Loose Lips Daily: Feds Raid OCTO
IN LL WEEKLY—Deputy Dogged: Add Reinoso vs. Gray to LL's list of favorite feuds. Plus: Will it be Kelvin Robinson vs. Tommy Wells in Ward 6? Kris Baumann vs. Mary Cheh in Ward 3?
Afternoon all. Sorry for the late delivery, but there was a spot of news this morning: Federal agents combed the One Judiciary Square offices of the Chief Technology Officer's shop this a.m., and arrested a pair of OCTO employees. The best source of on-the-scene information thus far is Mark Segraves' Twitter feed. Tom Sherwood was live on the scene for WRC-TV.
Mary Beth Sheridan runs down all the bucks heading the region's way from omnibus spending bill: "D.C. officials welcomed the legislation's $35 million boost over last year for the city's struggling education system. The measure provides $54 million for the city's public schools, public charter schools and voucher program; $35 million for college tuition aid; and what was described as a one-time $20 million payment to recruit and train principals and create better school programs." Plus: Lots for Metro, homeland security HQ at St. E's, $14M for CSO abatement. But—no voucher authorization.
D.C.'s jobless rate is up, DOES reports: "The District's unemployment rate in January jumped to 9.3 percent, from 8.2 percent in December, its highest point since the 1980s....The D.C. increase put the city's unemployment rate on pace to top 10 percent late this year or early next year, according to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. About 10,000 jobs were lost since January 2008 in professional services, transportation, utilities and other trades, according to a report by the D.C. Department of Employment Services," Darryl Fears reports in WaPo. CFO's office sees it topping at 11.5 percent. Also Biz Journal.
Marc Fisher says forget the guns, take the vote: "If you ask D.C. politicians, the answer is to stamp their feet and insist on having it their own way....Good luck with that. The gun lobby is very good at this cynical game, and for all the lip service Democrats on the Hill pay toward equal rights for Washingtonians, the fact is that members of Congress from a thousand miles away will never really care about the plight of a city they consider their plaything."
Jonetta Rose Barras previews today's UDC oversight hearing, calls on councilmembers to stand up and make the tough decisions for the university. "Not surprisingly, Ward 8's Marion Barry is leading the legislature's opposition. As mayor, the politico did very little to position UDC to aggressively compete either locally or nationally for students, award-winning faculty and important research grants....Barry remains the District's chief purveyor of low expectations. Sadly, he has been mostly successful. How else to explain that UDC is nearly in the same position today as in 1999."
Politico's Glenn Thrush on "D.C. Mayor Ensign." The good senator says, "The District is the seat of government. If one state has it — and we're talking about basically turning it into a state — the influences would be different....You can't argue that they don't get their money — they get more money than anybody does. You can't argue that, other than the fact they don't actually have someone voting here, that they are not taken care of in any way, shape or form."
Nikita Stewart wraps up yesterday evening's Adrian Fenty/Cory Booker joint fundraiser: "Booker was charismatic, wowing the crowd with jokes and his status as a walking book of 'Bartlett's Familiar Quotations.' While Fenty talked about "results-oriented" governing, Booker drew applause and laughter by peppering his speech with jokes, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King Jr. and a little Latin." Look for LL's wrapup on City Desk later today.
Bill Turque's WaPo article covers yesterday's marathon 12-and-a-half hour DCPS performance oversight hearing; he ledes with preview of new teacher assessment system to be unveiled in fall: "Rhee said...that the approach would combine standardized test scores where practical, intensive classroom observation and "value added" measurements of students' growth during the year. Teachers would also be allowed to set buildingwide goals for achievement that would be used in evaluating their performance." Also files blog items on City Lights PCS closing and the state of contract negotiations.
Dog shot by cops investigating burglary report in Brightwood. WaPo: "Officers went to a two-story rowhouse in the 800 block of Sheridan Street after 8 p.m. A neighbor had reported seeing two men climbing through a window....Plainclothes officers went to an alley behind the house, where they said the dog threatened them and one officer fired at him, she said....The officers handcuffed two men in the back of the house, and a uniformed officer handcuffed a man at the front door while they investigated the burglary report....They learned that one of the men who had gone through the window, Carlos Hernandez, 21, lived there and had forgotten his keys." The dig, a German Shepherd, "in critical condition at Friendship Hospital for Animals. The men said they were told that surgery on the dog would cost at least $1,800."
John Koskinen, former city administrator, is taking job as Freddie Mac's interim CEO, per Biz Journal. He had been non-exec chairman of the housing financier since last September.
Lack of city funds leads to Business Resource Center's closing, Jonathan O'Connell reports in Biz Journal. "A handful of other centers offering assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs face the same fate barring a reprieve from the city....The D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) issued letters to operators of the centers in the first week of March saying the department was 'undergoing a period of severe fiscal restraint' and said it planned to use money for the programs, from the federal Community Development Block Grant, for affordable housing."
DCist on gay marriage education campaign.
Former OTR auditor sentenced to four months in jail for taking $6,000 bribe. WaPo: "El-Hadj Drame, 36, pleaded guilty in November in U.S. District Court to receiving a bribe, admitting that he collected the cash from a business owner in 2007. He conducted his scam at the same time that federal agents swooped into the D.C. tax office to investigate an unrelated scheme that siphoned $48.1 million from the government over two decades." Also Examiner.
SPEAKING OF $48.1M TAX SCAM—Also from WaPo's Del Quentin Wilber: "In court papers made public this week, an FBI agent wrote that the bureau recently seized $411,368.25 that was used in an attempt to purchase a home in Northern Virginia. Authorities traced the funds to Ainna Ojo, 38, a Saks Fifth Avenue personal shopper and a friend of the plan's mastermind, Harriette Walters, according to an FBI affidavit."
GOOD OCFO NEWS—Those AAA-rated bonds sold well, Biz Journal reports. After expecting at $445M offering, demand was such that "[t]he city sold $800 million of the bonds, which came with Standard & Poor's top, AAA, credit rating and carried an average interest rate of 4.84 percent. It is one of the biggest municipal bond offerings this year."
More on WMATA gap-closing from WaPo's Lena Sun: "Metro starts the next budget year $29 million 'in the hole,' said board member Catherine Hudgins, who represents Virginia. 'You can dig yourself in a hole, and the hole can become so deep that the small piece we're protecting now we could lose in greater impact in the future when there's no more money to move around.'"
In Examiner, Kytja Weir says Metro's had to change its stimulus plans: "In mid-February, it announced plans to use the $230 million in stimulus funds to upgrade fare machines, install energy-efficient lighting at rail stations, add buses and replace a section of the Red Line. But now Metro's portion is closer to $202 million, according to the transit agency. So Metro has scaled back its list of 26 projects and delayed plans to build a railcar test facility at its Greenbelt center, said Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith. The system currently has to wait until off hours to test railcars on working tracks, the agency has said, so the new facility would have allowed the system to put new railcars into service sooner."
WaPo editorial board calls on WMATA employees to share the pain, forego pay increases.
If you haven't already, check out The Nose's D.C. gov take on Jefferson Airplane.
Hundreds line up for chance at subsidized 2-bedrrom apartment in Columbia Heights, WTTG-TV reports.
NC8 follows up on Metro hiring practices.
Eli Broad holds forth on his education relationships, though not specifically on DCPS/Rhee.
In public relations feint perfectly calibrated to generate a DCist post, DDOT officials have termed this spring's road blitz "Potholepalooza." Mission accomplished!
IN THEMAIL—Be sure to read Jack McKay's tale of DCRA permit hell, and check Ralph Chittams' missive: "[D]uring a hearing on January 14 before the Board of Elections and Ethics challenging the residency of Cameron Poles, a candidate for Ward 7 Member of the State Board of Education, Mr. Poles stated, under oath, that he had not filed his 2007 and 2008 taxes. However, this is not a problem without an obvious solution. All prospective candidates, including incumbents, should have to file a certified copy of their current District of Columbia tax return when filing papers to run for office."
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: Committee of the Whole agency performance oversight hearing on State Board of Education, Special Education Transportation Administration, Office of the State Superintendent of Education, and University of the District of Columbia, JAWB 500; Committee on Housing and Workforce Development agency performance oversight hearing on Department of Housing and Community Development and D.C. Housing Finance Agency, JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 10:30 a.m.: remarks, Waterside Mall topping-off celebration, Waterside Mall, 4th and M Streets SW; 7 p.m.: remarks, Historic Anacostia Block Association community meeting, United Planning Organization, 1649 Good Hope Road SE.