We’re Number 2!
A report by the Pew Charitable Trust’s Philadelphia Research Initiative found that D.C. Council members are the second-highest-paid of those in 15 major cities, with members making $125,583 per year, and Chairman Kwame Brown earning $190,000. (Mayor Vincent Gray makes $200,000 per year.) Only Los Angeles -- where the Council is a full-time job, unlike in D.C. -- ranked higher.
But the Washington Post reports some D.C. Council members defended their salaries, making the fair point that D.C. is in a unique situation, since it is not in a state. At-Large Councilmember David Catania said, “No other city in the country confronts the kinds of issues confronted by ours. It’s frankly absurd to compare us to other cities. Cities don’t organize prison systems. Cities don’t organize mental health systems. … We are a state, county, and city all under one roof.”
At-Large Councilmember Michael Brown similarly told the Washington Examiner, “This is not news. It’s appropriate. We have three different functions: the state, county, and city functions. Other cities don’t have those functions.” But, the Examiner writes, D.C. “spends $32.40 per resident, which is more than twice as much as any other city,” and the salaries “have been a lightning rod in a city that has piled up massive deficits.”
DCist looks beyond the salary headline to consider other aspects of the study: “In terms of racial representation, the D.C. Council accurately reflects the city around it -- 54 percent of D.C. residents are African American, as are 58 percent of councilmembers.” But “women are under-represented, taking up only 25 percent of the seats for the 53 percent of the city’s residents they are.” And “as expensive as our council is, it may not be serving as us well as our counterparts. The council has 198 employees, or one employee per 3,029 residents, putting us way behind the 14 other legislative bodies.”
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* The Examiner reports, “Kwame Brown’s 2010 campaign for D.C. Council chairman owes nearly $14,000 more than it received in donations as he continues to make payments from a 2004 campaign account.” Audits requested by Brown’s rival Vincent Orange “are expected to be completed within the next few months. When they are, they might explain why Brown’s 2004 campaign owed more than $10,000 to the Internal Revenue Service and why his 2008 campaign was still making payments in 2010.”
The Washington Times interviewed Brown after one month in office. He said “under his leadership as D.C. Council chairman, the body will not serve as a mere ‘rubber stamp’” for Gray.
* Republican At-Large D.C. Council candidate Patrick Mara did a live chat with Greater Greater Washington, where he took on the sticky question of his decision to run for Council after less than three weeks on the State Board of Education. “This election is a very special circumstance,” he said. “I decided to run for the SBOE in November 2008. I recognized SBOE was my best shot to maximize my abilities to help with one of D.C.’s two biggest challenges (education). Now I’ve got a laundry list of things I would reduce. We cannot go on spending the way we do.”
* In a letter to President Obama issued through D.C. Vote, political gadfly Ralph Nader links District voting rights to the revolution in Egypt. Nader wrote, “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reflected your sentiments when she commented on the Egyptian uprising with the words ‘We want to see free and fair elections.’ But in the District of Columbia, where you and Secretary Clinton reside, there are no ‘free and fair elections’ for electing representatives with full voting rights to Congress.”
* The man of many hats is becoming a man of many languages. Former D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, who has signed on for a number of jobs since leaving office last month, has now been hired as an outside advisor to language software maker Rosetta Stone. In a statement, Fenty said, “During my tenure as mayor, I made providing children with a quality education a priority. And together with Rosetta Stone I hope to continue to impact student learning in a positive way around the U.S., as technology-enabled innovations are made available to schools that are looking to give their students improved language learning outcomes.”
* Gov. Martin O’Malley is going high-tech with today’s State of the State address. In addition to a live webcast, O’Malley staff members “will be answering questions and interacting through Twitter,” Maryland Reporter says, and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will take questions on YouTube later today.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Sun reports O’Malley “will nominate his younger brother and long-time political advisor Peter O’Malley to lead Maryland’s Democratic Party” at a meeting next month.
* After giving up his Republican leadership post over the question of civil unions last month, Maryland state Sen. Allan Kittleman “formally announced his support Wednesday morning for legislation that would allow same-sex marriages in Maryland, saying he would vote for the bill ‘because of my firm belief in equal rights,’” the Post reports. He is expected to be the measure’s only GOP supporter.
* Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced this morning that he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court for an immediate review of the state’s challenge to the new federal health care law. Though a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the law’s individual health insurance mandate is unconstitutional, Cuccinelli’s request would skip the U.S. Court of Appeals, which is rare.
* The Post reports the Virginia Senate “adopted a bill to legally prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians in the state workforce on a tight 22 to 18, party-line vote.” The Examiner notes that a similar bill passed by about the same margin last year, but was defeated in the House of Delegates. Gov. Bob McDonnell “subsequently issued an executive directive, which lacks the force of law, prohibiting such discrimination in the state workforce.”
* The Examiner reports McDonnell “says he will ‘absolutely’ continue to push for state representation on the Metro board of directors despite resistance from Northern Virginia officials.” McDonnell said, “It’s mind-boggling to me that Virginia would be the only jurisdiction that pays big money into Metro but doesn’t have a seat at the table. Everybody should understand that.”
* ARLnow says Alexandria businessman Michael Maibach may run for the state Senate seat held by Democrat Patsy Ticer, who is expected to retire.
* Red NoVA says Fairfax County School Board member Elizabeth Bradsher, who ran with a Republican endorsement and wooed the Tea Party before later saying she is not a Republican, applied for membership on the Fairfax County Democratic Committee this week. The party is thinking it over.
* The Hollywood Reporter says ABC has picked up “Georgetown,” destined to be the next failed drama about pretty young power players in Washington.
* We Love D.C.’s Erin McCann digs up some lovely images of “Old Washington in the Winter.”
* People’s District interviews a veteran Metro bus driver: “I like the sun in my face, that’s why I am a bus operator. I don’t know how them people operate the Metro and spend their days underground. … On a bus, I get to see the whole city.”
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC