Call me Vishmael.
Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman says the “big question you ought to be asking” about D.C.’s next mayor is, “will he go by Vincent or Vince?” Suderman notes that Gray called himself “Vince” in his campaign materials, but is dubbed “Chairman Vincent C. Gray” on his official D.C. government webpage. The Washington Post, Suderman writes, calls him “Vincent C.” – except when it doesn’t.
Just don’t call him “deliberative.” He hates that.
He also has more serious matters on his mind. Speaking to a crowd of business leaders at the University of the District of Columbia Wednesday, Gray said of the U.S. economy, “People have been hesitant to call it a depression, but frankly the qualities and characteristics of it feel like a depression to me.”
That’s strong stuff. But as Gray pointed out his primary campaign, unemployment in some parts of the District hovers around 30 percent, and Gray just got news of a looming $175 million budget deficit. Maybe he’s starting to dread the enormity of the task ahead.
The Washington Post reports Gray wants Mayor Adrian Fenty to impose a freeze on new hiring and promotions soon after the new fiscal year begins tomorrow. “That will help us from the very beginning to try to find the money we want to and as we get into this more, we can remove those freezes,” Gray said. The Post says the next mayor and the man he beat “have developed a more cordial relationship” since the Sept. 14 primary, so Gray is hopeful that they “can work together on a revised budget before it’s sent to the council.”
D.C.’s schools are also facing a shortfall, the Post’s Bill Turque writes, and, “using the budgeted average of $85,000 in salary and benefits per teacher, closing a $25 million gap would require a reduction of about 300 jobs.” The overrun is due to projected overspending on special education. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans told the Post, “They do this overspending every year but have been able to cover it with other parts of the education budget. That just isn’t going to work.” But Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee “said the problem has been a lack of resources. ‘The Office of Special Education has always been challenged by under-budgeting as opposed to overspending,’ she said.”
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* The Fenty write-in campaign is proceeding without Fenty’s endorsement. But could Fenty have won in November if he had opted for an all-out independent campaign? The Post’s Mike DeBonis crunches the numbers on that interesting question, concluding that Fenty would have needed about 60 percent or more of the non-Democratic vote to win, and as many as two out of three non-Democratic votes if overall turnout was low. So, probably not. (One independent who is on the ballot, Carlos Allen, will hold a news conference Friday at which he will “outline his plans for Washington’s future.”
Meanwhile, the Washington Examiner's Freeman Klopott looks at new U.S. Census data for clues to Gray’s victory. As expected, “voting data shows that Gray handily won the city’s black and poorer neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River and Fenty found large margins of victory in the white, wealthy neighborhoods in Northwest.” Klopott says census data back up “black voters’ fears that they were losing economic ground to their white neighbors.”
* City Paper’s Suderman takes an exhaustive look at Reuben O. Charles II, “a wealthy Guyana-born venture capitalist who’d been a key fundraiser for Gray” and who could have a big role in the Gray Administration. Charles hadn’t even met Gray five months ago, but he has now “taken over the day-to-day management of the Gray campaign during the general election (such as it is), and the rumors about him as a top choice for chief of staff seem to have some oomph to ‘em.”
Interviews and records “paint a picture of a driven up-and-comer who has impressed a lot of people with his smarts and people skills -- but who left a paper trail in St. Louis, his former hometown, of unpaid debts and some soured business deals.” The federal Small Business Administration had to chase after Charles’s Civic Ventures Investment Fund “to try and recoup nearly $10 million in taxpayer money the firm owed,” with little success. Adam Rubinson, who ran Gray’s primary campaign, met Charles through a friend and saw his potential as a fundraiser. As for “the vaguely shady paper trail Charles left behind in St. Louis,” Suderman writes, “Rubinson says he never vetted Charles beyond a cursory Google search.”
* In an interview Wednesday morning, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier was philosophical about her future under Gray. “I don’t have a crystal ball,” she told TBDTV’s Bruce DePuyt. “What happens, happens.” She said her relationship with Gray is “good.” She went on to say, “I’m too busy trying to do my job to worry about political speculation. I don’t need the distractions right now.”
That’s certainly true. MPD arrested a suspect in the Tuesday murder of Jamal Coates during a U Street gunfight. Lanier told reporters Wednesday, “The motives never make sense. … A homicide occurs, we make an arrest, and then that person involved loses his life, too. I don't understand what kind of dispute would be worthy of not only taking someone's life, but giving your own life up as well.”
As the Post reports, neighborhood activist Bryan Weaver, who ran for the Ward 1 Council seat this year, knew Coates as a kid who was trying to turn his life around. Coates had accompanied Weaver on a group trip to Guatemala, and according to Weaver, on Tuesday, Coates was trying to defuse the tensions that led to the shootout and his death. Coates had a role in one of Weaver’s campaign videos over the summer.
DCWatch’s Gary Imhoff says MPD’s arrest “is certainly good news,” but says the quick arrest was due to an eyewitness -- proof that “the public has to know and trust the police, and believe that the police can and will protect them from retaliation if they cooperate and enter into a partnership with them.”
* The past and current mayors of New York have weighed in on the past and current governors of Maryland. The AP reports Rudy Giuliani is endorsing his fellow Republican Bob Ehrlich in his campaign to win back his old job, while independent Michael Bloomberg -- who has been stoking renewed presidential speculations with a spate of national activity -- is backing Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley.
O’Malley, meanwhile, is channeling a past Republican president, telling business leaders to read his lips. The Frederick News-Post says O’Malley told local Rotarians that his “budget for next year includes no new taxes or fees.”
The Post’s Robert McCartney says both Maryland gubernatorial candidates need to speak up about issues impacting Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. McCartney wants O’Malley to talk about Purple Line funding and Prince George’s hospitals, while Ehrlich is called on to explain “how he’ll keep school funds flowing to our area even while he tries to reduce the sales tax.”
* New York Times columnist Gail Collins says the “heroes” of the new documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman’” are “people like the union-fighting” Rhee. A new website called Done Waiting urges parents to press for school reform.
* The Washington Post editorial board sees good things ahead for Prince George’s County public schools under incoming County Executive Rushern Baker, who plans to “create an education office within the executive branch and use the bully pulpit of his office to push reform.”
* The Examiner reports Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration “is weighing a liquor license financing plan that could give smaller shop owners a better shot at the coveted licenses” after privatization.
* The News-Post reports the recount in the District 4A GOP delegate primary is complete. The result: incumbent Paul Stull still lost.
* Georgetown Patch says “coveted parking space on N St. between 32nd and 33rd Sts.” will be blocked for the next 3 1/2 months because of that TV show about cupcakes.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC