City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“What Was Michelle Rhee’s ‘Damage Control’ for Kevin Johnson?“; “Fenty’s 39th Birthday Bash Set for Old Mayoral Mansion Site“; “Pershing Park Case: The Games Peter Nickles Plays“; tweets galore!
Greetings all. WaPo editors asked a half-dozen political observers to assess Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s chances in 2010. DCist’s Martin Austermuhle is ‘betting that [Fenty] will be reelected,’ pointing out ‘you still need a viable “someone” to beat an incumbent mayor who retains some popular support.’ Maryland politics prof Ron Walters cites teacher firings, crony contracts, and gay marriage in saying that it’s ‘difficult to envision Mayor Fenty being reelected.’ Howard U.’s Lorenzo Morris says ‘there is neither a populist outsider nor a business-oriented insider positioned to take on Fenty,’ so ‘[a]bsent a major new issue or scandal, expect Fenty to retain his title.’ Terry Lynch says Fenty’s ‘only real opposition is himself’ and notes plenty of ‘tangibles’ he can run on. Parents United’s Iris Toyer sees a Fenty ouster if voters ‘vote their interests,’ in light of ‘too many instances of secrecy, sweetheart deals, unbecoming arrogance, fiscal management concerns and a disdain for the law.’ And then there’s former Ward 6 Councilmember Sharon Ambrose, who writes that Fenty ‘stands a good chance of being reelected. But he needs to watch his step.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Gray’s home contractors weren’t licensed; Fenty spotted at Cowboys Stadium; violence plagues Northeast charter high school; NYT editorializes on D.C. gay marriage and Catholic Charities; unemployment hits 11.9 percent; BRPAA might not be long for this government
AMBROSE CONTINUES—-‘It’s destructive for a mayor to continually trample on the lawful prerogatives of the co-equal legislative branch by denying it ready access to information. It’s demeaning to step on the sensibilities of parents seeking safe, strong schools for their children by saying it’s none of their business how certain children can attend a school out of boundary. It’s foolish to step on the intelligence of voters by claiming ignorance of a ban on bicycling on the Clara Barton Parkway. And it’s just plain dumb to wade into the muck of cronyism….On second thought, Mr. Mayor, maybe your chances aren’t so hot.’
Another followup from Jeffrey Anderson in WaTimes on Vincent Gray‘s controversial home renos: Turns out WCS Construction, which handled odd jobs for the council chairman over the summer, wasn’t licensed or on the District’s list of approved home repair contractors; same goes for two subcontractors. ‘Licensing issues and questions about whether building permits were necessary have prompted the city’s consumer affairs agency to “look into what may or may not have been required” at Mr. Gray’s home, a spokesman said. “We are not ignoring it,” DCRA spokesman Michael Rupert said Friday.’ Then there’s the issue of Gray’s recently installed fence and garage door, which appear to have required permits that were never secured.
FENTY’S WEEKEND—-WaPo sports columnist Mike Wise spotted Hizzoner at Cowboys Stadium yesterday prior to the Skins’ loss: ‘Post contingent walked up to stadium with Mayor Fenty and his sons Matthew and Andrew, one of which is shockingly a big ‘Boys fan.’ LL is told that Michael Brown was also in Dallas for the game, a guest of the Chamber of Commerce.
In a Colby King Saturday column that will surprise few, it is revealed that Jeffrey Britt and Ashton Hunter, players in a gang turf saga that left Hunter dead and Britt in handcuffs for the retribution killing of George Rawlings, were both under DYRS supervision. Britt, moreover, was supposed to be under the supervision of a third-party monitor when he allegedly shot Rawlings. Writes King: ‘The notion of paying people in the community, some of whom can barely take care of themselves, to “monitor” DYRS youth (“because they speak the same language,” as Schiraldi once told me) is one of those condescending responses to the black and poor that I thought went out with the ’60s. These youth need so much more….They deserve to be treated as more than fodder for an ideologically driven social policy. But the city is allowing that to happen.’
ALSO—-A second arrest in the George Rawlings murder. Police arrested DeAngelo Edwards, 19, of Landover on Friday.
Violence and gang intimidation at Ward 7’s Friendship Collegiate Academy, previously covered by King, gets B1 Sunday WaPo coverage from Michael Birnbaum. The key question: ‘why charter schools, which enroll more than 38 percent of public school students in the city, don’t get regular protection like that at traditional public schools, where about 100 officers walk the halls full time.’ In recent weeks at Friendship, ‘at least eight students were assaulted or robbed after class, including one incident that sent a boy to a hospital, and several large melees broke out involving punching, kicking, and threats of gun violence….Violence diminished this month after police bolstered their afternoon presence in the area. But for the school…that only deepens puzzlement over why police aren’t routinely posted to charters in the first place.’ Phil Mendelson wants officers at all public schools; Cathy Lanier says she doesn’t have the staffing. And Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso ‘said in an e-mail that his office is “currently considering this issue.”‘
DID YOU KNOW?—-Friendship Collegiate, ‘at 1,232 students, is the largest charter school and the second-largest high school in the city….The Minnesota Avenue transit hub across the street, with almost a dozen bus lines and an Orange Line station, makes the area even more of a mixing place, meaning that conflicts between gangs and neighborhoods that might take place on home turf at other times of day spill over there.’
NYT editorializes on Catholic Charities and gay marriage in the District: ‘City lawmakers who are negotiating with the archdiocese over the language of the bill should try to settle it without acrimony — but not by abandoning the District’s equal-rights tradition or by selling out same-sex couples….The Washington City Council was on the mark when it said in its committee report that the same-sex marriage bill was “in keeping with fundamental fairness and recognition of basic civil rights for all District residents.” Lawmakers should keep that basic requirement in mind as they negotiate over any changes in this bill.’ LL is guessing this is the first time a D.C. Council committee report has been quoted in the Gray Lady. Also: Catholic News Agency covers compromise attempts; WaPo prints more letters; and nutty columnist says it ‘should concern every American as we watch our nation’s capital city transform officially into Sodom.’
A pair of interesting WaPo religion stories: On Friday, a coalition of 125 Christian leaders bridging the Catholic, Orthodox, and evangelical worlds released their ‘Manhattan Declaration,’ which notes that ‘civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required’ when dealing with such ‘fundamental truths’ as the ‘sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty.’ Signers both: Archbishop Donald Wuerl and Harry Jackson. WaPo notes: ‘Wuerl’s office played down the civil disobedience wording, saying he wasn’t urging Catholics to “do anything specific,” said his spokeswoman Susan Gibbs. “That wasn’t something we had talked about.” Asked if appearing at the news conference seemed at odds with the spirit of negotiation over the same-sex marriage measure, Gibbs said no. “There’s a difference between working out language in a bill and compromising our belief system.”‘ ALSO: Catholic bishops say those who compromise on issues including gay marriage are ‘less than fully Catholic.’
Fallout from Michelle Rhee‘s ‘damage control’: Leah Fabel writes in Examiner that the ‘future of dramatic school reform…could be in jeopardy’ because of the congressional report mention Rhee’s role in playing fixer for accused sexual harasser Kevin Johnson. Fabel quotes Harry Thomas Jr.: ‘It’ll be the elephant in the room….It’ll put questions in people’s minds about her credibility and her ethics in general.’ Rhee’s response is that the report ‘rehashes old allegations that have long since been dismissed and deemed meritless by local and federal law enforcement officials.’ (Fabel’s piece is accompanied by a of rundown of Rhee’s reforms.) NYT, Sacramento Bee, The Hill, DCist, WaTimes, WAMU-FM also cover the report, and WaPo covers the report at D.C. Wire, but not in a print story (as Gary Imhoff points out in themail).
INCIDENTALLY—-Rhee’s ex penned an WaPo op-ed…about Sarah Palin.
City unemployment last month hit 11.9 percent. That, according to Dion Haynes in WaPo, is ‘its highest level in 34 years of record keeping’ and among the highest rates in the nation when compared to states. DOES chief Joseph Walsh ‘said the District’s unemployment rate, while high compared to Maryland and Virginia, is more in line with other big cities. For instance, government data from September, the latest month for which city numbers are available, show New York at 10.2 percent unemployment, Chicago at 11.3 percent, Los Angeles at 14 percent and Detroit at 27.9 percent.’ On the bright side: The city ‘added 10,200 jobs in such sectors as education, health services, and leisure and hospitality.’
Federal appeals court reverses ruling on wrongful arrest case dating back to 2005 inauguration. Trial judge Ellen Huvelle has ruled that city cops were wrong to arrest rioting protesters without specific evidence of their crimes, but appellate judges say that she ‘was too quick to side with protesters in her opinion last year and sent the case back for further consideration’ by a jury. Del Wilber reports in WaPo that two of three judges ‘ruled that police might not have to link individual protesters to specific crimes. Law enforcement officials only have to show that they had reasonable grounds to believe that protesters were part of a rioting group to arrest them, the judges said. They also questioned the wisdom of requiring police to order protesters to disperse.’ Also Legal Times.
Jonetta Rose Barras with more on the lottery contract fiasco. She calls Round 2 of the bidding ‘a mess.’ Winners Intralot, she reports, ‘may have gained an edge when Lee Smith, head of the department of small and local business, and Attorney General Peter J. Nickles‘ office inexplicably derailed…joint venture certification’ for a group organized by competitor GTECH. ‘This entire mess comes before the council Tuesday. Any bets on a third do-over?’
Are BRPAA’s days numbered? Council bill ponders replacing the property tax appeals board with a ‘new commission of expert appraisers,’ Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. ‘Council Chairman Vincent Gray and Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans, chairman of the finance and revenue committee, suggested eliminating the appeals board and taking the appeals process “to the next level.”…Under the legislation, all 12 members of the proposed Real Property Tax Appeals Commission must be certified property appraisers holding one of two designations awarded by a pair of assessor associations—-though there may not be more than several hundred in the Washington area. No member could be elected, and all would be deemed D.C. employees.’
Also from Neibauer: The council and executive are caught up in another spat, over early-out/easy-out retirements. The council, as part of the 2010 budget, passed a freeze on bonus pay for workers; the city human resources department interpreted that as a freeze on the retirement bonuses, too, leading to four would-be retirees getting screwed out of their pay. Then the council complained that the retirement bonuses weren’t meant to be stopped; Peter Nickles weighs in to say the council was guilty of sloppy legislating and now needs to pass a legislative fix. Mary Cheh says ‘she is preparing emergency legislation, but she continues to disagree strongly with Nickles. “The attorney general’s interpretation is wrong,” Cheh said.’
According to new study, D.C.’s tax structure burdens moderate income families most, Ed Lazere reports at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute blog (now called ‘The District’s Dime’). ‘Families with incomes of $20,000 to $60,000 pay about 10 percent of their incomes in DC property, sales, and income taxes….The richest one percent of DC households — those with incomes above $1.5 million — paid 6.4 percent of income in DC taxes in 2007….The difference in tax rates is significant. If families in the middle of DC’s income distribution — $45,000 — faced the same tax rate as the richest one percent of families, they would pay $1,900 less.’ Thank ‘the city’s reliance on regressive sales and excise taxes’ for this inequity.
Volunteerism is up, WaPo’s Robert McCartney is glad to report. For instance: ‘Greater DC Cares, which recruits, trains and places volunteers for 750 nonprofits and schools across the region…[is] on track to supply more than 20,000 volunteers this year, smashing last year’s record of 12,000.’
Hey, look, another WaPo editorial on saving the D.C. voucher program! ‘Key to the program’s future are Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-N.Y.), who head important appropriations subcommittees. Spokesmen for the two men assured us “no final deal” has been reached. We’ll continue to hope that they will allow a worthwhile educational program to serve children who desperately need help.’
Parent Amos Gelb writes in to WaPo to take issue with laudatory treatment of Hardy MS Principal Patrick Pope: ‘While Hardy does have a wonderful band and arts program, what of my children who don’t want to do band and yet whose designated middle school is Hardy? Mr. Pope’s open disdain for parents and spoken indifference to the overall academic development of his incoming charges have driven many of us reluctantly to determine that we will not send our children to a Hardy run by Mr. Pope.’
WaPo’s Del Wilber with more on Fiesta DC’s connections to Jim Graham, Ted Loza, and the taxi investigation. An FBI affidavit indicates that the nonprofit paid for a 2008 trip for Loza to El Salvador. ‘He wanted the organization to finance Graham’s air fare, too…[b]ut the group refused, saying it would be a conflict of interest to pay for Graham’s trip because the councilman already had given the group the earmark, according to the court documents. Instead, a top Fiesta DC employee approached Jose Sanchez, the owner of Prisma Communications, a DC firm that did at least $30,000 annually in business with the group…Sanchez paid for Graham’s air fare, the FBI alleged….Graham said Thursday that he knew that a private company had paid for the trip. But the firm, to his knowledge, did not have business with the D.C. government. “I am innocent of any wrongdoing,” Graham said. He added that he would be happy to reimburse Prisma.’
WaPo’s Jay Mathews raises questions about DCPS’ new IMPACT teacher evaluation process based on the experience of Dan Goldfarb, a veteran history teacher at Banneker High. ‘He was ready to be disappointed with his first 30-minute evaluation, and his expectations were quickly fulfilled….Checking engagement in the lesson on the Jefferson presidency, the evaluator wrote that two students passed a note and that one student was not taking notes. “That young man doesn’t take notes in any classes,” Goldfarb said. “He is also a straight-A student.”…[T]he evaluator gave Goldfarb 2 of 4 points and said “there was little verifiable evidence apparent during the observation that Mr. Goldfarb works to instill the belief that students can succeed if they work hard.” Goldfarb said: “Be a cheerleader and tell them that hard work is the key to success?…We are dealing with young adults, not small children.”‘ And then there’s this: ‘Goldfarb thinks his evaluator ratted him out to his principal. He mouthed off during his Oct. 6 post-observation conference with the evaluator. Within an hour, he said, he was warned by [the principal] not to use his evaluation appointments “to discuss Ms. Rhee or the IMPACT program.”‘
Dorothy Brizill recaps Friday’s hearing on the People’s Counsel nomination of Vicky Beasley: ‘Testifying in support of Beasley were her colleagues at the law form of Patton Boggs, fellow Columbia University Law School alumni, a member of her church, and representatives of nonprofit organizations with whom she has worked. Surprisingly, few of those who testified on Beasley’s behalf were DC residents, and few of them had any knowledge of the work of the Peoples’ Counsel. Opposing Beasley, on the other hand, were the DC Consumer Utility Board, the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO, the Tenant Action Network, Brian Lederer (a former Peoples’ Counsel himself), and several ANC commissioners and civic leaders.’
Harry Jaffe‘s thesis: That local political feuding is causing the city a hard time on the Hill. ‘If you were a congressman from rural Utah, would you look down on Fenty and Gray with the confidence they could handle the laws and finances without review? “The District of Columbia is not a state,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz said. He’s a Republican from Utah. “I applaud you for the success you’ve had, but we have to hold your feet to the fire for the things that are not going well.” Such as feuding over baseball tickets and bashing one another over city contracts and feuding over the public schools. Both share blame for the feud. I heard former Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly offered to host a peace conference. Gray declined….Congress will use the petty battles and whiff of scandal to withhold more autonomy—-D.C. taxpayers are the losers.’
WaPo’s Emma Brown looks at the rebirth of the Tregaron Estate in Cleveland Park. ‘Tregaron is a 20-acre piece of Washington history, a rare turn-of-the-20th-century country estate that is mostly intact. An official D.C. landmark since 1979, it was for decades a battleground between private owners who proposed a series of plans to build homes and neighbors who fought to preserve the landscape. In 2006, the parties reached a settlement that prohibits most development. Now, after nearly four years of digging out trails from beneath tangles of dead trees and poison ivy, the wooded parcel and its winding paths are open to school groups and the public.’ Oyster-Adams students are among the first visitors.
Brown also covers Adoption Day down at D.C. Superior Court, where foster parents become just plain old parents. ‘The courthouse’s sun-drenched atrium was filled with heartwarming stories as the adoptions of three dozen children were finalized in front of hundreds of family members, social workers and lawyers. It was one of more than 300 events held Saturday across the United States, including in Maryland and Virginia.’
WaPo’s Bill Turque pays a visit to Ballou SHS, discovers that the Ward 8 school has been missing the attention paid to other DCPS facilities: ‘Three first-floor electrical panel boxes were open. Exposed wiring hung from the ceiling where panels were missing. Other cable or wiring was jerry-rigged along walls and ceilings.The smashed out remnants of exit signs hung at the ends of at least two corridors. Bulletin boards and ceilings were in deep disrepair.’ Ballou is due for a full rehab in 2014.
WaPo crusade on Metro safety again hits Sunday A1, with Lisa Rein piece on a set of 32-year-old pilings sunk in anticipation of a rail line to Dulles. Now that the line is being built, the pilings are set to be used, and there are questions about whether they’re safe. ‘Until federal officials intervened, Dulles Transit Partners, the contractor building the first 11.7 miles of the $5.2 billion, 23-mile Silver Line, resisted testing most of the foundations….Without load-bearing tests, there is no way to determine whether the pier foundations can bear the weight of the bridge and the trains running between East Falls Church and Wiehle Avenue in Reston.’
Another Metro suicide: A woman put herself in front of a Red Line train at Brookland on Friday night. WaPo reports: ‘It was at least the 10th suicide on the system this year.’ In Examiner, Kytja Weir looks at the to the growing spate of Metro suicides. ‘Suicides sometimes follow each other in clusters, with suicidal people spurred on by hearing of other deaths. Metro’s numbers are still small enough that it can be hard to draw conclusions.’
Fire destroys home Saturday evening on 4200 block of 47th Street NW in AU Park. Five people are homeless; a dog died.
A report from Friday’s hearing on ant-gay hate crimes from WaPo’s Theola Labbé-DeBose. At the hearing, Cathy Lanier ‘testified that her plan to supplant the [GLLU] with officers from across the city—-she called them “affiliates”—-will begin in earnest Nov. 30 when 57 officers who volunteered for the assignment will receive five days of training. But Chris Farris, Co-Chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) testified that the gay community has not received up-to-date information on hate crimes and that calls to the unit’s special pager have gone unanswered since the sergeant of the unit was transferred to patrol.’ Also WAMU-FM.
Andres Lopez has been ordered held pre-trial in connection with the murder of Petworth shopkeeper Rufina Hernandez. Court documents say that a ‘witness identified Lopez and another suspect as the two men who walked into the liquor store Nov. 7. The witness told police that Lopez and the other suspect ordered Hernandez to hand over money from the cash register. The witness said that after Hernandez handed over the money, the second suspect shot Hernandez in the neck.’ The second suspect is at large.
New charges expected for alleged Chandra Levy killer, perhaps related to other park attacks.
John Rufus YoungBey, 28, arrested for July 2008 murder of Robert Mallory on the 1500 block of F Street NE.
Dog bites cops serving search warrant in Petworth, NC8 reports. ‘Police say one of the officers shot at the dog but did not hit the dog during the incident.’
WaPo goes inside the Unification Church’s crumbling empire.
Tyler S. Spencer, 23-year-old founder of Athletes United nonprofit, is named Rhodes Scholar.
NOTA BENE—-Ignore the item LL recounted on Friday about changes to District insurance regulations on birth control. DISB says nothing’s changed.
Eleanor Holmes Norton moves to up the District’s Medicaid reimbursement.
WAMU-FM covers Southeast condo dispute. ‘The property manager here is Charles Jenkins, a Virginia-based developer who recently declared bankruptcy. He converted this building into condos three years ago but could sell only half the units. Ward Seven Councilwoman Yvette Alexander calls Jenkins a slumlord and wants the city to take legal action.’
Northeast post office, on Maryland Avenue NE, spared from closure. Columbia Heights, Fort Davis, Ledroit Park, Naval Research Laboratory, Navy Annex, Petworth, Randle, and Woodridge stations all still face the ax.
Retiring federal court clerk sent off with…Monty Python?
Baltimore judge awards ex-CareFirst CEO Bill Jews his full $18 million severance package.
Irish Times discovers homeless people in the nation’s capital!
Read the Gabe Klein DDOT live chat!
Video games a big draw at D.C. Public Library.
WRC-TV blogger Chris Needham gets all snarky on Mary Cheh‘s wildlife bill. ‘She’s having a bill considered today, the “Wildlife Protection Act of 2009,” that makes sure that no fuzzy little creatures wandering around the streets or in the skies can be harmed—-at least unless you want to file multiple reports in triplicate. At last, bureaucracy comes to pest removal.’
H1N1 cases dropping at GU.
REST IN PEACE—-More as a friend than as a reporter, LL on Saturday attended the memorial service for Desi Deschaine. In attendance at St. Patrick’s: Hundreds of friends and co-workers, including Gray, Evans, Cheh, Graham, David Catania, and Tommy Wells; plus Linda Cropp and Carol Schwartz. And in a surprise appearance, Anthony Williams appeared and gave a lovely tribute to his former employee. WAMU-FM’s David Schultz covered the farewell.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-11 a.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on B18-426 (‘Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act of 2009’) and B18-427 (‘Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act of 2009’), JAWB 123; Committee on Govenment Operations and the Environment hearing on B18-498 (‘Wildlife Protection Act of 2009’), JAWB 412; Committee on Housing and Workforce Development hearing on B18-350 (‘Stimulus Accountability Act of 2009’), B18-420 (‘Unemployment Compensation Administrative Modernization Amendment Act of 2009’), and B18-455 (‘Unemployment Compensation Reform Act of 2009’), JAWB 500; 3 p.m.: Committee of the Whole roundtable on PR18-568 (‘Fiscal Year 2010 Income Tax Secured Revenue Bond and General Obligation Bond Issuance Approval Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.