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Morning LLDers. Bruuuce Johnson comes through with the huuuge exclusive on WUSA-TV: Marion Barry needs a kidney transplant. And that, he says, is why he hasn’t been filing his tax returns—-“I was just distracted, frankly.” His returns are on the way, Barry says: “It might have been yesterday. I called my accountant this morning.” WaPo recaps the interview.
TRANSPLANT DETAILS—-A donor “described only as a local woman in her 40s,” Johnson reports, has been found: “No date has been set for the operation which will take place at Howard University Hospital.” WRC-TV fills in the blanks: “The donor is a longtime Barry friend who volunteered the kidney. A source told NBC4’s Tom Sherwood that after tests, the woman’s kidney ‘is almost a perfect match.’…Barry privately told NBC4 about his health concerns several months ago, but asked for privacy until the operation was planned. Sources said Barry is now waiting for his doctors to schedule the imminent surgery.”
DAMN DEADLINES—-Harry Jaffe, in an otherwise good read, guesses wrong: “Word on the street is Barry is not well, but his malady is a secret. He’s survived prostate cancer. He has diabetes. I hear he needs a new liver. Among the addictions Barry acknowledged back in 1990, before he served six months on the cocaine rap, was his need for alcohol — thus the bad liver.”
WUSSES—-WaPo edit board doesn’t call outright for incarceration: “Under the circumstances, Mr. Barry owes the people he represents a full accounting of his dealings with the government that pays his salary and in which he is elected to serve….U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson has the unenviable job of ruling on the prosecutors’ request. In the past, she has not wanted to send Mr. Barry to jail. We share that reluctance but also understand that Mr. Barry has left her with no good options.”
WASA’s Jerry Johnson has a fun time at water-safety hearing held yesterday by Jim Graham and Mary Cheh, according to Nikita Stewart‘s WaPo account. “The general manager of the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority told council members yesterday that he would allow a child to drink the city’s tap water despite a recent independent study…But when asked if he would give that advice to the general public…Johnson said, ‘I don’t know.'”
OOF—-“Johnson appeared flustered and irritated at the questioning, particularly Graham’s inquiries about allowing a child to get a drink of water from the faucet. ‘You asked me what I would do, Mr. Graham,’ Johnson said. ‘That’s a trick question. . . . You don’t deal with the general public the way you would deal with yourself.'”
BIG TEST FOR NEW DISCIPLINE POLICY?—-Huge melee engulfs Cardozo SHS around lunchtime; 16 are arrested, according to WaPo account. “‘Basically it was a huge brawl going on in the cafeteria, and we had to evacuate the hallways,’ said Laneisha McCauley, a ninth-grader at the 816-student school in the Columbia Heights area of Northwest Washington. ‘I thought it was ridiculous. Crazy.'” Says school security chief: “All indications are it might have occurred over something as minor as somebody pulling somebody’s hair.” Five hospitalized, according to WTOP.
Roque Gerald, interim director since July, is Fenty’s pick for permanent CFSA director. To WaPo: “For me this is a confirmation of deep reform in the agency….The pace has been fast since July, and we’re not slowing down.”
WELL, DUH!—-To help close budget gap, Metro chief John Catoe ponders…charging for parking on the weekends! “I want to be clear,” he tells WaPo’s Lena Sun. “I will look at this because it was recommended by the public, but I can’t say whether I’m going to recommend it to the board.” Perfectly clear, Catoe—-you’re talking about cutting bus routes and train hours, and cutting free parking doesn’t come up till now?
MEANWHILE—-Increased Metro ridership isn’t translating into a proportional revenue boost, Examiner’s Kytja Weir explains, because “the timing of the trips, plus the short distances traveled, meant that many riders paid the minimum fares, according to a Metro report. During rush hours, train riders pay $1.65 to $4.50 per trip, but they pay only $1.35 to $2.35 during non-rush hour times.”
Michelle Obama visits Mary’s Center in Adams Morgan, reads book to kids. According to WaTimes, she said, “We’ve been visitors but now we live here. This is our community now….We were taught you have to get to know your community you’re in, and you have to be a part of that community and you have to get to know it in order to be actively engaged in it. D.C. is our community now and it’s our home.”
MUST READ—-John Pekkanen‘s Washingtonian piece, now online, about the dysfunctional relationship between fire and EMS units in DCFEMS. That article prompted this question from LL’s boss: “Mr. Mayor: Why Did You Flip-Flop on FEMS?”
Peter Nickles sues another special-ed lawyer, alleging “frivolous” litigation, according to Bill Myers in Examiner. “Nickles’ alleges that Hyattsville-based Chike Ijeabuonwu continued to press the city in a due process lawsuit even after school officials had given his client, ‘K.J.,’ everything he had asked for.”
DCPL weights cuts in operating hours to come as soon as March, now that $2M in emergency operating funds won’t be available due to budget shortfalls. From David Nakamura in WaPo: “Under the revised schedule, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library downtown would close 3 1/2 hours earlier than the current 9 p.m. closing time on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Neighborhood branches would open 2 1/2 hours later and close an hour earlier on weekdays, and kiosks would close one day a week, either Monday or Friday.”
REMEMBER HER?—-Diane Gustus, a key accomplice in the $50M OTR scam, wants her retirement benefits, Del Quentin Wilber reports in WaPo. “In a letter to D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi last week, Gustus’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden, wrote that his client should be allowed to resign or retire to collect her retirement benefits….’Ms. Gustus was manipulated by, exposed to imprisonment by, and betrayed by her supervisor,’ Bolden wrote. ‘This alone is punishment enough for her naiveté.'” Gustus took $80K in gifts from Walters over the years.
Stoddert ES parents not happy with renovation progress, and they let Hizzoner know about it.
Balto Sun op-ed argues for Maryland retrocession: “Would Maryland accept D.C.’s problems of many failing public schools and pockets of poverty as the trade-off for adding more than a half-million citizens and a booming D.C. urban economy, as well as the pride and prestige in having the national capital inside Maryland? I think so,” writes Campbell Killefer.
Vince Gray has a cautionary message for Courtland Milloy: “A problem that we’re facing in the District is the expected return of up to 2,500 newly released prisoners each year for several years….By and large, these penal facilities have done a poor job preparing these guys for reentry into society. So we get this cycle: poorly educated residents going to prison, coming out in worse shape than they went in, causing more trouble and going back to prison.”
WaPo letter writer responds to suburban pothole man: “I don’t know who is responsible for the piece of road Mr. Green wrote about, but I do know who is responsible for most of the wear and tear on that piece of road, as well as on many others in the city: commuters just like Mr. Green who benefit from the District’s roads while leaving us to foot the bill for their repair and maintenance.”
ACORN protesters shut down property auction house, WaPo reports: “In the District yesterday, as startled office workers gathered and stared outside Alex Cooper Auctioneers at Wisconsin Avenue and Jenifer Street NW, about 50 demonstrators forced a pair of workers to retreat into an office, lock the door and call for help on mobile phones….The protesters chanted: ‘Save our homes! Save our homes!’ and ‘Bail out Main Street, not just Wall Street!'”
WAPO BRIEF—-“A man who stopped outside the Capitol yesterday and told police that he had a delivery for President Obama was arrested after acknowledging that he had a rifle in his pickup truck, authorities said.”
Mel Kaufman, winner of two Super Bowl rings with the Redskins, has died at 50.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-9 a.m.: Committee on Human Services hearing on B18-12, “Adoption and Safe Familes Amendment Act of 2009,” JAWB 123; 10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole roundtable on priorities for the use of potential funds for the District of Columbia from recovery and reinvestment proposals currently under consideration in the United States House of Representatives and Senate (aka stimulus money), JAWB 500; 11 a.m.: Committee on Housing and Workforce Development roundtable on unemployment issues in the District of Columbia, JAWB 412; 2 p.m.: Committee on Human Services roundtable on the “Repairing the Safety Net for At-Risk Children and Families Reform Plan” one year after the Jacks tragedy, JAWB 123.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-10:00 a.m.: attendee, markup on D.C. House Voting Rights Act, Dirksen SOB 342; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, Ford’s Theatre reopening celebration, Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW; 3:45 p.m.: guest, NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt, NewsChannel 8.