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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“More Mayor-Council Baseball Ticket Travails

Morning all, and play ball! The Washington Nationals’ home opener kicks off shortly after 3 p.m. today, without President Barack Obama there to throw out the first pitch. But Mayor Adrian M. Fenty will be there, and perhaps members of the council, should the two parties work out the ticket squabble LL reported on Friday. As of 11 a.m. today, they hadn’t.

Saturday NYT piece by Rachel L. Swarns rounded up speculation over where the Obama family will regularly attend church. Will it be Gold Coast stalwart Nineteenth Street Baptist? Perhaps Calvary Baptist or National City Christian, “multiracial churches closer to the White House”? The connections may tell the story: “Melody C. Barnes, Mr. Obama’s domestic policy director, is a member of Peoples Congregational. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who is friendly with Mr. Obama, has prayed at Nineteenth Street Baptist. And Rev. Jim Wallis, a left-leaning evangelical and a friend of Mr. Obama, has had good relationships with the clergy at National City Christian.” Don’t miss quotes from Michael A. Brown and Terry Lynch!

YET—-On Sunday, the Obamas ended up making the most boring choice possible, choosing to stroll—-well, not stroll—-across Lafayette Park to St. John’s Episcopal. Reports WaPo, “Joshua DuBois, the White House’s top faith adviser, released a statement yesterday saying the first family was ‘honored to worship’ at St. John’s but ‘has not made a decision yet on which church they will formally join in Washington.’ By all accounts, their decision to spend yesterday at St. John’s was a safe bet.” Also AP.

Tim Craig‘s first big D.C. Council story for WaPo says that the legislative body is “feeling emboldened” by a Democratic president and Congress, citing recent heat on the bag ban and gay marriage. “By wading into such issues, the council raises a question about how far it will go in testing Congress’s views on social policy in the nation’s capital. Social and economic liberalism have deep roots in the District government, but some observers say the dynamics on the council this year set the stage for more activism….Memories of the city’s federally appointed financial control board are fading. And the council is starting to feel more secure about picking battles with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), making it harder for the administration to dissuade council members from taking up controversial issues. Perhaps most importantly, council members said, the relatively progressive views being espoused on Capitol Hill and in the White House are easing the fear of federal intervention.”

Dana Hedgpeth and David Nakamura go WaPo Sunday A1 with examination of stalled development around Nationals Park: “City officials and developers say nobody should have expected the area to change overnight. The stadium district is part of a massive redevelopment effort in Southeast on both sides of the Anacostia River, which is projected to take more than a decade. The area around the Verizon Center downtown, officials pointed out, took years to develop into a neighborhood that draws residents and visitors day and night…..Investment in the stadium area has been led by the city government. In addition to the ballpark, the city paid for new roads, sidewalks and parks, committing a total of about $1 billion….That was intended to attract private developers, who rushed in and spent more than $2 billion to build 16 apartment complexes and office towers….In retrospect, it was too much, too soon, some developers said.” Also NC8.

In Examiner, Bill Myers exposes problems at Transition Academy at Shadd ES, a Marshall Heights public school intended to serve disturbed and special needs students. The King of FOIA gets all sorts of sweet documentary of detail depicting a school out of control this year before big changes were made in October. Said court monitor Clarence Sundram, “Shadd is a disaster.” Said DCPS chief of staff Lisa Ruda, Shadd was “an extreme disappointment.” Said consultant, “[T]his school is unsafe for any student, and a breeding ground for lawsuits.” And then there’s this nugget: “Staffers referred to Shadd as ‘Iraq.'”

Myers also pulls back to look at some broader effects of the Shadd crisis: “The collapse at Shadd Elementary School set back D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee‘s broader reform plans for the city’s moribund special education system, internal documents show. By pulling bureaucrats away from their desks to stand guard in the violent hallways at Shadd, the city fell way behind in helping other special needs services, e-mails show. The work piled up and the city’s $300 million-plus special education system, already under two federal court consent decrees, fell into further chaos.”

WAMU-FM reporter David Schultz finally got his recording of an interview back Friday evening, two days after VA authorities seized it from him. “VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has ordered a top to bottom review of last week’s incident in which VA guards confiscated the equipment of and detained [Schultz]. The incident happened when Schultz tried to interview a veteran at a town hall meeting at D.C.’s VA hospital.” More and more.

Timesman, former WaPoer David Segal looks at the variety of fees being entertainment by states and municipalities across the U.S. to close budget gaps. Of course, he mentions this: “Washington’s mayor, Adrian M. Fenty, has proposed a ‘streetlight user fee’ of $4.25 a month, to be added to electric bills, that would cover the cost of operating and maintaining the city’s streetlights.”

AP’s Brian Westley covers extensive White House outreach to D.C. schools: “D.C. students are a familiar sight at the White House these days. Since Barack Obama became president on Jan. 20, they have been invited to break ground for a new vegetable garden, celebrate Black History month and, in Miss Thompson’s case, get a pep talk from the first lady on the importance of working hard to reach their potential.”

Marc Fisher uses his Sunday column to pick apart gay marriage in the District, kicks off by pondering the secret “Spagnoletti memo”! Then it’s on to David Catania righteousness! “I’m tired of leaning over the fence at the playground, waiting to be bullied….I am unwilling to live under the confines of civil unions or domestic partnership laws, which needlessly and gratuitously say I am not the equal of everyone else.” But what’s a discussion of the political realities of same-sex unions without a splash of cold water from Rick Rosendall: “We don’t think this is the year,” the activist tells Fisher.

On Saturday, Colby King recounted three stories we may have missed. No. 1: Two former DYRS wards caught behaving badly—-yeah, yeah. No. 2: The fishy fire truck giveaway to a town described by Columbia University as a “sexscape”—-yeah, yeah. No. 3: That Department of Human Services director, Republican refugee Clarence Carter had a pair of friends hired through DHS contracts. Whoa!

Jonetta Rose Barras says in Examiner column today (yet to be posted online) that current fiscal irresponsibility has her thinking she’s back in 1993—-you know, Sharon Pratt Kelly and the “fifth quarter.” What prompts such comparisons? Jim Graham‘s squeeze-the-rich proposal: “A spendthrift, the Ward 1 councilman has never seen an entitlement program whose funding he didn’t want to increase, especially around election time. The man loves to reach in other people’s wallets.”

HAPPY ENDING TO DOGNAPPING—-On Saturday morning, WaPo covered the sad details: “Sparky, a beloved mixed-breed dog, was stolen Tuesday, and his owner, Charles E. Boyd, a 92-year-old Columbia Heights resident, said last night that he is ‘still having a difficult time.’ Sparky is a Shih Tzu-poodle mix that…is ‘like his son,’ said Boyd’s niece.” But by that night, after a blitz of media coverage, the dog was returned to Boyd, tells WaPo he “feels like he ‘hit the $50 million lottery’ after being reunited with the pet.” Also NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.

Rebecca Renner, writing in Salon, says federal Centers for Disease Control had role in covering up harm done to D.C. kids by waterborne lead. “[T]he CDC discovered in 2007 that many young children living in D.C. homes with lead pipes were poisoned by drinking water and suffered ill effects….Yet the health agency did not publicize the new findings or alert public health authorities in D.C. or other federal agencies that regulate lead, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or Housing and Urban Development….George Hawkins, director of the District Department of the Environment, in Washington, says he became aware of the 2007 study only on April 2 this year, when Salon showed him an abstract of the study. Scientists from other agencies, including EPA and HUD, also say they were never told about the results.”

More hand-wringing, rhetorical excess over the Fenty crime bill: Examiner’s Michael Neibauer covers April 3 letter from Cathy Lanier, Peter Nickles, and Jeffrey Taylor urging quick passage of the bill. “In short, lives may be saved if the Omnibus is enacted in the spring, rather than at the end of the summer,” they write. Replies Phil Mendelson, “If they’re concerned about delay, they should point fingers at themselves.” Man of Action Jack Evans says he’ll “move emergency legislation in June to immediately implement certain provisions of the bill.”

Also from Examiner: Catania proposes standards for unused-pharmaceutical disposal—-standards beyond flushing them down the toilet, anyway: “The bill…would establish drop-off and mail-in programs for disposing of unused prescription drugs, and would require the Department of Health to participate in that collection and disposal process. Hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies also would have to implement a safe plan to get rid of their discarded drugs.” Why? Because there’s drugs in our drinking water!

Hamil Harris follows up on news of District’s lawsuit against alleged church scammers, detailing the losses caused by expensive, useless computer equipment. “Mount Horeb Baptist Church in the District said it lost $62,000 and has cut services to make ends meet. New Redeemer Baptist Church in Forestville lost $15,000. [First Baptist Church of Highland Park]…lost $5,000….Churches were offered cost-free information kiosks, placed prominently in their foyers, that were to be interactive and allow members to access church information and community activities. Fenty said the churches received faulty equipment and lengthy leases that cost thousands of dollars. Some churches’ bank accounts were raided, he said, after they provided the companies with checks that included their bank information.” Also WTTG-TV.

Cherry trees planted in Anacostia Park, near Good Hope Road SE entrance, as part of festival, WaPo’s Clarence Williams reports. “The Anacostia blossoms cannot compete with the resplendent show that heralds spring every year around the Tidal Basin. But the new cherry trees in Southeast are reminders of blossom-gazing opportunities in other, less-touristy locations….Rain forced yesterday’s event inside the Honfleur Gallery, one of the trendy businesses that have opened in Anacostia in recent years. Local leaders and residents munched on muffins as the trees were dedicated to three longtime community leaders: D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8); Albert R. ‘Butch’ Hopkins Jr., president and chief executive of the Anacostia Economic Development Corp.; and Philip Pannell, executive director of the Anacostia Coordinating Council.”

DATELINE MOTOR CITY—-Robert Bobb is shaking things up in Detroit, NYT says, with plan to close 23 schools this year, with another 30 to 40 closings to come. (via DCist)

Harry Jaffe is all over the place in Examiner column about Nationals’ home opener. First he defends the ownership: “The Lerner family understands patience. As real estate developers, they are known for buying property with the long view of developing it decades down the line.” Then he says they’re idiots: “If the Lerners want to build a franchise, and they are willing to invest for long-term fan loyalty and profits, why did they not sign [Ryan Zimmerman] to a long-term contract? He’s young, he’s a worker, he’s a sweetheart, he could be headed to the Hall of Fame. Yet the Kasten-Lerner negotiating team could sign Zim only to a one-year deal….If the Lerners want us to show up tomorrow and Opening Days into the future, they ought to secure Zim and a few others.” Moral of the story: Go to the ballgame!

Jelleff clubhouse board member Denis James raises some good points in a WaPo letter today: “Despite talk of closure for the past two years, the Jelleff club is expected to show its 15th consecutive surplus this year. Last year, we were $86,000 in the black. Why close a financially successful club?…So the parent organization can sell it, of course. Years of mismanagement and frequent executive turnover, with no vision or imaginative programming, have brought the BGCGW to this point. Why does a medium-size nonprofit need to pay $250,000 to a chief executive and $130,000 each to five chief officer positions, with lots of other overpaid middle management?”

WTOP: Anacostia streetcar route change cost $1M.

In WaPo, Dr. Gridlock goes deep into Potholepalooza, including everything you ever wanted to know about the “Pothole Killer,” which “looks like a big metal mosquito, with a proboscis ready to plunge into the asphalt skin of the street. As the driver advances the truck, its snout clears debris from a pothole, then adds a bonding agent, followed by a blast of pebbles.”

MORE DR. G—-Reader asks, “I wonder if I am alone among the hundreds of thousands of daily Metro riders who face the Himalayan commuters and heel walkers. I am talking about the obnoxious folks who carry bulky backpacks to work and have no sense that anybody else is on the train but them. They carry enough gear for a Mount Everest climb, and their packs stick in your face if you are sitting, or push against you if you are standing.”

WaPo ed board goes ballistic yet again about the pending end of vouchers: “It’s clear, though, from how the destruction of the program is being orchestrated, that issues such as parents’ needs, student performance and program effectiveness don’t matter next to the political demands of teachers’ unions.” And the paper publishes a couple of letters from readers similarly ticked off: “It is particularly difficult to understand why some party leaders would not allow even those students already enrolled in the program to continue….What a pity to drive them out of these schools to please the unions.”

Chinese Community Church, at Fifth and I, dedicates its new, towered, Formstoneless edifice. WaPo’s Jacqueline Salmon covers: “The church, the only Chinese house of worship in the District, out of more than a dozen in the region, is a gathering place for the area’s disparate Chinese community and reflects the patterns of Chinese immigration in the Washington area. Even though most members have long scattered from the city as the suburbs have grown, about 350 of them return each Sunday to the Chinese Community Church.”

Man convicted of laundering $2.2M for terrorists, drug traffickers through District-based business is sentenced to 21 months: “Between October 2003 and September 2007, a witness cooperating with federal authorities told Saifullah Ranjha that the money Ranjha was laundering on the witness’ behalf was linked to al Qaeda and drugs….According to court documents, Ranjha used his company Hamza Inc. to run an international money-laundering network composed of people and businesses who transferred cash without relying on a conventional banking system. Members of the network lived in Canada, Spain and Belgium.”

Crystal Washington, 44, gunned down Friday morning in broad daylight at 14th and Maryland NE in suspected drug hit; man shot Friday afternoon in broad daylight at Minnesota and Nannie Helen. And man shot early today “in the 4200 block of 4th St. southeast…drove himself to a local hospital where he later died shortly after 1:00 in the morning,” says WUSA-TV.

Four arrested for running alleged brothel on 3rd Street NW. NC8: “Sources say a woman called 911 Thursday morning and claimed she was being held against her will inside the house. When the police arrived, sources say the woman told detectives she had also been raped….No one answered the door at the house Friday night, but residents say they are relieved police took action.”

Woman drives into McMillan Reservoir Friday night.

Two Northwest dry cleaners robbed Friday.

D.C. apartment rentals still performing better than national average, Delta Associates reports via Biz Journal. “While the D.C. area posts one of the lowest vacancy rates of any metro area, compared to the national rate of 6.6 percent, D.C.’s rate is still high by its standards.”

Lotsa people went to church yesterday, WaTimes says. And lotsa people went to the WH Easter Egg Roll this a.m., AP reports.

Ingmar Guandique is now in Oklahoma.

As of March 31, no more extra emergency homeless shelter space.

GMU wonk: Regional economic outlook improving.

GWU students get active on gay marriage, Hatchet reports.

WAPO WX—-It rained!

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING—-John Kelly remembers the old, pre-1961 Sibley Hospital.

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-No events scheduled.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-8:15 a.m.: guest, Morning Joe, MSNBC; 10:45 a.m.: remarks, Theodore Hagans Cultural Center ribbon-cutting, 3201 Fort Lincoln Drive NE; 3:05 p.m.: remarks, Nationals opening game, Nationals Park, 1400 South Capitol St. SE; 7 p.m.: remarks, Northeast Boundary Civic Association meeting, Beulah Baptist Church, 5820 Dix St. NE; 8 p.m.: remarks, Congress Heights Civic Association meeting, Petey Green Community Center, 2907 MLK Jr. Ave. SE.