City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Leo Alexander Explains His D.C. Mayor Run‘
IN LL WEEKLY—-Who Will Challenge Fenty? A preview of DCision 2010, one year out.
Morning all. The D.C. Public Schools, due to this summer’s budget cuts, have to slash $40M from the system, and Chancellor Michelle Rhee says the only way to do that is to lay off teachers and staff come Oct. 1—-the system’s first reduction in force since 2003. Bill Turque reports in WaPo that Rhee does ‘not expect any disruptions to major academic programs or course offerings’ but class sizes may go up. The larger controversy: Is this a back-door way to kick old-line, tenured teachers out of the system? Rhee hired 900 new teachers over the summer, explaining she ‘did not know we would see’ budget cuts. But WTU chief George Parker ‘questioned how “unanticipated” the school system’s spending issues could have been, given the broad indications of the District’s financial problems over the past six months.’ And, as Leah Fabel reports in Examiner, ‘Principals have been instructed to treat each employee equally when handling firings, regardless of tenure.’ Fenty said this morning on WRC-TV that principals will make firing decisions ‘based on who can continue to do a fantastic job.’ Also WAMU-FM, NC8, WTTG-TV.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Machen looks to be shoo-in for U.S. attorney post; WaPo editorialists want SETLC transparency; senators lay into voucher organizers; limited-government-loving Texas Republican wants to why Metro’s service is limited; Fenty and FLOTUS together today at farmers market kickoff.
Reports in both WaPo and Examiner name Ron Machen, DOJ vet now at WilmerHale, as the No. 1 contender to become the District’s new U.S. attorney. Del Wilber and Keith Alexander write in WaPo: ‘The sources, who asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to comment publicly, said Machen was being vetted for the job and will probably be nominated if he passes the required background checks.’ Bill Myers details his background in Examiner: ‘A Detroit native, Machen went to Stanford University on a football scholarship. He played wide receiver next to future NFL star John Lynch, then was accepted into Harvard Law School….Machen was a tireless prosecutor who took on the toughest cases—-often long-unsolved “cold case” homicides—-and was nearly invincible in a courtroom. After leaving the prosecutor’s office, Machen became a top-notch defense lawyer. Among his high-profile clients was disgraced defense contractor Mitchell Wade, who was sent to prison for bribing then-Rep. Randall “Duke” Cunningham.’
TOO BAD—-Myers: ‘Passed over in the process is homegrown product Channing Philips [sic], the interim U.S. attorney—-a D.C. native and son of a civil rights leader….The exclusion of Philips [sic] is a rebuke to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, D.C.’s former top prosecutor and mentor of Philips [sic]. Sources said that Norton was miffed at the Justice Department and saw Philips [sic] as part of the old guard, having been a top assistant to consecutive Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys.’ (Spell his name right, fer chrissakes, ‘Zaminer!)
IS IT FINAL?—-WaPo: ‘In a statement Wednesday, Norton confirmed that she had submitted names to Obama, and said, “The President has made his choice.” Administration officials indicated that might be premature. “The president has not yet made a selection,” said White House spokesman Ben LaBolt, declining to comment further.’
Finally a tut-tut from the WaPo editorial board on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s ridiculous behavior concerning the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, calling it ‘bewildering and offensive.’ Superior Court Judge Judith Macaluso, it writes, ‘applied some much-needed common sense’ to the eviction proceedings; the editorial also calls for an explanation beyond the ‘rather lame’ their-charter-lapsed excuse. And then there’s this: ‘Adding to the mystery has been the mayor’s inexplicably bad manners in not meeting with Mrs. Barry or her supporters. His brush-off of civil rights icon Dorothy Height and poet Maya Angelou suggests he thinks he’s such a shoo-in for reelection that he doesn’t have to bother with the niceties of office.’
At Jim Graham‘s hearing on the Peggy Cooper Cafritz fire yesterday, WASA and fire officials suggest that hydrant ater-flow standards need to be changed. Writes WaPo: ‘Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin and Interim WASA General Manager Avis Marie Russell testified at a D.C. Council committee hearing that they are examining whether the current standard—-1,000 gallons per minute within 1,000 feet—-should be increased for areas of the city that are hilly or have other water pressure problems.’ Also NC8, WTTG-TV and WaTimes, which writes that ‘the lack of water pressure and knowledge of fire hydrant locations that could provide the necessary water, among other issues, created what Chief Rubin called, “a perfect storm” of factors contributing to the fire.’
Major fire this morning on upper 13th Street NW; four have been taken to hospitals, AP reports: ‘D.C. Fire & E.M.S. spokesman Pete Piringer says people were hanging out of windows, ready to jump, when they arrived. He says firefighters rescued many people by ladder, including two children, who were taken to a hospital with serious injuries. An adult resident who had an existing medical condition that was aggravated was also taken to a hospital, as was a firefighter believed to have suffered heat exhaustion.’ Also WUSA-TV.
White House farmers market opens today; Lynn Sweet reports at Politics Daily that Michelle Obama will indeed be in attendance, as will Fenty and SecAg Tom Vilsack. Meanwhile, WTOP attempts to foment TRAFFIC HYSTERIA!
Why is the Board of Elections and Ethics investigating a alleged forgery violation by the D.C. Republican Committee that’s almost two years old? That’s what Jonetta Rose Barras is asking in her column, which notes that three days after DCGOP executive director Paul Craney called Fenty on a radio show, BOEE GC Kenneth J. McGhie sent letters to GOP members who had signed a ‘Slate Registration Form’ back on Dec. 17, 2007, saying that ‘signatures appeared to have been forged’ and asking for a signature sample. Writes Barras: ‘Normally such examinations are done before names appear on the ballot. But the elections board waited two years—-after the presidential primary had been held; after ghost votes were reported in the local primary D.C. Council race; after John McCain lost in the General Election; after the presidential inauguration, and after Craney posited that Fenty should reduce his salary—-to start its investigation. Why?’ BOEE says there’s no connection to the mayor; Barras says ‘the timing of the probe remains curious.’
Sen. Dick Durbin, in hearing, tees off on D.C. voucher program, pointing out that his office couldn’t identify where nearly 400 students receiving vouchers had attended school. ‘There is a cadre of these voucher schools really going unaccounted for….That is unacceptable.’ The Washington Scholarship Fund, which runs the program, was of no help; chief Gregory Cork ‘said at the hearing that he had referred Durbin to the schools to get the enrollment information because of privacy issues,’ Michael Birnbaum reports in WaPo. Also WTOP, WAMU-FM, Examiner, who quotes Durbin: ‘I’m not going to send money to a program that won’t provide me with information.’
ALSO ON THE HILL—-‘Rhee, who testified at the hearing, said she supports funding charter schools and the voucher program. But she said she wants students receiving vouchers to take the same standardized tests as public school students to assess their academic progress, which isn’t the case now.’
Police statement just released by prosecutors in the Robert Wone case may indicate that defendants changed their stories, WTTG-TV reports: ‘In the statement signed by Officer Diane Durham approximately six hours after the murder, she tells a homicide investigator all three men were in the living room when she entered the house. She said one man, who was dressed only in his underwear, did all the talking. He said they had been burglarized and the person came in through the patio door. The officer went on to say: “As I flipped on the light to see if anything had been disturbed, the underwear guy said, the victim came through the patio doors. He said they heard someone scream and ran downstairs to see. Underwear guy said the victim was at the patio door bleeding, they opened the door, took him upstairs and laid him on the bed.” But in the court affidavit unsealed last October, the story had changed.’
What to do with the Class 3 vacant property tax rate? The council set it at $10 per $100 assessed; that was a disaster, so it’s been moved back to $5. Now, Jonathan O’Connell reports at WBJ, Muriel Bowser wants to essentially create a Class 4 rate for ‘blighted’ properties that would remain at $10. ‘*Jack Evans, chair of the finance committee, isn’t so hot on creating a fourth rate. Instead, his committee clerk, Jeff Coudriet, said it might be better to simply apply a Class 3 rate only to blighted properties.’
Potomac ferry service could carry commuters to D.C. from as far south as Quantico, if suburban jurisdictions can find $20M to pay for it, WaPo reports. ‘The study says the ferry would have competitive pricing and service when compared with [trains] and [buses]….Consultants said ferry service between Maryland and Virginia could reduce some cross-river trips from two hours to less than 20 minutes, such as a route between Fort Belvoir and Indian Head.’ Also Examiner.
Texas congressman was not pleased—-not pleased at all!—-with Metro’s performance on the day of the big wingnut march last Saturday. Rep. Kevin Brady has written a letter to John Catoe, WaPo reports, ‘demanding an explanation for why the transit agency didn’t do more to prepare for the massive influx of conservative activists,’ noting that ‘an 80-year-old woman and her 60-year-old daughter were forced to walk and pay for a cab because the subway system was so crowded.’ Or, as GGW puts it, ‘Big government didn’t do enough for me when I was protesting big government.’ Also WSJ.
ALSO—-WaTimes covers disputes over the size of the protests, with some crazies claiming that almost 2 million were in attendance. Dick Armey says he almost got to a million. Independent authorities put the figures well under 100,000.
In other protest news, case concerning 2005 inaugural protest arrests hits the federal appeals court, Legal Times reports, with lawyers arguing that cops unfairly arrested people who were part of a mob that vandalized Adams Morgan. Chief Judge David Sentelle had little patience for that argument.
Metro breaks ground on $95M Blue Plains bus garage, replacing the Southeastern garage near the ballpark: ‘At a festive and carefully choreographed ceremony intended to emphasize the kind of positive development that’s been rare lately for the beleaguered transit agency, about two dozen federal and local officials lined up with shovels after an hour of speeches about the facility, scheduled to open in 2012,’ James Hohmann reports in WaPo. Ground may be broken, but it won’t be moved anytime soon: No contractor has been chosen, and D.C. Village has to be demolished.
OF COURSE—-‘The new garage is in the ward of council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who arrived 40 minutes after the ceremony was scheduled to start. In a speech, Barry said every new job at the garage should go to Ward 8 residents.’
‘Play day’ coming tomorrow to D.C. rec centers, Nikita Stewart reports in WaPo. That’s ‘to provide relief for parents faced with the mad scramble for child care’ because schools are closed for teacher training. ‘Although play day was advertised on e-mail lists and through a news release, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) did not hold his usual news conference to unveil it. Friday is being treated as a soft opening for the program.’ At various rec centers, ‘students in pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade will be entertained with Wii, tennis and even fishing.’ Four more ‘play days’ will be coming this year.
Turque describes the teaching mantra at Cleveland ES in Shaw: SWBAT. ‘It stands for “Student Will Be Able To,” as in: By the end of the unit, the student will be able to demonstrate mastery of whatever has been taught…. SWBAT is actually the creation of a Cleveland teacher, but it reflects the degree of urgency, and perhaps anxiety, with which teachers are approaching the new [Teaching and Learning Framework] regimen….Some younger teachers find the new system daunting because it eliminates traditional “pacing guides” and requires them to “cluster” learning standards into a format that works for them. Some say they need a little more guidance.’
Community activists—-Peaceaholics’ Ron Moten first among them—-protest earmark cuts at Wilson Building, Tim Craig reports at D.C. Wire. Moten and about a dozen others ‘staked out Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray‘s (D) office this afternoon demanding to meet with him regarding recent budget cuts….”We are not going anywhere,” Moten said while he waited for Gray….After waiting about a half hour, the protesters left Gray’s office after learning he left the building.’
Former D.C. cop Darrell Alphonso Carter, 42, is charged along with 11 others in Maryland federal court with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, WaPo reports. Carter served from 1990 until resigning in 1992. ‘The investigation, a partnership between local and federal authorities, is part of a larger effort to dismantle the drug trade across Southern Maryland….Authorities said the ring operated in St. Mary’s, Calvert, Charles and Prince George’s counties between November 2006 and this month. Investigators used wiretaps, electronic surveillance and old-fashioned detective work to make their case.’ Also WRC-TV, WUSA-TV.
PRETTYMAN BEAT—-Capitol Heights resident Eric S. Curry, 28, pleads guilty to pilfering $142K from the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. He stole blank checks and forged signatures in 2007 and 2008; he faces nearly three years in prison. And Bowie mother-and-daughter team of Barbara A. Stevenson-Jones, 70, and Pamela A. Stevenson, 51, admit to stealing $214K from government program ‘that pays blind vendors to work at snack bars, cafeterias and dry cleaners in federal buildings.’ The had contracted with the District to handle accounting for the program.
Three teenage girls accused in stabbing caught on tape in Subway restaurant on H Street NE, NC8 reports. ‘Subway employees say the confrontation started as an argument when one of the females tried to eat McDonald’s food in the Subway about 11:45 a.m. You can see the employee at the register exchange words with one of the females. We’re told another of the girls stole potato chips. The employee left the register to chase the females outside, where there was some kind of an altercation and the worker was stabbed.’
Seal-hunt protesters block Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Canadian embassy, get arrested.
Sommer Mathis at DCist has more on the efforts to get the D.C. Libertarian Party going again. Says organizer Peter Orvetti, ‘We will not elect a Libertarian mayor in 2010—-but that other D.C. minor party, the Republicans, won’t either….We want to present the Libertarian alternative to District residents on the issues that impact them, like how the War on Drugs leads to violence and broken families, and why the nation’s capital should join the drive for full equality for the LGBT community.’ Check Facebook page and blog, too.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial’s new Education Center will project photos of the 58,261 soldiers listed on the wall, Michael Ruane reports in WaPo. ‘Since 2001, officials with the fund, which also paid for the memorial’s iconic black granite wall, have been gathering photos for a so-called virtual wall they maintain on the Internet. “We’ve got 10,000 already,” said Jan C. Scruggs, the fund’s founder. “By the time we get this built, we’ll have 80 to 85 percent of them. And then, within 10 days, we’ll have the rest.” The fund has raised $20 million for the $85 million center, which has congressional approval but is probably several years from construction.’
Examiner blogger has police union message to officers on decision to appeal AHOD ruling: ‘In examining this issue it is important to understand the lack of respect the Chief and her command staff have for the rank and file officers and the rights of officers….’
Nearly 200 swine flu cases at GWU.
WTTG-TV covers rise in Metro crime.
Metro-area jobs back to pre-recession level by 2011?
It’s official: Circulator to curtail upper Wisconsin Avenue service.
Rhee to deliver speech to International Women’s Leadership Conference in Waikiki. No junket, though: The speech is being delivered ‘via video message.’
Everything you ever wanted to know about the poop-scooping business, courtesy of Petula Dvorak.
Beware the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug.
Hank Berliner, banker and chair of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp., is dead at 75.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-11 a.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on PR18-429 (‘Transfer of the Jurisdiction Over a Portion of U.S. Reservation 343-D, Parcel 255/19, of Anacostia Park Approval Resolution of 2009’), JAWB 500; 2 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment meeting (scheduled), JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor with Barbara Harrison, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 9:15 a.m.: remarks, Joint Utility Discount Day kickoff, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, DCRA announcement, King Solomon Grand Lodge, 2245 Rhode Island Ave. NE; 7:30 p.m.: attendee, Blagden Alley Association meeting, City Charter School, Joshua Mundell auditorium, 8th and N Streets NW.