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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Repubs Not Pleased With Jim Graham’s ‘Obama Park’ Plan“; “Bob Barr Lauds Demise of Barr Amendment“
Morning all. Could the District’s decadelong run of fiscal conservatism be coming to an end? It took a $660M-plus revenue shortfall to get politicos to take it seriously, but meaningful tax hikes were a subject of discussion at yesterday’s D.C. Council hearing on the gap-closing plan submitted last week by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. According to Examiner’s Michael Neibauer, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray says that ‘everything is on the table…both revenue enhancements and expenditure cuts.’ Jim Graham brought up his pet top-bracket income tax hike; Tommy Wells floated a gas-tax hike—-and a new snack tax! That’s still more plausible than David Catania‘s big idea: across-the-board wage cuts. ‘The mayor on down,’ he says, ‘every last one of us.’ See also WAMU-FM and WaPo, with its references to ‘Chief Financial Officer Natwar G. Ghandi and City Administrator Neal O. Albert.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Independent DCPS evaluation may have to wait; city plans to spend $13M to maintain vacant buildings; new road to St. E’s not bald-eagle-friendly; and why the Fort Dupont Baseball Academy will not be happening anytime soon.
In WaPo, Susan Kinzie looks at the possible effects of having earmarks slashed from $21M to $8M: ‘Yesterday, leaders of many local groups began to pore over their budgets in search of ways to scale back. A variety of services and expenses would be affected, including centers where low-income families seek tax advice and a dance floor for community arts performances….Many nonprofit leaders said they weren’t shocked by the cuts, given the economy. “We were always surprised that [the money] came through,” said Robert Egger, president of the D.C. Central Kitchen, whose earmark would be reduced from $250,000 to $100,000. “When we get it, it’s a great gift. We rock with it but never bank on it,” he said.’
NC8 does a somewhat more cynical earmark story: ‘Forty-thousand dollars of D.C. residents’ tax dollars are reportedly going to the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce….”That’s $40,000 that doesn’t need to be spent,” said one woman….Also in the proposed budget is $20,000 for social and etiquette programs for young women. “[That’s] definitely not a good way to spend my tax dollars,” said Thomas Bergman, a D.C. resident. “Have we lost our minds? We do not have time for that bourgeois stuff,” added another woman.’
Also among the Fenty cuts, Bill Turque reports in WaPo: The long-proposed independent school reform evaluator. In testimony yesterday, Neil Albert ‘did not directly address the school evaluation, which Fenty is required to submit annually under the law that established mayoral control. He also has the option to skip the yearly reports and deliver a five-year independent assessment by September 2012….Fenty spokeswoman Mafara Hobson said Monday that the mayor was still committed to an independent evaluation but did not elaborate.’ Fenty also seeks to reverse the DME/SBOE/Ombudsman changes passed by the council.
Reacting to WaPo scoop on FBI investigation of officers, P.G. police assure residents that none of the suspected cops are on the street. No such assurance emanated from the Metropolitan Police Department, which reportedly employs a police official under investigation: ‘District police spokeswoman Traci Hughes on Monday said federal authorities had not notified the department of any District officer under investigation. According to documents reviewed by The Post, a veteran D.C. officer was caught on police surveillance video providing security for an illegal gambling game in full tactical gear and was found to be in regular contact with one of the game’s organizers.’
District will spend $12.7M in FY2010 for ‘rent, utilities, security and other so-called fixed costs tied to 20 empty buildings in D.C.’s possession,’ Neibauer reports in Examiner. Fenty’s move to consolidate the D.C. Public Schools and close homeless shelters has left the city with a cache of large, empty structures.’ There’s the Franklin Shelter, Bruce-Monroe ES, J.F. Cook ES, and good ol’ 225 Virginia Ave. SE.
Bald eagles in Southeast could be threatened by new road, David Fahrenthold reports in WaPo. The road, planned to begin construction in 2014, would connect the Department of Homeland Security headquarters with I-295 via Malcolm X Avenue SE. ‘The eagles live in a thickly wooded sliver of national parkland in Anacostia, where towering trees overlook their hunting grounds on the Potomac River. When they settled there in 2000, the pair were the first bald eagles to nest in the District in a half-century. Now, DHS wants to cut an access road through that parkland, officially known as Shepherd Parkway….A spokesman for the department said it had been designed in consultation with eagle experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and would not disturb the birds.’
BANITA JACKS TRIAL—-Medical examiner testifies, tells court that Brittany Jacks‘ body ‘was so badly decomposed that he was only about “50 percent” sure that she had been murdered,’ according to Keith Alexander‘s WaPo story. The pathologist, A. Wayne Williams, said that an autopsy revealed ‘three puncture wounds to Brittany’s abdomen, which were “highly likely” to have been stab wounds, but he was unclear whether the wounds were enough to kill her. “This was a very tough case, very complicated. It doesn’t fit the textbook,” he said.’ A defense attorney ‘tried to raise concerns about Williams’s conclusion being influenced by the national media attention to the case or the fact that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) visited the coroner’s office during the investigation and eventually fired six D.C. social workers who had contact with the Jacks family. Williams said no outside factors influenced his findings.’ Also WAMU-FM, NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
D.C. HIV/AIDS figures should ‘shock the conscience — and spur action,’ says WaPo editorial board, by way of addressing federal efforts. ‘The national strategy being crafted for the president must include efforts to destigmatize the disease and to get people tested and into treatment. HIV testing must become a routine part of medical care (akin to testing for diabetes, for instance). Work with African American civic organizations to stress the importance of testing and treatment must be accelerated. But none of this will work if all people from all ages and backgrounds don’t know or refuse to learn their HIV status. This head-in-the-sand mentality cannot continue.’
DMH’s Community Services Agency will layoff 120 by Aug. 1 as part of long-planned privatization, Biz Journal reports.
Metrobus driver caught reading at the wheel by Examiner editor will be disciplined under a four-strikes-you’re-out policy, Kytja Weir reports in, um, Examiner. Says WMATA flack Steven Taubenkibel, ‘It’s not acceptable operating a bus and reading at the same time.’ But, he says, ‘the agency is looking at instituting more serious punishments in the future.’ Also WTOP, WTTG-TV.
WUSA-TV covers the mystery crime drop.
Jim Graham tells WaPo‘s Tim Craig that he’s going ahead with ‘Barack Hussein Obama Park’—-D.C. Code be damned! ‘Graham said the Council renamed roadways last year in honor of radio mogul Kathy Hughes and musician Chuck Brown, both of whom are living. Graham also noted that an alley next to Ben’s Chili Bown on U Street is named “Ben Ali Way” in honor of the restaurant owner, who is also living. “What I propose will create an exception,” Graham said in an interview. “Every legislature passes laws that change earlier laws.”‘
The Nats320 blog does a very lengthy, very complete account of what’s holding up the Fort Dupont Baseball Academy—-not just the already-mentioned ‘reversionary clause,’ but an environmental dispute that’s generated a lawsuit. Some news: ‘On July 7th, Chairman Gray met with Robert Stanton, The Deputy Assistant Director of The Department of Interior….Unfortunately, Chairman Gray’s meeting with Mr. Stanton did not go well. Sources explaining to Nats320 that Mr. Gray left frustrated and disappointed that The Department of Interior and The Nationals Park Service will not play ball as the lawsuit works in way through the legal process.’
DOJ plans to move their National Advocacy Center, ‘main training ground for the government’s lawyers,’ from the District to South Carolina, Bill Myers reports in Examiner. ‘Employees won’t be forced to make the move, spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said. “No one is losing their jobs,” she told The Examiner. “We’ll find everyone a spot if they need it.”‘
‘Team Focus DC Camp’ helps fatherless kids ‘develop relationships with several men in the hopes of creating a network of role models,’ WaPo’s Yamiche Alcindor reports in Metro. Cottrell Wise, 14, ‘has learned how to knot a tie, how to talk to girls and how to study….”It taught me everything my father couldn’t do, and it helped me be a better big brother.”…The D.C. camp, which began in 2005, will run through Wednesday. The District chapter [of Team Focus] serves more than 100 young men year-round.’
Why D.C.’s shelter system is in crisis, from Poverty & Policy—-‘all the evidence indicates that needs for emergency shelter and affordable housing will continue to outstrip resources for some considerable time to come.’
Malia and Sasha Obama visit Madame Tussauds. ‘During their approximately half-hour visit, Sasha and Malia took photos with wax figures of Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Lopez.’ What, no Marion Barry?
Cathy Lanier to appear July 29 at the American News Women’s Club, 1607 22nd St. NW, at 6:30pm. ‘The event, which includes dinner, wine, networking and a good learning experience is open to the public and held in the beautiful historic ANWC building on Embassy Row.’
In case you care: The new D.C. Lottery TV ad.
Screen on the Green returned last night, WTTG-TV notes. The flick: ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.’
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.