MEA MAXIMA CULPA—-LL made a grievous error in yesterday’s Daily: The dozens arrested Friday in connection to the taxicab scam all pleaded NOT GUILTY.
Morning all. Gay marriage? Who cares: The real action at the John A. Wilson Building yesterday concerned the confirmation vote on acting parks-and-rec director Ximena Hartsock in the wake of a Friday hearing fraught with race- and gender-baiting. She became the first agency head of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s (and in anyone’s memory, period) to fall to a D.C. Council disapproval resolution. In their legislative wrapup, WaPo’s Tim Craig and Nikita Stewart say the vote ‘could mark a turning point for the administration in how it deals with labor unions and their allies on the council,’ with the tally ‘aggravating the tension between the council and the mayor and casting fresh doubt on the future of the troubled agency.’ Meanwhile, AG Peter Nickles, to whom Fenty seems to have ceded all spokesduties these days, tells Examiner reporter Mike Neibauer that the move was an ‘[a]bsolutely shameless act’ to reject Hartsock after a ‘misogynist, racist hearing.’ To put a fine point on that, Nickles tells WaPo: ‘I hope the community, particularly the Latino community, recognizes how shabbily she has been treated.’ Also, that paper’s editorial board concludes, in a piece titled ‘Grudge Voting,’ that the council was ‘acting largely out of political spite.’ But is this the end for Hartsock? Nickles says he’s considering a fight, and WaPo says mayoral honchos are ‘scrambling to figure out a way to keep Hartsock in the job.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Gay marriage bill is introduced, the nation notices; Barry in Howard ICU for ‘dehydration’; federal fine is holding up Southeastern U. merger; Baltimore tries to lure D.C. United; Rhee makes media rounds to explain firings; and man admits to murdering landscaper because he got grass clippings on him.
MORE FROM WAPO ED BOARD—-‘We know that some council members don’t like how the mayor is firing workers, or disagree with his policies, or think he plays fast and loose with the law. But council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) had it right when he said the problems between council and mayor (for which Mr. Fenty carries much blame) should not be the issue. Because they are annoyed at the mayor, council members rejected a woman of extraordinary educational and professional accomplishment who worked 18 hours a day to produce results. As Mr. Graham said, “It puzzles me why we wouldn’t embrace this nominee.”‘
Oh, about gay marriage: The bill is in the hopper, and as LL tweeted yesterday, a hearing has been slated for Monday, Oct. 26, at 3:30 p.m. Neibauer reports for Examiner on the scene: ‘It was a circus inside and outside the council chambers, as both sides of the contentious gay marriage debate made certain their presence was felt. But the atmosphere was not nearly as raucous as when the council adopted its gay marriage recognition bill in the spring, perhaps because Catania’s measure is expected to sail through the legislative process. “We don’t storm city hall,” said Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington. “It’s not our style.”‘ The AP, meanwhile, says the bill ‘seems almost unstoppable.’ WAMU-FM covers the Hill angle, quoting Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.): ‘The Constitution has D.C. under federal control. That’s not a states’ right issue. It’s under federal control, so it’s an issue we need to deal with.’ But local Republicans are standing up to support the bill. See also WaTimes, NYT, Time, WTOP, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, and Lou Chibbaro Jr. does his usual very thorough job for Blade. Says blogger, ‘Feel the Homomentum!’
LL’s fellow papists may want to see the Archdiocese of Washington’s official comments on the bill, from Msgr. Charles Pope: ‘You will note that the Archdiocese in setting forth its objections has done so on the basis of Natural Law. Scripture is not quoted in the document. This is done in speaking to a secular world to make it clear that our objections are not on religious grounds only. They are also based on psychological, sociological and biological grounds….Please note that the Church’s position is both principled and respectful. There are bigots in our world today who may reject Gay Marriage from less than noble motives. But the Church is the servant of God’s Word and the Natural Law. We cannot be otherwise and we cannot thus remain silent on this matter.’
In other council business: Another controversialish nominee had no problems in the council chambers: Valerie Santos gets the unanimous nod as DMPED, WBJ reports. And Mary Cheh‘s election reform bill, which includes early voting and same-day registration provisions, also passed unanimously on first reading.
MISSING IN ACTION—-Marion Barry has been hospitalized at Howard University Hospital for ‘dehydration.’ Spokeswoman says he ‘is expected to be hospitalized for a few days.’ But WTTG-TV reports that Barry was moved to the ICU last night. For dehydration?
Harry Jaffe looks at how Chancellor Michelle Rhee handled teacher layoffs at McKinley Tech. ‘In losing control over the McKinley firings, Rhee has played into the hands of her enemies….McKinley is in Councilman Harry Thomas Jr.‘s ward, and he is always happy to lead a protest against Rhee….McKinley also lies in the lair of Robert Brainum [sic], one of Rhee’s constant critics….And then there’s Council Chairman Vincent Gray, always looking for a reason to challenge Rhee and, through her, Mayor Adrian Fenty. Gray has promised a hearing, which will turn into a show trial no doubt, with the ravings of Marion Barry.’ But look at the big picture! ‘[F]or the rest of the 128 public schools, the firings caused barely a ripple….If the city council members would canvass their constituents, they would find massive support for Rhee and her crusade to reform the schools.’
ALSO—-Rhee speaks with WAMU-FM, WRC-TV, NC8 about the reasons for the RIF. And ‘Zaminer’s Leah Fabel covers potential WTU lawsuit against DCPS over firings. ‘So far, information has not been released about who specifically lost a job, but Rhee’s opponents are insistent that older black teachers were targeted.’ And, she writes, dozens of ‘[a]ngry students, teachers and community activists’ marched to the Wilson Building from Spingarn SHS yesterday in protest. WUSA-TV speaks to a laid-off teacher from Wilson ES; WTTG-TV interviews a laid-off Ballou teacher and covers the Spingarn march.
Developer Jim Abdo has his sights set on transforming Brookland near Catholic U., Ovetta Wiggins reports in WaPo. ‘Abdo’s plan includes a public square and clock tower that would be similar to piazzas in Europe with cobblestones, cafes and restaurants; an arts walk that would provide artists’ work space; an arts building that would offer room for recitals and artists’ demonstrations; and a college main street that would be filled with eclectic mom-and-pop shops.’ Altogether, it’s ‘825 residential units and 85,000 square feet of retail on nine acres of university-owned land along Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street.’ The plan is now in front of the D.C. Zoning Commission.
Some explanation for why Southeastern University has been unable to close a merger deal with GS Graduate School: The feds have threatened Southeastern with millions in fines because it ‘had improperly disbursed federal aid to students in an unaccredited online education program,’ Daniel de Vise reports in WaPo. But there’s hope: ‘Discussions last week might have yielded a breakthrough. Federal officials might be willing to settle on a much smaller penalty [than the $10M once discussed]…potentially removing the issue as an impediment to a merger.’ Says SEU board chair J.R. Clark: ‘If we can overcome this, that’s the last hurdle.’
Fenty, Cathy Lanier, Dennis Rubin hold press conference to announce that police and fire retirement benefits are being restored. Question is, are the benefits truly restored, and how long are they restored for? The issue, Theola Labbé-DeBose writes at D.C. Wire, ‘was bubbling for several months’ after the CFO’s office ‘proposed a new formula for retirement health benefits for all city employees [requiring] city employees to have more years of service under their belts before the government would pay its full 75 percent toward health insurance.’ Public safety responders were not exempted. FOP’s Kris Baumann ain’t buying the Fenty fix absent council legislation: ‘Just like they put the extra money in, they’ll be able to take the funding out.’
CHARM CITY UNITED?—-Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is sending out feelers to see if it might be feasible to build a public-financed soccer stadium in her city to house D.C. United, WBJ reports. ‘The letter, dated Sept. 30, asks the [Maryland Stadium Authority] to focus on building the stadium as part of a green mixed-use project with access to light rail, Interstate 95, Baltimore-Washington Parkway and the Camden Yards sports complex.’ Says United: ‘Baltimore has demonstrated its ability to work with the state to create world-class facilities for the Orioles and Ravens….Our conversations with other municipalities will continue.’ Jonathan O’Connell has his doubts: ‘No matter what sort of economic benefits the authority argues that a stadium could produce, neither Maryland or Baltimore is in much of a position to sweeten a deal.’
Stephanie Richardson, the 61-year-old woman struck Monday evening by a Metrobus in Trinidad, has died of her injuries—-the 13th accidental Metro fatality of 2009. ‘Richardson was the first person killed by a Metrobus since September 2008,’ James Hohmann and Yamiche Alcindor write in WaPo, ‘but it was the second high-profile Metrobus accident in a little more than a month….Her husband, Russell Richardson, said she worked as a clerical assistant at a D.C. motel. She always rode the bus to and from work, he said….”She was the best person,” Richardson said. “She talked all the time. Everyone knew her.”‘ Also Examiner, WTOP, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
This, Lankward Harrington explains, is why he murdered Jose Villatoro in 2006: ‘He was angry that after an argument, his father had ordered him out of their apartment. He was angry because he suspected that his girlfriend was cheating on him,’ Keith Alexander writes in WaPo. ‘As he approached Villatoro, 35, who was using a line trimmer to edge a lawn, Harrington grew angrier when Villatoro did not pause to allow him to pass. Instead, Villatoro kept working and grass hit Harrington’s clothes and hair. Harrington stopped, reached into his backpack, pulled out a .357 magnum and shot Villatoro four times in the face and body before walking away.’ Said Harrington, 25, on the stand: ‘I take pride in my appearance. I did not appreciate that.’ A Superior Court jury convicted him yesterday within 10 minutes.
ALSO—-Man gets four years for robbing banks, including SunTrust on Rhode Island Avenue NE. ‘At the time of the robberies, [Bruce Higgins Jr.] had lost a job at an information technology firm paying more than $100,000 a year, had recently gotten divorced and was living in a crack house in Northeast Washington, according to court records. His attorney, Shawn Moore, said Higgins committed the robberies at the behest of a drug dealer who waited outside the banks during the heists. During one of those robberies, the dealer was armed to ensure Higgins completed the job, Moore wrote in court papers.’
A ‘collector shoe’ causes much grief on the Red Line yesterday morning. That piece of equipment, which transfers power from the third rail to the train, fell of a train between Gallery Place and Metro Center; it, according to WaPo, ‘created delays on Metro’s busiest line for nearly two hours, produced what sounded to witnesses like explosions and reminded riders of the aging system’s vulnerability.’ The scene: ‘As the train moved forward, witnesses on and off the train said they saw sparks and heard three loud noises in rapid succession.’ Said one: ‘The train just sat there for a minute….Then it started moving slowly into the tunnel. Then it was like ‘boom.’ Then there were two more booms. Then everyone started running. It was chaos.’ Also Examiner, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
Outside city hall yesterday, supporters of the Healthy Babies Project protested a $500K cut to their government funding. ‘Executive Director Regine Elie received the news via e-mail. “I sat at my desk stunned,” she recalled. “How do I notify 200 families that we can’t provide them with services anymore?”‘
Swine flu vaccine is here! ‘The received doses are a nasal spray that uses a weakened version of the live virus. It is recommended for use only in healthy people ages 2 to 49 and should not be used by pregnant women,’ Nelson Hernandez reports in WaPo. If you’re not a health-care worker, you’re going to have to wait: ‘As more doses arrive, including an injectable version, the vaccine will be made available to other groups, particularly young children, pregnant women and people with underlying health problems.’ Also WTTG-TV.
WUSA-TV covers last night’s town hall meeting on Spring Valley munitions. The Army Corps to release list next month of all munitions found in the area. ‘Col. David Anderson, commander of the Army Corps’ Baltimore district, says they are still concerned about security but want to be more transparent.’ Also, the weapons saga has generated a lawsuit, Legal Times reports: ‘Last week, a suit filed by husband and wife Matthew and Tarnisha Previn against the former owners of their Spring Valley home was transferred into federal court. The suit accuses the former owners of failing to share critical information regarding their property and the munitions problem.’ The Previns are both lawyers; Matthew is the son of Mia Farrow and Andre Previn.
DMPED issues RFP for 15K-square-foot Georgia Avenue lot across from Walter Reed.
John Kelly, in his WaPo column, looks at Hart MS and new principal Billy Kearney: ‘It’s a school that last year was in the news for all the wrong reasons: students assaulting students; students assaulting teachers; parents assaulting teachers.’ Kearney explains one of his innovations: ‘”Last year, all of the fights were after lunch,” he told me. And the majority of the fights were girls fighting girls—-usually after being egged on by boys. Principal Kearney’s solution: The girls eat lunch together, while the boys cool their heels in the gym. Then the boys eat lunch….This year—-knock wood—-there haven’t been any fights.’ Also: Help Hart through your Giant or Safeway club cards!
Mary Z. Gray, 90, completes her memoir remembering life on old Capitol Hill. Michael Ruane in WaPo calls it ‘a work that is part memoir, part reverie about places, past and present. It is also a vivid sketch, through the eyes of her childhood, of…a marvelous, quirky neighborhood.’
Courtland Milloy visits Center for Empowerment and Employment Training and wonders where the African-American jobs are. And where POTUS is on the issue: ‘When it comes to advocating personal responsibility, Obama will take to the pulpit of a black church in a heartbeat. But now, when the problems are clearly being caused by structural inequity in the nation’s economic system—-when the hard work and personal responsibility of black people have been rewarded with rip-offs by Wall Street—-he goes curiously silent.’
HuffPo blogger looks at IMPACT teacher eval system. ‘I’m no expert on teacher evaluation, but I’m impressed with the pieces of the system DCPS has made public.’
FEMS brass not happy with Dave Statter‘s blogging of Examiner story on IG report.
Prince of Petworth profiled by WUSA-TV.
Emergency crews respond to hydrogen leak at Benning Road NE gas station.
Metro gets $10K-a-pop scooters to patrol suburban parking lots.
‘Suspicious man’ taken into custody in Friendship Heights.
Cultural Tourism D.C.’s Columbia Heights Heritage Trail to open on Oct. 24.
Meeting on Klingle Valley trail tonight, 6:30 at National Zoo auditorium.
ATTENTION JAWBers—-Farmers market to open in Reagan Building plaza, WBJ reports. The Capital Harvest on the Plaza Farmers Market ‘debuts Oct. 16 from 12:30 – 5 p.m., will set up shop again on Nov. 13, and then close for the winter. It will re-emerge as a weekly market next spring.’
Get ready: ‘Real Housewives of D.C.’ is real. ‘[P]roduction clearly is under way. The ladies already were spotted filming at the grand opening party of Ted Gibson‘s new salon in Chevy Chase….Names have been flying around for months, but we are finally banking on the following ladies: Lisa Wernick Spies, wife of Republican fundraiser Charlie Spies; Mary Schmidt Amons, socialite and founder of the District Sample Sale; Lynda Erkiletian, owner of Washington’s premier modeling agency; Michaele Salahi, former model and wife of Tareq Salahi of Oasis Winery and America’s Polo Cup; and Mai Abdo, wife of Jim Abdo of Abdo Development and listed among Washingtonian’s best-dressed women.’
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on PR18-333 (‘Child Fatality Review Committee Abigail Bonder Confirmation Resolution of 2009′), B18-404 (‘Corrections Information Council Amendment Act of 2009’), and B18-424 (‘District of Columbia Safe Release of Inmates Amendment Act of 2009’), JAWB 412; 1 p.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on B18-323 (‘Gift Card Protection Act of 2009’), JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee on Human Services meeting (scheduled), JAWB 123.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-4 p.m.: remarks, Columbia Heights Education Center field ribbon-cutting, 3101 16th St. NW.