City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Non-Candidate Don Peebles Goes Deliciously Negative on Fenty‘; ‘Yes, Who Is This Fenty Fellow?‘; ‘Washington Post Editorial Board Livid Over Turque Blog Post‘; and tweets galore!
Morning all. So, Chief Rubin, about your testimony… In this morning’s Examiner, Michael Neibauer maintains his leadership on the fishy fire truck beat, noting that when FEMS’ Dennis Rubin appeared under oath before Phil Mendelson‘s public safety committee on April 1 and said he was ‘clueless’ about the transaction, he in fact knew quite a bit about the scheme and its principal players. According to e-mails released by Mendo, Rubin’s knowledge dates back to November 2007, when he worked to identify retired equipment to donate. The following May, Rubin noted in an e-mail that the Dominican donation plan ‘has been underway for awhile’ and directed underling Ronald Gill Jr. to talk to Wilson Building muckamuck David Jannarone, whom Rubin knew to be the mastermind of this whole thing, to make it happen. Read the e-mail traffic in Mendelson’s report [PDF]. Once again, this whole exercise has been nothing other than a classic example of the old saying, ‘It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.’ Extra vexing: If there was no crime, as the investigation found, why still a cover-up?
AFTER THE JUMP—-Jaffe says contracts dispute is ‘potential Armageddon’; Tommy Wells tweets a $473M FY2011 shortfall; WaPo’s Turque in hot water for ed-board slam; Metro board says no service cuts, 10-cent fare hike; Hizzoner goes swimming; Ted Leonsis insists he will own the Wiz
Harry Jaffe in his Examiner column examines the mayor-council option-year contract dispute, noting its ‘potential to shut down the city’ and a ‘potential Armageddon.’ He runs down the conflict, paints Vince Gray as a doormat for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, and ID’s his old friend Nat as hero: ‘Natwar Gandhi is the adult in the room with the power to keep the funds flowing. “The independent CFO recognizes his responsibility,” his spokesman David Umansky told me, “and will not do anything that allows the financial stability of the District to be compromised.” In other words, Gandhi will keep paying vendors. He understands that Wall Street doesn’t care a whit about the brinkmanship between the mayor and the council. He knows Congress could step in if the city shut down. Gray and his 12 colleagues are left in the lurch. They passed a law the mayor refuses to obey. It is Marbury v. Madison, in a much smaller arena. In this arena, Fenty has won—-again.’ Until the council mans up, anyway.
Yesterday, the council held its annual budget retreat, and @TommyWells tweeted much of the thing. Some highlights: ‘Gandhi – “We are not broke.”‘; ‘appeals on commercial asssessments increased 58% since 08’; ‘situation wll blow a hole in DC revenue projections for 10’; ‘Preliminary FY10 budget pressures presented as of Jan 27-$203 to 223’; ‘council furious’; ‘Gandhi and staff taking heat’; ‘FY2011 revenue gap $473 million’; ‘lunch brk over – sdandwiches and salad.’ MEANWHILE—-The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute notes that Oregon voters don’t mind tax hikes on the rich. Do you, Mr. Mayor?
That whole Bill Turque blog post controversy? It kept a-brewin’ yesterday, and WCP’s Erik Wemple was all over it, describing how WaPo ed board chair Fred Hiatt expressed his displeasure to Managing Editor Liz Spayd, who took down the blog post for further editing. She explains: ‘Where it went over is where it ascribed motive to Chancellor Rhee’s decision to speak to our editorial board and, more importantly, I don’t think that he should be challenging or seeming to assess the stances of our editorial board or questioning their integrity, and I think that that blog did that.’ Says Hiatt: ‘To suggest that Jo-Ann Armao is in anybody’s pocket is so far from the truth that it sort of takes my breath away….I have had a lot of editorial writers work for me. None of them have been more diligent and assiduous about getting both sides of any story and being fair minded than Jo-Ann.’ Later in the day, WaPo ombudsman Andy Alexander spoke with Turque, who said: ‘I don’t go off half-cocked on these things.’
Metro train and bus fares will rise by 10 cents come March 1, after the WMATA board voted yesterday to eschew service cuts and shifting capital funds in order to cover a $40M emergency shortfall. ‘The increase on Metrobus, Metrorail and MetroAccess fares, which is scheduled to expire in June, is expected to generate about $10 million. The rest of the shortage will be covered by staff cuts, stimulus money, insurance, a reserve fund and spending less on contractors,’ Ann Scott Tyson reports in WaPo. Board members had a relatively easy decision after Wednesday’s hearing showed that riders by and large oppose service cuts; only Jim Graham made the case that capital funds should be tapped. Tyson adds: ‘The increase, which also applies to weekly bus and subway passes, is likely to become permanent as the financially strapped agency wrestles with historic budget deficits.’ Uh, yeah…Metro revealed a $189M gap in the budget year that starts July 1. Also Examiner, WBJ, WAMU-FM, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
As for the response to Tuesday’s morning’s tragedy, AP reports: ‘Acting Chief Safety Officer Michael Taborn told the transit system’s board of directors that several changes have been in the works, even before Tuesday’s accident….[H]e described measures such as a new section in the employee handbook that will detail right-of-way clearance for track workers. Other improvements include providing train operators with a more detailed schedule of track work and enhancing radio communication between train operators and the control center that oversees rail operations. Taborn said officials also are reviewing proposals for technology that alerts operators when workers are present, such as blue lights or GPS tracking.’ Also WTTG-TV, and WRC-TV notes that the NTSB probe is just beginning.
ALSO—-Metro veteran Peter Benjamin in your new WMATA board chair, ascending to the spot via the panel’s jurisdictional rotation. ‘Benjamin, who was first vice chairman before being unanimously elected chairman, pledged to make safety his top priority. “The time has come for us to do this differently,” he said,’ Tyson writes in WaPo. ‘Over the course of 20 years, Benjamin, 67, a technocrat known for his grasp of the complexities of running Metro, served as the agency’s chief financial officer, director of planning and senior financial adviser.’ He has also served as the mayor of Garrett Park, Md., next to Kensington in Montgomery County. City Administrator Neil Albert is now second vice chairman, and Catherine M. Hudgins of Fairfax County is first vice chairman. Incidentally, Fenty was rather critical of Metro in his WRC-TV appearance yesterday.
GRAHAM’S FAREWELL—-From prepared remarks: ‘The outlook was bright when my turn came to again serve as the Metro/WMATA Board Chairman in February 2009….Then came the June 22nd Red Line crash and everything changed. 9 people died, including the train operator, and scores were injured, the most serious train collision in Metro’s history. I well remember the hurried trip to the scene of the accident. The mangled cars, the dashed hopes, the lost lives. I remember – was it the second day – directly in front of the crash here, as we were leaving, we were warned that we would pass by the temporary morgue. Nearly aloud, I thought, don’t look, don’t look. But then, who knows why, I looked as I walked by. What my eyes saw on makeshift tables never be forgotten. From that day forward, it is as if the heavens opened and all manner of woes descended upon us. What a seven month stretch it became!’
In still other Metro news, robberies on the system ‘soared 50 percent through the first 11 months of 2009 over the same period in 2008, contributing significantly to a jump in overall crime on Metro,’ Freeman Klopott reports in Examiner. ‘There were 805 robberies in the Metro system from January through November 2009, compared with 538 over the same 11 months in the previous year. Statistics released by transit police show that during that same time period in 2007 there were 397. That means robberies have jumped 103 percent in two years.’ Transit police blame iPod/cell-phone snatchers for the rise. Also AP.
At D.C. Wire, Nikita Stewart picks up on a fab dispatch from Ed Cowan, who spied Hizzoner at the Wilson pool. Swimmers can’t leave duffels on the pool deck, but Fenty brought his out. Assistant pool manager Preston Graham ‘approached Fenty and told him that he could not drop his blue bag on the deck. The mayor whirled and asked for an explanation. Graham told him what he told me, that bags (except mesh) had to be stowed in one’s locker. Fenty’s eyebrows shot up, and he asked more questions. Visibly and audibly, he was irritated. “33,000 people work for me,” he said, his voice trailing off. The rest sounded something like “I can’t control what all of them do.” Patiently, Graham, who looked to be a little younger than the 39-year-old mayor, explained again that the bag had to be removed from the deck.’ Fenty complied. Shall we start the Preston Graham employment watch?
Ex-cons see major employment opportunity in Census 2010, Carol Morello reports in WaPo. ‘Hundreds of men and women began lining up on the sidewalks outside Allen Chapel AME Church in Southeast Washington two hours before the doors opened one day last week. Most have criminal records involving drugs, stolen cars, burglary and the like. But they’d been told that the census would consider hiring them anyway, if not as census takers then as clerks…Job fairs to find census workers have attracted hundreds of ex-convicts in recent weeks, so many that the organizer wants to find a bigger site, such as the D.C. Armory.’ But their hope may be slim, as ‘[f[ew with felony convictions are likely to get hired for the temporary jobs’ and those with misdemeanor raps will be subject to lengthy background checks. LL, a veteran enumerator from Census 2000, wishes them luck all the same.
In Massachusetts, there’s a debate brewing over whether the state should fund a public-interest law school, and today the Boston Globe looks at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law as a potential model. ‘Critics say it cannot be done. A lackluster law school plagued by dismal bar exam passing rates will not be able to attract students good enough to help it gain national accreditation. Add to that a commitment to educate the underprivileged, often students with less than stellar academic records, and it becomes mission impossible….But as the University of Massachusetts contemplates undertaking this very challenge, a public law school in Washington, D.C., provides the state with a blueprint for how a school in dire straits can, with years of careful attention, vastly improve its quality while maintaining its focus on the underserved.’ Do read this.
In WaPo, Ashley Halsey looks at the District’s new credit-card-accepting parking meters, embarks on a lively history of the parking meter in the District of Columbia. For instance, did you know: ‘In 1936, a proposal to try meters in the District was denounced by the American Automobile Association, which said they would “saddle a further load of double taxation on the shoulders of car owners.” Congress, which then exercised a stronger grip over the District, fought over the issue for the next three years before the first nickel was dropped into a “trial meter” on F Street. Some observers that November afternoon predicted that people would stop driving into the city, and others were delighted at the prospect that there would be plenty of parking spaces. Neither proved true.’ As for the new plastic-friendly models? People love ’em! This should be particularly sweet to the ears of city finance officials: ‘[With quarters,] I risk it a lot. If I can use plastic, I’ll pay the meter every time.’
Lankward Harrington, 25, has been sentenced to 61 years in prison for shooting a landscaper in the face in 2006 ‘because the worker had gotten grass on him.’ Keith Alexander reports in WaPo: ‘Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin said the case was one of the most memorable in his more than 20 years on the bench. “Usually there is some kind of an explanation for the violence in this city, but no one can explain this one….Grass clippings are not a reason for a death sentence.”‘ Harrington has a history of psychiatric concerns and ‘told police that he was a “detective” for the United States and that he was hired to kill terrorists’ when he was arrested; prosecutors call that ‘a fake.’
Ted Leonsis speaks out on the sale of the Wizards, saying he’s ‘surprised’ and accusing Abe Pollin‘s estate of defying the old man’s wishes by playing hardball rather than engage in what was supposed to be an ‘orderly process.’ From his blog, Ted’s Take: ‘I’m not sure how or why someone would object to a process that is simply designed to arrive at a fair market value, so I was very surprised to read in the paper today that the Executors of Mr. Pollin’s Estate are attempting to find a way around the appraisal process Mr. Pollin put into place for my partners and me-and only my partners and me — to pay fair market value for the portion of the WSELP properties we don’t already own….I am very confident this process will move forward in the manner Mr. Pollin and I agreed to in 1999. The last thing the Wizards need now is more uncertainty. My partners and I are confident in the rights we have, and will make sure to protect them.’ Also WaPo, AP. And WBJ’s Melissa Castro examines the state of his ‘Life List.’
Salvation for the ballpark district? ‘The Navy plans to expand its space in Southeast D.C. by perhaps 700,000 square feet, a move that could dramatically boost office demand and foot traffic in the fledging Capitol Riverfront neighborhood near Nationals Park,’ Jonathan O’Connell reports in WBJ. Even better: ‘Thanks to employee transfers and new programs, the Navy intends to hire an estimated 1,100 workers at the Washington Navy Yard by 2011 and as many 2,400 more four years later.’ Monument Realty, Opus East, the Lerners, Akridge, and especially Forest City Washington are rejoicing. But there’s a catch: ‘[T]here are “strings attached” to the Navy’s growth because officials might seek setbacks and other security measures.’
ALSO—-O’Connell also reports on city ‘Bank On’ initiative to encourage low-income households to open bank accounts: ‘Valerie Santos, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said the goal is to keep residents away from “financial parasites” — check-cashing outlets that charge high interest rates….To participate, banks and credit unions must offer companion checking and savings accounts that include an opening deposit of $25 or less, no monthly maintenance fees, no monthly minimum balance and free use of a check card and ATMs.’ O’Connell also takes note of ‘Allen Sessoms and his 1,001 ideas for the University of the District of Columbia’—-including more research grants, an ‘urban agriculture’ program, and a football team—-and covers Nickles v. Nichols settlement.
More on the death of Calvin L. Woodland, the brother of a top council aide. Writes WaPo: ‘Woodland, 18, was found about 10:30 p.m. lying in a parking lot near his home in the 800 block of Barnaby Place SE, police said. He had been shot multiple times and was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later, police said. Woodland is the son of the late Calvin Woodland Sr., a prominent community activist with deep ties to the local African American community. His older brother, Calvin B. Woodland Jr., has worked for Graham (D-Ward 1) since his first election in 1998.’ WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, NC8 all do good pieces: ‘[Woodland] says he’s comforted many other victim’s grieving families through his job, but nothing prepared him for this. “So I do this work, but for it to happen to my brother is so personal that…that it’s hard to explain,” he said.’
Arrest made in Ward 8 murder of gay man: A 17-year-old has been charged in the Jan. 10 murder of Gordon Rivers, Lou Chibbaro Jr. reports at DC Agenda. ALSO ON AGENDA—-D.C. for Marriage leader Michael Crawford is headed to NYC to work for national group Freedom to Marry; gay bathhouse pioneer David Harris is dead at 69.
National Council on Teacher Quality not happy with D.C. teacher rules, WAMU-FM reports, calling them ‘broken, outdated and inflexible.’ The judgment ‘refers to policies set by the Office of the State Superintendent, which governs traditional and charter public schools. [NCTQ] says there should be a separate policy for removing a teacher for ineffectiveness. Right now that’s clubbed together with criminal violations. And…the process for termination should be simpler.’ OTOH, we’re good when it comes to bicycles!
JUDGE-STALKING TRIAL—-Legal Times’ Jordan Weissmann is there for the start of Taylar Nuevelle‘s defense: ‘The issue of whether [Nuevelle], and her alleged victim, Judge Janet Albert, shared a home will be a key question for the D.C. Superior Court jury, as it considers charges that Nuevelle forced her way into Albert’s residence in order to harass her after their relationship imploded. Defense lawyer Dorsey Jones Jr. has said that Nuevelle was simply trying to retrieve property from the house. Jones invited a handful of Nuevelle’s friends, neighbors, co-workers and family to the stand, where they told the jury that Nuevelle and Albert appeared to be living together when they broke up in September 2008.’
Also from Legal Times: The pants judge is still hanging around, accusing federal judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of conspiring against him, this based on a photograph of Huvelle with Superior Court Judge Anita Josey-Herring.
Stabbing Wednesday evening near Potomac Avenue Metro, suspect sought.
Vandana Sinha reports in WBJ on the city’s embrace of a ‘new mode of energy efficiency financing: a revolving fund that makes upfront loans to homeowners or businesses for energy retrofits to their buildings.’ The loans are paid back through an increased property tax bill, ‘which ensures that the payers of the loan and beneficiaries of the energy savings remain one and the same regardless of how many times the building changes hands.’ Also on the green beat, DC Agenda profiles a green business backed by Sam Brooks and David Julyan.
Local SEIU leader pushes Fenty administration to implement Sick and Safe Leave Act. ‘Regulations are needed, [Valerie Long] wrote in a letter, “to ensure businesses understand and take seriously their responsibilities and help workers understand their rights,”‘ D.C. Wire reports.
Tai Shan to leave town in style—-on a customized FedEx plane: ‘Talk about service—-a huge new airplane with your own logo on the side, only eight people on board, including your doctor, a member of the opposite sex right beside you and more than 50 pounds of your favorite food available “on demand.”‘
WaPo’s Valerie Strauss, on her Answer Sheet blog, posts a reader’s assemblage of Michelle Rhee quotes, juxtaposing her spoken slams of DCPS with her written praise of teachers. And the Reliable Source puts Rhee’s comments in the company of those from Henry Kissinger and Earl Butz, who gave troublesome quotes to magazine reporters they got a little too comfortable with.
Metro Weekly has more details on Rep. Jason Chaffetz‘s gay marriage disapproval resolution. And at GLAA Forum, Rick Rosendall looks at the lead lawyer of the pro-initiative crowd: ‘If you want a tough lawyer at your table who can radiate polite nastiness while confidently declaring a marvelous stream of falsehoods, and Cleta Mitchell is available, then I’d say dig deep and pay her retainer.’
D.C. Vote is ‘very disappointed’ in POTUS.
Study: Driver cell phone bans don’t do crap.
Prisoner in 7D holding cell found unconscious, taken to hospital,
Ingmar Guandique status hearing this morning.
D.C. man sentenced in Cambodia for soliciting sex from 14-year-old.
Ex-U.S. Attorney Roscoe Howard has a new employer.
Hey, the Georgetown Voice wants to keep the Ellington School in Georgetown/Burleith!
Fenty addressed Columbia Heights business owners last night. Funny how these things don’t turn up on his public schedule anymore.
Design a bike rack, win $1,500.
Dulles AeroTrain hits a minor snag.
Might be some snow tonight!
The Rev. Jack E. McClendon, pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian and civil rights leader, is dead at 83. ‘The Alabama native was a co-founder of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, an ecumenical group of city congregations involved in social justice issues,’ WaPo notes. ‘Over the years, Rev. McClendon turned his ministry into a crusade on behalf of the mentally ill, the homeless and the elderly and spent much of his time in personal advocacy for the infirm and powerless….He was an early backer of Marion Barry but broke with then-Mayor Barry in the late 1980s and threw his support, unsuccessfully, behind the mayoral candidacy of D.C. Council member John Ray.’
An LLD correction: There is in fact no ‘Mary Segraves’ who hosts a WTOP program titled ‘Ask City Hall.’ LL apologizes to ace reporter Mark Segraves, who actually hosts the show.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-2 p.m.: Committee on Health roundtable on ‘The Performance of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration,’ JAWB 123.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-2 p.m.: remarks, Rosedale Recreation Center reconstruction update, 1700 Gales St. NE.