City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-‘AG Nickles Submits Statement In Pershing Park Case‘; ‘Pershing Park Case Attorney Tom Koger Explains Himself‘
Morning all: Your regularly scheduled LL is back from vacation and back at the helm of LLD, which returns today to its unabridged glory. Thanks to Jason Cherkis and Erik Wemple for their work in the absence of LL, who missed lots of juicy political news during his beach sojourn, not least of which is the continuing controversy over the city’s handling of the Pershing Park lawsuit. Yesterday, Attorney General Peter Nickles issued a mea culpa of sorts to U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, admitting in a court filing to ‘serious errors’ that led to missing evidence—-errors he deemed ‘inexcusable.’ Or is it sua culpa? As Cherkis noted yesterday, he laid the blame primarily at the foot of staff attorney Thomas Koger and promised ‘remedial actions.’ Also WaPo, Examiner, WTOP, Legal Times, themail.
Good to be back!
AFTER THE JUMP—-Fenty CAB appointee disbarred; inside a charter school’s cheating scandal; cell-phone-using Metrobus driver may have been following rules after all; and 34 places in the District where it’s particularly bad to have a fire.
Lawyer Will Purcell, named by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to the Contract Appeals Board and recently confirmed by the D.C. Council, has been disbarred in Maryland for participating in a real-estate scam, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. ‘On July 31, Purcell contributed $500 to Fenty’s 2010 campaign, according to campaign finance records. But on Wednesday, Office of Boards and Commissions director Tracy Sandler informed Purcell in writing that he “will no longer meet the statutory requirements and as such we will not be swearing you in as a member,” The Examiner has learned….His nomination was first introduced by Fenty on March 13. Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh said Wednesday that Purcell did not advise the government operations committee, which she chairs, about his legal troubles.’ His wife, Gennet Purcell, is a top official at DISB and a friend of Michelle Fenty‘s.
Bill Turque has much, much more at D.C. Wire on DC-CAS cheating at the Howard Road Academy PCS. An administrator and two teachers were fired and 27 test scores were invalidated as a result. A report in the incident says that copies of tests were “distributed strategically to two new teachers who have never administered a DC-CAS before and didn’t know what they looked like’ for ‘extra practice for the kids.’ The tests themselves were kept on site for three weeks in an unlocked cabinet. ‘The report,’ Turque writes, ‘also strongly suggests that school politics may have helped create an envionment in which cheating could take root. It includes a letter of “reprimand” and another of “admonishment” to two unnamed Howard Road employees.’
Jonetta Rose Barras with a good point: While the Obama administration mulls what to do about Fannie Mae, it definitely ought to remove the public-private entity’s corporate income tax exemption, which costs the District millions in yearly revenue. ‘Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her crew should remove Fannie Mae’s tax shield, requiring it to do what other commercial corporations do: Pay income taxes. Obama and Pelosi also should order a review of all congressionally mandated tax exemptions….The National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution are among those that should be required to pay up.’
WUSA-TV’s Dave Statter has the list of 34 ‘trouble spots’ for firefighting in the District—-places that might pose difficulty due to ‘small water mains, hydrant configuration, topography, access, and the possibility that their are private hydrants not under WASA’s control.’ Also WTOP.
HMM—-‘The department left two of the locations off the list for security reasons. But two years ago fire officials said publicly that areas around The White House complex have some of the city’s smaller water mains. It is unclear if The White House is one of the locations left off the list.’
Biz Journal scoop: ‘Madison Square Garden LP, owner of the famed New York City arena that bears its name, is looking to open a major entertainment venue in the District,” Jonathan O’Connell writes. Reps from the company contacted DMPED Valerie Santos earlier this summer, according to Economic Partnership’s Steve Moore. ‘Moore said Madison Square Garden LP (MSG) is still exploring the size and type of venue it would like to pursue and has hired local representatives from Arent Fox LLP to assist its search. According to sources close to the company, MSG would open a venue of a 6,000 seats or more, requiring up to 100,000 square feet near shopping and public transit.’
Ward 5 ANC member wants the D.C. Council to pass legislation placing gay marriage on the 2010 ballot, which would obviate the need for petition signature-gathering. From D.C. Wire: ‘ANC Commissioner Bob King is trying pre-empt any further legislation by trying to get other commissioners to approve a resolution in support of an initiative. “This is designed to put pressure on the mayor, Eleanor and council members,” said King in an interview. “This should not be decided by the council…This is probably the most contentious issue in the 21st century. Let the will of the people decide.”‘ Good luck with that.
Wall Street keeps top-level ratings on District’s income-tax backed municipal bonds ahead of $270M sale. O’Connell reports in Biz Journal that Nat Gandhi, in a letter to policymakers, ‘said “the affirmed ratings and stable outlooks are particularly commendable given the widespread panic in the current national economy.” He noted that some states, including California and Michigan, have received ratings downgrades.’ WAMU-FM also covers.
ALSO—-Check out buydcbonds.com!
Marcus Ellis, 32, is your new DCPS athletic director. He had previously run programming for DPR. ‘According to one source, Ellis also applied for the position in 2008, but was passed over for Troy Mathieu, the former athletic director at Grambling State University. Mathieu resigned from DCPS at the end of May after serving less than 10 months on the job, and took over as athletic director for the Grand Prairie (Tex.) Independent School District….Two athletic sources familiar with Ellis’s work praised him for his management and organizational skills and said his background will help DPR and DCPS work more smoothly together to allow easier use of facilities.’
The WaPo editorial board is all for voluntary STD testing in District public high schools. ‘The statistics behind this effort show why it is necessary. Of the 3,000 students at eight high schools tested in a pilot program last year, 13 percent tested positive for an STD, usually gonorrhea or chlamydia. According to the D.C. Health Department, 4 out of 5 infected students show no symptoms….Whether parents like it or not, many teenagers are having sex. That’s why it is imperative that they have all the information possible to make wise choices and to protect themselves.’
More chemical weaponry found in Spring Valley: A small Erlenmeyer flask found earlier this month in a vacant lot along Glenbrook Road is determined to contain mustard gas residue. Writes Michael Ruane in WaPo: ‘The U.S. Army Corps, which said air monitors at the site did not detect the presence of any chemical agent, said the vial was removed and posed no danger to the public. It was found about two feet below the surface with other glass refuse….[Cleanup project manager Daniel Noble] said the cleanup at the site was halted after the vial was discovered, and the engineers are reassessing how and when work will continue. He said crews have been working at the property since 2007 and believed they were nearing the end of their efforts.’ Also AP, WTTG-TV.
Kristin Kozak, 36, aka tattoo artist ‘Liquidity Jones,’ has been charged with second-degree murder for killing husband Michael Burnett, 56, in her home above her tattoo parlor at 1503 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. She is being held without bond. WTOP: ‘Police say Kozak told officers that Burnett was not armed or trying to attack her when she got the gun from a hall closet and shot him. According to court records, the couple had a violent past involving drugs and domestic abuse.’
NTSB to Metro: Our bad! In a WaPo story earlier this week, the federal body had claimed that WMATA had failed report a March incident on the Orange Line thought to involve a equipment failure similar to the one that may have caused the June Red Line disaster. Well, Lena Sun reports, it turns out that Metro had been forthcoming after all, sorta: ‘After a more detailed review, NTSB spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said in an e-mail, the board found that information about the March incident had been “provided verbally by an employee of [Metro] on June 23, 2009 to the NTSB accident investigation team during a progress meeting” about the Red Line crash. No details of the March incident were provided to the NTSB at that time, they said.’
Metro union chief says that the bus driver suspended for talking on her cellphone (and having a rider photograph her doing so) was actually calling the Metro control center because her bus radio was not working; wants her reinstated immediately. ‘Jackie L. Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents most of Metro’s train and bus operators, said Wednesday that call logs show the driver was talking to the control center,’ James Hohmann writes in WaPo. “Honestly, I don’t understand why it’s taken so long,” she said. “Central has the taped conversation. So I don’t know what else they’re looking for.”‘ First reported by Maryland Politics Blog; also WTOP.
ALSO—-Another person is struck by a Metro train, this time at West Falls Church. WaPo asks: Why are so many people jumping in front of trains lately? ‘”It’s highly unusual,” [WMATA] spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.’ And why.I.hate.DC blogger Dave Stroup wants John Catoe fired.
WJLA-TV/NC8 does profile interview with NTSB’s Debbie Hersman: ‘She quickly became the calm, strong voice of the June 22nd red line crash, sometimes even at odds with local leaders. “We need to be able to work cooperatively with others but we also need to be the truth tellers, we need to hold up a mirror and say this is what we’re seeing and sometimes it’s not good,” Hersman said.’
Coverage of new $4M Union Station bike center, set to open in October. Writes Yamiche Alcindor in WaPo: ‘The center, to open in October, will have 150 enclosed bike racks, triple the amount now at the station, and 20 outdoor racks. The 1,700-square-foot building west of the station will also have changing rooms, personal lockers, a bike repair shop and a retail store that will sell drinks and bike accessories. The cost to bike riders: $1 a day for access to the center from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., or $100 a year for an annual membership and round-the-clock access to the racks.’ It is ‘shaped like half of a football.’
OUCH—-Tech guru John C. Dvorak says former D.C. CTO, current federal CIO Vivek Kundra is a ‘phony.’ ‘I first suspected something was fishy about this fellow by listening to him on CSPAN where he simply did not sound like someone who studied computers or technology. His common referrals to Twitter and Google Docs as some sort of high-tech breakthroughs and a way to save money and empower the public stemmed from pure cornball pop culture and the blogosphere, not from computer science or Information technology. During one of his testimonies before a Congressional committee he even talked about the future being something like the Star Trek holodeck. His clichés and commentary was that of a 18 year-old blogger who just got their first Macintosh.’
WaPo’s Ashley Halsey III covers burgeoning federal efforts to crack down on ‘distracted driving’; this is presented as proof of the difficulty in enforcing such laws: ‘The District’s ban on hand-held cellphones doesn’t appear to have been much of a deterrent. Evidence that people are ignoring the requirement for hands-free equipment abounds. In 30 minutes one recent afternoon, 35 violators, or one every 51 seconds, passed through the 16th and K streets NW intersection.’
Fenty to run Chicago Marathon on Aug. 30.
DID YOU KNOW?—-Valerie Santos is a Filipino-American! The Manila Bulletin would be happy to tell you all about it. ‘”My father is from Zamboanga and my mother is from Bulacan,” says Santos, who spent a year in the Philippines as a community organizer and a Jesuit volunteer.’
Roll Call on D.C. Vote road tour for voting rights.
D.C. Wire finds some hiccups with extended public pool hours.
SYEP UPDATE—-DDOT kids survey bike racks.
Ted Leonsis buys $2.6M condo in Georgetown’s former Wormley School.
WJLA-TV/NC8 looks at the half-finished shell of a building that is 1015 Half Street SE. ‘[T]he only thing growing at the building are weeds while for two-and-a-half months, cranes have sat idle and construction materials have decayed. What was to have been the Opus Corporation’s latest gleaming tower is instead a symbol of a company that fell victim to a troubled economy and went flat broke.’
WUSA-TV’s Bruce Johnson reports on a family waiting for a school voucher that isn’t coming.
WTTG-TV covers the mystery behind the death of Tiffany Holsey. ‘The body that was found in a wooded area on M Street SE still has not been officially identified, but the family of Tiffany Holsey is sure that it’s her. So on Wednesday, they held a candlelight vigil just a few feet away.’ ALSO—-Police, family continue search for body of Shaquita Bell.
HUGE WCP CONTROVERSY—-Acker Place or Acker Street?
Commuter mess this morning, thanks to building fire on 2100 block of New York Avenue NE. The Auto Bahn of DC shop was gutted.
New ED for Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
Connecticut Avenue health care mural!
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 9:15 a.m.: remarks, Savoy Elementary School grand opening, 2400 Shannon Place SE; 4 p.m.: remarks, Nike donation announcement, Barry Farm Recreation Center, 1230 Sumner Road SE; 5:25 p.m.: guest, Washington Post Live, Comcast SportsNet.