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Loose Lips Daily: Brown Needs to Transition Too Edition

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  • Good morning sweet readers! Boy, did it ever get dark early yesterday. LL feels like he's back in Alaska. News time:

    A Team of Lobbyists: Almost Council Chairman Kwame Brown unveiled his boating club transition team yesterday to a pesky press corps who wanted to know why the team was so lobbyist-heavy, why a transition could cost $150,000 (which will come from private donors), and why Brown even needs a transition team in the first place. "Brown said Monday he will use his eight-week transition period to conduct a top-to-bottom review of council operations. Brown said he wants to 'improve the way the council does business' and to ensure that the government is more 'open and responsive to residents,'" reports the Post's Ann Marimow. Brown announced his transition would be led by Gregory McCarthy, vice president for government affairs for the Washington Nationals. McCarthy, who was a deputy chief of staff to former mayor Anthony Williams, said he is coming up with recommendations that will serve as a "blueprint not a dust collector" for Brown's tenure. ... Brown said he would not accept public funds to cover the cost of the transition and instead plans to raise up to $150,000 in private donations. Brown said he would accept individual contributions of up to $25,000 and disclose the names of donors after the transition period. District law prohibits contributions of more than $2,000 to a political candidate, but the city's campaign finance regulations do not cover the transition period. Brown, an at-large council member first elected in 2004, said the money would pay for a Web site, research and travel. He said he plans to meet with the leaders of city councils in Los Angeles and Atlanta. Other transition team members include Walter Smith, head of the nonprofit public policy organization DC Appleseed; Jeffery Humber, past chairman of the board of the Washington Convention Center Authority; Rod Woodson, a lobbyist who was general counsel to the city's Housing Finance Agency; and Brown's campaign manager and chief of staff, Irma Esparza Diggs." As for who gets which committee assignment, Brown's only giving boilerplate "everything is on the table" answers for now, though just for fun he should put Marion Barry in charge of the finance committee, to see Jack Evans' reaction. See WAMU as well.

    AFTER THE JUMP: More Budget Pain; No Answers on DC9; Special Election Madness Begins ...

    Here Comes the Pain Again: Props to WUSA9 for this headline: "DC, Get Ready for the Pain." In the accompanying  story, Bruce Johnson, reveals that Almost Mayor Vince Gray and CFO Natwar Gandhi were in meetings yesterday trying to figure out how to close the city's $175 million budget gap.

    Still No Answers: Protesters went to the Wilson Building yesterday to express their outrage over the dropped murder charges in death of Ali Mohammed outside DC9. "One of the protesters, Mohammed's cousin, Nunu Wako, told reporters, "We will never rest until we get justice." Later on, Wako held up a sign that displayed a photograph of a blood-spattered crosswalk that was taken the day her relative died. "Whose blood is this?" the sign asked. Originally, cops and prosecutors contended that the five DC9 men once scheduled to have a preliminary hearing today were guilty of murder. Cops said a witness told them the men punched and stomped Mohammed for vandalizing the club. The charges were eventually downgraded to aggravated assault, though, and have now been dropped all together," says WCP's Rend Smith. MyFoxDC has a  round up of the whole saga.

    Special Madness: Five folks have picked up the needed packets to be eligible to win Democratic State Committee's pick to replace Brown on the council for a few months before a special election is held, reports Mike DeBonis. "They are Sekou Biddle, the incumbent Ward 4 representative on the State Board of Education; Vincent Orange, the former Ward 5 council member whose campaign for the chairmanship fell short; Jacque Patterson, a Federal City Council staffer who also chairs the Ward 8 Democrats; and Kelvin Robinson, the former chief of staff to Mayor Anthony A. Williams who ran unsuccessfully for the Ward 6 seat this year. ... Stanley Mayes, a Ward 1 lawyer, has also picked up petitions." DeBonis also reports that the general counsel of the Board of Elections and Ethics says Councilmember Michael A. Brown can't switch his party affiliation from an independent to a Democrat and automatically have Kwame Brown's seat.

    It's So Hard, To Say Goodbye, To Yesterday: WBJ's Michael Neibauer has the news that Fenty's staffers have been given instructions on how to resign from their jobs. "It's traditional that one mayor's appointees and top hires resign ahead of the next mayor's arrival. But this news makes it so, well, real, that Mayor Adrian Fenty's brief reign is quickly coming to an end. Hundreds of employees will soon be out of a job. ... The human resource documents, essentially walking papers, direct certain employees to submit resignation letters, at the request of the mayor, effective Dec. 31. They describe, said one recipient, what happens if the resignation is accepted, when the last check goes out, how long insurance benefits remain in place, options for continued medical coverage and what happens if the employee accepts a new government job after Jan. 1."

    D.C. settles for $10 million for a sickening story of foster care abuse.

    Teen in Brian Betts murder to plead guilty, that case led to DYRS overhaul.

    Could a Circulator bus have a stop right outside your front door in the future?

    Big deal, LL bikes 30.

    What could be more American than the National Mall and Coca-Cola?

    Council: Legislative meeting. Final vote schedule on wildlife protection act. 11 a.m.

    • DCDem

      Stop the presses. Health & Human Services, Police & Emergency Services and Public Schools take up 80% of the District's Budget expenditures? We are facing a $175 milliion dollar deficit in FY11 which threatens to explode to $500 million in 2012. First Natwar Ghandi should be fired for being so far off the mark. Second, why on earth is Tommy Wells suggesting that Health & Human Services should be spared from any cuts. If you restrict cuts from any of these three areas, where are you going to make cuts appreciative enough to balance the budget? If all other areas of the government are only 20% of it's expenditures? It is time for a citizen reality check. MAJOR things are going to be cut. We are talking entire programs and projects. If revenue needs to be generated, where to we get it from. If income tax revenue is already down, and it is, we cannot depend on raising income taxes. What do you tax that spreads the pain among the many making it less severe for the few? Food? Alcohol? Medical Marijuanna?

      I'll admit, I don't think that we can resolve the budget pressures by firing people, increasing the burden on the District's social services and decreasing, even more, our income tax base. Unless those fired are not District residents, but I am sure MD doesn't want to have to deal with that pressure either. Fenty refused to consider furloughs. How much did MD save as a result of their furloughs, which continue to this day? What happens if you shut down entire District Government agencies on Friday's for say 2-3 months, or indefinately?

      Employees make less money but they have a job. Services would, necessarily be dramatically reduced, but there would be a cost savings.

      The District is now where most states have been for months. We are all going to have to sacrifice. If at all cost, don't raise my income taxes, they are already very high, as I am single with no kids. If I have to pay a cent more for bread and butter, I can better absorb that. We have to be creative and consider everything.

    • DaddyGraceFishSandwich

      DCDEM, please tell me what happen to the millions of surplus former Mayor Anthony Williams left? Where did Mayor Fenty get money to build Rec. Centers, dog parks, and bike lanes? If we had a deficit, why didn't this administration and D.C. Council put a stop to these projects? Also what about the money the current mayor alleged not to charge groups like the Caribbean festival for city services?

      I truly hope D.C. Council elect Chairman Kwame Brown will do a good job overseeing the District financial affairs. If not, we are heading back to a federal Control Board.

    • downtown rez

      Building things is exactly the right thing to do in economic hard times.
      On the front end it puts lots of people to work (insert trite dig against sinclair skinner here), and on the back end it improves DC's infrastructure, which makes DC more competitive with MD and VA in attracting new residents and businesses.
      Really. Building parks and schools and roads and such should be viewed as a sound investment.

    • Wassup

      Great idea to set up Marion as Chair of finance. He enjoys dispersing a slush fund as much as the next (white)guy. Jack as stuck by Gandhi through all his myriads lapses and screw ups. They could set up a "District Financial Scandal Tour" and pay Gandhi's wife/girlfriend 100K to banner it up!

      Let the bannering of Ward 8 begin!

    • S.E.

      "Building things is exactly the right thing to do in economic hard times.
      On the front end it puts lots of people to work (insert trite dig against sinclair skinner here), and on the back end it improves DC's infrastructure, which makes DC more competitive with MD and VA in attracting new residents and businesses.
      Really. Building parks and schools and roads and such should be viewed as a sound investment".

      Ummmm.....how are Doggie Parks considered a sound investment?

    • downtown rez

      Ummmm.....how are Doggie Parks considered a sound investment?
      Well, like anything else people earned money to build and maintain them. So there's the "putting people to work" component. And lots of people who own dogs really seem to appreciate them, so there's the "improving infrastructure and making DC more competitive" component.
      I don't particularly care much about them, myself. I guess I kind-of like them because if people bring thier dogs to dogparks, practically speaking fewer dogs will be running around in regular parks or on playgrounds or schoolyards where my kids play. But I also think people really overstate their significance when they talk about how dogparks are a waste.
      There are about 6 official dogparks in the entire city. There's not even one in every ward. They represent a minuscule fraction of the budget. They're just not (or shouldn't be) that big of a deal to anyone. Except maybe those people who like them.

    • S.E.

      I had no idea that building doggie parks makes the city a "more competitive" place to live.....

    • downtown rez

      They're yet another amenity that DC can boast having to those who might otherwise, on balance, be tempted by MD or VA.
      People who like them really seem to like them. I guess if I had a dog that needed a lot of exercise or to run to stay healthy I'd be among those people.

    • DCDem

      S.E. dog parks make the city more pleasant, for some (dog owners), to live, but not economically competitive in a way that say, a baseball statium, was SUPPOSED to do. The city needs to take a look at every project that is not funded fully by the federal government, requiring a match by the District, and determine whether they are a priority. If not, they need to be tabled. Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of being able to float a deficit like states. Congress doesn't allow it (which isn't a BAD thing). However, to balance the budget, in the short term, things have to be cut. Especially to balance an anticipated 500 million dollar shortfall.

      Investment in infrastructure in the city, the nation, is about maintenance. Maintenance of bridges and roadways and protecting them from the perils of natural disasters and terrorism. A street car is a luxury that the city may have to put off. We have WMATA rail and bus, that hasn't been very well maintained and we have DDOT Circulator.

      Corporations do not invest in cities during lagging economies, inasmuch as they are obviously not hiring people. We have to just weather the storm, get our financial house back in order, and be prepared to make these type of investments during better economic times.

      It was, in my humble opinion, wreckless, to build dog parks, bike lanes, street cars, etc. using the cities reserves. They drew down the budget, created a deficit and pressures that resulted in massive layoffs.

      Our spending is unsustainable. We have an extremely top heavy government. Gray really needs to prioritize the excepted and executive service positions he wishes to retain. Get management spending levels down to the levels they were during the Williams Administration. Explore furlough and, if necessary, reduce the workforce from the top down in the Government. This is the only way we are going to realize significant savings when reducing size of the workforce. Just DON'T raise income taxes. PLEASE!!!!

    • downtown rez

      In a budget of billions, bike lanes and dog parks are rounding errors.
      People's focus on them is entirely out of proportion to their actual fiscal impact. If anything, they encourage residents to move here. Part of "The Plan" according to Tony Williams, you know.
      Exactly the opposite is true of that new hospital we all own in SE, or our yearly subsidies to pork like the Historic Society or innumerable other special interest projects.

    • S.E.

      My posts were not meant to be taken seriously. I too beleive that the Fenty admministration spent city dollars in a reckless and unjustifiable manner.

      It's going to take alot more than doggie parks, bike lanes and street cars to get people to move into the city.

      Having a fisically responsible government in place will do more in the long term to attract new residents, i.e. as in knowing my taxes will not have to raised in order to maintain the most basic of services.

    • downtown rez

      But they also have to look at where they are thinking of moving and think; "yeah, this is a place I want to be."
      And, obviously, they are.
      Good for us. We need their taxes. And the diversity they bring.

    • Truth Hurts

      @ DCDem: Your analysis is thoughtful and mostly spot on. It's refreshing to read commentary that (excepting dog park, bike lane detours) identifies lethal time bombs that need disarming without sidetracking the discussion by blaming one particular political camp.

      On the national level, I see the social security/medicare financial crisis in comparable terms. The major players have been dicking around, not disarming the inadequate funding time bomb, while pointing fingers rather than collaborating to find a solution.

      Our society's problems are real and sobering. Time to sink or swim.