Morning all. Hill Republicans have entered the D.C. gay-marriage fray, filing an amicus brief in a Superior Court case seeking a voter referendum of the issue. Thirty-nine have signed on to the brief, including House leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor and Senators James Inhofe and Roger Wicker. ‘The filing asserts that the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics exceeded its authority by ruling twice that a public vote would discriminate against gay men and lesbians,’ Tim Craig reports in WaPo. Also an occasion for a great Kris Baumann quote: ‘The Republican Party I am a member of is dedicated to allowing local rule and respecting the thoughts of individuals….I find it ironic they would come out squarely against the wishes of the local party.’ Also WRC-TV, WTOP, which has the full brief.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Holocaust murderer dies; safety inspectors almost run over by train; Saunders to challenge Parker for WTU presidency; K Street to get bus lanes;
FROM THE BRIEF—-‘As members of the District’s ultimate legislative body, amici are concerned about the extent of the District’s delegated legislative authority, the preservation of Congress’s constitutional authority, and the interpretation of home rule.’
James W. von Brunn, Holocaust Museum murderer, is dead, passing away while incarcerated at a federal prison facility in Butner, N.C. The 89-year-old’s cause of death is yet undetermined. ‘Von Brunn’s quiet death contrasts sharply with the brazen violence he unleashed June 10 in what prosecutors have described as a suicide mission, an attack that shocked the nation and sent tourists scattering for cover on a busy downtown street,’ Del Wilber reports in WaPo. The widow of the man he killed, security guard Stephen Johns, tells him: ‘I just hope he was ready to meet his God.’ Also AP, Examiner.
You know those Metro safety inspectors that had to fight to be allowed on the tracks? They almost got run over by a train. The Tri-State Oversight Commission yesterday issued a report detailing the Dec. 10 incident [PDF] where inspectors ‘were forced to quickly scramble out of the way to avoid being struck’ and calling for ‘immediate, short-term corrective action’ to ensure safety. WaPo notes on A1: ‘The near-miss near Alexandria’s Braddock Road Station was one of numerous safety violations identified in the report. In other instances, inspectors said that train operators failed to respond to hand signals from track personnel and Metro’s control center failed to give operators adequate warning about where workers were stationed on the tracks. The report also said inspectors detected antagonism between track workers and train operators.’ Also Examiner, WAMU-FM.
‘What Makes a Good Teacher?’ asks Amanda Ripley in The Atlantic. The former WCP and Time reporter (who penned the Michelle Rhee front by the infamous broom picture) finds some answers in two D.C. elementary schools—-Kimball and Plummer—-and in a mountain of data on new teachers collected by Teach for America. Bill Turque has some thoughts at D.C. Wire. Do read it.
IN OTHER TEACHING NEWS—-Unshockingly, Nathan Saunders will be announcing a run against George Parker for the WTU presidency on Saturday. From press release: ‘Saunders says his experience over the last two terms as the WTU’s second highest ranking elected officer had a significant impact on his decision to run for WTU President. He believes, “teachers are more besieged today than ever. The collective bargaining agreement is expired by three years, working conditions have deteriorated, and teachers are working harder for less money under greater pressure.” He highlights a campaign theme of “We Can Do Better…” Implications for this May 2010 WTU Presidential race are significant. If no contract is approved prior to the election, Chancellor Michelle Rhee could be negotiating with a new President.’
WaPo’s Robert McCartney looks at the Pershing Park settlements and sees a good thing: ‘The [$22M] planned payouts, which are big sums for class-action arrest cases, are an unwelcome cost for D.C. taxpayers, whose government is struggling to close a large budget deficit. The money is well spent, though, because it drives home the message that the government must protect the constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully even when the public at large is hostile to the protesters and is concerned more about preserving order in the streets.’ Peter Nickles tells him, ‘It’s not a moment in the District’s history that I’m proud of, but I’m proud of how we’ve handled it since then.’
The Gilbert Arenas saga rolls on: He’s been suspended indefinitely by NBA Commissioner David Stern, WaPo’s Mike Wise has new details about how the locker-room incident with Javaris Crittenton went down: ‘According to two first-hand accounts of the confrontation, Crittenton responded to Arenas’s action—-which included laying the four unloaded weapons in Crittenton’s cubicle with a note that read, “Pick One”—-by brandishing his own firearm, loading the gun and chambering a round….In a two-hour interview with police and federal prosecutors Monday, Arenas, in his version of the story, spoke of Crittenton’s loaded gun, a person with knowledge of Arenas’s testimony said.’ Also Examiner.
PETA is not happy with the District’s animal shelter, saying ‘that the Washington Humane Society has shown “gross incompetence” in its management…committing acts of animal cruelty and failing to provide adequate care,’ Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. ‘Citizen calls to collect unwanted animals are ignored, disease outbreaks are common, and inhumane euthanizations are performed, PETA claimed, citing records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and “citizen complaints and observations.”‘ WHS calls them ‘false and malicious allegations.’
WMATA board set to vote on emergency cutbacks today. Ann Scott Tyson reports in WaPo. including ‘rail and bus service cutbacks Thursday that would increase crowding and wait times between trains and buses….The planned decreases in rail and bus service would start at the end of March, Metro officials said. Officials said the initial service reductions would probably be a precursor to bigger cuts as well as fare increases.’ Also see a list of probable cuts.
Looks like the new K Street NW will include a two-lane busway down the center of the throughfare, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. ‘on Wednesday, the District Department of Transportation posted to its Web site plans for the two-lane busway option, a concession to local business leaders as it offers a part-time lane on the side for parking and loading. The plan would revamp the roadway between 9th and 20th streets NW so two middle lanes would only allow Metrobuses and the D.C. Circulator. The street has some of the heaviest Metrobus traffic in the District, and dedicated bus lanes have long been sought by Metro and transit advocates to promote more ridership.’ No left turns, though!
The JBG convention-center hotel lawsuit is still alive and well, delaying groundbreaking, Jonathan O’Connell reports at WBJ: ‘For the second time, D.C. Superior Court Judge Natalia Combs Greene has denied a request by the city to dismiss a lawsuit by a subsidiary of the JBG Cos….Greene rejected the city’s motion for reconsideration in a two-page order Jan. 6, saying the city raised the same arguments in its first request for dismissal, which she rejected Nov. 18, and she found no basis to overturn her previous ruling.’
WAMU-FM notes that the bag tax is applying to businesses, like Best Buy, who sell even small amounts of food. Jonetta Rose Barras wonders about bag-fee exceptions for merchants who bought a whole bunch of bags: ‘I’m confused: If businesses didn’t get rid of bags before the law took effect, can they do it now? Technically, behavior modification for customers is under way. If it works, more consumers may take bags to stores. Couldn’t that mean businesses with an overabundance of nonrecyclable bags may never eliminate their existing stock?…The bag law, coupled with the bill approved this week by the council prohibiting smoking outside in front of buildings, indicates that in the District there is no end to the legislative absurdity.’
Ruth Samuelson of Housing Complex does Q&A with city census czar Maurice Henderson. Also: Samuelson explains why ‘Why Washington D.C. Won’t Land the Northrop HQ Office.’ Add to those reasons that it doesn’t have any senators to fight for federal contracts.
Phil Pannell leads lobbying campaign to get D.C. voting rights mentioned in the State of the Union.
The Reeves Center’s sixth floor has been sprayed for fleas, Nikita Stewart reports at D.C. Wire, ‘after a District employee though she might have carried flea eggs on her clothes into the government building at 14th and U Streets NW, said Sean Madigan, a spokesman in the mayor’s office. “Apparently she does a lot of yard work,” Madigan said in an e-mail.’
Whitter Education Campus dedicates its new library to Dennis Hawkins, the teaching aide killed in the June Red Line collision. ‘In the auditorium of the stately brick building at Fifth and Sheridan streets, Hawkins was recalled in song and story as a sterling educator and elder statesman of the Whittier community,’ Michael Ruane writes in WaPo. ‘And when the ceremonies were over, a delegation of students and educators stood in a blustery wind in the schoolyard and released strawberry-colored balloons as a final salute. They quickly vanished into the wintry sky.
WaPo covers urban chickens.
GGW’s worst articles of 2009.
DCPS works to cut down on unexcused absences, WAMU-FM reports.
Wayne W. Pannell, 47, gets eight years for threatening prosecutor Deborah Sines.
Fire on Pennsylvania Avenue bridge over Rock Creek fouls commute.
Man jogs naked near White House.
D.C. wins big stimulus grant for workforce training.
Kenneth Noland, legend of the Washington Color School, is dead at 85.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor with Barbara Harrison, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 12:30 p.m.: remarks, Boys & Girls Club purchasing agreement announcement, Frank R. Jelleff Branch, 3265 S St. NW.