DMV Daily: Alexander Gets Real

Councilmember slams Barry reality show

What happens when D.C. councilmembers stop being nice and start being real? Someone gets fired.

Ward 7’s Yvette Alexander is no fan of the as-yet-unsold Marion Barry reality show “Mayor for Life,” which went up on YouTube last week -- before mysteriously being set to “private” status by the person who posted it.

“I can’t believe elected officials…are involved in this. I am truly shocked,” she told Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman. To her colleagues, she said, “Please stick to the Council. Hollywood is not in the stars for you.”

Alexander said the “acting was terrible” and the show was “very distasteful. I think reality TV…seems to be for people who hit rock bottom.”

But it’s Alexander’s communications director Andre Johnson who is the biggest loser -- Alexander is firing him.

He’s not out just because he appeared on the show; Alexander “says he lied to her about his involvement.” Suderman writes that Alexander “says she asked Johnson repeatedly whether he was involved in the show, and he told her no.” The councilmember “says she declined Johnson’s request to because she wants no part of the show, which she called ‘cheesy.’ Well, maybe she’ll agree to one small role: ‘If he wants me to be part of the show, he can film me firing him,’ she says.”

Elsewhere in the DMV:

* The Washington Post continues its pursuit of Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas in an editorial this morning, saying “questions continue to emerge” about his conduct “in operating a sports nonprofit that bears his name. It now appears that Mr. Thomas voted in support of legislation directly benefiting one of the contributors to Team Thomas.” The Post says “it was troubling” to hear Mayor-elect Vincent Gray say D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles’s case against Thomas could be “politically motivated -- and reassuring to hear from his spokeswoman that he nonetheless will not interfere as the inquiry proceeds.”

* Thomas isn’t the only one in Nickles’s sights as the hard-charging AG nears the end of his tenure. The Washington Examiner reports Nickles has given David Wilmot, the owner of several group homes, five days to pay the District $241,089 “as part of a settlement over problems at the group homes for the mentally disabled for which he has a contract with the city to run.” The payment “has been slow to come.” Nickles initially threatened to seize six of the homes on Friday, but has given Wilmot a few more days to pay up.

* In her Examiner column, frequent Gray critic Jonetta Rose Barras has some praise for the new mayor’s pick for city administrator, saying Allen Lew “is my kind of government manager. He’s not enamored of bureaucracies. He has no patience with incompetence. And he’s driven by results -- not ego or the media spotlight.” Barras says Adrian Fenty fans “can relax a little with Lew in charge of daily operations.”

* Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, writing in the Post, says the Public Service Commission, “the one entity that could force Pepco to improve” its service, has “taken no effective steps in the past three years to enhance the reliability of electric service” and “has failed D.C. ratepayers. This failure is part of a broader negligence by the agency.”

* City Paper’s Rend Smith reports defense attorneys for Ted Loza, former chief of staff to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, was never Mirandized during his August 2009 interrogation by the FBI. In a court filing, Loza’s lawyers say the government “has failed to produce any evidence of Mr. Loza’s intentional and knowing waiver of his rights, which is not surprising considering he was never informed of his rights.” They want Loza’s comments during nearly 12 hours of interviews to be suppressed.

* The Washington Times reports that a recent congressional report “raised sharp questions” about Amtrak executive Lorraine Green, the head of Gray’s transition team. Republicans say former Amtrak Inspector General Fred Weiderhold “was forced out of his job” after issuing reports showing waste and fraud in Amtrak’s top ranks -- and that as Weiderhold’s interim successor, Green “delayed the release of a report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) that scrutinized the very Human Resources Department she oversaw at Amtrak.”

In related news, D.C. Watch publishes a rare anonymous letter written “on behalf of the Gray campaign supporters,” saying they have been “egregiously mistreated” by Green but are afraid to speak out for fear “of reprisal by this very unscrupulous and vindictive woman.”

* D.C. State Board of Education member Sekou Biddle, one of the main contenders for the D.C. Democratic State Committee’s interim selection of an At-Large councilmember, points out in an e-mail invitation to a candidates forum that four of his seven rivals have lost elections.

* The Post reports some Virginia Republicans oppose Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposal to borrow nearly $3 billion over three years for bridges and roads. Del. Bob Marshall, “one of the most conservative members of the House” and a potential U.S. Senate candidate, “said he has concerns about taking on more debt, particularly if its means exceeding the state’s self-imposed cap.” Other conservatives expressed similar concerns. The Loudoun Times says “state GOP leaders came to the governor’s aid” despite the dissension.

* In an editorial, the Post says that while Prince George’s County Councilmember Leslie Johnson “retains the presumption of innocence” as she faces charges of witness tampering and destroying evidence, “her presence in office dishonors the council and the county she was elected to serve.” The Post says for now at least, “Johnson is a council member -- but with a large asterisk.”

* The Baltimore Sun reports “reliably conservative” state senator Alex Mooney of Frederick, who lost his bid for a fourth term last month, has been elected chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, defeating Mary Kane, “the party’s more moderate recent nominee for lieutenant governor,” and several other candidates. Mooney said, “Conservative wins. You just have to stick to it and explain it to people. I think we win by not compromising principles.”

* The Daily Caller reports that the National Park Service “has extended its public comment period for their plans to tunnel under the Washington Monument in order to build a permanent visitor screening facility beneath the iconic structure” after encountering unexpectedly “harsh opposition.”

* Writing at Greater Greater Washington, Mitch Wander makes the very sensible argument that the D.C. Public Library “should open some neighborhood libraries on Sundays and instead stagger closings on other days of the week.”

* Good Hope Anacostia’s Alex Baca takes issue with the American Observer’s recent study of the District, saying “‘A City Divided’ reinforces a really overused trope about D.C.” and “screwed with the geographic boundaries -- both social and technical -- in the city.”

* The Examiner notes that D.C. and Maryland “have the highest percentages of women-owned businesses in the nation,” according to newly released census data.

Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC

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