Morning all. Examiner’s Michael Neibauer stays on top of the fishy firetruck giveaway, filing stories on Peter Nickles‘ three-page report released Friday clearing city officials of any wrongdoing and subsequent calls from Phil Mendelson and Mary Cheh for further investigation. WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood also files a smart piece on the matter.
Dorothy Brizill calls Nickles’ report “the usual whitewash,” calling it “both devoid of details and full of inaccuracies.” And, she writes in themail, “it is largely a regurgitation of the story about the disposition that was publicly known as of Friday. It adds no new information, and it doesn’t answer any of the several unanswered questions….The longer the administration practices its usual secrecy in this case, the more it inflates what could have been a minor scandal into a major one.”
And this is how the Washington Post finally covers the story: First, a Saturday B8 story by JAWB newbie Tim Craig pegged to the report. More satisfying is Nikita Stewart‘s lengthy profile today of Peaceaholics and their ubiquitous founder Ronald Moten. “In four years, the group has become a multimillion-dollar operation with 70 full- and part-time workers and consultants, including Moten’s father and son. Much of the funding in those four years has come from city contracts and grants totaling $7.6 million. Moten’s salary is $111,108, up from the $42,930 in 2005, when the nonprofit had $341,093 in contributions, according to public tax filings.” MAYORAL CONNECTIONS—-“‘I’ve known Mo since I was young,’ said [Mayor Adrian M. Fenty], 38, who seemed unusually relaxed as he and Moten recalled old friends such as ‘Jim Jim’ and ‘Rog.’ Fenty and Moten grew up on the same streets of Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights and Petworth. Moten said he admired Fenty’s work ethic. ‘He’s a hustler, too,’ Moten said.”
KICKER—-Moten: “This town is so political….I know someday people will be like, ‘Okay. Peaceoholics can’t get any more money.’ I’m prepared for that.”
David Nakamura returns to OCTOgate in today’s WaPo and examines whether contracting reforms pushed by Vivek Kundra actually reformed anything. The IT Staff Augmentation contract, or ITSA, “prohibited city managers from dealing directly with subcontractors in an effort to get rid of what city employees and consultants have described as rampant cronyism….But it appears that the changes didn’t make the system more secure.” Alleged ringleader Yusuf Acar “never filed a disclosure form with the Office of Campaign Finance, according to city records. He did, however, award contracts to a company he co-owned, authorities said.”
AMEN, COLBY—-Colbert I. King to all those voucher fans out there: If they’re so damned crucial to the future of education in this city, why not try and convince your local elected officials of that? “All that stands between the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program and its future as an educational opportunity for the more than 1,700 District children it serves are eight people….They are on the 13-member D.C. Council, where only seven votes are needed to pass a District-funded voucher program. The eighth enabler? Mayor Adrian Fenty, who would have to sign the program into law. That’s right. Instead of badgering Congress to look out for the disadvantaged D.C. children who are attending private schools of their parents’ choice, courtesy of the nation’s taxpayers, why not turn to the public officials most responsible for those children—-their local representatives?…This is a home-rule issue in its purest form. Let the District’s elected leaders decide.”
The WaPo editorial board, meanwhile, sees recently released federal report as further proof of vouchers’ necessity. “The study’s findings are no slam-dunk for the program’s success, but they are, by no means, proof of failure. Indeed, for the first time, researchers found statistically significant improvement in reading test scores for students offered vouchers and that, at the very least, demands further study.” Ah, yes, “further study”…
Eleanor Holmes Norton has been following current events: “In only the 25 days between March 10 and April 5, 53 people have been killed in mass murders by gunmen. Yet, members of the House and Senate have not looked at the gun amendment, but have regarded it as just another routine attachment to a local D.C. bill. The bill would eliminate all local gun laws, making the city, including official Washington, more open to gun violence than any of the jurisdictions where the mass killings have occurred in March and April.”
Nickles to Congress: Gun amendment would make the city vulnerable to terrorists. Reports Examiner: “Nickles noted that attacks on motorcades tend to start with automatic rifle fire, taking out the lead cars so other terrorists can move in with explosives. D.C. residents now have the right to possess a registered handgun in the home for self-defense.” Also AP, NC8, WTTG-TV.
Nickles to Council: Don’t you dare screw with PERB quorums.
CRONYISM AT OPM?—-IG is investigating Office of Property Management employment allegations, Bill Myers reports in Examiner. “E-mails reveal, and sources familiar with the ongoing investigation said, that employees complained to one another and to the inspector general about: The hiring of Kelly Williams, who employees were told was the sister of Mayor Adrian Fenty’s sister-in-law. The hiring of Barry Margeson, a former colleague of Property Management Director Robin-Eve Jasper. Efforts to fire an underling in the assets section because he had clashed with [Dan Tangherlini] a decade previously, when both men were at the D.C. police department.” Says Tangherlini, “People are going to complain about one thing or another….That’s why we have an inspector general.”
Also from Myers: Off-duty D.C. cops told by Secret Service not to carry guns to Feb. 27 Wizards game attended by President Obama. Sounds reasonable to LL, but it’s a fine excuse for some interjurisdictional trash talk from police union honcho Kris Baumann: “If the Secret Service, despite their less-than-sterling reputation, believe we’re not professional enough, OK. But we spend thousands of dollars to support the Secret Service. The Secret Service has neither the resources or the skill level to do the job.” Harry Jaffe hates the policy, too! “Big deal, you might say. Who cares if a few cops have to leave their weapons at home? Cops care. I care, because the narrow ruling makes the city less safe. Under D.C. law, off-duty officers are required to carry their badges and weapons, except in a few instances. By law they have to take police action if they see a problem. Without their guns, D.C. cops are vulnerable to being whacked by bad guys if they cannot defend themselves; and they cannot protect us.”
Bill Hanbury, head of Destination DC, is leaving the tourism bureau to become CEO of United Way of the National Capital Area, Jonathan O’Connell reports in Biz Journal. “In selecting someone outside the philanthropic community, the local United Way sends a strong signal that it wants to tap into new sources of revenue. The chapter provides millions of dollars in grants to more than 900 partner agencies and nonprofits working to confront poverty, homelessness, child abuse and other social ills….But the organization has struggled to maintain relevance and fundraising after two previous executives allegedly mismanaged funds.” Also local reaction.
The Gardasil battle is still being fought, Jonetta Rose Barras reports. David Catania and Mary Cheh “persuaded the full council in 2007 to mandate Gardasil vaccinations of all girls entering the sixth grade in D.C. Public Schools. He cites approval by the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration as proof of the drug’s safety and efficacy….*Faye Williams and the Committee of Parents and Citizens to Stop Medical Experimentation agree. That’s why for the past two years they have fought aggressively against the vaccination program. They were successful in changing the law to allow parents to opt out. But that’s not enough.”
Tourist numbers are high, but those tourists aren’t spending as much as hotels, restaurants, and retail, reports WaPo’s Dion Haynes. The conclusion: More day-trippers. Says Smithsonian spokesperson: “We can only guess that people are trying to save money…People are saying, ‘I made my way to Washington and there are a lot of free things,’ and they’re not spending as much every day.”
Man sentenced to 20 years in 2007 killing of Delonte Marshall.
P.G. cop shoots man early Sunday on 400 block of 15th Street NE
Badly decomposed corpse, thought to be a man’s, found in Potomac at Alexandria docks Saturday afternoon.
Volunteers comb Fort Slocum Park for traces of Pamela Butler, missing since February. Why search Fort Slocum? Because a psychic said so. WaPo: The suggestion that the family consult a psychic came from Keith Jarrell, a neighborhood activist who also lives in Ward 4….Jarrell tracked down Butler’s brother and suggested he talk to a psychic Jarrell said he has known for more than a decade. ‘At that point,’ Derrick Butler, the brother, said, ‘I just felt like I didn’t have anything to lose. It can’t hurt, so let’s do it.’ On the psychic’s suggestion, the search was focused on Fort Slocum Park. The group was told to look out for a blue container and a black trash bag.” DRAMA—-“After about 15 minutes, a discovery: bones. ‘Everybody out of the woods!’ someone yelled. Police cordoned an area with crime tape and collected evidence. Investigators, however, soon determined that the remains were not human.” Also NC8, WUSA-TV.
The burbs are not so hot on charter schools, Daniel de Vise reports in WaPo. “The divergent fortunes of charter schools in the region offer a lesson on why the experiment in reinventing public education has succeeded in some places and not in others, proponents say. The District has one of the nation’s most charter-friendly laws, but Maryland and Virginia laws tend to favor school boards and the status quo….The Center for Education Reform, a charter advocate based in the District, ranks the D.C. law second in the nation for power and autonomy afforded to charter-school applicants. It ranks Maryland’s charter law 33rd among 41 state laws, and Virginia’s 38th.”
HOT DCPS FINANCE NEWS—-No local money set aside for teacher raises, just foundation cash, Bill Turque reported late Friday for D.C. Wire. And DCPS has reportedly instituted a spending freeze through Oct. 1.
2,000 DCPS kids getting Easter Egg Roll tix. “Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Plummer Elementary School in southeast Washington on Monday to tell students the news….Duncan, who was joined by Mayor Adrian Fenty and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, says this is the largest number of Easter Egg Roll tickets given out to local students in more than a century.” Also NC8.
Bush DOJ official smacks around Eric Holder in WaPo Sunday Outlook for his DCHVRA manueverings. “Now, it’s legitimate, if exceedingly rare, for an attorney general to contest [the Office of Legal Counsel]’s advice. The office is, after all, exercising the advisory function the attorney general has delegated to it. But there’s a right way to overrule OLC, and then there’s Holder’s way….Holder instead adopted a sham review that abused OLC’s institutional role.”
On the same subject, WaPo ed board takes a similar tack: “The attorney general is the ultimate decision maker at the Justice Department and as such is entitled to overrule opinions from the OLC. But such rejections should be based on well-thought-out differences of legal opinion and not on political preferences. Unfortunately, Mr. Holder’s highly unusual solicitation of the solicitor general’s office raises questions about what drove his actions. To dispel any concerns, Mr. Holder should order the release of all memos from the two offices on this subject and make his own views public as well.”
Metro’s “mystery riders” find service problems across the system, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. “Sales clerks ‘performed poorly on customer service,’ according to the report, earning the system’s lowest overall ranking of just 63 percent. Trains showed stains and spills, scoring 60 percent on cleanliness. Just more than half of buses had schedules available.” But looks like this will be the last “mystery rider” report for a while.
Recap of Rhee’s comments Thursday night before Council of Urban Professionals in New York.
Jack Evans is helping Rep. Roy Blunt work out his tax troubles.
D.C. Armor home opener: Team loses, fans win!
District No. 5 on list of “most likely to legalize same-sex marriage.” “Organizers have already started a site (dcformarriage.blogspot.com), and held a kick-off event last week for their ‘I Do in D.C.’ campaign, which collected more than 600 signatures of D.C. residents who support same-sex marriage….Openly gay City Councilor David Catania has promised to introduce a marriage equality bill later in 2009. So while the federal government may still be on the dark side of history when it comes to recognizing equal marriage rights for all, the city that the federal government calls home may just take a step forward for civil rights.”
There are this year’s Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship winners: Jasmin Cook, Hannah During and Malissa Wilkins of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School; Whitley Lucio of Duke Ellington School of the Arts; Alyssa Edwards of School Without Walls; Dayna Hudson of Thurgood Marshall Academy; and Joseph Church, Charlie Pulliam-Moore and Hong-Qian Zhu of Woodrow Wilson High School will all receive full rides to GWU. Also WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Potholepalooza, courtesy Examiner.
Three District Ritz Camera outlets will close.
WUSA-TV’s Bruce Johnson tracks down Victor Page.
OMG—-Actors are living in D.C.!
WX REPORT—-Man, it was nice out this weekend! WaPo gets poetical.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-9:30 a.m.: press briefing, JAWB 412; 10 a.m.: Committee of Human Services FY2010 budget hearing on Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and Children and Youth Investment Trust, JAWB 500; 10:30 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment FY2010 budget hearing on Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Office of Contracting and Procurement, Department of Human Services, Office of Property Management, Office of the Secretary, and Office of Risk Management, JAWB 412; 1 p.m.: Committee of the Whole FY2010 budget hearing on Office of the State Superintendent of Education, JAWB 120; 2 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation FY2010 budget hearing on D.C. Taxicab Commission, JAWB 123; 6 p.m.: Committee on Aging and Community Affairs roundtable on advisory neighborhood commissions in wards 4 and 5, JAWB 123.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-9 a.m.: remarks, White House Easter Egg Roll ticket giveaway, Plummer ES, 4601 Texas Ave. SE; 3:15 p.m.: remarks, Parcel 69 development announcement, 450 6th St. SW; 6:45 p.m.: remarks, D.C. College Access Program 10th anniversary gala, Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW; 7:45 p.m.: remarks, Fort Dupont Civic Association meeting, MPD 6D, 100 42nd St. SE.