IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Action on Marion Barry Could Be Delayed, Gray Says‘; ‘Bennett: Barry Didn’t Challenge the Facts‘; ‘What Should Happen To Marion Barry? A Survey of Ward 8 ANC Commissioners‘; ‘Ron Moten, Aspiring Media Mogul‘; and tweets galore!
Morning all. This afternoon, sources indicate, the D.C. Council will, in an unprecedented move against one of its own, vote to censure Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, strip him of his committee chair and his seat on the finance and revenue panel, and recommend that federal prosecutors investigate his misdeeds. This would mean that Chairman Vincent C. Gray and fellow legislators are throwing the book at Barry—-a thin paperback, given, but still about the strongest sanctions available to them. Nikita Stewart writes in WaPo that the actions ‘could severely reduce [Barry’s] authority and extend his legal troubles,’ and Bruce Johnson reports at WUSA-TV that they are being pursued in spite of Barry’s last-minute protestations to Gray. Barry’s excuses also didn’t work on investigator Robert S. Bennett, who noted in his supplemental report released yesterday that Barry told him nothing ‘that alters the conclusion that Mr. Barry’s conduct not only created an appearance of impropriety, but was in fact improper.’ (Also WTOP, WRC-TV.) But after it’s all over, Barry will traipse back to Ward 8, where he will be greeted by an adoring crowd, and he will deliver his State of the Ward address. The beat goes on.
AFTER THE JUMP—-WaPo wants to know if Fred Cooke’s getting paid; in post-gay marriage D.C., Catholic Charities decides not to offer employment benefits to spouses; council offers free pass for snow-parking scofflaws; Wone defendants want separate trials; Michelle Rhee’s ‘fire in the belly’
WHITHER BARRY’S COMMITTEE?—-WaPo: ‘The resolution is expected to include approval of Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) as the new chairman of the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development, now headed by Barry, council sources said….Brown, a freshman with the least seniority, does not chair a standing committee….”Clearly, he has a historical perspective I don’t have,” Brown said of Barry. “The thing about politics is you never know what’s going to happen until you get on the dais.” Brown, who said he would consider “bringing one or two people” from Barry’s staff “for transitional purposes and continuity,” served as interim chairman while Barry recovered from a kidney transplant in February 2009.’
The WaPo editorial board, meanwhile, calls out Barry’s consigliere, Fred Cooke, and demands to know whether he’s getting paid for his oft-needed services. ‘[G]iven Mr. Cooke’s role as a lobbyist seeking to influence legislation, more information should be provided….Neither Mr. Barry nor Mr. Cooke would answer our inquiries as to whether Mr. Cooke is being paid for his services and, if so, how much….The public has a legitimate interest in knowing whether Mr. Cooke is being fairly compensated for his services (he told us his normal rate is $350 to $450 an hour). Mr. Barry’s financial hardships have received widespread publicity; his council salary has been subjected to garnishment to settle tax debts. D.C. law requires council members to disclose annually all gifts with an aggregate value of $100 or more received from any entity transacting any business with the District. Mr. Barry has filed five statements with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, and none of them lists any gifts….The high-profile role that Mr. Cooke plays in city politics makes disclosure all the more important.’
The Archdiocese of Washington has come up with a solution to their gay-marriage ‘problem’—-that is, how to provide employment benefits to spouses of married employees without having to recognize same-sex couplings yet still enter into contracts with the D.C. government. That solution, as first reported by WCP’s Amanda Hess, is to simply not cover any spouses at all come tomorrow (though previously covered spouses will be grandfathered in). Writes Catholic Charities CEO Ed Orzechowski in an employee memo: ‘We sincerely regret that we have to make this change, but it is necessary to allow Catholic Charities to continue to provide essential services to the clients we serve in partnership with the District of Columbia while remaining consistent with the tenets of our religious faith.’ Also WaPo, which quotes Orzechowski: ‘We do not anticipate any further changes whatsoever….Taking the action we have on foster care and spousal we feel has addressed everything the new law requires of us.’
Hey look! A selective exemption to the smoking ban benefiting big hotels and the hoity-toity dinners held there. Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner: ‘Legislation authored by Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans would provide an exemption “once a year for one day for the purposes of hosting a special event which permits cigar smoking.” Any hotel with banquet space for at least 500 could apply, and hotel employees must be allowed to opt out of working the event without penalty.’ Immediately benefiting from legislation expected to be adopted today: The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, ‘a social organization for the area’s Irish upper crust’ of which Evans is a member.
Speaking of selective exemptions, Tommy Wells and Kwame Brown are looking to nix snow emergency parking tickets handed out on President’s Day, Feb. 15, because of ‘poor notice.’ In other words, ignorance of the law is now an excuse. Blackstone rolls in his grave.
Gay marriage opponents make last-ditch appeal to Supreme Court to stay D.C. weddings. It’s unclear on what grounds SCOTUS might intervene; same-sex couples can apply for licenses starting Wednesday. WaPo notes the preparations underway at the Moultrie Courthouse for an expected rush of couples, including the hiring of staff. ‘Also tweaked: the final pronouncement of “husband and wife.” Now judges will proclaim, “I now pronounce you legally married,” unless the marrying couple suggests something different.’ Also NC8, WRC-TV. Looking for someone who’s not a court employee to do your wedding? Try this guy.
ALSO—-Hopefully, this isn’t won’t jinx anything. ‘How We Won,’ by Rick Rosendall: ‘The seeds of this victory trace back to 1975, when Cade Ware, Frank Kameny, and Craig Howell of the Gay Activists Alliance (as it was then called) gave the first testimony before the D.C. Council in favor of same-sex marriage. In 1978 — responding to Anita Bryant’s successful anti-gay campaign in Dade County, Florida the previous year — Jim Zais, Mayo Lee, and Bill Boggan launched a successful effort to bar D.C. ballot measures in which people would vote on other people’s rights. Our long journey to equality included everything from Human Rights Act protections to sodomy law repeal. But it was not just policy victories that brought us here. Gay folk of all colors and backgrounds have deep roots in Washington. We have helped build and enrich our communities. Our opponents underestimated the strength of those roots, crying “Let the people vote!” as if the people had not elected our overwhelmingly pro-gay legislature.’
The three men facing charges in Robert Wone‘s death have asked Superior Court Judge Lynn Leibovitz for separate trials, Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. ‘In the filings by their attorneys, the men said they wanted separate trials because police interrogated each man separately and, as a result, they said they have the right to be tried separately.’ Hearing will come March 12.
More city AIDS funding problems reported by WaPo: ‘The District’s troubled HIV/AIDS Administration is scrambling to correct dozens of billing and record-keeping deficiencies discovered at Washington area medical clinics that draw federal AIDS funding. Federal monitors found last summer that some of the programs did not appear to be tracking fundamental information about AIDS patients, such as lab tests, medications and infection levels. Monitors also said in their report that clinics might have paid their bills by improperly tapping federal funds set aside for low-income AIDS patients without insurance. If the lapses are not corrected, monitors could ask for the federal money back.’
City renews lease on Penn Branch service center—-a move ‘that will keep a D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles office in the shopping plaza for the next 10 years and provide the revenue needed for the owners to begin a more than $5 million rehab of the property,’ Jonathan O’Connell reports in WBJ. ‘David Stern, principal of developer ICG Properties, said the city had agreed to a 10-year, 30,000-square-foot lease for the center’s office space. “It’s fully done. It’s just out for signatures right now,” Stern said.’ Best part: No tax breaks! Meanwhile, UDC is set to lease space at 801 North Capitol Street for community college classrooms.
ALSO—-Radio One might still move to D.C., just not to the planned Shaw development they were expected to anchor. Says company statement: ‘Radio One believes that there are more cost-effective options for our corporate headquarters, especially given the decline in rents and widespread availability of commercial real estate. With numerous opportunities in all local jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, Radio One is confident it can achieve its goals of relocating the company’s operations, including the operations of TV One, to an office building with reasonable occupancy costs, easy access for employees and ample parking.’
Michelle Rhee is ‘fearless and has the fire in the belly,’ says former SecEd Margaret Spellings to the WaPo editorial board, via Bill Turque on his blog. She added: ‘If [Fenty]’s re-elected, I think she’s here to stay and coming on.’ Spellings, Turque notes, ‘is a long-time Rhee booster who supported her appointment as chancellor while in the Bush cabinet. Last year, Fenty chose a Spellings lieutenant, former assistant secretary of education Kerri Briggs, to become D.C. State Superintendent of Education.’
Delivery driver, 46, is robbed and stabbed on 200 block of 15th Street SE in East Hill, NC8 reports. ‘Employees at the Gourmet Express at 13th and Pennsylvania Avenue in Southeast blocks away from U.S. Capitol confirm the victim is one of their drivers. They told us his family lives in New York and that he is still in the hospital. According to the police report, someone called for a delivery at 213 15th Street. When the driver arrived, two men attacked him and robbed him of $1,100 cash and stabbed him. Two witnesses, who would not speak with us on camera, said the suspects ran away. The delivery driver stumbled into the street and collapsed.’
March 20 will be Polite Day in the District of Columbia, thanks to Harry Thomas Jr.‘s ace legislating, Joseph Weber reports in WaTimes: ‘Mr. Thomas…will rely first on churchgoers in his district to spread the word about Polite Day and hopes the message will reach community groups, then blossom across the city to include public servants and politicians. “Were going to try to be the beacon of hope and bring the rest of the city together,” he said. “That’s why I did a citywide resolution.”‘
The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute rallies against a pair of tax-break bills slated to be considered at today’s council meeting. One benefits OTO Development, a company associated with Blockbuster Video mogul Wayne Huizenga. ‘[A]t a time when city leaders are telling us to tighten our belts more than a few notches, and threatening to trim programs that help youngsters and our most vulnerable residents, should hotel and shopping mall investors like Huizenga be moved up to first in line for DC taxpayer dollars?’
WaPo’s Petula Dvorak chronicles homeless District teens’ visit to the White House: ‘Kristina Richbow, 17, was stunned by all the space the Obama girls must have for their things. She’s about to lose most of her possessions. Baby pictures, yearbooks, stuffed animals — everything Kristina couldn’t fit under her cot at the homeless shelter was placed in a storage unit when her family lost its home in a foreclosure….She was one of 15 teens from a District shelter who went to the White House for a day-long field trip that included bowling a few sets on the president’s lanes and nibbling on crab cakes at the Occidental Grill next to the Willard hotel. I thought it might be cruel, taking kids whose families are homeless to the grandest home of all. But it turned out to be an uplifting, poignant day.’
Do check out Kavitha Cardoza‘s WAMU-FM series on teen pregnancy in the District. Part 1: ‘In Washington, D.C., in 2007, the last year for which statistics are available for Washington, 1,075 babies were born to teenagers here. A baby is difficult for any new mother. For these teenagers it can be overwhelming. And although dropping out of high school will probably lead to a bleak future, many of these young mothers do exactly that.’
Washington Teacher’s Candi Peterson reacts to DCPS communications chief’s solicitation of council testimony. She’d prefer it if you’d told everyone regardless of their feelings about the chancellor, thank you very much. ALSO: Peterson passes on the story of an anonymous teacher reportedly forced out through IMPACT.
Metro puts kibosh on Fort Totten raccoons.
WashCycle looks at how snow response can improve for cyclists.
Gales School RFP deadline extended again.
Handy guide: ‘How to Move in D.C.‘
Ex-Ward 8 council candidate Charles Wilson gets 3-Minute Interviewed by Examiner.
AMERICAblog’s Heroes of the Month are ‘The DC City Council and Mayor Fenty’ thanks to their gay marriage leadership: ‘To this outside observer, the story of DC is the story of promises kept. Progress there has seemed steady and unwavering, and it has calmed the nerves of activists throughout the country (although it may not have been so calming for John and Joe). DC’s plan was methodical, politically astute and focused on the long term.’
DDOT’s John Lisle: A ‘Gov 2.0 Hero‘! Awesome!
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: 28th legislative meeting, JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, opening of registration for 2010 Summer Youth Employment Program, Allen House, 3760 Minnesota Ave. NE.