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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Abe Pollin Dies at 85“; “Pershing Park Case: Will Sporkin Report Be a Whitewash?“; “Judge Rules Against Fired Teachers“; “Rhee Ex Is ‘America’s Next Great Pundit’“; and tweets galore!
Greetings all. Abe Pollin died yesterday; he was 85 years old. In the last 20 hours and in the coming days, he will be remembered as a man of great business acumen, a man of great generosity and personal loyalty. And it will be repeated again and again that Pollin helped spark the rebirth of downtown Washington by building an arena for his Capitals and Bullets. Now handing to Pollin alone the credit for a remarkable downtown turnaround may be overstating the case, but not by much. And it is simply impossible to overstate the magnitude of the civic courage it took for Pollin to build the arena himself, even after the city, faced with a self-made fiscal crisis, reneged on a deal to build it for him. Pollin ended up making a lot of money—-perhaps not quite as much as if he had finagled a city-built arena—-but his $220M investment will pay off for decades as a legacy, as people visit what’s now Verizon Center, the house Abe Pollin built. Other wealthy folks entrusted with civic institutions—-people named Lerner and Snyder, for instance—-would do well to take note.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Full Pollin coverage; judge hands WTU devastating court defeat, WaPo rejoices; Barry Thanksgiving giveaway nearly ends in turkey riot; 12 schools identified with 2009 testing irregularities; Md., Va. guvs say archdiocese needs to simmer down; cops crack cold case; another Ward 1 council race entrant; happy Thanksgiving!
The lede to his front-page WaPo obituary, by Peter Perl:
He arrived in Washington more than 75 years ago, the gangly son of a Russian metal worker named Morris Pollinovsky who came to America a poor man speaking no English. Through decades of hard work and a seemingly unstoppable will, Abe Pollin rose to the top of the worlds of business, philanthropy and professional sports. In the process, he transformed his adopted home town by bringing professional basketball and hockey franchises here and spending $220 million to build a massive sports and entertainment arena that has dramatically changed the face of downtown Washington.
TRIBUTES—-Sportswriter John Feinstein, in WaPo op-ed, seconds Pollin’s legacy: ‘When someone who has been in the public eye for almost 50 years dies, it is often asked what was his legacy. In Abe Pollin’s case, the answer stands on F Street NW between Sixth and Seventh streets. It is Verizon Center.’
—-WaPo‘s Michael Wilbon: ‘Buildings, somehow, were still burned out and empty. Shops and restaurants were scarce in certain parts. It was a fright, to tell you the truth — until 1997, when a downtown arena, home to the Wizards and Capitals, opened and changed the city. Abe Pollin built it with his own money, his own financing, and in short order changed the quality of life in the Nation’s Capital.’
—-WaPo‘s Mike Wise: ‘Mr. P, the same man who would use $220 million of his own fortune to build a downtown arena at a time when the District was broke, because he had this dream that a broader, commercial life would one day take the place of syringes and sirens. Walking outside the building Tuesday night, how long before a modest act of civic pride is taken, in which Penn Quarter is renamed Pollin Quarter?’
—-Developer Doug Jemal, in WBJ, ‘recalled Pollin as a wonderful man and a business icon who did things the old school way….One day, when a worker on one of Jemal’s buildings had a construction accident, Pollin was there to help, Jemal said. “He came running across the street to see what he could do.” Pollin represented a now gone era of “independent, old-school team owners” who cared about the city’s where they did business. “I think that team was his life,” Jemal said. He said that even when the team was not winning, “he would sit in that owners’ box by himself and watch every time that team played.”‘
—-Developer Herb Miller tells Housing Complex: ‘It was truly a community effort, but if it wasn’t for Abe Pollin nothing would have happened….For him to go build the Verizon Center with a risk associated with it–most people would have done it only if the government paid for everything. And bringing his teams into the city at a time was quite a bold and risky proposition. If you walked through downtown then, people were afraid to even go to downtown. People thought it was dangerous….If he hadn’t committed to the first major project downtown, I don’t think the rest of it would have happened.’
—-WaTimes reporters say Pollin ‘revitalized a once-blighted and crime-infested section of the nation’s capital’ and recall how he pitched Marion Barry on the arena at a seder.
—-Colby King, also on the op-ed page, calls Pollin ‘the man who almost single-handedly brought Washington, D.C., back to life,’ before lauding his philanthropy, for UNICEF and other causes. ‘I often wrote about problems that descended on individuals and organizations in this city that were trying to help the least among us. The phone would ring. Abe would be on the line. Ask readers to help, he would say. “I’ll contribute the rest,” he would add, instructing me to not mention his name.’
—-Harry Jaffe remembers in Examiner how Pollin paid to fix up the 1D police substation and saved the Sixth & I Synagogue, among his other contributions.
—-Terry Lynch to WAMU-FM: ‘It could be a food pantry, a health fair, a homeless walk, a neighborhood playground project, the man just never said no….He was color blind and faith blind, all he saw was need. We don’t have a lot of folks with that kind of vision. It is a real loss for the city.’
—-Caps owner Ted Leonsis, in WaPo: ‘Abe Pollin was the bravest man I ever met. A man of courage and compassion, with high levels of personal empathy and integrity. He showed passion and commitment to our city when no one else would. He consistently showed his love to the fan base and to his extended family — his employees. And you could take his handshake to the bank….He was the last “don”; the last of the family-man moguls, the last authentic nice guy in business.’
—-The lead WaPo editorial reminds us that ‘the most important thing about Abe Pollin is that he was one of us. By that we mean not that he was necessarily a man of the people, whatever that is these days, but simply that he was part of this community through and through. He did well here, and he did a lot of good in return….He was a thoughtful and public-spirited man whose list of charitable and civic activities—-helping feed and educate the city’s schoolchildren, aiding the homeless, establishing a prize for pediatric research, and much, much more—-was as impressive as his work for mutual understanding and respect among the people of this region. Much of his life was a sustained effort, with his wife, Irene, to better the community, and for the most part it was carried on without a great deal of public attention.’
—-AP collected quotes of tribute from NBA Commissioner David Stern, Wiz GM Ernie Grunfeld, ex-Bullets GM Wes Unseld, Wiz coach Flip Saunders, ex-Wiz coach Eddie Jordan, and Sen. Ben Cardin. LL collected quotes from local politicos, including Mayor Adrian M. Fenty:
Today the District of Columbia has lost one of our greatest treasures. Abe Pollin almost single-handedly revitalized the Gallery Place / Chinatown neighborhood by turning down offers from suburban jurisdictions to finance and build the Verizon Center on 7th Street NW. My deepest condolences go out to Mr. Pollin’s family, most especially his wife Irene, who was always his partner, in sports, construction, philanthropy, and of course, family.
Abe Pollin will be remembered in the District for adopting our city as his hometown, having lived in the area since the age of eight; for more than 40 years as owner of the Washington Wizards; and for being the original owner of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals and the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Washington Mystics.
He will be truly missed.
FUTURE OF HIS EMPIRE—-Leonsis has announced that his Lincoln Holdings will exercise its exclusive option to purchase the Pollin sporting empire.
READ BEFORE LAST NIGHT’S WIZ GAME—-‘Ladies and gentlemen…earlier today, the Washington Wizards family, Washington, DC and the entire world of sports lost one of its finest. The patriarch of what he fondly called ‘The Capital Centre Family’, Mr. Abe Pollin, passed away at the age of 85. A man that will forever be remembered as the owner of the Washington Wizards and Verizon Center, Pollin also formerly owned and operated the Washington Capitals, the Washington Mystics, and the Capital Centre, among other successful business ventures. Along with his wife Irene, through 46 years of ownership of the franchise as the longest tenured owners in the NBA, the Pollins were at the center of it all as the NBA exploded in growth from a small, regional league to a worldwide phenomenon. Mr. Pollin reached the pinnacle of his profession with the Washington Bullets World Championship in 1978, but for all that he accomplished in sports, his accomplishments in life were even greater. It’s only fitting that during this week of Thanksgiving, we give thanks to a man that never stopped sharing his thanks for all of the blessings that this world afforded him. Please join us in a long moment of silence for a great sportsman, businessman and philanthropist, without whom we wouldn’t be assembled in this grand venue tonight; Mr. Abe Pollin.’
—-THE REST OF THE NEWS—-
Superior Court judge rules against fired DCPS teachers, dealing a severe legal setback to the Washington Teachers’ Union’s campaign to get them reinstated. Judge Judith Bartnoff‘s ruling was fairly sweeping, finding “that the [WTU] has shown virtually no likelihood of success on the merits of its claim that the [reduction in force] was not really a RIF and instead should be considered a mass discharge.” Bill Turque writes in WaPo that Bartnoff “flatly reject[ed] union arguments that [Michelle Rhee] contrived financial problems to rid the system of older instructors” and notes her holding that reversing the layoffs “would only force Rhee and [Fenty] to make other cuts. AG Peter Nickles calls it a ‘slam dunk,’ adding: ‘All of this shrill rhetoric about lawlessness and the RIF being a pretext was completely refuted.’ Examiner reports that the WTU has not yet decided on an appeal; President George Parker tells WAMU-FM that all fired employees will file complaints with the Office of Employee Appeals. (See WTU statement.)
The WaPo editorial board takes no small pleasure in Bartnoff’s ruling, calling it ‘refutation of accusations that she manufactured a budget crisis as pretext to fire teachers she didn’t want….Now is the time for those who care about the schools to focus on the future. Foremost is for Ms. Rhee and union officials to resolve their differences over the teachers’ contract.’ And, oh yes: ‘[W]e hope there is some soul-searching on the part of D.C. Council members who wrongly assailed Ms. Rhee’s integrity. They would serve the city better if they joined with her in trying to improve the schools.’
Another piece on the waning influence of the clergy on matters political, this one from WaPo’s Tim Craig and Hamil Harris. ‘This city certainly is no longer church-friendly,’ New Macedonia Baptist’s Patrick J. Walker tells them. ‘The clout of the local faith community, particularly the black church, in D.C. politics has been declining for decades. But with the council heading for a vote next week on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, the near-certain passage of the legislation has come to symbolize both political and spiritual changes in the District….Everyone cautioned that the highly personal nature of the marriage debate makes it difficult to determine whether the tense relationship will spread to future policy debates. But all agree that black churches are no longer the force they used to be in local politics as the city becomes whiter and wealthier and a new generation of pastors gains standing.’ (Read LL’s column on the topic, from June.)
Marion Barry handed out turkeys to constituents yesterday at Union Temple Baptist Church, but ‘hundreds’ went away empty-handed, Hamil Harris reports in WaPo. Police had to be called. ‘”They made a promise that they couldn’t keep,” Linda Jackson said as she left Union Temple Baptist Church with only a crumpled piece of paper reading, “Councilmember Marion Barry’s Ward 8 Turkey Giveaway.” Brenda Richardson, who coordinated the event, said many people were turned away because they could not provide proof that they were residents of Ward 8. “There was a process. People were supposed to sign up, and if there were turkeys left, then we would give them to other District residents, but all of the turkeys are spoken for,” she said.’ NC8 has video; says woman, ‘They always shaft Ward 8!’
Read Part 2 of Paul Duggan‘s WaPo examination of the Pamela Butler disappearance. Duggan details the family’s suspicions: ‘The relatives found no vivid evidence that Pam Butler had come to harm. They saw no blood, no signs of a struggle or forced entry. What they saw in the house amounted only to puzzle pieces. But soon the pieces would fit together in their minds….”I know what they think,” [boyfriend Jose Rodriguez-Cruz] said in an interview. He meant what police and Butler’s family think: Removing her body from the house without being recorded by the video system or seen from Fourth Street would have been tricky. Someone familiar with the cameras and the neighborhood probably would have chosen a dining room window. Maybe Butler was working with her real estate files when trouble began. Maybe her body went out a window wrapped in those sheets. “I don’t know what happened, okay?” Rodriguez-Cruz said.’
More DC-CAS issues: OSSE has asked 12 public and charter schools to conduct internal investigations into various ‘irregularities’ in the 2009 exams, Turque reports at D.C. Wire. This follows questions raised about the integrity of the 2008 scores bu former state superintendent Deborah Gist. The unnamed schools ‘were identified on the basis of erasure analyses and two other criteria: growth in test scores and “item pattern analysis,” a statistical method of detecting excessive similarities in answers on multiple choice exams.’ Why no names named? OSSE spox says ‘the schools are free to inform parents. But he said the state superintendent’s office will name the schools only if the allegations are proven.’
Examiner keeps the Rhee-KJ fires burning, at least on the editorial page:
Tim Kaine and Martin O’Malley both offer harsh words to the Archdiocese of Washington over threats to pull out of city-funded social services if gay marriage bill passes. Says Kaine: ‘I’m Catholic, and I think it’s wrong. I don’t think you take your ball and go home….I think the strategy of threatening to pull back, it doesn’t seem like the church I’ve come up in.’ Adds O’Malley: ‘I don’t understand how they can possibly do this….I have a hard time believing that the nuns and priests who taught me about the Corporal Works of Mercy would agree that this is an appropriate response for the church.’ ALSO: Americans United for Separation of Church and State lauds council response to ADW.
Extending adoption and guardianship subsidies to cover kids between the ages 18 to 21 could save the District millions, a CFO report determines, according to WaPo’s Henri Cauvin. ‘Unlike the District’s subsidies to foster families, which can continue until the child is 21, aid to legal guardians and adoptive parents typically ends when the child turns 18, even if he or she is still in school. In a city with more than 2,000 children in foster care, the disparity has been an obstacle to finding permanent homes for the hundreds of foster children who are not expected to return to their birth families.’ The savings, up to $4M over four years, are due to decreased educational costs for the District when kids are adopted rather than in foster care. Michael Brown has introduced a bill to make the change; Tommy Wells says he’s going to incorporate its language in a forthcoming adoption reform bill.
Metro is testing brighter illumination at the Judiciary Square station, Lena Sun reports in WaPo. ‘Crews have installed extra lights at the F Street entrance mezzanine, where the fare gates are. That area is now so bright—-unlike the rest of the Metro underground—-that it could almost double as a movie set….Metro is hoping to light two more underground stations: Likely candidates are other stations with mezzanines that overlook rail station platforms, such as the Dupont Circle, Metro Center and Foggy Bottom-GWU stations.’ No timeline or cost estimates for future work.
Police say that they have solved the 1997 murder of Sharon Moskowitz, a 35-year-old embassy worker strangled by burglars in her Adams Morgan apartment. Frederick Edward Morton, 57, who is serving time in a Pennsylvania federal prison has been charged with first-degree murder, Theola Labbé-DeBose reports in WaPo. ‘Police Chief
Cathy L. Lanier credited enhanced surveillance video that police re-released in September with helping stir new leads in the case. The U.S. Secret Service were able to sharpen images of the two assailants pushing a grocery cart in a Giant Food store, and D.C. police released the video for a second time, asking the public for clues in solving the crime. “The public came forward—-almost immediately, calls came in,” Lanier said.’ Also WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
George McKoy, 85, has died of injuries suffered in the beating that also killed Rosa May Fludd-Ross, 55, on Nov. 15. Her husband, Kenneth Lee Ross, 52, has been charged in the attack, WaPo reports. ‘Ross told police that he and Fludd-Ross had argued at the house and that he struck her with a vase, the charging documents say. Ross said that McKoy tried to break up the argument and that he pushed McKoy, the documents say.’
D.C. Jail inmate stabbed, in critical condition.
Daniel de Vise writes in WaPo about 30-year-old GWU freshman Mario Rocha. Call hima nontraditional student: ‘Rocha was incarcerated at 16 for the murder of Martin Aceves, 17, who died in an exchange of gunfire at a Los Angeles house party. Four years ago, an appeals court found that Rocha had been wrongly convicted. He is an innocent man who survived two prison stabbings, endured dispiriting courtroom defeats and prevailed against overwhelming odds. Can he survive four years at GWU?’
A court battle is being waged over the bank accounts of a defunct charter school, the New School for Enterprise and Development, Tierney Plumb reports in WBJ. About $60K is left at City First Bank of D.C., which wants a court to determine who gets the money: Is it Charles Tate, former president and director of the school? Or is it board chair Butch Hopkins, who accuses Tate of tasking money for his ‘personal use’?
FLIP-FLOP ALERT—-At Shaw community meeting, Kwame Brown tells crowd he’d be willing to give civil gang injunctions a shot. ALSO from Cary Silverman: The latest on Leroy Thorpe‘s lawsuit against Martin Moulton.
Informer looks at Jim Graham‘s black support in Ward 1, finds another possible challenger in ANC member Stanley Mayes, who ‘makes it clear that he is looking to run for the Ward One council seat, and not against a person. “This is not about Jim Graham,” Mayes said. “I am thinking of running because the ward is divided. We need to get the ward back to the way it was when David Clarke was the councilman,” he said.’
GGW finds indications that DDOT is preparing to ink a deal with a Canadian bike-sharing outfit. ALSO FROM GGW: 17th Street reconstruction to begin Monday. Blogger Michael Perkins can’t find parking space on Capitol Hill, determines meter rates need adjustment.
Housing Complex interviews a gentleman cyclist struck by a car on 15th Street NW—-not in the new bike lane, but riding in the shared-use right lane, as he was supposed to.
WRC-TV rides along with FEMS ‘hydrant patrol’
WUSA-TV follows up on threats to city Catholic schools.
Unlike last year, Metro will not open early for ‘Black Friday’ this year, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. Opening an hour earlier cost $27K but only generated 1,201 riders. Still, Jim Graham wanted to do it again. ALSO: No free parking on Friday!
Hill East ANC still fighting over charter school that wants to locate in a rowhouse.
Bob Summersgill finds it quite incredible that police have not recorded anti-transgender hate crimes.
Foreign students estimated to add $304M to D.C. economy.
National Geographic joins Golden Triangle BID.
Orange Street SE construction job shut down, prompting blogger to give ‘a gold star to DCRA to being on top of this. Keep that pimp hand strong!’
AIDS activists plan ‘mock funeral procession at the White House and creative action at the John. A Wilson Building’ for next week.
Mall’s trees and shrubs to be replaced.
WHITE HOUSE STATE DINNER—-Among the attendees: Adrian and Michelle Fenty, Eleanor Holmes Norton (who ‘a black strapless gown and a dramatic midnight blue voluminous shawl’), Vivek Kundra
WaPo to close national bureaus, in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Says top editor Marcus Brauchli, ‘The fact is, we can effectively cover the rest of the country from Washington.’
HAPPY THANKSGIVING—-And congratulations to the Ballou SHS marching band! The Knights are one of five high schools nationwide that will march in tomorrow’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. LL Daily will return on Friday.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Finance and Revenue meeting (scheduled), JAWB 120; Committee on Housing and Urban Affairs meeting on B18-458 (‘District of Columbia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Amendment of 2009’), JAWB 123.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.