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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Marion Barry Directed City Funds To Nonprofits Under His Control“; “Barry Apologizes To D.C. Council During Private Meeting“; “Catania: Barry Should Apologize To Public“; “Breaking: Watts-Brighthaupt Rejected New Barry Contract Offer On June 29“; “Marion Barry Is the Tree, Says Former Girlfriend. ‘All of Us Are the Branches’“
Morning all. On Friday afternoon, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray did his best to respond to the controversy over Marion Barry‘s award of a city contract to ex-girlfriend Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, engaging friend and undisputed superlawyer Bob Bennett of Skadden Arps to examine the contract (but not Barry’s other contracts or the contracts of other members). (See WaPo, Examiner, WTOP, Legal Times, NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.) These aren’t last questions that Gray will have to provide answers for regarding Barry’s use of city money: On Friday night, LL and colleagues reported how Barry has steered nearly $1M in earmarks to nonprofit groups that he created and that are under the control of Barry and his top aides. (NC8 followed up.) Expect much more on this from LL in the coming days.
AFTER THE JUMP—-The Barry arrest report; Colby King doesn’t like it councilmembers hire the homeless; Bob McCartney on Fenty hubris.
THE ARREST REPORT—-WRC-TV and WTOP finally pried the document out of the U.S. Park Police—-it says that Barry was pulled over for ‘driving in an erratic manner on the wrong side of the road’ and that Watts-Brighthaupt shouted out of her window ‘in a clear attempt’ to attract the officer’s attention. More: ‘Watts-Brighthaup [sic] was breathing heavily when she approached the Park Police officer and shouted in a “high, nervous tone” that Barry was harassing her. The officer asked her to return to her vehicle, while she continued to tell the officer that Barry was harassing her….The report also reveals that Watts-Brighthaup told the officer that she had cancer and her ex-husband is her caregiver, and that Barry was upset Delonte Brightaupt was still in her life, and that Barry threatened to use “his powers of influence” to have Brightaupt arrested if she did not end her relationship with him….The officer says in the report that Watts-Brightaup made it clear that Barry’s behavior towards her was unwanted, and that she advised Barry that she wished to end contact with him. Watts-Brightaup also told the officer that she had saved several threatening voicemails from Barry, and even played one for the officer.’ Also Examiner.
CHECK THE ROLLBACK—-In WaPo story: ‘On Tuesday, a Barry spokeswoman said the [Watts-Brighthaupt] contract was initially valued at $60,000, but Gray said yesterday that he was only aware of a figure of $20,000.’
WALKOUTS—-David Catania and Mary Cheh left Friday’s presser when Barry started railing against Park Police. Said Catania in a statement: ‘I left today’s press conference because to have stayed may have given the false impression that Councilmembers, including myself, are rallying to Mr. Barry’s side or condoning his actions. This is not the case.’
WJLA-TV/NC8’s Sam Ford does a Ward 8 react piece: ‘[T]he Joneses…have lived in Ward 8 on Bangor Street for more than 60 years. They say Barry has even eaten crabs with them before. Grandma Sally says, “He’ll help me that’s why I know that.” Her granddaughter – in her 30s – and also named Sally says she doesn’t blame Barry for helping the woman. “She needed her bills paid, and why not a 40-year-old and a 70-year-old? What 70-year-old wouldn’t go for a 40-year-old…I don’t blame Barry,” Sally said.’
Jonetta Rose Barras wants Barry censured: ‘The council, overly conscious of process, is fiddling with a precious commodity: the public’s trust. It should understand that citizens’ belief in their government isn’t just about dollars and cents. It’s also derived from residents’ assessment of elected officials’ behavior and character — and that’s priceless. If it isn’t careful, residents soon will come to view the council, including the chairman, as part of the problem, enabling Barry in his unwavering determination to tarnish an important institution while further eroding — directly and indirectly — the city’s political and cultural standards.’
Colby King spends the early portion of his Saturday column on Marion Barry‘s suspect employment practices and the D.C. Council policies that legitimized them. ‘”Independent personnel authority”? Independent, my foot! That’s exactly what allowed Marion Barry to get away with putting his then-girlfriend on the public payroll, then taking her off after a spat, then putting her back on after kissing and making up, then . . . aw, forget it. It’s something out of the Mystic Knights of the Sea Lodge Hall.’ Then he detours into a strange harangue of an unnamed Tommy Wells, who apparently pays out of his own pocket a homeless aide to gather intel on human services agencies. To King, ‘for a legislator to engage a homeless individual with serious issues to surreptitiously gather information about city-supported programs and institutions is, at best, a questionable practice.’ Huh? You would rather Wells himself dress up, Halloween-style?
BUT A GOOD QUESTION—-‘Yesterday’s announcement that the D.C. Council is engaging a private law firm to conduct a wide-ranging probe of contracting procedures, including a look at current contracts, is a positive step. But why can’t the Office of the D.C. Auditor or the Office of the Inspector General perform that function?’
Oh, and Tom Sherwood covers our cover for WRC-TV. Gary Imhoff weighs in, too, saying that City Paper ‘managed to make Barry look good by comparison by putting an unnecessary vulgarism on its cover. The City Paper acted like the two-year-old who has just learned that certain words drive adults crazy, so he therefore screams them repeatedly at the top of his lungs. A certain maturity was lacking.’ Robert Brannum deems it ‘possibly racist.’
ALSO—-WCP’s Sexist: ‘Why You Should Care About Marion Barry’s Un-Blow-Job’
God bless WaPo columnist Robert McCartney: The rest of us want to talk all Barry all the time, and here he is talking Adrian Fenty! His Sunday column is a recitation of all the Fenty missteps we all know so well, imbued with a healthy dose of conventional wisdom, with this takeaway: ‘The remaining 17 1/2 months of his four-year term promises to be a sour period, dominated by struggles with a widening budget deficit, stalled economic development and growing political challenges. Moreover, Fenty’s image as an engaged, energetic official focused on helping constituents, long one of his most valuable assets, is eroding….”I think I made a lot of mistakes, and I think they’re all my fault,” Fenty said in an interview Tuesday…But he said he hoped the voters will reward him anyway when he seeks reelection next year, citing what he said were improved public services, especially in the schools and police work.’
ENOUGH WITH THE BS, PLZ—-‘Many on the council are frustrated by what they see as lack of cooperation from the mayor’s office, especially in making officials available for hearings. Fenty denied that there was a problem, saying relations with the council are “going fantastic.” Gray pointedly did not share that view: “There certainly have been challenges and difficulties in council-mayor relations.”‘
ON MATTERS ELECTORAL—-‘Gray, in particular, has the potential to become a strong challenger. Although he lacks Fenty’s personal flair and media savvy, he is building an effective staff and personal expertise on policy issues….Looking ahead to next year’s reelection campaign, Fenty said he was preparing for a “crowded race,” but that might be wishful thinking. Potential rivals—-including Gray and council members Michael A. Brown (I-At Large) and Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large)—-are said to be planning that just one would oppose him.’
Trinidad checkpoints ain’t gonna fly, federal appeals court rules, in a big loss for Fenty and Attorney General Peter Nickles. Maria Glod, in WaPo, writes that Chief Judge David Sentelle‘s ‘strongly worded opinion’ found the roadblocks unconstitutional, ‘effectively ending a crime-fighting tactic that officials say was used in only the most dire circumstances to protect residents.’ From the opinion: ‘It cannot be gainsaid that citizens have a right to drive upon the public streets of the District of Columbia or any other city absent a constitutionally sound reason for limiting their access…It is apparent that appellants’ constitutional rights are violated.’ Also NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
SAYS THE AG—-To WaTimes‘ Matthew Cella: ‘Nickles, who has defended the constitutionality of the police searches, said he was “disappointed” with the ruling. “We’re looking very seriously at appealing the decision to the full Court of Appeals or to the Supreme Court,” he said.’
SAYS MARY CHEH—-‘This is not Baghdad. It’s the United States of America. People have the right to enter their communities without running through a police gantlet.’
Banita Jacks trial to start today in Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg’s courtroom. Keith Alexander tees up the proceedings for WaPo: ‘When the trial begins, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deborah Sines and Michelle Jackson are expected to call detectives, U.S. marshals, police officers, forensic experts and social workers to describe the discovery of the girls, the arrest and Jacks’s life with the girls. Prosecutors plan to show that Jacks intentionally killed her daughters. She is charged with 12 counts, including premeditated first-degree murder and cruelty to children. Because of the ages of the victims, Jacks faces life in prison without parole….Jacks’s court-appointed attorneys encouraged her to pursue an insanity defense, but she refused….At her hearings, Jacks has appeared confident and strong-willed. She rolls her eyes and lets out dramatic sighs when prosecutors say things she disagrees with. At times, her lead attorney, Peter Krauthamer, has had to whisper in her ear to calm her.’ Also WAMU-FM.
ALSO—-‘Lawsuits against the city filed by the girls’ grandmothers, Mamie Jacks and Jessie Fogle, and by Kevin J. Stoddard, Tatianna’s father, are pending, said D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles. The family members said the city failed to remove the girls from their mother despite warnings from various city agencies. Nickles said he plans to fight the lawsuits. “I need proof that they were there for these children when they were alive. They show me that, then we can talk,” he said.’
In other torts, WaPo’s Joe Stephens and Lena Sun cover the coming raft of litigation over the Red Line crash. ‘Legal experts said the number of liability claims for the crash, which killed nine and injured 80, can be expected to rise for months and, perhaps, years. Legal damages could run into the tens of millions of dollars and, if negligence is proved and punitive damages awarded, they could easily reach into the hundreds of millions, legal analysts said. Wherever federal authorities place responsibility for the tragedy, plaintiffs will be seeking money, first and foremost, from Metro….Metro is responsible for the first $5 million under its liability policy for such accidents, officials said. After that, coverage from a number of carriers kicks in.’
With massive Red Line delays, Metro sees jump in bus ridership, James Hohmann reports in WaPo: ‘According to Metro, bus ridership surged immediately after the June 22 train crash….Two bus lines, which allow riders to efficiently bypass stretches of the Red Line between the Metro Center and Silver Spring stations, have become especially crowded. About 17,000 more people took the 70, 71 and 79 buses that travel Georgia Avenue the week of the crash than the week before, a 19.5 percent increase. There was a 15 percent increase on the 16th Street service, which includes the S-1, 2, 4 and 9 buses. Increased ridership continued last week, although not as high as immediately after the accident.’
TOMORROW—-Red Line crash gets Hill hearing.
Fight over forensics lab construction contract could go to D.C. Council, Nikita Stewart reports at D.C. Wire: ‘Tompkins Builders of the District is hoping the D.C. Council will propose a disapproval resolution that would prevent the Fenty administration from following through on a $133 million contract with competitor Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. Tompkins offered to complete the project for $4.8 million less than Whiting-Turner….Lobbyists for Tompkins are trying to get council members to intervene, but members have been reluctant because the lab has been delayed so many times. As of today, there’s no disapproval resolution on tomorrow’s agenda.’
A city panel charged with overseeing the welfare of District residents in federal prisons, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner, is on the verge of being effectively dismantled by the Fenty administration for want of its $25,000 budget. Phil Mendelson ain’t down with that: ‘”It’s the only mechanism for helping D.C. prisoners who are in the federal system,” Mendelson told The Examiner on Friday….Mendelson said he would introduce legislation Tuesday to reconstitute the [Corrections Information Council] under a different model, one with an executive director at the helm. There is an anti-boards and commissions attitude in the Fenty administration, the councilman said, but “I just don’t want to zero out their budget.”‘
THE ETERNAL DEBATE—-Parking lot or dog park: a dilemma seemingly perfectly calibrated to arouse the passions of urban dwellers of all stripes. And so it has, in Shaw, WaPo reports: ‘Dorris Brooks [sic], who also lives in Shaw, said that city leaders never made their plan for a parking lot clear at previous meetings and fears that it will add more problems to an area already affected by drug dealers and violence….Robin-Eve Jasper, director of the city’s Office of Property Management, said that it was unclear whether the original plans included the parking lot but that the plans are now firm….But, she said, “We think there is room for more than a parking lot.”‘ GGW, of course, has a position on the matter. Other bloggers, too.
The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, ‘a grass-roots group founded in 1991 by the African People’s Socialist Party,’ gathers 500 signatures asking for a full accounting for the June 8 killing of Trey Joyner by Park Police. Writes Theola Labbé-DeBose in WaPo, ‘The campaign, which calls Joyner’s death a “murder,” marks the first instance in which a national group has spoken out about the shooting in Northeast Washington.’
Police SWAT lieutenant at center of controversial hostage standoff and Kris Baumann lawsuit asks for a transfer, Bill Myers reports in Examiner. ‘”I have encountered some issues with team moral [sic] which have influenced my abilities to effectively lead,” Lt. Scott Dignan wrote in a memo to Police Chief Cathy Lanier. “At this point and with the recent false allegations, with regret I feel I am no longer in a capacity to lead this team of officers.”‘
BREAKING—-U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejects Baumann’s request for injunction halting MPD investigation.
Examiner’s Leah Fabel on the end of vouchers: ‘For Ravenia Boyd, the demise of program has left her in a quandary. Her two children had been awarded vouchers for the coming school year, and by the time they were rescinded, it was too late to apply for most of the city’s charter schools. Instead, Boyd said, she likely will send her children back to their struggling elementary school in Northeast D.C. “We were looking forward to more structure and opportunities at a new school,” she said. “This means having to start over on something I thought was final.”‘ Also WTTG-TV.
ALSO—-WSJ opinionmongers note, with great relish, that most D.C. councilmembers support continuing the program.
WaPo’s Yamiche Alcindor on the rising tide of patients using local emergency rooms as doctos’ offices. ‘At the District’s Providence Hospital, emergency room visits increased by 13 percent in the past year. In Montgomery County, the number of patients seeking free care at community clinics designed to divert people from emergency rooms rose by 43 percent, many of them referred by hospitals….Last year, Providence and the D.C. Primary Care Association launched the ED Diversion Project, which places community health workers in waiting areas to help patients obtain primary-care doctors and sign up for Medicaid and Medicare coverage.’
District to get $7.4M in homeless stimulus aid, Darryl Fears reports in WaPo. ‘The money will help families faced with eviction in two weeks and residents in housing marked for condemnation. It will also help people who have experienced a sudden drop in income because of job loss or salary cuts and people who have watched their utility bills skyrocket. In addition to rent, the aid will help pay security and utility deposits and moving and storage costs. It will provide money to governments to pay workers to assign and distribute money, provide hotel and motel payment vouchers and pay for property inspections.’
Where will Tiger Woods build his D.C. learning center? Says Biz Journal’s Jonathan O’Connell: ‘Last year, foundation president Greg McLaughlin told the WBJ he hoped to pick a site by the end of 2009. Previously, Ward 7 Councilwoman Yvette Alexander said the facility would to Fort Dupont Park, but foundation staff has since had discussions about space adjacent to Thearc, on Mississippi Ave. SE. Then the foundation submitted a failed bid for the vacant Hine Jr. High School, near Eastern Market. McLaughlin sent a statement Friday saying, “Currently we are evaluating two to three top sites within the District. Our key criteria are safety, proximity to public transportation, availability of land and cost. We do not have a confirmed site to announce at this time, but look forward to announcing one soon.”‘
D.C. suicide possibly related to double homicide in Langley Park, Md., Freeman Klopott reports for Examiner. ‘Around 9 a.m., a 53-year-old man jumped to his death from a building under construction on the 1200 block of First Street Northeast, police said. The lease for the Langley Park apartment was in the name of the man who committed suicide, and investigators believe he may have been related to the dead man and woman.’ Also WUSA-TV.
WaPo ombudsman: ‘The Washington Post’s ill-fated plan to sell sponsorships of off-the-record “salons” was an ethical lapse of monumental proportions.’
Fenty tells The Cape Gazette, ‘It’s almost essential that I begin my day with an athletic release.’
WMATA board member Jim Graham rides the Circulator, reports Dr. Gridlock: ‘I think we’re…attracting people, such as myself, quite frankly, who previously would drive, because now there’s a route that’s really helpful—-57,000 riders, and Jim Graham was there!’
WaPo reader says thanks to tardy report of Metro crash, ‘I now have zero confidence that Alert DC will give me timely information in the event of another serious incident.’ Another on taxi service: ‘Four out of the past five times that I have booked a cab for a specific time to go from Capitol Hill in Southeast to Reagan National Airport, the taxi has either not shown up or arrived more than 20 minutes late….This kind of service is appalling and can be attributed only to incompetence.’ And another with a bright idea: ‘Currently the fare for a single ride in the downtown area is $1.65. That fare could remain the same for people who use SmarTrip cards but might be raised to $2 for people purchasing a paper Farecard. The difference in price might encourage more regular users to switch to SmarTrip cards, reducing the cost to Metro for purchasing and issuing the paper cards and speeding passage of customers through the entry and exit gates.’
Fenty, Jack Evans, and Nat Gandhi will head to NYC to meet with debt raters.
Looking to read a lengthy dissertation on ANC reform? See the Goodspeed Report!
Airports Authority to issue $1.3B in bonds for Dulles rail construction.
Watergate Hotel could be auctioned off July 21.
Another Empower D.C. protest at Fenty’s house.
WUSA-TV: Dorchester House management accused of ‘heartless’ eviction!
GGW runs down Friday’s Cheh-sponsored Policy Greenhouse.
WAMU-FM’s David Schultz on efforts to lure foreign travelers to D.C. Elliot Ferguson, new Destination D.C. head, says: ‘We are focusing more on the international tourists….Because of the weakened dollar, they’re more willing to come into our city, stay in our hotels, eat in our fine restaurants and stay for a longer period of time.’
SKEETER ALERT—-West Nile virus found in Fort McNair puddles—-‘the first time this year the virus has been detected in the District.’
July: Rather mild! So says WaPo.
Ford’s Theatre museum to reopen Wednesday.
Nationals Park finally sells out…for Elton John and Billy Joel.
One headline has caused quite the stink
For a phrase pretty mild, I think
Perhaps I’m uncouth
Or showing my youth
My point: I’ll take blogs over ink
DAYBOOK—-DCPS test results to be announced; hearing on Cheh elections bill (WAMU-FM covers).
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-9:30 a.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary meeting on PR18-191 (“Child Fatality Review Committee Bradley Thomas Confirmation Resolution of 2009”), JAWB 123; 10 a.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on B18-278 (“Chemotherapy Pill Coverage Act of 2009”), JAWB 123; 11 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment hearing on B18-345 (“Omnibus Election Reform Act of 2009”), JAWB 120; 12 p.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on B18-5 (“Metropolitan Police Department Command Staff Appointment Amendment Act of 2009”), JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee on Health meeting to “examine the purpose, roles, and responsibilities of a fiscal agent with respect to the administration of District of Columbia health care grants,” JAWB 120; 4 p.m.: Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination hearing on ‘the economic and financial impact of D.C. statehood,’ JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, announcement of D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System test results, Drew ES, 5600 Eads St. NE; 2 p.m.: remarks, Akridge ribbon-cutting, 700 6th St. NW.