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We dive deep on the day’s biggest story and share links to everything you need to know.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘Community Rally Set For Cora Masters Barry‘
Morning all. If having a bunch of his supporters shout “Clark Ray for D.C. Council!” up and down MacArthur Boulevard at the Palisades parade wasn’t a big enough hint for you, it’s now semi-official: The ex-parks-and-rec director is challenging Democrat Phil Mendelson for his at-large council seat. The announcement that Ray will be announcing his candidacy next month (?) comes via a statement from key supporter, gay activist, and Svengali Peter Rosenstein, who pushes a focus on education and crime. WaPo covers the announcement, as does Examiner. Says Mendo to that publication: ‘I’m proud of my record, and my record is better today than it was four years ago.’ LL is still wondering: Where are your votes, Clark?
AFTER THE JUMP—-Lanier says double-digit murder total is ‘reasonable’ goal; Edgewood pizza shop proprietor found slain; fired detox employees fight back; Henson Ridge a ‘nightmare,’ says Channel 4; and Metro’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad summer continues.
Double-digit homicides in 2009? Cathy Lanier tells WaTimes that such a figure (which ‘would be the lowest homicide total in the nation’s capital since the Kennedy administration’) is within the realm of possibility, even though the city already has 88 killings on the year. Her quote: ‘Fewer than 100 homicides is reasonable….We’re targeting for under 100, and I think we can do it if we give everything we’ve got.’ No more than three murders a month? Good luck!
ALSO—-‘Chief Lanier said police also have seen a significant increase in homicides resulting from domestic violence, which has accounted for 20 percent of killings this year. She blames the nation’s recent economic downturn. “The economy has impacted our domestic violence cases,” Chief Lanier said. “People are already under economic pressures, and it has had an impact on violence. Those are the things we worry about.”‘
WHODUNIT—-Make that 89: Silver Spring man found dead yesterday afternoon inside Pizza Mart on 2300 block of 4th Street NE. NC8 identifies him as Shahabuddin Rana, 44, who ‘co-owned the place with his brother [who] arrived Tuesday morning to find the door locked and his brother missing.’ WaPo says that police ‘declined to say what wounds the man had suffered. A fire department spokesman said that there was evidence of a small fire near the body but that the victim apparently died of “traumatic injuries” unrelated to the fire.’ Also WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
Is the city’s detox clinic already closed or simply undergoing renovations? WaPo’s Darryl Fears covers the protests of clinic employees who say they have been laid off and that the clinic is ‘effectively closed.’ ‘But officials at the Health Department, which runs the facility through the Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration (APRA), said the center, on the D.C. General Hospital campus on Massachusetts Avenue in Southeast Washington, closed for renovations Aug. 10 and is expected to reopen.’ When, however, is unclear. What is no secret is that the Fenty administration, with the support of David Catania, is seeking to close the clinic and send its patients to privately run service providers.
In wake of shooting that wounded a 14-year-old girl in the shower, WRC-TV declares that the ‘Henson Ridge Experiment Continues to Be a Nightmare’ and that ‘Residents live in fear as shootings, car thefts and rapes continue.’ The Southeast redevelopment gets the full Pat Collins treatment. ‘The crime problem here has made this something less than a model place to live,’ Collins intones. NC8, WTTG-TV also do more straightforward ‘Stop the Violence’ stories.
The ‘One Card’ will not be a requirement to use city recreation facilities, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. ‘Ward 3 D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh sounded the alarm, she said, after angry constituents reported they were told they would need a DC One Card to enter the new Wilson Aquatic Center. Many didn’t have or want the ID, Cheh said Tuesday….”It’s like Big Brother,” Cheh said.’ The plan is now off.
Another person dies in a Metro workplace accident: An unidentified man, employed by a Metro contractor, was electrocuted at the Bladensburg Road bus garage Tuesday morning while installing wiring for an air compressor. WaPo points out: ‘It was the second fatal accident in recent days involving work being done for Metro. Nine days ago, Metro track spotter Michael Nash died during routine maintenance work on the Orange Line when he was struck by a gravel-spreading machine.’ Also WTOP.
And Examiner’s Kytja Weir notes that WMATA’s day didn’t get any better: ‘By afternoon, a fire had erupted on the Orange Line. Then a cracked rail was found on the beleaguered Red Line, causing delays in the start of the evening commute.’ And in case you forgot, this has been ‘a summer in which the transit agency has faced the worst crash in its 33-year history, a track worker was killed, several people committed suicide on the rails, trains overran stations, fires broke out, riders were trapped in an elevator for 90 minutes, and Metro employees were fired and arrested while misbehaving on the job.’
Two months after the Red Line crash, Metro remains hesitant to return to full automatic train operation, James Hohmann reports in WaPo. ‘But federal investigators have said the automatic control system designed to prevent crashes can be problematic regardless of whether trains are operating under manual or automatic control,’ he points out. And ‘[m]anual control brings with it another set of problems.’ For one thing, ‘even with manual control, operators depend on the train control system to tell them how far ahead the next train is. In automatic, the computer sets the train’s speed. In manual, the operator sets the speed but does so based on information the computer provides. “So, inherently, the design problem that caused the accident, if that’s what it was, is still present in the system,” said Piers Connor, a train systems expert from England.’ Also WAMU-FM, which notes that union wants more breaks for operators due to stresses of manual mode.
And now some good Metro news: Work begins on underground cell phone project, which will bring service to Verizon, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile customers in the system’s 20 busiest stations. Service should be in place by October. Notes WaPo: ‘It is the first phase of a project that is scheduled to expand service across the system by 2012. The remaining 27 underground stations will get service by the fall of 2010, and customers will be able to use the service in tunnels between stations by October 2012, according to a timetable laid out in Metro’s announcement….One possible drawback of the cell network’s expansion: People who enjoyed the relative quiet on trains may have to put up with a lot more riders chatting away.’ Also Examiner, AP, Biz Journal, WAMU-FM, WTTG-TV.
Another NewsHour piece on DCPS, this one about the focus on testing and test scores. ‘Students across Washington, long considered one of the worst school systems in the nation, are scoring higher on standardized tests. It’s the result of an aggressive campaign now two years old by Mayor Adrian Fenty and his surprise pick to run the school system, former teacher and nonprofit leader Michelle Rhee.’
CHECK THIS EXCHANGE—-Between NewsHour’s John Merrow and WTU President George Parker:
JOHN MERROW: Do your teachers trust Michelle Rhee?
GEORGE PARKER: Some do, and some don’t.
JOHN MERROW: How about you? Do you trust Michelle Rhee?
GEORGE PARKER: I trust Michelle to be who she is.
JOHN MERROW: What’s that mean?
GEORGE PARKER: I don’t want to get any deeper. She is who she is.
JOHN MERROW: For nearly two years, Parker and Rhee have been negotiating a new contract, one that could tie teacher pay to how well students perform on tests….Is pay for performance going to be in the contract?
GEORGE PARKER: Oh, I think pay for performance makes sense. I think it’s a matter of how you implement it.
JOHN MERROW: Can you give us any idea of how close you are?
MICHELLE RHEE: To the contract? Very close.
JOHN MERROW: How about a date?
MICHELLE RHEE: Well, the president and I have talked about really wanting to make sure that we start the school year with a new contract in place.
JOHN MERROW: So it could happen…
MICHELLE RHEE: In the next few weeks, hopefully.
Candi Peterson at the Washington Teacher says an ‘insider’ told her that the contract may contain buyouts for teachers not quite to retirement. ‘A recent letter to WTU members indicates that Rhee is trying to determine whether this contract proposal is financially feasible during these cash strapped times. According to my inside source, teachers with a minimum of 20 years of experience in DC public schools would be afforded an ‘early out’ to retire with full retirement benefits.’ Peterson calls buyouts a ‘deal breaker’ and ‘unprecedented.’ Unlikely that the rank-and-file would agree with that sentiment.
EdWeek reax to Rhee’s appearance on Oprah’s Power List: ‘Now that Rhee has reached the pop culture pinnacle—-Oprah is, after all, a king, err, queenmaker—-will she finally be able to cut a deal with the Washington Teachers’ Union on a contract that she has pledged could be revolutionary?’
WaPo’s Susan Kinzie goes in-depth on the vandalism at the Life Pieces to Masterpieces nonprofit. ‘On Monday morning, Andre Johnson and another volunteer arrived at the former middle school building on Hayes Street NE to find the front door unlocked. Inside, broken glass was everywhere, heavy desks had been overturned, papers and food and art supplies strewed across the floor. He and others at Life Pieces said that vandals had apparently used fire extinguishers to smash through doors, sprayed the chemicals in the hallways, climbed over approximately 10-foot-high walls to get into an office and classroom spaces, thrown paint, smashed computers, stomped on the flat-screen TV and punched through a canvas of artwork the boys had stitched together. Johnson, a 17-year-old junior mentor, said his first thought was, “Wow. Life Pieces is gone.”‘ No suspects have been identified. Also WUSA-TV.
Scooterjacking on 16th Street NW near Dupont.
Two pedestrians struck by SUV after 6 a.m. this morning at 14th and Constitution. Witness calls the incident ‘traumatic.’
Bus collides with U-Haul truck near Florida and New York Avenues, injuring six. Says WaPo: ‘A Metrobus was heading east on Florida Avenue at 1:06 p.m. when the truck cut in front of it and hit the front fender, Metro spokeswoman Taryn McNeil said. The U-Haul truck’s driver was charged with an improper lane change, she said.’
Construction worker falls into shaft at 1st and K Streets NE yesterday morning, is rescued.
DDOE hauls in $8.8M in stim funds to improve energy efficiency in D.C. public buildings, Biz Journal reports, with another $11M to come. Projects include: New HVAC, lighting at One Judiciary Square; new ‘high-efficiency lighting’ for DPR facilities; new HVAC and windows for six elementary schools; ‘green construction’ training for DYRS youth.
Another test scores story: D.C. kids trail on ACT scores, Bill Myers reports in Examiner. ‘D.C. students’ scores on the annual ACT test have risen slowly over the last five years, but they’re still well below the national average—-and the average scores of students in Maryland and Virginia, ACT officials announced Wednesday. The average composite ACT for a graduating senior in the District was 19.4, below the national average of 21.1. The average Virginian scored nearly two points higher, while the average Marylander scored almost three points higher.’
WaPo follows Examiner piece on new valet parking fees: ‘”We did not decide to regulate this because there was any one problem,” said Alice Kelly, program manager of the public space policy arm of DDOT. “Every one of the stakeholders involved in valet parking really felt something needed to be done . . . Nobody was really happy with the universe the way it was. We’re hoping that this improves it for everybody.”‘
WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood covers student vaccinations. Get ’em at Kelly Miller MS, Kramer MS, Ballou SHS, or Coolidge SHS, or at the Georgia Avenue DOH center.
Harry Jaffe cannot resist the cocaine-is-on-our-money story. Thankfully, he does go to the trouble of debunking it.
Courtland Milloy visits the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, ponders money. Also quotes one ‘Alice Rivilin.’
Here’s a non-subscription version of the Legal Times story on DCCA Judge Vanessa Ruiz‘s hefty case backlog.
Tishman Speyer is in default on the old CarrAmerica properties it bought in 2006.
WAMU-FM covers AKA lawsuit.
Claim: ‘D.C. is the easiest metro area in the U.S. to find a job, according to jobs search engine Indeed.com.’
DCPS special-ed czar Richard Nyankori and partner sell their Bloomingdale three-bedroom.
DCist rounds up recent voting-rights activity.
If you were waiting for WaPo to launch a D.C. version of its ‘hyperlocal’ LoudounExtra.com, forget about it: The special Loudoun site is no more.
CHECK OUT—-The Penn Brangler, ‘The first River East blog from D.C.’s marvelous Penn Branch!’ Thought for the day: ‘At a Penn Branch Citizens Association meeting, a few months back, Councilwoman Yvette Alexander expressed interest in seeing a PANERA BREAD [at the new Penn Branch Center]. Not crazy about that shop, but do like this lady enough to hope she gets her bread. Good luck with that, councilwoman!’
WaTimes with more on Jeff Ruland‘s return to the sidelines, as UDC’s new hoops coach. ‘[E]ven with his deep summer tan, even at 50, Ruland still resembles the rough customer who bumped, banged and often flattened opponents as an All-Star center with the Washington Bullets, teaming with Rick Mahorn as the pair known around the NBA as McFilthy and McNasty.’ (Ruland was McNasty.) Also NY Post.
The Showdown at the O.K. Corral continues on the WaPo letters page: ‘Perhaps the District’s crime rate, which is more than three times that of Tombstone would go down to Tombstone’s level if it were legal to carry concealed weapons in the city.’
Bob Novak is dead. The funeral will be 10 a.m. Friday at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church downtown.
HOT ONE TODAY—-Know your cooling centers!
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.
Photo By Darrow Montgomery