City Paper is not for tourists
Morning all. The big news yesterday came from WTOP’s Mark Segraves, and his report, complete with video evidence, that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is in the habit of regularly having police motorcycles accompany himself and his cycling team on midday training rides. Picking up on the story were WJLA-TV, WTTG-TV, WUSA-TV, DCist, and LL—-meaning that Hizzoner has lost yet another news cycle to allegations of arrogance and misdealing. WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood takes a more expansive view of Hizzoner’s style, noting that it’s not unusual for ‘take-charge mayors of big cities’ to, well, take charge. It’s just that Fenty seems particularly tone-deaf about how he does it, leading to ‘a consistent drumbeat around town that he’s overdoing it with his “I’m in charge; you’re not” frame of mind. Even discounting the criticisms from people who have lost their jobs or who are tied to the old-school way of doing things, there still seems to be too much grumbling about this mayor’s ABC’s — arrogance, bullying and cronyism.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-City settles first protest lawsuit; Wepman is out as DCPS financial officer; religious freedom provisions strengthened in gay marriage bill; Barry reality show taping confirmed; prosecutors explain handling of Tony Randolph Hunter case; the teabagger angle on the teacher layoffs
The city has settled the first of the four wrongful detention cases connected to April 2002 protests, Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. The eight plaintiffs will get $25,000 apiece, with the rest of the $450K going to attorney’s fees for the Partnership for Civil Justice. ‘[A]s attorneys for the protesters were preparing for the trial, which was scheduled to begin in federal court Nov. 30, they unearthed D.C. police logs that confirm the role of a secret FBI intelligence unit in the incident….D.C. police agreed not to allow outside agencies to question people in police custody without a D.C. police officer signing off on the questioning. “We believe this will make it impossible for this kind of illegal action to occur again,” [said PCJ lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard].’ AG Peter Nickles has promised to settle the remaining cases, including Pershing Park, by Thanksgiving.
The council claims a scalp: Noah Wepman, chief financial officer for the D.C. Public Schools, either handed his resignation to or was dispatched by CFO Natwar Gandhi in recent days, depending on which press report you believe. (WaPo says he quit; WTOP says he was fired.) His ouster follows an Oct. 29 council hearing performance that might have been considered among the worst the Wilson Building’s seen in years, had the facts he had to defend not been so indefensible. Writes Bill Turque: ‘Whether he was thrown from the train or jumped off by himself, it was clear that Wepman had big problems after acknowledging at an Oct. 29 hearing that he had not reported the existence of a $12 million-plus deficit in DCPS’ 2010 budget. Wepman handled school finances for [Rhee], but reported to [Gandhi], who certified the District’s 2010 budget as in balance without knowledge of the deficit. Although he had told Rhee’s people, Wepman conceded that he should have made Gandhi aware of the problem.’
Gay marriage bill is amended and ready for today’s markup. The changes, as detailed in WaPo by Tim Craig, include maintaining domestic partnerships, as well as ‘a provision that will make it easier for church officials to avoid participation in gay weddings and receptions’—-a bow of sorts of the Archdiocese of Washington and other same-sex marriage opponents. ‘The proposed revisions mean, for example, that church officials do not have to rent reception space to a same-sex couple for a wedding, even if heterosexual couples can access that space. But churches would still have to abide by other aspects of the city’s Human Rights Act, including not discriminating against gay employees who choose to get married.’ So, hey, there’s that. Also Blade, and DCist even reads the committee report.
Marion Barry reality show update: DCist confirms Congress Heights on the Rise’s rumor that that he’s filming a pilot. LL hears the producer is Kirk Fraser, the man behind filmed bios of Rayful Edmond and Len Bias.
Aftermath of WaPo story on Metro’s impeding oversight track inspections: Sen. Barbara Mikulski demands an investigation and Sen. Robert Menendez wants hearings into why the transit agency refused to let inspectors from an oversight group onto tracks, Lena Sun and Joe Stephens write . And ‘Metro board Chairman Jim Graham said Monday that the transit agency’s safety chief was “out of order” when she denied access to the monitors.’ And from Eleanor Holmes Norton: ‘Ultimately, however, “nothing short of federal regulation is going to do the job” of ensuring that the train system is safe, she said.’ Also Examiner, which airs Metro complaint that this inspector thing was a whole lotta nothin’. Richard Layman wonders whether the Public Service Commission should get back into the transit oversight biz.
Prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office show at meeting of Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence to explain why Robert Hannah got six months for the assault that killed Tony Randolph Hunter last fall. It did not go so well for them, Blade reports: ‘Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Flynn, a 20-year veteran prosecutor specializing in homicide cases, startled some of the activists at the Nov. 5 forum…when he said the “system worked” in the case of gay beating death victim [Hunter]. Flynn also elicited anger and disbelief from the forum’s participants when he acknowledged that he had never heard of the so-called gay panic defense.’ Which Hannah more or less used.
WaPo ed board says the New Haven, Conn., teacher contract so often lauded by unions and the Obama administration alike is ‘tepid’ and ‘timid.’ Of course: ‘To find a place where someone is pushing reforms worthy of his rhetoric, Mr. Duncan might do better to look out his window. D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee is trying to make big changes, like breaking the stranglehold of seniority and being able to reward the best teachers.’ The board also addresses congressional efforts ‘gumming up’ needle exchange programs.
LL is sure that his multitudes of readers were waiting for a Teabagger angle to the DCPS layoffs. Well, here it is, courtesy of Examiner columnist Barbara Hollingsworth: ‘According to the federal government’s Foreign Labor Certification Data Center, D.C. Public Schools submitted 46 labor condition applications in 2007 and 2008, giving [Michelle Rhee] authority to import hundreds of foreign teachers on H1B visas without having to make any attempt to find eligible Americans.’ She points to no such holders of said visas now teaching in DCPS schools, but hey: ‘What urban school districts really need are right-to-work laws that empower school administrators to hire professional Americans with college degrees in needed core subject areas who are willing to give teaching a chance.’ U-S-A! U-S-A!
WUSA-TV’s Bruce Johnson covers the latest sad funeral at Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church, of a young man who died before his time. ‘The ushers at Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church estimate that in the past year alone they have eulogized about 15 innocent young people who met violent deaths in the District….Today, 19-year-old Aaron Brice of Silver Spring, Maryland was eulogized by a packed congregation that chose to celebrate his young life rather than simply mourning his sudden loss. Brice was shot and killed on Halloween night at a party in Columbia, Maryland that had been advertised on Facebook.’
National study sponsored by education-reformist groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, finds that D.C. suffers from an ‘inability to remove bad teachers from the classroom,’ Leah Fabel reports in Examiner. But hey: ‘Certain reforms, especially in the District, were not cited in the report because of the study’s timing. D.C. Public Schools, for example, received an “F” grade in the data category because it lacked a system to track students’ progress throughout their school years.’ Adds WaPo: ‘The study graded states and the District on policy questions central to the Obama administration’s education agenda.’
More from WaPo on the police chase/shootout that ended early Monday on I-295.
Petworth neighbors remember shopkeeper Rufina Hernandez, slain Saturday. NC8 reports: ‘All day long the liquor store “La Casa de Morata” was the focus of a community’s outrage and grief. “She didn’t deserve this. She was too nice with everyone,” said customer Will Pagan on Monday. “It just doesn’t make sense.” “She was a very sweet woman,” shared Felicia Heiskell, a store customer. “Everybody called her ‘Mom.'”‘ Also WRC-TV, WTTG-TV. And see the official police flyer, via PoP.
Feds say that Lawrence E. Thomas was returning to his old stomping grounds when he robbed a pair of downtown banks in recent months, Examiner reports. Thomas had been convicted of robbing a nearby bank in 1999. This time, he grabbed $4,500.
Car crashes into 2615 Bowen Road SE.
Why foster care court hearings should be opened to public scrutiny, according to UDC law prof Matt Fraidin: ‘Secret proceedings means that you can’t meet the children whose lives are turned upside-down, perhaps never to be righted – for no reason. You can’t observe the rubber-stamp hearings. You can’t watch a case worker hem and haw an explanation about why a distraught child hasn’t been referred to a therapist, despite a court order directing the referral. You can’t see a lawyer guessing at his client’s position, rather than knowing it, because the lawyer hasn’t met with the client since the previous court hearing. You can’t sit in the back of a courtroom and shake your head in frustration and disgust at a judge who openly flouts the law, refusing to let a child live with her beloved aunt, simply because it is that judge’s “personal policy” not to allow children to live with relatives unless [CFSA] agrees. You can’t know what’s going on, and you can’t do anything about it.’
District Daily, the new project of why.i.hate.dc’s Dave Stroup, profiles mayoral wannabe Leo Alexander. ‘”No one wants to talk about it, but…” is a good way to sum up Leo Alexander. He talks about parental responsibility in the black community. He openly talks about illegal immigration. Not so much about the greater ideological issues, but that fighting illegal immigration costs the District $86 million each year. He wants to send that bill to the Federal government. Alexander personally doesn’t support gay marriage, and politically he takes an even more interesting position. Civil unions for all, if it was up to Leo Alexander.’
Fenty debuts ‘Young Adult Internship Program,’ which would be a ‘new work force pilot program for 18-to-24 year olds,’ WBJ reports. ‘Participants work with case managers to devise personal and professional goals. Interns will be placed at designated work sites, where they work four days per week for $8.25 an hour. A mandatory employment training workshop is held on the fifth day, which will teach financial literary and critical thinking skills.’
Craziness at WaTimes! Three execs out, and possibly editor John Solomon, too. Writes WaPo: ‘Of [the Rev. Sun Myung Moon]‘s 13 children, the mantle generally has been passed to three sons and a daughter, but specifics have been elusive. Church members said this week that the shakeup at the Times reflected a power struggle among the sons.’
Tax breaks: Not just for Jim Graham! DCFPI suggests that Tommy Wells is handing ’em out all over the place!
German Embassy on Reservoir Road is getting ‘gut rehabilitation,’ WBJ reports, meaning the Teutons will be moving their diplomatic operations to M Street offices recently vacated by EU.
AWARDS TIME! Get your noms in for the Cafrtiz Awards for Distinguished D.C. Government Employees by Dec. 11. And Wells is taking suggestions for his Livable Walkables (aka the Brickies) until Nov. 30.
Roll Call has more on the new
Michael David Baldacci book inspired by Cathy Lanier. Did you know: ‘The book’s mayor…appears to be a cynic’s take on D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty. He is “young and good-looking” but also a “cagey politician, meaning that the person he looked out for most stared back at him in the mirror every morning.”’ And ‘Balducci’s book also includes some wishful thinking, giving the city a forensic lab that can turn around DNA samples within days. The real lab has been in the works for years. But officials haven’t even broken ground, so the real-life police chief might have trouble tracking down a national conspiracy in less than a week.’
Scientologists open new D.C. home at 16th and P Streets NW, WBJ reports. ‘Mike Silverstein, president of the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Association represented Mayor Adrian Fenty at the event.’ He did?
NC8 covers NY Avenue construction.
DID YOU KNOW?—-UDC Prez Allen Sessoms has a blog? Well, he does!
Read the brief WaPo obit for Marion Barry’s mom, Mattie Cummings.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment hearing on B18-460 (‘Prohibition on Government Employee Engagement in Political Activity Act of 2009’), JAWB 412; 1 p.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on PR18-535, (‘Board of Zoning Adjustment Nicole Sorg Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 500; 2:30 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation roundtable on PR18-556 (‘Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Charles Brodsky Chairperson Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, Eastern Avenue Bridge modernization announcement, Eastern and Kenilworth Avenues NE.