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Afternoon all. What a spectacle last night: Natalie Williams, spokesperson for once-again-embattled Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry called a late press conference in front of the John A. Wilson Building in order to respond to Tim Craig‘s WaPo story on Barry’s payments to accuser Donna Watts-Brighthaupt for the 11 p.m. newscasts. Williams started by continuing to harp on the woman’s “instability,” and as though on cue, Watts-Brighthaupt herself emerged from the shadows behind the news trucks parked on Pennsylvania Avenue, shouting, ‘It’s not true!’ The cameras followed, and the news conference turned into a circus. Just when you think things just can’t get any stranger…
AFTER THE JUMP—-District Limerick digs in to Barry; SYEP still in need of funding; see Eugene Dewitt Kinlow‘s 1987-vintage haircut; and Metro operator union chief to riders: ‘At least you’re alive.’
More from Craig’s article: ‘Barry (D-Ward 8) notified the council secretary’s office in October that his office intended to hire Donna Watts-Brighthaupt as a contractor specializing in “poverty reduction strategies,” according to the records reviewed by The Washington Post. Watts-Brighthaupt has been paid $15,000, and the secretary’s office has a purchase order authorizing payment of an additional $5,000, council officials said. The money comes from Barry’s taxpayer-funded budget as a council member, and some officials wonder whether it was ethical for the former mayor to put his girlfriend on the city payroll….When told about the Barry situation, Attorney General Peter J. Nickles said it was “something I would look into.”‘
BIG QUESTION—-What did Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray know about this? And will Barry’s raid of council funds to pay a friend finally pressure Gray or any other councilmember to break their silence regarding Barry’s behavior—-let alone lead them establish some sort of serious council ethics oversight?
The New Republic’s Jason Zengerle laments ‘The Sad Decline of the Marion Barry Scandal’…'[W]hile I’m not surprised that Barry continues to run afoul of the law, I am a bit taken aback by just how petty and, frankly, mundane his recent troubles have been.’ Colleague Ed Kilgore follows up: ‘I would observe that Barry has also lost a step in his talent for outrageous official positions….[T]he charming rogue of the past has become the cranky reactionary of the present. It’s as though George Clinton decided to drift towards retirement performing Easy Listening Classics hawked on late-night TV.’
From the indispensable District Limerick:
His personal life is still sordid But this time it’s not what he snorted The lady sensed danger And called the park ranger So to jail, our ex-mayor was escorted
OH, YEAH!—-Michael Neibauer points out in Examiner that the D.C. Council still hasn’t funded the last month of the Summer Youth Employment Program. It will be out of money come July 22. ‘[O]nly one legislative meeting remains to break the stalemate and find the money to continue paying them into August—-an increasingly difficult challenge given a looming $340 million shortfall over the next two fiscal years,’ he writes. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s sanguine response, through the e-mail account of spokesperson Mafara Hobson: ‘We’re on track to pay the kids this month, no problems!’
In his Examiner column, Harry Jaffe presents the real possibility that Barry may indeed have been set up by his accuser and by authorities: ‘Can’t Park Police cops spend their time arresting muggers on the Mall? What Barry did may have been annoying; it ain’t stalking….This situation is embarrassing on so many levels. The cops look petty and racist; Barry comes off as a pathetic old man, chasing a woman who hung around for a while and dumped him a few days before he got his liver transplant. No way prosecutors press charges, unless they are looking to avenge their failure to get jail time for Barry for not paying taxes.’
WAMU-FM’s Sabri Ben-Achour covers last night’s appropriations markup, which was a largely successful one in terms of District home rule. Amendments re-foisting vouchers on the District, banning local spending on abortion, and prohibiting implementation of medical marijuana all failed. Guns never came up—-expect to see it on the House floor, if the rule allows it. Re marijuana initiative, committee chair Rep. David Obey (D-
Mich. Wisc.) said, ‘It says to the District of Columbia, ‘You can’t even ask your own people how they feel about the issue.’…What are we, Iran?’
YOU’RE GAY AND MARRIED. NOW WHAT?—-Well, not a whole heck of a lot, Neibauerpoints out in Examiner: ‘Several hundred new rights and responsibilities — financial, legal and social — are now available to those couples who have wedded in one of the handful of states where gay marriage is legal. A spokeswoman for the D.C. tax office said same-sex married couples will file their city income taxes as any married couple would — jointly or separately on the same return. The changes will have no effect on D.C. government coffers in terms of new revenues or expenses, according to a fiscal impact statement that accompanied the recognition bill. It may have a small effect on the bottom line of some companies, business leaders say, as they add new spouses to their health care rolls.’ Also Legal Times, NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV, and AP, which quotes Bishop Harry Jackson saying ‘that he and his supporters are seeking a voter initiative that would affirm marriage between a man and a woman in D.C. “We’re going to focus on getting the whole issue before the people,” he said.’
Good stuff from WCP’s Housing Complex: Ruth Samuelson asks why it’s so hard to find out about all those affordable housing units that the city has been forcing developers to set aside. One agent ‘suspects the sales staff may keep the receptionists purposely ignorant about the affordable units. Then desk-workers can honestly say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”…”I believe that one of the reasons they keep this quiet is they don’t want to sell them at affordable rates,” says Doug Carter, a real-estate agent who handled Solea’s initial sales and has also represented buyers.” New city rules will be in place later this year to make everything more transparent.
ALSO—-Fenty opens Anacostia housing resource center: ‘The new center will be D.C.’s “central source” of resources for low and moderate-income people looking to “purchase and rehabilitate homes and prevent mortgage default and foreclosure.” There will also be computers for people to use dchousingsearch.org, according to a city press release.’
Fenty signs bag bill; goes into effect Jan. 1.
Rider catches Metro operator texting while driving his train in Virginia, posts it on YouTube. WJLA-TV/NC8 picks it up, and so does WaPo. He won’t be doing that again: ‘The operator was suspended for a week without pay after the June 5 incident came to the attention of officials, Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said last night. “I think he got the message loud and clear,” she said. “I think it’s unlikely he’ll repeat.”‘
In other Metro train driver news, union chief tells Examiner‘s Kytja Weir that her members are ‘afraid’ in the wake of the Red Line collision. ‘[S]aid Jackie Jeter, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689….”I do need to know that it is not going to happen again.”…Jeter said she plans to speak to Metro’s general manager about finding ways for concerned operators to transfer to their previous positions until they can get more answers. Moving from the position is unusual as operating trains is seen as a coveted step up from driving buses. Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said no train operators had requested transfers as of Tuesday and no one had been reassigned.’ Meanwhile, more collision lawsuits have been filed, WTOP says.
ALSO—-Red Line still delayed; riders still peeved; and, via Examiner, this is what Jeter has to say to them: ‘I understand that you want to get to work a little sooner [but] everybody should back off that….At least you’re alive.’ Also WTOP.
Per Jonathan O’Connell in Biz Journal: Eleanor Holmes Norton tells GSA honchos to get off their asses and lease while the leasing’s good. Hearing scheduled for this afternoon.
Examiner: ‘Teen unemployment in the District reached 23 percent at the end of June—-which is a 12 percent increase since May and almost 2.5 times the national unemployment rate, according to the study from the District’s Employment Policies Institute. Since last July, the rate for D.C. teens increased more than 50 percent.’ Rising minimum wage doesn’t help. But hey: One in four District kids are in summer school, so there’s that.
CASH FOR CARPOOLING—-‘In a three-month test program starting this fall, commuters along three congested corridors will be eligible to earn $2 a day by sharing rides to work. If that short-term reward leads to a long-term shift in habits, the offer could be extended to other parts of the region to ease gridlock,’ Emma Brown reports in WaPo. ‘The morning routes are Interstate 395 from the District across the 14th Street Bridge into Northern Virginia; the Capital Beltway from Bethesda to Tysons Corner; and the Beltway from the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to Interstate 270. The routes are reversed in the afternoon.’
WaPo’s Dan Morse covers the MoCo cops’ Takoma invasion: ‘When [Kelly Craven] and her Takoma neighbors learned that a crew was filming a staged police raid, they were not amused. They also have a piece of advice for filmmakers and off-duty police officers: If you’re going to act out such a dramatic scene in a residential neighborhood, let people know beforehand….On the set were four off-duty Montgomery officers, four squad cars, one actor, four crew members and one camera, according to Sirens Media and residents. The crew repeatedly filmed the officers and the actor entering a home. Residents said they heard the officers yelling, “Police! Search warrant! Open up!”‘
WRC-TV’s Jackie Bensen covers security issues with New Beginnings Youth Center. Neighbors are scared! Anne Arundel County executive dispatches letter of concern to Fenty! Fenty to make ‘fact-finding’ tour of the facility tomorrow!
Apropos of a certain recent stalking arrest, WUSA-TV covers possible changes pending to the District’s stalking law. Phil Mendelson‘s looking at ways to include various high-tech methods of stalking. Says Mendo: ‘Folks who are interested in stalking somebody else, they can find various ways of doing it, and the law that was written by the council maybe 15-years-ago had not thought of all the ways that a person could be stalked.’
THIS MORNING—-Pedestrians hit by motorcycle, badly hurt on 1800 block of I Street NW; fire on 1600 block of U Street NW, with two firefighters injured; gas main break on 4100 block of Minnesota Avenue NE.
Washington Teacher Candi Peterson asks, “Where Have All The Teachers Gone?” Her complaint: ‘Little has been reported by the mainstream media about the impact DC teacher/principal firings and high staff attrition rates will have on returning students come August.’
ALSO—-An lengthy blogger interview with an anonymous first-year DCPS teacher.
WaPo reader has a question: ‘How is it possible that Metro officials were not regularly monitoring these circuits? How do they not have safeguards in place to let them know when life-saving equipment is “fluttering on and off”?…Metro officials must do better.’
Destination D.C.’s new top guy: Elliot Ferguson, who ‘has been the senior vice president of convention sales and services at Destination D.C. for more than seven years, and is a 20-year veteran of the industry,’ Biz Journal reports.
In case you were wondering, the tallest statue in Washington is “Freedom,” the 19-foot-6 Capitol topper, WTOP reports.
WUSA-TV covers Nathans closing.
Crate & Barrel spinoff chain to occupy Central Union Mission space?
Attention JAWB power lunchers: The Oceanaire chain is in Chapter 11, but the F Street location remains open.
Reuters has the complete list of Masters of the Universe that Michelle Rhee will be hobnobbing with at this year’s Sun Valley conference. LeBron James!
AWESOME MJ TRIBUTE—-In Michael Jackson‘s original “Man in the Mirror” video, D.C. political fixture Eugene Dewitt Kinlow makes a sweet cameo, rocking his sweet late-’80s fade (forward to 2:43):
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: Committee of the Whole roundtable on PR18-360 (“Historic Preservation Review Board Catherine Buell Confirmation Resolution of 2009”) and PR18-361 (“Historic Preservation Review Board Pamela Scott Confirmation Resolution of 2009”), JAWB 500; 11 a.m.: Committee on Health meeting on ‘HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and testing since the release of the 2008 District of Columbia HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Report,’ JAWB 123; 12 p.m.: Committee on Aging and Community Affairs hearing on B18-177 (“51st State Commission Establishment Act of 2009”), JAWB 500; 1 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment roundtable on ‘Implementation of the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008,’ JAWB 120; 3 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation hearing on B18-58 (“Taxation without Representation License Plate Amendment Act of 2009”), B18-59 (“License Plate Covers Amendment Act of 2009”), B18-128 (“State Board of Education License Plate Amendment Act of 2009”), and B18-235 (“Veterans License Plates Establishment Act of 2009”), JAWB 123; 6 p.m.: Committee on Economic Development and Government Operations and the Environment joint roundtable on PR18-314 (“Minnesota-Benning Phase 2 Redevelopment Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009”), PR18-323 (“New Communities Northwest One-Site 2 Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009”), PR18-324 (“Strand Theatre Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009”), PR18-325 (“Eastern Avenue Property Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009”), and PR18-337 (“Fourth/Sixth and E Street, S.W., Property Disposition Approval Resolution 2009”), JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-4 p.m.: guest, NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt, NewsChannel 8.