City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Documents Reveal More Details on Fenty Travel“; “Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson Movie Coming to D.C.“
Morning all. It’s raining, cloudy, and LL just had to sit though a benefits seminar at his workplace. Worse, it’s a slow D.C. news day. So LL will just say this: Go here right now and watch Jack Evans butchering “Mack the Knife” at a charity karaoke event last night. That’ll make us all feel better.
BAG O’ CARPET—-Bishop Harry Jackson, the most visible leader opposing same-sex marriage in the District, is new to town, Lou Chibbaro Jr. reports in the Blade. Jackson, who is seeking a voter referendum, ‘did not become a registered voter in the city until April 22, according to voter registration records’ and ‘lists his D.C. residence on the city’s voter registration rolls as an apartment in the upscale Whitman Condominium at 910 M St., N.W.’ In other news: ‘In a separate filing required under the referendum law, Jackson filed papers with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance to register the campaign committee he created to advance the referendum: Stand4MarriageDC. The finance papers identify Jackson as chair of the committee and list Brian Brown as the committee treasurer. The papers show that Jackson and Chuck Donovan, who is identified in the papers as an “executive” with the anti-gay Family Research Council in Manassas, Va., as each having contributed $50 to the Stand4MarriageDC committee, representing the first two contributions received.’ ALSO—-Jackson earns ‘Creep of the Week’ honors from Pridesource.com.
In Biz Journal, Jonathan O’Connell follows up on public financing for a convention center hotel. ‘Councilman Jack Evans, D-Ward 2 and chair of the finance committee, said getting into the ground this fall is a “must” but expects opponents to compare the project to the Nationals Park, the most recent major publicly financed project, which cost the city more than $700 million. He pointed out that if the city financed and owned the hotel it could sell it when the market improves. “Hotels are sold all the time, just like office buildings … You cannot sell a baseball stadium. So I think comparisons between the two, although they will be made, are not accurate.”…Another option would be to pull subsidies from other city real estate deals, something mentioned both by Evans and Councilman Kwame Brown, D-At large and chair of the economic development committee. “I think the question is whether [other council members] are interested in reducing projects in their ward,” Brown said.’
ADDS HIS EDITOR—-‘It’s time to put up or shut up,’ Douglas Fuehling writes. ‘If D.C. really wants a convention center headquarters hotel — and it should — it’s going to have to pay for it itself….The hotel debacle could very well be the greatest large-scale failure of the D.C. government in the last 10 years. And time to fix the situation is running out.’
Michael Neibauer writes in Examiner that the District is rapidly depleting its road-projects fund, threatening its ability to receive federal matching funds. ‘The Highway Trust Fund, a pot used exclusively to match federal road construction grants, faces estimated deficits of $7.8 million in 2011, $14 million in 2012 and $15.5 million in 2013, the D.C. inspector general concluded in an annual review,’ Neibauer writes. ‘Roughly 400 of the District’s 1,100 lane miles, plus its 200 bridges, traffic signals, lighting and safety initiatives, are eligible for federal aid dollars at an 80/20 split, meaning the District must match the federal government’s 80 percent contribution with 20 percent from the Highway Trust Fund. The fund is composed of gas tax, parking, public space rental and right-of-way fee revenue. Unless the city pinpoints new revenue for the fund, the inspector general reported, the D.C. Department of Transportation will have to modify its construction plans.’ DDOT is ‘not concerned about it.’
In other transpo news, Rep. Gerry Connolly ain’t happy with the District’s treatment of his commuter constituents: “I think there is an issue here of respect for Northern Virginia commuters that is lacking. I think there is an issue here of communication, which was not even apparently an afterthought,” he tells WTOP, regarding 14SB and Chain Bridge construction. ‘DDOT maintains that there has been plenty of advance about both the 14th Street Bridge and Chain Bridge projects. “We shared the plans for the 14th Street Bridge rehabilitation with VDOT, Arlington and Fairfax County as far back as three years ago, and staff from Fairfax and Arlington attended the pre-construction meeting at DDOT,” says DDOT spokesperson John Lisle.’
And in Examiner today, Bill Myers writes that the feds have twice rejected District stimulus plans ‘because D.C. bureaucrats have fouled up their application.’ He cites two anonymous ‘city officials,’ one of whom claims that the ‘gaffes have held up about $123 million…for the Department of Transportation.’ On the record from DDOT’s Lisle: “We’ve apparently had to modify some of the forms. It’s really just a matter of what the feds are looking for. We’re not alone. A lot of states have gone through this — California, for instance.”
Three-alarm fire destroys two Langdon houses yesterday morning; no one was home at either residence on the 2200 block of Douglas Street. FEMS spokesperson Alan Etter to WaPo: ‘When emergency responders arrived a few minutes after the 911 call, Etter said, the three houses were “nothing but a huge fireball.”‘ In WaTimes, Gary Emerling writes, ‘Mr. Etter said multiple-alarm fires in the District are not common. He said the city’s last multiple-alarm fire occurred April 26, and the last three-alarm fires in the city likely were the ones that damaged Eastern Market and the Georgetown library branch in 2007.’ Also NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
Are things finally looking up for the ballpark district? According to Melissa Castro in Biz Journal, Monument Realty ‘says it is close to lining up a tenant for the office building it built to anchor the massive Half Street project the company has spent 10 years developing near Nationals Park….[R]eal estate sources say Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., a government contractor, is “in discussions” to take more than 30,000 square feet at 55 M St. SE. Other contenders include Lerner Enterprises’ neighboring 20 M St. SE and Opus East LLC’s 100 M St. SE, according to sources….Another undisclosed federal agency is on the cusp of announcing its intention to move to the area. Insiders say the agency will lease 100,000 square feet at Lerner’s building.’ They may be getting bragain-basement prices: ‘It’s not clear how much Booz Allen will pay for the new space, but the federal agency that may soon sign a lease is reportedly paying as little as $36 per square foot. (Most landlords in the Capitol Riverfront were asking for nearly $50 a foot 15 months ago.)’
Ruth Samuelson at WCP’s Housing Complex asks what the deal is with the International Graduate University, which occupies a shuttered DCPS school in the east Hill. ‘Sightings of students—-hell, of anyone—-coming in and out of the International Graduate University are episodic. The blocklong building generally just sits there, in a gentrified section of Capitol Hill where neighbors know what other neighbors are up to. No amount of dog-walking and sidewalk gossiping, though, has unraveled the mystery of this institution, which has been there for a decade. “Walking into it is almost a la-la land,” says neighbor Peter Theil, 64. “It’s kind of an odd place. I just don’t understand. None of us understand.”‘
Also from Examiner—-court parking situation reaches crisis levels! ‘Up to 30 parking spaces outside police headquarters on Indiana Avenue were closed earlier this week, further tightening the number of spots available to police officers with business in Judiciary Square,’ writes Maria Schmitt. ‘Concrete barriers and large orange cones continued to block off both the police-only and public spaces in front of headquarters Thursday.’ No explanation is forthcoming.
RATE THE KRIS BAUMANN QUOTE: “We had no warning…We haven’t heard why,” said the FOP honcho. That’s C- quote—-to the point but seriously lacking in verve. Guess it takes Myers to get the best out of him.
WUSA-TV covers Judicial Watch’s FOIA of Fenty travel documents: ‘”I don’t understand why the mayor would say it’s a personal vacation and then say he was on government business after the fact,” questions Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. If it was government business and was on the up and up, why did no one know about the Dubai trip before it occurred and why was he secretive about the nature of the trip after he returned.”‘
Theola Labbé-DeBose has more at D.C. Wire on the transfer of Inspector Edward Delgado from 3D to 7D—-a story broken by Myers earlier this week. ‘[3D Commander George Kucik‘s] silence about Delgado promoted several residents to email in response: “What happened?” Kucik stayed mum, but one resident emailed that she had sent a letter to Chief Cathy L. Lanier after learning about Delgado’s transfer and demotion. In the true spirit of Delgado, could another email campaign be far behind?’ Also DCist.
Lanier tells WTOP that no cop has ever been disciplined for talking on his cell phone while driving. ‘But as Lanier pointed out, just because none have been disciplined, it doesn’t mean none has been given a ticket. “We ticket officers for parking violations. We ticket officers for other violations. So it’s not to say they haven’t been issued tickets, there’s just no way for me to sort through the tickets to find out.”‘
Things get catty on JAWB’s fifth floor, Tim Craig reports in D.C. Wire: Letter from mayoral lobbyist Bridget Davis sets off council budget director Eric Goulet. She wanted a list of ‘non-technical’ changes made to budget legislation after the vote—-basically accusing the council of serious malfeasance. Goulet’s response: “You provided no explanation of the basis of your accusation, so I decided to seek an explanation face-to-face from you in your office this morning. I asked you to tell me what changes you had heard were made that were not technical, and you replied, ‘I can’t give any examples, but I want to know what they are’….I know you are still relatively new in your current position, and that this is your first budget cycle in this role. In the past, when (the director), had a question on the budget, she would call, e-mail, or meet with me in person to discuss the issue…You sending a letter directly to Chairman Gray was both inappropriate and unnecessary.”
OMG REESE WITHERSPOON!!!1!—-Or is it OMG $1.7M Hollywood giveaway? Columbia Pictures production of James L. Brooks-directed romcom starring Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, and Paul Rudd will begin shoot shorty, after the District offered a million-dollar grant. ‘The still-untitled film…will be in production for 14 weeks and is expected to generate $8.5 million in local spending, officials said yesterday,’ writes Nikita Stewart in WaPo. ‘The grant, through the Film D.C. Economic Incentive Grant Fund, is a small price to pay as the city tries to lure Hollywood to the District, said Kathy Hollinger, director of the city’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development. “You want them to come here and hire local people, not bring them from L.A.,” she said.’ Some of them, of course, from the summer jobs program: ‘Students from McKinley Technology High School and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, as well as some college students who live in the District, probably will be hired to join the production through the mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program.’ Also AP, Roll Call, which notes that Nationals Park will be a location.
More on the Boys and Girls bailout from Julie Westfall at Voice of the Hill, focusing on future programming at Eastern Branch: ‘The Hill East group Neighbors United has been aggressively pursuing the space since the Eastern Branch closed two years ago. When negotiations to rent or buy the space from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington broke down, it set up an after-school program at Payne Elementary and recently rented private space for an activity center….[Tommy Wells] said then that he would like to bring in an outside group to run the club, but he is not sure Neighbors United has the needed financial backing. “They’re certainly in the mix. I have no interest in the city running another recreation center there,” Wells said. Some residents at community meetings have questioned whether Neighbors United, which the city funds through the Youth Investment Trust, has the expertise and organization to run the 46,000-square-foot Eastern Branch building.’
WaTimes’ Tim Lemke stays right on top of the WCCA-SEC merger, noting its passage through the council. ‘Personnel decisions have not been announced, but authority CEO Greg O’Dell is expected to serve as head of the merged body, while commission CEO Erik Moses will continue his duties as a director beneath O’Dell….The two bodies have until Sept. 30 to conduct an analysis of the costs of the merger, along with a plan outlining how the authority would assume the responsibilities of the commission. The authority must also submit a plan to reduce expenses and increase revenues from commission programs.’
Examiner’s Kytja Weir has more on Baltimore SmarTrip plan, adds a few other developments: ‘Schools and other institutions have talked to Metro about adding the SmarTrip chips to their identification cards….The District has tested the concept on some of its employee identification cards, [Metro’s Candace Smith] said. The city is starting to incorporate the technology into a card known as the D.C. One Card that ultimately could embed a driver’s license with the SmarTrip technology, plus access to the public library system, schools and recreation centers. The city offers the cards to some school students, summer youth employees and Parks and Recreation Department patrons, but the fully loaded card is not available to all yet.’
Feds: Substance abuse study shows ‘D.C. in the top five for marijuana use and binge alcohol use, and at the very top for cocaine use,’ WAMU-FM reports. Compared to states, not other cities!
Harry Jaffe writes up Hospitality High School at Roosevelt. ‘All of Hospitality High’s 22 graduates were accepted to college, and all but a few will go. The charter school, celebrating its 10th year, teaches basic academics, but it also offers four credits in hospitality, from soft skills like answering phones and shaking hands to culinary arts, marketing and management. Its 163 students have opportunities to work in local hotels and join a team to compete in the national lodging management games, the high school Olympics for future hoteliers.’
DCPS, according to Examiner, has ‘merely dabbled in social networks.’ The system ‘has a Facebook page about central office job opportunities.’
The bag bill is hurting District businesses already! ‘From now on, I’m shopping in Montgomery County,’ writes Kevin P. Morison (the former MPD communications director?) to WaPo. ‘For 11 years, I have spent about $200 a week at my local Safeway. I choose plastic bags because I find it easier to handle my groceries in several smaller bags. And each week, I dutifully return those same bags to Safeway for recycling. I know where the plastic bags I use are ending up, and it’s not the Anacostia River. Now, the council wants to tax me for doing the right thing all along. No thanks. I only hope Montgomery County doesn’t get the same brilliant idea.’
Orange Line to Centreville? Blue Line to Prince William County? Yellow Line to Woodbridge? Congressmen are seeking cash for a study, Biz Journal reports.
DCPS kids make videos about Obama inaug. ‘The D.C. Public Schools Inauguration Documentary Project began when PNC Bank invited students to view the event from its prime location at 15th and Pennsylvania. It also provided them with flip video cameras to create 5-to-8 minute films about the impact of the Obama presidency on their lives and school communities,’ Bill Turque writes at D.C. Wire. ‘The results were a striking series of pieces that combine the bone-chilling whirlwind of the moment—-on packed Metro trains and long lines—-with footage of the civil rights movement that places Obama’s achievement in historic context. It also provides vivid glimpses of life in D.C high schools.’
Broken drain leads to Capitol Visitor Center flooding, WaPo reports. ‘A joint failed in the drainage system, sending rainwater pouring through the ceiling outside the North Congressional Meeting Room, said Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for the Architect of the Capitol. The flooding did not cause significant damage and was cleaned up within an hour after it was discovered about 5 p.m.’
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitor Center plans move forward, Examiner reports: ‘The National Capital Planning Commission voted unanimously to move the long-planned underground project, now called The Education Center at The Wall, closer to its final design. The National Park Service and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund were told to make three additional revisions to the facility, slated for a 5.2-acre parcel bounded by Constitution Avenue, Henry Bacon Drive and 23rd Street.’
D.C. Bar litigation section urges selection of federal judges with local ties. Legal Times: ‘Citizens of D.C. are often litigating in these courts, and the citizens of Washington deserve judges hearing these cases to have a connection to the jurisdiction,” says [Arnold & Porter’s David Fauvre], who practices in complex commercial litigation and white-collar criminal defense. “There’s a talented bar in D.C. of people who are highly qualified for these positions.”‘
Lincoln Museum at Ford’s Theatre will open July 15.
Arrest in Columbia Heights stabbing: Daniel Zabala, 26, is accused of murdering Julio Palestino-Lascarez of the afternoon of May 10 at 14th and Otis Streets NW.
Biz Journal: ‘D.C. Department of Transportation needs ideas.’ If you want some grant cash, your ‘projects must be “non-traditional” and “linked to the District’s transportation system,” according to the department. Projects must pertain to at least one of 12 categories including bicycle and pedestrian facilities, landscaping, historic preservation and pollution mitigation.’
Benning Road down to one eastbound lane today for paving.
Wilson Bridge hike/bike trail opening Saturday.
FLOODWATCH—-Get your sandbags at 900 New Jersey Ave. SE.
STREET CLOSINGS—-Saturday morning downtown for Race for the Cure; Late Friday to early Sunday for Unifest in Historic Anacostia.
TODAY ON THE POLITICS HOUR WITH KOJO NNAMDI—-No Kojo! Tom Sherwood is guest hosting. Guests are Amy Walter of the Hotline; Tim Craig of WaPo; plus Va. gov candidates Terry McAuliffe, Creigh Deeds, and Brian Moran.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-12 p.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on PR18-280 (“District of Columbia Child Support Guideline Commission Cory Chandler Confirmation Resolution of 2009″), PR18-281 (“District of Columbia Child Support Guideline Commission Cory Chandler Chairperson Confirmation Resolution of 2009”), PR18-282 (“District of Columbia Child Support Guideline Commission Adrianne Day Confirmation Resolution of 2009″) and PR 18-283 (“District of Columbia Child Support Guideline Commission James Carter Confirmation Resolution of 2009″), JAWB 412; 1 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment roundtable on PR18-230 (“Public Employee Relations Board Mary Oates Walker Confirmation Resolution of 2009″”) and PR18-329 (“Public Employee Relations Board Donald Wasserman Confirmation Resolution of 2009″), JAWB 120; Committee of the Whole hearing on B18-195 (“Modifications to the Permanent System of Highways and Designation of Water Lilly Lane, N.E. and Cassell Place, N.E. (S.O. 08-3090) and Transfer of Jurisdiction of Portions of Parcel 170/27 and Parcel 170/28, Act of 2009”) and B18-251 (“Closing of a Portion of the Public Alley in Square 2892, S.O. 08-6440, Act of 2009”), JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, Murch Elementary playground groundbreaking, Murch ES, 4810 36th St. NW; 12 p.m.: remarks, FEMS graduation ceremony, U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home, Scott Theater, 3700 North Capitol Street NW; 1:30 p.m.: remarks, All Hands On Deck announcement, Watts Branch Recreation Center, 6201 Banks Place NE.