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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘D.C. Council Hires Lawyer to Investigate Parks Contracts‘; ‘Fenty Opens Up to Washingtonian‘; ‘Pershing Park Case: District Employee Admits They Destroyed Evidence‘; and tweets galore!

Morning all. The new cronies get the front-page treatment in Sunday’s WaPo, in a story by Nikita Stewart and Paul Schwartzman focusing on the ‘good fortune’ of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s most controversial allies. Those would be Omar Karim and Sinclair Skinner, who are ‘at the center of a coterie of Fenty friends who since the mayor’s election have traveled from the political margins to the center of power and influence, often helping one another along the way.’ The Post’s story begins to put some meat on the bones of rumors about how the mayoral allies make hay out of their connection to Hizzoner. The only man to go on the record: Don Peebles, who has a political ax to grind, but WaPo cites concurring anonymous sources. The bottom line: ‘Politicians have long cultivated circles of lawyers, developers and lobbyists who, in turn, thrive on access to government’s highest levels. But Fenty’s friends have risen from obscurity at a pace that has captured the attention of the political and business establishments and fostered an image that is seemingly at odds with Fenty’s campaign themes of reform and transparency.’

AFTER THE JUMP—-The Skinner shakedown: How it works; the Trout Report is coming; Colby King wants more investigation of earmarks; Newsweek sees Rhee vs. Randi as education battle of our time; city blizzard spending was good for McDonald’s

THE SHAKEDOWN—-The meatiest part of the WaPo story:

After Fenty’s election, Skinner and Karim were not shy about mentioning their mayoral ties as they tried to attract business partners or obtain consulting work, according to five developers and consultants who spoke to the men about possible deals. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they said they fear retribution from the Fenty administration.

R. Donahue Peebles, a developer who has considered challenging Fenty in the 2010 mayoral race, has spoken openly about how political networking during Marion Barry‘s reign as mayor helped him land his first major real estate deal. After critics accused Peebles of benefiting from cronyism in the mid-1990s, the developer became infuriated and relocated to Miami for a decade before turning his attention back to the District, where the Fenty administration has twice rejected his company’s bids for city projects.

Since his return to Washington, Peebles said, at least two of Skinner’s associates suggested that he hire Skinner, who they said could help him win District projects and gain access to the mayor and his top aides. Peebles said the associates told him that Skinner’s fee was $10,000 to $20,000 a month.

Peebles said Karim approached him after an appearance on the Howard campus in 2007 and told him that Fenty was seeking to empower a new group of minority builders, including Karim. As African Americans, Karim and Skinner could benefit from city requirements that developers partner with minority-owned companies.

Karim, Peebles said, told him that “if I wanted to get to do a development deal with the District of Columbia government under Fenty, I’d have to do business with them and their circle, this new inner circle. He gave me this whole spiel about how it was a new day and how the old guys’ day was up. Essentially, the message was I was going to need him.”

Peebles said he was angered by what he considered a “flagrant pay-to-play overture.” He rejected Karim’s offer, he said, and refused to hire Skinner.

Another developer, who renovates commercial and residential properties in the city, said Skinner told him that he represented Liberty Law, owned by Karim, which could provide lobbying services for $25,000 a month even though it is not a registered lobbyist. “They wanted a big part of it up front: $200,000,” said the developer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he does not want to antagonize the Fenty administration.

The developer said that when he asked Skinner what services he would provide, Skinner told him, “You need some stuff, don’t you?”

THE DEFENDERS—-‘[A. Scott Bolden], speaking for Karim and Skinner, acknowledged that his clients have been real estate consultants, but he said: “They’re consultants because of their expertise. It has nothing to do with access to the mayor. [To imply otherwise] devalues their educational background, their entrepreneurship, their love of this city.” He added: “They’re Howard graduates. They’re fraternity brothers. They’re friends with the mayor. Maybe they like doing business together. Anything illegal, inappropriate about that?”…Peter Nickles, the D.C. attorney general and a longtime Fenty adviser, said he sees nothing unusual in the frequency with which Fenty’s friends have obtained city work. “They’re young, African American guys trying to get involved . . . in the business of the city,” he said….Ben Soto, Fenty’s campaign treasurer, said the mayor’s ties to Skinner and Karim are rooted in a common commitment to improve the city. “He likes people who have a sense of urgency,” Soto said. “Omar and Sinclair have that.” Their bond, Soto said, trumps any political embarrassment. “When Adrian knows you have his back, it’s a hiccup.” Although the friends have benefited from minority contracting rules, access to the mayor does not ensure winning bids, Soto said. The District twice rejected proposals from Karim’s company, said Sean Madigan, a city spokesman.’

GOOD NEWS FOR FENTY—-No one is accusing Karim, Skinner, Warren Williams, or Keith Lomax of not doing the work they were paid to do. Biggest campaign worry: That allegations of cronyism could be used to depress white vote in Wards 2 and 3, where he’s counting on big majorities.

***

Get ready for the Trout Report: The council introduces defense attorney Robert Trout as the guy who will wrangle its long-running probe into Fenty administration parks contracting into a conclusive investigative report. LL covered the move; and WaPo’s Stewart noted Saturday that the council’s investigation into itself resulted in a referral to federal prosecutors: ‘Depending on Trout’s conclusions, the council could take the same approach with the contracts investigation, said council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D). “We’re talking about tens of millions of dollars in contracts that were involved in this effort,” Gray said Friday at a news conference at the John A. Wilson Building. “The testimony is stunning, shocking. . . . There’s a lot of questions associated with this thing.”‘ Peter Nickles says he’ll cooperate with trout—-to a point—-but maintains that the probe is politcally tainted: ‘Nickles said [Harry Thomas Jr.]’s goal is to malign Fenty (D). “Obviously, that’s where this is headed,” he said. “That’s the motivation. It’s political motivation. . . . It just seems to me it’s being viewed by Thomas as a tit for tat.”‘ The report, says Thomas, should be out within 45 days.

Jonetta Rose Barras writes in Examiner that Trout’s appointment doesn’t change her opinion of the probe: ‘Undoubtedly the contracts, and Fenty’s possible circumventing of procurement laws, deserve scrutiny. But the council marred its own effort with politics and procedural irregularities. Trout’s appointment at this stage is more of the same….Trout enters an environment where council members have engaged in McCarthyesque tactics, blacklisting private businesses whose greatest offense appears to be their association with the mayor….That goal of objectivity could be affected by the fact that Trout’s appointment already is perceived by some as an attempt by Thomas and other legislators to inoculate themselves against potential injury for their Barry censure vote….This much is indisputable: Unlike Bennett, Trout has the burden of producing a fair and credible report from a tainted investigation.’

Colby King, in his Saturday WaPo column, fingers a problem with earmarks that does not end with Marion Barry: ‘The D.C. Council’s censure of [Barry] was no profile in courage. Barry’s 12 colleagues had little choice; anything less would have brought well-deserved public ridicule. The problem with the resolution is that it didn’t go far enough. It should have included the council as a whole….[T]he system that Barry abused is the politically self-serving budget earmark process, a D.C. Council concoction that is so badly designed and monitored that millions of dollars have been improperly managed, poorly accounted for and not used for their intended purposes. Barry was not the only player.’ King details the investigative findings of Robert S. Bennett and Deborah Nichols, before concluding: ‘Barry’s censure shouldn’t close the books.Millions were shoveled out the door by city politicians trying to make themselves look good with other people’s money. Who answers for that, D.C. Council?’

More on the city’s problems with drunk-driving prosecutions from WaPo’s Mary Pat Flaherty: Faulty equipment provided inaccurate results, says Attorney General Peter Nickles, and ‘District officials have begun a review of all DWI charges brought between October 2008 and February to look for questionable results.’ Two weeks before the issue outed last Friday, ‘D.C. police supervisors were alerted to systemwide trouble with the machines’ accuracy and had explored remedies….In mid-February, prosecutors began dropping DWI charges in court — but kept pursuing related drunken-driving charges on the same cases — without detailed explanations to defense attorneys, some of whom were weighing plea offers for their clients….The lack of information has angered numerous defense attorneys, who contend that prosecutors were obliged under a procedure in criminal cases, commonly known as the Brady rule, to reveal any information that could help clear their clients.’ Says Nickles: ‘I know what Brady requires, and our office fully complied.’ What caused the screwup? ‘[P]roblems arose when their motors were replaced [on nine of 10 Breathilyzer machines] beginning in October 2008 and the machines were not correctly recalibrated’; older breath-testers are being replaced, and officers retrained on the machines’ use. As to how many cases might be affected: ‘It may be hundreds; it may be tens of cases,’ Nickles says. ‘We won’t know until we complete our review.’

NOTE—-Maybe good news for a certain shadow senator?

Michael Neibauer details snowpocalypse spending in Examiner: ‘The city, largely the D.C. Department of Transportation, shelled out $73,380 between Feb. 5 and 15 for McDonald’s gift cards. Taxpayers also footed nearly $300,000 in room charges at a half dozen D.C. hotels. Courtyard by Marriott netted $115,045 from three storms, the Capitol Skyline nearly $83,000 and the Channel Inn more than $10,000. “It’s not like they’re at the Four Seasons,” said Ward 1 D.C. Councilman Jim Graham, who has oversight of DDOT. “It was just a place, after a 12 hour shift, for them to get some rest. That’s the way it was presented to me.”…The $73,000-plus breaks down to 12,230 $6 value meals, 69,225 cheeseburgers, or 18,350 Big Macs. DDOT, on Feb. 10, dropped another $13,937 at Panera Bread. On the healthier side, perhaps: The Unified Communications Center, Feb. 5 and 9, spent $1,012 at Giant.’

Michelle Rhee is back in the pages of a national news magazine, this time in a Newsweek story setting up a feud between her and AFT President Randi Weingarten: ‘Weingarten and Rhee are the two principal actors on the most important stage in the ongoing drama of school reform in America. Almost three years ago, Rhee was brought in to fix what was arguably the worst school system in America. The public schools in the nation’s capital were notorious for high costs and low performance. Rhee has taken direct aim at the holy grail of the teachers’ union: the common practice of giving public-school teachers lifetime tenure under rules that make firing a teacher, no matter how incompetent, very difficult, expensive, and time-consuming….Weingarten, a media-savvy and clever lawyer, can see that the days are fast ending when the teachers’ union can count on the support of the Democratic Party and the passivity of the education establishment to protect teachers with near impunity. But she is putting up a spirited rear-guard action to preserve the long-established job security of her union members….”You have two strong-willed and very smart and determined women with very different agendas,” says Chester Finn Jr., a former assistant secretary of education and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. “It has an almost gladiatorial aspect to it.”…Aside from graduating from Cornell, the two have little in common. During several long and short interviews with NEWSWEEK over the past year, Weingarten spoke in big, round, high-flown sentences, and then artfully changed the subject or lapsed into jargon when challenged with uncomfortable facts. In private negotiations, she is known for letting loose with fits of temper, real or contrived. In public or private, Rhee, whom we also spoke to several times, is direct and blunt to the point of rudeness. In negotiations, she is known for staying cool—or cold—though her eyes burn and bore in. Rhee and Weingarten, who first tangled about five years ago when Weingarten was running the New York City teachers’ union and Rhee was testifying against her as the head of a nonprofit organization promoting school reform, clearly dislike each other.’

DO TELL—-‘The Obama White House is generally supportive of Rhee, but administration officials who would not be quoted directly say her heavy-handedness has unnecessarily antagonized union members and prolonged negotiations over a new contract.’

INCIDENTALLY—-The WTU is airing new radio commercials. The Chicago Tribune namechecks Rhee in editorial calling for end to seniority-based layoffs. And Candi Peterson is reporting at The Washington Teacher that ‘over 20 employees were laid off last Friday from the central office and that even more terminations are scheduled to come,’ citing two anonymous ‘inside’ sources. LL has not confirmed with DCPS.

WaPo’s Keith Alexander reports on bizarre circumstance at D.C. Superior Court, where a juror was charged with contempt for skipping a day’s proceedings in a robbery-murder case. Louis F. Alexander, 42, showed up the next day, but ‘[b]y then, however, [Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr.] had charged him with contempt and ordered him out of the courtroom until his initial hearing.’ Alexander’s explanation: ‘In court Friday, Alexander, at times with his voice cracking, told Dixon what he said was the real reason he did not return to court: He had an emotional breakdown. He also testified that he didn’t make the work meeting because he was so distraught. Alexander is the son of D.C. Superior Court Judge Harry T. Alexander, who was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and was one of the court’s first African American judges before his retirement in the late 1970s. Alexander helps care for his elderly father, who is recovering from a series of strokes….His mind wandered, he said, to the days of watching his father. “Being in the courthouse affected me emotionally. It was a little difficult,” he said.’ Dixon let him off the hook.

ALSO—-Alexander interviews former federal prosecutor J. Brooks Harrington, who, in 1981, sent Donald Gatesto a life term in prison for a crime he did not commit: ‘”I can’t express how sick this has made me feel,” said Harrington, 61. “I was always trying to be about protecting people. To find out that I had the wrong guy is beyond description.”…”Not only can this happen again, but it will,” said Harrington, now an ordained minister in Fort Worth. “Nobody has any interest in convicting somebody who didn’t commit a crime. You do your best with the evidence you have. I was just flatly wrong about it. I did my best, and it wasn’t good enough.”‘

D.C. is the first city in the country to hand out female condoms to combat AIDS—-as many as a half-million—-Daryl Fears reports in WaPo. ‘City officials said the distribution could begin within the next three weeks in parts of wards 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7, where a study showed that large numbers of African American heterosexuals engage in risky sexual behavior that could easily lead to infection. The move is an official acknowledgment of the futility of relying solely on the use of male condoms, which have been distributed citywide for nearly a decade, to stem the District’s epidemic of HIV and AIDS. Officials said they are turning to female condoms to give women more power to protect themselves from HIV and sexually transmitted diseases when their partners refuse to use protection….The project is funded through a $500,000 grant from the MAC AIDS Fund, a subsidiary of MAC Cosmetics, which contributes to numerous city programs, including two of the city’s needle exchange programs.’

Daniel de Vise confirms the news in WaPo: The Graduate School has acquired Southeastern University: ‘Leaders of the Graduate School said they hope the acquisition will steer their institution toward a broader mission, still serving a core of federal employees but also reaching out to the D.C. community. The Southeastern campus, on I Street in Southwest, is less than a mile from the Graduate School on Maryland Avenue. School leaders said District residents are significantly underrepresented in the federal workforce, a deficit the combined institution could help close….The Graduate School acquired the Southeastern name and wants to “honor that tradition,” but officials are not sure how the name will be used, said James Huske, Graduate School chief of staff. A handful of Southeastern staff members have joined the Graduate School, Huske said. The Graduate School is not a degree-granting institution and will have to reestablish accreditation to offer degree programs, Huske said. Allied health programs will be a major focus.’

Examiner’s Kytja Weir polls those familiar with Richard Sarles‘s previous work: ‘Advocates who worked with — and against — him in New Jersey painted a picture of a man who knows transit issues and could improve some of Metro’s key management and equipment problems. “I think he can be a big help in upgrading the system,” said David Peter Alan, chairman of Lackawanna Coalition, which represents commuters. Albert Papp Jr., a director for the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers, called him a “very good hands-on operator” who will be able to give Metro a good housecleaning. But Papp and others repeatedly said he didn’t show innovation or creativity. “I don’t see him as a visionary,” added George Haikalis, president of New York City’s Institute for Rational Urban Mobility. “As a placeholder, you can probably do worse.”… “His biggest flaw is he’s not good on public participation and his decisions tended to be made in secret,” Alan said. “So he’s a mixed bag.”‘

ALSO—-WaPo editorial board examines the scathing FTA audit (‘The interim chief will hardly need reminding that revamping Metro’s procedures, culture and attitudes toward safety will be job one. The federal audit may provide him with the outline of a road map for how to proceed’). And Weir looks at just what Sarles will have to confront—-the audit, and more.

Harry Jaffe lauds D.C.’s ever-declining murder rate in Examiner: ‘Wrap your arms around this: Washington is on track to become as safe as it was in 1963, measured by the homicide rate….According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the homicide count as of March 5 was 14. The number last year was 24. That’s a decline of 41 percent. At that rate, the District could have as few as 84 homicides in 2010, which would put the city three higher than the 81 homicides recorded in 1960, according to MPD stats. “The tipping point is when we go under 100,” Police Chief Cathy Lanier told me.’ She credits ‘the community,’ members of which have been turning in the bad guys. ‘If Lanier is correct — and it’s a big if — the balance of power in the streets of D.C. may have tipped from the thugs to the cops,’ Jaffe writes. Still: What will summer bring?

ALSO—-Teacher Guy Brandenberg retorts to Jaffe’s column on Anacostia HS: ‘If you listen to Rhee or writers like Harry Jaffe, DCPS all went to hell when the teachers got a union and stopped caring. Get rid of the union, and everything will be hunky-dory. Yeah, right. Like everything is wonderful in education in “right-to-work” states like Mississippi, Alabama, and poverty-stricken western Virginia??? What a crock.’

The city will conduct a review of how FEMS handled the case of 2-year-old Stephanie Stephens, who died after an ambulance crew initially did not transport her to a hospital for breathing difficulties. Fenty announced the 30-day probe in a Friday afternoon press conference. Reports WTTG-TV: ‘Were professional procedures followed, and were medical procedures followed? Those are the two basic questions Mayor Fenty says the investigation needs to answer. Right now, the two paramedics involved are off the street and on non-patient contact status. City officials want to know what medics did or did not do on February 10, when Stephens needed help….”Anyone dying is a horrible event to begin with,” says FEMS chief Dennis Rubin. “Compound the fact that it’s a 2-year-old child, our heart goes out to the family.” The response of FEMS is now under a quality review. Officials say all documentation, provider interviews and medical assessment by the medical director are being looked at, and Rubin is conducting a disciplinary investigation before determining what appropriate action to take….Rubin says he believes the procedures currently in place are adequate.’ Also NC8.

ALSO—-Children’s Hospital SVP, in WaPo letter, says the incident ‘points to how little progress has been made in improving the agency’s level of service as was promised in the aftermath of the tragic David Rosenbaum case in 2006….The decision not to immediately transport a 2-year-old with respiratory symptoms is inexcusable. As a pediatric emergency physician, EMS medical director and advocate for quality emergency medical services for children, I have stated often for the public record before the D.C. Council Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary just how little attention D.C. Fire and EMS has paid to preparing its workforce in the care of children.’

Jogger is struck and killed early Saturday at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW by hit-and-run driver. Reports WaPo: ‘A surveillance camera showed the vehicle that hit the woman was a white tractor trailer with a conventional cab attached to a flatbed containing a scissor lift and a rectangular crate. It was traveling north on 14th Street NW when it struck the pedestrian, police said. Investigators believe the driver might be unaware that he struck someone, police said. Police have yet to identify the woman, who was not carrying identification….Police described the woman as an Asian or white female with dark hair, in her mid-30s to early 40s. She was wearing a multi-colored top, black Spandex pants, Asics running shoes and several yellow metal bracelets, and she was carrying a Sony Walkman CD player.’ WTOP has a low-res photo of the truck, as does WUSA-TV; NC8, WTTG-TV have video.

Gains in DCPS math test scores might well reflect the triumph of a new curriculum, Bill Turque reports in WaPo. ‘The road to mastery no longer runs strictly through rote memorization and drilling, District educators say. It requires deeper conceptual understanding. They say they think the shift is paying off,’ he writes, citing NAEP scores. ‘”The whole thrust has changed in how we engage children,” said Marguerite Nelson, elementary math curriculum specialist for D.C. public schools. The shift is a legacy of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s predecessor, Superintendent Clifford B. Janey, who imported more rigorous math and reading standards to the District from Massachusetts in 2005, along with the DC-CAS, an annual standardized test that resembles the NAEP. That year, he also introduced Everyday Mathematics, a K-6 curriculum developed in the 1990s by the University of Chicago. It emphasizes problem solving rooted in the students’ world and frequent practice of math skills through games….Although Janey laid the groundwork in the District, Nelson said Rhee was “right in line” when she took over in 2007. She has placed “instructional coaches” on school staffs to help teachers improve their practices and stepped up the frequency and quality of professional development.’

ALSO—-WaPo ed board on Race to the Top finalists: ‘The District’s selection was another surprise, albeit a welcome one that helps buttress Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s critical reform efforts.’

Gay marriage may be legal in D.C., but barriers to full gay equality remain, Michael Laris notes in WaPo. ‘Decisions on same-sex marriage in the District and Maryland are radiating deeply into the life of Washington, a place where people’s day jobs often give them responsibility for important parts of the nation’s government. But beyond their jubilation last week, gay couples who will begin to marry in the District in coming days will still face a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman — and families that sometimes do the same.’

WaPo’s Robert McCartney talks to gay activists about what legal marriage in D.C. means to them. One is Frank Kameny: ‘”It’s like a storybook ending,” he said as he sat in the living room of the house where he lives alone in the Palisades neighborhood. Although bald and forced by age to walk in what he laughingly calls “little old-man steps,” he still speaks forcefully in a rich voice and recalls even small details about the movement’s history….Kameny and [Md. Sen. Rich Madaleno] said the legalization of same-sex marriage in the District is important especially because it improves public perceptions of gay people. It’s not just the granting of equal legal rights and responsibilities. It’s the weakening of the idea that they are separate, lesser, threatening. “This is going to accelerate the trend of the last number of years of gays to become open and out and visible,” Kameny said. “It helps to create the impact of first-class citizenship and first-class status.”‘

WaPo’s Hamil Harris collects laments on the demise of the Edgewood Safeway, which closed Saturday after 25 years in business: ‘It was particularly convenient to residents of the nearby Vantage at Edgewood Terrace, an apartment complex of families, singles and senior citizens, such as Bernice McIntyre, 70. “I walk to the store,” McIntyre said. “I don’t want to go to the Giant because it is a longer distance. And those steps: There are 52 steps.” The Giant is four blocks from Edgewood Terrace, but residents must walk down one hill and then up another.’ Spokesperson Craig Muckle responded to concerns that the store is being closed due to its mostly black clientele: ‘We have a strong commitment to the black community….We are the only major grocery store east of the Anacostia River. We have stores in almost every ward of the city except for Ward 8, where our store on Alabama Avenue serves residents in that community.’ (Umm, Craig? Giant’s in Ward 8 now.) Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) ‘said he was disappointed that Safeway officials did not do more to upgrade their store to compete with Giant….”Safeway didn’t rise to the challenge. They really didn’t make enough investments to that store, and residents deserved better.”‘

ALSO—-Harris interviews the Rev. Jeffrey Haggray, the first black pastor of the First Baptist Church.

Another pro-voucher op-ed in WaPo today, this one penned by filmmaker Kelly Amis and philanthropist Joe Robert: ‘Obama could have stood up for these children, who only want the same opportunities that he had and that his daughters now have. Instead, his education secretary, Arne Duncan, proffered an argument that would be funny if it weren’t so sad: Scholarships for poor students aren’t worth supporting because not enough of them are given out. Note to Duncan: You could give out more….Duncan had the temerity to admit that Opportunity Scholarship students “were safe and learning and doing well . . . [but] we can’t be satisfied with saving 1 or 2 percent of children and letting 98 or 99 percent down.” This is a false choice. But, were it fair, his answer would be to let down 100 percent instead? Fortunately for the secretary, his children won’t be in that 100 percent; he moved his family to Virginia. For the schools.’

Jack Evans may have gotten the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick their cigars this year (as Cigar Aficionado notes) but he may have struck out on a permanent exemption. Smokefree DC notes that ‘Monday’s D.C. Health Committee hearing on a permanent exemption to the smokefree law has been cancelled, and there appears to be no plan to hear the legislation anytime soon. ‘

More animated signs may be coming to Gallery Place, Tierney Plumb reports in WBJ. ‘Orange Barrel Media, an advertisement agency that has signs in several U.S. cities, is proposing to install eight full-motion LED screens in Gallery Place this year. The Grove City, Ohio-based company wants six of those to be in the form of street kiosks and two would be 45-feet-tall vertical signs that attach to the Residences at Gallery Place, a 192-unit condominium that delivered in 2005.’ Needless to say, residents of those residences are none too excited.

Potholepalooza is here. NC8: ‘The mayor was in SE Friday talking about potholes, but it was one constituent complaining about the Ridge Road REC Center that he couldn’t wait to get away from. “When are you going to fix the center though?” District resident Kevin Ellerbe asked. Ellerbe is angry about toilets left for months on the field, saying the kids deserve a better REC center. “You know he’s redone every center uptown, but what about east of the river,” he said.’

Read WaPo’s Mike Wise on the cruelly dominant H.D. Woodson girls basketball team. (Ferchrissakes, they beat Cardozo 94-0!)

WBJ on the ‘sorry state of small business lending

Dr. Gridlock addresses Metro platform etiquette. Also: Dr. G dives deep on the new DDOT Web site.

Government Technology covers WASA hydrant-tracking system.

Man seeking ’emotional damages’ after false-positive HIV test from Whitman-Walker gets another day in court.

Cary Silverman recaps the comments of Superior Court Chief Judge Lee Satterfield and Judge Ronna Beck at a Mount Vernon Square community meeting last week. Most interesting: ‘If there is one area in which the judges felt the District’s criminal justice system could improve, it is in juvenile justice. Some interesting facts. D.C. Superior Court judges have no role in sentencing JV offenders – it is up to the District government and JV’s know it. The District’s JV facility is too small and overcrowded, which may result in early releases when filled past capacity. While there is a JV facility for boys, there is no facility for girls. Judge Satterfield suggested the need for a larger JV facility with more educational programming.’

Body found Saturday in Rock Creek Park, near Park Road NW.

Early-Sunday traffic stop on Georgia Avenue leads to chase into Maryland.

Lunch with Mary Cheh: worth $2,100!

Dave Stroup wonders why the local political talent pool is so shallow.

Palisades residential development gets Zoning Commission nod; BZA approves variance for Georgia Avenue mixed-use project.

Census-taker wage: $20 an hour.

Truesdell ES students send teddy bears to kids in Haiti.

Catholic archdiocese not winning fans among WaPo letter writers.

Key Bridge lane closings tonight.

Leo Alexander a ‘big crowd pleaser’ at P.G. anti-immigrant rally.

BlackBerry freaks are in awe of Hizzoner’s triple-holstered approach.

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Economic Development agency performance oversight hearing on Department of Small and Local Business Development and Small and Local Business Opportunity Commission, JAWB 500; Committee on Finance and Revenue hearing on B18-651 (‘Global Security and Aerospace Industry Tax Abatement Act of 2010’), JAWB 120; 1 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation agency performance oversight hearing on Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration and Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, JAWB 412; Committee on Housing and Workforce Development roundtable on PR18-599 (‘Rental Housing Commission Jeffrey Poydras Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), PR18-696 (‘Rental Housing Commission Chantal Jean-Baptiste Confirmation Resolution of 2010’), and PR18-697 (‘Rental Housing Commission Peter Szegedy-Maszak Confirmation Resolution of 2010’), JAWB 123.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, intersection reconstruction groundbreaking, Riggs Road and South Dakota Avenue NE