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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Fenty to Sign Gay Marriage Bill Tomorrow‘; Pershing Park Case: Bring On The Forensic Examiner; tweets galore!
Morning all. At 10:45 this morning, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty will sign the bill legalizing gay marriage in the District, in a rare ceremonial event. Nikita Stewart writes in WaPo about the scramble for a suitable site: ‘Would it be All Souls Unitarian Church, a Northwest house of worship known for its diversity, liberalism and welcoming of same-sex couples? Would it be Covenant Baptist Church, a predominantly black church in Southwest where husband-and-wife team of Dennis and Christine Wiley serve as co-pastors and support gay marriage? Or would it be a secular site?’ All Souls won—-says the Rev. Robert Hardies, its pastor: ‘We’re honored to be able to host this historic bill-signing. We believe this is a historic step forward for justice and human rights in our nation’s capital.’ But is it a good idea to be signing a civil marriage bill in a church? At least one blogger says no: ‘Signing the act in a church — any church — is counter-productive and a confusion of symbols.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Metro budget woes multiply, big cuts under consideration; Sullivan wants further probe of Pershing Park evidence; Lanier says guns sting was biggest bust since ’70s; chief federal judge says D.C. gangs more dangerous than terrorists; Bolden wants an end to council contract reviews
JUST ANNOUNCED—-November D.C. jobless number down, to 11.8 percent. That’s a 0.1 percent drop!
Bad WMATA news: The budget shortfall for the current fiscal year has shot from $22M to $40M ‘due largely to a continued decrease in riders and revenue,’ Ann Scott Tyson reports in WaPo. ‘The deterioration in Metro’s immediate financial picture may lead to cuts in rail and bus service, transit officials said, and some actions under consideration include lengthening the waits between trains, closing some station entrances and reducing service on some bus routes. “Metro is in what might be the worst financial crisis of our existence,” General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. told Metro’s board of directors during a regular meeting.’ Possible fixes include ‘lengthening the waits between trains to up to 30 minutes; reducing peak rail service (which would create more crowded trains); closing some station entrances; and cutting service on some bus routes.’ Also Examiner, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV, WTOP.
ALSO—-‘[A]fter stinging criticism from lawmakers on Capitol Hill over lapses in safety oversight and accountability at Metro, Catoe issued what he called a “declaration of war” on safety problems and vowed that “nothing, not even money, will hinder our efforts to make this system as safe as possible.”‘
The Pershing Park cases were back in front of U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan yesterday. The main news: Sullivan is insisting that a independent ‘forensic analysis’ be done to determine whether city police or legal officials destroyed evidence in the case. Sullivan held off on referring evidence questions for DOJ review pending that investigation. Check out the courtroom reporting from Jason Cherkis, as well as Del Wilber‘s WaPo report. In other news, it appears that a city settlement with the remaining plaintiffs is unlikely. Wilber notes that the four plaintiffs in the remaining suit want the District ‘to enter into a consent decree to prevent future arrests.’ Peter Nickles says it ‘would be irresponsible’ to do that, and that if the remaining plaintiffs pursue that, he would void three other settlements already reached. Says their lawyer, GWU prof Jonathan Turley: ‘This is a transparent attempt to avoid meaningful reforms.’
ALSO—-Harry Jaffe does some prognosticating: ‘My guess is that Judge Sullivan, a Washington native, will keep the civil case alive and force Nickles to stay in court. He will also take the criminal cases to the limit. Heads could roll….The irony here is that Nickles used to be on the Turley side, riding his white horse and suing the District on behalf of abused citizens. Now he has do defend the District, its police brass, its shoddy way of keeping records. Perhaps that’s why he’s worried about his integrity.’
DOPE ON THE TABLE—-Fenty, Cathy Lanier, cops, feds show off the guns, drugs, and money netted in seven-month sting operation first revealed by Examiner. Clarence Williams notes in WaPo that Lanier deemed it ‘the most successful operation like this that we have done in Washington, D.C., since the 1970s.’ The final tally: ‘Federal charges were brought against 44 people and police collected $1.5 million worth of cocaine, crack cocaine and PCP along with 123 guns, including 25 assault rifles.’ Also WAMU-FM, NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
WaPo editorial board lauds the freeing of Donald Gates after 28 years in prison, but demands an investigation into why justice went undone for so long. In particular: Was potentially exculpatory evidence withheld for 10 years or more? ‘[W]hat the judge called the “absolutely appalling” circumstances of this case merit further investigation.’
Allen Lew is now officially in charge of the controversial parks-and-rec projects, as Fenty had wanted more than a year ago, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. Says Fenty of the council contracting foibles: ‘They went back to our original strategy….Whatever strategy the council will let us use, we just want to do the projects.’ THe MOU is signed; timeline details are forthcoming. ‘The year-long delay, Lew said, will not affect his ability to finish work within three years. Most of the architects and builders hired by Banneker will be retained, he said.’
DC Agenda reports on the status of Hill efforts to ban gay-marriage in the District: ‘As of Tuesday, when the City Council gave final approval of legislation allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in the city, the number of co-sponsors of the House marriage ban bill, known as the D.C. Defense of Marriage Act, had climbed to 61,’ writes Lou Chibbaro Jr. ‘”I think it’s very safe to say that something like this won’t pass as a freestanding bill, and it’s not likely to pass at all,” said an aide to House Democratic leaders, who asked not to be identified.’
ALSO IN AGENDA—-Opposition to GLLU changes; new director for gay chamber; Carlene Cheatam elected to DCDSC.
Phil Mendelson vows to launch official investigation of former Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe‘s sweet retirement deal, David C. Lipscomb reports in WaTimes. Says Mendo: ‘The impression I have is that a special agreement was worked out for somebody high up to cheat the rule regarding retirement.’
Federal court’s chief judge says terror trials still might come to Prettyman, Legal Times reports. ‘Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said he has been in talks with the government about the significant security concerns related to bringing cases to Washington. He said courts in the Eastern District of New York and Eastern District of Virginia are also being considered as locations.’ Lamberth adds that he’s ‘not saying we’re volunteering.’
SAYS LAMBERTH—-‘The gangs are more murderous, I think, than some of these people at Guantanamo….They’ve certainly killed their share of witnesses here,’ AP quotes him saying.
A dispute between special-ed lawyers ‘has degenerated into a nasty fight among the kids’ lawyers, with allegations of fraud and abuse being hurled back in forth in court documents,’ Bill Myers reports in Examiner. Paul Chassy, a lawyer who represented attorney Douglas Tyrka, says his former client ‘accused him of trying to defraud the system’ and ‘wants to withdraw as Tyrka’s lawyer because Tyrka deliberately filed false claims over tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees.’ Tyrka calls the claims ‘ludicrous.’ It’s in the hands of the Bar Counsel now.
Kwame Brown on Costco financing: ‘We are not looking at taking money from any other projects’ to stay under the city debt cap, he tells WBJ’s Jonathan O’Connell. The good news is that he now estimates only $5M in additional financing is necessary. And how about this Fenty slam: ‘[Costco] should be the real conversation. Not the mayor sending down some legislation to bring some company [CoStar] from Bethesda for $7 million. This is true economic development. This benefits our neighborhoods.’
A. Scott Bolden tells WBJ’s O’Connell, in wake of parks contracting mess, that the council has no business sticking its noses into contract matters. ‘What exactly is the purpose of having a legislative body weigh all the merits of competing firms in every industry, Bolden wonders. Most states do not have such a requirement, he says, and he is considering whether there is a constitutional reason for that. “The council can only politicize it,” he says. “Basically, in D.C., a deal is not a deal, and that needs to be challenged. We got to get the council out of the contract procurement business.”…If council oversight of contracts were somehow struck down, however, wouldn’t it kill Bolden’s business of representing those caught between the mayor and the council? “I am more worried about my client than about my future business,” Bolden says.’
ALSO—-O’Connell notes the many, many assumptions made by OCFO in compiling the economic benefits of gay marriage.
Attention Comcast customers: You can now watch ‘D.C. Blotter on Demand’—-an MPD production publicizing various unsolved crimes. The first featured case is the disappearance of Pamela Butler, Theola Labbé-DeBose reports for WaPo.
Lanier tells AP that alleged murderer cop Rginald Jones appears to be ‘a loner and did not closely associate with his co-workers.’ And WTTG-TV covers the prosecutorial fallout from Jones’ arrest: ‘Talk of an alleged crooked cop now puts dozens of cases in jeopardy. Defense lawyers say the word is out. “Your immediate reaction is to spread the news to colleagues as quick as possible. Something like this is like fire,” said veteran high profile defense lawyer Bernie Grimm. Grimm says it won’t take much to have a convicted felon set free for any case with Jones’ name on it—-going way back to his patrol days.’
Six months after foreclosure, Monument Realty stands to be back in control of the Watergate Hotel, Lisa Rein reports in WaPo. ‘If the deal closes early next year as planned, Monument principal Michael J. Darby will have written the next chapter in the serpentine story of the landmark overlooking the Potomac River, part of a complex of buildings made famous by the burglary that led to President Richard M. Nixon‘s resignation.’
The Floridian condos, near Howard U., are set to be sold in foreclosure auction, Melissa Castro reports at WBJ. ‘Although more than 30 condos are occupied by unit owners — and at least 50 potential buyers had expressed interest in units this year — the sales pace was not brisk enough to persuade the project’s lender to extend the loan’s due date.’ Also in WBJ, Missy Frederick looks at the economy’s ongoing effect on the convention biz.
Family goes into witness protection, comes out, but kid can’t go to school because paperwork is lost. NC8 reports.
Susie Cambria lists recent MPD shuffles. Rodney Parks is now an assistant chief, in charge of professional development. Daniel Hickson is CID commander. Jacob Kishter is 3D commander, and Kimberly Chisley Missouri is 4D commander.
Mind your trash cans, Mark Segraves warns at WTOP: ‘Residents of the Nation’s Capital can be fined up to $1,000 for leaving their trash cans on the sidewalk past 8 pm on trash days, or if they put them out before 6:30 pm the night before a scheduled pick up. While nobody has ever received the $1,000 fine, Bill Howland, Director of the District’s Department of Public Works, tells WTOP that DPW inspectors do issue $75 fines on a regular basis.’
Banita Jacks will be in court today, for a hearing about her refusal of an insanity defense.
Activists ascend U.S. Chamber of Commerce building, at 1615 H Street NW, to unfurl banner protesting the organization’s global warming stance. ‘At least nine other Greenpeace activists watched as the four climbed two ladders on either side of the front of the building and unfurled yellow banners reading, “Global Warming Crime Scene/Climate Policy Hostage Area,’ WaPo reports.
Georgetown Heckler controversy covered by WUSA-TV, WaPo. ‘Jack Stuef, editor of the Heckler, attended a forum Tuesday to answer complaints. But he said the publication’s core staff of about six was “all of one mind” that the article should not be taken down. The intent of the satire was “to mock or criticize, in a darkly ironic way, the latent racist sentiments that were shown by the Hoya in the April issue,” he said.’
Report: ’22 percent of lower-income households in the District, including renters, had a severe housing cost burden in 2008, compared with 19 percent three years before.’
Jaffe’s Washingtonian year in review looks at Jim Graham. Title: ‘No Jumbo Slices for This Clown’
Cary Silverman runs down the contents of the new Jack Evans/Graham crime bill.
U.S. News and World Report covers voucher threats.
Ecogroup suggests filtering local tap water, WUSA-TV reports. The Environmental Working Group ‘believes that legal standards governing the amount of contaminants allowed in drinking water are obsolete, having been formulated and become law decades ago in some cases. Newer and better science has since shown even low levels of some contaminants to be dangerous to health…”There seems to be some uncertainty about what the proper standards are,” said George Hawkins, the General Manager of DC’s Water and Sewer Authority known as WASA.’
Smokefree DC runs down tobacco bill markup.
YAY, STIMULUS!—-D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute notes that federal ARRA funds ‘are protecting about 12,000 DC residents from living in poverty this year.’
Housing Complex notes progress on Dupont Down Under.
Hill staffer convicted of assault at Dupont bar.
WaPo letter: ‘Right or wrong, D.C. Council members should understand that the people are frustrated with not being able to vote on any issue. If they, our representatives, don’t get that frustration, how will we be able to convey it to the nation?’
It’s going to snow tonight. A lot.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-12 p.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on ‘Status of the Construction and Development of the Consolidated Forensic Laboratory,’ JAWB 412; 1 p.m.: Committee of the Whole roundtable on PR18-585 (‘Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia Reginald M. Felton Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), PR18-587 (‘Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia Kendrick E. Curry Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), PR 18-622 (‘Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia Elaine Crider Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), and PR18-623 (‘Board of Trustees of the University of the District of Columbia Cedric Bobo Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-5:30 a.m.: remarks, snow preparation announcement, Farragut Snow Dome, 401 Farragut St. NE; 10:45 a.m.: remarks, same-sex marriage legislation signing, All Souls Church, Unitarian, 1500 Harvard St. NW; 1:15 p.m.: remarks, All Hands on Deck kickoff, 500 block of 13th Street NE.