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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“D.C. Lottery Update: CAGE Is Out; Who’s With GTECH?“; “No Gay-Marriage Referendum Decision Today“
Morning all. A ruling on whether a gay-marriage referendum will be allowed is likely to come today from the Board of Elections and Ethics. Stay tuned at City Desk for details. Also check back shortly for a political wrapup of this year’s Capital Pride parade. The highlights: David Catania‘s new “MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN D.C. NOW!” placards, the smattering of “DC NEEDS CLARK RAY” stickers (green-and-white, natch), and Phil Mendelson‘s jury-rigged “PHIL WROTE THE MARRIAGE BILL” sign. More to come!
AFTER THE JUMP—-Michelle Rhee‘s WaPo closeup; the voting rights blame game commences; CSOSA’s dead man walking; a bad weekend to “place yourself” in front of a Metro train; and complete aggregation of World Naked Bike Ride coverage.
The major piece of local journalism this weekend is Bill Turque‘s WaPo Sunday A1 review of Michelle Rhee‘s two years at the helm of the D.C. Public Schools. The nut: ‘Two years into the job, Rhee has lost none of her zeal. But those who know her well say she’s found that converting conviction into sustainable change requires more patience, indulgence and attentiveness to politics than may come naturally to her.’ Turque’s got a smattering of news nuggets in there. One: ‘Asked last week whether she had regrets about the [Time magazine] cover, she said she did not. Her message, she said, was not about sweeping out teachers. “The point of that was about cleaning house and sweeping change,” she said, referring to such moves as firing central office staff employees and upgrading operations so that teachers were paid on time and had textbooks delivered.’ And: ‘Venture capitalist Jonathan A. Silver, who sits on the executive committee of the influential Federal City Council, now attends Rhee’s weekly senior staff meetings to identify ways in which the private sector might be able to help. Silver arranged for a case management firm to work pro bono to help close a backlog of hearing officer decisions involving families seeking special education services for their children, as required under a federal court order.’
THE POLITICAL EDUCATION OF MICHELLE RHEE—-‘When Rhee arrived, she operated as if only one power center counted: the mayor’s office….Council members chafed at the lack of regard she displayed, saying that her appearances were infrequent and that she often left questions half-answered. Gray said the chancellor and her young senior staff conveyed an “us against them” attitude about transparency and communication. In last week’s interview, Rhee reiterated her disdain for politics as usual. “If I go down at the end of the day because I didn’t play the political game right, that’s okay with me,” she said….But Rhee also has discovered that although she serves at Fenty’s pleasure, the council can make life miserable for her if it feels disrespected….Rhee now sits at hearings for hours at a time waiting to speak, per the council tradition that has members of the public appear first. She can be seen fiddling with her BlackBerry, conferring with aides and idly cracking her knuckles, one hand at a time.’
NB—-Rhee continues to refuse Turque an interview. It fell on columnist Jay Mathews to query the chancellor. Check the videos.
REAX—-DC Teacher Chic stands up for Rhee: ‘It doesn’t take a teacher with 15 years of experience (or a genius for that matter) to see what’s wrong with the DCPS. But, it does take someone with bravado and with guts to fight the fight (and to stand up against all odds) for the students of the DCPS.’ Writes change.org’s Tom Panarese, ‘[W]hat I see in the task Rhee has laid out before her and the reputation she has gained is an example for everyone who is trying to improve the public school system….Rhee has had to deal with playing politics with people who have had power and influence for a lot longer than she has, even if those people have been completely ineffective.’
Mary Cheh to introduce same-day voter registration legislation tomorrow. WaPo’s Tim Craig with the scoop: The bill, he writes, ‘would place no restrictions on early and absentee voting and would grant voting rights to many 17-year-olds. If approved, it would make the District a leader in efforts to try to increase voter participation….In addition to making it easier to vote, Cheh’s bill calls for a return to either paper ballots or guaranteed paper receipts from computerized voting machines. After each election, the Board of Elections and Ethics would have to conduct an extensive audit to make sure the results were accurate.’ If passed, the changes could be in place by 2010. DCist links, and Matthew Yglesias likes it.
Wisconsin Avenue pedestrian fatality generates $3.3M lawsuit against city, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner: ‘George Thomas Riggs, 70, was “lawfully” crossing Wisconsin Avenue at Norton Place at noon on Sept. 24, 2007, when he was hit “suddenly and without warning” by a police car headed southbound, according to the suit….The police report noted that Riggs was on foot in the crosswalk “when he ran into the right side of a marked police vehicle” driven in the far left lane by Officer Henry Lee….The violent crash “propelled Mr. Riggs southbound on Wisconsin Avenue,” according to the suit, filed by Rockville attorney Samuel Shapiro. Riggs died three weeks later. Shapiro alleges in the lawsuit that the officer who arrived on the crash scene directed that the site “be altered, changed and destroyed” before Lee’s “negligence and culpability could be ascertained.”‘
CSOSA, the District’s parole agency, has been looking for Edward M. Hawkins. That’s because, Brigid Schulte reports on WaPo A1, ‘Hawkins was a felon, convicted of second-degree murder and assault, and a heroin addict who spent most of his adult life in and out of prison and on and off parole. The system lost track of him one day in July 2007, after he had been out on parole for about two years and failed a drug test at his rehab center. Although parole officers spent countless hours making more than 340 attempts to find him—-phone calls to relatives and friends, certified letters, arrest record checks, visits to his last place of employment (Goodwill) and his last known address (the Samaritan Inn), sometimes with police officers in tow—-they never found him.’ That’s because he’s dead.
Vincent Gray and D.C. Vote’s Ilir Zherka try to find the silver lining in the latest voting-rights humiliation, in the form of a WaPo op-ed: ‘We have been overcome by messages of support as D.C. residents and grass-roots supporters across the country have pledged to keep fighting. They offer to put signs in their yard, stickers on their cars and posts on their Twitter accounts. In response, we tell them that we are taking the gun amendment head-on and that they should stay with us through this next battle….This round in the fight has made us stronger. The District’s leadership stands united with a national coalition dedicated to aggressively taking on anyone who stubbornly stands in the way of democracy in our nation’s capital.’
MEANWHILE—-The WaPo editorial board lays out ‘who really is at fault’ for the DCHVRA’s failure. ‘First are Republican opponents of democracy for the District who are too gutless or feckless to oppose it directly. They hatched a poisonous amendment that would strip the District of its authority to regulate guns. If their true goal had anything to do with guns, they could have overridden the recent D.C. gun legislation. They didn’t bother even to try….Then there are the Democrats who ostensibly support voting rights but weren’t going to risk anything on its behalf. There are the leaders in the House and Senate who were caught flat-footed by the GOP maneuver, and the legislators who didn’t dare stand up to the gun lobby. The president and his attorney general who might have made a difference but couldn’t rouse themselves to interfere.’
AAAND—-Jonetta Rose Barras, as it happens, blames just the Democrats. ‘How did District officials get blamed for Democratic leaders’ failure to pass legislation that would have given more than 500,000 residents in the nation’s capital a voting representative in the House?…[Steny Hoyer] is…guilty of being disingenuous. He knows the real reason the voting representative bill failed was that Democrats in Congress never fully embraced it….District residents’ second-class status persists because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Hoyer couldn’t corral their members — far too many of whom are believers in Charlton Heston‘s “cold-dead-hands” theology.’
ALSO—-Martin O’Malley at Hoyer’s annual ‘bull roast’ this weekend: ‘Members have tremendous respect for Hoyer. That’s why he can keep them from allowing back-door legislation that would allow guns.’
D.C. Vote, meanwhile, dusts themselves off with trips to Mississippi and Nevada to target gun-amendment sponsors Travis Childers and John Ensign. Writes Nikita Stewart: ‘The group will place ads on the radio and in “niche print” to get the message out, Zherka said….”We’re going down to Mississippi and Nevada and make sure their constituents know what they’re up to,” he said.’
And USA Today covers the license plate controversy.
WEEKEND DOWNER—-James Perkins, 14, is killed on sidewalk after being struck by car involved in Saturday morning crash on Martin Luther King Ave. SE near Suitland Parkway; his mother, Patricia Perkins, was also struck and injured. The two were headed to Thurgood Marshall Academy, where James was to attend in the fall. WRC-TV: ‘According to authorities, a black 2003 KIA Optima was traveling southbound on Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., when it tried to make a left turn onto Sheridan Road SE. A Nissan going northbound on MLK tried to swerve around the KIA, lost control and hit James Perkins and his mother.’ Also WaPo, AP.
WAMU-FM’s Patrick Madden covers the crime-bill antics, and the WaPo ed board declines to take a strong side on the matter: ‘Council members should approve the measures, which have been tightened to better protect against breaches of civil liberties….Defense lawyers and civil rights advocates have expressed profound concerns about the measures before the council. They should remain vigilant, as should the judiciary. But law-abiding residents whose neighborhoods have been ravaged by gang violence also deserve consideration. These new tools should be given a chance.’
Then there’s the liberal-weenie case against the Adrian Fenty/Jack Evans version of the crime bill, as made in WaPo by Benjamin Todd Jealous and Lorraine C. Miller of NAACP. They call the legislation ‘unaccountably tone-deaf to the complex realities of young people’s experiences in these times. The measures have the potential to unfairly tar a wide swath of the District’s youth with guilt-by-association brushes that would hinder their ability to recover from episodes in which poor judgment in the moment—-not murderous intent or hard-core drug dealing—-may have led them to criminal activity….For a youngster desperately trying to maintain the courage to buck negative peer pressure, this legislation does not give them a lifeline, it gives them a prison cell where faint candles of inner strength have no oxygen.’ WILD GUESS—-Harry Jaffe disagrees.
SPEAKING OF—-Jaffe, in his column, pens one of the most cogent, to-the-point recaps of the Spring Valley chem-weapons saga LL has ever read. If you read only 400 words about this issue, make it these! A sampling: ‘Given the government’s general lack of honesty and willingness to cover up information for the last 70 years, we are fortunate to have [Eleanor Holmes Norton] in the position to make sure Spring Valley residents are safe. She could perform the same duty for residents across the region.’
A mere 25 complaints were lodged against Superior Court judges last year, Legal Times reports—-fewest since 2003! Those complaints, made to the Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure, ‘led to the public reprimand of one judge and private conferences with two other jurists, the latest commission report says….In the public case, Judge John Bayly Jr. was reprimanded in a letter for his decision to lock up a Public Defender Service lawyer, Liyah Brown, during a heated exchange in court in 2007.’
The new GI Bill passed by Congress funds veterans’ higher educations at state institutions and subsidizes private college study. But in D.C., there’s a problem, WaPo’s Susan Kinzie reports, ‘[I]n Washington, the sweeping program brings an unintended glitch—-and a higher cost. The city’s only public institution, the University of the District of Columbia, is one of the least-expensive colleges in the country for local students, and its tuition is the basis for the VA reimbursement rate for private colleges in the District. Meanwhile, some of the city’s private universities, including Georgetown and George Washington, are among the priciest in the country, with total costs of more than $50,000 a year. That makes for a bigger gap to fill….School officials from several states, including California and Massachusetts, have grumbled about the details, said Ryan Gallucci of AMVETS, a veterans advocacy group. “If you’re enrolled at Georgetown, or whatever, it’s not really going to help,” he said.’
Fenty kicks off $4M stimulus-funded campaign to build sidewalks on blocks without them. ‘Officials say there are more than 200 miles of missing sidewalk links in Washington, posing a safety risk. They say construction to restore some of those locations will begin this summer,’ AP reports.
CAPITAL PRIDE WEEKEND—-The WaPo wrapup focuses on the gay-marriage issue: ‘There was a sense of urgency, a sense of defiance, in the way same-sex couples held hands or pushed their children in strollers yesterday at the Capital Pride festival. Politics nearly always takes center stage at the annual event set in the shadow of the Capitol, and the couples this year had something specific on their minds.’ WTTG-TV also covers.
Politics Daily’s Carl M. Cannon looks at the D.C. same-sex marriage fight as a black political paradox, fundamentally overstates black religious power in this town.
In themail, Gary Imhoff game-plans next steps on gay marriage in D.C.: ‘If I were a councilmember promoting same-sex marriage, I would be emboldened by the referendum’s failure to get on the ballot, and I would move quickly to legalize performing same-sex marriages in the District. If I were an opponent, frustrated by the denial of a citizens’ vote, I would rush to submit a marriage initiative. I’d broaden the public representatives of the movement and reach out beyond black Protestants ministers to include Catholics, orthodox Jews, and Muslims (same-sex marriage advocates may denounce traditional Christian beliefs as being nothing but bigotry, but they won’t talk about Islam that way). The best initiative would be clean and simple. For example, it could substitute “city council” for “Congress” and “District of Columbia” for “United States” in the text of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.’ Also: More OTR horror stories.
WAMU-FM: Kwame Brown wants stimulus-funded jobs in city posted online.
ANOTHER COLUMBIA HEIGHTS MURDER—-Body found late Friday with gunshot would to head on 1300 block of Bryant Street NW. WaPo.
Three dead in early Sunday murders east of the river. Reports WaPo, ‘The first shooting occurred shortly after 2 a.m., when officers responding to the scene found Demarcus Brown, 25, of Southeast, in the rear of 215 Newcomb St. SE. He had been shot multiple times, police said. At 4:11 a.m. police found a 23-year-old man suffering from multiple gunshot wounds lying in the street in the 900 block of Division Avenue NE. Dallas Monroe Williams, of Northwest, was taken to Prince George’s County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.’ AP reports on a third victim, Demarcus Brown, 25.
GREAT MOMENTS IN WAPO NEWSBRIEF WRITING—-‘[A]t 11:40 a.m. a man placed himself in front of a six-car New Carrollton-bound train.’ This happened Saturday at the Potomac Avenue station. The man, unidentified, later died. Also WaTimes.
Mathews looks back at the first year of his WaPo education column: ‘I rashly promised in my first column, Aug. 25, to answer several vital questions: Would D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee succeed? Would Prince George’s County become an educational model? Would Fairfax, Montgomery and other wealthy counties survive budget cuts? Would regular and charter public schools end their war? Is there help for special-education families? Can we chill out about college admissions? What can we do about dropouts?…My answers: probably, maybe, yes, no, maybe, no and who knows?…The future of Rhee’s plan for the D.C. schools is impossible to predict, because she is so unlike any other urban superintendent I have seen. But she believes in the things the most successful teachers I know believe in, so I think her prospects are good.’
WAMU-FM’s Alexis Kenyon profiles Walter Douglas Brooks, 60, a formerly homeless man now participating in Housing First: ‘Brooks says he has regained a sense of purpose.’
City anti-gang and youth violence programs need work, earmark-funded study says. Neibauer writes in Examiner: ‘[T]he District, according to the study, has done little to coordinate “disjointed” programs into a broader citywide strategy, to share information among community partners, to publicize youth violence prevention efforts and to improve education and mental health services….The report urges immediate action by Mayor Adrian Fenty to develop a coordinated response to high-profile youth violence, to assess the city’s capacity to handle the problem, to redirect resources to those areas highest in need and to intervene with the most at-risk youth. [Jim Graham] said he would introduce emergency legislation next month to address the short-term goals.’
Erik von Brunn, 32-year-old son of Holocaust Museum murderer James von Brunn, speaks out on his father’s crime: ‘”I cannot express enough how deeply sorry I am it was Mr. Johns, and not my father who lost their life yesterday [Wednesday]….It was unjustified and unfair that he died, and while my condolences could never begin to offer appeasement, they, along with my remorse is all I have to give.”…In his statement to ABC and a phone interview with The Washington Post yesterday, von Brunn said his father’s bigotry was a shadow over his life. He said in the interview that he was too young to know his father when James von Brunn went to prison for 6 1/2 years for attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board at its District headquarters in December 1981….”Even from that moment, he still had those beliefs,” said von Brunn, reached by phone at his mother’s home in Homosassa, Fla., about an hour north of Tampa. “It was always a part of our life.” Erik von Brunn is an aspiring teacher and science fiction writer who recently graduated from the University of Maryland.’ Also WaTimes.
A guard who returned James von Brunn’s fire has been identified as 27-year-old MPD vet Harry Weeks. He’d recently retired from city service. WaPo: ‘D.C. police who worked with Weeks described him as a nice guy. “He loves being out on what he called ‘the floor,’ when he’s out in the museum and the exhibits, interacting with the people,” said Sgt. Wayne Rimel, who was Weeks’s supervisor in the Forensic Science Division and has known him for about 20 years. “Harry’s a people person. Everyone who knows Harry will tell you he has the gift of gab. . . . Everybody loves Harry.” ‘ Also NC8.
COURT HEARING TODAY at Prettyman. Update will be given on von Brunn’s health. He is expected to survive.
HOW TO support the family of Stephen T. Johns.
Reporting a bike theft to Metro police: Kind of a pain in the ass, reader tells Dr. Gridlock.
Old D.C. courthouse to be rededicated on Wednesday. AP: ‘Officials say the courthouse is one of the oldest public buildings in Washington. It also is the site of major historical events, including being the place where President Abraham Lincoln reportedly signed the D.C. Emancipation Act in 1862.’
John Kelly fields a question on the Washington Hall of Stars: Why so few women? Turns out, no good reason. But more are coming!
FUN FACT—-Holly Mims is a man!
Biz Journal’s Melissa Castro checks out the progress at NoMa’s Constitution Square project.
How Capitol Hill lost one of its best restaurants: Jeffrey Anderson covers the messy demise of Locanda for Voice of the Hill. ‘[C]ourt documents tell a story of business turmoil and murky agreements that derailed Locanda’s culinary success….’
Teacher-blogger: ‘When I got to D.C. I had two interviews scheduled: one with the regular DC public schools and one with a charter school within the DCPS. Both interviews were highly unusual.’
You missed the World Naked Bike Ride Saturday. WaPo wrote about it. No pictures, though. Unfortunately. Thankfully. ‘”This is good for awareness,” said Chris Bracken, 24, of the District, who, along with two friends, was participating in her first naked ride. “Nudity is always a good way to get someone’s attention.”‘ Awareness of?…
LESS INTERESTING—-Peace Corps supporters march in favor of expanding the 50-year-old program. With clothes on.
WTTG-TV does Real World piece.
At long last, Dan Snyder‘s Six Flags theme park chain declares bankruptcy. Why? Clearly you haven’t been reading City Desk.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-9:30 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment meeting on B18-1 (“District of Columbia Quick Payment Amendment Act of 2009”); B18-2 (“Debarment and Suspension Procedures Amendment Act of 2009”); B18-4 (“Placement of Orders with District Departments, Offices and Agencies Amendment Act of 2009”); B18-7 (“Procurement Practices Act Amendment Act of 2009”); B18-83 (“Independent Personnel Systems Implementation Amendment Act of 2009”); PR18-154 (“Contract Appeals Board William Purcell Confirmation Resolution of 2009”); PR18-228 (“Public Employee Relations Board Johnine P. Barnes Confirmation Resolution of 2009”); PR18-229 (“Public Employee Relations Board John P. Isa Confirmation Resolution of 2009”); PR18-230 (“Public Employee Relations Board Mary Oates Walker Confirmation Resolution of 2009”); PR18-231 (“Public Employee Relations Board Jennifer E. Chung Confirmation Resolution of 2009”), and PR18-329 (“Public Employee Relations Board Donald Wasserman Confirmation Resolution of 2009”), JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, Office of Contracting and Procurement announcement, Deanwood Community Center and Library construction site, 49th and Quarles Streets NE; 1:45 p.m.: remarks, Asbury Dwellings Senior Association meeting, 1616 Marion St. NW.