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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Now That’s Constituent Service!

Morning all. More details are slowly leaking out about the shady-as-hell emergency vehicle transaction first revealed last week by Examiner’s Michael Neibauer. He’s back at it today, reporting that Deputy Fire Chief Ronald Gill Jr. spent 10 days in a Dominican resort town starting in late January, costing the city $810. Meanwhile, WUSA-TV’s Dave Statter asks this question: “[H]ow could a deputy fire chief spend 7 days in the Dominican Republic at taxpayers expense and Chief Dennis Rubin, or Gill’s boss, Assistant Chief Alfred Jeffrey, not know about it?” He also cites “industry sources” estimating the rigs’ value at $35K rather than $350K. LL also recommends you watch yesterday’s segment on NewsTalk With Bruce DePuyt featuring Peaceaholics honcho Ron Moten along with Dorothy Brizill. Good stuff, especially toward the end!

SAYS ONE WAG—-“The city is sure stretching this story out over many days. Interesting PR strategy.” And here’s a question: When will the Washington Post cover this story?

WaPo A1: Carrie Johnson writes that DOJ lawyers drew up opinion calling D.C. house vote legislation unconstitutional, but new AG Eric Holder found other lawyers in the department to sign off on the DCHVRA. Why important? “A finding that the voting rights bill runs afoul of the Constitution could complicate an upcoming House vote and make the measure more vulnerable to a legal challenge that probably would reach the Supreme Court if it is enacted.” Oh, and WaPo tries to make it a political flashpoint: “Holder’s decision to get involved may expose President Obama’s Justice Department to some of the same concerns raised by Democrats during George W. Bush‘s presidency….Holder, who has lived in the District for more than two decades, co-signed a 2007 letter with other prominent lawyers supporting D.C. voting rights legislation.”

MEANWHILE—-Politico cites DCHVRA as major point of division among House Dems, saying the bill “has stymied congressional Democrats and pits party colleagues against one another. Many are wary of bringing a bill to the floor that, while supported in principle by a majority of Democrats, essentially benefits only one member of their caucus: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton. Because of indecision over whether to bring the bill to the floor with an ‘open rule,’ which would allow gun-friendly amendments, the bill could be a tough vote for every congressional Democrat. And Democrats are certainly loath to send the president a bill he may veto.”

Harry Jaffe writes a fab column about Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s harder-than-it-needs-to-be path to re-election. He quotes extensively from operative “who has run and won campaigns from California to Vermont to Congress to Ward 7.” His take: “The only one who can beat him is Adrian Fenty…He’s doing a great job of making himself look like every other politician blinded by the arrogance of power.” Example 1: Council relations. Example 2: Cronyish board picks. Example 3: Travel opacity.

Early look at this week’s CP cover story: Jason Cherkis has three questions on the Peters family murders: How long did it take police to get inside the apartment? What was the involvement of the Child and Family Services Agency with the Peters family? And what did the police know about alleged killer Joseph Randolph Mays?

THE BAG LOBBY MOBILIZES—-Jonathan O’Connell at Biz Journal and Nikita Stewart at WaPo report on lobbying efforts by plastic bag manufacturers against the Tommy Wells bag bill. “[T]he Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council have rallied some residents against the measure. Residents in wards 7 and 8 have received automated calls about the bill. The argument is that the legislation would negatively impact low-income residents,” Stewart writes. Oh, and waaah!Christine Nyirjesy Bragale, who is handling public relations for the Affiliates, said the group is upset about the fact that the first witness opposed to the legislation is No. 77 on the list for tomorrow’s hearing.” WaTimes also runs bag story.

Fenty appears on education panel; some chestnuts, courtesy David Nakamura: “People ask me as mayor, wasn’t it politically risky? I think politics has changed in this country. The politically popular thing is to challenge the status quo and take on the school board’s entrenched ways.” “Whether it’s the school board or unions, people want them to get out of the way of the chancellor and allow her to do things….Get rid of the school board. Just do it. They have no purpose anymore…At least in urban education.” INCIDENTALLY—-Arne Duncan also endorses mayoral takeovers.

Courtland Milloy sees the allegations made in a lawsuit by fire investigators Gregory Bowyer and Gerald Pennington as “straight out of the Jim Crow era.” The federal lawsuit holds that management in the Fire Investigations Unit has gone from all-black to all-white. “The case is in the hands of the courts. But what’s come out so far strongly suggests that when it comes to racial progress, the clock is slowing at the D.C. fire department.”

SERIOUSLY?—-“The suit alleges that after Fire Chief Dennis L. Reuben, one of several high-profile white department heads…” LL knows WaPo copy-editing ain’t what it used to be, but you can’t spell the name of the fire chief correctly?

ACLU files federal lawsuit accusing District of using excessive force in Trinidad raid last August, Del Quentin Wilber reports in WaPo. “Police had a warrant to search the property and were seeking ‘firearms, ammunition, holsters’ and other items that might connect the woman’s son to the killing of a 19-year-old man….But the ACLU says officers did not seek permission from a judge, as required under D.C. law, to execute the warrant at such an early hour. Youngbey, who is seeking unspecified damages for property damage and emotional distress, awoke to the sounds of explosions and breaking glass caused by flash-bang grenades at her rowhouse….She was held for a time at gunpoint, and memories of the raid still terrify her, she said.” The son, she says, hadn’t lived there for years. Also Examiner, WRC-TV, WTTG-TV.

Still more from Prettyman: H Street NE nonprofit pays more than $100K to the District to settle fraud claim, Wilber writes. “In court papers, [prosecutor] wrote that the [Institute for Behavioral Change and Research] submitted 19 fraudulent invoices to the D.C. Department of Health’s Addiction Prevention and Recovery
Administration for $111,172.11 for services it never provided.”

SWEET—-GSA plans to spend $1.2 in the District, O’Connell reports in Biz Journal. “D.C. would be the nation’s top beneficiary of GSA spending….D.C. will receive $662 million for energy efficiency modernization of six federal buildings, $450 million for a new headquarters complex for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at Saint Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast and another $93 million for smaller improvements on 16 other federal buildings.”

Examiner’s Teddy Kahn covers Nat Gandhi‘s Hill appearance: “Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, D-Hawaii, asked Gandhi what could be done ‘to create a culture of integrity’ in the city government. Gandhi promised to strengthen oversight, both through internal programs such as ethics training and a fraud reporting hot line, and more vigilant external auditing….Senators focused questioning of Gandhi on two major financial scandals that rocked city government.” OTR and OCTO, natch.

WaPo ed board spills yet more ink on Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson and principal Brian Betts, following up on Jay Mathews‘ recent column about provisional 9th grade. Good on ya, DCPS, they write.

Streetlight outage causes rush hour chaos. WaPo: “A Pepco spokesman said a circuit apparently shut down about 2:30 p.m. near Constitution Avenue NW. The circuit powers traffic signals from 13th to 17th streets NW. Delays there had ‘a ripple effect’ said D.C. police Lt. Daniel Ewell Jr., who said rush hour probably lasted an extra hour and a half.” Also WTTG-TV.

Examiner’s Kytja Weir details Metrobus cuts; District is much less affected than suburbs. ALSO—-Examiner details bus operations improvements.

Gay marriage organizers collect petition signatures at Dupont Circle event, Blade reports. “The petition…says, ‘Two people in a committed and loving relationship doing the work of marriage deserve the cultural respect, social support and legal responsibilities that come with it. It is unfair to shut some people out. By adding my name I PLEDGE MY SUPPORT FOR THE FREEDOM TO MARRY and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.’ The petition also asks signers to provide their e-mail address and phone number.”

WAMU-FM covers controversy over limited sharing of juvenile justice records. “It’s illegal to publicize a juvenile’s criminal record, in part, because it could ruin one’s prospects for a job or admission into school. But that’s exactly what Tameka Whitaker, a 20-year-old ex-offender, fears will happen if the district lets city agencies share juvenile records,” reports Patrick Madden. “Supporters of the proposal say allowing different agencies to communicate with each other like the police and the school system will make it easier to protect at-risk youth.”

PCSB chair Tom Nida on proposed changes to charter school facility funding. “The perceived level of risk of lending money to charter schools is already substantial….We already have risks around tight credit, capital, interest rates, and school management. If the Mayor now injects political risk into the system it could really bring things to a halt.”

Asks WASAwatch: “Is WASA’s Definition of ‘Accurate and Useful Information’ Different from the Public’s?”

New Circulator routes now in operation.

WAPO BRIEFS—-Two convicted in Columbia Heights murders (also WTTG-TV); police charge two in recent murders.

Police search Rock Creek Park near 16th and Piney Branch for Pamela Butler, missing since mid-February. NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV.

Jonetta Rose Barras looks at poet E. Ethelbert Miller‘s new memoir, The 5th Inning. “This column isn’t a book review — although there is much to appreciate in Miller’s second memoir. It’s experimental: part jazz riff, part poetic meditation reminiscent of Pablo Neruda and filled with multiple voices. It’s haunting. Rather, this is a salute to a South Bronx transplant who has enriched the cultural and political life of the District for more than three decades.”

Kwame Brown does GGW live chat; LL colleague Ruth Samuelson calls Kwame out for dodging not-particularly-tough question on McMillan development.

Americorps volunteer not happy he’s been beaten three times at or near his apartment complex (hose location is not disclosed).

P.G. UNITED UPDATE—-Annapolis bill held up due to “constitutional problems.”

TONIGHT—-Statehood “teach-in” 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Capitol West front.

LL’s new boss: Same as the old boss! Also Biz Journal.

IN MEMORIAM—-LL sends his condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Adeyinka Cynthia Adesioye, a staff member for Yvette Alexander who died suddenly a week ago Monday. Alexander’s statement: “Our hearts are truly heavy as I sadly announce to you the loss of one of our family members, Adeyinka Cynthia Adesioye, who suddenly passed away last Monday morning. Words cannot describe the sadness and the pain that we feel as a family, an office, and a Ward today. Adeyinka, who had just turned twenty-seven, was a smart and energetic person in our office, in the Ward, as a graduate student at American University, and as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Our hearts go out to her family, friends and sorority sisters. She will be sadly missed and never forgotten.” Funeral scheduled Monday; details here. Read more about Adeyinka at the AU Eagle.

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary FY2010 budget hearing on Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Office of Administrative Hearings, Office of Police Complaints, Metropolitan Police Department, and forensics lab, JAWB 412; Committee on Economic Development meeting, JAWB 123; Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs FY2010 budget hearing on Office of Tenant Advocate and Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, JAWB 500; 1 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment and Finance and Revenue joint hearing on Bill 18-150 (“Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009”), JAWB 120; 5:15 p.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation meeting on “Director of the District Department of Transportation Gabe Klein Confirmation Resolution of 2009,” JAWB 123; 6 p.m.: Committee on Aging and Community Affairs roundtable on advisory neighborhood commissions, JAWB 123.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-9:15 a.m.: participant, tree planting, Shepherd ES, 7800 14th St. NW; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, D.C. Circulator route expansion announcement, 18th Street and Columbia Road NW; 7:30 p.m.: remarks, Parkview United Neighborhood Coalition community meeting, Parkview Recreation Center, 693 Otis Place NW.