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Morning all. The string of bad press for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Chancellor Michelle Rhee continues, with Bill Turque‘s WaPo profile of politically active McKinley Tech students raising questions about teacher layoffs at their school. Student leaders ‘have found themselves in the midst of a bitter adult struggle that involves politicians, educators and labor leaders. They were courted, encouraged and criticized….For the most part, they are not inspired by what they have seen.’ And, like a lot of people in this town, they’re just looking for some semblance of accountability. The student body president says that ‘[m]ore troubling than the cuts…is Fenty’s unwillingness to account for them in a town hall or other public forum. “I’m just confused about why he hasn’t talked about the whole thing.”‘ Call LL less confused, but equally vexed.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Two teens dead in brazen daylight Northeast drive-by; D.C. General could be seeing a big bump in homeless residents; ‘Why Michelle Rhee Has to Play Tough’; meet the new CTO; Metro goes ‘by the book’; and Marion Barry and seafood aren’t getting along.
LL excerpts the lede of Turque’s piece at length:
When Edward Doxen ran his successful campaign for student government president at McKinley Technology High School last spring, he looked to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty as the model urban politician: savvy, hard-charging, inclusive. At home, he kept a picture of the two of them, taken when Doxen became a member of the mayor’s youth advisory group. He thought about studying political science when he got to college.
These days, Doxen is considering a psychology major. He is deeply disappointed in Fenty’s handling of the Oct. 2 layoffs that resulted in the dismissal of 388 D.C. teachers and staff, including 15 at McKinley. More troubling than the cuts, he said, is Fenty’s unwillingness to account for them in a town hall or other public forum.
“I’m just confused about why he hasn’t talked about the whole thing,” said Doxen, 17, who wants to attend Fordham University. “You always hear stories about how dirty politics is. Now I have some personal experience.”
And here’s a question from WaPo’s Courtland Milloy: ‘Firing 229 teachers six weeks into the school year is: A) Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s way of showing students how to throw a teacher under the bus. B) How adults play Halloween tricks on kids. C) Dumb as chalk.’ The scene of cops escorting teachers from classrooms make a particular impression on the columnist. ‘On one hand, school officials say students should behave like ladies and gentlemen. On the other hand, Rhee and Mayor Adrian Fenty, who gave her near-dictatorial powers over the schools, have behaved like bullies, callous and inconsiderate. Question: Can you spell hypocrite?’
But count on the WaPo op-ed page to buck up the chancellor; education writer Richard Whitmore explains ‘Why Michelle Rhee Has to Play Tough‘: ‘[T]here’s a reason Rhee plays hardball: She has no choice. Running a hurry-up education offense is the only way Rhee can maintain a viable-sized school district that has dwindled to a mere 44,000 students, while the city’s charter school population is expected to grow to 28,000 this year….If Rhee can’t stanch or reverse that trend, her district slumps into irrelevancy, a fact of life that her union opponents seem incapable of grasping. If Rhee falters, the layoffs will continue….(Full disclosure: Rhee wrote the foreword for my upcoming book, “Why Boys Fail.”)’
Daylight drive-by shooting in Ward 7’s Clay Terrace housing leaves two teens dead and three others wounded. The shooting ‘might have stemmed from an ongoing dispute between two rival neighborhoods,’ Theola Labbé-DeBose and Clarence Williams report in WaPo. Dead are Davonta Artis, 15, and Daquan Tibbs, 18. Neighbor says ‘Artis was an eighth-grader and was on his way home from Ronald H. Brown Middle School when he was struck by gunfire.’ Says Cathy Lanier: ‘There’s more than one beef going on with the guys at Clay Terrace.’ Lookout: Black SUV with tinted windows. Also WTOP, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, WRC-TV, NC8, CNN, WaTimes, which reports ‘the shooting likely resulted from an ongoing dispute between gangs at the Richardson Dwellings and the nearby Huntwood Apartments.’
Lousy timing here for LL’s colleague Jason Cherkis, but a good read all the same: He makes the case that Lanier indeed deserved credit for a falling homicide rate, but not due to ‘gimmicks’ like All Hands on Deck. Rather, police brass point to everything ‘from IT upgrades to personnel moves to a push to investigate not only fatal shootings but non-fatal shootings,’ not to mention the chief’s ‘push to get homicide detectives and beat cops to share information.’
Ahead of today’s council hearing on the matter, WaPo’s Darryl Fears covers the fears of homeless service providers, who, given budget cuts, expect to send ‘as many 2,100 people to other shelters, including the D.C. General family shelter site operated by the city, which is considered a last resort for people who have no other choice but the streets.’ And hypothermia season is almost here. Says Edward Orzechowski of Catholic Charities: ‘At several shelters, we are already turning away people because there is no room—-and the cold weather has not even set in yet.’ DHS chief Clarence Carter says all’s well.
Straight from Peter Nickles‘ brain to the WaPo editorial board’s mouth: ‘The case for ending court supervision of key social services.’ The AG’s attempts to slough off judicial monitoring of the city’s mental health, developmental disability, child welfare, and special education efforts gets the board’s endorsement. ‘No doubt the plaintiffs in each of these cases are correct that problems persist, but Mr. Nickles is right to raise important issues of local autonomy, separation of powers and the efficacy of court supervision….[I]f court supervision continues until all problems have been resolved, it’s safe to say the judges will be in charge forever. Mr. Nickles’s arguments merit a fair hearing.’ Unmentioned: That in the LaShawn case (regarding CFSA), his arguments got a fair hearing, and Judge Thomas Hogan wasn’t buying what Nickles was selling. He seems to be doing better with Blackman/Jones (special ed).
OK, this is getting ridiculous. On Monday, LL reported that Marion Barry had been released from the hospital. He had been. But then he went out for a seafood dinner to celebrate, ate some shrimp, and landed back in the hospital that night. He’s now back out again. WaPo calls it ‘More Proof That Barry Has 9 Lives After All.’ Tim Craig reports: ‘After being released from the hospital about 2 p.m. Tuesday under doctors’ orders to avoid seafood, Barry described himself as “a living miracle” because of the health challenges he has faced.’ Also WaTimes, WTOP, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
Bryan D. Spivak is your new chief technology officer, replacing interim CTO Chris Willey. ‘Pending D.C. Council approval, Sivak would manage a $43 million budget and about 240 employees, oversee the District’s Web presence at dc.gov and grow the D.C. One Card program,’ Michael Neibauer writes in Examiner. Oh, and there was that whole scandal thing. Says council overseer Mary Cheh: ‘I’m hoping that this candidate has both the vision thing but also the managerial ability.’ Also WaPo, AP, WBJ, WAMU-FM, GovTech.
ALSO—-HSEMA’s Darrell Darnell is headed to an unspecified White House job, WaPo reports, citing ‘sources.’
The U.S. Marshals Service drops support for interjurisdictional “WAVE” auto-theft task force, WRC-TV reports, leading MPD to pull its officers and put them on District-only duties. Prince George’s, strangely, says WAVE will continue.
‘By the book’—-that would be Metrobus drivers’ new mantra, Lena Sun reports in WaPo. After string of accidents, ‘Operators said they plan to observe posted speed limits, activate handicap lifts at every bus stop and not pass buses at stops. It will take longer to complete routes and will add to delays, especially along congested corridors, they said.’ This is what the union sent to drivers: ‘Now is the time for us to protect ourselves and our jobs….Don’t give Metro any reason to write us up, suspend us, or fire us anymore!!!!’ Also WUSA-TV, Examiner, which notes that ‘the bus system faced slower conditions during the evening commute on some lines…as drivers conducted every pretrip inspection and followed exact speed limits.’
ALSO—-Expanded Metro cell phone service due to start Friday; AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile users are now in luck. And WTOP reports that iPod thieves prey on Metro riders standing near train doors: ‘What we have seen a pattern of is people who are wearing their iPods or holding their iPhones in their hands and the train pulls into the station. The bad guy will go rip the electronic device out of their hands, just as the doors are starting to close,’ says transit police honcho.
Two syphilis patients and a physician’s assistant at Dupont Circle STD clinic upset at city public health workers over their aggressive tactics and questioning. (My god, they left an envelope outside the mailbox!) They fight back with aggressive PR tactics, getting NC8, WRC-TV, and WTTG-TV to do stories. STD chief Shannon Hader says ‘it’s important, especially in the instance of syphilis, to find out quickly what other partners a person has had to encourage prevention and treatment.’ Do watch the Channel 4 report; when the anonymous patients talk, the photographer points the lens right at their junk.
ALSO—-Did you know the HIV/AIDS Administration at DOH is now the ‘HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration’? ‘HAHSTA’ for short.
Harry Jaffe tells you more than you ever wanted to know about the Watergate Hotel.
District woman, Wendy J. Villatoro, gets 13 years in Maryland prison for leaving newborn to die in Hyattsville field.
Can’t make this stuff up, folks: Dupont ANC member proposes limiting the number of non-neutered dogs in the new dog park, leaving Borderstan to pose a few questions: ‘Who, exactly, is going to check the dogs’ genitalia as they enter the park? What about male dogs with fluffy and/or long hair that cover their gonads? Will there be a person at the entrance who will lift up the dog’s tail and rummage around looking for the male dog’s gonads?…Will we require dog owners to keep their dogs’ butts shaved so that we can view their genitalia? Their bellies, too?’
The back-and-forth over a botched fire demonstration goes on, Dave Statter reports at WUSA-TV. Dennis Rubin said the incident ‘looked like a comedy act’—-which, to LL’s eyes, it pretty much did. Union chief says ‘if the chief is sticking by that statement then “he’s the chief comedian because he staged it, he orchestrated it and he narrated it….One of my members was hospitalized from this comedy act”.’ WTTG-TV also does a piece.
ALSO—-D.C. firefighter accuses Rubin and other brass of whistleblower retaliation. Government Accountability Project is representing her.
Archdiocese of Washington settles sex abuse lawsuit for $125K, William Wan reports in WaPo. The accused is George A. Stallings Jr., now excommunicated and leader of Imani Temple, and one ‘Brother Joseph.’ The victim, now 40, ‘said he had repressed the memory until recent years.’
Contract Appeals Board ruling on crime lab expected ‘at any moment,’ Examiner’s Ben Giles reports. Phil Mendelson ‘said he was hopeful the board would announce a decision soon so the District could move forward on the construction of a lab he said was essential to the city’s crime-solving capabilities. “A project this important, of this size, that the government should have been more proactive and more careful so that this contract would have been issued by now.”‘
WTOP: ‘A U.S. Park police officer training his horse near the stables in Fort Dupont Park had to fire his gun to chase off a pack of 16 dogs which were threatening to attack.’ The incident resulted in a woman;s arrest and 20 dogs being kenneled. Also WUSA-TV.
Michael Brown responds to Jaffe’s column on racism and the Ximena Hartsock vote. ‘Mr. Jaffe conveniently neglected to mention that white Council members Phil Mendelson and Mary Cheh also voted against her. If he is looking for a simple explanation, he should try this on for size: The vote was between members who rubber-stamp the mayor’s agenda and those who believe an independent Council should provide checks and balances for the executive branch.’
Status hearing today in Holocaust Museum shooting case.
Another Black Rooster lamentation, the best one yet, from John Kelly. ‘The Black Rooster wasn’t the oldest bar in Washington. It wasn’t the prettiest or the cheapest or the best. It was what it was. And what it was was just fine for its regulars: paper pushers who wanted a burger for lunch or a beer after work, college students ambling over from GWU, rugby players toasting their victories or salving their defeats.’
GQ names its ’50 Most Powerful People in D.C..’ Not a single local-type bigwig makes the list.
WBJ: ‘D.C. is the only TV market in the country where a team from another city gets better ratings than the hometown team.’
Most fatal auto crashes in the region are single-vehicle affairs, AAA report concludes.
Rhee’s visit to Cornell has touched off an ongoing conflict over her policies there.
A PoP debate: Christmas tree in Columbia Heights plaza?
Borderstan covers the ‘poobahs’ assembled at Halo last Friday for GLBT reception.
Looks like DC USA’s getting an IHOP.
Out with Dan Snyder! In with Ronnie Mervis!
Real World D.C. is over.
Meeting on K Street redesign scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Carnegie Library, 801 K St. NW.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment roundtable on ‘Improving Transparency: Open Government in the District,’ JAWB 500; 12 p.m.: Committee on Human Services roundtable on ‘Protecting the Lives of the Homeless People in the Winter of 2009-2010,’ JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee of the Whole roundtable on PR18-540 (‘University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law Faculty Compensation System Changes Approval Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 123; 3:30 p.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on PR18-502 (‘Medicare Supplement Insurance Minimum Standards Approval Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-9:30 a.m.: remarks, Department of Corrections graduation, 1901 E St. SE, Central Treatment Facility, Visitor’s Hall; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, Ward 1 Senior Wellness Center groundbreaking, 3531 Georgia Ave. NW; 4 p.m.: guest, NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt, NC8.