City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘LL’s March 10 Campaign Finance Report Roundup‘; ‘D.C.’s Approach To Homelessness: ‘It’s Still Big Buildings Full Of People’‘; ‘Department Of Corrections Refuses To Say How Many Inmates Have Been Stabbed at the D.C. Jail‘; and tweets galore!
Greetings all. D.C. police will investigate the circumstances surrounding the medical care of 2-year-old Stephanie Stevens, to see if there was criminal negligence on the part of an ambulance crew that initially refused to take her to a hospital during last month’s blizzards. Stephanie later died. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty held a press conference yesterday with his attorney general and police and fire chiefs to announce the probe, but the specter of David Rosenbaum hangs over Fenty’s head, and the prospect that promised change within the FEMS ranks following Rosenbaum’s death simply has not happened. Nor has Fenty made any move to make good on a campaign promise to separate emergency medical responders from the fire department. The marriage is deemed a failure by ex-fire chief Adrian Thompson, who is interviewed by WaTimes’ Matthew Cella. ‘It’s not working….It’s a cultural issue. They’re not going to change the culture of this department,’ Thompson says.
BELOW THE JUMP—-Ticket handed to council, Nickles lauds ‘semblance’ of civility; campaign finance roundups; Gunn Report is ‘withering’; Jim Dinegar hates Fenty’s style, loves his results; spending on Virginia Avenue facility could total $400M; D.C. General homeless shelter packed to the gills
MORE FROM THOMPSON—-‘The former chief, who is black, said white firefighters with generational ties to the department largely have been less accepting of the job’s evolving responsibilities, particularly an increased emphasis in recent decades on providing pre-hospital care. “They want to be firefighters and firefighters only,” he said, adding that black firefighters have entered the department in significant numbers in only the past 20 or 30 years and largely have been more open to other responsibilities if it meant securing a job.’ Responds FEMS Deputy Chief Kenneth Crosswhite: ‘Leadership starts at the top. If he had that notion during his tenure, he should have solved the problem.’
MORE ON FEMS PROBE—-Reports WaPo: ‘The investigation will be handled by the homicide division’s special victims unit, which looks into the death of any child younger than 13….The department placed one emergency medical technician and one paramedic on “non-contact” duty, said spokesman Pete Piringer. “We have pretty strict guidelines and protocols” for the handling of distress calls, Piringer said, “and it appears as if they were not followed.” After the review, he said, the EMT was returned to duty. But the paramedic is being kept on non-contact duty, and her conduct in the incident is being referred to the police department.’ Says EMT union chief Kenny Lyons, ‘The agency is not held to a standard of accountability, and so they will continue to find scapegoats to somehow have the public believe that they’ve either done a good job or a credible job.’ Also WAMU-FM, WTOP, NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
WaPo’s Tim Craig writes up the news that Fenty has delivered the baseball tickets to the council, writing that Hizzoner ‘has decided to avert a ninth-inning showdown with D.C. Council members.’ The context: ‘Fenty’s overture this year, which comes nearly a month before Opening Day, occurs amid growing indications that his previous tiffs with the council have damaged his political standing….”The price he paid for those actions surely could not have been worth it,” said [Mary Cheh], a frequent Fenty critic. But council members, half of whom are also up for reelection this year, also face criticism over their use of free baseball tickets. Last spring, [Kwame Brown] introduced a bill to auction off both the council’s and the mayor’s free baseball tickets to raise up to a half-million dollars to help balance the budget….Brown said Thursday that he is still trying to determine whether the city can legally sell off something that might be Nationals’ property.’
SAYS NICKLES—-‘It just seemed like the right thing to do…We have reached our semblance of peace and order with the council.’ Indeed, ‘semblance’ seems to be the correct word.
Nikita Stewart wraps up the March 10 campaign finance filings for WaPo. The lede: ‘Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has surpassed the record $3.8 million he raised to win election in 2006 by collecting $327,306 in less than five weeks, bringing his total to more than $3.9 million and widening the fundraising gap between him and his declared opponents….The report also showed that the Fenty campaign, known for its aggressive fundraising, is going beyond traditional contributors to people outside the city and outside government. Fenty’s reach stretched from hip-hop producer Irv Gotti to wine critic and merchant Pierre-Antoine Rovani.’ The most interesting downticket development: ‘The finance reports show that an interesting contest could be brewing in Ward 5. [Harry Thomas Jr.] raised $41,890 in the period and has $76,189 in cash on hand. But challenger Kenyan McDuffie, a Justice Department lawyer who left his job to run, entered the race Feb. 17 and has raised $25,434 since then. Brookland community organizer Delano Hunter is also in that contest and recorded $7,567 in receipts for the period, bringing his total to $19,541.’ LL, meanwhile, summarizes every filing.
ALSO—-Tom Sherwood at WRC-TV covers the pathetic state of the mayoral race, as does DCist. GLAA Forum points out that council candidates Delano Hunter and Anthony Motley have taken money from the National Organization for Marriage, a national group opposing gay marriages. Oh, and longtime abstinence activist Richard Urban is running for an at-large seat as an independent. He is running ‘to encourage the formation of two parent man and woman families.’
The Gunn Report is in, and it’s ‘withering,’ Ann Scott Tyson reports in WaPo. Transit veteran David Gunn tells Metro that ‘it will take three years to turn the nation’s second-busiest transit system around.’ Says WMATA board chair Peter Benjamin, ‘It was more than frank, it was withering….He gave us a very clear, very honest, unvarnished-truth type of assessment, and told us we have a lot of issues we have to deal with, and we have to deal with them immediately.’ A report summary ‘said Gunn urged the agency to “level with the public regarding the seriousness of the problems facing Metrorail” and end the “shoot the messenger” phenomenon that discourages employees from raising safety concerns….On personnel issues, Gunn stressed the need to move forward quickly to recruit a general manager with “a strong operating and technical background” as well as hiring and retaining “competent” senior managers with engineering experience….One major personnel problem Gunn identified was absenteeism and low morale at the agency, which has about 10,000 employees, Benjamin said. Gunn pointed out that Metro’s absentee rate is unusually high at more than 7.5 percent, compared with an industry average of about 4 percent…On budget and financial issues, Gunn said a major restructuring is in order. “He looked at our financial structure and said it was basically unsustainable,” Benjamin said.’ Also WAMU-FM, WTTG-TV.
MEANWHILE—-Empty Red Line train derails in Maryland yard, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. ‘The derailment occurred at 12:21 p.m. at the Brentwood rail yard, according to the transit agency. The train was being moved inside the rail yard without any passengers aboard when the operator apparently ran a red signal, said spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. The front two wheels of the four-car train derailed, causing damage to the track and the third rail. Farbstein could not provide any damage estimates Thursday. No one was injured.’
ALSO—-WBJ’s Sarah Krouse interviews new Metro development chief Steve Goldin, who ‘has pledged to jump-start development on some of the region’s most valuable properties near Metrorail stations — and overhaul the authority’s development bid process….Under Goldin’s plan, developers would pay about $100,000 to enter the bid process — similar to a deposit at an auction. Metro would use the money to hire a staff that would focus on the development of a site. The team ultimately selected would pay back the deposit to the companies not selected….The changes in joint development come after years of controversy and delays in the department.’
A real eye-roller from Harry Jaffe slamming MPD for its handling of the December snowball-gun incident: ‘It was funny fodder for comedians and grist for the “off the pigs” crowd. Police Chief Cathy Lanier chose to give comfort to the latter….Here’s the message street cops get from the chief and her top brass: We do not have your back. And: If you get in a dicey situation, we will throw you under the bus….If we want street cops to stand between us and thugs, the department has to defend its own. Otherwise, we all lose.’ Here’s the message LL got: Cops aren’t above the law, and they won’t always have their misbehavior whitewashed. And police brass were responsive to the public they serve, not just Jaffe’s embattled ‘street cops.’
Ah, good old 225 Virginia Avenue—-Examiner’s Michael Neibauer gets still more mileage out of the city’s white elephant lease: ‘The District will spend upward of $400 million over the next two decades to purchase, redevelop and occupy a cavernous former printing plant in Southeast that it has rented, but done nothing with, since 2007….From the first rent payment in July 2007 to the end of the StonebridgeCarras deal, the District will have spent more than $274 million to lease, buy, renovate and lease the building again. Operating costs for 345,120 rentable square feet will be in the $6 million-a-year range, adding $120 million to the price tag. “I think we made the very best decision that we could given the situation we were in,” said Sean Madigan, a spokesman for [Fenty]….The administration “screwed it up from the start,” said [Phil Mendelson]. If the trigger was pulled earlier, he said, D.C. taxpayers would have saved millions. “The mayor has the cards and he played them for $400 million,” Mendelson said. “I think he could have played them for less.”‘
The dire state of the D.C. General homeless shelter is examined by WaPo’s Darryl Fears: ‘Flooded with more homeless families than the city has ever seen, District officials have jammed up to 200 families into space at the D.C. General shelter meant for 135. The result: serious overcrowding, with people bunking together in common rooms and sleeping on cots in hallways….*Matthew Salgado, who said he has lived in the shelter with his girlfriend, Ashley Coleman, 20, and their 10-month-old, Milayah, since late December, said the crowding has led to arguments and near-fisticuffs between residents. Conditions are sometimes unsanitary, he said. “We have a lot of gnats or fruit flies or something in our room,” Salgado said.’ City officials blame high unemployment and bad weather for the overcrowding; but ‘[a]dvocates for the homeless had warned city officials as early as July that they could be facing a crisis this winter….At the time, one of the attorneys, Nassim Moshiree, dismissed the city’s plan to add 25 winter rooms to the 75 provided year-round at the shelter, saying the increase wouldn’t be nearly enough. The city didn’t add more rooms until January, two months into the season, when it reopened a substance abuse detoxification unit that was closed last year.’ Also Examiner.
NOTA BENE—-If you haven’t already, do see Jason Cherkis‘s WCP reporting on the scene earlier this week.
Board of Trade CEO Jim Dinegar talks to WaPo about Hizzoner: ‘We’re not happy about his style and would encourage him to work more collaboratively, but he is also delivering the important results that were for far too long black eyes on the region….We now have a mayor who knocks heads, but the results are speaking volumes.’ However, BOT chair Jim Dyke—-a Virginian and erstwhile chair of the UDC board—-‘said that the mayor could “perhaps get a lot more done if he worked with people” and that there are “questions and concerns about how certain deals have gotten done.”‘
Muriel Bowser‘s foreclosure reform bill is detailed by WBJ’s Jonathan O’Connell. The legislation introduced this month ‘would require lenders to undergo mediation with borrowers facing foreclosure in a last-ditch attempt to prevent them from losing their homes. Should the borrower still go into foreclosure, the measure would require lenders to offer to rent out the properties to the borrower for up to one year. “We owe it to our residents who are having a real tough time to put something like this on the table,” Bowser said….Bowser cautioned that she did not want the bill to spur mortgage lenders to pull out of D.C. and is open to changes once lenders weigh in. The rental provision could be a problem because it might make mortgages issued in D.C. more difficult to sell in the secondary market.’
Petula Dvorak covers the hiring of a female football coach in her WaPo column: ‘Sadly, cries of foul have already begun. After The Post broke the story Wednesday that Natalie Randolph will take the job at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School in the District and probably be the only such female coach in the nation, a flurry of online commenters worried about the boys of Coolidge. “This is a brutal physical sport that rips the testosterone from guys and puts it on display. There is no place here for an estrogen injection,” one reader commented on the story. I wonder if this person has ever seen childbirth up close….Just as they have proven they can be firefighters, cops, pilots, mayors, soldiers, surgeons and senators, women will surely prove they can discipline, inspire, train and mentor boys who happen to wear shoulder pads and helmets.’
A record number of parents applied to the DCPS out-of-boundary lottery this year, Bill Turque reports in WaPo: ‘School leaders said the historic level of participation, which generated first-time waiting lists at 14 schools, reflected improvements in test scores, school building conditions and teacher quality since control of the system was transferred to [Fenty] in 2007. “In just three years, a number of schools have gone from underenrolled to flourishing,” Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee said in a statement….The overall number of unique lottery applicants grew by 50 percent over last year to 5,219. The number of families placed in schools through the lottery grew by 1,300 over last year, to 3,365 from 2,056. In all, 64 percent of lottery applicants received a placement this year. Although officials praised the lottery, some parents said it also reflected the continued dearth of real choices in a system where a majority of the schools are under some sort of federally mandated corrective action….”To me, the deep disadvantage of the lottery is that it’s a crapshoot,” said Peter MacPherson, former president of the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools PTA.’ Also WAMU-FM, We Love DC.
Ward 6 parents are lobbying DCPS for improved middle schools, Turque reports: ‘Elementary schools on the Hill, which have seen an influx of young families in recent years, feed into three middle schools: Stuart-Hobson, Eliot-Hine and Jefferson. Two of the three, Eliot-Hine and Jefferson, have reading and math proficiency rates at or below 50 percent. Although Stuart-Hobson has been more successful—-reading and math proficiency was at 75 percent last year—-parents say the 1927-vintage building is in poor condition and needs major renovations. As a result, many neighborhood families have looked to nearby public charter schools, such as Two Rivers and Friendship, or entered the lottery for seats at public middle schools such as Deal in Tenleytown or Hardy in Georgetown.’ The parents’ plan: Expand Eliot-Hine and add grades at Brent and Miner elementaries. But what will Rhee think?
ALSO—-Among District schools identified by feds as the ‘worst of the worst,’ Examiner reports: Anacostia, Dunbar, Eastern, and Spingarn high schools, among others. The good news: ‘Each school is eligible for a share of $3 billion in federal stimulus dollars deemed “school improvement funds.” The money must go to one of four school turnaround options approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Options include massive staff replacement, turning over the school to an outside operator, such as a charter school, or closing the school altogether.’
Another internal WTU conflict between President George Parker and VP Nathan Saunders, over whether laid-off teachers should be able to vote in union elections. Reports WAMU-FM: ‘Saunders…says all the teachers dismissed by DCPS should be allowed to vote until their cases are resolved. He says he’ll file a lawsuit to try and make that happen….But [Parker] says this is all political. “The executive board got a interpretation from the legal WTU parliamentarian to support that. We’ve always abided by that and I don’t know why this sudden questioning.”‘
UDC could have $5M in federal money on the way, O’Connell reports in WBJ. ‘[Eleanor Holmes Norton] wrote key members of the House and Senate Wednesday to request an extra $10 million for D.C. education, including $5 million for the community college that UDC began in 2008 and another $5 million for charter schools to help them absorb students who were using the city’s voucher program.’
The interim People’s Counsel is Brenda K. Pennington, current senior telecommunications attorney at the office. She can stay in the slot 180 days, per WaPo report.
Denardo Hopkins and Steven Harrison, both 20, are found guilty in a 2007 robbery and murder, WaPo reports. Sentencing is May 5.
Eight arrested in joint federal-local drug investigation of Barry Farm drug ring.
The D.C. Jail inmate who escaped yesterday morning has been recaptured, Scott McCabe reports in Examiner. ‘At about 8:50 a.m., jail guards were taking 28-year-old Terrence Moore to Greater Southeast Community Hospital for medical treatment. At the hospital, he jumped from the vehicle and ran from the scene, jail officials said. D.C. police apprehended him without incident at around 7 p.m. near Wheeler Road and 10th Place, SE. They are trying to determine how Moore was able to remove his restraints during transport.’ Moore had been charged in a ‘wild shootout’ with police. WTOP reports Moore was found sleeping in a car. Also NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
DOWNTOWN MESS—-Fire truck responding to small fire at GWU campus collides with two other vehicles at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW at 7:30 a.m., AP reports. ‘Three people in the two cars were taken to a hospital with serious injuries. No firefighters were hurt.’
Armed men attempt armored-car robbery in Columbia Heights.
Federal appeals court declines to rehear case over Adams Morgan protest arrests.
WTOP covers Gallery Place sign battle.
P.G. police chopper makes emergency landing at Davis ES.
‘Temporary urbanism’ set for Bruce-Monroe ES.
All the reasons that handing Northrop Grumman $25M is a bad idea, courtesy of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.
Transportation policy makes blogger ‘want to vote for Mayor Fenty’s re-election regardless of almost anything else he does (or doesn’t do).’
‘Top Chef” in D.C. this spring.
Marion Barry makes appearance at Tucker Carlson‘s Palisades house for profiler’s book party.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary agency performance oversight hearing on Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Office of Unified Communications, Department of Corrections, and Corrections Information Council, JAWB 500; Committee on Finance and Revenue hearing on B18-619 (‘United Negro College Fund Tax Abatement and Relocation to the District Assistance Act of 2010’), B18-520 (‘Shirley’s Place Equitable Real Property Tax Relief Act of 2009’), B18-669 (‘SOME, Inc. Technical Amendments Act of 2010’), B18-658 (‘District Job Growth Incentive Act of 2010’), and PR18-748 (‘American Society of Nephrology Revenue Bonds Project Approval Resolution of 2010’), JAWB 120; Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs agency performance oversight hearing on Office of Tenant Advocate, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, plus boards and commissions, JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-2:30 p.m.: remarks, Deauville Tenant Association announcement, 3145 Mount Pleasant St. NW.