Morning all. Today is the long-awaited and long-planned day of introduction for a bill to allow gay marriages to be performed in the District of Columbia. In Examiner, Michael Neibauer heralds what may be a bit of a circus at the John A. Wilson Building today, with the Archdiocese of Washington planning to show for the show. And WaPo’s Tim Craig polls congressional leaders of both parties and finds that ‘it appears unlikely’ that the bill will encounter serious trouble on the Hill. Of suburban members of Congress, only Frank Wolf opposes the bill. Even Jason Chaffetz says ‘the minority is left somewhat impotent’! That fact reflects the success of the strategy among local gay marriage backers to drop the bill in the congressional hopper exactly when the body can least afford to deal with it. But fair be warned: ‘[T]he long-term survival of the practice would be in doubt for years, depending on the makeup of the House and Senate, congressional officials said.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Nickles takes aim at the old guard; taxi whistleblower hero speaks; all those bribers say they’re not guilty; school budget madness continues apace; another pedestrian mowed down by Metrobus; and D.C. Council called out for racist treatment of DPR chief.
If you had any doubt that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has declared an end to the workaday political machinations of the old guard, look for no further evidence: AG Peter Nickles has filed suit against Individual Development Inc., the city contractor running group homes for the mentally disabled that’s run by the likes of David Wilmot, Fred Cooke, and…A. Scott Bolden. ‘A federal court monitor and legal advocates for the mentally disabled have been raising concerns for years about the quality of care at IDI’s homes,’ Nikita Stewart reports in WaPo, and Nickles’ action seeks to place two of the company’s 11 homes in receivership. Guess who’s the mouth of the IDI operation: ‘”We categorically deny that we’ve been responsible for any abuse or any neglect,” said Bolden, who said he was speaking as the nonprofit group’s attorney.’ Certainly there’s been no neglect to Wilmot’s checkbook: He makes $300,000 as chairman and president. LL SEZ: This is where the energy Nickles wasted on Cora would have been better spent.
Count ’em: All 29 men arrested last Friday as part of the federal taxi bribery probe pleaded
guilty NOT GUILTY yesterday in federal court. Del Wilber sets the scene for WaPo: ‘There were so many defendants — and defense lawyers — that a clerk had to use a microphone to get everyone’s attention. “So everyone has an attorney, correct?” she asked…At another point, U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola pounded his table for silence when the U.S. District Court room grew loud with conversations among defendants, between defendants and lawyers, and between lawyers and lawyers.’ The men, Wilber reports, are ‘Ethiopian immigrants or Ethiopian Americans, lawyers and law enforcement officials said. Federal prosecutors said the men who appeared in court Monday are all legal residents or U.S. citizens.’ Also WTTG-TV.
And, in his first comment since the arrests, whistleblower hero Leon Swain Jr. talks to WUSA-TV‘s Bruce Johnson and WRC-TV‘s Tom Sherwood (under Nickles’ watchful eye): ‘I met with about 400 cab drivers and I told them, ‘Don’t bring me any money. Don’t bring me any liquor. Don’t bring me any women. Don’t bring me any tickets.” I guess they looked at me and figured, you know, “He’s from Ward 8.” Something like that….But the thing about it is, my mother didn’t raise me that way.’
Meanwhile, Jim Graham will keep the D.C. Taxicab Commission under his oversight purview, Neibauer announces in Examiner. Vincent Gray told LL much the same thing on WAMU-FM on Friday: ‘Graham is neither a target nor a person of interest in the investigation, Gray said, and the Ward 1 councilman has withdrawn a bill that would cap the number of taxis on city streets through the sale of “medallion” licenses. “I don’t see anything at this juncture that suggests it should be removed from his committee,” Gray said.’ Gray may not believe that appearances matter, but other members do: Causton Toney, implicated in the taxi probe in some yet-to-be-disclosed way, donated to the campaigns of Phil Mendelson, Kwame Brown and Tommy Wells. All have returned the donations.
DCPS responds to Gray’s charges that budget math doesn’t add up to the $40M in cuts Michelle Rhee is claiming are necessary. ‘What the school system does know, it’s hesitant to explain,’ Leah Fabel reports in Examiner. ‘Rhee on Monday delayed a detailed explanation, leaving spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway to answer in part….First, she said, the central office in past years has been able to provide “flexible” money for schools on top of their basic budget. This year, that money is gone, but Calloway could not explain where it went. “A lot of schools decided to use that money for extra teachers that weren’t tied to student enrollment numbers,” Calloway said. The third piece, she said, was “costs associated with leave and severance for the employees.”‘ So firing a bunch of teachers meant having to fire a bunch of teachers.
AND——Bill Turque covers yesterday morning’s protest by McKinley Tech students, noting that ‘questions remain about the severity of the crisis Rhee has described, in light of the growth of the school budget.’ And Turque notes some of the internal politics at McKinley. The LSRT wanted an assistant principal and teacher ‘coaches’ to go; instead, axed were ‘two popular guidance counselors, Sheila Gill and Rhonda Robinson. Gill, who chaired the internal committee that advised [the principal], is also a member of the executive board of the Washington Teachers’ Union.’ Also NC8, WUSA-TV. (Did the protests reach Rhee? She was likely on her way to Cornell University.)
AND—-WTOP notes: ‘Washington Teachers Union President George Parker tells WTOP they will be filing lawsuits. “We’re in the process of right now of working with our attorneys,” Parker says. “We’re looking at age discrimination and we’re looking at the unfairness of the process.”‘
AND—-Marion Barry is demanding an IG investigation of the teacher firings.
AND—-Ellington teacher on WaPo letters page: ‘Shame on Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, and the D.C. Council for their incompetent handling of the public schools budget…’
The WaPo editorial board is shocked—-shocked!—-that Marion Barry would dare engage in racially and culturally divisive rhetoric during Ximena Hartsock‘s confirmation hearing as DPR director. Actually, it is pretty shocking, and Harry Thomas Jr. is just as guilty of playing the Wise Latina card. The committee members (who voted 4-1 yesterday to oppose her nomination) ‘seemed more interested in her ethnicity, gender and immigration status than in her work and educational background. No matter what one’s opinion of Ms. Hartsock, D.C. residents should be appalled that their elected officials would subject anyone to such disrespectful treatment.’
Another woman is struck and seriously injured by a Metrobus, this time in Trinidad. WaPo reports that the female victim ‘had just gotten off the D-8 Metrobus on Mount Olivet Avenue NE, between Trinidad and Montello avenues, and apparently crossed in front of that bus when she was struck by another Metrobus going in the same direction…On-air pictures taken after the incident showed several items in the road, including a purse and a pair of red high-heeled shoes.’ The woman was unconscious and said to have life-threatening injuries. Also WTOP, NC8, WTTG-TV.
Petula Dvorak delivers her finest column since her debut, on cuts to homeless services of which no one can quite determine the magnitude. Where Tommy Wells sees $20M in cuts, DHS head Clarence Carter sees $900K. Writes Dvorak: ‘With hypothermia season around the corner, we have to remember that when we cut the investment in humans, the city will pay in other ways….[W]hen we whittle away at the services that help these people get back on their feet and survive, other agencies wind up picking up the pieces….And let’s not forget the toll this takes on the children themselves. Imagine the life of a child who has no idea, every day after school, where he will sleep at night.’
ALSO—-WaPo’s Darryl Fears has much more on the budgeting squabble aired at yesterday’s hearing. The bottom line: ‘Homeless shelter providers said that …they would have to close shelters and put hundreds of people onto the streets regardless of whether the cuts are $12 million or $20 million.’ Also WRC-TV.
WTTG-TV: ‘FOX 5 News has learned a Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) employees is being investigated for possibly having a sexual relationship with a teen that was under DYRS supervision. D.C.’s Attorney General confirms that he is investigating allegations in the case, but would not go any further.’ Implicated in this fishy-as-hell lawsuit is Clark Ray, who denies all charges.
More on Stevens ES developer pick from Jonathan O’Connell at WBJ: ‘Today the Foggy Bottom Association took the far-fetched step of asking Equity Residential (an S&P 500 company that manages some 550 multifamily units in 23 states) to forfeit its rights to Stevens because residents don’t want apartments built there.’ Nice try, Asher.
Afternoon police chase from Prince George’s County ends in crash at 22nd and Kearney Streets NE.
AP with coverage of D.C. Vote’s Monday visits to congressional offices. Advocates targeted 75 moderate and conservative Dems.
Hey, another WaPo story on Spring Valley chemical weapons! This edition, by Michael Ruane, is quite good, with words like ’emplacement’ and ‘Stokes mortars’ and ‘Livens projectors.’ Long story short: Geophysicists are scouring the woods west of Dalecarlia Parkway for ordnance with a weird metal detector.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT—-Work has started on Shiloh Baptist’s dilapidated 9th Street NW properties, DCist is delighted to report.
Mary Cheh wants traffic studies done for all new speed bump requests.
If you’re interested in the latest back-and-forth on the MPD Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit changes, you should check the GLAA Forum blog.
H1N1 vaccine could arrive as early as today. Health-care workers get first dibs.
Someone died over the weekend at a Logan Circle home known for hosting ‘men’s parties.’ Foul play is not suspected.
Antiwar protesters, including Cindy Sheehan, get bracelets in White House protest.
Huge report from Government Health IT: ‘The District of Columbia’s Medicaid agency is ramping up a health information exchange that in addition to basic clinical information sharing will provide physicians analytics on disease trends among their patients.’
Bankrupt ballpark district office buildings are handed to receiver.
‘A demographic portrait of the District: 2008′
NB: ‘Beginning Oct. 13, the District Department of Transportation’s School Transit Subsidy Program will operate out of the fifth floor of the Reeves Center at 2000 14th St. NW,’ per WaPo.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole meeting, to be followed by the 16th Legislative Meeting, JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-9:30 a.m.: remarks, disability awareness conference, Kennedy Recreation Center, 1401 7th St. NW; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, Pre-Kindergarten accomplishments announcement, Anne Beers ES, 3600 Alabama Ave. SE.