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Morning All. You better enjoy Metro today and Saturday. Those big fare increases are set to start on Sunday. WaPo’s Ann Scott Tyson and Anita Kumar report that Metro approved those complicated fare hikes yesterday: “Metro’s board of directors authorized an extensive package of fare increases Thursday as the agency approved a $1.4 billion operating budget and a plan to cover a projected $189 million shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The new fares include nearly $109 million worth of increases for people who ride rail, bus and MetroAccess, the service for the disabled. Because of the complexity of the fare increases, they will be implemented in three stages: on Sunday, on Aug. 1 and in the fall. One potentially confusing component is a new 20-cent ‘peak-of-the-peak’ rail surcharge that will start in August and affect riders who travel during the busiest times. The board had indicated in a vote last month that it would approve the changes. Rail fares this weekend will increase about 18 percent, with the peak boarding fare going from $1.65 to $1.95. The bus boarding charge will go up 20 percent, from $1.25 to $1.50 for SmarTrip users and from $1.35 to $1.70 for cash customers. Metro’s board also agreed to cut the cost of SmarTrip cards in half, from $5 to $2.50, because the cost of the cards has fallen and because Metro wants to encourage riders to use them, said Peter Benjamin, the board chairman. Board member Jim Graham, who serves on the D.C. council, cast the only dissenting vote. He said he was concerned about the effect of the higher fares on the people least able to afford them.”
AFTER THE JUMP—-Peter Nickles would stay on if Fenty gains second term, Metro gets into the movie rental business, WaPo columnist stands up for social workers fired in wake of Banita Jacks case, and tragedy hits Ward 8 ANC Commissioner.
FOUR MORE YEARS OF NICKLES? District AG Peter Nickles, aka Fenty’s Troll Doll, tells Jonetta Rose Barras on her WPFW radio show that he’s open to remaining as the city’s top lawyer for four more years. WaPo reports: “In a DC Politics interview on WPFW 89.3 FM, Rose-Barras told the city’s top lawyer that there are some residents who will not vote to re-elect Fenty because of Nickles, his strained relations with the council and the view that he is a ‘cantankerous old man,’ who is to blame for ‘a lot that has happened in this administration is bad.’ ‘I don’t know if I’m cantankerous,’ Nickles said, joking about his age, 71. ‘I’m ready to take it on as long as the mayor wants me to take it on.’ Nickles acknowledged that he has long had a cantankerous relationship with former mayor Marion Barry (D-Ward 8). But Nickles said he has had ‘very good relations’ with council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), David Catania (I-At Large), Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), and at times, Chairman Vincent Gray. But, he said, ‘I have found these other council members – particularly Barry, Michael Brown (I-At Large), Kwame Brown (D-At Large) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) – completely unwilling to listen. No matter what the issue is, they are instinctively against the mayor.'” What about your biggest critics, Councilmembers Phil Mendelson and Mary Cheh? Anyway, Nickles ruled out running for attorney general; voters can decide in Nov. if the position should be an elected office. [Nickles opposes such a move].
Meanwhile, the D.C. Council rebuffed Nickles’ attempt to allow indefinite response times for FOIA requests. WaPo’s Ann Marimow reports: “Attorney General Peter Nickles’ request for more time to respond to public requests for government information is unlikely to gain traction in the Council, where two members — Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) — have introduced legislation to increase access and transparency. Nickles said the District is inundated with complex Freedom of Information Act requests and needs a ‘safety valve’ of additional time to respond, similar to what federal law allows. But Cheh said Nickles ‘is looking for an open-ended excuse not to comply, and he’s not going to get it. It’s a simple invitation to delay, an invitation to mischief.’ Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, who is challenging Mayor Adrian Fenty in the September Democratic primary, also rejected the idea, calling the current response period ‘sufficient.'”
CFSA AND BANITA JACKS FALLOUT: WaPo columnist Petula Dvorak takes up the cause of the social workers fired in the wake of the Banita Jacks case. She believes they should get their jobs back: “All of the social workers who had anything to do with the Jacks case were thumped in grand fashion by an angry and decisive Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D). For a city reeling from the discovery that Jacks’s four children were dead and that Jacks had been living in squalor for weeks with their decaying bodies until she was found in January 2008, it felt righteous to fire everyone having anything to do with her case. A new director of the Child and Family Services Agency was installed, and Jacks was convicted of killing her girls. But [Carl] Miller and two other social workers are still fighting the case every day. And the city is fighting back. The case touched Miller’s life in late 2007, when a school social worker called and told Miller that a student at her school had been truant, the mom wouldn’t open the door when she came to investigate, and she was worried. On the phone, Miller was matter-of-fact, reminding the social worker that the woman had no legal obligation to let her inside. It seemed like educational neglect, nothing more; the social worker said the kids looked unkempt and were watching TV. That sounds like my own childhood. As satisfying as it may have been to can Miller because he didn’t swoop in to save these girls, it’s not realistic to end the career of a 34-year-old man who had been a reliable social worker for eight years.” Dvorak doesn’t say that the CFSA director resigned not over the Jacks case, but over her inability to handle a huge backlog of cases in its aftermath. She also doesn’t mention that the court monitor had flagged CFSA’s poor investigative skills a few months prior to the Jacks case making headlines—-so social workers and their supervisors had ample warning that they needed to be more vigilant. Still this is a must read for anyone that followed the Jacks case, and Dvorak can be convincing especially regarding the one social worker fired after relying on the police to properly visit the Jacks home. The police officer lied to the social worker saying that he had seen the Jacks children and they were fine. He had never seen the kids.
GRAY VS. LEO ALEXANDER: Leo Alexander takes it to Vincent Gray during the latest mayoral forum, WaPo reports: “Alexander, who has been struggling to gain attention in what so far appears to be a two-man race, went on the offensive against Gray, accusing him of being as much to blame as Fenty for the city’s problems. ‘When you think of everything that has happened in the last three years, you cannot criticize this man, without looking at this man,’ Alexander said, pointing at Gray and Fenty. Alexander specifically challenged Gray for not doing more to prevent Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee from laying off 266 teachers last year. ‘It wouldn’t be fair to talk about the betterment of DCPS, without talking about leadership of our council chairman,’ Alexander said. ‘When this council had the opportunity to stop those firings, but he did nothing.’ A clearly agitated Gray fired back, accusing Alexander of misrepresenting his record, noting he and Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) worked on legislation to try to force Rhee to rehire the fired teachers. ‘Let me begin by saying it’s easy to sit up here when you’ve done nothing and pontificate,’ Gray said to Alexander. ‘If you did the research, you would understand the council wouldn’t have the authority to turn this around despite the fact we tried.’ Alexander responded: ‘The gentleman said I have done nothing, let’s talk about his do-nothing leadership on the city council.'”
OUR CONDOLENCES: WaPo is reporting that Ward 8 ANC Commissioner Anthony Muhammad‘s two sons were killed in a car crash in Silver Spring: “Muhammad family members did not comment. They were planning a vigil at Kennedy High School in Silver Spring on Thursday evening. Commissioners in Ward 8 said they were pulling together to support the family. ‘Mr. Muhammad is an active, dedicated person in our community, and we’re grieving with him. It’s a tragic loss,’ said Ward 8 commissioner Lendia Johnson. ‘He’s devastated, as far as I can say. He adored his children. He was an excellent father.’ Barbara Clark, another Ward 8 commissioner, said she contacted Muhammad through a text message after the accident. Johnson said she admired Muhammad’s sons for being upstanding and disciplined. ‘They weren’t the pants-hanging-down-low type,’ she said, ‘They were neat, clean, straightforward, obedient young men.'”
DROWNING: Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. says he will hold a hearing on this week’s drowning death of a child at the Turkey Thicket Rec Center pool. WaPo reports: “Yiana-Michelle Ballard, 6, was found unconscious at the rec center’s crowded indoor pool about 2:20 p.m., officials said. She had been swimming with her family. Lifeguards tried to resuscitate her, but she was later pronounced dead at Children’s National Medical Center. Police said Thursday that their special-victims unit was still investigating the circumstances of the death. Autopsy results were pending. ‘This should have never happened,’ said D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), who chairs the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation. ‘We are doing everything that needs to be done to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.’ Thomas said he plans to hold hearings next week to examine whether the city’s pools are safe. He said he is consulting with officials from the American Red Cross to review pool safety procedures and might introduce emergency legislation to address the issue.” More coverage via WUSA9.
FOLKLIFE FEST: WUSA9 offers a preview of this year’s fest on the Mall.
RHEE: THE MOVIE STAR? Maybe not. But the school’s chancellor gets a star turn in front of the cameras for a new education documentary.
OF COURSE: People are raising pigs in Takoma Park.
THINK YOU GOT IT BAD: Tenants in one building are fighting landlord over broken AC.
HYDRANTS: D.C. officials are encouraging residents to not turn on hydrants as a way of combating this ridiculous heat.
FREE: HIV/AIDS testing.
MUST READ: WaPo’s Paul Duggan’s story on the murder of Manual Sanchez: “Fleeing poverty in El Salvador, he walked into the United States illegally across miles of desert in 1998. He worked as a bricklayer or as a laborer, depending on the economy, and drank heavily for a time, often squandering his wages. On May 28, behind a vacant tenement in Southeast Washington, where Sanchez, 29, and two of his cousins had been bagging trash and cutting weeds, the men were accosted by a pair of would-be robbers. Now Sanchez is gone, air-freighted back to his rural home town in a coffin, allegedly shot by a suspect six days past his 16th birthday, a ward of the city’s youth rehabilitation agency. The accused killer, Javon Hale, and the other suspect, Rafael Douglas, also 16, are due in D.C. Superior Court on Friday for a preliminary hearing, each charged as an adult with murder after two witnesses identified them to police. Some killings rivet the media and the public: An esteemed lawyer mysteriously stabbed in Northwest Washington townhouse; a University of Virginia lacrosse star savagely pummeled in her apartment; a beloved D.C. school principal shot in his Silver Spring home. And some homicides go largely unnoticed beyond the tumbledown blocks where they occur, beyond the families and friends of the slain and the handcuffed and the authorities seeking justice. The shooting of Manuel DeJesus Sanchez was such a crime….The suspects, locked up without bond, have pleaded not guilty. Hale, who has a record of juvenile crime, had been let out of Boys Town, a group home, on a weekend pass just hours before Sanchez died bleeding on a dingy patch of Hillside Road SE in Benning Heights.”
KOJO: Today’s guests: Virginia congressional candidate Keith Fimian and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.
Ribbon Cutting for Deanwood Recreation Center and Library
Location: Deanwood Recreation Center and Library
49th and Quarles Streets, NE
D.C. COUNCIL’S SCHEDULE:
Committee on Human Services (Round Table)
“Status of the District’s Low Barrier, Transitional and Permanent Support Housing Programs for Adults, Youth and Families who are Homeless”
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 500