Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: Biddle Me This Edition

A deliberative, process-oriented roundup of one city's local politics. Send your tips, releases, stories, events, etc. to lips@washingtoncitypaper.com. And get LL Daily sent straight to your inbox every morning!


  • Outsourcing Troubled Kids
  • Good morning sweet readers! Imagine waking up from a peaceful slumber to find a giant taking off your soiled underwear. That's what LL's bean goes through on a daily basis. You would cry too. News time:

    Out of Juice: It's hard not to feel a twinge of pity for former Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange, who clearly wants a seat back on the council more than anything else in the world. Orange lost in a squeaker last night to school board member Sekou Biddle in what came down to a competition to see who could get the support of 38 or more members of the D.C. Democratic State Committee. You won't hear LL say this often, but he's slightly disappointed he missed the DCDSC meeting. Judging from Twitter, it was a pretty raucous affair complete with a tie-vote, last-minute arm twistings by councilmembers, closed meetings in a kitchenette, and plenty of cussin'. The Post's Tim Craig has history's first draft, and reports that Council Chairman Kwame Brown (who is now being referred to as The Kwame on Twitter) and CM's Harry Thomas Jr. and Marion Barry worked the room for Biddle before the third and decisive vote. Hmmm, so that means Biddle managed to out-establish the establishment candidate? Question: how beholden will Biddle be to the CMs who got him his gig? VO, who can still run in the special election in April along with Biddle and potentially many others, warns that "you have not seen the last of Vincent Orange." Anyway, congrats to Biddle, who will likely be sworn in by the time you read this e-mail.

    World history lesson from your humble correspondent: The name Sekou is a common one in Guinea, where LL lived for a year and a half. The country's first president, Sekou Toure, told Charles de Gaulle that he'd rather go it alone than join France's alliance of dependent ex-colonies. That made him a hero across the diaspora, and helped spread the name well beyond its West African roots. Alas, the folks back home quickly soured on Toure, who emerged as a Marxist dictator with a penchant for throwing political opponents in prison and starving them to death. Let's hope our Sekou is a little bit nicer.

    See also, TBD, Examiner.

    AFTER THE JUMP: Bond Warning; Nickles Will Continue Lawyering; Gray's Fence Is Back;

    You've Been Warned: D.C.'s bond rating, Wall Street's report card on how prudent the city's been with its spending money, is in danger of being downgraded. Rating agency S&P made the warning last month. And yesterday, CFO Nat Gandhi sent a letter to Mayor Vince Gray and The Kwame saying he too is worried. Take it away, WBJ's Michael Neibauer: "The D.C. budget, the S&P report states, is 'structurally unbalanced,' depending heavily on reserves and federal stimulus dollars to offset revenue shortfalls. If the District, with its diverse and relatively stable employment base, can structurally balance its budget, replenish fund balances and manage risks associated with the United Medical Center and its capital plan, S&P wrote, 'we could raise the rating.' 'Factors that could place downward pressure on the rating include the District's failure to reserve its current trend of declining fund reserve and achieve structural balance on a generally accepted accounting principles basis; increased costs and liabilities associated with the district's recent purchase of UMC; and continued capital pressures.'"

    You Have Not Seen the Last of Peter Nickles: Before he left office, former AG Peter Nickles told LL he was going to create "an empire" in his next career move. Yesterday, we found out what the empire consists of: leading a "crisis management practice" at his old law firm that will guide clients "through the maze of government, regulatory processes and the court and to provide public relations." Yawn. That doesn't sound much like an empire. That sounds exactly like what Fred Cooke Jr. and A. Scott Bolden do. In a logical world, it would be Nickles joining the speakers circuit, not former Mayor Adrian Fenty.

    The Post's Ann Marimow, who currently owns the Vince Gray-fence beat, updates with the news that the fence around Gray's house will indeed be rebuilt, at taxpayers expense, for safety reasons. Commence gloating in 3, 2, 1: "I think justice was served. It was clear that the quote-unquote rules only applied to me. It's hard to understand why I was treated the way I was treated," says Gray. Really, Vince? Is it that hard to understand why? Maybe it had something to do with you running for mayor.

    The Washington Times' Deborah Simmons warns that government job-training programs increase poor, black residents' dependency on the government. "As the new Gray administration moves forward, policymakers would do well to implement policies that force a man to stiffen his spine. How about a State of the District address that gives more than lip service to a little thing called personal responsibility?"

    Harry Jaffe says we need more cops to combat rash of robberies.

    The Post's next great pundit is starting to have faith in Gray's education efforts.

    WaPo's editorial board highlights the nice things a court-appointed monitor said about the progress the District made in special education under former Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Contrast this with Post education reporter's Bill Turque's take. The Times sits down with special ed honcho Richard Nyankori, who says "special-education families have no better advocate than Mayor Gray."

    The Army Corps of Engineers is set to blow stuff up.

    Gray is set to roll out some more appointments today at 10:30 a.m. at the Wilson Building. The Post reports that Wayne Turnage, who once served as former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine's chief of staff, will be the head of the Department of Health Care Finance.

    Sekou Biddle is on Newstalk with Bruce DePuyt at 10 a.m.

    Kojo show: Hizzoner is the guest, and LL will be making his first appearance.

    • drez

      The mental image of a group of powerbrokers in some back room picking who represents DC residents is disturbing, all the more so because DC residents don't have the ability to elect congressional representation.
      There's a strange parity there.

    • Ward Cl3aver

      Drez: it was an open public meeting. Rather than imagining it, take it from someone who was there.

      The meeting was a great example of transparency. Any brokering done to break a tie was just like that of the House or Senate floors, which are not accessible to reporters and public. Most of the conversations were within earshot of general public. In fact, after the tied vote, members of the public (at the DNC) wondered allowed if Joe Biden would be coming to break the tie.

      Hope to see you at the next meeting. They are always open to the public and press.

    • Truth Hurts

      Given the tawdry public records (criminal and civil) that Thomas, Brown and Barry have accumulated, it's bad fiscal news for DC that these three pushed Biddle over the top.

      Anyone honestly believe Wall Street won't carry through with its threat to lower DC's bond rating? Would the cummulative FICO scores of these guys qualify for a group mortgage?

    • Hypocrite Much?

      Drez: I was there as well and it was a FIXed meeting. All the Vince Gray cronies surrounding this Biddle character who has now emerged out of nowhere. There were backdoor strong arm meetings in back rooms, just as described.

      First the vote was too close then it was a tie and then you have members of a State Committe who all of a sudden "forget" how to vote so that they can alter the outcome of what was supposed to be a fair process.

      Gray has now turned very much like Fenty or are we seeing Fenty Part 2 in this new Gray Administration.

      Marion Barry shows up and embrasses Biddle, this Biddle character has NEVER been involved in Ward 8 issues prior to this and then comes Harry Thomas and then Tommy Wells and then Kwame Brown himself who begins to speak with the voting committee members. The FIX was definitely in.

      Brown and Gray want someone on this Council that they can CONTROL and control Biddle they will.

    • Tania

      What back door strong arms? Who the hell doesn't caucus at political meetings? I think there is a desire to create negativity, controversy and ridiculousness where there is none. There were reporters everywhere, eagle-eyed watch dogs and the votes were held up as they were read.

    • Truth Hurts

      Harry "nothing to hide" Thomas will be in contempt of court if he doesn't cough up detailed Team Thomas financial records by January 8 (tomorrow). Judge Eilperin, who set the deadline, isn't likely to tolerate more nonsense from Thomas and Cooke. If HT had a brain, he would've stayed home and copied TT's books last night.

    • Wonder Woman

      @ Truth Hurts PREACH!

    • Wonder Woman

      @ Hypocrite Much? You are right on the money...when I saw that he was one hour late for his FIRST press conference as the District's Mayor, I said, "Here we go again..." Fenty Part Deux

    • ward4 gets new council member

      First off having Bowser on the council was the first one without s clue...now Biddle is another...how dare Kwame make us have another member who is a puppet...how dare the DC DEMS. not follow the process and allow a man to win on his own...but the real question is WHY WOULD BIDDLE WANT A SEAT HE DIDN'T EARN???

    • Tania

      Um, Ward 4... Muriel was elected. The State Committee is elected, by and large. And the DC voters will speak in April. What are you talking about?!

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    • Tom M.

      Uhmmm. As for "democracy in action", who elected the electors? Why isn't there a group selected by DC residents of all stripes involved in electing those who represent us if even on a temporary basis?

      Please name another city where an at large council-level rep is selected in this way????

    • Ward Cl3aver

      I agree secret ballot was uncool - and unnecessary.

    • WARD411