The White House
President Barack Obama has lunch with Washington, D.C. Mayor-elect Vince Gray in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, Dec. 1, 2010.
A stir fry? Is the White House off-campus college housing now? And broccoli? The noxious vegetable was famously banned from the White House during the reign of Bush the Elder, but now President Obama is feeding it to his guests. Perhaps he was sending a signal to Gray that the District of Columbia government would have to eat its vegetables.
While the first meeting between the president and the next mayor ran a bit longer than its allotted 45 minutes, and according to Gray went “even better” than anticipated, Gray had nothing to show for it beyond generalizations from Obama about the cause of D.C. representation.
The Washington Post says “the two men did not come to a consensus on how best to advance the cause of District voting rights,” according to Gray, nor did Obama make any commitments on early childhood education, unemployment strategies, or infrastructure upgrades near the future Department of Homeland Security in Southeast.
The Hill says Obama “appeared to have a close bond” with exiting mayor Adrian Fenty that he has yet to establish with Gray -- who didn’t even get the license plates. While Bill Clinton at least made the gesture of putting D.C.’s “Taxation Without Representation” tags on his limo, they were removed by the following Republican administration and have yet to be restored. WTOP reports Gray said of the matter, “I talked to him about the license plates, and we didn’t come to a decision on what to do about that. I think that’s something that we will discuss further.”
Still, Gray was optimistic. Washington City Paper reports he told reporters that Obama “is down with D.C. and wants to be more involved with his new(ish) home town,” and that “more meetings between Obama’s staff and city staff are to come.”
But in an editorial, the Post says Obama “needs to do more than host a lunch. Prospects for the city getting full congressional representation with Republicans gaining control of the House and getting stronger in the Senate are slight, but that means the District more than ever needs the president’s backing. There are likely to be assaults on D.C. home rule, and Mr. Obama needs to make it clear that he won’t hesitate to use his veto power to protect the District’s interests in such important areas as gun control or same-sex marriage.”
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* Gray is trying to cut D.C.’s spending, but he probably didn’t plan to give up his own credit card in the process. The Post says an employee at a District CVS stole Gray’s credit card from his wallet after Gray accidentally left it behind at the checkout counter. Tamika Garris, who was charged with credit card fraud on Wednesday, was spotted buying cigarettes and booze with the card.
* The Examiner reports D.C. procurement officer David Gragan has resigned to accept a position with the federal government, while the Post reports city health care finance chief Julie Hudman will also depart before Gray takes office.
* City Paper reports Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. “didn’t pony up the more detailed financial records Attorney General Peter Nickles requested” by a Wednesday deadline “in a second subpoena of Thomas’ youth sports, non-profit, Team Thomas. Looks like we’re headed back to court!”
* DCist writes that “a recent series of crimes” in D.C.’s Hill East neighborhood has “placed residents on edge, and many are pointing their fingers” at the Potomac Gardens housing project at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE. In the last two weeks, “there have been two unprovoked assaults and a shooting within a block of the housing project, and witnesses claim that suspects from each of the incidents escaped into the bleak confines of the project’s buildings.” There was also a major drug ring operating out of the project earlier this year.
The Hill is Home writes that Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells is asking residents of the area to attend a community meeting on the crime wave tonight. “While crime in general has gone down in Ward 6, if you’re the victim, any crime is one too many,” Wells said. “And like you, I believe no amount of crime is acceptable in our community.”
* City Paper reports Rose “Maria” McCarthy, a former Marion Barry girlfriend, is writing a memoir. In the famous tape of Barry smoking crack in a hotel room with Rasheeda Moore, Moore “brings up Maria three times during her conversation with Barry before he inhales.”
* The Post reports Gov. Bob McDonnell’s reform commission is offering 133 proposals “to shave money from the state budget while making government more user-friendly and efficient.”
* The Loudoun Times reports the Center for Education Reform has labeled Virginia’s charter school law the second-worst in the nation, with only Mississippi getting a lower score.
* ARLnow reports Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard Trodden announced he will not seek re-election in 2011, and endorsed deputy Theo Stamos to succeed him.
* Washingtonian has a list of “40 Washingtonians who helped make this an interesting year.” Gray is on it; Fenty is not.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC