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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—-“D.C. Voting Rights: It’s All About Conference Now

IN LL WEEKLY—-Nothing! This week’s paper is all AVERAGE DAY.

Morning all. The U.S. Senate has voted to give the District of Columbia a vote in the House of Representatives. But the U.S. Senate has also voted to gouge out the District’s ability to control the possession of firearms within its boundaries. That, in the words of Vince Gray and Phil Mendelson, is “ironic in the worst sense.” The WaPo ed board also holds the gun measure out for scorn: “[B]oth moment and measure were tarnished by a dangerous amendment that would strip D.C. officials of their rightful authority to regulate guns. Senators, perversely, offered the District a taste of democracy while at the same time not trusting it to run its own affairs.”

JOHN ENSIGN EXPLAINS WHY 22 DEMS VOTED FOR HIS AMENDMENT—-“In 2000, when Al Gore was running for president he blamed the gun-control issue as a big part of the reason he lost and a lot of Democrats are aware of that….Gun votes, there’s probably no issue in the United State that there are so many single-issue voters as on guns.” NPR RealAudio.

WRAP-UPS AND WHAT’S NEXT—-House bill expected to pass easily; fate of gun language lies in conference committee. Coverage from WaPo A1, WaPo video, Examiner, WaTimes, AP, AP feature, WAMU-FM (RealAudio), NC8, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, NYT, Salt Lake Tribune, and Village Voice asks, “Could a NYC Senator Be Next?”

THEY SAID IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN—-“Home Values in Broad Decline” is your WaPo B3 headline. The story, by Nikita Stewart, details the 3.67 percent citywide dip in property assessments announced yesterday by the CFO’s office. “Even the Crestwood neighborhood, where Mayor Adrian M. Fenty lives, was not immune, experiencing a 13 percent fall—-second only to Michigan Park in Ward 5, where property values decreased nearly 16 percent…Petworth and Riggs Park in Ward 4, Eckington and Woodridge in Ward 5 and LeDroit Park in Ward 1 rounded out the areas that saw double-digit declines.” HOLDING THEIR VALUE—-Homes on Bolling Air Force Base and in Forest Hills, Palisades, Kent, Berkley, Foggy Bottom, Burleith, and the “Central District.” Also Examiner, which provides some context: “Residential property assessments dropped 12.55 percent in Fairfax and 32 percent in Prince William [counties].”

Marion Barry will be released today. And WRC-TV’s Tom Sherwood gets the exclusive hospital interview—-“First of all, let me thank God, a good suregon and a good friend for donating her kidney to me….I’m just blessed to come out of this…I could have been one of them who didn’t make it.”

Harry Jaffe asks “Is the capital city’s chief accountant overstating the height of the wave about to wash over the District?” And Nat Gandhi explains his use of “tsunami” to describe fiscal troubles: “I chose a dramatic word….I wanted to convey to them that things are really bad.” HMM—-Fiscal difficulties, he says, offer “a good chance to right-size the government.”

MPD Chief Cathy Lanier says HOLD ON A MINUTE on Chandra Levy arrest gossip. She tells Bruce DePuyt, “I have different news organizations saying, ‘We’re hearing today is the day’, and the best thing I can say is shame on all of you, shame on you. This is somebody’s family member. This is somebody’s life that’s impacted here. When it is appropriate for us to talk, we’ll talk.” Write-up and video.

IN OTHER MPD NEWS—-Lanier says Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit won’t be expanded, but it also won’t be disbanded. “I don’t like to have police officers separate themselves out from the rest of the department….We have an awful lot of gay officers on the force. And I want them throughout the force rather than in just one unit,” she said at a community meeting, according to the Blade.

Metro board, after Jim Graham‘s first meeting as chair, says they’re “awfully close” to closing budget gap, which “will probably rely on tweaks, twists and more money from member jurisdictions,” according to Eric WeissWaPo story. “[S]everal budget proposals offered yesterday exposed the rift between suburban board members and their counterparts closer in. For example, a proposal to charge for weekend parking was quickly rejected by suburban members, who said it was unfair and would reduce ridership. Suburban members also looked at a proposal to reduce bus service, but District and Prince George’s County representatives fought that idea.” Also WAMU-FM (RealAudio), NC8, WRC-TV, AP.

AND—-40 Metro employees have already been pink-slipped, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. AND—-Circulator might replace Georgetown “blue buses” to Rosslyn, WTOP reports.

Ed Lazere et al. issue their yearly battle cry: BUDGET TRANSPARENCY!

The council may have required the city to certify same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships from other states, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, Lou Chibbaro Jr. reports in the Blade. Peter Nickles says a “preliminary findings of a review he conducted of the same-sex partner laws of seven states shows that partners in four of the states would be disqualified from having their relationships recognized in D.C. under the Omnibus Domestic Partnership Equality Act of 2008.” BUT LEAST THEY’RE LOOKING AT IT, RIGHT?

ALSO IN BLADE—-Organizers prepare 2014 Gay Games bid; Said Dan Tangherlini this week, “The entirety of the Fenty administration is behind this.” Also appearing at rally: David Catania, Jim Graham, Jack Evans, and Harry Thomas Jr.

Frank Kameny‘s modest Palisades home, at 5020 Cathedral Ave. NW, is designated an historic landmark by HPRB, WaPo’s Petula Dvorak writes. “Inside the house, Kameny led an unrelenting pursuit of equal rights for homosexuals long before Harvey Milk had even moved to San Francisco….In 1962, he moved into the Cathedral Avenue home, where he led the campaign against sodomy law reform, helped overturn the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of homosexuality as a mental illness and pressed the federal government to stop refusing security clearances to homosexuals.” Kamenty still resides in the home. Also Blade.

Biz Journal’s Jonathan O’Connell covers DMPED oversight hearing. Neil Albert was before the dais for seven hours, he reports, while he “told council members he’d be ‘flexible’ and ‘strategic’ when it comes to helping private development partners in the treacherous financing environment. Among his ideas: delay expiration of planned unit developments, consider more tax abatements and, if possible, move public subsidies from long-term projects to those that could be in the ground in a few months. Albert also wants to reduce the time it takes to get a zoning variance from 18 months to nine.”

Phil Mendelson: The Prince of Petworth interview. PoP’s review of the chat, mostly on crime: “I agree with his assessment that the council in and of itself will not be able to solve the issue. However, I would have liked to have left the meeting thinking, ok- the problem is recognized and very smart and capable people are working on resolving it. I was left, simply, with the feeling of continued frustration. Yes, it is not just the council’s responsibility but, well, I just wanted some hope that the situation was going to improve.”

ALSO IN THIS WEEK’s WBJ—-Retailers react to council bag bill: “Proposed D.C. and Maryland legislation would exact a 5 cent fee for every plastic and paper bag distributed by retailers, primarily food and pharmaceutical companies, and some businesses aren’t happy about it.”

WaPo’s Lisa Rein does the unpaid-utility-bills story. The D.C. angle: “In the District, one fourth of Pepco’s customers who rely on electricity for heat were in arrears in 2008, the data show. It’s not just low-income customers who cannot pay. Interviews and data submitted to regulators in Maryland and the District show that some customers whose income is too high to qualify for assistance are also in danger of shut-offs.” FACT—-“A typical monthly Pepco bill for District customers is $103.67 today, compared with $58.16 in 2004.”

Catania keeps his foot on Whitman-Walker Clinic’s throat, Blade reports, asks more questions and promises second hearing. “The questions…seek information about how the Clinic’s departments, programs, services and site locations have been restructured over the past three years. Also sought are the names of corporate sponsors, the number of times over the past three years that the Clinic has missed or delayed payroll, and any times that the Clinic had an outstanding balance for contracts made with vendors.”

Rooftop robber STRIKES AGAIN! Also WTTG-TV.

Slumlord to update judge on repairs today, WAMU-FM reports (RealAudio).

Parents gear up for voucher fight, WaTimes’ Natalie Lester reports.

CUE THE RIGHT-WING ECHO CHAMBER—-Michelle Malkin asks, “Why do Democrats hate D.C. school kids?”; Examiner columnist Timothy Carney blames teachers unions for the possible death of vouchers; and NY Post columnist says, “Think of it as Myanmar on the Potomac: When Myanmar’s ruling junta blocked desperately needed aid from reaching its cyclone-ravaged people last May, the world was outraged. How could a nation’s leaders do that and still live with themselves? We might well ask our Democratic leaders in Washington the same question – for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program provides a desperately needed escape from the city’s disastrous public schools.”

Numismatists pleased with Ellington quarter.

Giant grocery coming to former GWU Hospital site? Biz Journal’s Missy Frederick says it may be so!

DDOT begins implementing parking meter rate hike.

SCREW YOU, BIG COAL—-Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid says they want Capitol power plant to go natural-gas-only, David Fahrenthold reports in WaPo. BUT “the plant might need to be retrofitted before it could burn only natural gas.”

Former NPR producer charged by feds with child porn possession.

More on Columbia Heights shooting. And WTTG-TV on gunfire outside Southeast apartment complex.

BIZ BULLETIN—-Pepco CEO Dennis Wraase will retire March 1, writes Biz Journal; will be replaced by Joseph Rigby. ALSO—-Toxic assets will be disposed of from four floors of L Street office suite.

LL ALMA MATER WATCH—-Georgetown U. hikes tuition, room, and board 2.9 percent, “bringing total average undergraduate tuition, room and board and fees to $51,543 per year,” according to Biz Journal. FUN FACT—-GU’s already paltry endowment “shrank by a reported 26 percent thanks to market losses last year.”

D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on B18-133, “The Mortgage Lender and Broker Amendment Act of 2009,” JAWB 120; Committee on Health agency performance oversight hearing on Department of Health, JAWB 500.

ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:30 a.m.: remarks, KIPP DC ribbon-cutting and expansion announcement, KIPP DC Benning Road Campus, 4801 Benning Road SE; 11:30 a.m.: remarks, JuMMP youth fitness program finale celebration, King Greenleaf Recreation Center, 201 N St. SW.