IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Vincent Gray Inquiry Finds No Wrongdoing‘; ‘Local Dems Fined $18K for Convention Fundraising Misdeeds‘; and tweets galore!
IN LL WEEKLY—-Dare to Compare: Is Fenty vs. Gray like Clinton vs. Dole? Or Clinton vs. Obama? Also: What’s going on with this year’s summer jobs program?
Morning all. The new DCPS teachers contract proposal was unveiled under bright sunshine yesterday at Eliot-Hine Middle School, with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Chancellor Michelle Rhee, union officials George Parker and Randi Weingarten all beaming about a deal—-but careful not to look so cheerful as to endanger its ratification. Bill Turque reports in WaPo that officials touted the deal as ‘a historic moment for public education in the District but then turned to the task of selling the deal to the two constituencies that will have to approve it: rank-and-file instructors and the D.C. Council….Rhee has briefed members of the council, including Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), on the contract.’ Some early reviews: Union firebrand Jerome Brocks says ‘George Parker sold teachers out…The pay scale is inviting, but the bottom line is that [Rhee] is being given too much power to fire teachers at will.’ Meanwhile, ‘[o]thers are concerned about the unusual commitment of $64.5 million in private foundation money that Rhee plans to use to fund most of the performance bonuses and an unspecified portion of the raises.’ That includes Parker foe Nathan Saunders: ‘This is a significant moment not just for teachers, but for public employees….This is heavy medicine.’ WAMU-FM’s Kavitha Cardoza polled teachers at a WTU informational event last night. ‘Several say the agreement seems favorable, but they want to read the fine print before they make up their minds.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Nickles and Huvelle spar over disabilities case; Gray cleared by OCF, Democrats not; Jack Evans is getting married; Fenty administration cuts down on budget book printing
MORE DETAILS—-‘The tentative agreement, which comes after more than two years of bargaining, would raise teacher pay by more than 20 percent by 2012, increasing the average salary of a D.C. educator from about $67,000 to $81,000. If approved, the financial package will make teacher salaries in the District competitive with those in surrounding suburban school districts, according to an analysis by the American Federation of Teachers. The contract also calls for a voluntary pay-for-performance plan, under which teachers could earn an additional $20,000 to $30,000 a year based on improved student achievement, assignment to a high-needs school or whether they teach a subject in high demand. Although teacher tenure protections remain in place, the pact affirms Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s power to retain teachers on the basis of performance—-not seniority—-in the event that budget cuts or enrollment declines force the closure of some schools.’ Also WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, WRC-TV, NewsHour. Reax from Education Sector, Washington Grantmakers Daily.
PERFORMANCE PAY—-Leah Fabel reports in Examiner: ‘Under the contract, teachers who opt for performance pay would be able to earn up to $147,000. First-year teachers could earn up to $70,000. Currently, teachers max out at $87,000. The average DCPS teacher salary is $65,000.’ Deborah Simmons notes at WaTimes that the agreement ‘includes a merit-pay component – an issue long pushed by conservatives and supported by the Obama administration, but considered a no-no by teachers unions.’ Top Rhee aide Jason Kamras addressed the issue in a speech, as reported by Dropout Nation.
WAPO SPEAKS—-From editorial: ‘Rhee vowed she would not agree to anything that didn’t further her efforts at reform. The innovative agreement announced Wednesday is evidence of that resolve—-and also of a gutsy willingness by local and national union leaders to make the changes that are needed if D.C. children are to do better in school….Debate is also likely to focus on whether it’s fair for teachers to get big (albeit privately supported) raises at a time when other city employees are being asked to accept pay freezes. It’s been three years since teachers received raises, and, more important, the District can’t afford not to make this essential investment to improve its teaching force….We don’t know what happened behind the closed doors of negotiations…but it’s clear this agreement wouldn’t have come about without the considerable clout of Ms. Weingarten. Those who wonder—-and that’s included us at times—-about whether she is serious about wanting to bring real reform to American education have only to read the 112 pages of this extraordinary agreement.’
ALSO—-WaPo’s Valerie Strauss says that the contract agreement reflects a change in Rhee: ‘Whatever the arguments are for those and other issues, the lesson at the moment is that cooperation was possible, and that things take time. Perhaps it is a sign that Rhee is gaining a new understanding that it is better to talk things out with stakeholders before making arbitrary decisions and wading into fights she doesn’t really need to be waging. If so, that would be good news. What the city does not need is another schools reform effort that is over before it gains real traction.’
The Office of Campaign Finance has been busy of late. Yesterday, it released final orders in two investigations—-one into Gray’s alleged malfeasance and one into the D.C. Democratic State Committee’s 2008 convention fundraising. Gray emerged fine; the agency found that a solicitation letter he wrote to Comcast seeking convention funds was ‘in th enormal course of business’ and that home work done by a William C. Smith & Co. subsidiary was a ‘normal business transaction’ that Gray paid market price for. Tim Craig notes in WaPo that OCF ‘also concluded that Smith did not have any controversial business before the council at the time. “There is no evidence to suggest that [Gray’s] official actions or judgment or vote would be influenced by [Smith] in exchange for the work performed at his home,” the ruling states, adding Gray and Smith “engaged in a transaction made in the ordinary course of business.”‘ Things didn’t go so well for the Dems; OCF recommends an $18,000 fine on top of their mandate to return excessive contributions totaling about $37,000.
Attorney General Peter Nickles‘ ongoing combat with the District’s federal trial judges over their role in the oversight of city agencies continues to go badly. Yesterday, Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle issued an opinion in the Evans case concerning treatment of the developmentally disabled, rejecting Nickles’ interpretation of the Horne Supreme Court decision, joining colleague Thomas F. Hogan in rejecting the idea that the case excuses the District from having to comply with consent decrees it had signed. Later that afternoon, Nickles was summoned to Huvelle’s courtroom—-prompting one of the more lively legal bouts LL’s had the pleasure to witness. In WaPo, Henri Cauvin calls it ‘a series of exchanges between two of the more blunt members of the D.C. Bar.’ The core of the issue: ‘The court’s special masters have proposed a monitor who could enforce compliance with the court’s orders. But as they try close the door on the class actions, Nickles and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty have resisted anything that would appear to be a step backward, even as DDS struggles to meet the benchmarks set out in a 2001 court ruling. To Nickles, the appointment of an outside administrator for DDS would be tantamount to a court takeover of the department.’ And that point has foiled settlement talks, though an opening appeared at the end of the two-hour hearing. “I think we need some cooler heads,” Huvelle told Nickles. “And I don’t know where that leaves you, Mr. Nickles.” He replied: “I’ll find some cool heads.” Meanwhile, Nickles is taking his Horne arguments to an appeals judge.
MORE—-Jordan Weissmann reports at Legal Times: ‘By the end of the afternoon in Washington’s federal trial court, Huvelle had been pushed nearly past the point of words, thrusting together her hands into a time-out signal to try to interrupt Nickles. For his part, Nickles had already chastised the judge for her “unseemly” comments….”You believe, and I assume the mayor believes, that the sooner the courts are out the better,” [Huvelle] told Nickles, before adding later, “The problem is you’ve lost the case, so I don’t know what it is you want.”‘
Jonetta Rose Barras takes an admiring look at the Fenty budget proposal: ‘Fenty’s budget ignores his political reality: A segment of the electorate considers him unconcerned about the plight of the poor and working-class. Instead of counteracting that perception by adhering to election year norms where jobs and money are passed around like water, he holds flat spending in human services. Further, he generously increases a variety of fees including for parking and business licenses; consolidates some agencies, notably the employee relations and employee appeals boards; and cuts 385 positions from the government’s payroll. What politician in his right mind cuts jobs during an election year? Don’t expect the council—-with more than eight members either seeking re-election or higher offices—-to follow the mayor’s lead.’ Barras sees fights brewing over education, DPW inspections, and cuts to DPR’s Roving Leaders.
Less admiringly, Dorothy Brizill reports in themail that the Fenty administration has several curtailed the printing and distribution of budget books. ‘Arguing budgetary constraints, the administration has severely limited the number of printed copies: thirty-seven copies were delivered to the council at noon on Monday, twenty-five copies to the Executive Office of the Mayor, three to the CFO’s office, ten to DC Public Libraries (which will take about two weeks to process and be shelved), and a copy to each department or agency director….The decision not to print and distribute the budget violates Council Resolution 18-337 (adopted December 15, 2009), the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Submission Requirements Resolution of 2009. The Council resolution mandates the “the Mayor shall submit to the Council, and make available to the public, not later than April 1, 2010, the proposed budget for the District government.”‘
ALSO—-D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute examines Fenty budget’s revenue-raising proposals. Worth noting: ‘The 2011 budget marks the second year that the Mayor has proposed reducinged the DC Earned Income Tax Credit. We strongly urge the mayor to change his mind.’
The 14-year-old wheelman in last week’s drive-by shootings has been charged with no less than 41 counts in juvenile court, ‘including four of first-degree murder while armed, attempted murder while armed and assault with intent to kill,’ Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. ‘At a closed juvenile hearing before D.C. Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Wingo on Wednesday, prosecutors cited charges that include six counts of attempted murder while armed, 12 of assault with intent to murder while armed and six of aggravated assault while armed. The teen also was charged with reckless driving and driving without a permit.’ A bench trial could come as early as May. Also in court yesterday was Sanquan Carter, charged in the March 22 killing of Jordan Howe, which allegedly precipitated the drive-by. The lead MPD detective tesified that ‘one witness said Sanquan turned to his brother [Orlando] and asked, “Do you want to hammer them?” The Carters then began shooting into the crowd, the detective testified.’
FRIGGIN’ EXAMINER—-Ruining it for everyone: ‘Reporters were not allowed at the juvenile court hearing because a media outlet had previously identified the juvenile, which is against D.C. Superior Court regulations. But according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, the youth remains in a maximum security juvenile detention facility, where he has been housed since his arrest.’
A second day of funerals for shooting victims, yesterday for William Henry Jones III and DaVaughn A. Boyd. From WaPo coverage by Theola Labbé-DeBose and Maria Glod: ‘Jones, 19, was working toward his GED and liked cooking pancakes for loved ones, according to some of the more than 250 family members and friends gathered at the Temple of Praise church in Southeast, less than a mile from where he died. Boyd, 18, loved his young son, the Washington Redskins and playing the conga drums, said relatives and friends at Pope Funeral Home in Forestville, where the pews were filled and a line of mourners stood against the wall during the memorial service. Both teens had nicknames among family and close friends. Jones was known as Marley and DaVaughn was called DayDay….Despite the “amens” and the nods of assent from mourners, the threat of retaliatory violence was enough to bring out a police presence. Prince George’s County police cruisers were parked outside Pope Funeral Home, and several police agencies stood watch outside Temple of Praise, including at least one District police officer carrying a semiautomatic rifle.’ Also WAMU-FM, NC8.
THE POLITICOS—-‘Several politicians attended Jones’s wake, including [Gray], council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and [Fenty], who filed in quietly behind mourners and waited his turn to view the coffin. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) also attended Jones’s service. Fenty, Gray, Barry and Norton also attended Boyd’s funeral.’
TODAY—-The funeral for the final victim, Brishell Jones, will be held at Canaan Baptist Church. And WUSA-TV reports that Guardian ANgels will start patrolling the neighborhood near the shooting scene.
ALSO—-Paul Helmke, head of the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, pens op-ed on the killings. ‘It was a cheap, artificial keepsake, that bracelet….But in the end, because of the easy availability of dangerous guns, that bracelet commanded an incredible price: 10 people shot, five fatally, and four police officers injured in the nation’s Capital….The killers used an AK-47 style semiautomatic assault weapon and two handguns in the second shooting event, according to press reports. We banned the civilian sale of these types of weapons for 10 years, but that law expired in 2004. Police say they see more and more of these weapons back on the streets.’
Police have ‘quietly but regularly shut down sidewalks and streets’ surrounding Ballou High School, Bill Myers reports in Examiner, ‘a move that some critics say smacks of the city’s failed barricades program.’ The initiative is described in police documents as ‘safe passage’ to take place every school day between 3 and 3:30 p.m. ‘”Permit no foot traffic walk towards the school in all directions,” police Inspector Nathan Sims wrote to commanders in August. “No student or pedestrian shall be permitted to hang around the school while the school safe passage is being conducted”…Sims’ e-mail states….Rank-and-file police officers are pushing back against their leaders, saying the Ballou effort is unconstitutional. “What this shows is the department simply has no learning curve on this stuff,” police union leader Kris Baumann.’
More on FEMS’ struggles to deal with high call volume in the unseasonable heat, from WaPo’s Clarence Williams: ‘D.C. police found a man with a gunshot wound in the arm inside a residence in the 4300 block of 3rd Street SE on Tuesday afternoon, officials said. Unfortunately, such an attack is not all that uncommon in that stretch of the city….What was unusual, however, was that no D.C. ambulance was available to transport the man to a hospital. He was treated by medics from a city fire engine, D.C. Fire and Emergency Services officials acknowledged. The reason? D.C. medic units have been extremely busy so far this week, according to Pete Piringer, a D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman.’ So yesterday, six additional ambulance crews were deployed. Also WRC-TV.
ALSO—-UDC shut down early yesterday because air-conditioning wasn’t working.
A heartening story for pro se litigants everywhere: Robert Pettus, a convicted murderer accused of sexually assaulting his mentally ill cellmate, defended himself in Superior Court and won, Alexander reports in WaPo. ‘Pettus, 24, who was found guilty in 2008 of raping and stabbing to death his 77-year-old Southeast Washington neighbor Martha E. Byrd, argued that the latest rape charges were false. The victim made up the allegations because Pettus refused to give up the bottom bunk, Pettus said. Pettus also told the jury that the jail’s corrections officers supported the charges and corroborated the bunkmate’s allegations because they were disgusted with the original murder charge. On Tuesday, after about three hours of deliberations and a weeklong trial, the jury found Pettus not guilty….At times, Pettus came across as a sincere, well-spoken man who had spent months researching cases and legal theory. During tense questioning between Pettus and the cellmate’s mother, Pettus got the Florida woman to acknowledge her son’s mental problems—-a detail that prosecutors wanted kept out of the proceedings.’
ALSO—-Alexander covers the trial of Terrence J. Jones, 20, charged with murdering Tanganika Stanton, 18, over a hamburger. The star witness: ‘Wearing his Air Jordan sneakers, a white polo shirt and blue-jean shorts, the soft-spoken 10-year-old boy often looked up to the ceiling from the witness stand inside the D.C. Superior Court, hoping to remember details of the 2008 fatal shooting….On the stand, the boy told prosecutor Jennifer Kerkhoff that he remembered the shooting because he had just returned home from school and had changed out of his uniform and put on his play clothes to ride his new bike. While biking around the neighborhood with another friend, the boy said, he saw Jones shoot a gun from a gate in front of an apartment building, where the mother and daughter lived.’
AND—-Trial of St. E’s orderly accused of suffocating patient goes to jury. ‘Assistant U.S. Attorney Venet Bryant told jurors in closing arguments that common sense would have dictated not to grab a person by the neck and lie on top of him. But she said [Calvin Green], a 30-year employee of the hospital, certainly should have known better after undergoing a training session on proper restraint methods less than three weeks before [Mark Harris]’s death.’
Well, gee whiz: Jack Evans is getting married! Nikita Stewart is first to report that Evans will wed longtime girlfriend Michelle Seiver. Reliable Source adds that there will be a fall wedding (after the primary, LL hopes?). What we have here is a real Brady Bunch situation: Evans and Seiver each have three kids from previous marriages.
Ray’s the Steaks debuts in Ward 7, and WaPo’s Hamil Harris reports that the ribbon-cutting brought out all sorts of politicos. ‘Fenty was in full campaign mode Wednesday afternoon, passing out green stickers to potential volunteers and nibbling on a juicy porterhouse steak….Gray was also on hand for the ceremony—-though Ray’s owner Michael Landrum provided a full meal only to Fenty: mashed potatoes, greens, macaroni and cheese and of course, steak. (The mayor took most of it home in a doggy bag.)…Julius Ware, who promotes economic development in Ward 7, watch the mayor during the event. He noted that Fenty, who has been called aloof at times, seemed to show another side of himself. “Mayor Fenty seems to work best when he has a challenger. Normally, he keeps his jacket on, but today he had his coat off and was eating macaroni and cheese.”‘ Also NC8.
QUIP—-‘Fenty gave Landrum a proclamation. “This is the first time that I got something official that wasn’t a court order,” Landrum joked.’
The transportation implications of next week’s Nuclear Security Summit are A1 news for WaPo: ‘The largest security curtain since Inauguration Day will descend on Washington beginning Sunday, closing enough downtown streets to cause two days of gridlock and remind people that living at the center of world political power comes at a price….A vast perimeter will be in place to protect President Obama and other world leaders as they discuss how to keep nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists. “There’s a potential here to make [the inauguration] look like child’s play,” said Lon Anderson, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “This is going to be during business hours, when Washington is a live, bustling city.”…According to guidelines issued by government agencies, residents will be required to show photo ID to reach their homes, and they and their guests—-and anything they are carrying—-will be screened. …Jerome Washington, 24, of the McCollough Terrace Apartments, inside the security zone, said he was upset at the extensive restrictions for the summit…”You know you don’t have no power when outside forces come in and do stuff like this,” Washington said. “You’ve been living here your whole life. You finally know you don’t have power when somebody you don’t know…just can come, block off everything, and don’t even ask you.”‘
From Housing Complex: Zoning Administrator is cracking down on ‘arts overlays’ restricting bars and restaurants—-a decision that has big implications for the 14th Street corridor. Now restaurants and bars will have to go to the BZA for special exceptions to open up. Also WBJ. The MidCity Business Association is not happy.
Ward 1 council candidate Marc Morgan wants an endorsement from the pro-LGBT Victory Fund. This is interesting because Morgan is a Republican.
Two St. Albans students arrested in gun scare, which temporarily locked down St. Albans, NCS, Beauvoir, and Sidwell. Reports WaPo: ‘Police said Arya Mortazavi, 18, of Potomac brought the rifle to school in his vehicle. At one point, the 17-year-old student had possession of the rifle before it ended up back in the vehicle, police, said. They said there was no evidence that the two meant to pose a threat. Mortazavi was charged with violating a regulation on the transportation of a BB gun, and the other student, whom police did not identify, was charged as a juvenile with illegal possession of a BB gun by a minor.’ Also Examiner, AP, WTOP, NC8, WTTG-TV, WRC-TV.
Man shot last November dies of his wounds, WaPo reports: ‘Earl Griffin, 27, of no fixed address, was found shot in the 2400 block of 11th St. NW at around 10:50 p.m. on Nov. 7, police said. Griffin was taken to an area hospital. He remained under care there until he died on Tuesday.’
Woman struck by car in Washington Circle has died, Hatchet reports.
Who Murdered Robert Wone? has transcripts of the MPD interview with Joe Price, suspected of obstructing the investigation into Wone’s death.
Park Police seek one Ronald Edward Bost Jr., 50, who is ‘allegedly responsible for racist vandalism and damage at various parks in the Washington area….Police say Bost has tattoos, including faded swastikas of his left knuckles.’
Woman struck by Metro train in Mount Vernon Square station.
WAMU-FM examines how Metro’s proposal to end weekend rail service at midnight could put the kibosh on Adams Morgan nightlife.
You thought WaPo’s blanket cherry blossom coverage was over? Not so! Michael Ruane profiles the preeminent painter of cherry blossoms.
James Bennett, CEO of Metropolitan Washington Airpoerts Authority, is set to retire. HE will move on to chair the American Association of Airport Executives.
Latest on Central Union Misson building, from DCmud—-developer needs extensions from BZA.
Hot temps mean early Ginkgo smell.
Potholepalooza is over.
No Southwest Safeway until April 15.
Smart grid grants for Pepco
Famed Baltimore piemaker opens H Street NE shop, debuts marionberry pie in honor of who-know-who.
Bill Treanor, veteran activist and publisher of Youth Today, is retiring at 67. Writes John Kelly in WaPo: ‘For 40 years, Bill has been sort of the Zelig of Washington politics: a hippie when Dupont Circle was the epicenter of the counterculture, a Hill staffer, a D.C. school board member and the co-founder of Youth Today, a newspaper that every month since 1992 has been sticking a finger in the eyes of nonprofit groups that purport to help children but don’t have much to show for it….Bill refuses to be pessimistic. The D.C. Council appointed him to the Children and Youth Investment Trust, and he is pleased at how quickly it and other groups have responded to the crisis at D.C. General Hospital, where more than 600 kids from homeless families have been languishing with nothing to do. Money was raised to offer enrichment programs that should start next week.’
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled; budget review week.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-3:15 p.m.: remarks, briefing on impacts of G45 Nuclear Summit, Washington Convention Center, 7th Street and Mt. Vernon Place NW.