City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Pershing Park Case: Council Hearings Unlikely“; “David Catania Smacks Down Anti-Gay-Marriage Law Prof“; “WTOP’s Mark Segraves to Get TV Show“; “Is Adrian Fenty Exercising Too Much?“; tweets galore!
Morning all. The Archdiocese of Washington is playing hardball, holding that the District’s gay marriage bill, as currently written, threatens to end their involvement in various city services. And the D.C. Council has swung right back. In second-day story, WaPo reporters write that councilmembers are ‘hardening their opposition’ to the archdiocese, ‘setting up a political showdown between the city and one of its largest social service providers.’ Says Tommy Wells: ‘It’s a dangerous thing when the Catholic Church starts writing and determining the legislation and the laws of the District of Columbia.’ No CM is acting conciliatory at the moment, and the archdiocese is trying to draw a semantic distinction: that the District is ‘giving the ultimatum,’ not the church. But WaPo columnist Petula Dvorak isn’t buying it: ‘By trying to play political hardball with the District, no matter how carefully they word their objection to the bill, officials at the Archdiocese of Washington and Catholic Charities are telling our city’s most vulnerable people—-homeless families, sick children, low-income mothers—-that they are willing to throw them on the table as a bargaining chip. What the Church is doing is an uncharitable and cruel maneuver.’ Still yet to enter the debate: Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl. Also Examiner, NYT, WaPo blog, WaPo chat, WaTimes, LAT blog, NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV, World mag, Atlantic, TPM, lots more.
AFTER THE JUMP—-More on the fate of Hardy MS; Harold Brazil sues tattoo shop whose floor he soiled; movie tax pondered to fund arts groups; murdered Rawlings brother said to be implicated in Halloween killing; D.C. Jail to join federal immigration-check program
WHAT’S AT STAKE—-From WaPo: ‘Among the programs [Catholic Charities head Ed Orzechowski] said were vulnerable: A medical clinic at the Spanish Catholic Center serving 3,000 people, which gets 60 percent of its budget from the District, much of it in reimbursements from the city-run HealthCare Alliance insurance coverage….Tutors for people preparing to take GED tests under a program in which the city subsidizes more than 35 percent of the cost….Foster care and adoption placements for about 100 children a year, none of them to same-sex couples, more than 90 percent funded by the city….In addition, Catholic Charities gets city funds to offer mental health services, to operate nine homeless shelters and, during the winter months, to run several hypothermia shelters.’
IN CASE YOU’RE WONDERING—-Yvette Alexander, Muriel Bowser, Vincent Gray, and Harry Thomas Jr. are Catholic.
Bill Turque follows up in WaPo on the Hardy Middle School story first reported by Jonetta Rose Barras. ‘An emerging debate over [Hardy’s] future illuminates one of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee‘s greatest challenges: to increase the diversity of the school system by drawing in more white, middle-class families without compromising the interests of its predominantly poor and minority student population. With most middle-class children leaving the system after the fourth or fifth grade, Rhee must sell D.C.’s middle schools as an attractive option.’ But does the school need to ‘turn,’ as she told a Georgetown civic meeting? ‘In an interview Thursday, Rhee would not disclose her plans for the school, but she said the “turn” she described had nothing to do with its racial composition. “What that implies is that what is good for one group of kids is not good enough for another,” she said. “I think that’s not only false but incredibly harmful.” What needs to turn, she said, is the attitude of the school’s leadership, which she said has not always been welcoming to neighborhood families….”We need to do a lot of clarifying,” she said. “Hardy has an arts component, but you don’t have to think you have the next Whitney Houston on your hands to send your kids to this school.”‘ From LL’s reading, it doesn’t look like well-respected principal Patrick Pope is long for his job.
THE NUMBERS—-‘Of the 135 fifth-graders who completed Stoddert, Key, Hyde and Eaton last spring, 49 are enrolled in Hardy’s 177-student sixth-grade class this fall. Most of the rest come from public schools outside Hardy’s attendance area, according to school data. But with completion of a $48 million renovation last year and, perhaps, the effects of the recession, community interest has increased. And so has discussion of changes in Hardy’s program.’
You can jump on a man, and he can urinate on your floor, but you can’t keep him down! Harold Brazil is suing the tattoo parlor where he was arrested for assault last October, Melissa Castro reports in WBJ. He was convicted of the offense in May, though he is appealing. ‘Brazil wouldn’t talk much about his suit, other than to say he’s appealing the conviction and he questions “the true motive…behind the prosecution and the unfairness of prosecuting a former politician for no articulable reason.”‘
ALSO IN WBJ—-Sarah Krouse on efforts to beautify city gateways; Jonathan O’Connell on how the council killed a tax abatement deal for the Pew Chritable Trusts; O’Connell on Harriet Tregoning‘s temporary uses for stalled construction sites (Southwest waterfront beach?); O’Connell on funding arts groups that lost earmarks (new tax on movie tickets/rentals?); and a profile of GGW’s David Alpert.
An interesting WaPo editorial on the city’s decision to settle its receivership suit against Individual Development Inc., the operator of group homes run by a cabal of politically connected lawyers. ‘Given the group’s track record of unkept promises, it’s understandable for skeptics to question the decision—-and to wonder whether the political prominence of IDI officials David W. Wilmot, A. Scott Bolden and Frederick D. Cooke Jr. was a factor.’ Peter Nickles, of course, ‘denies any political considerations,’ arguing that ‘the settlement is the better outcome for residents of the homes,’ as it would bring change faster, covers all 11 of the company’s homes, and carries stiff penalties. Says WaPo: ‘These are persuasive arguments. But the District was remiss in not acting sooner, so the onus is on Mr. Nickles and the mayor to ensure that the settlement leads to rapid improvements in the homes or tangible consequences for their operator.’
NOTE—-The piece says that ‘Mr. Wilmot recently helped host a fundraiser for Mayor Adrian F. Fenty (D).’ No, his middle initial isn’t F, and, yes, the case was settled mere days after that fundraiser.
The D.C. Jail will start participating in federal program ‘whose ultimate aim is to check the immigration status of every person booked,’ N.C. Aizenman reports in WaPo. ‘The program, known as Secure Communities, matches inmates’ fingerprints against a federal database so that federal authorities can identify and possibly remove deportable illegal immigrants before they are released from custody. Similar checks are done at all 1,200 federal and state prisons. But authorities have lacked the ability to do them across the nation’s 3,100 local jails.’ About 1,900 have been deported nationwide under the program, but ‘advocates have expressed concern that Secure Communities will ensnare many illegal immigrants who are convicted only of minor crimes or of nothing at all.’ Also Examiner. Expect to hear a lot more about this.
The caped columnist, Harry Jaffe, recounts a lot of anecdotes about rising violent crime, along with a few well-selected statistics, and warns that D.C. Council cuts to the MPD officer corps threaten more violence. ‘[T]he city council’s actions might make the streets even less safe. Last year the city council ordered the police to bring its force up to 4,200. Last month the same council approved a hiring freeze—-at 4,060 cops. With no hiring and normal attrition of 20 officers a month, the force will drop below 3,800 by next year. “At that number, we cannot to do our job,” says Kristopher Baumann, police union president. “Officers will be racing from radio call to radio call. Everyone will be less safe.” And we can expect more candlelight vigils.’
Contradicting an anonymous police account yesterday, Scott McCabe reports in Examiner that George Rawlings, murdered Wednesday morning on H Street NE, was indeed involved in the Halloween killing of Ashton Hunter—-whose funeral he had just attended. Polices sources say ‘Rawlings was being looked at as the getaway driver or the provider of the sport utility vehicle used’ in Hunter’s murder. The suspected triggerman, Darrell Calvin Lee, is already in custody. ‘All three men were associated with the Kennedy Dog Pound, or KDP crew, that operates in the vicinity of Seventh and O streets NW in the Shaw neighborhood, according to police and court documents. Their was an internal beef within KDP and the crew appeared to be “cleaning house.”‘ Also WRC-TV.
Did police shoot the wrong guy at a Benning Road gas station in August? A witness tells WTTG-TV that the man killed by police, 25-year-old Salvador Buruca ‘was no threat to police’ and ‘did not have a gun and was raising his hands when an officer shot him multiple times.’ The witness, Paul Christmas, ‘says he doesn’t understand why police didn’t go after two men he saw running from the station.’ Buruca’s family is considering a lawsuit.
Metro has been charged with criminal violations of federal clean-water laws, WaPo reports, for ‘releasing hazardous chemicals into the sewer system over a six-day period in 2003.’ Such a criminal suit, write Maria Glod and Meg Smith ‘is extremely unusual, and a search of federal and state court records revealed no other such cases.’ Records from federal court in Greenbelt say that ‘polluted water left over after Metro cars were washed at the New Carrollton and Branch Avenue rail yards was released into sewer pipes without being properly treated. A contractor hired in the mid-1980s to clean the cars used chemicals including hydrofluoric acid, “an extremely corrosive and hazardous chemical know for its ability to dissolve metal oxides,” prosecutors wrote.’ A plea agreement has been reached.
ALSO—-‘Federal prosecutors had asked that the case remain sealed, writing that “avoiding unnecessary publicity prior to the date of the plea hearing is in the interest of the parties and the public.” U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus denied the request. “This court’s business is public business, and that is especially so when the defendant before it is a public agency.”‘ Good for him!
WaPo, following Examiner scoop, covers upcoming NTSB hearings on Metro crash, pegging the dates as Feb. 23 and 24. ‘A public hearing into the Red Line crash had been widely expected by transit safety experts. The board uses the hearings to supplement facts gathered at the scene and during its follow-up investigation….The hearing will be chaired by NTSB board member Robert L. Sumwalt, who, along with investigators, will hear testimony on the adequacy of Metro’s actions to address safety issues; the adequacy of state safety oversight of rail transit systems, including the Tri-State Oversight Committee that oversees Metro; and the adequacy of federal safety oversight of rail transit systems, among other issues.’ Examiner’s Kytja Weir adds that a House subcommittee will hold a Dec. 8 hearing on ‘the federal role in transit safety.’ featuring Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff.
Can AIDS be eliminated by aggressively treating HIV? That’s the question to be tested by a new joint program of the National Institutes of Health and the D.C. health department, Darryl Fears reports in WaPo. AIDS expert Anthony Fauci tells him, ‘The purpose is to get the…level [of HIV in the blood] down so that people will not infect anyone because their viral load is so low.’ It’s unclear ‘how much money and other resources would be devoted to the study before the project begins next month,’ as well as where the study will take place. ‘The study, scheduled to be launched by the White House on or around World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, has major challenges. Researchers must first determine whether testing every adult for HIV is feasible. Then they must determine whether people who test positive will opt for treatment.’
Three are slashed in embassy knife attack, after Togo native Kokou Bocco, 31, walked into that country’s chancery on the 2200 block of Massachusetts Avenue NW. Paul Duggan reports in WaPo: ‘Bocco “became agitated” while speaking with embassy workers, then pulled out a knife and attacked them. By the time other employees subdued him, three workers and Bocco had been injured….[T]he workers and Bocco were taken to George Washington University Hospital. None of the wounds is considered life-threatening, officials said.’ Also WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
The ashes of Col. Norbert Otto Schmidt, set to be interred today at Arlington National Cemetery, have disappeared in an apparent theft, WaPo reports. ‘The incident began after family members finalized arrangements at Arlington and drove the 12-seater van to the National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall about 3 p.m. Thursday. When the relatives returned to the parked van, in the 300 block of Jefferson Avenue SW, about an hour later, the lock on its door was broken, they said. The brass urn had been inside a turquoise bag. Also missing were a computer, jewelry and electronic equipment, along with Schmidt’s Army discharge papers and his death certificate.’ There’s a $1,000 no-questions-asked reward for the urn’s return.
Which World War I memorial should be the official one? Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner that the Senate will have to decide whether the D.C. WWI memorial on the Mall will be rededicated as a national memorial, or will the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City will get the honors?
Jonathan O’Connell reports at WBJ on tensions between developers and city planners on parking requirements for new projects at Brookland and Fort Totten Metro stations. ‘The last thing D.C. wants is more pricey, underused garages like we have at DC-USA, which is why it is rewriting its zoning to rules to replace parking minimums with parking maximums. Some developers don’t like the idea.’ Both Jim Abdo and the Cafritz Foundation say their condo dwellers want parking spaces!
AND UH-OH—-Washington Convention Center loses major meeting to National Harbor, O’Connell reports. A spokesperson for the International Council of Shopping Centers ‘offered no reason for the switch.’
House repos are down, WaPo reports: ‘In the District, the number of real estate-owned properties—-when a bank has taken possession of a home and evicted the borrower—-fell by half to 46 in October compared with 102 in September. In Maryland, bank repossessions fell to 786 from 865 the previous month. Virginia also saw a decrease in bank repossessions, 1,845 in October compared with 2,028 in September….This year, 590 homes have been repossessed in the District, down slightly from the same period last year.’
It’s official: John Solomon is out as top editor of WaTimes. He will be missed by LL. Reports WaPo: ‘Solomon, who made a mission of boosting the newspaper’s fairness while trying to expand its reach, concluded that he could no longer be effective after a shakeup that ousted the Times’ publisher, say staffers who declined to be identified discussing personnel matters.’ In Examiner, Neibauer notes: ‘Security has been beefed up at the paper’s New York Avenue NE headquarters, and the gates to the parking lot are being kept closed.’
Just a huge amount of Jack Evans news today. First, WTOP’s Mark Segraves reports that the Ward 2 CM has bought himself $2,000 worth of bobbleheads with campaign funds. ‘Evans’ bobblehead has him sporting a black suit and a black and white striped tie. The likeness is pretty good, although the bobblehead has more hair and fewer wrinkles than the real Evans.’ And WAMU-FM’s Kavitha Cardoza reports that Evans participated in a cookoff against Michelle Rhee. ‘Their teams had to serve up a three course meal and signature drink in 35 minutes. Rhee cooks a mean lasagna while Evans serves up perfect pancakes. But in this high pressure kitchen cook-off, it wasn’t clear if those skills were enough.’ Their kids helped out; Rhee’s team took the win with ‘a shrimp and tofu salad, a steak and asparagus pasta and a mango lassi with melted gummy bears.’
Ground is broken on Petworth CVS, Housing Complex notes.
Tree falls on vehicle in Northeast.
Five arrested for ‘stealing tons of reusable containers and plastic pallets from area companies, which were then sold to recyclers at a per-pound price.’
Yvette Alexander hosting citywide gathering of ANC commissioners, on Nov. 21. Agency heads have been invited; let’s see if they show.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on ‘Progress in the Implementation of the Pre-K Enhancement and Expansion Act,’ JAWB 412; 1 p.m.: Committee on Health roundtable on ‘Pharmaceutical Issues in the District of Columbia,’ JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, Minnesota/Benning parking facility ribbon-cutting, 4000 block of Minnesota Avenue NE; 1:30 p.m.: remarks, kickoff of All Hands On Deck Phase VII, 7th and Kennedy Streets NE [there is no such intersection—-LL thinks it must be NW].