City Paper is not for tourists
IN LL WEEKLY—-The Fall of D.C. Church Power: Gay marriage effort shows preachers’ waning Wilson Building influence.
ALSO—-Watch LL at 4 p.m. this afternoon on NC8’s NewsTalk with…Mark Segraves. (Bruce is on vacay.) Other guests are Vincent Gray and Mark Plotkin.
Morning all. A somewhat esoteric but deeply interesting legal battle in playing out in Superior Court over a gay marriage referendum. Supporters of a ballot measure conceded yesterday that their only hope was to have Judge Judith Retchin stop the clock from ticking toward a July 6 deadline—-when the gay-marriage recognition law goes into effect. With about two weeks needed to actually finalize the referendum language and prepare the petitions, supporters would only have a day or two to collect tens of thousands of signatures—-if Retchin had yesterday immediately ordered that referendum is proper. She didn’t, and no one knows if a judge can stop District legislation from taking effect—-it’s never been litigated before, astoundingly. LL’s un-legally-trained mind, FWIW, says probably not. If a judge can hold this up, it renders the time restrictions on the District’s referendum statute meaningless. Judges don’t like to do that, lest they be labeled “activists.” Check Mike Neibauer in Examiner and Melissa Giaimo in WaTimes for more.
AFTER THE JUMP—-Hotel deal gets done on the cheap; Columbia Heights shooting leads to gang-injunction grandstanding; Robin-Eve Jasper still living in Bethesda; and Jerry Johnson heads to the burbs!
Convention-center hotel deal is all but done, according to reporting from Biz Journal‘s Jonathan O’Connell and WaPo‘s Tim Craig. The agreement would require only an $80M injection of District capital, meaning the city can stay under its precious debt cap. Private enterprise (ING Clarion Real Estate Investment) has come forward to finance the rest. Writes Craig: ‘The deal, brokered by Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, will probably avoid a heated public debate about how much the District should pay to get the hotel project built amid the economic slowdown….[Jack Evans] said the prospect of full public financing appears to have motivated the developers into putting up the equity so they could gain more of the profits. “It caused everyone to focus, step up and get it done,” said Evans, who added that he hopes the council will vote on the proposal next month so construction can begin in the fall.’ Adds O’Connell, ‘[Evans] said the council would consider the arrangement at an already scheduled June 24 hearing, allowing enough time for the council to approve a deal by July 14, the last day of voting before summer recess. “Whatever path we take, the mechanism to approve that path is all set up. The proverbial train is leaving the station on July 14,” Evans said.’
IN AN ILL-TIMED WBJ OP-ED, D.C. GOP chair Bob Kabel tells the city, ‘Don’t rush the D.C. convention center hotel.’ Warning of a breach of the sacred debt cap, he writes: ‘We find it hard to believe that the council could handle the oversight of such a project with anything other than the gross incompetence it has displayed in the past.’ And get this: Is a top Republican actually complaining about unenforced first-source agreements?
A brazen afternoon shooting in Columbia Heights, just outside the west entrance to the Metro stop, injures two, including an innocent bystander. The suspect is at large. Reports in Theola Labbé-DeBose in WaPo. ‘Authorities said the trouble began with an altercation between two men on the Metro. After the men got off the train, one pulled a handgun from his waistband and began shooting. The man hit his intended target in the lower leg, police said. But he also hit a bystander, grazing that victim in the leg. Then he fled on foot, heading west on Irving, police said.’ WJLA-TV/NC8 reports that the fight started down at the summer-jobs program orientation at the convention center: ‘[A]bout 2,500 youths had gathered at the D.C. Convention center for an orientation Thursday. The meeting got out of hand, and police confiscated a revolver and brass knuckles from youths there, [Jim Graham] said.’ Also WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, PoP.
AS YOU MIGHT EXPECT—-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and his public safety officials, plus the four councilmembers who support civil gang injunctions, will appear this afternoon at the crime scene—-using this incident to push for the gang measures.
Jerry Johnson lives! The embattled WASA general manager, set to resign in July, has found an even more beleaguered agency to run—-the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission, which hasn’t had a leader in 15 months. Here’s how WaPo’s Katherine Shaver and Carol D. Leonnig put it: ‘Johnson came to personify WASA’s failure to alert customers to the lead risk in tap water from 2001 to 2004….An investigation found that Johnson was personally involved in decisions to avoid sounding the alarm, even after federal law required the utility to issue specific warnings about health risks from rising lead levels.’ Also Examiner, which notes that WSSC’s ‘infrastructure woes drew national attention in December when a water main burst on River Road, leading to dramatic rescues of motorists trapped in an icy torrent. In January, 611 WSSC pipes broke, the highest monthly total in the utility’s 90-year history.’ WTOP asks Ike Leggett about the D.C. lead crisis: “I think that was blown out of proportion.” Also Gazette.
Dorothy Brizill, top election reform expert, weighs in on Mary Cheh‘s proposed election-reform legislation. ‘[O]nly the post-election audit provisions of the bill have anything to do with the problems that occasioned [Cheh’s special-committee investigation]. The other proposals, which comprise the majority of the bill, such as moving nonpartisan ANC elections to September primaries, have nothing to do with the problems that were identified, and were never recommended or discussed at any of the hearings Cheh’s special committee held. Indeed, many of the components of the bill, such as same-day registration and elimination of the residency requirement for pollworkers, will be difficult to implement and administer, and will be likely to result in additional problems, increasing the opportunity for election fraud.’ Hey, that’s why there will have more hearings!
Also in themail: OPM’s Robin-Eve Jasper illegally living outside of the District? Brizill says the Bethesda resident had until May 7 to move: ‘To date, she has not become a District resident. On June 11, Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr., wrote to DC’s Inspector General, Charles J. Willoughby, and to the District’s Chief Financial Officer, Natwar Gandhi, requesting that their offices “review the matter, and determine if Ms. Jasper is in compliance with District law. If it is determined that there is a failure to comply with our laws, then immediate action should be taken to relieve Ms. Jasper of all remuneration, benefits, and any other associations of her employment.”‘
FEMS captain is charged with raping 23-year-old friend of his stepdaughter’s at a Calvert County party. Tony D. Sneed, 48, is said to have assaulted the woman after she passed from drinking too much. Said his lawyer to WaPo‘s Matt Zapotosky, ‘the woman was drunk but “knew what she was doing.” If anything, he said, “she jumped him.”‘ He will be sentenced in September. ‘Sneed has been referred to a trial board for termination, and D.C. Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin issued a statement saying, in part: “Our department will never tolerate this behavior. It reflects poorly on the department and our proud profession.”‘ The victim speaks to WTTG-TV’s Roby Chavez.
Harry Jaffe accuses D.C. Council of playing the ‘race card’ in crime bill debate. Actually, there’s really no doubt that they did, but Jaffe lays it out well: ‘[A]ccusations of “racial profiling” ruled the debate and triggered some nasty exchanges that were reminiscent of the days when Marion Barry played the race card to get elected and stay elected….Speaking of Barry, he joined the debate to mumble the same inane ideas that brought D.C. to its knees back when he was mayor — when crack gangs ruled the streets and the murder rate flirted with 500 a year. Barry said he had been “naive.” What was needed was more treatment. Then the former “mayor for life” rested his head on his chair and dozed off….He and Harry Thomas Jr. (Ward 5) and Yvette Alexander (Ward 7) and at-large member Michael Brown kept saying the crime bill lacked any funds for programs to help the jobless and support ex-cons. I wanted to scream: “This is about helping cops and prosecutors, not funding social workers.”‘ Good thing you didn’t; as Vince Gray is wont to say, ‘There will be no demonstrations in this council chamber!’
WaPo editorial board again decries the D.C. Council’s supposed war on education reform. In this case, it’s a ‘nutty’ bill introduced Tuesday by Harry Thomas Jr. and Michael Brown to transfer control of the Luke C. Moore Academy alternative school from DCPS to UDC—-a move which came after Michelle Rhee fired popular principal Reginald B. Elliott. ‘Two years ago, when the council approved legislation to transfer control of the schools to the mayor, there was worry that the council would want to assume the role of school board. With Mr. Thomas and Mr. Brown now thinking they know more about running a school system than Ms. Rhee does, that fear seems to be materializing. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) had to refer this misbegotten bill to committee, but we trust he will show the good judgment to let it die there.’
LL SEZ—-This supposed council war on school reform has more than a little whiff of a William Randolph Hearst-esque manufacture attempt here on WaPo’s part. This bill is going nowhere—-the sort of routine constituent pander that shows up in the council dozens of times a year. Why bring out the big guns so early?
More on teacher firings from WaPo’s Bill Turque. WTU pegs the total number of pink-slipped at 250; DCPS does not dispute the figure. ‘The dismissal of 80 tenured teachers is a landmark of sorts for the school system, which historically has fired only a handful of instructors each year for poor performance. The 90-day mechanism has been on the books for years but seldom used because it was considered cumbersome and time-consuming….Parker said the union would appeal the firings in instances in which it believes teachers did not receive adequate support on the 90-day plan….In the past, Parker said, the union has been able to secure reversals of about a third of the handful of dismissals.’ Also WAMU-FM.
AMONG THOSE FIRED—-Blogger Dee Does the District, who makes a good point: ‘Rhee has acknowledged how terrible she was as a first-year teacher…[b]ut according to her, she was able to come back for two more years and make significant gains.’ She vows a fight, ‘TOOTH and NAIL’!
WTOP’s Mark Segraves reports that the city has gone speed-bump crazy! ‘Since Adrian Fenty became mayor in 2007, the number of speed bumps in the nation’s capital has jumped from 157 to 691. The Fenty administration has authorized twice as many speed bumps in 2 1/2 years as the Williams administration authorized in five….There are no plans to slow down the process. The growing number of speed bumps puts the District on top when it comes to the average number of bumps per mile in the D.C. region. Based on the number of speed bumps and the total miles of local roads, the District averages about one speed hump for every 1.5 miles.’
Jeanette Cohen, 99, of Northwest tells WRC-TV that her WASA bill jumped 40-fold in a month. ‘Usually, her water bill is $30. In March, she did a double take. “I got my usual bill and opened the envelope and looked at the amount,” she said. “Huh? I looked again.” It was $1,181. Cohen complained and had plumbers check her house twice. Usually, she uses about 3,000 gallons of water per month. WASA’s records show that 139,876 gallons went into her house that month, and they insist she must pay for them.’
Renee Bowman, the former District resident charged with killing her children and stuffing them into a Maryland freezer, has now been charged with collecting $2,400-a-month District adoption payments afterward. Dan Morse reports for WaPo that the checks came ‘through a program that encourages adoption of children who are wards of the state.’
Two men stabbed early this morning in Fort Lincoln. ‘One of the victims was stabbed in the neck, the other received wounds to the arm and hand….Officials say their injuries are serious but non-life-threatening. Police say the incident was the result of an altercation at a night club,’ WUSA-TV reports.
WAMU-FM covers clearing of Columbia Heights rooming house: ‘The Latino Federation of Greater Washington is calling on the city government to use its repair fund to fix the broken electric meter for [the house]. But city officials say no because the rooming house is illegal. It stands in the shadow of the gleaming new Target and Best Buy stores on 14th street and is an unassuming brick building that serves fourteen low-income Hispanic and black residents.’ Also WaPo, NC8.
The fire earlier this month that killed 55-year-old Northeast resident Ida L. Speight has been ruled accidental, caused by an electrical malfunction, WaPo reports. ‘This year, 14 people have been killed in fires in the District, double the number for all of last year. Officials said that the home had no working smoke alarm, underscoring the need for what Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin called “back-to-basics fire and life safety education.”‘
As if this guy wasn’t bad enough: Federal investigators find kiddie porn on James von Brunn‘s home computer. Writes Del Wilber in WaPo, ‘The discovery was disclosed in a search warrant affidavit filed in federal court Wednesday seeking to make a more thorough inspection of the computer, a Promedia 2000 desktop. Authorities did not disclose the type or extent of the child pornography they found on the computer during their first search.’ Also AP.
ALSO—-Fugitive child molester caught in Northeast laundromat after seeing his picture in the Examiner, Examiner is proud to report. ‘A person on the 1600 block of Benning Road NE showed the newspaper with the picture of Jenkins to a uniformed D.C. police officer, pointed to a nearby laundry room and said, “There’s your man, right there.” Jenkins, who had become homeless, had been sleeping in the laundry room, and he was arrested, Burke said.’ LL QUESTION—-Where does one get an Examiner on the 1600 block of Benning Road NE?
Examiner with more on Archdiocese priest alleged to have abused children in the 1950s.
FUNERAL TODAY for hero guard Stephen T. Johns—-11 a.m. at Ebenezer AME Church, 7707 Allentown Road, Fort Washington. Union plans to ask D.C. Council to declare future June 10 ‘Private Security Officer Appreciation Day,’ WUSA-TV reports. Museum volunteer, Holocaust survivor who witnessed the shooting tells her story to WTTG-TV.
Stimulus stimulates paving companies, Biz Journal reports. In the District, three stimulus-funded contracts are underway. And ‘[t]he list of contracts will continue to grow in the coming months, said John Lisle, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation. The department will receive $123.5 million for “ready to go” transportation and infrastructure work, including an extension of the SmartBike program, streetlight installation and street resurfacing. D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty announced this month that Capital Paving Co. will receive $3.5 million in stimulus funds to install 200 new sidewalks throughout the District during the summer. Some contracts will trickle in one at a time, but many will come in waves every three or four weeks, Lisle said.’
D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute explains how affordable housing is being screwed in the budget crunch: ‘Helping these projects move forward would not only create jobs and stimulate the DC economy but also would address a huge need in the city. The biggest challenge facing the housing development community is a recent drop in funds available from DC’s Housing Production Trust Fund. Right now, the city has resources to support only one-fourth of the affordable housing projects that are ready to move ahead….So, why are we now offering to bail out stalled commercial projects when there are millions of dollars worth of stalled affordable housing projects that we can’t move? It’s a question every Council member should have to answer.’
Examiner on Langston Golf Course, featuring former Washington Senator Chuck Hinton! ‘”You going on the back nine? Oh man, you’re going to love it. They changed some holes four or five years ago.” Hinton is the former baseball coach of Jimmy Garvin, the president of Langston Legacy Golf Corp., at Howard University….Garvin now knows everyone at Langston, which was built as a segregated golf course for African-Americans in 1939. Garvin points out the “Joe Louis tree” on hole No. 3, named because the famous boxer used to pepper the tree with shots on the tough uphill par 5.’ David Sherfinski also runs down the District’s other two public courses.
LL IS A ROCK CREEK MAN, HIMSELF. Back nine, of course. He buys second-hand balls in bulk
In case you haven’t noticed: It’s been raining a lot. An awful lot. So much, in fact, that WaPo B1’s the story: ‘The soggy, Seattle-like weather is set to continue at least through the weekend. There is a 40 percent chance of storms today, a 50 percent chance tomorrow and a 20 percent chance Sunday. This month, 5.07 inches of rain have fallen over the D.C. area. The average for June is 3.13….But the region is still well short of the record: 14.02 inches in June 2006.’
Stefan C. Nicholas of D.C. Vote pens anti-John Ensign op-ed for Biz Journal: ‘Gutting the District’s gun laws by inviting a return to violence will hurt local businesses in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Safety is the foundation of prosperity, and none of you wants to work or do business, or let your children go out at night, in an unsafe environment. The proposed amendment to the D.C. Voting Rights Act clears a path for the resurrection of the “murder capital,” a more violent and less prosperous D.C. that will affect all of us.’
Also in Biz Journal, charter school advocate Robert Cane takes the city to task for (illegally?) favoring condos over charters in public property dispositions. ‘This tale of two potential uses for school buildings — the children of underserved communities who need them vs. the luxury condominiums, boutique hotels and tony gyms preferred by the city — is profound. These different uses mirror the divide in the District between the locations in which these glittering real estate prizes are situated and the neighborhoods in which so many public charter school children grow up.’
Legal Times does Q&A with newly elected D.C. Bar prez Ronald Flagg.
Robert Brannum wants David Catania to hold a hearing on Mary Cheh’s public food-inspection grade bill. ‘While Mr. Catania is willing to support legislative maneuvers to move bills he supports he feels are being stalled in other committees as well as to support their being introduced as emergency legislation over the objections of committee chairs, it seems less than congenial he would not even schedule a hearing on the Cheh/Bowser bill. If there are restaurant industry concerns about its impact on business, they should be voiced during public hearings and not secretly advised to Mr. Catania.’
National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board is now paying folks to carpool.
Stanton Road SE near Alabama Ave SE closed all day due to water main, gas line breaks.
Win tickets to the ‘Nine Lives of Marion Barry’ documentary, premiering Saturday night at Silverdocs. (WTTG-TV has more on the movie, so does WUSA-TV and WaTimes; WAMU-FM’s Kavitha Cardoza interviews filmmakers Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer.)
THE SILVERDOCS PREMIERE is tomorrow at 6:30p.m. at the Silver Theater. If you miss it then, catch it August 10 on HBO. Here’s the WCP review, from Jason Cherkis.
TODAY ON THE POLITICS HOUR WITH KOJO NNAMDI—-Tom Sherwood, WRC-TV; Kwame Brown, at-large councilmember; Harry Jackson, Hope Christian Church; and Donald Blanchon, Whitman-Walker Clinic.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-12 p.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on B18-70 (“Prohibition Against Human Trafficking Act of 2009”) and B18-178 (“Fire Alarm Notice and Tenant Fire Safety Amendment Act of 2009”), JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10 a.m.: remarks, Dextro Energy Triathlon’s ACHIEVE DC kickoff, Turkey Thicket Rec Center, 1100 Michigan Ave. NE; 8:35 p.m.: attendee, Radio & Television Correspondents Association Dinner, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW.