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Pulled Pork The fiscal 1999 D.C. budget bill recently passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee includes tough-sounding language barring the District from extending or renewing no-bid contracts. All that fire and brimstone, though, seems to have escaped Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). Hagel reportedly inserted language into the bill handing $7.1 million to the District chapter of Boys Town U.S.A., a nonprofit that provides services to troubled youth. The charity, which is based in Nebraska, did not bid for the money. A majority of the money$4.7 millionis earmarked for the construction of emergency short- and long-term residential homes. Maureen Hogan, executive director of the local nonprofit Adopt a Special Kid, points out, in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, that the District already has plenty of those kinds of facilities. She also notes that Boys Town charges more than other providers of the same services. But Hagel’s staff says the District has needs for its at-risk youth, whether it says so or not. “Boys Town is an excellent operation. We supported [the bill] fully,” says Deb Fiddelke, Hagel’s spokesperson. How did Hagel determine that the District needed more beds? Boys Town officials told him, Fiddelke adds.
Below the Bar More than 33,000 lawyers currently practice in the D.C. area, some of them less carefully than others. Some recent examples:
•Attorney Betty Ballester had an adulterous affair with a cop who testified against her client during a 1991 trial, as first reported by Legal Times. Ballester, a former president of the D.C. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association, never told her client about the affair during the trial. His conviction was subsequently thrown out. Ballester is now married to the cop, but last month a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court suspended her from practicing law at that court for 90 days.
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•According to her criminal case file in Superior Court, attorney Cheryl D. Stein was convicted last summer of keying a stranger’s car after he took the parking space she wanted. On July 10 of this year, the District Court’s disciplinary panel ordered Stein to explain why she should not be disciplined for the matter.
•Attorney Matthew Marshall used part of a client’s settlement money to buy crack, and he “intentionally and repeatedly lied to and misled his client and bar counsel,” according to a recent report by the Board on Professional Responsibility. On July 2, the Board recommended that Marshall be disbarred.
Elephant Memories Locals raised a stink this spring when the National Zoo planned on depositing a compost heap over what some historians believe to be a historic African-American grave site (“Grave Concern,” 4/3). The actions prompted the Smithsonian to do a study of the plot’s history. That study didn’t placate activists, so zoo officials promised the land would lie undisturbed until funding for an archaeological study could be gathered. But as of three weeks ago, large trucks, pipes, and other heavy equipment have been stored on the 1.7-acre plot adjacent to Walter Pierce Park. “They have the institutional memory of a flea,” says activist Eddie Becker, who spearheaded the spring protests. National Zoo spokesperson Bob Hoage argues that the site is only a temporarily parking lot until repairs are completed on the old Adams Mill Road.
Funky Chicken Last Friday afternoon, one plump chicken stood amid the media vultures perched around the area outside the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse known as “Monica Beach.” An unsubtle commentary on the news-gathering tactics of the Fourth Estate? Not precisely. Michael Hildebrand was suited up as America’s white meat to draw attention to a case involving his son Kole, whose strep throat had gone undiagnosed by doctors and eventually developed into bacterial meningitis. The disease caused seizures and severe brain damage to Kole, leaving him blind and disabled. Hildebrand and his wife Tamara traveled to D.C. from their home in Palm Springs, Calif., after winning a malpractice lawsuit against the Desert Regional Medical Center. Hildebrand claims the hospital still owes $1.4 million of his $3 million settlement and requests “help from the president or a senator” to collect his dough.
Reporting by Paula Park, Amanda Ripley, Frappa Stout, and Eve Tushnet.
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