Loose Lips Daily: Lobbytown Edition
Good morning sweet readers! Tax days were the worst days, now LL drinks champagne when he's thirstay. News time:
Lobbytown: Did you know that the District pays outside lobbyists to work the feds on the city's behalf? Well, neither does the Gray administration or Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, according to the Post. "U.S. Senate records show that Mitch Butler — a former Interior Department official in the Bush administration — has lobbied on behalf of the District since October 2009 on 'public lands issues' and 'land development.' Through the end of 2010, the city paid Butler at least $100,000 for his efforts. Separately, the D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development has paid the firm Van Ness Feldman $200,000 since November 2009 for 'Anacostia Waterfront Initiative appropriations, St. Elizabeths development matters and federal land transfers,' according to registration forms. Neither Norton nor Janene D. Jackson, the director of the District’s Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs, was aware the city had lobbyists on the payroll until they were informed by a reporter. 'I’ve never heard from them,' Norton said. The office of Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) did not respond to requests for details on the work done by the lobbyists. Butler and Van Ness Feldman also did not respond to requests for comment." Coordination fail, as the kids might say on the Internet. Also, D.C. is ticked off at President Obama.
AFTER THE JUMP: Kwame and the OCF; At-Large Sound Off; Trouble in Paradise?
Kwame and the OCF: There's a closed hearing scheduled today at the Office of Campaign Finance for Council Chairman Kwame "Fully Loaded" Brown to discuss a recent audit that lambasted the District's second-most powerful elected official for crummy bookkeeping during his 2008 campaign. The audit also reported that Brown's campaign paid his brother's sale-coaching firm $240,000 and there aren't adequate records to back up how that money was spent. We might not know what happens at the hearing (seriously, a closed hearing? Is this Soviet Russia?) but we do know that Brown's issues aren't likely to go quietly away. The Post editorial board takes another whack at Brown and calls for the U.S. Attorney's Office to start investigatin'.
At-Large Candidates Sound Off: The Post offered some at-large candidates the chance to comment on Gray's proposed budget. LL has summarized the answers for you. Sekou Biddle: no tax increases. Bryan Weaver: six-tiered tax code. Vincent Orange: collect what's already owed. Pat Mara: stop reckless spending. Josh Lopez: protect the vulnerable. Alan Page: raise taxes on the wealthy.
Gray, the First 100: Want more proof that Councilmember David Catania is now the lead voice of opposition to the Gray administration? Check out the first person quoted in the New York Times' report on Gray's rocky start.
Trouble in Paradise?: The Examiner's Freeman Klopott lets us know that a "bill requiring D.C. Council approval of all deputy mayor appointees is likely to set up the first battle between Mayor Vince Gray and the council members he once led as chairman." Councilmembers Jim Graham and Marion Barry introduced a bill that would require the council to sign off an all of Gray' deputy mayor picks, not just some. Gray doesn't think it's a good idea. Money quote from Barry: "Barry said he was surprised Gray didn't favor the bill. 'He campaigned on accountability and transparency,' Barry said. 'What's he object to?'"
Home Rule and Abortion: Mayor Gray "has linked abortion rights to the District's struggle for full citizenship," writes the Examiner's Jonetta Rose Barras. "The two issues were connected when, the day of his arrest, Gray held a press conference at Planned Parenthood, a principal figure in the country's decades-old abortion battles. No doubt pictures from the event and comments made by Gray during multiple media appearances linked the two issues in the minds of many Americans unfamiliar with the city's political structure. The District needs allies if it is to win its fight for independence. But friends will be harder to come by if the city's cause is cemented to one of the most divisive issues in the country."
See You in Prison, Carol: Former Councilmember Carol Schwartz writes in a letter to the Post of her plan to protest the District's second-class citizenship: "Dramatic action is needed. Taking to the streets and getting arrested is one such action, and it is fine with me. But better still would be taking 'no taxation without representation' literally, the way our forefathers and foremothers did. Next year at tax time, if I am still denied my right to vote in Congress, and no real movement is afoot, I am ready to deny the federal government my taxes. I will look at setting aside my taxes in an escrow account. I hope my fellow disenfranchised D.C. residents will join me in this effort." LL expects Schwartz's lawyers will tell her she'll be looking at serious federal fines and penalties if she doesn't actually send her tax money to the government.
Pay Up, Suburbanites: The Examiner's Lisa Gartner informs that DCPS "failed to collect at least several hundred thousand dollars in nonresident tuition from students living in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs discovered to be using fraudulent addresses. ... The DCPS Student Residency Office has taken on 329 cases involving 487 students in the past three years. The two-person staff—consisting of just one coordinator and one investigator—determined that 235 students were nonresidents listing addresses that were either fake or belonged to relatives or friends.School officials acknowledged that the numbers could be much higher, as investigated cases usually develop from family custody cases and other court hearings.Following notification, DCPS said many parents withdrew their children. But 53 students were billed for nonresident tuition in the past three school years, which ranges by grade level from $9,125 to $12,227 for general education. Zero paid."
In Other News: Rabbi loses bid to extend special election hours. Mayor finalizes medical marijuana rules. Arrest gives Gray "street cred," says the Times; pols compare arrests to world-changing protest movements. About 300 protesters, including at-large candidate Vincent Orange, and one large inflatable rat let The Washington Post know they are not happy with its coverage and editorials on D.C. public schools.
Gray sked: desk work and appearance at another protest on Capitol Hill, this one organized by ANC commissioners.
Council sked: Hearings on libraries, DMV, Metro and truancy.