City Paper is not for tourists
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Adrian Fenty’s Smart Car Got a Speeding Ticket“
Morning all. LL’s gonna plug a couple of WCP must-reads here, the first being news that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty picked up a speeding ticket in his Smart Car earlier this month. He was on official business, but the location of the ticket raised questions in LL’s mind about his assistant’s personal use of the car. Secondly, do check out Jason Cherkis‘ in-depth examination of the depositions thus far taken in DeOnté Rawlings civil case. ‘Police officials may have put the Rawlings file in storage. But [lawyer Greg Lattimer]’s file is active and has turned out to be a significant archive of conflicting evidence and sloppy police work.’
Behold a classic “rowback,” in Tim Craig‘s WaPo story today about the prospects for a ballot referendum to overturn the gay-marriage recognition law. ‘If the [Board of Elections and Ethics] allows the issue to go before voters, opponents will have to collect signatures from 5 percent of registered voters in at least five of eight wards to get the question on the ballot. The group would have until early July to collect the signatures, not 180 days as was previously reported.’ Um, Tim? You’re one of the folks who ‘previously reported’ that—-probably worth a mention. BOEE GC Kenneth McGhie says a “special hearing” is set for June 10. “McGhie said that if board members decide that a referendum is appropriate, supporters of a ballot proposal “are going to get their petitions right away and have two or three weeks to work with to try to get signatures.”…”The clock is ticking,” McGhie said, “so the board wants to be able to resolve the issue.”‘ Also Blade, NC8.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST—-‘Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), who voted for the bill, said she supports putting the issue before voters. “It needs to be brought to the people,” Alexander said. She said she thinks District voters would support same-sex marriage.’ Related: Blade editor says ‘Harry Thomas can’t have it both ways.’
With the writing on the wall, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor has resigned. He’ll be taking a nice-paying job with Ernst & Young. To replace him, Del Wilber reports in WaPo, there are five possibilities: Current USAO employees Channing Phillips, 51, and Roy L. Austin Jr., 39, plus former prosecutors Anjali Chaturvedi, 40, now of Nixon Peabody; Ronald C. Machen, 40, now of WilmerHale; and Shanlon Wu, 50, co-founder of Wheat Wu. Also Legal Times. LL SEZ—-This reporter wants Channing! Tickle the Wire says he’s been named interim USA.
ALSO—-Legal Times unearths a couple of new possibilities for District Court bench appointments: Carol Elder Bruce, of Bracewell & Giuliani, and federal public defender A.J. Kramer. Add those to all the other names.
SCORE ONE FOR MENDO—-Peter Nickles concedes to the WaTimes that the anti-crime bill won’t be passing by emergency on June 2. But, as judiciary committee chair Phil Mendelson has earlier indicated, it could be ready for passage by mid-month. Why the concession? Gary Emerling handles it diplomatically: ‘Backing away from [the June 2] plan indicates the attorney general does not have the necessary support of nine out of 13 council members to move the bill over Mr. Mendelson’s objections, although Mr. Nickles’ goal of having the legislation enacted in June remains intact. “I have talked to council members,” he said. “I think I can get it done.”‘ You know, Mr. AG, you catch more flies with honey…
WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood and WTTG-TV’s Karen Gray Houston both do pieces on whether Mayor Adrian Fenty is a changed man, what with his apologies of sorts. Sherwood cites “administration sources” who say that Hizzoner “both realized and was told that he was alienating too many people.” Be careful, though, guys—-keep putting Michael Brown in these pieces talking about “what’s best for the residents of the District of Columbia,” and Fenty’s liable to go back to his jerky ways.
WaPo editorial board also picks up on the ‘new’ Adrian M. Fenty: ‘AFTER MONTHS of questionable decisions followed by defensive explanations, it was a relief to finally hear [Fenty] express an entirely different sentiment this week: contrition….Going forward, though, Mr. Fenty should remember not to let such trifling squabbles trip up his ambitious agenda, most importantly his push to reform the District’s long-underperforming schools.’ Just to recap: ‘Mr. Fenty has immaturely refused to share baseball tickets with D.C. Council members; tried to hide details about an ill-advised trip to Dubai paid for by the government of the United Arab Emirates; selected a family friend of dubious qualifications to head an important government agency; fired his parks and recreation director with nary an explanation; and shed his security detail to move about unencumbered and, presumably, unnoticed….These mini-scandals raise the question of whether Mr. Fenty’s rapid political rise and personal popularity have gone to his head. That’s why the mayor’s apology was an encouraging sign.’
IN MINI-SCANDAL NEWS—-Per Nikita Stewart at D.C. Wire: Ex-chauffeur Keith Lomax hires Scott Bolden—-you know, just in case.
LL’s WCP colleague Ruth Samuelson tells the tale of Somerset House, the rent-controlled 16th Street apartment building that is in the middle of a drawn-out and contentious condo-conversion battle. And at the center is none other than shadow senator and real-estate lawyer Paul Strauss. ‘Strauss entered the picture within the last few years (his firm declined to confirm the year), during a time when proposals from various developers have been put on and taken off the table. His involvement has caused some anti-conversion tenants to argue he stands to gain more than almost anyone from going condo. A provision in the development agreement states that the developer has a $150,000 deal with Strauss; up to $100,000 of that will be released only if the conversion goes through successfully.’
Dozens of states have sued travel Web sites like Travelocity and Expedia for unpaid taxes, and D.C. is likely owed upward of $100 million, Jonathan O’Connell reports in Biz Journal. So why hasn’t the city gone after it? ‘Nickles…said he is monitoring cases in other jurisdictions but would not take any action until a court delivers a “definitive decision.” Until then, he said, action is a waste of time. “This litigation is going to go on a very long time,” he said. “When it becomes clear there is a case we will decide whether to take action.”‘
Also from O’Connell: Ground is broken on $42M waterfront park adjacent to Forest City’s Yards development in Southeast. ‘The 5.4-acre park will include open recreation areas, landscaped gardens, public art, a pedestrian bridge and walking paths that connect the site with other developments along the waterfront….Fenty said “a world class city needs a world-class waterfront.”…Forest City and its partner, MacFarlane Partners, plan 2,800 residential units, 1.8 million square feet of offices and as much as 400,000 square feet of retail.,,,Construction aside from work on the publicly financed park has largely stalled as the developers seek financing.’ Also WTOP, WAMU-FM, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
A couple of tidbits from yesterday’s Kerri Briggs confirmation hearing for the state superintendent of education job, courtesy of Bill Turque in D.C. Wire. First off, the big question everyone wanted to know going in was, just how much of a Bushie are you? David Catania supplied the appropriate interrogatories: ‘Briggs, a former assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education who was born in Midland, Bush’s childhood home, said she was “a person of faith, but I realize government isn’t church.” She said she was drawn to Washington because of Bush’s commitment to education reform as a civil rights issue….Catania, focused on alarming rates of pregnancies and STDs in District schools, asked Briggs if she would, for example, entertain increasing student access to condoms in schools. She said she would….No one else raised questions about Briggs’ Republican pedigree at the four-hour hearing.’ ALSO—-Public Charter School Board Vice Chair Brian Jones is sending his kids to…Maret. ‘”I do aspire to get them into charter schools,” he said, but only after getting them off to the best possible start.’ Also WAMU-FM‘s Kavitha Cardoza.
No one loves giving the local GOP ink like Harry Jaffe, as he does today: ‘Can a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 10-1 have a meaningful local GOP that is more than a club for aging white folks? “Absolutely,” Patrick Mara says. He’s the young New Englander who strode into town and bumped off Carol Schwartz, the only Republican to win elected office in the nation’s capital, and remain a Republican. “We have a diverse group of potential candidates,” Mara says. “Even our executive director is Mexican-American.”‘ NEWS NUGGETS—-‘Will Mara run in 2010? “I think I’ll sit this one out,” he says. [Executive Director Paul D. Craney] says he will run African-American candidates against Harry Thomas Jr. in Ward 5. No names. “We don’t like to out them,” he says, “but we have one ANC member in every ward.”‘
Today, the Oak Hill Youth Center closes, and the $46M New Beginnings Youth Center opens. Writes WaPo’s Robert E. Pierre, ‘The 30-acre campus has a landscaped courtyard, an airy library and lunchroom and windows everywhere. Huge, clunky cell keys have been replaced by electronic entry cards. Inmates have buzzers in their rooms that let them out automatically at night to use the restroom. Razor wire is history, along with the old name….”This is the anti-prison,” said Vincent N. Schiraldi, director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. “What we had before was a training school for them to become adult inmates. We want them to aspire to college, to be in a place that looks like you care about them.”‘
NO FOOD FOR YOU!——Forget falafel at Farragut West: Metro board decides against allowing food or drink to be sold at proposed retail kiosks. Writes Lena Sun in WaPo, ‘Although members welcomed retail sales of umbrellas, newspapers, flowers and dry-cleaning services in stations, they were unanimous in their belief that food sales would lead to more eating and drinking in the system. There was also concern about trash removal. Eating and drinking on trains and buses are among riders’ top complaints, and they say Metro police do not enforce the rules. “I’m very concerned that once we open this door, it will swing wider and wider and never be able to close,” said Metro board chairman Jim Graham.’ Also: ‘master licensee’ plan is out, reports Kytja Weir in Examiner: ‘The board also wants the agency to focus on small-business owners rather than large companies that could run multiple sites in the transit system, such as DVD vending company Redbox, as the transit agency had proposed. “Let’s recast this so we put small business front and center,” Metro Chairman Jim Graham said.’ Also WaTimes, Biz Journal, WTOP, NC8, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, GGW.
WMATA board also votes to spend $6.45M for 16 acres at D.C. Village for a new bus garage, Weir reports. ‘The property…was valued at $8.05 million. But the District agreed to drop the price by $1.6 million as credit for months of failing to pay the transit agency as promised under an earlier agreement….But the deal prompted scorn from two key Metro representatives from Virginia and Maryland who said they weren’t given enough information about the multimillion-dollar deal.’ Also Biz Journal.
Sorry it took LL so long to get to this, but it is a must: Cleveland Park Citizens Assocation president George Idelson declares “emergency” and postpones officer elections after local residents fed up with the group’s obstruction of a new Giant on Wisconsin Avenue show the temerity to actually join his group. GGW covered this earlier in the week, and Marc Fisher covered it yesterday. He puts it nicely: ‘[W]hen the NIMBYs start waging their battles through Soviet means, it can’t be long before the forces of progress prevail.’
MUST-READ FEATURE OF THE WEEK—-WaPo’s J. Freedom du Lac on the life and times of Herb Feemster. He’s the Herb of ‘Peaches and Herb.’ And he’s a former D.C. cop and, currently, a deputized court security officer for the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. ‘Some entertainers hire bodyguards; Feemster is more or less working as one, as his duties include judicial personnel protection. He carries a Glock and two extra magazines on his belt, and if you want to make a No. 1-with-a-bullet joke, well, by all means.’ That’s just a taste—-read the darn thing!
DCCA disbars two Virginia lawyers, Bill Myers reports in WaPo. Ronald M. Cohen gets the boot for soliciting sex from a minor; Leslie W. Lickstein is ousted after being jailed for bank fraud. Also Legal Times.
Fenty and Rubin on FEMS: Getting better! ‘Nearly 30 percent of cardiac arrest patients transported by ambulance to a D.C. hospital in the past five months arrived alive, more than double the percentage only four years ago,’ writes Michael Neibauer in Examiner. ‘Their claims come as the department faces a slate of public relations challenges, including reports of cheating on an emergency medical technician exam, flunked assessments and a heart attack victim who died hours after a paramedic diagnosed him with acid reflux.’ Hamil Harris at D.C. Wire quotes Marcus Rosenbaum, the brother of David Rosenbaum: ‘I just hope that we will see constant progress and if they are getting better, then I am happy.’
Not many have applied for ‘microloans’ up to $25K under the D.C. Certified Business Enterprise Micro Loan Fund, Neibauer reports in Examiner. $244K is available, and only two have sought a piece of it. So Kwame Brown will introduce legislation to ‘allow either “small” or “disadvantaged” businesses to apply…The Department of Small and Local Business Development, which administers the program, now restricts loans to businesses certified as both small and disadvantaged….There are roughly 700 D.C. businesses registered as both small and disadvantaged, and likely hundreds more that are one or the other.’
ALSO—-Nice glasses, Kwame.
One Andrew J. Coulson, of the Cato Institute, argues in Examiner that the District should pony up for its own voucher system. ‘Can DC afford it? Average tuition at voucher-accepting schools is about $6,600, according to a federal study released last month. By contrast, the city is currently spending about $1.3 billion on k-12 education, for fewer than 49,000 students. That works out to well over $26,000 per pupil—-comparable to tuition at the prestigious Sidwell Friends school to which the president sends his own daughters, Sasha and Malia. So DC could easily offer a voucher even larger than the one currently provided by the federal government.’ Easily?
GOOD POINT, SORT OF—-‘What’s more, DC already has what amounts to a targeted school voucher program—-and it’s larger than the federal voucher program that President Obama wishes to phase out. The District currently sends nearly 2,500 special needs students to private schools because it is not able to serve them itself. The program is uncontroversial.’ Yeah, uncontroversial…and required by federal law.
GGW details Historic Preservation Review Board machinations. Long story short, the board needs a bona fide architectural historian, but Hizzoner hasn’t sent an architectural historian to the council—-just contractor Christopher Landis, Everyone likes Landis, but he’s not an architectural historian, so Vincent Gray wants Fenty to resubmit his name later this year, when other slots open up.
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) owes OTR $6,820 in back taxes due to improper homestead exemption; because the error was D.C.’s fault, no interest or penalties have been assessed.
Metro GM John Catoe is named ‘top public transportation manager of the year’ by American Public Transportation Association, citing ‘Catoe’s 30 years of service to the industry and his handling of the transit system during the presidential inauguration, when Metro carried 1.5 million passengers.’
Robert Brannum wants to Webcast 5D CAC meetings, reports at D.C. Wire, but MPD puts the kibosh on the idea—-for now. Protocols! We need protocols, people!
Peggy Nichols, 35, of the 2300 block of 11th Street NW, has been missing since May 19.
Shooting reported on 5000 block of D Street SE.
Maryland man, armored car driver, accused of conspiring with mom to rob his truck in downtown D.C.
Candi Peterson‘s keeping a list of fired DCPS principals.
Biz Journal’s Vandana Sinha on how it takes forever to get LEED-certified these days.
ALSO IN WBJ—-Le Paradou owners are getting sued; Southwest Waterfront developer is sticking with project; former Carr-owned properties are a drag on Tishman Speyer.
THIS MORNING—-Marion Barry to hold press conference ‘in support for used car dealership and repairs shops owners and their fight to maintain a business in the District of Columbia. Councilmember Barry’s move comes on the heels of his plans to introduce emergency legislation on June 2nd in response to Mayor Fenty’s recent regulations intended to put more than 400 used car dealerships and repair shops out of business….”The Mayor and his administration have employed an “all out assault” strategy that has directed multiple departments and agencies, to include the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Public Works, Department of the Environment, the Department of Transportation, and the Metropolitan Police Department, to destroy this industry.”‘
Your Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee winner: Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kan.; the winning word: Laodicean. Centreville, Va., kid takes No. 2.
TODAY ON THE POLITICS HOUR WITH KOJO NNAMDI—-Tom Sherwood, WRC-TV; Michelle Rhee, D.C. Public Schools chancellor, and Phil Andrews, Montgomery County Council president; noon, WAMU-FM, 88.5.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-11 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment hearing on B18-76 (“Public Land Surplus Standards Amendment Act of 2009”) and B18-280 (“Southeastern Bus Garage Relocation Act of 2009”), JAWB 500; 12 p.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on B18-69 (“Anti-Graffiti Act of 2009”), JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation roundtable on Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington and childcare background regulations, JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, New Beginnings Youth Development Center (aka the new Oak Hill) grand opening, 8400 River Road, Laurel, Md.; 3:30 p.m.: remarks, Oyster-Adams playground ribbon cutting, Oyster-Adams Bilingual School, 2020 19th St. NW.