Get to know D.C. with our daily newsletter
We dive deep on the day’s biggest story and share links to everything you need to know.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Did Marion Barry Get His Wife Evicted From Her Tennis Center?‘; ‘Mendelson To AG Nickles: Don’t Evict Cora Masters Barry‘; ‘Pershing Park Case: Mendelson Cites More False Statements From Nickles‘
Morning all. It’s the first day of class for the D.C. Public Schools today, and for the first time in his life, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty can say that he’s a DCPS parent. Not that he was eager to admit it: LL and WaPo’s Bill Turque asked him this morning at the new H.D. Cooke Elementary whether he’d kept his longstanding promise to put his long-private-schooled kids into the system he’s hellbent on reforming. He said questions on the kids were off-limits: ‘I don’t want to comment on my kids and I don’t want to invite others to comment on my kids.’ He did say, after being pressed by LL, that he his kids were indeed a DCPS school. Around that time, WaPo spied at least one of Fenty’s sons showing up for class at Lafayette Elementary in Chevy Chase—-not West Elementary, which would be in-boundary for the Fentys. There’s been no explanation thus far how the kids ended up in one of the highest performing and most desirable city schools—-one that historically takes few out-of-bounds kids. We’ll see if that explanation, touching on a sore point for many District parents, ever comes. See also back-to-school stories from WAMU-FM, WTOP, NC8, WTTG-TV.
AFTER THE JUMP—-More schools stuff! Peter Nickles gets the Bill Myers treatment! Colby King on what our city has come to! Federal judge duped in scam! Aquatics director fired! Alleged fraudster cops named!
Also from this morning: Fenty appeared at H.D. Cooke with Education Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, along with Michelle Rhee and DOH Director Pierre Vigilance. Fenty left early, but Duncan and Sibelius stuck around to tour the marvelous new school and check out the new cook-on-site cafeteria, which today was serving scrambled eggs and french toast sticks, as well as fresh fruit and cereal. Rhee stayed long enough to calm parents exasperated by ongoing renos at Burroughs ES; there’s nothing wrong with the air, she said!
MORE SCHOOLS NEWS!…
Had to have seen this coming: Where the D.C. Public Schools had estimated during the budgetmaking process that more than 45,000 kids would enroll this year, only 37,000 had enrolled by today. Yes, of course, not all students have enrolled yet, but as Bill Turque points out in WaPo, the system had pushed hard for early enrollment this year. ‘In addition to a radio and bus sign ad campaign (“Go public and get a great free education!” said some spots), principals visited homes, held community barbecues and conducted enrollment fairs in concert with immunization clinics held by the District’s health department.’ Charter advocate Mark Lerner is already calling for the charter facilities funding cut to be restored. The final numbers won’t come till October.
ALSO—-Turque looks closely at the 200-plus pages of the new DCPS Teaching and Learning Framework—-‘a strikingly detailed set of guidelines and strategies presented to District teachers last week’ that ‘is part of a wave of change about to hit students, instructors and parents when classes begin Monday.’ The document, drafted by consultant Michael Moody, ‘covers everything from planning lessons and managing classroom behavior to assessing student progress and reteaching difficult concepts.’ The is some grumbling from ‘veteran principals’ who ‘scoffed privately at the plan, calling it a reprise of previous reform attempts.’ Also see thoughts from bloggers.
Bill Myers does the Examiner weekend cover story on Peter Nickles: ‘A Shark in Lawyer’s Clothing.’ Beyond the bad headline (aren’t lawyers already sharks by definition?) and the fabulous cover illustration, the piece wraps up Nickles’ role as Fenty’s closest adviser and bulldog extraordinaire: ‘The voices raised against Nickles are getting louder as the Fenty administration slouches from crisis to crisis. A recent poll of registered Democrats in Wards 1, 3 and 6…found that Nickles was the city’s most disliked public official. “I disturb the established culture,” he told The Examiner. “I’m not in the job just to be a caretaker. The culture has produced bad results for the citizens of the city.”…Nickles is at once the mayor’s mentor, adopted uncle, running buddy and hatchet man. When Fenty needs warm work done, he invariably turns to Nickles….Those who know him well say that Nickles’ relentless aggression isn’t a pose: In nature, he’s red in tooth and claw.’
GET THIS—-‘Does [Nickles] have any regrets? “I guess I regret being too soft on the [city] council,” he said. “If there’s any mistake, it’s not being as vigorous and as aggressive as I could have been.”‘
SEE ALSO ‘Combative at work, competitive in life‘—-a rundown of Nickles’ athletic accomplishments. ‘Nickles said he was proudest of his showing in the annual Race Across America, a grueling, weeklong bicycle race from Irvine, Calif. to Savannah, Ga….In order to qualify as a “finisher” in the hellish race, a team has to arrive in Georgia at least 48 hours after the race’s winners. Nickles said that was his only goal. But when the race was over, Nickles and his team had finished second—-by a scant 43 minutes.’
In his Saturday WaPo column, Colby King describes the ‘new normal.’ That, for instance, includes last Saturday’s shootings in Deanwood and the ‘apathetic response’ thereto. ‘Even in this jaded world, most communities still regard the deliberate shooting of an innocent human as an outrageous act. The District, I fear, has arrived at a different place.’ King sees evidence of ‘a crisis shaped by self-destructive forces and a shifting civic landscape’ that is being dealt with by ‘dividing our social order into three groups—-those who aren’t going to make it, those who might and those who will.’ Writes King: ‘Faced with a steady stream of broken families, unrelenting criminality and community dysfunction, the District of Columbia has, albeit unwittingly, restructured and accommodated itself to a new social order.’
Del Wilber in WaPo today with the story of how Southeast resident David Copeland-Jackson (aka ‘Xavier Justice’), 36, very nearly pulled off a bizarre scheme that duped U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle. ‘After serving a prison term for molesting an eighth-grader in Ohio, David Copeland-Jackson moved to the District to live with his mother. He e-mailed a buddy and together, federal authorities said, they came up with a plan that would fool a respected judge into issuing a $3 million defamation order against Copeland-Jackson’s victim. Copeland-Jackson relied on forged documents, the victim’s unwitting assistance and the help of a 71-year-old paralegal who had become interested in his case. He even hired a handwriting expert and impersonated a private detective, authorities said.’ Copeland-Jackson is now before another judge, Richard Leon, on conspiracy charges.
YOU’RE FIRED—-Brendan McElroy is out as DPR aquatics chief, D.C. Wire reported on Friday. ‘McElroy, the former facilities director for the Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks, joined the agency late last year. When he was hired, then Parks Director Clark E. Ray said he came “highly qualified.”…McElroy is leaving the agency two weeks after District officials opened the massive Wilson Aquatic Center in Ward 3, raising questions about the timing of his departure.’
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) tells WTOP’s Mark Segraves that he sees some intransigence on the part of District transportation officials on easing the commutes of his constituents: ‘”Once they get to D.C. [HOT lanes] stop, so what D.C. should do is widen 14th Street Bridge, widen 14th Street and get some of the revenue that’s coming from these HOT lanes,” he said. “We’ve suggested it time and time again and they just won’t listen, let alone act on it.”‘ Thanks, Jim. We’ll keep that in mind.
WaPo editorial board takes the District to task for its secretive approach to restaurant health inspections. ‘Today, unless a restaurant is ordered closed by the health department, customers have no access to inspection records short of filing a written request and waiting weeks or even months for it to arrive in the mail, or making a personal plea at city hall. That policy allows restaurants that should be shamed by lax hygiene standards to flout them without consequences….[T]he public, which takes nearly half its meals at restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias and the like, should have easy access to hygiene information about those establishments.’ To that end, WaPo likes the Mary Cheh/Muriel Bowser-sponsored letter-grade bill.
WTTG-TV’s Paul Wagner looks at the MPD overtime fraud probe first reported in Examiner. Wagner names the two detectives accused by a police supervisor of filing fraudulent paperwork: ‘On March 3, 2009, this investigating official reported to Inspector Burton that (the court tracking computer system) revealed that Detectives Elbert Griffin and Brett Smith had checked into court on a (2003 felony case) on Friday, February 27, 2009 and that this case did not appear on the court calendar.’ Also: ‘Law enforcement sources say prosecutors Deborah Sines and Amanda Haines, two assistant U.S. Attorneys who routinely handle some of the District’s more notorious murder cases, have told investigators their signatures were forged on court overtime documents.’
People’s Counsel charges that faulty meters overbilled Pepco customers for thousands, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. An OPC study ‘found that “random faulty meters may account for the high bill readings for more than 43 percent of consumers.” And it raised the possibility of “random meter reading errors.”‘ Pepco says no way, calling the report ‘confusing, irreconcilably flawed and of little value.’ The probe continues.
Jonetta Rose Barras takes an Anacostia River cruise expecting ‘to gather ammunition against the District’s “nanny” political leaders who, earlier this year, levied a 5-cent tax on certain plastic bags.’ She ends up in a somewhat more lyrical place: ‘I never found the bags for which I was looking, and still oppose the law, but who, I wondered, wouldn’t want to restore the Anacostia — if only to replicate the scene that Sunday when the rest of the world ceased to exist while my boat mates and I cruised, listening to [James R. Foster of the Anacostia Watershed Society] spin the river’s tales.’
AP’s Gillian Gaynair covers D.C. Vote’s southern roadshow, where they reached folks like DC Vote is reaching out to people like Henry Perry, 62, of Tennessee, who shockingly was unaware of the District’s position vis-a-vis congressional representation. ‘Not until the advocacy group visited Mr. Perry in Mississippi earlier this month did he learn that D.C. residents pay taxes and serve in the military but don’t have a vote in Congress. “I think it’s really a disgrace that they’re denied that right,” said Mr. Perry, president of the Teamsters Local Union No. 667 in Memphis, which also has members in Mississippi. “I was kind of shocked.”‘
Barack Obama at a recent health forum: ‘You know Michelle set up that garden in the White House….One of the things we’re trying to do now is to figure out, can we get a little farmer’s market outside of the White House—-I’m not going to have all y’all just tromping around—-but right outside the White House….It gives suddenly D.C. more access to good, fresh food, but it also is this enormous potential revenue maker for local farmers in the area.’ There’s also a new one at UDC, NC8 points out.
WaPo’s Dan Zak covers a huge new mural at an Edgewood shopping center: ‘Over the past three weeks, the five artists and 40 apprentices from the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program spray-painted in both the midday August heat and the glow of car headlights at night. They whitewashed the wall, chalked up a grid, projected images to sketch, tugged scaffolding, slapped on face masks, showered color over concrete, then sat on a curb to soak up the progress.’
ALSO—-Housing Complex notes that graffiti reports are way down. Are mural programs to be credited?
You read this in Examiner already, but read it again in WaPo: Metro’s July ridership was down compared to last year. ‘But officials point to factors other than the [June Red Line crash] to explain the drop from 21 million rail riders in July 2008 to a preliminary count of 20.5 million last month. Lower gas prices might have kept more people in their cars, Metro spokeswoman Angela Gates said, and the economic downturn has reduced tourist travel in the Washington region.’
Maryland developers slow to climb aboard Purple Line plans, Katherine Shaver reports in WaPo.
Big WaPo piece on schools and swine flu; D.C. doesn’t have a Districtwide season flu immunization program. But here’s some solid advise: ‘In a letter to parents, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and D.C. Health Department Director Pierre Vigilance suggested: “A good way to make sure your children are scrubbing their hands for the right amount of time is to sing the Happy Birthday or Row, Row, Row Your Boat songs twice.”‘
Tommy Wells tells WAMU-FM that D.C. ‘can do a better job with it’s public space recycling program. Wells says even the few recycling bins on streets aren’t being used as well as they should be. Wells says that’s because people aren’t used to having recycling in public spaces and the bins aren’t as well identified as they could be.’
WaPo’s Ashley Halsey III looks at local motorcycle deaths: ‘For the most part, motorcycle riders die for the same reasons that people who are driving vehicles with four wheels die: inexperience, alcohol, miscalculation and inattention to the road. But a motorcycle tends to be less forgiving than a car on all four of those counts. Motorcyclists also are more vulnerable to mistakes by other drivers. And, like pedestrians and bicyclists, they are less visible than cars and sport-utility vehicles.’
Another guilty plea in the November murders of Mike and Ginny Spevak: ‘Twenty-year-old Angela Hernandez cried Friday as she admitted to a judge that she targeted Virginia and Michael Spevak because she had visited their home as a friend of their former foster daughter. Hernandez pleaded guilty to robbery and two counts of second-degree murder while armed.’
Arthur C. Joiner, 24, charged with murder in May shooting death of Angelo L. Johnson, 18, on the 5000 block of D Street SE.
Man shot early this morning on 800 block of 51st Street NE. He is expected to recover.
The area around 5th and K Streets NW is a ‘prostitution-free zone’ through month’s end, WRC-TV reports. ‘Prostitutes caught working the zone will get a warning, then face a $500 fine and/or 180 days in jail. “The goal is to try to disrupt prostitution in the area,” said D.C. Police Capt. Mike Gottert….”It’s not going to change just because you put a sign up,” said Kaiya, who has worked the area for three years. “Worst case scenario, you just move further down, move to another location.”‘
In broad daylight, robbers enter gas station at Minnesota and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenues NE, break open an ATM, then go on to pull the same caper in P.G. County. WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV have video taken by the store clerk. ‘After looking at the surveillance tape, sources tell 9NEWS NOW it appears the ATM bandits were equipped with firefighting equipment: a halligan bar, which is like a crow bar, a hydroram.’
JULY UNEMPLOYMENT—-Was down to 10.6 percent in the District, from June’s 10.9 percent figure.
D.C. Court of Appeals, in a rare move, allows Bush administration DOJ official Kyle Sampson to continue practicing law here in spite on ongoing criminal investigation. Writes the National Law Journal: ‘[A]fter the Justice Department’s internal watchdogs concluded that Sampson violated federal law and misled Congress and the White House, the D.C. Committee on Admissions refused to approve his bar application, according to court filings. The committee described a “cloud” over Sampson’s “moral character,” and the delay forced Sampson to take a leave of absence from the firm because rules limit how long a lawyer from another jurisdiction can practice in the District of Columbia….Turning to the appeals court, Sampson and his supporters waged an all-out campaign to portray him as a hero of the Justice Department scandals….On May 26, with no explanation, a three-judge panel said Sampson could continue practicing in Washington until a final decision was made on his bar application.’
ALSO—-Federal judge Rosemary Collyer rejects claim of former J.O. Wilson ES teacher LilliAnn Williams-Jackson, who says she was unfairly transferred because she sat on a jury for four months. ‘J.O. Wilson’s principal, Cheryl Warley, “made it clear that she was unhappy with Dr. Jackson’s absence,” announcing that the counselor had “volunteered to serve on a jury, suggesting she was not dedicated to her job.” She also lowered Williams-Jackson’s performance evaluation from “exceeds expectations” to “meets expectations,” until a union representative called to complain. At the end of the school year, a committee led by one of Warley’s alleged protégés met to discuss moving some of its employees to other schools — a process called “excessing’ —because J.O. Wilson was over its budget. The committee settled on Williams-Jackson….While Collyer showed little sympathy for Warley in her opinion — she called her an “unconvincing witness” and noted that the school’s committee had been wrought with problems — she said that the school’s budget provided a legitimate rationale for transferring Williams-Jackson.’
Not too many folks interested in protesting health care reform at this weekend’s ‘tea parties’ round these parts: ‘At many protest sites Saturday only a handful of people showed up or no one was in attendance, including the selected locations closest to the White House and the Capitol: The National Press Club and the district office for Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington DC) on Martin Luther King Jr. Ave,’ writes WaPo.
Bob Bennett tells WUSA-TV that council contracting/earmark probe ‘is going full-speed ahead’ but ‘did not provide any details about the progress or extent of his probe.’
1900 block of 7th Street NW named for Chuck Brown. WUSA-TV covers the festivities.
Hill East/Reservation 13 developer to be picked soon, Voice of the Hill reports. But don’t hold your breath waiting for construction.
Office of Contracting and Procurement gets ‘Outstanding Agency Accreditation Award’ from the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing Inc. That, says Biz Journal, ‘helps improve bond ratings.’
Madam’s Organ owner Bill Duggan responds to letter writer who accused him of insufficient safetymindedness during his yearly trips to Dewey Beach hosting neighborhood kids. ‘Come on, lighten up! We have, for 13 years, given these kids good, safe fun, and, with a little luck, we will continue to do so for many more years.’
Saturday was Asian Elephant Day at the National Zoo.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-7:30 a.m.: remarks, First Day of School press availability, H.D. Cooke ES, 2525 17th St. NW; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, DCPS teaching and learning announcement, Ferebee-Hope ES, 3999 8th St. SE; 3:30 p.m.: remarks, Tubman ES playground and modernization ribbon-cutting, 3101 13th St. NW; 4:30 p.m.: remarks, Edgewood Mural Project ribbon-cutting, Edgewood Shopping Center, 514 Rhode Island Ave. NE.