IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Hungry for Politics: Yvette Alexander“; “Hungry for Politics: Marion Barry“; “Hungry for Politics: Carrie Kohns“; “Hungry for Politics: Phil Mendelson“; “Hungry for Politics: Tommy Wells“; “Hungry for Politics: The Wrap“
Morning all. Check this exchange yesterday morning between Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and WRC-TV’s Barbara Harrison. She got the most substantive answer to date on baseball tickets. “Whose tickets are they?” she asked. “They’re the government’s tickets, pursuant to the lease agreement.” Harrison followed up: “And those tickets, you feel, are yours to hand out to whoever you want to hand them out to?” “That’s part of it, but I think the tickets go to worthy people. Kids use them, D.C. government employees, people who need to be rewarded for one thing or another. But again I’m not a ticket expert.” Also, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine took a trip to Dubai. Except he told everyone.
WaTimes’ Matthew Cella publishes a lengthy investigative piece on the state of the city emergency-responder corps. The state, he writes, is not good: ‘Scores of the District’s paramedics failed to meet the minimum national standard on written exams testing or mishandled basic life-saving procedures during videotaped assessments, according to interviews, videos and documents obtained by The Washington Times….One of the nation’s premier emergency medical professionals, who reviewed the materials at The Times’ request, said the deficiencies identified during a sweeping assessment of the city’s paramedics posed a safety crisis for the nation’s capital….[M]any of the paramedics displayed a lack of familiarity with the equipment they were using and had difficulty performing basic paramedic tasks, such as intubating a patient. He said that one paramedic put a bag valve mask that assists patients with breathing difficulties on the mannequin upside down, others mismanaged the patients’ airways, and others administered medications to cardiac arrest victims when the situation called for electric shocks. Many of the paramedics used obsolete techniques to determine the condition of the patient.’ WRC-TV has the video.
ALSO—-‘City officials originally threatened an investigation or legal action to stop The Times from publishing the materials, saying exposing the scores would hurt the city’s efforts at improving its oft-criticized paramedic service. But after a further review, D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles said too many people had access to the information to pursue any leak probe or legal action.’
Ahead of Monday’s hearing before David Catania, Whitman-Walker board chair Jim Sandman has resigned to ‘avoid any potential conflict of interest.’ That’s the big news buried inside Tim Craig‘s WaPo rundown of the Catania vs. WWC conflict LL wrote about back in January. ‘At a January council hearing, Catania accused Donald Blanchon, the clinic’s chief executive officer, of “gross negligence and malfeasance” and suggested he be replaced. Whitman-Walker’s board of directors, which has rallied around Blanchon, was so shaken by the hearing that it asked for an independent audit of Catania’s charges. The 300-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, refutes many of Catania’s allegations. Catania calls it a “total whitewash” conducted by the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP, where James J. Sandman, chairman of Whitman-Walker’s board of directors, used to work. Yesterday, Sandman resigned rather than testify before Catania’s committee.’ Also see Amy Cavanaugh‘s Blade story on WWC’s fight-back campaign.
LL WONDERS—-If WWC was going to pick a law firm to conduct an independent examination of their activities, why pick the only firm in town where there might be a perceived conflict of interest?
WOW—-This is the story behind the fishy fire truck giveaway, Dorothy Brizill is reporting: ‘Based on that introduction to Sosua’s mayor, [David Jannarone, mayoral director of development] and Sinclair Skinner, as well as some of their friends and associates in and out of DC government, started traveling to Sosua frequently to party and have a good time….[U]sing their influence, Jannarone and Skinner were able to have both vehicles inspected and repaired at DC government expense prior to being sent to the Dominican Republic. At some point, however, concerns were raised about the seemliness of transferring titles to the vehicles to Jannarone and Skinner. It was only then, in early March 2009, that they reached out to Ron Moten, Chief Operating Officer of Peaceoholics, a major District contractor, to act as the middleman in the deal. They then arranged for the emergency rulemaking. They called on two senior government lawyers, Andrew “Chip” Richardson, Mayor Fenty’s Acting General Counsel, and Thorn Pozen, Special Counsel to Attorney General Peter Nickles and the mayor’s Ethics Counselor, to provide them with legal counsel and to facilitate the drafting and publication of the emergency rulemaking in the DC Register.’
Jim Graham caves, agrees to change D.C. Metro funding legislation to match Maryland and Virginia laws, clearing the way for $1.5B in federal money. Writes Lena Sun in WaPo, ‘The District had passed a bill earlier, but it was at odds with the two states’ legislation. Under the city’s version, the federal government would have to provide the funding, not just authorize or promise it, for federal members to be seated on the Metro board. Yesterday, Graham (D-Ward 1) said the city would change its legislation to conform to Maryland and Virginia’s because the federal budget process is underway “and there’s no time to lose. “We don’t want any stones in the path,” he said.’ He promises to introduce an emergency bill at the May 5 legislative meeting. ‘Doing so would “send the message that the ball is now in Congress’s court and that of the president,” he said.’ ALSO—-Examiner, WTOP, and Graham’s move wins him kudos from the WaPo ed board: ‘Mr. Graham rightly recognized that the moral high ground wasn’t worth risking millions of dollars.’
D.C. will pay the full $27K-an-hour tab for Metro service after late Nats games, after suburban jurisdictions balk on sharing the cost. Writes Kytja Weir in Examiner, ‘[T]he mayor’s office decided to reverse the new policy Wednesday, said Deputy Mayor Neil Albert, after confusion Monday night when a Nationals game faced rain delays….the move immediately prompted an accusation that the city was showing favoritism for the losing baseball team, while other teams pay their own way for extra service. “We’ve got to have a policy in the District of Columbia where everybody is treated the same,” said D.C. Councilman Jim Graham, D-Ward 1.’ Also Biz Journal, WAMU-FM, NC8, WTTG-TV, and WaPo’s Sun, who notes, ‘Albert said the city will pay for the extra hour and a half of service after Monday’s game, roughly $40,000. That works out to about $2,531 for each of the 16 passengers who entered Metrorail after midnight.’
Ingmar Guandique, accused killer of Chandra Levy, makes his first appearance before Superior Court Magistrate Judge J. Dennis Doyle, and public defenders take the opportunity to assail a weak case. Writes Keith Alexander in WaPo, ‘[D]efense attorney Santha Sonenberg said the case lacks forensic evidence and is built largely on accounts of unreliable witnesses, some of whom were incarcerated with Guandique while he was in prison for attacks on two other women….In a statement after the hearing, Sonenberg and co-counsel Maria Hawilo, both of the D.C. Public Defender Service, said the case is based on “made-up claims” about what Guandique has told others.’ Also AP, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV. Next court appearance is May 27.
CREEPY—-NC8: ‘Ingmar Guandique, the defendant charged in the murder of Chandra Levy, has a tattoo of the slain former Washington intern on his body, sources tell ABC 7 News….The warrant shows when investigators visited his cell in California he had MS-13 gang tattoos, as well as a photo of Levy apparently ripped from a magazine.’
Harry Jaffe profiles the Rev. Chuck Turner, lobbying for the Fenty anti-crime bill. Why? ‘With his family in tow, the Rev. Turner moved to some of the city’s meanest streets, where Benning Road runs into East Capital [sic] Street….His son, Devon, became fast friends with a neighbor, Arthur Daniels Jr.…Arthur and Devon, both 14, were walking home in a group from a church meeting the last Saturday night in February when two youngmen asked where they were from. The boys clammed up. One of the men pulled a pistol. Devon and Arthur fled. Devon heard two shots….Devon called his dad and said, “They shot Arthur.”…I ran into Rev. Turner yesterday in the District Building. Accompanied by Paul Craney with the D.C. Republican Party, he was visiting council members to see if they could help him get an “invitation” to testify before Judiciary Chairman Phil Mendelson‘s hearing on the omnibus crime bill. Mendelson has closed his hearing on May 18 to invited guests. “It’s an opportunity to ensure Arthur’s death was not in vain,” he says. “I don’t want him to be just another kid shot.”‘
Possible cheating on EMT test! From Scott McCabe in Examiner: ‘The tests were recommended by a task force that called for all District firefighters to become cross-trained as nationally certified paramedics….D.C. Fire Chief Dennis Rubin said officials were investigating accusations that members used “outside materials” while taking a computerized National Registry Emergency Medical Technician exam at a training center in La Plata, Md….”If in fact these allegations are true, the D.C. Fire and EMS Department will be greatly disappointed the NREMT and the [La Plata] training center failed to meet our expectations,” Rubin said.’ Also WaPo’s Clarence Williams, who adds Mendo quote: “The purpose is to have higher, more independent testing, and the national registry is the national standard….Everything about it is great except the possibility that there is cheating.” Also NC8, WTTG-TV.
FAT LOT OF GOOD IT DID THEM—-From Cella’s WaTimes expose: ‘The Times obtained about 90 of the videotaped assessments and 95 of the written test scores. On the 95 written tests, only three paramedics scored 70 percent or above; a passing grade for an entry-level paramedic on the national registry exam is 75. Twenty-three paramedics scored between 60 percent and 70 percent, and more than two-thirds scored below 60 percent. The lowest score The Times reviewed, below 40 percent, belonged to a field training officer, the documents stated.’
WaPo’s Michelle Boorstein asks a good question: ‘Can D.C. Clergy Stop Gay Marriage Vote?’ ‘D.C.-area clergy who oppose same-sex unions are forming a coalition, but only time will tell how influential they will be on the vote….We’ll know more about who is involved as this coalition builds. Right now it’s being led by Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., minister of Hope Christian Church in College Park and a longtime (and outspoken) opponent of legal recognition of same-sex unions, and Rev. Derek McCoy, who used to work at Hope Christian and has become an oft-quoted African-American voice in other similar fights (notably California). In a letter sent to clergy, the coalition says, “If we fail to act now, history will ask – ‘Where were the pastors?'” They are planning a rally at 10 a.m. April 28 at Freedom Plaza and calling on clergy to come to the May 5 Council meeting, when the earlier vote will be ratified.’
IN THE BLADE—-Lou Chibbaro Jr. covers Stein Club vote to support gay marriage efforts, Clark Ray firing. Catania: ‘”I’m not naïve, I know what the opposition can do,” Catania told the Stein Club forum. “But if not now, when?” he said. “It offends me as a citizen to have to cower because of what the opposition will do.”‘
Theola Labbé-DeBose adds to her MPD communications story yesterday, going into further detail at D.C. Wire about why the police FOIA backlog is so extensive: ‘As of April 1, the police department has 117 FOIAs that they have not yet answered, said spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump. Of those pending, 64 have been awaiting a response for at least 15 days or longer. The oldest request dates to June 2, 2007. When asked by D.C. Wire why the agency still hadn’t answered a request from nearly two years ago, or why more than half of the pending requests went unanswered for more than 15 days, Crump attributed the backlog to personnel. “A civilian who handled FOIAs departed last fall. An officer has been handling the FOIAs and we were unaware until recently of a backlog,” Crump said. “Since that issue came to light, the Chief assembled a team to assist in handling the FOIAs. The Chief reviews the status weekly. We also have interviews scheduled to fill a vacancy for a FOIA specialist.”‘
WTOP’s Mark Segraves exposes this outrage: The city’s ticketing people for parking in their own driveways! ‘It seems Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has also been breaking the law in the eyes of the D.C. Department of Public Works. “Not only has the Congresswoman been ticketed in her own driveway, she has received a towing ticket on her car parked in her driveway,” writes Sonsyrea Tate Montgomery, a spokesperson for Norton. “She did what any other Member would do -and any resident. She contacted her Council Member, Tommy Wells, who assured her the Council will take care of this problem even if it means passing a new law.” D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) says he’s been getting lots of complaints. “For the first time in anyone’s memory,” Wells says. “People are starting to get ticketed in their own driveways. This is ridiculous and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”‘
From yesterday: Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner that council is concerned about Fenty crossing-guard cuts. ‘”Each year we seem to have children hit by cars,” Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells said during a hearing this week on the Department of Transportation’s proposed fiscal 2010 budget. “And as we closed more than 23 schools [last year], we’re requiring children to walk much farther to their school.” DDOT intends to eliminate 98 jobs overall, including 73 filled positions….The lower-paying crossing guard vacancies, however, were among the first to go. Absenteeism among the agency’s 200-plus guards is high, Klein said, and “people come and go very quickly.” DDOT also plans in 2010 to cut guards’ shifts from four to three hours, saving $527,000 but making the job even less attractive to potential applicants.’
WaPo’s Ovetta Wiggins looks at local officials who are declining to take their automatic cost-of-living raises. The D.C. Council, of course, did so last month. Now the Prince George’s Councty Council and Executive Jack Johnson are joining in.
Federal City Council throws its weight behind plan to connect Mall to waterfront via 10th Street SW, Biz Journal’s Jonathan O’Connell reports. ‘That corridor is a top priority in the Monumental Core Framework Plan passed April 2 by the National Capital Planning Commission, after years of preparation….Federal City Council President John Hill testified that his organization, a group of influential civic leaders with strong business and government connections, is prepared to be a partner. “In our view, the 10th Street corridor project ought to be prioritized and pursued as soon as possible,” he said.’
ALSO FROM O’CONNELL—-Now that CFSA isn’t moving to Benning Station development, OPM is considering moving the agency to 225 Virginia Ave. SE—-where the city had once hoped to put MPD.
Bailout cranks expected to join World Bank/IMF cranks for protests this weekend. Writes Theola Labbé-DeBose in WaPo, ‘Although organizers have secured permits for their events, they have not ruled out disruptive actions. On the Global Justice Action Web site, the event listing for tomorrow morning says: “Direct Actions—-disrupt the start of the IMF/World Bank meetings with blockades and unpermitted marches.” D.C. police will heighten security around the downtown office buildings, and sick leave and days off for officers have been suspended over the weekend, which the police department refers to as “All Hands on Deck” staffing.’ Also NC8.
In WaPo, William Wan writes about the struggle to keep the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless afloat. ‘[W]hen the economy dried up funding for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, a small army of prominent partners quietly orchestrated an intense fundraising campaign among the legal community. In the space of six weeks, the group cut the nonprofit organization’s looming budget gap in half with donations from more than 330 individual lawyers. “There’s so many nonprofits out there going through devastating times,” said Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy U.S. attorney general and a board member for the legal clinic. “What made this unique was the coming together of this town’s legal community to see this one organization through the hard times.”‘
WUSA-TV: One dead, two injured in early morning shooting. ‘Officials tell 9 NEWS NOW three men where shot in the 900 block of Barnaby Street around 1:30 Friday morning. The victims, one of which may have been a juvenile, were transported to a local hospital. One of the victims was pronounced dead at the hospital. Officials say the other two victims’ injuries are serious but not life-threatening.’
What happened to Anthony Pryor? asks WTTG-TV. ‘For Rachiell Durant and her family, it was time. They were finally ready to make the difficult walk across the Young Bridge on Thursday. Their destination was the corner of the exit ramp, where Anthony ‘Wysocki’ Pryor was found dead….The terrible discovery was made on November 23, 2008 around 6:40 a.m. Police found the 46-year-old Hyattsville resident dead at the intersection of East Capitol Street SE and the I-295 southbound exit.’
YES—-Benning Road construction to be expedited. Two repaved travel lanes in each direction by August, with project completion by December.
City gets stimulus money for vaccines.
Fenty and Graham reopen Ontario Courts affordable housing project.
EagleBank Bowl will return to RFK, with a better date and a better team. ‘The second annual EagleBank Bowl will be held at a later date this year to pit a better Atlantic Coast Conference team against Army. The colllege football game will be held at 4:30 p.m on Tuesday, Dec. 29….The game will be televised live for the second year on ESPN.’
Michelle Rhee meets with Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, in town for a UN Foundation board dinner, “to discuss various educational programmes in the Washington, DC area.” IN OTHER ROYALTY NEWS—-Spanish royals moving to town.
Alum Tim Gunn to send off Corcoran grads.
Catania does interview for movie about closeted gay Republicans.
Borders is trying to sublet F and 14th space.
Hybrids park for half-price today at Reagan Building.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee of Aging and Community Affairs FY2010 budget hearing on Office on Aging, Office of the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, Office of Veterans Affairs, Serve DC, Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, Office of Community Affairs (including Office of African Affairs, Office of GLBT Affairs, Commission on Women, Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services, Office of Women’s Policy and Initiatives, and Youth Advisory Council), JAWB 500.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, DDOT bridge construction announcement, Anacostia Drive SE (north of the 11th Street Bridge complex); 12:45 p.m.: remarks, DOES Summer Youth Employment Program update, East of the River Clergy-Police-Community Partnership, 4105 1st St. SE; 2:30 p.m.: remarks, MPD All Hands On Deck announcement, Barnaby Street and Wheeler Road SE.