City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Fenty Issues Press Release; Why Care?‘
IN LL WEEKLY—-Out!: Her political capital exhausted, Cora Masters Barry is evicted from the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center.
Morning all. Check LL’s column this week for a thorough recounting of the back story leading to the eviction of Cora Masters Barry and her Recreation Wish List Committee from the tennis center she conceived. In case you harbored any doubts that this was something other than an opportunistic move by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to oust Barry, check what his administration told WaPo yesterday. Initially, Fenty spokesperson Erica Stanley said that ‘[i]f Cora Barry gets her corporate papers together, then we will determine if she can play a role in the future plans of the city.’ But that apparently didn’t slam the door on Barry hard enough, prompting mayoral communications director Mafara Hobson to interrupt her vacation to deliver this revised position: ‘[T]he administration appreciated the contribution and partnership of Cora Masters Barry over the years….We will work hard to find ways to continue working with her going forward.’ Don’t let the screen door hit ya, Cora!
AFTER THE JUMP—-Some summer jobs participants do little work, you’ll be shocked to learn; Rhee says no teachers contract before school opening; Chevy Chase’s fancy new ballfields; Metro no longer hiring violent felons; and EHN wants Spring Valley clear of chemicals and Obama events clear of guns.
In this week’s WCP cover story, Justin Moyer looks at the Mayor’s Conservation Corps, warehouse for the thousands of city kids with no other Summer Youth Employment Program prospects. ‘For every pound of garbage that the MCC pulls off a D.C. block, a gumwad of programmatic dysfunction marks its passing. Kids got stiffed on pay and had to get the snafu straightened out, a process that involved a great deal of back-and-forth between the employees and the city government. There’ve been allegations of assaults, thefts, and—that heinous crime of crimes that has enraged Americans since FDR’s Depression-era WPA—make-work work. It’s a lot for highly taxed, unrepresented D.C. citizen to swallow. A $6 million boondoggle entrée with a appeteaser of maladministration? Eager to dig deeper, I launch a multiweek investigation of the MCC to answer two questions: 1) Does the MCC pay kids $7.25/hr to do nothing? 2) If it does, is that wrong?’
Add to that WJLA-TV/NC8’s investigation of the summer jobs program, which ‘has uncovered students of the District’s summer jobs program barely working, but still getting a check from taxpayers…another example of how the program is too big for the city to handle.’ One kid ‘says he’s supposed to spend his time at Dunbar High School working out in preparation for football season. “Running, lifting weights, working out, stretching – stuff like that.”‘ But he doesn’t even do that. In response, the Fenty administration points out that DOES ‘has started an anti-fraud unit for the youth program to ensure that teens are doing quote meaningful work.’
Michelle Rhee tells WRC-TV that DCPS teacher contact negotiations will not, in fact, be wrapped up by the start of school next Wednesday. But, she says, only ‘secondary issues’ are left to be hashed out with the Washington Teachers’ Union. ‘We are still in the midst of negotiations….My team, the night before last, was in negotiations until almost 1 a.m. We’re still trying very hard. We know the teachers want to know what the status of the contract is. We were pushing very hard to have something by the beginning of the school year. We weren’t able to make that happen, but we’re still in the midst of it.’
Jonetta Rose Barras asks why the city is spending $1 million on a renovation of a playground and ballfields in Chevy Chase—-including ‘a fancy scoreboard, an 18-foot fence, stadium-style seating and lighting’—-in the face of a massive budget shortfall. And don’t you try any of this accounting jive! ‘Like other government managers, [DPR spokesperson John Stokes] argues the difference between operating and capital budgets. But, it’s all money—-taxpayers’ money—-which should be spent wisely to produce maximum benefit.’ Barras has her own theory: ‘It appears the greatest beneficiary of the renovations will be Capitol City Little League….CCLL is quite influential, boasting contacts in political, business and media circles. Until recently, the mayor’s sons played in the league. Those connections could explain why the city is creating “premier” ball fields at sites used extensively by CCLL.’
If yesterday’s Examiner story didn’t sate your need for One Card news, WaPo’s Tim Craig chips in with a piece of his own about unhappiness with the city’s new ID program. ‘Community e-mail lists across the city have been hit with a wave of complaints about the card. Residents are raising questions about whether the new plastic cards are just another example of a government initiative that hasn’t been well thought out. “My basic question is: What does this card do that your driver’s license doesn’t do?” asked Ted Gest of Chevy Chase. “Would someone in D.C. please explain why this is necessary?”‘
BEST PART—-‘When some residents tried recently to obtain one to get access to the [Wilson] aquatic center, they were photographed and given a card that included their pictures. But their names were not on it, even though Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s name appeared prominently. [OCTO flack Ayanna Smith] said cards with Fenty’s name are temporary. The permanent cards include the recipient’s name and photograph, but not the mayor’s, she said.’
Eleanor Holmes Norton pays a visit to Spring Valley, inspecting Army Corps of Engineers chemical weapons cleanup efforts. Her comments afterward, via WaPo: ‘Our concern now is not to rewrite history but to keep the corps digging until all concerned, including the Congress of the United States, is satisfied that it’s all done.’ And ‘the corps must remain until there is an objective all-clear here…Nobody need move out of this beautiful neighborhood. It really isn’t fair to alarm people….There is no indication that the neighborhood is unsafe.’ Also WAMU-FM, WRC-TV.
IN OTHER EHN NEWS—-Norton wants a ‘gun-free zone’ around President Barack Obama, in response to weapon-toting loonies that have show up at recent town-hall events.
DCist and Metro Weekly react to Clark Ray‘s at-large council announcement. DCist says ‘Mendo Once Again in the Hot Seat’ and calls the incumbent ‘a politician whose survival on the council remains something of a surprise.’ MW’s Yusef Najafi quotes Ray with a slam: ‘I honestly don’t know what Councilmember Mendelson’s vision is.’ Bob Summersgill replies: ‘What kind of message does [drafting Ray] show to the councilmembers who are less committed? Are we sending the message that if you back us, we won’t be there for you? You go out ahead of your constituents and do what’s right, we might just run someone against you?’
PIZZA MART MURDER—-Still no leads in the killing of 44-year-old Shahabuddin Rana, who was ‘beaten and stabbed to death inside his restaurant,’ according to NC8. ‘Investigators say that robbery may have been the motive in the attack.’ Also WTTG-TV.
Mark Segraves with more at WTOP about the rash of Capitol Hill fires: ‘D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Pete Piringer tells WTOP the fires are all similar. They are usually started about 10 p.m. in the same area of the city and always in some type of trash container. Investigators are following some strong leads but have no suspect.’ And just in case you were wondering, ‘Piringer says there is no link between these fires and the fire that gutted the historic Eastern Market,’ though ‘ever since the Eastern Market fire the department has been tracking dumpster fires to look for patterns.’
Prompted by embarrassing incidents, Metro tightens up its hiring policies. For instance, James Hohmann reports in WaPo, ‘Under the old policy, a would-be bus driver was disqualified by two felony convictions within three years of applying or by three felony convictions within 10 years. Now, a single felony conviction in the previous 10 years would prevent someone from getting a frontline job, such as bus driver or train operator.’ And misdemeanor convictions are being treated more seriously, with ‘two or more misdemeanor convictions for drug possession or crimes “against person, property or society”‘ over the past 10 years disqualifying a candidate. And you’ll have to wait three years after that DUI before working for WMATA. Also Biz Journal.
ALSO—-Did you know that Metro has a sales office at the Western Bus Garage? Well, not for long: It’s closing next week.
WaPo gets around to covering the Alpha Kappa Alpha lawsuit, and Ian Shapira does a nice job—-there’s even a snapshot of the infamous wax statue of Supreme Basileus Barbara A. McKinzie. And Shapira gets some reax from high-profile sorors, including Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), who says of the suit, “We were very hurt by it, actually. We have always been held to the highest standards, scholastically…and nothing like this has ever happened before. At most, it’s embarrassing and certainly a deviation of what the sorority has been known for.’ And an AKA spokesperson steps up to defend McKinzie’s unusual level of compensation: ‘We don’t do bake sales. This is a corporation. This is a business. Our Web site is aka1908.com—-that means we’re a company. Barbara is a certified public accountant. We will be solvent for years to come.’
SURPRISE, SURPRISE—-The city will not be putting charter schools into the Franklin School, Cary Silverman reports. DMPED will now solicit proposals from developers. Silverman asks, ‘Was the District’s RFO a legitimate, good faith attempt to open the building for the use of charter schools or was it is just a step to putting the building up for private sale or lease? Were applicants required to meet an impossible standard?’ His idea is to make it ‘the flagship building of a new community college for the District. The college would open its doors onto Franklin Square Park, where one can envision students preparing for class. It would be a convenient location for students working a daytime job downtown who take classes in the evenings.’
RESULTS VS. VIDA—-Housing Complex’s Ruth Samuelson covers the juicy conflict between two gym proprietors over the fate of a U Street building.
Yes, DCPS enrollment is declining, Leah Fabel reports in Examiner, ‘[b]ut now, D.C. public school officials say they believe this year’s students will be the front end of a system-wide turnaround.’ Michelle Rhee tells Fabel that she expects an enrollment gain with a couple of years, and her competition, in charter board chair Tom Nida, agrees: ‘I would expect that if the changes that are brought about by the charters and DCPS take root, I would expect a total turn-around in the next two to three years….The charters’ challenge will be more competitive options from DCPS. We’ll be pressed to stay on our game.’
Water taxi service to Nationals Park is now open, via a new pier at adjacent Diamond Teague Park. ‘Six local charter companies will operate about a dozen vessels to the pier from locations including National Harbor in Prince George’s County and Old Town Alexandria,’ WaPo reports. Now we just need people who want to come to the games—-for more than $1, anyway. JDland wonders who these operators are.
St. John’s College High School faces a race discrimination lawsuit, Jordan Weissmann reports for Legal Times. ‘According to the complaint, 16-year-old Merrit Moore, who is black, was accused by St. John’s officials of bringing alcohol onto the school’s campus and sharing it with a friend, a white female. The complaint alleges that school administrators told Moore’s mother that if she did not withdraw her son, he would be expelled. Afraid they would follow through, she agreed to transfer him out of the school. But according to the complaint, the girl Moore was caught drinking with only received a three-day suspension.’ Says Moore’s father: ‘Even in integrated situations, punishments towards African American males are just more severe….They’ve documented this.’
Also from Legal Times: Former AUSA G. Paul Howes, ‘who prosecuted complex drug gang cases in Washington during the city’s crack cocaine epidemic,’ is found by bar officials to have engaged in ‘serious wrongdoing’ by misusing federal witness money. The fate of his law license is still up in the air
Neighbors remember diminutive Charles ‘Gus’ Williams, 19, shot and killed last week in Southeast. ‘Many neighbors are outraged. “I mean he was a midget. What can a midget do? He was not threat,” said resident Dave Turner. “If you shoot Gus, anybody’s next,” said resident Calvin Woodland.’
WTTG-TV’s Paul Wagner covers MPD weight-loss efforts: ‘All together, the group who took part in the first round of the challenge lost over 1,200 pounds. [Officer Sherman Hodges] was the individual winner, and the winner of the team competition was Who ‘Dat, a team whose name is a play on words. “We came up with that name because once we lose all the weight amongst the team members, people will come up and say who’s that?” said Executive Assistant Chief Al Durham.’
Yvette Alexander requests audit of ANC 8C, Congress Heights on the Rise is all over it.
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute’s Elissa Silverman makes the case for expanding unemployment benefits to ‘[p]art-time workers who have been denied unemployment benefits because rules require them to be looking for full-time work’ and those ‘who leave the workplace due to a compelling family reason, including domestic violence, caring for a sick family member, and spousal relocation.’
CAROL WAS RIGHT?—-Informer’s Shantella Sherman writes that the demise of the back-to-school sales tax holiday ‘has forced District shoppers into Virginia and other nearby states to help them stretch their dollars’ and that ‘District residents are traveling to nearby states, including North Carolina and New York, to take advantage of outlet malls, knock off markets, and “second chance” stores.’ Evidence is wholly anecdotal.
Man arrested for making Metro bomb threats.
Suspicious letter at 650 Massachusetts Ave. NW under investigation.
After scaffold collapse, window washers rescued from side of Connecticut Avenue office building.
WTTG-TV says that the closing of the Brentwood Service Center means that ‘[l]ong lines are becoming commonplace at the District’s three DMV service centers this week.’
GGW argues for new streets bypassing the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road NE.
WAMU-FM follows up on the Life Pieces to Masterpieces vandalism.
SATURDAY is DCPS Beautification Day. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau and defenseman Brian Pothier will be volunteering. You can join them at Emery EC or King ES, or you can volunteer at your local school.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.