D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles and Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. are playing a game of chicken -- or maybe “Beat the Clock.”
Thomas continues to drag his feet on Nickles’s requests for more documents on his Team Thomas nonprofit, asserting that he has already handed everything over. It took Thomas several months, and several court actions, to reluctantly hand over even those documents.
Now, a Superior Court judge has ruled that Thomas must comply with Nickles’s subpoena for more records.
The problem for Nickles, and the silver lining for Thomas: The records need not be turned over until Jan. 8 -- and Nickles leaves his job on Jan. 2.
The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis says this will leave new mayor Vincent Gray with “a political hot potato as soon as he enters office. Though Nickles will be leaving, his deputies will remain, and they will continue to pursue old business until directed otherwise. It would be up to Nickles’s replacement, and perhaps Gray himself, to direct otherwise. But would Gray do that?”
Though Nickles says Thomas “has been a big supporter” of Gray, he would “like to believe that my successor would pursue the matter. It’s a matter of high public interest. It goes to the whole question of integrity of the political process.”
And Nickles doesn’t mind that it’s the last minutes of the fourth quarter. “I’m not done,” he told DeBonis. “I’ve got another 20-some days; I’ve got a creative mind; and I don’t like it when the law is being avoided. ... The day of reckoning is coming.”
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* The Gray Cabinet is beginning to emerge, and there will be several big changes. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Director Linda Argo, Department of Transportation Director Gabe Klein, and Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak are out -- DCist says Sivak “sounded really broken up about having to step down” -- while Sodexo executive Gerri Mason Hall, a longtime Gray acquaintance who also has experience at Amtrak, will be chief of staff. Allen Lew will be city administrator.
DCist says Lew “was rumored as a candidate for the position after Gray secured election in September -- and the decision has, so far, been well-received.” He “has managed over $1 billion in construction work at D.C. Public Schools” since 2007, and his “greatest claim to fame is his steady handling of the development of both Nationals Park and the Washington Convention Center. Lew has a reputation as a bit of a Rahm Emanuel-type who is not afraid to keep people in line and exert pressure on his contractors -- which is evident in the fact that Nationals Park, for all the bluster about its funding, was actually finished on time.”
The Washington Examiner says Gray “said Lew will hold the District’s bureaucracy accountable the same way he held accountable the developers who were revamping the District’s schools.” Gray said the job “requires someone who is a visionary and a doer. It has to be someone with a constructive level of impatience, and I see all these abilities in Allen Lew.”
Alan Suderman of Washington City Paper says Lew “sounded a lot like what his soon-to-be former boss, Still Mayor Adrian Fenty, sounded like on the campaign trail not so long ago.” Lew said, “I like lean operations, I like efficient operations, I like thin bureaucracies. We’re going to be looking to establish performance standards, I subscribe to a performance relationship with staff, and with contractors and with everyone. We’ll be driven by results.”
We Love D.C. adds that “the transition is favorable to keeping Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning on, potentially with a promotion, during a Gray Administration.” The Post says the announcements “marked a substantial development for Gray, who was criticized by some for a transition that was off to a slow start. The pace reignited worries that his career-long cautious decision-making style would mean he wouldn’t be fully prepared to take over” as mayor next month.
In related news, the D.C. Housing Authority has made interim director Adrianne Todman the agency’s permanent chief, according to the Post.
* Though Jacque Patterson said he made a strategic decision to focus on next spring’s At-Large Council special election rather than seek the interim appointment by the D.C. Democratic State Committee, a source says Patterson was collecting signatures for the interim slot as late as Saturday night at a Metropolitan Women Democratic Club event -- suggesting that his decision may have had more to do with lagging signature counts than campaign strategy.
* The Post reports the D.C. Council “is moving forward with plans to make homeless families prove they live in the District before they can receive shelter.” Ward 6’s Tommy Wells, author of the controversial plan, said, “We cannot be the hotel for Virginia and Maryland residents.” Wells stressed that the plan would not apply to temporary shelters for single individuals, and “he and other officials said that as the nation's capital, the city has an obligation to house homeless adults during cold snaps.” But Ward 3’s Mary Cheh, one of three councilmembers to vote against the bill, said, “I think in its various applications, it's going to be cruel.” A final vote is scheduled for Dec. 21 -- in the middle of Christmas week, and the first day of winter.
* The Examiner reports Gov. Bob McDonnell “offered a few proposals Wednesday ahead of his address to the Joint Money Committees of the General Assembly on Dec. 17,” when he will formally detail his budget plans. One proposal would save about $1.4 million over two years, and McDonnell “appeared to acknowledge the relatively small dollar amount, after the state was forced to close a $4.2 billion shortfall” this year. McDonnell said, “In a tight budget and tough economy every single dollar counts. We must identify every opportunity by which state government functions can be performed with the same level of professionalism and expertise, but at less cost to Virginia taxpayers.”
* It is “increasingly likely” that Maryland will become the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage due to changes on a key state senate committee, the Post reports. Despite Maryland’s “reputation as a liberal state, lawmakers have been slower to embrace same-sex unions than their colleagues in some other blue states, in part because of the strong opposition of the Catholic and black churches.”
* The Post reports Gov. Martin O’Malley has tapped Colm O’Comartun, “one of his most trusted aides in Annapolis,” to serve as executive director of the Democratic Governors Association. O’Malley was elected to lead the group last week.
* In an editorial, the Falls Church News-Press says the Falls Church Housing Corporation’s decision “to seek no support from the City of Falls Church in the next fiscal year, and to cease any new initiative efforts in the City, comes as a sharp indictment of City Hall and all those over-privileged citizens who fought against affordable housing here for the better part of the last decade.”
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC