The Capital Weather Gang said on Twitter yesterday that since one inch of rain equals about 10 inches of snow, the Thursday deluge could have been five feet of the white stuff. Or, as we called that last winter, “flurries.”
With the rain came a relatively slow news day in the DMV. The big news continues to be the big budget gap in the District, an early test of incoming mayor Vincent Gray.
Could Gray be a closet fiscal conservative? That’s what he suggested in an interview with the Washington Examiner, saying he wants to cut spending before considering fee and tax increases to fill the $175 million hole. Gray said, “Right now I’m looking at the expenditure side. To be successful we’re going to have to make cuts, but we need to do it responsibly. We’re just starting the process.”
Likely Council Chairman Kwame Brown agreed that cuts were needed, but also said “revenue enhancements” will be required. Not surprisingly, neither Gray nor Brown got specific, but Ward 2’s Jack Evans -- the closest thing to a Republican on the Council -- called for cuts to human services and education.
The new fiscal year starts today, and Gray continues to work with Mayor Adrian Fenty on a budget solution. The post-primary cordiality between Fenty and Gray has been surprising, and Fenty seems sincere. Perhaps they’ll get this worked out before January as one last win Fenty can claim.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* Wandering journalist David Weigel, late of Reason, late of the Washington Post, turns up in Washington City Paper with a massive profile of freshman Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who, if the GOP wins control of the House in November, “will run the obscurely named Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Washingtonians who understand the unusual legal control Congress wields over the District, though, will know him by a simpler title: the new boss.”
Chaffetz has been Congressman No when it comes to D.C. He’s against a House vote for the District, against greater autonomy, and against the D.C. Council’s legalization of gay marriage. In July, he picked a fight with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton over an uncontroversial resolution, seeming to just want to poke at her.
Chaffetz is an almost giddily sincere young congressman, and he promised that he would be engaged with the District if he takes over the panel. But he said of the incoming mayor, “I know that Gray and the new government will want as much autonomy as possible, but that’s not in the Constitution.”
On the District’s lack of a House vote, he similarly said, “I think we all recognize that that is fundamentally flawed. But what’s paramount in this discussion is the U.S. Constitution.” So will Chaffetz be pushing a constitutional amendment providing representation for D.C.’s 600,000 residents? Don’t hold your breath.
* City Paper’s Alan Suderman says D.C. Democratic State Committee member Juan Thompson has decided not to challenge the state committee’s current chair, Anita Bonds. The committee will get to tap a temporary At-Large Council successor to Kwame Brown, and some have suggested Bonds herself might be that person.
* Fenty might be feeling conciliatory, but his mentor Michael Bloomberg is not. Washingtonian’s Alyssa Rosenberg writes that at the Washington Ideas Forum this week, Bloomberg said, “Adrian Fenty will be fine. … That’s not true for the kids of Washington, D.C. Adrian didn’t lose. The children lost.”
* The Post’s Mike DeBonis looks past the District lines at the gubernatorial race in Maryland, observing that even though a plurality in the last Post poll think the state is on the wrong track, and nearly 60 percent think the state economy is a mess, they still like incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley. Besides a healthy lead over Republican Bob Ehrlich, O’Malley is also enjoying the highest approval rating of his term. Voters do not seem to blame O’Malley for the hard times, and give him credit for keeping the situation from getting worse.
Business likes O’Malley too. Washington Business Journal reports the Greater Washington Board of Trade endorsed O’Malley Thursday, citing his “understanding of the key issues facing businesses and his track-record of including the business community in fashioning solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges.”
* Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Sandra Seegars is continuing her fight against a proposed Peaceoholics independent living facility in Ward 8. City Paper says ANC 8E, which Seegard chairs, filed a motion with the Board of Zoning Adjustments trying to block development of the building. The battle has been going on for a long time, but Seegars may just be trying to run out the clock. As City Paper notes, “the group was very tight with Mayor Adrian Fenty, but campaigned aggressively against Vince Gray’s election,” and it could find that its “allies in D.C. government are dwindling.”
* WTOP reports Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille injured himself while boarding a Metro train Thursday – while he was on his way to a Metro board meeting. Euille slipped on wet tiles and suffered ligament damage that will require surgery. He said he may use his seat on the board to “take another look a better surface” than the current tiles, which have been the subject of rider complaints before.
* Chuck Brown! In… the Wall Street Journal?
* D.C. independent mayoral candidate Carlos Allen has created a web video for his campaign – a slideshow of shots of Allen, random Washingtonians, and a few copyrighted images used without permission. It’s all to the tune of a song about Allen using the music of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” – a song about a different city.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC