Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: The Road Goes On Forever 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!


  • Marion Barry's Not-So-Timely Advice
  • Reboot, D.C.
  • Sulaimon Brown Leaves The Building
  • Wilson Building Carsharing Spaces No More (Updated)
  • Good morning sweet readers! What's in store for his week? Will news break that Mayor Vince Gray has hired Faith to be the sole member of the District's bugle corps (salary, $225,000)? Or that Councilmember Tommy Wells ordered DDOT to buy him a diamond encrusted Capital Bikeshare bike to be used only by him? Only time will tell. News time:

    Scandalgates Continue: Last week's bad news for D.C.'s top politicians continues to live on. First, Wells released a preliminary report on problems with the city's SUV procurement at 9:30 a.m. The report hammers the Department of Public Works for ignoring a city law prohibiting purchasing or leasing SUVs except for security or public safety reasons. Then, half-an-hour later, failed mayoral candidates and appointee Sulaimon Brown went on TBD's Newstalk with Bruce DePuyt to announce that he has proof the Gray administration is lying about how he got a $110,000-a-year job and how he lost said job. Brown also sounded like he's going to sue the city for the way he was dumped. Next up, the Examiner's Jonetta Rose Barras reports that Department of Parks and Recreation Director Jesus Aguirre said "I did not request them. I did not interview them" in reference to two recent DPW political hires: Cherita Whiting and Nicholas Hall, the son of Gray's COS. "Gray dumped his political friends at DPR while the agency couldn't hire critical employees who could provide direct services to District residents," writes Jonetta. And all that is just this morning's news. Over the last few days, Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry inserted himself into the fray by defending Gray's recent hires, including Brown, and repeating his new favorite phrase: "to the victor go the spoils." The D.C. Council is trying to "regain public confidence" by planning oversight hearings of Gray's hirings and introducing new legislation regarding vehicle leasing. Freeman Klopott looks at how the District is doing compared to neighboring jurisdictions and finds D.C. is paying the most, by far, for executive rides. The Post editorial board chides Gray on his hiring. "Neither Mr. Gray nor the city can afford a return to the sad days of city governance when whom you knew mattered more than what you knew or what you could accomplish." Tom Toles draws a zinger. Colby King asks "Why, indeed, do residents of the District tolerate such nonsense?" Tom Sherwood says Gray's losing it. And NPR calls it one of the worst weeks ever.

    AFTER THE JUMP: 911 Call Dropped; Breathalyzer Problems; Solar Flare;

    Try Again Later: Klopott reports that 200 the Gray administration was warned that furloughing dispatchers at the city's 911 call center would lead to unanswered emergency calls. "On Feb. 22 the workers took their leave from midnight to 6 a.m. and nearly 200 calls were dropped, city officials confirmed. Due to the furlough, the usual complement of 16 dispatchers dropped to three during that time, an e-mail from union president Lee Blackmon to Gray administration officials said." Klopott also reports that the police department's problems with breathalyzers may date back a whole decade. CM Phil Mendelson is holding a hearing today about MPD's breathalyzer problems.

    Throw Snowballs at Santa Street: The Philly Inquirer warns Councilmember Michael A. Brown not to give Pennsylvania Ave. a ceremonial renaming. Whatever.

    Never Trust the Government: That's the takeaway after reading this story in the Post on the District reneging on its promises to pay for part of solar panel installation costs for dozens of District homeowners. "I'm not ready to throw a molotov cocktail at the D.C. government, but I'm very disappointed," says one guy who is now out $12,200. Says Department of Environment Director Christophe Tulou: "It just doesn't seem fair to go through a process with them and have them make investments in solar panels under the assumption they would be reimbursed ... It's really sad we are having these economic woes when we are."

    In Other News: One City Summer Jobs program fills up quickly. Potential Wal-Mart landlord accused of running the naughty kind of massage parlors. Gray looking to bring back development authorities. Ed board says city shouldn't suffer from federal shut down. Protective Services boss is out. Pat Mara is a Republican. CM Sekou Biddle opens an office.

    Gray sked: Secret Service HQ at 3:30 p.m

    Council sked: Mendo's breathalyzer hearings at 11 a.m.

    • dcrez

      Let's take a look at high school drop-out Cherita Whiting next: 1 felony conviction for fraud in DC in 2001 (which, despite Gray's comments, she failed to declare on her job application as is required by law) and 2 convictions in MD. She was hired as an Excepted Service employee, meaning the job was not competitively posted, for a "Special Assistant" position reporting to the Chief of Staff that did not exist under Fenty or Williams. In other words Gray and his team created a $65k position for an unqualified ex-con who campaigned for Gray. Oh, and it is still unclear if she is a DC resident again or if her primary residence remains in MD.

      Mayor Gray: you couldn't find a qualified DC resident to do the job? Or even felony free DC resident with a GED?

      What a joke.

    • drez

      Mayor Gray:
      Fixing PG's budget woes one hire at a time.

    • Rake

      All of this noise about Vince's hiring practices aside, the more important issue to me is the 911 calls. Of the 200 calls dropped, what were the results? Seems like the city was exposed to an elevated chance of lawsuit, etc. should someone not have been able to get through to 911 in an emergency. The key portion of the story to me is that Vince and co. were warned that short staffing the call center would lead to dropped calls and did so anyway...

      Last week we confirmed that Vince has a perception issue (at minimum) with regard to his hiring practices. Is this the week we find out that he and his team can't handle the nuts and bolts of city governance? "Blips" like this 911 issue don't inspire confidence. Then again, pretty much nothing about the ONE CITY era (error?) has.

      ONE CITY, "to the victor go the spoils"? - Marion Barry.

    • hymesb

      Is it too soon to say I told you so?

      Marion Barry is running the city.

    • noodlez


    • Rake

      Ah, the One Citidiots have spoken. It doesn't matter if Vince runs the city into the ground, so long as it's not "CLOWN PRINCE BALDHEADED WONDERS". Solid attitude.

      Nice to have confirmation that the ONE CITY base really could care less about progress, but just wants 1992 back. Perfect.

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