City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Police Union Chief Calls For DOJ To Investigate Pershing Park‘; tweets galore!
Morning all. Vincent Gray, Don Peebles, and anyone else pondering a 2010 mayoral run ought to read the front page of today’s WaPo very carefully. ‘District leaps forward in math,’ reads the headline, and it’s a sentiment they can expect to see on Adrian Fenty‘s campaign mailers and hear in his stump speeches for many months to come. The story, by Nick Anderson and Bill Turque, describes ‘outsize gains in mathematics’ by District children on a national test, showing that DCPS is ‘progressing faster than most of its urban peers’ and that ‘reform efforts under controversial D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and her predecessor have begun to pay off in better student performance.’ Also see Examiner, which quotes Fenty: ‘From what I hear from the people in D.C., they’re extremely enthusiastic about the progress that’s been made.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Vince Gray hires Fred Cooke to handle ethics probes; FBI’s Persichini resigned while under his own ethics investigation; D.C. spending leaves Hill conference without abortion, needle, pot restrictions; remembering Abe, again; gun finally found at D.C. Jail
MORE ON NAEP—-From WaPo: ‘Despite the focus on Rhee, the report showed that the upward trend in the District began before she arrived. She credited her predecessor, Clifford B. Janey, with laying a solid foundation in academic standards and curriculum….In math, educators say, an increased focus on the use of games, calculators and written responses—-to help students demonstrate their reasoning in solving a problem—-helped drive the gains in scores in the national assessment, known as NAEP. The emphasis dates to Janey’s tenure but has been redoubled under Rhee.’ Also WSJ, WAMU-FM, WTOP. WAMU-FM also notes that Hispanic kids made particular gains. Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more reaction from Rhee on the test results. And the Detroit News says ‘Detroit should use Washington, D.C., example in fixing abysmal test scores.’ But Robert Brannum ain’t buying it.
WHAT ABOUT THE CHARTERS?—-‘The District’s independently operated charter schools, which teach nearly four in 10 of the city’s public students, also made progress over six years. The fourth-grade score rose from 203 in 2003 to 217 in 2009. The eighth-grade score, 256, was up from 250 in 2005 (the first year for which a score was available). “We think that the longer children stay in these [charter] schools, the better they do,” said Barnaby Towns, a spokesman for Friends of Choice in Urban Schools.’
Got something to say to Rhee? You can say it to her face! She’s now holding office hours, Turque reports at D.C. Wire. ‘Rhee is trying the personal approach to drill more deeply into school communities. She has held monthly community forums across the city, but they are often sparsely attended, usually turning out the same small, stalwart group of activists who closely follow DCPS affairs.’ First on e is tonight at Smothers ES, 6 to 8 p.m. Also Jan. 14 at Raymond ES, and Feb. 11 at Noyes ES.
BREAKING—-The D.C. budget is through congressional conference committee. From a joint House/Senate appropriations press release [PDF]: ‘Removing Special Restrictions on the District of Columbia: [The spending bill] [e]liminates a prohibition on the use of local tax funds for abortion, thereby putting the District in the same position as the 50 states. Also allows the District to implement a referendum on use of marijuana for medical purposes as has been done in other states, allows use of Federal funds for needle exchange programs except in locations considered inappropriate by District authorities, and discontinues a ban on the use of funds in the bill for domestic partnership registration and benefits.’
WaTimes reporter Jeffrey Anderson deals Gray another blow, reporting that the contractor who built the fence outside his Hillcrest home last year says he isn’t licensed in the District and that it was Gray’s responsibility to get a permit, which he didn’t. Gray noted on WUSA-TV that he paid $12K for the fence, but Anderson consulted Chris Bucca of Long Fence Co., who says ‘a fence like the one Mr. Gray had installed would cost no less than $25,000. Told what Mr. Gray paid, Mr. Bucca said, “Either the salesman didn’t know what he was doing or they gave it away.”‘ And to secure a fence permit, Gray ‘could be subject to a hearing before the Public Space Committee, consisting of transportation officials, regulatory affairs officials and a representative from the office of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.’ Gray’s ethical issues also hit the pages of the Examiner; Michael Neibauer shares this tidbit: ‘Gray has retained lawyer Frederick Cooke, Marion Barry‘s longtime attorney, to represent him on the building permit matter.’ Gray also sat down yesterday with WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood
LL SEZ—-The good news for Gray: WaTimes Metro coverage may end on or about Feb. 1.
Last night was Abe Pollin‘s public farewell; J. Freedom du Lac writes in WaPo that ‘There were boxes at the entrance in which attendees could leave toys. The Salvation Army boxes were full, even if the stands were not: There were perhaps 2,500 people at Verizon Center, listening to tributes from civic leaders, athletes, Pollin employees and just plain folk….Pollin had “a heart as big as this arena,” said [Gray] (D), who pledged to have the city’s high school basketball championship named in honor of the Washington Wizards owner….NBA Commissioner David Stern said Pollin also did something significant for the league. “The fact that all of our teams have community relations and [show a sense of] social responsibility . . . has its antecedents in the way Abe Pollin decided to run his team and be a member of his community,” he said.’ Also AP, NC8, WTTG-TV, WAMU-FM.
ALSO—-WTTG-TV, WAMU-FM, and DCmud cover the groundbreaking of the Linda Joy and Kenneth Jay Pollin Memorial Community in Parkside. Housing Complex has more on the neighborhood groaning about the project: ‘Ward 7 leaders had asked certain councilmembers to boycott the event—a tricky political maneuver considering it involved Abe Pollin, one of the city’s most beloved, recently-deceased citizens. Seaward says her group convinced Council Chair Vincent Gray and At-Large Councilmember Kwame Brown not to attend. (A Gray staff member confirmed that Gray didn’t go, but as far as she knew that was just a logistical decision. Brown did not attend the event.)’
AS FOR HIZZONER—-Fenty was there at both the groundbreaking and at Verizon, but he was asked by WTOP’s Mark Segraves earlier yesterday why he didn’t go to the private funeral the day after Thanksgiving. Charming as always: ‘”I was out of town,” Fenty said. “I was with my family.” When asked if he went to the Wizards game rather than the funeral, he declined comment repeatedly. Fenty stopped answering questions and walked away. When asked why he did not bother to send a representative from his staff, he said “I’ll get back to you.”‘ Notes blogger, ‘Certainly, there are no legislative requirements that demanded Mayor Fenty’s presence at the funeral. But the shade that emanates from his absence is as startling as a Wizards’ defensive stop….Not required, but “in poor taste” may be the best way to describe Mayor Fenty’s no-show.’
Joe Persichini, head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, is calling it quits, and WaPo’s Carrie Johnson reports that he may be retiring under a cloud: ‘In the background is an investigation alleging that he violated rules while taking an open-book exam this fall,’ she reports, citing anonymous sources. They say that the probe involves ‘an exam covering the bureau’s guidelines for conducting investigations,’ and that Persichini ‘attracted management attention when he allegedly completed the open-book exam in less than 20 minutes and with a very high score.’
ALSO—-Persichini ‘was feted Tuesday in a farewell luncheon at which community leaders, including D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty (D), celebrated his tenure….Persichini has appeared at multiple news events in recent months: He walked the city’s bustling streets during the historic presidential inauguration with D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, and he commanded significant camera time after the deadly shooting this summer at the Holocaust Museum. During his tenure, he devoted time to community organizations, reached out to religious minorities and worked on programs that introduce students to the FBI’s work, among other activities.’
Gun is found inside D.C. Jail, and corrections officials suspect it had been sitting there since 2003, Del Wilber and Avis Thomas-Lester report at WaPo. ‘The handgun was recovered Monday night “within a component of the inmate telephone units” during a shakedown’ and ‘might be linked to another handgun smuggled into the facility that was part of a 2003 scheme in which four inmates agreed to shoot themselves in the hopes of suing the District and winning a monetary judgment for not keeping them safe….Since then, rumors have swirled through the jail that a second gun was part of the scam and that it remained hidden inside, authorities said.’ Also WUSA-TV.
RATS AT REEVES—-A rodent infestation plagues the city’s Frank D. Reeves Center, Neibauer reports in Examiner. The pests are ‘spurring several complaints a day and an extermination effort by the city’s Department of Health. Rats are “seen in offices and hallways all the time,” one staffer said, and workers are finding rat feces in their offices and hallways.’ Renovations at Reeves ‘may have disturbed the vermin that had taken residence inside the building’; DOH has initiated an ‘integrated pest management program.’
Harry Jaffe really wishes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wouldn’t blow up old chemical weapons found in Spring Valley. The proposed site for the inferno is ‘behind Sibley Memorial Hospital, on federal land close to the Dalecarlia Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to D.C. and parts of Northern Virginia….No joke.’ Neighborhood activist Kent Slewinski asks: ‘Why hasn’t the Army Corps been completely honest and transparent? Perhaps the munitions destruction process is not as safe as they would like us to believe.’ His suggestion: Blow the stuff up at the Naval Research Laboratory.
Courtland Milloy has a suggestion for the first stop on Tiger Woods‘ ‘transgression’-redemption tour: ‘I propose that he start by keeping his word to build a golf and learning center in the District. Take it a step further: Establish it at the Langston Legacy Golf Course in Northeast, which opened in 1939 as a racially segregated course for black golfers. Langston was good enough for pioneering golfer Lee Elder and his wife, Rose, to manage in the 1970s, and it’s worthy of Tiger’s support….In the end, helping to reinvigorate a historic black golf course might not burnish Tiger’s reputation. But taking a personal interest in budding golfers from some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods would go a long way toward transforming his humiliation into humility.’
ALSO—-Here’s the current status of the Tiger Woods Foundation’s search for a golf-center site: ‘Currently, we are evaluating two to three top sites within the District….Our key criteria are safety, proximity to public transportation, availability of land and cost.’
Lawsuit is filed against the District in the Edward Givens case—-that’s the fellow who died of a heart attack last December after a city paramedic told him he merely had acid reflux. Matthew Cella reports at WaTimes. Givens’ mother ‘is seeking $17 million from the District and Dr. James J. Augustine, medical director for the District’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS). The lawsuit charges that the city and Dr. Augustine are responsible for Mr. Givens’ December 2008 death because the paramedic who responded to a medical call at Mr. Givens’ house on the evening of Dec. 2, 2008, incorrectly interpreted medical data, mishandled documentation of the case and told Mr. Givens “that he only needed to take Pepto Bismol.”‘
Fenty is set to ‘meet with organizers of the Giro d’Italia to request that the start of the 2012 race be held in the U.S. capital,’ AP reports, citing Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sportm which ‘reported Wednesday that Adrian Fenty will discuss the idea with race director Angelo Zomegnan on Thursday.’
Concrete falls from H Street bridge onto 2nd Street NE behind Union Station, Ashley Halsey reports in WaPo. ‘The concrete came down from the H Street overpass on Friday, crashing to the sidewalk about 30 feet below, according to Susan Rollins, vice president of a nearby Capitol Hill real estate development firm. A maintenance man for her company scooped the brick-size pieces up and delivered them to her desk, which is where they sat Tuesday. “These are big enough that, if they fell from 30 feet, they’d kill you,” she said, weighing one 5-by-7-inch chunk.’ Rollins had trouble alerting city authorities, but DDOT’s on it.
White House unveils transit-oversight plan, report Examiner and WaPo, which reports that SecTrans Ray LaHood told a congressional committee that ‘the move was necessitated by a recent series of high-profile accidents, particularly the June 22 Metro crash that killed nine people in Northeast Washington.’ The cost would be ‘well under’ $100M, and the plan ‘could triple or quadruple the number of safety monitors across the nation. Those monitors would also be expected to have a much higher level of experience and expertise than those now in place. Implementing the plan would take about three years, LaHood said.’
Dr. Gridlock on H Street shuttle: ‘The shuttle is a nice idea, but I hope its operation will be rendered unnecessary by improvements in the corridor’s regular bus line. Metro’s plan to upgrade service on the X buses along H Street and Benning Road is a better solution than a heavily subsidized public-private partnership. Even better will be the day when streetcars run along that route, but the money for that has yet to be found, even though tracks are being laid.’
WTTG-TV covers Bob King‘s appeals to the Hill on gay marriage, calling him ‘a known face in the Ward 5 community where he has been an advisory neighborhood commissioner for 25 years. What he doesn’t want to see in D.C. is open season on same-sex marriage. “I’m doing this because the city council and the mayor have given me no choice,” said King.’ Rick Rosendall retorts at GLAA Forum: ‘This is his idea of “power to the people” — having Congress, which is not answerable to D.C. voters, overturn a decision by our elected representatives. Mr. King, I throw up in your general direction.’ ALSO: AU magazine covers marriage fight.
Federales snag black-market fish trader in D.C. ‘Ocean Pro Ltd., a D.C. fish wholesaler, and two of its employees were charged with buying illegally harvested rockfish,’ Maria Glod reports at WaPo’s Crime Scene. ‘Federal prosecutors allege that between 1995 and 2007, the company bought rockfish, also known as striped bass, that had been illegally caught in the Potomac River.’
Girl, 11, gets her soft-soled boot caught in escalator at Minnesota Avenue Metro station, WaPo reports: ‘Paramedics went to her aid, freeing her foot and applying ice packs. They then took the girl, who had no visible injuries, to Children’s National Medical Center in Northwest for observation, Metro officials said.’
New at OCTO: Charts, graphs, maps, more!
GLBT groups organize against changes to gay policing.
Sunday WaPo to cost $2.
Props to Elizabeth Nelson, Moms on the Hill, Barry Margeson, the Channel Inn, and Miles Groves—-winners of Tommy Wells‘ Livable Walkables.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment roundtable on PR18-570 (‘Chief Technology Officer of the Office of the Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), PR18-558 (‘Contract Appeals Board Maxine McBean Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), and PR-559 (‘Contract Appeals Board Robert Dawson Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 500; 1 p.m.: Committee on Human Services hearing on B18-449 (‘Foster Care Youth Identity Protection Amendment Act of 2009’), JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-4 p.m.: interview, NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt, NewsChannel 8.