IN LL WEEKLY—-The New Cronies: ‘God,’ some frat buddies, and $86 million in city spending.
Greetings all. LL is currently livetweeting/liveblogging the D.C. Council’s inquisition of Michelle Rhee and CFO Natwar Gandhi and their deputies on the Oct. 2 DCPS layoffs. NC8 has set up the hearing as a ‘day of reckoning’ for the chancellor. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty won’t be there. He explained on WRC-TV this morning that he won’t appear before the council, just as the likes of Michael Bloomberg, Richard M. Daley, and Barack Obama are not in the habit of making appearances before their respective legislative branches. A good, if self-aggrandizing answer. Also good (and self-aggrandizing) is his explanation for why he’s at war with the council over parks contracts sent through the D.C. Housing Authority: ‘If you run a $10 billion organization, there are going to be things you just don’t agree about at the end of the day.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-City settles with Wilmot and IDI; suit by DPR child care workers is tossed from federal court; cops want murder tipster to call back; H Street Martini Lounge shuttered after fight; archdiocese threatens nuclear option on gay marriage bill; and is Mendo running for council chair?
That didn’t take long: The city has settled with David Wilmot‘s Individual Development Inc., avoiding a court battle that could have sent the operator of group homes for the mentally disabled into receivership. Writes Henri Cauvin in WaPo: ‘The settlement, announced Wednesday night by the District, caps a tumultuous month for [IDI], which has been under fire not only for deficiencies in care but for the unusually high salary paid to its politically connected chairman….Under the terms of the agreement, an outside monitor will oversee IDI’s compliance with the settlement and will have the authority to impose fines and to order the revocation of its licenses and certifications…Wednesday’s agreement allows the IDI leaders to remain in control of the organization and its homes. But they will be under considerably more scrutiny.’
And a solid, if not wholly decisive win for Peter Nickles: The suit filed by DPR child care workers seeking to save their jobs is tossed by a federal judge, Legal Times reports. Judge Thomas Hogan says that the ‘claims did not belong in a federal court.’ Hogan’s opinion found ‘that while it was possible the officials had violated District law, the firings did not meet the constitutional standard of “shocking the conscience.” The union’s lawyer, Donald Temple of Washington’s Temple Law Offices, said he “definitely” plans to refile his suit at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.’
WaPo editorial board wants Hill Democrats to man up and muster the political will to pass the D.C. House Voting Rights Act: ‘We don’t deny the legislative difficulties. But when they really care, Democratic leaders manage to devise legislative strategies around far greater obstacles….It is increasingly clear that D.C. voting rights are being treated as a special-interest issue that is losing out to other party priorities—-and not as the civil rights issue that it is and that Democratic leaders have long claimed to believe it to be.’
Michael Birnbaum, in WaPo, describes how Brent Elementary pulled out all the stops to get as many kids as possible in school yesterday for the annual official head count. The tally ‘will help determine whether D.C. schools have stanched decades of enrollment decline, a development that many believe would have deep importance as a marker of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s changes.’ The count is being done by politically connected Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio & Associates; its final count ‘will come out in the first quarter of next year.’
WTOP’s Mark Segraves reports that Phil Mendelson is considering a run for council chairman, citing ‘buzz inside City Hall.’ Says Mendo, ‘I’ve been around long enough to know you never say never.’ If buzz is the standard, LL will add Kwame Brown, Muriel Bowser, and maybe Jim Graham to the list.
Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff refuses to stay teacher firings, Bill Turque reports at D.C. Wire. But she ‘left the door open to taking action next week,’ telling a city lawyer, ‘The District should be prepared for the possibility that the teachers be put back on the rolls.’
WaPo columnist Robert McCartney looks at Monday’s gay marriage testimony and sees pretty much the same thing LL sees: no ‘persuasive argument about how society would suffer by letting two men or two women say “I do.”…Instead, I heard a lot of flawed appeals saying that a citywide ballot on the issue is necessary to protect people’s voting rights, plus some incendiary rhetoric about the purported risks to children and families of “redefining” marriage….The testimony highlighted the extent to which the opponents, although sincere, are committed to a dreary cause: intolerance.’
WUSA-TV reports that the Archdiocese of Washington is threatening to shutter Catholic Charities if the council gay marriage bill is not amended. ‘While it would not require religions to marry same sex couples, churches and religious institutions that receive government dollars would be required under civil law to grant equal access to same sex married couples. Catholic Church Spokeswoman Susan Gibbs says the church cannot comply because that would amount to a recognition of Same Sex Marriage.’
Buddy Roogow replaces Jay Young as chief executive of the D.C. Lottery. Roogow had headed Maryland’s lottery for 13 years, where he ‘established himself as a consummate and colorful promoter of the lottery, even offering tickets to legislators who oversaw his agency budget during hearings.’ Roogow also helped to implement slots in the Free State. He tells the Baltimore Sun, ‘An opportunity presented itself….I decided it’s the right thing for me. It’s a new challenge.’
Police Chief Cathy Lanier closes down H Street Martini Lounge ‘after a fight broke out there Tuesday evening….Two men at the bar got into an altercation, and one of them had stab injuries, police said.’ Also WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
Police officials reach out to persons who might have information on the shooting of 17-year-old Kenyetta Nicholson-Stanley in Edgewood Terrace earlier this month—-particularly “an anonymous caller [who] gave D.C. police details critical to the investigation.’ WaPo’s Theola Labbé-DeBose says that ‘the police need more information, and the tipster never called again.’ Reward has been upped to $50,000. Also WTOP, NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
Tim Craig notes at D.C. Wire, as LL did yesterday, that Mary Cheh probably shouldn’t have referred to ‘smuggling’ Ximena Hartsock.
ALSO—-Religious leaders are challenging Craig’s estimate of the attendance at the Sunday anti-gay-marriage rally. It was 2,000, they say, not about 150. Pictures, however, don’t lie.
Parking meters get problematic: Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner that meter complaints soared in fiscal 2009, with the 142,000 registered complaints representing a more than 20 percent increase over the prior year. ‘The average for 2009: a staggering 389 grievances every day. No other area of DDOT responsibility, from street repair to traffic signals and trees, topped 10,000 complaints.’ And the agency ‘has an “active campaign” to replace aging equipment with new single-space meters, or multispace meters in high demand areas. Older meters are getting new main boards and coin track components, he said. And there are vague plans to try other technology, like pay-by-phone meters.’
Ahead of today’s hearing, Jonetta Rose Barras argues that Chairman Vincent C. Gray & Co. can’t act blameless when Michelle Rhee argues that council budget cuts caused teacher firings. ‘Gray, siding with unions, has blamed the mayor and [Rhee], asserting the legislature isn’t responsible for the layoff of more than 300 workers. He has fueled flames by spinning numbers….Legislators cut the schools budget by nearly $21 million, including 50 percent of summer school funds; they also rejected a 2 percent increase in per pupil spending. (That’s nearly half of the total $43 million the chancellor is trying to find in her budget.)…The council doesn’t want the chancellor to mess with adults and their jobs. The needs of children be damned. Fortunately, Rhee doesn’t share its philosophy.’
Rest easy, Steve Coleman: ‘Congressional lawmakers Wednesday rebuked the Forest Service for spending stimulus forest firefighting money on D.C. green-jobs programs, but gave the city the money anyway,’ Stephen Dinan reports in WaTimes. Most of that $2.8m is going to Coleman’s Washington Parks & People to establish a ‘green job corps.’ The Hill compromise is that ‘in the future all firefighting money will have to actually be aimed at reducing fire dangers.’
SAYS JOHN ENSIGN—-‘This is another example of poorly spent stimulus funds. Nevada is constantly under considerable risk for wildfires, and money going to Washington, D.C., to fight forest fires, when there are no forests in D.C., makes little sense to me.’
GW Hatchet covers Hartsock controversy. She’s a GWU alum, after all!
Largo man, 31, charged with killing witness in federal drug case.
Where is Vincent Knight, wanted on drug distribution charges?
DDOT awards grants for public space projects
BOO BUS IS BACK—-Haunted Metrobus returns to Anacostia station tonight.
Marion Barry stumps for kidney donation with his personal donor Kim Dickens.
Joe Englert‘s Argonaut is temporarily shuttered in tax dispute.
Georgetown Voice: ‘Although streetcars may evoke images of the District as a blossoming, vaguely European paradise of public transportation options, the reality is that streetcars are a terrible choice for D.C.’
Pamela Butler: Still missing.
Husing Complex’s Ruth Samuelson wants to know what’s going on with McMillan site development. Answer: not much.
Benning Gardens Apartments sold for $2.3M, WBJ reports. ‘Almost all of the units were vacant, and the buyer plans on making it affordable Section 8 housing.’
Worship service tonight in support of gay marriage.
It’s official: Robert Bobb will stay in Detroit another year.
Politico has video of Hizzoner hanging out with drag queens at High Heel Race, including “Michelle Rhee.”
WCP’s Sarah Godfrey explains which rappers brought you the term ‘DMV.’ Not that DMV!
Why does Oklahoma City have less unemployment than the D.C. area?
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole roundtable on ‘The District of Columbia Public Schools 2009-2010 Equalization Process, Budget Reductions, and Reductions in Force,’ JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-11:30 a.m.: remarks, DC Counts 2010 Census campaign announcement, Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center, 3500 Martin Luther King Ave. SE.