City Paper is not for tourists
Morning all. Want to see a classic example of the boneheaded communications practices of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty at work? Watch Sam Ford‘s report yesterday for WJLA-TV/NC8 on the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center controversy. Setting aside the defensible political imperatives behind the Cora Masters Barry eviction, the PR end of it has been a mess from the start. Ford’s piece concerns the fact that Barry allies Maya Angelou and Dorothy Height have had two meetings with Hizzoner scheduled and canceled without explanation. But Fenty, on camera, tells Ford, “I don’t know the details of any scheduling,” even though he hints that he knows very well what’s going on when he snaps, “I don’t think you even know that,” when Ford asks about the snubs. So Ford interviews Height, 97, lion of the civil rights movement, looking splendid in her crown. She says, yes, indeed the meetings have been canceled. Thus you have the spectacle of Fenty, for all intents and purposes, casting doubts on the credibility of a nearly 100-year-old civil rights icon. Brilliant optics, that.
AFTER THE JUMP—-OSSE requests probe into DC-CAS cheating; DDOE head tapped for WASA manager post; Nichols takes on Nickles; Fenty & Co say nice things about Clark Ray; and FEMS Engine 10 hits the NYT pages.
A year ago, former State Superintendent of Education Deborah Gist ordered an investigation of 26 DCPS and charter schools for possibly cheating on the 2008 DC-CAS tests. Yesterday, according to Bill Turque‘s fab WaPo reporting, the city acknowledged the investigation for the first time—-an ‘erasure analysis’ that attempts to find suspicious patterns where wrong answers were changed to right ones. The results of the probe were ‘inconclusive,’ according to test manufacturer CTB McGraw-Hill. But the full report is yet to be released. In any case, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and his education deputies say all is well: Yesterday, they rolled out a new set of test security guidelines, including ‘additional testing monitors, daily security checklists completed by school staff members and security agreements signed by school employees.’
DDOE chief George Hawkins will be the next WASA general manager. Read LL’s quick take, and WaPo’s Tim Craig also covers the move: ‘Hawkins, 49, will take over an agency trying to ease public concerns about water quality and an aging infrastructure that complicated efforts to fight a huge fire at Peggy Cooper Cafritz‘s mansion in Northwest Washington this summer….William M. Walker, chairman of WASA’s board of directors, said Hawkins will also help the agency tackle a host of environmental issues, including determining the steps needed to comply with looming federal mandates that will affect water rates.’ WBJ’s Vandana Sinha reports that DDOE ‘is perhaps at its busiest, as it aims to spearhead a new citywide greening campaign, handle more than $40 million in new federal stimulus funds for energy programs, enact some of the country’s first green building legislation, manage the creation of a first-ever sustainable energy utility to fund D.C.’s energy initiatives, implement a long-term plan to clean up the Anacostia River and finetune new stormwater regulations that will change how developers plan for new construction projects, among other projects.’ Also WAMU-FM.
One bulldog deserves another: Deborah Nichols is taking Peter Nickles to court, Legal Times reports. The D.C. auditor is seeking to enforce a subpoena for documents on NCRC/AWC real estate deals. ‘This is the first time Nichols has turned to the courts to enforce a subpoena against the city. On May 28, Nichols sent a subpoena to D.C. Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos seeking access to boxes of documents related to the two boards. The next day, [Nickles] sent his own letter to Nichols, saying he objected to the subpoena as “so broadly stated” as to be unenforceable.’ Representing Nichols: Former D.C. AG Bob Spagnoletti.
Borderstan with a good catch from yesterday’s Dupont dog park ribbon-cutting: ‘Fenty, Councilmember Jack Evans (Ward 2) and Ximena Hartsock (Ray’s replacement) all recognized Ray from the podium at the ribbon-cutting ceremonies today, giving him credit for his role in creation of both the Shaw Dog Park and the 17th Street park….Ironic that Fenty fires Ray, but then gives Ray credit for his good work. I guess I do have to give Fenty credit for recognizing Ray, but some days it is tough to figure out our mayor.’
Harry Jaffe is back to spouting hyperbolics on the civil gang injunctions issue! He covers a Shaw community meeting last week attended by injunction foes: ‘Phil Mendelson showed and dodged….But it was at-large member Michael Brown who almost got hooted out of the rec center. Asked why he voted against the anti-gang bill, Brown said it would have allowed police to sweep his children, who happen to be African American, off the street, just because of the color of their skin….”That might play in certain areas,” [community activist Martin Moulton] says, “but a lot of African Americans in the audience rolled their eyes. He lives in upper Chevy Chase, and he’s worried that his kids would be misidentified? He’s not living our weekly nightmare.”‘ Good pwn, there.
THE CUDDLER GOES A1—-Yes, LL knows we’re not supposed to call him the Georgetown Cuddler, but moniker isn’t only ‘inappropriately cute’; police aren’t sure if there’s a single Cuddler or many Cuddlers, as Paul Duggan reports in WaPo. ‘The assaults are bizarre enough. But to investigators, here’s what’s truly frustrating: “White male, black male, black male, Hispanic male, white male,” said D.C. police Cmdr. Rodney Parks, reciting the widely varying suspect descriptions provided by victims. As Parks leafed through the reports, his voice grew weary….Parks, head of the criminal investigations branch, said authorities are stumped. No one has been seriously injured, he said. But it could be only a matter of time. “Is it a copycat?” Parks wondered. “Is it the same guy, and we’re just not getting good descriptions? Is it a group of guys—-some bad prank? All of that is being considered. But we just don’t know at this point. There’s not enough for us to definitively say.”‘
Petula Dvorak tackles the gay marriage debate in her WaPo column. As far as she can see, same-sex couplings are widely accepted in this town, so why even have this debate? ‘The fact that some people love differently is a massive mental hurdle that most folks have cleared here in the nation’s capital. That’s supposed to be the hard part, right? Yet, instead of celebrating its progress, the city is tussling and tangling with the most mundane, fill-in-the-blank, check-the-box, sign-on-the-dotted line aspect of marriage….Life lived as a married, same-sex couple in the District is about as shocking as navy blazers and khaki pants.’ Maybe that’s why there’s a Maryland transplant in charge of the opposition?
Jogger struck by Metrobus north of Dupont Circle is ID’d by WaPo as 30-year-old Amanda Mahnke. She is communications director for Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.). ‘She was listed in stable condition late Thursday night with a fractured skull, said her father, Mark Mahnke. She has several other fractures that are not considered life threatening, he said.’ Also AP, Examiner, WTOP, NC8, WTTG-TV.
NB—-‘Law enforcement officials said the nearly 12 hours between the accident and the public identification of Mahnke should serve as a warning to joggers that they should carry identification. “It’s very important for you to have some I.D., even if you’re jogging,” said Officer Quintin Peterson, a D.C. police spokesman.’
New York Times reporter Ian Urbina joins the host of reporters to have profiled FEMS Engine 10, aka the House of Pain, long ranked among the busiest firehouses in the country. And Urbina, like others before him, discover that the men of E10 aren’t fighting fires so much as delivering medical care—-a point with national implications. ‘Among the hidden costs of the health care crisis is the burden that fire departments across the country are facing as firefighters, much like emergency room doctors, are increasingly serving as primary care providers. About 80 percent of the calls handled by Engine Company 10 are medical emergencies because the firehouse serves one of the city’s poorest areas, where few residents have health insurance, doctors’ checkups are rare, and medical problems are left to fester until someone dials 911….Washington’s fire department…is dispatched along with Emergency Medical Services to almost all emergency calls in the belief that it can provide the quickest response. It gets more such calls per capita than just about any other fire department in the nation, and a disproportionate number come from poorer neighborhoods like Trinidad, where Engine 10 is based, in the Northeast section of the city.’
READ—-The best E10 story of them all, Dave Jamieson‘s 2004 WCP cover story on the company.
Lou Chibbaro Jr. reports in the Blade that prosecutors have offered a plea deal to Robert Hannah, the 19-year-old accused of the assault that killed gay man Tony Randolph Hunter last September. The deal ‘could reduce or eliminate the time he spends in jail.’ Subject to a misdemeanor assault charge, Hannah is subject only to a maximum 180 days in jail. Activists, needless to say, are not pleased.
WBJ’s Melissa Castro covers a ‘bombshell lawsuit’ from Charles Withers, the ex-head of the Greater Washington Mutual Housing Association—-the roundly criticized ‘sole nonprofit that D.C. paid to guide new tenant-owners through the intricacies of owning and managing their own cooperative apartment buildings.’ Withers, Castro writes, ‘is suing for wrongful termination, saying he was fired for raising questions about the organization and trying to clean it up. Sadly, the public airing of grievances comes a little too late, as many of the coops the association was paid to help are mired in financial trouble and the association itself is dissolving in Chapter 7 bankruptcy….Withers’ most explosive charge is not included in his complaint. He says unethical property managers often deliberately mismanaged low-income tenant-owned buildings to steal the building out from under the owners — a charge others in the affordable housing industry support.’
ALSO IN WBJ—-Jonathan O’Connell covers the Howard Town Center plans. ‘On Aug. 31, the new developers told more than 100 residents and members of the Howard community they are determined to move the project quickly, saying they are less than a month away from signing a 99-year ground lease and development agreement for the property north of V Street between Eighth Street and Georgia Avenue in Northwest D.C. “It’s actually going at lightning speed, in the real estate world,” said Tim Kissler, a principal at Castlerock.’
The WMATA board is doing a little self-examination on the communications process regarding this weekend’s Metro station closings, James Hohmann reports in WaPo. ‘During a private, one-hour conference call, a majority of the 12-member board phoned in to listen to Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. explain why he decided to shut down the [stations]…”Really, the concern we had was, ‘Did we adequately inform the public, the potential riders and particularly the people going to the airport who don’t use Metro much?’ ” said Vice Chairman Peter Benjamin, a Maryland representative and a former top Metro manager. “He heard us.”‘
INCIDENTALLY—-WMATA doesn’t consider conference calls subject to its open-meeting rules, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. ‘[T]he transit agency would not say which or how many board members participated. “I am not at liberty to share that information because it was a private call,” [Metro spox Lisa Farbstein] said. Two board members estimated that at least a majority of the 12-person board were on the call.’
The WaPo editorial board tells everyone to ‘take a deep breath’ on the Metro closings. ‘Labor Day weekend happens to be a fairly sleepy time of year for Metro passengers and for air travel….Some tourists and locals will be inconvenienced by the closures this weekend. But given that Metro needs a three-day weekend for major maintenance like that planned for the airport station, the alternatives would have been worse….Cut Metro a break for choosing a sensible time for the work at the airport station, and for getting the word out with plenty of advance notice.’
Thieves have used firefighting equipment possibly stolen from Prince George’s County to pop open as many as 16 ATMs in Maryland and D.C., Mark Segraves reports for WTOP. ‘At first, police in Maryland and the District would only confirm two incidents, but D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier now says the number has grown. “In total,” Lanier says, “there have been 16 between Prince Georges and the District. What I can tell you is we’re gonna catch them.”…Lanier say in the District most of the thefts have been along the H Street/Benning Road corridor. The tools the thieves use in the robberies are a hydroram – a miniature “Jaws of Life” – and a Halligan bar, which looks like a heavy-duty crowbar.’ Also WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
ALSO FROM LANIER—-D.C. cops will no longer be allowed to flout the city cell-phone-driving law.
Bob Bennett, the megalawyer now investigating the contracting and earmarking practices of the D.C. Council, is leaving Skadden Arps for Hogan & Hartson, Legal Times reports. Also making the move: Former U.S. Attorney for D.C. Carl Rauh.
The District’s take from the $33M DOJ-Pfizer settlement: $430,372. Note that the D.C. Council already cracked down on ‘off-label uses’ via David Catania‘s SafeRX bill.
National Park Service releases details of $30M Lincoln Memorial overhaul at NCPC meeting, WBJ reports. ‘Designed by Sasaki Associates, the project will add more pedestrian and bike-friendly paths around the reflecting pool and on the elm walk, improve the Reflecting Pool’s water quality and structure and relocate benches and trash cans….Renderings also envision permanent lighting, trash cans and benches along just one side of the pedestrian elm walkways and paths beside the Reflecting Pool that are up to 12 feet wide.’ Also WTTG-TV.
Examiner’s Scott McCabe with more on the murder suspect who slipped out of Washington Hospital Center.
Affordable housing projects break ground, WBJ reports: ‘[A] $5 million, 26-unit housing development at 4427 Hayes St. NE being financed in part by investors in PNC Place, a 365,000-square-foot LEED Platinum office building by PNC Financial Services Group and Vornado/Charles E. Smith….The Hayes Street project is being developed by D.C.-based Blue Skye Development LLC, chosen by Fenty’s economic development team last year. Thanks to the recession, Blue Skye is one of the first developers chosen by Fenty for a project to actually begin building. Of the 26 units, nine are being set aside for residents of the Lincoln Heights and Richardson Dwellings, a low-income housing community that is expected to be transformed into a mixed-use neighborhood under the city’s New Communities initiative.’ (See Housing Complex, too.)
ALSO—-‘Fenty and the D.C. Housing Authority announced demolition of Capitol View Plaza Towers, a public housing project at 5901 East Capitol St. being overhauled as part of a major mixed-income housing development already in progress, Capitol Gateway….Located near the Capitol Heights Metro station on the D.C.-Maryland border, Capitol View will ultimately include 761 mixed-income units and a 110,000-square-foot retail center featuring a Shoppers Food Warehouse.’
Mount Pleasant solar co-op finally moving forward, WBJ reports. ‘When the new solar installations are complete, the coop said the sun will power about 4 percent of the neighborhood’s 1,200 single-family homes. The panels, coop leaders said, will cut those homes‚ energy consumption by more than 25 percent and overall carbon emissions by 271,000 pounds each year.’
One taxpayer tells WaPo that he’s just fine with Fenty’s capital spending spree: ‘For our money we get harassment at the Department of Motor Vehicles, pothole-filled roads, unresponsive police and failing schools. Mr. Fenty is doing his best to shape up a city and facilities that have been left to decay for years. At least he has given us one facility—-which we regularly use and enjoy—-to take our minds off all the other ways our taxpayer dollars are regularly wasted.’
WaTimes: ‘D.C.’s power, prestige takes bite out of Big Apple’
Steve and Cokie Roberts bring up DCPS contract negotiations in their syndicated column.
Insurance blogger wonders what’s behind Tom Hampton‘s DISB firing: ‘Having known and seen his work over the past few years, I can say that Hampton appeared to be an adequate insurance commissioner, and was always very cooperative with our media company whenever we requested DISB assistance. So was his firing based on politics? Personality? Will this plot thicken?’
Debt rater lowers Pepco outlook, WBJ reports, reflecting ‘the unfavorable outlook for wholesale energy prices and their impact on Conectiv Energy Holdings, Pepco’s merchant energy business.’
District partners ‘with a downtown D.C. company that pays utility consumers back for the amount of energy they save.
Blogger Mark Blacknell explains why he won’t be renewing his bike-sharing membership: ‘While I very much support the concepts behind SmartBike DC (indeed, I bought a membership despite having more bikes than one person ought to), the extraordinarily poor customer service has soured me greatly on the implementation.’
Could Roll Call-CQ merger has consequences for real estate deal?
why.i.hate.dc calls for a ghost bike permitting process.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, H1N1 flu preparation announcement, Mary’s Center, 2333 Ontario Road NW.