DMV Daily: Mind the Gap

D.C. Council grapples with deficit

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    NEWSLETTERS

    DC Council rejects Fenty's appointees to labor relations board

    D.C. Council members spent a long Tuesday working on “gap filling” -- a friendly euphemism for trying to figure out how to cover a $188 million deficit.

    (The next time your creditors start calling you, just tell them you’re working on a “gap filling” plan, and see how they react.)

    Much of the debate focused on another euphemism: “revenue enhancement.” And there’s only one way for a government to enhance its revenues: de-enhancing those of residents and consumers through taxes and fees.

    Washington City Paper says Mayor Adrian Fenty “came up with a few suggestions” for closing the gap, “but since the Council can basically throw them out the window, the debate is just getting started.” Much of the day was spent listening to a whopping 144 citizens testify in support of their favored programs. The Consortium for Child Welfare “put some math on a t-shirt: $5 million in dog parks plus $10 million in money for streetcars equals $15 million: the shortfall for the Child and Family Services Agency.”

    The Washington Post says “some council members and advocates called Fenty’s spending plan shortsighted and unfair,” and returned to those revenue enhancements. Ward 6’s Tommy Wells “said the mayor’s approach significantly reduces programs in human services, but ‘at the same time, I haven’t been asked to pay one additional cent.’” While the Council kicked around a 1 percent income tax hike on those earning more than $200,000 per year, no such legislation has yet been introduced.

    The Washington Times reports At-Large member David Catania “said he and colleagues shouldn’t engage in ‘class-warfare finger-pointing’ with increased taxes only on the wealthy” -- but still backed “a ‘modest, broad-based’ tax increase plan.”

    Elsewhere in the DMV:

    * The Post notes that Gray “will make his first visit to the White House for a luncheon with the man who will soon be his most famous and powerful constituent” today. (Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander, who slogged through Tuesday’s long Council session along with Gray, says she hopes he got some sleep.) Gray “has had only two fleeting introductions” to President Obama, and said he will use the 45-minure lunch “to try ‘to establish a relationship that will have substantiative, enduring, value for the city.’”

    * That was a quick honeymoon. In her Washington Examiner column, Jonetta Rose Barras asks if District residents are missing Fenty before he even officially becomes ex-mayor: “Why are so many people decrying the slow pace" of Gray’s transition? "Weren’t they the ones who claimed they wanted an executive with a more deliberative, inclusive, transparent style?” Barras says Fenty “hasn’t even left city hall and already people are missing his lightning-swift governing approach.”

    * City Paper’s Lydia DePillis reports D.C. Real Estate Services chief Robin-Eve Jasper “won’t be sticking with the job in January. That will make her the [second] person to make it official, after D.C. Fire Department chief Dennis Rubin bolted back in October (not counting former schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and attorney general Peter Nickles, whose resignations were foregone conclusions).”

    * According to Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, aggressive screening tactics at America’s airports are part of Big Gay Big Brother’s Big Gay Conspiracy. DCist reports that in “a widely distributed e-mail,” Delgaudio warns, “The next TSA official that gives you an ‘enhanced pat down’ could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission.” WTOP says Delgaudio, first elected in 1999, “has previously been criticized by his colleagues for anti-gay comments.”

    * On WTOP Tuesday, Gov. Bob McDonnell defended ex-senator George Allen against Prince William Chairman Corey Stewart, who called Allen a “mediocre” senator earlier this week. Both Allen and Stewart are expected to seek the 2012 Virginia Republican U.S. Senate nomination. During his monthly radio show, McDonnell said, “I think a lot of George Allen. I served with him in the legislature when he was governor. He was the most dynamic governor of the modern age. I think he was an exceptional governor. He was a very good senator.”

    * The Post reports Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to be chosen to lead the Democratic Governors Association at the group’s annual meeting today.

    * In the Baltimore Sun, Brian Murphy, who lost the Maryland Republican gubernatorial primary to Bob Ehrlich, plots a course for the state party’s recovery, saying the Maryland GOP is facing an “identity crisis.”

    * Maryland Reporter says the Maryland legislature’s pension commission “will vote in two weeks on whether to recommend that the General Assembly and governor raise the retirement age, trim the cost of health insurance benefits, and eliminate cost-of-living increases for at least five years.”

    * The Examiner reports Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg, who was not renominated in September’s Democratic primary, says her political career is not over. At her final Council meeting Tuesday, she said, “These past few months have provided a temporary detour. I am by no means at the end of a political road.”

    * The Frederick News-Post reports new Frederick County commissioners are set to take office.

    * The Examiner reports D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Chairman Rokey Suleman wants to expand the number of early voting sites. He told a D.C. Council hearing that he would like one early voting center in each of the city’s eight wards. At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson wants to cut the early voting period from two weeks to one.

    * If you’re angry about D.C.’s lack of voting rights, and cynical Internet columnists who say the movement is dead, DCist says D.C. Vote has the job for you.

    * The Post’s Mike DeBonis said the D.C. Statehood Green Party is irrelevant. Party activist David Schwartzman objected. Now, DeBonis lays out his case in excruciating detail.

    * WTOP reports Nathan Saunders has defeated incumbent George Parker for leadership of the Washington Teachers’ Union on a vote of 556 to 480.

    * DCentric’s Anna John notes that the wonderful playground-building nonprofit group KaBOOM! is planning a project near D.C.’s Southwest Branch Library.

    * Prince of Petworth features a video from Think Local First that highlight 12 independent D.C. businesses that would like your patronage this holiday season.

    * Urbanturf displays a clever Metro map redesign by graphic designer Cameron Booth.

    * Today is World AIDS Day. Borderstan writes that a candlelight vigil will take place in Dupont Circle beginning at 5:30.

    Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC