City Paper is not for tourists
Greetings all. Not sure if you’ve heard, but it’s going to snow, people. A lot. So much, in fact, that the D.C. Public Schools—-new model of ‘flinty Chicago toughness’—-dismissed class at noon today. And D.C. government offices will close at 2 p.m. And hope your car isn’t parked on any major thoroughfares: A snow emergency has been in place since 7:30 a.m. It’s that serious, folks. Colleague Jason Cherkis spent three hours at Harris Teeter last night, ferchrissakes. Per WaPo’s pre-storm A1 reporting, cold white fluff will be ‘accumulating at a rate of three inches an hour during the worst of it and piling up more than two feet deep before it’s over.’ Also: This stands to be ‘just the third time in almost 60 years that the region has experienced two snowfalls in excess of 10 inches in one season.’ Very serious. Serious as a heart attack! Which reminds LL—-don’t shovel too hard.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Procurement reform bill introduced; woman breaks into city tax system, pays businesses’ tax bills; new bag tax regs released; BOEE deals another victory to gay-marriage supporters (plus a minor defeat); Evans slams out-of-towner judges; get ready for ‘Super Snow Bowl’
FYI—-‘Policy: if your vehicle is not moved off the snow emergency route, DPW will tow the vehicle to a pre-determined lot. DPW will no longer relocate the vehicle in the local neighborhood. The resident will incur a $250 fine for parking on a snow emergency route during a declared snow emergency, a $100 towing fee and a $25 impound fee (this fee will double after 48 hours and then increase by $25 every 24 hours thereafter).’
FYI NO. 2—-D.C. Code § 9-601: ‘It shall be the duty of every person, partnership, corporation, joint-stock company, or syndicate in charge or control of any building or lot of land within the fire limits of the District of Columbia, fronting or abutting on a paved sidewalk, whether as owner, tenant, occupant, lessee, or otherwise, within the first 8 hours of daylight after the ceasing to fall of any snow or sleet, to remove and clear away, or cause to be removed and cleared away, such snow or sleet from so much of said sidewalk as is in front of or abuts on said building or lot of land.’
FYI NO. 3—-D.C. government appears to have deemed this weekend’s snow event the ‘Super Snow Bowl.’ LL prefers ‘Super Snowl’ (Twitter hashtag #supersnowl).
Oh, right: All of that snowplowing costs money. Big money. WaPo’s Ashley Halsey looks at how local jurisdictions, with their snow budgets already busted, plan to pay for all this. The District’s in somewhat better shape than Maryland or Virginia, because its fiscal year ends Sept. 30, not June 30, giving budget wonks more time to move money around. ‘The District, with $6.2 million budgeted for snow this season, spent more than $4 million on the December storm alone. The budgeted amount seemed reasonable before snow began falling, $1.4 million less than was spent in 2007, but a good bit more than the cost of snow removal during the past two years.’ DDOT declines to estimate a final tally.
Procurement reform! Procurement reform! Procurement reform! It’s here! Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, with AG Peter Nickles and OCP chief David Gragan at his side, yesterday unveiled legislation overhauling how the District government buys goods and services. From a press release: ‘The legislation would make improvements to most of the District’s existing procurement laws, which were passed in 1985. It covers procurement authority, source selection methods, cost principles, contract types, procurement of infrastructure facilities and services, bonds and other forms of security, supply management, legal and contractual remedies, electronic transactions, and cooperative purchasing.’ WaPo’s Ann Marimow also covers: ‘A reporter asked Fenty whether the proposed overhaul was in response to the Council’s probe into contracts for recreation construction projects that were awarded to people with close ties to him. The mayor said the new rules had been in the works for the past year-and-a-half, and that the contracts in question were handled by the independent D.C. Housing Authority, not the executive branch.’
IN THE BILL—-‘Establishes a Procurement Training Institute for procurement training of OCP and non-OCP procurement staff….Calls for promoting the purchase of environmentally preferable products and services and green purchasing….Shortens advertising requirements, allowing commonly available items to be quickly procured….Updates construction procurement methods to include modern delivery methods such as design-build; design-build-finance-operate-maintain; design-build-operate-maintain; and operations and maintenance….Consolidates the CPO’s procurement authority….Increases bonding thresholds to enable Certified Business Enterprises to more easily participate in construction-related procurements….Authorizes special procurements, as well as pilot, experimental and demonstration projects to enhance flexibility….Authorizes stipends to be paid to bidders to encourage competition on procurements in which proposal costs will be significant….Establishes competition exemptions for items that cannot or should not be competed such as farecards; postage; copyrighted and patented material; dues and memberships fees in trade or professional organizations; and subscriptions for periodicals and newspapers.’
Odd story from Michael Neibauer in Examiner: CAFR audit reveals that a ‘mentally ill woman exploited a loophole in D.C. tax office online systems to gain unauthorized access to taxpayer accounts, establish herself as the owner of dozens of businesses and file returns on their behalf.’ The woman wasn’t a D.C. employee, though LL is not sure if that fact should be soothing or not. ‘The transactions were caught before damage was done,’ and OTR says it can’t happen again.
In proposed regulations published this morning, the Fenty administration has moved to clarify the bag tax, Tim Craig reports in WaPo. They ‘state the tax will apply to bakeries, delicatessens, grocery stores, convenience stores that sell food, restaurants, street vendors that sell food, liquor stores as well as “any business that sells food items.” The tax also will apply to stores that sell both food and non-food items, such as many pharmacies, regardless of whether a customer purchases food or another item. But the new regulations, published in the D.C. Register, state the tax will generally not apply to bags used to package goods inside food stores.’ And if you break the rules? ‘A first offense will trigger a warning, but a $100 fine will be assessed for a second violation. The fine rises to $500 for a third offense.’
MEANWHILE—-Poverty & Policy notes the impact on poor D.C. residents, who haven’t gotten the 122,000 free bags promised by the government. And D.C. Republican chairman Bob Kabel points out in WaTimes that ‘a Morton’s Steakhouse patron won’t pay the tax that a McDonald’s customer will.’
This what you call a rowback, from Harry Jaffe: ‘Jack Evans guided me to the corner of the budget classroom Thursday, turned me to the wall and stuck a dunce cap on my head. The veteran chairman of the city council’s finance and revenue committee said I needed a refresher course on city finances. My last column, he said, was dumb and dumber, because it mixed capital spending with operational spending. Guilty!’ The rest of the column deals with the specter of tax hikes: ‘The council is split along racial and political lines. There’s the tax and spend group, led by Marion Barry. They would raise taxes: income, property, sales. The money would pay for social services, public safety and schools, which soak up 70 percent of the budget. But D.C. already has the highest income and sales taxes in the region. Corporate income taxes are second highest in the nation. Barry and his allies have their eyes set on raising residential property taxes….Barry’s crusade to raise taxes rings a bit hollow—-since he has had a spotty record paying his own taxes for the last decade.’
SAYS EVANS—-‘”Are we prepared to freeze the education budget as we did last year?” Evans asked. Cops and services to homeless will have to be cut, too. “It’s pain, pure and simple.”‘
Once more with feeling: The Board of Elections and Ethics has, for the third time, declared a gay-marriage-related measure to be unfit for the ballot, based on the strictures of the D.C. Human Rights Act. Lou Chibbaro Jr. notes in DC Agenda a perhaps-momentous secondary finding: ‘In an action that could disappoint LGBT activists, the board additionally ruled that the proposed referendum would not violate a separate D.C. election law restriction by interfering with the appropriation of funds or the city budget….Some LGBT activists had hoped the budget argument could be used as a backup plan in the event the human rights law argument runs into trouble at the appeals court level.’ Also GLAA Forum.
New charges likely for Ted Loza, the top aide to Jim Graham already accused of bribery. Prosecutors said in court yesterday that they’ll be asking a grand jury to return more indictments within weeks, Del Wilber reports in WaPo. And this: ‘Loza’s attorney, Pleasant Brodnax…was concerned about a trial occurring near the September primaries. Graham, a close friend of Loza’s, is running for reelection, and testimony is expected to deal with how Loza and his boss dealt with the taxi industry.’
The NTSB has added a third day to hearings on the June 22 Red Line crash, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. ‘The independent federal agency released a preliminary agenda on Thursday for the hearings scheduled for Feb. 23-25, extending the testimony from what was a two-day schedule.’ Among those called to testify: Metro, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, Tri-State Oversight Committee, D.C. FEMS, Alstom Signaling Inc., and Union Switch and Signal. Check out the agenda.
Jonathan O’Connell reports in WBJ that the city is raiding ballpark business tax revenues to cover fiscal shortfalls that have nothing to do with Nationals Stadium. And that has business types rather upset. ‘[W]ith the taxes expected to raise $10 million more than projected in fiscal 2010, there was hope that the largest tax would expire early — maybe 10 years early….But facing hundreds of millions of dollars in budget shortfalls, D.C. used the $10 million last year to shore up its fiscal 2010 budget. For some companies, that decision rekindled the bitterness they felt when businesses were first hit with the taxes.’ Says Chamber’s Barbara Lang, ‘My hope would be that if the mayor or the legislative body wants to do something different that they would come back to the business community and have a conversation about it.’ Evans thinks the money should be used to pay off ballpark debt more quickly.
Jack Evans vs. the judiciary! WBJ’s Melissa Castro covers Evans-introduced court reform bill that would allow mayor-selected judges. And one of the reasons behind it? Superior Judge Natalia Combs Greene‘s decision in the JBG-Marriott convention center hotel tiff. ‘Despite the fact that Combs Greene worked for years as an attorney for the federal government, Evans considers her a Californian at heart and says he believes that may have contributed to her decision. “She made this decision in the hotel case that was very adverse to the city,” Evans said. “Whenever judges make decisions that are adverse to the city, I always wonder whether they would have made that decision if they were from here. We have our own history and culture here — we’re not some federal city that nobody lives in.”‘ ALSO—-AKA lawsuit, D.C. United cash crunch?
Perhaps he isn’t as vindictive as they say? The Fenty administration renewed its $2.18M-a-year lease on space in Don Peebles‘ Anacostia office building last month, O’Connell reports. ‘D.C. has leased the building, 2100 Martin Luther King Avenue Jr. SE, in Anacostia, since April 1988, with the Dept. of Human Services and the Dept. of Health occupying space there….Fenty approved the extension for his possible rival Jan. 12 and a week later the building became the unfortunate star in a Washington Post photo and story about the longer lines of city residents in need of welfare and other aid.’
Latest on Northrop Grumman move, from WBJ: A Ballston location is a front-runner. ‘Sources say Northrop…has upped its space requirement to as much as 200,000 square feet. Other jurisdictions are not out of the running just yet. Northrop is also looking into 1801 K St. NW, 901 K St. NW and a North Bethesda office building near rival Lockheed Martin Corp., according to sources.’
Just in time for the new snowstorm: Cathy Lanier tells WTOP that the internal investigation into the gun-wielding behavior of Detective Michael Baylor is complete. But she had no details on what it had found, because the report ‘had not come to her…But she added that she has the final say on the outcome.’
Students stand up for soon-to-be-ex-Hardy MS principal Patrick Pope, Bill Turque reports in at his Schools Insider blog: ‘Pope’s ouster hit some of the kids hard, so they wrote to Fenty asking him to reconsider. When they got no answer, they wrote another round of letters and hopped the number 36 Metrobus to the Wilson Building (two buses, actually, with boys and girls separated) to deliver them personally. They climbed the front steps of the Wilson Building chanting “Pope! Pope! Pope! and flashing signs such as “Don’t Smash Hope, Keep Principal Pope.” Security guards allowed English teacher Janelle Henry to take three students to Fenty’s third-floor offices with the shopping bag full of letters.’ And how’s this for election-year politicking: ‘While Fenty wasn’t available, [Vincent Gray] invited the entire group out of the cold and into a first-floor room, where he held an hour-long impromptu version of one of his “youth hearings.”‘ Also WTTG-TV.
More IMPACT misgivings: WaPo’s Jay Mathews writes about a DCPS instructional coach who has some problems with the teacher evaluation regime she’s partly responsible for enforcing. Marni Barron, at Hearst ES, ‘likes tough, deep assessments that measure student progress in many ways, such as portfolios and behavior…. Barron said the IMPACT guidebooks are too vague and too subjective. An assessment system will work only if it includes a major effort to show teachers how to improve through evidence-based instructional strategies, she said. There isn’t enough time for that in the five or six days set aside each year for professional development and the spare moments she has to talk to them during the regular school day….Barron thinks D.C. schools are trying to build this ship when it is already at sea, without involving the crew.’
Republican congressman Joe L. Barton and Greg Walden, prompted by WaPo investigation of D.C. AIDS spending, want federal probe into fraud and mismanagement complaints concerning Ryan White Act funding. ‘Many of the troubled nonprofit groups identified by The Post had received Ryan White funding from the city, including an organization launched by a man who once ran one of the District’s largest cocaine rings,’ Debbie Cenziper reports. ‘The group, which was awarded more than $1 million from the fund, had been criticized by city monitors, former clients and other AIDS groups for a lack of services and supplies, missing records and questionable expenses.’
Investigations continue into death of Todd Angelo Jackson, 28, inside the Columbia Heights Village apartments Wednesday night. Police are investigating the domestic-related death as a homicide. WCP’s Will Sommer has more detail: Responding officers found ‘a man holding [Jackson] in a headlock, according to the police report. After the officers ordered the man to release Jackson, they discovered that he was unconscious. An ambulance took Jackson, a resident of Congress Heights, to Washington Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead at 8:18 p.m. The cause of death has not been released and the suspect has not been named by police.’ No guns were involved.
Gold Coast raid nets 50 pounds of marijuana, plus $5,000 in cash. Courtney Prince, 45, has been held in the crime, Wilber reports in WaPo.
NC8 covers Phil Mendelson/Mary Cheh hearing on bill targeting aggressive animal-rights protesters. ‘Deputy Police Chief Patrick Burke repeated some of the epithets hurled at residents, including “puppy killer” and “baby killer.” Burke argued the police need more legal tools to deal with protesters who often disperse before office can actually see them breaking the law.’ Unions, ACLU oppose the bill.
Joe Lieberman moves to reauthorize voucher program.
Informer covers St. E’s job search.
Good news for real-estate agents: D.C. Bond program could be back.
Appeals court judges say pants judge has to file a new brief in workplace retaliation case, following the rules this time.
How much is a used iPod worth? That’s a question pondered by the D.C. Court of Appeals.
New Facebook group: ‘Dear Mayor Fenty, Where’s the New United Stadium?‘
‘Monster’ dog terrorizes Fairfax Village!
Anonymous law blog commenter not a Nickles fan.
SAY IT AIN’T SO!—-Bob Ryan to leave WRC-TV for WJLA?
Washington Gas earnings forecast is up.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole public briefing on the FY2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, 10th Street Park construction update, 10th Street NW between L and M Streets; 11:15 a.m.: remarks, snowstorm update, 10th Street Park, 10th Street NW between L and M Streets.