DMV Daily: Fenty Cuts Before He Runs
Exiting mayor submits lame-duck budget plan
WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 16: Washington DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty speaks during the unveiling ceremony for the 9 new U.S. President wax figures at Madame Tussauds on February 16, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Rubenstein Communications, Inc.)
"Behold: The Meaningless Lame Duck Budget Proposal." Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman sums up the entire matter of Adrian Fenty’s late budget proposal, making it clear that it is a truly irrelevant document that will have almost no impact on the spending debate ahead: "It’s got some cuts that kinda look like political payback, like delaying implementation of Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh’s Healthy Schools Act, but in the end it’s not really a big deal."
DCist says Fenty is calling for eliminating "about 125 ‘vacant and redundant’ government jobs, the result of an agency-by-agency review conducted by the Fenty administration," and contains no tax hikes. One interesting line item, considering the summer Summer Youth Employment Program kerfuffle: SYEP "would be reduced to a six-week program for a maximum of 12,000 participants."
The Washington Examiner’s Freeman Klopott calls it a decisive and wide-reaching proposal, saying "no District resident would escape the pain" of Fenty’s $161.2 million in spending cuts. "Services for the poor and the police department were targeted" for some of the deepest cuts. The Washington Post says it's a "much-anticipated proposal," even though it "puts the final say on what are sure to be controversial decisions in the hands" of Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray.
So what’s the point? Is Fenty trying to offer a responsible austerity budget intended to get the District on track? Or is he handing the man who beat him a double-edged sword -- forcing Gray to either make unpopular cuts, or to shirk tough choices and leave Fenty looking like the responsible one?
Elsewhere in the DMV:
- Dwight Bowman of the American Federation of Government Employees says job furloughs "will be a part of the District’s budget-cutting proposal," the Washington Times reports. The District "has not furloughed its workers since the mid-1990s budget crisis that resulted in a congressional takeover of city finances." Meanwhile, Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans tells WTOP that he thinks District employees who live outside D.C. should take a 10 percent pay cut.
- DCist notes that while most of the local media focused coverage of Gray’s budget speech on likely cuts, the Post led with the possibility of tax increases – even though Gray himself downplayed that option. In the Examiner this morning, Jonetta Rose Barras says Gray’s "tone was somber and his language at times was strong. But his most inventive solutions were timid."
- In his Examiner column, Harry Jaffe lists "a few things our political and business leaders might want to contemplate as their good fortune." For Gray, a new gig. As for Fenty, "he can ride his bike and train for his next triathlon without pesky reporters" tailing him, and can travel to Dubai as often as he likes.
- City Paper’s Rend Smith has a must-read on Post columnist Courtland Milloy: "Like the late Herb Caen in San Francisco, he’s an old-school journalist doing an old-school job: the Metro columnist writing about, and for, the city’s downtrodden. For decades, that was a generally quiet, low-impact job. But following a mayoral campaign that pitted rich against poor in dramatic new ways this fall, Milloy’s knack for reducing post-modern problems to their race-and-class roots has suddenly made him a controversial, buzz-generating columnist -- the man that the supposedly liberal class of newcomers to D.C.’s gentrifying neighborhoods love to hate."
- The Post reports Bob Ehrlich’s Maryland gubernatorial campaign "reported paying $14,000 in the final days of the race to the political consultant who has taken responsibility for ordering anonymous election-night robocalls suggesting Democrats ‘relax’ and stay home." The Ehrlich campaign paid Julius Henson’s firms more than $111,000 in 2010.
- The Baltimore Sun reports Maryland’s environment secretary Shari Wilson and higher education secretary James Lyons will not be returning for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s second term.
- Rep. Donna Edwards "did not provide health insurance, cover payroll taxes or pay for unemployment insurance for their campaign workers, a practice that may skirt IRS rules," according to Capital News Service.
- Next American City looks at "hyperlocal" D.C. blogs like And Now Anacostia, Greater Greater Washington and Prince of Petworth.
- Falls Church is a "small town," not a "little city," the Falls Church News-Press writes -- and the town’s "venerable civic association, the Citizens for a Better City," wants you to know it.
- The Loudoun Times reports "the race for Loudoun County sheriff is fast becoming the most crowded political contest to date" for next year, with retired FBI agent Verne Dickerson of Leesburg becoming the third Republican to enter the race.
- DCist wonders why there is a can of Steel Reserve on Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells’ desk.
- D.C. Like a Local has a brief history of the Last Firebase Vietnam veterans and POW remembrance kiosk near the Lincoln Memorial, which burned down Monday night.
- Famous D.C. helps you ditch your visiting in-laws on the day after Thanksgiving.
- Has Fenty found his next job?
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC