IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Defendants Often Left Door Unlocked, Ex-Housemate Testifies In Wone Case,” “Friendly Card Game Leads To Homicide At Salina Restaurant,” “Witness Recalls Defendant in Wone Case Talking About Blood Evidence,” “Ellwood Thompson’s Opening in Columbia Heights In January-ish,” “Applying For Permits? Budget Accordingly.“
Howdy. After an extended break involving a trip to Upstate New York and a move to Takoma—-still in D.C., Thank G-d—-the Original Substitute LL is back with the morning links. Let’s get to it. WaPo’s Bill Turque reports that DCPS’ teachers’ union ratified the new contract yesterday, voting in favor of the deal by a wide margin. After all the wrangling, the vote wasn’t even close on the contract which expands Michelle Rhee‘s powers to remove teachers and places an emphasis on classroom performance over teacher seniority; the contract also provides teachers with a significant salary bump. Turque provides the details: “Members of the Washington Teachers’ Union approved the pact 1,412 to 425 after a two-week voting period. The agreement now goes to the D.C. Council, where it is expected to be swiftly approved. The contract, a product of nearly 2 1/2 years of contentious negotiations, combines a rich traditional financial package with unorthodox initiatives historically resisted by unionized teachers. It includes a five-year, 21.6 percent increase in base pay that will boost the average annual salary of a D.C. educator from $67,000 to about $81,000 and gives the city’s public school teachers salaries comparable to those in surrounding suburban districts, according to a union survey. The payday stands out amid a wave of deep school budget cuts across the country. New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Wednesday, for instance, that his city will eliminate raises for its public school teachers and principals over the next two years to avoid deep job reductions. Although the contract breaks new ground for the District, the extraordinary pace of change in national education policy has in some ways overtaken the document. When negotiations started in late 2007, the concepts embedded in Rhee’s contract and evaluation proposals — performance pay linked to test score growth, weakening of seniority and tenure — were far more politically polarizing.” Key Comment: “Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who shared negotiating responsibilities with Parker, was less effusive. She said she was pleased that after months of divisiveness, the two sides found common ground in ‘wanting teachers to be the best they could be’ with provisions for increased professional development and classroom resources…. ‘At the end of the day, this is still one of the industrial model contracts where a lot of the authority is reposed in the chancellor herself,’ said Weingarten, adding that the union was able to incorporate checks and balances into the contract that lend more transparency to Rhee’s power.”
The Examiner’s Leah Fabel calls the pay-for-performance plan the “most robust” in the nation. More coverage via WTOP, NC8, WUSA9, WashTimes. Statement from D.C. Council Chairman/Mayoral Candidate Vincent Gray: “Today’s vote has been almost three years in the making and I believe it’s high time we seal the deal. Therefore, I will urge my colleagues on the Council to follow the teachers’ lead and give final approval as soon as possible. In the coming days, the Council will engage in an open, transparent approval process that aims to restore the public trust in the ability of its government to implement the contract effectively and fund it within the existing Council-approved DCPS budget without any indirect cuts that negatively impact other areas of the school budget.”
AFTER THE JUMP: New York Ave. water main break, Fenty checks BlackBerry during mayoral forum, Don Peebles is still a tease, Chesapeake Bay meetup, and much, much more!
MAYORAL FORUM: The D.C. Wire’s Tim Craig has the scene from last nights mayoral forum: “If Wednesday night’s D.C. for Democracy candidates forum had been televised, viewers would have seen Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) looking annoyed, distracted and uneasy. The mayor had a vexed look on his face during much of the forum as he fumbled with his BlackBerry. At one point, he picked up the BlackBerry and handed it to an aide so she could take an incoming call for him. But viewers also would have heard a mayor who is starting to sharpen his message about why he thinks he’s a better candidate than his chief rival in the September Democratic primary, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray….In response to a question from the moderator, Gray and Alexander criticized the Fenty administration’s record on affordable housing. Fenty hit back. ‘As you can tell the gentleman on my left and the gentleman on my right are really big critics,’ Fenty said, referring to Gray and Alexander. ‘If we were electing a chief critic for the District of Columbia, I would probably recommend either of them. But we are electing a chief executive officer and that means we need someone who can get things done.'”
YOUR COMMUTE MAY HAVE SUCKED: A water main break on New York Avenue NE caused a huge traffic tie-up yesterday. WASA officials had hoped to fix the busted old pipe but now say the break could still cripple the morning rush hour. NC8 reports: “When WASA crews reached the 79-year-old pipe they realized there was no quick fix. Their goal is to get the lanes re-opened by the morning rush hour, but Wednesday night there was still a huge gaping hole as crews worked to replace more than 30 feet of pipes. Digging around gas and electric lines by hand, WASA’s crew knows exactly what to do. two years ago, a similar split happened a quarter mile up the road. ‘You don’t want to be tying up New York Avenue on a work day. We understand that and apologize to the residents that’s we’ve impacted,’ stated Charles Kiely with WASA. A total of four businesses lost water Wednesday, including a Comfort Inn Hotel.” More coverage via WTOP. WaPo has more from DDOT: “John Lisle of DDOT said the surge of water early Wednesday damaged a pair of traffic signal control boxes. He said one was replaced and the other repaired so that all lights would be functioning when the road is ready to reopen.”
MORE ON TEACHERS CONTRACT: WaPo columnist Robert McCartney wonders if the ratified contract signals a new era of cooperation between the teachers’ union and Michelle Rhee: “Both Rhee and the union will have to shed their mutual hostility to make it work, but the rewards would be great. If they succeed, it would make the District a national showpiece for successful school reform. In particular, it would demonstrate that teachers unions can become allies of change rather than obstacles to it. ‘I feel like we’re finally moving out of a hole in D.C. It seems like we’ve improved scores, and if Chancellor Rhee and the union can work together, then we really have a chance to move forward and keep that momentum,’ said Steve Aupperle, who coaches middle school teachers at Truesdell Educational Center in Northwest Washington and is a former member of the WTU’s executive board. Although critical of Rhee’s approach in some ways, Aupperle stressed that the union had to cooperate, too. ‘If the union kind of goes back to old-fashioned tactics of fighting at every junction to get control [of work processes], it’s just not going to work,’ he said.”
PEEBLES WATCH: WaPo’s Mike DeBonis has taken on the task of hounding Maybe Mayoral Candidate Don Peebles until he finally makes up his mind on whether to make a run for D.C.’s top elected office. DeBonis offers and timeline of Peebles’ waffling and writes: “While us full-time D.C. residents are trying to stage a nice, tidy, exciting, mano a mano mayoral race this summer, Peebles and his potential self-financed $5 million war chest wait in the wings. Get in or get out — the moment sure isn’t going to get any riper.”
While you wait, maybe you should skim Peebles’ book. It’s awesome. In fact the book is so awesome, it has even received praise from Steve Jobs Sunglass Hut Founder(!!) Dr. Sanford Ziff: “This book is a brilliant example of entrepreneurship, creativity, and principles. Peebles walks you through many of his successful deals, from their inception to their completion. Once you start the book you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve finished the last page.” LL’s fave chapter title: “North Capitol and G Streets: Carpe Diem.”
AREA UNEMPLOYMENT DROPS: Jobless claims fell dramatically in the Metro region, WaPo reports: “In April, the region’s not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 5.9 percent, compared with 6.6 percent in March, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The region gained a net 5,800 jobs during the 12 months ending in April. Local economists had predicted that the increase would be as high as 20,000. Still, 5,800 represented the largest net gain of jobs among major U.S. metropolitan areas and marked the first time since October 2008 that the Washington region added more jobs than it lost.”
CHESAPEAKE CLEANUP MEETUP: Today, Mayor Fenty is meeting in Baltimore with Gov. O’Malley and Gov. McDonnell to discuss the on-going restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, WaPo reports: “The gathering in Baltimore comes after decades of failure to meet goals set to cleanse the bay, and after a pair of potentially significant developments that will put additional pressure on state and local governments in the 64,000-square-mile watershed. An Obama administration initiative rolled out two weeks ago requires that each of the six watershed states and the District come up with its own restrictions on farmers, developers, homeowners and others to curtail the flow of pollutants into the bay. The Environmental Protection Agency is at work determining what’s called the Total Maximum Daily Load that bay waters can absorb if water quality is to improve. The TMDL will be apportioned to the states. A second fresh element in play when Maryland’s Martin O’Malley (D) and Virginia’s Robert F. McDonnell (R) meet with Fenty (D) on Thursday is the settlement last month of a lawsuit brought against the EPA by bay advocates. That agreement leaves the federal agency legally vulnerable if it fails to enforce new limits on nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment flowing into the bay.”
FIREWORKS BUST: A Northeast man was busted with a huge cache of professional-grade fireworks. WUSA9 reports: “The man says authorities are overreacting to the Times Square car bomb and just picking on him. But federal agents say they found some 20 cases of explosives in [the suspect’s] vehicle. ‘With that amount, it would have almost been a large vehicle bomb… like a truck bomb.'” Authorities do not believe the man is a terrorist or had plotted to do anyone harm.
COMMUTER NEEDS: Amtrak says it will continue to offer free wi-fi service on its trains.
IF ONLY ‘LAW & ORDER’ HAD BEEN RENEWED: The AP reports that a Virginia charged with murdering his wife is claiming that a lethal mix of steroids and Starbucks coffee were big, mitigating factors: “Philip Kingery pleaded guilty Wednesday in Franklin County Circuit Court to second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his wife Rose. He also pleaded guilty to use of a firearm in commission of a felony. Defense attorney Tony Anderson said Kingery had ‘diminished capacity’ at the time of the slaying last year because of steroid abuse and an addiction to coffee, particularly Starbucks coffee. Judge William Alexander sentenced the 48-year-old Kingery to 40 years in prison on the murder charge but suspended 18 years. Kingery received a three-year sentence on the firearm charge.”
ROBERT WONE: A rundown of the 11th day of the trial.
7:10 a.m. Guest
Fenty on Fox
Location: Fox 5
11:00 a.m. Remarks
Annual Executive Council meeting of the Chesapeake Bay
Location: Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park and Museum
1417 Thames St, Baltimore, MD 21231
4 p.m. Committee on Health (Round Table)
Implementation of the Youth Sexual Health Project
Location: John A. Wilson Building, Room 123