City Paper is not for tourists
Morning all. Come on, WaPo, get the memo: Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s travel is sooo last month. We’ve moved on to fishy fire trucks and baseball tickets! But you have to admit, Gov. Tim Kaine‘s trip this month to Dubai provides an awfully convenient excuse to bring up the issue again, giving Anita Kumar and David Nakamura a chance to compare the two pols’ travel styles. ‘Kaine announced his trip ahead of time, saying it would spur economic partnerships. He explained that $32,000 of the $71,000 cost would be paid by the state, with the rest split among the governments of Israel and Morocco and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, a lobbying group. He held a news conference before he left and spoke to reporters from Dubai this week. By contrast, Fenty left town, wife and twin sons in tow, without telling the public….Other big-city mayors, including two of Fenty’s role models — Democrats Richard M. Daley of Chicago and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles — have declined foreign government money for travel. Daley, who was in the UAE at the same time as Fenty, paid for the trip with donations from Chicago businesses.’
Colby King, however, is perfectly happy to keep the baseball ticket issue alive and well, thank you very much. ‘Are there any grown-ups out there who can give the mayor and council a timeout? Better yet, the city’s ticket deal with the Nationals should be thrown in the trash. There is absolutely no reason that the mayor and council members should get freebies because of their official positions. That also applies to football, basketball, hockey and theater tickets, breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything else that average citizens must pay for themselves….Who do those local politicians think they are, anyway? What makes them think they have anything coming except their taxpayer-provided remuneration for taking a stab at running — and not ruining — the government? Their salaries should take care of their desire to take themselves out to ballgames or anywhere else they want to go to have a good time.’
DUH—-‘Free tickets are to politicians as blood is to vampires. When not being used by the pols themselves, tickets are the means by which they reward, make up to, gain acceptance from and win favor with people they want or need politically. The recipient may be a donor, a voter or a voter’s child. No matter. Tickets, suites, parking passes, etc., grease the passage to a target’s heart — or wallet. Sucking up to constituents knows no bounds.’
Group of protesters, assumed to be associated with the anti-IMF/World Bank crowd, smash windows of Logan Circle branches of PNC and Wachovia and are soon arrested by police. Or, as CP’s Jason Cherkis put it, “Six Jerks Arrested For Vandalizing Banks.” Writes WaPo, ‘Security cameras in the 1400 block of P Street NW captured images of the vandals racing down the sidewalk at 5:20 a.m., residents said. As they went, they spilled red paint, which police say was later found streaked on the soles of several suspects’ shoes and on their clothes….The scale of vandalism was highly unusual, even in a city where political demonstrations are commonplace and sometimes unruly. Six people were arrested, and another person was charged later in the day when police clashed with almost 200 demonstrators.’ Plus earlier WaPo coverage, NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.
SATURDAY’S FESTIVITIES—-‘[A] two-hour demonstration through downtown ended near the IMF headquarters on 19th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, where police tried to force the protesters off the street and then used pepper spray to disperse the crowd….One protester was taken to a hospital with a splint on his leg. Dozens of others, along with a police officer, were treated at the scene for burning skin and eyes. A 22-year-old demonstrator was arrested after kicking a police officer who had fallen off a bicycle, police said.’ On Sunday, folks pretty much behaved themselves.
Oh, and today protesters tying a banner to a crane tied up downtown traffic.
WaTimes’ Matthew Cella follows up on his EMS investigation, turns up some very good news for Bill Lightfoot: ‘A man whose brother died of a heart attack hours after being told by a D.C. paramedic that he suffered from acid reflux says his family is outraged to learn that fire officials had prior warning that the paramedic needed retraining. “It’s just a slap in the face to my family,” said Anthony Givens, 36, the brother of Edward L. Givens of Northeast, who died at his home in December after the call to D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services.’ (Lightfoot is representing the Givens family in suing the District.)
YOUR FENTY NONANSWER—-‘Mayor Adrian M. Fenty told The Washington Times on Friday that he was unaware of the newspaper report and declined to comment on it until he had a chance to review the matter….Asked about a press release with his name on it that was issued by the fire department on Wednesday addressing questions raised by The Times, Mr. Fenty again said he was unaware of the report and would not comment on it before reviewing the matter. “I think I owe that to the people who elected me,” he said.’ WRC-TV, WTTG-TV have Dennis Rubin reax.
More on DPR from Dorothy Brizill: ‘Because [Ximena Hartstock] would not be able to assume her position at DPR for a week, Sean Conley, Clark Ray‘s former driver at DPR, was quietly named by Mayor Fenty to be the Acting Director for the week of April 19. On Friday, Conley made his one and only executive decision as interim director: he fired and/or RIFed fourteen key DPR employees, including the heads of the aquatic division, the sports division, the risk management division, and the partnership office, who were targeted for dismissal by Tangherlini.’
Thought you’d go through an entire D.C. budget season without reading a single earmark story? You were wrong! Jonetta Rose Barras decries the practice in her Examiner column, highlighting Dorothy Height‘s pitch to the council for $1M for her National Council of Negro Women. ‘Wearing one of her fabulous signature hats and seated in a wheelchair, Height told Committee on Economic Development Chairman Kwame Brown the building her organization owns at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW needed infrastructure repairs….“We have 10 percent unemployment, and they are helping provide skills that could lead to jobs. How could we not look at that request?” he said, adding that there hasn’t been such a tangible return on money given to other groups….Help me. I’ve entered dangerous territory: I actually understand Brown’s logic.’ But earmarks are still bad!
Whither the parking-meter-hike revenue? Even though the council directed it earlier this year to various social programs, the money is still ‘in limbo” thanks to “bureaucratic mess,” Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. ‘Fenty supported the rate increase, but opposed earmarking the money….[The council] ordered Fenty to submit a plan, called a supplemental budget, by Jan. 5 that allocates the additional meter revenue to the various low-income programs. The mayor has not yet offered the legislation, though he eventually must in order to close the city’s 2009 revenue shortfall. In that measure, Fenty might attempt to shift the meter revenue back into the general fund to help fill the gap. One mayoral aide called the situation “tricky,” and said no decisions have been made.’ The earmark included $1M for the O Street Market project, and Jack Evans says, “One million for O Street…or nothing for nobody.”
ALSO FROM NEI-MAN—-He chronicles a $20M jump in the price to rebuild St. Elizabeths. ‘The latest changes approved by the Department of Mental Health, totaling $3.7 million, include $26,992 to provide for handicap seating in the auditorium, $128,203 to relocate a guardhouse closer to the gate, $9,964 to add a bookshelf to the office of the chief executive officer, and $5,124 to furnish and install an “ornamental fence” adjacent to the dining room….That brings what was a $139.9 million fixed-price contract with Tompkins Builders Inc. to $156.9 million. The agency expects to move into the facility next March….Dwarfed by the baseball stadium and other high-profile endeavors, the new 300-bed mental hospital has received little notice. That changed on March 30, when [David Catania] announced he would hold a hearing on the increasingly costly project.’
City moves forward with 11th Street Bridge Project, Examiner reports. ‘Mayor Adrian Fenty on Friday announced that the city had selected a contractor for the $300 million project to replace what the city has called “deficient” bridges….The District chose two companies in partnership to build the project: Swedish firm Skanska along with La Plata, Md.-based Facchina….The city called it the largest construction project in the District Department of Transportation’s history.’ Also WaPo, NC8.
Marc Fisher writes up the heartwarming nuptials of Dante White and Nhiahni Chestnut, both homeless. ‘This is, says the Rev. John Graham, pastor of Grace Episcopal Church in the heart of Georgetown, a story of love — of two people who have survived for nine years by leaning on each other through their misfortunes, and of a congregation coming together to add joy to lives of enormous difficulty….It was church member Margaret Davis who started the ball rolling, taking the couple to Virginia to buy a ring. Then the wedding planning snowballed. Lenore Reid brought Nhiahni to shop for a gown. Dante will wear a tux, thanks to Jason Studl. The invitations are printed, elegant lilac cards in formal script. The reception will feature a three-tiered wedding cake, made by Kristin Killoran, and music by two of Washington’s finest jazz professionals, Marshall Keys and Herman Burney. The newlyweds will have a honeymoon, two nights at the Key Bridge Marriott, a gift from church members and the hotel.’
ALSO—-Today in WaPo, Theresa Vargas profiles retired Navy doc Anthony Martinez, who roams the streets of the District searching out homeless persons in need of medical care. And Michael Ruane highlights the work of Legal Counsel for the Elderly. ‘The small, two-year-old project provides free legal services to needy homebound senior citizens in the District, where an estimated 15,000 seniors are classified as homebound. “If you can get to us, by way of telephone, or your caregiver can, we’ll come out to you,” said Rawle Andrews Jr., the counsel’s managing attorney. The number is 202-434-2120.’
ALSO FROM FISHER—-He chats with Bishop Harry Jackson of Bowie’s Hope Christian Church, who says he expects 1,000 plus on Freedom Plaza tomorrow to protest council’s gay marriage legislation. ‘ “There’s a sense that the latte-drinking crowd is doing an end run around the regular people,” Jackson told me. “It’s a race and a class struggle on this. If 51 percent of the people in D.C. are African-American and you have a unanimous vote by the city council on this, somebody’s not listening to the people.”…Jackson says that although his church is located in Maryland, he lives in the District and expects that a large portion of those at the rally will be D.C. residents. But he says he’s not the least bit reluctant to recruit out-of-town supporters to put pressure on the city’s politicians.’
Lawyer swindler to be sentenced today, Bill Myers reports in Examiner. Reginald “Reggie” Rogers ‘faces nearly five years in prison when he is sentenced in on Monday on charges that he bilked elderly clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars as their health and finances withered away….He has been convicted of emptying out his clients’ bank accounts, spending the money on expensive clothes and airline tickets. Prosecutors John Griffith and Diane Lucas are asking for a 57-month sentence.’
Monique C. Nalle, 42, is dead following Sunday afternoon shooting in Bloomingdale home; three others are wounded. WaPo: ‘Police are looking for a suspect, who is believed to have known the victims, a police source said.’ Also WTOP.
An 11-year-old boy is presumed drowned in the Potomac after slipping into the water near Chain Bridge while fishing with his father Sunday. WaPo: ‘The section of the river downstream from Chain Bridge has been the scene of many accidental drownings….Authorities said that many people who flock to the riverbanks during warm weather have not recognized the subsurface hazards, particularly the current flowing beneath an often-calm surface.’ Also WTOP.
Fire breaks out yesterday afternoon in Deanwood.
DANTAN SPECIAL—-Zipcar is piloting government fleet program, AP’s Brian Westley reports, and the District is getting in on the ground floor. ‘The Cambridge, Mass.-based company plans to announce a new venture Monday that will allow municipalities to equip their vehicles with Zipcar’s reservation and management systems. The company says having city employees share vehicles will allow governments to streamline their fleets, saving money and helping the environment….A pilot program under way for six months in Washington, D.C., has allowed the city to reduce the total number of passenger cars in its fleet by 360, or 17 percent. District of Columbia officials are projecting net savings of more than $1 million after the first year and $6.6 million after five years.’
So. We still have no person claiming the $144M Powerball ticket sold to a patron of a Ward 7 grocery store. But that lack of developments does not stop WaPo’s Petula Dvorak from filing a story on the various hypotheticals at play here. ‘Take your time and get your affairs in order first, advise some who have walked this road before. More than tips, they have cautionary advice for the person — or people, if a group purchased the ticket — who has 346 days to come forward. Too often, money like that goes straight to extravagances and leaves the winner broke, broken and bitter. “Get yourself a lawyer before a Cadillac,” said Curtis Sharp Jr., who won $5 million in the New Jersey Lottery more than 20 years ago.’
We’re a bit closer to summer, and hence a bit closer to the kickoff of the Summer Youth Employment Program. Which means Fenty had to kind a whole bunch of money to pay the 20,000-plus kids who have already signed up. So he’s submitted a budget reprogramming to tap the Nats Park Community Benefit Fund for $24M, more than doubling the SYEP budget, Nikita Stewart reports in WaPo. ‘Fenty (D) and city officials used a Southeast neighborhood as a backdrop for a news conference last week. They said young people need to earn money for more than school clothes this year: They will be breadwinners.’
Harry Jaffe wants to know what’s up with parking meters in this town: ‘I walked across the street to the Chevy Chase Bank and got a roll of quarters. I started feeding. The meter gobbled each one but registered every other. At eight quarters and 45 minutes, the meter stopped flashing time and read “Out of Order.” I called the number on the side of the meter to report the malfunction. A nice woman took my call and gave me a confirmation number. I wrote the number on a note, tucked it behind my wiper and went to court. I expected to find a ticket for $25 when I returned.’ LL CONCURS!
So Metro is considering making $13.6M in bus service cuts, all while it has about $13.7M sitting in a rainy-day account, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. Rainy-day, eh? Allow LL to quote an aide to fictional Baltimore Mayor Tommy Carcetti: “Looks cloudy as a m*thaf*cka.” But no: ‘And Metro is expecting to have $9 million more in surplus money by the end of June because of unexpected increases in bus and rail ridership….Any extra money usually goes back to the jurisdictions that subsidize the transit agency — or into the already-full emergency fund. Now transit advocates are wondering whether some of the money could stop the service cuts instead.’
Fenty, and 11 teammates, complete two-day, 200-mile relay race from Gettysburg, Pa., to D.C, reports WaPo’s Dvorak. ‘”It’s like a triathlon, but different,” an exhausted [Fenty] said after he finished his team’s final leg, running along the C&O Canal, then onto the Mall, where his team was second overall, finishing in 24 hours 16 minutes.’ Also Examiner.
SWINE FLU—-They’re a-preparin’! ‘The D.C. Department of Health posted swine flu updates on the city’s Web site. Children’s National Medical Center monitored swine flu reports from the health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and posted a fact sheet about the illness on its site. And like many hospital administrators in the D.C. area, the chief of infectious diseases at Howard University Hospital informed section directors of an emergency meeting today to discuss swine flu and guidelines on caring for anyone who might visit the hospital with flulike symptoms.’
Francey Lim Youngberg, chair of the D.C. Fair Access Coalition, takes to the pages of Sunday WaPo to decry the proposed demotion of the Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs. Fun facts: ‘For decades, Asian Pacific Americans have been key to the city’s economy and society, even when very few service establishments were willing to operate in the District because of the crime rate. If you live or work in the District, you probably use a deli, corner grocery, dry cleaner, nail salon or carry-out restaurant owned by an Asian Pacific American. When you ride a cab, buy a six-pack of beer in a neighborhood store, get a hot dog from a vendor or buy a tourist souvenir, chances are you are being served by Asian Pacific Americans. When you go to sports events in the revitalized Chinatown area, you probably stop and enjoy some Chinese food….According to The Post, two-thirds of all business licenses in the District are owned by Asian Pacific Americans. D.C. agencies estimate that 60 percent of groceries and 57 percent of lottery tickets are sold through Asian American-owned stores. Lottery sales alone amount to roughly $150 million.’
Feds go after pair of scammers who took District vending program for $281K. Writes David Nakamura in WaPo, ‘In a 13-page indictment from the U.S. attorney’s office, Barbara A. Stevenson-Jones, 70, and Pamela A. Stevenson, 51, were charged with four counts of theft and carrying stolen goods across state lines….Under the scheme alleged by prosecutors, the pair was supposed to collect vending revenue and distribute the money to the 46 vendors and each of their retirement accounts. Instead, they did not pay the vendors the full amount they were due and wrote checks to their personal bank accounts and their company, Wellness and Management, prosecutors said….Without knowing about the alleged embezzlement, D.C. government officials terminated the city’s contract with the management company in July 2004, citing nonperformance related to the company’s failure on accounting and tax duties. City officials then tried to recover funds that had been paid to the company to manage the program, winning a judgment in a civil lawsuit….However, the District was unable to recoup the money and turned the case over to federal authorities in 2007. The subsequent investigation led to the indictment.’ Also Examiner.
What’s up with the new Woodson SHS? Bill Turque explores why the Ward 7 high school, once expected to be rebuilt by the 2010-11 school year, now won’t be ready until 2011, earliest. ‘School construction chief Allen Y. Lew attributes the delay to problems with the design, which he said “doesn’t come across as exciting to me.” He said he might also take advantage of the flat economy to send the project out for a new round of bidding, which could produce a better price….The delay has fueled community suspicions that Woodson will never reopen or that if it does it will be an elite, application-only school not open to all within its attendance boundaries.’
WaPo’s Daniel de Vise and Michael Alison Chandler go to A1 with their story on how students with the greatest need get the least experienced teachers. ‘Students in the region’s poorest neighborhoods are nearly twice as likely to have a new or second-year teacher as those in the wealthiest…The pattern means some of the neediest students attend schools that double as teacher training. The analysis found 93 schools in the past academic year at which at least a third of the faculty were beginners, with less than two years in the profession. They were chiefly in the District and in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties.’ They also cover local school systems’ efforts to help out new teachers. A few DCPS-related tidbits: ‘D.C. Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee proposes an ambitious incentive: as much as $20,000 a year for raising scores in a low-income neighborhood school….In the District and Montgomery County, full-time mentors are dispatched from the central office to observe a new teacher’s lessons and to offer tips on how to decorate a classroom bulletin board or build a class library….Many urban school systems, including those in the District and Prince George’s, are also trying to produce higher-performing novices. They have invested heavily in alternate certification programs, which seek high-caliber teachers from outside the ranks of traditional education majors.’
COULD BE BIG—-Supreme Court to rule on private placements for special-needs children.
Kids will have DPR opportunities on the six proposed teacher training days next year, DCPS announces. Writes Bill Turque in WaPo, ‘The free-of-cost programs, to be based in the city’s rec centers and selected schools, will be heavy on sports and culture with a smattering of pursuits like chess and SAT preparation. Those students who count on free and reduced price meals during the school week will be fed, [Ximena Hartsock] said. Parents will be able to enroll their kids in the activities, which Hartsock said will also try to take advantage of attractions like the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center.’
Says Politico in piece pondering President Obama’s ‘hipness,’ ‘For a brief period in the 1970s and 1980s, one might argue that Washington’s eternal pol Marion Barry was hip; that was before drugs, booze and women brought him low.’
ROBERT WONE MURDER TRIAL—-WTTG-TV: ‘A BlackBerry belonging to the victim was not copied as planned, leaving prosecutors without two crucial email messages allegedly sent by the victim on the night he died. Prosecutor Glenn Kirschner told the court the email messages were contained on a BlackBerry mishandled by the Secret Service. An attempt to recover them so far has failed.’
Nats’ value estimated by Forbes to drop 12 percent, to $406M. Via Biz Journal: ‘Across the majors, however, the sport is posting strong numbers. Team values increased on average by 1 percent in 2009 to $482 million — an all-time high. The Nationals were the 14th most valuable franchise in the league, ahead of their northern rival the Baltimore Orioles, which placed 17th for their worth of $400 million.’
Ellworth Ellwood Thompson’s grocery at DC USA is on hold: ‘In a press release posted on the company Web site Friday, owner Rick Hood cited the slowing economy as the reason for the change. The Richmond-based organic grocery and prepared market had leased 15,000 square feet and was supposed to arrive in Northwest D.C. late this year.’
NPR cuts costs, lays off 13.
Fenty hauls the troops out to Park View for a good ol’-fashioned alley walk.
Ferry service to Prince William County? It’s being tested!
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Health roundtable on recent operational developments at the Whitman-Walker Clinic, JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, fleet share announcement, 64 New York Ave. NE; 2 p.m.: remarks, DCCAH/DDOT bike rack dedication, US Department of Transportation, New Jersey Avenue and Tingey Street SE; 3:15 p.m.: remarks, Southwest Freeway stimulus project announcement, Frontage Road and 7th Street Bridge SW.