Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: Thundersnow Edition

A deliberative 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!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • IG Scolds Former Parks Director
  • The Other Team Thomas
  • Good afternoon sweet readers! Yikes, what a snow. It's a good day for dogs and kids. But fathers of newborns who had to spend the night in powerless homes are not so happy. News time:

    Snow Grade: LL's not really interested in the logistics of snow removal, but is interested in the politics of snow removal. And there ain't nothing like a big snow storm to cause people to start freaking out and give up faith in their government. How could you blame them after spending 13 hours stuck in a car during what's being dubbed the "commute from hell?" But it's also a bit insane to start blaming the government for not being able to plow roads when there the snow came so fast and so heavy, in the middle of rush hour, and there were so many cars stuck on the streets. In the big middle of this mess we find new Mayor Vince Gray, who has the fun role of being the target of everyone's displeasure (and who also lost power in his own home). So what grade should he get on his first big test? A+, says Council Chairman Kwame Brown. Others on Twitter were less kind. LL's guessing it'll be a couple more days before we get a clear idea of what perceptions of the city's snow response under its new mayor solidified in the minds of voters. See commute and weather stories here, here, here, here, here, and here. Also, Newark Mayor Cory Booker appears grateful that so many District residents want him to move down here and start shoveling the city's snow away.

    AFTER THE JUMP: The Other Team Thomas, Rhee Reversed, Forwarded; Orange Futures...

    The Other Team Thomas: It's Thursday, so a new edition of City Paper has been released into the snowy wilds. In this week's edition, LL takes a look at another side of Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.'s "Team Thomas." This side includes a for-profit company that won nearly $225,000 in city contracts for baseball-related services and supplies, and offered $350 lessons on improving one's baseball and softball swings. When it wasn't doing baseball training, the for-profit Team Thomas was also providing a wide variety of campaign services for Thomas' political campaigns. And it also did some of this work without a proper business license. Also in this week's @WCP, Housing Complex's LDP talks to the businesses on H Street, and looks at the strange sort of boom some of them have experienced. One hair salon owner's take on streetcars: “I just look at it as a way for people to get as drunk as they want to, so they don’t get a DUI.”

    Rolling Back Rhee; Rolling Rhee Forward: There are two stories about former Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee in today's roundup. One is interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson's decision to reverse one of Rhee's "most bitterly disputed decisions" when she removed a popular principal at Hardy Middle School and replaced him with Dana Nerenberg, who split her time at another school, the Post's Bill Turque reports. Nerenberg will go back to her old school, after months and months of long and loud complaints from upset Hardy parents (and some prodding from elected officials.) "The move also represents the second high-profile Rhee initiative that Henderson has reversed in her three months on the job. In December, she ousted the private management firm hired by Rhee to turn around low-performing Dunbar High School," Turque notes. The second Rhee story is the City Paper cover story LL's editors have been after him to write that somehow wound up in Politico being written by two dudes who aren't LL. Ben Smith and Byron Tau write that Rhee has emerged from Fenty's defeat as "national political force to be reckoned with." "Now Rhee is in the process of shifting from political naif to full-fledged power broker. She has created an emphatically political new organization, StudentsFirst, and she told POLITICO she hopes to raise and spend an astonishing $200 million annually—a large sum, even in the deep-pocketed world of education philanthropists ... But for now, Rhee has just a skeleton staff of about half a dozen, a sterling reputation among America’s policy elites and big plans." Politico goes on to note how Rhee's become the darling of many top Republicans, which Democrat Rhee says she finds "a little odd."

    Gray Tweaking Medical Marijuana: The Examiner's Freeman Klopott reports that Gray "is reviewing the policies that will govern the District's medical marijuana program and is being pushed to make changes that could help improve the program's reception on Capitol Hill." At issue, whether the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board should regulate dispensaries or the health department should. Says a lobbyist for the Maraijuana Policy Project: "the patients I've spoken to ... don't care which agency does it."

    Orange Express: Examiner blogger John Vaught LaBeaume takes a look at at-large candidate Vincent Orange's political past and possible future. "A flame out on special election day could finally send Orange back to gadfly status for good, and risk his perch in the D.C. Democratic party that he nearly leveraged to gain the appointment," LaBeaume

    House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Joe Lieberman unveiled their school voucher bill yesterday.The Post's Ben Pershing says it's the "clearest sign yet that the ground has shifted on Capitol Hill for District issues."

    Gray ordering city contracts over $1 million to be sent for council approval. Would probably look like a big hypocrite if he didn't.

    At-Large Councilmember and candidate Sekou Biddle answered some questions in a livechat at Greater Greater Washington yesterday.

    Lobbyists for big companies are fighting hard for the council to ignore CFO Nat Gandhi's advice and follow through with their combined reporting legislation. DCFPI says the council would be "crazy" to do so.

    Women: smart enough to stay away from District politics.

    • Bob

      How well did the city deal with snow yesterday? Not well at all. Methinks it felt like "Barry Time" all over again.

    • S.E.

      @Bob; Bull Shit

    • Smitty

      Al - You know that your friend Mr. Paris sorta grew up with Mr. Booker? The least we could do is get Cory down for a quick seminar on the politics of snow shoveling.

    • Typical DC BS

      DC did MUCH better than Montgomery County! Bethesda was a joke yesterday trying to get home from work. Luckily, Metro was running so I could get back to DC instead of driving. Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda was a parking lot until after 10:30pm. DC streets are cleared for the most part compared to the lingering chaos in MoCo I encountered early this afternoon.

    • DCDem

      The District's response was as good as could be expected. Lets review, city crews were out pre-treating and treating the roads prior to and during the first storm. When the second, more powerful storm came through, first wiht rain/sleet washing all of the pre-treatment away, the city had every piece of equipment at its disposal out staged and prepared to salt and plow. When the snow began to fall during rush hour, they were caught in the same gridlock as everyone else.

      In hindsight, best case scenario, the Feds should have let employees leave at the noon hour considering we knew the approximate time of the snowfall, this way drivers would have been out of the city when the snow began to fall and crews in the city, and region, could have better access to the roads.

      All of the emergency evacuation routes out of town were gridlocked. The city is just not designed to accommodate a sudden quick evacuation with mass traffic. Studies have been done and exercises have been executed. To execute a mass evacuation you have to have resources in DC, MD and VA who can coordinate the process, you have to have traffic "people" manage vehicles coming to and from secondary roads onto major arterioles when you turn all traffic lanes into one way out of town. You have to tow cars parked along the evacuation routes to accommodate such an effort. If you increase the timing of the traffic signals it has to be seamless between DC, MD and VA.

      We are in a recession, DC, MD and VA have terminated thousands of employees in order to balance budgets. All jurisdictions have staffing shortages and DC has a hiring freeze. You need bodies in the transportation departments of DC/MD/VA to make this work. Bodies that, unfortunately, these governments don't have.

      If you wanted small government, hey, that is what you have. You cannot have it both ways.

    ...