City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘What Will Happen to Adrian Fenty’s $12,000 Gift Bike?‘; ‘Fenty’s Gifts To Homeless Families: Mold, Peeling Paint, Rib Patties, And Overcrowding‘; ‘Pershing Park Case: Who Wrote That False Affidavit?‘; and tweets galore!
IN LL WEEKLY—-Trust Issues: How accountable is D.C.’s funnel to youth nonprofits?
Greetings all. Here’s a piece of welcome municipal correspondence, obtained by WaPo’s Nikita Stewart: “Dear Chairman Gray: Pursuant to our practice of the last three years, enclosed are tickets and parking passes to Suite 61 of the National Park [sic] for the 2010 baseball season. Sincerely, Neil O. Albert.” That means that LL, Stewart, and other reporters will have to find something substantive to write about in the coming months—-like how hip-hop producers love Mayor Adrian M. Fenty! Huzzah!
BELOW THE JUMP—-Troubles mount for FEMS; WaPo ed board demands answers on ambulance miscues; bike lanes planned for Pennsylvania Avenue median; DISB rolls back CareFirst rate hikes; EastBanc finally gets West End deal; party-crasher is running for mayor; Peebles says ‘I don’t plan to be a candidate’
MORE—-From WaPo: ‘Hip-hop producer Irv Gotti contributed $1,000 to [Fenty]’s reelection campaign, according to the mayor’s latest campaign finance report filed Wednesday….He was a last-minute contributor, paying by credit card on Wednesday, according to the report. His fame grew with hits for Ashanti, Ja Rule and Jay-Z, although Lorenzo has since moved into reality TV. In 2005, he and his brother were acquitted of federal charges that they used his record label, then known as Murder Inc., to launder money for a drug kingpin….Lorenzo’s $1,000 contribution was part of $327,305.51 that Fenty raised from Feb. 1 through Wednesday, bringing his total to more than $3.9 million for his reelection campaign.’ More campaign finance news later today at City Desk.
The WaPo editorial board would sure like to know what the hell is up with FEMS: ‘City officials are appropriately examining the case of Stephanie Stephens, a Southeast toddler who died last month after emergency personnel decided against taking her to a hospital. They need to determine why more progress hasn’t been made in fixing the systematic deficiencies first identified in [David Rosenbaum]’s case—-which, tragically, appear to be a factor in the death of this small child….[I]t is clear that progress has stalled. Medical providers have yet to be fully integrated into a department that clings to a culture where firefighters are valued over emergency medical personnel….[I]t is premature, and wrong, to conclude, as Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin told Fox News this month, that current procedures are adequate. One need only look to Stephanie’s case or listen to stories across the city of 911 calls gone wrong to know that Mr. Fenty must renew the reform of this department. We would urge him to reconvene the Rosenbaum task force to assess the department’s progress and plot where it still needs to go.’
ALSO—-WUSA-TV’s Dave Statter reports than an ambulance crew has been disciplined for not taking Kimberley Kelsey to the hospital on Dec. 22. And WTTG-TV covers concerns about Rubin’s leadership on the council, not just from Phil Mendelson, but from Kwame Brown. Love this quote: ‘The leadership should be accountable. They are not working as fast as humanly possible that creates stability in the department and that causes confusion.’
Pennsylvania Avenue NW is getting bike lanes—-right down the middle—-report both GGW and WaPo’s Ashley Halsey. Writes the latter: ‘A pair of bike lanes are destined to grace the middle of one of the country’s most fabled boulevards, an avenue that ranks as a destination with Broadway, Fifth Avenue, Hollywood Boulevard and Bourbon Street. The two lanes will be part of an expanding network of dedicated bicycle lanes in the District, soon to include L, I and Ninth streets NW and more of 15th Street NW….The two center lanes, one in each direction, will be converted to bike-only traffic. Traffic signals will be recalibrated so that drivers wanting to turn left will await a left-turn arrow, while cyclists will be allowed to turn left on the general “green dot” signal. If yellow posts are used to delineate the lane, Sebastian said, they would be removed for “a major event, such as the inauguration.” He said the cost of the new lanes was being calculated, “but they’re pretty inexpensive.” “It is Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said, “and it will be kind of a statement about bike-friendly America.”‘ Early reports pegged installation date as May, but given the need for federal approvals (NCPC, CFA) that may be a pipe dream.
ALSO—-Tommy Wells expresses support for installing dedicated cycle lanes on M Street SE/SW, GGW reports. ‘While many people were enthusiastic about the proposal, ANC commissioners and leaders of other neighborhood groups were the most likely to express fear about the impact on traffic and parking….One particularly angry woman asked “Who are these bike lanes for? Who uses a bike to drop off their kids at school? Who brings home groceries for a family of four on a bicycle?” But after each question several hands went up from people who did those very things. To that, she responded sarcastically each time, “Congratulations, you must be real proud of yourself.” After the school question, she added, “You’re an irresponsible parent.”‘ Aaand: National Bike Summit is this weekend.
Fenty has signed the emergency smoking-ban exemption bill, in time for the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick to light up on March 17, Ann Marimow reports in WaPo, who notes: ‘The exemption measure, which passed on a 10 to 3 vote last week, put Fenty (D) in a political quandary. As a council member, he championed the District’s smoking ban. But the waiver was backed by [Jack Evans], a close ally who is a member of the Friendly Sons….A spokesperson for Fenty said late Wednesday that “the mayor continues to be a strong proponent of the District’s smoking ban and believes it has had a dramatic positive impact.”‘
It’s official: Natalie Randolph will coach the Coolidge HS football team this coming year, and she makes WaPo A1: ‘On Friday, Randolph is scheduled to be formally named the head football coach at Coolidge High School in Northwest Washington, making her what is believed to be the only woman coaching boys’ varsity high school football in the United States.’
Oh, God. The third White House party crasher is apparently running for mayor, Politico reports. ‘A flyer announcing “Carlos Allen for D.C. Mayor” was obtained by POLITICO on Wednesday. The image shows Allen wearing a suit in front of the Capitol building with the slogan, “Let’s Crash the Nonsense out of D.C. Politics!” The issue of national representation for the District appears to be one of his issues, as a logo on the flyer says “Taxation/No Rep for D.C.” Allen’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden, confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that it is “an accurate document.”‘
Examiner’s Michael Neibauer reports on dispute over dogs using the playing field at Tyler ES on the Hill. ‘The squabble has turned especially ugly in the past month as the Tyler principal, backed by the Sports on the Hill youth athletic organization, ordered the gates to the field locked down. Signs have vanished; locks have been cut. “Here we are fighting tooth and nail for every inch of green space,” said Mike Godec, Sports on the Hill vice president and a Tyler parent. “There isn’t enough. I appreciate the dog owners’ frustration, but that space is very difficult to share.” The baseball diamond is rife with holes, Godec said, and the field is a dog poop minefield. But there are no public dog parks on Capitol Hill to let a pet roam leash-free, dog owners respond.’
School scoops from WaPo’s Bill Turque: For one, DCPS has moved back the reopening of Eastern HS to fall 2011 ‘to allow more time for planning the revival of the long-troubled Capitol Hill school.’ Rhee has ‘opened up the principal selection process to the entire school community’; an opportunity to meet the candidates is scheduled for April 9. Also: Remember the Shaw Middle School eight-graders who persuaded Rhee to let them stay for ninth grade? Well, now they’re staying for 10th grade, too, rather than move on to Cardozo. ‘Spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said Rhee made the decision after meeting with the students again. “Also, the building has the physical space, we have a strong cohort of staff serving the upper grades and the students have performed well on their benchmark assessments.”…Keeping the kids might also have been an attractive idea because 10th-graders take the DC-CAS standardized test. If these students are on the rise academically, they could potentially have a leavening effect on Shaw’s test scores, which were a disappointment last year.’
What’s old is new again: EastBanc has been chosen to develop the West End library site, Jonathan O’Connell reports in WBJ. ‘The Georgetown developer, led by president and founder Anthony Lanier, has proposed a 150-unit residential building above a new library and a 52-unit affordable and workforce housing development above a new fire station….More than two years ago, Fenty and the D.C. Council agreed to grant EastBanc development rights to the West End properties before community anger over the sole-source process unraveled the deal.’ Also DCmud, which reports Fenty saying ‘that he expects groundbreaking for the project “at the end of 2012, at the very latest.”‘
ALSO—-UDC signs lease for 801 North Capitol Street, which will house community college classrooms. ‘UDC will occupy 121,000 square feet, about 88,000 square feet of which is usable, for 17 years with an option for a 10-year extension. The university will pay $1.8 million in the first year, with rent escalating to $3.8 million in 2027. The space will include offices, classrooms and a child care center available to employee and student parents….The community college could move into the new space as early as Aug. 1, in time for the fall semester, should the build-out be completed in time, bringing new energy to the NoMa neighborhood.’
LL was just thinking: Man, how long has it been since Herb Miller sued someone? Well, here you go: Miller’s Western Development, along with Akridge, are suing the Gallery Place condo association over unpaid maintenance and insurance bills, Sarah Krouse reports in WBJ. ‘The team is calling for $458,630 in damages plus interest, attorneys fees and a judgment that would require the association to continue to pay for future expenses.’
Insurance commish Gennet Purcell puts the kibosh on 35 percent CareFirst rate hikes, IFAnews.com reports, ‘after discovering a filing error by the regional insurer.’ That mean ‘premiums for affected customers will revert to their previous rate until CareFirst files and receives approval for a revised rate. The new rate can take effect 90 days after CareFirst notifies subscribers. The order also provided for a refund of any overpayments plus interest.’ The revised rates, of course, would be subject to the council’s new rate-hike caps.
IN OTHER REGULATORY NEWS—-Muriel Bowser announced on WPFW-FM this morning that People’s Counsel Betty Noel has left, and that Fenty has appointed a subordinate to fill the role until he can make a new appointment. Unclear whether this settles the dispute with the council, which voted last Tuesday to keep Noel on.
District unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percent in February over January, WaPo reports, ‘a shift that economists said could be a positive sign for the economy because it suggests that discouraged job-seekers are feeling more optimistic about their prospects and have resumed looking for work.’ The good news: ‘The District experienced the nation’s largest monthly increase—-1 percent—-in the number of jobs, according to the federal data. That represents the addition of 6,700 jobs, mainly in the federal government, according to the city’s Department of Employment Services. Officials at the agency say the city’s labor force grew by 3,300 from January 2009 to January 2010, and they are seeing more job postings and job fairs held by large employers, including Safeway and Pepco.’
Jonetta Rose Barras wonders about a city jobsmobile. ‘As a young girl…[t]he bookmobile developed and satisfied my voracious appetite for literature. D.C. Councilman Michael Brown had a similar positive experience growing up in Washington. That’s the reason he has been pushing a Bookmobile concept to get services to unemployed young people in the District.’ Turns out there already is a ‘jobs van.’ Brown says there needs to be two! But Barras doesn’t like the idea at all. ‘One, two, it doesn’t matter. It’s a bad idea. It could discourage initiative and ingenuity. It also creates a false perception of the real world.’ Bigger issue: Don’t we need some jobs first?
Don Peebles is profiled by HU student publication District Chronicles: ‘”What I see is two cities, a city that is Black and a city that is White. It is poor and prospering. As a native and resident I would like to have one city to create more opportunities and success for all residents. How can you tell residents that you don’t have money for services, but you have millions to give to businesses in Maryland to move to the District?…We need a public servant whose heart is in D.C.,” he said….For now, Peebles said that he’ll work for change as a private citizen focusing on family first….”My vow as a husband and my responsibilities as a father to support my wife and children, supersede my desires to serve in a public office. I don’t plan to be a candidate.’
Examiner scoop: Restaurants get health-code violations! Ye gods! Reporter Markham Reid devotes special attention to the likes of the Palm, Georgia Brown’s, and Gordon Biersch. None of the violations were serious enough to warrant closure.
More on the 10-month-old baby that died on Hizzoner’s Crestwood block. The reporting of WaPo’s Paul Duggan indicates a truly heartbreaking story: ‘The child, whom authorities did not identify, suffered “a possible injury to the neck” that might have been accidental, said Capt. Michael Farish, a supervisor in the homicide unit. Detectives have interviewed the nanny and the parents, and “nothing jumps out to make this suspicious,” Farish said….Farish said the parents, whom he described as a couple in their 40s, were not home when the incident occurred in the 4600 block of Argyle Terrace NW, near Rock Creek Park, a few doors from D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s house on 17th Street NW. Farish said the girl was the couple’s only child….He described the parents as “beyond distraught.” “We’re talking about a couple who aren’t young” in terms of being new parents, he said, adding that the child was not adopted. “We’re talking about folks who spent a long, long time trying to have a kid.”‘
Murder trial begins for Terrence Barnett, 45, accused of killing girlfriend Yolanda Baker who disappeared 11 years ago. Writes Keith Alexander in WaPo: ‘This week, Baker’s family poured into three rows of Judge Michael L. Rankin‘s third-floor courtroom in D.C. Superior Court, hoping for some closure in the death of the woman they nicknamed “Princess.”…It is only the third time a “no body” murder case—-the most difficult for prosecutors—-has been tried in the District in at least 30 years, according to a spokesman in the U.S. attorney’s office. Adding to the challenge for prosecutors is the lack of eyewitnesses to Baker’s disappearance or death. No murder weapon has been found and no cause of death established. When Baker’s car was discovered almost a week after her disappearance, drops of her blood were found in the trunk, but no DNA from Barnett…The trial pits two of the District’s most formidable lawyers against each other: Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines and criminal defense attorney Nikki Lotze.’
WaPo’s John Kelly airs parking-meter gripes, a reasonable one, LL thinks: With meter hours now extending into nights and weekends, what sense does the two-hour limit make then? How can anyone say, have dinner and show without breaking the law? ‘The folks at the District Department of Transportation seem to realize there’s a problem. “We got a lot of feedback from businesses when we extended the hours into the evening,” said DDOT spokesman John Lisle. “It’s not a complaint that people have to pay at night, it’s exactly what you said: What if I want to go to a movie or park for more than two hours?” Lisle said they’re looking into extending evening parking hours in some D.C. neighborhoods. “It comes down to, in some places anyway: Can we make the meters two hours for part of the day, four hours for others? And what should the signs say?”‘
D.C. Jail inmate escaped this morning while being transported to United Medical Center, WaPo reports. ‘Authorities said they were taking Terrence Moore to the hospital at 8:50 a.m. When they arrived and opened the vehicle in which Moore was riding, he fled and jumped into a burgundy colored Cadillac. Officers were able to get the license plate number of the car: D.C. tag CX3623. Moore, 28, is black, 5′-10″ and weighs approximately 200 lbs. He has braids in his hair and was last wearing a two-piece navy blue facility-issued uniform. He had been at the Correctional Treatment Facility as a pre-trial inmate facing charges of assault with intent to kill.’ Also NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
The numbers are in, via AP: ‘Courthouse spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz says the 466 applications received from both gay and straight couples is much higher than the 50 or so applications normally received in a week.’
D.C.’s Office of Human Rights is fielding 70 percent more discrimination complains than two years ago, WAMU-FM reports, and they attribute the uptick to a foundering economy: Director Gustavo Velasquez ‘Believes the economy is the main reason- because business have been hiring less, laying off more people and feeling reluctant to promote employees. “That creates an effect where many people believe that the reasons why is because of who they are and not what the companies claim which is deteriorating revenue,” he says.’
Examiner’s Barbara Hollingsworth relays Dave Mallof‘s dire concerns about the state of the city treasury: ‘”Our beloved D.C. is starting to look like a municipal Toyota,” Mallof told The Examiner. “It’s very hard to watch. And the same folks who intentionally accelerated recklessly and careened wildly on an irresponsible joy ride now want to claim to be safety engineers looking out for our fiscal (and physical) lives.”‘
Campus Progress covers planned Barry Farm development: ‘Disregarding the concern over whether endemic violence can be quelled with bulldozers and incoming homeowners, the people who stand to see their homes demolished are worried. Making matters worse, the project appears to have no end in sight. The largest concern among families is the right to return to their redeveloped homes.’
Lede of Afro-American story by Dorothy Rowley: ‘Councilman Marion Barry’s supporters questioned the fairness of the District of Columbia Council’s censure of their Ward 8 peer last week. While Barry was taken to task for awarding $15,000 of taxpayer money to a former girlfriend, they say, Mayor Adrian Fenty hadn’t been held accountable for the $86 million he allegedly doled out in contracts to his buddies for projects in the Department of Parks and Recreation.’
Ex-Rhee aide Justin Cohen blogs a great point: ‘DC is not a typical school district. Beyond the fact that it is far worse off than most other districts, the governance and history of the DC schools is more complicated and storied than that of most other city districts … particularly in relation to its actual size. The NYC school system is 20 times larger than DCPS. Important to keep in mind. Here’s a sample of districts bigger than DC that don’t have the regular attention of the president of the American Federation of Teachers and routine glossy newsweekly stories: Knox County Schools, TN; Granite School District, UT; Polk County Public Schools, FL. Granted, they also don’t have Michelle Rhee as Chancellor, but even if they did, I’ll still bet the attention wouldn’t be proportionate.’
Changes at the Judicial Nomination Commission, courtesy of Legal Times. Kim Whately is new executive director; Woody Peterson of Dickstein Shapiro and Grace Speights of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius have joined as commissioners.
Teacher-blogger Dee Does the District has done and left DCPS: ‘I just sent off my DOI and my resignation letter, effective August 14th. Never fear, I’m not leaving the classroom, just DCPS. I am ecstatic to say I will be working at a high-performing, unique charter school next year.’
Following anonymous tip, Tyrone Hines, 46, has been charged with bank robbery and attempted bank robbery in connection with the Feb. 26 robbery of a downtown Citibank. He is a suspect in two other robberies.
Harry Jaffe‘s complete article on Fenty, ‘His Own Worst Enemy?,’ has been posted at Washingtonian.
Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Washington, is departing for Boston College, where she will lead its Center for Catholic Education, WaPo reports.
Maryland bag fee bill introduced with 39 cosponsors.
Chain Bridge to close on weekends.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Human Services agency performance oversight hearing on Department of Disability Services and Child and Family Services, JAWB 500; Committee on Economic Development roundtable on PR18-687 (‘Washington Convention and Sports Authority Board of Directors John Boardman Confirmation Resolution of 2010’), JAWB 123; Committee of the Whole agency performance oversight hearing on D.C. Public Charter School Board and Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, JAWB 412; Committee of the Whole hearing on B18-461 (‘Public Charter School Board Residency Requirement Act of 2009’), JAWB 412; 11 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations hearing on PR18-715 (‘Washington Center for Aging Services Disposition Approval Resolution of 2010’), JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor with Barbara Harrison, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 10:15 a.m.: remarks, West End Library update, 24th and L Streets NW; 11 a.m.: guest, D.C. Politics with Jonetta, WPFW-FM.