City Paper is not for tourists
Morning all. Perhaps, on Friday evening, you saw that Attorney General Peter Nickles had determined that controversial parks contracts routed through the D.C. Housing Authority had to be approved by the D.C. Council (LL, Examiner, WaPo) and you thought, perhaps, that the brinksmanship between Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and councilmembers was finally easing. You’d have been wrong. News that Fenty, with Nickles’ blessing, had decided to keep ousted parks director Ximena Hartsock on the job pending her replacement prompted another high-profile tussle, as related in a Sunday WaPo B1 story. Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh called Fenty’s shop ‘almost…a lawless administration,’ prompting Nickles to retort that Cheh ‘has no idea what she’s talking about…She’s an angry woman.’ The AG went on to warn the council against rejecting the parks contracts, saying, ‘they’ll have to answer to the voters.’ So what now? Writes WaPo, in a slight understatement: ‘Few expect the tension to subside.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Council should have noticed the contract runaround sooner, Jonetta says; gay marriage hearing bonanza today; WaPo ed board wants Fenty to do some ‘splainin’ for once; council digs in to SLED contract; Hill clock ticks on voting rights bill; Maryland man pimps foster child on D.C. streets
Jonetta Rose Barras with more on the history of independent procurement authority and DPR: ‘The project manager model gained popularity during the control board’s and Mayor Anthony A. Williams‘ tenures. Neil Albert, then the director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, hired Jair Lynch/Alpha and the Temple Group to supervise the renovation of several recreation facilities….Eventually the city’s inspector general conducted an audit and found DPR paid Lynch and Temple for work that wasn’t done or was done poorly because of insufficient planning.’ And some questions for the CMs: ‘Why didn’t [Kwame Brown], who chairs the committee overseeing the deputy mayor, know that office had signed an agreement with the Housing Authority?…Why didn’t [Harry Thomas Jr.], who oversees the DPR, know the agency’s capital funds had been transferred to the deputy mayor’s office?…As chairwoman of committee that oversees procurement, isn’t it Cheh’s responsibility to examine what agencies with independent authority are doing with that freedom?’ See also her Web column.
From Gary Imhoff in themail: ‘In the past three years, the Fenty administration has compiled a record of corruption and outright contempt for the law and the other branches of government that makes the second and third Barry administrations look like paragons of uprightness by comparison. Yet some of the same people who derided Barry and said they could not understand how people could continue to vote for a mayor who was making DC a laughingstock of the nation still support Fenty and declare their admiration for the way he governs. Here’s my question: why?’
The ‘People’s Rally’ hit Freedom Plaza yesterday afternoon, with ‘small but noisy group of protesters, many bused in from churches,’ protesting gay marriage in the District. Yvette Alexander was among them, according to WAMU-FM. Tim Craig‘s WaPo story on the rally also covers today’s BOEE and D.C. Council hearings on the matter. The council hearing now has 269 registered witnesses, as Michael Neibauer points out in Examiner, including the ‘Alternatives to Marriage Project, a group that promotes “equality and fairness for unmarried people,” will be on hand …to save domestic partnerships.’ Also NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV.
Also, from WaPo: ‘[F]ive law professors and Marc D. Stern, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, sent a letter to council members Friday asking that religious organizations be given more latitude to deny services for same-sex weddings.’ The current language says churches can refuse to accommodate same-sex marriages as long as wedding accommodations are open only to the particular congregation. The letter-writers want blanket language saying that a church ‘can deny “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges” for same-sex marriages without fear of running afoul of anti-discrimination laws.’
The WaPo editorial board addresses the political gamesmanship that’s followed the firing of DCPS teachers, including the 18-hour D.C. Council hearing/show trial. ‘There’s plenty of blame to go around for the nasty tone of the debate—-union leaders with self-interest in fomenting unrest, a mayor obtuse to his obligation to work cooperatively, D.C. Council members intent on undermining the executive—-but, in the end, none of that really matters. What’s critical, and what hangs in the balance, is education reform. It’s time the District’s leaders stopped acting like children and started thinking of them.’ And, yes, there are some rare critical words for Hizzoner: ‘Mr. Fenty has made too little effort to explain or build political consensus for the changes….We hope that Mr. Fenty shows up [at a council hearing this week] to personally express his regrets that relations have become so tattered.’
Another police shooting: Cops kill man on Saturday morning in Petworth after a struggle over a gun, WaPo reports. ‘Two or more people fled as police arrived, according to police accounts, and were pursued. One of those who fled drew a gun, but it fell….An officer grappled with the man, and as the two struggled, the man retrieved the gun, [Chief Cathy Lanier] said. She said the officer fired a shot, striking the man in the shoulder….Lanier said she is concerned about the number of armed suspects who are willing to challenge police. “It’s a worrisome trend,” she said.’ The shooter has been identified as a 10-year MPD vet. Also AP, NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
Council digs into OSSE’s Kerri Briggs, OCP’s David Gragan over problems with $12M schools database. Bill Turque reports at D.C. Wire that Gray and fellow CMs noted that they had approved the original contract ‘despite reservations about tight deadlines and the wherewithal of the firm….”We were assured the deadlines were appropriate and that the contractor was up to the task,” said Gray. Instead, the District has spent $5.5 million “to fund a project with no apparent tangible results,” he added, calling the whole venture “a sordid mess.”‘ Also WaTimes.
Honchos from Friends of Bedford, the group now operating Coolidge and Dunbar high schools, talk to WaPo’s Jay Mathews about the RIF: ‘They don’t blame any particular person at school headquarters or on the D.C. Council for the sudden cut in their budget. But they cannot get over the notion that any school district would consider cutting staff in the first month of the school year. “Who does that?!” asks [the COO]….Still, they are optimistic because so much at the two schools has changed. They have strong local support….D.C. surprised them. They say they will return the favor.’
ALSO—-WTU amends RIF lawsuit. Says Nickles, ‘It’s a bunch of baloney, but we have to deal with it.’
Colby King, in his Saturday column, flits from the crime lab to gay marriage to teacher firings to, you guessed it, youth violence. ‘The politicians may not know—-or care—-about the extent of gang activity in the schools, but students—-the ones who pay attention in class, do their homework and try to get along with their teachers and classmates—-know all about the crews. And they have to live with the fear and intimidation that accompany that knowledge—-just as Mothers of Unsolved Murders must live with the pain of not knowing who killed their children, just as sexual assault victims must live in fear of attackers still at large….Just as our self-absorbed city leaders with their badly skewed priorities must live with themselves.’
Harry Jaffe counts 67 days before the D.C. House Voting Rights Act is dead for good. ‘My arithmetic is simple: there are six more days this month, 30 in November and 31 in December until the end of the year. My reasoning comes from D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has devoted much of her time and political capital to gaining passage of the D.C. Voting Rights Bill. She tells me the odds of gaining a vote on the House floor drop precipitously in 2010. “There are legal technicalities involved,” she says, “and the benefits to Utah might not be as great next year, once the census is complete.”‘
311 call answering times are way up, Neibauer reports in Examiner. City data shows that ‘the percentage of calls answered within 30 seconds fell from 86.5 percent in fiscal 2008 to 60.7 percent in the first quarter of 2009, 71.8 percent in the second quarter and 62.2 percent in the third.’ Phil Mendelson says that OUC chief Janis Quintana might have ‘shifted 311 call-takers to 911 to keep those numbers up. Or, he said, low morale among OUC staff may be having “consequential problems.”‘
ALSO—-Mendo wants to know where MPD’s school security plan is. It was due to councilmembers on Aug. 15.
Pepin Tuma, the lawyer arrested in July after allegedly saying ‘I hate the police’ within earshot of an officer, appeared before the D.C. Council to stump for a rewrite of the city disorderly conduct law. As Arthur Delaney reports at HuffPo, Tuima’s former firm, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, is ‘representing Tuma on pro bono basis in an effort to clear his name’ and ‘advising Tuma in his effort to get city lawmakers to change the disorderly conduct statute and the dubious “post and forfeit” process.’ Legal Times also covers the hearing, noting the the police union opposes a change to the law. So too do Lanier and Nickles, writing in a letter to Mendelson that it ‘would be a mistake to let this case in which an officer is alleged to have acted outside both the law and Department policy drive the current discussion about revisions to the law.’
Jerky stops and starts on Metro trains are making riders sick, Katherine Shaver reports in WaPo. ‘Most of those affected blame the more-sudden stops and starts from trains operating in manual mode since [the Red Line crash]. However, Metro officials said some of the problem also stems from the post-crash reconfiguration of trains, which are made up of different models of cars whose braking systems can be slightly out of sync.’
DDOT ponders pay-for-parking-by-phone options, Examiner reports.
H1N1 CORNER—-Thousands lined up this weekend for swine flu vaccine at city schools, yet Michael Laris reports in WaPo that ‘despite a national vaccine shortage and a week in which some in the region were turned away, officials used less than half’ the doses stockpiled. ‘There were at least two explanations. First, to avoid having their scant supplies overwhelmed, officials had limited who was eligible. Second, many in the area seemed content to add a little Zen to their vaccination acquisition efforts.’ And Laris also explained that ‘some residents in the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods are ignoring [the] vaccination push.’ Says one, ‘It’s a hustle.’
Maryland man Shelby Lewis pimped his 12-year-old foster child on D.C. streets, a federal court finds. Freeman Klopott reports in Examiner that Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson ‘reached that conclusion after hearing testimony from a District detective who said that Lewis “forced four youths to engage in commercial sex acts on various prostitution ‘tracks,’ in repayment for living in his home.” Lewis’ foster child was one of the youngest of his alleged harem, court documents said.’ Robinson denied Lewis bail.
Could Chandra Levy have been murdered somewhere other than Rock Creek Park? That’s what alleged killer Ingmar Guandique‘s defense team is postulating, according to WaPo’s Keith Alexander. One of the defense attorneys says they ‘want to test and review items from areas outside the park because “we don’t believe the park is the crime scene.”‘ The items include objects from Gary Condit‘s apartment.
WaPo readers react to the AIDS spending expose.
Millicent Williams is your new head of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, replacing Darrell Darnell, who moves to an Obama administration post. Williams, 39, had been chief of the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp. and, prior to that, leader of Serve D.C.
D.C. man Aaron Roberts, 31, sentenced to 35 years for killing bouncer in Hyattsville in August 2008.
Curtis Waldron, 20, charged in Oct. 12 double shooting that killed Chicquelo Abney, 18, on the streets of Southwest. No motive has been disclosed.
Nathaniel C. Robinson, 44, is found shot to death on the 1200 block of Crittenden Street NW in Petworth.
Five Metrobus riders are hurt after the B7 was struck late Friday at Minnesota Avenue and Clay Place NE.
WaPo’s Allison Klein covers nifty mobile fingerprint readers used by suburban cops. MPD’s about to start using 20 of them. ‘Fairfax police deployed the device recently to identify an unconscious woman who had been in a traffic accident. In Montgomery, police used it a few weeks ago to arrest a robbery suspect who was lying about his identity. And in Alexandria, it was key in detaining a man who was part of an identity theft ring….The units have become part of a trend of military technology trickling down to local police agencies, often through federal grants.’
D.C. police recruits remember officer Oscar A. McKimmie, shot to death by a burglar in 1920 while on the beat. ‘With the help of an amateur genealogist, newspaper clippings and cemetery records, Cadet Brian A. Gates slowly pieced together McKimmie’s story,’ Jenna Johnson reports in WaPo. ‘The 30 cadets in Gates’s class visited the cemetery in June, strolling past intricately carved stones and expecting to find a similar monument to McKimmie. What they found was a marker that did not even include his name. They pooled their money for a headstone….On Saturday morning, the cadets and about a dozen of McKimmie’s descendants gathered around a modern headstone of gray granite on which appears the image of a D.C. police badge and the words “Taken Too Soon.”‘
Jewish Primary Day School gets $5M pledge. ‘The money, which comes from an anonymous donor, will allow the school to renovate its building, create a capital reserve fund, build a new outdoor play area and expand its scholarship program.’
WaPo Mag does Q&A with Mary Cheh: ‘I wasn’t always sufficiently aware of what the [D.C.] Council did before I got involved with it. On the night of my election victory . . . I met some other people, and I wasn’t entirely aware that they were Council members. Then someone pointed it out for me, and I went back and said, “Oh, we’re going to be colleagues.”‘
ALSO—-Cheh brags: ‘I have 800 songs on my iPod. I even have one of those mini iPods so I can listen to it while I’m biking.’ Very dangerous, councilmember! LL also spotted Tommy Wells on Sunday riding his bike on Capitol Hill without a helmet! Tsk tsk!
Foreshadowing? ‘Anti-incumbent wave pounds city halls‘
Michelle Rhee speaks to Citizens Association of Georgetown, is ‘well received.’
ALSO—-Baltimore superintendent responds to Rhee comparison: ‘I would be proud if the person I finished second to is Michelle Rhee. Hopefully, we finish in a tie.’ And Deborah Gist in fell swoop eliminates seniority-based teacher placements in Rhode Island, eliciting Rhee comparisons herself.
The Washington Teacher airs allegations from council hearing that McKinley principal ‘created false transcripts of classes for certain McKinley High School students. [Teacher] reported that these students never took the classes that appeared on their transcripts and actually received high school credits and grades.’
Sara Mead, senior research fellow with the New America Foundation, is the newest member of the Public Charter School Board, replacing Dora Marcus.
Matthew Yglesias on streetcars.
Nat Turner’s Revenge does a compare and contrast of Fenty and Cory Booker. And oh so much more.
NC8 covers ABRA investigation of Adams Mill Bar and Grill in connection with GWU student’s death.
Newsweek writer who describes D.C. as living under ‘apartheid’ withdraws the reference after Kwame Brown et al. complain.
Detroit Free Press says, in endorsing D.C. native Dave Bing for a full term as mayor, that Robert Bobb is working ‘what seem to be financial miracles in the [school] system’ there, while the Detroit News says voters should approve school bond issue ‘only if Bobb agrees to stay on the job.’
So long to Dupont Blockbuster.
Columbia Heights Heritage Trail is unveiled. PoP is there!
Jerald Woody, community and youth activist, is dead at 61.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-2 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation roundtable on PR18-402 (‘District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors David Bardin Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), PR18-403 (‘District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors Howard Croft Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), PR18-404 (‘District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors Joseph Cotruvo Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), and PR18-406 (‘District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors Maurice Boissiere Confirmation Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 412; 3:30 p.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on B18-482 (‘Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009’), JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-4:15 p.m.: remarks, DPR Play Day announcement, King Greenleaf Recreation Center, 201 N St. SW.