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We dive deep on the day’s biggest story and share links to everything you need to know.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Projected Gay Marriage Day: March 2‘; ‘Shelton Pledges “Coalition” to Support Gray Run‘; ‘Pershing Park Case: District Witness Pleads Ignorance‘; ‘Urban Chicken Debate Lights Up Hill Listserv‘; tweets galore!
Greetings all. United Medical Center is back in the news again, and not in a good way. The former Greater Southeast Community Hospital, saved by some $80M in city funds from the brink of closure in 2008, is ‘struggling to pay its bills and might need a bailout to stay open,’ according to Tim Craig‘s WaPo report today. Hailed as a success story for its rapid turnaround, the hospital is suffering from sagging revenues due to the recession. The city is looking for someone to buy the hospital from Specialty Hospitals of America, and there is no estimate of how big a bailout might have to be. The news is by no means good for David Catania, who moved mountains to save Greater Southeast from closure and is surely going to make that a cornerstone of his re-election campaign. He says the hospital isn’t in danger of closing, but talk of a ‘bailout’ and an ongoing tap on District coffers do nothing to burnish Catania’s fiscal reputation. And it’s sure to spark some thoughts of ‘toldya so’ from CFO Natwar M. Gandhi, who warned that there were issues with the 2007 Specialty deal, then setting off a classic Catania rampage. Last laugh time!
AFTER THE JUMP—-Details of new AIDS partnership with feds; WaPo wants a ‘civil’ debate on new crime bill; Kwame wants to send the Circulator to Southeast; police union election drama; FBI says drug dealers tend to commute; did DCPS mislead court on special-ed data?
More on the new HIV/AIDS partnership between the city and the National Institutes of Health. The $26.4M, two-year initiative, deemed the D.C. Partnership for HIV/AIDS Progress, ‘includes among four components a study that targets black men who have sex with men to determine the best ways to curtail HIV infections among the group,’ Lou Chibbaro Jr. writes at DC Agenda. ‘Other components…include tracking and measuring the success of HIV care; enhancing care for other HIV-related medical issues, such diabetes, Hepatitis, and cardiovascular disease; and a “test and treat” pilot program.’ NIH chief Dr. Anthony Fauci said at presser, ‘We are going to make the District of Columbia a model for the rest of the country and the world about how to do it right.’ Also WTOP, WTTG-TV, and WAMU-FM, which notes that the project will look at ‘the test-and-treat hypothesis: whether the disease can be curtailed primarily by annual voluntary testing and immediate drug treatment of those who test positive.’
ALSO FROM WAMU—-‘The $26 million dollar partnership between D.C. and the NIH comes after years of widespread waste of the city’s HIV/AIDS dollars. Fauci says D.C. has put a stop to that and is moving in the right direction. “So that instead of people coming and saying, ‘boy, the district doesn’t know what they’re doing. They don’t do it right,'” Fauci says, “They’re going to say, ‘how do they do it in the District of Columbia?'”‘
CRIME BILL PART II—-Get ready for another round of crime-law debates. WaPo editorial board kicks things off, stumping for the new package of crime legislation sponsored by Jack Evans and Jim Graham, which includes potentially controversial expansions to public nuisance statutes. ‘The D.C. Council dealt poorly last year with a different measure aimed at eradicating gang activity by authorizing civil gang injunctions in certain troubled parts of the city. Misinformation abounded, and the risk to civil liberties was greatly exaggerated; the legislation ultimately failed. There is much that still needs to be debated about the public nuisance proposal at hand. We hope that debate is thorough, civil, accurate and fair.’
Circulator drama! Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner that the council’s transportation committee voted 4-1 to extend Circulator service to Rosslyn, taking over the old Georgetown Metro connection shuttle. That no votes came from Kwame Brown, who ‘objected to the Rosslyn bill after his proposal to add a sixth Circulator route between Union Station and Southern Avenue Southeast, on the District-Maryland border, was rejected. The District should not provide a service to Virginia residents if it is unwilling to do the same for D.C. folks, Brown said.’ The big-picture issue: ‘D.C. leaders continue to wrestle with the five-year-old Circulator’s identity. How much should the government invest in a separate bus system? Which Metrobus routes would be better served by the Circulator?’ Kwame vows to fight! Also WaPo.
Is there a Adrian Fenty power move underway in the police union elections? Harry Jaffe reports in Examiner column that a quiet campaign might be underway to unseat gadfly Kristopher Baumann from his leader ship post. ‘A week from today, on Jan. 20, the police union will hold an election to re-elect Baumann to a third two-year term or vote in another team. Funny how the fliers for Scott Baum, one of his opponents, stay on the headquarters walls, while Baumann’s vanish.’ And there appears to be some racial politicking at work, with accusations that Cathy Lanier is trying to unite black officers against Baumann. But he has the endorsement of Lowell Duckett, a former president of the Black Police Caucus. ‘He’s a 21st century police leader. I strongly endorse him.’ Says Jaffe, ‘For the betterment of the street cops and residents they protect, it would be best to see Baumann and Fenty go at it for another two years—-at least.’
HMM—-Remember the Examiner report from last week on how an MPD lieutenant, Ronald Netter, had in gun stolen in a Jan. 6 carjacking? Now the Maryland Gazette reports on the incident, without mentioning Netter’s name: ‘Officer Quintin Peterson, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesman, said the officer’s gun and badge were not in the car when it was stolen. Nothing was reported missing from the car when it was recovered.’ An arrest has been made in the case, but other suspects are still at large. After the Examiner story, the MPD issued a release: ‘No lieutenant with the Metropolitan Police Department has reported a firearm lost or stolen. We are concerned and regret any confusion that published misinformation may have caused.’
More AIDS funding fishiness, from WaPo’s Debbie Cenziper: ‘Three former employees of a troubled nonprofit agency that was awarded more than $1 million in District AIDS funding say their boss routinely doctored pay stubs and other records to draw money from city government.’ This happened last year at Hill’s Community Residential Support Services, ‘which had been collecting city money to house women with HIV since 2004. The former employees also said the program lacked staff, food, therapy and support services, forcing ailing boarders to fend for themselves even as the city was cutting checks to pay for their care.’ Says former employee: ‘It was just a tragedy. Those women were really left in the wilderness without a paddle.’ The city stopped funding the program in September, after Hill’s had been paid $218K.
Plaintiffs in the Blackman special-education class action claim that DCPS gave misleading numbers as to how many kids have been moved from private placements to public schools, Bill Turque reports at Schools Insider. ‘Of the 51 students that DCPS reported had “transitioned” from private day schools, 43 had actually been expelled for truancy and only two ever enrolled in a public school. One is now dead. At least a dozen had not attended school for an entire year. What’s clear, said [attorney Ira Burnim], is that DCPS was more committed to making its numbers look better than it was to tracking the students.’ DCPS disagrees with that claim.
ALSO FROM TURQUE—-DCPS enrollment numbers not very transparent.
The Sexist gets to the bottom of the MPD’s supposed ‘three-condom rule’ that’s been percolating though the blogosphere. ‘Frightening sex workers into being unsafe—or physically removing their protection from them—is an extremely harmful practice, whether it’s reinforced in the law or not. But the blogs and petitions that extend the harm of these practices to any girl who runs over to CVS for a three-pack of condoms are misleading….Really, condom possession is only going to present a problem if you’re a sex worker. And that should be enough for all of us to get angry about.’ Also DCist.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) says he will introduce bill to have District vote on gay marriage, AP reports. Also: Metro Weekly runs down the state of gay marriage efforts. Also see this excerpt from a letter sent to Congress from Harry Jackson & Co.: ‘If the recent DC same sex-marriage law is allowed to stand, people all around the nation will ask, ‘Why did Congress allow the city to violate the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)?’…Many will assume that this is simply another instance of special interest groups usurping the rights of the people or partisan politics at work once again.’
Very good WaPo piece from Preston Williams on how the DCPS open-transfer policies mean that school athletic programs can be decimated by a coach’s depature: ‘Only in the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association could a public high school girls’ basketball program that had won 120 games during a recent six-year stretch just disappear. Gone. Because only in the DCIAA are high school sports programs built around influential coaches and not the, um, high schools, as the Theodore Roosevelt High girls learned last week….So in D.C., a coach’s most pressing responsibility isn’t teaching and inspiring his players, it’s reeling in talent from around town. The DCIAA’s main criterion for a coach is sweet talker, not sweet teacher.’
Laurel resident Michael W. Tibbs, 31, has been charged in federal court with stealing more than $100K from Greater St. Paul Baptist Church near Fort Totten between 2003 and 2006. Reports WaPo: ‘Prosecutors say that Tibbs wrote checks to himself on the church’s bank account and used its debit card for personal expenses….Tibbs is also accused of using the church’s debit card to pay for telephone bills, his wedding reception and a wedding cake, prosecutors wrote.’
WaPo’s Del Wilber talks to FBI agents about gang activity in the District: ‘We are finding ourselves more and more connecting individuals to southern Prince George’s County, as opposed to the early 1990s, when they were more of a close-knit groups of guys right on R Street or right on 37th Place. They will still go there for illicit activity—-to sell drugs—-because that is where they control a piece of property, but often times they now live in Prince George’s County [or] Montgomery County. Geographically, they are spreading out, but they have alliances and ties to a specific housing project or street in the city that they go to and are respected in. They commute to work.’ Very good read; interesting info on the city drug trade.
Also at Crime Scene blog: Veteran defense attorney is detained by police along with his client while investigating a PWID case on the 300 block of 50th Street NE. Says the lawyer, Lauckland Nicholas, ‘They were trying to intimidate us, or they believe everyone in a drug area is trying to buy drugs, which is not the case.’ The U.S. attorney’s office ended up dropping the PWID case.
Boys & Girls Clubs deal gets done: The Jelleff, Loughran, and Eastern clubhouses are now property of the D.C. government, reports WBJ. Now the District has to find folks to run them, who could very well be the Boys & Girls Clubs.
SWDCBlog breaks news on the Randall School, on I Street SW. After deal with Monument Realty fell through last year, ‘a new agreement with a prospective partner is close and may be signed by the end of this month.’ WBJ picks up the item.
Another speed cameras story.
Christopher Louis Jones, 23, found shot yesterday afternoon inside vehicle on 4700 block of Alabama Avenue SE. He died of his wounds.
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools calls District’s chartering laws some of the best in the country, according to new rankings obtained by WaPo. ‘It was little surprise that the District, with a fast-growing charter sector of more than 28,000 students, placed second. The alliance cited the 1996 D.C. law as a model for autonomy, funding equity and facilities support.’
NC8: ‘Twelve days into the District’s new plastic bag fee and there is still confusion.’
International transit experts share notes on safety, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. What can Metro learn?
D.C. Chamber’s Barbara Lang wants ‘a robust debate about where the city needs to go,’ and hence a strong challenge to Fenty, she tells D.C. Wire: ‘The city would be well served by having Vince as an elected official regardless of whether it’s the chairman’s race or the mayoral race….He is not someone this city should lose out of public service.’
Anthony Williams is joining Arlington’s Corporate Executive Board to ‘help the company expand its government practice,’ WBJ reports. ‘The company’s clients include about 400 senior level federal, state and local government executives.’ He will also continue at Arent Fox.
Two more Wizards interviewed about Gilbert Arenas.
Who Killed Robert Wone has an update on a newly released toxicology report. They didn’t test Wone’s blood for the drug that the bloggers suspect might have been there.
Water mains break on 1400 block of S Street NW, 4400/4500 block of W Street NW, and 1700 block of Columbia Road NW. That last one closed Mixtec!
Etching found in bathroom of Catholic University president might be a Rembrandt!
New emphasis on insurance fraud at DISB
Underperforming Mayflower Hotel forced to refinance.
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute takes ‘A Closer Look at DC Unemployment Numbers.’ The gist: ‘Recently released data shows that a large percentage of the jobless in DC have been unemployed for a very long time, and that suggests that returning residents to the labor force might take more investment than just waiting for the economic recovery.’
Ex-Tommy Wells staffer moves to CYITC.
Former FBI director, in WaPo letter, lauds the persistence of the judge, lawyer, in the Donald Gates case. ‘This is an opportunity for citizens to reflect on the importance of dedicated and competent judges and defense attorneys to the success of the criminal justice system,’ William Sessions writes, ‘and also to reiterate to prosecutors across America the importance of disclosing exculpatory evidence at every stage of the criminal process, even after conviction by a jury.’
AP: Destination DC is ‘enlisting psychosexual therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer to show off the playful side of the nation’s capital and boost the local hospitality business….On Thursday, Dr. Ruth will be sworn in as the city’s honorary secretary of the “Department of Love and Relationships.”‘
D.C. moves ahead in 2018/2022 World Cup bidding.
Register for free job training.
Mayor’s Martin Luther King Day of Service is coming up. Check online for projects.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-11 a.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation hearing on ‘The Status of Commercial Recycling in the District of Columbia,’ JAWB 500; 2 p.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on B18-452 (‘Safe Plumbing Act of 2009’), JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:45 a.m.: remarks, grand opening of Early Stages Center, Walker-Jones Education Campus, 1125 New Jersey Ave. NW.