DMV Daily: Snow Problem for Gray

Mayor's storm response criticized

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jillian Watkins
    Dear NBC News Channel 4: Attached as 'jpeg's are a few photos of our snowy city. Sincerely, ~Jillian Watkins

    As another big-city mayor used to say, “How’m I doin’?”

    Mayor Vincent Gray, eager to avoid a repeat of last year’s snowmageddon failures, has been on top of predicted accumulation all winter. Two earlier storms-that-weren’t saw a full deployment of plows and salt trucks, and as Wednesday’s storm closed in, the Department of Public Works sent out releases under the headline “Mayor Vincent C. Gray Tackles the First Significant Snow Fall of the 2010-2011 Winter Season.”

    But last night saw few plows out on the roads, an early shutdown of Metro bus service, and little indication of an effective response. The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis gathers Twitter reaction, which was swift and negative. Comparisons to Newark snow-slayer Cory Booker were made.

    Of course, city governments rarely get rave reviews for snow response, and at least Gray wasn’t out of town. And the messy combination of snow, ice, and sleet, right around rush hour, shut down most of the metropolitan Washington area. But after Gray’s impressive earlier preparations, last night’s response left a lot to be desired.

    Elsewhere in the DMV:

    * D.C. Watch’s Dorothy Brizill chides Republican Patrick Mara for entering the At-Large D.C. Council special election less than three weeks after being sworn in as Ward 1’s representative on the D.C. State Board of Education. Brizill says Mara sidestepped her questions about whether he would resign from the SBOE now so that a special election to replace him could be held at the same time as the April 26 Council election, sparing the District the cost of yet another special election.

    “Finally, he admitted that prior to declaring his candidacy on January 19, he had communicated with the BOEE executive director, who had informed him that the cost of another special election in Ward One could be as much as $250,000,” Brizill writes. “Armed with this information, Mara still decided to pursue his long-term political ambition to be a member of the city council, and formally declared his candidacy.”

    Meanwhile, DCist’s Aaron Morrissey wonders why there aren’t more women in the Council race. Though there are more than a dozen contenders, just two -- Dorothy Douglas and Mary Eva Candon, “are women -- and neither are considered a real threat to win the contest.”

    And while Greater Greater Washington’s candidates forum was canceled last night due to snow, the site did host a live chat with interim Councilmember Sekou Biddle Wednesday afternoon.

    * The Washington Examiner reports Gray “has ordered all contracts over $1 million that were made in the past 12 months to be sent to the D.C. Council.”  Though that’s already a requirement, Adrian Fenty’s administration “did not send renewed contracts to the council if the pricing had remained the same.” Gray’s office said the mayor is “committed to transparency in the District’s procurement operations. This directive adds public oversight to the contracting process and helps ensure that the District’s resources are spent in alignment with our priorities.”

    * Gray said Presidents Day, Feb. 21, will be the first of four D.C. government employee furlough days in the first half of 2011. The furloughs are intended to save the District $19.3 million. Critical agencies like the police, fire department, and child and family services will not be impacted.

    * The Georgetown Dish reports interim D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson “has decided to move Hardy principal Dana Nerenberg out of her post, culminating more than a year of turmoil at the Georgetown school,” returning Nerenberg to Hyde-Addison Elementary. The Post says the move “effectively pulls the plug on one of former Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s most bitterly contested decisions: her reassignment of veteran Hardy principal Patrick Pope.” The Examiner reports the news under the headline “Another Rhee Reform Unraveled By Interim DCPS Chancellor.”

    * Metro Weekly reports Log Cabin Republicans is opposing a House Republican’s effort to repeal D.C.’s same-sex marriage law. The gay GOP group’s executive director R. Clarke Cooper said, “For the House of Representatives to roll back D.C. marriage equality would be an anti-conservative expansion of federal authority.”

    * Washington City Paper reports the Office of Inspector General has determined that Ximena Hartsock, “the former acting director of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, lied on her I-9 form about her home address and improperly hired a close friend while ‘living rent-free’ in the friend’s basement.”

    * Writing at Center Maryland, Josh Kurtz rightly advises, “Let’s not get too carried away with this Martin O’Malley for president business just yet.” He notes that “2016 is five years away” and that “at least 15 other governors, with varying degrees of seriousness, are also being talked about as potential candidates for president in 2012 or beyond.” It is hard to see why O’Malley, from a mid-size, usually Democratic state, would rise to the top of that pack.

    * The Gazette reports the Montgomery County Council “unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday supporting the state legislation to allow same-sex marriage.” The Baltimore Sun reports the measure has 58 co-sponsors in the state House, where 71 votes will be needed to pass it.

    * Those unusually candid State of the Union tweets from House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer? They weren’t actually from him, the Sun reports.

    * Rockville Central’s Brad Rourke criticizes the process that resulted in the city’s lame new slogan “Get Into It.”

    * The Post reports Virginia Senate Democrat Chuck Colgan is siding with Republicans who are “complaining that some of their bills are not receiving hearings in full committees.” Colgan, the Senate’s senior member with more than three decades in office, told colleagues, “When we take a subcommittee and let a subcommittee decide whether something will pass or fail, that’s wrong. When you do that, you are disenfranchising the people who sent that legislator here.”

    * After all the “fires, malfunctions, and disruptions,” Unsuck D.C. Metro uncovers evidence that the Red Line may actually be haunted.

    Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC