Loose Lips

Another Bowser Cabinet Official Bails Ahead of Severance Deadline

Another day in June, another resignation from a Muriel Bowser cabinet official who stands to get a sizable severance check. Office on Aging head John Thompson announced his resignation today, effective June 29, putting himself just one day ahead of the cut-off for Vince Gray administration holdovers to quit and still receive severance packages.

"It's time to close this chapter in my life and pursue another opportunity," Thompson tells LL.

One opportunity Thompson will soon get: choosing what to do with tens of thousands of dollars. The District's twelve-week compensation package entitles him to approximately $36,000 in severance payout.

Thompson's exit puts him, along with departing Department Public Works head Bill Howland and former Office of Risk Management chief Phillip Lattimore, among the appointees from the previous administration leaving before the severance deadline.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

LL Links

Vince Gray appointees bail ahead of June severance deadline. [LL]

LL looks at NBA star Andre Iguodala's investments in Stadium Club. [City Desk]

$15 million of your tax dollars could save this crummy museum. [Post]

Harry Thomas Jr. crony gets a dozen weekends in jail. [LL]

Streetsweeper kills elderly man. [NBC4]

Read more LL Links

Gray Appointees Ditch Bowser Administration Ahead of Severance Deadline

When longtime Department of Public Works Director William Howland resigned earlier this month, he said he wanted to try something new with his career. Thanks to Muriel Bowser, though, he might have another reason—or 40,395 of them. By leaving before the end of June, Howland, along with other recently departed holdovers from the Vince Gray administration, stands to make tens of thousands of dollars each in severance pay.

Gray appointees who left when the administrations changed in January received their own hefty severances, but Bowser extended the severance deadline to June 30, according to spokeswoman LaToya Foster. That means any Gray-era official looking to cash out has just a few weeks left to bail.

Howland isn't alone in his summer exit. Also gone recently are Office of Risk Management head Phillip Lattimore and Office of Cable Television head Eric Richardson.

Read more Gray Appointees Ditch Bowser Administration Ahead of Severance Deadline

Harry Thomas Jr. Staffer Gets Weekends in Jail, $110K Bill

Harry Thomas Jr.

Former Harry Thomas Jr. staffer Neil Rodgers won't be following his old boss' path as a full-time resident of the federal prison system. At his sentencing today, Rodgers received two years probation, a $110,000 bill, and just 12 weekends in prison.

That's a lot less than prosecutors wanted for Rodgers, who was found guilty of fraud in March. For helping Thomas funnel $110,000 meant for youth drug prevention to cover the tab for a raucous Wilson Building inauguration party, prosecutors wanted Rodgers to serve a year in prison. Rodgers' attorneys wanted him to receive just probation.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates rejected both sentencing proposals, saying that he aimed to deter other would-be corrupt officials while also weighing letters from Rodgers' supporters (including D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson).

"Public officials need to know that there are real consequences, including incarceration," Bates said.

Read more Harry Thomas Jr. Staffer Gets Weekends in Jail, $110K Bill

LL Links

Proposed rules could block public access to teacher's evaluations. [Post]

Muriel Bowser wants harsher penalties for synthetic drug sales. [Post]

Yvette Alexander goes undercover to buy synthetic drugs. [LL]

Vince Gray won't rule out another campaign... [LL, WAMU]

...and wishes the federal investigation were over. [NBC4]

Read more LL Links

Karl Racine Hires Another Former Council Candidate

Attorney General Karl Racine backed Trayon White in April's Ward 8 special election, and now he's helping him get another gig. Starting today, White is an employee of the Office of the Attorney General.

White, who lost the D.C. Council race to LaRuby May by less than 100 votes, will work as a "community development specialist," according to Racine spokesman Robert Marus.

White isn't the only former Council candidate in Racine's office. Robert White, who lost an at-large bid last November, works as Racine's director of community outreach. Between the two Whites, Racine could conceivably take a lesson from rival Muriel Bowser and field his own slate on the ballot next year.

In the past, Trayon White has found himself on the other side of the District government. He only avoided a failure to obey an officer charge last year after taking a diversion course, and he's still suing the city after allegedly getting roughed up by a cop at Marion Barry's turkey giveaway. White's lawsuit is on hold for an Office of Police Complaints review.

Read more Karl Racine Hires Another Former Council Candidate

Yvette Alexander: “Cool Enough” to Buy Synthetic Drugs

How easy is it to buy synthetic drugs in the District? Easy enough that the councilmember whose committee handles the fallout from the drugs nearly scored a bag herself last year.

At a press conference this morning to announce new penalties for selling synthetic drugs, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander related her experience as a freelance undercover buyer. Alexander was able to persuade a clerk at a head shop in Columbia Heights to sell her a bag of "Scooby Snax" brand synthetic drugs.

"I'm glad I look cool enough, I guess," Alexander says.

Read more Yvette Alexander: “Cool Enough” to Buy Synthetic Drugs

Vince Gray Won’t Rule Out Another Council Run

A federal investigation didn't stop Vince Gray from running for office last year, and it might not stop him next year. In an interview on WPFW, the former mayor didn't take another election campaign off the table.

"I've ruled nothing out, ruled nothing in," Gray said.

Gray, who has passed his post-mayoral limbo by doing house repairs and teaching a class on District history at Catholic University, could run in Ward 7 or at-large next year. Then, in 2018, Gray could have a chance to take back his seat as D.C. Council chairman.

"[Running for office] is not something that is even on my to-do list right now," Gray told host Chuck Thies, who managed Gray's failed 2014 re-election campaign.

Read more Vince Gray Won’t Rule Out Another Council Run

LL Links

Cathy Lanier plans policing shift to drug suppliers. [Post]

What the District's Olympic plan looked like. [Post]

David Grosso investigates DCPS food contract. [LL]

Eminent domain looms for D.C. United site. [WAMU]

Post ed board: don't cut Metro funding. [Post]

Long wait ahead for new Metro cars. [WAMU]

Read more LL Links

Grosso Launches DCPS Food Service Investigation

D.C. Public Schools' food vendor agreed to pay nearly $20 million this week as part of a whistleblower lawsuit, but that doesn't satisfy Council education committee chairman David Grosso. In a press release, Grosso says he's going to keep investigating the District's ongoing contract with Chartwells.

Some of the $19.4 million settlement will go to Jeffrey Mills, DCPS' former executive director of Food and Nutrition Services, who filed the whistleblower lawsuit after getting canned by the city. Grosso says he'll review the contract this summer, with a hearing planned for the fall.

Grosso won't be alone as he looks into the Chartwells contract. On Monday, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh asked the D.C. Auditor to investigate the contract, the bidding of which she says was based on "faulty promises, cutting corners, and apparently, outright fraud." Cheh also wants Auditor Kathy Patterson to investigate whether outsourcing DCPS' food services has actually saved the District money.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery