Loose Lips Daily: Full Ginsberg Edition
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Good morning sweet readers! What is best in life? Is it really the open steppe, a fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair? LL's not convinced. News time:
Sulaimon Pulls Off a Full Ginsberg: The news cycle continues to be dominated by Mayor Vince Gray and his former BFF, Sulaimon Brown. Yesterday, Brown talked with virtually every TV reporter in town, and seemingly had a bet with himself to try and up the ante with each appearance. At WUSA 9, Brown alleged that Gray stole the election by paying precinct captains "to with hold the ballot count in areas where incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty was expected to win." Not true, says just about everyone. He told NBC 4 that the public needs to know that Gray is an "organized criminal." (Hey, at least he's organized!) He met ABC 7 over at Union Station, where he alleges he got his first cash payment from Gray aide Lorraine Green. Over at Fox 5, Brown says he will not rest until Gray joins him in the unemployment line: "I want to bring this to the point that Mayor Gray will have to resign." Brown also told the TV station that there's much more he did for the Gray campaign that hasn't come out yet. He also said he kept the envelopes he claims were given to him filled with cash by Gray's campaign aides, which he said could have fingerprint evidence on them. Oh boy, will it get to that? And the Post reports that the Office of Campaign Finance is looking into Brown's allegations and the U.S. Attorney Office isn't commenting whether it is or not—but that it takes all allegations of public corruption seriously.
Meanwhile, over in opinionland, the WaPo editorial board makes a pretty strong case that the claims Brown is making, despite the fact that he's a little off, should be taken seriously. Best line: "What are we to make of the fact that [campaign aide Howard] Brooks initially told The Post he didn't remember calling Mr. Brown, and then, when confronted with cellphone records, declined to comment further without an attorney present?" LL doesn't know about you, but LL makes of that fact that Brooks isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. (Mark Plotkin has more on Brooks.) The Examiner's Harry Jaffe says that Gray's surrounded himself with a team that doesn't have the political chops to make people like Brown go away quietly. "Mayors need savvy, calculating political knife-fighters to protect them from minefields, and to make sure people stay bought. Gray has no such lieutenant. He lacks a smart, tough, trusted fixer. ... Gray has four women running his political and personnel shop. They are adviser Lorraine Green; press chief Linda Wharton Boyd; chief of staff Gerri Mason Hall; and Judy Banks, who served as personnel chief until last week. All are veterans of the Marion Barry or Sharon Pratt Kelly regimes. They represent exactly what Gray's critics feared: a return to the musty old ways of the do-nothing District government, where friends hired friends to cash paychecks and not deliver services." And Petula Dvorak says it's not time to get all crazy nostalgic for Fenty. "Remember, Fenty had a Lincoln Navigator, too, and it was fully loaded with its own scandals. Maybe Gray is just front-loading his debacles, getting his screwups out of the way in his first 100 days and moving on."
AFTER THE JUMP: Free Ride, No Parking Tickets; Search For Kaya; Good Budget News Not So Good?...
Wanna Go For a Ride: Nearly half the city's agency heads have city-funded rides, and a bunch of them aren't paying their parking tickets, reports the Examiner's Freeman Klopott. Especially interesting is the fact that City Administrator Allen Lew is driving a brand spanking new 2011 Chevy Tahoe while the city is looking to bridge a $322 million budget gap. But Mr. Lew, city law forbids the purchase or lease of SUVs, right? "A spokesman for Lew said in a statement that the Tahoe was procured legally because it fits an exception allowing SUVs to be purchased for emergency purposes. 'As the City Administrator, all public safety agencies and emergency services, including snow removal fall under his purview,' the statement said. 'He must move around the city, often during inclement weather or during other operational responsibilities.'" That excuse smells a little fishy. There are plenty of cars with four-wheel drive that'll do much better in bad weather than a hulking Tahoe, which might not even have all-wheel drive. LL should know, having lived in the frozen tundra of Alaska. Subaru all the way!
Gray Comfortable With Chancellor Search Process That Left Out the Search Part: Gray's search process for a permanent schools chancellor that looked at exactly one candidate, interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson, didn't impress everyone. "If you're going to do the process, do it and do it right. Otherwise, it's window dressing and make-work," said Terry Lynch. Likewise, Washington Teachers Union President Nathan Saunders is steamed. But process-fan Gray says he's comfortable with the process and adds that "the best vetting process is watching someone serve in the position," reports the Post. Meanwhile, Gray pledged extra cash to DCPS yesterday.
Patterson Out? Mara In? Weaver Maybe?: The preliminary results of petition challenges in the special election are back, and it doesn't look good for Ward 8's Jacque Patterson, who is short more than 700 valid signatures. Republican Pat Mara just barely had enough valid signatures of the ones he turned in, and Ward 1's Bryan Weaver should be able to stay on the ballot if he can get 52 people to update their addresses. But these are just the preliminary findings of the Board of Elections and Ethics' staff, and there still needs to be a public hearing. Patterson tells LL he's going to fight Sekou Biddle's challenge, and feels like he's got a good shot of staying on the ballot. Meanwhile, he, Mara and Weaver all seem to continue to be upset at Biddle's petition challenges. For the best coverage of the race, go here.
Good Budget News Not So Good?: Seems there's some sort of disagreement among the District's math nerds over CFO Nat Gandhi's latest revenue forecast which has the District pulling in $105 million more mostly because of rising commercial property values, reports Washington Business Journal's Michael Neibauer. "The second-in-command of the District's property assessment appeals panel told a D.C. Council committee Monday that the Office of Tax and Revenue's assessments are often wrong and many will be chopped on one of three levels of appeal." Gandhi says he's confident in his number.
Apparently Flying Coach Can Kill You: Embattled UDC President Allen Sessoms said yesterday that he has circulatory problems in his legs that won't let him fly coach. "Yeah, I'm going to fly first-class ... I'm not going to die for any job." (LL's editor's wife, who had a pulmonary embolism after a flight a few years ago but still flies coach, actually laughed out loud this morning when WAMU reported that line.)
Gray sked: 10 a.m. meeting on HIV/AIDS. Noon appearance at Metropolitan Club.
Council sked: 10 a.m. hearing on UDC. Sessoms, prepare thyself for a grilling.