City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Fake Fenty Stalking Twitter“; “Deputy Mayor Not Happy With Council Budget Moves“; “DCPS: Central Office Budget Cut ‘to the Bare Minimum’“; “Board of Elections and Ethics Hires Fairfax Elections Chief“
Afternoon all. Today’s LLD was delayed by a late-starting D.C. Council press conference, at which Chairman Vincent C. Gray hinted that his dispute over DCPS over enrollment projections for next year may be shelved, with an eye toward resolving the issue for once and for all by next year. “I don’t know how we change is this year,” he said, after noting that no one at the D.C. Public Schools or elsewhere has been able to explain to him where a rise in 373 students will materialize from, given that DCPS has lost at least 2,500 students each of the last five years. “When all the dust settles,” he says, “the question is still there.” He has a meeting with Michelle Rhee scheduled for this afternoon. In other news, Marion Barry is introducing emergency legislation to limit Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s summer jobs program to six weeks. He has Gray’s support.
Couldn’t ask for worse timing than this: Days after the facility opens, a youth escapes from the New Beginnings Youth Center in Laurel—-Oak Hill’s replacement. The fugitive youth scaled a fence to escape, Darryl Fears reports in WaPo. ‘A source close to the investigation said the U.S. Park Police dispatched a search helicopter within 10 minutes of the escape and that police in Anne Arundel, where the facility is located, searched for the youth on foot. The source, who asked for anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said that since the escape, inmate movement at the center has been more restricted, staff beefed up and razor wire added to the fence….D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) vowed to call for a hearing “to determine the adequacy and the safety of the new building.” Wells runs the committee that oversees juvenile detention but said he learned of the escape from a reporter. “I will have to dig deeper and more aggressively.”‘ Also Examiner.
STATE OF THE ART?—-‘A day before the facility opened, Vincent Schiraldi and David Muhammad, chief of committed services, said they had brought in young men to try to scale the fences and made modifications based on what they observed. Schiraldi said he planned to place prickly shrubbery, possibly rose bushes, near the fence so inmates would not be tempted to flee.’
In WaPo Sunday story, Lori Aratani reports that crowded emergency rooms require local hospitals to divert ambulances as much as one-quarter of the time. ‘In the District, The Post analysis found that Providence and Washington Hospital Center diverted ambulances from their emergency rooms the most. Providence diverted ambulances more than 25 percent of the time in 2007, and Washington Hospital Center diverted traffic 33 percent of the time. They are the busiest emergency rooms in the District, which experts said underscores the importance of their doors being kept open to ambulance traffic. Both hospitals improved last year because of internal management changes but are diverting ambulance patients at least one-fifth of the time.’
Marc Fisher bids farewell to his WaPo Metro column and blog. ‘The beauty of a column is that you can dig up the story, then say it straight: You can expose the cynicism that leaves D.C. school kids worse off at the end of their education than they were at the start, then you can call that system a criminal enterprise. You can reveal the narrow-mindedness that threatens to put mentally retarded people out on the street, and then push until embarrassed officials do the right thing. You can keep hitting the same note until a school principal with a phony doctorate is removed. But this work breeds humility and frustration, too: No matter how many times I wrote about the folly of zero tolerance policies, bureaucrats held dear to rules that treat kids like crooks and punish them as we never would adults. Reporters like to think that merely shining light on a problem will lead good people to solve it. Sometimes that’s right, but often it’s not.’
Marion Barry takes on the Fenty crackdown on used-car dealers. ‘Barry plans to introduce emergency legislation Tuesday that will keep the businesses in business. The law would scrap limitations on the number of vehicles that can be parked on the used car lots, which Fenty claims are actually used as illegal storage lots for vehicles awaiting shipment overseas,’ NC8 reports. Also WTTG-TV.
WaPo kicks off two-part online examination of the 2006 murder of Robert Wone. The killing, writes Paul Duggan, is ‘a real-life parlor mystery — an unsolved killing and alleged coverup in the guest room of an elegant home in the heart of Washington’s gay community, with a trio of seemingly unlikely suspects: a self-described “polyamorous family” of three men. The bizarre murder that evening of a young Ivy League lawyer named Robert Wone, still grist for gossip and conjecture on the city’s gay blogosphere, has vexed police and prosecutors since the 911 call just before midnight Aug. 2, 2006.’
Harry Jaffe revels in news that Jack Evans intends to move pieces of the Fenty crime bill at the June 16 council meeting. Cue Mendo bashing: ‘At-large Councilman Phil Mendelson, who takes pointers from the American Civil Liberties Union and public defenders, held two hearings but showed no intention of moving the bill. Fenty, aware that summers bring a spike in crime, vowed to move it as emergency legislation. The council seemed frozen, between Mendelson’s inaction and members’ antipathy for Fenty. Evans stepped in the breach….If it does [pass], Mendelson will be the big loser, Fenty will have to realize a bill with his name would not pass, and residents and visitors to Washington, D.C., will have a better chance of living through the summer without some thug sticking a pistol in their face.’
A twofer this morning from the WaPo editorial board. On the District’s controversial decision to further increase traffic ticketing, they write: Get over it. ‘Our editorial advice…is simple: Follow the law. Yes, you’re entitled to be skeptical when politicians tell you that their only concern is for public safety and the extra revenue never crossed their minds. But, whatever the mix of motivations, enforcement is a boon for public order and safety.’ On the Tommy Wells bag bill, they urge passage: ‘[I]t is important that council members not falter in taking what promises to be a key step in reducing pollution.’
Jonetta Rose Barras says that ‘[c]onspiracy theorists should get real.’ By conspiracy theorists, she means Empower D.C. and other folks who demand changes to the process by which the District disposes of surplus property. Barras’ column was prompted by Friday’s hearing on legislation that tightens the process for handing such property to developers. ‘As written, the surplus act is redundant, payback legislation. It’s intended to tie the mayor’s hands, making him bow before the council at every turn….Council members and residents are right to demand that government assets are used properly to bolster the city’s fiscal health and enhance the quality of life for everyone. But every piece of land or building can’t go to a nonprofit organization or be set aside for low-income housing. Most nonprofit organizations don’t pay property taxes or sales taxes; in fact, they’re usually feeding from the government trough. A city of only the low-income isn’t any better than one with only the rich. And big developers have as much to offer as activists.’
My, that was fast: Faced with defeat on appeal, city decided to withdraw construction contract to build new crime lab, Bill Myers reports in Examiner. ‘The letter comes barely three weeks after Fenty announced the contract, amid much fanfare, calling the lab “our most important public safety, public health and homeland security project.” The appeal came from Tompkins Builders, which claimed that it could deliver the lab faster and cheaper than Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner.’
Michael Neibauer in Examiner covers the hiring of Rokey Suleman as BOEE’s executive director. Good to hear: ‘Suleman, a Democrat, said he has the experience to deal with issues that pop up in an election. During a recent Fairfax special election, for example, a voting machine went haywire and had to be quarantined, throwing a supervisor’s race into chaos. “My big issue is transparency,” he said. “You have to keep the process as open as possible.”’
ALSO—-GLAA writes BOEE, says marriage-recognition bill is not properly subject to referendum.
Wells proposes emergency summer curfew on District kids 15 and under, Neibauer writes in Examiner. ‘The District’s existing curfew law forces all youth 17 and under off the streets by 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends. In 2007, Wells sought to cut that back by an hour between June 15 and Sept. 15, but his emergency bill was not considered. In his 2009 version, Wells only goes after youth 15 and under. The city “experiences an increase in both youth becoming the victims of crime, as well as the perpetrators of crime,” during the summer, he wrote in a letter to Gray justifying the legislation.’
Jay Mathews, in WaPo column, takes issue with the centerpiece of Michelle Rhee’s teacher-compensation proposal—-paying teachers who get results from students a significant bonus. Merit pay, he writes, ‘makes sense to many people but not to educators who remember how they created good schools. Extra pay for better work sounds as logical as sharpened pencils and multiplication tables. But if done in the public and routinized way indicated by Rhee and the president, it could ruin the team spirit that has produced the most successful public schools, particularly in urban and rural areas….With an individual pay-for-performance system, suddenly it’s every teacher for herself or himself. Too much weight falls on how small groups of students do in the testing room in May.’
ALSO FROM WAPO—-‘Forty-six states and the District of Columbia today will announce an effort to craft a single vision for what children should learn each year from kindergarten through high school graduation, an unprecedented step toward a uniform definition of success in American schools.’ Plus, ed board urges reauthorization on NYC mayoral takeover, lest D.C. be next. ‘A lot is riding on the outcome in New York; Washington, where the same union leaders have inserted themselves into the fight over education, should pay particular attention.’
POLICE-INVOLVED SHOOTING—-NC8 reports: ‘Police say officers with the gun recovery unit tried to make contact with a suspect at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday while they were investigating the area of the 3800 block of First Street southeast. When they did so, the suspect ran away and broke into a nearby residence….Officers chased him and got into the residence, where gunfire was exchanged. Police say the unidentified man was shot, and then barricaded himself for several hours. They say the suspect eventually surrendered and was admitted to a hospital in stable condition.’
Two women are struck and killed by motorists: The first, Friday night, was working as a flagger on a 395 construction project (also WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV); the second was run down by an SUV while crossing W Street on 15th (half a block from LL’s place).
City nonprofits are finding themselves feeding hungry kids more and more, WaPo’s Megan Greenwell reports. ‘Organizations unaccustomed to serving anything more than granola bars are finding themselves to be the last line of defense against children going hungry at night….The number of D.C. students fed in federally qualified after-school programs has increased dramatically in the past several years, from about 1,550 a day in 2002 to 14,650 a day as of October, according to Alexandra Ashbrook, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions, a local advocacy group.’
Terry Lynch wants fewer bars in Adams Morgan: ‘There are simply too many late-night venues; the word is out that folks who patronize these spots have had too much too drink and are easy prey for criminals,’ he writes in WaPo op-ed. ‘A number of places now have their employees and patrons escorted to their cars to keep them safe. Adams Morgan needs a building-by-building, block-by-block initiative to restore balance to the neighborhood.’
The Chinatown arch is set for a makeover, Tierney Plumb reports in Biz Journal. ‘An assessment by AEPA Architects Engineers PC — the original architects of the arch — shows it is in need of a major face lift, since column paint is peeling off and its joint fillers are completely eroded. In addition, the metal band around the base needs to be replaced and tiles have fallen off of the roof. D.C.-based AEPA will do such restoration work as scraping off existing paint and repainting the columns, decorative beams and lintels, as well as repairing and restoring the worn-out decorations.’
One WaPo reader not happy with taximeters: ‘Under the old zone system — for downtown travel — drivers had a certain incentive to take the fastest and most direct routes. Now, drivers frequently attempt to take longer or less direct routes in order to increase or “pad” their fares.’ And another don’t like drivin’ round these parts: ‘I stay out of the District whenever possible. When driving in D.C., I have to contend with poor street conditions, poorly posted speed limits and parking signs that are difficult to understand. D.C. also has aggressive parking enforcement and unreliable law enforcement.’
Michelle Obama to deliver graduation remarks at Washington Mathematics Science Technology Public Charter School.
The Examiner 3 Minute Interview with RAMW’s Josh Gibson.
Sports and Entertainment Commission gets behind June jazz fest
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment roundtable on PR18-259 (“District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics Omar Nour Confirmation Resolution of 2009″), JAWB 120; Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary meeting on motion to refer enforcement of committee subpoena of Ronald E. Gill Jr. to the Council pursuant to Rule 614, JAWB 123; 1:45 p.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on B18-196 (“Closing of a Paper Alley in Square 5401 Act of 2009”), JAWB 500; 6:30 p.m.: Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination hearing on “Pathways to Statehood & Full Self-Determination: Political and Constitutional Considerations,” JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, auto repair shop regulations announcement, 4606 Nash St. SE; 2 p.m.: remarks, Eaton ES playground groundbreaking, 3301 Lowell St. NW; 6 p.m.: remarks, Hopkins Apartments playground groundbreaking, 1000 K St. SE; 7:30 p.m.: attendee, Fort Lincoln Civic Association meeting, Theodore R. Hagans Jr. Cultural Center, 3201 Fort Lincoln Drive NE.