Loose Lips Daily: Mayoral Lawyers OK’d Fire Truck Giveaway
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT—"Dominican-Bound Fire Truck and Ambo Now Sitting in City Lot"
Morning all. Michael Neibauer keeps the hits coming on the fishy fire truck! Today's Examiner story throws a whole bunch of fun names into the names into the news: Thorn Pozen! Chip Richardson! Aaand....Sinclair Skinner! "Richardson, Fenty’s acting general counsel, and [Pozen], the mayor’s special counsel [and top ethics adviser], both contacted the Office of Contracting and Procurement about organizing the donation to the tourist enclave Sosua, Nancy Hapeman, OCP’s general counsel, told a D.C. Council committee Monday....The revelation took the mystery of why the city chose to donate emergency equipment to a Caribbean town into the mayor’s office but left unanswered key questions about the transaction....Under questioning at the council hearing Monday, [Chief Procurement Officer David Gragan] denied having met [Skinner], a close confidant of Fenty’s. Two sources, including a former D.C. procurement officer, said Skinner had traveled to Sosua before the deal occurred."
MEA CULPA—To WRC-TV's Tom Sherwood. LL had made out his post linked above as a big scoop, but Sherwood had video of the emergency vehicles up hours before—complete with Phil Mendelson footage! (Not to mention sweet B-roll of staffers Jason Shedlock and Brian Moore.) Here's a head-scratcher: "Mendelson...noticed the truck had about 55,000 miles on it, not 197,000 as he had previously been told." Points also to WTTG-TV for nighttime back-lit profile video of Mendo; points deducted for calling him "Phil Mendleson."
MEANWHILE—In WaPo, Nikita Stewart and Tim Craig lede with the fact that AG Peter Nickles has refused to let FEMS, OCTO officials testify on their respective scandals. "Nickles said he told technology employees that their comments could taint grand jury proceedings and advised procurement staffers that the city's inspector general is conducting an investigation at the request of council members. The council, he said, is showing 'a very casual disregard for important constitutional rights and grand jury proceedings.'" LL SEZ—So this must be a very formal disregard for the legislative oversight process?
ANOTHER GOOD QUESTION—First raised by WUSA-TV's Dave Statter: Fire officials testified that multiple District officials traveled down to the DR, but Nickles' report mentions only one. What gives?
Former OPM employee says she was fired for blowing the whistle on contracting cronyism, Bill Myers reports in Examiner, and she's suing! "[Kathleen Linebaugh]’s suit, filed late Friday, says things became difficult for Linebaugh last spring, when property office Director Robin-Eve Jasper told Linebaugh’s supervisor that Linebaugh was 'a malcontent and a problem employee.' Linebaugh was fired in July, just after she returned from vacation, the lawsuit says."
WaTimes' Gary Emerling looks at council vote on gay-marriage recognition as prelude to a D.C. marriage bill. "The council last year gave Mayor Adrian M. Fenty authority to recognize gay relationships as legally legitimate if they are 'substantially similar' to domestic partnerships already recognized as legal by the District. The city is one of about 12 jurisdictions in the United States that recognizes same-sex unions in some form....Mr. Fenty had not acted on the authority as of last month. The District's top lawyer reportedly has voiced concern that other jurisdictions' definitions of domestic partnerships may not be 'substantially similar.'...Council members Tuesday will consider legislation that makes the recognition of marriages equal to domestic partnerships in the District even without the mayor's certification."
FRIEND OF THE LITTLE GUY?—At least the little guy in Ward 6! Tommy Wells introduces emergency legislation to defer property taxes for biz owners on H Street NE, 7th Street SE—both under heavy construction. Says T-Wells: "We’re at a time of reduced customer traffic, and at the same time we’re seeing increases in the value of the land....It is causing some hardship for businesses along H Street and in Eastern Market."
SO LONG PPEP—Michelle Rhee continues to explore new teacher-evaluation system, Bill Turque reports in WaPo: "For months, Rhee and her chief "human capital" assistant, Jason Kamras, have been working on an overhaul of the evaluation system that would expand the ways teachers are assessed. In addition to a system of classroom observations and conferences, it is likely to include methods to track how students' standardized test scores grow over time....Rhee is under no obligation to bargain with the union on evaluations, though the union wants to see it on the table and said so in the contract proposal it delivered a few weeks ago. Congress gave the school system sole authority over the issue in the mid-1990s after the WTU refused to renegotiate the then-existing evaluation system with the District....Instead, Rhee has invited teachers to a series of 20 focus groups over the next several weeks to ask for their input in shaping a new evaluation process."
Marc Fisher asks, "Does D.C. Really Need A 4-Year College?" He recaps the thinking that UDC needs to end its open enrollment policies to "raise its game," etc. "But here's the flaw in the current reform plan: UDC is not in any way analogous to the great state universities around the country." The District is too small, the DCTAG program makes UDC "superfluous," and the school has no history of excellence, he writes.
MetroAccess is running $6.5M short on the year, Kytja Weir reports in Examiner. "Ridership on the service that shuttles people with disabilities has risen 20 percent in a year, according to the agency. The average trip costs the agency $38, according to Metro, far more than the base fare of $2.50 for each ride. That means an already expensive service is getting even more expensive for the cash-strapped agency....Gates said the agency plans to fund the extra $6.5 million with other savings from the system. The shortfall isn’t new for the service. In the last fiscal year, MetroAccess overran its budget by $6.2 million, according to a Metro report."
DDOE to hold hearing on stormwater regs April 13, Vandana Sinha reports in Biz Journal. "Starting in May, the agency has proposed charging entities new stormwater fees that are based on the amount of impervious, or non-porous, surface they own, rather than by water usage....Under the new stormwater fee proposal D.C. businesses and large multi-family buildings would shell out $2.57 per month for each 1,000 square feet of impervious surface on their property. Single-family homes, multi-family properties with fewer than four units and individually metered apartments and condos will pay $2.57 total each month."
Examiner covers charter facilities funding controversy: "[P]roponents of charters and school choice say the cuts are unfair, especially as charters have shown dramatic gains in enrollment. 'Whatever [Mayor Adrian Fenty’s] intentions,' said Robert Cane, executive director of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools, the result would be to catch charters 'in a pincer movement ... unable to save facilities funds to buy or lease commercial space.'"
YET ANOTHER EMASCULATED COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE—LL colleague Jason Cherkis has his FEMS queries routed to the mayor's office.
Ace prosecutor Deborah Sines threatened by jagoff thugs. WaPo: "A nine-count indictment was filed in U.S. District Court yesterday against Wayne Wilson Pannell, 46, and Darryl Tipps, 44. Prosecutors alleged that two months ago, on Feb. 5 and 6, Tipps called the office of Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Sines and threatened to kill her and abduct her son."
P.G. cop who shot 24-year-old in east Hill ID'd as Joseph Bellino. That's called transparency!
Man breaks into Shaw home, sexually assaults woman, NC8 reports. "The suspect is described a medium complexioned black male in his late 20's, 5'10" tall, wearing a black jacket and blue jeans."
Interim CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs resigns, according to Biz Journal: "[Kevin Dowdell]’s tenure lasted just over a year, a span during which the organization continued to try to improve its troubled finances, laid off 10 percent of its workforce and experienced the October death of its board chair, George Ferris Jr....Ferris and Dowdell, elevated to CEO from the chief operating office, had been pursuing a range of rescue strategies for the beleaguered 121-year-old Silver Spring-based organization, including new partnerships with D.C.’s Department of Programming and Recreation and the proposed sale of two clubhouses. But the organization was about $7 million in debt at the end of December, leading Dowdell to eliminate about 25 positions."
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER—WTTG-TV covers closing of city mental health clinics.
E Street Development bid wins right to develop Southwest parcel.
Your Examiner 3 Minute Interview™ with THEARC ED Edmund Fleet
Giant: Not that evil on bags.
WILL THIS SAVE SMITHSONIAN?—AP: "The National Air and Space Museum and National Museum of Natural History will stay open two hours later, until 7:30 p.m. every day through at least Labor Day, while the National Museum of American History will stay open at least an hour later. The museums open at 10 a.m. and typically close at the end of the work day."
Want a job at the National Zoo? Well, it's going to suck, and you're probably not going to get one anyway. So says NC8.
Gardasil debate still alive, at least at the WPFW-FM studios.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—10 a.m.: sixth legislative meeting, JAWB 500; 6:30 p.m.: Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination roundtable on the status and implications of the D.C. House Voting Rights Act and the gun amendment, JAWB 412.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—10:30 a.m.: remarks, Deanwood groundbreaking for affordable housing, 5201 Hayes St. NE; 7 p.m.: remarks, 9th annual MPD awards ceremony, THEARC Theater, 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE.