IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“LL Breaks Down the OCTO Allegations“; “City Authorized $13M in Payments to Charged Contractor“
Morning all. Here’s your day-after stories on OCTOgate: WaPo’s B1 story, by Del Quentin Wilber and Nikita Stewart, pegs the aftermath thusly: “The ultimate cost to the city is not known, but the disclosure comes as it is trying to recoup its losses from an embarrassing tax swindle that siphoned almost $50 million from its coffers over almost two decades.” In Examiner, Bill Myers and Scott McCabe lede with the fact that the White House placed former CTO Vivek Kundra on leave from his new federal job while things shake out. WTOP and Mark Segraves not only have exhaustive coverage, but videos, too! Also NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, Computerworld, Network World.
WHAT’S NEXT—-“Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Hibarger told a federal judge that Acar is a flight risk because agents seized $70,000 in cash in his house and because in recorded conversations, he boasted that he could easily flee to his native Turkey….U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola ordered the Northwest Washington resident held without bond until a hearing Tuesday. At least three other D.C. employees who have not been charged were involved in varying degrees.”
FENTY REAX—-“Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) said he was unaware of the technology office investigation until yesterday’s raid and arrests. He said the city will ‘cooperate fully’ with the probe.” Also video.
Southeastern University is in grave danger of losing its accreditation, according to Susan Kinzie in WaPo and Jonathan O’Connell in Biz Journal. Why? “[F]or deficiencies that include financial instability, dwindling enrollment and a lack of academic rigor, according to a panel that reviews colleges and universities. Loss of accreditation would probably be a death knell for the long-struggling small private college in the District,” Kinzie writes. But there’s hope in a merger—-but not with UDC. The USDA Graduate School is the prime suitor. O’Connell: “Negotiations with the USDA school are in the advanced stages, said J.R. Clark, who chairs Southeastern’s board of trustees. ‘It isn’t a done deal, but I think we’re far enough down the road to say that without their being any significant, unforeseen factor.'”
Harry Jaffe isn’t reticent to name names in the murder of Arthur Daniels, 14. Were prosecutors responsible to letting his killer on the street? Or Judge Gregory Jackson? Or Judge Robert Morin? Or Magistrate Diana Harris Epps? Or Magistrate Elizabeth Wingo? Pick a winner!
YOU GO, WAPO—-Ed board summons strong words to describe police decision to release virtually no information on Marshall Heights police shooting last weekend. “Given the city’s refusal to provide a complete accounting of the circumstances surrounding the shooting of 14-year-old [Deonté Rawlings], is there reason to think information will be any more forthcoming in the case of Mr. [Jelani Slay]?…Police officers face great dangers in doing often-thankless jobs, but they also benefit when the public has confidence in their actions.”
On WaPo A1, Bill Turque details the violence against a pair of teachers at one Northeast school—-the Woodson Academy, the temporary home for H.D. Woodson 9th-graders. The two who go on the record “count five other teachers or administrators who they said have been attacked this academic year, including one who was pelted by textbooks and another pinned to a desktop and choked. Other teachers…are routinely subjected to verbal threats of violence.” SAYS THE BOSS—-“Principal Darrin Slade said he knew of three student assaults on staff members this year. He said the teachers were distorting the situation to deflect attention from their own professional shortcomings. ‘These are disgruntled teachers in the process of being terminated….We have one of the safest ninth-grade programs in the city.'”
Another good Biz Journal story from O’Connell: “Bethesda-based concrete and construction giant Miller & Long has helped form a think tank — D.C. Progress — to push for lower taxes and less regulation in the city. The group is chaired by Brett McMahon, the chairman of Miller & Long.” ALSO—-Jack Evans tries to make his commercial tax relief plans happen.
It’s been one year since the Mount Pleasant apartment fire left hundreds without their homes, and WaPo’s Petula Dvorak writes that little has changed since. “A year later, no work has been done. The facade of a four-story building that had been the heart of a vibrant and diverse neighborhood looks much as it did right after the fire.” As for the tenants? “Many…have moved to different pockets of the city, a handful on Georgia Avenue and some on Park Road. A few families returned to El Salvador, their American dreams dashed after they decided the price of starting over was too high. ‘All these people, the children, the families—-gone,’ said the clerk at the El Progreso market across the street, who knew most of the tenants who came in daily for vegetables, pan de leche, plantains or soap.” Also NC8.
District expands unemployment benefits, Biz Journal’s Tierney Plumb reports. “The plan is to increase the number of phone lines, triple the number of claims takers and extend the hours of operation of its unemployment call centers and career centers, announced Fenty on Thursday with Department of Employment Services Acting Director Joseph Walsh. New perks for jobless residents include a supplemental $25 weekly compensation outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which will be added to unemployment payments starting next week.”
GRAHAM FAIL—-Jim Graham‘s plan to use stimulus money to close budget gap falls apart during “heated” and “contentious” meeting, WaPo‘s Lena Sun and Examiner‘s Kytja Weir both report. “In a compromise, the board agreed that each jurisdiction would increase its contribution, reduce Metrobus service or use some combination of the two to close its share of the $29 million gap,” Sun writes. “Cuts could affect only routes in a particular jurisdiction and could not negatively affect other jurisdictions. Maryland’s share is the largest, about $16 million. Fairfax County has to come up with about $4 million and the District, about $5 million.” SO TWO MORE WEEKS! Also Capital News Service, WAMU-FM.
WaTimes claims big scoop on Fenty comment saying politicians “should not disrupt the education of children who are presently enrolled in private schools” using vouchers. Uhh, guys? He said the same thing Wednesday afternoon at Nathans. Read your LLD!
JAIL LAW GETS NICKLED—-Attorney general tells D.C. Jail that it doesn’t have to follow 2003 law barring prisoner releases after 10 p.m. Writes Paul Duggan in WaPo, “Peter Nickles issued the order Wednesday despite strong criticism last month from the chairman of the D.C. Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, who told Nickles in a letter that he could not ‘unilaterally’ declare District law unconstitutional. ‘It is irresponsible for the attorney tasked with defending the District to now risk liability to the city by stating unequivocally that the law was and is unconstitutional,’ Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) said in a Feb. 19 letter.” MENDO SEZ—-“the council will consider a legislative remedy….’He has set up this impossible situation where we pass a law and he rules that he doesn’t have to comply with it….That throws into question whether we can pass any law if he doesn’t like it.'”
“Mayor” John Ensign takes to WaPo op-ed page to defend his indefensible gun meddling. “Democratic leaders in the House know that a strong majority in their own chamber, a majority composed of Republicans and pro-gun, moderate Democrats, reflects the overwhelming sentiment in our nation that unreasonable gun control measures are ineffective at combating crime and infringe on residents’ rights. This strong sentiment led me to sponsor the amendment, and it is why I believe House Democrats need to allow a vote….Congress cannot stand idly by while city officials thumb their noses at the Supreme Court and the Constitution by depriving law-abiding citizens of their Second Amendment rights.”
Waterside Station project “topped off” yesterday, D.C. Wire reports. “D.C. government departments will occupy 1.2 million square feet of office space at the new Waterside Station, which replaces the dilapidated Waterside Mall. The first phase is expected to be completed in March 2010….One thousand residential units will be added in subsequent phases, along with underground parking and 110,000 square feet of retail space. Located at M and 4th streets, outside the Waterside/Southeastern University metrorail stop, the construction site is a block away from Arena Stage, which is also being redeveloped, and a short walk from Nationals Park.” Also check out DCmud.
WORD OF THE DAY: “Contraflow”—-WRC-TV covers 15th Street NW bike lane proposal.
UP WITH WHEATPASTE—-Activists hit with nearly $7,000 in fines for illegal posters: “The message is this: If you are an anti-war group or a progressive grassroots organization and you hand out or put up a poster, as you may have always done in the past, you can now expect heavy fines and long court battles that are designed to divert money and resources — or shut you down completely. The posters for which we were fined are lawfully posted. The District is also issuing fines against ANSWER regardless of who put up the poster — they are just sanctioning us for being organizers and supporters of the political anti-war demonstration being publicized. Unlike many of the politicians, concert promoters and other corporate entities that put up posters in DC, the ANSWER Coalition even sends out teams of volunteers to remove posters following the conclusion of a demonstration or event.”
WTTG-TV asks: Who is making “mystery sculptures” in Rock Creek Park? “Some people might not even notice at first, but once they see the sculptures made of stone and twigs, they are intrigued. One jogger told FOX 5, ‘Someone’s probably just trying to express themselves a little bit.’ We have no idea who’s creating these sculptures, but a little detective work reveals a few clues. Nearby someone’s written some letters – a K and a U. Then just a few feet away you can see the spot where somebody was breaking large rocks into pieces to make them just the right size.”
Omnibus includes money to fix sinking Jefferson Memorial seawall, Michael Neibauer reports in Examiner. “The Jefferson Memorial, dedicated in 1943, is secured in the Tidal Basin with steel girders hammered into bedrock. The memorial’s seawall, constructed in the late 1960s, was not anchored in rock, which is why the wall has sunk by as much as 9 inches over roughly the past 20 months.” Bill spends $10M, with another $10M coming next year.
ALSO—-Goodies in there for local nonprofits, Neibauer adds: “D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton distributed more than $5 million in earmarks, including $2.85 million to the Children’s National Medical Center for pediatric surgical center renovations, $368,464 to Safe Kids Worldwide Inc. for a child safety initiative and $196,514 to the Capital Area Food Bank for capital construction.” Other recipients: “The National Council of La Raza received $476,000 for its early childhood education center, courtesy of Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J….The Washington Jesuit Academy received $238,000 for mentoring, thanks to Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa….George Washington University received $141,000 to provide D.C. Public School students with ‘opportunities to pursue health profession careers,’ thanks to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.”
MEANWHILE—-Bread for the City is forced to make cuts, WAMU-FM reports.
The owners of Scheele’s Market in Georgetown, 29th and Dumbarton, are selling!
More details from NC8 on police dog shooting: “‘They told me, “Freeze stick your hands up,” and I’m like what, and my dog he heard him and he just ran out.’…’They shot him – plop plop – I said don’t shoot the dog repeatedly, and he didn’t listen.'” Vet: “[Dog] was completely paralyzed Tuesday night, and in an excruciating amount of pain.” Also WUSA-TV.
Biz Journal covers new Circulator “party route.”
Pics from the “Benty”/”Coradrian”/”Corian”/”Fooker” event
DCPS school gets Nintendo!
Police seek Congress Heights sex assault suspect.
AU takes on Holy Cross in Patriot League finale. Bender Arena tonight!
Help LL answer a pressing question—-SHOULD HE GET A NEW BIKE HELMET?
STREET CLOSINGS SUNDAY—-For St. Paddy’s Day parade.
TODAY ON THE POLITICS HOUR WITH KOJO NNAMDI—-Tom Sherwood, WRC-TV; Marc Fisher, WaPo; Creigh Deeds, Virginia state senator and gubernatorial candidate; and Neil Albert, deputy mayor for planning and economic development; noon, WAMU-FM, 88.5.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs agency performance oversight hearing on Office of the People’s Counsel, Public Service Commission, Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking, and various boards and commissions, JAWB 500; 2 p.m.: Committee on Government Operations & the Environment agency performance oversight hearing on Department of the Environment, Office of the Inspector General, and the Executive Office of the Mayor, JAWB 412; Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination meeting, JAWB 123.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-No public events scheduled.