Get to know D.C. with our daily newsletter
We dive deep on the day’s biggest story and share links to everything you need to know.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘D.C. Gay Marriage Passes Initial Vote, 11-2‘; ‘Lottery Contract Passes Council at Last‘; ‘Two Arrested Outside Fenty Offices in AIDS Protest‘; ‘Pershing Park Case: Defending Detective Hustler‘; ‘Ex-Club Owner Found Guilty Of Tax Evasion‘; ‘Breaking: Two Corrections Officers Busted On Bribery Charges‘; tweets galore!
Greetings all. LL apologizes: Yesterday, the LLD e-mail went out late because LL forgot to press the ‘send’ button; today, LLD’s late because he was pulled away to cover a morning press conference announcing the new head of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Jesús Aguirre, operations director for the D.C. Public Schools, follows Ximena Hartsock over from DCPS. He’s been appointed on an interim basis only; Mayor Adrian M. Fenty gave no commitment to send his name to the council. But Hartsock survives: She’s moved into the Office of the City Administrator as an analyst, and neith Fenty or Neil Albert would deny that she could be headed to the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Gay marriage passes initial vote; Chaffetz says he will get ‘creative’ to block implementation; lottery contract finally makes it through council; Gray once again gets WaTimed; EMS chief leaves; World AIDS Day wrapup
Same-sex marriage, as expected, has passed its initial vote in the D.C. Council on an 11-2 vote. Debate ahead of the vote was passionate but relatively brief. Only Marion Barry spoke against the billon the dais; fellow no-vote Yvette Alexander didn’t say a word on the topic. A second and final vote could come as soon as Dec. 15. In WaPo A1 story, Tim Craig writes: ‘Same-sex marriage opponents, including the Archdiocese of Washington and dozens of other religious leaders, conceded that they are running out of time and options to stop the bill from becoming law. “In a sense, they won two or three years ago…behind the scenes,” said Bishop Harry Jackson…one of the most visible opponents of the bill. He said that only Congress or the courts can slow the city’s march toward legalizing same-sex marriage.’ The Archdiocese of Washington says it will continue talks on a possible compromise that will keep it in its city contracts, but no breakthroughs appear to be on the immediate horizon. Also Examiner, WaTimes, WAMU-FM, WTOP, AP, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, Politico, TPM, Ms. Mag, NYT, LAT, Atlantic, AlterNet, We Love DC, DCist, Politics Daily, National Journal, Christian Science Monitor. DCist also offers special kudos for Harry Thomas Jr.
THE HILL ANGLE—-Jackson says he’s committed to a Capitol Hill challenge, though he wouldn’t name any congressional supporters other than back-bench Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Chaffetz tells WaTimes: ‘I think if we’re locked out of the process for bringing it for a vote now, we’ll bring it up later….There are creative ways to block this. We’re going to try to pursue all of those.’ He also said that he will ‘change tactics in the new year’ and, if necessary, ‘wait until the majority changes in Congress to undo the District’s marriage legislation. “It’s our duty, our responsibility.””
ALSO—-WaPo piece by Christian Davenport lays bare the race and generation divide on gay marriage—-as well as a split in the Brown family: ‘Kwame Brown…supports gay marriage, seeing it as the next chapter in the fight for equality. But his father, a political campaign consultant in the city, bristles when the drive for same-sex marriage is compared with the civil rights movement. “You can choose to be gay or not,” Marshall Brown said. “You can never choose to be black or not.” Not so, his son said. “People are born that way,” Kwame Brown said. “That could be a generational difference between the way he thinks and the way I think.”…”That’s a fair argument,” the father said when told of his son’s view about sexual orientation. But the elder Brown wasn’t about to equate gay rights with the civil rights movement. Homosexuals, he said, “can hide it so easily, but we can’t hide that we’re black.”‘
OTHER LEGISLATIVE BUSINESS
—-The lottery contract is approved, bringing to a close nearly two years of wrangling. Nine councilmembers voted in favor of the award to Intralot worth nearly $40M over five years, though virtually all the yes votes expressed some degree of displeasure with the bidding process. Gray and Kwame Brown abstained; Muriel Bowser voted present. Only Phil Mendelson, saying ‘the fix was in,’ voted against. Intralot’s partnership with Veterans Services Corp., headed by businessman Emmanuel Bailey, eased the approval. See LL, WaPo, WBJ, and Examiner, which notes: ‘Several members urged losing bidders, notably Rhode Island-based G-Tech, to “pursue options available to them,” including a lawsuit.’
—-Bill to provide further oversight to surplussing of city property wins initial vote, WBJ reports; further amendments may be forthcoming. ‘The bill…would require Fenty to submit two separate bills to the council — one to tag a property as surplus and one to sell or lease it. Currently the two are frequently lumped together.’ Developers’ trade group ‘opposed portions of the legislation because of concerns that a slower surplus process would add delays and uncertainty to public-private development deals.’
—-In one of several measures targeting Fenty power moves, council bill would punish parties who ignore council subpoenas by making them ineligible for city contracts for five years. Note that developer Omar Karim, at the center of the parks contracting probe, isn’t showing for today’s council hearing on the matter.
Council Chairman Vincent Gray again lands under the hard scrutiny of WaTimes reporter Jeffrey Anderson. Gray, Anderson reports, participated in a unanimous July 31 council vote to approve a land disposition for the vast Northwest One project that William C. Smith Co. is developing. This, after he had engaged a WCS subsidiary to embark on a home renovation for him. Going further back in his council career, Gray has also voted on various measures to move the Northwest One project along—-before and after WCS&Co., headed by buddy Chris Smith, got involved. These facts are ‘at odds with Mr. Gray’s recent statement that he could “not recall” voting on’ the company’s matters. Former Ward 6 CM Sharon Ambrose ‘said that while “it doesn’t look good,” she doubts Mr. Smith has been awarded city development deals because of his relationship with Mr. Gray. But, she added, Mr. Gray should disclose the name of the company or companies responsible for his other home improvements.’
HOW DAMNING?—-Gray is guilty thus far of very bad judgment, not corruption. Anderson has established the quid but not the quo. It is far from clear that Gray was the prime mover in any decision that directly benefited Smith. But it’s not credible for him to say he didn’t recall voting on WCS&Co. matters when they have a piece of the biggest development deal in town. Gray certainly should have recused himself or—-even better—-found another contractor to do his house work.
Track inspectors from the Tri-State Oversight Committee are at last ready to begin their work today, Lena Sun reports in WaPo. ‘Noting that the access comes eight months after the committee’s initial request, [committee chair Eric Madison] said: “We wish we could have done it sooner. I’m glad we were able to reach a resolution on this and go out and do it.”…Inspectors are looking to confirm a number of practices, including that all Metro workers on the tracks wear safety gear, that they communicate properly with train operators and dispatchers, and that operators slow their trains and sound their horns when they see workers.’
Michelle Rhee is set to meet with parents at Hardy MS Friday evening, Bill Turque reports at D.C. Wire, and scuttlebutt about the replacement of principal Patrick Pope has not abated. ‘Speculation about his successor is centering on Elizabeth Whisnant, currently principal of nearby Mann Elementary, one of the schools Rhee would like to see Hardy draw from.’
WaPo’s Stewart picks up LL’s item from last week on Fenty birthday party at the old Casey Mansion site. A followup invitation reads: ‘At the tail end of a long and convoluted series of land swaps, stands Chris Kopsidas, Sales Manager for The Residences at 1801 Foxhall. Chris tells this uniquely Washington, DC networking story. By chance, he met Shalamar Muhammad of Remax Realty. Together they pitched the idea of a fundraiser to Fenty treasurer, Ben Soto, who in turn called Fenty Guru, [John Falcicchio], who put together a ‘killer’ Host Committee, who are pulling out all the stops for the best Fenty Birthday Party Ever!”‘
Jim Graham names new chief of staff: Longtime aide Calvin Woodland Jr. will take Ted Loza‘s old job, Craig reports at D.C. Wire. This also means that accused briber Loza is now off the Graham payroll. Also stepping in as Latino liaison is Jackie Reyes, a former DOES analyst who ‘left her city job in November to help organize Hispanics to oppose the council’s decision not to confirm Ximena Hartsock as the director of Parks and Recreation. By tapping Reyes, Graham is sending a signal he hopes to harness the community’s activism surrounding that issue – before Hispanic activists use their newfound political clout against him in 2010.’
Police describe the broad-daylight slaying of George Rawlings at a Superior Court detention hearing, Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. ‘As a fatally shot [Rawlings] collapsed on the stairs of a Metro bus, the driver frantically sped off with [his] legs still dangling outside the doors….Detective Robert S. Cephas Jr. testified that as Rawlings was boarding the bus, which had stopped at 14th and H streets NE on the morning of Nov. 11, three men walked up behind him, and at least two of them shot him several times in the back.’ Judge Frederick H. Weisberg ordered the two suspects, Jeffrey Britt, 17, and DeAngelo Edwards, 19, to be held pending trial.
ALSO—-‘Tension in the courtroom was high, as members of Rawlings’s family sat among family and friends of Britt and Edwards. Charles Rawlings, who on Saturday buried his second son in two years, said he knew the families of Britt and Edwards because his son and the two suspects were “best friends” who grew up together in the District. “What kind of best friends is that where they shot their friend in the back?” Rawlings asked as he left the courtroom.’
WORLD AIDS DAY—-Hundreds of protesters demonstrate at White House before some proceeded to the John A. Wilson Building. Inside, two were arrested for blocking the entrance to the mayoral bullpen. Darryl Fears reports in WaPo. ‘ Larry Bryant, co-chairman of the group, and member Matthew Kavanagh vowed not to move until they could meet with the mayor to discuss their demand that he pare down a three-year waiting list for housing for people with HIV/AIDS.’ Also NC8, WTTG-TV. Also do see Jose Antonio Vargas‘ piece on AIDS in D.C. for HuffPo. Notably, Fenty made no AIDS-related appearance yesterday; he did attend a White House AIDS event on Monday.
ALSO—-District lands July 2012 international AIDS conference, to be held at Washington Convention Center. WBJ notes that the confab ‘is expected to draw 30,000 people to the city and generate more than $38 million in spending….The announcement comes after four years of working with the International AIDS Society to bring the event to D.C….The conference was last held in the U.S. in 1990 in San Francisco.’ And Eleanor Holmes Norton is still trying to block a Hill-imposed needle exchange funding ban, WAMU-FM reports. Says EHN: ‘My good friends on the other side of the aisle banned needle exchange for 10 years; what happened as a result is it allowed the virus to get a foothold here.’ Also WRC-TV.
Two men shot in carjacking attempt on 4200 block of 4th Street SE at about 9 p.m. yesterday. WaPo reports that one ‘suffered a wound that was described as potentially life-threatening.’ NC8, WUSA-TV report that one of the wounded has died.
Suspect sought in Saturday morning Anacostia shooting.
Pedestrian struck and killed yesterday afternoon at New York and New Jersey Avenues NW. WRC-TV reports a man ‘fell in front of a truck.’
Two guards at the District’s privately run Correctional Treatment Facility are charged with smuggling contraband to inmates in return for cash. Del Wilber reports in WaPo that officers Thomas Ford, 35, and Quincy Hayes, 32, have been collared, along with Renee Braxton, 44, who is employed as a security guard, but not at the jail. An inmate dropped a dime last October. ‘An undercover FBI employee, pretending to be the brother of an inmate, met with Braxton and Ford in 2008 and early this year and gave them several hundred dollars to smuggle a phone, an iPod and a charger to inmates at the CTF. Ford passed the items to the inmates, the FBI said.’ Also Examiner, which notes that the jail is ‘still reeling from accusations that in 2007, several of its staff helped two dangerous inmates as they busted out of the jail in a daring daylight escape.’
Dr. James Augustine is out as the city’s EMS director. In Examiner, Bill Myers notes that Augustine ‘was brought in to rescue the District’s beleaguered ambulance service…in July 2008 but will be gone by year’s end….Officials cited “health and wellness” for his departure.’ Says Mendo: ‘It says that the EMS function in the department is in disarray….It belies all the promises we’ve heard from the chief and the mayor in turning EMS around.’ FEMS spox Pete Piringer fires back: ‘Any insinuation or even allegation that he’s being forced out is completely false.’
Those who might point to unanimous support for school vouchers among the District’s political class, think again. Ward CM Tommy Wells and State Board of Education chair Lisa Raymond have written to key senator Dick Durbin opposing reauthorization of the program, Bill Turque reports at D.C. Wire, ‘asserting that some students who receive the federally-funded vouchers attend “seriously deficient” private schools or religious schools with discriminatory employment practices.’ Wells, who was the most strident critic of the archdiocese at yesterday’s marriage debate, joined Raymond in criticizing government funding for discriminatory institutions. Harry Jaffe explains the genesis of Wells’ and Raymond’s stance and makes a prediction: ‘Vouchers will get funded for another five-year program. In the end, there may be no benign discrimination, but giving poor kids a chance to attend a private school will win out.’
ALSO—-More on disgruntled WTU members from Turque: Teacher group wants $250K from the union to finance employee appeals.
WaPo story details red-tape problems for street-food vendors: ‘The holdup and a temporary patchwork of directives have thwarted Washington vendor Kristin Rider, 28. In July, says Rider, whose father owns the popular Pedro and Vinny’s burrito cart at 15th and K streets NW, she bought a vending license and launched her own cart a few blocks away, at 19th and L….Within weeks, Rider says, an investigator from DCRA told her she was in violation of District rules and needed to obtain a location permit from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). In the middle of the lunch rush, with customers waiting, she was forced to close. Rider says she called DDOT the next day and was informed that the agency no longer issued location permits and that one was not required….Rider returned to her cart. But within a week, another agent arrived. First, Rider says, he told her she needed the DDOT permit. She explained that she did not. About a month later, he returned and demanded to see receipts for food purchased. Furious and in tears, “I marched myself up to DCRA and showed them my vending permit. And they said, ‘You shouldn’t have got that,’ ” Rider said. “Well, that’s not my problem. The fourth floor doesn’t know what the fifth floor is doing.”‘
Erstwhile club owner Abdul Khanu has been convicted of tax evasion by a federal jury. Examiner’s Myers writes: ‘At one time, Khanu was a maestro of D.C.’s late-night life. He ran clubs like Platinum, VIP and H20 and was quite often the toast of the town….A grand jury indicted Khanu early last year, accusing him of skimming money from his clubs and paying his employees in cash to avoid tax bills.’ Khanu is represented by superlawyer Billy Martin. He faces up to 10 years in prison; no sentencing date is set. AP notes that authorities ‘found $1.9 million in cash and a double set of books when they searched his house.’
Repairs to roof cracks at Farragut North Metro have been delayed and will now proceed, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. ‘[T]he agency has no plans to close the station entrance or platform during the repairs, saying it is safe for riders. The repairs are not expected to disrupt train service.’
Army Corps makes report on Spring Valley munitions, saying five objects thought to be contaminated with chemical weapons have been found in the past two years. An open house on the report is set for 6 p.m. Dec. 8 at Metropolitan Memorial Methodist Church, 3401 Nebraska Ave. NW. Also WAMU-FM.
WaPo’s Courtland Milloy on the D.C. police state: ‘There was a time, for instance, when you could take your grandparents on a drive past the White House, showing them where the president lives without putting them through the agony of a long walk from some overpriced downtown parking garage. No more….And now come the Salahis, reminding us—-if that investigation proves they sneaked into the White House—-how easy it is to breach it all and that safety measures for which we traded so much liberty amount to little more than an illusion.’
Statehood Greens step up in fight against People’s Counsel nominee Vicky Beasley.
WaPo covers ‘rain garden’ installation at Deanwood Habitat for Humanity site: ‘The gardens comprise an array of water-loving plants that filter runoff headed for the region’s water supply and the Chesapeake Bay. Each garden is expected to handle about 600 gallons of runoff for every inch of rainfall. Without the gardens, the runoff would go directly into the District’s storm sewer system.’
WAMU-FM covers nonprofit Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care, which is ‘working to reduce the stigma among young people infected by the disease.’
NYT covers WaTimes turmoil: ‘The changes have left media watchers and Washington Times employees wondering whether the paper will survive. “It’s pretty clear they can’t support it on this scale, and they’re trying to figure out what kind of product they can put out that’s economically viable and competitive with what’s available to them,” said a longtime newsroom employee.’
New York lawyer fined $500 for federal courthouse ‘skirmish,’ ending what judge deemed a ‘tortured’ prosecution.
D.C. Vote screens ‘Un-Natural State’ documentary tonight at Avalon Theatre. WaPo’s
Amy Gardner (taking over the local Hill delegation beat from Mary Beth Sheridan) notes that the festivities ‘will include a discussion with former U.S. Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia and DC Vote board member Trish Vradenburg. The movie, directed by DC filmmaker Kirk Mangels and produced by Brad Mendelsohn, features the District’s nonvoting congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Hardball’s Chris Matthews and Mayor Adrian Fenty.’ WCP reviewed the film in April.
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute stumps for more analysis of tax abatement deals.
D.C. GOP honcho Paul Craney: The 3-Minute Interview! ‘I think this is the first time ever they will have so many Republican candidates running for D.C. Council. I think after the holiday you’ll be hearing from the candidates more often.’
Housing Complex with more on why D.C.’s landlord-and-tenant court doesn’t work.
Rhee appeared on panel yesterday with Joel Klein.
D.C. is less ‘underbanked’ than the rest of the country.
More on bike lanes for M Street SW/SE.
D.C. homes: still really expensive.
National Zoo loses two exotic fish.
Good on the Watkins Hornets football team, who are headed to the Pop Warner Super Bowl. The team ‘had to fight through an overtime battle against the defending national champion from Silver Spring last weekend to earn the right to go to Florida to play for the ultimate prize.’ WCP’s Dave McKenna offers his kudos.
Kwame Brown: Man of Style!
More on Jeanette Michael‘s passing: She waged a seven-year battle against breast cancer. Plans for a memorial service are forthcoming.
NOT SO FAR AFIELD—-Prince George’s County schools embarks on merit pay plan. Says Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. to WaPo: “We feel like we’re on the cusp of this, but the key piece of this is that we’re working with our teachers union.”
Sharon Dixon Sheila Dixon convicted of embezzlement charge, likely to be forced from office.
PROGRAM NOTE—-On Monday, LL wrote that Fenty campaign co-chair James Hudson was ‘rumored to be frustrated with Fenty’s foibles.’ Hudson replies to LL thusly: ‘I supported Mayor Fenty in the past, I support him now and I support him for re-election….I will not delve into the innuendo of dissatisfaction of Mayor Adrian Fenty that you seek to set up. It will suffice to say that your statement regarding my position is incorrect. As you know, you have neither spoken with me, nor even attempted to communicate with me by phone, email or otherwise. I think you would have talked to me if you genuinely wanted my position rather than gossip or innuendo. Finally and simply, I support Mayor Fenty because he is doing a very good job.’ LL apologizes for not calling Hudson first!
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation hearing on B18-489 (‘DC Circulator Bus Jurisdiction Expansion Amendment Act of 2009’), JAWB 500; 1 p.m.: Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation roundtable on ‘Capital Projects of the Department of Parks and Recreation,’ JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee on Human Services meeting (scheduled), JAWB 123; joint public oversight roundtable on ‘The Contracting Process Related to Parks and Recreation Projects,’ JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.