Vince has been convinced
The first time Vincent C. Gray launched a mayoral campaign, he walked into a city office building, signed some papers, then walked out to rally a crowd of cheering supporters. The second time he launched a mayoral campaign, he walked into a city office building, signed some papers, then walked out to his waiting SUV, accompanied only by his security detail and a mob of reporters wondering what took so darn long.
Vince Gray is running for a second term, and a race that had seemed halting and amorphous now has shape and focus. Opponents are already attacking, and while Gray is pledging to keep his campaign focused on the future rather than the past, we’ll see if that lasts through this morning’s news conference. More from AP, WaTimes, WBJ, Washingtonian, Loose Lips, NYT, Politico, WTTG-TV, WRC-TV and WUSA-TV.
In other news:
Meanwhile, Adrian Fenty’s having a fine old time in Silicon Valley (Upstart)
Why does Phil Mendelson oppose changes? “Citizens don’t trust the government” (Housing Complex)
K Street could have been test bed for taller buildings (Housing Complex)
First minimum wage vote is today — will tipped workers see a hike, too? (DCFPI)
Salvation Army needs a lot more change to make up for stolen donations (Post)
New rules bring peace to the food truck menagerie (Post)
Why Paul Zukerberg’s lawsuit is back in Superior Court (Legal Times)
Shutdown didn’t really affect D.C. cash collections (WBJ)
Should Lab School get a 50-year lease on Foxhall Road building when DCPS schools are overcrowded? (Post)
Current and former SBOE members endorse Charles Allen’s council run (Hill Rag)
Manslaughter verdict at Marine’s trial for killing fellow Marine (Post)
Two wounded in Monday night Anacostia shootings (Post)
Help find this man, suspected in Friendship Heights sex assault (WTOP)
Senior Superior Court judges say they’re getting stiffed (Legal Times)
Why is D.C. giving new trash cans even to households with perfectly functional old trash cans? (City Desk)
More local ruin porn: This time, the Glenn Dale sanatorium (DCist)
Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ted Leonsis and Otto Porter will christen new Southeast hoops court (Roll Call)
“Just to set the record straight, I have no intentions of ever running for Mayor of this phenomenal city again” (@marionbarryjr)
Vincent Gray seeks reelection: Candidates and others react
Mayor Vincent C. Gray brought his months of deliberation on whether to seek a second term to an end Monday, when he picked up nominating petitions for the April 1 Democratic primary ballot. His fellow candidates and other political observers quickly weighed in on the move in interviews and statements provided to The Washington Post.
Candidate and D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), in an interview: “It certainly makes it harder to turn the page on corruption among our elected leaders, you know,” he said. “I think it’s clear that the mayor was elected under false pretenses.”
Wells also opened another provocative line of attack on Gray, noting the mayor sought millions in taxpayer funds for businessman Jeffrey E. Thompson, implicated in the funding of an unreported “shadow campaign” for Gray’s election in 2010, and suggesting that the cozy relationship between the embattled businessman and Gray ultimately cost the city millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs after Thompson’s Chartered Health Plan collapsed last year.
“You cannot deny that the mayor brought legislation to give Jeffrey Thompson more money from the government,” Wells said, referring to the city’s settlement of a lawsuit with Chartered shortly after Gray took office — a settlement Wells had voted to support at the time, before the shadow campaign revelations. He added, “I really believe that our city would like to turn the page to a government that is not mired in the corruption politics of the past.”
Candidate and D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), in an interview: “Welcome to the race,” he quipped. “I look forward to the dialogue.”
Orange, a last-minute entrant himself, said he had no intention of bowing just because the incumbent had entered the race. Instead, Orange suggested the wave of populist appeal that delivered Gray to office in 2010 had eroded, and perhaps more the mayor may have realized: “He’s willing to leave people behind, and I’m not willing to leave people behind. That’s the biggest difference between us,” he said.
That was a reference to Gray’s veto of a bill, the Large Retailer Accountability Act, requiring Wal-Mart to pay a super-minimum wage and, more recently, his reluctance to back an across-the-board minimum wage hike to $11.50 hourly minimum, which the council will take up on Tuesday.
“I think I bring a more balanced approach to governing,” Orange said. “I look forward to the dialogue.”
Candidate Andy Shallal, in an interview: “I am happy for him,” he said. “I am a little concerned about his choice of campaign manager.” That comment was a reference, Shallal said, to some tweets he’d seen from Gray 2014 honcho Chuck Thies: “So I guess it’s going to be flame-shooting here for a while. I think that’s a kind of a shame.”
Shallal, the owner of the Busboys & Poets restaurant, had originally said he might not run if Gray ended up seeking a second term. He acknowledged there might have been some rope-a-dope involved: “I think it might be an advantage [for Gray] to have more candidates in the race.” But he said he wasn’t concerned about the new shape of the field: “I have my own lane. I don’t think I’m really in his group. They have their own circle, the Wilson Building group. I’m not a part of that.”
Candidate Reta Jo Lewis, in a statement: “This news simply reinforces the choice facing the people of our city. The Mayor is part of the status quo and he has refused to openly answer the numerous questions about his last mayoral campaign. He has failed to provide the vision and the leadership that I will bring to make this a city that works for everyone.”
Candidate and council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), in a statement: “I was the first person to announce that I am a candidate for Mayor of the District of Columbia. I did it because I believed passionately about the future of our city and the tremendous opportunity that we have to improve education, build more affordable housing, and to bring real economic development and jobs to all parts of the city. I have always said that it did not matter who was in the race. And that has not changed. Now that Mayor Gray is seeking re-election, he will have to end his silence and answer the many legal questions about his 2010 campaign. My only hope is that all of the candidates give residents what they deserve — an honest and ethical campaign that is about the many issues that make our city a proud place to live.”
Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), in an interview: “I’m excited and he managed to really keep it a secret,” she said. “I guess he wanted to make sure that he was doing the right thing.”
Alexander said that if the measure of a good candidate for re-election is whether his constituents are better off than four years ago then Gray is well-positioned. “The city is going in the right direction. There haven’t been any complaints, only good things to say,” Alexander said.
Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), in an interview: “He has been so hard-working that the word tireless is an understatement, a gross understatement,” he said. “Being on the council you get to see that up close, so that’s why for him to walk away from something that he loves so much would be unthinkable.”
Graham said it was also clear Gray wouldn’t run worrying about the federal investigation: “I can see very clearly what he’s doing. He’s not going to live in fear. He’s going to live for the today and say whatever happens is going to happen in the future or it’s not going to happen.”
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), in an interview: Mendelson, who is also seeking reelection, said it was helpful for voters to finally know their choices, but said he wouldn’t offer any advice on whether Gray should be reelected. “I have to stay neutral with all of these colleagues in the race,” he said. “I do think it’s good that the uncertainty has just finally resolved.”
Terry Lynch, a Bowser supporter and longtime Democratic activist: Because he’s the incumbent, Lynch said, Gray starts out as “the front runner, even with all the baggage.”
“You’re cutting ribbons all over the place, you’re bestowing jobs, starting programs,” he said. “That said, because of all his baggage, he has left the door open for someone to seize the mantle. The right candidate and the right campaign can seize it.”
Ron Lester, a veteran Democratic pollster who worked for Gray in 2010 but is not aligned with a 2014 candidate: “While his opponents have a microphone to speak into, the mayor can speak into a megaphone,” he said, adding that the large field helps Gray because he already has a base of support in the city.
“The fly in the ointment in the investigation,” he said. “Any development could dramatically change the campaign overnight. We’ve got four months to go. That’s a lot of time.”
A soccer stadium someday?
When Mayor Vincent C. Gray and City Administrator Allen Lew announced this summer they would have a soccer stadium deal ready for D.C. Council approval by year’s end — while major land negotiations were stuck in early stages — few believed it would be possible. And so it wasn’t: The Gray administration no longer expects a council vote before the holidays, the Post’s Jonathan O’Connell and Aaron C. Davis report, but is still holding out hope that the necessary land deals can be reached by Christmas. The longer that takes, however, the farther any stadium vote is pushed into campaign season. Even Jack Evans, Mr. Stadium himself, is expressing doubts: “I support the whole idea, but to do it all so privately and secretively, that’s when you announce it and suddenly have all kinds of critics because you haven’t done the legwork to build support.”
In other news:
Costco’s selling really cheap gas — but not without a fight (Post)
The D.C./Maryland joint effort is at the vanguard of local minimum wage pushes (Post)
How a laptop sold to a Louisiana pastor helped being down a major stolen-electronics fence (Post)
Joe Grano — activist for preservation, statehood and a nearly forgotten Italian artist — is dead at 68 (Post)
Darrell Issa holds Height Act hearing today; home rule will be at issue (Roll Call)
Mort Zukerman says the Height Act makes D.C. real estate a winning bet (Post)
Jonetta Rose Barras says leave it be (Post column)
The new panda’s name will not be Mulan (Post)
Albrecht Muth trial won’t be starting until January (AP)
DCPS is ready to spend money to fix middle schools, Kaya Henderson says (Post)
Vincent Orange finally establishes a campaign committee (Loose Lips)
Jack Evans and Tommy Wells come out against fire department radio encryption (WRC-TV)
Another fire cadet class is ready to hit the street (Post)
Nine new single-role paramedics go on the job today (WAMU-FM)
Deborah Simmons to the roof-seeking Lerners: “What gall” (WaTimes)
While city activists fight deer culls, suburbanites say fire away (Post)
Taxi Commission puts more credit-card processors on notice (WAMU-FM)
Neighbors’ feud in Marshall Heights leads to two deaths (Post)
$10,000 in donations stolen from Salvation Army center in Anacostia (Post)
No, congresswoman’s mugging wasn’t the “knockout game” (Daily News)
Female bikers are often targets of sexual harassment (Post)
Woodridge neighbors want artist lofts, not medical marijuana, please (WJLA-TV)
Fires displace three households the day before Thanksgiving (Post)
North Capitol Street shop owner is shot during robbery attempt (Post)
D.C.’s first “benefit corporation” is established (Post)
All of the ways D.C.’s medical marijuana program is unlike California’s (California News Service)
What JBG has planned for the Florida Avenue site that got Jim Graham in trouble (Housing Complex)
Oak Hill Cemetery chapel is getting a new roof (Dish)
All about living in Hillcrest (Post)
“Horton’s Kids” are Ward 8 youngsters who get tutoring on Capitol Hill (Post)
It’s water-main-break season again (WRC-TV)
How John Tydings made a difference (HuffPo)
Turkey Bowl final: Woodson 25, Wilson 13 (Post)
Power-line bill is being held up by Evans, mayoral officials say
Election-year politicking appears to be holding up one of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s signature initiatives: A billion-dollar plan to bury many of the city’s power lines to avoid widespread weather-related blackouts.
Two senior Gray administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, said Tuesday they believe that D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) has failed to move forward with legislation because Gray has refused to reappoint a close ally of Evans to the Events D.C. board.
William N. Hall, a partner at the Venable law firm and longtime friend of Evans, has served on boards overseeing sporting matters in the city since 1995, when the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission was created. (The commission was rolled into the convention center authority, creating the body now know as Events D.C. in 2009.) Hall took a leading role in luring major-league baseball back to Washington, and more recently led negotiations with the D.C. United soccer franchise on a renewed lease at city-owned RFK Stadium.
Evans, who is running for mayor, acknowledged Tuesday having asked Gray to reappoint Hall for a sixth time. But he laughed when asked if his handling of the power-line bill was related. “I’m analyzing the legislation carefully,” he said. “We want to move it as quickly as possible.”
But a month after a council hearing on the bill, Evans’s Finance and Revenue Committee has yet to schedule a vote on it. Nor has he held a hearing or set a vote on Gray’s Sept. 30 nomination of parking executive Cherie Doggett to replace Hall on the Events D.C. board.
The Hall nomination, the mayoral officials and others familiar with the matter say, has been a matter of concern to Evans for several months. In September, Gray offered to renominate Hall if Evans agreed not to override his veto of the highly controversial Large Retailer Accountability Act. Evans maintained his position in support of the bill, and one of the Gray administration officials said the mayor is not inclined to renegotiate the matter.
“It’s not his appointment to make,” one official said of Evans. “If he runs and gets elected mayor, he can make appointments to Events D.C.”
Hall, who has continued to serve on the board since his term expired at the end of 2011, said Tuesday he’s hoping to stay above the fray: ”Regardless of politics, I remain ready to serve my city as I have for the past 18 years to build a new soccer stadium, bring back the Redskins and make Washington the sports capital of the country.”
Turkey time in D.C.
It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and that unofficial D.C. holiday has come and gone: Turkey Giveaway Day. D.C. Council member Marion Barry gave out a record 3,000 turkeys this year to Ward 8 residents, WJLA-TV’s Sam Ford reports -- paid for, Barry (D) said, by the “business community.” And there you have another holiday tradition, City Paper’s Will Sommer notes: A lack of transparency on who exactly is allowing council members to curry constituent favor through free poultry. Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) was somewhat more transparent this year, announcing that Chevy Chase real estate goliath JBG had picked up the tab. But the size of that tab remains a mystery. What’s not a mystery, thanks to Twitter, are Barry’s turkey proclivities: “I’m going to slow roast it with Peruvian marinade. But I really just want the stuffing!”
In other news:
Montgomery County passes $11.50 minimum wage hike; Prince George’s Council votes today (Post)
Wal-Mart says 68 percent of its D.C. store hires are city residents (DCist)
The Libertarians are coming! The Libertarians are coming! (Loose Lips)
How Stanton Elementary got its students under control without suspensions (GGW)
Stalled 59-lot housing development in Congress Heights is auctioned off — but to whom? (Housing Complex)
McMillan redevelopment plans are now in Zoning Commission’s hands (WBJ)
A very cool photo tour of the old Riggs Bank headquarters (WBJ)
Man tries bilking Metro over banana peel, fails miserably (Post)
In Adams Morgan, an affordable housing success story (Housing Complex)
Why is Metro spamming its riders? (GGW)
Lawyer: Cops who shot Miriam Carey outside Capitol should be prosecuted (AP)
Help police identify this dead woman found in the Potomac (Post)
Winter homelessness, by the numbers (Housing Complex)
Forget the received narrative: Georgetown really wants a Metro station (G’town Metropolitan)
Can’t trust the residents because you can’t trust the developers (Post letter)
Want to change the Redskins name? Pay Dan Snyder to do it. (Post Outlook)
In case you were wondering: No, Rob Ford hasn’t asked Marion Barry for advice (WaTimes)
RIP “Polo” Burwell, the godfather of bounce beat (Post)