We value your support now more than ever.
All year we’ve been covering the issues that matter most to you—the pandemic, the election, policing, housing, and more—and now our end of year membership campaign is here. Will you support our work to ensure we can bring you the same informative local reporting in 2021?
IN LL WEEKLY—-Out With the Old: Fenty’s war against the old guard continues, with David Wilmot as main target.
Greetings all. WTOP’s Mark Segraves covers the maybe-candidacy of Don Peebles, noting that the megadeveloper has a large hurdle to overcome: He’d need to move back to the District. ‘His spokesperson says Peebles is registered to vote in D.C., but but public records show he isn’t and hasn’t been since 1999.’ (LL also notes that he is not taking the homestead deduction on the $5.9M Embassy Row mansion he purchased in 2007.) Says Mark Plotkin: ‘He’s lacking credentials when he himself does not care enough to register to vote.’ And WBJ’s Jonathan O’Connell delivers a more stinging reality check to Peebles, noting that he’d have to face ‘questions about his living in Florida, his not having voted in D.C. since the 1990s…and his willingness to sue jurisdictions where he does business.’ He also notes that Peebles ‘took some surprising shots at [Mayor Adrian M. Fenty]’s economic development work, criticizing developer Chris Donatelli for a practice—-raising money for a political candidate who could help his business—-that Peebles has built a 25-year career on.’ Snap!
AFTER THE JUMP—-Sex-ed researchers says D.C. kids want Trojans; most taxi defendants were mere pawns, WCP finds; Gandhi can Nickle with the best of ’em; more stories from laid-off D.C. teachers; rich guy flexes his political muscle in front of reporter
Sex education in the District needs an overhaul, new survey finds. At a D.C. Council hearing yesterday, study funded by David Catania‘s health committee is unveiled, revealing that 250 DCPS students interviewed ‘were unimpressed with the District’s sex education curriculum, do not trust the school nurses who are charged with counseling them about disease prevention and disdain the brand of condoms distributed by schools…[and] that school nurses were “judgmental and untrustworthy,”‘ Darryl Fears reports in WaPo. About those prophylactics: ‘Durex condoms, the brand widely distributed by the Health Department under a contract, are considered lame and more likely to pop or break, students said. They said they prefer Trojan or Magnum.’ Can’t argue with brand loyalty. Also WAMU-FM.
The WaPo editorial board calls for fair play in the D.C. Council for the new, rebid lottery contract. Intralot, which won the first round of bidding, won again, this time without a controversial local partner. But not having a local partner, of course, is controversial. No matter: ‘The admirable aim of the District’s minority and local set-asides—-to help develop local businesses—-is set on its head when local partners exist mainly to get, not do, business. That’s not to minimize the importance of helping local industry, a fact that Intralot recognized with its pledge to hire a certain percentage of D.C. residents.’
WCP’s Jason Cherkis looks at the targets of the federal taxi investigation—-in particular, the more than 30 aspiring cab drivers alleged to have paid bribes for hack licenses. ‘At first glance, the allegations against this group of men have all the hallmarks of a ground-up bribery scandal. There was cash; there were envelopes; there were secret meetings….But as many of the defendants will argue in court: How can you pay a bribe if everything about the alleged scheme was kept secret from you? If you knew nothing about the money you handed over and the man to whom you handed it? If you were led to believe that everything you were doing was proper?’
More on yesterday morning’s police-involved shooting. The man shot and killed by police was James Broadus Miller, 19, and had confronted officers with a gun in a Carver Terrace apartment, Theola Labbé-DeBose reports in WaPo. ‘Fearing for their lives, they fired their weapons, authorities said.’ Also Examiner.
Nickles v. Nichols grinds on. D.C. Auditor Deborah Nichols has asked Superior Court Judge Eugene Hamilton to declare Peter Nickles in contempt of court, Jeffrey Anderson reports in WaTimes. Meanwhile, the court battle has given cover to CFO Nat Gandhi to deny Nichols similar AWC/NCRC records, pending the outcome of Nickles’ appeal. WBJ’s O’Connell points out that ‘[t]his is the same chief financial officer who, two years ago next month, was sitting before the D.C. Council explaining how $44 million was stolen from the tax office and the many controls he was installing “to regain the public trust that has been so badly shaken.”‘
NYT’s Ian Urbina covers the tug-of-war D.C. child welfare system: ‘In the furor that followed [the Banita Jacks discovery], the child welfare system that was blamed for not preventing the deaths has drastically improved, city officials said this week. But questions remain about whether the improvements go far enough in fixing an agency that has been under federal court oversight for two decades.’
LL owes major mea culpas for missing this yesterday: Paul Schwartzman‘s WaPo Style profile of veteran Blade reporter Lou Chibbaro Jr. ‘The Washington Blade turns 40 this month, and no one has worked there longer than Chibbaro, 60, who has covered it all—-the political campaigns, the historic marches, the scandals, the rise of AIDS, the hate crimes and more than a few salacious murders….In a profession that has spawned its share of colorful characters, Chibbaro has all the panache of an accountant, complete with bookish eyeglasses, sensible shoes and a gentle expression that betrays no agenda. His main tool is a fat, source-rich Rolodex, the only one remaining in the tech-happy and ever more youthful Blade newsroom. He also has the only clunky old cassette tape recorder, and the only filing cabinets jammed with files.’ A fine tribute to a fine reporter—-read it!
And in today’s Style section, do check out Mary Jordan‘s profile of investor and philanthropist Joe Robert, who is dying of brain cancer. ‘Robert, 57, has been described as a business genius, the capital’s most generous philanthropist, an extreme workaholic, an eligible bachelor and “the most influential Washingtonian you’ve never heard of.” He made a fortune, gave away tens of millions, and raised hundreds of millions more for charity. He has directed more than $1 billion to Washington area children, if you add in his lobbying for federal funds. None of it came easy.’
LL quotes this vignette in full:
“You got to get down here!” Robert yelled into the cellphone at a protest rally on Capitol Hill. He had just dialed Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty’s private line.
It was only a few days after Robert’s latest round of chemotherapy. Dressed in a baseball cap with an American flag on it, jeans and a gray Marines sweatshirt, he looked like a gym teacher among the hundreds of kids in Catholic-school uniforms. “Put kids first! Put kids first!” Robert joined the chant, pumping his fist in the air.
He worked himself into a lather, a real righteous froth, as he talked about the “moral obligation” to give poor children the same shot as wealthy kids at the best private and parochial schools. He pointed to the Capitol and said right now, this minute, members of Congress were trying to kill the District’s school choice and voucher program.
“Doesn’t matter what you are doing,” Robert told the mayor. “This is urgent. What could be more important?”
Robert hears the clock ticking. In February, he learned why his vision suddenly blurred on a ski trip. Glioblastoma. The same brain cancer that struck Sen. Edward Kennedy. “I want to put the ball through the hoop as many times as I can before the clock runs out,” he said.
Councilman Marion Barry arrived at the rally, and Robert gave him a bearhug. As Barry went to the microphone, Robert said he “converted” the former mayor to the school choice cause at a dinner party last year.
Without a good education, he said, disadvantaged youths set off “on the race of life with no shoes.”
September unemployment data is out: The rate is now at 11.4 percent, with 15,400 jobs lost. But, says DOES, the ‘net losses [are] entirely due to the last of the Summer Youth Employment Program participants (-16,000) exiting the program.’ See WBJ for a regional perspective.
Next month, of course, the numbers will reflect the nearly 400 teachers and school staff laid off Oct. 2. WaPo’s Bill Turque recounts some of their stories, as told at last Friday’s 18-hour council hearing. Perhaps the most fascinating is that of Robin Skulrak, a fourth-grade teacher who joined DCPS as part of the Rhee-supported D.C. Teaching Fellows. Skulrak testified that ‘the message was that she was there to save students from the malpractice of older, ineffective instructors. “I was told that my colleagues were not as worthy as I was and that I was the future of education,” she told the council….Because she considered herself “a part of Rhee’s gang,” she e-mailed her directly when the principal didn’t respond to complaints about the conditions. She said maintenance showed up the next day.’ She thinks her principal moved to fire her ‘as payback for going around him to Rhee.’ Also Informer.
ALSO—-DCPS ‘has quietly reinstated 25 teachers terminated last summer under the so-called “90-day plan,”‘ Turque reports. ‘Principals identified roughly 150 teachers for the program, and about 80 were ultimately fired. Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson said the 25 dismissals were walked back because of “ambiguity” in the existing labor contract and language in the school system’s old personnel evaluation plan.’
Earlier this week, the Baltimore Sun compared the reformist tenures of Rhee and Baltimore schools chief Andrés Alonso: ‘Rhee is locked in confrontation with the union over contract negotiations and a recent decision to lay off 200 teachers. National labor leaders have called for her ouster, and the city council is holding raucous public hearings on the issue. By contrast, in Baltimore, where city school students also registered historic gains recently on statewide tests in reading and math, [Alonso] has enjoyed smooth sailing almost from the beginning….What accounts for the difference? It is of course a combination of things – personality, politics and other factors – that make each situation unique….Still, there’s little doubt the personal leadership styles of the two CEOs have largely determined how reform efforts have been received. In public, at least, Mr. Alonso eschews drama. Ms. Rhee, by contrast, once appeared on the cover of a national news magazine wielding a broom to symbolize her intention of cleaning house….Ms. Rhee’s tone can seem shrill when she addresses the issue, wheras Mr. Alonso cultivates an intense but non-threatening persona that allows him to mostly avoid public notice.’
Blogger lauds the ‘Washington Education Miracle.’
Jonetta Rose Barras writes up WUSA-TV reporter Bruce Johnson‘s new book, about how a heart attack a decade ago changed his life. ‘Most people focus on medical issues associated with heart disease. “[But] I wanted to talk about the human and emotional sides because that’s where I felt I was on my own,” Johnson said. Despite the trauma and the months of recovery, he called his attack the “best thing that happened to me. It got me off the treadmill and made me reassess everything in my life.”‘
WaPo reporters offer a status report on DCision 2010 in District Notebook.
D.C. Appleseed’s Walter Smith makes the case in WaPo op-ed for local health care reform—-by using CareFirst’s allegedly execessive reserves to lower premiums. Tapping that piggy bank ‘could bring almost immediate premium relief to millions of people in the national capital area. Furthermore, because CareFirst is the dominant insurer in the area, a reduction in its premiums could benefit not just its own subscribers but also those of its competitors, which would be under pressure to cut their rates to keep pace.’
Kwame Brown intro’s bill to allow package booze sales at Convention Center trade shows.
FEMS put together a 10-minute documentary on the Red Line Metro crash. Spox Pete Piringer tells WTOP ‘the video cost about $3,000 to produce and will be shown to community groups as well as part of training sessions. The documentary blends footage of news reports, interviews with first responders as well as footage shot at a prayer service for the victims.’ Also NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV. It’s on YouTube.
Metro to study bus emissions, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. The $200K investigation, conducted by WVU researchers, will ‘settle once and for all which of its bus types, compressed natural gas, clean diesel or hybrid, runs cleaner and is more cost effective.’
Darryl Tipps, 45, pleads guilty to threatening AUSA Deborah Sines and her son. A co-conspirator was convicted earlier this month.
Construction mishap leads to gas leak yesterday afternoon at 6th and D Streets NW. Four office buildings were evacuated for about an hour.
MetroAccess vehicle gets into accident at 27th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE; rider is hurt.
Shots fired Monday at Good Hope Road McDonald’s. WTTG-TV has tape.
District secures restraining order against 14th Street sex club where man died.
DCFPI’s Elissa Silverman makes the case for ‘combined reporting’—-because ‘national corporations have been allowed to engage in complicated tax-avoidance strategies that artificially shift profits they earn in DC to places with lower taxes or no taxes at all….Mayor Fenty and the DC Council made the right move to join 23 other states which use combined reporting. They need to remain steadfast in their decision.’
WRC-TV with an update on the condition of Amanda Mahnke, struck by a Metrobus in September: ‘she’s doing better.’
WTTG-TV is no longer employing teleprompter operators. Rather, Fox 5 anchors will now have to run their own prompters ‘using a series of hand levers and foot pedals, all while they’re reading the news as it scrolls by.’ Mark Feldstein don’t like it.
Catholic U. is getting more than 1,000 solar panels, ‘creating the largest solar energy system in the Washington area.’ The panels are expected to generate 0.75 percent of the university’s energy.
J.O. Wilson ES principal honored with national award.
Everything you need to know about the Union Station Intermodal Transportation Center Feasibility Study.
Condos are finally moving at Logan Circle’s Metropole.
FAIR BE WARNED—-Coast Guard exercise tomorrow in Potomac. Talking to you, CNN!
Did you know that a maker of submachine guns is headquartered in the District? Well, not anymore.
Georgetown sophomore, 19, advertises on campus for a personal assistant—-‘someone to tackle “some of my everyday tasks,” such as organizing his closet, dropping him off and picking him up from work, scheduling haircuts, putting gas in the car and taking it in for service, managing his electronic accounts and doing laundry….The successful applicant can expect to work three to seven hours a week and make $10 to $12 an hour, although “on occasion it will be possible to work additional hours and/or receive bonuses at my discretion.”‘ Kudos to the Voice for exposing this d-bag.
MEA CULPA—-Yesterday, LL referred to Mary Cheh as ‘Councilmember Doolittle.’ That was a terrible mistake—-should have been ‘Councilmember Dolittle.’
TODAY—-Cathy Lanier is on NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt for the full hour, 4 p.m. on NewsChannel 8.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor with Barbara Harrison, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 11 a.m.: remarks, Walter Reed property announcement, 6925 Georgia Ave. NW.