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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Mayoral Official, Friend Implicated at Council Fire Truck Proceeding; LL’s coverage of the New DCRA—-part of Housing Complex Day!
NB—-Check LL on the Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi and Tom Sherwood today, 12 p.m. on WAMU-FM, 88.5. Guests are City Administrator Neil Albert and Metro board vice chair Peter Benjamin.
Morning all. Your Metro investigation update: It’s looking more and more likely that a computer-equipment malfunction is responsible for Monday’s deadly collision. In WaPo, Lena Sun and Maria Glod report that ‘investigators positioned a train in the same location as the train that was rear-ended Monday. The system failed to detect that the idled test train was there, the NTSB said. Investigators did not say what caused the malfunction, and they stopped short of saying the system failure caused the crash.’ Furthermore, ‘A senior Metro official knowledgeable about train operations said an internal report confirmed that the train control system failed to detect the idling train when the crash occurred.’ All system circuits will now be inspected. Also Examiner, WaTimes, AP, WTOP, WAMU-FM, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV.
Another fascinating thread has emerged: Did the use of tax shelters delay Metro from replacing the old, less crashworthy 1000-series cars—-and possibly contribute to the high number of fatalities in Monday’s crash? LL was first to report Monday that WMATA cited ‘tax advantage leases’ in telling that NTSB that they would be unable to retire the cars till 2014. Sarah Lawsky, a GWU law prof and a person much more qualified than LL to explain these complicated deals, explains their ramifications at the Concurring Opinions blog. Wall Street Journal follows up, getting this WMATA reponse: ‘If the agency had wanted to break the leases, said Chief Financial Officer Carol Kissal, it would likely have had to pay penalties and fees on top of the cost of buying newer rail cars….Ms. Kissal said in an interview Thursday that the lease agreements were a barrier to swapping out the 1000 series cars but not an absolute impediment.’ (Also NYT, Bloomberg) The tax shelter, incidentally, was banned in 2004.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Sinclair Skinner paid for fire truck transport; Jim Hudson snags Obama post; Chris Donatelli explains what his political donations get him; and is the council considering a mini-TARP?
OTHER CRASH NEWS—-Metro train systems chief temporarily reassigned; 1000-series cars to be placed in middle of trains; memorial service this morning for Metro operator Jeanice McMillan, to be followed by prayer service led by Archbishop Donald Wuerl; Jim Graham helps out family of Hyattsville victim Ana Fernandez; still single-tracking on Red Line; Hill hearing set for July 14; cracked rails found on Red, Green lines.
Here’s what Harry Jaffe wants out of local politicos in the wake of the Metro crash: No. 1: ‘The D.C. Council needs to investigate the paper trail inside Metro.’ To wit, why WMATA responded how it did to NTSB warnings on 1000-series cars. ‘What happened to that memo? Who read it? Was it made public? Why not? Seems to me it falls within the city council’s oversight role to call in Metro officials and follow the trail.’ No. 2: Start shaking the federal money tree, hard. ‘We were lead to believe our congressional delegation was hardwired into the White House. Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen is assistant to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a protege of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Steny Hoyer of Prince George’s County is majority leader. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton goes way back with Obama. Don’t these three have Obama on speed dial?’
MEANWHILE—-WMATA budget approved. Biz Journal: ‘This is the final year of Metro’s six-year capital spending plan. WMATA will now work with local governments to create a capital program for 2011 and beyond by the end of next June. Replacing the 300 antiquated 1000 series rail cars — the type involved in Monday’s collision — is at the top of Metro’s list for its next capital plan and will cost about $1 billion.’
Yesterday’s fishy fire truck hearing—-excuse me, ‘public deposition’—-was quite a treat. Partly for the spectacle of Ronald Moten of Peaceoholic playing martyr before Mary Cheh and Phil Mendelson, calling the proceeding a ‘political assassination,’ but mostly because Moten, under oath, named mayoral development director David Jannarone and Fenty buddy Sinclair Skinner as being knee deep in this whole thing. (Of course, you already knew that if you read LL Weekly yesterday.) Skinner, it appears, actually paid to send the rigs to the DR. Here’s LL’s account of the hearing, and here’s how Michael Neibauer describes the testimony in Examiner: ‘Jannarone and Skinner set up virtually every aspect of the deal, Moten said, with the aid of Fenty general counsel Andrew “Chip” Richardson and some lower-level city employees, two of whom have been deposed. Skinner, through his firm Liberty Industries LLC, gave $11,630 to the Peaceoholics to have the vehicles transported.’
LL ASKS—-Where the hell is the paper of record on this story?
Another day, another summer jobs story: WaPo’s Nikita Stewart has the scoop that a Summer Youth Employment Program employee, David Le, was fired yesterday after it was discovered that his Twitter page included such nuggets as: “In america’s ghetto anacostia… If I get scared i will just yell chinese carry out! They will not shoot me,’ and ‘thank goodness my boss is making things easy, he told me to pretend to do work so he can mark me down for hours.’ Writes Stewart, ‘The firing came a day after The Washington Post showed [mayoral spokesperson Mafara Hobson] a month-long string of tweets from Le’s page.’
THE TWEETS were provided by non other than David Hoffman, owner of the job placement firm ousted this week, leading so some 130 kids being pulled out of jobs. Stewart also follows up today on that story, which Michael Neibauer broke yesterday. Here’s why Hoffman’s firm was fired: ‘City officials said they were concerned that the agency assigned dozens of participants to go to developers and construction companies to verify that they are complying with city law to employ District residents. Participants were told to inform companies that if they were not in compliance, they could hire youths through the summer jobs program to meet the requirement.’
HEY KWAME!—-You wanted compliance; you got compliance! Says Biz Journal editor: ‘City officials say the compliance checks are not legitimate work assignments. C’mon. What’s wrong with sending high school students to verify complex employment agreements?’
NOT ENOUGH JOBS?—-‘The employment services department did not have enough jobs for the 23,000 youths registered for the nine-week summer job program, which began last week, said [Hoffman], owner of the fired firm. He said the firm was hired last Friday after meeting with Jerrianne Anthony, chief of staff for DOES. “She wanted us…to create job opportunities for large numbers of kids that they couldn’t find jobs for at the last minute,” Hoffman said in an interview. Suddenly, the Hoffman Agency, which had previously agreed to employ and find jobs for 50 youths at no charge, was being hired to place hundreds of youths and would be paid $800 per participant, he said.’ Hobson disputes elements of that story, including the payment.
In the wake of the Trey Joyner Trinidad shooting, no fewer than six Park Police officers have been placed on administrative leave. Furthermore, Theola Labbé-DeBose reports in WaPo, ‘the federal police force is steering clear of the neighborhood as the incident is investigated.’ In his first public comment on the case, Park Police Chief Salvatore Lauro told a meeting at Mount Horeb Baptist Church that his ‘officers were in the Trinidad neighborhood on the night of June 8 because they had “developed information” about a man with a gun….But the officers were not acting as part of an FBI-led task force known as “Safe Streets,” as Park Police officials said soon after the shooting.’ FBI, DOJ are investigating; Joe Persichini and Eleanor Holmes Norton attended the meeting. Also WAMU-FM, WTTG-TV.
ANOTHER LOCAL POLITICO GOES OBAMA—-Jim Hudson, Fenty campaign chair and husband of arts commission chair Anne Ashmore-Hudson, has been nominated to be United States Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
EASTERN MARKET OPENS THIS MORNING—-WaPo’s Martin Ricard tees up the festivities: ‘Everyone from the vendors to the street sweepers has been working round-the-clock to ensure the Capitol Hill food hall reopens without a glitch two years after a fire gutted it. “We’ll be ready,” said Bill Glasgow, whose Union Meat section bustled with workers pulling legs of lamb and French roast out of the freezer and prepping them for the displays.’ Also WaTimes, Biz Journal.
In Biz Journal, Jonathan O’Connell writes up the Chris Donatelli formula: ‘Donatelli had to convert two buildings (Highland Park and Park Place) from condos to apartments. Two incoming tenants, sushi- and Caribbean-themed restaurants, collapsed shortly before opening in Highland Park, and he was forced to seek $8.5 million in tax breaks to account for dropping rents. (The D.C. Council has not yet approved the request.) Now his retailers in Columbia Heights are being battered with violence, enduring three shootings within a block of Highland Park in five weeks….Donatelli buoys his work by supporting local politicos, including Mayor Adrian Fenty, prompting allegations of favoritism from advocacy groups. He, his family members and companies have collectively contributed more than $14,000 to Fenty’s campaigns since 2004….”I don’t think it helps to get the award on any projects,” Dontaelli says of his political involvement, but he acknowledges that it helps him navigate the myriad city agencies that must OK his projects.’
OCTO scammer Yusuf Acar is apparently working out a plea deal, Del Wilber reports in WaPo. At a short hearing in federal court yesterday, prosecutor informs federal magistrate John Facciola that he and Acar’s lawyer are ‘working toward a resolution.’ Next hearing is set for Aug. 3.
MONDAY TUESDAY—-Harriette Walters sentencing, 9:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.
An increasing number of young adults are remaining in D.C. foster homes, WAMU-FM’s Kavitha Cardoza reports, ‘and they often have a difficult time transitioning to living on their own.’ Report author says kids who ‘age out’ of the foster system at 21 ‘often don’t know how to do things a lot of people take for granted, how to pay utilities, how to negotiate a apartment or how to fill out forms.’
The Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund, WaTimes reports, ‘is ceasing operations, another victim of the nation’s ongoing economic distress.’ The nonprofit’s board, ‘in deciding Monday to approve a shutdown over the next few months, projected donations to be down about 50 percent for the upcoming fiscal year.’
ALSO—-National Building Museum needs $170K, stat, Biz Journal reports. ‘In the massive e-mail blast, the Judiciary Square museum appealed to 15,000 well-wishers to fill that shortfall days after it pulled in only $600,000 from its annual black-tie fundraiser, an event that can normally draw double that….The museum has already tightened its belt to painful levels, leaving 15 positions unfilled, laying off two employees, furloughing its remaining staff for two weeks, putting most of its quarterly print publications online and hacking its travel and training budgets.’
A Southeast man is accused of using Craigslist to finger a robbery victim, selling wheel rims. He’s now standing trial in Superior Court, Keith Alexander reports in WaPo. ‘At least two additional cases involving people who allegedly targeted Craigslist users are also before the court. “Some folks out there are using the site to search out victims, and the cases are becoming more serious,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin P. Friedman, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.’ ALSO: ‘Today, a preliminary hearing is scheduled in what prosecutors say is the District’s first sexual assault case involving the Web site. Edgar D. Romero, 23, of Silver Spring is charged with assaulting a woman at knifepoint in a District hotel in December. She had advertised escort services on Craigslist, they said.’
TARP JR.?—-EagleBank CEO stumps in Biz Journal for Kwame Brown‘s Community Bank Liquidity Access Pilot Program, which ‘would authorize D.C.’s chief financial officer to place a portion of the District’s substantial funds into local banks. Banks participating in the program would agree to lend back these funds at a ratio of 2-to-1 to local small and midsized businesses — the very businesses that have been dropped at a calamitous rate by the national banks….[E]very dollar the District keeps with local community banks stays in the region and does not funnel back to New York, Charlotte or other national banking centers elsewhere around the country and the world.’
The House appropriations subcommittee in charge of the District has moved to strike several onerous spending riders, including bans on ‘using funds for domestic partnership registration and needle exchange programs…[and] using local funds for abortion and holding a referendum on use of marijuana for medical purposes.’ Stewart writes at D.C. Wire that ‘[e]nding the restrictions could prove controversial as the bill moves through Congress.’ Understatement of the day!
In other Hill news, WaPo ed board keeps the heat on John Ensign, in no small part, they say, because of ‘his despicable role in undermining D.C. voting rights.’ Their call: ‘[T]here should be further investigation of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Ensign’s acknowledgment that he had an affair with his one-time campaign treasurer. Aside from the appropriateness of having a sexual relationship with a subordinate (a firing offense in much of the private sector), questions exist about whether Mr. Ensign violated the Senate’s rules of conduct and federal election law.’
MUST READ—-On WaPo A1, Manuel Roig-Franzia writes about the rowhouse at 133 C St. SE, where Ensign and Mark Sanford both sought spiritual counsel from a secretive group of Christian lawmakers and other. ‘On any given day, the rowhouse…fills with talk of power and the Lord. At least five congressmen live there, quietly renting upstairs rooms from an organization affiliated with “the Fellowship,” the obsessively secretive Arlington spiritual group that organizes the National Day of Prayer breakfast, an event routinely attended by legions of top government officials. Other politicians come to the house for group spirituality sessions, prayer meetings or to simply share their troubles.’
Capitol Police officer hit, injured by falling ceiling at Cannon HOB.
D.C. GOP comes out hard against adding ex-offenders to the Human Rights Act. ‘Traditionally, human rights legislation has protected groups with unalterable characteristics such as race, gender or age….If the DC Council passes this legislation, many employers fearful of lawsuits may recruit employees from outside of the District. Many large and small businesses operate satellite offices just outside of the District and this legislation will only encourage businesses to flee from DC….Make no mistake, if this piece of legislation is passed, not only will the District suffer but the very group the DC Council is trying to protect, ex-offenders, will suffer.’
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) to Campus Progress: ‘I’m excited about some of the reforms of their new chancellor, Michelle Rhee. But there are already some high-performing charter schools, and many of them have long waiting lists because families know that’s where they want their kids to go.’ Also a mention in Center for American Progress piece on teacher evaluations.
Condo prices down, sales are up. As for rentals: ‘Effective rents in the District have declined by 7.8 percent, a number made worse by the fledgling Capitol Riverfront submarket near the new Nationals Park are included. When those projects are removed, rents show just a 4 percent decline.’
GGW on why street parking in D.C. is too cheap, and how to fix it.
Benning Road paving moves ahead—-two lanes finished in each direction!
WASA is standing by the $1,200 water bill it delivered to Northwest woman, 99.
WaPo readers remember the old Tivoli(s).
Washington Kaleidoscope has the skinny on Fenty’s Park View walkthrough yesterday.
Convention Center gets new master chef, Philippe Chin.
Breadline gets a clean bill.
RIP Michael Jackson. Examiner recounts his local history. “I Want You Back” is in LL’s top 3 all time tunes.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation roundtable on PR18-315 (“Director of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration Frederick P. Moosally Confirmation Resolution of 2009″), JAWB 500; 10:30 a.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs roundtable on PR18-320 (“Board of Industrial Trades Tanya Lewis Confirmation Resolution of 2009″), PR18-321 (“Board of Industrial Trades Robert Smith Confirmation Resolution of 2009″), PR18-332 (“Board of Industrial Trades Roger Small Confirmation Resolution of 2009″), and PR18-355 (“Board of Real Estate Josephine Ricks Confirmation Resolution of 2009”), JAWB 120; Committee on Government Operations and the Environment hearing on B18-233 (“Whistleblower Protection Amendment Act of 2009”), JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, Eastern Market grand reopening, 7th Street and North Carolina Avenue SE; 12:45 p.m.: remarks, All Hands On Deck announcement, 5th and O Streets NW.