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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Did Posh Maret School Get a Sweetheart Deal From D.C.?‘; ‘D.C. Jail Releases Inmate Early, City Officials Wrongly Blame Superior Court‘; ‘Baumann Wins Another Term As Police Union Chief‘; and tweets galore!
Morning all. Well, that didn’t take long. In her first public comments on the issue, Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee tells WaPo’s Bill Turque that DCPS ‘has no immediate plans’ to move the Duke Ellington School for the Arts. Still, she did not slam the door completely, saying that the school is in need of ‘a great state-of-the-art facility’—-a facility the District has neither planned for or has money to build in the foreseeable future. As for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty: ‘Asked if he could guarantee parents that the school, which is scheduled to be renovated in 2012, would remain in Georgetown beyond that year, Fenty said: “No, in fact, the opposite. We’re exploring all options for all of our schools.”‘ Rhee declined to address the idea that Ward 2 needs a traditional neighborhood high school in the Ellington space. Smart move by Fenty: You think Cora Masters Barry had friends? Peggy Cooper Cafritz has a few of her own.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Rhee stars in Sundance-featured documentary; Convention Authority sues JBG over hotel litigation; UDC explores NoMa community college location; new Superior Court judge nomination
Examiner’s Michael Neibauer covers yesterday’s hearings on bill to impose ‘safety zones’ around schools and transit stops. ‘Civil liberties advocates Thursday criticized [the bills] as unconstitutional, ambiguous and ineffective. Students, however, fearing for their lives, pleaded for better protection. Five students of Friendship Collegiate Academy in Northeast, across from the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station, told the D.C. Council’s public safety committee that they are regularly targeted for violence and muggings by other kids who just wait for them to leave school….Transit safety zones are especially arbitrary, said Laura Hankins, special counsel with the D.C. Public Defender Service. If they were enacted, a person who robs the Quiznos at 13th and U streets NW, less than 50 feet from the U Street Metro Station, faces a 1.5 times longer prison sentence than a person who robs Ben’s Chili Bowl, 84 feet away….Metro supports the bill. Deputy Metro Transit Police Chief Erhart Mark Olson suggested expanding the zones to 150 feet.’
Harry Jaffe does a postmortem on the D.C. police union elections: ‘The poor chief has two more years of Kris Baumann—-in her face, in her roll calls, in her deployment plans….The verdict by the rank-and-file cops is bad news for both the chief and [Fenty]. Baumann is one of the few leaders in the city who has consistently challenged Fenty and Lanier, taken them to court, won, and kept up the criticism. His win is good for the city….Cops need a strong voice and someone who has their backs.’ Baumann’s goals: ‘We have to reform the police department….We cannot afford to keep losing 1,000 officers every four years. Morale is awful.’ And negotiate a new contract.
Petula Dvorak covers D.C. Council hearing today on foster care—-a hearing that’s going to be run by the foster kids themselves. ‘They have been practicing their testimonies at night at the Young Women’s Project. With their highlighters and charts, they are breaking down the problems they’ve experienced and the solutions they propose. In a rare twist, the kids and advocates don’t want more money. The programs for older foster kids are well-funded, they say. But they think the money can be spent better. Life skills training should begin at 15 for these kids, not 20.’
Rhee is featured in new documentary about the ‘public education crisis’ called ‘Waiting for Superman,’ premiering Friday at Sundance. It’s directed by ‘Inconvenient Truth’ director Davis Guggenheim; also features Bill Gates; David Levin and Mike Feinberg of KIPP; Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone. (via Turque).
Why one lawsuit when you could have three? The Washington Sports and Convention Authority joins the convention-center hotel litigation party, filing suit against JBG and related entities ‘alleging that extortion attempts and abuse of the legal process…have paralyzed the authority’s attempt to build a convention center hotel,’ Jonathan O’Connell reports in WBJ. The suit says JBG, having purchased the Wardman Park Marriott ‘at the height of the real estate boom, and having seen values and profits plummet in the years since, sought in July to reduce their losses at Wardman Park by seeking concessions from Marriott in connection with Marriott’s management agreement for the Wardman Park.’ Also WaPo.
Man, O’Connell was on fire yesterday: He’s got the scoop on UDC, which, he reports, is looking to open a community college location at 801 North Capitol St. NE, ‘a building that formerly housed the D.C. Office of Planning and the Department of Housing and Community Development, according to sources familiar with the school’s search….If UDC were to sign a lease there in the coming weeks, community college classes could start next year and bring new energy to NoMa.’ This comes in addition to possible campuses at Backus MS and near the Minnesota Avenue Metro.
ALSO FROM O’CONNELL—-The big battle between up-and-coming business districts is NoMa vs. Capitol Riverfront: Looking back at 2009, NoMa won in commerical business, Riverfront in residential. And O’Connell covers updates to corporate organizational laws, led by Muriel Bowser. At an info session yesterday, ‘More than 50 business and nonprofit leaders attended, including representatives of the D.C Hospital Association, the Hotel Association of Greater Washington, the D.C. Insurance Federation, Boston Properties Inc., Target Corp., Pepco Holdings Inc. as well as from hospitals, law firms and nonprofits.’ In the print edition, he’s got pieces on the Cultural Development Corp.’s search for a development partner to build a facility ‘that combines office space with a gallery, studio, classrooms and performing arts,’ and on efforts to get local residents construction jobs at St. Elizabeths.
WaPo editorial board lauds D.C./NIH AIDS partnership, calling it ‘vital in a city where at least 3 percent of the population is living with HIV/AIDS.’ And D.C. Appleseed’s Walter Smith stands up on WAMU-FM for the Fenty administration’s AIDS efforts. ‘Progress is being made. But much, much more remains to be done.’
Milton C. Lee Jr. has been nominated as the newest Superior Court judge. A D.C. native and former public defender who is now serving as a magistrate judge, he was nominated by the Judicial Nominations Commission after President Obama did not act within 60 days on three recommendations passed on by the JNC. But how long will he have to wait for Senate confirmation? AllGov points out that Superior Court nominee Marisa DeMeo has been waiting since March.
Big WaPo feature by Katherine Shaver on plans to reuse Dupont Down Under: ‘[A]rchitect Julian Hunt envisions a series of hip galleries called Dupont Underground, where up to 1,500 people at a time would take in avant-garde art shows and exhibits of experimental architecture. Museum-quality lighting would fill curved hallways, and a sophisticated ventilation system would keep the humidity to art gallery standards. As Hunt sees it, the depths of Dupont Circle would become the go-to spot for the visual arts in Washington….The proposal, promoted by a group of artists and architects called the Arts Coalition for Dupont Underground, is the latest pitch for reopening the trolley station abandoned beneath one of the city’s most expensive and colorful neighborhoods.’ Says Jack Evans, ‘Everyone is intrigued by the idea….If there’s a draw there and the overhead is low, you might be able to pull it off.’
Investigations continue into Robert A. “Pete” Peterson, the 65-year-old Sidwell Friends social studies teacher accused of sexually abusing a student at the school’s summer camp. Michael Birnbaum reports in WaPo that Montgomery County cops ‘are investigating whether he had inappropriate contact with other children as well.’ Also at issue: ‘Several parents were concerned that administrators did not inform parents sooner. School officials said they had acted appropriately. Until charges are filed, “they simply are allegations,” said upper school Principal Ellis Turner. “The police could have decided that there were no charges to move forward.”‘ Peterson plans to plead not guilty. Also Examiner.
Can D.C. cops arrest you for driving with expired license plates? It seems they can, NC8 reports. ‘We didn’t find anyone Thursday who said they were handcuffed and thrown into jail but legally, that could happen. Every day, D.C. residents and others are being pulled over by police for expired tags, told they’re under administrative arrest and issued citations that include a fine and an arrest record.’
MetroAccess van picks up 90-year-old woman to take her to their home from Clinton, Md., care center, doesn’t get there for five hours. ‘The vehicle left with Garner and two other disabled passengers around 4:10 p.m. but failed to drop them off at their homes. A MetroAccess supervisor eventually dropped [Gertrude Garner] off at her grandson’s home around 9:45 p.m. Nobody at MetroAccess or the county police department would discuss what happened during those 5 1/2 hours,’ Markham Heid reports in Examiner. Metro blames ‘a communications breakdown between the dispatcher and two drivers.’ WUSA-TV broke the story.
DCist’s Martin Austermuhle looks at the state of the mayoral race. ‘Basically, everyone’s sitting around waiting to see what D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray does. And whether you consider Gray to be methodical or simply indecisive, he’s taking his sweet, sweet time.’
ESPN’s Lester Munson takes a close look at what Gilbert Arenas faces in his sentencing: ‘[W]hen Morin asked Arenas if he knew the maximum possible prison term for the charge against him, Arenas blurted, “Yes, six months.” Wrong answer. The maximum term is five years. Six months is the low end of the sentencing guidelines that Morin will consider when he sentences Arenas on March 26. If Arenas wants to impress Morin with his contrition and his acceptance of responsibility, he must do better than that. In the culture of the courthouse, the “six months” answer indicates the kind of casual and cavalier approach to the situation that can lead to a stiffer sentence.’ But he still thinks there’s a chance Gil could avoid jail.
Fenty gives his one-year assessment of Barack Obama‘s presidency to WRC-TV. ‘He said the president has put approximately $460 million into the District budget through the economic stimulus plan, including infrastructure projects, 50 new police officers, and money for schools and health care. He said Mr. Obama also brings “energy and inspiration to government,” which have inspired more people to move into the District. “The number of people living in the city went up more in one year than it had in the last 60 years,” he said.’
ALSO—-Fenty appeared yesterday at U.S. Conference of Mayors event. Also there: Antonio Villaraigosa, Gavin Newsom, Kevin Johnson, Dave Bing, John Hickenlooper, et al.
Big water main break closes Florida Avenue NE between 11th Street and West Virginia Avenue: ‘Two eight-inch water mains, a 12-inch water main, and a 36-inch water main at 11th and E streets all busted, causing major problems for both residents and commuters,’ NC8 reports. Also WTTG-TV.
Silly Dukies: Christian Laettner and Brian Davis default on Georgetown office lease, Melissa Castro reports in WBJ
The Polaris Project lauds the city’s anti-brothel efforts: ‘[T]he days of whack-a-mole are over. Bravo!…Commendation and praise are in order for this Attorney General’s efforts, as well as the efforts of his dedicated staff, and the members of the DC Human Trafficking Task Force who have worked to combat these exploitative brothels for years.’
Interesting point: Too bad that fire truck didn’t make it to the Dominican Republic; it might have helped out in Port-au-Prince.
WTTG-TV covers East Hill carjackings.
At issue in judge-stalking trial: Should jurors be informed of pending ethics complaints against Magistrate Judge Janet Albert?
Keith Neal, 41, is dead of gunshot wound suffered on 1300 block of Eastern Avenue NE. He was found Wednesday at about 2:45 p.m.
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute’s Ed Lazere looks at the NET 2000 tax incentives: ‘The fact is that there is a lot of research saying that tax incentives are not particularly effective, and the little evidence we have on NET 2000 is not encouraging.’
Housing Complex covers efforts to keep the Franklin School a school.
WAMU-FM on solar-powered meters: ‘”It communicates in real time if there’s a problem. Sort of like if you have a child and they’re sick and they tell you they’re sick. It’s the same thing with the meter,” says [DDOT chief Gabe Klein]. “It’ll say I’m full with quarters, I’m not able to transmit data or I’ve got a mechanical problem.” And Klein says that soon, you may even be able to use your cell phone to text the parking fee straight to the meter.’
Push continues for Healthy Schools legislation. ‘A few ideas developed throughout the meeting. Top of the list was the possibility of the city providing a warehouse where this kind of processing modeled by D.C. Central Kitchen could be ramped up to match the needs of District schools.’
Mice infestation briefly closes Rhode Island Avenue Safeway.
Evans’ office helps Carol Joynt get to the bottom of her Georgetown parking issue.
So long, Commander Salamander.
March for Life today; street closings abound.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-11 a.m.: Committee on Human Services hearing on “Yes Youth Can: Confronting the Challenges of Aging Out,” JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee on Health roundtable on ‘The Performance of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration,’ JAWB TBD.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, Deanwood community update, 1350 49th St. NE.