City Paper is not for tourists
IN LL WEEKLY—-The Right-Hand Man: Why has Jim Graham stuck with accused bribee Teddy Loza?
Greetings all. Today is the first day of fiscal 2010, and lots of changes arrive in the District of Columbia: There’s no more car safety inspections. Taxes are going up. The Sports and Entertainment Commission is now part of the new Washington Convention and Sports Authority. Private fire hydrants face new restrictions. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is now in charge of the Dulles Toll Road. And, Tim Craig reports at WaPo, Peaceoholics’ Ron Moten spent the last day of FY2009 trying to get Vincent Gray to restore earmarks for his group and others. That ship, he found out, had sailed. And, incidentally, it’s Yvette Alexander‘s birthday!
AFTER THE JUMP—-The gay marriage battle begins for real; Graham puts the kibosh on medallion bill but keeps taxicab oversight; details emerge on new test-based DCPS teacher evaluation system; and Michael Kelly moves on to much greener pastures.
In a long-planned and dramatic anouncement, David Catania announces in front of 200 gathered at the True Reformer Building that he will introduce full-fledged gay marriage legislation at next Tuesday’s council meeting. Catania will have nine co-introducers—-every member except Alexander, Marion Barry, and Harry Thomas Jr. (and Thomas, Catania says, has indicated he may well support the bill in a final vote). LL was there for the drama, as was WaPo, WBJ, Blade, WAMU-FM, and DCist. A hearing on the bill will be scheduled soon by Councilmember Phil Mendelson, likely for mid-October.
Perhaps you’ve heard by now: While working for Jim Graham, top aide Ted Loza was adjudicated as domestic batterer and allegedly forced a woman to have an abortion, which Graham initially paid for. LL broke the news; WJLA-TV’s Sam Ford followed up with Ward 1 reaction. But there’s other Graham news! He’s dropped his taxicab medallion legislation, and he explains to WaPo that it has ‘nothing to do’ with the fact that his most trusted aide was apprehended last week in a bribery sting. ‘Instead, Graham says, he is trying to quell a furor among some cabdrivers who worry that his initial proposal could lead to a medallion system in which drivers would pay a monthly fee to operate in the District. “It’s one of those things where it became all about medallions,” said Graham, chairman of the committee on Public Works and Transportation. “It was not helpful.”‘ Cab drivers vow to keep protesting, with a late-night Adams Morgan cab strike promised for Friday and Saturday. Says organizer: ‘We want them to feel the power of the taxi.’ Meanwhile, WRC-TV covers D.C. GOP’s call for Graham to temporarily step down.
IN OTHER GRAHAM NEWS—-Devyn Black, 19, who had briefly worked for Graham when he shot two outside the Columbia Heights Metro station in June, pled guilty to ‘aggravated assault while armed and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.’ Sentencing scheduled for Nov. 30.
Jonetta Rose Barras quite rightly asks why, with a federal investigation ongoing and his chief of staff arrested for allegedly influencing taxi legislation, the D.C. Taxicab Commission hasn’t been pulled from Graham’s oversight portfolio as a prophylactic measure. ‘Those allegations are serious. But, Chairman Vincent C. Gray and other members don’t seem to get that.’ Gray’s ‘half-hearted’ statement: ‘Councilmember Graham has not been accused in this investigation. [I] will monitor the developments very closely and will take appropriate action when appropriate circumstances are presented.’ Says Barras: ‘Legislators have been quick on the draw when an allegation involves the executive….Now, with federal law enforcement officials closely scrutinizing the actions of one of their own, mum’s the word.’
Bill Turque in WaPo covers the new DCPS teacher evaluation regime, which ‘will make some District teachers among the first in the nation to have their job security tied to standardized test scores’ and ‘is the purest expression yet of the data-driven culture that [Michelle Rhee] and her generation of education leaders are trying to establish in public schools.’ The emphasis is on so-called ‘value added’ analysis, where educators are judged on how much they improve their students from where they were—-not on meeting hard numerical targets. ‘Rhee is investing $4 million in the system, called IMPACT, which will also assess teachers against an elaborate new framework of requirements and guidelines that cover a range of factors, including classroom presence and how carefully they check for student understanding of the material. But IMPACT is likely to be another flash point in Rhee’s turbulent relationship with local and national teachers union leaders.’ WTU’s George Parker calls the system ‘very punitive.’ But he doesn’t get a say.
How’s this for Fenty outplacement: Soon-to-be-ex-DCHA chief Michael Kelly will be named general manager of the New York City Housing Authority, Jonathan O’Connell reports in WBJ. ‘In the District, Kelly managed 8,000 publicly owned units and 10,500 housing vouchers. [In New York], he will manage 178,000 apartments in 338 developments. Another 640,000 New York City residents are served by the Section 8 housing voucher program.’ Also NYT, WaPo.
First WEAVE, now House of Ruth: Another nonprofit serving victims of domestic violence is in financial straits, thanks to a reduction in District government support. Writes Susan Kinzie in WaPo: ‘Christel Nichols, president of the House of Ruth, said she received an e-mail Monday alerting her that the agency would not get nearly half a million dollars in anticipated funding from the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, which lost money when the city’s Department of Human Services budget was reduced….Nichols said she will ask donors to fill the sudden funding gap, but she is not confident they will be able to close it in this economy. The agency might opt to scale back programs at one of its 13 sites in the city.’ Says Nichols: ‘This is the absolute worst. Even in the darkest days with the control board and the city [budget] being a disaster, we never faced anything to this degree.’
9NEWS NOW EXCLUSIVE!!!!—-Art Monk and Charles Mann respond to Dave McKenna‘s coverage of their (lack of) stewardship of the Carver Theater in Anacostia. ‘Monk and Mann say they were never given ample chance to respond to the articles. They talked to 9NEWS NOW exclusively on Wednesday….Monk and Mann say the critical articles caused them to lose a $450,000 earmark from Congress. “It was enough to run our programs for an entire year,” said Monk.’ Too bad they couldn’t have just returned McKenna’s calls…
Quite a showing: ‘About a thousand parents, students and teachers’ gather for pro-voucher rally outside the Capitol yesterday, Michael Birnbaum reports in WaPo. ‘”We’re still here, and we’re not going away!” said former education secretary Margaret Spellings, who spoke in front of the crowd along with House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and others….Many attending the rally were young students, and anxious organizers periodically shushed the crowd and told them to listen politely to what the speakers had to say. Many Catholic schools took the day off for the rally, and other schools were represented as well.’ Also Examiner, WaTimes, WAMU-FM, NC8.
ALWAYS A CIRCUS—-From WaTimes: ‘At one point during the rally, community activist Robert Vinson Brannum, who often shows up to the rallies and does not support the voucher program, shouted, “No to vouchers!” – causing the crowd to erupt into pro-voucher chants. He was quickly surrounded by voucher supporters who affixed “Put Kids First” stickers on the back of his shirt.’
IG lambastes health department for grants oversight, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner, identifying nearly $100K in questionable funding. The spending in question was done by Faces of Our Children, the Quality Trust, Easter Seals, and Howard University Hospital’s D.C. Greater Access to Pediatric Sickle Cell Services Project. Moreover: ‘Auditors also found that three CHA employees who were responsible for either monitoring or awarding the noncompetitive grants also served on the advisory boards of two of the nonprofits.’ DOH chief Pierre Vigilance says ‘his agency must improve how it monitors grant spending. He detailed a litany of changes already in place, pledged to use the audit as a “training tool” and indicated DOH will seek the repayment of roughly $23,000 as the IG suggested.’
WBJ’s O’Connell looks at the political ramifications behind JBG’s lawsuit that threatens to hold up the convention center hotel project. Ramifications like: Why would JBG risk ticking off Fenty? ‘JBG has been here 49 years and stakes its name on knowing the local market. Which is why the company’s lawsuit against the District is so perplexing….Ben Jacobs, JBG founder and managing partner, declined to comment for the story but must be aware that he is likely to irritate many of the politicos with whom he does business. He must either think this deal is too good to let go or too bad to let slide.’
ALSO—-O’Connell remembers Michael Hodge. ‘People throw around the idea to use tax increment financing all the time now, but it has come along way since its advent and that is thanks in large part to Hodge. What began with major projects like Gallery Place, spread into hotels, retail projects, parking lots and, dubiously, a scoreboard for the Verizon Center.’
A payroll worker for the law firm of James E. Brown & Associates, known for D.C. special-ed litigation, is accused of stealing more than $1M from her employer, Legal Times reports. Tamika Beasley ‘allegedly used her access to the firm’s checking account to transfer money into several of her own bank accounts.’ She is expected to plead guilty. Examiner interviews Peter Nickles, who declines to betray any schadenfreude: ‘The law firm has my sympathy and support as it tries to recover from the devastating breach of trust.’
ALSO ON BLT—-Former Superior Court marshal still in litigation over strip-searches of 2002 protest arrestees.
At least one reason for Hawk One Security’s woes: According to WaPo’s Nikita Stewart, the company ‘owes the Internal Revenue Service $4.25 million in taxes and penalties for matters dating from 1998 to 2003, according to an IRS document sent to D.C. Public Schools in September.’ Hawk One says the city’s still responsible for employees’ late paychecks.
Examiner’s Neibauer covers the ‘urban chickens’ bill now proposed by Tommy Wells. The bill would ‘erase rules that prohibit fowl within 50 feet of any building “used for human habitation.”‘ And did you know: ‘Urban chickens are increasingly popular nationally in the down economy, as families look to produce their own eggs and cities pass laws to ease the process. The D.C. measure was drafted on behalf of a Capitol Hill family, Wells’ constituents, whose eight hens were recently confiscated by animal control officers.’ Hens only, no roosters!
WAMU-FM’s Rebecca Sheir covers groundbreaking of new Rosedale library/rec center. ‘Rosedale has had access to the nearby R.L. Christian and Langston library kiosks, but never a full-scale facility of its own. Brit Wyckoff of the Rosedale Citizens Alliance says a library will help the neighborhood both financially and personally.’ It’s skedded for a summer 2011 completion.
Capitol Police office passes out drunk in the bed of Arlington County woman, someone he’d never met. He was arrested, WaPo reports: ‘The officer, Thomas Patrick McMahon, 34, was charged with unlawful entry. Police say they are perplexed as to why McMahon picked the apartment, in the 1000 block of North Randolph Street, to sleep. He lives in Reston. ‘
Metro farecard machines malfunctioned this morning, WTOP reports. SmarTrip/SmartBenefit users couldn’t use credit/debit cards to add to their accounts.
15-year-old nearly drowns at Rumsey Aquatic Center.
Kwame Brown tells Foggy Bottom Association that he will block Stevens ES disposition as long as community opposes the Equity Residential plans for the site, Hatchet reports.
WaPo covers Metro lawsuit against Doug Jemal. ‘The dispute has escalated since Metro discovered the problem in December 2007,’ James Hohmann writes. ‘Metro officials have been in talks with the developer’s representatives since then…Unable to reach an agreement, the agency took legal action.’
D.C. Action for Children has a new executive director, HyeSook Chung, WBJ reports. ‘DC ACT, a 17-year-old nonprofit in D.C., temporarily shut its doors in July to figure out how it can best stay afloat and successfully aid D.C. youth and families….The nonprofit has spent the past few months reassessing its business model by chatting with national and local colleagues to find out how similar nonprofits have used advocacy to help kids and families—-a task the D.C. nonprofit says it has struggled with.’
John Kelly on the Redskins moniker: ‘On the field, a mediocre product. Off the field, lawsuits against fans. You would think at this point [Dan Snyder] would want to change the name, the way the owners of ValuJet changed the airline’s name to AirTran after a few crashes.’
DCPS teacher: ‘Today was the day we were supposed to find out who was getting fired as part of the DCPS “right-sizing” process. Instead, we got notes in our boxes explaining why the process was happening. Apparently the district is behind in putting all the paperwork through to get their employees fired.’
Metro Weekly with more on the Gay Games pick.
Informer: ‘Teachers Protest Layoffs, Rhee Uses Council as Scapegoat’
GGW wants street kept intact in Minnesota/Benning parcel being handed to Donatelli Development.
Air and Space Museum gets observatory.
WTTG-TV covers preservation efforts at Congressional Cemetery.
NC8 covers Ward 8 Wal-Mart plans.
God bless Sally Jenkins.
HALLELUJAH—-New downtown construction! Work begins on 1000 Connecticut Avenue, future home of Arent Fox.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-12 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment roundtable on ‘Performance of the Information Technology Staff Augmentation (ITSA) contract,’ JAWB 120; 3 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment hearing on PR18-337 (‘Fourth/Sixth and E Street, S.W., Property Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009’ [reconsideration]), PR18-314 (‘Minnesota-Benning Phase 2 Redevelopment Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009’), PR18-324 (‘Strand Theater Property Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009’), and PR18-325 (‘Eastern Avenue Property Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 120; 3:45 p.m.: Committee on Economic Development meeting on B18-332 (‘Department of Small and Local Business Development Amendment Act of 2009’), PR18-421 (‘Local, Small, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Contracting Regulations Approval Resolution of 2009’), PR18-314 (‘Minnesota-Benning Phase 2 Redevelopment Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009’), PR18-324 (‘Strand Theatre Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009’), PR18-325 (‘Eastern Avenue Property Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009’), PR18-337 (‘Fourth/Sixth and E Street, S.W., Property Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009’), PR18-312 (‘District of Columbia Small and Local Business Opportunity Commission Christian Salvatori Confirmation Resolution of 2009′), and PR18-369 (‘Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Valerie Santos Confirmation Resolution of 2009′), JAWB 123; 4 p.m.: Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation roundtable on the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:45 a.m.: remarks, Office of Special Education announcement, Mamie S. Lee ES, 100 Gallatin St. NE; 4 p.m.: remarks, Housing for Homeless Seniors announcement, 441 4th St. NW.