Morning all. Here’s your WaPo Sunday A1 lede: “HIV/AIDS Rate in D.C. Hits 3%; Considered a ‘Severe’ Epidemic, Every Mode of Transmission Is Increasing, City Study Finds.” Reporters Jose Antonio Vargas and Darryl Fears get a preview of city health reports on HIV/AIDS infection rates and heterosexual behavior. “Together, the reports offer a sobering assessment in a city that for years has stumbled in combating HIV and AIDS and is just beginning to regain its footing. A more accurate accounting of the crisis offers a chance to contain what is largely a preventable disease….So urgent is the concern that the HIV/AIDS Administration took the relatively rare step of couching the city’s infections in a percentage, harkening to 1992, when San Francisco, around the height of its epidemic, announced that 4 percent of its population was HIV positive.”
THE QUOTE EVERYONE WILL REMEMBER—-From HAA chief Shannon Hader: “Our rates are higher than West Africa….They’re on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya.” And she knows—-she worked in Africa for years.
The Adrian M. Fenty travel report is out. If LL’s exhaustive coverage wasn’t good enough for ya, try David Nakamura at WaPo or Mark Segraves at WTOP. The takeaway: Fenty took $36,300 in trips from foreign governments and hoped no one would notice.
Couple of nice WaPo stories on OCTOgate over the weekend. First was Nikita Stewart‘s look at Yusuf Acar‘s resume, which included this tidbit: “Acar and his wife, Galen, have three children and live in Northwest Washington, where they own a $1.4 million home. They each gave the $2,000 maximum to Fenty’s 2006 mayoral campaign, and Galen Acar was active in the PTA.” Then you had Nakamura’s look at allegations of cronyism in OCTO procurement procedures: “Consultants who work with the technology office said yesterday that the bribery allegations emphasize their long-standing complaints that the agency lacks sufficient oversight to ensure that contracts are awarded fairly. They described a system in which project managers have virtually unabridged authority to issue ‘purchase orders’ for consultants and then decide which ones receive the contracts. Furthermore, they said, some managers making the hiring decisions used to work for the consulting companies that are making bids, and some of the consultants once worked as full-time city employees.”
Jonetta Rose Barras on the scandal: This is something which Suzanne Peck hath wrought. ‘”Vivek continued the model that Suzanne created,’ said one source, citing as one example a case in which an OCTO employee created a company. Both the business owner and the business’ employees simultaneously worked for the District. That system appears to be at the crux of current concerns.”
LOTS MORE MS. NICE CHANCELLOR—-Michelle Rhee sends a letter to DCPS teachers essentially saying ‘My bad!’ “In a letter to the District’s 4,000 teachers and specialists yesterday, Rhee acknowledged that she might have tried to take on too much too soon, Bill Turque reports in WaPo. Wrote Rhee, “In our exuberance to fix everything all at once, we’ve thrown so many different programs at you….Please know that this comes from a desire to support you, not inundate you…..But now I see that we may have pushed on too many different fronts all at the same time.”
WATIMES EXCLUSIVE! In interview with Deborah Simmons, Rhee grades herself thusly: “On an absolute scale … I would give myself an F.” Read two grafs down for context: “If my goal is to provide every child that’s in my care an excellent education, we’re an F on that….I want to be evaluated on the quality of education that I’m providing to kids.”
Two more BRPAA members quit, Michael Neibauer writes in Examiner: “Paula Ionatti and Barrett Evans, both five-year members of the Board of Real Property Assessments and Appeals, resigned last month. They are the latest to leave the critical panel, which has in its pipeline more than 4,000 appeals of tax year 2009 property assessments — roughly 20 percent more than 2008.”
Lots of coverage of the D.C. Auditor’s report on CAPCOs: Stewart writes in WaPo about DISB oversight hearing, where the agency’s “commissioner and a director struggled to explain the program’s benefits.” And here’s Neibauer.
Neil Albert gave a speech to the BIA Thursday, and Biz Journal’s Jonathan O’Connell was there. Albert’s message: Get to know your councilmember. “Albert, speaking before hundreds of real estate professionals at the National Press Club, said real estate companies must help District officials ‘understand what it is that affects the way that you do business’ as the industry tries to emerge from the recession….’So we want to encourage you to be close to elected officials in this city….We want to encourage you to pay attention to legislation and legislative changes that come before the council of the District of Columbia. We are, meaning the executive, we’re kind of tired of fighting the fight alone sometimes. This is a call enlisting you in the struggle.'”
WaPo ed board wants politicians to wait for evaluation of voucher program to be completed before deciding whether to kill it or not. “There is strong anecdotal evidence from parents of students receiving scholarships that their children feel safer and more secure, are better motivated and work harder in their new schools. Perhaps the most critical factor, though, in an evaluation of success lies with the results due this spring from the U.S. Education Department’s ongoing scientific study of the program. No matter what one’s predisposition towards vouchers is, it would be foolhardy not to study — and learn from — these findings.”
Harry Jaffe covers the Rhee v. Randi showdown: “Weingarten has moved to D.C. and works here at the union’s office, ostensibly to manage the nation’s second-largest teachers union, with more than a million members. But lately she’s been going head to head with Rhee over a contract for the local union, with 4,000 members. The two met once at Rhee’s office on North Capital Street and once in AFT’s headquarters. They are scheduled to meet again, this time with a third party who might help them come to some agreement. George Parker, actual head of the local WTU, is no longer on the front lines.”
WaPo examines economy’s hit on local government pension plans, with the District’s funds down by $1 billion since January. BAD CALL—-“In the District, for instance, 11.5 percent of the retirement funds covering firefighters, police officers and teachers was invested in mortgage-backed securities as of Sept. 30, 2007. Such securities, often representing a convoluted repackaging of shaky loans, have been at the heart of the nation’s financial crisis.”
IN OTHER ECONOMY-SUCKS NEWS—-WaPo’s Ashley Halsey reports on how tough times are stressing the Washington Animal Rescue League. “The demand for free services has been so great that the clinic will see only the pets of people who have been unemployed for at least three months. And the crush of newly poor comes as donations to the private, nonprofit agency have fallen so sharply that staff hours have been reduced.”
More on Marshall Heights police shooting, from Examiner. According to court document, Jelani Slay “fired at the woman several times, striking her once in the left arm, according to the warrant. At the same time, the officer exited from the driver’s side, and pulled out his service pistol and shot at Slay numerous times, hitting Slay once in the upper body and once in the left hand.”
In Sunday WaPo op-ed, Peter Nickles details Fenty crime legislation and also includes this note of candor: “With the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, our city is entering an era in which we expect legal gun ownership to increase. The Fenty administration will comply with the ruling and ensure that law-abiding residents can possess handguns in their homes for self-defense. At the same time, criminal gun possession or use will not be tolerated.”
Man who reportedly jumped in front of Metro train at McPherson Square Friday was a Metrobus driver placed on administrative leave after being involved in an accident. WaPo: “Kurtland Johnson, 42, of Washington…was on leave pending an internal investigation into an accident March 6 on Connecticut Avenue between his N8 Metrobus, and a car. No one was injured in the crash. It is standard procedure for bus drivers and train operators to be put on administrative leave while the agency investigates accidents.” Also Examiner, WTOP.
Is a prank call to an Inspector General investigating you automatically obstruction of justice? Federal appeals court says no, according to Examiner’s Bill Myers.
Charter schools afraid of getting screwed in budget cuts, WTOP says.
WaPo’s Ian Shapira writes up a pair of gay promoters and entrepreneurs, including the founder of The New Gay Web site. “Their separate enterprises have led them to an unsettling conclusion about what it’s like to be young and gay in Washington: Despite the liberating effects of embracing one’s sexual orientation, being young and gay in the nation’s capital can feel constricting.”
Eastern Market improvements mean vendors moved off 7th Street SE, says Examiner report.
More on new National Mall signs from WaPo‘s Michael Ruane: Turns out when they mean signs, they mean signs that tell you that the Washington Monument is the Washington Monument. “Many foreign and American tourists have no clue what they’re looking at or what to expect when they arrive, the Park Service says. Officials say, for example, that they often get calls from the public asking if there is a Nordstrom on the Mall.”
Cops say dog-shooting incident is under investigation, according to WaPo. LATEST ON THE DOG—-“The family’s dog remained at Friendship Hospital for Animals….Veterinarian Ashley Hughes said the hospital received more than $4,700 in donations for the dog’s care. The dog will not need surgery and should regain its ability to walk, Hughes said.”
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Libraries, Parks, and Recreation agency performance oversight hearing on D.C. Public Library, JAWB 500; Committee on Aging and Community Affairs agency performance oversight hearing on Office of Aging, Commission on Aging, Office on Human Rights, Commission on Human Rights, and Office of Community Affairs, JAWB 412; 10:30 a.m.: Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary roundtable on “Capital Projects and Space Needs for Public Safety Agencies,” JAWB 123; 12 p.m.: Committee on Finance and Revenue meeting on Bill 18-18, the “NOMA Residential Development Tax Abatement Act of 2009,” JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, HIV/AIDS report announcement, Unity Health Care Hunt Place Health Center, 4130 Hunt Place NE; 7 p.m.: remarks, Pershing House Tenant Association community meeting, 3701 16th St. NW.