Loose Lips

Loose Lips Daily: Read My Lips 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!


  • Kwame Brown Can't Get No Respect
  • Mary Cheh Seeks Subpoena Power
  • Good morning sweet readers! LL saw a bald eagle over the weekend, which of course set off the John Denver in LL's head. "Know he'd be a poorer man, if he never saw an eagle flyyyyy!" News time:

    Read My Lips: Mayor Vince Gray is getting close to putting the finishing touches on his first proposed budget and told WAMU's Patrick Madden yesterday that he doesn't "envision" broad tax increases. "We've had discussions about tax increases. I do not envision any property tax increases, we do not envision any income tax increases. You know, across the board tax increases—don't envision anything like that," says Gray, a few days after Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown said similar things on Newstalk with Bruce DePuyt. The stance seems like a no-brainer: with all the bad headlines around Gray and Brown right now, there's no political appetite for a tax-increase fight. (Though with a $300+ million budget deficit, there's certainly a case to be made.) Meanwhile, Gray has asked for public input via an online survey on his proposed budget, but the timing seems to some a bit suspect, given that most of the heavy lifting has already been done. Meanwhile, the advocacy group Save Our Safety Net plans on having a picnic in Gray's office on Friday to advocate against budget cuts to social service program.

    AFTER THE JUMP: Cheh Wants To Subpoena the World; Hire More Cops; Green and Issa: It's Complicated...

    You Expect Me To Talk?: Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh made news yesterday by announcing that she was seeking subpoena power to compel reluctant aides to Gray to testify at a hearing on the administration's hiring practices. With the House Oversight Committee already threatening to hold similar hearings, perhaps Cheh's hearing will be a kind of warm up. But Cheh tells the Post that she's not going to bother calling witnesses to testify if they're just going to plead the 5th. "I will not call them to go through that charade," says Cheh. Fox5 has more.

    Hire More Cops: The Examiner's Harry Jaffe reports on Police Chief Cathy Lanier's concerns that her shrinking department may be in trouble unless she can hire more cops. Police union boss Kris Baumann gives a sneak peek at what he'll be answering on Gray's budget survey: "We can use taxpayer money to keep residents safe, or we can continue to fund giant bureaucracies in agencies that produce little, if any, widespread public benefit." Meanwhile, two more plead guilty in taxi bribery scheme.

    It's Complicated: Gray confidante Lorraine Green and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, whose office is investigating claims Green slipped Sulaimon Brown some cash, have a history, reports Mike DeBonis at the Post. "When Issa was ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, he and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) investigated the 2009 forced retirement of Amtrak’s inspector general, Fred E. Weiderhold Jr. After Weiderhold was ousted by Amtrak’s board—in violation of federal law, the Republicans found—he was replaced on an interim basis with none other than Green."

    In Other News: Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry hit potholes on his way to press event about potholes. Recently arrested teens charged with murder were DYRS wards. TBD looking for web-traffic gold with Barry photoshop slideshow. DCFPI to Gray: don't cut disability asssitance, and watch our video. Vincent Orange wants to tax the bonds of other states.

    Mayor sked: 10:30 a.m. presser, 3 p.m. meeting with the sisters of Delta Sigma Theta, 4:30 p.m. meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

    Council sked: Delinquent debt at 10, interstate juvenile justice at 11.

    • Southeast Ken

      There's more alleged corruption in the District. This time it's the ABC Board Chairman accused.


    • Watchthemoney

      The House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa should look into why City Adminstrator Allen Lew steered millions of contractors to Turner Construction at DC Public Schools.
      1- The top adviser to then DC school czar Allen Lew is the son - in law of an executive whose company has netted tens of millions in contracts from Lew's former agency.
      2- Thomas D Bridenbaugh the leading procurement consulant in DC school moderation has broad authority over lucrative deals in the $ 2 Billion- plus school facilities agency.
      3- Thomas Bridenbaugh is also the husband to Rachel Engers, daugther of Turner Construction manager Tom Engers. The couple was married in July 2005.
      4-Tom Engers of Turner Construction has been one of Lew's go-to contractors for more than a decade.
      5- Since Thomas Bridenbaugh and Engers wedding, Turner has been awarded over 60 Million in contracts from Allen Lew .
      6- The DC Chief Financial Officer should have known this was a serious Conflict of Interest.
      7- The Turner Construction is bidding on a $ 100 million dollar school project right now ( Dunbar High or Cardozo High)
      8- Thomas Bridenbaugh is currently still at the DC school construction division at RFK selecting contractor for his wife father company Turner Construction.
      9- Thomas Bridenbaugh , Tom Engers , and Allen Lew have worked together for more than 12 years.

      Why is the DC school construction agency so secretive and why is it that consultants with financial interest and political ties in charge of a $ 2 BILLION DOLLAR Plus budget ???

      Why is it that the DC Government has never done a full scale audit on the money spent by Allen Lew ???

      Why is it that the DC Government lets ALLEN Lew build school 20% higher than other school districts????

    • Truth_Teller

      @Watchthemoney, you are on to something! Not only are these construction projects' budgets ridiculously inflated, the end results amount to nothing more than shoddy workmanship. Yes, the buildings are something to behold immediately after 'completion', however, once the construction teams are gone then the work starts to unravel. I've heard of instances of the ceiling leaking at the 'newly' refinished Eastern and some other places as well.

      Always follow the money!

    • Tformation

      How long have you known this information? It sounds as if you are well informed. I am curious as to why this info hasn't been reported on over the last few years. Am I to believe no one in the press had any idea of the points you made prior to now? This is another example of the free pass the previous administration received from the media. Now that Lews BOSS is not Fenty, all his improper dealings over the last 4 years can come to light.

    • TW

      Tformation is right. None of this information leaked out when the previous administration was in charge. Suddenly people can not wait to tell all they know. And the press is in a feeding frenzy. How did the previous administration get away with this? Free pass from the press or did people keep quiet as long as their nests were feathered?

    • Wendy Washington


      There are a great number of things that the CFO should have been aware of -- like Harriette Walters stealing millions for years. Let's not forget about the discrepancy in the numbers for DCPS under Madame Rhee. First the layoffs are due to budget constraints, then miraculously, the money reappears -- only to be earmarked to something other than bringing the laid off employees back.

      I co-sign with Tformation and TW -- why are these things being brought to light now?

    • Rick Mangus

      Another case of corruption in the Gray Administration look to ABRA Director under investigation!

    • OS

      What everyone is missing about the way OPEFM does work is the form of the contract. It works the same as the Parks-DCHE contracts. There is no cost control. The prime contractor gets to hand pick the subs and mark up the subs costs.

      What you have heard about the obscene mark ups on Skinner’s contracts is a drop in the bucket compared to what OPEFM has done in the past 3 years.