Morning all. It’s mid-August, which means that journalists are on vacation and there’s not much in the way of news out there. But there’s still a Metro page to fill, and that’s all the explanation you need to know why the Washington Post‘s Paul Schwartzman went on and on and on this morning about the persistence of patronage politics in D.C.
In one untidy package, Schwartzman fit elements of investigative journalism, summer featurey sorta stuff, plus maybe a little news. A couple of snippets:
“So what’s wrong with D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) using taxpayer money to hire his girlfriend as a consultant?
Absolutely nothing, [said contractor Robert] Adams. In fact, he expects government officials to take care of their friends and family, and he sees no harm as long as ‘they aren’t hurting nobody. It’s all about who you know, whether you’ve got the experience or not,’ said Adams, 53, sitting on his porch in Congress Heights. ‘That’s the way the world works.'”
And: “I tried to clean it up, and we made a lot of headway,” said former mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), before volunteering that he engaged in the practice. “No one is without sin, and by no means has this been completely corrected. You have to constantly fight it.”
Highlight of the story is its in-depth stuff: Schwartzman polled the D.C. Council, reaching 11 of its 13 members. All respondents said that they’d never hired personal friends for their offices. “Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), 48, said he had three aides he has known since his teens and early 20s. He hired them because they were qualified, he said.”
Yet even Schwartzman can’t compete with the Examiner when it comes to filling space. Check out this roach of a story in today’s edition: “Ambassadors hit the streets to help tourists, clean sidewalks.” Yes, it’s a feature about all those Business Improvement District workers, the ones who clean up and help people with directions. Here’s how the Examiner’s lede comes off:
Most D.C. residents probably don’t know much, if anything, about the brightly clad crews that cruise city sidewalks, cleaning, helping tourists and keeping an eye on the neighborhood.
They are the clean teams and ambassadors of Washington’s business improvement districts, and they’re here to help you.
“There’s a pretty demanding set of skills [we look for],” said Rit Thompson, chief executive of the company that hires workers for the Golden Triangle BID. “There’s a very high bar to become a member.”
Note to Examiner: The BIDs have been around for more than a decade.
Michael E. Ruane, the Post‘s chronicler of the intersection between federal and local D.C., chooses a slow-moving topic for a summer Metro feature: a round of maintenance on D.C.’s various statues. This one packs it all, including cheezy lede: “The general sat motionless as the man with rubber gloves and tattooed legs gently brushed wax across his nose.”
Elsewhere in the Post, a tepid story on the return of summer. Here’s a little sample: “At a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store on Lee Highway in Arlington County, Sharon Cohen sat with her son, Gabriel, 3, and her father, George McLoone, who turns 64 Friday. Cohen said she took her son out for ice cream to celebrate his birthday, which was Saturday.
‘We planned to meet for birthday ice cream,’ she said. ‘And turns out we had good timing, cause it is a great day for ice cream.'”
We got a fourth person charged in the bribery and kickback scam that went down in the D.C. government’s technology office. WARNING TO LAX AND SHORT-ATTENTION-SPANNED READERS OF LL DAILY: This scam is different from the scam that rocked the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue. The tax scam involved basically just stealing money from the city’s coffers. The technology scan allegedly involves steering contracts to cronies and getting kickbacks and other favors in return. Important distinctions, there.
Metro is ordering safety training following the death of a track worker on Sunday night. WaTimes story on the matter. WaPo edit board asks whether absence of serious oversight is to blame for the system’s woes. More Metro dysfunction: Worker who let train leave yard with too many cars tests positive for drugs. WTOP.
More madness from Peter Nickles: D.C. Wire tells us that the city is asking a federal court for a rehearing on the ruling that D.C. security checkpoints in Trinidad were unconstitutional. Attorney General Nickles had this to say in the request: “The panel decision holds that the Fourth Amendment prohibits law enforcement authorities in the District from ever stopping drivers at checkpoints in order to deter crime. Even assuming that general deterrence interests are insufficient to justify a suspicionless stop, the Court should hold that a properly tailored checkpoint may be reasonable, and hence constitutional, in at least some circumstances when federal or District authorities act in response to specific, credible threats of imminent violence.” Examiner story on same. WTOP.
Play it again, WaTimes: Another piece on the District’s sole gun transferer, Charles Sykes.
Dog thrown in trash manages to live. Might have been involved in dog fight. Perhaps Michael Vick needs to make one of his Humane Society appearances right here in the District.
10:45 am: Remarks, Walker Jones Education Campus Ribbon Cutting
Location: New Jersey Avenue and Pierce Streets, NW