Get to know D.C. with our daily newsletter
We dive deep on the day’s biggest story and share links to everything you need to know.
Morning all. Do Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s policies of petty political payback extend to matters as deadly serious as the city’s AIDS epidemic, his supposed ‘No. 1 public health priority’? The answer is yes, according to the reporting of Darryl Fears at D.C. Wire. The skinny: The District just last week managed to convince officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to release federal funds for housing for HIV/AIDS patients in the city. To follow up on the decision, and to prevent any future funding problems, the feds scheduled a meeting yesterday with city health officials and At-Large Councilmember David A. Catania, who has ridden herd throughout this process. Catania and the feds show up to the meeting, but the executive-branch folks do not, and Catania is told that it’s because he voted for a bill to elect the attorney general—-which Fenty opposes. That leads a top federal official to remark, ‘Two steps forward, one step back.’ So allow LL to lay this out: Fenty, or at least his city administrator, chose to exact revenge on one of his few stalwart council allies for his vote on a bill that isn’t even binding but merely a suggestion to Congress. And they pull this on the least intimidated, most stubborn dude in the John A. Wilson Building—-the guy most likely to go find a reporter and lay out these idiotic, penny-ante ‘big city mayor’ antics. Actually, pardon LL: Catania would be the second most stubborn dude in the Wilson Building. And at least Catania seems to have a functioning brain.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Stunner WaPo editorial tells Gray to man up and run for mayor; option-year contracts tussle comes to a head; your water’s about to get bleached; new charges expected for Teddy Loza; accessorize, tax-scammer style; Marion Barry has entirely too good a time at new coffeeshop
MAKING NICE—-‘Attorney General Peter Nickles said the decision to not attend the meeting had nothing to do with any pending legislation. After the federal department of Housing and Urban Development ended its threat to withhold $12.2 million, “our perspective … was let sleeping dogs lie,” Nickles said. “I consider this to be a temporary disagreement with David,” Nickles said. “With David’s help, we moved heaven and earth in weekly meetings to satisfy HUD’s concerns. The big issue to me was, ‘Are we going to get the money?’…Without the mayor’s leadership, and without David’s leadership, we wouldn’t be able to do these things…I’m sad that this communication has broken down with David. We’ll make up.”‘ ALSO: This happens the day before the city is set to announce a groundbreaking partnership with the National Institutes of Health, with Fenty, Catania, and said health officials set to appear at a press conference featuring legendary AIDS researcher Dr. Anthony Fauci. Beautiful.
DEPT. OF WHOA—-‘A Fenty vs. Gray race is what Washington needs,’ says the WaPo editorial board, basically telling Vincent Gray to put up or shut up. ‘We say that not because we’ve soured on the mayor or would favor one man over the other at this early stage [!!!], but because the city could benefit from a full-throated debate on Mr. Fenty, his programs and the issues facing the District….[T]he constant bickering and refusal to work together for the common good can’t be good for the city over the long run. A face-off between the rivals would allow for a full airing of the issues….[T]he ongoing guerrilla warfare is becoming increasingly harmful to the public interest….Four more years of the council trying to undermine the mayor and the mayor trying to ignore the council is more than Washingtonians should have to bear. It’s clear from the money he has raised and the campaign apparatus that he’s assembled that Mr. Fenty is ready to be challenged. Isn’t it time for his critics to show their mettle?’ In other words, man up, Vince!
LL SEZ—-What’s most truly gobsmacking here? That the WaPo ed board expects Gray to give up a job that he happens to enjoy and be quite good at simply to ‘allow for a full airing of the issues’? That they presuppose that Fenty and Gray are equally responsible for the ‘ongoing guerrilla warfare’ that ‘is becoming increasingly harmful to the public interest’ (see above)? That they assume that a mano-a-mano battle would prevent ‘[f]our more years of the council trying to undermine the mayor and the mayor trying to ignore the council’? That they write with a straight face that the possibility exists that they might endorse Gray?
In other Vince news: In a sidebar to his lengthy interview with WaPo reporters last week, he tells Tim Craig that he would neither campaign to retain or replace either Chancellor Michelle Rhee or Chief Cathy Lanier: ‘”At this stage of the game, I would not say I would automatically keep or not keep anybody because I think it’s a function of the quality of the job and whether there is a chemistry there that both of us would need to make it work….Having been on the other side of this, three or four years in these jobs is really a long time – the wear and tear and stress on a person. So a third factor is not just they are doing a good job or whether the chemistry is right, it’s whether someone in a current job wants to do something else, which is a perfectly legitimate situation for me.’
The council-mayor brinksmanship over option-year contracts, more than a year in the making, nears a precipice. Gray has agreed to schedule an emergency legislative meeting on Jan. 19 to have the council ratify $875M+ in contracts, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. That decision came in a letter containing this classic rejoinder to the AG: ‘Mr. Nickles, the sky is not falling. Indeed the Council’s action would appear drastic, if someone was not aware of the fact that Mayor Fenty has ignored all requests to resolve this another way and that his continued flouting of option contracting laws left the Council with no other reasonable option.’ LL is told that most of the contracts will be approved without a hitch, though some so-called ‘IDIQ’ construction contracts could be problematic.
So somebody thought someone at Spingarn SHS had a gun inside the school. So they brought in the SWAT team. But there was no gun, just someone who had something in his pants that looked like a gun. But there was a food fight! Also WTOP, NC8, WRC-TV.
Washington Aqueduct changes formula for water purification—-trading gaseous chlorine, susceptible to terrorist attack during transport and storage, for sodium hypochlorite, which is essentially bleach. ‘Both are equally effective, according to the Washington Aqueduct, an arm of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But the liquid, “is considered much safer to transport, store and use than gaseous chlorine,” said an official,’ Neibauer writes in Examiner. ‘The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the chlorine swap in mid-December. Changeover presents no hazard, officials said. But the corps and the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority will nevertheless increase monitoring and testing for 18 months. The change to liquid chlorine will start in the next month.’
Big water main ruptures near 17th and P Streets NW, flooding Dupont Circle streets and disrupting traffic for hours. ‘The rupture occurred about 10 a.m….after workers contracted by the D.C. Department of Transportation for a construction project lifted up a concrete catch basin at the intersection’s northwest corner,’ WaPo reports. ‘They apparently ruptured a 20-inch underground pipe dating to the late 1800s, city officials said. “If you’re pulling a catch basin, it can hit the pipe, and if the pipe is older and cold, it’s more likely that it’s brittle and can crack,” said George Hawkins, general manager of the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority. By Monday afternoon, workers had reduced the pressure in the ruptured pipe enough to begin making repairs.’ Sushi Taro had to cancel lunch! Also WTOP, NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
Ted Loza could face new charges, Del Wilber reports in WaPo. The trial for the ex-Jim Graham staffer, set for March, has been canceled; no word on what the charges are or when they might come down.
Hey, look: A WaTimes Metro story! Deborah Simmons writes up the medical marijuana issue for the beleaguered daily. Unfortunately, not much news therein: ‘Medical marijuana is legal in 13 states. Will the nation’s capital follow suit? The short answer is yes, but what remains unanswered is how and when….D.C. officials said that at this juncture, there is much to ponder. In addition to federal and distribution issues, authorities are reviewing tax, penalty and consumption regulations. They also are reconsidering licensing laws and which illnesses should be considered “debilitating” since the 1998 initiative.’
Huzzah, a whole new WaPo blog for LLD to follow! That would be the D.C. Schools Insider, featuring a nice big mug shot of Bill Turque. ‘My hope, of course, is that this space will become a window onto the entire landscape of news about District of Columbia public and public charter schools.That means everything from latest china broken by Chancellor Michelle Rhee to a view of the system through the eyes of a middle schooler in Anacostia,’ he writes. ‘This should be a place where everyone with a stake in the future of the city’s schools—parents, teachers, administrators, students and policymakers—get their stories told.’ He starts off with some reporting on the short-lived gun scare at Spingarn HS.
Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teacher, in speech set for tomorrow, ‘is proposing a new way to incorporate student test scores into teacher evaluations and has asked a well-known mediator to develop methods of expediting disciplinary cases against teachers,’ WaPo reports. ‘Union officials describe it as a major effort to address flash points in labor-management relations….Weingarten, also a key player in the District’s drawn-out teacher contract talks, outlined a four-step approach to teacher evaluations: States should adopt standards for what teachers should know and be able to do; teachers should be assessed through multiple measures, including student test scores that gauge individual academic progress; administrators should be held accountable for putting the standards into motion; and teachers should receive help through mentoring and professional development.’
Recent meter hikes aren’t the end of upcoming parking changes, Neibauer notes in Examiner. ‘The D.C. Department of Transportation is slowly advancing toward a performance-based parking system, one that varies the hourly cost of on-street spaces depending on demand.’
The same-sex marriage bill is now before Congress for its 30-legislative-day review period. ‘Depending on how many days Congress is in session next month, the bill could become law in late February or March,’ Tim Craig notes at D.C. Wire.
Examiner’s Leah Fabel with an update on the District’s Pre-K initiative—-arguably the cornerstone of Gray’s legislative record: [T]he D.C. Council has allocated almost $22 million toward a law passed in May 2008 designed to provide pre-kindergarten services for every 3- and 4-year-old in the city. Earlier this month, the council passed another bill to “jump-start the implementation” of the program because the Office of the State Superintendent of Education “is disappointingly far behind in meeting the goals,” said Chairman Vincent Gray. The future of that bill depends on how well the city does finding the dollars to finance the expansion.’
Wanna buy an ex-Harriette Walters designer handbag? The U.S. Marshals Service can hook you up, via WRC-TV. Hope you like Louis Vuitton!
DYRS has an interim director: It’s Marc Schindler, who has spent three years as Vinny Schiraldi‘s chief of staff. From a news release: ‘Schindler has a good working knowledge of the agency as well as best practices in the field of juvenile justice and youth development. And I am confident he will maintain the progress and growth of the agency until a permanent director is in place.’
WE’RE NO. 1! WE’RE NO. 1!—-In rankings of states on auto-safety laws, Ashley Halsey reports in WaPo, ‘The District was given the highest point total in the nation: 13.5 of a possible 15. To achieve perfection, the group said, the District should approve nighttime restrictions on teen drivers, mandatory use of an ignition interlock for all offenders and blood-alcohol testing for drivers who die in accidents, not just those who survive.’ Also WAMU-FM, WTTG-TV.
Wiz players Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson met with investigators Monday regarding the Gilbert Arenas gun incident.
Gordon Reaves Rivers, 47, of Brandywine, was found Sunday evening on the 2600 block of Naylor Road SE with multiple gunshot wounds. He died of his wounds.
More questions than answers on Dupont taxi driver shooting.
Hey grad students: Join the ‘Urban Education Redesign Challenge‘ at DCPS—-‘a case competition, showcasing a critical and pressing issue and offering graduate students the opportunity to propose innovative solutions and strategies within the context of urban education reform here at DCPS. This year’s Challenge will focus on public engagement and mobilization strategies for DCPS, as Chancellor Michelle Rhee moves into her third year of implementing urban education reform in the District.’
Kriston Capps with some lovely scene at DCist from the opening day at Big Chair Coffee: ‘Even Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry stopped in to see how the first cafe in MLK Avenue SE was shaping up. As it happens, he takes a French-vanilla latte. He was joined by Ward 5 ANC commissioner Jacqueline Manning (hazelnut latte). Barry and Manning sipped their coffees at the bar while Barry listened to residents and petitioners. He explained that the cafe used to be a plumbing store. The Councilmember was in good spirits. When Manning dapped at his beard with a napkin, Barry playfully licked at her fingers.’ Also, an owner ‘explained that it was difficult to import coffee from Ethiopia nowadays because so many farmers have switched from growing coffee to growing khat, a chewable leaf that is a stimulant. (Councilmember Barry asked, “Make you high?”)’
Examiner columnist still outraged over vouchers. Yawn.
Newsweek blogger notes that Adrian Fenty also does not speak in ‘Negro dialect.’
HE IS AMERICAN BUSINESS!—-Don Peebles featured in CNBC interviews alongside Eli Broad, Marc Ecko, Bob Johnson, Boone Pickens, Donald Trump, et al.
GGW links approvingly to Jack Evans discussing his endorsements of the bag fee and parking hikes on Kojo.
H1N1’s THIRD WAVE!!!
Meet the waiter who remembers everything. Everything.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-11:30 a.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on B18-559 (‘Reprogramming Policy Reform Act of 2009’), JAWB 500; Committee on Public Works and Transportation meeting (scheduled), JAWB 123; 2 p.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary meeting (scheduled), JAWB 123; 4 p.m.: Committee on Libraries, Parks, and Recreation meeting (scheduled), JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:45 a.m.: remarks, Department of Health/National Institutes of Health partnership announcement, Family & Medical Counseling Service Inc., 2041 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE.