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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Vincent Gray Files for Mayor Run, Says ‘We Can Do Better’‘; ‘With Gray Threatening, Athletes Stand Up for Fenty‘; ‘D.C. General Shelter: It’s All About The Oversight‘; ‘Nine Shot in Drive-By‘; and tweets galore!
Morning all. The scene in Washington Highlands yesterday evening was a reminder that, while the citywide homicide rate is at a historic low, outrageous acts of violence continue to plague D.C. neighborhoods. A drive-by gunman sprayed a crowd outside an apartment building on the 4000 block of South Capitol Street SE, killing four and wounding five, making it the worst mass shooting in the city since since at least 1994, amid the crack wars. WaPo reports on A1 that ‘an AK-47 assault rifle may have been used. A man who said he was in the area at the time recounted the sounds he heard as “pat, pat, pat, pat, pat,” followed by a loud boom. Then, “all I saw was bodies dropping,” he said. “It was like Vietnam.”‘ A police chase, assisted by a helicopter, went into Maryland and back, ending in Condon Terrace, where three suspects were arrested. Two of them, according to Examiner’s Bill Myers, have been charged with first-degree murder: Nathaniel Carter, 20, and Orlando Simms, 26. They are to be arraigned this afternoon.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Complete coverage of Vincent Gray mayoral campaign launch; hotel groundbreaking imminent; radio outage more serious than thought; council updates pot rules
THE BEEF—-From WaPo: ‘The motive for the gunfire could not be learned immediately and was part of an intensive police investigation….Police sources said they were looking into whether Tuesday night’s shootings might have been linked to two others this month in the southern part of the District. In one, Jordan Howe, 20, was found fatally shot on Alabama Avenue SE. In the other, a man was wounded on Chesapeake Street SE….At least one person interviewed Tuesday night said that some of those wounded on South Capitol Street had recently attended ceremonies honoring Howe, the Alabama Avenue victim.’ That ceremony had been held at St. Augustine Church in Northwest, where police had swarmed the surrounding streets.
THE SCENE—-From Examiner: ‘The violence began in the Wingate House-East Apartments on Martin Luther King Avenue, when the suspects opened fire on one of the men they suspected of being involved in the previous shooting, the police source said. As the group drove from the scene, they saw some other rivals standing in a crowd on South Capitol Street. The gunmen pulled slowly to the side and opened fire. Police who were responding to calls of the first shooting at the Wingate arrived just in time to see the crowd being fired upon at South Capitol, the source said. Officers gave chase. The suspects drove off at high speed, chucking an assault weapon out the window.’
THE HISTORY—-‘I don’t have a memory of this many people being shot at one time in the District of Columbia,’ Assistant Chief Peter Newsham tells WRC-TV. Reports WaPo: ‘The number of people shot Tuesday night may have been the most in the District in one incident since 1994, when 10 people were wounded, one fatally, at a market on O Street NW. In an eruption of gunfire in Northeast Washington last year, two people were killed and three others wounded.’
Also WTOP, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, which quotes Marion Barry: ‘I’m saddened. I’m outraged. I’m angry….We have a tough enough reputation anyway.’ As of noon, still no word on a mayoral press conference.
Vincent Gray kicked off his mayoral run yesterday afternoon at the Reeves Center, telling a raucous crowd of supporters: ‘We can do better.’ But he did not put any meat on those bones in terms of policy or politics, telling reporters there would be plenty of time for debate to come. Hopefully, it begins this afternoon, when Gray appears on NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt, 4 p.m. on NewsChannel 8. The announcement yesterday attracted a group of ex-government workers, union officials, and other folks discontented with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty—-but no councilmembers. NC8 captured the zeitgeist with this quote, from ex-council staffer Johnnie Scott Rice: ‘We need a man to run this city and Vincent is a man….We’re tired of a boy.’
WAPO LEDE—-Tim Craig writes on B1: ‘D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray officially launched his campaign for mayor Tuesday, casting himself as a true Washingtonian who is ready take on incumbent Adrian M. Fenty in an intense sprint to the September primary. With 60 supporters gathered in the lobby of the Reeves Center, Gray (D) walked up to the fourth floor to declare his candidacy with the Board of Elections and Ethics. When he emerged, Gray delivered a one-minute statement in which he noted that he was born in the city and attended public schools and George Washington University. “In essence, I am a dyed-in-the-wool homie,” Gray said. “I absolutely love this city. I am delighted to be able to step up to provide additional leadership in the District of Columbia.”‘ More at D.C. Wire on the ‘homie’ line.
THE MONEY—-From WaPo: ‘Gray, who is banking on being able to capitalize on residents’ frustration with Fenty’s leadership style, has assembled a support base of labor and civic leaders who encouraged him to run. “Anything he needs, we are going to get him,” said Geo T. Johnson, executive director of AFSCME District Council 20, which represents about 8,000 city workers. “There will be a coalition of teachers, Teamsters, police and firefighters, and we are all ready to go. We have just been waiting.”…Sources close to the campaign said Gray will try to enlist the help of well-known fundraisers such as Peggy Cooper Cafritz and Judith Terra to quickly collect large amounts of cash. The campaign also plans to enlist 10 fundraisers to collect $100,000 each and 50 supporters to gather $50,000 apiece, the sources say.’
WAPO EDITORIAL—-On Fenty v. Gray: ‘[T]his election should be more than a referendum on their personalities and records. It must be about the next four years and which candidate has the ideas and capabilities to best lead the District….Mr. Gray’s lifetime of public service to the District has justifiably earned him respect. His willingness to forgo easy reelection to a job he loves shows the depth of his unhappiness with Mr. Fenty’s leadership and his belief that it ill serves the city. His challenge in the next five months is to articulate what he would do differently than Mr. Fenty. Judging by recent polls, Mr. Gray seems to be better liked than the 39-year-old mayor, but Mr. Fenty has a record of undisputed accomplishments….Announcing his candidacy, Mr. Gray vowed that “we can do better. ” Voters need to know exactly how. The task is no less formidable for Mr. Fenty, who must convince a skeptical public that he can be trusted as a leader. As admirable as his accomplishments are, they are marred by his shortsighted slighting of the D.C. Council and questionable transactions involving friends and allies. Mr. Fenty may well believe that alienating people is inevitable, given the kind of bold change he sought, but he needlessly squandered the goodwill that helps leaders govern.’
THE RHEE FACTOR—-WaPo’s Bill Turque asks in a blog post whether the election is now a ‘referendum’ on Michelle Rhee: ‘[S]hould Gray actually win in September, both he and Rhee stand to lose by parting company. Gray would face criticism from school reform advocates, locally and nationally, who like Rhee. He could also find private foundations less willing to invest their millions in D.C. schools with someone else in the chancellor’s office. But even if a Mayor Gray wanted to keep Rhee, would she want to stay in the job without the full measure of support that Fenty has consistently shown her? That could present a difficult choice. Departing after four years would mean leaving behind a long list of unfinished business. The District could become another city where grand promises of school reform dissolved in a hail of politics. And many would argue that would be a victory for what Rhee often calls “adult interests” over what’s best for the city’s children.’
THE ISSUES—-WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood weighs in: ‘Here’s where we bring out the cliché “where the rubber hits the road.” How will Gray run against Fenty, and what will his issues be? In a nutshell, you could imagine the Fenty forces saying something like this: “Crime is down. Education test scores are up. Schools are more than habitable for maybe the first time ever. Neighborhood development projects, even in this tough economy, are on track, bringing residents new recreation centers, libraries and other city services.”…Chairman Gray, whose leadership style involves lots of thinking and reviewing—-and endless hearings—-will have to figure out how to say he can do better without getting bogged down in petty governmental processes about who did what to whom….Running for mayor and being mayor are two far different ball games. We’re anxious to see how the thoughtful—-some say bureaucratic -– Gray will fare as he steps onto the campaign fast track.’
THE BLUE TEAM—-Harry Jaffe raises questions in his Examiner column about Gray’s backers: ‘It appears that Gray’s chief strategist is one Vernon Hawkins….Hawkins has a history in D.C. political and governing circles, and it’s not very pretty. Marion Barry appointed Hawkins to be director of his Human Services Agency in his fourth term in 1994….Hawkins is a poster boy for Barry’s style of governing. Ditto Peggy Cooper Cafritz, another Gray supporter. She was school board president when the public schools were in horrible condition. On the money side, Fenty has all but scraped the table clean….What about money from the unions, especially the teachers, who would love to defeat Fenty? My sources in the National Education Association say it can’t contribute to Gray. The American Federation for Teachers can’t match $4 million. Gray can’t expect much from the AFL-CIO or the public employees unions. He’ll be lucky to raise six figures.’ Bold prediction.
THE GREEN TEAM—-‘Fenty advisers said they will turn the race into a referendum on whether Gray represents the past or the future,’ says the WaPo story.
WHAT ABOUT PEEBLES?—-WaPo columnist Robert McCartney likes that Gray runs, but hates the possibility of a spoiler: ‘I can’t tell whether [Don Peebles‘s] waffling about whether to run is merely capricious or actually malicious. Either way, his possible candidacy—-he says he’s “planning” to file but hasn’t set a date—-poses a major threat to Gray. Even a single well-known, well-funded challenger might have a hard time beating Fenty. If two split the opposition, the mayor needn’t worry. He can spend the summer trying to shave minutes off his bicycling times….I’m confused about Peebles’s motives. He has said the most important thing for the city is to replace Fenty. If that’s true, then he should stay out of Gray’s way. I’ve also lost confidence in Peebles’s reliability. He told me and others in December that he was 70 percent sure he was going to run. Shortly afterward, he said he couldn’t because his mother-in-law was ill. Then, a few weeks ago, he was suddenly talking about entering the race after all.’
WHAT ABOUT LEO?—-Valencia Mohammmed takes to the pages of the Afro to stump for Leo Alexander: ‘What do you really know about the candidates being pushed by the mainstream press? Have you investigated their pasts? What do you really know about their current lifestyles?…Ever wondered why the declared candidates are not mentioned in this year’s mayoral race? Could it be that they are un-bought and un-bossed and the mainstream press, big business, national unions and developers don’t like this – strong Black men with opinions. Don’t let the mainstream press win again. Hope is knocking at your door, greeting you at the grocery stores and metro stops, sharing bread and fresh produce, listening to your stories, offering you a chance to end generational poverty. All you have to do is take the time to get involved.’
THE CHAIRMANSHIP—-WTOP reports this morning that both Kwame Brown and Jack Evans have stated their intention to run for Gray’s seat. ‘Evans will get help from Mayor Adrian Fenty, who is seeking re-election. Although they will not formally run on a slate together, WTOP has learned Fenty has offered to help Evans with fund-raising and political organizing….For the first time, Brown definitely said he’s running for chair….”I have filled out the paperwork. As soon as I return from my family vacation I will file the paperwork.”‘ Brown claims to have secured a majority of councilmembers’ endorsements. WaPo adds that Phil Mendelson says he hasn’t ‘ruled it out’ and says Kathy Patterson ‘has no plans to run for office this year.’
ALSO—-Michael Brown tells WaPo he may establish a ‘dormant’ mayoral campaign for the general election to be activated in the case Gray loses the primary. WaPo also releases detailed crosstabs on the mayoral race from January polling and interviews the pack of models that showed up for Gray. WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, WAMU-FM, AP, GW Hatchet, Informer (headline: ‘Finally, Gray Challenges Fenty’).
WaPo editorial board calls on Fenty and Md. Gov. Martin O’Malley to pony up additional Metro subsidies to prevent service cuts: ‘[O]fficials in the District and Maryland, which together chip in the other three quarters of Metro’s regional subsidy, are balking at coming up with funds. This is dangerous, because there is no formal mechanism to coordinate higher contributions from all three localities. If one jurisdiction stiffs the system, the funding formula dictates that the other two follow suit. The result: Metro’s hole gets deeper, and the most vulnerable residents—-the poor, the sick, the aged—-get hurt most of all….State and local governments nationwide have been forced to make painful cuts to services in recent years, but Metro is a service of a different sort: It’s the region’s vital strategic linchpin. If people can’t get where they want to go with relative ease and affordability, the basic functioning of the region itself will falter, along with its prospects for prosperity. Metro is the priority on which other priorities depend. Given that basic truth, it shouldn’t be so hard for the District, Maryland and Virginia to find an extra $50 million or so among them.’
Ground could be broken on the convention center hotel as soon as late May, Lisa Rein reports in WaPo, following a judge’s decision to dismiss litigation connected to the construction. AG Peter Nickles ‘said that even if JBG appeals, the hotel will break ground. “I feel confident our investors now have confidence their investment [in the hotel] will be protected.”…The judge’s ruling did not affect the countersuits against [JBG-related company Wardman Investor], including a claim by Marriott alleging that Wardman’s lawsuit was part of an “extortionate plan” to stop construction of the convention center hotel and force Marriott to renegotiate the Wardman Park’s management agreement. Nickles said Tuesday that the city “might be disposed” to dismiss its suit if JBG and the hotel come to a separate settlement. Nickles said [Fenty] asked him three weeks ago to get the parties to discuss a settlement. “The District has played the appropriate role as facilitator,” he said.’ Also WBJ.
How big of a deal was Monday’s emergency radio outage? The Fenty administration says it wasn’t that big of a deal; ‘disaster’ and ‘fiasco” are the words used by the police union, Paul Duggan reports in WaPo. Apparently FEMS had a plan to deal with such a contingency, but MPD did not: ‘”We, the FOP, the rank-and-file police officers, were the ones that developed a plan” to deal with the outage, said Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the lodge’s labor committee. In an e-mail, he wrote: “We started having our members use their personal cellphones to contact the [police stations and dispatchers] to find out where we were needed.”‘ A Fenty statement says ‘the District quickly assumed its contingency plan with no breaks in emergency services. All 911 calls were handled in a timely and professional manner.’ Also WTTG-TV.
Remember OCTOgate? Examiner’s Scott McCabe reports on some developments in the judicial realm: ‘An area businessman is expected to plead guilty in the bribery and kickback scheme that shook up the District’s technology office. Sushil Bansal, 43, chief executive of District-based Advanced Integrated Technologies Corp., was charged in a “criminal information” with counts of bribery of a public official and money laundering.’ Bansal allegedly showered gifts on OCTO security chief Yusuf Acar, who pled guilty last year.
The Pershing Park discovery saga rolls on: U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has appointed Magistrate Judge John Facciola to get to the bottom of why evidence has disappeared in the eight years since the mass arrests, Legal Times reports. ‘[L]awyers for the [Chang] plaintiffs today squabbled with District government attorneys over whether the city still has video shot by police from rooftops and other locations at the time of the protest….Sullivan granted Facciola the authority to call upon experts for the investigation. The judge expects Facciola to make any recommendation he deems necessary to the court. “The court’s never been reluctant to get to the bottom of what happened here,” Sullivan said from the bench. He also said, “We’re going to get to the bottom of this.” On the other hand, Sullivan said he is reluctant at this point to refer the dispute to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation. But he said he is open to that possibility. “I’m not ruling that out at all,” he said.’
Examiner covers updates made to medical-marijuana bill in committee markup yesterday: Patients will be able to receive up to 2 ounces of pot per month (though ‘Mayor Adrian Fenty has the option to raise the maximum allowable monthly amount of marijuana to 2.5 ounces per patient, depending on the individual’s medical condition’). The limit on dispensaries has been raised from five to eight, and home cultivation has been abolished, ‘although an advisory committee would be established to look at the issue and make a recommendation by 2012. “Most of the states allow it, but home cultivation is an aspect that is difficult for law enforcement and the concern is to make sure it’s not abused,” Mendelson said.’ Pot advocates differ on that point. With a final council vote anticipated in May, the law could be in place by summer. Also AP, WAMU-FM.
You knew this story was coming: Now that we have gay marriage in D.C., we also have gay divorces, and Examiner reports that lawyers are ‘lining up for a stable of new clients once wedding bells are drowned out by alimony fights, custody battles and other legal standoffs previously reserved for straight couples.’ Says one lawyer: ‘The bottom line is you see a lot of people getting married for the wrong reasons and it will probably cause the same strife that breaks [straight] marriages down.’ Also: ‘Zaminer notes that Superior Court marriage applications rose dramatically thanks to gay weddings. ‘About 1,100 marriage applications have been filed in the District since March 3, according to courthouse spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz, nearly six times the average monthly count. Though the numbers are expected to fade in coming months, lawyers, politicians and gay activists say same-sex couples will continue to migrate to the District, leaving behind states where they aren’t recognized.’
Terrence Barnett is convicted in the death of girlfriend Yolanda Baker, missing since 1999, in a rare ‘no-body’ murder case. ‘On Tuesday, after three days of deliberating, a D.C. Superior Court jury found Barnett, 45, guilty of second-degree murder. He was charged with first-degree murder, but the jury was unable to determine during the three-week trial that there was enough evidence that he planned to kill Baker,’ Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. ‘As the jury foreman announced the verdict, Barnett bowed and shook his head slightly. Cold-case detectives sitting in the back row of the courtroom fist-pounded each other and smiled. Members of Baker’s family, who filled up three rows of one side of the courtroom, and members of Barnett’s family, sitting on the other side, broke into tears….Cold cases are challenging to prosecute, but murder cases in which a body is not found are even more difficult. This was only the fourth case without a body that the District’s U.S. attorney’s office has tried since the 1980s, officials said. Lawyers, law students and trial watchers visited the courtroom during the trial to watch Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines square off against criminal defense lawyer Nikki Lotze.’
WaPo follows up on drug arrest of D.C. General shelter employee, first reported by Examiner. ‘The revelation of alleged drug sales at the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter, which is housed at the old D.C. General Hospital complex in Southeast Washington, came on the eve of a D.C. Council hearing at which council members are expected to vigorously question Fenty administration officials about sexual abuse allegations at the Family Emergency Shelter, which is also housed at the old hospital….[Tommy Wells] said Friday that he would question D.C. Department of Human Services Director Clarence H. Carter about the quality of the city’s shelters at Wednesday’s hearing.’ WCP’s Jason Cherkis previews the hearing.
Gilbert Arenas still waiting to begin his halfway-house sentence, WTOP reports. First he needs a TB test!
Fox News contributor calls gun ruling ‘A Gun Ban By Any Other Name…’
NC8 covers Ward 3 burglaries.
A.J. Kramer, the District’s federal public defender since 1991, seeks another four-year term, Legal Times reports.
Booz Allen signs big lease in Lerner-developed Capitol Riverfront building.
Hit and run at Wisconsin and M.
Boaters rescued on Potomac.
Circulator releases new stroller rules.
DDOT to detail Sherman Avenue plans on April 8.
Windshield falls out of Metrobus in Ward 8.
DDOE pledges to fix solar energy grants.
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute applauds the debt cap.
Dog park for Capitol Hill?
CHotR has pics from Saturday’s roast of Phil Pannell at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church, a benefit for the Ward 8 Tennis Council. LL was honored to be among the roasters.
Drudge Report says WaTimes is for sale; WaTimes says it ain’t so.
TONIGHT—-D.C. education forum featuring WTU’s Nathan Saunders, school budget expert Mary Levy, DCPS parents, and…Clifford Janey? Turque looks at the former DCPS superintendent’s appearance, 6:30 p.m. in JAWB 412.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on B18-605 (‘Pre-K Acceleration and Clarification Amendment Act of 2010’), JAWB 500; Committee on Human Services hearing on ‘A Review of Homeless Shelter Operations During the Winter of 2009-2010,’ JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on B18-500 (‘District of Columbia Official Code Title 29 (Business Organizations) Enactment Act of 2009’), JAWB 412; Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation hearing on ‘Baseball Readiness,’ JAWB 123; 6 p.m.: Committee on Aging and Community Affairs roundtable on Advisory Neighborhood Commissions in Wards 2 and 5, JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.