City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘D.C. Democrats Split Over Finance Questions‘
Morning all. In less than 24 hours, the D.C. Council will gavel into order its first legislative meeting since July. The top item of business will be passing the fiscal 2010 budget, which is 10 days from going into effect—-that could likely mean an override of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s veto over the council’s move to solidify the State Board of Education’s independence. To prevent that, Fenty told WaPo Friday that he’d personally lobby the council. Seen making the Wilson Building rounds Friday was Chancellor Michelle Rhee, visiting with the council’s swing votes. Among her lobbying pitches, LL is told: This is not the governance structure I signed up for.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Fire department facilities lack smoke detectors, IG says; another poll shows D.C. loves gay marriage; Parson leaves the GLLU; a guilty plea in OCTOgate; unemployment hits 11 percent; and why does CVS need a $1.9M city subsidy?
Examiner’s Bill Myers gets a hold of an inspector general’s report examining the post-Rosenbaum Fire and Emergency Medical Services department. The picture it paints is not positive; among its findings: That FEMS ‘[h]asn’t established anything like a quality “medical assurance” program to protect the health and welfare of District citizens; [s]till suffers from “excessive turnover in key management positions”; [a]nd still doesn’t have enough staffers to coordinate rescue services for the city’s some 600,000 some citizens.’ Plus this nugget: ‘Some local fire offices aren’t even equipped with working smoke detectors.’ ALSO—-WTTG-TV covers hydrant problems.
Robert McCartney spends his Sunday column exploring the ‘intriguing fact’ of the racial divide on gay marriage. Here’s the news: ‘A poll conducted in May for same-sex marriage supporters found that whites in the District back same-sex marriage by more than 8 to 1, while blacks were against it 48 percent to 34 percent. Results of the survey, done by the Feldman Group, were provided by D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large)….The poll showed the city as a whole supported same-sex marriage by 54 percent to 34 percent.’ His takeaway: ‘[T]he range of attitudes about same-sex marriage among blacks in the District is fairly typical of African Americans nationwide. What’s really unusual about the District is the level of backing for same-sex marriage among whites….[who are] more secular, liberal and better-educated than the rest of the country.’
Sunday scoop for Blade’s Lou Chibbaro Jr.: Police officials have moved Sgt. Brett Parson, longtime face of the MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, away from his longtime post. Parson says it was his idea: ‘The change was at my request and I am thankful the chief of police honored my request to return to patrol….As you know, my heart has always belonged to patrol and street-level policing.’ Chibbaro notes that the move ‘comes at a time when gay activists once again have expressed concern about changes that Police Chief Cathy Lanier has proposed or has made with the GLLU.’ Take Peter Rosenstein‘s concerns, for instance: That a move to put the GLLU and other specialty units under patrol services rather than directly under the chief ‘would likely downgrade the influence of the units.’
A new name emerges in OCTOgate: Tawanna Sellmon, a project manager for the technology agency, has pleaded guilty in federal court to a role in the kickback scandal. Sellmon, writes Scott McCabe in Examiner, ‘accepted thousands of dollars from Sushil Bansal, the owner of Advanced Integrated Technologies, a consulting firm accused of bilking the D.C. taxpayers for millions of dollars…According to court documents, Sellmon and Bansal met while both worked at the Office of the Chief Financial Officer…After Sellmon moved to the technology office in 2007 and Bansal went into business for himself, prosecutors said, Sellmon began processing the phony invoices submitted by Bansal’s company, AITC. She also gave Bansal the password to the city’s computerized database used to track purchase orders.’
Colby King looks at the case of Barry Harrison, the ex-con and Peaceoholics mentor convicted of sexual assaulting a student at Spingarn SHS. Harrison, he writes, ‘spent about 22 years in prison for beating and shooting to death two D.C. men in 1984. That incarceration came after his conviction for armed robbery in 1978. Last year, Harrison pleaded guilty to cocaine possession. Which raises the question: What was he doing in a D.C. public school?’ Rhee tells him that there will be no more Peaceoholics mentors in schools without background checks. (Of course, they were supposed to have background checks in the first place.) Peaceoholics co-founder Ron Moten, meanwhile, ‘rides high at city hall—-with a low opinion of schoolgirls and with $7 million of D.C. money…and counting.’
Jonetta Rose Barras‘ Examiner column examines Fenty’s relentless aggregation of power—-how Hizzoner ‘has aggressively re-established executive prerogatives, expanded his field of authority and placed handpicked sentries at every door.’ He’s now in control of the schools, the water utility, and now the Housing Authority. ‘The Shermanesque campaign has been breathtaking….Politicians and political operatives may marvel at Fenty’s unequivocal dominance. After all, he was cast as a neophyte sure to be overshadowed, perhaps overwhelmed, by the legislature. Oddly, just the opposite has happened.’ She calls on the D.C. Council to step up its game: ‘The D.C. Council has permitted itself to become muddled in the mundane and the insignificant. All too often, it has rendered itself impotent, despite its considerable power.’
WCP’s Dave McKenna is not happy with how Rhee’s handled the investigation of the incident a year ago where high school football players in western Maryland are alleged to have tossed racial slurs at Dunbar athletes during a game there. ‘DCPS, the agency she lords over, has impeded every attempt to find out what really happened on that Allegany County football field last Sept. 19, 2008. At least, that’s what school officials in Allegany County and Maryland athletic overseers say about Rhee’s handling of the matter. Rhee won’t say anything. So why not believe everybody else?’
Examiner’s Scott McCabe covers tax refund scam perpetrated by sisters from South Carolina. ‘The elaborate scam siphoned money via the troubled D.C. tax office even after federal agents uncovered an unrelated scheme in which fake property tax returns were used to rip off $48 million from the government over two decades….Like the $48 million property tax scheme, this scam was not caught by the District’s internal controls, but unraveled only after a D.C. tax office form was accidentally mailed to a former client of’ Carolyne R. Jones, 50, and Johanna R. Jones, 47. They pocketed $800K.
No surprise here: The city is appealing the arbitration ruling shutting down the MPD All Hands on Deck program, WTOP reports. Their grounds, says Peter Nickles: ‘We strongly believe the arbiter reached the wrong decision as a result of misconduct by the Fraternal Order of Police.’ To wit, that the union withheld documents. To that, FOP labor chief Kristopher Baumann says: ‘The idea that the FOP or anyone could conceal a public document is absurd.’ Also WaPo.
HuffPo blogger says DCPS teacher layoffs ‘Amount To One Hell of a Power Play by Michelle Rhee.’ His question: ‘How can someone hire nearly 25% of their work force over the summer and then less than a month into the school year throw up her hands and move to lay so many off?…Rhee’s mass hiring of newbies thankful to have jobs, juxtaposed with an expected mass layoff of veterans who know about how schools should run, takes cold-blooded, short-sighted “reform” to a new level.’
ALSO—-‘Rank and file’ protest of ‘Rhee: The Teacher Terminator’ is scheduled for Thursday at 825 North Capitol.
At WBJ, Jonathan O’Connell rightly asks: Does CVS really need a $1.9M TIF subsidy for a Petworth location? It’s ‘hard to see why a CVS in Northwest D.C. needs subsidizing—-last I checked, both CVS and Walgreens were still aggressively looking to expand in the city. In fact, just over a mile southwest of the Petworth site, developer Combined Properties is doing the build-out for a new 12,000-square-foot CVS on Columbia Road in Adams Morgan.’
WaPo’s Lisa Rein covers Metro’s efforts to crack down on train suicides. They are considering partnership with CrisisLink, ‘an Arlington County-based group that offers counseling to people in the District and Virginia…The outreach would include training for Metro employees who are likely to come into contact with someone considering taking his life. Station managers, Metro Transit Police and other Metro staff would be trained to recognize someone in distress. And signs providing information about prevention hotlines could be placed prominently in stations and on trains and buses.’ Also WAMU-FM, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV.
District unemployment now north of 11 percent, DOES announces. V. Dion Haynes in WaPo says it’s ‘the highest level since July 1983’ and that during July, ‘the District lost 9,100 jobs, including 4,800 in the private sector and 4,300 in the public sector, according to the city’s Department of Employment Services. Professional and business services lost 2,100 jobs; hospitality and leisure, 800; educational and health services, 500; the federal government, 200; and the D.C. government, 4,100, mainly participants in the summer youth job program.’ Also AP.
Another nonprofit victim of the recession: WEAVE—-or Women Empowered Against Violence, D.C.’s second-largest DV-related nonprofit—-as Susan Kinzie reports in WaPo. ‘Eleven days ago, WEAVE’s board of directors decided it didn’t have enough funds to keep operating and voted to begin the process of shutting down. The organization is still hanging by a thread: Some of its most loyal donors are scrambling to raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to save WEAVE….WEAVE’s troubles are emblematic of the precarious life of a nonprofit in a tough economy….Most are heavily reliant on a few funding sources without much money in reserve, and the recession is hitting them from all sides, with local government, corporate and foundation funding getting slashed.’
In WaPo, Hamil Harris profiles Vanilla P. Beane, D.C.’s foremost designer and producer of church hats, on the occasion of her 90th birthday. ‘Beane’s craft is a throwback to a more formal era, when women and men were expected to wear hats to church and dressy occasions. A hat, like no other fashion item, conveyed dignity, particularly for those whose lives were marginalized. Beane began designing hats in the 1950s, when she worked part time for Washington Millinery Supply. In 1979, after she retired from the General Services Administration, Beane fulfilled a lifelong dream and opened her own hat shop, which is still going strong in Northwest Washington.’ Among her customers: Dorothy Height.
A Capitol Police officer is in hot water after a racially charged run-in at a National Harbor hotel last month, Ruben Castaneda reports in WaPo. Officer Victor E. Bryant and his girlfriend, who are white, checked in to the Hampton Inn last month then left to go to a concert, only to have the hotel give their room to a Michigan family, who are black. ‘The two sets of hotel guests don’t agree on what happened when they encountered each other later that night. But it clearly didn’t go well. By the end of the evening, Bryant was in handcuffs, charged with three counts of assault for allegedly pointing his service weapon at two members of the Day family and a hotel worker and threatening to shoot one of the Days….In an interview, Bryant denied pointing his gun at anyone and said he did not use racially inflammatory language. Bryant, 36, acknowledged that Montgomery used racial epithets. “When Angela said those words, [the Day relatives] really sparked up,” Bryant said. “They really got upset when she said the N-word.”‘ Ya think?
Track installation begins for Anacostia streetcar project; WaPo covers: ‘The District had hoped to have streetcars running through Anacostia by the end of this year, but the project was beset by delays.’
ALSO—-Metro hasn’t paid its $770 postal bill. They blame the postal service.
Brookland resident Abdullah R. Fuller, 35, is found shot to death early Sunday on the 1300 block of Perry Street NE. ‘The spot where he was found is relatively secluded and near a Franciscan monastery and Fort Bunker Hill park,’ WaPo reports.
ALSO—-Three shot Sunday in separate incidents on the 400 block of 50th Street NE.
Arrest made in Friday killing at South Capitol and Forrester Streets SW; a 17-year-old has been charged in the murder of Derrick Marshall, 20, WaPo reports.
Cops credit ‘silent dispatch’ system with arrest of rape suspect, WTTG-TV reports.
MOULTRIE BEAT—-Damon D. Taylor, 25, pleads guilty to murdering his mother while high on PCP in March; and Myrone Williams, 38, gets 39 years for killing his wife, who had recently filed for divorce, in 2008.
WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV cover recent rash of taxi robberies. ‘In each case, police say the suspect has hailed a cab and requested to be taken to a location. Once at that location, the suspect implied that he had a gun and demanded money….The suspect in the robberies is described as a dark-complexioned black male, about 35 to 40 years old, and between 5’9″ and 5’11” in height. This suspect has a thin build and a goatee.’
You could have taken a walking tour of Spring Valley chemical weapons sites this weekend, hosted by neighborhood activist Kent Slowinski. But if you missed it, Yamiche Alcindor covers the walk in WaPo. ‘For two hours Sunday, Slowinski, who has given several tours of the area, pointed to various [AU] campus buildings and houses where hundreds of chemical munitions might be buried….Slowinski also talked about homeowners whose health problems might be linked to the neighborhood’s past.’
Several top private schools in the region, including Georgetown Day, Sidwell Friends, and Capitol Hill Day, are searching for new leaders, WaPo reports.
Tomorrow is Car Free Day! WaPo’s Ashley Halsey III covers the event: ‘World Car Free Day is the annual apex of a global movement that promotes alternatives to a car-dependent society, including improvement of mass transit, cycling and walking, and the development of communities where jobs are closer to home and where shopping is within walking distance….In this region, the group is asking people to pledge to leave the car at home—-a step taken by 5,445 people on Car Free Day last year. Car Free Day Metro D.C. organizers are keeping an online tally of those taking the vow this year. They hope this number will top 10,000.’ Also WAMU-FM.
CSX plan would rebuild Virginia Avenue rail tunnel to accommodate double-stack cars, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. ‘[T]he approval means more freight traffic through the heart of Washington, which has been seen as an eyesore and homeland security nightmare. The trains that can carry hazardous materials run close to national monuments and key government offices, a security concern given the possibility of derailments or terrorism.’
GW Hatchet covers West End library/firehouse project.
RHEE ITINERARY—-She will speak at Cornell University on Oct. 5.
DDOT grabs $2.8M in stim funding, WBJ reports, which will ‘create an entity that provides a city-wide gateway to 50 different green career tracks in urban and community forestry, forest-based ecosystems and watershed restoration…The entity— called DC Green Corps— will be based at the new Marvin Gaye Community Greening Center in the Watts Branch sub-watershed of the Anacostia River.’
NC8 covers the remake of the Parkside Terrace housing project—-it’s now ‘Overlook at Oxon Run.’ ‘”It was the worst that I’ve ever undertaken, but today I’m pretty proud to say we did it,” said co-owner H.R. Crawford. The new building will house people with mixed incomes. It has common rooms for seniors, a gym and a laundry room in the building.’
Catholic U. laboratory gets $36M in federal contracts ‘to work on converting liquid nuclear waste to glass, a process that renders it comparatively stable and safe.’
Washington is not one of the ‘Meanest Cities’ when it comes to dealing with the homeless. WaTimes explains why.
Harry Jaffe covers the philanthropic endeavors of John Lannan and the Nats.
‘Mayor Fenty maneuvers well within DC’s hipster scene what with his…smart suit and tie, cleanly-shaven everything, and well, general awesomeness.’
The Redskins really aren’t very good.
NEED A JOB?—-‘Local citywide council campaign is looking for a Deputy Campaign Manager…’
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: legislative meeting press briefing, JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, newly restored Chinatown Arch unveiling, 600 block of H Street NW; 2 p.m.: remarks, Department of Corrections HIV award announcement, Central Detention Facility, 1901 D St. SE.