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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Bomb Scare At Thomas Circle

Howdy. The murder of principal Brian Betts was starting to seem like a stone-cold whodunit. That is until police located a woman—-a mother of one suspect—-who had used the principal’s credit card at a Silver Spring Giant which led to two teenage suspects being charged yesterday with the murder. I followed WaPo’s updates throughout yesterday as the reporters did amazing work talking to neighbors of the suspects, interviewing witnesses to the raid, and generally being all over this story as it developed. WaPo reports in today’s lengthy story that MoCo police have charged two teenagers who had met Betts through a phone-sex line the night of his murder: “Sharif Tau Lancaster and Alante Saunders, both 18, were charged with murder, robbery and a handgun violation. Police said that a third 18-year-old man was being held and that they expected that he would also be charged in the killing.” MOCO cops believe the motive was robbery; More from The Examiner on the sex-chat line: “A police source with knowledge of the investigation said Betts was using Adam4Adam, a networking Web site for gay men, when he spoke to one of the three youths on April 14. Betts was last heard from around 11:30 that night.” More coverage via NC8/WJLA.

WHAT COLBY KING WILL BE WRITING ABOUT: Both Lancaster and Saunders had recently absconded from DYRS custody. WTOP works this angle getting AG Peter Nickles to offer more details: “Nickles says the two men somehow slipped away from the home, and D.C. police had been searching for them. ‘Obviously, they were not properly confined,’ Nickles tells WTOP.” More from the Examiner‘s Bill Myers: “Saunders had fled the agency’s custody April 1, days before Betts’ body was found in his Silver Spring home in what police are describing as a robbery-murder set up through a phone sex chatline. ‘I was telling him, ‘if you stay out there longer and run, it’s just going to be worse for you,” Saunders’ mother, Delilah Saunders, told the Washington Examiner Monday night, tearfully describing her last conversation with her son. Lancaster had been placed in secure detention in July after years of arrests on charges from weapons violations to unlawful entry. He was put in a work release program in January, records obtained by the Examiner show.”

How many more deaths are going to have to be tied to DYRS kids before Fenty and Co. step up and fix that system?

METRO POLICE ON ALERT: Following NYC’s bomb scare, WTOP’s Adam Tuss is reporting that Metro cops are on some kind of vague “heightened alert.” This means: “K-9 teams, specialty officers and extra units are being deployed at some stations, Kiss and Ride lots and station entrances as a direct result of the terror plot.” More bomb scare react quotes via NBC4. Meanwhile, Red Line service resumed normal service as of yesterday afternoon, reports NC8/WJLA, and DCIST.

MORE METRO NEWS: WaPo’s Ann Scott Tyson reports that officials/management experts/Metro nerds are questioning the leadership of Richard Sarles, Metro’s interim chief. No honeymoon for this guy! After reading this you kind of feel bad for the interim chief: “Sarles, who recently stepped down as head of New Jersey Transit, has set modest targets for his tenure, while exhibiting a reticence that has led some officials and transit experts to question whether he is forceful enough to steer Metro through the budget crisis, leadership transition and critical safety decisions it faces in coming months. ‘Sarles has been somewhat circumspect,’ said Jim Graham, a District member of the Metro board. ‘I don’t know how much of that is an ‘I-am-not-the-boss’ attitude . . . or if that is his actual style.'”

In other Graham-Metro news…the Ward One councilmember, who is running for re-election, picked up the transit workers’ endorsement. According to a press release, Graham “was endorsed for re-election by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689. The union represents more than 2,000 bus and Metrorail operators, maintenance, clerical personnel and other transit employees who reside in D.C…. ATU Local 689 President Jackie L. Jeter said, ‘Jim Graham has consistently fought to provide funding and improve service on the Metro system since he’s been in office. I’m particularly proud that he’s supporting a region-wide dedicated funding source for Metrorail and Metrobus.'”

On the terror beat: Security worries close Supreme Court doors (NBC4, DCIST).

Medical marijuana advocates are lobbying the D.C. Council to make the bill less restrictive, WAMU’s Patrick Madden reports. The D.C. Council is expected to take a final vote on the measure today. Advocates want to increase the amount of marijuana patients can get per order. And: “Advocates also want to make sure there are civil protections for patients using medical marijuana, for example, protecting someone getting fired for failing a drug test at work.” D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson tells Madden that it is unlikely that major changes will be made to the final bill. WaPo goes A1 on its findings that pot use is already fairly routine in the District: “marijuana is already ubiquitous in many parts of the city, as demonstrated by federal surveys showing that Washingtonians’ fondness for weed is among the strongest in the country — and growing. The popular image of the nation’s capital leans toward the straight and narrow, a town of over-achieving, button-down bureaucrats, lawyers and lobbyists. But meander through any neighborhood from Congress Heights to Friendship Heights, and Washingtonians across race and class lines can be found lighting up.” Shocking!

The D.C. Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments over the D.C. Council’s gay-marriage bill. WaPo via AP reports: “Bishop Harry Jackson sued after the Board of Elections and Ethics refused to approve the ballot initiative, saying it would violate the city’s Human Rights Act. The judge said the city was right. Tuesday’s appeals court hearing will be before the full court. It’s rare for all of the judges to hear a case before it has been heard by a three-judge appeals panel, particularly when the lawyers in the case didn’t request the en banc hearing.”

MORE PROOF MICHELLE RHEE REALLY HATES THE PRESS: In his D.C. Schools Insider blog, WaPo’s Bill Turque notes: “We learned from Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee at her Friday D.C. Council testimony that the fiscal disarray following the contract announcement was actually an attempt to avoid that worst of all possible worlds: a leak to the press. Rhee said that ideally the District would have buttoned down all financial issues and secured District CFO Natwar M.Gandhi’s certification before announcing the terms of the contract, as it did on April 7. But the fear was that details would leak while it was pending in Gandhi’s office, agitating union members.” Turque gets react from the teacher’s union. [Emphasis added].

SAVE OUR SAFETY NET is holding a protest tomorrow morning in front of the Wilson Building. From the press release, the group notes: “District residents and advocates will protest cuts to the City’s safety net services at a rally in front of the Wilson Building on Wednesday, May 5, 2010. The rally is being organized in partnership with the Fair Budget Coalition and Save Our Safety Net (SOS-DC). ‘The Mayor’s budget includes cuts to important social services that the city provides, like child care vouchers, job training, domestic violence services, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. We are gathering to show the Council that recipients are voters who care about these services, and to urge them to find other ways, including revenue increases, to close the budget gap,’ says Emily Appel of the Fair Budget Coalition Steering Committee.” The protest is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. Speakers to include Councilmember Tommy Wells and DC Central Kitchen’s Robert Egger.

TOMMY WELLS STREETCAR TOUR: Frozen Tropics notes that Councilmember Wells will be hosting a street car tour along the H Street Corridor on Friday. FT has the full tour schedule.

BIKE LANES ON PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE: Big news for patriotic cyclists. WaPo reports that bike lanes are nearly finished on Penn Ave.: “The outline for a pair of bike lanes that will stretch from the White House to the Capitol is emerging down the center of Pennsylvania Avenue as work crews replace old traffic markings with new bike-only designations. ‘We’re about a week away from opening them to bike traffic,’ said Jim Sebastian, bike coordinator for the District Department of Transportation.’It’s going to require more markings and more signal work.’ The signal work is necessary because the two bike lanes are at the center of the avenue, which still will carry three lanes of vehicle traffic in each direction on most blocks. To avoid collisions when cars and bikes are attempting left turns, traffic light cycles are being changed so that bikes will have an exclusive green light to turn left when all other traffic is stopped.”

WE TOTALLY MISSED THIS RIBBON CUTTING: ANC 8C01 reports on “the opening of Ward 8’s first ‘green’ condos in what was once an abandoned eyesore in the community. The new Fendall Heights condos, at the corner of Fendall and V Streets, SE, adds 29 newly renovated units just blocks from the also newly renovated Frederick Douglas House. The affordable housing project, restricted to first time home buyers, was developed through a joint venture with ARCH Development, a non-profit community development organization, Fendall Partners, and $170,000 in pre-development support from the District Department of Housing and Community Development.”

A Brandywine resident has been charged with murdering his neighbor (WaPo).

MIKE SELLERS SPOTTED: WTOP (via AP) reports that Sellers gave a talk to kids about the ills of steroids, admitting that they are hard to resist.

MAYORS SCHEDULE: 10:45 a.m. Remarks at Ross Elementary School, 1730 R Street NW.

D.C. COUNCIL SCHEDULE: 10:00 a.m. legislation meeting at the Wilson Building in room 500.