IN OTHER WORDS: Giving credit where credit may not be due

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In a subsequent phone call with Mrs. Norton, she said there was nothing wrong with the story, but it was getting picked up and portrayed as something “novel and new,” so her office “didn’t feel we could lie back.”

Ah.

Mrs. Norton said Mrs. Emerson is a longtime friend and ally for the District who recently saved her D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant bill that affords D.C. residents the financial opportunity to attend public colleges around the country.

“I don’t have any problem giving her credit, but I think we should give her credit for the right thing,” Mrs. Norton said.

So if indeed the wrong person was credited with a less-than unprecedented minor development, who made the mistake? We turned to the mayor’s office.

A city official familiar with last week’s budget autonomy announcement said on background — as officials are wont to do when they are accepting responsibility — that there was, indeed, a misunderstanding at the John A. Wilson Building.

While Mr. Gray did note that GOP figures who preceded Mrs. Emerson never showed much love for the District — she is a Ward 2 resident who was born in the D.C. area — his announcement Wednesday made it sound like the development was a new benchmark for the city’s ability to spend its own funds.

“This is the first time this has ever happened and hopefully will establish a precedent going forward,” Mr. Gray had said during the council breakfast.

Thomas M. Davis III, a former Republican congressman from Northern Virginia who advised the District, pro bono, on congressional relations, explained to us that the crux of Mr. Gray’s message was that “the Republicans have put the language in.”

“And that’s a big deal,” he said Friday. “I think he’s right to crow about this.”

Because continuing-resolution debates do not occur every year, and this year being a banner year for such spending stalemates, Mr. Gray may not have “really experienced this” as mayor or D.C. Council chairman, the city official familiar with the events said.

Mrs. Norton noted that her office on the Hill is the one that tends to drill into the details of these kinds of things, since in the past it has had “horrific effects on the District.”

In short, it looks as if the mayor’s office made a minor mistake in not coordinating with Mrs. Norton’s office before making an announcement on an issue pertaining to the District’s relationship with Capitol Hill.

But who knows? After our experience, we could believe that they did call — and maybe nobody responded.

Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report

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