So much for that. Washington Business Journal reports Mayor Vincent Gray “was striking a new tone” on United Medical Center on Tuesday as “the D.C. Council was backing off a possible fight.” Rather than battling Councilmember David Catania over whether to immediately sell the hospital, Gray now wants to put off soliciting formal offers for a year.
The Washington Examiner says Gray “said he changed his mind” on his scheme to pack the hospital board with new directors “when three board members indicated to him they would resign after initially refusing to do so. But it also helped” that Catania “agreed to expedite the approval process for the nominees that would replace the outgoing board members, the mayor said.”
The Washington Post reports Gray withdrew emergency legislation that would have let him expand the board and pick a new chairman after current Chairman Leon Swain Jr. resigned and Catania “approached D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown about striking a compromise.”
UMC “is the only D.C. hospital on the east side of the Anacostia River,” the Examiner writes. “It nearly went under last summer, but Mayor Adrian Fenty stepped in and had the city buy it. Bond rating agencies have since urged city leaders to get UMC off its books or risk losing the District’s nearly-perfect bond rating.”
But whatever the hospital’s ultimate fate, Gray’s deft maneuvering resulted in his first win in a significant Council spat.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* Gray said Tuesday morning that he is pretty sure interim schools chief Kaya Henderson wants to cross out the “interim part.” Gray said at a news conference, “I think she would like to be considered. She’s certainly given me every indication that she wants to be here.”
However, the Examiner reports Gray’s education transition team “is recommending significant changes to the controversial Impact teacher evaluation tool” Henderson created, which could impact her prospects. The heads of that team will lead the chancellor search committee.
* DCist writes that WAMU’s Patrick Madden discovered that two children of Gray’s “closest advisors have landed jobs inside the D.C. government. Campaign Chair Lorraine Green’s daughter and Chief of Staff Gerri Mason Hall’s son were hired to work as a senior communications manager in the Mayor’s office and a writer in the Department of Parks and Recreation, respectively.” While there’s “reportedly nothing illegal about the hires,” what happened to the hiring freeze?
* The Post’s Dr. Gridlock writes that Gray’s transition team released a report on the District Department of Transportation, saying DDOT “under departed director Gabe Klein ‘skirted responsibility,’ suffered from a ‘lack of transparency,’ and put together a budget based on ‘deliberately overstated federal earmarks.’”
* D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan told Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman “that he believes (and ‘hopes’) the investigation” into Ward 5 Councilmember Tommy Thomas Jr.’s nonprofit “will conclude sometime this spring.”
* Chief Lanier, meet Chief Durham. The Examiner reports the Metropolitan Police Department “has promoted assistant chief of police Alfred Durham to the rank of chief of police” for purposes of payroll -- meaning D.C. now technically has two police chiefs.
* The Hill is Home says with “nearly 500 people on the waiting list for the solar energy grant program,” District residents “not already on that list will most likely not be able to participate” due to budget cuts.
* Gov. Martin O’Malley wants to close a Maryland campaign finance loophole “that boosted fundraising totals for his campaigns during more than two decades of successful elections in the state,” the Post reports.
* The Maryland Daily Record reports “two staunch death-penalty opponents have again introduced legislation to abolish capital punishment in Maryland,” but the bill faces an uphill fight.
* The Baltimore Sun says in an editorial that with same-sex marriage just one vote away from passage in the Maryland Senate, the undecided senators who work “in the everyday presence of Sen. Rich Madaleno, his same-sex partner and their children…need to ask themselves: When they look back many years from now, which vote will they regret?”
* In an editorial, the Post calls the Jack Johnson indictment “nauseating and revealing.” Records show Johnson “routinely lining his own pockets by trading official favors for cash and other considerations, and doing so in alleged collusion with, or with the knowledge of, developers, officials in his administration and an unnamed candidate for public office, among others. That’s the nauseating part. Here, too, is an executive whose avarice and ethical blindness, as depicted in the indictment, did not somehow develop late in the game; it was present near the beginning. That’s the revealing part.”
* The Examiner writes that “after decades in the making,” the first stretch of the Inter-County Connector “is finally scheduled to open to drivers” at 6 a.m. next Tuesday, from I-370 in Shady Grove to Georgia Avenue in Olney, a length of about 7 miles. The Post says that “after the rest of the highway, stretching east to Interstate 95 in Prince George’s County, opens late this year or in early 2012, an estimated 35,000 to 50,000 vehicles are anticipated daily.”
* The Loudoun Times offers a very early endorsement, saying the Virginia GOP should nominate state legislator Tom Rust for U.S. Senate.
* A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee killed a bill that would have written legal protections for gay state employees into law. The measure was sponsored by state Sen. Donald McEachin, who has been mentioned as a possible U.S. Senate candidate.
* The Falls Church News-Press reports Terry McAuliffe will address the Falls Church Democratic Committee’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in April. McAuliffe is a near-certain 2013 gubernatorial candidate, unless he opts to run for U.S. Senate instead.
* NPR’s Frank DeFord took on team owners in a commentary this morning, saying that “Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins doesn’t understand the deal he made with the devil that becoming an owner can make you famous, but it can also make you look foolish. He is actually suing a Washington newspaper for daring to criticize him for running a rotten team. Excuse me, where do I go to get on the long line that criticizes Snyder for being a bad owner?”
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC