Morning all. The WaPo editorial board harshens its language a bit in examining Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s parks contracting scheme. ‘The more you learn,’ it writes, ‘the more troubling it becomes. It’s critical that these deals be submitted to the council for thorough review and, if warranted, revocation.’ But even that admonition doesn’t come without some chastening for the legislative branch: ‘We would like to suggest to council members that if they truly want to get some answers, they should give government witnesses an opportunity to answer. The tendency of council members — as evidenced in recent public hearings — to interrupt, insult and bully those testifying does not reflect well on them; nor does it serve the public interest. The administration may have plenty to answer for here; let’s hear the answers.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Council to consider emergency measures to halt parks contracting; Thomas calls scheme ‘like Watergate’ (does that make LL Woodward or Bernstein?); Gray calls for DCPS CFO ouster; St. E’s lawsuit settled for a cool mil; council chambers see first marriage proposal (LL guesses); city tax error leads to mortgage nightmare; what is with all the hate crimeage at GU?
YOUR LEGISLATIVE MEETING PREVIEW—-Prompted by the parks contracting revelations, the council plans to consider halting for 90 days funds transfers to the D.C. Housing Authority and reviewing parks-and-rec expenditures exceeding $75K, as well as instituting new rules regarding what happens when an agency head is deemed disapproved by the council. Michael Neibauer notes in Examiner that the measures ‘come as the relationship between the legislative and executive branches continues to fall apart,’ adding that Vincent Gray ‘used his Monday briefing to again chastise D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee for her “chaotic” firing of 226 teachers and 122 support staff six weeks into the school year, and for the revelation that Rhee ignored the council’s order to halve summer school slots in favor of the layoffs.’ Harry Thomas Jr., meanwhile, called the DCHA contracting scheme ‘just government at its worst,’ telling WaTimes that it’s ‘like Watergate…[y]ou don’t know where you’re going to end up.’ Also WaPo, which notes that council moves ‘could put a snag in Fenty’s efforts to improve the city’s park system’ and that Peter Nickles vowed ‘that the administration will cooperate but that “the legislature can’t micromanage the executive.”‘
ALSO—-Gray called yesterday for the firing of Noah Wepman, DCPS chief financial officer, citing his failure to reveal a budget deficit to his superiors and the council. And he’s expanded contracting inquiries outside DCHA and the parks.
District settles lawsuit with family of St. Elizabeths patient for $1M, Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. ‘City officials made the payment 10 months after a D.C. federal court jury found the city liable in the 2005 death of Alan Martin. Martin, 56, a former Washington physician who had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, was admitted to St. Elizabeths just four days before he was housed with another inmate, William E. Dunbar, 29, who investigators said later stomped Martin….Nickles said he authorized the District to make the payment to get the case “behind us.”…”The judgment had been entered against us, and interest was accruing, so I felt it made sense just to get it over with,” he said.’ Representing the family was Bill Lightfoot.
IG investigation finds bad records management at MPD’s youth investigations branch, Neibauer reports in Examiner. ‘Tightly restricted records that by law “shall not be open to public inspection” or disclosed for public review were left in the open for anybody with access to the division to see, the D.C. Inspector General found….The inspectors, during a review of the police department’s division office at 1700 Rhode Island Ave. NE, spotted more than 75 boxes of physical and sexual abuse case records in an unlocked, unattended room. In an unlocked closet, inspectors found boxes of missing persons cases and more sexual abuse records.’ MPD says it has started to digitize the records.
WaPo calls it ‘the marriage proposal heard ’round the District.’ Andrew Hertzberg asked partner Andy Rollman to marry him yesterday in front of the council dais. And it was apparently ‘part of a strategy by same-sex marriage supporters to show the “human side” of the issue to the public.’ DCist has the pitch, and LL has a pic of the happy couple! Blade, WJLA-TV/NC8, WRC-TV covers the proposal and the rest of the hearing. Metro Weekly captures a ‘rambling, repetitive, moody, and incomprehenisible’ [sic] Walter Fauntroy (as well as another fringe character). And watch David Catania beating up on poor old Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage.
Marianne Scott, chair of the D.C. Humanities Council, writes at The Root about how a clerical mix-up by city officials have led to a world of hurt for resident Archer Mapp. Tax officials classified his Capitol Hill home as vacant, leading to a doubling of his mortgage payments—-which he then couldn’t make. The city fixed the error quickly, but the fact he missed just a couple of payments led his bank, Wachovia, to embark on foreclosure proceedings that are not easily stopped. Says Mapp: ‘This is not rocket science. This wickedness can’t go on. My bank is benefiting from a property tax mistake. To then be so abusive to a customer and taxpayer when they have received public money is just wrong.’
How to close ‘yawning’ Metro budget shortfall? Kytja Weir reports in Examiner that the ‘transit agency is proposing to cobble together as much as $36 million from federal stimulus funds, rainy-day surplus reserves, insurance claims and presidential inauguration reimbursements to bridge the gap, according to an agency report.’ That’s for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. As Lena Sun notes in WaPo, a ‘much bigger deficit looms for the year beginning July 1; budget preparations underway have already factored in a fare increase.’
ALSO—-Expect weeknight Metro delays.
City transportation officials head to Pacific Northwest to inspect their streetcars, following up on an earlier visit by Williams-era functionaries. Jonathan O’Connell reports in WBJ that ‘DDOT Director Gabe Klein and streetcar czar Scott Kubly are headed out to Portland and Seattle this week, along with folks from three business improvement districts, Downtown, NoMa and Capitol Riverfront, and officials from Georgetown University, a possible future streetcar destination. The idea is to check out both streetcar and light rail systems in both cities.’
Accused judge-stalker’s trial has been delayed until early December, and its jury dismissed, after the accused found herself in the hospital over the weekend. Daniel Newhauser reports in Legal Times. ‘“This is very rare that something like this happens,” presiding Judge Russell Canan told the 14 jurors before releasing them. “You can rest assured this is the least favorable of the options the court considered.”’ Defendant Taylar Nuevelle ‘is scheduled to undergo a medical procedure’ today; when the trial resumes, Magistrate Judge Janet Albert is expected to take the stand.
Georgetown University students call another vigil to protest a second instance of anti-gay hate crime allegations. Jenna Johnson reports in WaPo: ‘Attendees estimated that at least 100 students, staff members and others gathered in the middle of campus on a chilly night, listening to a university vice president and representatives from several student organizations.’ There was also an anti-gay slur scrawled on the door of the student GLBT center. Voice notes that the victims aren’t cooperating with police. Also NC8, WTTG-TV, WRC-TV.
WaPo, WBJ cover Deborah Nichols‘ win v. Nickles. And WaTimes notes that Nickles plans to appeal, ‘suggest[ing] that a legal struggle…has no end in sight.’ Nichols’ lawyer, Bob Spagnoletti, says: ‘The refusal to grant access screams lack of transparency….It’s been delay, delay, delay.’ Is SCOTUS review a possibility?
Stimulus funds saved jobs of ‘educators,’ Leah Fabel reports in Examiner. ‘Virginia has seen the biggest bump, with more than 4,500 positions “saved or created” by last winter’s massive influx of dollars, including almost 3,000 teachers….Maryland reported more than 1,900 positions, in addition to nearly 900 education-related “government service” jobs, such as parole officers. The District reported 141 jobs saved or created, but at the time of reporting had spent less than 1 percent of its total funds.’ LL can think of, say, 226 people who could use some stimulating…
Head of medical supplier indicted on federal health care fraud charges, Scott McCabe reports in Examiner. Donna Carney-Barry faces 20-plus years in jail for ‘billing the system by “upcoding,” providing a patient a cheaper piece of equipment, then billing Medicaid for a higher-priced item….The bills falsely claimed that a patient, for example, required a high-end electric wheelchair, such as the Jazzy 1420 power wheelchair for $14,000 or the Cruiser Bariatric Powerbase Chair for $11,000. Instead of ordering the high-end wheelchair, Carney-Barry would provide a walker or much cheaper piece of equipment, charging documents said.’
Burglars enter Chevy Chase home while family sleeps.
Man stabbed to death near 1st and Halley Streets SE on Saturday night identified as James Clinton Harris, 39.
COLD CASE—-Examiner recalls 2004 slaying of Roderick Valentine, 16.
WaPo looks at parents who send their kids to nearby boarding schools.
DID YOU KNOW?—-Don Peebles is on the cover of this month’s Black Enterprise mag.
WASA’s George Hawkins speaks at Cleveland State University event. Theme: ‘Cowboys and spacemen’!
Tommy Wells talks transpo with Hill blog.
Per DCmud: At least two bid on city-owned parcels in West End.
Another federal judgeship is open to applications.
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute looks at disconnect between rising District unemployment and the city jobs supply, which has stayed relatively flat. ‘It may be yet another sign that the skills of many DC residents are not well matched to the jobs created in the city — and a call for stepped-up workforce training,’ Jenny Reed writes. Also: Name DCFPI’s blog, and win a ‘DCFPI mug, a homemade lunch with the DCFPI gang, and access to all the DC budget books you can imagine’!
Chuck Thies isn’t happy how Harry Jaffe‘s column on the Black Rooster’s reprieve cut out his role in the matter: ‘Instead of penning a well-reported feel-good story about the resurrection of The Black Rooster, a local pundit and elected official demonstrate what happens when things get too cozy; Truth gets buried in the rubble of collateral damage.’
New WETA-TV doc: ‘Washington in the ’60s‘
FLOTUS launches mentoring program for local high-schoolers.
Get your official MPD-issue inauguration commemorative badge, coin, and pin—-just $310!
NC8: METRO GERM PATROL!!!
Oh, yeah…there are some elections today.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: 19th legislative meeting, JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, Consolidated Forensics Laboratory demolition, former MPD 1st District headquarters, 14th and School Streets SW.