IN LL WEEKLY—-Is Fenty’s Exercise Regimen Clouding His Judgment? Plus: Ron Moten may be retiring, but he isn’t going anywhere.
Morning all. Jonetta Rose Barras with a very nice column about racial/educational politics in the western wards. The dispute centers on the Ellington School for the Arts and newly renovated Hardy Middle School. ‘No one cared much that they have substantial African American populations, although their surrounding communities are predominantly white. The education reform movement and construction of new buildings changed that. Now, parents in Wards 2 and 3 have begun pushing for fewer slots for out-of-boundary students and more traditional academic programs.’ Barras discusses a possible plan to move Ellington and convert the former Western High building back to a general-enrollment high school, as well as plans to change the academic program at Hardy to lure more in-boundary (read: white) parents. Michelle Rhee, she reports, ‘told the Citizens Association of Georgetown to expect a “major announcement” next month. “[Hardy’s] not going to turn overnight, but I think the plan we’re moving forward on is one that is really going to boost [it as an] option.”‘ The comments have black parents with kids enrolled out-of-boundary at Hardy upset: ‘”What’s that suppose to mean?” asked Keenan Kellar, Ward 1 resident and Hardy parent. “African-American parents have a great sensitivity to that kind of coded language.”‘
AFTER THE JUMP—-Fenty: ‘Going forward, I’m not going to use a motorcyle anymore’; archdiocese lays down an ultimatum; HUD threatens to keep AIDS money from District; 21-year-old shot on H Street NE in broad daylight is brother of DeOnte Rawlings; NTSB wants Metro crash hearings; rock-throwing kids terrorize Hill East
The Archdiocese of Washington plays hardball on gay marriage, telling District legislators that the gay marriage bill as currently written could mean the end of Catholic Charities in D.C.—-‘a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care,’ Tim Craig and Michelle Boorstein report in WaPo. ‘Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city. “If the city requires this, we can’t do it,” Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. “The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that’s really a problem.”‘ But some lawmakers appear ready to call what they consider a bluff: ‘Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) referred to the church as “somewhat childish.” Another council member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said he would rather end the city’s relationship with the church than give in to its demands. “They don’t represent, in my mind, an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure,” said Catania….Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the judiciary committee, said the council “will not legislate based on threats.”‘ In Examiner, Michael Neibauer details Yvette Alexander‘s lonely attempt to enlarge the religious exemption. Also Catholic News Agency, Blade, AmericaBlog.
ABOUT CATHOLIC CHARITIES—-‘It serves 68,000 people in the city, including the one-third of Washington’s homeless people who go to city-owned shelters managed by the church. City leaders said the church is not the dominant provider of any particular social service, but the church pointed out that it supplements funding for city programs with $10 million from its own coffers.’
Feds tell the District that it’s in danger of losing $12M in federal funding for HIV/AIDS housing due to oversight failures, Debbie Cenziper reports in WaPo. This is ‘the first time in the AIDS housing program’s 18-year history that money would be withheld from a city based on poor performance.’ An assistant HUD secretary, Mercedes M. Márquez, says funding will continue only if HAA ‘improves its tracking of services and spending’ and she calls the District’s program ‘consistently…among the most troubled in the nation.’ Just this year, HUD ‘urged the city to release records and arrange for a meeting between HUD and the city’s financial management team. “They were making it almost impossible to do the monitoring…It’s really like pulling teeth with the District,” Márquez said….When the 2009 report was complete, HUD again found the city had failed to ensure that nonprofit groups submitted basic documentation to account for their spending.’ Mayoral spox says the city ‘will work closely with HUD to ensure continued funding.’
George Rawlings, 21, was shot to death yesterday morning while boarding an X2 bus on H Street NE. He was the older brother of DeOnté Rawlings, the 14-year-old shot dead by off-duty police in 2007, and he was murdered, WaPo reports, ‘after attending the funeral of another homicide victim’—-a teen, Ashton Hunter, killed on Halloween. Greg Lattimer, lawyer for the family, said Rawlings ‘feared for his life and went into hiding after Hunter’s killing. Lattimore said talk on the street was that Rawlings would be targeted as a witness to the shooting….”When the thought of going to the police was mentioned, this is a situation where DeOnté was killed by the police…so how could [George] go to the police and expect them to legitimately try to help him?” Lattimore said. “That was his thinking. Whether that was right or wrong…that’s the way it was.”‘ Also WTOP, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, WaTimes, with more on Rawlings’ background.
ALSO—-One man killed, one seriously wounded yesterday on 4200 block of Meade Street NE. Police, according to WaPo, ‘found a dark-colored sedan that appeared to have rear-ended a white sedan….Police officers said it appeared that the two men, who were in the dark-colored sedan, were shot while the car was in motion. Although officers think the shooter might also have been in the car, they could no find no sign of a third person last night.’ Also NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
The National Transportation Safety Board is calling for hearings—-a relatively rare occurrence—-on the June Metro crash, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. ‘The board voted for the hearing and scheduled it for the week of Feb. 22, according to the e-mail sent to officials who may be asked to testify. The hearing highlights the importance of the crash and gives the agency a chance to air broader problems that may have been to blame….The NTSB does not call for hearings for each case it investigates. It has had five hearings so far this year but voted not to hold one in such high-profile cases as the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse.’
WTTG-TV continues investigating problems with police and 911 dispatching, highlighting this time problems with dispatchers performing real-time background checks for officers in the field. ‘Office of Unified Communication Director Janice Quintana runs the 911 system. Fox 5 has tried for six months to get her to talk to us about the claims against her agency, visiting her office, her home and finally catching up with her outside a pharmacy….Quintana didn’t respond and walked briskly to her car. “We’ve emailed you. We’ve called you. We’ve talked to the Mayor’s office. You keep running away. The FOP says you’re hiding something. Are you something?” Quintana finally responds. “I’m not hiding and I don’t want to get into a discussion between them and us.”‘
WTOP’s Mark Segraves squeezes out another story on the Fenty bike rides, this time quotes D.C. GOP executive director Paul Craney calling on Hizzoner to reimburse the city for expenses paid transporting his bike. How much to reimburse? Hard to tell: Segraves’ FOIA request for receipts was denied, citing ‘operational security information, including information which is part of MPD’s deliberative process, personal information and information prohibited by other statute from being produced.’ In themail, Gary Imhoff adds some further thoughts on l’affaire du vélo: ‘What wasn’t covered, or hasn’t been covered so far, is the biggest problem with the mayor’s sports obsession, his neglecting his job to spend hours every day exercising. If a president golfs one day a week on the weekends, the press writes that the president is goofing off and isn’t serious about his job. Yet the mayor’s bicycle club rides were almost all during the middle of the work day during the work week, and the mayor spends hours during nearly every work day with his sports buddies.’
FWIW—-Fenty did a really good job this morning answering questions from Barbara Harrison on WRC-TV. He explained how he’s actually cut down on the mayoral security detail, how his training schedule poses special challenges to the detail, and he pledged not use have a police motorcycle escort his cycling team any more. A fine display of candor, understanding, and remorse which raises the question: Why couldn’t he have done that on Monday?
VothH: ‘The owner of H Street Martini Lounge is being investigated for allegedly interfering with the inquiry into stabbings that involved D.C. firefighters at the establishment two weeks ago….Two patrons, D.C. firefighters Ernest Payne and Damien Jackson, had been stabbed and drove themselves to Washington Hospital Center for treatment, according to the report. The officers then returned to the bar to discover workers cleaning up spilled blood on the floor.’ The owner, Cliff Humphries, is a fire lieutenant and told investigators that ‘the incident wasn’t recorded on security cameras because he inadvertently neglected to reset the surveillance equipment after it automatically turned off earlier in October….But police Detective Sabrina White testified at the hearing that Humphries “was not cooperative” when she tried to interview him the night of the fight and she “suspected that Mr. Humphries and another gentleman may have deleted the video footage from the hard drive on the lap top.”‘
WaPo columnist Robert McCartney takes a look at a new manual compiled by the Alliance of Concerned Men, whom he calls ‘a District nonprofit group with a proven record of achieving peace for a while in some of the Washington area’s most dangerous neighborhoods.’ The 41-page document ‘offers tips such as barring cellphones from meetings so participants won’t worry that calls are being made to arrange an ambush. It says that it’s important when picking a mediator to weigh whether to send a young man, who might be perceived as a threat, or an older one, whose presence might be “a negative trigger, a reminder of a lost or abusive father.” The alliance recommends using prayer, food, trips to the movies and, believe it or not, hugs as a way to create the right atmosphere. “Hug a thug, and you might not get mugged” is one of the group’s numerous sayings….Above all, the training guide emphasizes the need to believe that the tough young men would like to solve their problems themselves and need a credible outsider to assure them that it’s possible.’
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute report finds that the District’s welfare program ‘is pushing recipients to work but is not providing the skills and support they need to land decent-paying jobs,’ according to WaPo account by Henri Cauvin. ‘The study of the District’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program concluded that although the city has opportunities for substantive educational and vocational training, TANF recipients are too often kept in the dark about such help. “These services exist,” said Katie Kerstetter, an analyst at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute and one of the authors of the report. “We need to find ways to connect TANF recipients to them.”‘ The report ‘criticizes what it calls the city’s one-size-fits-all approach and its singular focus on what is known as job readiness….But job-readiness training does not address more fundamental deficiencies that might represent bigger barriers to employment for many recipients.’
There’s an upside to Metro’s lack of dedicated funding, the WaPo editorial board points out: ‘As the economy has nosedived, state and local tax receipts have followed. For at least half the transit systems around the country, that has meant reduced funding from state, local and regional sources. And in most of those cases, funding has dipped sharply—-by more than 20 percent. By contrast, Metro’s patrons, which together contribute several hundred million dollars annually to help the transit agency balance its budget, have generally held steady.’ Still: ‘[H]old the celebrations….the outlook is bleak. Don’t be surprised by round-trip daily fares that jump sharply in 2010 for both bus and subway service.’
And there’s a downside to being Sidwell Friends, the preferred private school of presidents, politicians, and other local big shots—-your high profile makes you a target for protests, Michael Birnbaum reports in WaPo. The nutjobs from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas showed up Monday. Since the Obama girls enrolled, Birnbaum writes, ‘Sidwell has been pulled into the spotlight of a distinctly 21st-century culture—-one that is increasingly celebrity-obsessed and often shockingly unmannered….When five anti-Obama, anti-gay protesters appeared in front of the school’s Wisconsin Avenue NW entrance Monday morning, they were met by 150 Sidwell students waving signs ranging from “There is that of God in Everyone” to “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It.”‘
Hill East resident, while videotaping rowdy kids on their way home from school, is hit in the face by rock. NC8 reports: ‘Fed up and frustrated by the students’ disregard for residents and the latest attack, [Tim Krepp] followed the group to the Metro where he says a Metro employee was unwilling to help. The students disappeared on the trains. Neighbors and police believe the students attend [Eliot-Hine] Junior High, which is just blocks away from the neighborhood. Police tell ABC 7 News they plan to make announcements at the school and send in officers to let the rock wielding students, whoever they are, know that officers are on the case and that behavior won’t be tolerated.’ Also WUSA-TV.
In District Weekly, WaPo’s Timothy Wilson covers the results of the latest Ready Schools survey from nonprofit DC VOICE. Findings: ‘[P]rincipals are receiving more support and resources from the school system since the initial report in 2004….Eighty-nine percent of principals were able fulfill their staffing needs by the start of the school year, compared with about 40 percent last year. About 50 percent were able to fulfill their staffing needs five years ago.’
Union Station is replacing the ‘Circle of Flags’ on Columbus Circle after Tom Sherwood‘s WRC-TV reporting pointed out their tattered state. ‘Park Service spokesman Bill Line told News4 and NBCWashington.com that our call prompted the quick action. Line said the Park Service tries to replace the flags two or three times a year and had just done so in early October. “We take it very seriously,” Line said. He blamed bad weather—-wind and rain—-on the quick deterioration of the flags. Rather than inspect every one, they were simply replaced.’
Weird, intersexual-fish-causing chemicals in the Potomac! Get to legislatin’, Cheh!
GW Hatchet covers changes to vending regulations.
Lez Get Real covers D.C. rights for nonbiological parents of children born to same-sex couples. ‘With the passing of this legislation, the District of Columbia will become the first jurisdiction in the nation to enact a statute specifically providing children born through artificial insemination with two legal parents from the beginning even when those parents are a same-sex or different-sex unmarried couple. Until now, a mother’s same-sex partner in the District of Columbia could become a child’s parent only through an expensive and lengthy adoption process.’
Home sales are way up in the suburbs, Examiner reports, with days-on-market figures plunging for just about every regional jurisdiction…but not in the District. Homes spent an average of 91 days on market in October 2009, versus 77 days in October 2008.
Eyewitness account of the D.C. sniper execution, from WaTimes’ Sarah Abruzzese.
Dr. Gridlock addresses the new 15th Street NW ‘contraflow’ bike lane.
Dee Hunter disbarred in Maryland. His U Street campaign office strangely persists.
New D.C. tourism Web site.
Jim Riggleman will remain Nats manager.
Mattie Cummings obit, from Memphis Commercial Appeal. ‘During her son Marion Barry‘s well-publicized troubles in Washington, Mattie Cummings stood by him. When the former D.C. mayor was arrested and imprisoned for drug use, Mrs. Cummings was by his side as he went to jail. When he was released six months later, she was again there for him.’
Kwame Brown broke his ankle! ‘”I was dunking the ball, and normally I dunk with two hands but I dunked with one….And normally I land on two feet, but this time I landed on one, and it was too much weight,’ the 5-foot-7 legislator tells WaPo’s Nikita Stewart.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Finance and Revenue hearing on B18-423 (‘NoMa Water and Sewer Improvement Special Assessment Authorization Act of 2009’), B18-431 (‘OTO Hotel at Constitution Square Economic Development Act of 2009’), B18-432 (‘Third and H Streets, N.E., Economic Development Act of 2009’), and B18-475 (‘Arthur Capper/ Carrollsburg Public Improvements Revenue Bonds Amendment Act of 2009’), JAWB 412; 10:30 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment hearing on B18-64 (‘Lead Hazard Prevention and Elimination Amendment Act of 2009’), JAWB 123; 2 p.m.: Committee on Health roundtable on ‘The Implementation of the Healthy DC Program,’ JAWB 500; 4 p.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on B18-407 (‘Tenant Advisory Council Clarification Amendment Act of 2009’) and B18-484 (‘Tenant Bill of Rights Amendment Act of 2009’), JAWB 123.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-6:45 a.m.: remarks, Connecting with the Mayor, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: remarks, Fenty on Fox, WRC-TV; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, CVS groundbreaking, Georgia and New Hampshire Avenues NW.