City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Cops Search Local Democrat’s Apartment for Gun‘; ‘Why Michelle Rhee Needs to Explain Her ‘Sex With Children’ Claim‘; ‘GOPers Use Bags to ‘Bag the Bag Tax’‘; and tweets galore!
Morning all. There’s a reason why Tom Sherwood still rules the city hall press corps. Yesterday evening, the veteran WRC-TV reporter snagged the first public comment from Michelle Rhee on her explosive comments to Fast Company. Indeed, she told Sherwood, a single teacher had been on administrative leave due to sexual misconduct, along with six teachers pulled off duty for corporal punishment and two who had gone excessively AWOL. Rhee said: ‘It was never our intention, nor did I ever say, it was all of the teachers who fell into these categories…Our intention was not to paint all teachers with a broad brushstroke.’ But she did not apologize for pointing out she’d fired a teacher who ‘had had sex with children,’ and her comments came too late to forestall the fury of various councilmembers—-Vincent Gray and Harry Thomas Jr. chief among them, who went on WTOP yesterday demanding Rhee give answers and name names. ‘It’s just absolutely horrific that all of these teachers are now branded in this way having been tainted and painted with the same brush,’ Gray said to Mark Segraves—-hours before calling for an widespread ‘inquiry’ into Rhee’s comments.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Recording malfunction mars council fire truck probe; Yvette Alexander gets gun in face, cops dawdle; animal shelter chief is fired; Circulator may head to Anacostia; Rhee is FCC’s ‘person of the year’; catch the bus at Union Station!
MORE TEACHER TALK—-WaPo’s Bill Turque, like LL, did not get an audience with the chancellor yesterday. ‘While the heat is on Rhee’s office to formulate a response, rest assured there are many cooks laboring over this stew, including no doubt Attorney General Peter Nickles. The vacuum created by Rhee’s silence was handily filled by Rhee’s chief antagonists on the D.C. Council,’ he wrote on his blog last night. The decision not to speak to Turque cost Rhee today’s WaPo headline. Also Examiner, WTTG-TV, and NC8, which gathered teacher outrage (not to mention a typically peevish response from Mayor Adrian M. Fenty). DCist calls it her ‘WTF? Moment.’ A rally of the usual suspects is set for Wednesday at DCPS headquarters.
ALSO—-WaPo’s Valerie Strauss, at her Answer Sheet blog: ‘I can’t figure out if Rhee actually likes stirring up controversy or just muddles her way into it—or both—but in this instance, whether it was a hasty remark she didn’t intend to make or an intentional bomb, I don’t see a good way out….Rhee hardly served the public well with this episode, and Gray isn’t helping matters with such histrionic talk. What we need now is for everybody to calm down, and for Rhee to explain fully and exactly what she meant, what is true, and what is not.’
So the tape recorder didn’t work during one of the depositions in the D.C. Council’s fishy fire truck investigation. (Remember that?) So now Nickles has dispatched a letter to councilmembers demanding that they shut down their probe and let the IG’s office handle it. The loss of a record, he writes, is ‘a serious matter’ which ‘calls into question the integrity of the investigation.’ Mary Cheh tells D.C. Wire that the letter is ‘typical Nickles’ and says ‘he wants to put a sinister spin on this.’ Examiner also covers, quoting Cheh: ‘as best we can tell, the recording equipment either failed or we taped over parts of those depositions.’ She pledges to release a report all the same. LL thinks Nickles might be getting a little payback for all that Pershing Park grandstanding from the Mendo/Cheh sphere.
Thug pulls gun on Yvette Alexander! Nikita Stewart has the report for WaPo on last Wednesday’s incident: ‘Alexander had left her home in the Penn Branch area and was driving through the neighborhood when she saw two men standing over the victim as he lay facedown on the sidewalk. With their backs turned and bodies bent, they looked like good Samaritans, she said. She said she rolled down the window of her Land Rover and asked, “Do you need some help? What’s going on?” She said she realized it was a holdup as one of the men got in front of her SUV and the other went to the passenger side. “The one on the passenger’s side pulled out a gun. He said, ‘Keep it moving.'”Alexander said.’ No one got hurt, but bad news for D.C. emergency responders: No one got there until eight minutes after Alexander called 911—-and then only a fire truck—-so she wants answers. ‘The incident will be added to a list of complaints about delayed or inadequate emergency response in the city….The [Fenty administration] is looking into the incident, spokeswoman Mafara Hobson said. She said in an e-mail that 97.7 percent of all “priority 1” calls, such as armed robberies, are dispatched in 120 seconds. The dispatch time in the incident Wednesday was 157 seconds….[T]he average police response for such calls is seven minutes, 14 seconds. It took 10 minutes for police to respond Wednesday.’ (In case you were wondering, she did start her 911 call: ‘Hi, this is CM Alexander…’) As DCist notes Alexander had her purse stolen in 2007.
Scoopage from Examiner’s Michael Neibauer: The Washington Humane Society has axed the director of the city animal shelter, along with two veterinary technicians, weeks after PETA leveled charges of widespread abuse and neglect. ‘PETA’s accusations came at an inopportune time for the WHS — its contract as the District’s animal welfare provider expired in September and it is in competition with a yet-unnamed organization to manage the shelter….PETA leveled several allegations against [Nick Gilman], including incompetence in euthanizing animals and “failure to provide adequate veterinary care.” The organization demanded his dismissal.’ Earlier this month, WHS called PETA’s claims ‘without merit.’ They declined to discuss the personnel moves.
Is an Anacostia Circulator coming? Jonathan O’Connell reports at WBJ that DDOT is mulling a new route ‘that would connect the Barracks Row neighborhood of Capitol Hill with Metrorail stations in Anacostia and Congress Heights.’ DDOT’s John Lisle ‘said the main obstacle to any new route was money. “I think funding would be the main issue, but I think a lot of people would like to see this happen,” he said.’ It’s not going to Kwame Brown‘s house, but close enough.
ALSO—-O’Connell looks at Big Chair Coffee, and how the cafe is a breakthrough for an Anacostia development that’s had trouble getting off the ground, but did after developers Four Points LLC eschewed a TIF for private financing. The upshot: ‘The District’s neighborhood TIF program…despite being Mayor Adrian Fenty’s main strategy to rehab neglected commercial corridors and receiving $95 million from the D.C. Council — has yet to assist a single retailer in opening.’ And about the coffee: ‘The caramel latte is a specialty, and there has been some discussion, according to manager Mac McKonen, about naming the drink after Marion Barry.’
Javaris Crittenton, to be forever known as Gilbert Arenas‘ partner in locker room dumbassery, pleads guilty to a misdemeanor weapons possession charge in D.C. Superior Court. He was promptly sentenced by Senior Judge Bruce Beaudin to one year of unsupervised probation, plus community service and a $1K fine. Do note: Prosecutors say that Crittenton never loaded his gun, in contradiction to press accounts which claimed he ‘chambered a round.’ His defense lawyer, Peter White, says Crittenton brought the gun to the locker room because he legitimately feared Areas. So why not bring ammo, too? Unlike Arenas, Crittenton had no priors. His statement, a good one: ‘I accept full responsibility for my bad judgment, my terrible mistake….I’m deeply sorry to the city of Washington, to the Wizards, to my family and to the NBA for this embarrassment.’ See WaPo, Examiner, AP, Legal Times, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
WaPo’s Keith Alexander profiles 78-year-old former DCPS teacher Eve Tetaz, who has become something of a professional prisoner. ‘Tetaz is a familiar figure to the Capitol police and at the courthouse. Since 2005, court records show, she has been arrested 20 times and convicted 14 times of various offenses, including unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct, contempt and crossing a police line. As she and other demonstrators march around various parts of the District, from the White House to the Supreme Court to the Capitol, her protests center around the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Most District judges who have heard her cases have dismissed them with a citation or fine or sentenced her to time served, usually one or two days in jail, and sent her home. But her repeated arrests have left prosecutors and some D.C. Superior Court judges exasperated.’ She picked up her 21st collar last Thursday at a Capitol protest; for another arrest, Judge Lynn Leibovitz gave her 25 days in D.C. Jail yesterday.
It’s true: The Federal City Council ran a quarter-page ad in Sunday’s WaPo Outlook section lauding Rhee as their person of the year, as WaPo’s Strauss points out on her blog. ‘It talks about her background and what it suggests are her accomplishments since she was appointed chancellor three years ago by [Fenty]. “I know that if we let Chancellor Rhee keep at it, she might make ours the best public school system in America,” the ad says. “Thank goodness for Mayor Adrian Fenty’s selection of Michelle Rhee to lead reform here in D.C.”’ Strauss then embarks on a critique of Rhee’s testing record.
Carlos E. Jones, 23, was arrested Thursday by federal authorities for alleged counterfeiting, Del Wilber reports at WaPo’s Crime Scene. ‘Authorities wrote in court papers that agents and police discovered about $1,180 in suspected counterfeit bills when they served a search warrant at the apartment in the 700 block of Fairmont Street NW….Inside the place, police and agents also found “indicia” of counterfeit greenback production: latex rubber gloves with ink residue, a box of resume paper, two pairs of scissors, a paper cutter and 21 empty inkjet cartridges, court papers show.’
Does Ted Leonsis need Comcast’s riches to buy the Wizards? WBJ says maybe: ‘Leonsis contacted the cable giant late last year to gauge its interest in extending the Capitals’ television rights package with Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, a deal that currently runs through at least 2015. Talks with Comcast are in the early stages; the two sides have met twice. While they are still far apart, a deal could represent one of several financing options for Leonsis as he seeks to buy the NBA team and arena, according to several sources.’
With assist from Eleanor Holmes Norton, new intercity bus center opens at Union Station for six-month pilot. Three carriers are now offering NYC service from the ‘multimodal hub.’ Also NC8, WAMU-FM, DCist. WRC-TV explains where you catch the buses.
WBJ: ‘Northrop Grumman signs new lease at Southwest building’! (But not for its HQ.)
Ron Machen‘s U.S. attorney nomination should pass the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Wall collapses at South Capitol Street AutoZone; three standing outside are hurt. Reports NC8: ‘[DCFEMS spox Pete Piringer] says the wall used to have a plate glass window but had been filled in with cinderblock bricks. He says the initial assessment shows a combination of building materials, vibration from nearby roads and weather conditions over time might have caused the collapse.’
Check out this interesting video on D.C. medical marijuana. Features interview with original Initiative 59 sponsor Wayne Turner, who apparently keeps a photo of his late partner and initiative founder Steve Michael next to an interesting piece of glassware.
Two D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute-endorsed seminars later this week: ‘Budget 101: Everything You Want To Know (And We Want You To Ask!)’ on Thursday and ‘Budgeting With Balance: An In-Depth Discussion of How DC Can Raise Revenue’ on Friday.
Dulles AeroTrain debuts today. The mobile lounge is dead. Long live the mobile lounge!
Pepco opens electric-vehicle charging station at downtown garage.
No more photos at National Archives!
Reader reax to Gene Weingarten‘s WaPo jury duty piece: ‘Is this the most appropriate system for prosecuting accused terrorists?…Mr. Weingarten’s commentary was a compelling argument against trying these enemy combatants in civilian courts.’ ALSO: Letter points out high risk of sex abuse in youth offender facilities.
Some jerk stuck a camera in Hizzoner’s face last night.
Tai Shan hits the road on Feb. 4.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on B18-333 (‘Msgr. J. Muncell Way Designation Act of 2009’), B18-347 (‘Ronald H. Brown Way Designation Act of 2009’), B18-417 (‘Rev. Dr. Edward Thomas Way Designation Act of 2009’), B18-562 (‘Tenth Street Community Park Designation Act of 2009’), and B18-600 (‘Abe Pollin City Title Championship and Title Trophy Designation Act of 2009’), JAWB 500; 10:30 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment hearing on B18-592 (‘District Facility Plan Amendment Act of 2009’), JAWB 120; 2 p.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs meeting (scheduled), JAWB 120; Committee of the Whole hearing on B18-601 (‘Closing of a Portion of an Unimproved Public Alley’), JAWB 500; 3 p.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on B18-494 (‘Council Cable Autonomy and Control Amendment Act of 2010’), JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:15 a.m.: remarks, restaurant development groundbreaking, 3813-3815 Georgia Ave. NW.