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IN LL WEEKLY—-Losing Control: The D.C. Council tries to exorcise the city’s fiscal demons.
Morning all. Not sure where to even begin with this one: In a hearing yesterday, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan lambasted city lawyers for mishandling evidence in a civil lawsuit over the 2002 Pershing Park arrests. As Del Wilber writes in WaPo, Sullivan ‘was so shocked by the government’s handling of evidence in the cases that he was tempted to launch an independent investigation of the D.C. attorney general’s office.’ He went on to order AG Peter Nickles to explain what had happened to the missing evidence, including reports and radio logs, and how he will fix the problem. Bill Myers notes in Examiner that Sullivan asked: ‘”When, if ever, can anyone trust their government?’ Furthermore, from Wilber: ‘Sullivan said he would impose “severe” monetary sanctions on the D.C. government and urged Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to “settle this case soon”…calling the actions of D.C. government lawyers “abysmal” and urging the D.C. Council to investigate the attorney general’s office.’ The deputy AG at the hearing started crying, it was so bad! Nickles’ reply: The council should have funded a better records management system, and plaintiffs’ settlement demands are ‘far out of reach.’ Well, counselor: LL doesn’t think your negotiating position has much improved here.
AFTER THE JUMP—-The Peggy Cooper Cafritz manse burns to the ground; D.C. Council gins up new revenue; gay lawyer says cop called him a fag; Fox 5 keeps the heat on OUC; and Banita Jacks is found guilty.
Peggy Cooper Cafritz‘s mansion, on the 3000 block of Chain Bridge Road NW, was consumed last night by a massive fire, destroying much of her magnificent art collection. She was away in Nantucket at the time; neighbors rescued her pets. And, yet again, water supply was an issue in battling the blaze, leading to FEMS pointing the finger at WASA. Reports Clarence Williams in WaPo, ‘Firefighters searched as far as five blocks away for hydrants that could supply additional water. “If there had been enough fire pressure, . . . there’s no question that the firefighters could have controlled this fire,” [a neighbor] said. He said residents in the 3000 block of the street have been having problems with water pressure in recent weeks. The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority “is very aware of the problems on this street,” he said….The cause of the fire was not immediately known, and [Chief Dennis Rubin] said an investigation would likely take at least a week.’ Also WTOP, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, WAMU-FM. And Dave Statter, of course, has much, much more on the fire and the water issues on his blog.
SEE THE ART—-In the August issue of O Magazine. Very sad.
Get ready for about $50M in hikes to District sales, gas, and cigarette taxes. WaPo’s Tim Craig notes that the agreement ‘followed hours of heated debate about how much District residents could afford to pay to spare some services from deep cuts.’ But cuts will be made: ‘Although there could be changes before the final vote, council members have agreed to eliminate hundreds of positions, curtail the hiring of new police officers, and eliminate earmarks for arts and social organizations. The council is also proposing a $45 million cut in funding for public education, which will probably set up a major battle with Fenty.’ In Examiner, Michael Neibauer details all the new taxes, and notes that the Jim Graham half-millionaires’ tax will likely be put to a Friday vote. Also WUSA-TV.
PLZ NOTE—-‘The council is also considering a proposal to raise about $2 million annually by doubling the parking fees paid by city workers from $80 to $160. Members would continue to park for free on Pennsylvania Avenue NW in front of the John A. Wilson Building.’ Market rate, LL is told, is about $200 per month.
ALSO—-Craig covers the bickering between Marion Barry and David Catania. ‘The root of the hostility stems from Barry’s belief that Catania is responsible for the series of news stories about his use of earmarks….After yesterday’s meeting, Barry summoned the Washington Post to argue that he should not blamed if the earmarks are eliminated. Instead, Barry argued, organizations expecting money should protest to Catania. “People pointing the finger at me and the council are wrong,” Barry said. “They need to point the finger at David Catania for spending time with Sharon Wise and the City Paper.”‘ Well, LL thinks things go back a little farther than that…
Jonetta Rose Barras details her ‘hit list’ of preferred cuts. Gone in Jonettaworld: the State Board of Education, the D.C. Auditor, 20 percent of the OCP budget, ANCs. She also notes that if Barry resigned, there ‘might be a reduction in the number of investigators required by the inspector general to review something the former mayor allegedly did but swears he didn’t.’
BANITA JACKS TRIAL—-Judge Frederick Weisberg finds Jacks guilty of murdering her four daughters, three of them with premeditation. (He could not rule out that oldest daughter Brittany had committed suicide.) WaPo’s Keith Alexander writes that Weisberg found that ‘It was the cumulative signs of a mother’s despair that…culminated in the girls’ slayings’ and that ‘she lived in her Southeast Washington rowhouse with her dying children for almost eight months but never called for help.’ During the nearly hourlong sentencing, ‘Jacks sat largely motionless in the crowded courtroom next to her attorneys. At times, she shook her head during his remarks.’ Alexander writes: ‘Yet major questions remain. Was Jacks insane, and did she mistakenly reject that defense when her attorneys advised her to plead not guilty by reason of insanity? Were there other explanations as to why she killed her daughters? “I can’t answer all the questions,” Weisberg said.’ Also Examiner, AP, WaTimes, WTOP, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, WAMU-FM, NYT.
SENTENCING—-Will be Oct. 16. ‘Peter Krauthamer, one of Jacks’s attorneys, said he plans to appeal. But her attorneys also plan to submit psychiatric records in an attempt to show that she was insane and have it factored into her sentencing, including possibly having her committed to a mental facility. That decision is up to Weisberg.’
ALSO—-WTOP’s Mark Segraves notes that a NYT reporter was kicked out of the packed courtrooom for taking the Examiner’s (unmarked) seat.
Gay lawyer accuses cop of calling him ‘faggot.’ From Lou Chibbaro Jr. in the Blade: ‘District resident Pepin Tuma, 33, an attorney in private practice, said the arrest took place at 17th and U streets, N.W., shortly after midnight July 26, seconds after a police officer overheard him telling two friends “jokingly” and in a loud voice, “I hate the police.”…In an e-mail to [Cathy Lanier], Tuma said that after repeating twice to his friends in a “sing-song” voice, “I hate the police,” an officer “charged 40-50 feet towards us while yelling at me phrases like ‘who do you think you are’ and ‘who do you think you’re talking to.’”…He said the officer, later identified as Second District Officer J. Culp, pushed him against a transformer box, placed him under arrest and handcuffed him without immediately informing him of the charge. “As Officer Culp moved me toward a police cruiser, he told me to ‘just shut up, faggot.’”’
NTSB investigators have shifted their investigation, WaPo’s Lena Sun reports, from the ‘Wee-Z’ bonds mounted between the rails near the crash site to a pair of electronics modules. ‘Like most electrical components in the track circuit system, the modules are original equipment from the mid-1970s. They were manufactured by General Railway Signal, which is now owned by Alstom Signaling. The modules are housed in a train control room near the Fort Totten Station. About the size of an old computer monitor, each module contains 20 circuit boards that receive and transmit signals from the track….The safety board said each component within the modules is being tested extensively to determine the effect of their performance on the train control system and how any change or degradation in the component might affect the system.’ Also WTOP, NC8, WTTG-TV.
DID YOU KNOW?—-A Metrobus driver has been arrested for kidnapping? That, and other incidents, prompts WMATA to toughen disciplinary policies, according to WaPo’s James Hohmann. ‘In the most recent incident, a bus driver was arrested Saturday after getting into an argument with a passenger and refusing to let her off the bus for about half an hour, Metro said.’ Also Examiner, WTOP.
WTTG-TV’s Tisha Thompson with another story on Office of Unified Communications problems. She’s got an OUC dispatcher on tape asking a cop whether he arresting a colleague’s son. And more! ‘FOX 5 tried several times to talk with OUC Director Janice Quintana about these concerns. After being repeatedly turned down, we finally met up with her at her office…where security guards wouldn’t let us approach her. Instead, she quickly walked away from us and into the OUC building as we called out questions.’
WaPo columnist Robert McCartney says not so fast on the self-congratulations over dropping murder rates. ‘The police certainly deserve applause for the progress, but the acclaim risks encouraging too much complacency. Many crime experts are perplexed by the drop in killings and warn it could be temporary,’ he writes. ‘Moreover, viewed in a broader context, the data suggest once again that America should press the reset button on what murder rate it finds tolerable. Even with this year’s improvement, the number of killings in the District is a grievous reminder that our urban areas remain exceptionally violent compared with those in many other wealthy countries….The District’s murder rate is at least 18 times as high as Tokyo’s.’
Clarence Lawrence Dews, 76, died Saturday from injuries sustained in a July 20 attempted robbery. Theola Labbé-DeBose profiles the ex-boxer and the crime that killed him: ‘Police said Dews was jumped by two men who appeared to be in their late teens and approached him on bicycles and tried to rob him. Dews told family members that he struck one of the men but that at some point the other man threw his bicycle at him and Dews fell to the ground. The robbers got his wallet and pedaled away. “From what we’ve been able to determine, he put up a good fight,” said Michael Farish, acting captain of the police department’s homicide division. “He got the best of one of them, but he was outnumbered.”‘ Also NC8, WTTG-TV.
No surprise here: Holocaust Museum shooter James von Brunn indicted on seven counts, including hate crime charges. Four counts are capital offenses.
YOU’RE HIRED—-Jerry Johnson is officially in at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, just in time to avoid the Peggy Cooper Cafritz finger-pointing.
Jonathan O’Connell reports in Biz Journal that Forest City Washington has been hired by DMPED as lead adviser on Poplar Point development. ‘The team “will assist the District with master planning, entitlements, financial feasibility, phasing strategies, infrastructure financing and disposition of the project.” Forest City Washington knows the property well. It was named by Fenty as one of four finalists to be master developer of Poplar Point in 2007…But signing on as a consultant to the project means the company won’t be in the mix to the develop the property down the road.’
ALSO—-Inclusionary zoning is but two weeks away.
WUSA-TV’s Bruce Johnson looks at what’s left of Harriette Walters‘ loot.
WaPo’s Michael Birnbaum reports on changes to private-school summer camps in recessionary times: ‘The programs have traditionally drawn from a wide pool of students, but during the recession, private schools have expanded their marketing efforts and offerings to pull in parents for whom every dollar has become more dear. Officials at many schools say that parents waited until the last minute to sign up for programs, not knowing whether their finances would hold.’
HEADS UP—-DDOT traffic control officers can now write tickets.
WaPo covers sale of Shiloh Baptist properties: ‘Last week’s decision by members of Shiloh Baptist Church, at Ninth and P streets NW, could remove a stumbling block to the rebirth of the blighted neighborhood around the Washington Convention Center. Neighbors have complained for years that seven crumbling buildings that the church owns along Eighth and Ninth streets were attracting drug users and adding to a sense of decay in the area….It’s unclear what prompted the decision to sell the two buildings, which sit diagonally across from each other on Eighth Street, especially in a down market. A spokesman for the church declined to comment.’
WAPO DISTRICT EXTRA—-Volunteers restore Woodlawn Cemetery; the end of sales tax holidays; District Notebook; news briefs; home sales; police blotter; ANIMAL WATCH. And Biz Journal reports that changes will be coming soon to the Extras.
Gary Imhoff takes on GGW’s David Alpert and his précis of the urbanist MO: ‘Alpert asks, “Why are the desires of those who enjoy walking or bicycling insignificant, while those of the car enthusiast paramount?” The answer is simple. It’s the same reason cities have more basketball courts then they have broomball stadia: bicycling and long-distance walks are the preferences of small minorities. They are doomed to remain that as long as automobiles are an option. When it’s too hot or cold, rainy or snowy; when the distance is too great or what you have to carry is too heavy or bulky; when the destination isn’t convenient to public transportation or to mass transit schedules — in other words, most of the time — cars are a better option.’
DCmud notes that neighbors aren’t so happy with Chris Donatelli‘s communication on Benning/Minnesota development.
Metro Weekly interviews activist, ‘Citizen Legislator’ Bob Summersgill.
It’s official: Dan Tangherlini confirmed as assistant secretary of treasury.
D.C. Bar opposes $1.8M Fenty cut to civil legal services assistance, Legal Times notes. (LL SEZ: Looks like the D.C. Council will put half of that back.)
DAYBOOK—-Bob Bennett will be making the JAWB rounds today, interviewing each councilmember about their contracting and earmarks.
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; 10:15 a.m.: scholarship presenter, Urban Alliance graduation ceremony, Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW; 10:45 a.m.: remarks, School Without Walls ribbon-cutting, 2130 G St. NW; 4 p.m.: remarks, Randle Highlands ‘Tot Lot’ grand opening, 1650 30th St. SE.