Since the Republicans were elected to a majority in Congress in November, many D.C. residents have nervously wondered about the identity of the District’s new House overlord.
Would it be Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who has been perhaps a bit too interested in local D.C. affairs in the past? Or Rep. Brian Bilbray, who has opposed both needle exchanges and medical marijuana in the District, and who has said he has had staff members “resign and go home because they have been attacked, they have been threatened, or they have almost been murdered” on D.C.’s mean streets?
We can relax a bit. The Washington Post reports Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, a Missouri moderate, will head the relevant House subcommittee. Emerson “has backed some efforts in the past to attach riders to D.C. bills -- including a prohibition on spending money to implement a law permitting the use of medical marijuana -- but she has also been generally supportive of the idea that the District should be able to manage itself without interference from the Hill.”
Emerson, a former public relations professional, was elected to Congress in 1996 to succeed her husband, who had held the seat since 1981 and who died of cancer in office. She is a member of the bipartisan “Center Aisle Caucus,” which seeks to increase civility and cooperation in Congress, and she was also a founder of the Bipartisan Congressional Retreat, which has a similar mission.
[CLARIFICATION: Emerson will head the relevant budget panel. The head of the oversight subcommittee has yet to be announced.]
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* A Post editorial joins with the Twitter consensus about last week’s selection of an interim At-Large D.C. councilmember by the D.C. Democratic State Committee: good choice, bad process. While Sekou Biddle “has been a standout member of the State Board of Education and shows much promise,” the Post says “neither he nor the District was well served by a process that usurped the right of voters to choose their representatives.”
Biddle was selected in the third round on a secret ballot that violated the Democratic Party’s own rules about openness. When Post reporter Tim Craig complained about this at the party meeting, he was rudely rebuffed, and other observers were told the fact that the voting results from each ballot were announced was transparency enough. At several points, candidates and voters met behind closed doors, with no outside observers permitted.
“Picking a council member is too important to be relegated to back rooms,” the Post argues. “With the special election scheduled so soon, it seems unnecessary, not to mention unfair to those candidates who don’t get the leg up of immediate incumbency.”
However, at least one voter was all too happy to make his preference known. After committeemember Lenwood Johnson received a boilerplate thank you e-mail from Biddle, he angrily shot back, “While congratulations on your win are in order, I did not vote for you on Thursday night. As a matter of fact, I have never even considered supporting you.” Johnson sent his reply to several thousand of his closest friends.
* Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. is pressing his luck. The Post says Thomas’s lawyer “told us that he ‘doesn’t know’ whether information sought by the city attorney general’s office in its probe of the Team Thomas organization will be forthcoming” -- even though Thomas is under court order to produce the information by today. The Post writes, “It seems to us there shouldn’t be any question about a public official complying with a court directive -- particularly an elected representative who says he has nothing to hide and has promised openness.”
* Washington Examiner columnist Jonetta Rose Barras criticizes Mayor Vincent Gray’s recent statement that the District’s problem with health care “isn’t about access” or coverage so much as “health care behaviors.” Barras writes, “In other words, the city’s new mayor is from the force-the-horse-to-drink-school. Good luck with that.”
* Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry does not think the Redskins will be returning to the District in the near future. He told WTOP’s Mark Plotkin, “It’s really quite delusional to think [the Redskins] are going to come back anytime soon. Dan Snyder is making money galore.”
* The Examiner reports the Prince George’s County Council “is spending $10,000 to $15,000 for a two-night retreat on the Eastern Shore this week.” Chair Ingrid Turner “said she chose to spend more money on this year’s retreat, even as the county faces a $77 million shortfall next fiscal year, to help council members avoid distractions.” Of the excursion to the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa & Marina, she said, “We wanted to be able to focus, and if you get far enough away where you’re not getting the day-to-day calls, you can really focus and concentrate.”
* The Post reports Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker’s Accountability, Compliance and Integrity Advisory Board will hold its first public meeting on Wednesday. Baker added three new members -- attorney Patricia Adams, management firm owner Linda Botts, and former County Council chairman Peter Shapiro -- to the panel on Friday.
* The Examiner reports Montgomery County school employees “are banking pensions that dwarf those awarded to teachers across Maryland,” a strategy intended to “recruit top talent that is now wreaking havoc on the suburb’s balance sheet.”
* Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver’s Joel Rozner leads the list of Maryland’s highest-paid lobbyists for the second year in a row, the Baltimore Sun reports.
* The Post reports Gov. Bob McDonnell “plans a massive spending campaign that he said would unclog state roads, award thousands more college degrees and spur job creation.” McDonnell says the new spending “would be paid in part through Virginia’s $403 million budget surplus, $337 million in higher-than-expected tax revenue, and $192 million generated through cuts and savings.”
* The Culpeper Star-Exponent reports a majority of Virginians “oppose increasing the state’s gasoline tax or adding tolls to roads to pay for transportation, but support privatizing the state’s liquor stores,” according to a Christopher Newport University poll.
* DCist reports seven-year Metropolitan Police Department veteran Danny McCullough “is facing reckless endangerment and other charges after flashing a semi-automatic gun at a Connecticut bar.” McCullough is said to have argued with bouncers at West Haven’s Lager House, “then picked up a glass bottle and brandished his sidearm.”
* Borderstan says the total number of crimes in the District declined by 8 percent in 2010, with “31,059 total crimes -- 7,000 of these were violent crimes and 24,059 were property crimes. Citywide, there were declines in almost every category except for two: assault with a dangerous weapon without a gun (up 3%) and burglaries (up 14%).”
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC