IN LL WEEKLY—-Basket Case: Did mayoral kiddie-hoops squabble end Parks and Rec manager’s career?
Morning all. LL will use this prime space here to plug his colleague Jason Cherkis‘ cover profile of Greg Bowyer, one of the two fire investigators currently suing the city for being drummed out of the FEMS investigative unit. Cherkis followed Bowyer around all day to see how a good employee’s been wasted. Also on the wasted-human-resources beat, David Nakamura recaps fired DPR official Michael Williams‘ whistleblower lawsuit alleging he was fire for asking questions about Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s kids’ hoops team—-but you really want to read LL’s column instead. And see Fenty react this morning on WTTG-TV!
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington to close four clubhouses, two in D.C.: the Jelleff branch in upper Georgetown, and the Hopkins branch in Capitol Hill. WaPo: “D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2)…expects the city to purchase the facility. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has proposed spending $15 million over five years to buy the building and maintain it as a community center. But council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), who chairs the council’s Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation, said budget constraints could impede that plan. ‘In a better economic climate, the city could have been in a better situation to support the Greater Washington Boys and Girls Clubs,’ Thomas said. ‘We have a lot of projects in our capital inventory that need to be addressed.'” Also WTTG-TV.
Did David Catania conspire with a Vermont colleague to drop gay marriage votes on the same day? Yes and no, according to Nikita Stewart and Tim Craig in WaPo: “D.C. Council member David A. Catania and Peter Shumlin, president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate, met at Sarducci’s restaurant in Montpelier two weeks ago and discussed gay marriage legislation in their jurisdictions….In movements such as the decades-long fight for gay rights, there are orchestrated moments, and there are moments of opportunity. The story of Catania (I-At Large) and Shumlin (D) and the news made this week in their jurisdictions may fall somewhere in between. The two men have been talking about pushing gay marriage since they met seven years ago….Catania, Shumlin and other advocates said that Tuesday’s actions hinged on one factor: timing….Catania said his move on Tuesday was not coordinated with Vermont’s, but he and Shumlin have strong ties.”
ALSO—-Tuesday’s vote was hashed out privately between Catania, Phil Mendelson, and Vincent Gray on Monday night. AP does story on possible congressional involvement, quoting DAC extensively. D.C. Wire notes the local GOP is yet to say a peep on the issue. Carlos in DC has video of locals talking about the issue. And NEWS FLASH—-people disagree on the issue, WaPo finds.
Jonetta Rose Barras, god bless ‘er, says we all should just chill about the fishy fire truck giveaway already—-especially, YOU, Mary Cheh. “How many special committees with subpoena power can she handle? She has yet to close out the one investigating the board of elections. Last week, she said she would open another to probe allegations of fraud at the Office of the Chief Technology Officer. And now, she wants to subpoena everyone and their mamas who may have been associated with the firetruck donation. Have mercy!” GOOD POINT—-“[I]f council members use the bullhorn to alert the city of executive branch problems, it seems hypocritical for them to ignore issues in their own backyard. When The Examiner reported last year that [Jim Graham] had twice used fire department personnel as waitstaff for his birthday party and a holiday party, neither Mendelson nor Cheh sought an investigation or blasted their colleague for the apparent misuse of government employees.”
AAAND…Ron Moten is feeling put upon for this whole fire truck thing, Bill Myers writes in Examiner. The “embattled” Peaceaholics head “said he has been unfairly scrutinized simply for doing a good deed. ‘If we would have thought that trying to help … would have brought about all this chaos, we wouldn’t have done it,’ Moten said.” And Sinclair Skinner‘s name comes up again!
Jonathan O’Connell runs down all the former-school bids in Biz Journal: “Developers have expressed interest in all 11 of the vacant schools being offered…but two—-Hine Jr. High School and Stevens Elementary School—-received the vast majority of the interest. There are 10 bids for Hine, a 131,300-square-foot Capitol Hill school next door to Eastern Market, and nine for Stevens, located just east of Washington Circle on 21st Street in Foggy Bottom. Both Bertie Backus Middle School on South Dakota Ave. NE and Grimke Elementary School at 1925 Vermont Ave. NW in the U Street corridor received three bids. The seven other schools received either two bids or one.” NOTA BENE—-“The University of the District of Columbia is a bidder on Backus, a plan supported by Councilman Tommy Thomas, D-Ward 5.”
Marc Fisher ponders the future of Nationals Park and its environs, gets all poetic: “The promise that the return of baseball brought to this forlorn part of Washington seems distant now. One hundred and fifty-four buildings have been demolished in what used to be the city’s industrial zone, a back lot dotted with seedy nightspots and dingy warehouses, all bulldozed to make way for a stadium where men play games and fathers and sons dream together….[W]e will cleave into two camps. Some will say it’s time to return to reality: The owners aren’t spending the money it takes, the team’s still a loser, the game’s in decline, times are tight, let’s stay home and watch TV. Others will embrace possibility, believing there is a plan and it can work. They’ll say that a place right next to a Metro station, with tens of thousands of people walking by each evening, can’t remain empty for long….The future of the team, the neighborhood and the economy depend on how we split between those two views. For all the pain, all the jobs and savings we’ve lost, the next stretch is—-as a president who stood tall only with the aid of braces taught us—-ours to make.”
D.C. Public Schools: You Should Really Send Your Kids Here! DCPS, indeed, launches new ad campaign to draw kids back from charters. Writes Nakamura in WaPo, “[T]he campaign, titled ‘Rediscover DCPS,’ has been launched by Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee as one step toward stemming the decline in public confidence in a system whose enrollment has plummeted from 80,000 students three decades ago to 45,000 this year. In addition to the radio spots, the $9,000 campaign, which makes a particular push for special education students, includes a section on the school system’s Web site featuring 13 elementary and middle schools, and earlier school registration dates, officials said at a news conference yesterday.” Also WTTG-TV.
NOT OTR AGAIN—-Sisters charged in massive tax fraud (well, not that massive for this town), Del Wilber reports in WaPo. Carolyne R. Jones, 50, and Johanna R. Jones, 47, ran tax-prep businesses, which they used to solicit some $700,000 in fraudulent refunds from the D.C. government, federal prosecutors allege. “They are accused of submitting 173 fraudulent tax returns in the names of their clients to the D.C. government from 2005 through this year….The government paid $720,328 in refunds, but the clients never saw a dime because the sisters told the government to deposit the refunds into bank accounts they controlled, authorities said.” Also WaTimes.
Bruce Johnson follows up on Tuesday’s inspection station bribery story, interviews fired DMV employee about inspection practices.
Michael A. Brown holds hearing on voting-rights bill, gives his colleagues a nice little soapbox. “About 100 people attended the hearing before the Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination, which is chaired by Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At Large)….[S]everal Council members unleashed heated rhetoric last night in speaking out against the amendment. The theatrics appeared aimed at the audience, who appeared to overwhelmingly support gun control [ya think, Tim?]….Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) questioned whether District residents should boycott the 4th of July. ‘Why do we celebrate July 4?’ Gray asked. ‘What are we celebrating? Hypocrisy? Why don’t we all work on Independence Day?…What do we need to do to raise the activism?'”
IN THEMAIL—-Gary Imhoff sees gay-marriage vote as sabotaging DCHVRA: “So what are the next steps? A vote to legalize drugs in DC? A resolution of support for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program? After all, the DC Voting Rights Act could still squeak through, regardless of our politicians’ hard work against it. There has to be some other way to antagonize enough members of Congress to ensure that the DC Voting Rights Act won’t pass, and guarantee that DC will continue to have the grievance that its politicians seem to prefer to a Congressional delegate’s floor vote.”
Clients of city mental health clinics protest impending privatization on JAWB steps, Darryl Fears reports for D.C. Wire. “The D.C. Department of Health began taking steps to close its Community Service Agency (CSA) clinics by March 2010 and enter into contracts with about 30 private clinics, saving an estimated $14 million a year. About 4,000 clients are affected. Organizers said the demonstration was a chance to give visibility and voice to clients who oppose the change. About 75 people participated, organizers said. The estimate could not be confirmed.”
Regional homelessness increased 15 percent in a year, COG survey finds. WaPo: “In its ninth annual count of the region’s homeless population, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments found that 5,263 people in families, including children, were homeless on Jan. 30, up from 4,566 a year earlier….In all, 12,012 homeless people were counted, up 2.2 percent from last year. Arlington County’s 24 percent increase, from 410 to 511, was the highest; Prince William recorded a 14.5 percent increase, from 550 to 630. Montgomery and Frederick counties and the District had smaller increases, while Alexandria and Prince George’s, Fairfax and Loudoun counties reported decreases.” Also Examiner.
MORE COG—-“Researchers for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments surveyed nine area school districts and found that although all met federal nutrition guidelines for meals, none met the recommended 150 minutes of physical education a week. The average elementary school recess was 15 minutes a day and jurisdictions offered 40 to 90 minutes a week of physical education, the survey found,” writes Annie Gowen in WaPo. “Schools also need to collect weight data on students by tracking their body mass index (BMI) to provide a better picture of obesity trends, according to the report. Only the District and Arlington County track the BMI of all students, although there are smaller programs in Loudoun and Prince George’s counties.”
White House launches $45M HIV/AIDS campaign with a nod to D.C. “‘Act Against AIDS’ will feature public service announcements, advertising placards on trains, buses and other modes of public transit, text messaging and a Web site, NineAndaHalfMinutes.org,a reference to the frequency with which 56,000 people a year are infected,” Fears writes for D.C. Wire. “White House Domestic Policy Director Melody Barnes said the District was a specific place of concern because of its AIDS problem. A recent study by the D.C. AIDS Administration that showed that the HIV and AIDS prevalence rate was at 3 percent.”
Peter Nickles gets his sue on, NC8 reports, targeting groups allegedly scamming black churches. They offer free computers, but agreements “required churches to unknowingly make long-term lease payments totaling more than $50,000….Prosecutors say the equipment’s only worth a few thousand dollars and frequently malfunctioned. Nickles said it’s unconscionable to target churches focused on helping the needy.”
Could more Metro express buses be in the offing? Kytja Weir, in Examiner, says yes: “Metro is looking to create 24 priority corridors with their own express service by 2015….The Metro board plans to look at the program this week, with the idea that the priority corridors will help increase ridership by providing faster and more reliable trips — two sources of complaints among regular Metrobus riders.”
Howard student James Duncan, 24, is missing, NC8 reports. He was last seen “around 4:00 p.m. March 26 at his Howard University dorm on the 2200 block of Sherman Avenue NW….What adds mystery to the case is the discovery of Duncan’s vehicle. D.C. police say they found his 1998 burgundy Toyota Camry in the 2600 block of North Capitol Street on Monday.”
Authorities are investigating rash of drug overdoses, NC8 reports. “Some are questioning if the deaths were caused by a bad batch of drugs or higher potency drugs. Police are not making any assumptions, but sources say officially that the four deaths that occurred over a one-week period are now under investigation.”
D.C. man not happy with Metro Cherry Blossom performance, tells WaPo about it: “I find it particularly ironic that Metro advertised its ability to transport us during the festival, then demonstrated its inability to do so efficiently. A high-profile event such as the Cherry Blossom Festival warrants rush-hour service at rush-hour fares.”
Superior Court Judge Robert R. Rigsby is deploying to the Mideast, NC8 reports. “The Vallejo, Calif., native has served as an active and reserve member of the Army for nearly 30 years and didn’t hesitate about deploying, saying it’s his duty to serve….Rigsby will serve as the Army’s only judge in Iraq and Kuwait for six months.”
$144M Powerball ticket sold at Camp Simms Giant, WTOP reports. Winner has yet to be found!
MOCO UNITED?—-Montgomery County, Frederick County officials express some interest in luring D.C. United, Biz Journal’s Tierney Plumb reports. How’s this for a mealy-mouthed maybe, from Montgomery councilmember: “I think there are some potential options in the county, and I think it’s at least worth having conversations with people about it….Clearly the D.C. United team is looking to have local place to have a facility….I would entertain us at least talking to folks about it to find out the deal structure. We’ve had conversations about trying to build an arena anyway, so it’s not a new concept.
CP’s Amanda Hess asks why Washington AIDS International Teens (WAIT)—-an abstinence-preaching group—-can’t get city funding. HAA, she reports, “has denied WAIT’s repeated requests for funding since the program started up in 2002. In that time, WAIT has staged at least 120 performances a year in 20 states and 15 countries, and been rejected for a dozen federal and local grants. Tsubata, who works closely with more generously funded locals like Planned Parenthood and Metro Teen AIDS, says the renewed interest in the AIDS crisis will only reinforce the AIDS cash status-quo.”
Federal appeals court rules against Delaware State professor who says new UDC chief Allen Sessoms fired him out of retaliation.
“Frozen Four” hits Verizon Center this weekend.
In Biz Journal, O’Connell also notes that $50M NoMa residential tax breaks passed Tuesday. “At one point, NoMa was on track to get more than 8,000 new residential units by 2012, but the developers behind those projects stopped or dramatically slowed their plans when the recession hit. The tax breaks could encourage major residential projects by Archstone, Camden Property Trust, Trammell Crow Co. and other developers.”
ANNALS OF FLACKERY—-D.C. Wire: “Audrey A. Williams, who worked in the DCPS communications office, is now the public affairs manager for the D.C. Public Charter School Board. She joins communications manager Nona Richardson,” reports Theola Labbé-DeBose.
WashCycle covers DDOT budget hearing: “That’s six hours of my life that I’ll never get back. They say watching government is like watching sausage being made. Incorrect. Watching sausage being made might be interesting. Watching the DDOT Budget hearing was like watching sausage watch the DDOT budget hearing. Snoozeville.” Also a stimulus project rundown.
Richard Layman asks, “Will streetcars really return to the Capital City?”
Destination D.C. goes to search firm to find Bill Hanbury‘s replacement.
If RFK Stadium is around in 2018 or 2022, it might be used as a World Cup venue.
“A Woman We Love: Michelle Rhee”
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Health FY2010 budget hearing on Department of Health, JAWB 412; Committee of the Whole FY2010 budget hearing on D.C. Public Schools, JAWB 500; Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs FY2010 budget hearing on Public Service Commission, JAWB 120; 11:30 a.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on B18-134 (“Demolition or Raze Permit Community Notification Amendment Act of 2009”) and B18-173 (“Continuation of Health Coverage Amendment Act of 2009”), JAWB 120; 2 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment hearing on B18-140 (“Citizen-Service Programs Amendment Act of 2009”), JAWB 123.