Morning all. Late yesterday, developer R. Donahue Peebles stepped back from the brink of challenging incumbent Adrian M. Fenty for the mayoralty. A lengthy statement cited his mother’s death and serious health issues faced by his mother-in-law for the move. The announcement clearly killed Paul Schwartzman‘s plans for a blockbuster WaPo feature on the guy. His B1 story today notes that the announcement ‘came a day after [Peebles] had said in an interview that it was a “high probability” he would run against’ Fenty—-and also provides some hint as to the media scrutiny that Peebles is, for now, going to escape; Schwartzman recounts some of the more sordid details from his days in Marion Barry‘s inner circle. But how final is Peebles’ decision? Not very: Peebles says in his statement he can’t run ‘at this time’; his spokesperson tells LL that ‘the door is still open’ for 2010; and Ron Magnus tells Schwartzman that Peebles ‘feels a calling.’ In case you’re wondering, still no word out of the Vince Gray camp. Also WBJ, WTOP, D.C. Wire, WRC-TV, DCist.
AFTER THE JUMP—-CoStar gets its tax break, with strings attached; Cheh intro’s procurement reform bill; possible DCPS contract breakthrough; Arenas investigation rolls on; parking changes coming soon, and puppysnatcher strikes Northeast
The lede from yesterday’s legislative meeting: The D.C. Council passed through tax breaks to bring MoCo-based real-estate-information outfit CoStar to town, but not before Kwame Brown amended the bill, requiring the company to hire 150 new D.C. residents before the $6.1M in tax breaks kick in. Jonathan O’Connell reports in WBJ: ‘Opposition from a collection of advocates, nonprofits and small businesses may have doomed the bill if not for new requirements added to the bill by Brown. The final deal requires that before receiving any tax benefits, CoStar hire 100 D.C. residents, contract 35 percent of an estimated $10 million build out to D.C.-based small businesses and hire D.C. residents for at least half of the positions it fills during the 10 years of the abatement….Brown said that having looked at a list of job openings at CoStar — positions including sales representatives and research associates — he was confident qualified D.C. residents could be found.’ CoStar’s CFO says a search for office space is underway. Also Examiner.
—-Developer subsidies for Donatelli, Neighborhood Development Co. were also finalized, DCmud reports.
—-The WaPo Metro lede is on new smoking restrictions. ‘The D.C. Council voted unanimously Tuesday to enact far-reaching proposals to curtail smoking by giving store owners a tool to prevent smoking on public sidewalks and by assessing new penalties on anyone younger than 18 who possesses tobacco products,’ Tim Craig writes. ‘The bill, part of a coordinated campaign to reduce tobacco use in the District, also requires store owners to ask for identification from anyone buying cigarettes who looks 27 or younger, places new restrictions on cigarette-vending machines and outlaws the sale of “blunt wraps.”…Both [Phil Mendelson] and [David Catania] said the council has no plans to outlaw tobacco use. But Catania said the council is seeing success in “discouraging people from starting to smoke through education and taxes” and the investment in smoking-cessation programs.’
—-The elected AG bill passes unanimously. D.C. Wire reports Mary Cheh’s comments: ‘The attorney general should not be the attorney for the mayor, the mayor already has an attorney, it’s called counselor to the mayor….This will make it plain, which is already in the law but has not been followed in recent years, that the attorney general represents us, represents the people of the District of Columbia.’ Says Jack Evans: ‘One of my concerns is that by electing an attorney general, we may not get the top quality person in the job that we want.’ Also WRC-TV; Legal Newsline.
—-Mary Cheh introduces procurement reform measure. Writes WBJ’s O’Connell: ‘Cheh’s bill would require that the D.C. Department of the Environment review the environmental effects of all contracts in excess of $100,000, that the city post all sole-source contracts online two weeks before they are awarded and that it post all emergency contracts within one week of their being awarded. The bill would also create an ombudsman position to monitor contracts and a Web site on which all contacting and procurement opportunities would be posted.’
—-‘Safe haven’ law for abandoned newborns passes unanimously.
—-Gray announces from the dais that District residents paid $3.6 billion in federal taxes last year. ‘We have paid our dues and now is the time for us to have a full-fledge[d] membership card in the United States of America.’
Has there been a breakthrough in DCPS teacher contract talks? Perhaps so, Bill Turque reports at D.C. Wire: ‘District teachers, who’ve been working without a raise for more than two years, reported a mailing Monday from WTU president George Parker announcing that a New Years Eve bargaining session had created new cause of optimism. “WTU had a very productive meeting last Thursday with the mediator and DCPS,” Parker wrote. “I am hopeful that the WTU negotiations team and DCPS will reach a tentative agreement (TA) in the next 30 days.”‘
SecEd Arne Duncan, Second Lady Jill Biden visit Banneker High School to promote simplified federal financial-aid application. Writes WaPo: ‘The application is used to determine a family’s expected annual contribution to college expenses. It also determines eligibility for need-based federal Pell grants and other student aid. Duncan said FAFSA had been “really, really, really tough” to fill out, making it an obstacle to many students. “It’s crazy,” he said.’ Also WAMU-FM, NC8.
MPD Officer Reginald Jones, arrested on murder charges, changed his story about his whereabouts on Dec. 1, cops testify in Superior Court. Keith Alexander notes in WaPo: ‘Jones changed his story after a suspect in the case said Jones was involved in the crime. Jones then told police that he was at the scene of the shooting, sitting in his marked patrol car. But Jones told them that he was alone, investigating a tip about illegal guns. He has denied involvement in the shooting and robbery.’ Also: ‘a search of [another suspect]’s home police recovered two police-issued bulletproof vests, one of which had “property of R. Jones” written inside, portable flashing red lights and a home-invasion battering ram that was marked “gun recovery unit.”‘ Judge Michael Rankin declined to release Jones or any other suspect. Also NC8, AP, WTTG-TV.
Bill Myers reports in Examiner that the Gilbert Arenas probe has resulted in interviews with Wizards staff, though no players besides Arenas have been questioned. ‘The early focus of the probe will be to reconstruct from witnesses precisely what happened the night Arenas displayed handguns as part of what he described as a “misguided joke.”‘ Indictments aren’t expected for ‘weeks.’ And WaPo re-reports Myers’ scoop that evidence in the case has been presented to a grand jury. Meanwhile, New York Post’s Peter Vecsey on Gilbert’s guns: ‘Marion Barry is embarrassed.’ Huh?
Harry Jaffe‘s scaremongering of the moment: ‘If you are a serial rapist and you need a safe base of operations, the nation’s capital city is the place for you. From the quiet corners of the District, you can set forth to the suburbs to carry out your heinous acts, or you can simply sexually assault someone down the street, return home, click on the TV, crack a beer and rest easy. The chances you will be caught are nil. No joke.’ This because the city has no crime lab of its own.
Monday night death at Woodley Park station is said to be Metro’s first suicide of 2010, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. ‘A 50-year-old Kensington woman…was hit at 11:36 p.m. by a six-car train at the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Metrorail station, according to Metro. Transit officials said she appeared to have intentionally gotten on the tracks.’
Homeless shelters are filling rapidly, WAMU-FM reports.
Judge in Blackman special-ed litigation gives District break on attorney’s fees, but not that much of a break, Legal Times reports.
OMG: ‘D.C. Family Says Man Snatched New Puppy From Boy’s Hands,’ NC8 reports. It happened Monday on Sargent Road NE.
Metro Weekly covers unsolved murder of gay man Anthony Perkins in Ward 8. ‘In a Dec. 29 e-mail message to Metro Weekly, Assistant Chief of Police Peter Newsham stated: ”We do not have any information at this time to suggest that this was a hate crime.”’ ALSO: Yusef Najafi on free-speech fight over Metro gay-marriage ads.
Three New Year’s resolutions from gay-marriage supporter Nick McCoy: ‘1. Have a conversation with 10 friends or family members about our lives and our families and why marriage equality, or whatever issue matters to you, is important to you and to our community….2. Thank the D.C. City Council for its leadership and the thoughtful manner in which it went about passing marriage equality legislation….3. Have conversations in your place of worship about marriage equality.’
Maryland insurance commissioner leaves, could affect CareFirst decision timing in D.C.
Kenilworth/295 reconstruction effort is finito.
Looks like WMATA Photoshopped an ad.
Congress Heights Main Streets needs an executive director.
Small fire leads to KIPP evacuation.
Washington Gas will build mini-power plant at St. Elizabeths.
GGW ranks the 10 best local reporters of 2009 on urban issues. LL is honored to have made the list.
Marcia Slacum Greene, longtime WaPo reporter and editor, dies at 57 after a battle with cancer. Her last assignments were as D.C. politics editor and city editor. ‘[I]n a reporting career spanning three decades, Mrs. Slacum Greene was captivated less by the newsmaking blockbuster than assignments that were seldom obvious candidates for front-page display. Her interest in the lives of the poor and desperate came decades after the anti-poverty beat was considered a bold new frontier — and often seemed not to have priority in a city that valued stories about the socially and politically connected.’
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, Janney Elementary School groundbreaking, 4130 Albermarle St. NW.