There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Kwame Brown’s Dad Collecting Names for Mayoral Run“; “Shadow Senator Paul Strauss Pleads Guilty To DUI” (courtesy Jason Cherkis)
Morning all. Legislative meeting day! Legislative meeting day!
Final Initial vote on bag bill, a potential end to at-will employment, a resolution to the $27M DCPS budget squabble, and all sorts of tweaks to the Budget Support Act are on tap! Keep your eyes on City Desk, and tune in to Channel 13! Must see TV!
Marion Barry continues his, um, oversight of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s summer jobs program. Faced with a program that stands to cost more than $40M, yet a council-approved budget of half that, Barry proposes slicing the summer jobs effort from nine weeks to six. And forget about Fenty’s plan to tap the ballpark’s Community Benefits Fund to make up the shortfall—-you can’t do that, council lawyers say. Writes Tim Craig and Nikita Stewart in WaPo, ‘”We had a program that became a model for the country…but last year it became a disaster,” said Barry, who started the nationally watched program three decades ago during his first year as mayor. “This council is determined not to let that happen.”‘ Muriel Bowser stands up for the nine-week program: ‘”What are these kids going to be doing?…We are going to be dealing with them one way or another. You can support them now on the front end, give them productive services, or we are going to be paying for it on the back end.”‘ Also see Michael Neibauer’s Examiner story. LL SEZ—-No way that Fenty cuts this program to six weeks. Should the council vote that way, he’ll find a way around it.
RUH-ROH—-‘There are already signs of trouble. Last week, participants received e-mails that were meant for other participants and listed the wrong job assignments. A second set of e-mails blamed “computer error.” [DOES Director Joseph Walsh] said the problem has been corrected.’
Harriette Walters stole because she had poor self-esteem. That’s the take-away of Del Wilber‘s piece in WaPo outlining a defense lawyer’s pleading to a federal judge ahead of Walters’ June 16 sentencing. ‘Harriette Walters was insecure. She abused alcohol and drugs. She gambled too much. She was overweight. All her life, she considered herself a failure. That changed only when she doled out large sums of cash to co-workers and friends, her largesse transforming her into a benefactor,’ Wilber writes. ‘Walters suffered unspecified childhood traumas, which were behind her substance abuse, gambling and low self-esteem, [attorney Steven Tabackman] wrote in urging U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to sentence Walters to the minimum under the plea agreement….”The ability to play the role of benefactor was a particularly strong motivating factor in the continuation of the scheme,” he wrote. “While Ms. Walters recognizes that spreading the wealth she obtained through illegal conduct does not justify or excuse the conduct, it is equally clear that Ms. Walters was genuinely desirous of helping others.”…A Georgetown University psychiatrist who examined Walters at Tabackman’s request reported that she had “suffered from a constellation of childhood traumas and deficits.”‘
The kid who broke out of the new New Beginnings Youth Center has been caught. Put it this way—-the kid didn’t end up in juvy because he was the smartest kid on the 700 block of H Street NE: ‘Three employees of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services caught the juvenile inmate after they were tipped to his whereabouts at Seventh and H streets NE,’ reports WaPo (also AP). Still, ‘[t]he escape was an embarrassment for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and his administration, especially because it occurred one day after the $46 million campus opened with a news conference, tour and praise as a facility more suited to rehabilitate young offenders….Yesterday, Fenty said his administration regretted the escape. But he reiterated his belief that young people need to be in a more therapeutic facility….”No question. Any mistakes that occurred there shouldn’t have happened,” Fenty said yesterday. “That’s squarely on my management team and myself.” But the mayor also said that New Beginnings remains “a fantastic facility, a fantastic concept.”‘ DON’T PANIC—-Allen Lew is on the job! See also Tom Sherwood‘s piece for WRC-TV and Bruce Johnson‘s WUSA-TV piece.
In Examiner, Bill Myers details the escape: ‘The boy…climbed a few feet up a pole near the sliding gate at the New Beginnings Center in unincorporated Laurel, scrambled onto a nearby roof and then jumped to the ground and freedom, according to Councilman Tommy Wells. “I think they did not believe a kid could shimmy up there,” said Wells, D-Ward 6. “Potentially, it’s a design problem.”’ And Peter Nickles stands by Vinny Schiraldi: ‘He’s sticking around…It’s just unfortunate that someone escaped.’
WaPo ed board weighs in: ‘The incident, though, underlines concerns that Mr. Schiraldi’s zeal for giving his young charges new chances may blind him to the need for the kind of measures necessary to ensure public safety. Planting thorny rose bushes may not suffice to hinder breakouts….Careful study went into the development of New Beginnings, but it’s critical that [Fenty] and the D.C. Council monitor its operations carefully.’
But here’s the New Beginnings story of the day: ‘Barely two days before officials cut the ribbon on the District’s $45 million New Beginnings juvenile hall, the campus was flooded by last week’s rainstorms,’ Myers writes. ‘City officials blamed clogged drains for the deluge at the new juvenile hall and promised that the problem would be remedied. Pictures obtained by The Examiner show the campus was under several inches of brackish water, which flooded staff cars in a nearby lot.’ One of the pix:
WaTimes’ Gary Emerling has more on the crime bill machinations between Phil Mendelson and Jack Evans. Question is, was there a deal between Mendo, Jack, and Vince to move parts of Mendo’s version as a June 16 emergency or is Jack swooping in to save the day with his ‘own’ bill? ‘Mr. Evans, who also is a member of the public safety committee, said that he met with Mr. Mendelson and council Chairman Vincent C. Gray to discuss his bill and that he will introduce the measure June 16 instead of at Tuesday’s legislative session at Mr. Gray’s request. He said his efforts have the support of the Fenty administration and were agreed to by Mr. Gray and Mr. Mendelson. “It’s clear to me that Phil was not going to do anything on this,” Mr. Evans said. “I looked through it, figured out what were the important things for the summer for an emergency, and sat down with the chairman and Phil.”…[Mendelson] said Monday that Mr. Evans “seems to have amnesia about what he agreed to” and that he is moving forward with his own emergency bill on June 16. The legislation will encompass portions of Mr. Fenty’s preferred bill – including the civil-enforcement provision for gangs – but with some tweaks.’
The 1500 block of South Capitol Street is now the 1500 block of Taxation Without Representation Avenue—-not that you’d know that from city signage. ‘As of April 24, [Nationals Park]’s legal address was formally changed to 1500 Taxation Without Representation St. SE, thanks to an act of the D.C. Council,’ Neibauer writes in Examiner. ‘The D.C. Department of Transportation has yet to change the street signs, and the Nationals apparently have no intention of redesigning their letterhead.’
VINCE GETS CATTY—-‘Council Chairman Vincent Gray, who backed the street renaming, said he expects the Nationals to quibble….Team owners, Gray said, have not proven to be great friends of the District or its causes. “Nor am I a big fan of the Nationals either,” the chairman said.’ Time for Greg McCarthy to pay someone a visit!
Get ready for a ‘blitz’ on HIV/AIDS awareness in the District, WaPo’s Darryl Fears reports. ‘City officials say a sustained social marketing blitz is coming,’ Fears writes. ‘Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s administration…committed $500,000 annually for five years for a marketing campaign, [HAA chief Shannon Hader] said….But there’s doubt over whether HAA can mount a meaningful campaign in the expensive advertising market with that small amount. To be effective, advertising experts say, Hader needs millions more from Fenty (D) or more free public service announcements from television and radio stations, billboard companies and Metro….It’s unclear how aggressively the city has sought public service ads. A spokesman for one local television station, WRC (Channel 4), said no one in the NBC affiliate’s advertising division recalls being approached by HAA.’
Read Part 2 of WaPo’s look at the Robert Wone murder: ‘Citing a strange-as-fiction web of circumstantial, forensic and autopsy evidence, investigators have publicly theorized that one or two of the housemates, or the three together — all professional, highly intelligent men, none with a criminal record — murdered Wone in a weirdly elaborate sexual assault involving the injection of an incapacitating drug,’ Paul Duggan writes. ‘Having a theory is one thing; proving it is another, especially when the theory has significant holes. Without a cooperating eyewitness to help cement a murder case, the U.S. attorney’s office has filed no charges in the killing….This is an account of what is known and not known about a murder that remains unpunished, a tortuous whodunit with elements straight from a pulp novel: the boning knife missing from the cutlery box; the spider seen crawling on the patio light; the curious findings (and lack of findings) of the autopsy; the botched search for blood traces by the crime-scene techs; the neatly made bed; the mishandled BlackBerry; the peculiar stains on the white cotton towel. An odd, unfinished tale.’
Once again, the Metropolitan Police Department has failed to file timely crime statistics with the FBI, meaning that, ‘[o]f the 50 most populated U.S. cities, the District was the only police department to fail to send its murder, rape and armed robbery statistics to the FBI for its preliminary report,’ Scott McCabe writes in Examiner. ‘Police Chief Cathy Lanier on Monday vetoed a request to release crime statistics covering the entire year, said Polly Hanson, head of the D.C. police statistics services bureau. The District’s problem in complying with the FBI, according to Hanson, is that the department uses two record-keeping databases that classify crimes differently.’
Vince Gray on same-sex-marriage referendum, via Tim Craig in WaPo: ‘When asked today about his views on a referendum, Gray said, “I really haven’t thought much about this.” Gray said he plans to talk to other Council members to gauge their views on a referendum. “I really want to talk to members to see how they feel,” Gray said during his monthly press conference.’
New Metro tiles! Not all hexagonal! Some are squares! ‘Agency officials tested the new tiles at the Takoma Metrorail station from December to April,’ Lena Sun reports in WaPo. ‘The new ones are more durable and not as slick when wet, officials said. Metro plans to replace old tiles with the new ones this fall at outdoor stations not covered by a canopy. The life expectancy of the old tiles is about five years, and the estimated cost of replacing them is between $1.2 million and $1.4 million.’
In Biz Journal, Jonatha O’Connell has more on Neil Albert & Co’s objections to various council budget moves. ‘Albert wrote Council Chairman Vincent Gray, D-At large, Friday to ask that the inserted changes be removed, calling them “inconsistent with our shared goal of an inclusive and transparent legislative process” because they will not require hearings or public comment….Responding to the criticism from Albert that the council is eschewing the typical legislative process, [Kwame Brown] said that all of his proposed changes have been vetted in public hearings and that he had shared them with Albert and industry groups. “I’m quite offended that he would lie this way in a letter,” Brown said.’ Also see WaPo‘s Theola Labbé-DeBose. (And read LL’s Friday item.)
Fenty launches car lot crackdown: ‘Fenty announced a 30-day sweep involving some 200 car repair shops and tow lots in the city. The message was to let workers know that if junk cars are left to pile up around lots, tow trucks might show up without warning. At a warehouse that was raided Monday in Northeast, some of the cars were so stripped down, their make and model were difficult to see,’ NC8 reports. Also DCist.
Parents set to sue over Banneker HS’s tough grading regimen, NC8 reports. ‘The parents who are involved with the suit allege the stricter grading scale at Banneker Senior High School puts their children at an unfair disadvantage and hurts their chances of getting into their chosen colleges and winning scholarship awards….To receive an A letter grade in D.C. public schools, students have to land between 90 and 100. They need between 80 and 89 for a B, and 70 and 79 for a C. At Banneker, the scale is 95 to 100 for an A, 88 to 94 for a B and 77 to 87 for a C.’
D.C. woman pleads guilty to abandoning newborn to die in Maryland field.
New DOT headquarters evacuated for suspicious package.
The story behind the ‘spite room’ at the Iron Gate Inn, from John Kelly in WaPo.
GGW raises welcome questions about the intersection of Florida Avenue, W Street, and 15th Street NW—aka the ‘death star.’ ‘This intersection is a well-known danger zone. Via email, Councilmember Jim Graham said, “This has been one of those intersections where we need serious re-engineering and design.”‘
Bishop Harry Jackson doesn’t do much for Silver Spring WaPo reader: ‘A law was drafted, debated and passed by the duly elected legislative representatives of the people, then signed by the government’s executive….What is being challenged by out-of-town interlopers is the outcome of a fair and open process. Democracy sometimes means accepting outcomes that one does not like, with the hope of overturning these results through the next election. If this minister cares so much about changing the District’s laws, he ought to move to the city and vote.’
Roll Call on Artomatic.
Blogger: ‘The sparing [sic] match between Council Member Vincent Gray and Chancellor Michelle Rhee of the DC Public School System is one of the best matches I have seen in a while.’
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole meeting, to be immediately followed by 10th legislative meeting, JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.