IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“Should District-Funded Lawyers Be Able to Sue the District?“; “Hoyer: D.C. Vote Through House By May?“
Morning all. So Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is back in town. Good to have you back! So anyone out there see him between Thursday and today? No? Well, at least we know where he’ll be when he’s out of town Friday—-at the national convention of Al Sharpton‘s National Action Network in New York, where he’ll join Sharpton, Joel Klein, Margaret Spellings, Mike Bloomberg, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Kevin Johnson for “A Conversation on Education.” Let’s see if that public event shows up on the public schedule.
MORE ON DOMINICAN FIRE TRUCK GIVEAWAY—-In Examiner, Michael Neibauer has Mary Cheh, “key D.C. Council member,” demanding an explanation for the the bizarre giveaway of emergency vehicles to Dominican Republic beach town. But Dave Statter at WUSA-TV is the guy who really advances the ball, discovering local news account from the DR placing FEMS officials there in January. “The ambulance and fire truck will be transported by ship, and should arrive in Puerto Plata around mid-February. The Americans will also send instructors to train paramedics and personnel from the fire department on how to use such modern equipment.”
WaPo follows up on the latest Marion Barry tax news over the weekend, putting the Ward 8 councilmember’s self-serving explanations on B1. Barry tells Hamil R. Harris and Del Quentin Wilber that he didn’t pay his D.C. back taxes for months because “he got into a ‘dispute’ with District tax collectors….’They had lost the records,’ he said. ‘I went back and forth, back and forth. Our position was that until we get it straight I would not pay. I take the position that just because I am a council member, I shouldn’t lose my rights as a taxpayer.'” Meanwhile the ed board calls out the “the seeming lack of concern from D.C. officials with this high-level scofflaw,” calls on Vincent Gray to “take an independent look into how Mr. Barry was treated” and “get him off the finance committee pronto.”
NB—-LL owes an apology to Harris and Wilber for suggesting their Friday story on Barry needed a correction. An early Web version of the story contained the same mistake LL himself had made, but the print version was A-OK.
D.C. jobless rate hits 9.9 percent. “D.C.’s jobless rate soared much faster than city officials had predicted. In December, Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi projected that unemployment would reach 9.8 percent in 2010, the highest percentage since the early 1980s. The rate likely will climb higher with the announcement this month by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) that the city would lay off 776 employees to close a budget gap.”
Tony Williams abandons bid to join Catholic group Order of Malta after pressure brought due to his political positions.
In his Saturday column, Colbert I. King calls out Michael A. Brown et al. for “Fake Fury” on mayoral budget proposal. “Whining is unbecoming. Besides, where were the tears last year when, in one night’s work, the council appropriated $56 million of taxpayer funds to local groups after a minimum of public debate and scrutiny?” And he has similar word for the complaints of union chief Joslyn Williams: “Well, Josh, look at it this way: Maybe the mayor didn’t ignore the role you played at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last summer when your union printed and distributed thousands of fliers describing him as ‘image-conscious’ and ‘a budget shattering, union-busting, promise-breaking political boss.’…I dunno, Josh. I’m not a whiz on protocol, but I have a hard time imagining that your approach is the best way to get invited to a seat at the mayor’s budget-planning sessions.”
Also on Saturday, the WaPo editorial board points out “worrisome” changes in charter school facility funding: “In place of the current $3,109 per student per year, the mayor’s budget proposes that charter schools submit ‘allowable costs’ to the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which would use a sliding scale of $1,000 to $3,109 per student. There is no question that the current funding formula produces inequities between charters that have different needs and demands. But the mayor’s plan would prevent charters, many of which are crammed into inadequate spaces, from saving money to build up the capital reserves needed to secure bank loans to obtain new space.”
DUH—-Councilmembers agree not to take their 2010 COLAs, saving about $75K. WHAT ABOUT THIS YEAR?
Was Jack Evans having a shower installed in his council office? Nikita Stewart reports in D.C. Wire that workers showed up this week to begin doing so, but council secretary Cynthia Brock-Smith says this Thain-ian perk is not happening: “There’s not going to be a shower…There was a misunderstanding.”
ALSO—-Jack Evans, parking scofflaw?
NO SURPRISE—-Executive branch refuses to send officials to council briefing on OCTOgate.
Shaw Middle School students lobby DCPS to add an extra grade to their school, Jay Mathews reports in WaPo. And it does. “[Michelle Rhee] said this would be only for Shaw eighth-graders who wanted to stay, and only this once….At least 90 Shaw eighth-graders have signed up for the new ninth grade.” Says Rhee, “It’s maybe not the right decision for the system, but it is the right decision for those kids.”
SOME COMPANION READING—-Matthews has written a series of articles on Shaw (temporarily housed at Garnet-Patterson) and its principal, Brian Betts. Make no mistake: Shaw has gotten the benefit of expanded resources, too—-more than $5,000 more per pupil than troubled Hart MS—-as Bill Turque pointed out in Saturday’s Post. “Shaw, more than 150 students short of predicted enrollment, effectively benefited from its underpopulation. The study shows the average class size at Shaw, which is in Ward 1, is 15.4, compared with 24.8 at Hart, in Ward 8. ‘Shaw is just awash in resources,’ said the study’s author, Mary Levy, an education finance specialist with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. ‘If Hart had had the resources Shaw does, it might have been a different story.'”
Biz Journal’s Tierney Plumb has more on Southeastern University merger. Says board chair J.R. Clark, “the merger process, which includes an assessment phase and due diligence phase, could be completed before the year is out. The schools have had preliminary discussions that resulted in a potential name change to ‘The Graduate School at Southeastern University.'” As for Charlene Drew Jarvis? “[H]er plan is to take ‘a six-month hiatus and get back into the marketplace.’…’This is my home where my family is, and this is where my passion is, so I am not sure what the next step is.'”
Fred Hiatt, on the WaPo op-ed page, recaps Bill Gates‘ visit to 15th & L to talk education. The “Obama-Duncan-Gates-Rhee philosophy of education reform,” Hiatt calls it. The Gates Foundation, he writes, “has spent about $4 billion seeking to improve high schools and promote college access since 2000, along the way gaining valuable experience on what does and doesn’t work. Based on those lessons, Gates names two priorities: helping successful charter school organizations, such as KIPP, replicate as quickly as possible; and improving teacher effectiveness at every other school.” The latter is where Rhee comes in.
New DCPS uniform policy laid out, Leah Fabel reports in Examiner. “‘Extremes in style and fit and extremes in style of grooming, as determined by the principal, will not be permitted,’ it says. And ‘non-prescriptive sunglasses, hats, clothing that exposes armpits, a bare-back or midriff, see-through clothing, and accessories with protruding metal spikes are not to be worn.’…The biggest change, however, is that principals can require every student to comply with the dress code. The final clause in the previous policy neutralized its effect by stating that no student could be penalized for noncompliance.”
Neibauer eagle-eyes budget, notes that Fenty plan shuts down Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Commission, saving $750K. Budget book explains that the commission “is not functioning and no funds have been spent.” Funny that, Phil Mendelson points out—-“the panel was not functioning because the Fenty administration never appointed any members to serve on it.”
In WaTimes, Gary Emerling points out that Fenty is once again proposing to raise 911 phone fees in his budget proposal—-to $1.15 for cell phones and $1.01 for landlines. And once again, Mendo is against it. Dan Tangherlini‘s justification: “Our point is that these resources fund a fundamental service for everyone in the District of Columbia….We think that everyone that benefits from that service should chip in to defray the cost.”
WaPo’s Donna St. George kicks off her B1 story today about the economy’s effect on children with an anecdote about a District kid who offers to work at Wendy’s after his mom and dad are laid off. He’s 10. “Tough times have trickled down to the youngest generation. Many children of today’s recession are reeling along with their parents. Some have been uprooted from their homes and schools. Others are pitching in to pay the bills or seeing fewer of the extras they once enjoyed: camps, vacations, sports teams, allowances.”
SCAMMER WAITERS—-From Examiner: “Wait staff at several Washington-area high-end restaurants stole credit card numbers from customers and ran up a $750,000 tab at stores like Gucci and Barney’s of New York….The customers victimized at the District’s M&S Grill, 701 Restaurant, Clyde’s of Gallery Place and Bowie’s Carrabba’s Italian Restaurant, as well as National Harbor’s main hotel and Gaylord National Hotel, are not alone. Similar scams have cropped up nationwide.”
Teacher at Young America Works charter school charged with molesting student. AP: “Authorities say 57-year-old Ricardo Cuaderes is being held in Howard County Detention Center for allegedly abusing the 14-year-old boy. Cuaderes has been charged with one count of child sexual abuse, three counts of second-degree sex offenses and two counts of third-degree sex offenses.”
Cherry Blossom crowds strong, WaPo says: “The Tidal Basin was a light blush of pink yesterday, with the cherry blossoms in their gawky, preteen stage of early bloom. Still, the area was flooded with people: the veteran blossom watchers who fuss over the flowers and visit them several times every year; the natives who decided to finally see what all the buzz was about; and the tourists, who seem to be coming in large numbers despite the faltering economy.”
Bank robber caught downtown Friday afternoon after footchase.
Renee Bowman, the Calvert County woman who allegedly suffocated her daughters and placed their bodies in a freezer, is charged with murder and child abuse. “The case has heightened concerns about child welfare services in the District. Bowman, who had been a foster parent to each of the three girls, received $2,400 a month from a program that encourages adoption of children who are wards of the state. The city’s Child and Family Services Agency recommended Bowman as a suitable adoptive parent, even though she had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001, the year she adopted one child, and had just emerged from it in 2004, when she adopted two others.”
Funeral for the Peters family set for Wednesday at Greater Mount Calvary.
Jason Cherkis explains the futility of trying to deal with any agency spokesperson these days. Call the mayor’s office, they say!
WTTG-TV: City cameras to check your car insurance?
City says it will continue to run Eastern Market, Neibauer reports in Examiner. “The city’s contract with former manager Eastern Market Ventures expired Jan. 1, and the Office of Property Management hoped to have a new contractor in place before the market’s scheduled reopening this summer. But the responses to a request for proposals fell short of the ‘standards we were looking for,’ OPM Director Robin-Eve Jasper said in a statement. It was unclear how many bidders offered to take over.”
Harry Jaffe tries to pick trash out of Rock Creek, finds little trash. Moral of the story: Go farther up the creek!
WAMU-FM: “Anacostia Residents Complain of Neglect”
More CAPCO counterstrike.
Doug Jemal‘s giant pile of dirt blamed for shifting Metro tracks near Cheverly requiring more than $9M in repairs.
Metro farecards can get demagnetized! Free money for WMATA! STORY LL WANTS WRITTEN—-Why have two SmarTrip card LL has bought stopped working after a couple of months’ use?
Derailment repairs continued until early this morning.
Las Vegas Review-Journal covers Kwame Brown‘s “Roses amendment.”
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Health FY2010 budget heating on Department of Mental Health, JAWB 500; Committee on Aging and Community Affairs FY2010 budget heating on Office on Human Rights and Office on Latino Affairs, JAWB 412; executive briefing on OCTO scandal, JAWB 120; 11 a.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearing on Bill 18-115 (“Fire and Police Disciplinary Action Procedure Amendment Act of 2009”), JAWB 123; 2:30 p.m.: Committee on Economic Development FY2010 budget heating on Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and Department of Small and Local Business Development, JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10 a.m.: remarks, New S9 Metrobus express route ribbon-cutting, 16th Street & Columbia Road NW; 3:15 p.m.: remarks, Sweepercam street cleaning initiative kickoff, Anacostia Avenue and Dix Street NE.