IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘DCPS Teacher Contract to Be Unveiled; Big Raises Funded By $65M in Private Money‘; ‘Behold the Mayoral Abs‘; ‘First Funeral Service for Mass Shooting Victim Held‘; and tweets galore!
Morning all. At long last, we have a contract! LL was first to report yesterday evening that Chancellor Michelle Rhee and the Washington Teachers’ Union were set to unveil a proposal nearly three years in the making, one that stands to hike teacher salaries more than 20 percent, institute a performance pay program, and streamline teacher discipline processes. Controversially, it’s paid for using $65M in private funding, from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Robertson Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. Assuming that the private funds are certified, it’s unclear what happens after the contract expires in 2012. To address union concerns, the proposal lays out modifications to the IMPACT teacher evaluation system and the reduction-in-force process. And in pursuit of Rhee’s goals, teachers “excessed,” or laid off from overstaffed schools, would no longer be guaranteed another DCPS job. Question is, will it be ratified? Answer is, if you were offered a 20 percent raise in this economy, would you pass it up?
AFTER THE JUMP—-More contract details; drive-by shooting victim is first to be laid to rest; WaPo columnists tee off on Obama visit to Southeast; Fenty changes to PERB, OEA further miff already-miffed unions; Graham goes after Maryland on Metro funding; earmarks cut, Peaceoholics downsizes operations
TODAY—-The proposal is set to be unveiled this morning at a press conference featuring Rhee, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, WTU President George Parker, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.
MORE—-From WaPo A1 story by Bill Turque: ‘The deal gives Rhee some of the tools she said she needed to raise the quality of teaching and learning in schools long ranked among the nation’s worst. But perhaps more importantly it brings her the prospect of peace with the union as [Fenty] heads into an election-year battle with Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) and perhaps another candidate. The negotiations also had been viewed as a potentially precedent-setting showdown between unionized teachers and reform advocates, who regard them as an impediment to revamping the nation’s schools….”Although it was a long, sometimes difficult process, it was the right process to go through,” Rhee said. “We’ve come to an agreement everyone thinks is a good agreement. . . . It took a lot of courage to get here.” Weingarten said: “There was a lot of anger and a lot of misinterpretation of each other’s positions, but the best collective bargaining processes are ones where you are solving problems. Here the issue was how do we help kids in D.C. public schools and ensure teachers have the tools to help them.”…The 103-page deal is significantly different from Rhee’s original vision for a collective bargaining agreement, which she promised would “revolutionize education as we know it” when she first developed it in 2008….Asked Tuesday whether her views on teacher tenure have evolved, Rhee said: “What has evolved is our common understanding of what is important and what is not important. The thing that is important is that everyone understands that tenure doesn’t mean a job for life.”‘
THE FUNDING—-Leah Fabel reports in Examiner: ‘Weingarten, who has been a key player in the negotiations, has criticized incentive plans that rely on private dollars. But DCPS officials charged with plotting incentive pay plans have expressed a desire to “just blow the door open” on the amount of money up for grabs. Sources within the District’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer said that worries persist over the city’s ability to fund the initiatives should private funders flee.’ Turque notes: ‘Letters from each of the private funders were submitted Tuesday to D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, who must certify them as fiscally sound for the deal to move forward. Private money has played a significant role in public education for years. But union officials said Tuesday that there was no precedent for private foundations underwriting salaries of schoolteachers. What makes the arrangement more unusual is that some of the proposed private funders are not known for their support of unionized teachers. The Walton Family Foundation, created in 1987 by Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, has invested heavily in non-unionized charter schools, and critics say its contributions reflect an agenda that promotes privatization of public education.’
WHAT’S NEXT—-Writes Turque: ‘Although Rhee and Weingarten expressed satisfaction with the pact, it lands in the midst of a politically charged environment in the District, one that could complicate its ratification by teachers and approval by the council. In addition to the mayor’s race, [Parker] faces a reelection challenge next month from union General Vice President Nathan Saunders, an outspoken Rhee critic. Parker now will face that election with a contract in hand. “We really hit on something that can move kids forward,” he said.’
Family, friends, and politicos gathered yesterday at Tenth Street Baptist in Shaw for the funeral of Tavon Nelson, 17, the first of the four victims of the March 30 mass shooting to be laid to rest. ‘The service…began as a memorial to a young man who was close to his family, a sports fan and enjoyed listening to rap,’ Maria Glod writes in WaPo. ‘But, as community leaders and local politicians arrived, it also became a call to action and rally for change in the city’s most troubled neighborhoods. “My friends, this is the first of four that are to be buried. Is this our city? Will we claim it?” [Eleanor Holmes Norton] said to the crowd. “One was too many. Four was unspeakable. This, my friends, was an outsized tragedy.” [Fenty] and [Gray], who has announced that he will challenge Fenty, were among the local leaders who came to offer condolences. [Marion Barry] spoke at the service. “Your politicians and elected officials need to be there for these families and this community after the cameras are gone … after the headlines,” Barry said. “I stand ready to do all that I can.”‘ Kwame Brown, David Catania were also there. Said Pastor Michael A.C. Durant, ‘The Lord didn’t take Tavon. Senselessness, foolishness, carelessness, heartlessness took Tavon….We may not have pulled the trigger, but we created the environment.’ Also WAMU-FM, NC8, WUSA-TV.
TODAY—-Devaughn Boyd, 18, and William Jones III, 19, will be laid to rest.
Both WaPo columnists Courtland Milloy and Eugene Robinson riff on the juxtaposition of the mass shooting in Washington Highlands and President Barack Obama‘s visit to an east-of-the-river church on Sunday. ‘President Obama made another surprise visit to a war zone—-this time to Southeast Washington for Easter services at Allen Chapel AME. But instead of addressing the battle-weary congregation, as he had done with the troops in Afghanistan last month, Obama fell curiously silent,’ Milloy writes. ‘He had made a campaign promise to revitalize urban American, and what better way to making good on his word than declaring war on Depression-era jobless rates, Jim Crow-era incarceration rates and post-Reconstruction hopelessness and despair in his own back yard? All we got instead was grainy video of him in muted communion while a fawning congregation acted as if he was the risen Christ and not a politician who owed them a debt.’ Adds Robinson: ‘It is rare these days when two high-profile events, within a single week, train the spotlight even briefly on the too-large segment of the African American population that remains mired in desperate poverty and self-sustaining dysfunction….Before he entered politics, Obama worked in equally desperate communities in Chicago. He has the understanding, and the power, to begin the process of healing places like Ward 8. But he is going to need the political will—-and the clout—-to implement policies that specifically target the African American underclass. I hate that word, underclass, and almost never use it. But the ultimate defeat that it implies seems alarmingly near.’
Harry Jaffe, meanwhile, argues in his Examiner column that only the gunning down of white children would provoke the kind of outrage that would provoke any real changes: ‘If the young folks whose lives were taken for no good reason had been white rather than black, the city would be on lockdown. Police Chief Cathy Lanier‘s job would be on the line. [Fenty]’s falling re-election prospects would head straight south….In crime after crime, the perpetrators are well known by the police, the prosecutors and the courts….Our porous criminal justice system, where juvenile predators who kill on a whim are caught and freed to roam the streets, is the product of our city council’s liberal bent. The only way we will toughen our laws and make streets safe citywide will be when white blood is spilled. Then the politicians will pay, and listen.’ On a similar note, WaTimes columnist Deborah Simmons laments that a teen arrested in the killings ‘may never spend time in prison because the District is soft on crime. The city doesn’t follow the general law-and-order rule that serving time should fit the crime. ‘
In Examiner, Bill Myers reports that Sanquan Carter, arrested in the March 22 murder of Jordan Howe—-the killing that precipitated the drive-by—-was a DYRS ward who was ‘so violent that guards in the Oak Hill detention center demanded he be transferred to a more secure jail, a source familiar with his background said. He had fled youth custody in August, then been charged as an adult with unauthorized use of a vehicle in November. Juvenile officials put him in a special diversion program on March 17, records show.’ His brother, Orlando Carter, is suspected in the drive-by.
MISSED THIS—-Yesterday, WaPo cartoonist Tom Toles took issue with Gray’s list of campaign priorites, or lack thereof.
The Fenty budget proposal to merge the Public Employee Relations Board and Office of Employee Appeals with the Office of Administrative Hearings ‘could worsen D.C. mayor’s relations with unions,’ Tim Craig reports in WaPo, as if Fenty’s relations could get any worse. ‘Fenty, who has been battling city employee unions since his first year in office, also is proposing to slash 15 of the combined 17 staff positions allotted to the two agencies, according to budget documents. Under Fenty’s plan, it appears that the adjudication of the agencies’ cases—-they have a combined backlog of nearly 600 cases—-would be transferred to [OAH], where public complaints against D.C. agencies are heard. D.C. Council members are demanding to know how the combined agency would operate with only two staff members, and how [OAH] could bear the additional workload….Frustrated with Fenty and lining up behind [Gray] in the mayor’s race, union leaders and council members are accusing Fenty of thumbing his nose at the needs of the employees who form the backbone of the city government. “It is sad for the working people, but his day of reckoning will come,” said Geo T. Johnson, executive director of AFSCME District Council 20.’ Curious thing: PERB and OEA had just started working through a hefty backlog.
MORE—-Says Jos Williams of the Metro Labor Council AFL-CIO, ‘It is tantamount of Congress cutting the staff of the U.S Supreme Court by 90 percent and expecting the court to carry out its function.’
Blaming earmark cuts, Peaceoholics says it will be ‘severely downsizing,’ Nikita Stewart reports at D.C. Wire. ‘About 50 part-time and full-time workers have been laid off, and the group has until the end of the month to move out of its headquarters on Raleigh Place SE….The headquarters, which costs $6,000 to $6,500 a month including utilities, can no longer be supported. [Founder Ron Moten] said two things were to blame: “Vince Gray and his politics.”…Moten also added council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) to his blame list, for distributing money tagged for gang intervention to other groups “that don’t do the work” through the Children’s and Youth Investment Trust Corp.’ WUSA-TV broke the story, in a piece sympathetic to the group, Monday night. Tommy Wells told the station, ‘I did not support just writing them a check with no competitive process.’
A peek inside the MoCo halfway house where Gilbert Arenas will spend a month, courtesy of WaPo’s Dan Morse: ‘[H]e will walk into a 10-foot by 10-foot room with a mattress four inches shorter than he is. He’ll share bunk beds with a roommate, submit to daily room inspections, three-times-daily alcohol breath tests and three-times-a-week drug tests. He will be expected to go straight to community service. No lunch with friends. No trips to the gym. Then straight back….At the Pre-Release Center, in the early evenings, Arenas, who pleaded guilty to a felony count of carrying a pistol without a license, will be allowed to shoot baskets and watch TV or play table tennis.’
Jim Graham slams Maryland government’s decision to defer $28M in Metro capital funding contributions for FY2010. And Maryland’s decision, Ann Scott Tyson reports in WaPo, ‘signals that it is less likely to be able to provide its share of an additional $74 million that Metro needs to ease its operating shortfall and prevent proposed service cuts. Maryland, the District and Northern Virginia jurisdictions must all agree to provide a proportional share of the additional funds for such an increase to take place. “I am skeptical that Maryland will come up with anything” given the deferral of the $28 million, said Graham….”If one [jurisdiction] doesn’t agree, then no one can do it.”‘ Maryland’s defense is ‘that Metro was behind schedule in spending the capital dollars and that it did not need the funds now’; the state transportation secretary adds that it is ‘too early to tell’ whether Maryland could come up with additional operating funds or not. Virginia pledges to pitch in, and the District ‘is seeking to pull together its approximately $27 million share.’ Says Graham, ‘I am trying to locate some monies to increase our subsidies and decrease the impact on the fare hikes and service reductions….It means something else will not be paid.’
Metro has spent more than $1M on legal fees so far to stave off a pay hike for union employees, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. ‘The costs will continue to rack up, as the wage increases remain unresolved. Last month [a] federal court kicked the issue back to the initial arbitrator to clarify the thinking behind his order for Metro to pay 3 percent raises to bus and train operators over three years….The pricey battle comes as the transit agency faces a $189.2 million budget gap, and has proposed slashing service and raising fares to cover the difference before the new budget begins July 1….”In this troubled economy or at any time, spending seven figures in an attempt to kill benefits for bus and rail operators, mechanics and other front line workers is shameful,” said ATU 689 President Jackie Jeter.’ Metro points out that saving a million now could save $5.5M a year over three years.
At Housing Complex, Lydia DePillis checks out the mayoral HQ digs, including Gray’s choice of the Doug Jemal-owned property favored by Patrick Mara in 2008, and Fenty’s pick of the former Curtis Chevrolet space—-which ‘became snarled in historic preservation issues and a request for more review from the local ANC, before finally falling victim to the faltering economy. Meanwhile, the TIF funding went to other developments. Now, plans are presumably on hold until at least September.’
Right-wing news outlet CNSnews.com points out that *Rod Leiva* of the Latino Federation of Greater Washington ‘called on Hispanics, regardless of their immigration status, to participate in the 2010 Census, adding that doing so will expand their access to $400 billion in government-funded “resources.”…[Michael Brown], the D.C. councilman who spoke at the event, echoed Leiva’s comments on encouraging the Latino community to get counted in the Census regardless of their immigration status. He referred to the notion that information gathered from the Census forms will be used to track down undocumented workers as a “myth.” “No one will come after you for any immigration issues,” said Brown.’ There is, of course, nothing illegal about undocumented immigrants getting counted in the Census.
The PAC backed by the National Organization for Marriage and donating to candidates opposing gay-marriage proponents is covered by NC8’s Mike Conneen. ‘”I believe all of them will pay political consequences for their actions,” said Bob King, who has teamed up with Bishop Harry Jackson and [NOM] to form a political action committee. It will support D.C. candidates who oppose same-sex marriage, including, for example, mayoral candidate Leo Alexander. “I think it was arrogant on the mayor’s part and the council, just 14 individuals deciding how 600,000 should live,” Alexander said….The PAC is also targeting [Catania], who wrote the legislation, and Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas, who they believe is vulnerable.’
Councilmembers gather to announce food stamp expansion, adding 5,000 needy residents to the rolls. WaPo’s Craig reports. Michael Brown and Mary Cheh ‘said officials are now implementing the Food Stamp Expansion Act, which the council approved last year. Under the bill, residents will no longer have to earn 130 percent of the poverty level or less to qualify for food stamps. Instead, residents who participate in other low-income assistance programs will automatically qualify for food stamps. Some of those programs allow individual participation up to 200 percent of the poverty limit, currently $22,050 for a family of four in the District.’ The expansion is mostly federally funded.
The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute takes a first look at the Fenty budget proposal, noting that it ‘makes significant new cuts in a number of areas, including programs for low-income residents: Adult education and training would be reduced by nearly $7 million. Proposed child care vouchers for low-income working families are cut by $4 million, and a program to support grandparents caring for their grandchildren would be reduced by $2 million. The Department of Mental Health’s proposed budget represents a 12 percent decrease, including the elimination of 29 direct care positions. The Mayor’s budget also proposes to reduce funding for the Metropolitan Police Department, corrections, public works, and transportation. Homeless services funding remains below FY 2009 levels, even as the number of homeless families has increased dramatically over the past year. Funding for programs to help low-income renters, such as the Local Rent Supplement Program and the Housing Production Trust Fund, remains down. Despite increasing demand for public benefits, staffing at the Department of Human Services’ service centers is not proposed to increase from FY 2010 levels.’
SODA ALERT—-There will be a State of the District Address! The speech, which in previous years had typically served as a prelude to the mayoral budget submission, will tentatively be delivered Friday at Deanwood Rec Center. Nikita Stewart notes at D.C. Wire that Deanwood Rec is squarely in the midst of Vincent Gray‘s Ward 7 stronghold.
Fenty will attend a ribbon-cutting for the east-of-the-river Ray’s the Steaks today, but WCP food writer Tim Carman reports that you won’t actually be able to get a steak until next week at the earliest. WaPo’s Stewart notes owner Michael Landrum‘s volatile reputation.
Rash of calls for service has FEMS ‘stretched thin,’ NC8 reports. ‘The last two days have been so buy for DC Fire and EMS, engines have been coming and going all day long. Now it appears the department will have to bring in six additional units Wednesday to keep up with the influx of calls. Throughout this holiday week, thousands of people have been caught off guard by un-seasonably warm temperatures….A Southeast man with a non-life threatening gunshot wound in the arm was met by paramedics in three minutes, but it took nearly 30 minutes to get him transported to the hospital.’
Behold the mysterious case of the leaking pavement of Montello Avenue NE. WASA is investigating.
Shaw residents worry about possible collapse of leaning rowhouse.
Woman is struck by car in Washington Circle.
St. Albans locked down after gun reports.
WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood covers Columbia Heights small business summit.
You, too, could be a Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership Small Business of the Year.
Is LEED certification ‘greenwashing’?
Contractor touts D.C.’s new Medicaid Management Information System.
Forest City’s Foundry Lofts project could be back on, reports DC Metrocentric.
Pew ‘nonprofit village’ gets another tenant.
Bikestation earns coverage from American City & County.
DOES public budget briefing scheduled for tomorrow.
Norton discusses Haiti trip with WTTG-TV.
Queerty identifies ‘6 Reasons to Re-Elect Adrian Fenty’
Man, it’s hot out there!
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled; budget review week.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-11 a.m.: remarks, D.C. Public Schools teacher contract announcement, Eliot-Hine MS, 1830 Constitution Ave. NE; 3:30 p.m.: remarks, Ray’s the Steaks restaurant opening, East River Park Shopping Center, 3905 Dix St. NE.