City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“New Poll: Gray Leads Fenty in Head-to-Head Mayoral Run“; “District Settles 2000 Mass Arrest Case For $13.7 Million“; and tweets galore!
Morning all. Voter frustration with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is real, make no bones about it. A independent poll of 501 registered voters finds Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray—-a man who hasn’t even declared his candidacy and is a virtual unknown to 38 percent of voters—-leading Fenty in a head-to-head matchup. Moreover, Fenty is carrying a 49 percent disapproval rating. David Lipscomb writes in WaTimes that the polling numbers ‘suggest…a growing frustration with the mayor’s governing style in the D.C. Council is making its way into the voting public.’ Michael Neibauer in Examiner quotes pollster Ron Faucheux saying Fenty is ‘dangerously weak for an incumbent going into an election year.’ And Faucheux tells WaPo that his poll ‘doesn’t mean [Fenty is] down and out. He’s got the time and the resources to make a comeback….But he’s got a lot of work to do.’ Also National Journal, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV. Read the Clarus press release.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Protesters settle with city for $13.7M; Serrano says vouchers should be D.C.’s problem, not his; WaPo ed board smacks Gray for obstructionism; WaPo looks at the Pamela Butler whodunit; archdiocese warns that if vouchers end, seven city parochial schools could close
FENTY STATEMENT—-‘Take no one and nothing for granted….I am proud of the progress we’ve made since January 2007, whether it’s beginning the critical reform of our public schools, reducing violent crime citywide or bringing responsible development into our great neighborhoods. But we cannot rest on the improvements we’ve made thus far, and I am committed to work with every resident to make the District of Columbia a world class city.’
GRAY STATEMENT—-‘I was pleased to learn that a poll by the Clarus Research Group reports my approval rating at 46 percent and disapproval at 16 percent. There is no greater calling than public service. And I am honored to serve the city in which I was born, raised and live. I look forward to even higher ratings, no matter what elected position I hold.’
Protesters wrongly arrested by D.C. cops during 2000 protests have settled their case (Becker v. District) for as much as $13.7M. The individual arrestees, which number into the 600s, will get $18K apiece, plus additional payouts for some who claim to have been beaten. More importantly: Cops assigned to work demonstrations and officers from partner agencies ‘will receive enhanced training.’Peter Nickles tells AP: ‘I’m committed to try to get this chapter of sound and fury closed with respect to these demonstration cases.’ Lead plaintiffs’ attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice says the settlement ‘sends a message to every city and every law enforcement officer that there is going to be a steep price to pay for violating protesters’ First Amendment rights.’ Also Legal Times, WTTG-TV. Still to be settled: The Pershing Park cases.
Rep. Jose Serrano, Democrat of New York and chair of the House subcommittee overseeing District affairs, pens WaPo op-ed arguing that the feds need to extricate themselves from the District’s voucher policy, and quick. ‘This issue has required more of my time and attention than perhaps any other issue involving the District. Because of it, each year my subcommittee gets drawn into debating local education policy in the city, a job that should be reserved for the mayor, the D.C. Council and the schools chancellor….The federal government does not mandate or fund private-school voucher programs anywhere else but the District; rather, where such programs exist, they are the result of state or local decisions. The same policy should be followed for the District….The congressional authorization for this pilot program has expired. If D.C. officials want to expand it, they should do so. Eventually, I would like the D.C. government to take over the existing federal voucher program as well, ensuring local control and accountability. But as for immediate expansion of the program, there is absolutely nothing stopping the District leaders from doing so. Advocates of this approach should lobby them rather than Congress….[T]he ultimate fate of the program, other than for these children, is in the hands of D.C. leaders. Unlike some of my predecessors in Congress, I trust them to do what is right for D.C. citizens, especially children.’
WaPo editorial board pounds on the D.C. Council for being all obstructionist and junk! Exhibit A would be Gray’s refusal to hold hearings or vote on Fenty UDC board nominees. ‘There are now nine nominees pending before the council and it’s unclear when, or whether, hearings will be held. Four nominees—-a health-care consultant, a vice president of an international investment fund, the chief operating officer of an education nonprofit and a public school educator—-will be deemed disapproved if no action is taken by Saturday….The council can either concur or disagree, but it’s wrong to circumvent the process by refusing to give the mayor’s nominees a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote. If council members think they should pick candidates, then they should change the law to obtain that power.’ Exhibits B, C, and D are the library board, the airports authority, and the Rental Housing Commission. ‘What’s being hurt is more than the functioning of these boards and commissions. If government wants its citizens to volunteer their time and talents in public service, it needs to be mindful of how it treats those who step up.’
On WaPo A1, Paul Duggan examines the still-unsolved disappearance of Pamela Butler, the meticulous EPA techie who vanished in February in a suspected homicide. Authorities have been focused on Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, her 44-year-old ex-MP boyfriend of five months. ‘But with Rodriguez-Cruz denying any knowledge of Butler’s whereabouts and detectives lacking enough evidence for an arrest, the stubborn case “has gone about as far as it can go at this point, unfortunately,” a law enforcement official said. A dead end. Rarely is homicide in the District so complicated; rarely are the facts so intricate.’ Among the boyfriend’s comments: ‘Like I told the police from the first day, you can search that house. You’re not going to find anything to suggest there was a struggle. You’re not going to find no blood…..Not because I’m talking arrogant and I covered my tracks. It’s because I didn’t do nothing to that woman.’ See timeline also.
At least one more headline in the Michelle Rhee–Kevin Johnson-St. Hope saga: Examiner’s Byron York has more on Rhee’s private conversations with AmeriCorps IG Gerald Walpin in 2008 while schools chancellor. ‘Her apparent goal, as she visited Walpin, was to vouch for Johnson. “The basic point of her meeting with me was to tell me what a great guy he was,” Walpin recalls, “and what wonderful work he has done, and that maybe he had made mistakes administratively, but that she thought I should give as much consideration as possible to his good work in deciding what to do.”‘ She had also called Walpin, he says, ‘to find out whether there would be anything coming out that she should take into account in deciding whether to contract with Johnson’ to run D.C. high schools. Oh, and BTW: Rhee may be in the middle of a conservative witch hunt, but conservatives still love her.
Still no gay marriage compromise from the Archdiocese of Washington, DCist reports. But here’s some Catholicism news that has nothing to do with gay marriage: The archdiocese has warned pastors of 14 parishes in the city and suburbs that if enrollment doesn’t recover, their schools will be closed. ‘The schools are split evenly between the District and Maryland, and all serve students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Not all are in immediate threat of closure,’ Michael Birnbaum writes in WaPo. ‘But the meetings between pastors and school parents in the past month signal a further possible retrenchment of Catholic social services in the same month that the church announced it would pull Catholic Charities out of contracts with the city if it doesn’t change a proposed bill on same-sex marriage. And in the case of the threatened D.C. schools, the archdiocese is encouraging its parishioners to get politically involved.’ That is because the schools’ fates are intertwined with the fate of vouchers.
THE SCHOOLS—-St. Augustine School, Holy Redeemer School, St. Ann’s Academy, Sacred Heart School, St. Anthony, St. Francis Xavier and St. Thomas More. ‘Voucher students account for at least a fifth of the students at all of them.”
Federal IG will look into safety concerns over old Metro bridge pilings, Lisa Rein reports in WaPo. ‘Auditors will evaluate why federal officials overseeing the contractor were not alarmed earlier by its decision not to test most of the old foundations it plans to use to support the bridge, sources familiar with the audit said….”The need…to focus on safety and quality of construction on all transit projects is underscored by the deadly June 2009 [Red Line] crash,” assistant inspector general Joe Comé wrote in a letter announcing the audit to FTA Administrator Peter H. Rogoff, calling the Silver Line a “high-profile infrastructure project.”‘ The feds are paying for most of the line, so they are free to investigate.
The Tri-State Oversight Committee will have its long-sought unfettered access to Metro tracks as soon as next month, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. The group ‘has tentatively scheduled several days of inspections for December, Chairman Eric Madison told The Examiner on Monday. However, he said, there has been no decision on how much notice the committee needs to give the agency before inspecting the tracks in the future.’
Peggy Cooper Cafritz speaks! The philanthropist, activist, and art collector talks to the Reliable Source in her first lengthy interview since the devastating July fire that destroyed her Chain Bridge Road mansion. First big scoop: Cafritz suffered a second fire, in the Georgetown waterfront apartment she’d moved into. ‘This time, the flames were contained—-but smoke invaded every cranny, and all her clothing had to be cleaned to remove the acrid smell.’ As for her next residence, she’s not decided whether ‘to rebuild on her original Chain Bridge lot—-“I’m definitely thinking about that”—-or start fresh in a new location.’ As for her priceless art collection, ‘it’s doubtful I’ll be able to rebuild my collection as it was,’ she says. ‘I will continue to collect….I’ll just have to start looking for new, younger artists.’
WaPo’s Dion Haynes covers unemployment among blacks, focusing on a Southwest 24-year-old. ‘His work history…has consisted of dead-end jobs. About a year ago, he lost his job moving office furniture, and he hasn’t been able to find steady work since. This summer he completed a construction apprenticeship program, he says, seeking a career so he could avoid repeating the mistake of selling drugs to support his 3-year-old daughter. So far the most the training program has yielded was a temporary flagger job that lasted a few days.’
ALSO—-Still hard for a black guy to get a cab in this town, WTTG-TV’s Tisha Thompson discovers. ‘A growing number of black men in the District say an age-old problem is getting worse. “You’ll flag down and they go past you,” Brown says. “Then they’ll stop down the street for a white person.” So Fox 5 decided to put D.C.’s cab drivers to the test.’ FAIL!
New charges to be filed in the Chandra Levy case mean that Ingmar Guandique‘s trial has been postponed from January to Oct. 4, Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. Also: Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher will take over from retiring Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin.
District resident Deandre Smith, 22, found with fatal gunshot wound Sunday in Temple Hills.
Man shot in arm near Stanton and Sheridan Roads SE.
Rash of ‘kick-in’ burglaries in Takoma, WTTG-TV reports. ‘Burglars go to the front door and boldly announce the crime….”When they don’t get a response, they kick in the door. They went upstairs and yelled, ‘Burglary alert!'” said Nathan Humphrey as he explained one incident.’
Fire truck headed back from call loses hose on I-295, causing flat tires.
In WaPo letter, Columbia Heights correspondent finds ‘description of a neighborhood gripped by fear of crime and full of abandoned playgrounds to be contrary to what I encounter every day.’ Attention thieves: ‘I am often out after dark in professional attire or jeans and shirts appropriate for someone in their mid-20s going to a bar. To anyone looking, it is clear that I carry a Blackberry and an iPod, not to mention a wallet and a rather unthreatening stature. Yet, I have never felt uncomfortable or at risk of being accosted.’
ALSO—-WaPo reader finds statehood activist’s colonial garb to be lacking.
Muriel Bowser talks law-and-order issues with PoP.
New York Avenue lanes to be closed overnight for bridge work.
GGW on recommended Glover Park transpo improvements.
Richard Layman has an ‘example of why even generally good Councilmembers ought not to be legislating transportation routes.’ To wit: Tommy Wells‘ thoughts that a streetcar shouldn’t ply Barracks Row, but rather some more easterly north-south Ward 6 thoroughfare.
WTOP: Bikers, drivers don’t always get along!
HuffPo uses Monument Realty’s Jeff Neal and his bad ballpark bets as centerpiece for investigative piece on commercial real estate crash. He says on camera: ‘We bet on baseball….We started buying the land with the prospect of a baseball stadium coming to the neighborhood. We were buying dilapidated burned-out warehouses and, for all I know, crackhouses. We had a vision. One of our first advertisements said, “We swung for the fences.”‘ And WBJ’s Melissa Castro gets delightfully snarky about the coverage: ‘”While the economy is starting to show signs of recovery, just a short walk from the Capitol there are holes in the ground and empty buildings,” the video’s narrator intones. (Yes, this is the future of investigative journalism, folks — discovering holes in the ground that have already been reported by the Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post and others.)’
DCPS loves Aflac.
Learn a little something about DWI/DUI/OWI law in the District!
Can’t get enough Jack Evans bobblehead coverage? Reliable Source has you covered: ‘Evans is autographing each one and numbering them, like a fine-art print. “There’s been enormous demand,” he said with a grin. He’s given out about 40 so far: His three kids (who just turned 13 last week) each got one, as did his staff and supporters, Caps owner Ted Leonsis and Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten. (Spoiler alert: Mayor Adrian Fenty and Council members will each receive one for Christmas.) And no reorders. “This is it!” Evans promised. “Limited run. If you don’t get one, you’re out of luck!”‘
Southwest activist Margaret Feldman is dead at 93.
Powerhouse L&T lawyer Ken Loewinger is dead at 64, and WBJ’s Castro pens a fine remembrance. ‘Loewinger was a titan among real estate lawyers, with a virtual lock on landlord-tenant disputes. The Georgetown-trained attorney literally wrote the book on the subject, authoring the D.C. Bar’s handbook on local landlord-tenant law….He was a knowledgeable attorney, a quick wit, a tough negotiator, a bit eccentric and, according to Brand, a loyal and compassionate friend.’
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-9 a.m.: Committee of the Whole and Committee on Finance and Revenue joint hearing on PR18-546 (‘Contract No. CFOPD-09-C-013, On-Line Gaming System and Related Services Approval Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 500; 10 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment hearing on B18-477 (‘District of Columbia Retirement Board Actuarial Method Amendment Act of 2009’), JAWB 412; 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; Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs meeting (scheduled), JAWB 120; 3 p.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on PR18-571 (‘Chinatown Cultural Development Small Area Plan Approval Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-3:30 p.m.: remarks, DCRA ‘proactive inspections’ announcement, 1626 21st Place SE.