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IN LL WEEKLY——Disrobing D.C.: Peter Nickles wants to get judges out of city government, by force.
Greetings all. Gilbert Arenas is on the verge of a plea deal, Keith Alexander and Mike Wise report in WaPo, with the possibility that Arenas could appear in Superior Court today. ‘The two sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks are ongoing, stressed that the negotiations could collapse. In addition, no cases involving Arenas had been docketed in Superior Court by late Wednesday night. If the plea talks are not successful, a Superior Court grand jury would continue to hear evidence in the case….The sources said it was unclear whether the plea agreement would set Arenas’s punishment as probation, community service, a fine or some combination. But the negotiations would ensure that Arenas would not go to jail, one of the sources said.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Locals respond to Haitian tragedy; sidewalk bill gets tabled; feds’ shift might be good news for K Street project; another gay man murdered in Ward 8; D.C. politicos step up for Maryland candidate
WaPo covers all the local angles to the devastating Haitian earthquake. FEMS has deployed a K9 team to Haiti. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty addressed the tragedy this morning on WRC-TV—-‘I’ll look to see what other big-city mayors are doing, and then we’ll come up with whatever relief plan is appropriate.’ Eleanor Holmes Norton is pushing Congress to approve emergency aid; she tells WAMU-FM that the quake is ‘probably 100 years setback to a country that has grinding poverty just making its way slowly out of the worst poverty in the hemisphere.’ NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV cover gatherings at the Haitian embassy here.
The west-of-the-park sidewalk wars continue apace. Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner that a Mary Cheh-authored bill that would requited sidewalks on at least one side of the 200 miles of D.C. thoroughfares without them is stalled in the council’s transportation committee. ‘Chairman Jim Graham tabled the legislation Tuesday, the day it was scheduled for a vote….The matter of sidewalks has stirred neighborhood rancor. Residents who have invested time and money in the public space fronting their homes are lobbying—-sometimes behind each other’s backs—-to have sidewalks installed on the other side of the street, said Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser….”I think it’s not sidewalks as much as it is people are concerned, rightly so, about their largest investment, and that is their home,” Bowser told The Examiner. “They want to be sure the government isn’t running roughshod over their investment.”‘
Feds change transportation funding priorities to favor ‘transit projects designed to spur economic development and help the environment.’ The move, Ashley Halsey reports in WaPo, ‘could help District officials’ efforts to transform two lanes of K Street into a transitway to speed buses through the heart of the city and also aid Maryland in its efforts to secure federal money for the 16-mile Purple Line. The District is competing for a portion of $1.5 billion in economic stimulus money to help pay for the $140 million K Street project….Winners of the grant money are expected to be announced this month, and if the K Street project is among them, District officials said construction could begin in the latter half of this year.’
More on the District’s efforts to lure Northrop Grumman, from Jonathan O’Connell in WBJ: Valerie Santos, David Catania, and Kwame Brown met Monday with Northrop board member Vic Fazio, where the District offered to invoke the New Economy Transformation Act of 2000, which ‘offers to eliminate the city’s 9.98 percent franchise tax for five years and charge a 6 percent rate — the equivalent of Virginia’s rate — thereafter.’ Also on the table: property tax abatements, various tax credits, and sales and capital-gains tax breaks. ‘The result, Catania said, is a package worth millions of dollars and one he said allows D.C. — typically known for pricey real estate and corporate taxes — to offer Northrop the cheapest option as it contemplates where to move 350 new and relocated employees by 2011. “If the decision is a financial decision, the District is the best option, there’s no question,” Catania said….Santos said Mayor Adrian Fenty received a “brief courtesy call” from Bush at the time the company announced its plans to move and that she and her team have been gathering information to offer as competitive a package as possible.’
WaPo editorial board reacts to Randi Weingarten‘s big speech expressing her willingness to explore easier ways to evaluate and fire bad teachers. ‘Whether she follows through will be a test of her resolve as well as the willingness of her membership to give up long-held protections that have favored the interests of bad teachers over the needs of students….To be sure, there is—-as skeptics were quick to point out—-a big difference between saying and doing…. [I]n the District, where Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee has pushed for real change in seniority and tenure practices, there’s yet to be an agreement announced after two years of negotiations and mediation.’
City debuts new facility intended to ‘spot and address developmental delays in small children,’ Bill Turque reports at D.C. Schools Insider. Located at the Walker Jones Education Campus, the Early Stages Center is meant to address what Rhee calls the ‘under-identification of young people before they started in the school system of their special needs.’ It provides free services to all District children, regardless of enrollment and ‘also provides hearing and vision screens, as well as assessments of immunization and lead status.’ Also WAMU-FM.
Jonetta Rose Barras takes a look at the question, ‘What makes a great teacher?’ as addressed in Amanda Ripley‘s recent Atlantic piece. ‘I was encouraged by what I read in Ripley’s article, until I came across an explosive nugget about one fourth-grade teacher—-a 23-year veteran who earns more than $80,000….”When the students entered that fourth-grade teacher’s class last school year, 66 were scoring at or above grade-level in reading. After a year in her class, only 44 percent scored grade level, and none scored above.”….An instructor who, in the course of one year, either destroys children’s enthusiasm for learning or reverses the work of other teachers doesn’t deserve cover and should be fired immediately. She is a weapon of mass destruction.’
Quite a group has assembled to back former Maryland delegate Rushern Baker for the Prince George’s County executive post. Informer reports that A. Scott Bolden, David Wilmot, and Bill Lightfoot hosted a fundraiser for Baker attended by Fenty, Anthony Motley, Darryl Wiggins, and Jim Dyke. Also, Don Peebles wrote him a check.
Sex-related businesses have been shut down using new regulations, the city announces. The following joints are no more: Orange Spa, 617 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; Star Spa, 1829 M St. NW; D.C. Wrestling Club, 1618 14th St. NW (not a brothel but a sex club); VIP Spa, 719 8th St. SE; and an unnamed operation at 1429 Parkwood Place NW. Nikita Stewart quotes Peter Nickles at D.C. Wire: ‘The District has worked diligently to bring to light the illegal activities occurring at these unsafe businesses and fought to keep them closed for a safer and peaceful community….As part of this initiative, the District has used and will continue to use every tool at its disposal to make sure such illegal activities will not be tolerated.’ At the Sexist, Amanda Hess logs onto message boards frequented by local johns to gauge their reaction. Says one, ‘Went to VIP and Orange and sadly confirmed the news. Then I went to that same place our colleague went to, also had Ruby or ‘Luby,’ and recognized her from Orange. So, good talent stays in towni….So the idea that VIP would be a loss is not really an issue. These girls will move on to something else in the area.’
Another gay man is murdered in Ward 8: Gordon Rivers, 47, was found with fatal wounds on Jan. 10 on the 2600 block of Naylor Road SE, Lou Chibbaro Jr. reports at DC Agenda. ‘One of Rivers’ friends circulated an e-mail Tuesday saying Rivers was a regular patron of the D.C. gay bar Bachelor’s Mill. A source familiar with the case said the police homicide squad earlier this week informed the department’s Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit that Rivers was gay and invited the unit to assist in the investigation.’ There is no evidence so far that the killing was a hate crime, but comes two weeks after the murder of 29-year-old gay man Anthony Perkins.
Two murders Wednesday: Nadar Mobley, 20, was found shot to death around 3:30 p.m. on the 5400 block of Blaine Street ME. Jheryl Hodge, 20, was found shot on the 1100 block of Eaton Road SE and around 1 p.m. and later died of his wounds. WTTG-TV notes that there were three daylight killings in a 24-hour period.
It’s official: Kwame Brown has been installed as chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Says the CM: ‘I look forward to leading the COG board and building on our recent work to develop more sustainable communities and a more resilient economy for all residents of the National Capital Region.’ More at the We District! Also: Michael Brown is now chair of COG’s metropolitan development policy committee.
Tom Sherwood‘s Notebook: ‘Millionaire developer R. Donahue Peebles turned out to be something of a speculative bubble in Washington….Some business folks in town were privately saying that Peebles would never run. They said he was mainly in Washington to survey the shaky commercial real estate market and pick up some pieces at bargain prices. The campaign froth was just that, froth, they said….Peebles left the door ajar to consider the race again sometime in the future. But the political sphere doesn’t work that way. He was almost in, and then he was out. Waffles are for breakfast, not campaigns.’ Also: Cheh gets presser invite from Fenty!
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute likes council’s reprogramming reforms.
AP picks up March 2 date for D.C. gay marriage licenses.
D.C. Housing Finance Agency has been cleared to spend nearly $200M in bond proceeds, WBJ reports. ‘D.C. plans to use $168 million of the funds to bulk up its multifamily program and the rest to revitalize its single-family mortgage program. Like many housing finance agencies last year, DCHFA was unable to issue new bonds at a competitive rate.’
Circulator bans unfolded strollers!
Dude catches Jack Evans phoning while driving on Wisconsin Avenue. Not the first time.
Richard Layman on his blog: ‘My criticism of Councilmember Graham’s proposal for a citizen oversight committee for the Circulator bus system is that it is at best half a loaf, more like a piece of moldy bread….What the city really needs is a Transportation Commission, comparable in heft to the Zoning Commission.’
More on Destination D.C.’s love-themed efforts.
Headed to MoCo this weekend? You may want to avoid the Red Line.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-2 p.m.: Committee on Housing and Workforce Development meeting (scheduled), JAWB 120; 3:30 p.m.: Committee on Health hearing on B18-481 (‘Health Care Facilities Improvement Act of 2010’), JAWB 123.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:45 a.m.: remarks, MLK service day announcement, Ron Brown Middle School, 4800 Meade St. NE.