Morning all. Today brings a snowstorm that might even slow down Chicago—-a bit. Today’s Heroes of Flint are the D.C. Public Schools, which have decided to delay school by a mere two hours. That’s flinty, people. Flinty!
Michelle Rhee‘s weekend was probably less flinty than yours, however, as she was seen in Berkeley Saturday evening at what turned out to be a fabulous UCLA-Cal basketball game. As one blogger observed, she was in the company of former Cal star Kevin Johnson, who “was courtside in a smart brown blazer. He was definitely into his date….They exchanged a lot of kisses and he was definitely sharing his basketball insights with her during the game. I’m glad that he’s ‘dating’ someone his own age.”
Mary Cheh talks to WaPo’s Nikita Stewart about her breast cancer diagnosis. She got the news on the council dais: “I was…in a budget hearing on October 17….I could see my doctor calling” on a cellphone, she told Stewart. She’s had a lumpectomy and radiation treatments since. WHAT’S NEXT—-“Cheh is bracing for five years of drug treatment, but doctors have told her the prognosis is good.”
‘ANARCHIST’ OR FOLK HERO?—-Jim Graham snatches Emergency No Parking signs off the street, Jonetta Rose Barras reveals in her Examiner column. “During a recent oversight hearing of the DDOT, Graham confessed to snatching a bunch of signs posted along a stretch of Columbia Road NW and Adams Mill Road NW. A mea culpa was never whispered….DDOT acting Director Gabe Klein was speechless. There’s a $100 fine for removing those signs. But it’s a delicate matter telling Graham he may have violated law; the councilman is responsible for Klein’s confirmation.” Jonetta says “anarchist”; LL says folk hero.
NYT does big voucher story, and WaPo ed board comes out swinging on the issue, telling Dave Obey and his House Democratic colleagues to “spare us their phony concern about the children participating in the District’s school voucher program. If they cared for the future of these students, they wouldn’t be so quick as to try to kill the program that affords low-income, minority children a chance at a better education.” The editorial calls on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to seek help in the Senate.
AND YESTERDAY—-The board expressed a measure of support for UDC and new president Allen Sessoms, calling his reforms “perhaps the last chance for needed change, and so it is critical that District and school officials work together to build a public school that has real worth.” HEY FENTY—-You “must realize the importance of the city having a public institution of higher learning and what’s at stake if Mr. Sessoms doesn’t succeed.”
Marion Barry, kidney donor Kim Dickens speak: “The 72-year-old former four-term mayor said he is eager to resume his decades-long political career and plans to take up another cause: a campaign for organ donations. ‘We are going to make this a crusade,'” Hamil Harris reports in WaPo. Said Dickens, “Marion has done so much for the residents of the District, Maryland and Virginia, the least that I could do was give him a kidney….I am just truly grateful that I was in a position to help.” Also NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV.
Peter Nickles steps up his crusade against special-ed lawyers, taking aim at Brown & Associates—-“the giant of special-ed litigation in the District,” according to Examiner’s Bill Myers. His complaint “cites a single case brought by two firm lawyers on behalf of ‘A.C.,’ a mentally retarded teenager. The suit claims that Brown & Associates continued to press a due process complaint demanding special-ed services for A.C. even though A.C. had dropped out of school.” B&A associate responds: “It’s getting childish, quite honestly….When we’re up to till 10, 11 o’clock at night working tirelessly trying to help these kids learn to read and write — is that what this is about? I do think that D.C. is intending to intimidate these parents.”
Metro—-finally—-to upgrade underground cell phone service so those of us who have carriers other than Verizon can make a call. Says Kytja Weir in Examiner: “Metro’s board of directors has agreed to negotiate with national carriers Sprint Nextel, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless to extend and improve wireless service in the rail system as early as this year….the proposed $40 million contract would be spread over 21 years and would not immediately relieve the cash-strapped agency as it struggles to close a nearly $30 million shortfall in the budget that begins July 1.”
Capitol Hill neighborhood group files suit seeking to stop 11th Street Bridge replacement project, reports Michael Neibauer in Examiner. “The suit alleges the nearly $500 million project will devastate natural, scenic and ecological resources, destroy 1.5 acres of federal parkland, force the relocation of the Anacostia Boathouse and exacerbate air pollution.”
Colby King, in his column this weekend, masterfully combines two of his bread-and-butter columnar archetypes: (a) Memories of Old Foggy Bottom and (b) Indignance at an Imperfect Criminal Justice System. Chandra Levy‘s cold case has been solved, he writes (actually not yet, Colby), but what about Harrison McKinley Walker‘s?
CHANDRA LATEST—-Detectives back from California; Fenty tells WTOP yesterday that announcement expected “extremely soon.”
In WaPo, Mary Beth Sheridan and Paul Duggan examine the prospects for the Ensign amendment as the D.C. House Voting Rights Act nears final passage. Quotemeister Norm Ornstein echoes the point LL made Thursday: “The amendment drew widespread support, he said, because ‘people don’t want to vote against the National Rifle Association.’ But, he added, if the amendment was dropped, legislators could approve the bill and still get credit for their pro-gun stance in the earlier vote. ‘You can have your cake and eat it, too.'”
WaTimes’ David Dickson takes a lengthy look at potential problems with new vacant-property tax rate—-doubled to 10 percent. “[M]ortgage lenders, investors and people with decades of experience redeveloping buildings and land in the District say the law likely will have the opposite effect. It will lead, they say, to massive foreclosures and uncollected tax revenue. Some say the real estate tax is so high that it amounts to a de facto government ‘taking’ of property without due process.” The old 5 percent rate wasn’t a big deal during the housing boom, but now, “That is no longer the case….’It’s impossible to get money from lenders today because they are terrified of the 10 percent tax rate,’ which they must pay in the event of a foreclosure.”
Is DCRA investigating White House Counsel Greg Craig‘s wife for tax evasion?
REQUIRED READING FOR CATHY LANIER, TRACI HUGHES, KRIS BAUMANN, PHIL MENDELSON, LEE SATTERFIELD, ET AL.—-Batimore bard David Simon writing in WaPo about a city where fewer cop reporters mean more opportunities for cops to hide public information. LL would LOVE to be able to call up a judge and have him/her tell a public official “give it to the reporter…or face contempt charges tomorrow.”
Also writing this weekend on the media-government nexus is Marc Fisher, who laments the shrinking reportorial corps covering the Maryland and Virginia statehouses. Says one Virginia newsman, “When we had the larger bureaus, you could do the good investigative piece. Most sessions, somebody would find someone doing something wrong. Now, we can only really cover the flow of legislation.” Original “citizen journalist” Dorothy Brizill weighs in thusly: “I’m not as pessimistic as Fisher is about the ability of these blogs and neighborhood sites to cover local news. In fact, neighborhood listservs have the potential to publicize very local news, such as Advisory Neighborhood Commission races, that daily newspapers never touched.”
Examiner’s Leah Fabel covers KIPP charter network’s expansion plans. “KIPP D.C., the local branch of the California-based Knowledge Is Power Program, will open three schools this summer — two in Southeast and one in beleaguered Ward 8 — bringing the citywide total to six. By 2012, KIPP plans to add four more, eventually serving 3,400 students in some of the city’s roughest neighborhoods.”
KUDOS TO WAPO NATIONAL DESK EDITORS—-For sending Karl Vick to Las Vegas to ask John Ensign‘s constituents how much they care about D.C. voting rights. Says one Las Vegan, outside a Target, “I care more about the yogurt I just bought.” Another cared more, but “[t]he only way I heard about it was the e-mail I got through the NRA.”
Theola Labbé-DeBose, in WaPo report, details recent trends in east-of-the-river killings. The surprising conclusion: “Eleven of the 20 killings in the city since January were in communities like historic Anacostia and Congress Heights, places starting to reflect a mix of long-term residents and newcomers drawn to the new development. Last year at this time, there were seven in the area, the 7th Police District.” Fifteen of 44 recent academy graduates are headed to 7D.
Arthur Davis, 14, shot to death Saturday night on 4100 block of Minnesota Avenue NE (that’s 6D, in case you’re wondering). WaPo: “A leader of the Victory Outreach church said the slain youth had been a member of the church for about two years…[and] said the youth played the bongo drums at church services. ‘He seldom missed a Sunday.'” Also Examiner, WTOP, NC8.
Harry Jaffe profiles Lisa Foster, boxer and former foster child who is reaching out to incarcerated kids. “Oak Hill invited Foster and a panel of activists to inaugurate the youth center’s Victim’s Empathy Project. The idea is to let the young offenders hear from victims of violence; the goal is to get the kids to feel their pain. If the teenagers hear people talk about the mayhem caused by kids who kill, perhaps they will think twice about returning to the wrong side….Judging from what I witnessed Friday, I have my doubts. Foster had a few, too.”
Three teens arrested for carjacking, near the Davis killing and also on Saturday night.
IG: Protective Services officers are ill-equipped, reports Neibauer in Examiner. “According to a PSD staff and equipment roster provided to the inspector general, 11 officers currently armed with a gun do not carry a baton, spray or both, because they lack training.”
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES—-Also from Neibauer: Raising parking meter rates causes problems—-“More quarters, say DDOT officials, means a faster decline of an already aging meter inventory.”
Did DCPS not give enough notice for tomorrow’s budget hearing?
Skyland plans sent to zoning office for review, Jonathan O’Connell reports in Biz Journal.
New medical director for GWU Hospital.
Barack Obama has beer at Verizon Center, generally likes to party. And EHN comments for WaPo story on Obama’s efforts to stay out of the “bubble.” “People don’t understand what it’s like to be trapped within four walls that happen to be called the White House….Barack is determined not to be engulfed in the bubble, because part of his own analysis is that’s what happened to his predecessor. He knows it’s easy to become a prisoner of these things and become totally cut off.”
Local private schools need students, Daniel de Vise reports in WaPo. “Bigger, bolder open-house signs popped up outside the front gates of nonpublic schools everywhere to herald the winter application season, a signal that even exclusive schools are concerned about the bottom line. Some have extended application deadlines. Many are seeking to limit tuition increases.”
People’s Counsel Elizabeth Noel writes in to WaPo, complaining how District residents are “dependent on the whims of an unregulated wholesale market.” Her conclusion: “Deregulation, divestiture and retail competition have not benefited D.C. consumers.”
Yet another story on Obama and U Street, this one from WaTimes. UGH—-Refers to “legendary ‘half-smoke’ hot dogs” at Ben’s Chili Bowl.
BUSINESS BULLETIN—-FBR (or what used to be FBR) gives up its golf tourney.
SPORTS BULLETIN—-Nats GM Jim Bowden out. And Georgetown finally wins a f’in game.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: Committee on Government Operations and the Environment agency performance oversight hearing on Contact Appeals Board, Office of Contracting and Procurement, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Office of Policy & Legislative Affairs, Office of Grants and Partnership Development, and Office of the City Administrator, JAWB 412; 11 a.m.: Committee on Public Works and Transportation hearing on PR18-79, the “Director of the District Department of Transporation Gabe Klein Confirmation Resolution of 2009,” JAWB 123; 11:30 a.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs meeting to markup and vote on B18-133, the “Mortgage Lender and Broker Amendment Act of 2009,” JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-7:30 p.m.: remarks, Dupont Circle Citizens Association community meeting, Universalist Church, 1810 16th St. NW.