City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“How Harriette Walters Made Up For Her Crimes; “D.C. Council Asserts Control Over Channel 13; “Civil Gang Injunctions Again Foiled by D.C. Council“; “Superior Court Judge Denies Gay Marriage Referendum“
Morning all. Harriette Walters, the greatest, most audacious thief in the history of District government, will spend 17-and-a-half years in federal prison for her theft of nearly $50 million from 1989 to 2007 while working at the Office of Tax and Revenue. Read LL’s account of the sentencing, in Judge Emmet G. Sullivan‘s courtroom; Del Wilber covers for WaPo; Scott McCabe for Examiner; Sarah Abruzzese for WaTimes; Sam Ford for WJLA-TV/NC8; Tom Sherwood for WRC-TV; Bruce Johnson for WUSA-TV; and Karen Gray Houston for WTTG-TV. The eagle ears of Wilber and others caught this killer quote uttered by Walters: “If you put me back in there today…I could get each of you a check.”
AFTER THE JUMP—-Fishy fire truck masterminds finally named in WaPo; Jim Graham wants taxi medallions; gay marriage opponents running out of legal avenues; Kris Baumann being illegally investigated by MPD?
WILL D.C. EVER GET ITS MONEY BACK?—-Attorney General Peter Nickles tells WAMU-FM that the city ‘will be lucky if it gets back $8 million,’ but federal prosecutors said yesterday about $10 million was in hand. As for the rest, the best chance for recoup will come in a civil suit against Bank of America for facilitating the scheme for so long. Nickles tells Wilber ‘that he did not think Walters would be much help as a witness against Bank of America. “I’m not sure how much credibility she has,” he said.’
So this is what it takes to get the names of David Jannarone and Sinclair Skinner into the paper of record! Nikita Stewart airs the fishy-fire-truck-connected names in WaPo after D.C. Council skirmishes with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (well, Nickles, anyway) over Channel 13 broadcasts of last week’s fire truck deposition. That led to unanimously passed emergency legislation at yesterday’s council meeting. The quick version: ‘Nickles said that he believed the deposition should be televised because the council used the cable TV office to help tape it….Council members said the executive branch had no right to interfere in council business, particularly after Channel 13 was designated for the council’s use under 2002 legislation.’ LL, as you’ll recall, broke the story Monday and followed up yesterday.
OTHER COUNCIL LEGISLATIVE BUSINESS—-Convention center hotel financing deal gets initial approval; crime bill gets first-reading OK—-sans civil gang injunctions, support of Jack Evans; Yvette Alexander‘s gas station camera mandate moves forward; Jim Graham wants to medallionize District taxicabs, limit new drivers.
ON TAXI DRIVER CAP—-Says WaPo commenter: ‘Graham has one thing right. We should have a medallion system. BUT it should be like the one in NYC, where having a medallion means you have to also have a modern car, an actual knowledge of the city, etc. IF that were to take place then a limit on cabbies would make sense. But this is DC, and there’s simply no way that our existing politicians and cab commission folks would actually implement real standards that go along with a medallion system.’
Proponents of an anti-gay-marriage ballot measure see their legal options continuing to dissolve: Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin yesterday, in an unexpectedly broad ruling, held that the Board of Elections and Ethics was right to reject a referendum of marriage recognition, pursuant to the D.C. Human Rights Act; she also held that even if they had erred, she likely did not have the power to keep the legislation from going into effect next week, ending any chance for a referendum. Read further analysis by LL, and coverage by Mark Segraves at WTOP; Keith Alexander in WaPo; Michael Neibauer in Examiner; Melissa Giaimo in Examiner; Lou Chibbaro Jr. in Blade; also NC8. Harry Jackson et al. vow to appeal. Retchin, in her opinion, specifically notes that they are free to pursue an initiative, which has less stringent time limitations than a referendum. But that, too, under Retchin’s ruling, would be prohibited by the HRA. The DCCA will have the final say.
WOW—-Police union head Kristopher Baumann alleges in federal lawsuit that Chief Cathy Lanier and others have engaged in an ‘illegal internal investigation’ of him due to his ongoing criticism of department leadership. Wilber reports in WaPo: ‘The suit centers on a barricade situation May 30 between police and a man suspected of shooting at officers….Baumann alleges that he referred questionable command decisions about the incident to the union’s safety committee for investigation. The suit alleges that commanders improperly ordered tear gas to be shot into the house and approved the use of deadly force against the suspect. Soon after the incident, Baumann was accused of disclosing “protected information” about the incident and hauled before an internal affairs lieutenant, the suit alleges….Baumann also accuses police of sending uniformed officers to monitor a talk he gave at a public meeting.’ Baumann, unusually, could not be reached for comment. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has ordered the District to reply to Baumann’s TRO motion by COB tomorrow.
Victims of last week’s Metro crash continue to be laid to rest. —-LaVonda Nicole “Nikki” King, 23, ‘was remembered for her can-do spirit and her love of fashion during funeral services yesterday at Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Capitol Heights,’ Annie Gowen reports in WaPo. ‘King’s mother, Tawanda Brown of Upper Marlboro, gave an emotional tribute to her daughter, a delicate young woman whom she called “my rock…my right hand when things got crazy.”‘ —-And at Bethesda Baptist Church in Ivy City, longtime DCPS employee Dennis Hawkins was remembered by more than 1,000, Jonathan Mummolo reports for WaPo: ‘He was remembered as a relentless source of joy and support with an infectious smile. Although his calendar was always booked, he was never too busy to listen. He organized bus trips for fellow congregants to other states, tended to the myriad needs of the public school where he worked and called friends often to pray or simply ask how they were doing. Hawkins, who was called “Hawk” by friends, had no children of his own, but was so beloved by the ones at Whittier that it wasn’t uncommon for students to run up to him on the street, teachers said.’ —-Train operator Jeanice McMillan will be laid to rest today in Buffalo, WTOP reports. —-WaPo also does big A1 piece on David and Ann Wherley, by Christian Davenport. ‘At their Capitol Hill condo, within walking distance of the Armory, it was Ann Wherley who was in charge, telling her husband, “You might be a general down the street, but not here,” Tillett said. “She allowed him to be commanding general of the trash detail.”…Theirs was “a love story so complete, and special words cannot do it justice,” said Betsy Regan, the couple’s 35-year-old daughter.’ Also WaTimes, WTOP, NC8, WRC-TV.
MEANWHILE—-Red Line still tangled due to investigation, with a 35-mph speed limit imposed on the length of the line. Lena Sun reports in WaPo: ‘Transit agency officials hope to return to normal speeds by the Fourth of July holiday, when large crowds traditionally ride Metro to watch the fireworks on the Mall. But much will depend on signal testing that federal investigators and Metro personnel are conducting at the crash site.’ In news conference yesterday WMATA General Manager John Catoe said manual operation of Metro trains will continue ‘until an independent review of track signaling and circuitry is completed….Until he is confident that Metro’s automated train operation systems are functioning at “one hundred percent,” trains could be operating in manual for “a month, a year or two years,” he said.’ Also AP, WTOP (1), WTOP (2), NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV (1), WTTG-TV (2).
SANDWICH TRAINS—-80 percent of 1000-series cars have been moved to middle of trains, Catoe says; one problem: next station displays on newer cars won’t work when attached to the old cars. LL will deal.
D.C. lefty sportswriter Dave Zirin in Baltimore Sun: ‘Who will be the next to die because our cities spend money on sports stadiums instead of basic infrastructure?…Fenty sees this crisis, according to reports, as his Giuliani moment, an opportunity for him to be some sort kind of strongman visionary in the wake of tragedy. Spare us your ambition, Mr. Mayor. Instead, explain how we are going to get Metro funded. And while you are at it, explain why the District is on the hook for a $700 million ballpark, where the city’s last-place team toils in front of its dozen or so biggest fans. Why, under your watch, does the D.C. government own skyboxes at all sporting venues? Why are you in discussion for more stadium spending – on soccer, hoops and the mother of all stadium deals, the possible return of the Washington Redskins from suburban Maryland to the District?’
Oof: Harry Jaffe takes a shot at Fenty for destroying city e-mails: ‘Mayor Adrian Fenty idolizes John F. Kennedy; he often invokes the iconic president’s name when talking about how he would like to be seen as a chief executive. But when it comes to maintaining the paper trail of communications within his government, Fenty is better compared to Richard Nixon.’ He offers this hypothetical: ‘Imagine, for starters, that Mayor Fenty is cruising along in his Smartcar one afternoon, and his BlackBerry vibrates. One of his running buddies has just sent him a message. He has a construction company and wants to know whether he should bid on a city project. Fenty writes back: Do it, I’ll make sure you get the deal….You might wonder why any public official would commit embarrassing or incriminating words to an e-mail. To which I remind you of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford‘s panting notes to his paramour, which are now public.’
Still no court appearance for Holocaust Museum murderer James von Brunn. ‘Federal public defender A.J. Kramer said Mr. von Brunn, of Annapolis, is responsive but cannot walk. Mr. Kramer would not say whether his client can talk,’ WaTimes reports. They’ll try again next week.
Cafritz Foundation wants to big development near Fort Totten, Housing Complex’s Ruth Samuelson reports, ‘complete with a Children’s Museum, 929 residential units (431 of which will be designated mixed-income, and 98 of which will be Senior/Affordable). The project, shown below, sits directly east of the metro stop, and Ft. Totten Station, Clark Realty’s 300 market-rate units.’
Michelle Obama appears at Unity’s Columbia Heights clinic.
WUSA-TV covers ‘Little Old Lady’ fighting back against drug dealers. ‘Geraldine Marshall lives by a simple philosophy, “I don’t believe the bad guys can ever win… They were smoking marijuana… I went down and testified against the tenants.” Holding her two month old great-granddaughter Kaydin, Geraldine describes what the so-called bad girls of her neighborhood did in retaliation for her standing up to them. “They got angry with me. On the 20th, they cut both my tires. Two or three days before this, they scratched my car all up.”‘
FAIRFAX COUNTY CITY?—-Washington could end up as the region’s No. 2 biggest municipality. Fairfax County executive Anthony H. Griffin wonders out loud about converting to independent city status, in order to, what else, have more control over roads funding. The upshot, according to WaPo: ‘With 1 million residents, a new Fairfax City would dwarf the District of Columbia, which has fewer than 600,000. (Set aside for a moment that the county already surrounds a smaller Fairfax City.)’ Gerry Connolly thinks it’s a bad idea; county board chair Sharon Bulova says it should be considered.
Will Pennsylvania Avenue SE be rerouted around Eastern Market Metro plaza? That’s one plan, and neighbors aren’t happy, Jeffrey Anderson reports for Voice of the Hill. ‘At issue are the potential reconfiguration of Pennsylvania Avenue and creation of a central square (or circle) equal in size to Stanton Park. A 16-member task force comprised of representatives from business and residential associations, assembled by the 10-year-old nonprofit revitalization group Barracks Row Main Street, is overseeing the design study. ‘ Housing Complex covered this, too, a while back.
They’re not just picking on you, Mr. Mayor: WaPo ed board wants to know where Tim Kaine‘s been. (BTW, where are you? I know it’s about time for your yearly Jamaican vacay…)
Examiner’s McCabe follows up on the District’s falling murder rate—-a fact that came in handy in yesterday’s council debate on the crime bill.
Two Metro incidents: At Gallery Place yesterday morning, 62-year-old man is pushed into side of moving train during argument, suffers minor injuries. Later, at Southern Avenue, a man in a wheelchair apparently feel asleep and rolled off the platform and onto the tracks; he was hospitalized with a head injury.
‘Bug bomb’ explosion causes evacuation of Good Hope Road apartment building this morning.
Donald Hense, head of the Friendship Edison schools, responds to allegations aired at Candi Peterson‘s Washington Teacher blog, calling them ‘patently untrue.’ He writes to Peterson: ‘Even after people in the meeting correctly informed you that the statements attributed to me were untrue, you have further embellished your written statements with information that borders on fantasy….My entire life has been spent working to better the conditions of my people. If your many references to God mean anything at all you probably should do a better job of searching out the truth. Defaming someone’s reputation is not a Godly virtue.’ Peterson responds: ‘Your argument is not with me Sir. I do not know you and have no need to embellish anything. Perhaps your concerns would be better taken up with the Anacostia PTA.’
Courtland Milloy says SCOTUS ‘Got It Wrong’ on the New Haven firefighters discrimination case. ‘Black applicants contended that the test was flawed and racially biased and that the testing process was irrelevant to job performance. But their complaints were narrowly rejected by the court. A conservative majority ruled, in effect, that the white truck had the right of way. Wrong answer. Had the justices sent the case back to a trial court, the black firefighters would have had a chance to prove that the testing process was discriminatory.’ Brings up allegations of cheating on D.C. firefighter test to prove a point. What point that is, LL is not sure.
Per Susie Cambria: ‘Dr. Nathaniel Beers will soon move from the Department of Health to DC Public Schools as Executive Director of the Early Stages Program. Early Stages is in the Office of Special Education’s evaluation unit. As such, this program serves as the DCPS early childhood diagnostic center available to serve preschool children who have or thought to have special needs/disabilities.’
Susie also has an ‘unofficial’ timeline for summer budget balancing. Council could be in session until July 31!
Don’t forget the homeless, Ed Lazere urges at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute blog plugging Thursday morning Freedom Plaza rally. ‘A rise in homelessness in the District of Columbia is the latest evidence of the devastating impact of the economic downturn. The number of homeless families with children is up 25% this year, and 200 families are on a waiting list just to get into emergency shelter, according to the sign-on letter. Yet a main shelter for homeless families (at D.C. General) is slated to close because there is no funding to run it past the winter months.’
Also in need of help: Local nonprofits. So says Examiner op-ed by Eli Lehrer of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Christian Robey of DC Progress: ‘Instead of sending them money, D.C. should revise its registration process. (D.C., like all states, requires registration for charities.) Registering in Virginia requires two steps and one form. Maryland requires the same. D.C. requires nine steps and 6 forms.’
Washington Square, at Connecticut and L, to get facelift.
Eastern Market now has wireless Internet service, Housing Complex points out.
OMG—-Real World castspotting!
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Economic Development meeting, JAWB 123; Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on B18-75 (“Mandatory HIV Testing and Educational Services for Inmates and Committed Youth Amendment Act of 2009”), JAWB 412; 10:30 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment hearing on B18-143 (“Old Navy Hospital Grant Act of 2009”), B18-262 (“Notary Seal Amendment Act of 2009”), and PR18-336 (“Taft School Lease Disposition Approval Resolution of 2009”), JAWB 120; 11:30 a.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on PR18-191 (“Child Facility Review Committee Bradley Thomas Confirmation Resolution of 2009”) and PR18-333 (“Child Facility Review Committee Abigail Bonder Confirmation Resoulution of 2009”), JAWB 412; 12 p.m.: Committee on Aging and Community Affairs and Committee on Housing and Workforce Development joint hearing on B18-136 (“Human Rights Ex-Offenders Amendment Act of 2009”) and B18-137 (“Successful Ex-Offender Re-Entry Act of 2009”), JAWB 500; 2 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation hearing on B18-191 (“Sidewalk Assurance Act of 2009”), JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.