IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Elections Board Rejects D.C. Gay Marriage Initiative“; “Traci Hughes Is Out As Police Spokesperson“; “Gay Marriage Debate: Another Reason to Ditch Employer-Based Health Care!“; tweets galore!
Morning all. Two ugly headlines today for Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray. For one, he’s been pulled into the D.C. Democratic State Committee’s financial mess: Tim Craig reports in WaPo that Gray, on council stationery, sent a fundraising appeal to Comcast for last year’s Democratioc National Convention. He asked government affair rep Kathy Etemad Hollinger for $20,000 to finance ‘voting rights’ activities. Local Democrats ended up getting $10K from Comcast, plus $5K from a cable PAC. (Hollinger, incidentally, is now Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s chief of film and TV development.) Gray tells Craig that he was just ‘trying to be helpful.’ More serious are the Ted Stevens-esque allegations in WaTimes by reporter Jeffrey Anderson that megadeveloper William C. Smith & Co. did work on Gray’s Hillcrest home. ‘In an interview in his city hall office Monday, Mr. Gray at first denied that the company did any work for him, aside from arranging for an architect to design a renovation that he said has yet to commence. Later in the day, a spokeswoman called back to say that the company repaired a door to the roof of Mr. Gray’s 2,800-square-foot home and installed a lock on his iron gate and exterior floodlights.’ The company, which typically doesn’t do home renovations, was paid more than $10,000—-but only ‘after The Washington Times began asking employees of William C. Smith & Co. about the work, and a month after the paper filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking permits on the property.’ No permits were issued, either. Gray’s explanation: ‘I have known Chris Smith a long time, I know the quality of the work….I don’t want to sound holier than thou, but I take my integrity very seriously.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-BOEE tells marriage initiative supporters to tell it to the judge; Harry Jackson gets the WaPo Style treatment; L.A. Times’ editorial board more supportive of D.C. lawmakers than WaPo’s; accused child murderer was called ‘psychopath’; CSX tunnel work brings out Hill NIMBYs; Durso leaving Hotel Association; Santos is a big boxing fan
As expected, the Board of Elections and Ethics has rejected a ballot initiative seeking to prohibit same-sex marriages. ‘The board cited the city Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination against gay men and lesbians…[noting] that some gay couples in the District are already legally married,’ Craig notes in WaPo, meaning a Dec. 1 first-reading vote on gay marriage is likely. Bishop Harry Jackson deems the ruling “outrageous and a slap in the face of every resident of the District of Columbia” and vows to pursue court appeals. Incidentally, the council marriage bill will officially see a first-reading vote on Dec. 1. Also Examiner, WaTimes, WAMU-FM, AP, Christian Post, American Prospect.
Speaking of Harry Jackson, Wil Haygood gives the good bishop a full-blown WaPo Style profile today, examining his Cincinnati football-star and corporate-sales background. ‘Setbacks seem only to embolden him. “All over the country, it’s evident that the strategy of the radical gay movement is to work the courts and legislatures,” Jackson says. “It’s gonna be a knock-down, drag-out legal situation.” His neck is thick—-nearly stretching the clerical collar—-and his voice is smooth as molasses. “I just feel like I’m on a mission,” he says. “It’s not a mission of hate. It’s a mission to protect godly boundaries.”…He found the pulpit, just as a cause found him. “Some of the smartest people I knew in college were gay,” he says. “Some black students I knew who were gay were off-the-charts smart.” But gay marriage is wrong, he says. “I don’t know of anybody black who says, ‘I hate gay people.’ We’re more accepting generally. But you overlap that—-homosexuality and gay marriage—-with broken families, and we don’t know how to put it back together.”‘
THE TRIALS OF HARRY JACKSON—-‘More than once, police have stopped by his Southeast Washington apartment to check on his safety….Someone slipped a note under his door at his apartment. “Bishop Jackson, 50% of the people in this building are gay!” “I was in line someplace recently,” Jackson says, “and a woman who obviously opposes what I’m doing looked at me and said, ‘You better go back to Maryland.'”‘
Catholic bishops weigh in on marriage debate with ‘pastoral letter,’ Michelle Boorstein reports in WaPo. ‘The campaign initially was meant to highlight the divine in everyday aspects of marriage. It has turned recently to more political concerns, such as the creation of a committee to lobby against same-sex marriage bills such as the one pending in the District….The D.C. measure was not addressed directly in the pastoral letter, although it was a topic of discussion in the halls at the annual bishops’ meeting at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel.’
ALSO—-The archbishop himself weighs in. Donald Wuerl writes in a WaPo op-ed: ‘Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of Washington are committed to continuing to serve the people of the District as we have for many decades. That includes partnerships such as St. Martin’s. Unfortunately, the D.C. Council is considering legislation that could end these kinds of partnerships….It doesn’t need to be that way. While we do not agree with the council on redefining marriage, we recognize that it is firmly committed to opening marriage to homosexual couples. We are asking that new language be developed that more fairly balances different interests — those of the city to redefine marriage and those of faith groups so that they can continue to provide services without compromising their deeply held religious teachings and beliefs.’ The Episcopal archbishop, for the record, disagrees.
The L.A. Times, however, applauds the D.C. Council for standing up to the Archdiocese. ‘So far, the District of Columbia Council is showing more backbone on this issue than the Obama administration. Barack Obama promised during his presidential campaign that he would end the practice of allowing faith-based groups receiving federal money to discriminate in hiring—-for example, by not employing people who hold other religious beliefs. But he has backed off from that vow. In contrast, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray said the city would find another contractor if the Catholic Church severed its ties. That was the right response, and we hope it rang loud enough for Obama to hear.’
The police checkpoint program is finished. Following federal appeals court loss, the District has decided not to pursue a Supreme Court appeal. AP reports that ‘[i]n a court filing Monday, D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles said D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier has canceled the special order authorizing the Neighborhood Safety Zone program.’
WTTG-TV’s Karen Gray Houston says the parks contracting questions have halted work on all projects in questions, except one: ‘The former Gage-Eckington School in LeDroit Park has been demolished, and a work crew was at the scene doing site preparation work for a three-acre community park. That, while the D.C. Council and the Fenty administration try to resolve what happens next.’
More from WaPo’s Paul Duggan on the shooting of 9-year-old Oscar Fuentes: ‘Maritza Fuentes had gone to a baby shower Saturday with others in her family. She returned to the apartment about 9:30 p.m. and was inside with her 54-year-old mother, Oscar and an older son when the trouble began outside….Tenants have long complained about the cracked and warped door, which has no knob or lock. “He came in behind us,” Alicia Fuentes said. “When we were walking up the stairs, he said he wanted money.”…She said she and the others hurried up the stairs to the apartment where Maritza Fuentes has lived for three years. “I was the last person into the apartment,” she said. “He was coming to the door, and I told him to leave. I closed the door and put the chain on the door.”…While the grownups talked about what had just happened, Oscar walked to the door and looked out the peephole, Alicia Fuentes said. Then came the shot, the bullet piercing the gray door.’ Also WAMU-FM, WTOP, WaTimes, NC8, WUSA-TV.
MORE ON THE SUSPECT—-Examiner’s Scott McCabe reports that the the suspect, originally reported to be named ‘Josue Pena,’ is actually named Jose Diaz. ‘Chief Cathy Lanier said Diaz, of the District, was not a full-fledged gang member, but he was “associated with” MS-13. Witnesses said the shooter was known as “Sicopata,” or Psychopath….Police searched a home of a relative of Diaz on the 700 block of Kenyon Street NW on Tuesday, where they found a nine-shot .22-caliber revolver with a long barrel. The pistol was found hidden between a mattress and a box spring, and contained seven live rounds, with one spent round still in the chamber. Police said Diaz denied robbing anyone but said the pistol was in his waistband when it accidentally went off while he was walking up the stairs at the apartment building. Police said the bullet hole in the door was inconsistent with a bullet fired from the defendant’s waistband.’ Also NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
The city’s GLBT news will hit the streets Friday, ex-Blade staffers promise, but in what format and under what name is unknown. Meanwhile, it turns out that at least two offers to buy the Blade prior to liquidation—-one from employees, one from Falls Church News-Press publisher Nicholas F. Benton—-were rejected. And here’s the WaPo editorial board on the death of the Blade: ‘The Blade’s importance to our area cannot be overstated. From the HIV/AIDS epidemic to hate crimes to the drive for marriage equality, the paper reported stories that the mainstream press initially didn’t or wouldn’t cover. And in the quest for fairness, it held people accountable—-gay and straight, elected officials and community leaders….[Editor Kevin Naff] told us that there will be a new paper. The intention is to have it hit the streets this Friday. The name will be different from the one they labored for. Our hope is that its mission to inform and enlighten will be the same.’
Harry Jaffe puts his civil libertarian hat on in examining the legal battles of drug kingpin Antoine Jones, who was convicted through evidence that included an unwarranted GPS device placed on his car by federal agents. ‘Defense lawyers said the evidence was not admissible, the judge disagreed, they appealed. The government argued in its briefs that Jones “had no reasonable expectation of privacy” because he was traveling on public streets; the ACLU said: “Without a warrant requirement, an individual’s every movement could be subject to remote monitoring” at the whim of a police officer.’ Also Legal Times.
Jonathan O’Connell looks in WBJ at Eastbanc’s second bite at the West End redevelopment project: ‘Rather than sue the city, something other developers are happy to do, [Anthony Lanier] waited patiently and raised some campaign funds for the mayor. After the dust settled, Fenty, with Councilman Jack Evans at his side, announced that the properties would be open to competitive bidding. Lanier, with his knowledge of the small West End community and only one, out-of-town competitor, has to be considered the favorite.’
WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood looks at concerns from Capitol Hill residents—-particularly owners of pricey Capitol Quarter townhomes—-that CSX’s three-year $160M Virginia Avenue tunnel construction project will make their lives miserable. One says ‘We’re just very fearing that we’re going to be living through what they say is going to be a three-year issue. I think it’s going to be more than that.’
Man, in his 70s, is struck by a car and killed while crossing Cleveland Avenue NW near the east end of the National Cathedral yesterday evening. WaPo reports that police ‘are seeking help in identifying him. They said he had white hair and wore blue pants and brown New Balance athletic shoes. Interviews with residents Tuesday night did not find anyone who knew him.’ The accident follows a deadly pedestrian collision Sunday on the Mall.
District man, 29-year-old Eugene A. Jackson, charged with first-degree murder in Charles County killing. The victim, WaPo reports, ‘had tried to rob Jackson of drugs and money in the parking lot of Mattawoman Seafood on Nov. 7, and Jackson pulled out a gun and open fire, police said.’
New city streetcars have left the Czech Republic! WBJ has pictures, via DDOT. ‘According to agency spokesman John Lisle, the city will store the vehicles at a yard at the Greenbelt Metro station, to be maintained by Metro on D.C.’s dime. “Having them local will also allow us to familiarize ourselves with the cars,” Lisle said.’
Filipino paper covers DMPED Valerie Santos. She’s Manny Pacquiao big fan: ‘”We would love boxing to come here in the District,” she tells ABS-CBN News, as she pondered on the feasibility of a Pacquiao bout here. She revealed she has already been talking with boxing promoters but the biggest obstacle was the venue. The city has three major-league stadiums but nothing that can host a major fight like those in Las Vegas.’
Examiner FOIAs for employee salary data, runs into problems.
Emily Durso is leaving the presidency of the Hotel Association sometime next year, WBJ reports. Says Durso: ‘My 20th year is coming up in January, and I’ve been thinking about it, and thinking about facing another labor negotiation season and all the politics, and I just didn’t want to do it anymore….I am looking at many things; some are very different, others are more traditional. I want to do something of value that means something, but that’s not so-all encompassing.’
More WaTimes ‘CITIZEN JOURNALISM’: D.C. Public Library board chair John Hill talks up library improvements, does no small amount of self-congratulating: ‘Strong leadership, well-defined priorities and a renewed commitment by many have transformed a system that once was considered an embarrassment to one that is thriving and relevant….Though we still have a long way to go and a lot more work to do, we have a transforming library system that is fiscally responsible, well-managed and supported and used by residents.’
Michelle Rhee speaks to WSJ’s ‘CEO Council.’ Lots of the old chestnuts: ‘”Collaboration and consensus-building are quite frankly overrated in my mind,” she said. “None of you CEOs run your companies by committee, so why should we run a school district by committee?”‘
WTOP covers STD testing for high school students.
WAMU-FM covers changes to the MPD’s gay and lesbian liaison unit.
WRC-TV with more on the death of restaurateur Nori Amaya. Brother tells of his discovery of her body.
Move Khalid Sheik Mohammed terror trial to D.C.? Blogger makes the case.
Verizon to cut 1,000 local jobs.
Let the turkey giveaways begin!
Public meeting on NY Avenue projects tonight at McKinley Tech.
ON THE HILL—-Congressional hearing on District budget/legislative autonomy. Scheduled to appear: Fenty, Gray, Natwar Gandhi.
MUST SEE TV—-Gray will appear this afternoon on NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt, 4 p.m. on NewsChannel 8.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-2 p.m.: Committee on Human Services meeting (scheduled), JAWB 123.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-9:45 a.m.: testimony, Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia legislative hearing, Rayburn HOB Room 2154.