“Make no mistake: There’s a new attorney general in town,” the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis writes. “And he’s much quieter than the last one.”
Though D.C. Acting Attorney General Irv Nathan was set to meet with Fred Cooke, attorney for Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. on Monday afternoon, Nathan, “via his personal assistant and an aide, said he will not be speaking to the conduct of an ongoing investigation.”
While this is good practice, protecting both the integrity of the investigation and the rights of Thomas, Nathan got thrust into a politically charged tangle between Thomas and former AG Peter Nickles, and the public has reason for wondering just what’s going on.
Thomas has repeatedly stalled on turning over documents on his Team Thomas nonprofit group. The city is looking into whether the group sought charitable contributions without a license, and the Washington Post, the D.C. Republican Party, and others have raised questions over whether the group sought funds from companies with business before the Council.
Thomas faced a court-ordered deadline Monday to hand over detailed financial records. Did he comply? Nathan won’t say. This is taking discretion too far. Thomas’s constituents deserve to know if their elected representative is complying with the law.
According to Washington City Paper, Thomas says he has “no problem” with sharing the records with the public. So, Mr. Thomas, when can we see them?
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* The District has again avoided a snowstorm that struck much of the East Coast. How? The District Department of Transportation jokingly says it has erected a “force field” around D.C. City Paper’s Mike Madden says Vincent Gray has proven “proved he’s such an effective mayor he can change the weather. Eat your Tweetin’ heart out, Cory Booker!"
* City Paper’s Alan Suderman takes a look at District lobbying disclosure filings for the second half of 2010. Among the highlights: At-Large Councilmember David Catania was the only member of that body lobbied directly by the Marijuana Policy Project; the American Civil Liberties Union invested just $400 in D.C. lobbying; and “the D.C. Hospital Association spent nearly $100k and lobbied almost every city official under the sun.” Also, “for some reason General Motors spent $10k lobbying District officials.” Dedicated Volt lanes, perhaps?
* One in, one out: Logan Circle community activist Wayne Dickson has picked up nominating petitions for the At-Large D.C. Council special election, while Dotti Love Wade, who lost her Ward 1 school board re-election race in November, has withdrawn from the At-Large race.
* The Georgetown Dish reports Hardy Middle School parents “erupted Tuesday in response to a letter from Hardy Principal Dana Nerenberg and Interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson sent home to parents, prompting some to call for Nerenberg’s resignation.” The school has faced “months of unrest at the school and recent disciplinary problems” following Michelle Rhee’s dismissal of principal Patrick Pope. This week’s letter outlined strict new administrative measures, which parent Allan Assarsson says “angered the vast majority of Hardy families because they do not reflect the current condition of the school as they know it to be.” Henderson “has said she has no plans to replace Nerenberg, and that DCPS is finalizing a plan it will announce this week ‘to ensure a safer and more positive student experience at Hardy.’”
In her Washington Examiner column, Jonetta Rose Barras says Hardy “always has been one of the city’s educational gems,” and “instead of improving the school, it appears DCPS officials have made a mess of things.”
* The Post reports “a split has emerged in the anti-abortion community” over how much to pressure Gov. Bob McDonnell to direct the Virginia Board of Health to further regulate abortion clinics in the commonwealth. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the Family Foundation both “declined to participate in an anti-abortion rally scheduled for Thursday outside the Capitol to avoid ‘confronting’ McDonnell after they found out that organizers designed the event to pressure the governor.” But others, including state legislator and possible U.S. Senate candidate Bob Marshall, are keeping up the pressure on McDonnell.
* The Post says McDonnell is scaling back his plan “to end Virginia’s monopoly on the sale of distilled spirits.” Instead of privatizing the entire state liquor market, McDonnell now wants “to close 332 state-owned liquor stores and replace them with 1,000 private retail outlets.”
* The Examiner reports Gov. Martin O’Malley “reminded Maryland’s public schools that their budgets could be chopped as he congratulated the schools for being ranked first in a national survey.” O’Malley said, “For Maryland to be a winner in this new economy we must move forward by creating and saving jobs through innovation and that includes protecting our nation’s best public school system. We must also be willing to continue making tough choices so that we can protect our shared priorities; priorities that will allow us to make this new economy ours.”
O’Malley also says he will “‘keep an open mind’ on any new taxes that the General Assembly might propose during the legislative session” that begins today, the Baltimore Sun reports. Though O’Malley himself “has said repeatedly that he won’t propose any taxes in the budget he will release next week,” he now says he will consider a wide range of proposals from legislators.
* The Sun reports Maryland is gearing up to implement the new federal health care law. A panel delivered a 16-point plan to O’Malley this week “that recommends creation of a new oversight office and a government body to run the exchange where the uninsured will buy private insurance.”
* The Gazette reports that though several Maryland Republicans say they will vote against state Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman’s proposal to legalize civil unions, the issue “appears unlikely to drive a wedge within the Republican caucus.” Kittleman’s number two, Senate Minority Whip David Brinkley, believes Kittleman “is treading dangerously in taking a position that runs counter to many Republicans on such a hot-button issue while serving as minority leader.” Brinkley said, “It’s going to bring him some blow-back in some way, shape or form, but that’s the prerogative of every member of the legislature to introduce something. He’s aware of that.”
* The Sun reports the Maryland Transit Administration will begin meetings with residents along the route of the Purple Line this month “to examine potential issues and how such problems might be solved.”
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC