City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘D.C. Cigarette Tax Hike Fail‘; ‘City Revenues Adjusted Downward…Again‘; ‘D.C. Court Rules Against Cops In Discrimination Case‘; ‘Anthony Motley Responds to Bennett Report Findings‘; ‘Anthony Motley Wants His Car Back From Marion Barry‘; and tweets galore!
IN LL WEEKLY—-Fiscal Therapy: Ho wthe District’s fiscal woes stand to affect DCision 2010.
Morning all. The WaPo editorial board says that the ‘best apology Marion Barry could make’ would be to step down from his council seat. ‘Even if the council invokes the toughest sanctions available to it—-and we think it should—-it won’t be enough to make up for what Mr. Barry’s repeated misbehavior has cost the very people he professes to serve. It frankly is disgusting to hear Mr. Barry talk, as he did Tuesday, about the needs of his resource-poor community when his main agenda has been his own welfare. He seems not to recognize the connection between the deprivations of Ward 8 and his lack of effective leadership. If Mr. Barry were really sorry, he would realize it is time for him to make way for someone who can deliver.’ LL’s question: Could WaPo have played into Barry’s persecution complex any more neatly? Meanwhile, Informer covers the reaction among Ward 8 Dems. Some (Mary Cuthbert, Sandy Allen) stand by their man, but Phil Pannell nails it: ‘I am sick and tired of being an unwilling member of our Ward 8 city councilman’s reality show.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Revenue projections go down some more; Day 2 of NTSB hearings airs questions about signal systems; council panel disapproves People’s Counsel nominee; stolen car sat abandoned in downtown traffic for a week; DCPS rallies support for hearing
ADDS DAVID CATANIA—-‘How much longer do we have to hear a 73-year-old man discuss his lack of judgment?’
Key Barry associate Anthony Motley held a press conference yesterday to address the Bennett Report’s findings that he mismanaged earmarked funds and engaged in other questionable endeavors. Motley also announced that he’d be stepping down as chief executive of the JOBS Coalition. ‘The JOBS Coalition’s board accepted Motley’s resignation and is seeking outside counsel to help with a probe of the matter, said Carol Randolph, a board member and communications adviser,’ Nikita Stewart writes in WaPo. ‘The board was not aware of the earmark from Barry until after the grant arrived and raised concerns last year, Randolph said. “We are doing our own internal investigation,” she said.’ Also, LL notes: He wants his car back from Barry.
City revenue projections are again adjusted downward. For FY2010, CFO Natwar M. Gandhi is now estimating $17.7 million less in revenue. So what was a projected $223 million budget gap is now $240 million. And for the upcoming fiscal year, the revenue projection is down by $49.4 million from December estimates, meaning a $556 million problem is now a $605 million problem. Why? Well, hiking cigarette taxes had something to do with it. By raising rates over Maryland’s, legislators drove buyers away, leading to cig-tax revenues dipping below FY09 levels. Also WaPo, Examiner, WBJ, which notes big hits from BRPAA appeals.
Day 2 of the NTSB Metro crash hearings: WaPo ledes on A1 with news that ‘Metro’s decision to mix different brands of signaling equipment—-despite a warning from one of the manufacturers—-could have caused the June crash that killed nine people, a senior engineer with the company said.’ The warning came in a September 2004 letter from the company, Alstom, to numerous transit systems. It is of course a self-serving suggestion for Alstom, which wants (a) to dissuade Metro from using other manufacturers’ parts and (b) wiggle its way out of crash liability claims. Still, there is a ‘specific risk associated with using non-Alstom equipment…it would require boosting the power level of the device. That, in turn, could increase the potential for a signal malfunction that could prevent the system from detecting a train on the tracks, causing a crash,’ the Alstom engineer testifed. And Metro engineers backed up his concern. Examiner also ledes with signal system concerns. Also AP, NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
ALSO—-‘The Post reported in September that internal Metro documents showed the decision [to sandwich 1000-series cars inside trains] had been a public relations move. Metro officials said their decision was justified by an 11-year-old outside study involving a different kind of train and posted a detailed “correction” to The Post article on the agency’s Web site. In sworn testimony Wednesday, Metro engineer Mike Hiller said he disagreed with Metro’s use of that study. “I could not conclusively agree that this information would support a decision on engineering to place a car into the center” of a series of rail cars, Hiller said. NTSB investigator Rick Downs asked, “Would that be a fair paper to utilize to rebut that point?” “No,” Hiller responded. Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein apologized to The Post after the testimony and retracted the rebuttal.’
OVERSIGHT CONFLICT—-From WAMU-FM: ‘Robert Sumwalt noted the D.C. Department of Transportation appoints one of the [Tri-State Oversight Commission] members. At the same time, the city administrator, a superior to the D-DOT chief, sits on Metro’s board. “I think it’s important that the oversight agency is completely independent and autonomous. And not influenced or has no appearance of conflict of interest or being influenced by outside sources. That’s the way NTSB was set up when Congress pulled us out of the department of transportation in 1974. An independent agency needs to be independent,” says Sumwalt.’
WaPo’s Robert McCartney raises a ‘macabre question: How many more people will die before Metro and the Washington region get serious about instilling an effective culture of safety in the transit system?…. I have reservations about whether [Peter Benjamin] and the rest of the board have enough political influence and will to drive through a rapid, major transformation of a large, troubled institution that also happens to be broke. Apart from the recent addition of two federal appointees, the board is dominated by pretty much the same combination of middle-ranking politicians and transportation experts who’ve been on it for some time. They have good intentions and, in some cases, a lot of expertise. But they’ve been delivering inadequate results, and the job ahead might be too big for them.’ He calls on D.C, Va., Md. chief execs to ‘either ensure that the current board does what’s needed, and quickly, or intervene to have a new team installed.’
D.C. Council panel moves unanimously to disapprove Fenty People’s Counsel appointee. Dorothy Brizill writes in themail: ‘The [Committee of Public Services and Consumer Affairs] action marks a dramatic reversal of fortune for Patton and Boggs attorney [Vicky Beasley], whose mentor is Fenty pal and Patton and Boggs partner Matthew Cutts. As a loyal Fenty supporter, [Muriel Bowser] initially tried to fast track the nomination by convening a confirmation hearing on November 20, 2009, just three days after it was referred to her committee. When community concerns arose regarding Beasley’s personality and her lack of qualifications for the position, however, Bowser was unable to secure the votes in her committee to approve Beasley’s nomination.’ The full council will take up the disapproval Tuesday.
Jonetta Rose Barras in Examiner column examines Fenty spending $600K on Ward 3 dog park: ‘Quick, get the straitjacket. The chief executive and his folks have lost their ever-loving minds. The District has a current deficit of more than $200 million, which is likely to rise as revenues further decrease. In 2011, the problem mushrooms to more than a half-billion dollars….With such fiscal woes, can the city really afford to build any dog parks?…[T]he mayor and Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh have decided to ignore the majority. Instead, they have chosen to respond to the demands of a few vocal, influential and highly organized individuals who support dog parks — safety concerns and city finances be damned.’
Gay marriage ballot initiative proponents have taken their case to the D.C. Court of Appeals, hoping to get a stay that will prevent said marriages from being grantd come March 3. WaPo notes they are ‘running out of time.’
MEANWHILE—-Maryland AG opinion recognizes out-of-state gay marriages in Maryland. Per WaPo: ‘With [Doug Gansler]’s decision, Maryland in effect joins the District and a handful of states including New York that recognize same-sex marriages performed in four New England states and Iowa….The attorney general’s opinion unleashed a torrent of emotions from both gay rights advocates and those opposed to same-sex marriage, adding a potentially explosive issue to election-year politics in Maryland. It is likely to be quickly challenged in court, Gansler acknowledged.’ Also note that Catania attended an Annapolis gay-marriage rally on Monday.
WaPo’s Lisa Rein profiles DDOT chief Gabe Klein ‘Rather than promoting driving, as he did previously as an executive for Zipcar, the car-sharing pioneer, Klein has been working to get vehicles off the road….Klein is selling an urban lifestyle that depends less than ever on cars and more on trains, buses, bicycles and walking. He is following the credo of like-minded transportation planners in Portland, Seattle and New York that public transit can revive ailing cities.’ Cue whining from AAA. ‘At 39, he is 15 years younger than some of his top deputies. But that might make the high-metabolism transportation czar a good fit in a city trying to attract people like him….”There’s a lot of things that go into making a city an attractive place to live,” Klein said. “You have schools, public safety and high-quality transportation. People are realizing that what we had in our old cities is actually more sustainable than what we have now.” Klein drives his own Smart Car two or three times a week, calling the silver two-seater a “lazy asset.” He prefers to walk the eight blocks to the office from his condo in Columbia Heights or ride one of his five bikes, which include a Vespa scooter. He’s geek and hippie rolled into one, bag over his shoulder, BlackBerry glued to his ear, wearing rumpled shirts and less-than-perfectly tailored corduroy suits. The laid-back sartorial style and get-things-done metabolism come from a childhood on a yoga commune in Charlottesville and an entrepreneur father who owned a bike store and sold a form of electric tape he had found in Japan.’
WOW—-This courtesy of WaPo’s Mary Pat Flaherty: ‘For more than a week, the silver Mercury Grand Marquis sat abandoned in a traffic lane of 15th Street NW near the intersection with M Street. Yet for a big sedan resting unattended in the nation’s capital less than a mile from the White House and directly outside the building housing the Embassy of Djibouti it did not seem to be attracting keen official attention.’ Turns out the car had been reported stolen and, while the car was repeatedly ticketed, no one moved to tow it away. Until Flaherty started asking questions at DPW and MPD.
The political implications of the Northrop Grumman move are weighed by WaPo’s Rosalind S. Helderman and Aaron C. Davis. ‘Top company officials have also flirted with the District and met with [Fenty] before Christmas. They have made clear that Northrop won’t be a cheap date, saying that tax incentives will factor into their decision, which they expect to make in the next few weeks. The Los Angeles-based company is so emboldened because it has what every political leader in the United States wants: hundreds of high-paying jobs. That means that the publicity surrounding the move has raised the stakes considerably for McDonnell, O’Malley and Fenty, turning what probably would have been a quiet competition into a test of personal reputations that will hand one elected leader a political triumph and the others an open defeat….A surprise win by Fenty would give him a lift in his bid for reelection at a time when his popularity is slipping. And it’s possible that all three could come out losers—-if they offer too much and create the perception of giving a sweetheart deal to wealthy executives while their jurisdictions are cash-strapped.’ The stakes are higher, though, for ‘jobs governor’ Bob McDonnell.
NOT SO FAST THERE—-No official announcement regarding the Giro d’Italia is forthcoming, VeloNation reports. ‘”Tomorrow’s reception will include Mayor Fenty, Italian Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata and Giro organizer Angelo Zomegnan, and Washington Convention and Sports Authority CEO Greg Odell, but we will not be making an official announcement about the race coming to Washington DC at that time,” explained [Mark Sommers]. He detailed that the purpose of the gathering tomorrow will be to provide an update on the working group’s efforts to bring this mega-event to the United States and introduce it to potential sponsors. He further reiterated that both sides were “committed to making this happen”.’
MPD’s Officer of the Year is Alex Varvounis of 3D, who played a key role in arresting the killer of Deborah Brown, the bystander struck by a stray bullet in Columbia Heights last September. Reports WTTG-TV: ‘The officer has gone from driving a tow truck to helping solve one of last year’s most brutal crimes. “He is the ideal community policing officer. The officer was able to identify the suspect. He knows his beat. He knows good people and the bad people. He helped close this case in a matter of days. It doesn’t get better than that,” said Chief [Cathy Lanier].’
Federal appeals court rules against group of six black MPD officers who alleged that Lt. Robert Atcheson ‘insulted them “frequently and profanely, gave them unduly harsh performance evaluations, and denied them equipment, overtime, and promotions” because of their race’ and that ‘the department knew of Atcheson’s alleged violations and did not take disciplinary action,’ Legal Times reports. ‘Senior Judge A. Raymond Randolph, writing for the panel, held that the officers did not “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial,” and that the department’s conduct did not violate any contractual obligation between the officers and the city.’
The DCPS performance oversight hearing is a-coming, and 825 is getting its ducks in a row. Schools communications chief Peggy O’Brien has issued a call for pro-DCPS witnesses to testify, Bill Turque reports on the WaPo Schools Insider blog. From her e-mail: ‘I am reaching out to you because you have expressed your support of DCPS reforms at some point during the past year, either to the Chancellor or to me directly—-and we are coming up to a time when expressions of support would be most helpful….The District of Columbia deserves a more complete picture of the school reform efforts underway. Your testimony can help provide that.’
Washington Convention Center and Sports Authority is making a play for Nats Park to host NHL’s Winter Classic. Reports WBJ: ‘The New England Hockey Journal, citing sources, recently reported that D.C. is a favorite to host the game. “We’ve been interested in attracting the Winter Classic for two years,” said Erik Moses, senior vice president of the [WCSA]. Moses said he first contacted the league and the Washington Capitals after the second Winter Classic was held at Wrigley Field in Chicago on New Year’s Day 2009.’ But is D.C. too warm?
More from WaPo on troubles at Fort Dupont ice rink—-it ‘could be forced to temporarily close if the foundation that runs it cannot come up with $250,000 by May. The ice arena, the only indoor rink in the District, may have to shut down this summer, substantially cut back on its programs or raise fees to fill the gap in its annual $895,000 budget left when the D.C. Council cut all earmarks from the city’s fiscal 2011 budget.’
At council oversight hearing, planning chief Harriet Tregoning says her office will embark on two-year land-use assessment for areas surrounding planned streetcar lines. Jonathan O’Connell reports at WBJ. The study will ‘consider what land uses, ownership patterns and transit options would line the tracks on either side of the proposed routes. Tregoning said the city will also consider how using overhead wires to power the cars would affect the historic character and views in the central part of the city, where wires are not permitted. She said new technology could minimize the visual effect of wires and possibly replace them with battery power in some areas.’
Corcoran’s finance director, David Dorsey, ‘was found naked on the balcony of his residence in the 2300 block of 17th Street NW,’ Rend Smith reports at City Desk. ‘Homicide detectives are looking into the case, but it’s not clear if Dorsey was a victim of foul play, as police are waiting on the results of an autopsy.’
Natasha Leann Davis, 25, of Hope Mills, N.C., died yesterday from injuries suffered in Saturday crash on North Capitol Street.
Metro drill this morning ‘simulated gunfire between two shooters in the [Friendship Heights] station that resulted in multiple “passengers” injured or killed. Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) patrol officers and special response team members responded to the “incident,” along with the police, fire and emergency medical services personnel from the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.’
Still few answers in gay man’s killing in Ward 8.
FOX 5 SCOOP—-People sue the District.
Screen on the Green needs to be saved…again.
Accused credit-card skimmer flees authorities.
D.C. GOP adds two gay members; DC Agenda covers.
Speaking tonight at Maryland anti-illegal-immigrant forum: mayor candidate Leo Alexander.
Columbia Heights gets farmers market starting June 5.
White House Easter Egg Roll lottery is open.
NC8 notes weather-damaged trees in Rock Creek Park.
CoStar sales rise, but profits take a hit.
Eleanor Holmes Norton to Toyota CEO: Is my Camry Hybrid going to be recalled?
Cheh’s got a new Web site!
Eric C. Rubin, ace retail real-estate broker, is dead at 44. ‘Mr. Rubin, a principal and founding member of the Madison Retail Group, established in 1999, was known for representing the 901 New York Avenue office building, the Cady’s Alley home-furnishings and design shopping area, and the Jefferson at Penn Quarter mixed-use development. He also helped major retailers expand in the District, including Lululemon Athletica, Ann Taylor, Williams-Sonoma and Brooks Brothers. He was working on a redevelopment project involving the Howard University Town Center before he died.’
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Housing and Workforce Development agency performance oversight hearing on D.C. Housing Authority, D.C. Housing Finance Agency, and Office of Ex-Offender Affairs, JAWB 500; Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation agency performance oversight hearing on D.C. Public Library, JAWB 412; 2:30 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment meeting on B18-572 (‘Disposition of Property Formerly Designated as Federal Reservations 129, 130, and 299 Approval Act of 2010’) and B18-580 (‘Energy Efficiency Financing Act of 2009’), JAWB 120; 3 p.m.: Committee on Economic Development hearing on B18-572 (‘Disposition of Property Formerly Designated as Federal Reservations 129, 130, and 299 Approval Act of 2010’), JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-3:45 p.m.: remarks, DDOT transportation action plan launch, 2720 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE.