City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Fenty’s 39th Birthday Bash: An External Perspective‘; ‘Pershing Park Case: Sporkin Report Reviewed In Detail‘; tweets galore!
Morning all. Ethical clouds aren’t clearing quickly for D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray. WaTimes reportsthat DCRA is demanding that Gray apply for permits for minor renovations done over the summer—-done by a subsidiary of politically connected megadeveloper William C. Smith & Co.—-as well as a fence and garage door installed some time ago. WTOP, WUSA-TV, WJLA-TV, and WaPo add that the Office of Campaign Finance has pending not one but two investigations into Gray’s official conduct—-not only for soliciting Democratic National Convention funds on his official letterhead, but also for the questionable renovations. Gray tells WaPo: “Nobody wants to undergo an investigation, of course….I am absolutely certain that I will be vindicated. I hope they can do it quickly.’ Full statement below.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Affordable housing project pushed by Pollin to break ground, but not without controversy; NYT covers Pershing Park developments; PCSBers plan to stay active in charterworld; EHN might have a 2010 challenger; Hawk One guard gets paid; new library, lighter on books, opens at Northwest One
I am announcing that the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) of the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, the agency that is statutorily charged with interpreting and enforcing local conflict of interest laws for public officials, has informed me it has initiated an investigation of whether I may have violated two conflict of interest statutes.
OCF is examining an August 18, 2008 letter I wrote to assist the D.C. Democratic State Committee in raising funds for the Denver national convention where the District’s delegation would be raising awareness about voting rights. In question is whether I should have used Council stationery for that purpose.
The Office of Campaign Finance also is looking into news reports involving repairs on my home that falsely insinuate that I traded votes for favors.
I will cooperate fully with this investigation to separate the facts from false inferences, conjecture and speculation. I welcome this investigation, even though I have engaged in absolutely no favoritism nor knowingly skirted any regulations or laws. A record of my votes involving the company in question is below.
In addition, I have received a letter from the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs indicating they are reviewing the possibility that permits were required for work on my home.
I have stated publicly that I was unaware any permits were required, and if they were, I left the determination and application to the judgment of the experts that performed the work.
Should any investigation reveal any honest mistakes and call for remedies, I will readily correct them to be in compliance.
In the meantime, I still have been presented with no facts and no evidence to substantiate reports of alleged improprieties.
Ground will break today on the Linda Joy and Kenneth Jay Pollin Memorial Community Development in Parkside, a project that Abe Pollin hoped to see get underway before his death. He was not able to, but J. Freedom du Lac reports in WaPo that the project is the successor in spirit to his Linda Pollin Homes, which was among the first modern housing east of the river for black Washingtonians, before being claimed by the crack wars and eventually redeveloped into the Walter Washington Estates. ‘”The night before my father died, it was the main thing we talked about,” Robert Pollin said of the new development, a partnership with Enterprise Homes of Columbia. The project is named for two of Abe and Irene Pollin’s children who died too young — Kenneth as an infant, Linda as a teenager, both of congenital heart disease. “He talked about how excited he was about the groundbreaking and how fantastic it was going to be. It’s one of the tragedies of him having to go when he did, that he won’t be there for it.”‘
BUT…a twist: There’s community opposition to the new Pollin development. ANC Sylvia Brown has led a phone-calling campaign that’s reportedly led Gray and Kwame Brown to sit out the groundbreaking ceremony, DCmud reports. The issues are that the ‘Pollin team have not been transparent and open to communications,’ according to Brown, and a community benefits package is not in place.
Millions in payments to city tech vendors have been delayed by the CFO’s office, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. The holdups, say OCFO, are ‘because there is a “discrepancy” between purchase orders for tech work and the amount billed’ through the Information Technology Staff Augmentation program (same program at the root of OCTOgate). Says Laurie Collins—-not just a community gadfly but a tech-business owner, too—-‘It absolutely hurts us because we’re paying our employees every two weeks; we’re paying their workmen’s comp, their insurance and their taxes, and we expect to be paid.’
The Pershing Park case gets some attention from the NY Times: Reporter Ian Urbina wraps up the case, up to and including the Sporkin Report. He also quotes Mary Cheh saying, ‘This disappearance of documents appears to be an extraordinary cover-up,’ and noting that ‘[f]or Peter J. Nickles, the city’s attorney general, the Pershing Park arrests have been a scandal that refuses to go away.’ Says the AG: ‘I don’t like what happened….It happened years ago, and we have done everything we can to settle these cases and make reforms.’ ALSO: Pre-eminent PP reporter Jason Cherkis takes a closer look at the Sporkin Report, determines that it ‘includes startling new testimony and/or conflicting statements from witnesses’ and ‘will surely not be the last word on the missing evidence.’ Neibauer covers the report for Examiner; Nickles tells him ‘he has not yet decided whether to follow through on Sporkin’s suggestions. “I just need to get a better understanding from [Sporkin] to understand how difficult it will be,” Nickles said. “I don’t know whether it’s feasible or how much it costs.”‘
Tom Nida and Dora Marcus are parting with the Public Charter School Board, but they have no plans to leave the world of charter schooling, Michael Birnbaum reports in WaPo. They plan to form a nonprofit to ‘research how the schools can best be run’ that will be separate from but tied closely to the PCSB. ‘The group doesn’t have a name or a launch date, but it will begin in the first quarter of next year, the founders said. Nida said he has talked to foundations that would be interested in supporting the research group, which will be legally and financially separate from the Charter School Board. Marcus will lead the group; Nida will serve on it.’
Eleanor Holmes Norton may have a 2010 challenger: Ward 4 activist Douglass Sloan tells WaPo’s Nikita Stewart that he’s pondering a run against the 10-term incumbent congressional delegate, citing an interest in ‘expanding the influence of the office to give it more of a local perspective and to be more engaged in policy issues that directly affect’ D.C. residents. ‘Sloan has an uphill battle if he enters the race. Holmes Norton is wildly popular….But Sloan always attracts a handful of faithful followers, using his status as a native Washingtonian and as a former outreach coordinator in the mayor’s Office of Community Affairs under Fenty’s predecessor, Anthony A. Williams.’
Gruesome P.G. crime has a D.C. twist: A pregnant woman was held captive inside a Suitland apartment for days before Veronica D. Deramous tried cutting the unborn fetus from her womb over the weekend. ‘Sometime last week…Deramous, 40, met the pregnant woman at the Queen of Peace, Missionaries of Charity homeless shelter on Wheeler Road in Southeast Washington and told her she would help her get some baby clothes. The woman went to Deramous’s apartment in Suitland, where Deramous attacked her, bound her with duct tape and left her in a back bedroom,’ Matt Zapotosky reports in WaPo. The pregnant woman, in her third trimester, was able to make an escape; she ‘was critically wounded but is expected to make a full recovery, police said. So is her daughter, delivered by emergency Caesarean section and named Miracle.’ Also WUSA-TV.
Bob King is at it again: The Ward 5 ANC announces that he’s sent a letter to members of Congress——all 535—-urging them to meddle in the District’s certain-to-pass gay marriage bill. ‘King sent the letters by fax Friday. He said he will meet with lawmakers and staff on Thursday,’ AP reports. And Harry Jackson has another op-ed up at townhall.com, recounting last Tuesday’s vote: ‘One councilman, who represents a strong, pro-marriage ward, looked visibly shaken. He spoke with a quavering voice. Ironically Harry Thomas, Jr., son of a former city council member, stated that he would not allow anyone in his ward to be “disenfranchised.” Undoubtedly, he meant to say that he did not want anyone to experience discrimination. Disenfranchisement, however, is exactly what is happening to the average voter in DC.’ Councilmembers, meanwhile, are set to celebrate the final gay marriage vote at an HRC-funded party at Long View Gallery on Dec. 15.
WASA tells Shepherd Park residents to boil their tap water ‘as a precaution’ until further notice, citing a ‘loss of pressure’ in the water system. Sez WASA: ‘Water should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute and cooled before using. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, washing dishes, brushing teeth, making ice and for food preparation.’ Also WTOP.
WaPo’s Paul Schwartzman laments the end of Lambda Rising: ‘When Lambda Rising opened, no other retail business in Dupont Circle catered to gay people. [Deacon Maccubbin] said his goal was “to prove that there was a market for bookstores in the country to begin stocking gay and lesbian books. That part of the mission has been accomplished.” Lambda Rising also became a de facto community center, a place that was welcoming when mainstream establishments shunned the gay community, where gays and lesbians started up relationships, came out of the closet, or went shopping for jewelry, greeting cards, art and even condoms.’ Thoughts, too, from Frank Kameny and Rick Rosendall.
Another reason for Metro’s fiscal woes: Increased SmarTrip use means fewer farecards are discarded with value remaining, Kytja
Wier Weir reports in Examiner. ‘That’s good news for riders, but bad news for Metro. The shift, Metro says, means it cannot count on an estimated $11 million in next year’s proposed budget….For the past two years, the agency assumed it could tap into about 5 percent of fares when riders failed to use all the money on their cards, Chief Financial Officer Carol Kissal told board members. But she said that assumption was now too high. Instead, she said, Metro should assume that 3 percent of fares would never be used.’
Hawk One workers are finally going to get paid, city announces. The erstwhile security contractor for D.C. public schools and other facilities left hundreds of employees without full paychecks when it went belly up in early October. Nikita Stewart reports in WaPo that ‘[a]lthough the city owed Hawk One $1.7 million, [Nickles] said he feared that the money would go to creditors instead of employees, so the city held on to the funds. Nickles and [Fenty] announced Monday that a $1.7 million payment would be made to the Labor Department by Friday.’ It’s unclear how quickly the money will actually make it to the workers.
More on Cleveland Park pit bull attack: Hero comes to rescue of woman under attack! NC8 reports: ‘Eads Johnson, 26, wrestled and punched the dog after hearing the woman scream. “Probably the three hardest punches I’ve ever thrown in my life,” Johnson said….”I don’t know whether the dog dragged her outside or if she was outside dealing with it when the attack went down,” Johnson said. “I am just very glad it didn’t have her by the neck.”‘ The woman is in stable condition at a hospital. Also WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
Remember the cops accused of stealing toys from Toys for Tots? They still haven’t been charged, Paul Wagner reports for WTTG-TV. They ‘have lost their police powers but are still being paid. No one would talk on the record about the case Monday, but according to law enforcement sources, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is still trying to decide whether to prosecute the four.’
Petula Dvorak profiles homeless college students—-one at Catholic, another at UDC.
New library opens as part of Northwest One, NC8 reports—-part of the Walker-Jones ES campus. ‘The library is still a place of books, but the D.C. library’s gone high tech to the point that at this branch, a third or more of the space no longer involves paper. It includes 25,000 CDs, DVDs, and books on disks.’ Tom Sherwood covers that ribbon-cutting for WRC-TV, and adds mentions of new-library controversies in Tenleytown, Mount Pleasant, and Washington Highlands.
H Street NE shuttle service will restart by Dec. 21! Yamiche Alcindor reports in WaPo. ‘Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) met Monday with Fenty’s people to discuss finding ways to relaunch the shuttle’—-a $250K-a-year service. Oh, and for you cranks wondering what the shuttle offers that Metrobuses don’t: ‘[T]he shuttle, despite running alongside the X1 and X2 Metrobuses, travels the distance in half the time because it has fewer stops and is designed as an express service for H Street businesses.’
Catania honored at GAYLAW awards.
Convention Center lands Microsoft conference for July 2010; attendance estimated at 10K.
Think you’re more qualified than Ximena Hartsock to run CYITC?
TOMORROW—-A ‘no-holds barred conversation about youth violence’ featuring Yvette Alexander, Valencia Mohammed, et al.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-11 a.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation meeting (scheduled), JAWB 123; 2 p.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary meeting (scheduled), JAWB 123; 3 p.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on PR18-593 (‘Clark School Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 500; 4 p.m.: Committee on Libraries, Parks, and Recreation meeting (scheduled), JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:45 a.m.: remarks, Pollin affordable housing groundbreaking, Anacostia Avenue and Hayes Street NE; 7 p.m.: attendee, Abe Pollin memorial service, Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW.