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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Deborah Gist Quits Schools Post for Rhode Island Job

IN LL WEEKLY—-“All the Garnishes“: Did District tax authorities let Marion Barry off easy? Or is the Mayor-for-Life just flat broke?

Morning all. At yesterday’s FEMS budget hearing, Phil Mendelson questioned fire officials about the fishy fire-truck giveaway. He got no compelling answers, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. “I was clueless,” said Chief Dennis L. Rubin. And Assistant Chief Alfred Jeffery told Mendo et al. “that other employees of the District ‘government joined the deputy in the Dominican Republic as part of a D.C. delegation. But he said he ‘could not recall’ their names, nor who in the government was overseeing the donation.” (Also see WUSA-TV.) And, as Dorothy Brizill points out in today’s themail, Mendelson noted “there is every reason to believe that the Attorney General was in the thick of all of this”—-he oversees the rulemaking, which is how all this got discovered! Said Mendo, “This is just a scandal that’s burgeoning.”

Marc Fisher exposes the race and class divisions being exploited by the big-business interests opposing the Tommy Wells bag bill. The astroturf “Progressive Bag Affiliates,” funded by the American Chemistry Council, has hired Annapolis lobbyist Darrell Carrington, who tells Fish “he’s making the rounds of council members’ offices, arguing that any fee on bags ‘is going to disproportionately hit low-income people, who are predominantly minorities. That’s what it is. Truth is truth.'” Says Wells, “It’s an incredibly cynical approach to try to divide us by race and class, but it worked last time [during 1987 bottle-deposit fight]….I’m real nervous about it this time.”

MEANWHILE—-Nikita Stewart covers yesterday’s council hearing. Besides the “Progressive Bag Affiliates,” lining up against the bill are the director of the food pantry at Covenant Baptist Church and…former Ward 8 councilmember Sandy Allen. Also NC8, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.

Kerri L. Briggs, former Bush education official, is your new state superintendent of education, after Deborah Gist high-tails it for Rhode Island top job. Writes Bill Turque in WaPo: “The seamless timing of the transition—-Briggs was named just hours after word of Gist’s Rhode Island appointment was made public—-strongly suggested that plans for a change had been in place for some time. Briggs joined the D.C. government several weeks ago as a special assistant to Reinoso….Fenty and Reinoso saluted Gist for her work in building a state agency largely from scratch. Reinoso called the Office of the State Superintendent for Education ‘the house that Deb built.'” Also Providence Journal and Examiner’s Leah Fabel, who quotes Mary Levy: “There must have been some frustration in the role….She wasn’t really running that office anymore; Michelle Rhee is.”

Erika Peters and sons Dakota and Erik are laid to rest at Greater Mount Calvary, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty attends. His remarks, via WaPo‘s Hamil Harris: “It doesn’t get any more tragic than this….The investigation is ongoing, but there is really a need for more education and more involvement regarding the issue of domestic violence on the police level, the social service level and the community level.” Latest on CFSA involvement, via Peter Nickles: “We received the hotline call in the fall of 2006, and Children and Family Services performed services and put the family in contact with a Medicaid provider for mental health counseling. The case file was closed in 2007 because the family seemed to establish some stability.” Also WUSA-TV.

In a review of another tragedy, D.C. Inspector General Charles Willoughby concludes that the death of Banita Jacks’ children resulted from “the collective failure of the D.C. government, schools and nonprofit community to coordinate and provide the services they so desperately needed,” Neibauer reports in Examiner. Fenty is holding a presser this morning on the report.

Jonetta Rose Barras looks at the executive no-show at council’s Monday OCTO briefing. “[I]t’s hard to generate righteous indignation over the no-show. Sure, residents have a right to know what happened, who’s responsible and what’s going to be done. But the answers to those questions wouldn’t have been provided at Monday’s session any more than they were during a similar session following the $50 million theft at the Office of Tax and Revenue. It took more than a year for residents to learn the details of that scam, and there still are questions about the effectiveness of so-called remedies that were implemented….Every time a scandal breaks out, council members morph into ambulance chasers….Please.”

The Washington Nationals have paid their ballpark rent, David Nakamura reports for D.C. Wire.

Federally reported crime numbers show that violent crime rose in early 2008, Scott McCabe reports in Examiner, seemingly contradicting MPD Chief Cathy Lanier‘s earlier claims of an overall drop for 2008. “The apparent contradiction is because the District uses two different classifications, D.C. Code and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting, said Polly Hanson, head of the D.C. police statistics services bureau. The D.C. Code figures touted last month by Lanier are used to track daily trends, deploy patrols and post statistics on the department’s Web site….The District’s data showing a 6.5 percent increase was not included in the FBI’s report because it takes months to reconcile the two databases, police said. The District was the only police department of the nation’s 50 largest to fail to send its numbers to the FBI.”

Gary Emerling exposes another controversial budget-cutting proposal in WaTimes: letting prisoners out of D.C. Jail early. “The city hopes to save $4.4 million in fiscal 2010 under the plan, which would reduce the prison population by 2 percent from its current daily average of 3,000 inmates….Current law permits sentenced inmates to earn up to five days off their sentences each month by completing specified academic and vocational programs. The new proposal would extend the program to pretrial inmates and allow them to earn time off simply by participating in the programs.”

The Anacostia streetcar project won’t be up and running anytime soon, Lena Sun reports for WaPo. “The most recent delay is the result of a route change…..In November, officials announced they were dropping the southern portion to Bolling and extending the route north through downtown Anacostia, along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE to Good Hope Road….But laying track on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue will require the city to coordinate streetcar work with other streetscape improvements there, and that could complicate the project.” Meanwhile, the already-purchased cars remain in the Czech Republic: “The warranty on the cars expires in July and will have to be renewed. And the cost for the additional storage of the streetcars and related equipment is estimated to be $860,000, which would come from interest the city accrued on $16 million it set aside for the project.”

Fallout from DOJ’s DCHVRA opinion: Not much, at least among local voting-right advocates, WaPo’s Mary Beth Sheridan and Nikita Stewart report. Says Fenty, “It sounds to me like we have the support of the attorney general. As long as our citizens have the support of the person in charge, I think it’s great news.” But Mary Cheh “was one of the few city officials who expressed concern about the news. If the part of the legislation creating the D.C. seat was struck down, ‘we could have an extra vote for Utah, no gun regulation for D.C. and no vote for D.C,’ she said.”

Turque has more this morning on the charter-schools facilities funding controversy.

Howard University orders two furlough days this spring, WTTG-TV reports.

TOM SHERWOOD’S NOTEBOOK—-Points out that while councilmembers are declining their 2010 raises, they’re still collecting their 2009 raises.

In WaPo, Petula Dvorak looks at the $1.2B in GSA headed to the District—-about one-fifth of the GSA stimulus package. “The funding does not appear out of line with the District’s share of the 358 million square feet of GSA-managed building space. A little more than one-quarter of the total, 96 million square feet, is in the District….The GSA plan is good news for the region’s building industry, especially architects, who have been hit hard by the recession.”

Northeast woman attacked by pit bull tells her tale to NC8: “Residents say a family in an apartment on Webster street NE had been evicted the week before and someone tried to return one of family’s pit bulls. But because no one was at home, that person allegedly tied the dog to a rope in the alley and left. ‘That person needs to consider, very seriously consider turning themselves in,’ ANC Commissioner Gigi Ransom said.” Also WTTG-TV.

LOCAL APRIL FOOLS JOKE OF THE YEAR—-From Cleveland Park listserv: “DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA TO GET FIRST IN THE NATION PAPERLESS PARKING TICKET SYSTEM.” D.C. Wire has the “press release” in full. Says faux DDOT official, “This system will save the city over $5 million a year, will help reduce waste, and will cut back on the number of tickets that fly off of windshields and end up in the Chesapeake Bay.” GGW had a bunch of good ones, too—-especially if you’re an urbanism dork.

WaPo’s Michael Ruane explores whether an isolated stand of cherry trees out of Hains Point in part of an early batch, most of which were destroyed. “Might they be the last of the doomed, but legendary, 1910 cherry tree shipment? If they are, they could be the most ancient of the city’s famed ‘cherries’ and the long-rumored survivors of the intentional burning that destroyed the others in that batch.” One NPS worker is convinced they are.

Twenty-five years to the day after his death, 6200 block of Foote Street NE renamed Marvin Gaye Way, serves as gateway to Marvin Gaye Park. Says Yvette Alexander, “A lot of people don’t know that Marvin Gaye was actually raised right here in Ward 7.” Also WTTG-TV.

IN WAPO DISTRICT EXTRA—-Coverage of Mayor’s Arts Awards; 34 MPD officers honored for making 100 arrests; District Notebook; briefs; home sales; crime reports; and ANIMAL WATCH

John Kelly‘s WaPo column remembers the not-so-long-ago segregated days of Washington public accomodations.

Frank Gehry to design Eisenhower Memorial, Biz Journal reports. “The memorial, to be built along Maryland Avenue SW between L’Enfant Plaza and the National Mall would be Gehry’s first work in D.C., although he did design the never-built Corcoran Gallery of Art addition.” Also WTOP.

Blogger Carlos in DC elicits street opinions about Jim Graham:

Why hasn’t the city increased TANF benefits in two years?

RFK-Nats Park shuttle will be back this year. And Saturday is exhibition and “Full Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Day.”

P.G. UNITED UPDATE—-More holdups!

D.C. office space vacancy rates remain steady, says Biz Journal. “In D.C., net absorption of office space was a positive 174,300 square feet, up from a positive 86,000 square feet in the fourth quarter. The office vacancy rate in D.C. was 8.3 percent in the first quarter, unchanged from a year ago.”

NC8: “Is the Economy Producing an Increase in Swearing?”

DAMN—-No Snuggie Pub Crawl.

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation FY2010 budget hearing on District Department of Transportation, JAWB 412; Committee of the Whole FY2010 budget hearing on Special Education Transportation Administration, State Board of Education, Public Charter School Board, and the University of District of Columbia, JAWB 500; Committee on Libraries, Parks & Recreation hearing on B18-87 (“Museum of the City of Washington, D.C., Establishment Act of 2009”), JAWB 123; 2:30 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment meeting on B18-89 (on retail service stations), PR18-76 (on the nomination of James Byles to the Public Employee Relations Board), PR18-154 (on the nomination of William Purcell to the Contract Appeals Board), PR18-186 (on the nomination of Hilary Cairns to the Office of Employee Appeals), PR18-187 (on the nomination of Clearance Labor to the Office of Employee Appeals), PR18-188 (on the nomination of Diaa Nour to the Public Employee Relations Board), PR18-189 (on the nomination of Darryl Wiggins to the Public Employee Relations Board), and PR18-190 (on the nomination of Brenda Oliver to the Public Employee Relations Board), JAWB 120; 6 p.m.: Committee on Aging and Community Affairs roundtable on advisory neighorhood commissions in wards 2 and 7, JAWB 123.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, public safety press availability with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, JAWB steps; 5:30 p.m.: remarks, meritorious service award ceremony, MPD headquarters third-floor lineup room, 300 Indiana Ave. NW; 7:15 p.m.: remarks, Police Service Area 706 meeting, United Medical Center, 1310 Southern Ave. SE.