IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-Expect David Catania’s Re-Election Decision Soon
Morning all. First legislative meeting of the year today! On the agenda, Nikita Stewart notes in WaPo, is first reading on a measure to elect the District’s attorney general—-which ‘comes amid the council’s ongoing friction with Attorney General Peter Nickles.’ Both bill sponsor Phil Mendelson and Chairman Vincent C. Gray deny that the measure is aimed at Nickles personally. Says Gray, ‘You don’t want to make a legislative decision of this impact based on personality.’ Nickles, for his part, warns lawmakers: ‘The city better think twice about creating another center of power. The first thing the attorney general will think about is running for chairman or mayor.’ In any case, making the change would require Congress to amend the home rule charter.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Cheh says she’d ban sidewalk smoking; Northrop Grumman headed to Washington, maybe even D.C.; cops officially posted at charters; Gilbert Arenas not up on District gun laws; DISB delays CareFirst decision; bag tax seems to be working; is Walter Reed worthy of historic preservation?
In other business today, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner, the council will vote ‘to toughen the District’s smoking laws with new provisions targeting underage tobacco use and lighting up on public sidewalks, part of a broad bill that could portend a more rigid ban down the road.’ Ban sidewalk smoking? Indeed, such creeping nannyism has a proponent, though it isn’t in the current bill: ‘”You could say no smoking on public ways within a certain distance of residences or businesses, something of that nature,” Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh said last month as the judiciary committee, on which she serves, discussed the bill. “I could even support that.”‘
Mega-defense contractor Northrop Grumman announces it will be moving its headquarters to the Washington area by 2011. Does the District have a chance at luring the company and its 350 jobs? WaPo says a D.C. HQ is on the table. But here’s what WBJ says on the matter: ‘Most insiders don’t expect the District to have a fighting chance for the headquarters, given its higher taxes, but
Matt Erskine, executive director of the Greater Washington Initiative, a Board of Trade affiliate Greater Washington Board of Trade President and CEO Jim Dinegar says D.C. has stepped up its efforts to be a viable player in economic development battles. “I think you’re seeing D.C. becoming much more aggressive going after major companies,” he said, noting the effort to lure CoStar Group Inc. from Bethesda with tax abatements. “The move that’s under way with CoStar is one indication. It’s not a land issue. There’s an aggressive mayor and an aggressive deputy mayor….Staff in the office of D.C. Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos were contacted by Northrop officials before the end of 2009 about its relocation plans. Santos said in a statement that she will be making a push to land the company: “Northrop Grumman is already one of greater Washington’s largest employers and we’re committed to do everything we can to encourage them to locate their global headquarters here in the heart of the region.”‘ Also Examiner, WAMU-FM.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has officially decided to post D.C. cops at 26 charter schools—-a move, writes Michael Birnbaum in WaPo, that ‘further normaliz[es] charters within city life and attempt[s] to address a spate of violence that plagued some of the schools this fall.’ Only three new officers are being assigned to school duty, however, raising concerns ‘that all the schools will be shortchanged in the end.’ Cathy Lanier says, ‘I don’t think anyone’s losing anything here.’ PCSB chair Tom Nida calls the move ‘a positive sign.’ Also WAMU-FM, WRC-TV.
The Gilbert Arenas gun saga rolls on. Yesterday the Wizards guard ‘met with law enforcement investigators for nearly two hours on Monday to explain the circumstances surrounding firearms he brought to Verizon Center last month,’ Michael Lee reports in WaPo. Accompanying him was attorney Ken Wainstein, the former U.S. attorney now at O’Melveny & Myers. In a statement, ‘Arenas described his handling of the weapons as “a misguided effort to play a joke on a teammate. Contrary to some news accounts, I never threatened or assaulted anyone with the guns and never pointed them at anyone.”…”I had kept the four unloaded handguns in my house in Virginia, but then moved them over to my locker at the Verizon Center to keep them away from my young kids,” Arenas said in the statement. “I brought them without any ammunition into the District of Columbia, mistakenly believing that the recent change in the D.C. gun laws allowed a person to store unloaded guns in the District.”‘ Bill Myers reports in Examiner that the matter has been presented to a grand jury. Also WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, New York Times, USA Today.
ALSO—-WaPo’s John Feinstein wants to run Arenas out of town for his gun antics, but he doesn’t think he’ll get much help from Hizzoner: ‘Adrian Fenty isn’t Michael Bloomberg. He likely won’t hold a news conference anytime soon and all but promise to put Arenas (or Crittenton) behind bars. If the prosecutor does charge Arenas with a felony and he’s found guilty, it might give the Wizards an out to void his contract. That seems highly unlikely….There was a time when Arenas was the most popular athlete in this town. That time, sadly, has long passed. It is time for Gilbert — and his guns — to get out of town by sundown.’
More on the District’s calling-card lawsuit against AT&T, from Stewart in WaPo. The action ‘could generate funds for the city and trigger legal claims in other jurisdictions and against other companies that sell prepaid calling cards.’ And ‘industry insiders said Monday that the lawsuit could have national implications. “You’re talking about a lot of money,” said Gene Retske, who worked for AT&T for 20 years and is now editor of Prepaid Press, a trade publication. “You buy a card for a trip. Your trip gets canceled. You throw it in drawer and just forget about it….In times when governments are hurting for money, I think they are going to seize on this.”‘ Peter Nickles says suits against other telecom carriers could be forthcoming. Also WBJ.
If you were waiting, like LL, with bated breath for the Department of Insurance, Security, and Banking’s analysis of CareFirst reserve levels, keep waiting. WBJ’s Tierney Plumb reports that the decision has been indefinitely delayed. ‘D.C.’s insurance commissioner, Gennet Purcell, held a hearing on the subject in September and had planned to make a decision by Dec. 31, giving Maryland time to study the issue and share them with D.C. But the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking now says it will make its decision at a later time. The agency did not specify a particular date. “DISB will benefit greatly from the additional time to analyze and consider the hearing record, and to collaborate with the Maryland Insurance Administration,” Purcell said in a statement.’
Vinny Schiraldi talks with WAMU-FM about his time at DYRS.
Michelle Rhee issues emergency rules to slightly change the DCPS out-of-boundary process, Bill Turque reports at D.C. Wire. ‘One of the aims, officials say, is to determine with more precision which families are actually eligible to place their children in schools outside their immediate neighborhoods,’ so the new rules tinker with the definition of ‘reasonable walking distance.’
More from Examiner’s Kytja Weir on emergency Metro cuts to be voted on Thursday: ‘The plan, detailed in a Metro report, calls for eliminating eight-car trains during morning and evening commutes, closing some rail station entrances after 8 p.m. and on weekends, and trimming bus service. The proposed cuts come shortly before the agency has to reconcile a $175 million gap in its projected budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Fare increases and additional service cuts are likely.’
Did MedStar buy Sibley Hospital? Sibley tells WBJ no! Says CEO Robert Sloan, ‘As we have done several times in the past, we are looking at all available options to ensure that Sibley continues to be a relevant and strong provider of health services to the community.’
Blogger Left for LeDroit rails against the bag tax: ‘Our biggest complaint about this tax is not so much the money, but the degree of condescension it exudes, implying that those who use plastic bags are sinners destroying the Anacostia….Cleaning up the river is a worthwhile goal, but levying yet another regressive excise tax wrapped heavily in moralistic rhetoric is neither honest nor fair. Financing river cleanup should come from proven sources of river pollution, including sewers (by taxing water bills), impervious real property (WASA already charges a fee for this), and by enforcing anti-littering laws more aggressively.’ Still, via D.C. Wire, it seems the tax is working as intended, according to numbers provided by Tommy Wells: ‘At the Harris Teeter food store in Columbia Heights, more customers brought their own bags — 3,973 — than were charged the 5-cent fee — 3,021. On Capitol Hill, the store counted 5,394 reusable bags and charged for 6,625 paper and plastic bags.’
WaPo’s Matt Zapotosky with more on the death of Joshua Kuhlman, the 22-year-old who apparently drive his Honda Civic into Rock Creek Saturday night. ‘As his roommates walked out the door of their Arlington County house Saturday to continue a night of drinking at the bars, [Kuhlman] handed them money for cab fare, one of the roommates said. Kuhlman assured them that he would be staying in for the night with his girlfriend — after all, he was in no shape to drive — but he wanted to make sure his friends got home safely, the roommate said. The responsible gesture would become tragically ironic.’ Also NC8.
WBJ’s Jonathan O’Connell on what could turn into a rather momentous story: The D.C. Preservation League has applied with city preservation board to protect the Walter Reed campus as a historic district—-just as the Fenty administration begins redevelopment plans. ‘The group said Walter Reed, which opened 101 years ago and is being closed as part of the Department of Defense’s base realignment and closure process, ought to be protected due to its historic relevance as the namesake of a famous Army physician and in treating wounded soldiers from World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War and two wars in Iraq….The D.C. Preservation League “looks forward to a coordinated effort between the U.S. Department of State, the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and the D.C. Office of Planning/Historic Preservation Office to ensure a cohesive redevelopment of this historic campus,” the group said in a Jan. 4 statement.’
Also from O’Connell: More on the streetcar board proposed by Jim Graham. ‘The board would be comprised of seven D.C. residents, three appointed by the mayor, two by the council and two who would be elected in citywide races. All would serve four-year terms and “shall be regular users of the system” (an ironic requirement given that Graham is known to almost never use Metro).’
‘Green’ developers jaw about DCRA to WUSA-TV. Greenspur’s Mark Turner renovated a Northeast house, and the ‘permit included an approval for builders to drill underground to establish a geothermal well for the house. Initially, city officials were concerned it would affect the neighborhood’s temperature, said Turner. “There was a big learning curve from our geothermal experts to convince city leaders that it’s safe, it’s provable and it makes a lot more sense than maybe perhaps solar panels or other green technologies out there,” he said….”Right now, DCRA is not getting many new projects because of the way the economy is right now. So, they don’t have the work load they had two years ago,” said Turner. “So in our opinion, in this market we should have gotten much better service.”…In a letter to 9NEWS NOW, DCRA Spokesman Michael Rupert explained that the city puts green developers at the top of their priority list for permits.’
Man, possibly high on PCP, damages ambulance.
Hyattsville man charged in murder that snared alleged dirty D.C. cop.
Whiny WaPo letter: ‘If we can’t rely on government to plow the busiest streets of our nation’s capital during a forecasted snowstorm, can you understand our skepticism about relying on government to manage our health care?’ Much better letter, which LL missed: The lovely Karen Szulgit (D.C.’s second-best local news aggregator) wants to know why the paper, in its recent medical marijuana reporting, didn’t talk to Wayne Turner, who sponsored the original marijuana initiative.
D.C.’s oldest resident, Eddye Williams, turned 110 yesterday. Some longevity tips, via WaPo: ‘Love everybody. Don’t hate. Don’t gossip. Take care of your own business. And take care of your body.’ Harry Thomas Jr. swung by her home yesterday. Also WRC-TV.
WBJ does quick 2009 D.C. construction summary, 2010 outlook.
Mayoral candidate Leo Alexander‘s Web site goes live.
Heating problems at DCPS?
GGW wants you to ‘Imagine a streetcar on Alabama Avenue.’
Hello, Mike Shanahan!
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: 24th legislative meeting, JAWB 500
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-12 p.m.: remarks, Kenilworth renovation completion announcement, Kenilworth and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenues NE