Big boxes, big boxes, where they’re selling the ticky tacky, big boxes, big boxes, and they all look just the same.
On Twitter last night, Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander teased the news of a "big box retailer coming to" her ward. The D.C. Council’s undisputed tweetmaster, Ward 6’s Tommy Wells, then chimed in with more details. Walmart is on its way.
We Love D.C.’s Tom Bridge wrote that Alexander and Wells said the councilmembers offered "some critical details concerning the new sites: there would be multiple smaller, more urban Walmarts in the District with Wards 7 and 5 being locations on the current plan. The total number would be ‘less than 10’ and the sites would largely be 80,000-90,000 square feet instead of the 220,000 square feet sites in the suburbs." Wells says urban model Walmarts pay average grocery store wages, and that would be the plan for the D.C. outlets.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
- Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman says 11 contenders picked up petition packets from the D.C. Democratic State Committee for the interim At-Large Council opening by Tuesday’s deadline: Sekou Biddle, Dorothy Douglas, Calvin Gurley, Stan Mayes, Myla Moss, Vincent Orange, Jacque Patterson, Kelvin Robinson, Stephen Slaughter, Saul Solorzano, and Dotti Love Wade. Each candidate has “a little less than three weeks to get 1,000 signatures, with a minimum 100 sigs from each ward.” Orange and Patterson have emerged as the early frontrunners, though in a contest with just 81 voters, anything can happen.
The House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that would cut the wait for the special election from 114 to 70 days, which means the term of the appointed councilmember could run for just two and a half months. The Senate and President Obama sill have to approve, but the change again begs the question: Is it worth it to have an appointment for such a short period, especially one made by a political party committee, and not by officeholders?
Orange, of course, says yes, since he has the most to gain. The appointed councilmember would have the advantage of incumbency going into the free-for-all special election, which could feature more than a dozen candidates. But Greater Greater Washington disagrees, saying "at-large vacancies should be treated no differently than ward vacancies, and should be left vacant until filled by special election."
- A year ago, it looked like Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton might be on her way to a full House vote. Now she’s fighting just to keep the limited power she currently has. As the Washington Post reports, Norton "isn’t allowed full voting rights on the House floor, but she is allowed to vote in the Committee of the Whole -- a legislative term that describes when the full House chamber essentially becomes a committee for the purposes of considering legislation." But she has this power only at the pleasure of the majority, and it was revoked during the GOP’s most recent 12 years in control.
Norton is asking incoming Speaker John Boehner to let her keep the vote, saying, "The opportunity to vote in committees, now including the Committee of the Whole, is significant to the American citizens who live in the nation’s capital and pay full federal taxes annually to support our federal government." A Boehner spokesman says no decision has been made, but it seems likely that the GOP will follow its past course.
- Mayor Adrian Fenty has downshifted from hyperdrive to neutral since his September defeat (and his November one, if you count the write-in drive), and the Washington Examiner’s Freeman Klopott now reports Fenty "has not yet provided a copy of proposed budget cuts to the D.C. Council, slowing down council Chairman Vince Gray’s schedule for completing the cuts needed to close a $175 million budget gap." Though Fenty and Gray have enjoyed cordial relations since the primary, Gray "has said publicly that he hoped to have a copy of Fenty’s proposals in-hand by the first week in November," which he doesn’t, and a scheduled meeting did not take place.
Meanwhile, the Post reports Fenty has dropped plans to develop Stevens Elementary School into apartments due to neighborhood concerns. Fenty spokesman Sean Madigan said quite bluntly that Fenty decided to "hand this one off to the next administration."
- Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry wants to become a "national advocate” for welfare reform, boldly tacking the central issue of the mid-1990s. (Next up: Y2K?) The Post reports Barry says he is "uniquely qualified to speak out about how the system is failing poor residents and taxpayers."
- Is Kaya Henderson really a better listener than Michelle Rhee? WAMU’s Kavitha Cardoza reports that a dozen people showed up for the interim schools chief’s scheduled public office hours last night -- but Henderson did not. A DCPS spokesperson blamed a "scheduling conflict" for Henderson’s absence.
- Charges against CBS Radio News’s Howard Arenstein and his wife Orly Katz for backyard marijuana cultivation were dropped Tuesday morning because prosecutors were unable to locate their sole witness, but the charges could be refiled later. City Paper’s Rend Smith writes that those "not willing to roll the dice on having charges dropped against you for growing pot at home" could also lose the option of smoking synthetic marijuana instead -- At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson is pushing to ban the stuff, and a vote could come soon.
Meanwhile, DCist’s Martin Austermuhle reports that Montgomery Blair Sibley, "best known for representing the D.C. Madam when she was put on trial in 2007 for running a local escort service for high-profile clients," has created the Medicinal Marijuana Company of America LLC in the District and the D.C. Marijuana Growers Association. Sibley, "whose many antics landed him a three-year suspension from legal practice in Florida and D.C. in 2008," says family history plays a part. "I’ve always been a farmer, and that my father is a farmer and I’m the seventh generation of Blairs here in D.C. and we’ve all been farmers," he said.
- The Baltimore Sun says conservative favorite Brian Murphy, who lost to Bob Ehrlich in the Republican gubernatorial primary this year, is a likely candidate to lead the Maryland Republican Party. Maryland Politics Watch is running an online poll on when the Maryland GOP can next expect a statewide victory. Currently in the lead: sometime "in the next 20 years," but probably not in the next decade.
- Every student at one Southeast D.C. school is getting a free iPad, Washington Business Journal reports.
- How far can you commute in 15 minutes? New Columbia Heights found a cool tool.
- Fun fake Metro ads on Flickr!
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC