City Paper is not for tourists
Greetings all. Cora Masters Barry, estranged wife of Marion Barry, has been told by the District government that she needs to vacate the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, the Mississippi Avenue facility she raised money and advocated for and has run programs at for a decade. Interesting timing, you have to think, with Barry’s other women in the news for their interactions with city government. Attorney General Peter Nickles tells WaPo reporter Hamil Harris that a ‘random’ check of nonprofits revealed that her Recreation Wish List Committee had its corporate charter revoked, and thus could not partner with the D.C. government. Cora’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden (who else?), says the eviction letter was not warranted. WJLA-TV’s Sam Ford also covers, complete with tearful plea from Cora. Will this create another front in the Fenty-Barry war?
AFTER THE JUMP—-More Redskins-to-D.C. talk; lead researcher and WaPo kiss and make up; another Spring Valley-type munitions mess possible; wasps go on Rock Creek sting spree; and why Nickles wanted you to sue the District government.
Here we go again: Yet more talk of talks between the District and Dan Snyder about bringing the Redskins back to the District. This time, WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood reports that ‘the city and…Snyder’s people have been in intense, private talks about a move.’ Yadda, yadda. Here’s the on-the-record comments: ‘We have let the team know that we are interested, and if there is a window of opportunity that presents itself, we’re going to just jump right through it,’ Fenty says, and Jack Evans says he’s ‘always looking for opportunities to get the Redskins back in Washington.’ DCist’s response: ‘[A]fter all the shilling that Evans did to get city money for the baseball stadium and the new convention center hotel, there should be a mandatory year-long cooling-off period before he’s allowed to propose any projects of questionable value that would be funded with public resources.’
Dr. Tee Guidotti, the scientist behind a controversial 2007 study on lead in D.C. drinking water, seems finally to have made peace with WaPo. In a letter published today, Guidotti writes that the paper ‘deserves credit for publicly setting the record straight’ in a June 16 article on a review panel’s decision clearing him of wrongdoing, and a July 23 clarification to that article pointing out that he was not a ‘paid consultant’ to WASA. And as to how the sentence ‘There appears to have been no identifiable public health impact from the elevation of lead in drinking water’ appeared in his paper after editors ordered it removed, he provides an explanation: ‘I did agree to delete one of many sentences in the paper that stated the conclusion but then mistakenly uploaded an earlier draft in which the sentence appeared. The editor missed the mistake, too.’
OCTOgate sees its first plea: Sarosh Mir, 44, pleaded guilty in federal court today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. NC8: ‘In court papers, Mir admitted that he inflated invoices for D.C. government contracts and submitted bills for “ghost” employees who did no work.’ He faces six months to one year in prison; no sentencing date has been set.
WaPo editorial board offers its kudos to the D.C. Council, and Phil Mendelson in particular, for legislation making it much simpler for same-sex couples to be immediately and officially recognized as their child’s parents. Writes the board: ‘[T]he law takes a step forward, giving all parents of children born in the District the opportunity to claim—-from the moment of their child’s birth—-legal protections once unjustly out of reach.’
Harry Jaffe remains your on-the-spot Spring Valley chemical weapons cleanup reporter: ‘The corps said the [mustard-containing flask found earlier this month] posed no risk to the public. The corps has been telling us for 16 years that the bombs and chemical residue are harmless,’ he writes. ‘Since 1993, when homebuilders in Spring Valley first stumbled upon bombs, the Army Corps of Engineers has been downplaying the danger and trying to weasel out of the cleanup operation.’ And there may be more cleanups coming to Northwest’s tony neighborhoods: ‘Geophysicists with the Naval Research Lab have begun to search for World War I shells north of Dalecarlia Parkway, in the fields and forests around the reservoir. Preliminary tests indicate that there could be hundreds of bombs under the soil.’
In Biz Journal, Melissa Castro details the D.C. government’s ‘friendly lawsuit’ program—-whereby vendors owed money by the city have been told to file suit rather than send claims to the city ‘ratification’ panel. ‘The…program even had a catchy name: Rat-B-Gone. Only in D.C. could lawsuits be a more effective way of conducting government business, but that’s exactly what has been the case under Rat-B-Gone, which [Peter Nickles] and the city’s chief procurement officer, David Gragan, instituted last fall — and which they cut off July 30….The unusual Rat-B-Gone program was part of [Gragan’s] attempt to bring D.C.’s contracting and procurement process more in line with, well, the rest of the country….Beginning last August, Nickles’ office gave unpaid vendors three months to file collection suits against D.C., which the city promised not to challenge. In return, the vendor waived any claim to interest or attorneys’ fees. When still more unpaid “rats” emerged, Nickles reopened the program in January before shutting it down last month.’
Watch Eli Broad‘s lengthy interview with Michelle Rhee from the Aspen Ideas Festival earlier this summer. ALSO—-City Year works with Rhee to ‘solve her worst headaches,’ leader says. ‘After rigorous training, corps members coached, tutored, and mentored children in grades K to 2, and successfully demonstrated that they could help improve children’s reading ability.’
Pedestrian killed by hit-and-run driver early today. WaPo: ‘The victim was crossing the street in a crosswalk at Stanton Road and Suitland Parkway about 2:35 a.m. when he was struck by a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed, police said. The man, who has not been identified but appeared to be in his 50s or 60s, died at the scene. The vehicle, identified as possibly dark blue or black and possibly a Jeep, fled westbound on Suitland, according to police.’ Also NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
Attic fire yesterday evening on 3500 block of M Street NW.
CHARGE CAREFULLY—-Alpha Daye Bah, 31, of Germantown has been charged by federal prosecutors with stealing credit card information from more than 20 patrons of an unidentified D.C. restaurant, Del Wilber reports in WaPo. Authorities allege that an employee of the restaurant stole the info, gave it to Bah, and he in turn gave the information to cronies who bought more than $12,000 worth of stuff with it.
Fenty signs convention center hotel financing bill.
WaPo reports on A1 that local jurisdictions are snapping up potential parklands at bargain-basement prices during the current real-estate crunch. But not the District; here, ‘the priority is to sell or lease some underused government properties to revive neighborhoods and collect new taxes. “We’ve kind of got the opposite problem” from governments trying to buy land, said Sean Madigan, a city spokesman. “We’re not seeing the kind of valuations that we were a couple of years ago.” At the real estate market’s height, developers would line up, sometimes by the dozens, to bid on opportunities in the District. Now some projects, such as an offer to redevelop the former Grimke Elementary School on Vermont Avenue NW, have received only a handful of bids, city officials said.’
Nats going after tourists, Missy Frederick reports in Biz Journal. ‘A main component: Distribute visitors cards giving tourists 40 percent off on Nationals tickets when they come to D.C….The cards are being distributed at tourist locations, such as Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the city’s pedicabs. Discounts are also being offered through print media and Destination D.C.’s Web site. Since distribution began, 250 cards have been redeemed for tickets.’
HALLELUJAH—-Vacant ballpark-area building gets a tenant: Bureau of Land Management is taking about 95,000 square feet at Lerner-owned 20 M St. SE, Biz Journal reports.
3,677 square feet of retail is coming to the Tenleytown Metro station.
Northeast organization engages in daylong, citywide Michael Jackson danceathon; WaPo’s Martin Ricard covers. ‘The idea for the roaming dance tribute came in the aftermath of Jackson’s death June 25. But that wasn’t the point, said Maria Jones, lead instructor of the Multi-Media Training Institute that coordinated the tribute. Her goal was to boost the self-esteem of the young people the organization mentors. The Northeast Washington organization helps teens and young adults tap into their creativity through such skills as video production, Web design and technical theater. “We wanted to have a day honoring Michael,” Jones said. “A day in front of the public.”‘
Legal Sea Foods is out at National Airport, Examiner’s William Flook reports, ‘after a failed lease negotiation with the airport and a failed bid in court for a temporary reprieve.’ Coming in: A Sam & Harry’s steakhouse.
DID YOU KNOW?—-Fenty has a real Twitter account? It seems to have been an SYEP make-work project.
Speaking of SYEP: Did you know that Mayor’s Conservation Corps kids can help you with your local garden? That’s what they did with the ‘Community Victory Garden’ on the Hine MS site, according to Hill Rag. ‘The MCC youth are actively involved with the weeding, watering, planting, tilling and fertilizing of the entire garden space. And in mid-July, the gardeners had their first harvest of green beans, zucchini, lettuce and yellow squash.’
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute has a suggestion: Instead of raising the sales tax rate, start applying it to more stuff—-services, actually. ‘Applying the sales tax to services – which are more likely to be used by higher-income households – is less regressive than increasing the sales tax rate while leaving services exempt….So what would this mean for DC? DC already taxes some services – such as landscaping, dry cleaning and electricity, but not others – such as pet grooming, investment counseling and diaper services.’
Interesting historical note: When pro-gun lawyer Alan Gura says D.C. ‘will not turn into the O.K. Corral,’ he is invoking an incident perhaps more apropos than he knows. WaPo letter writer points out that ‘the 1881 gunfight at the O.K. Corral was largely about gun control. At the time, it was against the law to carry a gun in Tombstone, Ariz.,’ and the shootout occurred when the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday tried to disarm illegally carrying cowboys. ‘Unfortunately,’ writes the correspondent, ‘thanks to lobbying from the National Rifle Association and frightened Arizona politicians, it is now legal to carry guns in Tombstone.’
Jack Limpert, after 40 years in the job, is leaving as Washingtonian editor; Garrett Graff, 28, replaces him. Reports Bill Myers in Examiner: ‘Graff said he wants to synthesize the old media with the new. It may not be as hard as it looks, he said. “You’re seeing this evolution now—-Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo—-where they look more like traditional news operations and you’re seeing a lot of traditional news organizations—-Politico being the prime example—-that’s looking a lot more like a blog.”‘
Red, Orange Line delays this weekend.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.
Photo By Darrow Montgomery/File