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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Nickles Attempts To Prevent Detective From Testifying“; “Blade Staff to Launch New Publication“; tweets galore—-including live coverage of yesterday’s council hearings

Morning all. The Washington Blade, what legendary activist Frank Kameny calls ‘the voice of record for the gay community,’ is closed—-temporarily, all hope. The paper’s owner, Window Media, succumbed to crushing debt, and then yesterday ‘nearly two-dozen employees arrived at their downtown offices Monday to start a new workweek, only to be ordered to clear out their desks by midafternoon,’ according to Paul Schwartzman‘s WaPo A1 requiem. He adds: ‘The Blade’s closing comes at a moment of extraordinary optimism for many gays in Washington. The big story [Lou Chibbaro Jr.] and the paper’s other writers have been covering is the bill supported by nearly all of the D.C. Council’s members that would legalize same-sex marriage in the city.’ But Blade writers, as WCP reports, are planning a new venture. And hey: Eleanor Holmes Norton, calling the Blade a ‘weekly must-read,’ pledges her support to any successor publication. Also WaTimes, WBJ, WTOP, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV.

AFTER THE JUMP—-Man arrested in 9-year-old’s murder; another council contracts hearing, another round of executive no-shows; Catania threatens DOH officials with weekly HIV/AIDS hearings; remembering Oscar; man, in apparent suicide, becomes year’s 22nd Metro death; the bag tax is almost here—-Safeway and CVS have free reusable bags for you!

BREAKING—-Police have arrested a 26-year-old man, identified as Josue Pena, early this morning in Hyattsville for the murder of Oscar Fuentes. Press conference at 10 a.m.

At vigil yesterday, family, friends, and neighbors remembered the slain 9-year-old. They ‘gathered on the steps of his apartment building, lighting candles, singing songs and pondering how a boy so young could meet such a violent end,’ Matt Zapotosky writes in WaPo. ‘Oscar’s relatives sobbed during the vigil, and his mom’s cousin, Rufino Fuentes, said it was too difficult for immediate family members to return to the scene. Oscar’s grandmother Antonia Fuentes appeared at the vigil but did not speak. At one point, a cousin of Oscar’s collapsed and had to be taken away on a stretcher.’ Said Fenty: ‘We are in a lot of pain in the city right now….Everyone has a loved one. There is no good way to lose someone, especially so young.’ Also NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.

THE INVESTIGATION—-‘Family members told of the slaying by others offered differing accounts of what happened. David Fuentes said that he was told a group of people, including Oscar’s aunt, were walking home from a baby shower when they were approached by someone outside asking for money. They ignored the request, David Fuentes said, and hustled into the second-floor apartment as Oscar let them in. As Oscar looked through the peephole, a shot came through the door, David Fuentes said….Rufino Fuentes gave an account that excluded the man asking for money, and he said he was not sure whether the family members were being followed into their home. He did say that family members told Oscar to move away from the door.’ Also Examiner, NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV (‘Somebody heard like a firecracker in the hallway. They saw the little boy crying saying mom, mom look what they did to me. He was holding his back with his hand covered with blood. Then he collapsed’), and WAMU-FM covers a sweep of the Columbia Road property by housing inspectors.

More on the alleged murderer of George Rawlings: Police arrest 17-year-old Jeffrey Britt on first-degree murder charge, Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. Britt, like Rawlings, had attended the funeral of Ashton Hunter at a Maryland Avenue mortuary. ‘At the funeral, several witness allegedly overheard Britt and others say that George Rawlings was involved in Hunter’s killing. One of the witnesses heard Britt say he “should kill” Rawlings as Rawlings entered the funeral home, according to the documents. After the funeral, Britt and two other individuals followed Rawlings as he left.’ Rawlings was murdered as he boarded a bus blocks away.

WaPo editorial board holds forth on the violence that claimed Fuentes, Rawlings and Kenyetta Nicholson-Stanley: ‘The loss of these lives in the past five weeks is a sorrowful reminder that — even as the District homicide rate declines — violence maintains its pernicious grip on troubled neighborhoods….That a little boy dies under such circumstances, that a family loses two sons to street violence and that no one steps forward to help police find a murderer should jolt the city out of any complacency about its declining murder rate.’

Another day of D.C. Council hearings on the fishy parks contracts. The big revelation yesterday, according to Michael Neibauer in Examiner, is that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty chose to break ground on projects when funding to finish them is far from assured. CMs called the parks projects a ‘bill of goods’ and a ‘dog and pony show.’ Appearing before the council were DMPED Valerie Santos and soon-to-be-ex-DPR chief Ximena Hartsock. Not appearing, after a pair of recesses, were DMPED employees David Jannarone and Jacqui Glover, who played integral roles in the contracting and could not be summoned to the JAWB 412 for the proceedings, according to Nikita Stewart‘s D.C. Wire reporting and David Lipscomb‘s WaTimes reporting and WTTG-TV, WTOP, and DCist, too. Expect subpoenas for Jannarone and Glover—-maybe Clark Ray and Omar Karim, too.

At yesterday’s other big council hearing, David Catania demanded that health department officials comply promptly and completely with HUD’s requests for information on HIV/AIDS housing programs. And, until public trust in AIDS funding is restored, Catania said he’s dragging them into hearings every Friday. Writes Darryl Fears in WaPo: ‘”I am not happy,” Catania said to Health Department Director Pierre Vigilance and AIDS Administration Director Shannon Hader….”It does not seem to me that it should be that difficult to provide them with information they asked for when they asked for it,” Catania said….Vigilance and Hader agreed to comply and work with Catania to overcome the city’s reputation as a poor manager of AIDS funds.’

Man throws himself in front of Blue Line train at McPherson Square, killing himself after the evening rush hour. His was the 22nd Metro death this year, Examiner notes.

Husband is charged with murder and assault in wife’s beating death Sunday morning. Kenneth L. Ross, 52, allegedly murdered Rosa May Fludd-Ross, 55, and seriously injured another victim, WaPo reports.

Police did not disclose any motive for the attack, nor would they disclose the age or gender of the other victim, who they said is hospitalized in critical condition.

At February hearings on June Metro crash, NTSB plans to bring in state transit regulators from across America to share best practices, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. ‘NTSB Chairwoman Debbie Hersman said Monday during a speech at the National Press Club that the outside groups could provide guidance on how federal officials could make safety oversight more “robust.”‘

Fenty kicks off bag-fee awareness campaign, complete with reusable bags donated by Safeway and CVS. The tax goes into effect Jan. 1, Jonathan O’Connell reports in WBJ, but ‘[b]efore the new law goes into effect, the D.C. Department of the Environment will distribute at least 122,000 free, reusable bags to D.C. residents. The city is producing 100,000 beige and blue bags with the slogan “Skip the Bag, Save the River” printed on them. CVS is producing 12,000 similar bags with the chain’s logo on the flip side while Safeway will produce 10,000 bags of unknown design. The city is planning an advertising campaign to promote the reusable bags, which it will finance using the fees it collects.’ Also WaPo, WRC-TV.

Also from O’Connell: Bids are in to redevelop West End parcel. Eastbanc, beneficiary of original sole-source deal, has bid, as has famed McMansioneers Toll Brothers.

Contract Appeals Board has rejected a bid protest by furniture distributor Configuration Inc., Melissa Castro reports in WBJ. The company ‘had contested the award of a multi-million dollar contract to Baltimore-based M.O.I….to furnish the city’s new offices at Waterfront Station in Southwest D.C….The bid protest arose just as the business community is increasingly asking questions about the way D.C. doles out its contracts ­— Mayor Adrian Fenty has taken heavy criticism for steering parks contracts to allies while circumventing contracting officials and the city council, and business owners are lining up against a proposed bill that would give the contracting office wider latitude to award longer-term contracts and to remove some purchasing categories from competition requirements altogether….Certain council members…expressed interest in investigating the furniture bid.’

More on a possible visit from the Giro d’Italia, from VeloNation and cyclingnews.com: ‘The United States’ capital city wants to hold a prologue and circuit race, both passing many national monuments. “The course promises to be one of the most spectacular prologues ever used in a Grand Tour. It seems very appropriate that the prologue for the first US start be held in the heart of the nation’s capital,” said Mark Sommers, race director of DC’s Capital Criterium [and BOEE chair nominee].’

Children’s Hospital has been dealing with a ‘unheard-of number’ of flu cases, Donna St. George reports in WaPo. ‘With a daily caseload that has surged as much as 80 percent, the emergency room at Children’s National Medical Center allowed a glimpse on two recent days inside the deluge, at a time when lab-coated doctors and scrubs-clad nurses tend the flu-stricken, round-the-clock….The sick tend to arrive in waves — in the morning, after school, after work — bleary-eyed mothers and fathers and grandparents with toddlers in arms, with infants in strollers, with stuffy-nosed school-age children….The peak came Oct. 26, a Monday that brought in 429 patients, including 232 with flulike symptoms.’ None have died since spring.

Mouhamed Diop, 32, of Suitland dies from wounds suffered in Nov. 11 car shooting at 42nd and Meade Streets NE. Another victim, Babacar Ndiaye, 37, of Oxon Hill, died soon after the shooting.

Ex-WASA employee sues over firing after double-lung transplant, NC8 reports. Tania Little, who had sarcoidosis of the lungs, returned to work, but ‘WASA wanted her back full-time but doctors wrote that she needed to start off part-time for two weeks in order to “reacclimate.” WASA wrote back because of her inability to work at “full capacity,” she was terminated, saying “I wish you well.”‘

WaPo letter writer stands up for Hardy MS principal Patrick Pope. Plus: More letters on Catholics and gay marriage.

DCmud with the latest on Morton Bender‘s N Street boutique hotel plans: ‘Bender, his N Street Follies Ltd. (NSF) and their latest architect, Andrulis Janezich Architects, go before the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) this week for review of the newest site plan….For the first time since the property was purchased in 1988, it looks like NSF will be able to secure HPRB approval for a conceptual design with the support of the Dupont Circle Conservancy and the ANC.’

District Chronicles covers opposition to gay marriage: ‘Rev. Anthony Evans, executive director for the D.C. Black Church Initiative [says] “There is significant support for the Board of Elections to approve a ballot initiative,” Evans said. “If we fail, we will have a movement to impeach the mayor of D.C., Adrian Fenty; D.C. Chairman At-Large Phil Mendelson, and Councilman Kwame Brown.”‘ And from Brian Brown‘s National Org. for Marriage: ‘Beating Down the Beatitudes in DC?…Since our nation’s founding, America in particular has benefited from the fact that churches have united together to feed the poor, clothe the naked, care for the fatherless and motherless, and comfort the sorrowful. But right now, in our nation’s capital, the City Council is poised to beat down the church’s ability to fully embrace and act out its Gospel message. Astonishingly, members of the City Council of the District of Columbia, led by Chair Vincent Gray and David Catania, are pushing a same-sex marriage bill that will force the Catholic Church (and other churches) out of providing for the least of these.’

Superior Court Judge Robert R. Rigsby is back from mideast tour as military judge, WTOP reports. ‘During his six-month deployment, the 48-year-old Army Reserve colonel heard about 30 cases involving a variety of charges, including involuntary manslaughter and drug charges.’ WTTG-TV, too.

Only a matter of time before Skins logo bites the dust?

Air America blogger: Arne Duncan‘s ‘politically-balanced approach runs counter to the zero-sum combat of, say, DC Schools Chancellor Rhee, who has spent the better part of her two years as schools chief facing-off against teachers, principals and the DC Council.’

MEA CULPA—-LL flubbed the link to Cary Silverman‘s anti-Mendo screed yesterday. Here’s a good one!

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole meeting, JAWB 500.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.