Tom Sherwood's Notebook: 04/06/11

Anyone who passes the old convention center site at New York Avenue and Ninth Street NW is likely to wonder if anything will ever be built there.

The old center was imploded in December 2004. The 10-acre site has housed a parking lot and a grab bag of events like Cirque de Soleil, Christmas craft fairs and tennis matches.

But plans for a massive new development of housing, retail and office buildings waited for years as the economy itself imploded.

Until now.

On Monday there was a ceremonial groundbreaking -- finally -- for construction of a $700 million project. It’s a sign of the tough economic times that it’s being entirely financed by the Quatar Investment Authority.

It’s the “last big piece of downtown,” Mayor Vincent Gray said at the ceremony.

Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans said the developers -- Hines/Archstone -- began paying property taxes on the site Monday. “And the taxes will grow and grow as this gets built,” he added. It’s estimated the fully built-out site will generate more than $30 million a year in taxes.

• Political dirt.

Dirt of a different kind is flying around the Sulaimon Brown scandal.

News4 was first to report this week that Lorraine Green, Mayor Gray’s closest adviser in his campaign and early administration, withdrew her name from consideration to be chair of the Washington Convention and Sports Authority.

Although the official announcement said Green was going to pursue a business opportunity and would not have time for the convention job, everyone knows she withdrew because of the Brown investigation, which includes a look into why he was hired for a $110,000-a-year city job.

Brown, a former minor candidate for mayor, alleges that Green paid him to attack then-Mayor Adrian Fenty during the campaign. Green has denied the allegation.

Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh is scheduled to hold a second hearing on the hiring practices of Gray’s administration, after she led an initial inquiry last week. Green -- who helped select and place many people in the Gray administration -- was scheduled to testify at tomorrow’s hearing. But she will instead appear at a third hearing, to be held April 11, according to Cheh’s office.

The central character in this drama -- Brown -- is scheduled to testify tomorrow.

The first hearing got off to a fractious start when at-large Council member David Catania accused Cheh of “whitewashing” the Gray hiring scandal. Cheh said she wants to find out what happened, but won’t permit a “witch hunt” on her committee.

Well, this is one reporter who’s anxious to see how Catania does battle with Brown.

Some folks in the Gray administration want to save the mayor more embarrassment. They’re hoping that if anyone did pay off Brown, that person will come forward and take whatever punishment is warranted so Gray can get on with being mayor.

It would be a service to the mayor. Few if any believe Gray was involved directly with Brown, but right now, no one really knows what happened except those who aren’t telling.

• More dirt.

Adams Morgan activist Bryan Weaver is one of the candidates in the April 26 special election to fill the at-large seat previously held by Kwame Brown, now council chairman.

Weaver is running as a reform candidate (so are others), and he recently put out a humorous video about “D.C.’s Dirtiest Jobs.”

In it, Weaver is seen scooping dog poop, serving as a towel boy in a gym, cleaning bowling shoes and working as a busboy (“He’s terrible,” a restaurant worker says).

He’s also shown working as a “leasing agent” trying to pitch a “fully loaded” SUV with “black-on-black interior.” That’s a clear slap at Brown’s city-leased vehicle.

Weaver ends the video in front of the Wilson Building. “But no job is as dirty as this one,” he says, pointing back to the building. He says he’s come to clean it up, “without being dirty” himself.

Funny ad. You can see it at It’s nice to see a little creativity alongside the humdrum political candidate signs now dotting a few yards.

• Treated like dirt.

Mayor Gray did the ceremonial “Play ball!” shout last week at the Nationals’ home opener. Unfortunately for Gray, he was met with a cascade of boos.

It’s not uncommon for fans to boo politicians, but this crowd was pretty lusty. Unfortunately, Gray is better known for his missteps than for his strong support of baseball.

Contact Us