while Barry tried to make his way back from California, where the mayor had been watching the Super Bowl. Joining Downs in leading the infrastructure committee is Cellerino Bernardino, who resigned as Department of Public Works chief in 1998 under an onslaught of criticism in the waning days of Barry's last administration. When he left, the city's inability to collect trash on time, maintain sidewalks and fix broken traffic lights had become nearly legendary." Freeman notes that Rivlin and transition team member Constance Newman "were control board leaders known for keeping Barry in check."

    Have we missed anyone? WBJ's Michael Neibauer's has the complete list. Also, see the Times.

    The Georgetown Dish notes that "at least three" transition team members have taught or attended George Washington's law school. School pride!

    Notes Dorothy Brizill at D.C. Watch: "Notably absent from the leadership of the transition team were representatives of civic, neighborhood, and community associations and labor unions. In fact, labor unions, which were an important element of Gray’s campaign and vital to its success, were so shut out of the transition that they weren’t even invited to or informed of today’s press conference."

    More from the Presser: When asked what his message was to the nearly 30,000 folks who cast write-in ballots Gray said his message is "work with us." When LL asked if Gray meant to say "get over it," instead, the next mayor did not look amused.

    Gray has a lunch date with President Obama for Dec. 1.

    Gray also plans on introducing himself to the new GOP House leadership shortly, and will appeal to their notions of restraining the federal government from intruding for into the lives of its citizens. And by "its citizens," he means, "D.C. citizens."

    Also: He'll probably dump the city-owned Smart Car that Fenty drove, saying he's too tall. LL suggests Gray not pick this set of wheels as his official ride.

    Minority Report:  The D.C. Republican Party was almost relegated to second-class party status in local elections, where it would have joined the "Ethiopian Federal Democratic Party, the Love Party, the Cocktail Party and the Theocratic Party," reports DCist's Martin Austermuhle, the likely second most vote-getter of all the write-in votes. "Once results were finalized early this morning, things got interesting. Word stated leaking out that since none of the D.C. GOP's candidates had received 7,500 votes, the party would be bumped from the list of "major" political parties ... According to D.C. regulations, a political party needs at least one citywide candidate to receive 7,500 votes to remain a 'major' party, which allows the party the opportunity to participate in the primary process. ... Paul Craney, the D.C. GOP's Executive Director, seemed both unaware and un-phased un-fazed by the possibility of becoming a minor party. 'It's not going to change a thing for us,' Craney said. The party plans on running good candidates in competitive races and raising money, and they're looking down the road at targeting the 2012 contest for Council member Michael A. Brown's (I-At-Large) seat, he told us. In the end, though, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) came through to save the D.C. GOP. According to D.C. statutes we consulted with a BOEE lawyer, Republicans would have to have come in under the 7,500 mark for both the general election and the previous presidential election. They certainly appear as if they did for yesterday's general election—but the 17,367 votes McCain received in the District in 2008 puts the party comfortably above the necessary threshold to avoid a demotion. So regardless of their less-than-stellar tallies yesterday, the GOP will remain a 'major' party through the next elections."

    I'm Thinking, Alright?: The Examiner reminds us that Harry Thomas Jr. is considering a run for Kwame Brown's at-large seat, once Brown becomes chairman of the D.C. Council. "When asked if he’s eying the at-large council seat being vacated by Council Chairman-elect Kwame Brown, Thomas said, 'it would be strange if I weren’t thinking about my future.' He added he won’t make any announcement until after he’s sworn in, once again, as the Ward 5 representative and has had a chance to consult his constituents. The swearing in is scheduled for Jan. 2. Thomas later went to the Twitter to express his thoughts on running. The DC GOP seems, for now, to have gotten the last word in, again via twitter: "@HarryThomas2010 you do know you're currently being investigated by the DC AG & IRS..."

    City Paper's own Moe Tkacik cover story on the Washington Times has a great lede: "For almost 30 years, The Washington Times has devoted itself, so far as anyone inside or outside the paper could tell, to two main purposes: Carrying the banner of free-market conservative Republicans, preferably in outlandish and over-the-top style; and losing money, preferably in the same way."

    FOP chief Kris Baumann would like you stop asking him if he know whether Police Chief Cathy Lanier is going to stay on under Gray.

    Statehood Green Party gets some love, but not votes.

    Precincts where Gray did well, and not so well.

    DDOT bossman Gabe Klein in Newstalk with Bruce DePuyt.

    Fenty: no public schedule.

    Council: Hearings on public building safety at 10 a.m.. Finance Committee meeting at 11 a.m., Public Safety Committee at 4 p.m. All at your local Wilson Building.

    • Truth Hurts

      It would've been wiser to "make decisions about whether he'll be with us or not" BEFORE putting Charles in charge of raising private transition funds and BEFORE putting him in charge of the transition team.

    • Anonymous, Too

      "Meanwhile, former George Washington University president Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and Barbara Lang, president and chief executive of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, will tackle economic development..."

      Former real estate developer and part-time educational gadfly (GW and U of Hartford), Steve Trachtenberg will predictably suggest that Gray hand over the rest of DC--that he and his successor and predecessors have not already gotten on the cheap--to the University and turn DC into one big Buff and Blue economic sinkhole!

    • concerned

      I hope this transition team is smart enough to keep the best directors and let go the bad ones despite their political alliances.
      We often hear about schools and police but what about other important agencies like Office of Aging, Department of Health, Department of Employment, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Parks and Recreation? Some of these agencies, especially parks and rec are in dramatic need of reform.
      Gray will earn my respect if he supports real changes in these agencies. Police, transportation and education have been controversial and despite what we think about Lanier, Rhee or Klein, all these agencies have made progress. I fear that those under the radar, who keep the status quo, will be kept in their jobs. Mayor elected Gray has the opportunity to take the best of the previous administration and replace the rest. Parks and Rec, Employment Services are in desperate need of new heads.

    ...