City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Vincent Gray: I Will Decide on Mayoral Run Next Week‘; ‘Barry Drug Supplier Now Supplying D.C. Campaigns With Donations‘; ‘District to Fire D.C. General Shelter’s Manager‘; ‘Gay Men Should Get HIV Tests Twice a Year, City Says‘; and tweets galore!
ATTENTION—-WCP’s 2010 Best of D.C. picks are now online!
Greetings all. Do read a very thorough teacher contract update from WaPo’s Bill Turque, who reports that a tentative agreement soon to be unveiled ‘is expected to include a 20 percent salary increase over five years, a voluntary pay-for-performance plan and increased latitude for Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee to fire or reassign teachers.’ Turque’s sources indicate that ‘Rhee’s 2008 proposal for a two-tiered salary plan…no longer exists in its original form. Instead, teachers with good records would be eligible for a voluntary pay-for-performance program. But Rhee might secure new powers that would allow her to eventually remove ineffective teachers with minimal regard for seniority.’ For ‘excessed’ teachers looking for new posts, ‘length of service would be outweighed by such factors as the previous year’s performance evaluation, unique skills and contributions to the school community’—-much like the criteria used in last fall’s RIF.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Why foster-care and adoption proceedings need to be made public; city HIV study finds 14 percent infection rate among gay men; farewell John Catoe; breakthrough on Pollin-Leonsis deal; Arenas sentenced today
THE POLITICS—-‘[WTU President George Parker and Rhee both have every incentive to wrap up the contract. Parker faces a challenge from WTU General Vice President Nathan Saunders in union elections scheduled for May. Without a deal that puts more money in teachers’ pockets, he could face a tough race. In Saunders, Rhee would be dealing with a new union president who has been among her most bitter critics.’
ALSO—-‘Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi must certify that money for raises is available. Rhee is expected to fund a significant portion of the raises with donations from private foundations….During the talks, Rhee has refused to name the donors or discuss details of their commitments. Sources have said over the past two years that possible contributors include the Broad Foundations and the Walton Family Foundation. Asked how transparent she is prepared to be with Gandhi about the sources of the private money, Rhee responded: “Totally.”‘
Both Harry Jaffe and the WaPo editorial board rail against the secrecy standards that prevent the public from learning how Renee Bowman was allowed to adopt three children, two of which she murdered. Says WaPo: ‘According to sources familiar with the case, Ms. Bowman was subject to a rigorous review process when she first became a foster parent to one of the girls in 1997. She was employed, owned her own home, was given high marks by friends and co-workers, and had undergone the required training. But should authorities have picked up on the warning signs when, for instance, she filed for bankruptcy or was convicted in 1999 of threatening to harm an elderly motorist?…It is possible that this case was appropriately handled, that the awful spiral of events began after Ms. Bowman adopted the children and that nothing could have stopped the evil. Too bad the public will never know for sure.’ Writes Jaffe: ‘What can be done? “Completely open the system,” [says Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform]….Right now 14 states have opened their child protection proceedings to the media and public. Maryland, Virginia and D.C. are not among them. Wexler and Matt Fraidin, a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia, have been lobbying D.C. council members to open the system. How far have they gotten? “Nowhere,” Wexler says.’ Also WTTG-TV.
New city-funded study of men who have sex with men (MSMs) finds that 14 percent are infected with HIV and, given the high rate, recommends that MSM get twice-yearly HIV tests. Reports WaPo: ‘Interviews with 500 gay men throughout the District found that more than 40 percent were unaware of their diagnosis before the study, even though most had seen a doctor in the past 12 months, and more than a third did not know the HIV status of their last sex partner. The study also shattered some stereotypes: Younger men generally had safer sex behaviors; men older than 30 were tested less frequently, used condoms less often and had more sex partners….”This is a wake-up call,” said [David Catania]. “It’s time for my generation to assume greater responsibility for themselves and their partners. Just because we escaped the epidemic of the 1980s doesn’t mean we are immune.”‘ Also DC Agenda, WAMU-FM.
FAREWELL JOHN CATOE—-Reports WaPo: ‘It was the last board meeting for outgoing General Manager John B. Catoe Jr., who departs April 2 after a roller-coaster tenure leading the transit agency, which is suffering from historic budget deficits, a string of fatal accidents and safety lapses, and a demand from federal lawmakers for more oversight. “I have no regrets about coming to this agency,” Catoe said in closing remarks to the board, whose members uniformly praised Catoe’s leadership. “There are things that I wish that would have turned out slightly different. All I could do was the best that I could do.”‘ Catoe spoke to WTOP’s Adam Tuss: ‘Life has its challenges and life has experiences that you wish you didn’t have. And obviously I don’t need to go into the specifics of that. But regrets? Not regrets, no.’ Says Unsuck DC Metro: ‘Given WMATA’s predilection to hire consultants instead of looking in the mirror, there will probably be plenty of opportunities for him to come back (or telework) and chip in his two cents worth. That’s ten grand a week in the mass transit consulting world.’ Richard Sarles starts Monday. Also WTTG-TV.
ALSO—-WMATA board details potential cuts to MetroAccess: ‘The service offered by Metro is more generous than what is required by the Americans With Disabilities Act, and Metro’s proposal to restrict it would bring it closer to those standards,’ WaPo reports. ‘For example, MetroAccess would limit service to within a three-quarter-mile distance from existing bus and rail service, in line with ADA standards, saving $2.4 million a year….Another proposal would increase MetroAccess fares to the maximum allowed under the ADA definition, or twice the equivalent fare on regular bus routes. Metro anticipates the fare increase would encourage some MetroAccess riders to switch to using regular bus and rail service under a free ride program aimed at reducing their reliance on paratransit.’
AND—-‘Metro’s board of directors voted to delay approval of a contract worth a potential $1.9 billion for Kawasaki Rail Car for 748 new rail cars. Board members, briefed on the details of the contract for the first time on Thursday, said they needed more time to review the selection of Kawasaki, one of seven companies that bid, and to scrutinize how to pay for the deal.’ Examiner notes that the new cars ‘cannot be mixed with the agency’s other rail cars’ but ‘include stronger steel bodies that better withstand crashes, brighter lighting, closed-circuit cameras and flexible seating configurations.’
Ted Leonsis and the Pollin estate have reportedly agreed on a purchase price for the Verizon Center, the Wizards, and the remainder of Abe Pollin‘s sports empire, ‘overcoming the single biggest obstacle in his path to take ownership,’ Steven Pearlstein reports in WaPo. ‘The total value of the team and arena is pegged near $550 million, according to sources, although the exact cost to Leonsis’s group would be far less because it already owns 44 percent of the franchise. If the agreement is finalized, it would cement Leonsis’s status as one of the most powerful figures in Washington business and sports. He would control a mid-Atlantic sports and entertainment empire spanning three professional leagues, and an arena that hosts everyone from presidents to rock bands, as well as performers including the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The sources cautioned that the deal could fall apart if the sides fail to reach agreement on other, nonfinancial issues such as the operations of the arena in the period before Leonsis takes control. But settling on a price was critical to clearing the way for Leonsis’s ownership.’
WBJ’s Melissa Castro covers the ongoing ‘celebrity death match’ between developers Anthony Lanier and Herb Miller over the Georgetown Park Mall: ‘Georgetown Park’s lender, Capmark Finance Inc., in bankruptcy, a Lanier-led investment group is rumored to be negotiating to buy the loan on the mall for about 60 percent of the face value. (Georgetown Park borrowed about $80 million to purchase the mall.) Lanier could then foreclose on the mall and take possession of the property….Because Lanier alone has the power to drop the suit and clear up the title, he’s theoretically in the catbird seat. There are just two catches, say sources with knowledge of the situation. First, Capmark isn’t so sure it wants to do business with Lanier after he bollixed up the title. Second, Miller can be counted on to throw all of his resources at preserving his interest in the mall — and at preserving face. “Anthony doesn’t have the keys to the front door yet, and he may not ever,” said a source familiar with the Capmark sale. “This is a death match. Herb is not going to roll over and play dead.”‘ Also: Doug Jemal vs. Yeni Wong in Chinatown.
Fact: ‘Housing a homeless family in a District shelter costs three times as much per month as the average Washington two-bedroom apartment rental, according to a new government study,’ Examiner reports. ‘The study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released Thursday measured the costs associated with first time homeless families in six communities nationwide, including D.C., from 2004 to 2006. It found that the average cost of emergency shelter for a homeless family in D.C. was as high as $3,700 per month in 2006, compared with the $1,225 fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment. The typical homeless family in the District sets the city back more than $20,000 per year, is comprised of a single black woman with 2.5 children, and stays in the homeless system an average of 309 days, according to the study.’
The D.C. Jail inmate who escaped earlier this month ‘was in possession of a handcuff key and a cell phone when he was recaptured 12 hours after he got away,’ Paul Wagner reports for WTTG-TV. Terrance Moore ‘was being taken for medical care when police say he was able to shed his shackles and handcuffs. Investigators now want to know if he had help on the inside.’
A 20-year veteran D.C. firefighter has been arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a young relative, WaPo reports. Michael J. Rasmussen, 51, of La Plata was charged March 6 with second-degree child abuse and two other sex offenses. According to court papers, Rasmussen allegedly abused a relative in his La Plata home between 1989, when the relative was 5, and 1996. The Charles County sheriff’s office began investigating Rasmussen in October 2009 after another alleged victim contacted the county Department of Social Services to report abuse by Rasmussen.’ He is on leave from FEMS.
More on the $15,000 federal tax lien filed against Marion Barry, from WaPo’s Tim Craig: ‘According to a copy of the lien, Barry (D-Ward 8) owes $649 for 2005; $4,907 for 2006; $8,679 for 2007; and $1,022 for 2008. The lien, filed with the recorder of deeds in the Office of Tax and Revenue, appears unrelated to Barry’s early troubles with the IRS and federal authorities over his failure to pay his taxes….*Fred Cooke, Barry’s attorney, said Thursday that the latest IRS lien “isn’t a new thing.” “This is an administrative thing that the agency does to lots and lots of people to evidence the fact he owes them money,” Cooke said. “It’s an assessment of an amount that is owed….He paid the tax that he had the money to pay.”‘
TODAY—-The Gilbert Arenas sentencing is at 2:30 in Judge Robert Morin‘s courtroom. ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson concludes that Arenas is all but certain to do hard time. ‘It will be difficult, if not impossible, for Judge Morin to ignore the previous gun charge and the fact a sentence of probation will be viewed as evidence of special treatment of a celebrity athlete….Morin enjoys a splendid reputation as a jurist who is capable of independent and insightful decisions. He is the kind of judge who could rely on the letters of support and the pre-sentence investigation’s apparently favorable recommendation to decide on a sentence of probation, but it is more likely that he will send Arenas to jail.’
WaPo’s Mike Wise asks: ‘Just what will the Wizards’ apparent owner-in-waiting do with Gilbert Arenas…Trade him? Try to void his contract and begin an exhaustive house-cleaning? Or build around the three-time all-star, who was once responsible for pro hoops’ resurgent relevance in Washington and is now to blame for its virtual disappearance? First, I am betting Leonsis gives Arenas a big hug…’
McMillan Reservoir neighbors are suing the city to squeeze out information about development of the sand filtration site, WBJ reports. They have ‘requested 43 different documents and e-mails Feb. 19, 2009, including draft development plans, staging plans, budgets, a land disposition agreement and documents discussing public financing….The deputy mayor’s office sent several hundred pages of the requested documents in May and August 2009 but said it could not provide others that involved ongoing negotiations….Tony Norman, chairman of the McMillan Park Committee, which opposes the project for its proposed density, says his group wants to know where the project stands and how much public money is tied up in it. Norman said his group, which serves as an umbrella group for area civic associations and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, thinks it’s time to rethink the plan after three years of unsuccessful negotiations with EYA.’
No surprise here: Karen Feld‘s nurse is cleared by a Superior Court jury. In fact, the jury ruled Feld owes the nurse $6K in back wages, Keith Alexander reports in WaPo.
How high are D.C. rents? We’re No. 6, Examiner reports. We’re behind San Francisco, Honolulu, Santa Cruz, Calif., Santa Ana, Calif., and Long Island, N.Y.
DCRA is cracking down on Georgetown landlords catering to students, The Hoya reports. The agency ‘sent letters to 126 local landlords suspected of operating with an invalid or nonexistent business license in January. The landlords were given 10 business days to apply for or produce an existing license and have their properties inspected, with the stipulation that those who did not comply would be subject to a DCRA investigation. Of those 126 landlords, 40 began the license application process during the 10-day grace period. To address the unresponsiveness of the 86 remaining landlords, the DCRA now plans to collect evidence of any suspected illegal activity on the landlords’ part, including testimony from property tenants.’
President Obama nominates two more Superior Court judges, Legal Times reports: Todd Edelman, a Georgetown law professor and PDS vet, and Superior Court Magistrate Judge Judith Smith, who has experience at DCPS and OSSE. Notes LT: ‘Only one of his nominees, Judge Florence Pan, has been confirmed.’
ALSO IN LEGAL TIMES—-Federal appeals court agrees to seal courtroom in special-ed case, because it ‘involv[es] an anonymous child whose lawyer also happens to be his mother. According to a motion granted by the court, she’s a familiar face to many lawyers who practice in the courthouse. “If the courtroom remains open to the public during oral argument, the identity of Doe may be disclosed,” says the motion.’
DC Agenda covers gay Republicans’ D.C. Council runs: ‘Marc Morgan, who’s challenging [Jim Graham], and Timothy Day, who’s challenging [Harry Thomas], describe themselves as moderates with progressive views on social issues and moderate-to-conservative stands on economic matters. Both men say they’re strong supporters of LGBT rights and would have voted for the city’s same-sex marriage law had they been on the Council when it passed, 11-2. The two also oppose holding a voter referendum or initiative on the gay marriage issue, saying the matter has been decided and the city should move on to other issues.’
Morgan Myatt, 23, of Holly Street NW is shot and killed in Fairfax County in what appears to be a domestic incident. The suspected shooter later shot himself to death.
City dispatcher is unaware of city police alert e-mails. Cathy Lanier personally replies to concerned resident.
Ribbon is cut on $10M Safe Shores Child Advocacy Center, ‘a facility where young victims and witnesses of abuse or violence can get services while they await court appearances, therapy and interviews,’ WaPo reports. ‘The center, which is not a residential facility and will serve more than 850 children a year by appointment, was built in the former Bundy School on O Street NW. The city provided 70 percent of the funding, and nonprofit Safe Shores raised the rest, including a $600,000 grant from the Department of Justice.’
Hotel union UNITE HERE launched boycott of the Westin City Center yesterday, and Phil Mendelson was there, according to the Metro Labor Council: ‘”All workers must have the right to organize,” declared [Mendelson], who then led a chant of “Boycott! Boycott!”…”A decent hotel must treat its workers decently,” Mendelson said, promising to carry the protestors’ message “back to my Council colleagues for more support.”‘
WTTG-TV covers D.C. poverty report.
DCmud notes: ‘The H Street Connection, a 433,000 s.f. residential and retail project that will fill two full blocks along H Street, cleared a major hurdle in its path toward District approval. Developer Parcel Seven Associates (a.k.a. Rappaport Companies), has been given approval recently by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), an event that is certain to make its stock go up when the project goes before the Zoning Commission (ZC) for review.’
Building at 1111 Pennsylvania Ave. NW is pulled from market after underwhelming bids; WBJ calls this ‘another sign of the local commercial real estate market improving.’ Also: Dumont buildings on 400 block of Mass Ave. NW are bought by Equity Residential. And condo inventory is coming down.
WaPo letter: ‘When the chancellor said in 2008 that students had to move, the parents and staff asked her for time so that Bruce-Monroe and Park View Elementary, the school where the students were being sent, could prepare for consolidation. They were told “no”—-the move must happen immediately so that construction could begin on the new building….Two years later, there is no new building, only more excuses. The parents of Bruce-Monroe at Park View demand that the promises be met….[I]f a deal was not in place with a developer, why were the parents and staff told they had to move immediately?’
Fenty responds to MLS commish, says little.
Mayoral candidate Dennis Sobin is profiled by Georgetown Voice editor and (WCP intern) Will Sommer. The lede: ‘One-time brothel owner and current mayoral candidate Dennis Sobin wears an Adrian Fenty for Mayor shirt underneath a tan blazer. It’s one of two things he says he got from supporting Fenty in his 2006 campaign. The other was six months in jail.’
Attention lawyers: You now have to turn trust-account interest over to the D.C. Bar, whether you like it or not.
‘Ten things you may not know about DCPL,’ courtesy of the Triangle.
TONIGHT—-Tommy Wells kicks off his re-election campaign, 6:30 p.m. at Eastern Market North Hall.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-11 a.m.: Committee of the Whole and Committee on Government Operations and the Environment joint hearing on B18-564 (‘Healthy Schools Act of 2009’), JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.