IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘D.C. General Is Still Crowded, And May Stay That Way‘ and tweets galore!
Morning all. In his yearly appearance before the D.C. Council dais, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty was peppered yesterday with myriad questions about his fiscal 2011 budget plan by his former legislative colleagues. Many of them concerned the proposed teacher contract unveiled last week, which offers $161M in raises over five years with little detail about how it all gets paid for. Hizzoner, writes Nikita Stewart in WaPo, ‘could not immediately identify what [Chairman Vincent C. Gray] estimated to be as much as $100 million needed for the tentative labor agreement struck last week with the Washington Teachers’ Union….Fenty and city Administrator Neil O. Albert said they would get him the answer at a later time. “Can you do it now?” Gray asked.’ They could not. The fear is, as WaPo’s Bill Turque points out, that an unfunded raise would mean massive layoffs, far outstripping the fall RIF that caused so much strife. Adding to the drama: Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi says his analysis of the contract proposal could take ‘weeks,’ instead of the few days originally thought.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Barry tells Fenty to take a page from H.W.; Gray prefers turtle to Fenty hare; mayoral plan would hike Ward 2 meters to $3 per hour; Nickles goes after Gray on fence; WaPo wants streetcar compromise; Pew wants to know where its tax abatement went
MORE HEARING—-From Stewart: ‘Fenty stayed for the first five hours, testifying for 3 1/2 . Discussion on the contract funding continued after Fenty left the witness table. Gray repeatedly asked Gandhi whether the money was on hand. “It’s a very straightforward question, Mr. Gandhi,” Gray said. “I don’t need a protracted answer. Yes or no.” Gandhi said he would have to study the contract and the budget. “I think it’s somewhat premature for me to say that that contract doesn’t make sense,” he said. Gray was backed in his questioning by several council members, including David A. Catania (I-At Large), considered a Fenty ally. “I don’t want to engage in a gotcha moment here, . . . but if the teachers have been led to believe that the money is readily available, that has not been made evident today,” Catania said….The uncertainty about the funds could put the tentative contract in limbo and present a problem for Fenty, who improved his acrimonious relationship with the union with last week’s announcement.’ Also Examiner, which notes council concerns about $264M in fund-balance drawdowns proposed by Fenty, and more teacher reaction to the contract proposal, collected by Turque.
AND—-Poverty advocates showed up in force at JAWB ahead of the hearing. To prevent cuts to social-service programs, ‘[t]he Fair Budget Coalition is pushing the mayor and council to impose a higher income tax on households making $200,000 or more a year and an even higher levy on those making $1 million. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) urged the mayor to consider the tax, saying that $16 million could be generated among households in the $1 million bracket. He said the impact would be $2,000 per household. “This is not even the price of a table at a charity dinner,” he said. He drew laughter when he told council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who lives in pricey Georgetown, that he was not addressing him specifically. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) told the mayor to take some “political advice,” saying that Fenty had hindered himself with his no-taxes pledge, and compared him to President George H.W. Bush. “I think you ought to follow George Bush and change your mind,” he said.’
ALSO—-From Gray’s opening statement: ‘During the last major fiscal downturn, the District failed to take the actions needed to right-size its finances and a Financial Control Board was the result. I am alarmed reading this budget because this is not a fiscal plan that rises to meet the economic realities that we face. The recent recession has required extremely difficult choices to determine which programs and services would be preserved in the face of declining revenue. My frustration emanates from my view that the majority of the tough decisions to keep the District Of Columbia financially solvent have been left to this council. In too many instances, we have received budgets driven by political considerations rather than prudent financial decision-making….My other concern has been the executive’s style of “get it done no matter the cost.” This approach has cost the city dearly, because the price we pay for speed is that other important services suffer. This is speed at the expense of sustainability.’
Buried in the BSA: Parking meters lining ‘commercial streets around L’Enfant Plaza, downtown, Penn Quarter, Logan Circle, Dupont Circle, Golden Triangle, Foggy Bottom, West End, and Georgetown’ would go from $0.75 or $2 per hour up to $3 per hour, GGW is first to report. David Alpert adds: ‘Is this a good idea? Probably not. You read that right: I just declined to endorse a parking fee increase. The problem with this change is that it applies new rates across the board, without apparent regard for the demand at those meters. If all the parking on a street is getting filled up, then the demand exceeds the supply, and raising the rates is a great way to generate some revenue (ideally for the local neighborhood). But that’s not always the case.’ Michael Neibauer follows up in his first WBJ byline, reporting that ‘Fenty suggested Monday that he may reduce some meter rates in the face of public outcry….Finding the “perfect” meter rate requires some experimentation, Fenty responded, and “you’re going to have a couple different proposals that don’t work.“We’re not going to just die on the sword with what we’ve proposed,” the mayor said.’
ALSO—-GGW notes: ‘The higher rates also magically end at the Ward 2 line, such as applying to 14th Street up to U Street but not U Street itself or 14th up to Florida. Parking demand is not appreciably higher one block south of U Street than one block north. Is this because Jim Graham, Ward 1 Councilmember, has oversight responsibility over transportation, including parking?’
Peter Nickles goes on the offensive on the Vince Gray fence issue. In another WaTimes piece from Jeffrey Anderson, the AG ‘said he was “mystified” that Mr. Gray had yet to file a completed permit application for the fence and a stone retaining wall installed two years ago….”Why does The Washington Times, two years after the fact, have to alert us that such a large project was done without permits?” Mr. Nickles said. “Then, once we know, why doesn’t the city deal with it immediately? That’s what an ordinary citizen would expect.”‘ Nickles added that he is ‘unhappy with the performance of our agencies’ in the matter. He tells Anderson that $300-a-day fines begin today.
Examiner’s Bill Myers tallies the alleged criminals and their victims who were under the watch of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services—-the total is six. ‘Two teens who were in the custody of the District’s juvenile justice agency have been slain so far this year, while four more juveniles assigned to the city’s care have been accused of homicide.’ That includes one suspect and one victim in the South Capitol Street drive-by. ‘Agency spokesman Reggie Sanders wrote in an e-mail that “while even one homicide or killing of a DYRS youth is one too many,” the numbers of victims and perpetrators “represent a very small percentage of youth under DYRS care.”‘ Also, the father of one murder victim tells Myers, ‘I’m really disappointed in this city….I’ve been trying to get somebody involved to get them to change their thinking on this juvenile thing.’ Tommy Wells ‘says he’s willing to think about changing the law to lock up juvenile offenders, but said that recidivism has fallen dramatically under the current system. “We can’t let individual cases determine policy,” Wells said.’
ALSO—-Sanquan Carter, 19, is ordered jailed pending trial for the March 22 murder of Jordan Howe, 20. Keith Alexander reports in WaPo: ‘Detective Anthony Patterson…said Carter became angry at Howe and other people who attended a party at the apartment building after Carter’s gold-colored bracelet was stolen. Patterson said Carter called his brother, Orlando Carter, who arrived in a champagne-colored vehicle. Patterson said Orlando Carter, 20, brought his younger brother a .380-caliber pistol. The detective said the brothers began patting people down at the building but were unable to find the bracelet. Then, according to witnesses, Sanquan Carter turned to his brother and said, “Do you want to hammer them?” Orlando Carter began shooting an AK-47 into the crowd, while Sanquan Carter followed suit with the pistol….Patterson said one witness later turned the bracelet over to police. “There was no evidence that [Howe] had any part in the missing gold bracelet,” the detective said.’ Orlando Carter and Nathaniel Simms, suspects in the subsequent South Cap shooting, are due in court Thursday. Also WTOP.
Very sad: A female bicyclist was struck and killed yesterday evening by a D.C. National Guard truck. The accident happened at 12th Street and New York Avenue NW, three blocks from the heavily guarded Washington Convention Center. ‘Maj. Gen. Errol Schwartz, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, said the truck was “pulling forward” to help block the intersection for passage of a motorcade when the incident occurred. Authorities said in a brief statement that the truck was assigned to the motorcade security route for the summit,’ WaPo reports. The woman is yet to be identified, though NC8 reports she was 68. Also: Examiner, WTOP, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, Politico, AFP. Otherwise, the downtown transportation hiccups were minor given the heavy security.
KEY TWEET—-Via IMGoph: ‘all this security to ensure that no one gets hurt or dies at the summit, and the security manages to kill someone? mission NOT accomplished.’
WaPo editorial board calls for ‘reasonable compromise’ between city and planning regulators to move streetcar system forward. ‘No one wants to see the city’s glorious views marred in any way, but city officials make a good case that aesthetics must be weighed against the advantages of better mass transit. D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) is right to argue that the degradation to the environment is worse from cars on the road than from some unobtrusive overhead wires. The city has only itself to blame for not initiating a better discussion and planning process earlier. Still, it is right to have a sense of urgency in providing transportation alternatives as congestion grows. The two sides need to come to an understanding.’
Dallas Morning News columnist: ‘What Michelle Rhee achieved last week in Washington, D.C., was not unlike the New Orleans Saints winning a Super Bowl.’ (Just yesterday, Rhee was the Bill Parcells of school reform.) William McKenzie continues: ‘If change can come out of educational backwaters like Washington, Baltimore, Memphis and New Orleans, what about other urban districts – like Dallas?…[W]e need Democratic reformers providing cover for harder changes, like Washington’s Democratic Mayor Adrian Fenty has done for Rhee.’ Also: A HuffPo blogger wants a D.C.-style contract in Colorado.
Bus driver accused of soliciting cop for sex is fired by Metro. ‘He had been on duty, driving a D12 bus to Southern Avenue, when he was arrested and charged with solicitation, according to Metro. A police source had told the Washington Examiner that the bus driver waved over what he thought was a prostitute, then apparently offered the undercover officer $10 for sexual favors,’ Kytja Weir reports.
Pew grows mightily in D.C., WBJ reports. And yet: Rebecca Rimel, president and CEO, says ‘Pew has still not been granted a 10-year property tax abatement valued at more than $20 million that she says former deputy mayor Neil Albert promised when Pew bought the building. Her appeals to meet with [Gray] continue to go unreturned. “The silence has been deafening. There has been no response. We continue to make our case,” she said. “This abatement was offered to us based on the fact that we would create a nonprofit building incubator and we would create jobs.” Half of its employees in D.C. are residents of the city and pay taxes there, she points out….Seeing D.C. recently lure for-profit companies with tax abatements has frustrated Rimel, citing CoStar Group Inc.’s qualification for a $6.1 million, 10-year tax abatement due to its decision to buy the Mortgage Bankers Association headquarters.’
School bus involved in three-vehicle Connecticut Avenue wreck; no serious injuries.
Who Murdered Robert Wone? has another complete police interview transcript, for cover-up suspect Victor Zaborsky. Evidently he likes the word ‘evidently.’
Burglaries in Chevy Chase.
AP: ‘Tourism officials are reporting a strong turnout of visitors for Easter spring break and the National Cherry Blossom Festival, but visitors appear to be spending less than in recent years.’
Did you know? ‘[M]uch of the area’s distressed [commercial real estate] assets—37%—are largely concentrated in four companies: General Growth Properties, Opus, Tishman Speyer and Broadway Management,’ GlobeSt.com reports. Meanwhile, office demand is ‘slow but steady,’ CBRE tells CityBizList.
Rick Rosendall on gay marriage and electoral ‘legitimacy’
Rail tunnel work will impact Hill streets.
Southwest Safeway will stick around a while before demolition.
American Lung Association’s D.C. chapter to close, reports SmokefreeDC.
CHECK IT OUT—-New cfoinfo.dc.gov Web site allows drill-down on agency spending—-even current year actuals are promised! Still a work in progress.
HEARTY CONGRATS—-To the winners of the 2010 Cafritz Awards for Distinguished D.C. Government Employees: Donna Sheler, a registered nurse at the Woodson Adolescent Wellness Center; James Patrick Timony who has expanded DCPL accessibility to the visually impaired; Maude R. Holt, lately of the Office of the Health Care Ombudsman and Bill of Rights; Rehva Jones of OSSE, and Philip J. Heinrich, an OCA analyst who ‘helped DPW to eliminate its backlog of 10,000 abandoned auto service requests and used the Routesmart routing software to create efficient routes and maps that enable DPW inspectors to locate all the sites easily.’ They will be honored May 17 at GWU.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation meeting, JAWB 123; Committee on Libraries, Parks, and Recreation budget hearing on Department of Parks and Recreation, JAWB 412; Committee on Public Works and Transportation roundtable on PR18-787 (‘Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Calvin Nophlin Confirmation Resolution of 2010’) and PR18-793 (‘Alcoholic Beverage Control Broad Mike Silverstein Confirmation Resolution of 2010’), JAWB 123; 2 p.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary meeting (scheduled), JAWB 123; Committee of the Whole hearing on B18-694 (‘Closing of Public Streets Adjacent to square 1048-S (S.O.09-11792) Act of 2010’), JAWB 120; 3 p.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on PR18-740 (‘Zoning Commission for the District of Columbia Stanley Wall Confirmation Resolution of 2010’), JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, Costco/Shoppers Food and Pharmacy TIF announcement, 33rd and Fort Lincoln Drive NE.