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Morning all. The front page of Sunday’s WaPo featured one of those big-time investigative stories that it’s nice to know a major metropolitan daily is still capable of. Reporter Debbie Cenziper spent some 10 months examining the record of the city’s HIV/AIDS Administration, particularly its grants to housing providers, in a series called ‘Wasting Away.’ She found that the city ‘awarded more than $25 million from 2004 to 2008 to nonprofit agencies marked by questionable spending, a lack of clients, or lapses in record-keeping and care.’ But will Cenziper’s work have any meaningful political fallout? Not likely. The investigation spans the last years of Anthony A. Williams‘ mayoralty and the first years of Adrian M. Fenty‘s, and the first article in the series traces much of the malfeasance to HAA supervisor Debra Rowe, who was fired last year by new HAA director Shannon Hader, a Fenty hire. Councilmember David Catania, who’s overseen the health department during the period in question, has been a firebrand on the issue of HAA mismanagement for years. So it’s as yet unclear what accountability might look like.
AFTER THE JUMP—-David Wilmot doesn’t need banks for his loans; council hearing stretches 18 hours; Fenty goes one-on-one with a reporter (not LL); the DCHVRA could live after all; Kwame harbors lottery contract doubts; and Chain Bridge Road fire extinguished!
Uberlobbyist David Wilmot has a good deal going with his Individual Development Inc., the operator of group homes for the developmentally disabled, Henri Cauvin and Nikita Stewart report in WaPo. Not only does Wilmot draw a $300,000 salary as chairman, but he took a loan in that same amount from the nonprofit group. Says Wilmot, ‘I was in a situation that I needed the loan, and I went to the board.’ The board consists of fellow connected lawyers Fred Cooke and A. Scott Bolden—-who also took a hefty loan. ‘These loans don’t come out of patient care; they’re published, they’re paid. Period,’ Bolden tells WaPo. Still, says nonprofit specialist, ‘All of this stuff together, it just doesn’t pass the smell test.’ Wilmot’s rejoinder: ‘There are no other nonprofits that I know of that do what we do….They can sit there in their 9-to-5 jobs and say, ‘What he gets paid is excessive.’ Come and walk in my shoes.’
The Friday council hearing on DCPS layoffs held by Chairman Vincent C. Gray began with great bombast, with union leaders calling for investigations and impeachments. The hearing continued with testimony from well over 100 parents and teachers, ending 18 hours later, just after 4 a.m., in what WaPo’s Bill Turque calls ‘the most vivid evidence yet of the passions unleashed by Rhee’s recent decision to fire nearly 400 school personnel.’ Writes Turque, ‘Before the last bleary-eyed attendees staggered out of the Wilson Building into the pre-dawn drizzle, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and Attorney General Peter Nickles had been likened to King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu, and school officials were accused of outrages ranging from ethnic cleansing to running a plantation….An undeniable sense of loss and bewilderment resonated in much of the testimony.’ Rhee is slated to appear Oct. 29. Also WaTimes, NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
MORE—-‘The fault lines of race and class, always present in debates about education in the District, were in sharp relief. Shortly before 1 a.m., one of the few [Michelle Rhee] supporters to show up, a young tech entrepreneur named Camilo B. Acosta, went to the microphone. “Firing ineffective teachers should be cause for celebration, not concern,” he said, as the council chamber erupted. A former special education teacher, Sharon Baldwin, at the other end of the witness table, had to be held in her seat by colleagues as she defended her worth. She denounced the young Teach for America graduates “infiltrating” the school system because of Rhee. She said they “have no idea how to educate a black child.”‘
Candi Peterson writes: ‘It was a dark day at the DC Council hearing where reports of inappropriate conduct, fear, intimidation, threats, terror, bribery, violence, discrimination and racism topped the list.’ Also reax from Dee Does the District.
Here’s what Fenty has to say about his commitment to school reform and his chancellor: ‘[People] are looking at what is happening and saying, “If [the mayor and Rhee] are willing to take this type of criticism—-if they really want to put decisions affecting children ahead of decisions affecting adults—-this is a city that has its priorities straight.”‘ He said that to Jonetta Rose Barras ‘over a California omelet and Chamomile tea,’ later offering this insight into his thinking: ‘Nothing is done without controversy. Regardless of whatever criticism may come, we are doing it for the right reasons.’ Barras says that Fenty is ‘casting himself as a benevolent executive, struggling to further improve a once-stagnant bureaucracy and determined to bring quality public education to the District—-even if he gets bloodied in the process.’
Is the D.C. House Voting Rights Bill back from the dead? Scuttlebutt emerges that the measure to grant D.C. a vote in the lower house of Congress could be attached to a ‘must-pass’ defense spending bill, bypassing gun-amendment concerns. ‘Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) acknowledged that he had heard “some discussion” of such a strategy when Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) asked him on the House floor Thursday to address a rumor about the potential action,’ WaPo’s Stewart writes. ‘Hoyer’s statements, which included passionate words about the rights of D.C. residents, revived the debate about D.C. voting rights Friday as the C-SPAN video and transcript of their exchange went viral.’
STENY’S SPEECH—-‘The people of Baghdad can elect members of their parliament today because our young men and women, and some not so young, fought, and too many died so that the people of Baghdad could elect a voting member of their parliament. It is somewhat ironic that in the symbol of democracy around the world, that our fellow citizens, some 600,000 of them, don’t have a voting representative in their parliament, the House of Representatives, the people’s House. I think that’s an egregious undermining of the principles for which our men and women fight, for which we stand and to which we have pledged support of our Constitution. Now whether or not that will be included in the Defense bill, it is about democracy. It is about participation. It is about respect….I will tell my friend that I will continue to fight as hard as I can to try to figure out how I can bring that bill to the floor, get it to a vote, and give the people of the District of Columbia, our fellow citizens, the right to vote as the citizens in Baghdad can do, the citizens in Moscow can do, the citizens in every free country in the world except the United States of America, can do. I think that’s a blot on our democracy. I would hope that we would erase that blot as soon as we can in any way that we can.’
Colby King with another swipe at DYRA and its director, Vinny Schiraldi. He looks at young Eddie Crist, now 17, who was arrested on various charges last year and placed in foster care. He ran away fro three months, was found and placed in Oak Hill. DYRS then sent him back to a foster home. And then, last month, Crist allegedly shot and killed Derrick Marshall, 20. ‘I note that Eddie is presumed innocent. But here’s the question DYRS won’t address: Should Eddie Crist—-who was found guilty in June 2008 of assaulting a police officer, who violated terms of his release, who ran away from a community placement, who remained at large for three months and who again violated terms of his release—-have been back on the streets?…The next time bullets fly, bodies fall, and children flee for their lives, think of Eddie Crist and DYRS.’
In Examiner, Michael Neibauer looks at the award of the lottery contract to Intralot. Will the Greek firm’s lack of a local partner scuttle concil approval? ‘Intralot has pledged, in writing, that at least 71 percent of its subcontracted workers would be D.C. residents [and] the contract demands that subcontracted companies are D.C.-based. But Councilman Kwame Brown, chairman of the economic development committee, said Friday he will vote against the contract as it shows “disrespect” to local businesses, who need D.C.’s help now more than ever. The Fenty administration, he said, has never had success ensuring that contractors hire D.C. residents. “I’m always concerned when we don’t even require them to utilize local businesses,” Brown said. “I just think that’s a problem and issue with the city itself.”‘
WaPo’s J. Freedom du Lac covers Ben Ali‘s Friday sendoff at the Lincoln Theater. ‘There was a prayer, in which the heavens were thanked for—-among other things—-Ali’s signature chili dog and the mother of all things Ben’s, the half-smoke sausage….There was a proclamation by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who called Ben’s “one of the greatest treasures in the District of Columbia” and recalled the lunch he shared at Ben’s with Barack Obama in January. “It was electric,” said Fenty, one of four mayors in the room….D.C. Council member Jim Graham, whose ward includes the spot where Ben’s has been open since Aug. 22, 1958, declared that the stage-right box at the Lincoln Theatre would henceforth be called the Ben Ali Box.’ Also Hatchet.
Neibauer reports on city census prep: ‘The city is heavy on the very demographics considered hardest to count: Immigrants, young black men, the impoverished, the homeless, the unemployed, renters, students, diplomats—-even people living alone,’ and a 14-member ‘outreach coordination committee,’ with includes Bernard Demczuk, John Hill, Terry Lynch, and 11 city officials. ‘Awareness and “daily visibility” will be key for the Census effort, according to documents distributed at’ Thursday’s initial meeting.
ALSO—-Frederick Douglass National Historic Site to be featured on quarter come 2017, Neibauer reports in Examiner. ‘Cedar Hill, Douglass’ D.C. estate, was selected by the Treasury Department as the District’s representative for the America the Beautiful quarter program. The design will not be ready until 2016, a mint spokesman said.’
Riggs Plaza residents anxious about what development plans mean. The Cafritz Foundation’s $25M Art Place and Shops at Fort Totten project ‘would give a 21st century makeover, complete with sleek buildings of glass, slate and brick, to a 1950s-era neighborhood filled with three-story brick buildings and mature trees,’ Ovetta Wiggins reports in WaPo. There are ‘worries that longtime residents could be displaced,’ of course, as well as concern at how how the project is expected to take. Construction could continue through 2017.
Accused briber Ted Loza has been offered a plea deal by federal prosecutors, Del Wilber reports in WaPo. No details on the deal, but he has two weeks to decide whether to take it.
George E. Wakefield, 30, is found early Saturday with fatal stab wound on the 1100 block of 21st Place NE, where he lived. Also, teenagers shot late Friday in Deanwood; unknown if connected to Clay Terrace beefing.
The Banita Jacks sentencing is on hold ‘after her attorneys requested additional observation to determine whether their client was mentally ill and whether that illness led her to mistakenly rejecting an insanity plea,’ Keith Alexander writes in WaPo. Jacks maintains she wants to part of an insanity defense, and ‘[a]n obviously frustrated Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Sines argued that the request was a “delay tactic.”‘ AP says Jacks could ‘walk free under a scenario outlined by the judge who found her guilty, though such an outcome still faces several legal hurdles.’ Next hearing is Dec. 18.
FBI technician is determined to have contaminated evidence in the Chandra Levy case with her own DNA, Alexander reports in WaPo. ‘The contamination was the most recent mishap in a case riddled with mistakes and missed opportunities by investigators since Levy disappeared in May 2001. Her body was found a year later.’ Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Alprin would not postpone the Jan. 27 trial for more tests ‘but ordered the government to make the evidence available for additional testing by another laboratory chosen by the defense.’ Meanwhile, prosecutor ‘said his office has learned the reason Guandique’s DNA was not present at the scene but would reveal that during the trial.’ Also WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
Brother-and-sister suspects in Pizza Mart murder are ordered held without bond. ‘Prosecutors said [Leon and Shanika Robinson], along with Isiah Genus, 26, of Southeast Washington went to the pizzeria located in the 2300 block of Fourth Street NE, where they beat and stabbed [Shahabuddin Rana] and then set his body on fire.’ Next hearing set for January.
Ximena Hartsock is interviewed on national NPR by Weekend Edition’s Scott Simon: ‘More than offended, I am disturbed and to some extent feel very embarrassed too that we are the nation’s capital and that race and gender can become an issue on a confirmation hearing. So it’s more than offended at the personal level. You know, when these things happen, you just take them for what they are….[A]s a resident of the District of Columbia, I feel disturbed and just deeply appalled and embarrassed about what happened.’
And resident Mary-Beth Souza speaks up for Hartsock in WaPo letter: ‘Ms. Hartsock had worked tirelessly and achieved great success since she was named acting director of parks and recreation in April….It is extremely upsetting that council members such as Mr. Thomas have taken out their frustrations with the mayor by rejecting Ms. Hartsock’s nomination. It is hypocritical to question her integrity when the council’s own mandate was in violation of federal law and prudent fiscal management.’
New president for Gallaudet U.: T. Alan Hurwitz, the 67-year-old president of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, will take over the university, There have been no protests. ‘The year-long search was conducted with input from teachers and students, unlike the previous search that threw the campus into chaos,’ WaPo reports. Also AP.
Australian education minister visits DCPS, ‘sees much common ground between Australia and the US, particularly when it comes to the challenges they face in reforming their education systems to bridge the gap between black and white, rich and poor.’ Rhee, meanwhile, recently spoke in Arkansas at the Clinton School of Public Service.
VotH covers $134M Virginia Avenue rail tunnel reconstruction plan, examines H Street trolley plans; and weighs in on teacher layoffs: ‘We wish the record were clearer on the cause and implementation of the D.C. Public Schools’ removal of 338 employees, including 229 teachers….At this point, it’s safe to say that all the confusion feeds into doubts about the process—-not just among Chancellor Rhee’s most vocal critics, but also among the many D.C. residents who are generally sympathetic to the need for major reform.’
Fenty administration updates swine flu plans; Hizzoner ‘outlined a series of immunization sessions starting Tuesday and told residents there’s no reason to scurry.’
Kathryn Baer at Poverty and Policy takes a closer look at the NAEP test scores, with an emphasis on the ‘continuing very large race/ethnicity gaps’ they show. And Katie Kerstetter at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute explains how the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund, which could send the District $46M to help solve its homeless services funding woes.
Thomas ES evacuated Friday for gas leak.
NoMa gets ‘series of temporary public art installations.’
New farmers’ market, Tuesdays on Mount Vernon Square.
DCmud interviews Gabe Klein. Lengthy!
WTTG-TV talks to rabbi fired from GWU Hospital.
WaPo covers 14th Street Bridge ‘kaleidoscope.’ Says DCCAH manager, ‘It’s not in-your-face….It will be a very colorful experience, very inviting. It’s a subtle, ‘Hello, you’re in D.C. now,’ but not too blaring.’
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: announcement on progress since Chain Bridge Road fire, 4300 Wisconsin Ave. NW.